CES is a physically taxing event. So far, according to my trusty Fitbit Versa, I have walked upwards of 50,000 steps while carrying a 15-pound backpack. I busted my knee, I’m fighting a cold, and I don’t remember what the loving embrace of a human feels like.
But as every CES veteran knows, there are a lot of stupid chairs at the Sands Expo. Massage chairs that can be used and abused to soothe tired feetsies and aching backs. And then there’s BodyFriend’s ridiculous Lamborghini massage chairs.
These monstrosities are $30,000 and inspired by the Lamborghini Aventador. It’s the type of chair that’s supposed to stimulate the loins of rich fools, and to prove it, BodyFriend had booth babes clad in sparkle minidresses gyrating around an actual Lamborghini on the show floor and the massage chairs itself. Lewd and rude, considering CES rescinded an Innovation award over a vibrator.
But the undeniable truth is if you’re exhausted and need a break, even something as hideous as this starts to look attractive. So I waited in line, let an attendant wrap my feet in weird sanitary sock things, and handed my body over to the chair so it could go to town on my aching muscles.
It’s hard to describe the harrowing experience that followed. Are massages supposed to be painful? Are the chairs supposed to squeeze your arms and shoulders to the point where you can feel your own pulse? Are they supposed to stretch your limbs until you’re slightly afraid your ankles are about to pop out of their sockets? Is it supposed to feel like the chair is squeezing your butt or stabbing you multiple times between the shoulder blades?
As the chair blasted what sounded like Sephiroth’s theme from Final Fantasy VII in my ears, I vaguely thought that maybe this is what it would be like to be cradled in Optimus Prime’s embrace after a few tequila shots. He is, after all, a machine who would not understand that I am a squishy meat bag of a human.
Gizmodo Video Producer Eleanor Fye likes massage chairs, but when she too tried it out, confirmed my suspicions the BodyFriend chair was a bit aggressive in its ministrations.
I tried out many, many other massage chairs—after three days of walking around Vegas, my body is wrecked and needs all the help it can get. None particularly worked for me, even though everyone else around me seemed to be having the time of their lives. It’s possible that’s because I’m shorter than average, and these chairs seem to be best suited for the average male body. Whenever the chairs would bend or knead, it always seemed just a smidge off-kilter. (Neck massages always felt like someone was trying to snap my spine in two, like in those spy movies.)
But after trying them all, the only one I liked was the somewhat fuddy-duddy looking MedSense shiatsu massage chairs. Although they were medical grade and could be bought using an FSA, I didn’t have the highest hopes. But they did not uncomfortably stretch or pinch me. I was not pulled. Or punched, or groped on my butt, or blasted with apocalyptic orchestral music. It actually worked out a gnarly knot in my back. Which just goes to show, sometimes it’s better to ignore the flashy tech and try something a bit more humble.