by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media
Following a year beset by COVID, CES 2022 featured the first-ever keynote from a Healthcare Company, Abbott Laboratories. The presentation showcased powerful human stories of lives positively impacted by Abbott, leveraging technology. It also underscored how technology can enable treatments and doctor/patient conversations without physically requiring the two people to be in the same room. In fact, health professionals can treat patients at home thanks to telehealth visits. Which is a natural lead-in to today’s recap on Digital Health and The Evolution of Homes.
The Great Home Makeover Continues
The definition of home has evolved and expanded since the onset of the pandemic nearly two years ago. For years we watched home buyers on TV shows like HGTV’s “House Hunters” proclaim they wanted “open-concept.” The demand for shared family living spaces left us unprepared for the reality of our current circumstances, where work, school, exercise workouts and more occur within the confines of the same space. The most immediate beneficiary of our new reality has been the consumer electronics industry, as consumers sought tech solutions to make up for the lack of separate rooms. The category saw huge sales demand in 2021 that is anticipated to continue in 2022.
According to the CTA, three key trends were at the forefront last year:
- 1. Consumers “leveled up” their technology – many used this time to make their lives easier. Sales increased for everything “Smart,” from TVs and appliances to light bulbs and doorbells.
- 2. And they sought out Premium Brands – given the choice, consumers opted for the best experience. Premium brand sales outperformed sales of “average” brands.
- 3. Services soared – consumers are subscribing, and sticking, with new services. On average, consumers subscribe to 8 services, e.g., streaming video, audio, fitness, and gaming.
Overall, consumers have used their discretionary funds accumulated during lockdown to improve their digital lifestyles. They are opting for enhanced home theater components because they can rationalize the importance of better equipment, be it a new use case (like meetings for remote work) or just getting more value out of their new streaming subscriptions.
What about the TVs at CES? As is the case every year, they are bigger, brighter, thinner, lighter, and all the other superlatives you can possibly think of. OLED, QD-OLED, mini-LED, 4K, 8K – they are all beautiful, they all look good, and there is a screen for every budget. Tech sites like CNET or The Verge offer great guidance to help you choose.
Smart Home, Smart Gadgets. Aiding consumers to continue spending are plenty of new smart home gadgets. Rather than rehash the various new smart doorbells, security products or light bulbs that closely replicate existing products you are likely familiar with, here are a few home items that are truly new or have new features worth a look:
- Moen Smart Faucet with Motion Control – touchless smart faucets are not new, but the innovation to this faucet is the motion control part. Swiping right or left gives you cold or hot water, swiping down provides warm. Mobile app controls enable you to personalize the temperature for “warm.” Voice commands, powered by Alexa, can allow you to instruct the Moen faucet to do specific tasks like precisely filling a measured cup of water.
- Samsung Family Hub Fridge – the refrigerator with a tablet screen on the door has been around for a few years now and continues to receive enhanced new tech like an upgraded internal camera that can scan food labels. But the interesting news here is more aesthetic than tech, with its inclusion as part of Samsung’s Bespoke appliance line: now you can have your advanced smart fridge while choosing from 12 colors (decidedly non-traditional ones like pink, green or orange), and glass or metallic finishes.
- GAF Energy Timberline Solar – solar roofing panels that install like roof shingles with a nail gun? Yes, and at about the same cost, but much nicer looking, than rack-mounted solar panels.
- Samsung Freestyle – this LED projector is lightweight and portable, with a 180-degree cradle stand that will let you project video anywhere (indoors and out) and on anything (walls, screens, ceilings, or the sides of a house). With an image size that can expand from 30 to 100 inches, and 360-degree sound, this is the perfect entertainment solution for sharing a movie with your favorite crowd outdoors and socially distanced.
What is the Matter with Smart Homes? A key challenge for would-be consumers of Smart Home technology is that many devices currently exist in walled garden eco systems that are not interoperable. You must first decide if you want to be part of the Amazon, Apple, or Google/Nest platform, and then shop from among whatever products work within them. What if you could simply choose the best smart device, be it a doorbell, thermostat, or lightbulb, and have complete confidence that it will work in your home? That is the goal of Matter, a new standard connectivity protocol.
Matter promises to remove interoperability considerations from the equation. It is an open-sourced connectivity technology standard for the smart home created by over 200 companies, including the above platforms. The promise of Matter is to enable all smart devices to talk to each other. All products that are Matter certified will work within your Smart Home, regardless of who made them. The first Matter certified products will be shipping in 2022, and hopefully, this will be the start of Smart Homes becoming truly smart.
Digital Brings Health and Wellness Home
Digital Health and Wellness is arguably becoming a natural extension the Smart Home. Health and technology are more tightly linked than ever before. COVID has accelerated the use of technology such as telemedicine that is likely to become a more routine alternative option to in-person doctor visits. Devices that collect data and enable healthcare practitioners to remotely monitor patients are a logical companion to this.
Abbott Laboratories and biometrics wearables – The Abbott Laboratories keynote set the tone for the role of technology in healthcare. Actor Laurence Fishburne, in a video clip, shared Abbott’s beliefs: “At this moment in time, technology is changing faster than ever before. People are living longer than ever before. And we are using technology to ensure that those longer lives are used to the fullest.”
Here are some examples that were spotlighted:
- FreeStyle Libre 3 – Abbott’s Freestyle Libre is an integrated continuous glucose monitoring system that lets people with diabetes easily maintain their glucose levels without fingersticks. This latest iteration is smaller, thinner, and lighter while maintaining the same high level of accuracy.
- Lingo – Abbott announced a new full line of biowearables that uses the same type of sensor monitoring technology as FreeStyle Libre. The portfolio of products is fitness and nutrition-focused, intended to help consumers learn their own bodies unique language (hence the name Lingo). The areas of monitoring include Glucose, Keytones, Lactose and Alcohol.
- Navica – this complimentary app comes with the BinaxNow COVID Rapid Test kit. The Navica app was developed in partnership with United Airlines and e-Med. There is a link in United’s Travel Ready Center on United.com and the United app that enables international travel customers to order the right test to be packed in their carry-on for conveniently testing and clearance for return to the U.S. The test results are shared and stored in the Navica app.
Here are a few other intriguing health and wellness tech examples:
- Labrador Retriever – like the dog breed it is named after, this new type of personal robot will retrieve and transport items. It is essentially a mobile, self-driving shelf that can navigate your living space like a robot vacuum, controlled by voice and/or an app. It is intended to enable individuals with pain and/or health conditions live more independently by providing physical assistance with everyday tasks like transporting a laundry basket, medications, or tray of food.
- Withings Body Scan – the company that invented the smart scale category back in 2009 unveiled its newest offering, The Body Scan, that can track much more than weight. It features a retractable handle fitted with additional sensors that, along with those in the scale, measure nerve activity, heart rhythm and other body measurements like fat and water percentage. Readings can be stored and shared with medical professionals, and they are seeking FDA clearance for the device.
- Sengled Smart Health Monitoring Bulb – a light bulb with built in health monitoring technology uses radar (!) to track your sleep, heart rate, body temperature and other biometric measurements.
- Essence Care@Home – with a growing population of elderly adults that desire to remain independent and age in place, there is growing demand for health tools and services that can enable this and provide peace of mind for their loved ones. Essence seeks to be your eyes and ears to accomplish this. The Essence Care@Home system offers comprehensive remote patient monitoring, including for those with chronic conditions.
- Invoxia Smart Dog Collar – and because health and wellness are not just for humans, Fido gets his own smart device. This smart collar tracks biometrics to provide an overview of your dog’s health: vitals, activity levels, sleep quality, and GPS location. Dog parents can keep a watchful eye over all this via a mobile app.
And on that note, let’s call CES 2022 a wrap. Despite all the great tech that enables virtual attendance, here’s hoping for a shot at seeing next years’ edition live and in-person!