The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held annually in Las Vegas is one of the biggest platforms for companies from around the globe to introduce their most recent innovations—innovations that promise to profoundly alter the smart home landscape, changing how you live and enjoy your home and family now and in the future.
The premiere home electronics show is just a few weeks away, so it may be a bit premature to applaud any certain product, device, or system. But thanks to some diligent pre-show investigation by industry experts including our own Julie Jacobson, there are a few key technologies that should make lots of waves at CES 2017. Here are a few of the potential game-changing technologies. Keep watching electronichouse.com for more details about these and other CES showstoppers.
New Ways to Listen to Music
Whether your proclivity is Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, or DTS:X surround-sound; high-res audio; or wireless music streaming, manufacturers of audio components are expected to offer better, more engaging ways to enhance the music listening experience.
For the first time ever, there will be an entire section on the CES floor dedicated to high-res audio, so there will definitely be many new products to talk about from this arena, including lots of DTS Play-Fi components that can stream high-res music wirelessly to speakers throughout a residence.
One of these Play-Fi enabled speakers will be Amazon’s Echo device, which means that in addition to listening for your voice commands, the Echo will be able to stream and play hi-res music. The partnership between Amazon Alexa and DTS Play-Fi will likely springboard into the development of smarter speakers from a variety of traditional audio manufacturers. The result: The same speaker that streams DTS Play-Fi music will also potentially be able to function as an Echo-like listening device.
Audio Product Watch: StormAudio 32-channel Immersive Sound Processor. What’s cool about it? It supports all three of the leading object-based surround-sound formats: Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X
The Next Generation of Video
4K TVs, 4K Blu-ray Disc players, and 4K video projectors have finally made their way into homes—just in time for 8K to hit the video scene. At CES Sharp and LG, among others, are expected to show off 8K TVs, and many manufacturers will likely incorporate a new technology called superMHL to enable these TVs to receive content in full 8K resolution from Blu-ray Disc players and other components. Will this trigger the demise of HDMI, perhaps?
Technology Watch: Kiss Connectivity from Keyssa will enable devices like media servers to transmit content to high-def TVs in a matter of seconds without any physical connection. Unlike Wi-Fi and other wireless protocols, Kiss is a point-to-point connection. It can download a 4K movie to a 4K TV, for example, in a matter of seconds. The technology can be built into a variety of different devices, so at CES we could see it demonstrated in laptops, smartphones, maybe TVs and other video components.
Hand Signals Join Voice Commands
Google (Assistant), Amazon (Alexa) and Apple (Siri) unleashed a completely new way to operate devices in a home—by the sound of your voice. At CES 2017 these technologies will be demonstrated in all types of smart home products—lights, thermostats, audio and video equipment, you name it. CES will likely also be the launching pad for devices that can be controlled via hand motions. The idea: you can just wave your hand (you don’t have to say a word) to have the lights activate and the thermostat to adjust.
Home Control Product Watch: singlecue Gen 2 from eyeSight Technologies. What makes it cool? You can wave your hand at the singlecue Gen 2 to change the setting of a Nest thermostat. Better than voice control? Maybe, depending on what feels more comfortable and natural to you. According to the eyeSight, there is more in store for the technology, like being able to adjust volume, play/pause videos and powering off and on audio and video equipment.
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Healthy Home and HVAC
We’ve all heard about the impact that indoor air quality (IAQ) can have on our health, but there really hasn’t been much technology readily available to consumers that can allow them to identify if and where IAQ problems exist in their homes—much less what to do about it. Affordable sensors that monitor homes for VOC (volatile organic compounds), carbon monoxide, mold, and other pollutants will be trending at 2017 CES. With these products, you’ll be able to tell if your home needs better ventilation, a new air filter, a humidifier, or something else. Taking it a step further, some products will be able to rectify the issue by signaling an air purifier to kick on, for example.
Healthy Home Product Watch: Breezi from BreeziHome. What’s cool about it? Inserted directly into the air filter through the grill or behind it, the mushroom shaped device monitors the health of your home’s HVAC system and provides real-time data to a mobile app. Although it isn’t watching for IAQ issues, it can go a long way toward making your home environment more comfortable and save you money by putting less stress on your HVAC unit.
A Self-Aware Home
There’s a big difference between home control and home automation. Home control involves performing a task (like issuing a voice command or tapping the screen of a mobile phone) to get devices to react. Home automation occurs when devices adjust their settings without any human interaction at all. Thanks to the development of smarter, more sophisticated sensors—many of which will be on display at CES 2017—devices in your home will be able to adjust automatically based on a variety of conditions. It marks the beginning of a self-aware home—one which is able to adapt to your needs and anomalies in the home environment.
Home Automation Product Watch: The Anyware Smart Adaptor from Anyware Solutions. What’s cool about it? It screws into a socket like a light bulb and actually functions as a light bulb (which can be automated). Also incorporated into the adaptor are sensors that detect sound, and monitor temperature, humidity, and ambient light. It can send readings directly to an app on your smartphone. It also functions as WiFi/Bluetooth (BLE) gateway.