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Food for Thought #16: CES 2017 and Smart Home 1.0

Food for Thought #16: CES 2017 and Smart Home 1.0

11 January 2017 4:00 am
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Happy New Year!

I attended my first-ever CES, (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), last week.  I expected a tremendous showing of Jetsonian technology for the home, both from major brands and upstarts.  “Tremendous” accurately describes the scale of the show, but not the progress of innovation in this area.  Frankly, I was a wee bit disappointed.

As one of my magazine sources put it in an article I wrote last year, we’re really at the infancy of this field and no one knows what the killer app will be yet.  They’re sure trying! Most of the big appliance brands have wifi built into their products now, and many are partnering with Amazon for easy ordering of detergent and other supplies.    (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)  Millennials, we’re told, want easy.  Heck, this Boomer wants easy, too!

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Kwikset teaches old locks new tricks
(Photo Courtesy: Kwikset)

I like that I can see the interior of my refrigerator from my phone when I’m standing in the bread aisle wondering if I’m out of my favorite natural peanut butter.  I don’t like that I can’t see what’s in the freezer or crisper drawers, just the main fresh food section. 

I like that my fridge can tell me that the eggs at home are past their freshness date.  I really, really dislike that I’d have to triple my grocery unloading time by entering all of that information into a touch screen to enjoy that “convenience.”  Where’s the bar code scanner that will do that for me???  One upstart brand called GeniCan has something like that for the boxes and cans you toss into the trash.  That way, you can keep track of what you need to purchase again, and you can order directly from Amazon if you want.  Smart and easy!  You would think the appliance giants could incorporate this technology, too.  Maybe that’s coming with smart home 2.0?  

Some of those industry giants have created innovation labs staffed by bright, young things presumably tapped into the Millennial consciousness.  Rather than just sell through their existing channels, they’re launching products on sites like Indiegogo.  Not a bad idea.

There were some good developments at CES.  Some I particularly liked included:

  • SCiO food material sensor from Changhong will reveal the nutrition components of the food you’re cooking or the sweetness of produce you’re shopping for.
  • Haier’s Smart Bath turns your vanity mirror into a smart screen with health info and Internet access.
  • Airthings‘ radon detector for your home.
  • Kwikset’s Convert turns your regular doorknob into a smart knob.
  • Fibaro offered a flood sensor that can shut off water.
  • AutoSlide turns any sliding patio door into an electronic opening model. You can even get a pet collar to operate it as a dog door.
  • Whirlpool will release a non-venting washer/dryer combo model by 4Q17 that can simplify the laundry task.
  • Simplehuman has a new Sensor Mirror Pro that lets you upload the lighting you’re going to be going into to make up properly at home.
  • Honeywell has a garage door controller that lets you know if you left it open and close it remotely. (This is what I personally need!)
  • Allterco Robotics has a GPS-based pet tracker you can use to find your critter if it escapes.
  • Elgato’s Eve Room will let you know if you have a mold issue before it becomes a big problem.

Back to the Amazon mention from above.  I have serious concerns about these partnerships as a supermarket killer.  I don’t know about you, but I like being able to go to my neighborhood store a short walk from home, be able to get whatever  I want there and bring it home with me.  I know I pay more for that convenience – but it’s worth it to me!  I think their disappearance would savage neighborhoods more than we can appreciate right now.  I also think the walks do our bodies good!

I’m taking a wait and see approach to this technology, especially as to its privacy and security controls.  Much more needs to be done there to safeguard your personal information and keep the Internet of Things from launching more cyber attacks on our favorite sites.  (How about requiring users to set a new password before using them?  That would make it harder for criminals to hijack them via factory settings.) 

Kitchen and Bath Design and Remodeling Trends from KBDN
Top 2016 and 2017 home remodeling trends from the San Diego Union-Tribune

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