Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

With an event as big as the Consumer Electronics Show, there are bound to be mishaps. In fact, with more than 180,000 attendees from around the world descending on Las Vegas for the annual event, it’s surprising there aren’t more each year.

Of course, nothing can top last year’s #blackoutgate, where rain caused a power outage in the Las Vegas Convention Center, skidding the show to a complete halt. Samsung, LG, and other hallmark booths were eerily black for about two hours until the Consumer Technology Association, which runs the show, was able to get electricity restored.

While there hasn’t been anything as big as a blackout this year, we at Digital Trends have seen a few flubs and missteps at CES 2019. Here are some highlights.

1. Booth bros

At CES 2018, it was hard to miss the scantily clad cheerleaders at Pepcom greeting attendees, handing out schwag, and generally serving as eye candy for attendees. Organizers took some heat for the decision to include them last year, and this year they tried to compensate — poorly we must say — with “booth bros.”

This year, it was the dudely looking men in football uniforms who did the greeting and handing out of the schwag. While intentions might have been good, we found ourselves rolling our eyes again. Maybe it’s time to just drop the idea of having people dress up in costumes that reinforce gender stereotypes?

2. Booth babes

In the past, “booth babes,” or attractive women sometimes wearing next to nothing, have been extremely common at booths at CES, where the majority of attendees are men. We will say this: We saw considerably fewer “booth babes” overall on the CES floor this year. But … they’re still around, albeit in a toned-down kind of way. This year, Nikon propped a scantily clad model on a pedestal so that people could test out the cameras by taking photos with her, and the cars area of the show had many. The CTA took steps this year to be more inclusive of women, which we appreciate. Let’s hope more exhibitors follow suit next year.

3. Approving, then booting, then reinstating a company that works with the cannabis industry

This is such a weird story: Apparently, CloudPay, a retail automation and payments company that works with the cannabis industry, had been approved by the CTA for entry into the show and was setting up their booth on Sunday when a floor manager walked by and saw the word “weed” at their display. Shortly after, security came and told them to leave.

“Security came in and told us we had to take down our booth, and it had to be by the end of day. All of our stuff was going into the back, and could not be on the CES floor,” CloudPay CEO Joey Ricard wrote in a post on Medium.

Now, the CTA has never been a fan of cannabis tech, so it’s not really surprising. What is surprising, though, is that CloudPay sought, got, and paid for the right to be on the show floor. Despite this, the company was forced to tear down their booth. After hours of discussion with representatives of the CTA, it was allowed to return to the floor.

4. Giving, then taking away an innovation award for a women’s sex toy

This one takes the cake. Apparently, the Ose Robotic Massager, a sex toy for women, was named an honoree in the robotics and drones category for the CES Innovation Awards. An independent panel votes on entries and when a device scores enough votes, it’s automatically an honoree.

The celebration for the women-owned company was short-lived, however, as after being notified they were given the award, the CTA revoked it on grounds that it apparently violated obscenity rules. At a show that’s historically showcased sex tech geared toward men, it’s more than a bit ironic.

CTA spokesperson Sarah Brown told The Verge that the award was revoked because “the product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program.”

We reached out to the CTA to try and understand how sex tech geared toward men is acceptable, but sex toys geared toward women are not. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

5. Fake news! Some media duped by a fake story about a robot/Tesla collision

On Tuesday, many media outlets, including Digital Trends, got an email about how an autonomous Tesla ran over a robot on the Las Vegas Strip, doing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the robot.

While red flags were raised here at Digital Trends (this story is way too good to be true, the editors agreed), other news outlets, including the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, ran with the story. No one has come forward confirming it was a stunt, but a lack of a police confirmation kept us from reporting it.

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