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LAS VEGAS — When Carnival CEO Arnold Donald takes the stage at CES 2017 in Las Vegas on Thursday to deliver the opening keynote, it will be one of the few times in the event’s 50-year history that someone from outside the tech world gets top billing at the biggest gadget event of the year.
Donald plans to talk about how connected devices can change your life, and his company is putting its money where its mouth is.

Carnival is launching a small next-generation wearable that’s supposed to make your leisure time more leisurely and streamline everything you do on board the ship. It’s called the Ocean Medallion, and it’s no bigger than a quarter. You can wear it on your wrist or as a pendant on a chain, or even just slipped into the pocket of your jeans. No matter where you put it, it’s always working.

I had the exclusive first hands-on test-run with this new gadget Tuesday, ahead of the launch, in a 14-thousand square-foot virtual cruise ship that Carnival built on the CES showroom floor. The way it works is this: When you sign up for a cruise and establish your likes and dislikes — your basic vacation profile — you can opt-in for the Ocean Medallion free of charge. The company mails you the laser-etched disc with your name engraved on it, equipped with the latest Bluetooth and NFC technology.