This year’s CES in Las Vegas was yet another stellar display of consumer technologies, and an exciting indication of the opportunities they present to various industries. With a laser-focus on tech advancements that affect our clients, I’ll break down the who, what and why of the new product announcements and offer some insight into the industry implications.
The most innovative new products I believe will have the greatest impact on our client’s industries include connected devices and 5G.
Internet of (Every)Thing
Smart cities, cars, toilets, kitchen appliances, locks, headbands, you name it – it’s becoming smart. But what does it mean when a device becomes smart? Sensors are embedded into different devices or hardware that collect and analyze data via Internet connectivity. That data can then be displayed through an interface (typically a mobile phone) and in many cases, it can be controlled by the user from the smartphone. Oftentimes, the device leverages AI to provide optimized behavior for the end user like restaurant recommendations based on past choices through futuristic car dashboards.
Samsung set the standard for the Internet of Things with its announcement that, come spring, it will be combining its Samsung Connect, Smart View and Smart Home apps in a single platform – powered by SmartThings (IoT company Samsung acquired in 2014). According to Samsung, more than 40 apps will be consolidated into SmartThings. Through this initiative, the tech behemoth is signaling to the world that there is a new era of IoT emerging from the pervasive nature of the technology. As connected devices continue to expand into new areas, a need for creating a unified system or point of control for everything is surfacing. “For too many, the world of connected devices is still fragmented and complex,” HS Kim, president of Samsung’s consumer electronics division, said during the company’s keynote.
“Each new device means a new setup experience, new passwords to remember, a new interface to learn, and a new way to manage and control it all.”
Though Samsung is leading the way with IoT platform advancements, there are a handful of other companies that are embracing the IoT revolution to help and inform the consumer. Here are a few of the standout announcements from CES.
Let’s start with LG’s SmartThinQ technology – their kitchen and laundry appliances along with air quality and cleaning devices are all smart, WiFi-enabled devices that generate mobile data, push notifications with updates and remote control. LG’s IoT-connected laundry machines leverage AI to observe frequently used laundry modes and factors like air quality or weather to optimize your machine’s settings. Philips’ SmartSleep headband, available this spring, has sensors that detect brain activity indicating when you are in a deep sleep. The headband triggers a subtle noise that reinforces that deep sleep activity and maximizes the rest your brain gets overnight. Lastly, Nvidia revealed its Drive IX platform – a system so robust it may be able to leverage facial ID technology to determine if a driver is fit to drive, ultimately saving lives.
With the expansion of IoT-connected devices comes the need for an improved standard of connectivity for those devices to survive and thrive. 5G IS that new standard. At CES, Qualcomm CEO Stephen Mollenkopf claimed, “5G will have an impact similar to the introduction of electricity or the automobile, affecting entire economies and benefiting entire societies.”
5G will be the network that supports VR, autonomous cars, connected cities, etc. – an all-encompassing infrastructure that allows societies worldwide to technologically advance at the rate we aspire to develop them. “5G will be a new kind of network, supporting a vast diversity of devices with unprecedented scale, speed and complexity,” Mollenkopf said at the packed keynote. The need for an advanced network of connectivity is imperative to enable rapid, real-time processing of information; an example would be autonomous car navigation. 5G will need to produce low latency – as low as 1 millisecond, to safely accommodate the futuristic applications of these complex technologies.
Though the excitement for a network to support all systems is very real, it is in fact just hype for now. The initial demos of the technology are proving it works, but companies leading the charge are in the testing phases of development for now. It is anticipated that many of the global stakeholders in the 5G revolution will be talking about the approach at the upcoming Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona.
The explosion of IoT in the past few years exemplifies the transition from using the platform for show versus driving real results. With the widespread application of IoT solutions, we are seeing improvements in manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, safety, automobiles, to name a few. Rheem Manufacturing is an example of a client of ours who proved a viable candidate for an IoT solution. We built an app that integrates with their HVAC and water heating equipment, delivering real-time data and allowing the user to remotely monitor and control their equipment.
As you consider an IoT solution, it is undeniably important that you evaluate your business and tech stack to determine if it is a valuable platform for your company. Architecting an IoT ecosystem is complex and, if improperly implemented, can cause catastrophic failure and operate inefficiently. Stay informed on the ever-changing environment and advancements that affect connected devices and if you need an IoT expert to help you approach development, we encourage you to contact us to guide you through the process.
Expect the Gartner predictions for IoT-connected devices to reach, if not exceed, the expectations of 20.4 billion devices to be connected by 2020. We are well on our way to making that happen and the announcements at CES further solidify these stats.