If the world’s largest electronics show in Las Vegas demonstrated anything last week, it was that every conceivable consumer item can become “smart”. Like the cosmos itself, the internet of things (IoT) universe is constantly expanding: underwear, pillows, mirrors and all manner of appliances are connecting to the web.

At CES, described as the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, perhaps the most exciting glimpse of this smart future came from Samsung’s Ballie, a tennis ball-shaped robot akin to the rolling BB-8 droid in the newest Star Wars films. The voice assistant — or “life companion” — moves around the home, directing other smart devices and making real-time decisions...

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