A couple of weeks ago, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held its 54th annual convention – this time completely online. In brief, CES is the biggest, most famous, and most important consumer technology show in the world. It’s held every year to showcase all the new gadgets and gizmos coming out in the year (and years) ahead, and 2021’s slate featured many products related to the smart home in particular.
Here are a few of the highlights that are most relevant to renters looking to turn their rental home into a smarter place:
This year’s convention featured multiple smart products related to home security. If you’re looking to beef up your apartment’s security and monitor the activity in your home from anywhere, these are the gadgets for you. They’re an investment toward protecting your belongings and the peace of mind that comes from always feeling that your home is safe, no matter where you are.
Kasa Smart Doorbell
The company TP-Link, which specializes in wireless networking and smart home technology, unveiled six new smart home devices focused on front door security. One of the more intriguing and frankly useful items in this lineup was the Kasa Smart Doorbell.
Basically, it’s a doorbell with a built-in camera, intercom, and app that you can access entirely through your smartphone. But it’s also so much more than that. In addition to its wireless doorbell capabilities, the Kasa Smart Doorbell also contains a fully weatherproof camera that provides sharp 1080p video with night mode capabilities so it can see who’s at your door even in the dark. This video is then recorded to a 128g microSD card or streamed to your home, and you can even store the footage in the cloud if you’d like.
Even better, the Kasa Smart Doorbell uses advanced AI algorithms to detect people and distinguish them from other objects. If a person is detected, you’ll receive an instant notification on your phone before they even knock. Then, from wherever you are, you can talk to them, hear them, see them, and interact. It’s perfect if you’re waiting for a delivery, expecting someone to come by, or are simply concerned about intruders.
Another security device showcased at CES 2021 was the Hex Home, a new gadget from Origin Wireless AI, a company that focuses on AI solutions for smart homes. The Hex Home consists of two small, unassuming pieces of equipment that you can place strategically inside your apartment. Altogether, this system is designed to fully monitor all motion in your home and alert you to anomalies.
With an accompanying smartphone app, you can view the movement in your house and switch between different security modes depending on circumstances. The security levels can also be set to a schedule, and you can adjust the sensitivity, alerts, and all other features to optimize the Hex Home to your needs and avoid false alarms.
One of the big pluses of the Hex Home is the fact that it’s quite small and consists of very few components while also providing a fully Wi-Fi-enabled security system for your entire apartment. It’s a pretty nifty gadget, and it’s expected to be released to the public soon.
Cooking and Cleaning
Autonomous vacuums and colorful, app-connected refrigerators have long been a part of the smart home scene (they’re even a common sight in many less tech-oriented people’s houses). At this year’s CES, a variety of smart new appliances for cooking and cleaning were debuted, including a cool new smart oven from LG and a quirky but interesting vacuuming robot from Samsung.
LG InstaView Range
The newest oven from LG is undoubtedly the company’s most advanced offering yet. It looks something like a boxy spaceship, with LED-illuminated knobs and an interior that lights up with just a couple quick knocks. The oven can also be preheated and monitored remotely via smartphone app, and its sleek surface is designed to be cleaned easily in just a few minutes.
One of the oven’s most notable new features is its “Air Sous Vide” mode, which uses vacuum-sealed bags alongside precision temperature and airflow control to perfectly heat foods while locking in all the flavor and aroma. It eliminates the messiness of typical water-based vacuum cooking appliances and makes the whole process fairly seamless. A couple other cools features are the “Air Fry” mode, which allows frying without any preheating or oil, and the impressive 22,000 BTU burners built into the stovetop.
Everything about the InstaView range can be controlled by an app, too, and it’s fully compatible with voice assistants like Alexa, meaning you can use all of these snazzy features just by telling your smart home to fire up the oven.
JetBot 90 AI Plus
Samsung’s JetBot cleaning robot is, in some sways, a super advanced version of the Roomba. Its sleek, white design vaguely resembles Eve from the Pixar film Wall-E, and it uses the same technology as Tesla’s driverless cars (Lidar and 3D sensors) to navigate your home. With the app, you can set zones of your house you want it to cover and monitor its progress as it picks up dust, trash, and other debris off your floor.
Don’t worry about ever emptying the JetBot vacuum, either. The robot actually empties its own bin! When it’s satisfied that your apartment is appropriately clean, it’ll automatically return to its charging station and empty its bin all by itself.
JetBot has other uses, too. It comes equipped with a camera and monitoring capabilities so it can work the nightshift as your personal security guard, making sure your home is protected from intruders. You can even live-stream its feed to your phone so you can actually see what the robot is seeing. As Rich Leonarz, a director of product marketing at Samsung, said of the gizmo: “Now you can have a robot at home that’s actually your sentry.”
CES 2021 was very aware of its context. It took place virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of this, it featured multiple products designed to be hands-free so you don’t have to touch anything. Nowadays, everyone is being extra cautious around shared surfaces, so these gadgets seek to solve that problem through technology. Plus, they’re all pretty cool, stylish, and futuristic.
Kohler Sensate Touchless Faucet
If you have roommates or use a shared bathroom or kitchen, you might be concerned about who’s touching the sink and when. All these concerns are seemingly addressed by Kohler’s touchless faucet.
Though they first unveiled this product back in 2019, Kohler was back again this year with two new styles. With this faucet, everything is hands-free. You can control the flow of water by moving your hand, or even just by speaking. Besides telling it to turn the faucet on and off, you can actually ask it to pour water for you in specified increments. It can measure out milliliters, gallons, ounces, or whatever other volume you need, and then it dispenses the water right into your cup with high accuracy.
Through the app, you can also track your water consumption and control the faucet remotely, as well as detect leaks, chart water analytics, and customize your voice commands so that they’re right for you.
Innate Intelligent Toilet
Also by Kohler, the Innate Intelligent Toilet is a complete smart toilet that comes with touchless features. It offers a heated seat, automatic opening and closing, a remote, and bidet functions. It can be easily installed, too, thanks to its ReadyLock design, and comes with built-in LED lights that you can customize through the Kohler app.
The touchless part, of course, relates mostly to flushing. A sensor in the lever lets you flush the toilet with just a wave of your hand. Overall, this toilet is a bit pricey and somewhat of a gimmick, but it’s still cool nonetheless, and we can only expect prices to come down and features to increase over time when it comes to smart bathroom technology.
Ultimately, not all of CES 2021’s smart home offerings are necessarily practical or affordable for the average apartment renter. That’s true for any cutting-edge technologies. But they’re still pretty interesting and might get you inspired about how to upgrade your home with the newest innovations and gadgets. Plus, they show us a vision of the future, one complete with guard robots armed with vacuums and ovens that follow verbal orders like personal chefs. At the very least, CES 2021 gave us something to get excited about.