At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, enormous TVs and tiny computers still dominated the landscape, but increasingly, products for the home are gaining attention. From amazingly sophisticated appliances to science-fiction-like robots and even giant blimps for delivering goods, CES once again had no shortage of new products to dazzle showgoers. And some of them might actually make it to the marketplace … someday.
Held in early January in Las Vegas, the show attracted more than 100,000 attendees at a convention center complex so huge it even features a transportation system by Elon Musk’s Boring Company (it’s just cars in tunnels—not quite as futuristic as one might have hoped).
No matter. The floor featured all kinds of Jetsons-y product introductions of interest to those in the home business. Here are some of the highlights as reported by CES attendees:
Matter: One of the big challenges of smart home technology is that there is no universal protocol enabling interdevice connectivity across brands. Matter is a system that is supposed to solve that, but it’s still a work in progress, reports Wired: “Matter ... is the new smart-home standard that promises true interoperability between all your smart-home devices, regardless of which manufacturers make them. As long as all the gadgets you buy are Matter-compatible, in theory, they can all talk to each other, change each other’s settings, turn each other on and off. Matter launched at the end of 2022, so we were expecting to see a ton of Matter-ready devices here—and we actually haven’t.” So it still remains to be seen if Matter … well, matters.
Mui, mui: Building on the Matter platform is the Mui Board from Mui Lab, which is essentially a home information device that looks like a wooden cutting board and can feature all variety of digital tools, from weather reports to calendars to smart home devices. Handsome enough to be used in the nicest living rooms, it’s a nice alternative to the Star Trek–like devices that just don’t quite fit into most home decor schemes.
A Masterpiece for your AC: Sometimes hot new products are just about combining two old ones in a clever way. For example, LG debuted an AC unit that is equipped with a digital photo frame to ease the eye from the device’s usually clunky appearance. The Artcool is wall-mountable and has a 27-inch embedded LCD screen for showing off vacation pictures and old master paintings alike.
Urban Farming: Another product from LG enables buyers to grow their own crops inside a mini fridge. Named after the Korean word for “sprout,” the LG Tiiun looks like a sleek wine fridge from the outside, but the automated water, lighting and climate control inside cultivates vegetables, herbs and even flowers—it can grow all-in-one seed kits in four to eight weeks.
Up in the Air: Of somewhat less mass appeal, but of potential interest to suppliers and retailers making large deliveries, is the Flying Whales model LCA60T, a 600-foot-long helium-filled dirigible. Able to transport up to 60 tons of cargo, the blimp will be powered by a hybrid engine (the company aims to go all-electric eventually). The blimp’s unique value proposition is its ability to make deliveries where other vehicles like trucks and even aircraft can’t go. And if you’re thinking of rushing out and getting one, notice the future tense in the previous sentence: Flying Whales showed a scale model of the blimp-in-the-making, promising the first full-size test flight later this year. Until then, it’s still a lot of hot air.
This sampling is but a taste of the new technology attendees saw at CES. Some items will make it; some won’t. But what better place than Las Vegas to gamble on new products?
Homepage image: This year’s CES attracted more than 100,000 attendees | Courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association
Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.