The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the biggest trade shows in the world, encompassing most of the Las Vegas Convention Center space with 4,000 booths and 130,000 visitors.
Green Mountain Energy was there exploring the latest energy- and water-saving products, but we also caught a glimpse of products pertaining to personal health, the automated home, robots, home security, smart watches, TVs, the Internet of Things, fitness, and smart health. There were also drones –lots of drones – but our favorite was the bionic bird (mybionicbird.com).
Below is a recap of our experience at the event.
In the smart device category, we were most impressed by new Smart LED light bulbs. These light bulbs also function as speakers, cameras, and motion sensors that can be managed through your smart phone via WiFi or Bluetooth. Imagine how much fun you could have with your dog while you’re at work!
The additional benefit of multi-use smart devices is that an individual can lower his or her overall energy footprint by combining multiple functions into one, easily-controlled solution. Some innovative companies that stood out included Misfit and Sengled. Misfit is the company founded by former Apple CEO John Scully.
Water conservation was not as well-represented as other electronics categories, but here are our highlights:
- If you have an irrigation system, consider smart irrigation products, such as Skydrop or Rachio. Think NEST for your yard.
- If you don’t have an irrigation system and you use a hose sprinkler system, check out Droplet’s smart sprinkler system (pictured right). This product is like a Roomba for your yard that you control with your smart device.
Connected Home and Security
Connected home and security offerings were ubiquitous at CES. The concepts are simple enough: do-it-yourself (DIY) security, WiFi cameras, talking appliances, central communications hubs, etc., all controlled with smartphone apps.
The initial challenge in this emerging space will be to determine which of the competing methodologies will prevail. There is the ThreadGroup.org, an open protocol solution that is led by heavyweights like NEST/Google and Samsung. The Apple Homekit is open to developers but tied to the Apple ecosystem. And there are various closed systems, such as Zigbee and Z-Wave, that work with various devices. This is the current version of the betamax vs. VHS problem.
To solve the protocol issue, there were several companies at CES offering a way to connect a multitude of devices. A few of the companies offering this hub solution include Hubble, WeMo and Staples. Staples offers Staples Connect, which appears to be the most complete solution. It works with all of the major protocols and connects simply to a multitude of connected home devices.
On the security front, multi-function cameras provide sensors and speakers, in addition to cameras similar to the light bulbs we discussed earlier. Security is moving from a professionally-installed, monitored subscription service to a DIY, one-time payment, self-monitored solution. One company that stood out was My Fox due to its products’ simplicity and design.
The beauty of all of these smart solutions is that with good programming and planning, users of these new technologies can find ways to lower their collective energy and water usage while living a more sustainable lifestyle – something that certainly resonates with us!