The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off its 50th anniversary last week, showcasing the most interesting, eyebrow-raising, imagination-sparking technology coming down the pike.

As with all major business and cultural events, perception is everything. So just how did CES fare, according to the plugged-in tastemakers talking on Twitter plus copious media coverage? Zignal Labs used its Zignal Enterprise platform to evaluate and analyze the full spectrum of media and social conversations around CES.

Overall, CES is a story of winners…and more winners. At 85 percent positive sentiment overall plus 225K average mentions per day, the show clearly resonated with people and inspired active sharing and engagement, the holy grail for show organizers and participating brands. The most used emojis also radiated positivity, including the camera, raised hands, clapping, trophy, new and fire.

That said, no show is without its hitches and glitches. For CES, that’s obviously Wednesday when heavy rains knocked out power for two hours, spawning the show’s third-most popular hashtag, #CESBlackout. Although some attendees were fazed, others used the inconvenience as an opportunity to showcase their own cleverness (e.g. “I love how like, electricity just big-footed #CES2018 in the most apex predator way. Like, “how’s all that innovation going for you now, losers?” #CESblackout”).

Intel was the big brand winner. CEO Brian Krzanich slayed with a very successful keynote, setting the stage perfectly for Intel and ultimately delivering 92 percent positive sentiment around the brand. Intel also got props for its new Qbit chip and its big partnership with Ferrari to bring artificial intelligence to the world of motorsports. Its 5G autonomous vehicle technology was of no small interest to CES participants. The brand was also strongly associated with CES’s most compelling technologies, AI and VR, according to our Word Cloud. And it earned kudos for its partnership with Lenovo.

But the automotive industry continues to dominate CES. Is CES a broad consumer tech showcase – or a car show? The automotive industry continues to bring it, broadly grabbing hearts and minds of showgoers. As the most mentioned industry, big news that resonated included Toyota for launching its new mobility ecosystem and concept vehicle. Its partnership with Pizza Hut for launching an autonomous delivery vehicle was also compelling. (It’s worth noting that Pizza Hut’s tweet got major social love – the best engagement for a single brand message at CES).

AI and VR stayed front and center. No longer the realm of science fiction, CES was particularly exciting this year because people are clearly seeing that AI and VR are no longer confined to science fiction but are real, tangible, and poised to make big gains in the coming years. Samsung jumped into the discussion with a bold prediction that in just two short years, all connected devices will have AI. Google held the center position in the Word Cloud focused on AI following its first appearance at the show. Blackrock chatted up the concept of AI-driven personalization in the transaction space. And on the VR front, there were positive mentions driven by Google’s Worldsense VR headset, Dell’s VR-ready Inspiron gaming desktop, Huawei’s VR2 and HTC’s Vive Pro product announcements.

Smartphone innovation remains interesting to people. Perhaps because the personal devices are, well, so personal to people, smartphones continue to be a strong focus area for social conversations connected to CES. The Samsung Galaxy S9, while not explicitly mentioned at CES, still got its share of attention online. Razer’s Project Linda connects a smartphone and laptop in what the company’s billing as “the ultimate mobile hybrid setup for gaming, creativity, and productivity.” Vivo’s in-screen fingerprint reader will, some think, drive changes to handset design this year. Meanwhile, Blackberry Motion is coming to the US and Blackberry KeyOne will be introduced in bronze.

Did you go to CES? What did you think?