Tag Archives: IoT

CeBIT 2017 Points the Way to VR and Smart Device Growth

With 200,000 participants flocking to Hanover this year, the week-long CeBIT show can be an intimidating prospect. Over 3,000 exhibitors set up shop at the world’s biggest technology expo. And while this is not a show for big name product launches, it still provides a very useful snapshot of what’s hot in the tech industry from one year to the next.

This year, as we predicted, there was plenty of buzz around smart devices, the Internet of Things and Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR). These, after all, will be the technologies that in years to come delight consumers and power the next generation of European businesses.

VR/AR catches the eye
CeBIT 2017 had a bigger focus on VR/AR than ever before, highlighting the growing maturity of this burgeoning technology. If you were in any doubt of the scale of interest in this space, half of Hall 17 – one of the show’s aircraft hangar-sized expo spaces – was devoted entirely to firms exhibiting VR-related tech. As we predicted at the end of 2016, gaming will continue to drive forward interest in VR on the consumer side. But, as evidenced by its exposure at the business-centric CeBIT show, more and more companies are exploring corporate applications.

Examples included the “Virtofy” VR presentation system, which offers companies an opportunity to demo products and showcase projects to prospective clients/customers. Another interesting use case developed by engineers at the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences incorporates integrated data goggles into the helmets worn by steel workers – designed to flash up safety warnings and the like.

In Hall 2 Intel, in cooperation with Microsoft, presented the dataflow the companies expect in the near future. Based on the BMW i8, Intel presented with the Microsoft AR Hololens how cameras and sensors scan the environment of a future car in order to drive autonomously. Intel predicts that approximately 4000 GB of data will be tracked, processed and uploaded from cars in the future, which creates brand new business scenarios in this market.

IoT everywhere
As we mentioned in December, the Smart Home market is really heating up, with Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft set to battle it out for hearts and minds in 2017 and beyond. True to form, the Internet of Things formed a major part of CeBIT 2017, with over 270 exhibitors from 29 countries participating. The IoT also had its own spin-off summit at the conference – a first for the organisers and again illustrative of the growing interest in smart products.

The IoT, of course, extends far beyond the smart home. In fact, attendees were treated to demos of everything from smart shirts and dog collars from Telefonica Deutschland, to Toshiba’s industrial applications for the energy sector.

Drones are taking off
The smart device revolution also increasingly extends up into the sky. As evidenced by the buzz at CeBIT, drones are fast carving out an IoT niche of their own. A large outdoor area sponsored by Intel drew many of the crowds, with much attention drawn to the bright orange H520 hexacopter from Chinese firm Yuneec. When combined with an on-board camera and Intel RealSense tech, it’s able to detect movements and distances like the human eye – enabling it to avoid obstacles in flight.

The Drone Park even drew the interest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

by AD

 

 

 

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Filed under Connectivity, gaming, Home automation, IoT, Mobile technology, Retail, Smart Home, Smart Technology, virtual reality, Wearables

Chester Gould was Right

It wasn’t until I was loaned Apple’s new Watch Series II that I put one on. When the Watch was launched I decided it would not be something I’d wear, much less buy. But I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised to get it, and welcomed the chance to give my 26-year old Rado a rest while I tried the Watch out.

I’m not going to get into the technicalities because a watch is for wearing, it’s personal, apart from saying what an amazing piece of kit the Watch is: beautifully crafted, fabulous screen, snappy performance, even GPS, and so easy to set up and incorporate into living alongside an iPhone.

But when I first put it on, it took a while to get used to the sheer bulk of the 42mm screen, and the gold colour with a beige woven nylon strap was to my taste a bit bling. It took a few days to get used to having it on my wrist, and get through the inevitable mixed reactions from staff, family and friends.

Then I started using it, responding every time the haptic tap alerted me to a message, meeting, or exhortation to stand up, or breathe. I discovered Siri on the Watch – and started leaving text messages everywhere to try out, in the style of Chester Gould’s comic book detective Dick Tracy, the experience of talking to your wristwatch. It worked very, very well. I got hooked on Activity monitor, and was thrilled the day I completed 230% of my daily exercise requirement.

Interestingly, Apple seemed to have learned from the Series I that their Watch will never make it as a desirable piece of luxury jewellery along the lines of a Rolex or Cartier, despite sales – according to the company – ranking the Watch as number two in the world in terms of value. Instead, sensibly, the Watch is now pitched at the health, leisure and up market lifestyle sector and in that vein, especially with the GPS, I reckon it fits very well indeed.

As I said at the beginning, a watch is a personal thing. I wonder if everyone who has a Watch goes through the same stages I did: first, fascination for and playing with the technology. Second, using every alert and app available so that the taps on your wrist begin to run your life. And third, settling down to a modus operandi where only the important things that complement the Macbook/iPhone partnership are allowed through.

I was sitting on a plane writing this blog, and as the steward leaned over dispensing snacks, I could see a silver colored Apple Watch – with metallic strap – sitting on his wrist.
“Aha,” I said, “an Apple Watch. Is that a Series I?”
The steward saw my Watch. “Is that the new one?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m trying it out,” I replied. “What do you think of yours?”
“Actually, I never wanted one,” he said. “I was given this as a present.”
“Do you like it?” I asked.
The steward glanced at his Watch, paused for a second, and replied, “It’s growing on me.”
Which just about sums it up. Apple’s Watch – it’s growing on me.

by JD

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Filed under Connectivity, IoT, Mobile technology, Smart Technology

The Smart Home Market in France has potential if retailers take the jump

Last week we held an event in Paris to present the results of our latest survey on the Smart Home. Journalists, key retailers and vendors were present to hear about the current outlook of the Smart Home market, which featured speakers such as Stéphane Bohbot, President of Innov8 and founder of Lick stores, Benoît Van Den Bulcke, Administrator of the Fédération Française de Domotique – the French Smart Home association, Vincent Gufflet, Director of Services at Darty and Adam Simon, Global Managing Director of Retail Development at CONTEXT. Each shared their vision of the market and key concerns the industry should be addressing to ensure the market takes off.

According to our latest survey, 11% of respondents expressed their intention to buy smart home. When trying to assess what the main barriers to the development of the Smart Home market in France were, “a lack of understanding” by consumers (50%) was highlighted as a key factor.

There seemed to be a clear message from consumers to retailers to improve their approach to this product segment and focus on educating, explaining and demonstrating the use of Smart Home products to help the public feel comfortable with this concept in order to increase adoption.

In addition to the ‘’evangelisation’’ of the public, the way products were currently being displayed in stores should be re-addressed, according to Stephane Bohbot, and this is something Lick stores had decided to do this year by paying special attention to active demonstration and presentation of the products.

The Smart Home Survey clearly showed that a number of products in this category met key requirements by consumers. Amongst these was ‘security while away from home’ (80%) and ‘security whilst at home’ (39%).

This is where retailers have a central role to play in educating consumers about the benefits of smart home product purchases.

It is important to remember that smart home product purchases are not necessarily one-off purchases, but consumers have the potential of becoming ongoing subscribers, with opportunities such as SHaaS – SmartHome as a Service. The Smart Home category is beyond product selling and an open door to selling services. 74% of French respondents already stated that they would be ready to pay 15 euros per month for specific subscriptions.

However, in order reap the potential of this market, there is still some way to go. As Yehia Oweiss, VP Sales & Marketing at Hauppauge Digital, said: American retailers have succeeded in making this market take off, there is no reason why Europe cannot do the same too. Retailers need to invest and trust in this market and consumers will follow – just as they did on the other side of the Atlantic.

by SA

 

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Filed under Home automation, Mobile technology, Security, Smart Home, Smart Technology

A look at Canon in the future

Canon EXPOs have been held every five years since 2000 in New York, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai (although the fourth Shanghai event is scheduled for 2016). Each event has a different theme, but all have the same purpose: to introduce and define Canon’s five-year vision and strategy.

I had the chance to attend the Canon EXPO Paris last year and have to admit that the event was an impressive exposition of existing and future imaging products, technologies, services and solutions. Some of the prototypes showcased – such as MREAL and the Rich Collaboration System – made me feel like I had travelled ‘back to the future’.

In his keynote speech, Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon Inc., reviewed current economic challenges and explained his vision for the future of Canon. Currently, most of Canon’s products are manufactured in Japan but he said this is to change in the near future. Canon is to broaden its operations and collaborate more globally: products for healthcare business are to be produced in the US while in Europe Canon will focus on printing and network solutions. Canon sees the EMEA region as ‘the brightest spot for growth’ and will be seeking partners across all regions to innovate and to change the ways in which people interact in the future.

Canon believes that the Internet of Things will depend on ‘Imaging of Things’ and this is where it sees vast opportunities for growth. The company wants to be involved in every stage of the process, and believes that every image will be connected via smart devices that can capture, record, store, edit, share and print. Canon plans to build an ecosystem of products and services by adding solutions for every part of the imaging experience in B2C (digital consumer services) and B2B.

Rokus van Iperen, president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa, stated that Canon will continue to focus on its core businesses while expanding globally, and also emphasized the importance of the rapidly growing markets that Canon will target in years to come: 3D printing, graphical arts and network visual solutions (NVS) to respond to the demand from security and retail markets.

Like many other vendors, Canon has explained and introduced new services and solutions for the B2B market in order to help businesses improve productivity and efficiency and enhance end-users’ experiences using one face to the customer approach. The company builds tailored solutions for vertical markets that have specific needs, such as finance, insurance, manufacturing and health. At the moment, such solutions account for one fifth of Canon’s total revenue in Europe – a figure which it expects to double in the next few years by increasing the number of partners with direct and indirect IT competences.

Value-added solutions go well with services (outsourcing, data and document management, workflow automation and marketing communication management, etc.), therefore, Canon continues to focus on these areas and simultaneously invest in its capability to build services by integrating and adapting their added value, and also creating partnerships that will help it to collaborate and remain competitive in the rapidly changing world of technology. Canon strives not only to digitize customers’ business processes but – in common with other vendors – to automate workflows. The next few years will show how well Canon manages to compete in this highly competitive space.

by ZB

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Filed under Imaging, IoT, Uncategorized

A Glimpse at Emerging Technologies in 2016

The brand landscape of 3D Printing will continue to change in 2016
In 2016 the influence of major IT brands will be seen in the high end of the 3D printing market even if these companies are not yet shipping products. While most revenues in the 3D printing space come from the industrial and professional high end of the market where brands such as HP, Canon, Ricoh, Toshiba Machines and others will enter, the landscape of the nascent desktop/personal 3D printer space is set to change as well. No major IT company has announced any great plans to enter this side of the market in the near future, but at CES 2016 we did see the likes of the licensing company Polaroid toss its name into the ring and others are expected to follow.

The desktop/personal 3D printer market is still regionally fragmented and start-ups can quickly gain share by way of crowd sourced efforts. A global market leader has yet to emerge but XYZprinting currently carries that banner, having taken it away from the previous poster-child MakerBot (now owned by Stratasys). In the near future, it seems, both sides of the 3D printing industry are set for brand shake-ups.

The Internet of Things – we need some education about benefits
For the last few years, people have been predicting that the following year will herald the big take-off of the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly in the home environment. However, 2016 will be a year of steady progress, rather than ‘the year’ for IoT as many are forecasting.

What we’ll see is more jostling between vendors as tech firms try to firm up their foothold in the developing market. They will do this primarily with single-use devices – smart lights, IP cameras, sound systems and thermostats. No one ecosystem will emerge as dominant yet, although Samsung SmartThings, Google Nest, Apple Homekit, AllSeen Alliance, Amazon Echo and others will all try in 2016.

Ultimately, until product standards improve, prices fall, and there is a greater level of education about the benefits of the IoT, it won’t hit the mainstream. Our recent smart home survey supports this: a whopping 63% of Europeans do not yet understand the smart home concept, while over a third (37%) fail to see the benefits of smart home products.

..and steady progress in wearables
Even if there truly were such a thing as the year of anything, 2016 would not be it for wearables. There will be no killer app, no single added software functionality that will redeem its hardware host. Apple Pay? Come on! People are simply not that inconvenienced by classic card usage – especially now most of us have contactless cards. And this reflects a larger problem for tech companies trying to carve out a space in the emerging consumer IoT: there simply aren’t that many problems left to be solved.

Of course companies will continue to successfully build solutions for the myriad minor ‘challenges’ we face day to day, like wielding out wallets or getting up to turn the lights off, but no single solution will lead to anything like the stratospheric rise of the smartphone. Rather, we can expect to see a more gradual uptake over the next few years as wearables increasingly integrate with the rest of the consumer IOT and find ever more small ‘wins’ for their owners, eventually building up to a compelling purchase proposition.

Virtual reality – substance over hype
2016 is going to be the year that retail VR products start rolling into the market but they won’t snowball. At CES, Oculus announced the launch date and price for the first retail version of their headset and accessories at £500 which looks quite high. For those of us who have been waiting almost their entire life for truly immersive gaming – ever since the rise and fall of the risible Virtual Boy – the next three months should be enough time to save up. However the vast majority of consumers, who have not yet been able to experience sitting in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and reaching out to stroke Chewie’s mane, will see the technology as a luxurious curiosity.

Oculus and other manufacturers are looking to the product life cycles of other emergent technologies which often started off expensive before coming down in price as they became more mainstream. Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey recently spoke out in defence of their pricing, stating that they didn’t want to compromise on quality in the first-generation of headsets. It looks like the lessons of Virtual Boy have been learned: substance is more important than hype.

by AS, TG, JW & CC

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Filed under 3D Printing, Connectivity, IoT, Smart Home, Wearables

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

Windows 10 makes the Smart Home simple, it’s time for retailers to do the same

If I asked you to guess what TIME magazine has called ‘Microsoft’s big secret Windows 10 feature’, your mind might not leap to the smart home. Nevertheless, Windows 10’s support for smart device protocol AllJoyn could well be the tech giant’s hidden weapon; and one with the potential to revolutionise how retailers and consumers view the smart home.

AllJoyn is a framework that allows all of your smart devices to connect to all others on the network, irrespective of the manufacturer. This means that from the moment Windows 10 launched, the number of devices that AllJoyn has the potential to connect jumped multiple times to the tens of millions. Microsoft has set itself a lofty goal of having one billion users by 2018, by which point smart home technology could be much more prevalent.

The appeal of AllJoyn is that it promises both vendors and consumers the ease of plug and play. Whether you’re running Windows 10 on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, you can now control all of your smart home devices from one device. This is vital for European consumers, who according to our research prioritise ease of access, smartphone control, and automatic installation above other considerations when purchasing a smart home product.

With Microsoft’s endorsement, AllJoyn now has a vast potential user base that smart home developers can tap into. The framework is making a major push to establish itself as the leading Internet of Things (IoT) standard due to additional commitments from Sony, LG, HTC, Lenovo and Asus to create compatible end-user mobile and tablet devices.

However, Microsoft’s involvement is only the latest step on the journey to transforming consumer perception of the smart home. Consumers are still not connecting the dots between smart products and the smart home, something that retailers must work to resolve. While many people we surveyed confirmed that they knew of individual products such as smart TVs, smart thermostats, and smart smoke detectors, our research showed that 62% still hadn’t heard of the term ‘smart home’.

While Windows 10 has facilitated connecting and controlling a network of smart home devices with ease, it’s now time for retailers to educate the consumer. In-store displays should be encouraging consumers to think about the smart home as a whole; placing all smart devices and appliances together and educating consumers on how everything communicates with each other.

Knowledgeable staff who can demonstrate how devices can connect will also foster excitement, and consequently drive sales. In Germany, this is already underway, with around 40% of people having heard about the smart home while in a retail store.

Finally, stores should consider whether they want to be more than just a retailer, and help play the customer support role when customers need assistance with their smart home devices. Media providers and utility companies already provide this service, and it’s now up to retailers to decide whether to adapt their model to add value through after-sales support.

So while Windows 10’s support for AllJoyn makes the reality of a smart home closer than ever before, it’s now up to retailers to educate customers of its benefits, and persuade them to view the smart home as larger concept than being able to turn off the lights with your phone.

by AS

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