Tag Archives: AI

CONTEXT predicts another year of growth for IT Distribution

After a strong 12 months, the team at CONTEXT is predicting continued channel growth for 2019, with digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution driving new opportunities, although macroeconomic headwinds including Brexit will inevitably have an impact.

These are the key findings from a new report we issued this week. Technology and Channel Predictions 2019 brings together insight from channel business leaders and CONTEXT experts to reveal the biggest issues and trends facing EMEA technology companies over the coming year, and country views from some of the major economies in the region.

The past 12 months saw year-on-year growth of 6.7% in distribution, accelerating quarter-on-quarter to reach 9.1% in Q4 2018. However, growth will start to slow in Q2 2019 and will achieve 3-6% YOY growth thanks to OECD forecasts of reduced demand in EU economies and the impact of Brexit.

We are urging channel players to ensure they have contingency plans and adequate stock in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and that they budget to cover any temporary downturns in revenues caused by social upheaval like the French gilets jaunes protests.

Although many distributors have been able to focus on organic growth during 2018, market consolidation is happening and could increase in 2019, driven in part by price pressure from etailers.

However, digital transformation offers a great opportunity for the channel to drive growth and differentiation this year. Those that succeed will meet growing demand for secure solutions, hybrid cloud, and hyper-converged infrastructure whilst evolving their own value propositions to align with new consumption models.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also bring continued growth opportunities in areas such as AI, IoT, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles (e-mobility).

by AS

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Artificial Intelligence 2019 – The year of data

The era of big data with a simultaneous increase in computing power in recent years has propelled us to faster and greater analysis through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The year 2019 will see this trend continue especially given the expansion of data collection through streams such as IoT.

There are four trends which shed a light on the current BBC forecast of “the year of data”, namely, data storytelling, AI development, cloud computing and hardware trends. We also saw the start in 2018 of a potential change in the use of mobile computing for AI. Continue reading

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CES is Back and Stirring Up More Excitement in the Smart Home Space

It’s CES time again. The world’s biggest consumer electronics show will this week welcome an estimated 180,000 visitors, with over 4,400 exhibitors filling nearly three million square feet around Las Vegas with the latest innovations. Turning 52 this year, the event is showing no signs of slowing down in its middle age. Rather, it continues to be one of the biggest events in the tech calendar and a useful place for crystal ball-gazers to gauge where the industry is headed.

This year smart devices once again dominated, especially home systems integrating AI-power voice assistants and apps. From the quirky to the more traditional and everything in between, here’s a round-up of some of the highlights.

Smart home

A sign of the smart home’s growing position at the mainstream of the consumer technology space is the sheer range of gadgets on offer at CES. Many of these, like the Currant smart wall outlet, the C by GE smart lighting range and Onelink Bell smart doorbell integrate voice assistant tech from the key players like Google and Amazon. Some include robotic technology, such as the Temi personal butler which now has Alexa support, and the FoldiMate laundry folding machine.

Smart toilets come this year in a surprisingly large number of varieties, including Kohler’s Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet featuring Alexa integration. Their pet equivalents were also in attendance, courtesy of Inubox (dogs) and LavvieBot (cats). In fact, the pet theme continued to CES innovation award winner Mookkie, a device which uses AI to identify individual animals in order to dispense food intelligently.

IoT everywhere

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all pervasive at this year’s CES. If not manifest in smart home devices, it can be found in wearables like smart nappy monitors which detect when the wearer needs changing, and smart belts which track the user’s waistline, gait and walking speed. An AI-powered wearable camera captures contact details and promises the wearer will “never forget a face again”, while the Urgonight headband claims to help train the brain to sleep better.

Connected cars have also made major impact again this year, notably the electric M-Byte from Chinese startup Byton. Not to be outdone, Mercedes showed off its 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Nissan debuted its Leaf e+ vehicle, Honda showcased its DreamDrive infotainment system and Qualcomm its AI-powered car “cockpit” platform.

A new spin

Although the smart home and IoT gadgets have garnered a great deal of attention on day one of the show, there were other notable appearances highlighting continued innovation in the consumer tech space. These included bendable smartphone the Royale FlexPai, which seems to have beaten Samsung to the punch in launching first.

Other new takes on established technology included a solar-powered smart watch. In the smart TV space, LG’s 8K OLED model has a screen which doubles as a giant speaker, while the same firm’s 65-inch Signature OLED TV R is a slick, rollable model which it is claimed will “liberate users from the limitations of the wall.”

By AS

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Connected Car Successes are following Smart Home Precedent

Growth in the connected car market is accelerating. The latest predictions claim that revenue in the US alone could top $37 billion by 2023, while globally, some have valued it as a $219 billion opportunity by 2025. Whatever happens, it’s undeniable that modern automobiles are as much computers as they are vehicles. That’s why we’ve seen a growing number of deals over recent months between car OEMs and traditional IT and OT providers. The latest is a tie-up between Google and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

As yet another connected “thing”, our cars are set to become an extension of the emerging smart home. And that’s why the user interface will be key to success or failure as we go forward. In the smart home space we’ve seen a whole ecosystem of new connected things spring up to make people safer, happier and more entertained within the confines of their own four walls. The key gadget that has caught people’s imagination has been the smart speaker, now garnering sales in the millions of units. Those distributors that have managed to ink deals with Google, Amazon and Apple are already benefitting as their AI assistants get integrated into more and more products.

At the end of August, Amazon announced it had integrated Alexa into smart home sensors, bringing with it a whole new slew of functionality. Now you can ask Alexa if there are any doors open before setting your security alarm at night. Or program for the lights to come on if there’s movement in a room downstairs. This is the future of home automation and will open the floodgates on innovation in the space, and similar functionality can well be imagined inside the connected car.

Joining the dots
The average connected car today is said to contain more than 150 million lines of code, plenty of wireless connectivity and multiple on-board computer systems to provide everything from infotainment, monitoring of emissions, and even control of key functions like steering. We’re still some way off fully autonomous vehicles. But our cars are increasingly packed with technology designed to help with things like safety, navigation, predictive maintenance, entertainment and even in-car productivity.

Kal Mos, Global Vice President of Alliance Connected Vehicles at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, was quick to zero in on the benefits of teaming up with Google.

“In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free,” he said. “With Google Maps and the Google Assistant embedded in Alliance infotainment systems, our customers will have some of the most advanced AI-based applications at their fingertips. And with in-vehicle access to the Google Play Store, our customers will enjoy an open and secure ecosystem of Android apps engineered for vehicles.”

Increasingly we will live in a digital world where the connected car acts as an extension of the smart home and vice-versa. And the smart home will heavily influence the connected car space. The habits consumers are already learning at home will need to be embedded into their vehicles if OEMs want to drive success. That’s why, alongside the Google announcement, we’ve seen:

  • BMW and Mini announce a tie-up with Amazon Alexa
  • Bosch develop an in-vehicle assistant dubbed “Casey”
  • Mercedes continue to develop its own in-car assistant tech as part of the MBUX system

It won’t all be plain sailing. A new study has revealed widespread gaps in awareness and even active hostility to the idea of autonomous cars. But change is coming. And it will bring with it new opportunities for the channel.

by AS

 

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Leading from the Front: Dubai Rapidly Transforming into a Smart City

Earlier this year the United Nations predicted that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. That’s up from a figure of 55% today and means an additional 2.5 billion people will migrate towards cities. To cope with the strain of this additional load and improve sustainability, economic development and quality of life, local governments are increasingly turning to technology.

These smart city initiatives are springing up all over the globe, but perhaps nowhere catches the eye more than Dubai, which appears to have the cash and the vision to transform itself via a series of standout projects.

A global race
All over the world, the race is on to use cloud, IoT, AI, big data analytics and other technologies to make public services smarter, more efficient and cheaper to run. From Amsterdam, London and Barcelona in Western Europe to the multitude of Asian cities in China, India, Japan and beyond receiving investment, there’s a true sense of international competition in this area. The Middle East is an increasingly important geography too, with Dubai leading the way.

The battle for investment revolves around two major factors: availability of funds to build infrastructure and the type of use cases proposed. Dubai has an advantage on both fronts. The Emirate government has been a generous supporter of its smart city initiatives since 2000, when the Dubai eGovernment agency was launched. Since then it’s changed its name twice, and is now known as Smart Dubai Gov (SDG). It’s also been able to build a roll-call of interesting projects.

Dubai2

Taking strides
Some of the most noteworthy initiatives include:

HR and recruitment apps: these include the Fajwa project which is looking at how AI can help government departments enhance their HR functions. A smart employee application, meanwhile, allows government staff to carry a range of HR tasks such as holiday requests via their smartphone. The Dubai Careers Platform looks to digitise recruitment for the government and job seekers across the city.

Digital backbone, digital wealth, Dubai IoT: begun in 2014, the digital backbone project now offers 300 open data sets which can be used to develop innovative smart city applications. The Digital Wealth Initiative and the Dubai Internet of Things Strategy were launched together last October. The former aims to manage over 120 smart city projects launched over the year and award Dubai Digital Certificates for outstanding achievements. The latter has the ambitious aim of creating the world’s most advanced IoT ecosystem.

Dubai paperless: aims to completely eliminate paper from government by 2021.

Dubai is far from the only global city looking to transform itself through technology. But the pace and ambition of its projects stand out. SDG director general, Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, claimed recently that the Emirate won 17 international and regional awards last year alone. At this rate, the next few years could be even bigger for the city-state.

by TD

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Smartphones and Beyond: The Best of Mobile World Congress 2018

The world’s biggest mobile technology event was upon us again this week. Over 100,000 tecchies descended on Barcelona this week to showcase the latest and greatest smart devices and network technologies that is Mobile World Congress (MWC). Despite reports of an overall global decline in sales at the end of last year, just one look at the show this year will tell you that consumers’ love affair with their smartphones is far from over. However, MWC is increasingly also about showcasing other kinds of connected devices and technology platforms. Continue reading

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Filed under Connectivity, Home automation, IoT, Market Analysis, Mobile technology, Smart Home, Smart Technology, virtual reality, Wearables

Half a Century of Technology Innovation: What’s New for CES 2018?

Next week, nearly 4,000 of the world’s biggest technology companies will converge on Las Vegas for the annual CES show. Now in its 51st year, the Consumer Electronics Show has seen its pulling power reduced in recent years as big vendors like Google, Apple and Samsung save major announcements for their own events. But it’s still likely to attract something like 170,000 visitors, and is widely seen as a key platform for showcasing new tech products and prototypes that will set the tone for the year ahead.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the biggest trends to watch out for this year.

TVs: time for 8K

The past year has seen 4K and HDR TVs made widely available, with prices dropping lower all the time. This paves the way for some potentially big 8K announcements this year, with LG already claiming that it will be showing off a new 88-inch set. It will feature a 7680×4320 pixel display a massive 16 times better than the resolution of a standard HD set.

Other technology innovations in the TV space we may see more of are: local dimming features to boost picture quality; lower-priced OLED screens; improved voice control and streaming app support; and potentially some OLED-rivalling Micro LED technology from Samsung.

The smart home gets smarter

TVs comprise just one small part of an increasingly large smart home market, with voice-powered AI assistants from the big hitters like Amazon, Google and Apple increasingly positioned as the glue that holds everything together. Expect a slew of announcements detailing support for Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s HomeKit protocol in products as varied as smart clocks, speakers and even video door entry systems. Alexa seems to have the lead at the moment, but Apple is catching up fast thanks to new partnerships, while Google is said to be planning a major presence at the show, having booked out eight hospitality suites.

Keeping it real: VR/AR

Virtual reality might have garnered most of the headlines in recent years, thanks to a slew of eye-catching headsets, but its near neighbour augmented reality (AR) is likely to make a splash at CES 2018. In fact, there’s now a dedicated AR “Marketplace” in one of the Convention Centre halls — proof if any were needed that it’s a technology to watch this year.

Expect to see announcements from the likes of Carl Zeiss, Occipital, Kinmo, Kodak, Royole, Sony, and Netflix, as well as chip giant Qualcomm, which has been building out partnerships with some high-profile headset names such as the Oculus Go. Magic Leap is also a name to watch in the AR space and could well be showing off its new Lightwear headset.

AI everywhere

Also with its own dedicated Marketplace arena, AI will see its profile raised further at this year’s CES with a deluge of new products, from connected cars to voice-activated smart home assistants. Honda will feature the tech in its new 3E Robotics Concept at the show with a range of products designed to advance mobility and make people’s lives better.

Named by Accenture as a top-five trend to watch at CES 2018, AI will feature in a range of announcements from other big names including Chinese search giant Baidu, which will show off its autonomous driving platform Apollo and “conversational AI” platform DuerOS.

by AS

 

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Filed under IoT, Mobile technology, Retail, Smart Home, Smart Technology