CES 2021: 5 best smart home innovations so far

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These are the best smart home gadgets so far from CES 2021.
Image: Unsplash | Stephan Bechert / The Burn-In | Cody DeBos

CES 2021 looks a lot different than the massive showcase has in years past. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is being held entirely online rather than at the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center.

That being said, there are still plenty of exciting innovations being highlighted. The opening days of the conference have focused heavily on areas like 5G, experimental flexible displays, and health tech. However, there has been no shortage of smart home tech on display as well.

Around the world, consumers are quickly adopting Internet of Things (IoT) gear to make their lives easier. As these devices continue to shape the way we interact with technology, more companies will surely dive into the space. That’s already happening and the devices that are being featured during CES 2021 prove it.

From home fitness to smart bathrooms and AI pet tech to smart kitchen appliances, the digital showcase has it all. These are some of the best innovations coming out of the smart home space so far during CES 2021.

ColdSnap Ice Cream Maker

Everyone likes frozen yogurt. Everyone also likes how easy it is to make a cup of coffee with a Keurig coffee maker. Bringing these two things together seems like a winning recipe. Indeed, the new ColdSnap “rapid-freezing” machine is making a strong showing at CES 2021.

The appliance uses pre-filled pods to make single servings of things like soft-serve ice cream, smoothies, slushies, frozen yogurt, cocktails, and much more.

Making the device even more convenient is the fact that it is low maintenance. Since the ColdSnap dispenses frozen treats directly from the pod to a bowl, there is no mess to clean up after using it. This makes homemade frozen desserts both convenient and accessible.

Better yet, the device’s pods are fully recyclable. This allows users to enjoy quick frozen treats without feeling guilty about using a ton of single-use plastic. Innovations like this one show that kitchen appliances are getting smarter with each passing year—and that consumers prefer machines that are efficient despite higher costs.

Kohler’s Smart Bathrooms

Smart home tech can be found in any part of the home—even in a bathroom. Kohler’s latest lineup of smart bathroom fixtures puts that fact front and center. The company announced an entire lineup of new products, including a $16,000 smart bathtub, a touchless bathroom faucet, and a new smart toilet.

The Stillness smart bath is certainly the crown jewel of the collection. Rather than filling from a faucet, the tub fills from the bottom, allowing users to create an infinity pool-like effect by placing the tub next to a drain.

The tub connects to the rest of a home’s IoT setup, allowing users to fill it and adjust the temperature with their voice. If there’s one way to feel like royalty, it’s asking for a bath to be drawn and having it done without lifting a finger.

Meanwhile, Kohler’s new smart toilet allows users to flush without touching it. Instead, they simply wave a hand next to it. The company’s bathroom faucet is also touchless. Although it might make your bathroom feel like a public space, it is certainly more sanitary.

Petpuls AI Dog Collar

Dog owners are constantly worried about whether or not their pet is happy. With a new artificial intelligence (AI) dog collar from Petpuls, it’s possible to know for sure. The collar uses voice recognition technology to listen to the sound of a dog’s barking and determine what emotions it is feeling.

The company behind the collar has built a database of more than 10,000 bark samples from 50 different breeds. This allows it to detect five emotions—including happy, sad, anxious, angry, and relaxed.

The algorithms adapt over time to get better at picking up a dog’s unique “voice” and analyzing its emotions. Meanwhile, the Petpuls collar doubles as an activity tracker, giving dog owners insight into their pet’s activity levels each day. This can help ensure that dogs get the right balance of nutrition and exercise to live a long, healthy life.

NordicTrack Vault

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that people exercise. With many gyms closed or limited by restrictions, many people have started working out at home for the first time. Several companies were quick to jump on this trend, rolling out smart products that make home fitness easier than ever.

Mirror was one of the first to market and was quickly bought by Lululemon for a whopping $500 million. Now, traditional fitness companies are trying to break into the smart home gym arena.

NordicTrack demoed its new Vault home fitness system at CES this year. While it looks similar to the Mirror, it features far more equipment to facilitate a more complete workout. The sleek system hides an array of dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands.

Meanwhile, the smart HD touchscreen shows users tutorials from instructors. There are plenty of strength and cardio workouts to choose from thanks to an integration with iFit.

Toto’s Health Sensing Toilet

One of the coolest (albeit grossest) things to emerge from CES 2021 so far is a conceptual smart toilet from Toto. Researchers have discovered that there is a lot to be learned from human waste. Whether that means learning about a person’s diet or screening for COVID-19, fecal matter hides a lot of information beneath its nasty exterior.

The Toto smart toilet supposedly analyzes a person’s, ahem, “outputs” to provide personalized information on how to improve their health. Yes, this sounds like something out of a dystopian novel.

However, the idea here is solid. For instance, if the toilet’s algorithms detect a nutritional deficit, it can recommend a dinner recipe to replenish those nutrients. Although it’s not clear when (or if) this smart toilet will make it to consumers, it is certainly an interesting concept.

Consumers have proven that they are willing to spend big money on devices that tell them how to improve their health. If people are able to get over the idea of analyzing their own waste, then this smart toilet could be a groundbreaking way to get a more complete picture of one’s health.

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