Our top smart home tech from CES 2021 – Video

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Hello and welcome back to cnet’s live coverage of CES 2021.
You just saw the best weird Tech of the show.
And now it’s time to take a look at our favorite Smart Home Tech Only some of which is weird.
I’m Andrew Gebhardt, and I’m actually in the cnet smart home in Kentucky, where we get to test out all of these wacky gizmos.
Joining me are the Smart Home experts and my colleagues, Molly Price and Megan Willerton On our list to talk about today we’ve got robot Butler’s and smart fridges and economical security systems.
We’ve got so much that we’re not even getting to koehlers $16,000 bathtub.
So we saw a lot of cool Smart Home gear at this all digital version of CES but to start things off Megan I’m ready to scream for ice cream.
Tell me about cold snap.
Yes, okay, you all called Snap.
This is something that I am very excited and passionate about if you know me at all, you know that I have a massive sweet tooth and this is basically Keurig for ice cream, so it is a countertop appliance.
You stick it on your countertop, and you insert these aluminum pods that do different frozen treats ice cream smoothies, mixed cocktails like frozen margaritas.
Yeah, you insert the pod you close the lid and in 60 to 90 seconds It dispenses your frozen treats So literally, it negates the problem of you go into your freezer you realize you’re out of dessert, which is basically my worst case scenario, especially this year when I can’t just run out and go to the grocery store.
Instead, you just have these single serve recyclable pods that you can just.
Pick and choose the specific treat you want.
And if someone living in your house with you has a specific dietary restriction, there’s oat milk, non-dairy options as well.
I am very enthusiastic about This if you couldn’t tell and our colleague got to test it out and said it was really really good the ice cream in particular, she tried the chocolate ice cream and said that it tasted like a mix between a chocolate moose and a soft serve which I am very, very eager to try.
So I definitely wanna try this thing.
The one downside she reported is that it’s really heavy and can be noisy when you’re actually using the machine.
And it’s still in the prototype phase.
So it won’t necessarily be available until 2022.
And it could cost upwards of 1000 bucks.
So that’s pretty price and each pot is going to be between 250 and $3.
So it’s definitely a big price to pay for ice cream but you guys come on.
Ice cream.
I mean Ice cream, single served ice creams sounds fantastic.
And I’m glad to hear that it tastes good.
Cuz that’s one of my things with the lack of curate like products is you’re been a little bit more wasteful.
And then you’re getting sort of the junior version of that product.
But Megan, it sounds like they’re sort of addressing that with this?
Yeah, absolutely, I think you’re gonna have a ton of different options.
You have these recyclable pods, these little aluminum things.
And I forgot to mention, there’s a little QR code on the top of each one.
So it reads the specific sort of mixing instructions and gives you a sense of, you know, actually how to do the recipe and it’s all this patented technology that’s built inside the little canisters, and then 60 to 90 seconds later you’ve got ice cream or I think a mango passionfruit smoothie was one of the options Margarita.
There’s so many different cool options.
I think they also have some different frozen coffee options too, which I think is is pretty awesome.
But yeah, you can kind of pick and choose and everyone With different tastes still has an option and it’s supposed to be shelf stable.
So, in theory, I don’t know who would keep ice cream around for that long but in theory, you could keep it for up to a year in your pantry.
If you wanted to store a bunch of pods for a long time, so I think that’s pretty cool.
So Molly, the question that needs to be asked What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
And would you shell out 1000 bucks for something like this?
Ooh, that’s a tough one I think I’m a cookies and cream person primarily.
Strawberry is probably my second favourite and I will go just like plain vanilla and sprinkles if I have to no problem But $1,000 is a lot, even with the recyclable pods, I think I can recycle my own ice cream container.
If I’m buying from a company that makes a reusable or recyclable ice cream container and $1,000 will buy me a lot of ice cream.
2 to $3 for one serving isn’t that bad?
I guess it’s better than you’d get if you went into a store but the price points a little much for me.
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It does seem a little steep.
But still, I admire any technology that gives us an excuse to test out desserts.
And speaking of cold things.
We’re next up we’re gonna talk about a fridge so like you can store traditional ice cream in here in theory, this is the LG instaview refrigerator.
And apparently it can do much more than just store your ice cream right, Molly?.
That’s right.
LG has had instaview fridges before.
This isn’t the first interview we’ve seen where you can knock on the door and look inside it.
But as you can see in this video, it has that glass.
Side to it where the window will luminate if you knock on it.
But that’s not new.
What’s new is a UV light that will sanitize the water dispenser.
And there’s also a microphone and a speaker so you can open the door via voice.
Now this video doesn’t show it but We have some photos of it at cnet.com if you want to check that out and it is a cool idea the idea that you can open your fridge hands-free, you know, you’re coming in with a bundle of groceries and you can just ask to open the door is super interesting.
We don’t know how much it’s going to cost.
Most of LG’s fridges are in this interview line around $3000 which is.
More than an average fridge but you get a lot of smarts with that.
So I’m interested to see how it goes the UV light I have questions about I certainly wouldn’t want to like stare into that for too long but it’s an interesting concept and certainly something that has come about because of all of our concerns over cleanliness and germs these days.
So it seems like an interesting pitch.
Now, Megan, we’ve had some issues with smart appliances being too expensive and a little too niche.
Do you think this one do you buy the pitch?
It’s God’s voice open door and the UV light and all the things Molly was saying.
Would you be willing to invest?
In a smart fridge, if that’s what you were getting.
I would have to say no right now, but I do think it’s an interesting technology.
The thing I would be waiting for is something similar that happened with the Samsung family hub line where they started at a really high price point.
And then as the technology became a little more ubiquitous, they started to make it a little more fun.
Affordable.
So that’s kind of a trend I would be tracking.
I do think it has an interesting use case for an office scenario where maybe you don’t want everyone touching the doors again COVID times, trying to keep down on germs and stuff like that.
I think that is an interesting use case, but definitely not in my own home right now.
That’s fair enough.
Speaking of use cases and devices that are smartening up to be aware of touchless and spreading less disease, that’s actually what alarm.com is doing with their touchless video doorbell.
I’ve got the spiel on this one I got to take a look at some video here.
And basically their idea is that it’s an ordinary video doorbell like you can see it’s able to see when a person approaches and a lot of video, doorbells can do that and detect motion What this one’s gonna do, is that when it sees a person in front, it’s going to ring the doorbell without them needing to push the button, thus touchless.
You didn’t see, it has a special doormat that comes separately.
It doesn’t actually trigger the doorbell, it’s just a doormat, there’s nothing smart about it.
It’s just helping people understand, hey, don’t touch the button, I don’t wanna disinfect my doorbell.
It, this has meant to, I’m standing there and it’s gonna ring, and then it comes with a lot of other smarts as well.
So motion detection, 150 degree field of view, HDR, Storz clips.
For up to 60 days and supposedly it’s gonna be less than $200.
So a pretty good pitch, but Megan, you’re one of our smart video doorbell experts.
Does this, the touchless doorbell and the price and the specs.
Does this stack up for you?
Kind of.
So, okay, let me start out.
I think this is an interesting concept.
I definitely liked that it’s addressing some of the issues we’re having right now not wanting to spread germs, I think that’s important.
But most of the security cameras and doorbells we have nowadays have motion detection already built in so you don’t actually have to ring the doorbell.
For the front door to actually trigger your phone and you’ll be able to have the live feed and talk to someone via to a talk.
So it it’s kind of potentially a gimmicky thing.
Also, if a stranger is coming to the door, they don’t necessarily know that this doorbell has that function.
So you would still have right so you would still have people delivering packages or food or whatever.
Coming in and saying, This is a standard doorbell and I’m gonna bring this doorbell.
So I’m not sure if the touch list function would really translate in practice.
So it is.
So that’s part of what the the doormats for the doormats like Hey, don’t touch the doorbell and then on the doorbell itself, it’s like Don’t ring me just stand here and I don’t even think there is a button so so Molly so Megan, use the the gimmick use the G word gimmick would you say gimmick or would you is this a feature that you would actually want in a doorbell?
Well, I have a lot of questions because first of all my dog goes nuts every time that the doorbell goes off at all.
It’s like alarm bells.
Going off in her brain so the doorbell ringing perhaps when like my husband’s coming home from a run he comes in and out of our front door and so is it gonna be able to text a specific person so facial recognition gets involved there and that’s kinda iffy, but I would want my doorbell to know okay, this isn’t a guest.
This is someone that lives here that uses this door all the time.
You don’t need to ring the doorbell and make the dog go nuts.
That’s one of my concerns, but then on the other hand, if someone’s walking up to my door to steal a package, I’d love to know via a chime inside my house.
I’m curious to try this one and see how practical it really is.
Yeah I kind of want maybe even different chimes like the nice pleasant ding **** if it’s somebody you know, but I don’t want a pleasant noise if it knows someone is stealing my package just plays like a jaunty tune and someone’s getting away with.
That DVD box collection that you were waiting for seems like a bad deal.
But it does have you know, it knows at least the difference is between people and pets and a blowing leaves so it has at least that amount of smarts.
Hopefully it can stack up and provide simple utility which is what we’re looking for in a lot of smart home gear, such as the next product on our list.
Called the origin hex home.
So Megan, this is a smart home security system.
But what it’s touting is simplicity, right?
Tell me about this.
Yes.
So, origin is this new startup and their hex home device is doing something really interesting.
So.
Most home security devices and setups tout having multiple sensors right.
You have the door window sensors on every window and every door you have the motion sensor, the glass break sensor, the security cameras.
This actually just has two devices.
So What you just saw was the hex command hub device and then there’s the hex sense plug in device which has a built in 80 decibel siren.
And okay this is the part I’m a little skeptical about it claims to use Wi Fi waves to determine motion.
So they okay bear with me they did a demo On the app where they actually showed someone leaving, so here’s what they’re showing someone in a pool mimicking the waves of the Wi-Fi waves, doing their thing and there it is on the app too.
You can actually see the motion activity changing.
As the sensor is detecting motion.
It uses this, what it claims this AI technology to determine the difference between a pet, between a robot vacuum, between something swaying in the breeze and An actual potential security threat.
And the pared down pneus of it really intrigues me because when you have big systems like simply safe and ADT that do great work but this one is claiming to do Do a lot of the same stuff without any of that extra stuff.
It’s literally just the command and then the sense device we see right now on the screen that plugs in with the little nightlight.
So I’m kind of intrigued I am a little sceptical, but if it can pull off what it’s claiming to do with this AI technology, then I, I definitely want to try it out.
I’m very very curious.
It is 180 bucks for just the two things and there’s optional professional monitoring if you want to do that, but yeah, I’m definitely curious to see how this actually works in practice.
So 180 bucks, so it’s saving you some hardware.
But that’s not necessarily saving you a lot of money.
But still, I mean, it seems cool, the simplicity.
I just didn’t know, am I making WiFi waves, Megan, in my home right now?
Ordinarily do I need to worry about WiFi ripple effects?
What is going on with WiFi waves?
I cannot answer that question, Andrew.
I think that we would need Gordon to address this for us but I don’t know.
Yes I’m skeptical but I am intrigued because if it can actually analyze motion in this way, it really would negate the reason for all of those superfluous, in theory, superfluous sensors.
Based on what they’re saying and I think that that that’s really intriguing not just from a like setup standpoint if you’re trying to set it up yourself, but from, just having a more visibly clean surface in your home you know, you don’t have to look at the sensors in the corner on the door and the window.
I mean, that sounds appealing, but a lot of these other motion detectors are using like LIDAR, and some high tech things that I understand a little bit better than Wi-Fi waves.
Molly, are you buying this pitch?
Would you think Wi-Fi waves is the next answer in motion detection?
Or, is a simple device enough for you?
Or, are you looking at this skeptically.
A little bit of a raised eyebrow.
I think simpler is always better for nearly all of us.
And I like the idea of something that could potentially pare down the number of cameras I need to have in my home.
I think a lot of people feel like maybe the less cameras the better.
But wi-fi waves, I need to know more about that, Yeah, that’s a really interesting concept which is the whole point of CES, right?
We love to see stuff that is totally a brand new way of thinking about something, so I’m with Megan that I’m interested to see where it goes but a proof is in the pudding.
So speaking of brand new ways of thinking about things, my cue has a doggie door but it’s a smart doggie door right?
So it’s not like a brand new concept.
But in theory Molly they are doing new things with their smart doggie door.
So up next is the mind cue pet portal.
Molly.
Tell me a little bit about the smart doggie door from my cue.
Guess so you can see this adorable puppy right here wants to go outside, and everybody knows my cue from smart garage stuff.
Well they’ve decided to tackle the dog door, and you can see this elevator style sliding door there that will open when the dog gets close enough to it.
The dog would wear like a Bluetooth collar.
Sensor that I think it will show us in just a second but that sensor Yeah, there it is.
That sensor will alert the door that the dog is right there and then there’s a camera that also shows you inside and outside.
So you can see what’s happening in your backyard with your pooch and you can see the inside of your home too if they’re trying to get out of the door.
You can set it up so that the dog can control the door or you can set it up so that you’ll just get an alert and you can choose to open it for them.
So it’s an interesting concept.
It does replace your entire door.
So it’s not just a dog door that you’d put in your existing door, you would have to have it professionally installed by someone and it would have to replace your whole human size door.
So there’s sort of a lot that goes into it and it’s expensive.
It’s $3,000 Which, you know, they made the good point.
If you cut that down to every single day, it’s like eight bucks.
Right?
And that’s less than you’re probably going to pay for a dog walker.
But it’s quite an investment upfront.
Yeah, it sounds like it but I don’t know it could prove handy.
The Breakdown makes me feel a little bit better about it, but I still get nervous.
The thing that makes me nervous is Apparently it has sensors to prevent it from doing this but those elevator doors like closing on the dogs tail, that would give me nightmares.
Meghan you have two dogs how would they react to this, to an elevator door opening at the bottom of your backyard door?
That is a great question.
I guess it remains to be seen.
I’m okay.
So I’m ambivalent about this.
I think it looks really cool and could be really neat in theory.
I think that my dogs would be very, very skeptical in the beginning and I’m not sure I trust them.
To manage their indoor outdoor time fully because they’re mischievious and yeah, they like to run wild in the backyard but it also would mean less time you know, putting their leashes on taking them out just to just to go to the bathroom or something like that.
So that would be really convenient.
Yeah, I’m skeptical but I think it’s also really cool but that’s mainly because again my dogs are kind of wimps about that stuff we had taken them to a friend’s house and they had a doggie door and they would not go anywhere near it.
It wasn’t a smart doggie door.
It was just one of those little flap dealies but they were not having it.
So it probably involves like a lot of really delicious treats and really encouraging them to to go near it.
So, I think they take the trade, right?
If at least they get treats out of it that you install the door, and then even if they never use it, they still get treats.
So, we’ve seen a whole bunch of cool tech, that is actually coming out this year.
The last one that I wanna talk about are coming out in the near future, real products, I should say.
The next one we’re gonna talk about is just the concept, but it’s so dang cool.
It’s the Samsung Bot Handy and you guys know I love me some robots and this is a robot butler that is fit for my dreams.
Look at this thing having a glass of water.
I hate loading and unloading the dishwasher, there it’s doing it.
It’s loading the dishwasher, which would save me Minutes.
But honestly, I just don’t like doing the chore and it seems really cool.
So again, this is a concept from Samsung and it’s using 3D mapping in order to be able to figure out the size and weight of Objects, you can see it placing a flower and pouring a glass of wine.
So it’s not going to pick something up with a bunch of force and accidentally fling your wine bottle across the room.
In theory, it’s well in control of the shape and weight of objects in order to be able to finally control things.
It should be able to remember objects and remember where they go.
So it seems like Just a fantastic device.
Molly, am I getting my hopes too high up or is this something that you’re crossing your fingers for as well?
I think that your hopes are always sky high for robots and I admire that about you.
However, I’m a little bit skeptical.
It’s, it’s honestly to me looking at that video.
It’s quite large and I know that it has to have some weight and some mass in order to pick up things with weight and mass.
But it seems like kind of a big thing to have roaming around your house.
I have questions about like stairs, like it’s only gonna be able to help you on one level right?
And I wonder about two arms.
It has a one arm design, which I’m sure obviously is intentional.
But I wonder.
I think most people would say like, well why not two arms?
Why not a fully human looking bite with hands and feet and you know, all the things that you could possibly do from there.
So Skeptical but excited.
I love to see new robots.
I know you love to see new robots and maybe our overlords are here.
[LAUGH] So we’re just about out of time.
Megan real quick yes or no, do you want a robot Butler?
No, especially if it has hands and feet Molly would definitely be taking over the house and the world.
Sorry.
Thank you so much Molly and Megan.
There is lots more still coming your way this afternoon including a live cracking open of the latest iPhone and Xbox as well as see
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That’s the best of ces 2021, where we’ll review our top picks of this entire virtual show.
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