The Most Over-the-Top Booths of CES 2023

The Most Over-the-Top Booths of CES 2023

Shower head fountain displays, fake motorcycles, and silly dances were all there for this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

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Bosch had an open booth on the floor of CES 2023 showing off how the character Shawn uses machine learning chips.
Gif: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

CES is known for excess, and despite COVID giving presenters a bit of a break the past couple of years, the world’s premiere tech convention has not changed one bit. Walking around to the various booths on display across Las Vegas during CES 2023, tech companies were using some extravagant tricks to get consumers and industry folks alike to stop off at their booths.

Predictably, there were plenty of massive screen displays from the likes of Samsung and LG, and there was no shortage of strobing lights from any number of companies in the dark halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and beyond.

Some booths still had some charm with how much energy (and money) they put into standing out, but other companies were so focused on standing out that it was hard to tell which tech was actually a part of their product lineup and what was there just for show. As much fun as it is to make fun of big tech’s fascination with excess and spectacle, at a certain point, the product has to shine through. Considering all the tech companies on display this past week, there was only so much that really caught our eye.

There’s something about the way big tech brands have tried to “mainstream-ify” that makes me yearn for the days of unapologetic dorks from the late ‘90s and early 2000s. At least those early tech keynotes had a sense of earnestness when we watched folks from Microsoft get jiggy on stage. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was any one display this year that will become an instant classic like they have in the past.

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Bosch

Bosch

Gif: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

Bosch’s ongoing “Like a Bosch” campaign is a strong contender when it comes to cringe. As self-aware as the company might think it’s being, the video advertisement is like if Weird Al Yankovich’s White & Nerdy routinely failed to self-parody nerd culture and just made the joke “reedy white dude in collared shirt does… things.”

What’s more, seeing Shawn from the Bosch campaign videos get up on stage to show off the company’s BHI 380 machine learning sensors by doing a hand waving “exercise” was so silly that it was somehow boring.

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USPS

USPS

USPS booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

The United States Postal Service has been coming to CES for years and years, but its 2023 display included a showcase of the delivery service’s massive electric postal truck, 66,000 of which should be hitting the road by 2028. But beyond its latest EV, the USPS went all out on its 20- by 30-foot wall display, which included several Pac-Man like games where you had to distribute mail to postboxes. People cursed under their breath at the shoddy controls as they struggled to get the vehicle to deliver their packages before time ran out.

And to top it off, the neighboring booth for shipping company Rollo included a similarly sized van of its own on display. But this purple monstrosity included these words printed on its side: “Stop Going to the Post Office.”

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Nikon

Nikon

Gif: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

Nikon’s huge stage didn’t just include a a rotating cast of industry execs talking up anything and everything to do with lenses. The camera company also gave CES attendees the opportunity to hop on a fake motorcycle and, I imagine, make engine revving noises with their lips. A camera attached to a robot mount then videoed the subject from different angles before showing the edited video up on screen.

Not to knock anybody wanting to look cool on the big screen, but I doubt many filmmakers are looking at a robot camera mount and thinking “that’s exactly what I need, a way to get rid of crane operators.”

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Hisense

Hisense

Hisense booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

The appliance and electronics manufacturer Hisense didn’t just include a waterfall with its display. The company also thought it needed a smart waterfall that could write words that fell from the sky, such as “ULED X” to promote its brand of LED televisions.

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Caliverse

Caliverse

Caliverse booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

Caliverse, a virtual reality company, came to CES 2023 with not just a few virtual reality headsets, but enough to fill a small theater. All these headsets were there to help generate buzz for the company’s conception of the “metaverse,” the still-nebulous concept of a shared VR space. They were all part of the Caliverse Hyper-Realistic Metaverse experience, which used Unreal Engine graphics to showcase such beautiful destinations as an office building or shopping mall. We here at Gizmodo have been plenty skeptical about digital scarcity, digital “land,” and the metaverse in totality, but sitting down next to dozens of other users to experience a CGI shopping mall is probably the worst thing I could do with my time.

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HYPERVSN

HYPERVSN

Gif: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

The hologram company Hypervsn wanted to showcase its 3D avatar technology, and what better way to do that than to get nerds to dance?

The tech is certainly cool, but in the end we’re still stuck with the spinning blade version of holograms, which limits their application for anything but pure novelty. The promise of holograms is also the promise of real three-dimensional content, and though the company did show off some neat applications for the technology, modern hologram tech is colorful but undetailed.

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Sony

Sony

Sony booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

Folks have paid a lot of attention to Sony and Honda’s announced EV prototype, dubbed Afeela, but what the company displayed on the CES show floor was a large, smooth vehicle with an advertisement for Spider-Man: No Way Home plastered on the front grill. That bar will supposedly also display other information such as the weather or its charge state, though there’s still a question of “why” I don’t think enough people are asking. The company drove the car onto the stage during the Sony keynote and told attendees it will be sticking a whole lot of cameras and sensors into the thing, from Qualcomm Snapdragon chips to Unreal Engine graphics.

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Holon

Holon

Holon Booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

You know your display is big when I have to stand more than 20 feet away to fit your logo into frame. At first, you don’t even realize the company name because of how big the letters are, and as you’re trying to figure out if the company name is “Hol” or “Holo,” you’ve already missed that it’s trying to push a big, LED-lined shoe box on wheels as the next autonomous electric vehicle. It’s got a 60 MPH speed, apparently, but we are still far away from seeing full autonomous driving on the roads, let alone self-driving taxis.

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Copilot

Copilot

Copilot booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

You’ve probably never heard of Copilot before, since it’s a consulting company for brand engagement. Though you probably wouldn’t know it by itsKohl big display booth featuring a plane cockpit and people on stage dressed in fighter pilot garb.

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Kohler

Kohler

Kohler booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

The plumbing products company Kohler showed up at CES with a massive shower head fountain extravaganza. It was silly, yes, but my first instinct was the same I have in front of any public fountain: to dive in and play.

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Nose Metal

Nose Metal

Nose Metal booth at CES 2023
Photo: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

Could you tell what product this is by the closed booth? Is it for electric amps or guitars? Then why does one of the signs next to the door read “stop snoring?” Why are there two men dressed in hair metal outfits holding blow up guitars?

Well, the actual product is a pillow thats detect when a user is snoring and rolls their head as they sleep to help keep their airway clear. I put my hand on it and could immediately tell I would find the pillow very uncomfortable just because of the bars shoved in between the layers of foam. I turn in my sleep already, and I know any awkward feeling on the pillow would keep me indefinitely awake, far more than any snoring.

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