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This blog posted was originally published on 1 April 2021 as part of our April Fool’s newsletter. It is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
With worldwide events on hold or cancelled, we’re all getting a bit desperate to have some sort of industry event. That’s why it’s welcome news to hear that CES will be rolling out the red carpet in Las Vegas once again in 2022! Nancy and I are very excited to sync up in person with colleagues throughout the industry, although admittedly, the precautions for attendees seem a bit long and arduous. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look at what’s in store for us in another nine months.
RFID vaccine passports
This sounds like a great idea. Having to have everyone’s paperwork manually checked at the entry of each hall would make for some really long lines. So having a battery of physicians at the airport checking people’s vaccine records and affixing an RFID tag to those for fast clearance seems like a brilliant tech-enabled compromise.
Bluetooth proximity warning
It won’t be optional this time; everyone at CES2022 will need to have the CES app to attend the show. That’s because in the background, the app will be sending out Bluetooth pings to see if anyone is within two meters. The way it’s supposed to work is that once two people get too close, both people’s phones will receive a Wireless Emergency Alert like we get when there’s a tornado or a missing child. I don’t know about you, but these emergency alerts on my phone are really loud. I’m hoping we all quickly get used to standing far away from everyone else.
Hall capacity limits
This seems to be one of the more dramatic limitations of a COVID-aware CES – they’ll be limiting the number of people within each hall to 150 at a time. Of course, everyone’s first thought is about the lines, but it sounds like they’ve really thought hard about that problem. There will be a line lottery – you’ll be able to buy tickets at several kiosks stationed around the airport and in some of the major hotels along the strip. Without a winning ticket, you won’t be allowed to stand in line, so that should limit the lines to a reasonable length. Thankfully, they’ll also be closing down Paradise Road, Convention Center Drive, and Desert Inn Road for five miles around the convention center to allow for the especially long queues enforced by two-meter separation.
Limited booth builds
To prevent the thousands of work crews used to assemble the booths, all booths will be limited to what a single person can bring in by hand, and there will only be one person allowed to staff each booth. It sounds like that means Audi, Hyundai, Ford, Jeep, and all the other big OEMs with massive booths will have to constrain themselves to a roll-up sign or two. Thankfully as an incentive for vendors to return, a 10’x10’ pipe and drape booth is being provided for free.
Contact tracing cards
Everyone will receive an electronic business card that they’ll pick up with their badge. That card will have an embedded NFC chip so that everyone can share their contact details with others without touching – just wave your cards at each other. The cards also will have a built-in 5G transmitter so every meeting will be transmitted and stored in a CES master database. That way, if there are any COVID outbreaks they’ll know the network of people each infected person met, allowing contract tracing to be handled quickly and easily.
The business cards will be powered by a non-rechargeable Li-Ion battery that is expected to last at least three hours. Unfortunately, the cards will use an 18650 size battery, which isn’t the most easily locatable. Thankfully replacement batteries will be available at the badge desks for $24.77 a piece. They’ll also have concrete and steel battery disposal bunkers at selected spots along the strip, with a dry chemical fire extinguisher button in case of a Li-Ion fire.
Unfortunately, if you meet up with someone you already know, you won’t be inclined to tap cards, so this card-based contact tracing clearly won’t work in that case. Thankfully, they’re encouraging attendees to exclusively meet up with new people, which is probably good advice anyway.
Personal bubbles for events
Probably the most creative solution CES will be providing is how they will host the famous after-parties and keynotes. For these bigger in-person events they’ll require event-attendees to wear hazmat suits. This will serve to keep people safe as well as prevent spreading of any germs. For extra safety, the presenters or entertainers on stage will also be wearing the suits.
Hazmat suits will be available at vending machines all up and down the strip for a down-right reasonable price of $59.95. Since they take a bit of practice to get on, I’m happy to hear they’ll also have strategically situated hazmat suit-wearing staff to help people.
Sounds like they’ve got it all figured out! We’re excited to go, and we’ll see you there!