‘Clean’ Tech Takes the Virtual Stage at CES 2021
January 14, 2021
Technology companies are rapidly developing new products focused on air quality and cleanliness in homes and buildings. Appliances with sterilization cycles, robotic vacuums, gadgets using ultraviolet light to kill germs, and air purifiers were among the debuts this week at the virtual CES 2021.
“Our buildings have been so underventilated for so long,” Michael Don Ham, co-founder of Pure365, said at a CES session on Monday called “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Homes.” “That has allowed aerosol viruses and micro-organisms to spread.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven innovations focusing on sanitization and cleanliness. Consumers are showing high interest in cleaning products: From mid-March through August of 2020, sales of vacuum cleaners, fans, humidifiers, and water filters climbed 32% compared to the same time period a year prior, according to data from market research firm NPD Group. Washing machines with purifying steam functions increased in demand by 46% from May to August of 2020, while air treatment products increased 23%.
There was a vast array of products for cleaner homes and buildings featured during CES 2021. Here are a few of the highlights.
Appliances: LG Electronics debuted refrigerators with ultraviolet lights that kill bacteria on water dispenser nozzles. Whirlpool Corp. recently launched washing machines with built-in heating designed to kill germs on clothes. GE Appliances, a REALTOR Benefits® Partner, did not present at CES 2021 but recently touted appliances with sanitizing cycles that can kill 99% of common bacteria as well as allergens such as dust mites.
Robotic vacuums: To keep homes cleaner, manufacturers debuted several robotic vacuums at CES 2021. Samsung unveiled JetBot 90 AI+, which uses artificial intelligence for object recognition, 3D sensors, and a built-in camera to determine the most efficient cleaning path in a space. It automatically returns to its docking station after finishing each cleaning session.
Robots with ultraviolet light capabilities: Robots that use UV light are being used in commercial spaces to rid areas of harmful germs. For example, Ubtech’s Adibot—made for small businesses and schools—uses UV light to offer hospital-grade disinfection of spaces. It can be used manually, while an upgraded model can automatically sanitize an area. The Adibot can clean a 1,000-square-foot space in 70 to 100 seconds, but it’s not cheap: The cost starts at $20,000 for a manual option.
Touchless tech: Other smart-home tech at CES 2021 focused on decreasing touch points in homes and buildings. Several companies, such as Kohler, debuted touchless or voice-controlled water faucets for the bathroom and kitchen. Also, Alarm.com debuted a touchless smart doorbell, which will automatically ring when someone approaches the door.
Data collectors: Sensors for measuring carbon dioxide levels, humidity, and ventilation aim to help property owners know when it’s time to purify the air in their buildings, Ham said during a CES session. One product accomplishing that is Airthings’ Virus Risk Indicator, which uses sensors to monitor carbon dioxide levels, humidity, temperature, ventilation, and airborne pollutants in a building. It can then use that information to calculate the risk level of virus transmission inside the building.
Air purifiers: Cost-effective air purifiers were a big trend at this year’s show. LG debuted new products within its PuriCare line, including a high-tech, battery-powered face mask—which includes two HEPA filters—as well as a minifilter to place in your car or workplace.
CleanAirZone showed a bio-based air purifier that doesn’t use air filters. Instead, it uses water with a special enzyme formula to trap and kill pollutants and germs. The company says the purifier can destroy 99.99% of air contaminants indoors, including viruses such as MRSA, Legionella, H1N1, the flu, and COVID-19. The air purifier, which will be available later this year at a cost of about $1,495, works best in a 700- to 1,200-square-foot space, the company says.
“The reality is that COVID-19 opened our eyes to the quality of the air we breathe,” CleanAirZone spokesman Corey MacPhee said at a press conference announcing the product ahead of CES 2021. “Once the fear of COVID-19 is behind us, we’ll still face new challenges—and I think people will still look at air quality in a closer way.”