While smart home excitement at CES may have slipped, there was still plenty of innovation and potential on show.
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CES Reflected a Growing Smart Home Market Maturity
In early January, CES returned to something similar to its peak. While attendance and show floor space was below that in 2020, it was far closer to it than it was to last year’s largely no-show event. But while more than 117,000 attendees made it to Las Vegas for the consumer trade association’s international event, the smart home market had clearly moved on since January 2020. This ABI Insight collects key smart home and consumer robotics developments highlighted at the latest show and what that means for 2023.
Matter's Promise and the Robotics Expansion
Samsung, at its major press conference and on its heavily trafficked and sizable booth featured smart home and SmartThings prominently. The company announced the SmartThings Station, a new hub-type device that pulls together Matter integration and smartphone charging. The company also highlighted Matter support across a wide range of devices and appliances, and promoted how Matter moves smart home capabilities forward.
The Matter logo was noticeable at a number of booths, including Neo, Tuya, AduroSmart, Schneider Electric, Aeotec, LEEDARSON, Nanoleaf, Eve, Govee, TP-Link, and more. However, for such a key development in the smart home space, Matter was far from center stage and the efforts were disparate. It would have been great to see more cohesion, emphasis, and understanding around Matter at the show. While a few stands displayed the Matter logo and more than a few related products, there was little fanfare for such a significant building block for broad smart home adoption. Timing could be responsible for this, with the specification coming as it did in October, and only a relatively small number of vendors having devices certified in time. Meanwhile, the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA) announced at last year’s CES, aiming to bring cloud-to-cloud interoperability to smart appliances, released its first specification at the show.
The increase in interest and investment in consumer robotics was also evident at CES. Positec launched its first robot vacuum cleaner at the show, where its new Noesis-branded offering was demonstrated alongside the company’s existing Worx robotic lawn mowers. There were also new robot vacuum model announcements from Roborock, iHome, and eufy and a good selection of robot pool cleaners from Aiper, Degrii, and Lydsto (which also featured a window cleaning robot device). There was a host of innovation and engagement with new robot lawn mowers with examples from Novabot, EcoFlow, Greenworks, Yarbo, Heisenberg Robotics, and Worx, as well as a robot weed killer from startup Dandy. But consumer robotics was not limited to homecare. Amazon showcased the Alexa Fund-backed Labrador Systems’ assistive robot, alongside demonstrations of its evolving Astro robot, while elsewhere at the show, the Aeolus Robotics and HUENIT modular robotic arm highlighted care home and barista capabilities, respectively.
Smart Home and Consumer Robotics Market Direction
While the spotlight may have shown a little less brightly on the smart home than in most previous years, what was clear from the announcements and engagements at CES was that the market continues to progress and draw investment to an expanding array of device types and markets. Matter often took second place to new devices, but its presence was clear and the ability for end users and service providers to more easily connect devices and build out multi-function smart home systems is at the heart of the future of the smart home. The new specification was likely impacted by its completion only a few months before the show, so that many supporting announcements were roadmap statements of intent over new, certified products already shipping. Even so, the support and showcasing of a range of third-party devices in the Amazon space was testament to the potential of Matter to make such integrations available across Matter-compliant ecosystems. Amazon itself is announcing Matter-over-Thread support to its Echo and Eero devices in the spring.
Elsewhere, smart home capabilities and integrations were pushing deeper into the fabric and services of homes with offerings from Matter’s impact on the impetus to invest in siloed ecosystems and the push of the smart home into broader acceptance away from the consumer sector and toward a more general builder/installation/property management professional market. We saw more discussion around adoption of smart home infrastructure, such as the electrical system with a new smart fuse panel from Schneider Electric or in plumbing, and how water is managed and consumed with smart showers from Moen and Orbital.
The consumer robotics developments at CES highlighted the growing push of home care robotics with upgraded navigation capabilities leveraging Light Detection and Radar (LiDAR) and cameras, as well as greater functionality aimed at reducing the support required from users like the new Roborock S8 line or the new Noesis Florio—both of which offer automated mop washing/changing, dust emptying, and water refilling. A range of approaches remain regarding navigation technologies with vendors leveraging stereovision sensors, cameras, LiDAR, and more. In addition, obstacle avoidance is another focus driving greater intelligence in machines. The transition to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and greater onboard navigation capabilities are driving the robot mower market that has been hampered—certainly in the North American market—by the limitations of boundary wire requirements. There is also a push to make the appliances more useful. The Yarbo, for example, can be fitted with different capabilities, so that a single machine can be used as lawn mower, snow blower, or leaf blower.
Smart home standardization—with Matter and the HCA specification—alongside broad smart home acceptance and awareness, and the ongoing push into commercial and other more professional settings, have all moved the market along. We remain some way from the ambient home capable of supporting interactive and intelligent systems, but the increasing development of consumer robotics and the applications they can enable mean that the smart home may have lost some of its wow factor, but investment, development, and, most importantly, the potential for the smart home to underpin a range of valuable services was still evident.