The 2022 Consumer Electronics Show is nearly half over, but the more impactful news is already out. Thanks to the pandemic, it feels as though last year’s CES let the industry take a breath and this year’s show is about catching up. There’s also much to look forward to in 2022 based on some of this week’s announcements, including a new standard for connected appliances.
It’s nearly impossible to cover every IoT and smart home development at this annual event. And it’s even more difficult when you’re not actually there. Again, thanks COVID! So here’s a logically grouped overview to get you up to speed.
Broader HomeKit support
Although it’s been officially around since its debut in 2019, HomeKit Secure Video (HSV) hasn’t been adopted by the entire connected camera industry. That’s a shame because it encrypts your video streams and keeps them private on Apple’s iCloud servers. This week, however, added a few more brands and products to the fold.
Belkin announced the $249.99 Wemo Smart Video Doorbell, now available for pre-order, with shipping expected in February or March.
It offers a wide 178-degree field of view and a dual-band Wi-Fi chip supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals. The new Eve Outdoor Cam also debuted, with a price of $249.95 and arrival in April. It has a 157-degree field of view and an integrated floodlight. This is actually the first HSV camera with a spot or floodlight. Unlike Wem’s new doorbell, you only get a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio inside.
Cameras aren’t the only new HomeKit devices on the way. I’ve been thinking about replacing my Yale x Nest smart lock for some time and Schlage may have nudged me to take the plunge. The company introduced its Schlage Encode Plus Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt that works with Apple’s HomeKey. This allows you to lock or unlock the door by holding an iPhone or Apple Watch near the lock. Digital keys are stored in the Apple Wallet app but there’s also a numeric keypad and remote control to enable or disable the lock.
The new Encode Plus also works with Amazon and Google smart homes too, although you don’t get Apple’s digital key functionality with those. Sounds great (to me) save for the pricing: This will cost $299.99 when it becomes available in the spring.
Eve also made official its previously announced smart blinds, which support the Thread protocol. I like that the motor batteries can be recharged with a USB-C cord and that the controls run locally. Waiting five or more seconds for the cloud to lower my blinds wouldn’t be ideal. Pricing is based on fabric and sizing options, which can be viewed at official retail partners in Australia, the E.U., and the U.S.
TP-Link is finally taking the HomeKit plunge with a new line of products under the Tapo brand. Initially, a HomeKit 1100 lumen bulb, three-outlet plug, RGB light strip, and dimmer switch will be made available. A smart hub, motion sensor, button, and door/window sensor also arrive in 2022.
Alexa and Google Assistant everywhere continues
I still think we have too many smart speakers in the home but I suppose some feel there’s always room for more. Last year, the Lenovo Smart Clock arrived with Google Assistant, and this year, there’s a version with Alexa. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa debuts this month for $59.99.
There’s an optional charging dock for this device but it doesn’t charge the clock. That runs on battery power. Instead, you can wirelessly charge a Qi-compatible phone or watch using the dock.
Sengled is bringing Alexa and Google voice control to its new 48-foot RGB Wi-Fi Outdoor String Lights and plans to launch a Wi-Fi Portable Lamp that runs on rechargeable batteries sometime this year. We previously covered the Cync Smart Thermostat on our podcast that works with both Amazon and Google homes which costs $120. But the company was showing it off this week in case you missed the announcement.
Abode has a new $79.99 Wireless Video Doorbell and 800-lumen tuneable Color Bulbs that work with both ecosystems. The doorbell is battery powered, provides person and package detection, and offers a 2K resolution sensor that can be viewed on an Amazon or Google smart display. It arrives in April while the new lights are available now in a 2-pack for $29.99.
Not to be outdone by Amazon’s own smart microwave, Panasonic added Alexa to its own. The Panasonic Smart Inverter Countertop Microwave Oven can be controlled by voice using its own microphone or any other Alexa Echo product. You can find it in stores this March for $299.99 if you want to nuke your food by voice.
The promise of Matter and Thread adoption becomes a little clearer
After staying relatively quiet on the topic of Matter, Amazon this week introduced developer tools for devices to support the new protocol. The company is also integrating its “Frustration-Free Setup” solution for Matter products. And it says the 4th-generationEcho 4th will act as a Thread border router in addition to keeping its current Zigbee hub features.
Belkin’s Wemo will bring Matter over Thread to new Wemo Smart Plug, Wemo Smart Light Switch, and Wemo Smart Dimmer products this year; unfortunately, there’s no indication that the current models will get a Thread update. It would be nice if they did, but we already knew that some device makers would leave older products behind during this protocol transition.
Running contrary to that approach is Nanoleaf, which announced that a firmware upgrade would enable Thread Border Router capabilities in its Shapes, Lines, and Elements products. That makes sense since a Thread Border Router needs to be plugged in, as these all are. This type of Thread capability bridges device data from the Thread mesh network to your home wireless network. The update is expected in the first quarter of this year.
Of course, to get more Thread-compliant devices on the market, we need silicon with the right radios. Enter NXP, which announced a tri-band chip that supports Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4. The latter standard has been used for Zigbee but is also used for Matter over Thread. NXP says the new chip also supports Matter over WiFi.
And speaking of Wi-Fi, the alliance behind it announced Wi-Fi 6 Release 2 information. This update will add uplink multi-user multiple input, multiple output (multi-user MIMO) for overall faster speeds. For IoT devices, there are new power efficiency features bundled in which is great for Matter over WiFi. Oh and your next front door may have Wi-Fi devices too: Masonite is showing off its M-Pwr Smart Door with modular connected components and a door frame with integrated electrical wiring!
Finally, on the first day of CES 2022, Arlo announced Matter support and followed that up with a unique all-in-one sensor for its newest home security products. This device is “capable of recognizing motion, door/window openings and tilt, water leaks, light/temperature changes, and T3 and T4 smoke/CO alarm patterns.”
All in all, the adoption of Matter and Thread is gaining momentum, even if it’s taking longer than we had hoped. And while some of the new products seem like “more of the same”, the pandemic and chip shortage has much to do with that. Maybe at CES 2023, we’ll see a wider range of innovation, such as some amazing ultrawideband products like this one.