– Mirror my beautiful mirror, are you connected to the washing machine?
At CES, a technology fair in Las Vegas, there is no lack of ideas, but they would still be very far from the reality of consumers.
The television that tells you when the dryer has finished spinning, the mirror that heats up the shower water and turns on the coffee maker: at CES, the technology fair in Las Vegas, the so-called “smart” home takes shape, but still largely remains disconnected from reality.
French company Baracoda has been transforming the bathroom for years with discreet health tools integrated into everyday objects.
BMirror, their new connected mirror prototype, can collect information and exchange with the scale, the toilet or the toothbrush to make recommendations to family members – like drinking more water or seeing a dermatologist because a wart has changed color.
“We immediately see if you’ve brushed your teeth well or if you have to use sunscreen, for example”, describes Baptiste Quiniou, the company’s product director interviewed at CES, which takes place from January 5th to 8th.
But for optimal operation, it is necessary to use compatible devices, whether developed by Baracoda or by partner brands.
“Before, when you bought a webcam, you had to check if you could connect it to your computer. Now you don’t wonder anymore.
Mark Benson, US director of Smart Things, Samsung’s connectivity subsidiary.
For start-ups and multinationals that have been designing and marketing connected objects for years, interoperability has become crucial.
“These devices can do incredibly useful things, but if they don’t communicate with each other, information is lost,” notes independent analyst Avi Greengart.
The War of the Ecosystems
Amazon, Samsung, Apple, Google: Each of the tech giants has built its own ecosystem of devices, often around a voice assistant like Alexa or Siri.
“They hoped to draw enough people into their orbit and grow at the expense of others. But in the end, everyone stagnated”, underlines the expert.
The large groups eventually agreed and this fall, after three years of work, they created a connectivity protocol called “Matter”.
“We can consider it as the USB port of the connected home”, summarizes Mark Benson, director in the United States of Smart Things, Samsung’s connectivity subsidiary.
“The problem is the data. Companies, by nature, do not want to share.”
“Before, when you bought a webcam, you had to check if you could connect it to your computer. Now you don’t wonder anymore, ”she explains.
Matter simplifies the digital installation of different devices: it is no longer necessary to download a different application for each one.
But ecosystems do not disappear.
“Interoperability is technically not complicated. The problem is the data. Companies by nature don’t want to share,” says Jeff Wang.
Each brand, therefore, tries to convince the public to adopt its mobile app (Smart Things, Google Home, etc.) to centralize the control of home appliances.
In the vision of the South Korean group presented at CES, the consumer has at his disposal a television, an oven, a washing machine and a refrigerator manufactured by Samsung.
Through his Smart Things app, he monitors his electricity consumption or chicken cooking, while watching a movie on television that also signals the end of his laundry.
At the Google booth, just say “Get to work!” for the blind to go down and the essential oil diffuser to turn on.
For now, consumers have mostly adopted cheap connected speakers and use them as a timer or for listening to music.
“More than half of American homes have a connected device,” said Mark Benson. “And more than half of them made their first acquisition in the last three years.”
The CTA association, which organizes the CES, believes that the Matter standard will grow the connected home market when the real estate sector recovers.
Such technologies “are going to have a tough year in the US because of the drop in home sales,” a spokesman told AFP.
CTA, however, expects nearly 5 million connected thermostats sold in 2023, +15% on a year as consumers are drawn to the prospect of saving energy.
The American company Savant designed a connected fuse box to address this concern.
“This is perhaps one of the last things in the house that we haven’t thought about making ‘smart,'” notes Ian Roberts, vice president of the group.
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