Bosch making push for smart home devices

Dr Struth introducing the Kuri robot by Mayfield Robotics during a Bosch news conference at CES 2017.
Dr Struth introducing the Kuri robot by Mayfield Robotics during a Bosch news conference at CES 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

German engineering and electronics company Bosch, which is known in Singapore for its line of consumer appliances like vacuum cleaners and coffee makers, wants to make the home even smarter.

The company unveiled its plan for connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

It also demonstrated how such devices can be extended to cars of the future, with a smart-car showcase packed with smart software and electronics at the convention.

"IoT, connectivity and the connected world are some of the most exciting new areas of opportunity to generate new products and business that conform with our vision," Dr Werner Struth, a member of the company's management board, told The Straits Times Digital.

Besides a number of new products such as smoke alarms and surveillance cameras that link up with Bosch's Smart Home app, the company announced a robot assistant named Kuri.

The 50cm-tall, oval-shaped robot rolls around the house and serves as a home companion.

Developed by its United States-based subsidiary Mayfield Robotics, Kuri comes with high-resolution cameras in its "eyes" and is fitted with microphones and Bluetooth-enabled speakers which allows it to send information to its user's smartphone. Sale of the robot is expected to begin in the US by next Christmas.

Bosch sees personal assistants as the next step in connected devices, said Dr Struth. "We want to offer smart products and services that act as assistants and partners to individuals," he said.

While there are no dates yet for a Singapore release, Dr Struth said the company's smart products will eventually be present in all "smart cities".

"A simultaneous rollout of the Bosch portfolio all over the world is a very difficult thing to do, so we need to have a step-by-step approach," he said.

Singapore is Bosch's Asia-Pacific headquarters and has a centre for its advanced robotics software capabilitieswhich focuses on research and development on connected robotics software and their associated user interface capabilities.

Bosch also unveiled an updated smart-car concept that is chock- full of electronics and connectivity.

It comes with a fully digital dashboard that relays information like speed and fuel, and also controls the entertainment or navigation.

Haptic feedback for the display and touchscreen gives each digital button its own unique feel so drivers can push the right one without taking their eyes off the road.

The car also shows off the company's Drive Monitor Camera, which uses facial recognition software to detect the car's driver and adjusts things like temperature, steering wheel location and mirrors to the driver's preference.

And continuing on the theme of the personal digital assistant, Dr Struth said Bosch expects vehicles to be the driver's personal assistant and companion, especially when self-driving cars take off.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Bosch making push for smart home devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe