CES-2018-consumer-electronics-show

During the second week of January, as reality was setting in after the holidays, Las Vegas was flooded with bleeding edge tech inventions – and several feet of water.

Over 170,000 people hit the strip for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a global stage for innovation that consumes – and congests – the city for four days. While attendees desperately competed for the most efficient method of transportation between venues, rain flipped the switch on both a 103-day dry spell and the lights at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).

A power outage, caused by condensation from the heavy rainfall, occurred at one of the biggest electronics events in the world. Isn’t it ironic?

#CESblackout began trending on Twitter almost instantly and brands wasted no time capitalizing on the mishap. LG took the opportunity to promote the “perfect black” of its OLED television and Jasco jumped at the chance to shine a light on its partner, Energizer. Even Oreo joined in, with a tweet that read “five years later, we’re still good in the dark” – a nod to the tweet it shared during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, which has generated over 15,000 retweets and almost 7,000 likes.

We were at CES to investigate the latest tech trends on behalf of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). While other attendees were going gaga over gadgets like washing machines that fold clothes or getting dazed by Intel’s drone light show over the Bellagio fountain, we were hunting for ingenuity that will help shape the future of the airline passenger experience.

From handheld translation devices capable of reducing language barriers on board, to identification cards that recognize insider threats at airports by leveraging biometrics and artificial intelligence, CES was crawling with technology – including robotic suitcases – that will directly affect the aviation industry.

We tested self-service virtual reality kiosks that give travelers a sneak peek of their destination and saw demos of Lufthansa’s latest FlyingLab products, including a chair with a privacy cocoon featuring an integrated display, slippers with sensors that allow passengers to play video games with their feet to reduce the risk of thrombosis and smart glasses that flight attendants can wear to take passengers’ food and beverage orders.

Perhaps the most noteworthy device was a short story dispenser. Already spewing words on paper at airports in France and Canada, it’s an example of how taking a step back can be the way forward.