Internet of Things, wearables dominate early CES trends
By Rachel Arthur

The Internet of Things proved one of the hottest buzzwords on the first day of technology trade event CES in Las Vegas, as exhibitors …

Jan 07, 2015
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The Internet of Things proved one of the hottest buzzwords on the first day of technology trade event CES in Las Vegas, as exhibitors on the show floor and speakers in the seminars hinted at the evolution of a connected world.

While this isn’t a new term – IoT being something numerous technology companies have been advocating for some time – 2015 has seen a significant shift towards truly making everyday items connected to one another.

Samsung’s president and CEO Boo-Keun Yoon backed this concept with the promise of $100m in funding for an open IoT system. He committed to Samsung being a 90% IoT company by 2017, and 100% by 2020. “The IoT is not a pipe dream any more, it’s ready to go. That’s because there are many consumer devices already out there, ready to connect to IoT,” he said.

He highlighted simple examples like music that can automatically transfer from the headphones you are wearing to the speaker system in your home when you walk through the door. Or TVs that know to pause when you leave the room, and wearables that track brain waves for health purposes.

Other devices spotted across the trade show floor linking in to this IoT trend also include smart plugs, light bulbs, tennis rackets and more.

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association, however, talked to the idea of not what can we connect, but what should we? “The broader story of CES this year is about where does the internet make sense. Should we put it on our wrist? On our skull? In the air?” he asked.

He called for companies to think about the value such connected devices would offer – while something might be technologically possible, is it technologically meaningful, he suggested.

Wearables were another example that linked with this idea. A big theme in 2014, they’ve exploded across the show floor this year with numerous new launches covering everything from smart glasses to watches, bracelets and biometric earbuds.

The CEA expects overall wearable unit sales to reach 30.9m units in 2015, up 61% from last year. That will generate $5.1bn in revenue, an increase of 133%.

Steve Holmes, vice president of the New Devices Group and general manager of the Smart Device Innovation team at Intel said we’re very early in the world of wearable technology. “It’s almost misleading to say we’re going to invest in wearables. That’s like saying you’re starting a company in vehicles,” he said. He referenced devices as varied as heads-up displays based on augmented reality through to fitness trackers worn on the wrist.

Whatever the product however, the fact is costs are coming down, the technology is getting smaller and battery life is beginning to increase – all factors that are driving rapid development in the space. What will lead to mass consumption now, lies in the use case, said Holmes. “There’s a marriage still to be had between form and function, but also [a need] for user experience that really resonates with people.”

Other highlights from the show so far have included connected and driverless cars from the likes of Mercedes, Ford and BMW, the evolving role of virtual reality experiences, the commercial development of drones, and 3D-printed food ready to hit the masses.

 

 


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