Finding impressive technology at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is an easy task. However, with a show floor as large as 37 football fields, it can be difficult to maintain focus and not get overwhelmed. With almost countless tech products that promise to be faster and smarter the real challenge is finding products that enhance customers’ lives, not burden them with more technology and clutter.
One of the main trends of this year’s CES is the focus on smart home technology, which continues the ongoing trend of creating an “Internet of Things.” By placing sensors on household appliances and gadgets, users can monitor and calculate their activity and the behavior of their home, all from their Internet-connected mobile device. One of the problems being addressed with home smart technology is a lack of uniformity – while it’s nice to have control of your home from your smartphone, users should not need 10 apps for 10 different appliances. One day, customers will be able to seamlessly lock their doors, turn off their lights, manage cooking appliances, tally contents of their refrigerator and many other activities. Here are two major tech companies that are working to connect your home like never before.
Belkin: This year, Belkin has extended its WeMo line of home automation products that allow you to control power outlets and the connected devices from your iOS mobile device. The newest WeMo products include smart LED lights, a Crock-Pot slow cooker and the DIY Maker Kit. The LED bulbs are controllable over Wi-Fi and feature a vacation mode that turns lights on and off to give the appearance of an inhabited home. The Crock-Pot would also be adjustable from an iOS device and would send users updates on the status of the dish and let them make temperature changes as needed. This is Belkin’s first venture into controlled home appliances, and the WeMo line hopes to soon include a coffee maker, air purifier and space heater. Lastly, the DIY Maker Kit will allow the flexibility for customers to sync any device with WeMo technology, as long as it is controlled by a DC power switch.
Samsung: Few companies at CES were as enthusiastic about integrated home technology as Samsung. The Smart Home service would integrate all parts of your home. In addition to a number of tablets, laptop computer and televisions, Samsung presented its Chef Collection line of kitchen technology. This included an oven that can simultaneously cook two dishes at different temperatures and a large storage unit that can double as a refrigerator. Additionally, the company presented a washing machine large enough to clean the laundry of a four-person family in 30 minutes. All of these appliances would be controllable from mobile devices and share some transferable features. During his press conference, CEO BK Yoon tantalized CES attendees by depicting customers answering phone calls from their refrigerator.
Many features of the smart home are intended to improve customers’ control over their electricity consumption and daily appliance use. Unfortunately, for now it’s highly unlikely these tech giants and their competitors will create smart phone technology that can be supported across brand lines, putting customers in a difficult situation. However, companies such as Staples, SmartThings and Revolv have developed home automation hubs to integrate products from different brands. Unless you have the desire and money to have brand-uniform home appliances, these hubs may be your first step into the world of smart home technology.
Author Bio: Rose Haywood is an Internet tech writer, social media junkie and freelance marketing consultant. She hails proudly from Asheville, NC but resides for the time being right outside of Atlanta, GA. Feel free to reach out to her directly via twitter.