CES 2014: Staples To Become Smart Home Destination

CES is amazing for the amount of new technology it can showcase, but much like a high-end fashion show the question inevitably emerges: will I actually buy any of this stuff? And if so, when, where, and most importantly, why? This year, CES is aiming to tackle that question in a serious manner; look no further than Amazon and Netflix’s 4K agreements and Smartwatches’ partnerships with high-end fashion as evidence of trying to actually sell, in addition to creating, the tech we’ve seen. 

In the same vein, one of the biggest CES trends has been the Smart Home – from lights and thermostats that interface with apps, to home security and chatting appliances – but the question still lingers, where, when, and why can or should consumers buy? Staples is looking to tackle this question with its renewed partnership with Zonoff. They partnered last year to offer what little home automation technology existed, but now post-CES 2014 the partnership looks to take off with offerings such as the Goji smart lock, Koubachi garden sensors, Radio Thermostat’s WiFi-connected products, Philips, Honeywell, GE, Linksys and more. To prove the ‘why’ quotient, Staples has agreed to showcase the platforms first hand in the Staples Manhattan store.

The race to get these home automation products into the hands of consumers is well and truly on. Revolv will be available at the Home Depot, Lowe’s will be selling the Iris home automation kit, and SmartThings is selling an entire package including Philips Hue, Jawbone Up, and Belkin’s WeMo. Now the question becomes, will consumers bite? 

Ninja Sphere Is Yet Another Home Automation Hub

The automated home trend continues to burgeon, and a new automation hub called the Ninja Sphere is another new player in the developing space. This iteration works through bluetooth tags, so you receive alerts when anything you’ve tagged moves unusually. In response, users can tell the Sphere to take a snapshot of the situation, or of course call the police. It also does all the usual things we’ve come to expect from these devices: control heat and lighting, integrate notifications across different platforms and methods, and learn users’ habits over time. It’s just more evidence that the home of the future is, in reality, not very far off anymore, and is a noteworthy trend.

Apple Patents Anticipatory Home Automation Technology

Geo-fencing is a hot technology, especially in the home, and Apple’s new patent indicates that it has no intentions of ignoring the trend. The patent describes a home automation system powered by location data fed from Apple’s mobile devices, as well as additional integrated peripherals like credit cards and RFID badges.  With this many sensors contributing, it becomes possible to create extremely detailed inferences of not only where a person is at any time, but what they’re doing, or even who they’re with.  With this powerful information, Apple’s system goes beyond home automation, and incorporates another hot trend: anticipatory computing.  Should the system be easily implemented (which is usually a strong suit of Apple products), it could be a boon for both trend areas, and inspire further innovations for each.