Monday was another media day at CES and I woke up planning to hit Bosch’s event and Qualcomm’s. Kevin was heading to Samsung’s. Only I didn’t make mine. After breakfast, my eyes swelled shut so I spent my morning doped up on Benadryl. But this wasn’t a huge loss. You can easily cover the big CES announcements from afar (honestly it’s better).
Bosch showed off some connected home stuff that jibes with my personal vision of the connected home, although I’m now a little uncertain if that’s the way this will go. It had a fridge that recognized a variety of foods and could tell people where to store those foods so the food would last longer. It also used its MEMs projection tech to create a kitchen interface that I want. It projects details on top of the counter, whether it’s a recipe or instructions on how to debone a fish. The consumer can interact with the projection like you would a touch screen.
I want a mix of voice interfaces with projector-based interactive screens to help me get rid of my smartphone dependency for controlling my home. Bosch seems to want that too.
One trend that we’ve been talking about recently on the show is the launch of several security products aimed at the smart home consumer. These might be from your router maker like my subscriptions to Eero Plus, your ISP (Comcast just launched a security service as part of Xfinity) or a stand-alone box such as those from BitDefender or Cujo. These services tend to monitor traffic on your network alerting you to rogue devices or devices behaving in strange ways. They also let parents set limits on Wi-Fi and maybe blacklist sites.
Typically there’s some kind of monthly charge ranging from $5 to $10 a month. I’m not 100% sure these are necessary or worth it, so I’m trying some out. For those who are DIY minded, Minim has launched an open source version of a security service that runs on a Raspberry Pi. We’re going to try it out eventually, but in the meantime, those of you who are interested can download the code here.
I saw a few more smart home devices at an evening Pepcom event. The most notable was probably a new line of connected lights by GE that will work with the Google Home without requiring a hub. The new colored lights are $30 for an A19 and $40 for a BR30 spot. GE also announced a new Wi-Fi light switch/dimmer that seems pretty cool. Although I wonder if it will be too bright for a bedroom.
Chamberlain also announced a deal with Amazon so Prime members with Chamberlain’s compatible garage door opening products can get their Amazon packages dropped off inside their garages. This includes those with Chamberlain’s MyQ. I’m stoked about the offering, which will debut later this year, since letting an Amazon driver into your garage feels less intrusive than letting them into your home. Additionally, garages are great places for large packages or even a grocery delivery if there’s a fridge in there. This represents a really interesting service opportunity for Chamberlain.
Many of y’all have been frustrated with Chamberlain because it charges a fee for linking your Chamberlain account to services such as IFTTT. The good news is that this won’t cost anything extra for the consumer. Perhaps better news is that Jeff Meredith, president and COO of Chamberlain, told me that the company was evaluating those fees. He also said, “That [fees] isn’t going to be an initiative for us going forward.”
And as a final fun element, we ran into the former Thalmic Labs crew and tried on the new glasses from North. I’ve liked these guys for a while because I think they are one of the few companies out there thinking about interactions for a world with many different types of devices. The glasses were slightly heavier than my most hipster pair of glasses but the hologram that displays information was unobtrusive. I could scan that information while also keeping up with the conversation, provided I wasn’t trying to read a text.
The glasses come with a ring that lets you scroll through information and otherwise control the glasses. At $999 they are not cheap, but it’s certainly something I’d like to try out for a while because I think it could change how I interact with tech in a good way. Especially if there was an audio/hearable component.