Not too long ago, door locks that open without a key or lights that turn on and off to a voice command seemed nothing short of magical. But homes are getting smarter and smarter, and as they do, manufacturers will continue to work to satisfy consumers’ desire to automate some of life’s basic tasks.
The trend continues at this year’s CES, where smart home aficionados will see variations on some favorite themes.
“We’re going to be seeing incremental improvements on everything,” technology consultant Shelly Palmer of The Palmer Group said.
“Things are getting more compatible,” he said, making setup and operation more and more seamless, and voice recognition is getting “much better.”
While that once-novel offering used to lie within the province of Apple, Amazon and other tech giants, Palmer said any manufacturer today “that wants to include voice recognition will include it.”
Rick Kowalski, senior manager of industry and business intelligence for the Consumer Technology Association, which produces CES, said each year’s show reveals “more and more applications, and I think we’ll continue to see interesting ideas.”
“I think top of mind for a lot of people is security,” Kowalski said. “It could be security systems involving something with an alarm, or even door open or close sensors for doors and windows, that type of thing.”
“Additionally, smart thermostats are popular, that let people control temperature very easily and tend to learn your habits,” Kowalski said. “These kind of (devices) incorporate your daily habits.”
This year will see “a little more integration into the kitchen and bathroom,” Kowalski said, with smart faucets, mirrors and even toilets.
“Instead of us taking care of the home, the home will start taking care of us and automate a lot of needs of the past,” Kowalski said.
Devices that can monitor a home’s functions are a popular subset of smart devices, and while some may not have the gee-whiz quality of a fancy smart door lock or intelligent thermostat, they can serve practical, even money-saving, purposes.
For example, the Phyn Smart Water Assistant, which can be installed under a sink by an average do-it-yourselfer, monitors the amount of water used at various fixtures around a home. It allows a homeowner to track water use and prevent excessive use, and alerts the homeowner when a leak has been detected somewhere in the home.
It’s a Last Gadget Standing finalist at CES 2020.
Smart lights are another way automation is creeping casually into everyday life. Twinkly offers an artistic twist on a smart lighting theme with its line of customizable LED string lights that are controlled by a smart phone app.
The strings of 150 to 400 LEDS can be used to decorate a Christmas tree or an outdoor patio in several color combinations. Taking a smart phone photo of the layout within the Twinkly app maps the environment and sets the stage for creating effects, changing colors and adding animation. The LEDs also can be linked to smart home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control and can be keyed to music.
The Neorest NX2 intelligent toilet from Toto has a self-cleaning system that includes an ultraviolet light in the lid and a flushing system that can be started by either remote control or sensors. Its seat also can be opened and closed by a remote or sensors, and a heated seat with temperature control, an air deodorizer and a night light cap off the combo.
Meanwhile, kitchen and bath company Kohler plans to introduce five products at CES, including the Moxie shower head and smart speaker and the DTV Mode digital shower system.
The Moxie shower head and wireless smart speaker features a full coverage shower spray and a portable smart speaker with a built-in digital assistant, which allows hands-free control. The DTV Mode digital shower system allows the user to create customized bath presets, choose a maximum temperature and remotely start the bath or shower through an app.