CES 2023 Promising New Technologies

Welcome to Day Two of CES 2023. Since Tuesday, we’re passed 30 miles of walking around the more than one million square feet of show floor (that’s more than 22 American football fields) looking for the latest and most promising technologies that may change our world in the future. We think we found some gems, along with some strange new ideas we’re keeping our eyes on. Happy to be able to share and also learn more about what you found interesting.


Matter is a new standard which emerged from the Connected Home over IP (CHIP) project out of the Zigbee Alliance (now the Connectivity Standards Alliance). Matter promises to make smarthome devices from any vendor that adhere to the Matter standard work with any other, finally attempting to solve one of the biggest barriers to smarthome adoption: walled gardens. In the past devices that work on, say, Apple’s HomeKit could only be controlled by Apple’s Home app (or the vendor’s own HomeKit-compliant app). Same was true for Google, Amazon, Samsung, LG and more. Developers then needed to either pick a side or develop separate applications (and sometimes hardware) to support more than one platform.

Matter promises to change all that. A smart light bulb from Nanoleaf named “Nightstand” onboarded and configured in Apple’s Home app could then be controlled by a Google Nest hub or an Amazon Echo Show in addition to an iOS or Android app. This means a consumer could ask Siri to turn off the nightstand light, but also have Alexa turn it on. Furthermore, a Samsung app could rename that nightstand bulb to “Bedside Table” and magically Siri, Google and Alexa would know that new name. This feature, known as multi-admin, was impossible before Matter (and still tricky with Matter 1.0) We saw dozens of Matter logos from Nanoleaf, Amazon, Eve, Ring and other smaller startups, but few truly compelling demos.

And Matter faces headwinds. Even though they won’t admit it, these vendors enjoy benefits of walled gardens (lock-in) and cabals are already forming to make one vendors’ platform a better Matter system than others. We’ve seen standards emerge before that don’t fulfill their promises, so Matter has a lot to prove. Another challenge: many consumers likely need to buy new hardware or upgrade existing single-platform devices into Matter hubs, controllers and routers (which send signals over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RF and now Thread to orchestrate the chorus of signals flowing over the home network).

Trouble is, there is no easy way to set one of the many Thread Border Routers that might occupy a home as the Lead Border Router. Imagine if a Matter-capable lock on the front door couldn’t reach a hub to disarm a security system or a light is suddenly too far from another Matter device to be controlled because of the fluidity of a router suddenly taking lead position. Some of this may be why Apple abruptly paused the rollout of their new Matter-capable HomeKit architecture after it started locking consumers out of their devices.

Professional home security and automation providers, like Alarm.com, have long deployed very reliable ways of ensuring devices worked across platforms and will operate all the time. For instance, before an installer leaves a customer’s home they use tools like MobileTech to ensure that every Z-Wave device has good connectivity with every other device, and multiple paths exists to ensure signals flow reliably. We’ll keep watching this space to see when (and if) Matter matters.

Promises Ring Hollow

Ring Drone

Speaking of promises, Ring introduced the Ring Always Home Indoor Flying Camera last year, yet finally showed it at CES this year. But the demos were unimpressive, flying out of sight in minutes (perhaps to recharge), without demonstrating docking or even navigating a typical home setting. As you might imagine, an autonomous flying vehicle might get grounded by threats as simple as pets, curtains, fans, and even hair, so we may have to wait a while to see their camera patrolling homes. Ring says it launches (pun intended by me) sometime in 2024.

Ring Car Cam

The Ring Car Cam was introduced last year, but also made its first appearance at CES this year. There are many, many dashcams on the market so it is hard to imagine how Ring’s $250 dual-camera product will carve out a sizable market, even though it will likely benefit from using the same Ring app already in many users’ pockets. The $6/month Ring Protect Go subscription plan is required if you want to connect to your car cam over LTE when it’s not in your garage (and in range of your home Wi-Fi). Interestingly, if you get pulled over for a traffic stop, you can say “Alexa, record” to start recording for up to 20 minutes without taking your hands off the wheel. Pro tip: there is a popular Apple Shortcut that does the same with your iPhone (for free).

The Smart Toilet is here

Withings, the French wellness company briefly owned by Nokia, introduced the Withings U-Scan, “the first hands-free connected home urine lab” (I’m glad they thought to add “hands-free” to the description). Did you wake up today and think you needed a urine lab at home? Well now you can own one. The small white puck sits within the front of the toilet bowl and, yes, you pee on it. U-Scan then provides a snapshot of what’s happening inside your body by monitoring a bunch of biomarkers found in urine while offering actionable advice.

This is a tantalizing look at how home health products promise a revolution in how we take control of our own bodies, simply by understanding what’s happening inside us. Technology is democratizing access to better health care, in the same way that PCs democratized access to computing. Mainframe computers were once locked in large rooms accessible only by a privileged few, yet personal computers gave that power to everyone. Now we’re seeing that access to consumer health devices enable anyone to take control of their health and wellness, and Withings sees this promising future clearly.

Finally, there was an entire pavilion sponsored by AARP called the “AgeTech Collaborative” with dozens of products aimed at the fastest growing population in the world – seniors – who stand to be one of the groups who will benefit the most from the democratization of home health products like U-Scan. We’ll have a report on what new AgeTech products we discovered soon.

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