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Inversión, Contenido y Educación del Consumidor: CES y Realidad Virtual en 2017

En el CES de este año celebrado en Las Vegas, el CEO de Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang, anunció en su discurso de apertura a la prensa que están trabajando con Audi en un coche autónomo que saldrá a la venta en el 2020. También informó que el catalizador de todas sus innovaciones tecnológicas de la GPU había sido el gaming. De hecho el gaming se ha identificado como la actividad más pesada que el procesador de un PC de consumo tiene que llevar a cabo. Jen-Hsun declaró que “… todos los juegos son realidad virtual”, en la mayoría de los juegos se tiene que crear un mundo virtual en el que un jugador viva. Con algunas notables excepciones, CES 2017 fue el año del coche autónomo!

En cuanto a la Realidad Virtual, mi experiencia después de haber asistido al CES de este año hace que me pregunte:”¿qué será lo siguiente?” El año pasado fui testigo del lanzamiento de tres gafas de Realidad Virtual de alta gama para el consumidor (Rift, Vive, PSVR) y la comercialización agresiva de las Gear VR de Samsung, pero en cambio CES 2017 no ofreció muchas noticias sobre la Realidad Virtual, a excepción de nuevos fabricantes de HMDs y de sus complementos. En cuanto a los productos de hardware existentes, no hemos visto una adopción masiva de la Realidad Virtual durante el 2016 y esto no ha sido una sorpresa para CONTEXT.

El primer factor a tener en cuenta es el coste adicional de la Realidad Virtual. Se necesita un PC potente y costoso, o una PlayStation 4. Además, la experiencia de la Realidad Virtual en dispositivos móviles sigue siendo muy inferior en términos de procesamiento 3D, en comparación con los cascos de Realidad virtual que se conectan a un PC o a una consola. La Realidad Virtual Móvil debería ser el hogar natural de esta tecnología, dada la proliferación de teléfonos inteligentes en comparación con los PC gaming, pero aún no existe la gran aplicación que pueda impulsar las ventas; la Realidad Virtual todavía está esperando a su Pokémon Go !. Hasta que las GPUs móviles estén a la altura de las GPUs de los PCs de alta gama, los desarrolladores de aplicaciones deben enfocarse en los juegos ingeniosos y adictivos. Se puede hacer un paralelismo con los primeros días de Atari: los desarrolladores de aplicaciones de Realidad Virtual son esenciales para crear un género de entretenimiento desde cero.

Varias cosas deben suceder en 2017 para mejorar las ventas de los dispositivos de Realidad Virtual, además de reducirse los costes iniciales de adopción. En este momento, las tiendas de aplicaciones de estos dispositivos, e incluso la plataforma Steam PC, se inundan de contenido de Realidad Virtual barato y a menudo de mala calidad. Para la mayoría de los dispositivos, a excepción de las Rift, el universo de desarrolladores de Realidad Virtual de PCs está dominado por estudios independientes de calidad variable, y posiblemente esto, combinado con un mercado de software confuso y masificado, recuerde a las condiciones que causaron el colapso de la industria de videojuegos en 1983. Facebook y Oculus se destacan por su inversión en los estudios Oculus y el apoyo a los títulos AAA. Juegos como Chronos y The Unspoken nos dan una idea de lo bueno que puede ser el contenido de Realidad Virtual, y Facebook merece elogios por estar invirtiendo en software para el que probablemente no verá ganancias a corto plazo. En 2017 necesitamos más fabricantes que inviertan en contenido AAA de Realidad Virtual; después de todo, el mercado de juegos de PCs de alta gama está ayudando a revitalizar la industria madura del PC, y además, las Vive y las Rift dependen de estos PCs y de su contenido. El mensaje que la industria de Realidad Virtual necesita para 2017 es: inversión, contenido y educación del consumidor.

by EM

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Global Desktop 3D Printer Market Rises +27%

According to our latest figures, worldwide shipments of 3D Printers rose +25% year-to-date (YTD) through the first three quarters of 2016 thanks again to shipments of low priced Personal/Desktop 3D Printers.

Of the total 217,073 3D printers shipped year-to-date, 96% of these were Personal/Desktop printers, carrying an average price of just under $1,000.  This represents a 27% year-on-year growth for this sub-category compared to a decline in shipments of -12% YTD in the Industrial/Professional segment which saw only 7,726 units shipped through the first three quarters of 2016. While the market is still largely defined by the shipment of Industrial/Professional printers – which accounted for 78% of the global revenues – the market is clearly settling into two distinctive segments.

Vendor wise, in the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer segment, Taiwan’s XYZprinting remained the global leader so far in 2016, seeing its share grow to 22% through the first three quarters.  This side of the market saw the exit by the #3 global overall player 3D Systems and the continued repositioning of the #1 global 3D Printer market Stratasys of its MakerBot line away from the lowest end.

The Industrial/Professional segment was marked by the official entrance of HP into the space but printers did not begin shipping until the end of the year. While the Industrial/Professional segment has, in general, cooled off in the past few years, the shipment of additive manufacturing devices capable of printing in metal materials was one major bright spot within this category.  This Metal side was not immune to market changes in recent quarters either however, with a slow-down seen in this sub-segment as well in the 2nd half as General Electric (GE) acquired two of the top five metal making 3D Printer companies (Arcam and Concept Laser).

Projections for the full year 2016 remain reserved for the Industrial/Professional market and bullish for the Desktop/Personal market, largely in-line with trends seen through the first three quarters.  Forecasts turn more bullish in the Industrial/Professional sector in 2017 and beyond as the HP and GE ramp results in a return of growth; the Desktop/Personal market is expected to continue its unfettered growth.

by CC

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Filed under 3D Printing, Imaging, Uncategorized

Why Makers are not Consumers in 3D Printing

The mainstream curiosity for 3D printing seemed to hit its apex between 2012 and 2014: a period in which the market witnessed sizable growth with sales of personal/desktop 3D printers doubling each consecutive year. Sales subsided a little in 2015 when there was year-on-year market growth of just 33% rather than the 124% seen from 2013 to 2014. Demand remains, however, as shown by lower prices, new brands entering the market and the emergence of even lower price points. The interest in this area is especially evident from recent Kickstarter campaigns from Tiko and OLO, both of which set records and saw pre-orders in excess of 16,000 units each!

But who is buying these printers? General, at-home consumers? Surely not. To the uninitiated, 3D printing can seem novel and fun and, no doubt, some uninformed consumers have purchased devices only to be disillusioned by how hard they are to actually use. This is what separates Consumers from Makers. Makers like to tinker and “make” things (not just consume them). For example, one of the details of desktop 3D printing that is rarely talked about is the effect that the materials used have on how easy the printer is to use.

I am a maker who purchased a 3D printer over a year ago and I use my printer on a daily basis, with my usage growing all the time. Here is what I’ve learned. I purchased a delta-style FDM printer (the most popular type of desktop machine) and have come to recognize that even when considering only the various plastics suitable for material extrusion printers there is quite a variety and each operates in its own way.

Materials include nylon (very durable, but vulnerable to water), acrylics (for smaller items with much detail), PET and its derivatives (to make plastic bottles and food containers), ABS (made from petroleum products, strong and durable) and many others, such as glow in the dark plastic or even clay for making crockery. Some personal 3D printers can also create objects in “wood” which is, of course, actually a mixture of plastics and wood filament that can be melted without burning.

elephant

The most popular material for personal 3D printers is biodegradable thermoplastic PLA, produced from renewable resources such as corn. It is the best material for beginners as it sticks well to the surface of the printer’s bed (build plate), solidifies quickly, and provides fairly predictable results. I would recommend those who are taking their first steps in 3D printing use the same material until they start to get a feel for their printer. Once someone has chosen to become a 3D printing maker, learning the qualities of different materials is a priority because it is essential that the temperature, printing speed, extrusion rate, retraction distance and so on are adjusted to the correct levels for each material. Many of these adjustments can (or cannot) be done by way of “slicer” software – another nuance of desktop 3D printing that keeps it from becoming more mainstream.

FDM printers not only have different plastics that require different trial-and-error settings, but different brands’ versions of the same materials are often different (because manufacturers may use different additives, for example). The final print result may vary, even when using material from the same manufacturer, when a different colour is used.

As a result, when trying out a new material, there is always a risk of layers sagging or the printer nozzle becoming clogged. The same can happen if the wrong temperature is selected or as a result of inaccurate bed levelling. There is no WYSIWYG in desktop 3D printing, that’s for sure.

While these nuances might be quite frustrating for a general consumer, such tinkering is what makers live for. This is what makes 3D printing a hobby, which I continue to enjoy. The great variety of materials available creates a vast landscape where those who love new technologies and love to experiment can find many exciting turns and challenges and develop new skills. Here designers and engineers can implement their ideas and fulfill their ambitions – the possibilities are limitless!

by NF

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HP’s first 3D Printers are Evolutionary but their entrance into the market is Revolutionary

Earlier today, on the 17th May at the RAPID 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing conference in Orlando Florida, HP Inc announced the first products to use the company’s new Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology, previously announced in 2014. The first two products, set for delivery later this year, are the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and the Jet Fusion 4200 and allow for an open platform of print materials with initial focus on Nylon. Prices will start from $130,000. As planned all along, HP’s entrance into the 3D Printing industry will be on the Industrial/Professional side as opposed to Desktop/Personal side of the market, leveraging value-added resellers capable of sales and services of these machines into defined vertical market segments.

The technology offers some great evolutionary steps in terms of speed, ability to control materials at a voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel in 2D printing or in displays) and the ability to eventually use a multitude of different materials. While HP states that its technology is uniquely different, many engineers have noted it to be most like existing Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printers. HP’s Jet Fusion printers indeed are powder based and the material is eventually fused together (instead of being “glued” together) but HP’s technology is unique. Whether or not the technology is revolutionary is too early to tell, however. As the Jet Fusion printers make it to market, and as service bureaus and manufactures alike begin to actually use the Multi-Jet Fusion technology for finished good part production, only then will it be determined how revolutionary the technology is.

What is revolutionary is that a household name like HP has now entered full-force into the 3D printing market with clear intentions not just to dominate each sector in which it participates, but to open up new markets. HP is already talking about future Jet Fusion 3D Printers which will allow for color, offer the ability to print in ceramics and even print embedded electronics.

HP is entering a market still largely centered around the production of prototype parts. The move into finished good production has been mostly by way of the growing Metal 3D Printing sector, with machines finding their way on to shop floors more and more each day as companies such as GE and Boeing use Metal 3D Printers to make finished good parts. Metal 3D Printers sit at the very high end of the market with price points ranging from $500K-$2M+. Although HP will not initially play in the metal side of 3D Printing, the company is keen to point out that its new printer line can offer final part performance in a variety of other materials.

by CC

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Filed under 3D Printing, Imaging, Uncategorized

Mission Smart Home Makeover

Rule number one for any makeover project is to assess the status quo and map out your strategy for transformation. Thankfully, we’re not talking about fashion faux pas or unfortunate dating disasters, the makeover we are addressing is that of our homes. Whether you realise it or not, the average household is undergoing a smart technology revolution and many homeowners just aren’t prepared to make the most of it.

In the coming years, previously unremarkable everyday items ranging from the TV remote, a coffee machine, to the radiator heating system and even your toothbrush, will gain some level of sensor and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate wirelessly. Imagine Toy Story, but instead of the toys coming to life, it’s your possessions that talk to each other and look out for your wellbeing!

With such potential contained within our homes, we’d be crazy not to harness this energy and manage it to make our lives easier and more secure in a way that suits us. Here are our top tips for creating an efficient and friendly smart home ecosystem.

Organise your smart home with your lifestyle in mind
In true makeover style, what would make you feel more confident, secure and improve your quality of life? Work out what things you want to control or access inside your home while you are out and about.

Is it that you are nervous about your home security and would feel reassured if lights or music are timed to come on or switch off throughout the day? Or are you intrigued to see what mischief your pet gets up to when they’re home alone? Perhaps being able to double-check that you turned the hair straighteners off when you rushed to work would save a journey back home? Or do you live in fear of a burst water pipe when you’re away on holiday.

It could simply be that you’d like a few time-saving short cuts: turn your lights on before arriving home or get your morning coffee brewing before you even get out of bed, so you can hit the snooze button one more time!

The possibilities are endless in your future smart home; it is just a question of picking the best products for your needs.

Get your home talking
Shop smart and pick the products that complement your lifestyle. A connected home with household items communicating, triggering reactions or responding to requests is not beyond our reach. Smart home ecosystems including everything from temperature control, camera security and lighting can be managed remotely from your smartphone or tablet. No complicated instructions, difficult technology terminology, or eye-watering monthly bills, just complete control of your smart home at the touch of a button.

Picture this – window sensors programmed to send a text alert if one is opened when the house is empty, a water sensor primed to signal an alarm if there is a leak, or a monitor making it possible to watch and interact with your pets while you’re at work. A smart home makeover can just make your life that much easier.

Make sure your Wi-Fi is up to the challenge
You’re all familiar with the frustrations of slow wireless connections or buffering, whether it’s at the crucial point in your favourite TV series, or as your favourite sports team looks set to score. Internet connectivity is set to become critical as more and more wireless devices connect to your home network and demand for more data increases.

If your Internet provider has provided a router that is not able to cope with increased demand for Internet access, there is a simple, affordable solution. Change to a ‘Wireless AC’ router and you’ll get super-fast, reliable connectivity and consider PowerLine for the even in harder-to-reach places like the attic or the garage. Make sure your smart home has the fuel it needs to run at its best.

It’s time to meet your ‘smart’ potential
‘Mission smart home makeover’ is simple, open to everyone and doesn’t require vast investment. In fact, your connected home transformation is already happening. Your home is ready to enter into the smart era and the time is now to take your first steps towards creating a smart home ecosystem. Embrace the opportunity so you are not left behind your friends and neighbours. Never has a makeover been so simple or rewarding.

Guest blog by Luigi Salmoiraghi, Sales & Marketing Director Southern Europe & UKI at D-Link

 

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Filed under Home automation, Retail in CONTEXT, Smart Home, Smart Technology, Uncategorized

Q&A with Keith Henry, SVP Sales and Marketing at CONTEXT

What is your role at CONTEXT?
Head of Sales & Marketing – to support structure and process development for CONTEXT sales and marketing to drive top-line growth and scale. After all, sales represent the engine of growth!

What attracted you to CONTEXT?
I  re-connected with Jeremy Davies, CEO, after 30 years which is exciting. The opportunity to join a rich data-asset driven firm that is on a growth path and developing added-value solutions represents a very attractive proposition. The selling environment has radically changed since 2009, so this is a wonderful challenge. In addition to that I had heard that Context has a special, warm, ethical, culture which has great appeal.

Where were you working before?
I have spent over 30 years with a number of great firms in the ICT space – Xerox, DataQuest/Gartner, IDC – and most recently Outsell. Outsell is a specialised agency that serves the intersection of Information and Technology domains. I was head of Global Sales and supported their CEO Leadership program: a problem-solving forum for leaders across the Information industry. Significantly – single biggest CEO headache? Sales optimisation and sustainability!

What do you think the main challenges are in the technology industry today? 
Well, to be certain, digital transformation will continue to re-shape the tech landscape creating opportunities for innovators and disrupters alike. That said, I strongly believe “millennials” are set to change many things about our industry, although old-fashioned values such as brand power, sensible profitable growth and customer-centric strategies will continue to be the foundation drivers of the industry.

What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Be hard on issues but soft on people!

What never fails to make you laugh?
Playing tennis in the rain in England– no one seems to notice!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m a fan of horse-racing. There are 59 tracks in the UK and I have only been to 27, so the journey continues.

What are you reading at the moment?
“The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. It provides insight into better understanding of protocols and behaviours of different cultures,- a never ending educational journey in my view.

If you had your time again, what would be your next choice of career?
I have always been intrigued by diplomatic services. I doubt I have the right attributes, probably the illusionary way it is portrayed in films is the appeal!

What do you think are the key ingredients to success in Business Development?
Three crucial ingredients:
Firstly, planning and organising a call
Then, managing an outcome, next steps
Finally, learning to talk the buyer’s language – after all, its all about them!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under IT Distribution, IT Pricing, Market Analysis, Uncategorized

Selling the smart home: the importance of the family as a whole

Chances are that your child wanted a smartphone before you; they probably also pleaded for a Netflix subscription, a tablet, and had several social media accounts well before you had even heard of them. Frustratingly, they also knew how to use them without having to resort to any instructions. Our children know more than us about technology, we rely on them to hear about the latest tech, and their opinion is valued in our purchasing decisions. This is the stark reality of tech adoption nowadays and it’s something that retailers must consider when marketing the next concept tipped to revolutionise our lives: the smart home.

Our European research into consumers’ attitudes towards the smart home revealed that in the UK, Amazon is leading the way in terms of consumer trust: 80 percent of those surveyed would consider buying smart home products from the e-commerce giant. BT came in second with 76 percent opting for the telecoms provider as their would-be smart home retailer of choice. Specialist technology retailer Maplin scored third highest at 60 percent. Traditional retailers such as Currys PC World, John Lewis, and Argos lagged below, convincing only half of our respondents that they would make the most appropriate choice for buying connected home products.

So how can retailers persuade the public that they’re the natural place to shop for smart home products? They need to recognise that to sell the smart home, their approach needs to change. It’s not a matter of targeting one family member, but the whole family. And it’s not just pushing one device, it’s selling the smart lifestyle. French and German retailers such as Lick! and MediaMarkt, are examples of retailers who have adapted their approach and are reaping the benefits.

Imagine that you’re about to leave the office to head home. You know your children arrived back from school just after 5pm as your smart security camera recognised their faces, signalled to the smart door lock to let them into the house, and sent an alert to you and your partner. You left dinner in the oven this morning, and you can now remotely set the oven to slowly heat up the food. You’re also dying for a cup of tea, and set your kettle to turn on when it sees you’re within five minutes of the house. The children are happy as they don’t have to lift a finger. Once the evening is over and your eyelids are getting heavy, one of you wishing your smart home hub a ‘good night’ will mean your house is secured, all unnecessary lights and switches are turned off, and you’re ready to head to bed.

The above lesson is that which most of the retailers are missing. Retailers haven’t yet acknowledged that getting the whole family excited about the concept will be a much more powerful accomplishment than convincing any one family member. Instead of trying to target a lone gadget-lover, they should instead be educating consumers that the smart home can make everyone in the family’s lives easier. The ancient ‘boys and their toys’ stereotype also needs to be forgotten; in fact, our research showed that 65 percent of the UK consumers prepared to spend over £5,000 on the smart home are women. You also need the children to be on board. After all, as the home’s resident tech experts, it will most likely fall to them to find out how best to use the devices. Add to that an explanation of how having a smart home can improve your property’s value, and soon you should have everyone convinced that a connected house is an enticing concept.

Our advice to retailers is clear: create stores or spaces within your stores where shoppers can play with the devices and see the concept come alive will pay many more dividends than the products just sitting on a shelf. Similarly, get your staff excited about the smart home. If retailers boost their teams’ technical knowledge, not only will the concept become more easily sold to consumers, but there’ll be more commercial opportunities in technical support, installation, and insurance. Finally, know the power of the family. Remember that it’s not just going to be one person living in the smart home, so everyone needs to be excited about, and buy into, the concept.

by AS

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Filed under Connectivity, Home automation, Mobile technology, Smart Home, Smart Technology, Uncategorized