CES Unplugged: Power Goes Out at High-Tech Showcase -- Update

By Katherine Bindley Features Dow Jones Newswires

The lights went out at the nation's premier consumer-technology conference, leaving thousands of attendees and a legion of shiny gadgets in the dark.

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The culprit was a power outage at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where tech enthusiasts, corporate vendors and members of the media were on hand for the annual CES show.

The illumination from scores of smartphones equipped with bright screens and flashlight-camera apps filled the massive central hall, home to the booths of Samsung Electronics Co., Intel Corp., Huawei Technologies Co. and dozens of other companies.

The Consumer Technology Association, which runs the conference, said the outage began around 11:15 a.m. PT, and affected the central and south halls of the convention center. It lasted for more than an hour. Power since has been fully restored, the organization said.

Heavy rainfall the day before drenched the streets around the convention center -- buckets were still scattered throughout the halls collecting water from leaks. According to a preliminary assessment, condensation from the rain affected a facility transformer, the CTA said.

Josiah Nuzum was standing near an area where people could sit and experience an automated-driving demo. "This indeed does require power," Mr. Nuzum, a sports-marketing manager with Intel, said sarcastically.

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"Most technology" does, he added. Intel made light of the situation on Twitter.

About 10 minutes after the power went out, a musician who goes by the name Häana was slated to perform live on Intel's stage got up and began playing her electric violin unplugged. A crowd formed around the musician, cheering when she finished.

Around the fringes of the great hall, the normally low-profile vendors of boomboxes and DJ equipment switched to battery power and fired up the dark venue with booming bass and laser lights. Klipsch, a speaker maker, had a boat at its booth. With the lights out and music still playing, it was among the few signs of activity. Vlad Grodzinskiy, who works for the company, hadn't seen anything like the power outage in his 11 visits to CES.

Still, he was unfazed. "We work better with the lights off," he said.

Michelle Valberg was 25 minutes into a visual presentation for Nikon Corp. called "Wild Creatures Extreme Conditions" when the room went dark.

"How ironic, right?" said Ms. Valberg, a photographer, who eventually started mingling with the viewers. "I can't say that's ever happened to me before."

Write to Katherine Bindley at katie.bindley@ wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2018 19:16 ET (00:16 GMT)