In 2020 the tech industry wants to add a screen to everything in your house. This year you’ll be able to put a screen on your refrigerator, your mirrors, your windows, your counter tops, or even your front door.
Major appliance manufacturers like LG, Samsung and TCL featured refrigerators with a large LCD touch panels to be the center of your family’s organization, but LG did it best by going one step further offering a transparent LCD panel that allows for direct viewing into your fridge when the screen is off. There was also an option to keep the LCD on, in case you don’t want your company to see how many packets of fast food honey mustard sauce you’ve accumulated.
A few companies are building smart mirrors with android and google assistant built in so you can do things like pull up the traffic and weather, or watch a hair or makeup tutorial on YouTube while you’re in the bathroom. DIY smart mirrors have been a thing for quite a while, and last year the company Electric Mirror brought their very feature rich, but cost prohibitively expensive smart mirrors to CES. This year a new company called Capstone Connected has brought their own android touch screen mirrors to market starting at $600, roughly 20% of the price of the cheapest mirror by Electric Mirrors, still not cheap, but not unreasonable considering there is a fully functional android 9 tablet inside.
Transparent glass displays from Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Konka, Sharp and Skyworth were being advertised with a ton of different uses, but one of the most interesting to me was in an exterior picture window. Konka chose to use their display to make a nice day seem rainy, but I might have gone the other way with it. No information has been given about the pricing of these large transparent displays, but expect them to start showing up everywhere in the not too distant future.
Hachi was at CES with their brand new projected multitouch display intended to be used on a surface like a countertop. These displays use android 9 and offer a remarkably clear and accurate touch experience for a camera tracked device. The newest hachi device, the Hachi infinite retails for $1000, responds to both touch and voice commands, and can project a screen up to 100 inches diagonal, although I wouldn’t recommend it since the 720p maximum resolution will look pretty pixelated at that size.
Here’s something I thought I’d never say: LG unveiled their smart front door. This front door concept includes a climate controlled delivery bay, a palm scanner, facial recognition, and a huge display on the back that can show a todo list, schedule, delivery log, or even video footage from the camera on the other side of the door. No price was given for the smart door, but I can say with pretty high certainty that your neighbor isn’t going to be installing one of these next year.
But what the tech industry does think you’ll be installing next year is a smart lock. Every traditional lock maker, and almost every smart home company came out with their own smart lock for 2020, and they come in basically every combination of style technology you can imagine. Some of them offer only pin code or fingerprint unlocking for those that are wary of connected devices and others others add smart zigbee, zwave, Bluetooth or WiFi to integrate with your smart home and provide feedback and event history from your door.
Despite all the advances in smart lock technology, one aspect that remains an issue is power. Since these locks are on a moving door, it would be expensive and complicated to wire them into your house’s electrical system. As a result smart locks run on batteries that need to be replaced roughly every 6-12 months. Which is why in my opinion a company call Alfred has the most interesting smart lock on the market. They’ve paired with a wireless power company to charge and power your connected lock via wireless infrared technology. Final pricing isn’t available yet, but expect the Alfred wireless powered lock to retail under $1000 and be available within the next few months.
At CES there were 4 companies touting their wireless power solutions, and they were all pretty unique. Both Powercast and Ossio are using 2.4 gigahertz technology to send out wireless power that can provide roughly 1 watt of power to devices and does not require direct line of sight. On the opposite spectrum, Guru power is using 24 gigahertz millimeter wave or microwave technology to provide 4 watts of power to charge your devices wirelessly. The 24 gigahertz technology requires direct line of site and may be a difficult sell to consumers since interrupting the 24 gigahertz microwave beam does cause your hand to heat up noticeably. Guru plans on producing a Roomba like device that will travel around your house at night and recharge your devices wirelessly when you’re not around… which sounds pretty awesome to me.
The 4th company, and the one being used by the Alfred lock uses much more traditional tech that is more likely to be accepted by the general public. Wi-Charge infrared light like you are using for your TV’s remote control with a photovoltaic solar cell to provide up to 3 watts of energy through a direct infrared laser. The laser does require line of site, but doesn’t cause your hands to warm up when the beam is broken, and can integrate directly into a light socket or power outlet to provide wireless power to your IoT devices. Assuming consumers are accepting of these new technologies, I predict 2020 and the near future will mark the end of changing batteries in your smart home devices.
Speaking of wariness of consumers to adopt devices. Another thing smart home consumers are wary of these days is the vulnerability of all of these internet connected devices to hacking, and while the implications are sometimes exaggerated in the media it’s still a valid concern. Computer antivirus and security powerhouse Avast has developed a new device that plugs into your network and monitors your IoT devices’ internet activity. Using their already huge database of security issues and malicious IP addresses Avast can tell you when your IoT devices behave abnormally by sending an unusually large amount of data, connecting too frequently, or connecting to ip addresses that are not standard for that device type. As excited as I am about the potential of this device, I’m not excited about it’s pricing plan which will be a $100 per year subscription. Here’s hoping that this technology gets integrated into your existing routers and the price subsequently comes down.
It’s always fun to see all the futuristic devices at CES, but I did find two reasonably price, very useful devices that I think most people should probably invest in rather than just dreaming about.
The first is an addon to your existing outlet called 4 amps. All you do is replace your existing outlet cover with this new one, no wiring involved and you’re left with a charging station that includes a retractable multi connection charging cord, a USB, and a USB-C port for charging your devices. The 4amps charging plate is available now on their website for 49 bucks and should be available on amazon in the next few months.
The other product that I absolutely couldn’t believe wasn’t already a thing was a biking turn signal and brake light called the Cosmo connected that can be attached a helmet or seat post to tell traffic behind you when you are about to turn via user input or even indicate that you are braking or slowing down via an internal accelerometer. Pairing the Cosmo with you phone via Bluetooth allows it to track your route in the Cosmo app and designate up to 3 contacts to send and emergency message to if the Cosmo detects a fall via it’s accelerometer. The cosmo retails for $69 and is available via the cosmo website and hopefully amazon within the next few months.
Overall 2020 promises to be another extremely exciting year for smart home tech, so if you enjoyed this video please consider subscribing for more smart home content, and as always, thanks for reading the hookup.