CES 2024: Hidden Tech Brings Common Home Items to Life

A number of everyday household items are getting technology upgrades—but you’d never be able to tell. That gorgeous quartz kitchen countertop, for example? It may also be a high-powered charger for your devices.

Companies touted forward-thinking, AI-powered creations for the home Tuesday at the opening of CES, the tech industry’s premier event in Las Vegas. More than 4,000 exhibitors are at this year’s show, which runs through Friday. Many are showing how common household products can become more connected. Here are some of the latest debuts from CES 2024.

Transparent TVs

After years of prototypes, the transparent TV is becoming a reality, hitting shelves later this year. LG announced that in the second half of the year, it will begin selling its 77-inch 4K transparent OLED TV—which won a CES 2024 Best of Innovation Award. The see-through TV offers a 3D-like viewing experience. The television also features LG’s Zero Connect technology, allowing it to be plug-free and placed anywhere in a room. The TV receives video and audio wirelessly.

The TV features a transparent OLED panel but also has an option for a “contrast screen”—or opaque film—that can roll up for a more traditional TV picture experience. It also can display a “T-Bar”—think of it as a news ticker—along the bottom of the screen to project information like news, weather and time.

Samsung also showed off a transparent TV with its Micro OLED display technology. Samsung has not disclosed when the TV will be available.

But the trend was evident at CES 2024: TV manufacturers seem to be placing greater emphasis on how to make the screen vanish when it’s not in use.

Downsized Appliances

Appliance manufacturers are creating all-in-one combos that could free up space in the laundry room. Both LG and Samsung showed off their washer-dryer combos. Samsung says its Bespoke All-in-One Washer and Dryer Combo can help save time and space by combining a washer and a dryer in a single unit.

Likewise, LG’s 27-inch washer-dryer combo offers an all-in-one solution. Plus, it has a ventless system that uses a heat pump and uses a regular outlet, so it can be placed anywhere in the home. LG and Samsung say their AI-powered washer-dryer combos can wash and dry clothes in under two hours, using 60% less energy than traditional models.

Pop-up At-Home Theaters

At-home media rooms are being equipped with compact projectors for a movie theater experience. XGIMI showed off Aladdin, a 4K smart projector hidden in a ceiling light that also contains a 360-degree smart speaker. The projector is unassuming as a standard light, and it doesn’t hang down like a standard, ceiling-mounted projector. But it’s still plenty powerful: The smart light can project images up to 100 inches on the wall.

LG’s CineBeam Qube projector, which mimics a miniature old-school projector or film camera, can be conspicuously placed on a shelf. Flip it on, and it’s capable of projecting a 4K image up to 120 inches. The lightweight device is only 3.25 pounds, making it one of the smallest projectors in the marketplace.

AI-Powered Refrigerators

Smart refrigerators with high-tech touchscreens are a CES staple. Samsung took it a step further by adding more AI features to its refrigerator line this year, aiming to turn the fridge into a personal chef. Samsung’s Bespoke 4-Door Flex Refrigerator with AI Family Hub+ features an internal camera that can identify individual food items and make suggested recipes based on what you have in stock. It can tailor recipes to dietary preferences, including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, and send cooking instructions to other smart appliances. One door panel on the refrigerator also can mirror the display of a smartphone, turning the 32-inch panel into a touchscreen capable of displaying videos.

Charged-Up Countertops

FreePower debuted tech that can turn countertops into wireless charging stations. A kitchen island or even home office desk can have the technology discreetly embedded. Place a smartphone or tablet on the countertop, and it’ll start charging. Multiple devices can be charged at the same time.

FreePower notes in a release that “we are closer than ever to achieving our founding goal to make wireless power elegant, effortless and everywhere. This latest application of our technology can turn any countertop into a wireless charger, from bar tops at a restaurant to a kitchen island. This embedded technology seamlessly integrates into surfaces throughout our lives.”

Even Smarter Mirrors

Add AI to a mirror and you’ll get something like BMind, another CES 2024 award winner for innovation. Baracoda’s smart mirror can analyze your expressions, gestures and tones, tailoring its responses to match your mood. It offers lights, sound and displays. The mirror aims to help you feel good, offering personalized light therapy sessions, guided meditations and self-affirmations. Your mirror is your own personal mindfulness coach.

“Technology that can monitor for subtle changes in health has the potential of improving the quality of millions of lives,” says Baracoda CEO Thomas Serval. “Our mental state exerts a strong effect on our sense of physical well-being. Including mood in our daily wellness check-ins creates a fuller picture that represents a powerful step toward redefining preventative health.”

A Discreet Hub

As more devices in the home get connected, you’ll need a central hub to control them all. Those hubs are becoming more stylish and being integrated seamlessly into the home. The Mui Board Gen 2 appears as a natural wood accent in the home. Touch it and it becomes a smart board driving connectivity. The second-generation Mui Board supports Matter-certified smart-home products. Adjust everything from the thermostat to your window coverings from the wooden control panel.

Robotic Home Allies

With robot vacuums in more homes today, you may want even more—like your own personal robot. CES 2024 offered plenty of visions of the future for home monitoring robots, including Samsung’s Ballie, a ball-shaped robotic projector. It can shadow you around the home and project information onto walls and surfaces, including the weather, calendar and YouTube videos. Ballie will automatically find a surface to project images, videos and apps onto. Control Ballie via voice commands, and use its projections as a touchscreen.

“Use [Ballie] to project images and stream content on walls, and it can automatically adjust the picture based on the wall distance and lighting conditions,” Samsung says in a press release. “It [can] automatically detect people’s posture and facial angle and adjust the optimal projection angle for you.”

LG showed off its Smart Home AI Agent, a two-legged robot that can connect to your household devices via its sensors and cameras. It can perform a number of tasks, including using its voice and image recognition to greet guests, take care of pets and serve as a home’s security guard. It will send alerts if it senses something isn’t right, including a window left open. And if the robot senses you’re in a bad mood, it’ll play music to help you feel better.

Improving Air Quality

Air quality continues to be top-of-mind among homeowners, with companies offering more devices to weave throughout the home. For example, high humidity levels in a home can lead to mold, a problem that often occurs in poorly ventilated bathrooms. Kohler’s Atmo bathroom fans are equipped with smart ventilation technology that can automatically turn on when humidity is high. The Atmo fans also can be scheduled to turn on and off, set with humidity and temperature thresholds, and offers night light settings.

Room Monitors

Property managers can have more eyes and ears on their properties from afar. Alertify is a discreet plug-in room and home monitoring device. It can detect indoor smoking, noise disturbances and more. It’s marketed to property managers and can provide real-time alerts to prevent noise complaints, property damage or unauthorized gatherings. The company notes that after-incident reports also can be downloaded and submitted as evidence if disputes arise.