CES can be stressful. The overcrowded conference halls, tight deadlines and little sleep can lead to feeling overwhelmed and anxious, but this year I discovered the healing powers of full-body massage chairs, and it made all the difference.
I was dispatched to the show floor with the job of finding interesting and out-of-the-ordinary products. South Korean company BodyFriend fit the bill with its high-end massage chairs. The company was showing off a variety of chairs, all with stunning designs. These aren't ordinary massage chairs. A company representative highlighted how BodyFriend's chairs are designed for millennials.
The design of chairs is what you would get if you bred a first-class airplane seat with a sport car. They are sleek and stylish, and I wasn't the only who thought so. The booth was packed with individuals looking to test them out. BodyFriend was even awarded a prestigious Red Dot Design Award for the Rex-L, the model I ended up trying.
The company was also showing off a deluxe model, called Aventar. I didn't get to actually try it out, but the chair's feature list was something to marvel at. In addition to massaging you, the Aventar can also be used for gaming. It include LED lighting, 5.1 surround sound, programmable shortcut buttons and support for virtual reality, which will allow it to integrate with different games to provide realistic movement and feedback.
The Aventar won't arrive until 2018. Pricing isn't finalized, but the company said it will likely be double that of of the Rex-L (somewhere around $13,000 to $15,000).
My experience with the Rex-L was surreal. The chair was extremely comfortable, but then again with a price tag at around $7,000, it damn well better be. What shocked me was the amount of technology inside of it. The Rex-L is equipped with speakers that can play music from your phone over Bluetooth. (Future models will include speakers from Harman Kardon). It also includes two biometric sensors that the company claims can measure stress and identify when different people sit in the chair.
The Rex-L determined that I was overworked (shocking) and it tailored my massage to hit certain stress points. The chair includes 25 different modes for stress, healing, recovery and sleeping (yes, you can sleep in the chair). I tried only one mode, but that's all it took. I was sold. The experience was incredible, and after 5 minutes I was feeling like a different person. I was seriously considering buying one of these chairs. I didn't care about the price, but I eventually came down from my high and realized it wasn't realistic for a New York City apartment.
I thought that would be the end of it, but I found even more chairs as I walked through the conference hall. I never realized there was a high-end massage chair market. I ended up trying out two other brands (could you blame me?) -- Infinity and Cozzia. The chars were similar. They had Bluetooth speakers, multiple modes to choose from and high price tags.
Each model also had its own highlight feature. The $10,000 Infinity Imperial offered built-in USB ports for charging your devices, as well as an "air ionizer" to improve oxygen intake by blowing fresh air in your face. The $13,000 Cozzia Qi included biometric sensors similar to BodyFriend, but information was presented in front of you on an included iPad Mini.
All three delivered excellent massages. I felt refreshed each time I got up, but it's hard to judge which was the best without trying the exact same mode on each. I may have to go back next year for additional "testing," but if I had to choose it would likely be the BodyFriend Rex-L, mainly for the sleek and stylish design.