Tag Archives: IoE

Is it worth going to CES?

One of the favourite topics of Europeans at CES is to ask why we all fly 6,000 miles to Las Vegas, when we could see each other more locally if we wanted.

I have been to all the major global tech shows except Computex – I am a little like George the hypochondriac from the book “Three Men in a boat” who suffered from every malady except housemaid’s knee. I have to say that CES is in a class of its own. Its alchemy is a combination of the numbers of people – 170,000 this year, a record, the proximity to Silicon Valley, the razzamatazz of Vegas, and the amazing organisation such as getting 5,000 people to snake their way up the Venetian Hotel for a talk.

This year my highlights were the keynotes – we were literally gasping during Brian Krzanich’s speech as he made us soar with drones, jive to virtual instruments and run with interactive sports and performance tracking devices. In Reed Hastings’s talk, CEO and co-founder of Netflix, we lived the entertainment revolution, as he announced that, during his talk, the Netflix service had been opened in 130 new countries. I was there on this day, I will be able to tell my grandchildren when they ask what television was. 2 years ago it was the unforgettable speech of John Chambers, then CEO of Cisco, in which he awakened me and many others to the immensity of the IoT Revolution.

Beyond that there are the stands and the endless walking. CES is hard work. I did an average of 15,000 steps (nearly 8 miles) per day and 5 times my norm. I visited the large stands in the Convention Centre and saw the latest generation of TV screens with amazing displays, the hordes of people queuing to try on the VR devices, and the evolution of technology in the LG Smart Home and Panasonic Smart Town. But it was Hall G which blew my mind, with hundreds of start-ups in the Eureka Park. I hadn’t left myself enough time to do justice to all the companies that were there. Fortunately I had been at CES Unveiled, a press and analyst event on the Monday night where a mere 180 companies had been on show. French Tech was present in force with a packet of start-ups – 66 in total or a quarter of those in Eureka Park, and their Finance Minister was present too – Emmanuel Macron. No sign of George Osborne or Brit tech on anything like the same scale.

In CES we had many one-on-one meetings taking the opportunity to see our clients’ stands. We also held a Retail CEO breakfast for our clients with Hans Carpels, President of Euronics, giving a masterly overview of his plans for 2016 and the state of European TCG Retail. It helped us keep our feet on the ground and remember that we make our money when these technology products are sold – and this year CONTEXT provided a 2016 outlook for two emerging technologies– 3D Printing and Smart Home. CES Breakfast 2016

CES is where you get to see people and technology all in one place, and, in the end, we do not forget that this is why we come 6,000 miles.

by AS

 

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Filed under 3D Printing, Home automation, Retail in CONTEXT, Smart Home, Smart Technology, Wearables

Melco Forum 2015: Innovation – lifeblood of technology companies

“You aren’t disruptive innovative until you create a need” said Jorge Lang the head of Innovation at Intel Spain as part of his masterclass at this year’s Melco Forum in Valencia last week. “The innovation manager challenges the status quo, and sometimes loses friends in the process.” “Disruption is what it is all about”.

MelcoThis is challenging stuff from a company that is a leader in technology innovation. “But there is no room for complacency, as we find ways of doing more than increasing computing power, such as improving social connection with human values, and making the internet of things happen.” Jorge calls this the red queen hypothesis from Alice through the Looking Glass. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Improving products sustains companies and is evolutionary but disruptive innovation is what really counts. Jorge Lang highlighted three factors which impact the success of innovative products – technology, user experience and the business model. In his opinion, the challenge for smart home is not technology – it is to find a business model where people are prepared to pay for the new products.

Innovation is about creating an environment where people take risks. This year Intel is innovating helping people move from 18 passwords per person to a product which bypasses password. We are trying to give you more freedom such as no cable to power the TV.

Jorge gave us a glimpse into the future – we are moving away from the age of the typewriter to the age of the personal assistant. We will relate and talk to our home computers and to our smart homes like Hal in the iconic film “2001 A Space Odyssey.” Already there is digital signage with video which learns from your body language. The future is individualised customer marketing because of the availability of data.
by AS

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Wellness is Wearables

by Theo Gibbons

Following our previous posts, which pitted Microsoft’s Band against Apple’s Watch, we turn this week to the theme of wearables and wellbeing. ‘Wellness’ was once a straightforward matter of kale concoctions, Pilates posturing, and Whole Foods foraging. No longer. Wellness is wearables. Wellness is big data.

Why? Well, amongst much uncertainty as to what, exactly, wearables have to offer, wellbeing and health have emerged as key value propositions.

The pitch goes something like this: ubiquitous wearable sensors are set to revolutionise healthcare by providing real-time, ongoing, and personalised data points; health professionals will be able to gain a complete picture outside of clinical settings and adjust treatment plans accordingly; individuals will be able to acquire new perspectives on their relevant behavioural patterns (think diabetics learning about how their dietary habits affect their blood glucose levels).

Indeed, Microsoft argues that its Band’s real value is realised through Health, a “cloud-based service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights”, drawing in information from “a variety of devices and services to give you insights into your entire day across nutrition, work, fitness and rest.” And it’s already a crowded market. Several tech companies are vying to develop the health tracking ecosystem of choice: Google Fit, Jawbone UP, and of course, Apple HealthKit all propose to bring together data from your favourite apps and hardware.

Wearables are growing up, graduating from glorified pedometers to bonafide health tracking devices. As Fitbit’s CEO, James Park puts it: “there’ll be a next big leap in benefits once we tie into more detailed clinical research and cross the hurdles and dialogue with the FDA about what we can do for consumers and what’s regulated or not.” Apple’s ResearchKit is already on the way to achieving just that. An open source framework that aims to bring iPhone owners and medical researchers together, it pushes the scope of wearables into new territory. Indeed, several big-name medical studies are already under way, establishing Apple’s sensors as research grade.

Success in this field would bring huge rewards, enabling tech companies to tap into a multi-billion health market (some $6.3 billion are spent each year on blood glucose test strips in the US alone). What’s more, the chronically ill make for a loyal customer base. It isn’t like they can just decide to drop their wearables on a whim. And even for the healthy, unifying ecosystems such as the Apple HealthKit inaugurate a new era of intimacy and dependency, capturing ever more of our bio-digital identities.

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Filed under Big data, Mobile technology, Smart Technology, Wearables

Internet of Everything: channel opportunity or over-hyped dead-end?

While the Internet of Everything (IoE) keeps cropping up in conversation amongst the vendor community, it’s not hard to spot the opportunities for the channel – not only in the proliferation of internet-connected smart devices, but in the cloud storage, processing, pipes and software needed to manage and enable the flow of data.

Take the example of IP-connected CCTV cameras – one of the first IoE technologies to come of age over the past two or three years thanks, in part, to growing public sector investment in town centre surveillance. It created demand for the cameras themselves; specific types of network attached storage (NAS); and even Big Data and facial recognition systems developed to enable better crowd control and security. The London Olympics also gave sales a massive shove. CONTEXT recorded unit sales growth of IP cameras at a whopping 430% from first half of 2012 to 2013 on the back of the Games.  In Europe as a whole the figure stood at 157.7%.

The stats from 1H 2013-2014 may seem underwhelming by comparison; -55% in the UK and just +6.4% in Europe, although this is more than likely because 2012-13 was such a special year. I’d predict the second half of 2014 or next year will see sales getting back into positive growth, especially with the rise in consumer demand for such systems.

Other opportunities exist in the “smart home” space with internet-connected TVs and audio equipment – not just in supplying these products for end users, but also the cloud storage and bandwidth needed to deliver content. Earlier this year the new 802.11ac standard was adopted, which will provide a major driver for upgrades as the IoE continues to demand ever greater bandwidth and faster access to data. There’s even a push coming from the healthcare industry – where gadgets like heart rate monitors and internet connected weighing scales are finding a new customer base amongst the elderly.

With this backdrop it’s easy for channel players to get carried away and jump on the first IoE bandwagon they can find. But we’d advise caution.

Revenues will be linear so the need for education, training and associated services will be key to succeed in a very competitive environment with many new emerging vendors. If you can associate with the right vendors, there’ll be a great opportunity to capitalise on this new era in ICT. There may even be a chance there to reinvent yourself as a cloud-ready infrastructure or software and services channel player.

But the trick is in knowing which partnerships to foster and which to leave alone.

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