The smart home at CES wasn’t all Matter, Matter, Matter. At The Verge, we covered the launch of literally dozens of new products at the big consumer tech show. From innovations in smart lighting and exciting products in smart home energy management to flying cameras and wirelessly charging smart locks, there was a lot of great new tech to see.
But there were a few that we didn’t highlight during the show, as well as a couple of genuine surprises we discovered roaming the show floor. Here’s a round-up of some of the other innovations, gadgets, and new products that caught our eye in Las Vegas. And in case you missed it, catch up on all our smart home coverage from the show floor here.
GE Lighting solves the under-cabinet lighting conundrum
A lot of people use smart LED light strips to retrofit under-cabinet lighting, but it’s not always an ideal solution (you need outlets in the right places, and corners can be a drag). There are also no hardwired solutions for smart color-changing LED strips (or there weren’t in the summer of 2020 when I remodeled my kitchen — I ended up using a dumb LED strip and a smart switch).
GE Lighting has a solution. Patrick Miltner of GE Lighting showed me a sneak peek of a product the company has coming later this year: flat lighting panels that attach under your cabinets with pre-installed screws can be daisy-chained together and hardwired or plugged in.
They are part of GE Lighting’s Cync smart lighting brand. They have full color and tunable white light and will be controllable through the Cync app. The flat-panel approach also appeared to provide a cleaner, more diffuse light than LED strips (GE Lighting had a mock kitchen counter set up as part of the display). There was no pricing available, but Miltner said they would be “an affordable solution” to this problem.
Get your air conditioned with art
Samsung turned your TV into art with its Frame TV, and now LG is turning your air conditioning unit into art with the LG Artcool Gallery air conditioner. The wall-mountable, mini-split AC unit has a digital photo frame — so it helps solves the problem of looking like an ungainly white appliance stuck on your wall.
LG had a previous version of this product with an actual picture frame stuck on it, but for obvious reasons, that did not look great. The new model swaps the physical for the digital with a 27-inch embedded LCD screen. Using the LG ThinQ app, you can choose from a selection of images — static and animated — or upload family photos. No pricing or release date has been announced.
Smart lights that are cute as candy
Italian smart lighting manufacturer Twinkly differentiates itself with a unique AR mapping feature that lets you literally paint lighting patterns with its products. The company’s range of smart lights is pricey, though, and I was excited to get a quick preview of its next product, Twinkly Candies, coming fall 2023.
These caught my eye because they come in three unique shapes: ball, star, or candle. They’re also less expensive than most of Twinkly’s products: just $49 per RGB strip. One way the company is keeping costs down is by not including the USB-C power brick with its light strings, Twinkly CEO Andrea Tellatin told me.
A universal USB-C charging future could bring some savings to the smart home
This is a new trend in the smart home: fewer and fewer products are shipping with these chunky chargers. For example, Samsung’s new SmartThings Station can be picked up for $20 cheaper if you don’t need the brick. It seems a universal USB-C charging future could not only help fix phone charging but also bring some savings to the smart home.
Stand mixers get smarter
GE Appliances showed off the first smart mixer at CES. Announced late last year, the GE Profile Mixer brings smarts to the baking process, combing a smart scale with an auto-sense technology that monitors changes in texture and viscosity via motor torque. All this means it shouldn’t overwhip your meringue.
While this feature only works with recipes the device knows, baking is a science, not an art, so having a machine do it for you should produce more reliable results. It’s also got built-in voice control via Alexa or Google for stopping, setting speed, setting a timer, and adjusting speed hands-free.
As a big fan of the Thermomix smart blender / cooker, I can appreciate the benefits of a built-in scale. It makes cooking much simpler and less messy. However, $1,000 for a stand mixer that doesn’t also double as a pasta maker, meat grinder, and all the other things your stalwart KitchenAid can do (with the right accessories) is asking a lot. Repairability is also a big question mark. But if the price is right for you, you can order it now through Crate & Barrel.
LG puts a garden in a fridge
Taking the concept of farm-to-table a step further, counter-to-table produce had a hot moment at CES a few years back, with GE Appliances showing off a huge integrated growing and cooking kitchen and Samsung and LG displaying large refrigerators that enabled you to grow your own crops. While a few startups have popped up since then —such as Aerogarden and Rise — the whole concept seems to have petered off. So, I was excited to see the LG Tiiun in LG’s CES booth this year.
An indoor gardening appliance that LG first announced at CES 2022, the Tiiun looks like a wine fridge, but instead of perfectly chilling your Chablis, it cares for your sprouts (Tiiun means sprout in Korean) and lettuce. With automated water, lighting, and climate control, it grows greens for you from all-in-one seed kits in four to eight weeks. You order the kits from LG, and the Tiiun then works with LG’s ThinQ app. It’s currently only in Korea, but the LG representative in the CES booth told me they are planning to bring it to the US this year for about $1,300. They also showed off a tabletop version: the LG Tiiun Mini.
Shelly shows off a smart smoke alarm
European IoT device maker Shelly is bringing a new smart smoke alarm to the market. To date, the smart smoke alarm space has been spotty, with options from Google Nest and First Alert being the best, although expensive and somewhat limited, options.
The Shelly Plus Smoke is a battery-powered smoke alarm with sound and light indications that sends a notification to your smartphone when it detects smoke. The smoke alarm uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and, as a Plus device, should be updated to support Matter (Shelly says all of its Plus and Pro devices will support Matter with an optional firmware update that will roll out at the end of Q2).
Shelly also works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Home Assistant, and other smart home platforms, thanks to its open APIs. This allows you to create scenes that can do things like unlock your door, start your AC, turn off power to appliances and turn all the lights on if smoke is detected. No pricing has been released, but Shelly confirmed that it will come to both the US and European markets.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge