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The smart home tech of CES 2018: from heated toilets to connected fridges
The voice assistants that were once confined to our smart speakers have been spreading their wings at CES 2018, with pretty much every device on show, from TVs to cars, boasting about including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung Bixby under the hood.
But while our assistants may increasingly be venturing outside the home, most of the innovation in this area is still happening indoors. Here we're going to be highlighting some of the most interesting offerings for your humble abode from this year's Vegas tech extravaganza.
The Samsung Family Hub fridge
Winner of the TechRadar award for Best Smart Home Device of CES 2018, the Samsung Family Hub fridge is actually a modern version of its existing 'fridge with a screen' range.
What really sets this model apart (and makes it worthy of the accolade) is the fact that the fridge can function as a smart home hub, meaning that if you've got a range of different smart home products from a number of different manufacturers and want a way to control them all from a unified device, this fridge will function as that hub using SmartThings, Samsung's hub ecosystem.
On top of that is the ability for the fridge to tell you when things inside it are going off, suggest recipes, and even source coupons of your repeat purchases. And of course it contains Bixby, so you can control it with your voice.
LG ThinQ smart speaker
Another award-winner here. This time taking home the award for Best Smart Speaker. The LG ThinQ is a Google Assistant speaker, but unlike the Google Home, the ThinQ has been specifically tailored towards exceptional audio quality.
Partnering with hi-fi giants Meridian Audio, LG has created a speaker that's tailored for use with lossless audio files, and which, if it delivers on its promise, will be a speaker that not only contains smarts, but one that you'll actually want to sit and listen to.
No more connecting to a better Bluetooth speaker? Yes please.
JBL Link View
While we're on the subject of smart speakers, an honorable mention has to go to JBL's Google Assistant speaker.
The inclusion of a screen puts the JBL Link View in direct competition with Amazon's Echo Show (and with Facebook's potential Portal device). Given the fact that you can't play YouTube videos on Amazon devices at the moment, we imagine a Google-powered screen speaker is going to be an attractive proposition for many.
JBL wasn't the only manufacturer to create a Google Assistant screen speaker, but it was our favorite in terms of looks.
Kohler Konnect smart bathroom range
One of the ranges that surprised us as to how much we actually wanted it was the connected range from American luxury bathroom brand Kohler called Kohler Konnect.
The range includes a voice-controlled shower that can remember a number of presets of heat, music, lights and more, so you can get the perfect shower just by asking for it.
Also included in the range are a mirror that doubles as an Alexa speaker, a bath that fills itself, a tap that can pour set amounts of water, and a toilet that has foot warmers, a heated seat, atmospheric lights and music, and a bidet.
It's not likely to be a cheap range, but then you can't put a price on a shower that doesn't require you to stand in scalding hot/freezing cold water as you frantically try to adjust the temperature.
Homey smart home hub
The smart home hub is potentially the least exciting thing in the whole ecosystem, even if it is the device that connects all your different devices from all of your different manufacturers under one umbrella, allowing you complete control of your home.
While we're starting to see smart speakers like the Milo get released that combine smart speaker and hub, the reality is that most homes still need a hub, and for Americans, CES 2018 saw the release of Homey.
Homey is a smart home hub that is compatible with over 30,000 different smart home devices, and brings the control for all of them into one interface. What's more, it can be controlled with Google Assistant, Alexa, and even by Facebook Messenger.
Netatmo Smart Home Bot
Talking of Facebook Messenger, European smart home manufacturer Netatmo used CES 2018 to introduce Smart Home Bot, a dedicated bot that means you can control your Netatmo devices from Messenger.
If you've got Netatmo's camera, you can even text the bot to ask who's home, and you'll get a reply with a picture of the people who are home.
Now obviously, given the previous post, Netatmo isn't the first company to offer this feature, but it is a much bigger name than Homey, and we'll be keeping a close eye on other major manufacturers to see if this is the start of a new trend.
Somfy Outdoor Camera
AI was the buzzword of CES 2018, and we saw some truly useful applications of the technology. Among them was the Somfy Outdoor Camera.
The ability for cameras to use artificial intelligence to identify a human being is now a fairly common feature, but Somfy's new camera goes one step further.
When it identifies a person getting too close to your property it not only sends you a notification, it also gives off a warning to that person to leave the area using an onboard speaker, and if the intruder doesn't heed the warning it goes into full alarm mode with a 110db siren – that's the same volume as a rock concert.
Still on the subject of home security products, but this time dealing with the thorny issue of letting strangers into your house, we have the August Access.
This is smart lock manufacturer August's alternative to Amazon's controversial Key service, which gives delivery drivers access to your home when you're not there by offering them temporary control of your smart lock.
August's service works by giving the delivery person a one-time code that opens your door, whereupon they make the delivery and then leave. Hopefully.
August has partnered up with American delivery service Deliv, which delivers products for a large number of retailers including Best Buy and Macy's.
Nest x Yale lock
Given that the smart home market is full of competing brands, it's always nice to see a collaboration between two of them, and at CES we saw two of the biggest names – Nest and Yale – team up to bring out a smart lock.
The Nest x Yale lock is able to store 250 different PIN codes, and has a really nifty feature in that you can set codes to only work as specific times. So if you're worried about someone letting themselves in at night, you can make sure their code only works at the time they're supposed to be there.
The partnership also means that when the Nest Hello video doorbell hits the market you'll be able to remotely unlock your door if you know the person who's outside.
Want your smart home controller to be a little more dodecahedron-y? Allow us to introduce you to the Nanoleaf Remote.
Unveiled at CES 2018, the Nanoleaf Remote allows you to control the very unique smart lighting Nanoleaf units, and other products that connect to the Remote using Apple's HomeKit ecosystem.
Apparently the testing for the Remote was as unique as the device itself, with testers given no instructions and left to figure out the device for themselves. We'll definitely be calling this one in for review.
While this may not strictly be smart home, every home should arguably have one, and CES 2018 marked the return of the adorable Sony Aibo.
When we first reported on the rumors of Aibo coming back to us there was a possibility that it was going to be a smart speaker. While that's looking less likely now, the new Aibo does still have cameras and microphones onboard so it can learn commands, and even adjust its behavior based on who is talking to it.
There were other robots shown off at CES that can help out with smart home integration, such as LG's Cloi. Want to know more about them? Check out The best robots of CES 2018: from cyber cleaners to robo pals.