ces-logo.pngOne of the world’s biggest grown-up playgrounds is underway in Las Vegas.  Let’s face it – That’s what the Consumer Electronics Expo is right?  CES has been a beginning of the year thing since 1967, and we’ve seen so many great innovations that made it to our homes debut right on that very show floor.  VCRs, CD Player, Camcorders and BluRays to name a few.  CES 2001 was even where Microsoft showed off and debuted the Xbox.


This year, we’re seeing electronics manufacturers step up in ways to improve the home, and yourself.  Among the most anticipated gadgets at CES are steps forward in Smart Home and Wearables.  You’ll see something shortly from Shelly Wutke discussing some of the big announcements in Wearables, and I’m focusing in on some of the announcements in Smart Home.  Over the next few days, we’ll continue expanding this coverage as the announcements mount.  As with any bunch of electronics, it’s hard to say what you’ll see available at Best Buy eventually, but we’d like to show off some of the new gadgets out there nevertheless.


It’s time for HomeKit


Well, you knew it was just a matter of time before Apple’s HomeKit compatible products debuted, and they’re not even at CES! Some HomeKit developers are, however, and they had a couple of things to show off.


iDevicesSwitch.jpgiDevices showed off their “Switch” (shown left) and iHome showed off their “SmartPlug” (shown right) which are devices that can be voice activated to function. Both are devices that plug into a single spot on your wall outlet and can be commanded by Siri to function. For example, one of the things I seemingly forget to do this time of year is turn off the Christmas tree before going to bed. If I name the switch function properly, I can simply command Siri (nicely, of course) to turn the Christmas Tree off.


While this sort of functionality isn’t really new to the world of Smart Home, it’s a start in a medium that we’ve been waiting to see progress on since last summer. You already have similarly functioning things in the marketplace (like WeMo’s classic switch, or the Insteon Appliancelinc) but they aren’t voice activated and require you have to open the proprietary app to function it. It’s no big deal really, but voice integration into iOS could be a big selling point for those who like to keep things simple and at their fingertips constantly.


Elgato Eve Smart home products

Then there’s Elgato, the innovative company best known (to me, anyway) as the game capture device guys. I love my Elgato recorder, and they’re going to have some products that are HomeKit compatible too.  The EVE line of products will be debuting to help you understand how you’re using things in your house, and how you can become more efficient.  Product lines include everything from smart water consumption meters to smoke detectors to measuring air quality and humidity. Some of these innovations again aren’t necessarily new to the market, but I’m interested in seeing how they will function with HomeKit.



This should also open the floodgates for more HomeKit supported products as the spring and summer wear on.  You should see iHome’s Smartplug first, as they anticipate a Spring launch. I actually prefer the look of the iDevice switch, but I won’t see that until the summer.  Elgato’s products are also anticipated this summer. Canadian Prices are TBD


Look what else works with NEST


I’ll give NEST credit—they’re building themselves a pretty powerful network of allies, which should bolster the only 10% of current thermostat owners that take advantage of the program. Today, Weiser announced that the Kevo now Works with NEST Insteon  too have come aboard the program, though it appears that at the moment, you’ll be using the latter’s app to control the thermostat instead of vice versa.  

This is fantastic news for Insteon Hub owners like myself that couldn’t install their thermostat since it required a 3 wire 24v hookup (and I only have a 2 wire system.)  NESTs are one of the few smart thermostats out there that can work on a 2 wire system (though it’s best to use their website to determine compatibility first) so now you can enjoy that integrated functionality as well.


What else Works with NEST?  LG’s Smart Appliances now do, and Whirlpool’s will this Spring. Phillips Hue lights were something we’d heard about back in the fall, and now they can partner with the CO2 detector to flash in the event of a discovery.  Lastly, NEST is going to try their hand at Geofencing similar to Honeywell’s Smart Thermostats.  They’ll be able to locate you (if you give them access) and do things like warm your house in anticipation of your arrival if they see you’re a certain distance from, and headed home.


There’s one more product that works with NEST that I wanted to put some emphasis on before I closed for today.


Could leakSmart be the smartest of Smarthome products?


Last year, US based Waxman Technologies really put a bug in my ear when they debuted leakSmart, but they’ve seemingly gone a step further this year, and it looks great. I’ve mentioned this in previous similar blogs, but water damage is now the leading cause of Insurance claims in Canada.  Whether it’s burst supply lines, burst hot water tanks or backed up drains, water damage can be both costly and dangerous to your home. Waxman’s leakSmart is an intuitive wireless automatic water shutoff system that is at work for you 24/7.  Nowadays, a lot of similar products can cost into the thousands, and don’t usually carry the outreach that leakSmart can for a fraction of that cost. They’re not normally geared for Smart Home, and usually trigger due to a major change in the water pressure.  leakSmart’s sensor system can be placed over the home, and in the event of an incident, can have the main water shut off, with you notified within 5 seconds.  It’s also part of the works with NEST program.  Here’s a video that shows off what leakSmart is about.


Give this one a little bit more time though for everything to hit the market. What you see out right now is pretty limited and a fraction of what Waxman should be releasing in the coming months.


Stay close to Plug In these next few days, where we’ll keep updating you on what’s interesting from the show floor in Las Vegas.  CES 2015 is underway, and I’ll be back again with more from the SmartHome floor.

Matt Paligaru
Emerging Technology
A technology nut at heart, I'm always interested in what makes our lives easier and helps us tick day to day. Whether Home Automation, toys, games (board and video) or everything in between, I'm always looking around the corner to see what drives us in today's day and age.