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The Power Went Out at CES

LAS VEGAS—The power went out late Tuesday morning at CES—an awkward inconvenience on the second day of tech’s biggest show of the year. Around 11 a.m. PST, the bustling Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center went dark, confusing tens of thousands of people as they mingled and demoed televisions, VR headsets, smart refrigerators, speakers, and more. (Update: The lights went back on around 1:15 p.m. PST.)


I spoke to two employees of the convention center who told me a transformer has gone out and that Nevada Power was on the way to fix it.
They both said that in the years they’ve worked there, that this had never happened. The power outage only affected the Central Hall, according to another person who works at the convention center. Exhibitors in the Central Hall incude some of the bigger ones at CES, like Panasonic, Qualcomm, Intel, and LG.

I was sitting against the wall writing a story when the lights went out. A collective gasp could be heard across the hall as thousands of people immediately pulled out their phones to light the way. (A few booths still had lights, like the one from Casio, which must have had some kind of backup power source on hand.) It took about 15 minutes before everyone started being asked to leave. After I exited the hall to find out what happened, employees wouldn’t let me back in. My college Will Oremus told me he was in the middle of a virtual reality demo and that none of the passengers noticed because their headsets didn’t stop and they had headphones on.

It wasn’t clear how long it will take for the lights to come back on. In the meantime, the electronics companies, some of which have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up shop here, are almost certainly really pissed off.