This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as it is annually, was a launch pad for many new and some out of this world tech innovations. As the name suggests, most of the technology introduced in this grand event, albeit some just concepts, are all aimed at and will be in the market for regular people with regular needs. CES 2017 was bursting with new mobile devices and entertainment systems but it is also equally affluent of forward-looking devices for the home.
From the devices unveiled, we managed to come up with a blueprint of what would possibly take up space in the homes of the future.
IoT is set to shake up our way of life
Last time we checked, the Internet of Things (IoT) was the main trend that drives future homes forward and we can safely say that remains to be the reality. The increasing awareness and coming out of more and more connected devices meant for home use are textbook indicators that IoT is well upon us and it shows no signs of slowing down. Who would shut out the idea of home automation when it would make life more convenient, anyway?
Industry observers have expressed that the IoT trend is bound to grow more significant and turn into the “The Internet of Everything.” Smart connectivity will extend to practically any endpoint in the home or workplace, possibly blurring the lines between the digital and the physical world—it’s a dream come true for all the sci-fi geeks out there.
The show floor of CES had no shortage of home automation things. One that took the spotlight was Amazon’s Alexa. There wasn’t an Amazon booth to begin with, but its intelligent voice-activated assistant was everywhere, which can be attributed to the availability of the Alexa developer kit. Its integration into various types of devices shows that Alexa works well as an entry point for connected home control—or could also be that we take delight in the idea of bossing this virtual assistant around to do tasks on our behalf.
What else is there for the home of the future? More. Better home automation hubs are to be expected and with this comes more adept data security solutions. Home devices, not so far from now, will ship with built-in artificial intelligence, predictive algorithms, voice control, and all sorts of sensors. In a nutshell, everything will be plenty smarter and promises to make life more comfortable. There are loose ends, but it looks as if all that’s about to be tied into a tight knot sooner than you think.
For now, here are some devices you might see in the homes of the future:
Lenovo Smart Assistant
One of the world’s largest PC makers, Lenovo, was ‘inspired’ by Amazon’s Alexa in creating its Smart Assistant. This Smart Assistant speaker takes after a typical tumbler but has integrated features that allows the owner to ask it to play music, search terms and facts, read books, set alarms, and whatnot by voice. It’s basically an Alexa made by Lenovo—in any case, it is powered by Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice services. What’s different is, it will retail in eye-catching colors and comes adorned with aesthetic elements. Inside, there’s an Intel Atom processor in charge of running tasks and eight far-field microphones to capture the user’s voice.
For consumers who want more kick in their audio, Lenovo’s also releasing a Harman Kardon version of this Smart Assistant speaker.
LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator
The Alexa integration continues in the LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator. This is probably the coolest smart refrigerator we have seen so far. It highlights a 29-inch touch screen InstaView panel upfront. The panel is able to turn translucent to show the contents of the fridge when you knock on it and also into a touchscreen display where you can do anything you’d normally do on a smartphone like play music, search for recipes, make shopping lists, shop online, and more. With webOS and Alexa integration, you can also opt to talking to your fridge instead. How cool is that.
Additionally, LG has also introduced the Hub Robot which also borrows skills from Amazon’s Alexa. This little robot that resembles Eve from Wall-e can connect smart LG devices in the home and communicate with family members through its built-in speaker and camera.
Samsung Family Hub 2.0 Refrigerator
This smart fridge from Samsung has the same selling points as the LG’s smart fridge. On its right door is a stunning 21.5-inch touchscreen LED display, which is a wee bit larger than last year’s model. The Family Hub 2.0 also comes with an improved interface and a range of apps to make fridge organization and cooking much easier. What’s more, you could also play music on it, mirror a TV screen, and ask it to do things via voice activation care of the company’s own S-Voice proprietary system.
Like its other Korean tech giant rival, Samsung also introduced its POWERbot VR7000 Robot vacuum at the recently concluded CES. The latest in the company’s POWERbot line of vacuum cleaners, this intelligent cleaning unit features powerful suction and a sleek design perfect for modern homes.
Whirlpool Smart Care Washer/Dryer
Washer and dryers in one machine is not news but when you throw in Wi-Fi and other smart features into the loot, it becomes a device worth looking at. Come Whirlpool’s Smart Care Washer and Dryer combo. You get the gist, it’s a washer and dryer in one with Wi-Fi support and works with the supplementary Whirlpool app to give you more control over your laundry.
Whirlpool has also announced that most of its smart appliances will soon be Alexa-enabled.
While everyone wants to get in on the voice activation fanfare, some chose not to. CES 2017 was also a platform for the introduction of products such as smart windows that can sense weather changes and can be controlled through one’s phone, robots that are actually functional, smart lamps, air purifiers, automated trash cans, smart hair brush, smart hubs that can learn the usage behaviour of people at home, and more.
Most of these new devices are gearing up for availability in the consumer market soon. Meanwhile, some probably will be on the chopping block, so you might as well check these devices while you can. You might even spot a thing or two for your future home.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2017 Issue
Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos