The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a great opportunity to meet with tech companies and see the latest trends. A large show covering all manner of technological advancements, it can be quite overwhelming with over 2,400 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees, the largest technology conference in the world. As an avid smart-home enthusiast and a primary contributor to REALTOR® Magazine’s Ultimate Smart Home series, that’s where I focused most of my time. Here’s a rundown of what’s exciting coming out of CES on the smart home front.
During last year’s show, the new Matter protocol was announced but there weren’t many products available at that time. This year many companies announced new compatible products or that they will be offering over-the-air updates to support Matter. Apple Home users are likely to be the most excited by this. Typically, Apple users experience the least number of compatible options with their smart home ecosystem. Matter is supposed to rectify the issue. I don’t think the protocol will have as big of an impact on the industry as Matter claims.
For years, other protocols for connecting various devices such as Z-Wave and Zigbee offer a similar solution to the ecosystem conundrum. Most consumers don’t know the difference between them and will continue to shop for compatible devices by looking at the box or online. I also predict manufacturers will look at how consumers use their apps for these services. After collecting data, they’ll likely limit services based on use.
Affordable Smart Lighting
Companies like Govee, Nanoleaf and Yeelight debuted fun and affordable lighting options for entertainment spaces, many of which will sync up with televisions or computers. Expect to see greater control of these devices, the ability to create scenes and lighting zones to create a more immersive experience.
It is nice to have some alternative choices to Philips Hue popping up, which errs on the pricey side. That said, if you already have a lot of Hue bulbs and a Samsung TV, a new paid app allows you to sync the lights of your connected devices without the previously required HDMI Sync box. The app will cost users a one-time fee of $130. The partnership is a great example of how smart tech companies can work together and will hopefully lead to an expansion with other brands.
For those who prefer smart switches over bulbs, Lutron announced the expansion of their new Caseta Diva & Claro lineup to include color options that will be available from Home Depot online.
Robot Vacuums and Lawn Mowers
This year’s CES did not disappoint when it came to robot vacuum advancements. Enhanced navigation and self-emptying docking stations that can clean the mops and fill them back up made the list. Historically, Roborock leads the way category, and this year they announced the new S8 lineup, which comes with a host of new features, including self-cleaning for the robot itself. However, 2023 might be the year they run up against some competition from Eufy, and Noesis which automatically replaces disposable mop pads.
Robot vacuums are commonplace now, while robotic lawn mowers really struggle to take off, likely due to the cost and challenges around deploying the mechanism in a typical yard. Worx announced their new Landroid Vision model, which features cameras for navigating. The company purports that “Landroid Vision uses deeply trained neural network to set grass apart from obstacles,” which means the mower “knows what to mow, what to avoid, and where not to cross.” What’s more, the mower makes its way back to the dock for charging and when it’s work is done.
While the robot is out mowing the yard, the new Moen smart sprinkler system makes water use more efficient while preserving the integrity of the grass. The system has wireless soil moisture detectors built into each zone to ensure the most efficient use of water. This is perfect for anyone already using the Flo by Moen water ecosystem, and it can be controlled from the same app.
Kohler brings aromatherapy and skincare into the shower for an affordable, spa-like experience. The longtime fixture company collaborated with Sprig to provide a shower experience that rains down water infused with popular scents like lavender and eucalyptus. The Sprig pods also include popular skincare products like hyaluronic acid, which has long been used in various skincare products as it promotes skin elasticity and hydration.
Companies Entering the Smart Home Space
Roku announced its expansion into smart home technology with a partnership with Wyze. The partnerships give users the added benefit of accessing the home’s cameras on Roku devices and using one app to control everything. Longtime electronics brand RCA now has an entire lineup of Wi-Fi–connected smart-home devices, including security cameras, for budget-conscious homeowners. Devices will be available soon at major retailers like Walmart and TJ Maxx. Ring made the jump into the automobile space with their new Car Cam. The dual-facing dashboard security camera also includes optional LTE connectivity (for an additional fee). Car Cam connects directly to the car’s OBD-II port and works with the existing Ring App and home Wi-Fi.
As smart home technology expands and becomes a more fluid part of everyday life, expect to see more partnerships and an array of companies adding smart home devices to their product lineups.
EVs and Charging
There were plenty of new electric vehicles featured on the show floor including the announcement of the upcoming Afeela, a partnership between Sony & Honda, which is slated to be available for purchase in 2025.
The expansion of electric vehicles means more EV charging stations, and many companies are jumping on board. Most notable was the new Schneider Home from Schneider Electric. The company unveiled a whole-home energy solution that includes a smart panel capable of managing solar power, battery backup, EV charging and home automation all in one state-of-the-art package. Fully integrated systems like this will put the power back into homeowners’ hands to monitor their electrical use, power through outages, connect everything and save money. Each component is modular in design and the complete solution will roll out throughout the year. Installation will be handled by Schneider Electric’s network of providers.