The 2021 iteration of the annual Consumer Electronics Show takes place online (fittingly) in a hub referred to as the “digital venue.” Much like us, presenters are positioned in their home offices, at a seat in a spare bedroom, or on the couch, with the camera angled so others can’t tell. Roving the aisles in search of tech-embedded treasures and oddities proves more difficult this way so we adopted a new method of maneuvering through the nearly 2,000 exhibitors in attendance: focus on a few interests and work backward. Here we highlight developments intended for use within the home, a place where all of us have been spending most of our time for almost a year. These products heighten the experience of being home through subtle upgrades to current appliances, benefitting your home’s mood and improving the (mental and physical) health of those inside it.
Those looking to upgrade their existing bathtub likely won’t have the spare $16,000 necessary to reserve Kohler’s luxurious Stillness Bath. But this all-new tub boasts features and fixtures typically reserved for high-end spas—particularly shinrin-yoku (nature therapy) style ones. Water is dispensed from the bottom of the tub until it overflows the edge, where it waterfalls down the sides into a professionally installed Hinoki wood moat. Bathers can also opt for aromatherapy and cue a misty fog to float over the surface. If you’re seeking the full sensory experience, customizable, glowing lights act as ambience. Kohler’s Stillness Bath will be available this year for $15,998.
Since its debut at CES 2018, Heal has grown substantially and proved that at-home healthcare is not only an emerging, but oftentimes a viable alternative to urgent care or emergency visits. In fact, Heal Hub (Heal’s hardware) has received Medicare reimbursement status for those that use it, reduced emergency room visits by 71% for active users, and is available for purchase in California, Georgia, Washington DC and Virginia. Users simply install the device like they would a thermostat, by placing it in a place accessible (and known) to all. Then it connects (via Bluetooth and LTE) to more than 120+ health-tracking devices. This real-time information can be relayed to healthcare providers, along with your stored health history and a more direct and personal set of treatments can be prescribed. Plus, healthcare professionals who are also Heal Hub users can schedule house calls for all of their registered patients. Doctors can survey all of the stored information beforehand and assess the risks of their at-home environment, too.
Design Flex Air Purifier
Plenty of fans and heating and cooling appliances are embedded with air-purifying technology, but few standalone appliances emphasize design and subtlety too. Coway’s Design Flex Air Purifier concept, however, was designed with decor in mind—especially how the appliance will look alongside more natural (or purely decorative) elements. Interchangeable settings offer different purifying patterns depending on the setting (and the setting’s busyness), a magnetic front offers opportunity for personal adornment, and the device itself—with its four angled legs, polished finish, and faded gold hue—proves more aesthetically appealing than many others.
Hydropower Shower Speaker
Installing a speaker inside your shower (or at least within earshot of it) isn’t a new concept. Available options range from high-end to affordable, but few boast the same functionality as Ampere’s new Hydropower Shower Speaker which is powered by water pressure. It attaches to your shower head and a hydroelectric generator harnesses the water’s potential power, stores it and leverages that energy to power the audio output for up to 20 hours, even after the water stops running. (There’s no need to charge it, or risk electrocution for your shower soundtrack.) Plus, Ampere’s iteration is constructed from 100% recycled ocean plastic.
Though we covered mui Lab’s innovative “mui panel” during CES 2020, the Kyoto-based company has since doubled down on their natural technology initiative with the mui panel 2.0 and a suite of embedded content created to further their mission of ushering in a new era of “calm technology.” The wooden bar—which can display calendar entries, weather updates, text messages and more—now can relay 24 different poems timed with transitions in temperature and season. Mizuki Misumi’s written words are meant to offer a sense of relaxation and recognition of the time year. “We hope that viewers will be able recognize the unlimited possibilities of the ‘calm technology’ in creating a peaceful living environment that is also emotionally enriching,” CEO Kaz Oki explained at CES 2021.
SmartThings Cooking + Family Hub
Samsung announced that they’d merge the popular SmartThings app and the company’s most-used Family Hub feature, forming an all-encompassing at-home kitchen system. SmartThings Cooking keeps an inventory of items in your fridge, can communicate with companies like Amazon or Walmart when stock is low, and preheat kitchen appliances when a recipe calls for such. The hub can also monitor allergies and dietary exclusions as well as recommending recipes and craft special grocery lists that exclude these items. This hub can exist on the front of one of Samsung’s smart refrigerators or on a smartphone or computer, depending on connectivity.
UTS-1 Wireless Charger
As the office invades the home for many, individuals seek out solutions for storing their workday essentials. As such, Kew Labs devised of a way to store your wireless charger while it’s in use. Their handy UTS-1 station employs a Qi charger that gets housed underneath your desk. By upping the charger to 30 watts, they’ve managed to make a device strong enough to push through your desk’s top surface (as long as it’s between 18 and 25.4-mm thick), thus rendering the need for a top-facing hub unnecessary. There are stickers for signposting where your phone needs to be in order to charge, but you could easily opt for a marker of your own.
Though NAVER’s CLOVA Lamp didn’t debut at CES 2021, its presence marks a bright spot for the at-home education category. Two technologies—image recognition and optical character recognition—help the lamp read, when a book is placed under its light, to children of all ages. Specific lighting temperature and brightness settings cater to the desired outcome, whether that’s bedtime reading or studying for tests and quizzes. Plus, kids can ask the lamp questions—it’s equipped with speakers for audio output and a microphone to field questions—and an AI will do its best to respond; it can reread sections of copy when prompted or skip ahead. Best of all, the CLOVA lamp doesn’t sound robotic; it’s a nearly natural voice that proves easy to pay attention to.
Hero image courtesy of Samsung, all others courtesy of respective venues