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CES 2016 Preview: USB-C, Home Automation and More


CES Logo

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is not only a huge event for manufacturers, developers, and the tech press, but a fascinating look for consumers at new products that may be arriving in stores soon. Although the show doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, the tech world made a number of announcements starting on Monday.

Yesterday’s announcements included a surprising number of accessories designed to work with USB Type-C connectors, indicating that further use of the all-in-one power and connectivity standard may be just around the corner for more Apple products.

Various manufacturers touted their upcoming products for USB-C, ranging from power cables and adapters to large-screen UltraHD monitors that use the standard.

iPad accessories were also in the news yesterday, with several manufacturers announcing keyboards that work with the newest iPad models — the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4. Expect to see new features coming to iPad keyboards in 2016, including small external OLED displays that are used for notifications while the keyboard is closed over the iPad screen, and keyboards that double as external battery packs.

On the home automation front, there are a couple of announcements that are of interest to Apple fans. Honeywell has announced the Lyric Round Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat with support for Apple’s HomeKit platform. The Lyric connects to a home’s Wi-Fi network allowing the thermostat to be controlled via Siri or by using an iOS device and a free app.

Are you a fan of ceiling fans? Hunter Fan Company  has two new models that are HomeKit-enabled. The Symphony and the Signal are the only ceiling fans available that support HomeKit.

Schlage announced new features for the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt and highlighted new Schlage Control Smart Locks for multi-family properties. Launching later this year, the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt will include a Schlage Sense app for the Apple Watch. The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is now compatible with Apple HomeKit, letting users control their door locks with a tap or a simple Siri command.

iDevices added HomeKit-enabled products to its product line, announcing the iDevices Socket that can be screwed into any existing light bulb socket to provide smart control. The company also announced a smart wall switch/dimmer switch combo and wall outlet, both of which replace existing installed switches and outlets.

Not to be confused with iDevices, iHome rolled out a new version of its popular iSP5 SmartPlug. The iSP8 SmartPlug is also HomeKit and iOS compatible, and features power monitoring for devices connected to it. It also works with a separate remote control, meaning that homeowners can control devices without the need for an iOS device at their fingertips.

Faraday Future concept car

One of the most-anticipated announcements at CES came last night when the secretive Faraday Future company unveiled a concept car that shows off the technology that they’ll use in a mass-produced electric vehicle that will be available “in a couple of years.”

It was revealed that Chinese content provider LeTV is the money behind the company, which includes a variety of automobile industry veterans in its executive staff. The company breaks ground soon on a $1 billion manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, NV.

Faraday Future is taking a modular approach to its vehicle, with a low-slung battery pack that can be sized according to the needs of a particular car model and motor technology that can be used for anywhere to one to four electric motors per vehicle. What’s most interesting is that you may not be able to buy one of the vehicles, as it appears that they’re looking at an “on-demand” model for future vehicles. If you need a minivan, you “order” it and it drives autonomously to your door where you can take it for as long as you need it. Want a small “zip code car” on other days? You just pay for whatever you use.

This on-demand model for vehicles could totally disrupt the automotive industry, which has been built upon marketing and selling vehicles to people. By just making vehicles available when they’re needed, Faraday Future and other companies that are looking at the model will also disrupt the market for insurance and aftermarket accessories. Who knows, it could also have a big effect on future homes, as they’ll no longer require garages if they’re not “storing” vehicles. Of course, this all depends on the company actually being able to deliver a product in a timely manner before other anticipated and similar vehicles arrive.

Click here for more of the Rocket Yard’s CES 2016 coverage!

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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