Smart home tech is bringing more rooms into the mix, with many devices on show focused on kitchen and bathroom products, many of which incorporate intelligent voice assistants.
Kohler’s smart bathroom products, all of which can be controlled through the Kohler Konnect smartphone app, are prime examples. Devices include the Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet, which comes complete with speakers, ambient lighting, a personal washing system and a heated toilet seat with various temperature settings. Other products include the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror that can change lighting and carry out various tasks with voice commands through Amazon’s Alexa, and the DTV showering system that lets you preset your choice of water temperature, steam levels and music.
Home security is another key theme in the show. One example is Vayyar’s 3D imaging technology, which can detect where people are in the home with sensors that work in conditions including darkness, smoke or steam. As well as being useful for spotting an intruder, the tech can determine what position someone is in (standing, sitting or lying), which can be useful for knowing if an older person has fallen over. As it does not use cameras, this can be done without invading privacy, the company claims. It can also monitor breathing and alert you if breathing stops, which can be used, for example, for checking on a baby. The imaging technology can see through walls, so it can also help with home renovation, allowing users to find out where pipes and wires are located.
With an ageing population, smart devices that help care for older people in their homes seem to be becoming more widespread. One example on show at CES is the NZEL 100 PERS device by Xandar Kardian. The health monitoring device, which works with Alexa, allows people to call for help in various ways and monitors vital signs and sleep data without making physical contact. In an emergency, people can use a voice command, press a button, or wave at the device to either connect with emergency services or with a family member or friend. An additional ceiling can be installed to automatically detect a fall from bed and call for help.
As well as looking after people’s homes, keeping an eye on pets is a priority for many. Exhibitor Dogness has brought out a range of smart pet products, which allow owners to ensure their furry friend is well-fed, watered and cared for. The iPet Robot, for example, which can be controlled remotely through an app, allows owners to move it around the house to check on their pet through a camera. They can also speak to their pet through the robot’s microphone and speaker system, play with it using the robot’s laser pointer and even remotely feed it treats. Other Dogness products include a smart feeder and water fountain, all of which can be controlled through an app.
Health and wellbeing
Using technology to track and monitor health is a trend that is continuing to gain traction, with new gadgets on show offering health advice through analysing people’s breath. Lumen, a handheld device which people breathe into, says it can “hack metabolism” to help people “live healthier lives” and “lose weight”. It is centred around working out if the body is using mainly fat or carbohydrates for energy at any given time and connects to an app to give personal daily nutrition advice based on the results.
Sleep technology also has a strong presence at CES 2019, with products that aim to improve sleep as well as track it. One such gadget is the Urgonight headband by Urgotech, which measures electroencephalography (EEG) waves in the brain and uses this data to help the user learn how to “produce brainwaves that will enhance natural sleep” through neurofeedback. The wearable technology, which users put on for about 20 minutes a day and do not need to sleep in, connects to a brain training app which provides custom exercises that aim to help “clear the mind” and create the right mental state for a better night’s sleep, according to its makers.
Another interesting product is the Y-Brush, which claims to “perfectly” brush users’ teeth in just 10 seconds. The toothbrush, designed in the shape of a gum-shield lined with nylon bristles, cleans teeth using sonic vibrations. The device is placed on to all the top teeth at once, then flipped over and put on the bottom teeth.
Smart tech and robotics
Among the TVs on show were a number of 8K resolution offerings, which provide ultra-high definition viewing thanks to more pixels, with releases from brands including LG, Samsung and Sony. LG also grabbed the spotlight by showcasing a consumer version of a rollable TV, which is expected to go on sale in the US before the end of the year, according to the BBC. The 4K OLED screen disappears from view by rolling down into the base, allowing it to be put away when not in use.
Others championing flexible technology at the show included Royole, which launched its FlexPai foldable smartphone. The device can be folded in half like a book and unfolded flat into tablet mode — Royole claims the screen is “virtually unbreakable”. The product is available for pre-order now from Royole’s wesbite.
New ways of showcasing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology had a firm presence at CES 2019, with products aiming to take gaming experiences up a notch. For example, Cybershoes, an accessory which is compatible with a range of VR headsets and games, lets a player walk around in the game by wearing the gadgets on their feet, sitting on a swivel chair and moving the legs in a walking motion.
IBM has unveiled a quantum computer, the IBM Q System One, which the company claims is the first of its kind. The machine’s rather striking design, created alongside Map and Universal Design Studio, includes an airtight glass container for protecting the qubits (quantum bits) within. IBM says the machine is designed for commercial and scientific use and for handling problems that are currently considered too complex for a standard computer, but it is not known when this machine will be available on the market.
Robotics were another key field for products at the show. Some would say that the main purpose of robots is to make humans’ lives better, and one machine which aims to do just that is the Ohmni by OhmniLabs. The telepresence robot is designed to be used in situations when a person cannot physically be there, such as in schools when a child is too ill to attend or in healthcare settings to let doctors check on patients at home. A person uses Ohmni to video call in and control the robot remotely, allowing them to join in activities and feel a greater sense of presence compared to a traditional video call, according to OhmniLabs. The products unveiled at the show featured a new version of the robot with a high-resolution camera, as well as a new set of robotic arms. The innovation is similar to AV1, a robot designed by Norwegian start-up company No Isolation, which is used to represent ill children in the classroom.
Voice assistants are being incorporated into more and more gadgets, mainly with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa technology, with everything from bathroom mirrors to cars becoming more talkative.
Kohler has created a voice-activated kitchen tap that can be asked to turn the water on and off, as well as a bathroom range. The most interesting thing about the Sensate Touchless Kitchen Faucet is that it can dispense a measured amount of water and can be set to fill specific items. The tap acts like a kitchen assistant which someone can ask to pour, for example, three cups of water or fill a large cooking pot, all without touching it. The product was named as a CES 2019 Best of Innovation Awards Honoree in the smart home category.
A number of updates to Google Assistant voice technology have also been demoed at the show. These include real time language translation known as Interpreter Mode, which allows two people to speak in different languages, with the assistant reading out translations seconds later. Google Assistant is also learning more skills, such as getting better at dictation and being able to check people into flights through certain airlines.
A major area in which this technology is making headway is in cars. Devices such as an in-car phone charger called the Roav Bolt by Anker, let drivers speak to Google Assistant without looking away from the road or taking their hands off the wheel. It can be used for many purposes such as asking for directions, telling others your estimated time of arrival (ETA), playing music and more. Full Google Assistant support is being added to Google Maps, bringing more voice-activated features into the app.