Among the passenger drones, virtual reality headsets and driverless cars on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the most exciting gadgets may turn out to be the humble refrigerator and a slightly smarter television.
“White goods has probably been the real surprise area, in particular Samsung’s Family Hub Refrigerator,” said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of the retailer Jacky’s Electronics, speaking from Las Vegas yesterday.
The Wi-Fi enabled refrigerator is described by Samsung as “a sophisticated multitasker that reconnects families, organises groceries and home tasks, and provides entertainment”.
The US$5,000 fridge has a series of internal cameras that let you find out what groceries you need without going to the trouble of actually opening the door. What’s more, you can order your missing milk through the Groceries by Mastercard app on the fridge’s 21.5 inch touchscreen, and stream music using its built-in speakers.
And it is not just our fridges that are due to get smarter. Samsung also announced that it will incorporate its SmartThings hub into its new SUHD television range, enabling you to adjust your air conditioning, home lighting and security systems by way of the Internet of Things.
“We’ll probably start seeing these televisions in [the UAE] later this year, and they should make the home automation market much more interesting,” said Mr Panjabi. “Trying to persuade people to buy a separate smart home hub was a challenge for them before, but if it comes built into your TV set the use-case becomes a lot more compelling.”
Such smart home technology chimes with Dubai’s Smart City plan, formally launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the intention of transforming the city into the smartest metropolis in the world by 2017.
On Wednesday at CES, the virtual reality company Oculus finally opened pre-orders for its first headset, the Oculus Rift, which will be priced at US$599.
While virtual reality headsets such as the Rift and HTC’s Vive have found favour with the show’s visitors, a paucity of compelling content means the technology’s time is yet to come, said Mr Panjabi. “It’s more a question of the content being available than anything else at this stage. Once we start to get more content available there will be a stronger use-case for VR technology, but it’s still far from desirable at this stage,” he said.