Smart Home Tech — 3 Things to Look Out for At CES 2016

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The yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest gathering of consumer tech in the world, and it is set to kick off this week in Las Vegas. Here at, we’re always following the latest trends in smart home technology, and this year’s offering at CES is sure to excite any enthusiast. Here are a three quick things to look for when checking out the show this year:

Full home control and automation is the holy grail of the smart home, yet no one has quite figured out an easy DIY way to fully achieve it. There have been attempts to create a low cost hub, with some having mild success (see SmartThings) and others struggling (see Wink). Maybe the technology isn’t ready yet for this type of automation. Maybe consumers simply do not have enough smart devices in their homes to warrant a central controller. Regardless the reason, the promising central hub for the smart home has yet to take off.

The Savant Remote (photo courtesy Savant)

If the trends at CES are indicative of what’s to come, then seemingly manufacturers are instead taking a half-step forward, and just stopping short at a full automation hub. Instead they are focused on controlling the most popular function — entertainment, and trying to do that well. For example, high-end home control manufacturer Savant created quite a stir when it announced a few months ago that it was releasing a hub + remote control focused on the mass market. This system allows you to control TV, lights, and music. This system does not allow you to control HVAC, cameras, or any other additional functions.

Other devices are building hub functionality into their own hardware. Google’s Nest has created the Works With Nest program that allows the Nest ecosystem to access and control 3rd party devices. Although it is currently not a straight-forward setup and choices are limited, these manufacturers are trying to turn their devices in hidden hubs, and stake their claim to be the command center for the home.

When it comes to smart devices, consumers are still overwhelmingly interested technology that can keep their family safe. Understandably, there will be a big offering of smart camera manufacturers trying to serve that demand.

Many of these cameras do more than simply show you video of a room. Kuna, for example, is a light fixture with a camera built in, to allow for less obvious surveillance while also acting as an outdoor light source. Other cameras, such as Netatmo and Withings, also offer facial recognition technology to assist in security monitoring.

The Kuna Craftsman (photo courtesy Kuna)

On that note, one trend we surely expect to see is devices that do more than just one thing. Sengled is a light bulb company that will be featuring a bulb that has a built in speaker and microphone. Imagine being able to take a phone call with no physical phone device in the room.

The Sengled Snap (photo courtesy Sengled)

Speaking of bulbs, Awox will be showing a light bulb that streams music from the network and then plays it through built in speakers, for a new take on surround sound. Although we’d expect the sound quality not to be as good as traditional speakers, this type of innovation makes us think differently on how to program and setup devices in our homes is an AI agent for your home. If you’re interested in following Josh and getting early access to the beta, enter your email at

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