The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has just finished up in Las Vegas, with companies from around the world showing off a wide range of new products. Alongside the TV innovations and new tablet designs that get so much attention, the show also highlights a growing number of household tech products designed to transform your domestic environment. Smarter homes are at the forefront this year, as companies like LG, Samsung, and Panasonic showcase exciting new products to make homes more connected and efficient.
Control and communication are the smart home buzzwords this year, with companies unveiling new and innovative ways to control household appliances. Not only will you be able to activate your white goods through voice commands and text messages, but tablets and online connectivity will be integrated into many appliances to bring them into the 21st century
LG Electronics are old stalwarts of the household sector, with the company currently working on ways to communicate with appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and washers via text message. "Really what's more intuitive and simpler than texting to your appliances" said Randy Overton of LG Electronics, adding "I can actually start my washer by saying 'Okay, start laundry' and it starts up remotely. When we do actually introduce this we're going to have plenty of key words it'll recognise but it's going to be in our normal vernacular or slang that we use everyday."
Dacor are another company working with new technology, unveiling new Discovery ovens with Android tablets built-in. According to Chuck Huebner from Dacor, "This lets you pull up real, live time YouTube video Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray talking to you about, 'Hi, here are the five things you need to do when cooking lamb.' You wanna have your favorite recipes in there, we all have our greasy pieces of paper with grandma's matzoh ball soup recipe, well you could have that electronically loaded."
Sensors are also making their way into more appliances, with SmartThings opening up its home automation platform to developers and buddying up with companies like Sonos, WeMo, and Philips Hue. Belkin's Crock-Pot WeMo slow cooker is another example of the smart kitchen vision, a product that includes a WeMo app and lets users adjust temperatures and set timers without being in the kitchen.
It's not all about food, however, with tech fashion and wearable gadgets also making a splash at CES this year. Withings Aura Smart Sleeping System is designed to analyse body activity, room temperature, and lighting during the night time hours, recording information with a view to optimising the best environmental conditions for rest. If that’s not obtrusive enough for you, Kolibree has unveiled the world's first Internet connected Bluetooth toothbrush aimed at improving dental hygiene.
Smart technology is finding its way into more and more products, as manufacturers integrate communications and control protocols into everything they can. While some products like the Internet connected toothbrush may have limited appeal, over time, the ability to control appliances through texting and voice commands may become as normal as pressing a button or flicking a switch.