There is so much buzz surrounding smart appliances that it can be hard to know what will actually be useful once the novelty fades and it is time to do your household chores on a typical Saturday. Immersed in the energy of newness that is CES 2017, no one really knows, but a few products stood out for their practicality potential and cutting-edge coolness.
Smart Panel Refrigerators
A touchscreen on a refrigerator is not a brand new idea, but the screens at CES 2017 were bigger and better than in previous years. Haier, LG and Samsung all showed off large touchscreen displays on their latest refrigerators.
Samsung’s Senior Vice President, Yoon Lee, called the screen a "family command center." The Samsung version is a gorgeous display that allows families to schedule their days, access recipes, draw pictures for each other and much more.
LG's latest refrigerator models are built to "think" in a lot of ways. You can shop, look up recipes and listen to music on a massive 29-inch display. You can also see through the screen if you tap on it twice, so you don’t have to open the door and waste energy while figuring out what to eat. This refrigerator can also help track the freshness of your food, and it even has a built-in camera that shows you the refrigerator's interior on your smartphone while you shop so there's no question about what you need to restock.
Double-Duty Washers & Dryers
LG Signature's TWINWash comes with a built-in bonus washer. The stand under the mega-capacity machine is a miniature washer for those pesky loads that need to be done right away. You don't have to wait until days later for a full load to clean your workout clothes, for instance, and if there is a pair of jeans your teen just has to have for school the next day, you can throw them in rather than argue the water-saving virtues of waiting until laundry day. This is a smart machine that can do things like sense hard water and adjust the temperature and amount of water to counter the effects.
Samsung showcased a similar product with its FlexWash, which has a mini dryer in addition to a mini washer. Both are on top of the larger, main appliances rather than underneath like the LG TWINWash.
Whirlpool also showed off its latest laundry innovation in the form of an all-in-one washer and dryer that features a large touchscreen control. The unit is ventless, and you don’t have to switch laundry from washer to dryer, so it is a great fit for apartments. This smart washer and dryer combo also senses when you are low on laundry detergent and integrates with Amazon's Dash service to automatically order it for you.
Folded Clothing in a Flash
The Laundroid display drew huge crowds on the CES showroom floor as clean and dry laundry went in one end all balled up and came out perfectly folded on the other end. You can program the laundry-folding robot to organize laundry by type or by user – separating and folding towels and shirts into different piles, for example.
This appliance is obviously in its infancy – the demonstration model took a really long time to fold even one shirt and was gigantic – but developer Seven Dreamers plans to make it more compact before selling it. Its website indicates it will be available for preorder in March of 2017.
More Than Floor Sweeping
The Unibot from Ecovacs Robotics is an automatic vacuum with a few extras that make it stand out from the pack. You can add a security camera or an air purifier to the top for multitasking. Like all robot vacuums, it can learn your floorplan and continuously sweep around the furniture in your home, but it can also act as a miniature security guard or humidify and purify your home's air, depending on what you decide to stack on it.
All of these advances in home appliances have the potential to cut down on the time you spend maintaining your home, although some may seem a little impractical right now. In time, we may all be setting up some version of each of them in our homes so we can focus on the few chores that must still be done by hand.