Tag Archives: smart devices

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

IoT and Retail: Is 2015 the breakaway year? CEO Breakfast CES

CONTEXT CEO Retail Breakfast, CES 2015.

CONTEXT CEO Retail Breakfast, CES 2015.

In January, we were in Las Vegas at CES hosting our first Retail CEO breakfast with Régis Schultz, CEO of Darty and Hans Carpels the President of EURONICS International. They were joined by senior members of the Darty and EURONICS teams as well as other European retailers and senior representatives from the industry.

We asked our two Retail CEO’s to talk about the new products and formats they are deploying in 2015. They both confirmed that wearables and smart home products are a big focus for retail in 2015 – this could be the breakaway year.

For Hans Carpels IoT is one of the main topics for 2015, but the landscape is complex and fragmented, and it is not easy to serve as a retailer. Interoperability of devices is a major concern of consumers, and a as a way of recognising this, EURONICS announced at CES and that they have joined the AllSeen Alliance, led by Qualcomm, and are thereby targeting a leading position in smart home solutions. The EURONICS offer will depend on the size of their stores with 800 square metres being multi-specialists and the smaller formats being hyper-specialists. Carpels did not exclude the possibility that there may be some hyper-specialist stores entirely dedicated to the sale of connected products and wearables, the same as the Lick and Fnac formats in France, and which we have not yet seen in other European countries.

When Régis Schultz addressed us he lamented the fact that for a company that aspires to sell technology their own salesmen and stores are not adequately equipped. He has set it as a strategic priority to change that with the Digitalisation of Darty, one of the planks of his 4D strategy.  For Régis who started his career in an FMCG company where they always spoke about consumers, the whole raison d’être of retail is to transform the ‘consumer’ into a ‘customer’- that’s where the real value lies and where the profit comes. So it is impressive to note that the attach rate of installation to the sale of Nest products is 75% and that their service department is also installing Nests for customers who have bought their thermostat from sources other than Darty.

Regis spoke of the creation of the Darty button. The customer presses it – it’s like a technology panic button and you are called back by the Darty service centre who are on call 24/7. 1,000’s of people have subscribed to this service and it demonstrates Darty making a reality of profitable service revenues linked to the IoT – and other retailers have shown that they are keen to follow Darty’s lead.

We ended the breakfast taking the temperature of confidence about 2015. “From a product and solution side, we’re really upbeat. There are many new products and areas where we can add value.” said Carpels. “But we have to be realistic,” he continued. “There is a lot of education of the consumer to do. Only 5% of consumers know where to buy IoT solutions”, he quoted from a survey. I asked them if they thought that a product such as Nest smart thermostat could take off this year – with its £180 retail price tag there was a lot of doubt from our two CEO’s that consumers at a time of falling energy prices would see the value compared to a normal thermostat. But the jury is still out which makes 2015 an exciting year. He also spoke of France and Italy as stressed economies with real issues in Russia, Kazahkstan and Ukraine, in all of which countries EURONICS has operations.

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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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