As CES 2022 draws to a close, I wonder where the mind-boggling announcements were.
Do not mistake yourself. CES still offered a lot of really awesome tech, along with plenty of devices that I can’t wait to get my hands on and try for myself, but it definitely lacked the wow factor in the form of smart home devices without previous. The advertised products seemed iterative, building on the foundation of what already exists. This is not a bad thing; devices should continue to improve, and some of them have certainly improved in major ways.
Take the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni, for example. It has on-device voice processing that eliminates the need for a smart assistant, as well as the ability to clean itself whenever it docks. The same goes for the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. Then you have the Homey Bridge, a smart home hub with great ideas for bringing all your different devices together under one point of control. These are all fantastic devices, but again: where was a product in Amazon’s Astro mold? Or the Ring Always Home Cam?
We are in 2022. I want household robots and smart home appliances that I have not dared to dream of in addition to the usual household of products. I want to have my smart homemade cake and eat it too.
CES 2022 was an ideas-driven conference
The highlights of CES 2022 were not the products, but the ideas. The push for more widespread adoption of Matter and Thread support dominated the headlines as more than a dozen more companies joined the team. The idea that the smart home should be easier to set up, easier to use, and easier to secure has led to many of CES’s biggest announcements.
Another major idea was that almost everything should be contactless, especially in the bathroom. This is most evident in Moen’s announcement of the new MotionSense Wave faucet that lets you control the flow of water without having to get your hands on the faucet. In fact, a lot of devices have focused on cleanliness. It’s both timely and somewhat ironic, given the quick, last-minute cancellations of many tech outlets for the in-person show. Home health technologies like air quality sensors, blood pressure monitors, and even smart humidifiers were a big part of the show.
A natural continuation of cleanliness and health-oriented products is the prevalence of smart lights. As we continue to embrace the work from home life, more and more people realize the need for quality lighting. Sengled has led the way with a plethora of smart lights (including some that monitor your health). Home security devices have closely followed smart lighting. TP-Link introduced a security camera and a projector camera. In an age when our homes are truly our castles, it is important to keep them safe.
The ideas of simplicity, health and safety were the driving force behind CES. Not the products themselves.
The tech world is still reeling from the pandemic
Every announcement at CES, smart home or not, has been influenced by the current pandemic. Innovation is still strong, but companies have not been able to produce new products at the same speed as before. Quarantines, remote working, and shipping issues put a strain on manufacturing. Until life returns to normal, these slower, more tangible improvements will likely be the norm.
But frankly, I hope I’m wrong. Hopefully, over the next year, companies like Amazon, Google, and the other big names in the smart home world have some surprise announcements that surprise us all. By CES 2023, I hope there will be more direction in the smart home market.
I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed with this year’s product line-up, but CES 2022 felt a bit like going to your favorite restaurant. It’s proven and offers a familiar sort of comfort, but it lacks the pizazz of the new Michelin-starred pastry shop down the street. The new robot vacuum features, cool smart lights, and security cameras are all great, but they just don’t compare to something like a household robot that can really take care of the chores around the house. At best, these devices only make these tasks more manageable in the middle of a busy day.