A couple of weeks ago, I went to Pepcom’s Digital Experience, a showcase that brings together major companies, such as Hasbro, Lenovo, and Samsung, and tech purveyors like myself. Although it’s not like the Consumer Electronics Show, where many companies debut their products, the show gave me a glimpse of some of the more interesting tech developments for families.
For example, Honeywell showed me a smart thermostat, the Lyric (MSRP $279), to compete with Google’s Nest. The main difference, the reps said, is the Lyric’s geo-fencing technology. When your connected smartphone is out of range, the Lyric automatically adjusts your home’s temperature, and then when you re-enter the zone — with your phone — the climate is re-adjusted. I think it has a lot of potential, but it’s still going up against the more popular Nest, so who knows.
There were also more digital combinations of doorbells and motion detectors and digital locks than I could count, and the “first fully electronic water heater,” the Heatworks (MSRP $395; the assembly and board pictured above), a Wi-Fi compatible, tankless water heater that will save both space and energy, as much as 40 percent, for homeowners this fall.
To be frank, though, I was more interested in the games, which are the more entertaining or intriguing devices.
LEGO Fusion bridges the gap between the physical bricks-building world and the digital (your kids’ phones or tablets). The special LEGO Fusion sets connect to your LEGO app, so that every change you make while building with LEGOs is reflected in the app. The LEGO Master Town Fusion set I saw was like LEGO meets SIMs, because as you build the set (physically) and add citizens (digitally) you have to keep those citizens thinking “everything is awesome.” Fun for kids and adults. Other sets are planned for the fall release as well.LEGO Fusion. I have to start with LEGO Fusion because it was announced the day of the show, and because I couldn’t wait to see it. As the name suggests,
screenshots and reviews on Amazon made me think that maybe working out could be a whole lot more fun.Goji Play. Anything that promises to make 30 minutes of exercise seem like 5 is worth a try. The $99 system, which includes wireless game controllers and iOS apps, turns your treadmill, exercise bike or other cardio machine into a fitness arcade you will never want to leave. Sure, I’m skeptical too, but the
on Indiegogo right now). 3D printers…meh, you say? Standing there next to the compact printer as it produced a small toy was pretty amazing.New Matter 3D Printer. 3D printing is here, and yet I’d wager it also feels like a distant reality for most of us. This 3D printer met 173 percent of its goal, as of this writing, and costs just $249 (
These gadgets are just scratching the surface of the innovative products tech companies are introducing lately to improve our homes and lives, and how even classic physical objects are going digital. It’s a wonderful thing to witness and be a part of.
Right now, they might seem silly, but they’re definitely the future.
Photo credits: Heatworks, Lego, Goji, New Matter