CES Diary, Day 2: Preparations Move Ahead for CES 2022

LAS VEGAS — It was a hectic Tuesday here in Las Vegas, where the pace of preparing for a downsized CES 2022 picked up as the day wore on.

Walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center just before 5 p.m., it seemed as though a dress rehearsal for the show was going on. Parking attendants, shuttle bus drivers and security personnel were all at their stations, and even the traditional hot dog and barbecue food trucks were positioned in place, in that L-shaped plaza outside the main show entrance between the North and Central Halls.

Show signage also was up, including a huge vertical billboard — the physical world’s answer to website “skyscraper” ads, you might say — from Roku, proclaiming itself “America’s #1 streaming platform in the U.S.”

Indicative of the show’s increasing tilt toward digital health, just a few feet in front of the Roku banner was one for Abbott, touting its sensor technology, “helping 3.5 million people with diabetes live with greater confidence & freedom.”

It almost seemed a little nostalgic to see two huge building wraps for Sony and Samsung, two consumer electronics heavyweights who have maintained their highly visible CES presence for years and years.

At each entrance, safety protocols are clearly explained, and prominently displayed. Badges must be picked up before entering any of the buildings, and to pick up your badge you need to show proof of your vaccine status. Visitors also are advised that they need to wear face masks, and encouraged to social distance, wash their hands frequently and stay the hell out of Dodge — my words — if they feel sick.

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As for me, after working away during the morning, returning emails and phone calls and jotting down some thoughts for our big 25th anniversary of digital entertainment project later this year, I spent the afternoon writing up news releases pertaining to CES 2022 that bombarded my inbox.

(Actually, now that my memory is cleared after a delicious meal at the Sahara’s marquee restaurant, the Noodle Den, that was editor in chief Stephanie Prange and senior news editor Erik Gruenwedel. But I kept up with what they were posting on my iPhone while on a six-mile hike at Red Rock Canyon.)

I can certainly see Gary Shapiro’s point when he says the show must go on. Shapiro, of course, is the CEO and president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producer of CES — and he’s come under fire for allowing the show to proceed despite the surge in COVID-19 cases and fears, by some, that CES could become a super-spreader event.

Speaking yesterday afternoon on the Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown,” he talked of the show’s critically important role in furthering technology and innovation, particularly among startups.

But he also addressed the symbolic importance of CES 2022 proceeding, insisting that he and his team have done everything in their power to keep everyone safe.

“We’ve done everything we’re supposed to,” he said. “We’ve relied on medical experts. We were the first big event to say everyone must be vaccinated. … Now, let me tell you. … Millions of people go to sporting events around the United States every week. They’re not required to be vaccinated. They’re not required to be masked. And they certainly don’t test. So we’re doing all three of those. … We’ve also taken all sorts of other safety protocols, from limiting seats in conference rooms, requiring social distancing, new types of ventilation, much, much wider aisles — one-way aisles, often. So we’ve done everything we possibly can.”

He added, “Look, it’s time to get back to normal. … It’s important that business stay and continue the course and we go forward. We have to stop staying in our homes and start living again.”

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