2014 International CES Breaks Record 2 Million Square Feet

January 9, 2014

From wearables to robots to driverless cars, the Consumer Electronic Association's 2014 International CES, the world's largest tech event, delivered impressive amount of innovation Jan. 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and other venues around the city.

The show set a new record at 2 million net square feet, compared with 1.92 million sq. ft. in 2013, and featured about 3,250 exhibitors, on par with last year. Attendance was expected to be close to 150,000.

"It's our largest show due to the growth happening in technology," said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of International CES and Corporate Business Strategy.

Pre-show events kicked off amid numerous flight cancelations due to the Polar Vortex on the East Coast. "We all think about what happens when our customers get here, but what happens when they can't?" Chupka said.

For press day on Sunday, content was streamed online sooner than originally planned. Another adjustment was potentially adding shuttles directly from the airport to the venue.

"We expect that weather has created some challenges, but it didn't have a huge effect on our attendance," Chupka said.

Currently, the show takes over every square inch at the LVCC, as well as some ballrooms of the LVH next door and the Venetian down the road, but next year, it gets to spill over into the Sands Expo Convention Center as well.

By preliminary estimates, square footage is expected to grow to at least 2.2 – 2.3 million. The new space will also allow the creation of a designated area for wearable technology, a growing industry, making it easier to navigate for attendees.

While there's room to grow for exhibits, hotel space in Las Vegas is at capacity at about 152,000 visitors. When asked about the challenge of balancing growth and limited hotel space, Chupka said, "We are very strategic in marketing to specific categories of attendees, and we try to keep it very industry focused."

After several decades with GES as a general contractor, this year, the show switched to Freeman. "It has been a very big shift for us," Chupka said. "Every part of the show had to be built from scratch, which was a tremendous undertaking."

The experience was an opportunity to start with a clean slate and develop a clean look and feel.

Another first for the show has been the use of Near Field Technology (NFT) in attendee badges, which enabled exhibitors to capture lead information by touching the badges with mobile devices.

CEA got the idea at the Mobile World Congress, but was concerned about the scale of deployment for such a large event.  ITN International delivered. Chupka said. "There's a bit of learning curve but people are very excited about it."

Some 25 TechZones on the showfloor represented the fastest-growing industries in consumer electronics. 3-D printing zone, for example, exploded from 1,500 sq. ft. a couple of years ago to 7,000 sq. ft. The offerings have also gone well past prototype printing and into the realm of edible sugar-based confections and multi-color and texture models.

Advances in tech have also influenced attendee engagement on the showfloor, especially when it comes to personalization.

At the 3-D System exhibit, attendees could get sit down in a photo booth where multiple cameras would generate a 3-D model, which then would be converted into a toy-sized figure.

Craving a moment of fame? Get a series of pictures taken at The New York Times photo booth and see yourself on a personalized cover and in a flip book.

Exhibitor Martine Olivier with the New York-based The Tiffen Company liked the new NFT badges because of fast synching with the lead software and ease of use.

Her one suggestion was adding more functionality on the back end for removing of duplicates to help with data cleansing. As for the traffic, she added, "It has been a crazy busy show for us."

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