Every January, tens of thousands of engineers and technology buffs descend upon the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to explore the latest gadgets and smart technologies from both startups and tech giants.
While some inventions are created with the sole purpose to impress, others are designed specifically to make our lives easier and improve the way we go about our days at home and on the move.
This year, we were most impressed by the home technologies that offered up an unparalleled sense of convenience. Here, we explore five of the inventions that called for standing ovations (at least from us).
1. Toilet paper robot
Digital technologies aim to simplify your day-to-day and assist you in going about your business — even toilet business, it seems.
Debuted at CES this month, the Charmin RollBot is a self-balancing robot that wheels to your aid when you’ve run out of toilet paper, and find yourself too uh…busy (?) to retrieve some yourself.
The RollBot works, though it was designed only to display the capabilities of the technology and will not be available in the home, much to the delight of Late Show host Stephen Colbert, who said: “No offence, Charmin, I’m sure the robot’s great and all, but ‘pooptime’ is the one time I don’t want a pal”.
2. Indoor gardening
Ultimate electronic and appliance manufacturer LG has pioneered a new indoor gardening system called the LG Harvester that allows urban residents the chance to grow fresh foods like herbs, lettuce, and other greens year-round, no matter the season.
The system attaches to the side of a fridge and can grow up to 24 pre-packaged seeds in its superbly controlled environment that monitors temperature, water levels and humidity with an irrigation system, LED lights and air circulation technologies.
No word yet on how much these systems might cost, but we’re certain the ability to farm your own veggies year-round will not come cheap.
3. Robot companions
Sounds a little like something out of the movie Her, but instead of Scarlett Johansson’s voice in your ear, your future “life companion” appears more like a little rolling robot ball that responds to commands in a similar way to a furry friend.
Samsung’s yellow Ballie robot is a personal assistant on wheels for your home. The device uses artificial intelligence, voice activation, a mobile interface and an onboard camera to recognise your needs and carry out household tasks. It’s like your own personal BB-8 that can serve as your wakeup call, respond to requests, record life moments, and manage household smart technology.
Ballie is also marketed as a fantastic pet companion for when your cats and dogs are left at home by themselves.
4. Bag-changing bins
The worst part, both in terms of hygiene and ick-factor, about managing your household waste is undoubtedly the dreaded moment in which you have to change over the bin bags.
On a mission to banish bin juice forever, Canadian company Knectek Labs invented a household bin engineered to seal and replace trash bags at the push of a button.
Once the bin reaches capacity, the Townew uses heat technology to seal the liner in use completely shut. Once the bag has been removed, the bin will replace the bag automatically. The bin is currently for sale for US $199.95.
5. Instant drink chiller
Nothing brings a dinner party to a close quite like a lukewarm bottle of sauvignon blanc. The Juno Chiller, described as a “reverse microwave” was designed specifically for those moments when the time has well and truly passed to pop your bevvies in the fridge.
The appliance uses thermoelectric cooling technology to rapidly bring room-temperature drinks down to the ideal chill level in mere minutes. A bottle of beer can be chilled in just one minute while a full bottle of wine will take three minutes.
Alcohol aside, the appliance can also be used to cool coffee, water and juices. It’s not yet available for purchase, but will cost US $299 once it hits the market.