New Smart Home Innovations Coming Your Way

Engerati delves through the thousands of products and services – many new – on show at International CES 2015.
Published: Thu 08 Jan 2015

The annual International CES is the place where new, innovative and smart consumer products and services are unveiled, and the 2015 event now on in Las Vegas is no exception. To give you a taste of what is coming Engerati has worked through the hundreds of announcements to highlight just a few of these that have attracted our attention.

Consumer electronics market to reach record high

According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) latest report released at the event, revenues for the consumer electronics industry are projected to grow 3% in 2015 and to reach an all-time high of US$223.2 billion.

The top revenue drivers of the industry in 2015 will continue to be mobile connected devices, specifically smartphones and tablets, accounting for over 34% of the total revenue.

However, major growth of 108% is projected for new, emerging product categories, including 3D printers, 4K ultra-high definition televisions, connected thermostats, unmanned systems (unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned vehicles and home robots), IP cameras and wearables such as health and fitness devices, smartwatches and smart eyewear. In particular, the wearable device revolution is a key category to watch in the coming years, and especially in 2015, according to the report. The CEA projects overall wearable unit sales will reach 30.9 million units (61% up from 2014) and generate $5.1 billion in revenue in 2015 (133% increase).

Smart devices are here

In his CES keynote Samsung president and CEO Consumer Electronics BK Yoon, said the age of the Internet of Things is no longer in the future but has already started.

Citing his own company’s products, Yoon said that by 2017, 90% of all Samsung products will be IoT devices, including all TVs and mobile devices. Further, 5 years from now, every piece of Samsung hardware will be an IoT device – and the company is also working to ensure that each of these will be able to act as an IoT hub.

Yoon also commented that Samsung sees openness as key to the IoT, with all sensors and devices able to operate together, and promised that all the company’s components and devices would be open to enable interoperability.

Year of wireless charging

WiTricity Corporation believes that 2015 is shaping up as the “Year of Wireless Power,” and is aiming to lead the way with its Rezence-enabled solutions, which offer wireless power transfer over a distance. These are applicable for use in both the home and office, such as charging through a table or using repeaters to a device on the opposite side of a room, as well as in automotive EV and in-vehicle charging applications.

Through the newly established A4WP Partner Program, developers are able to incorporate WiTricity’s patented wireless power technology into products and solutions designed for the A4WP Rezence specification.

Wireless cooling to pilot in New York

Energy Technology Savings L.L.C., an independent provider of energy efficiency and smart building technology solutions, is teaming with Lowe’s and Electrolux to undertake the first wireless packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) pilot to test new heating and cooling units in multifamily, high-rise buildings in New York and New Jersey. The wireless HVAC units, which will be deployed in five different metropolitan locations, were designed to enable building operations management and residents to better manage and reduce energy costs with smartphone apps to control and schedule heating and air conditioning appliances.

HomePlug AV2 enhances home networking

HomePlug AV2 MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output), the next generation of HomePlug technology for powerline networking delivering higher data throughput and coverage, has arrived with the first products now available from retailers.

HomePlug AV2 is claimed to be the ideal backbone for hybrid home networks that must evolve to carry large amounts of data for ultra HD video and IoT applications, and offers whole-home coverage with repeater functionality. There is complete interoperability with HomePlug AV and HomePlug Green PHY devices, as well as enhanced support for multiple dwelling unit (apartment) environments to maximize throughput of neighbouring networks.

Magnetocaloric cooling premieres

Haier, a global manufacturer of household appliances, Astronautics Corporation of America, a global technology company, and the chemical company BASF believe that with the ready availability of raw materials and higher energy efficiency – estimated up to 35% more energy efficient than vapor compression systems – magnetocaloric technology has the potential to revolutionize the cooling industry.

A magnetocaloric heat pump is a cooling device based on magnetocaloric materials, in this case on manganese and iron. Magnetocaloric materials heat up when put in a magnetic field and cool down when removed from the magnetic field. In the companies’ magnetocaloric heat pump demonstration, heat is transferred from the cold interior of a wine cooler to the warm surrounding air by shuttling a water-based coolant through the magnetocaloric materials as they go in and out of the magnetic field.

Hydrogen vehicle push

Toyota is making available for royalty-free use to automakers as well as parts suppliers and energy companies more than 5,600 fuel cell and related patents, including that used in the new Mirai hydrogen vehicle. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 related to hydrogen production and supply.

“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” explains Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical… By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

Potential for millimeter-wave technologies

Recently there has been a growth in interest in the millimeter wave band (60GHz) for high speed wireless communications and many device manufacturers are expected to start incorporating the technology into their devices.

Recognizing the potential, the California multimedia solution provider Silicon Image has relaunched its SiBEAM subsidiary, to “drive key customer engagements and accelerate market adoption of millimetre-wave products and solutions in high-growth consumer, enterprise and infrastructure markets.”

SiBEAM is a pioneer in developing intelligent millimetre wave technologies for wireless communications, and was the first to build 60GHz chipsets using standard CMOS technology.

A novel IoT lifestyle application

As an example of the many emerging IoT applications, one is GreenPeak’s cloud-based Senior Lifestyle System. Utilizing a network of wireless ZigBee sensor nodes located throughout the home, the system connects via an internet gateway to a cloud-based self-learning algorithm with advanced behaviour pattern recognition capabilities that learn the normal day-to-day activities and behaviour of people in the home. If something goes amiss, alerts are sent via social media and smart phone.

The solution is aimed to the increasing number of elderly people who wish to continue living in their own homes longer, and is currently being rolled out in Europe and China.