The smart home was out in force at CES 2018. Well, more specifically the voice assistants that live in our smart speakers were out in force, with pretty much every device on show boasting about including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung Bixby under the hood.
But while our assistants spreading their wings and leaving the smart home was big news, that doesn't mean that all the innovation was happening outside. Here we're going to be highlighting some of the most interesting offerings for your humble abode from this year's Vegas tech extravaganza.
Winner of the TechRadar award for Best Smart Home Device of CES 2018, the Samsung Family Hub fridge is actually a modern version of its existing 'fridge with a screen' range.
What really sets this model apart (and makes it worthy of the accolade) is the fact that the fridge can function as a smart home hub, meaning if you've got a range of different smart home products from a number of different manufacturers and want a way to control them all from a unified device, this fridge will function as that hub using SmartThings, Samsung's hub ecosystem.
On top of that is the ability for the fridge to tell you when things inside it are going off, suggest recipes, and even source coupons of your repeat purchases. And of course it contains Bixby so you can control it with your voice.
Another award winner here. This time taking home the award for Best Smart Speaker. The LG ThinQ is a Google Assistant speaker, but unlike the Google Home, the ThinQ has been specifically tailored towards exceptional audio quality.
Partnering up with hi-fi giants Meridian Audio, LG has created a speaker that is tailored for use with lossless audio files, and if it delivers on its promise will be a speaker that not only contains smarts, but you'll actually want to sit and listen to.
No more connecting to a better Bluetooth speaker? Yes please.
While we're on the subject of smart speakers, an honorable mention has to go to JBL's Google Assistant speaker.
The inclusion of a screen puts the JBL Link View in direct competition with Amazon's Echo Show (and with Facebook's potential Portal device). Given the fact that you can't play YouTube videos on Amazon devices at the moment, we imagine a Google powered screen speaker is going to be an attractive proposition for many.
JBL wasn't the only manufacturer to create a Google Assistant screen speaker, but it was our favorite in terms of looks.
One of the ranges that surprised us with how much we actually wanted it was the connected range from American luxury bathroom brand Kohler called Kohler Konnect.
The range included a voice controlled shower that can remember a number of presets of heat, music, lights, and more, so you can get the perfect shower just by asking for it.
Also included in the range are a mirror that doubles as an Alexa speaker, a bath that fills itself, a tap that can pour set amounts of water and a toilet that has foot warmers, heated seat, atmospheric lights and music and a bidet.
It's not likely to be a cheap range, but there's pretty much no amount of money that's too much for a shower that doesn't require you to stand in boiling hot or freezing cold water while trying to adjust a control.
The smart home hub is potentially the least exciting thing in the whole ecosystem, being a device that connects all your different devices from all of your different manufacturers under one umbrella, allowing you complete control of your home.
While we're starting to see smart speakers like Milo get released that combine smart speaker and hub, the reality is that most homes still need a hub, and for Americans, CES 2018 saw the release of Homey.
Homey is a smart home hub that is compatible with over 30,000 different smart home devices, and brings the control for all of them into one interface. What's more, it can be controlled with Google Assistant, Alexa, and even by Facebook Messenger.
Talking of Facebook Messenger, European smart home manufacturer Netatmo used CES 2018 to introduce Smart Home Bot, a dedicated bot that means you can control your Netatmo devices from Messenger.
If you've got Netatmo's camera, you can even text the bot to ask who's home and you'll get a reply with a picture of the people who are home.
Now obviously given the previous post Netatmo isn't the first company to create this feature, but it is a much bigger name than Homey, and we'll be keeping a close eye on other major manufacturers to see if this is the start of a new trend.
While AI might have been the buzzword of CES 2018, there were some truly useful applications that we saw. Amongst them was the Somfy Outdoor Camera.
The ability for cameras to use artificial intelligence to identify a human being is now a fairly common feature, but Somfy's new camera goes one step further.
When it identifies a human being getting too close to your property, it not only sends you a notification, it also gives off a warning to leave the area using an onboard speaker, and if the intruder doesn't heed the warning it goes into full alarm mode with a 110db siren. That's the same volume as a rock concert.
Still on the subject of home security products but this time letting strangers into your house is the news of August Access.
This is smart lock manufacturer August's alternative to Amazon's controversial Key service that gives delivery drivers access to your home when you're not there by offering them temporary control of your smart lock.
August's service works by giving the delivery person a one-time code that opens your door, whereupon they make the delivery and then leave. Hopefully.
August has partnered up with American delivery service Deliv, that delivers products for a large number of retailers including Best Buy and Macy's.
Given the smart home market is full of competing brands, it's always nice to see a collaboration between two, and at CES we saw two of the biggest names – Nest and Yale – team up to bring out a smart lock.
The Nest x Yale lock is able to store 250 different pin-codes, and has the really nifty feature that you can set codes to only work as specific times. So if you're worried about someone letting themselves in at night, you can make sure their code only works at the time they're supposed to be there.
The partnership also means that when the Nest Hello doorbell hits the market, you'll be able to remotely unlock your door if you know the person at your door.
Want your smart home controller to be a little more dodecahedron-y? Allow us to introduce you to the Nanoleaf Remote.
Apparently the testing for the Remote was as unique as the device itself, with testers given no instructions and left to figure out the device for themselves. We'll definitely be calling this one in for review.
While this may not strictly be smart home, CES 2018 marked the return of the adorable Sony Aibo.
When we first reported on the rumors of Aibo coming back to us, there was a possibility that it was going to be a smart speaker. While that's looking less likely now, the new Aibo does still have cameras and microphones onboard so it can learn commands, and even adjust its behavior based on who is talking to it.
There are other robots that were shown at CES like LG's Cloi that do help out with smart home integration. Want to know more about them? Check out: The best robots of CES 2018: from cyber cleaners to robo pals.