What Happened at CES 2017? The Technology Buzz for January 2017 | Direct Energy Blog

What Happened at CES 2017? The Technology Buzz for January 2017

Welcome to the Technology Buzz! Each month, we will investigate new developments in technology across a range of disciplines and fields. More importantly, we’ll help you understand how it impacts everyday life – especially in how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

To kick off the retooled Technology Buzz here at Direct Energy, we wanted to take a closer look at the smart home technology that recently surfaced at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) in Las Vegas.

Artificial Intelligence Comes Home

What Happened at CES 2017? The Technology Buzz for January 2017 | Direct Energy Blog
“What do you mean this hair brush doesn’t sync to my Fitbit to tell me how my brushing habits impact my health goals?”

While the Kerastase smart Hair Coach hairbrush failed to curry our favor at CES 2017, we did notice more people who create hubs for Internet of Things devices grooming themselves to offer more speech recognition systems much like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.

What is an IoT hub? It’s the central controller linking together all of the IoT devices in your home: thermostats, light bulbs, speakers, security cameras, smoke detectors, and more. There are many different ones out there, and most work with multiple communication standards (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.) so you can access all your gadgets through just one device.

Many of these new hubs now come equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that utilizes IP network addresses to communicate with the devices it controls. Not only does this cloud-dependent architecture help expand the connectivity, but it also facilitates how the AI gathers data on how you use energy and then automatically tweaks the settings on your IoT devices to help you lower that energy usage.

Our Favorite Products at CES 2017

What Happened at CES 2017? The Technology Buzz for January 2017 | Direct Energy Blog
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

So what happens when you add voice recognition, built-in cameras, and piles of sensors to these kind of connected smart hubs? Your smart home appears almost magically alive (or invites the Singularity).

WooHoo by Smartbeings is an IoT tabletop smart hub equipped with a 360° camera, facial recognition, voice recognition, an Android built-in OS, and touchscreen. And it’s all built to connect to Zigbee, Z-wave, WiFi, Bluetooth, and other IoT gadgets. Slated to sell for $89 once it’s in production, full functionality comes with a $9 monthly subscription service fee.

Naturally, the next step is to turn hubs into friendly robot assistants.

What Happened at CES 2017? The Technology Buzz for January 2017 | Direct Energy Blog
Rosie from The Jetsons might finally arrive in our homes.

LG’s Hub Robo debuted at CES 2017 as a smart hub operating as a personal assistant that currently uses Amazon’s Alexa voice technology. It uses sensors and cameras for facial recognition, movement, and providing responses to user interactions. It then employs ingratiating body language such as nodding its head and facial expressions — much nicer that Amazon’s static black tube. Unfortunately, LG hasn’t said when the Hub Robot will be available or how much it will cost, but LG plans to make work with Google, Amazon, and LG smart home products.

Though Olly the Robot resembles a small black tire that lights up, maker Emotech says it can control smart devices and internet-connected products, but but more importantly, it develops its personality from the user. It can detect both its location and a user’s mood. Emotech even claims it can predict the type of music you like playing at night. Over a year in development, Emotech has not announced a release date yet — however, it’s expected to sell for around $700.

Ubtech Lynx is bipedal robot that can play music, do some dance moves, and start a video call over WiFi. Available later in 2017, it comes equipped with Amazon’s Alexa, so there’s natural language recognition as well as facial recognition. While limited currently to things like calendar reminders and weather, incorporating Alexa into this walk-about package could herald a more ambitious smart hub version that could double as a butler, or as with Olly’s promised capabilities, a companion.

Do you have any thoughts or comments about the technology on display at CES 2017? Share with us in the comments!


Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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