CES in Las Vegas: The Smart Home 2017
The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is a major annual event for all technology enthusiasts. Manufacturers present their latest products and ideas on the show floor and in conferences with a total of over 165,000 visitors. In addition to OLED and QLED TVs, state-of-the-art vehicles and numerous smartphones, this year's presentations focused primarily on products related to the smart home. Important players here are Google Home and Apple's HomeKit, but Amazon's Alexa in particular took center stage.
Will the smart home become a reality in 2017?
Smart homes have been touted time and again in recent years, and the final breakthrough has been announced repeatedly. 2017 will now see another major step towards smart living. Alexa, Amazon's cloud-based voice service, can communicate with more and more devices and systems in and around the home. These include lighting, refrigerators, robotic vacuum cleaners, home security systems, phones or even cars. Alexa is compatible with the LG InstaView Refrigerator, for example, so that the refrigerator can be used to search for recipes, play music or create shopping lists.
Mattel's smart speaker for kids 'Aristotle' can also be linked to Alexa. Parents can thus monitor their children via microphone and camera, similar to a baby monitor. In addition, Aristotle detects whether the child is restless based on sounds and independently plays soothing melodies or bedtime stories.
Alexa for the Win?
Amazon seems to have captured much of the market with Alexa. But some manufacturers continue to rely on their own structures. Take Bosch, for example, which unveiled its version of a control system with the Scenario Manager for the Bosch smart home app. The app can be used to control lighting and temperature based on appropriate scenarios - for example, 'leave home' or 'relax'.
But it's not just household appliances that are getting smarter; beauty products will also come with cutting-edge technology in the future. In addition to fast-drying, super-quiet hair dryers and electronic face masks, 2017 will also see the launch of a smart hair brush: the Kérastase Hair Coach Powered by Whitings. Sensors count the number of brush strokes, determine if too much pressure is applied and determine the hair texture depending on whether the hair is wet or dry.
Technology Curiosities: Things the world doesn't need?
In addition to all sorts of useful gadgets, some curious products were also presented this year. For example, shoes whose heel height can be adjusted using an app. Or a jacket that has 29 pockets to accommodate a tablet, sunglasses and laptop in addition to keys, wallet and phone. To what extent retailers should include these innovations in their stores remains to be seen.
Conclusion: What does this mean for retailers?
Products at the highest technological level are not only becoming increasingly important to customers, they are part of everyday life. The younger generation in particular has taken on a real expectation of the 'capabilities' of a product or service. Technology retailers must therefore have the latest developments on offer - and first and foremost consider the products that can be connected to particularly popular digital assistants. Alexa seems to be at the forefront there. The voice assistant beats its competitors by a long way in terms of the number of compatible devices. The focus should therefore be on smart home products that support Alexa.
While products here need to pick up the customer directly, retailers can also stand out from the competition with excellent Customer Service and a well-designed Omni-Channel offering. The correct selection of cutting-edge items, from state-of-the-art televisions to communicating toasters, is certainly relevant. However, it is only a beginning for optimal competitiveness in e-commerce.
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