The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show has ended, and yet again, connected-home and smart-home technologies were a big draw.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place in Las Vegas last week. Home-goods giant Procter & Gamble was one of the four top sponsors of the event’s Smart Home category, and it was pushing the press with its Life Lab concepts, which seem to be going all-in on toilet-tech.

For example, it demoed a robot toilet paper dispenser named “Charmin RollBot.” This little rescue droid comes whirring along the tile when all you’re left with is a cardboard tube of shame.

They also have a smell-level detector called SmellSense that warns those before entering the john the morning after taco Tuesday. The company describes it thusly: “An electronic sensor monitoring system that lets you plan ahead and check how the bathroom smells without having to experience it yourself.”

And, while not exactly in-home tech, the V.I.Pee (get it?), is an event-based port-a-potty that leverages virtual reality headsets to ensure users miss nothing when digestive urges finally win out while the band is about to encore.

P&G’s increased presence in the smart home space should signify that more our every day stuff is going to be digitized, and that agents should be aware of how home buyers and sellers want to interact with it all, and how all of it all interacts together, although they should take it with a grain of salt. Technologists have been predicting that our fridges are going to tell us when to buy milk for the past 20 years and it still isn’t a standard feature of homes.

Smart vs. connected

Smart homes are connected, but not all connected homes are “smart.”

Devices that trigger other devices to play music or find a movie don’t define a smart home.

For a house to be defined as such, it needs be be sentient—not in a HAL 9000 kind of way, but in a “know when things need to happen” kind of way. They react to the environment around them: Pipes that auto-drain when temperatures drop to a specific degree and shades that auto-adjust according to light source are two such examples.

pianodiaphragm / Shutterstock

The two categories have certainly bled into one another, and CES isn’t doing a lot to clean up the mess by parking IOT (Internet of Things) gadgets under the smart home car port.

Agents should at least be aware of the differences, and know how to tell a seller that a Nest Cam and an Amazon Echo doesn’t make a home smart. And buyers who want an actual smart home should be prepared to adjust their budget (upwards, of course) and market expectations (it’ll take even longer to find). They need to also prepare for a good deal of electrical work after closing.

If a buyer does see a smart home they like, it’s highly recommended to discuss which aspects of it are considered fixtures, and how to safely turnover digital fixtures (access codes, operation schedules, operating system instructions) at closing.

The fun stuff

So, what did the electronics world have on display? Check these out:

LumiCharge makes a line of LED-desk and home lamps that are combine mobile-device charging stations and smart speaker tech. They come with wireless charging capabilities, universal phone chargers, Bluetooth, programmable lighting scenarios, and of course, connectivity to other devices around the home. Any of these options would make sweet closing gifts.

Nanoleaf light art is again, more cool than necessary. But man, is it cool.

A series of wirelessly connected, light “tiles” can be arranged for display on a wall and programmed to react to any number of lighting needs or scenarios. Of course they can be voice controlled via Alexa, Siri, or Google. A Nanoleaf display can pulse, soothe, fade, or brighten in an endless spectrum of colors.

Techno-artistry aside, they are functional. The panels can very easily replace standard, boring ceiling lights and floor lamps. No doubt stagers are going to want to become familiar with Nanoleaf.

Canadian company 1Valet may appeal to big city agents who specialize in new or renovated high-rise units. This company has developed a building-wide network of connected devices, people, and systems.

The intent is to link building management with residential life, allowing people to interact easily with the people who run things, and let the people who run things react quicker to what residents need done. It also smartly manages security and monitors building health. Buildings with this kind of tech could help sway picky buyers and keep good owners from selling.

Keeping pets occupied while away (or showing homes) is big business, and Go Dogo is a new way to keep a seller’s barking designer breed busy while you try to sell their home.

The system uses an automated treat dispenser, a camera, and a smart television that runs “live” commands from a certified, on-screen dog trainer. essentially giving dog-sitting the Peloton treatment. The series of events can be programmed to run at different times throughout the day and monitored via the Go Dogo app.

We’ve all heard of home fixture brand Moen, but do you know what they’re up to?

Because even the most attentive life partner isn’t always around to draw you a bath, Moen created “U by Moen,” the latest in—yes—smart shower technology.

Via the app, voice command, or mounted wall panel, your U-connected shower can get the water running and temperature set before your socks are off. The app can start and stop the water and save settings per user.

Between Moen, P&G, remote dog sitters, and connected buildings, it appears we’ll be living like the Jetson’s sooner than we thought, especially if self-driving cars ever move beyond a concept at scale.

Autonomous home tours, anyone?

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Are you ready for what the industry holds in 2020? Inman Connect New York is your key to unlocking opportunity in a changing market. At Connect you will gain insight into the future, discover new strategies and network with real estate’s best and brightest to accelerate your business. Create your 2020 success story at Inman Connect New York, January 28-31, 2020.

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