CES 2017: Early trends and thoughts

Sleep technology and more smart home devices coming to a house near you

Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed
Sleep Number Bed

After a full day of meetings at CES 2017, I noticed a few trends that could bubble up beyond some of the bigger ones that get a lot of the media’s attention. Roaming around a large hotel ballroom (The Mirage Events Center, actually) during the Pepcom Digital Experience event, I noticed a LOT of individual products, but some of them have coalesced into themes to watch during the year.

Technology hits the bedroom

Humans spend about 1/3 of their life sleeping or trying to sleep, so it’s been interesting to see that products are finally addressing our needs for a better night’s sleep. Companies and products like Smart Nora, the Zeeq Smart Pillow and Sleepace all have different approaches towards alleviating the annoyance of someone snoring (alleviating for the partner, since it probably doesn’t bother you if you’re the snorer). Different approaches are used by some of the products – the Nora device, for example, uses a small device that raises the pillow slightly to get you to move when snoring is detected through its sound sensor. The Zeeq includes speakers (which let you play music to help you get to sleep) that can activate when it detects snoring.

The big company in this space is Sleep Number Bed, which was at the event showing off its new Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed. The entire mattress system includes the anti-snoring approach (the bed adjusts the position when snoring is detected), but also includes a warming feature, biometric sensors and other health data abilities to help customers get their 40 winks in an easier manner. It also helps that their mattresses are very comfortable, especially when you get to sit on one after a long day of walking around Las Vegas.

 Smart home still not centralized, but that’s OK

I think too many people are expecting to have a home like Tony Stark (from the Marvel movies) or Mark Zuckerberg, where a centralized AI can control everything in the house with perfection. When they see that we’re not there yet (because of a lack of standards to get all of the small little “things” to work with each other), people get disheartened. I get that. But there are some very interesting small devices that work quite well on their own, as long as you’re willing to control them via an individual app on your smartphone or tablet. 

For example, I was impressed with some of the new features on the Samsung SmartCam A1 (part of the Wisenet offering via Hanwha Techwin America group – don’t ask). The indoor security camera features a 350-degree range of motion for panning a room, but also includes smart tracking abilities and the ability to set up specific motion zones for tracking. The camera is also detachable (with a 3-5 hour battery life, depending on usage), so you can move the camera temporarily to another room if you want (although you then lose the ability to pan/track).

 Lenovo is also moving into the smart home arena with products like its Lenovo Smart Storage (a tiny cube that acts as a network-attached storage unit) and its Smart Assistant, which utilizes Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology to provide users with helpful answers to questions.

In fact, Alexa (or Amazon Echo or Echo Dot) integration is a HUGE feature that I’m seeing a lot of these smart home products take on. I don’t think this means that the device becomes the be-all, end-all device that controls everything within the smart home, but it certainly will be part of the equation (at least the voice recognition part of the Tony Stark scenario).

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