A washer in your washer and smart-home sprawl at CES 2015
Smart home devices were ubiquitous at CES 2015, with the connected light switches, power plugs, and hubs on display throughout the convention center halls and nearby hotel suites. But the most buzz-generating household tech came from LG when it debuted, of all things, a new washing machine.
Rich BrownFormer Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
ExpertiseSmart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
LAS VEGAS -- Who knew a washing machine would steal the show?
Smart-home devices were everywhere at CES, but LG's Twin Wash washing machine was the clear winner in overall household tech. Not every consumer sees the need for an internet-connected thermostat or garage opener, but any laundry-doing adult can relate to a second washing machine drawer for running small loads.
Samsung's dual-door Flex Duo oven is harder to comprehend at first glance, but we're excited for that one, too. Take a standard oven and add a removable internal shelf that turns it into a makeshift double-oven. Turns out it works great . Now add a double-hinged oven door that lets you open only the top oven compartment when you have the shelf installed. Pretty smart, as is Samsung's own new washing machine with a handy sink compartment built into the top lid.
Appliances large, small, and smart at CES 2015 (pictures)
Whirlpool , Dacor , Miele , and others had large appliances on display, too, among others. We're also intrigued by GE's ChillHub refrigerator from its experimental FirstBuild appliance making shop. It's a fridge aimed at makers, complete with a set of USB ports and a Raspberry Pi mini-computer built in to let you hack together your own functionality. GE demoed a USB-connected scale for the ChillHub that tells you how much milk you have left (dubbed the Milky Weigh, naturally).
On the smart home front, you couldn't turn around without hitting your head on a connected light bulb or some other household gadget equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or some other wireless radio. We didn't see too many smart-home products with functions we hadn't seen before. The bigger story was how the various smart home platforms from Nest, Quirky, SmartThings , Lowe's, ADT, and Staples are working to add more and more connected products to their networks. We even had a panel discussion about it.
Also, there was HomeKit. Of all the news from smart-home device makers officially present at CES 2015, Apple's coming HomeKit platform loomed over everything.
Apple didn't have a booth at CES, but its device partners put on a small show of force by unveiling the first batch of HomeKit-compatible smart home products. No one had a working demo that showed off HomeKit's coolest feature, adding Siri voice commands to the smart home, but the message was clear: when Apple officially turns HomeKit on later this year, it will do so with an entire neighborhood of smart-home devices that use it.
We're still learning about some of HomeKit's quirks, and nothing is guaranteed at this early stage in the smart home's expansion. Apple pushing the concept forward with consumers will likely help every player in this space. We'll see exactly how Apple enters when the first round of HomeKit products launch this spring. Equally interesting will be watching how the other smart-home companies respond.