Beyond the Oculus Rift, virtual makeup mirrors, and glut of fitness trackers on display, this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) offered a discernible look at the ways in which smart technology is poised to permeate the home—though not without its challenges.
The Google-owned Nest Labs announced 15 more partners—including LG, Lutron, Osram, and Whirlpool—whose products span clothes dryers to light bulbs and are or will soon be compatible with Nest’s smart thermostat and smoke and carbon monoxide detector.
HomeKit, Apple’s newly launched answer to an integrated smart-home platform, also gained compatible products. Among them, HomeKit partner Honeywell grew its Lyric platform from a single thermostat that uses geofencing to regulate home temperature to a multifaceted security system (above). Its cameras and sensors track motion, smoke, and video, all managed through a companion touchscreen controller and iOS and Android app.
Many of the companies that are adding smart capabilities to their product lines are legacy brands in the residential space. (Read about three of them here.) But getting devices from different developers talking, and for that communication to remain secure, is one challenge facing the viability of the smart home—something Nest, Apple, and other developers continue to explore through a number of self-formed industry groups, among them the Open Interconnect Consortium, the AllSeen Alliance, and the Nest-led Thread Group.
In his CES keynote on Jan. 5, Samsung electronics CEO Boo-Keun Yoon announced that his company’s smart-tech platform, which includes appliances, would remain open so as to encourage development of and secure integration among devices from third-party developers. “We will ensure that others can easily connect to our devices,” he said. “Without this kind of openness, there won’t be an Internet of Things because the things will not fit together.”
At this year’s CES, lighting showed itself as another way developers are bringing smart technology into the home, touting the ability for remote control and energy management. LED luminaires are powered by chipboards and drivers that can house light sources as well as sensors for occupancy and temperature, among other features.
Earlier this year, we wrote about startup Stack Lighting, which showed its responsive Alba BR30 at CES. Other notable lighting products on display included Sengled’s multitasking LED lamps (above) with integrated Bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi signal boosters, and security cameras. Fitness-products maker Misfit introduced an app-controlled 60W-equivalent smart lamp, Bolt, which offers 800 lumens and a full spectrum of RGBW hues. And startup Emberlight went after the base with a Bluetooth-enabled holder through which users can dim and set scenarios for incandescent, CFL, and LED lamps using a companion iOS or Android app.
Appliances aren't a big focus for us here at ARCHITECT, but they caught our eye at CES. There, we noticed the addition of space- and energy-saving features that make everyday technology like ovens, clothes dryers, and refrigerators more versatile while reducing their typical energy consumption. Connected appliances aren't changing the shape or function of the home just yet, but we think it's something to keep an eye on.
Last year, LG debuted heat-pump technology for the residential dryer, which recycles heat generated during the clothes-drying process. This year, Whirlpool introduced its ventless HybridCare Duet dryer whose use of energy-saving heat-pump technology won the product a CES Innovation Award.
In the kitchen, Dacor added voice-control via an Android app to its Discovery iQ Wi-Fi enabled oven–range combination units to offer a hands-free way to set functions such as cook temperature and time. Samsung refitted the door of its Flex Duo oven so it can open as either a single door or, with the activation of a central hinge, as two smaller doors that let users access the oven’s interior, which can be thermally separated into two cooking zones. Also in the name of space utilization and customization, LG introduced its double Door-in-Door Mega-Capacity refrigerator, which offers 34 cubic feet of zoned space tailored to the storage needs of different food types—that includes your ever-growing condiments colony.
E Ink, which makes display technology for e-readers, announced a new, electronic film featuring the company’s bi-stable ink technology that can be applied to walls, ceilings, and doors. The company says applications for the forthcoming product, called Prism, include dynamic décor, signage, and even as indicators of occupancy or temperature levels in a space.
And in its press conference on Jan. 5, Panasonic teased a transparent window screen that could double as a 3D display for spaces such as retail storefronts and interior meeting rooms. The product, which is still in research and development, responds to projected light by transforming into a backdrop for advertisements and other messages.
Though nascent, developments like these suggest that conventional aspects of the building envelope could soon become dynamic in a way that occupants can see.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that Whirlpool's Duet HyrbidCare Dryer is not Nest-compatible. We regret the error.