COVID19 and how it is shifting the Home Tech Industry

One area of TECH development this year has been strongly focussed on products designed to assist in the fight against Covid-19 and other potential pandemics. Sanitation and touchless behaviour has become a thing of the present and will for sure be here to stay. Going Touchless is a High-Tech Solution for Hand to Face  Hygiene Compliance. Taking care of our elderly has also been a hot topic as our long term healthcare facilities are being stretched to their limits. 

If we address even just the tip of this giant iceberg we will have done some good. So let’s show you a few innovative products that were revealed at the Consumer Electronic Show 2021, that might help us chip away at these critical issues. 

ARLO – Hands free

Leveraging precise Proximity Sensing Technology to gauge a visitor’s distance, the Arlo Touchless Video Doorbell zeros in on a visitor’s approach. Once detected, the guest hears an audible chime and sees a visible light, signaling the doorbell has been “pressed” and the homeowner has been alerted – all before they come into physical contact with the device.

Most smart doorbells already have cameras with some form of motion detection. Some even let you fine-tune motion detection zones, and many already have lights and sounds that let a visitor know when they’ve pressed the button.

In turn, this is supposed to make the guest realize that the doorbell has been activated. Whether or not that will work in practice remains to be seen. We can envisage a situation in which most people are left confused and end up pressing the unit anyway, at least until the use of touchless doorbells starts to become more widespread.

The new touchless device has been named among the CES Innovation Award Honorees, so you can expect to hear a lot more about it over the coming 12 months.

NOBI – Injury prevention for our elderly

Nobi’s mission is to help the elderly live at home on their own as long as possible without too much worry about their health + safety. That’s the wish of many people over 65. 

Designed as a lamp that feels familiar in every interior – Nobi monitors older adults and provides communication between the resident and family members or caregivers. 

This really provides peace of mind because first and foremost, Nobi focuses on fall prevention with smart lighting and risk prevention. If a resident does fall, the intelligent lamp notices this immediately, asks if everything is okay and calls family members in cases of emergency. If necessary, the emergency services are notified, and Nobi opens the door for them. 

In addition to fall prevention and fall detection, Nobi also ensures safety and quality of life by monitoring air quality and providing fire and burglary detection. It can even share a photo and call family members and friends.

The Nobi team started working on the concept in 2018, and the finished product will be available for purchase by the end of 2021. The lamp is currently being tested and trained in residential care centres and service flats. Nobi stands out due to its simple and timeless design. 

Photo credit: Karel Waignein

TARGUS – Germ prevention

Top of the list is the 2Office Antimicrobial Backpack. This is a laptop case that has an “antimicrobial infused protective finish” on the areas of the bag that are most at risk from germs. Targus claims that the new bag will “prevent the growth of microorganisms on the backpack,” though there wasn’t any mention of Coronavirus, so don’t expect this bag to replace your current safety routines.

The other big pandemic play from Targus a new UV-C LED Disinfection Light. It uses UV-C lighting to kill pathogens on surfaces. You don’t need to activate the light yourself; if the light detects motion within the active area, it will automatically turn itself on for five minutes every hour. Sadly, the device is not portable—you will need to plug it into an AC power supply.

We know the work environment has changed forever, and we needed to apply this lens to our products. At CES 2021, our versatile and innovative product range represents this reimagined work experience. Our line-up of new products offers greater flexibility, utility, safety, and sustainability than ever before. From products that protect workspaces from bacteria growth to ones that allow people to have a desktop experience wherever they work, our new range works together to help you work smarter and safer.

Photo credit: Targus

KOHLER – Smart bathroom

As millions of people around the world spend more time at home, they yearn for balance and seek an escape from the stresses and anxieties of everyday life. The potential for technology to create more moments of wellbeing, and making it easier to unwind, destress, and find peace, is a driving force behind’s Kohler’s continued investment and product development in smart home technology.

“As we grow our leadership in smart home innovation, our products make it possible for consumers to easily enjoy the advantages of touchless and connected experiences, without adding clutter or complexity to their spaces,” said David Kohler, President and CEO of Kohler Co. “We believe there is a delicate balance when it comes to technology in the home – and will continue pioneering opportunities for seamless control in the bathroom and kitchen with an eye toward gracious living and wellbeing.” 

Kohler showcases new additions to its smart home portfolio during the virtual CES 2021 including:

Stillness Bath: This experiential bath draws its inspiration from Japanese forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Water, light, fog and aromas converge to create an immersive journey of the senses designed to relax the mind, soothe the body, and renew the spirit. Transforming the bathroom into a spa-like environment for quiet mindfulness, the Stillness Bath offers a sanctuary for self-care and wellbeing. It starts with water filling from the bottom of the bath, overflowing into the Hinoki wood mote to create a soothing sound. Full spectrum lighting surrounds the bath, setting the mood, and creating a chromatherapy experience. Fog then envelopes the surface of the Stillness Bath, immersing the bather in a feeling of deep relaxation. Finally, essential oils can be added into the bath’s experience tower which softly emits invigorating aromas to stimulate the senses and promote focus.

Innate Intelligent Toilet: Innate is the newest addition to Kohler’s portfolio of intelligent products. The Innate includes all the comfort, convenience, and cleanliness features that people expect from Kohler’s broad offering of intelligent toilets at a more affordable price. Innate includes a heated seat, auto open and close, intuitive remote, and personal bidet functionality. Further, as many homeowners look for more DIY projects, Innate features Kohler’s easy, ready-lock installation.

Touchless Residential Bathroom Faucet: The touchless bathroom faucet offers hands-free activation for washing hands, brushing teeth, and other daily tasks. Having the ability to wash hands at the end of the bathroom routine without touching the handles of the faucet decreases the potential spread of bacteria and germs in the space. Kohler launches an integrated faucet with embedded sensors as well as a remote puck that allows for a retrofit solution add-on to any KOHLER single control bathroom faucet.

SAMSUNG – Home Robot 

And finally, because we’ll all be so busy working and studying from home we won’t get any housework done, Samsung showed off three domestic robots. The most advanced is the Bot Handy, still a concept model but strongly suggesting robots capable of complex manual tasks such as loading a dishwasher, doing the laundry, or serving drinks might be in our homes soon.

The Seoul-based tech giant reported that it is working on three robots that will serve as a personal assistant and tackle a variety of tasks around the home. One, the Bot Handy, will help you sort laundry!

The Bot Handy has a single arm and three pivot points allowing enough flexibility to grasp, carry and position items as delicate as dishes. It has cameras that with the assistance of AI can recognize objects and handle them accordingly. Its ability to detect the material of objects held ensure the correct force will be used to secure them in its grasp and carry them to a destination. It will detect, list and help sort laundry. It can even pour a glass of wine and bring it to you after a hard day at work.

“Bot Handy uses AI to understand objects, like a glass cup or ceramic plate, taking note of their shape and materials to work as your trusted partner,” said Sebastian Seung, president and head of Samsung Research “Bot Handy can move around and do things like set the table or put away groceries. It flips the script on what a robot in your home could look like.”

The robot’s elongated “face” has two eyes that close or expand to convey emotion. A rolling base enables it to move seamlessly around a room. It conveniently can raise itself to place objects on the top shelf of a closet. The robot is an effort to tailor AI more specifically to the needs of consumers, according to Seung. “Among many things, your home has taken on a greater significance,” he said. 

“But what if that home, and those technologies in it, were actually built around you? At Samsung, we’re finding ways to do just that. A second robot was unveiled at the CES show, held virtually because of the pandemic. Bot Care was designed “to take care of the little details of your life,” according to Seung.

Acting as an assistant and companion, the Bot Handy was shown in a demonstration video chatting with its human companion. At one point, Bot Handy calculates that the person had been on her computer for a long time and needed a break. It later noted the time and advised her of an upcoming meeting, rolling up to her and flipping open a built-in display screen to prepare for a video conference call.

Photo Credit Samsung

Kate Shelton
Kate has led a diverse career in both the arts and business management. From dancing with the prestigious National Ballet of Canada to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Ryerson to then taking on the entrepreneurial role of running a small business, Kate’s wide range of experience has allowed her to develop a keen eye for art and design. As an avid Crossfitter, Kate has a true appreciation for leading an active, healthy lifestyle. She currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and their wonderful son.