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2.2.21 – SSI –  Amanda Kung

Among the notable trends at CES this year was WiFi sensing, which uses disruptions in WiFi signals from compatible smart devices to detect motion.

CES 2021 has wrapped, and this year’s show was unlike any CES events in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the lack of a traditional in-person trade show in Las Vegas, the virtual event showcased thousands of announcements from hundreds of companies.

This year, with people spending so much time at home, the smart home and security category came into particular focus. Parks Associates’ new research finds one-third of smart device owners in US broadband households have increased usage of their devices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 46% of smart door lock owners.

The firm reports that among consumers who purchased smart home devices in the last 12 months, 31% purchased it for peace of mind about their home and family and 29% purchased it to keep their home and family safe.

Some of the biggest trends in the smart home space at CES this year were touchless devices, cleanliness and personal wellness technology, and new innovations in WiFi sensing abilities.

Touchless video doorbells are emerging.

Touchless video doorbells made a grand appearance this year in light of the COVID-19 era with Arlo and Alarm.com both unveiling a touchless video doorbell. These doorbells reduce the potential for germs and bacteria to spread from visitor to visitor, which is especially relevant during a global pandemic.

  • Alarm.com‘s new touchless doorbell assures that the doorbell is intelligent enough to avoid unnecessary ringing by sensing the difference between humans, animals, and objects.
  • Arlo uses a different technology than Alarm.com to detect a person approaching the door. When someone gets within a specific distance of the doorbell (the homeowner chooses this distance), it will chime indoors and emit a light to let the visitor know it has been activated.

Solutions that promote clean air and an ability to identify people who may be sick get stronger focus.

Air quality and health monitoring is essential in the wake of the COVID-19 era. Several companies have announced connected air quality measuring and purifying devices that may help reduce transmission of COVID-19. CES 2021 also saw announcements of other smart home devices to measure body temperature and other comprehensive readings.

  • Bosch announced a new sensor that can detect “exhaled air” by measuring factors such as relative humidity and air quality. The company has also added AI capabilities in smart cameras that can precisely measure a person’s body temperature.
  • Airthings built a sensor called Wave Plus, a version of the Wave Mini, which tracks carbon dioxide levels, humidity and temperature, which could help identify how much more likely a person may be to transmit the virus.
  • Filtrete launched a connected air purifier that combines its filters with an air quality sensor. Filtrete air purifiers track filter life, offer voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant, and cover 150 to 310 square feet.
  • Ettie’s Smart Video Doorbell logs visitor’s temperature at the time of their arrival and alerts homeowners if they have a fever. Logging visitor’s temperature at the time of their arrival, helps with tracing outbreaks.

WiFi sensing gaining importance in home security.

The smart home space at CES this year also saw innovation in WiFi sensing, which uses disruptions in WiFi signals from compatible smart devices to detect motion. Using signal disruptions in WiFi instead of video to detect motion in the home offers greater privacy to the occupant.

  • Hex announced an innovative security system that uses disruptions in the home RF environment to determine if occupants are moving when and where they aren’t supposed to be.
  • Linksys updated its Aware in-home wireless sensing product and broadened the number of devices that can use WiFi sensing technology, adding Belkin’s switches, Wemo outlets, and other WiFi-capable devices to the Aware network.

Appliance manufacturers introduce smart products that improve convenience in the kitchen.

Samsung and LG introduced new products as well as updates to already existing products that will facilitate greater convenience in the kitchen.

  • LG announced and updated its InstaView refrigerator which can be opened via voice command. The company announced a new smart range that has Air Sous Vide, Air Fry mode and an InstaView panel.
  • Samsung announced the addition of the Family Hub feature, which allows users to search, plan, purchase and prep weekly meals via the SmartThings app.
  • Samsung also showcased the Bot Handy robot. Although still a concept, the company showcased its use cases such as loading a dishwasher and pouring a glass of wine.

Biometric smart locks continue to emerge.

Lockly and BenjiLock announced new biometric smart locks, continuing the trend from 2020. At the forefront of smart lock technology is biometric security.

  • Lockly announced two new smart door locks, the Lockly Duo and the Lockly Guard. The Lockly Duo is a two-in-one latch and deadbolt smart lock, while the Lockly Guard focuses on sliding and swing-style doors. Both use a 3D biometric fingerprint sensor that allows users to unlock the door using their fingerprint.
  • BenjiLock announced three new biometric smart locks: a bike lock, a door lock and a smaller version of its original padlock. All three products can be programmed to recognize up to 10 different fingerprints. The Fingerprint Door Lock integrates BenjiLock’s deadbolt design with a biometric, fingerprint scanning sensor.

Aside from the major trends we saw this year, other smart home devices that we regularly see at CES such as smart door locks, smart appliances, smart lighting, and smart water sensors and valves were also present at the virtual expo.

Amanda Kung is research analyst at Parks Associates. For more information about Parks Associates research, visit www.parksassociates.com.