CES 2021 took place in my dining room last month. Well, on my laptop anyway. And though the physical abuse of running around all the halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center was missing, there was still quite a bit familiar about it, including a series of keynotes and education sessions, and a whole lot of new products.
On the keynote front, Verizon chair and CEO Hans Vestberg discussed how the company’s 5G ultra-wideband technology was going to inspire advances well beyond communications. “It’s an innovation platform that makes other innovations possible,” he said.
Automaker GM’s chairman and CEO Mary Barra said the company has the bold goal of offering 30 all-electric models by 2025. Oh, and they also showed a video of an all-electric flying car. No timeline was given for the oversized quad-copter drone, but it did have a cute name — the Cadillac Vertile.
Once again, there were a host of products that had “smart” added to their names, including a smart mop, a smart crib, and, in a reflection of current times, a smart mask. Samsung had some robot assistants, including a robo-vac that emptied itself.
Still, for all the smart products being introduced, there was nothing really game-changing coming into the home space. AV is moving along with better image quality on televisions and projectors and more versatile sound systems, but that is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
I think the main reason why there hasn’t been a colossal leap forward is because current home control is pretty darn close to what’s been promised. Control is easier than ever, with touch, voice, or even being recognized by the cellphone you are carrying. The scenes integrators create for customers take care of anything they could need — set the lights and shades, lock the doors, start their favorite entertainment…. Even the Jetsons didn’t have it so good!
All right, so we don’t have a Rosie robot maid yet, but those robo-vacuums are getting pretty close. And, sure, you can’t press a button and have a meal pop up from behind a panel in your kitchen, but with a few button presses you can use DoorDash, and that’s pretty much the same. Plus, I am sure your local restaurant produces far better food than what could be stored behind some automated panel in your house.
That’s not to say that there isn’t room for growth. Last June, when discussing AI with Alex Capecelatro, co-founder and CEO of Josh.ai, he described “a true smart home that knows who you are, sets everything up automatically, and reminds you that it’s going to rain. And here’s an umbrella. That is far from the customer reality today.”
So we have some work to do before we have a WALL-E existence where machines take care of everything for us, but, for now, we can take pride in the fact that we have placed our clients in the home of the future, today.
At least until we have program the rooftop helipad to do a welcome scene once they step out of their flying car…