Few people have a better perspective on CES than journalists, and one of the most insightful has always been Dan Tynan.

An award-winning writer, editor, and “content strategerizer,” Tynan was witness to the biggest tech show on the planet this year.

We asked him some questions to learn how exhibitors can stand out in a crowd of thousands, which tech shows give him FOMO, and where to get a killer bacon and cheese croissant at CES.

1. Obviously we’re going to start with the CES blackout. Where were you when the lights went out?

Sadly I was not in Central Hall to witness the madness and smell the sadness; I was next door in South Hall. By the time I got to Central, the lights were back on. My first meeting was with folks at Intel, who were there during the blackout. Intel had a violinist on stage in its booth (I’m not sure why), a lovely young woman with red hair. In the darkness, she began playing an impromptu concert, not unlike the orchestra continuing to play on the deck of the Titanic as it slid into the abyss. The people sitting around her used their smartphones to illuminate her performance.

The person I was interviewing captured a video of this. Really sorry I missed that. That was my most interesting almost-moment at CES.

2. When you go to CES, what do you hope to get out of it? Are you looking for one story to cover in depth or trying to find as many interesting stories as possible?

I hope to come back in one piece with my sanity more or less intact. Really, the benefit of CES is seeing the entire industry at once and gleaning the larger trends. I almost never file stories from Vegas; it’s more wool gathering and nest building for later.

3. What was the most interesting conversation you had? Most interesting person you met?

I did a series of Facebook Live interviews with blockchain folks at the Digital Money Summit. Can’t say I understood everything they told me, but the overall takeaway was that blockchain is going to change everything in a profound way. It’s really going to be huge, and Bitcoin is only a teensy tiny piece of it. (Bitcoin is to blockchain like flashlight apps are to your iPhone.) I don’t think people realize just how much of an impact blockchain will have on everything to do with identity and record keeping. Just don’t ask me to explain it.


4. I’m sure your inbox gets drowned in hundreds of CES meeting requests. What makes a product or company stand out to you?

The ones offering free beer, places to sit, a ride, or a massage. Sadly very rare.

5. All right, time for the lightning round – tell us the first answer that pops in your head.

  • Big winner of the show: voice-enabled everything
  • Coolest thing you saw: It’s a tie: there was a haptics billboard using ultrasound to make you ‘feel’ the ads; a voice AI company had technology that could diagnose chronic diseases from the sound of your voice. Yes, really.
  • Wackiest thing you saw: same
  • Tech whose time has come: Alexa & Google Assistant went mainstream in a big way this year
  • Best demo/tech experience: the Bodyfriend massage chair — best friggin’ massage of my life
  • Best food you ate: bacon & cheese croissant in some food stand at the Venetian
  • Worst food you ate: same        

6. Do you still view CES as the bellwether event for consumer tech? What other shows are on your radar as must-attend events?

Surprisingly, yes. I wrote a blog post back in 2008 or 2009 about how CES was dead (I think that was the 3D TV era). Guess I was wrong. The electronics industry continues to generate new ideas and/or reasons for people to empty their wallets.

I also go to BlackHat/DefCon. I think I am one of only a handful of tech journalists who do both shows, maybe the only one. I have been to SXSW, though mostly so I could say I was going. I’ve been to IFA in Berlin, because someone else paid my way and German beer is excellent. And I’m probably going to Collision in New Orleans, because a bunch of my friends went last year and I was experiencing serious FOMO. Also, it’s New Orleans, right in the middle of the music festival. Duh.

7. And finally, how much did you win at the casinos?

I think just going to Vegas is gambling enough, don’t you?