A slew of high-tech startups from Korea are giving visitors to CES a glimpse of what the smart home of the future might look like. Looking beyond the remote controlled thermostats and nanny cams of today, these newcomers want to help people at home eat right, feel right, and sleep tight. 

Part of Seoul’s Smart City and Smart Life exhibition at the annual Las Vegas show, some of the highlights include technology that can help people make better meal choices, better online shopping decisions, and even improve their mental health

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Arriving at Home

While mobility continues to be a major theme at CES, two of the Korean newcomers are focusing on one of the more onerous tasks drivers face: parking the darn car.

Current automated parking solutions either require drivers to monitor maneuvers from outside the car while depressing a key fob button or they utilize advanced—and expensive—systems that deploy lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors to map spaces and provide safe driving paths. Cube AI wants to simplify the whole endeavor–without relying on vigilant drivers or costly lidar. So Cube AI based its system on video cameras, in some cases using those already installed in garages and cars.

Cube AI technology can take video feeds from multiple garage security cameras to stitch together a complete via of, say, a parking garage. It can then identify free spaces and direct cars to navigate to them on their own using the vehicles’ onboard cameras. Cube AI’s system could also make it much easier and cheaper to turn a home garage into a smart garage in the future.

Not everyone has the luxury of a home garage, however, so for those looking for street parking, Hancom Mobility has developed a ruggedized low-profile discus that gets bolted to the pavement. The battery operated IoT device can tell the network when a space is open or occupied. Drivers can then easily find an open spot via an app or make a reservation and pay in advance.

According to an IBM-backed study, drivers looking for parking can account for up to 30 percent of traffic congestion, so such Hancom’s technology could potentially help reduce fuel consumption and pollution. The company says the batteries in its IoT device will last for up to 3 years before they have be replaced, and Hancom already has about 1,000 of the devices installed in pilot projects in Korea.

At the Front Door

Photo credit: John R. Quain

Once you make it home, getting inside—and keeping others out—is the focus of Irisys‘ smart door lock. With a small senor array and LCD display, the Irisys lock doesn’t look that much different from current smart door locks but it has a unique feature.

You don’t need a key code or smart phone to trigger it. All you need is your face.

The facial recognition system uses a camera with a vertical view of about 20 degrees to accommodate residents of varying stature, and, should an intruder appear, it will store a photo of anyone who tries to break in or hack the door lock.

And, of course, you can remotely open the door for deliveries or friends via your smart phone.

Eat Right

Looking for a snack or want to plan tonight’s dinner?

Piquant is developing tech that could be used in the future to tell if those leftovers in the fridge are still safe to eat. The company has designed thumb-sized spectroscopy-based sensors that can detect at a molecular level when food has started to rot. (Spectroscopy is the technique used by NASA on Mars landers to detect the composition of elements in the soil.) One concept, according to the company, is that its contact-less sensors could be used in hand-held devices to check water and food quality.

Photo credit: John R. Quain

Meanwhile Nuvi has been working on its food scanning technology to assess not only the nutritional value of a meal but also help reduce food waste. Its device uses a camera to scan a plate of food and then tell the diner important information about her choices.

The system can also be used in cafeteria and restaurant settings to reduce food waste. By scanning each diner’s dish before and after a meal, Nuvi can report on what food was left on the plate and whether they ate their peas and carrots. Based on this feedback, restaurants can then make adjustments in their menus.

Shopping Online at Home

Doing some online shopping but tired of having to guess the right size for a new pair of shoes? Unfortunately, not all size 10 shoes are created equal, so Perfitt has developed an astoundingly simple solution to the problem.

Using imaging technology, its system takes a photo of the top and sides of your foot and then synthesizes the information to compare it to existing shoe forms. Perfitt will then recommend a variety of shoes, which may include size 8 in one brand but a 9.5 in another brand.

Perfitt’s standalone foot scanner is already in some specialty stores like New Balance and Brooks in Korea. But the best use case is at home. For that there’s a free Perfitt app and an outline users put on the floor to take photos of their feet. The goal is to reduce return rates at online stores like Zappos. So far, Perfitt claims it has achieved an 86 percent accuracy rate.

Finally, while there are scores of gadgets to help you focus on your physical fitness, but few devices are designed to help with your mental health. Smart Diagnosis hopes to change that by using smartphone-based technology to detect the onset of depression.

The company’s CardiVu app monitors a user’s pupils using the camera on a smartphone. From the tiny vibrations and pulses it detects, it can measure your heart rate and your level of stress.

The developers say the technique can be used to create a baseline and then alert users and healthcare professionals when it detects an increase in stress that could make the user susceptible to depression.

The CardiVu app is free, and the company hopes to work with healthcare companies and insurers to monetize the technology and, more important, reduce the incidence of depression.

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