With a massive footprint, taking over a dozen venues across Las Vegas, CES 2019 continues to be the industry jumping-off point and proving ground for technological innovation and, in our case, experience design and engagement.
As we hit the ground running on day one of the show Jan. 8, we noticed more experiences than any other year that felt like activations rather than exhibits—designed to engage the consumer side of CES attendees, rather than be a straight b-to-b play. We are noticing color after years of sleek white or black motifs, more demo “pods,” and theater-style video walls. Check out our running coverage of highlights and trends below, updated regularly, and hop on over to our YouTube channel for quick video walkthroughs of the biggest booths.
Google’s ‘The Ride’
Proving product demos and chats can be as fun as a theme park ride, literally, Google’s super-sized presence at CES for the second year in a row was the talk of the town. On top of product integrations throughout the show floor and those larger-than-life gum ball machines serving up sweet prizes, the brand built “The Ride,” a theatrical tour of Google Assistant with lifestyle vignettes, music, smells, strobe-lighting and other multi-sensory effects. Pure. Fun.
American Express’ Consumer-Friendly Footprint
Founded in 1850, American Express’ history in financial services and customer support runs deep. To highlight that messaging and offer consumer-friendly creature comforts to its business audiences at CES, American Express created a retro-style activation outside the convention center complete with a charging station and lounge, a cookie bar, premium counter and a professional headshot station. Other Amex activations across the show floor included a sneaker-cleaning station and a hand-massage and phone-cleaning service.
The Audi ‘Colosseum’ and Color Play
Color returned to the show floor at CES in a big way, and in the automotive space, Audi’s design sparkled. Against crisp white floors, the footprint included a circular, multi-level gathering zone for product talks and lounging, and stairs, ramps and other architectural features that guided attendees up to the top. Surrounding the footprint—LED blades that changed color every few moments.
John Deere’s CES Debut—and Gargantuan Photo Op
Artificial intelligence touches many industries, including agriculture and heavy equipment. John Deere for the first time exhibited at CES to demonstrate the various technologies that change the way people use its machinery, including precision and autonomous driving. The talk of the show: That harvester everyone wanted a photo with. Including us.
LG’s Immersive Tunnel Reign Continues
While it is making headlines for its roll-up OLED TV, LG once again is captivating attendees with immersive multimedia content designed for curved screens. In the past, LG created a literal tunnel of OLED screens that attendees took turns walking into to experience. This year, LG created a wave effect with screens at the entrance to its booth in Central Hall.
Sony Goes Bold Industrial
The “industrial cool” design style, consisting of woods, metals and wire, has been a popular motif in experience design for several years, but Sony has stripped it down even further at CES. The entrance to the booth is a giant Sony logo made of a black metal mesh material outlined in LED that stands on a bed of plywood—plain, untreated plywood. Inside the footprint: Metal stacks, grey shipping containers and mini studios for demos that look like factory district storefronts.
Intel’s Cause-Driven Photo Activation
Highlighting its partnership with National Geographic and Resolve on TrailGuard AI cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect poachers and alert rangers—a mission for Intel in using AI to positively impact the world—Intel created a mini “forest” within its footprint at CES. The entrance offers a display and video introduction to the partnership and technology. Then, attendees can literally walk through a pod complete with forest sounds and trees, ducking and climbing through. When they come out the other side, they are handed a print-out with a photo of the AI trail camera “catching” them as “suspected poacher.”
Samsung Creates a Connected City Skyline
In what may be our favorite booth entrance so far, Samsung has created a cityscape lined with (a new element this year) mini LED screens with content that rotates to highlight all of the different people that use Samsung technology in the connected world. When you step inside the footprint and arrive at the “city center,” complete with crisscrossing street signs, you experience a 360-degree skyline effect. We like it.
Polaroid Invites Attendees to Snap and Create
In a colorful, whimsical and nostalgia-inducing booth, Polaroid Originals is promoting its instant print cameras and printers, including the Polaroid OneStep+ that offers features like double exposure and light painting. As such, the booth design is all about the demo with multiple photo activations led by brand ambassadors armed with the product, a creative techniques workshop station and more. A giant OneStep+ camera installation sits at the entrance and a rotating chandelier of instant prints overhead anchors the back of the footprint.