Each January we’re presented with CES (Consumer Electronics Show) – a fascinating spectacle where technology brands (and many others, it seems) vie for a share of our wallet through wondrous technological innovations and equally wondrous gimmicky products. From AI, to VR, and now robots around the home – we’ve got a quick roundup of CES to make sure you’re aware of everything going on and how to take advantage of some of these great new products and opportunities.
Amazon is everywhere – and they’ve targeted the home
Despite not having any form of official presence at CES, we saw Alexa integrated in to essentially everything. Whilst Google Home and Apple HomeKit were early products in defining the standard for a smart home, Amazon’s Alexa platform seems to be dominating the stands at CES – and given the product launched commercially outside of the US, through Amazon Echo, in late 2016, Amazon are certainly doing something right. From simply saying Alexa’s name, you’ll be able to interact with (and this isn’t an exhaustive list) cars, TVs, phones, home security systems, robot vacuums, lighting, fridges and much more.
For brands this introduces so much opportunity to simplify user journeys, create quicker access to services and data, and harmoniously interacting with other apps and services. For a grocery retailer, for example, you could present the opportunity for your customer to order another pint of milk directly from the fridge, and have it delivered using the Amazon Prime ecosystem on that very day. That is the power of simplicity that Amazon have introduced through the Alexa Voice Service API – something that Apple and Google have clearly yet to crack, given the trend at CES.
Technology is now widespread and platforms are converging
As an avid gamer, I always strive to ensure I have the very best equipment and the most up to date hardware. CES this year didn’t fail to impress and leave me in awe – the most of which being Razer’s Project Valerie. However the rise in phenomenal hardware at value means we’ll see a rise in VR at home, which for brands is an incredible opportunity to provide ways of communicating with their customers through new and innovative platforms (such as that which we produced for Samsung for the Rio Olympics). Furthermore, we will possibly see the development of new marketing and advertising formats – such as 360 degree virtual reality adverts.
Perhaps the other game changer is the further development of the Chrome OS. The Android ecosystem is growing – from apps on your handset and tablet, through to the TV – and now Google are going to include app support for Chromebooks. This new screen format and way of interacting now needs to be considered when creating Android applications – and existing Android apps should at the very least be optimised and tested for this new format.
The robot is here, sort of
It feels like an age ago that the world was introduced to ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) from Honda. Since then we’ve seen all sorts of derivatives of robots – from automated vacuums to Jibo, of which I’m still not quite sure on it’s use. However CES 2017 has presented us with plenty more options for helpful robots and assistants that can be used in a consumer and business space – and whilst they’re not quite R2D2, C3PO and the aforementioned ASIMO, they’re smart and help you do your day to day tasks. Kuri, for example, is a robot that watches your home and your children and is an all around lovely addition to the home – built from the ground up, and visually designed by Pixar. Whilst it isn’t using Alexa or Google Home, it is just as intelligent and mobile around the home. LG also launched their Hub Robot – a similar product to Jibo, and powered by Alexa.
As artificial intelligence and machine learning grows in importance, and robots become a mainstay of the home, it is up to brands to consider the impact of these developments on their products and services, and ensuring that effective connections are created.
Wearables are maturing
The best type of wearable we have in the market today are the vast array of fitness trackers. As I write this I wear an Apple Watch that will continuously monitor my heart rate, and relay that back to the Health app on my phone – and, if I chose to, I can send all that data to my doctor. The only other wearable, outside of health and fitness, that has really shook the market is Spectacles from Snap Inc., who created demand for a product by making it exclusive and releasing it slowly to the market – despite them being glorified sunglasses and little else in addition.
We saw the launch of Aira, a device that allows a remote user to guide a blind person, and the Willow Breast Pump. Health and Fitness will remain, for at least the foreseeable future, the key area of development for wearables. APIs to popular services, as well as these products themselves, will provision the opportunity to create innovative new assistive products for consumers.
Data is becoming vaster, and managing it will become harder
Whilst their was no key trend or discussion point around data, it’s imperative to understand the affect of all these developments on the data you’ll be provided with. For example, creating a mobile application powered by Alexa that connects to your smart home instantly boosts your data points by tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands as we start to understand usage around the home and interaction with technology. This understanding of data is where the true business benefit will be discovered – learning through iteration, adapting and personalising to the consumer usage, and above all else creating more sustainable business models as data helps us to create demand for products (such as the milk example mentioned earlier).
The best of the rest
Mixed reality seems to be something that is really on the cusp of hitting the mainstream. Microsoft really brought it to peoples attention through HoloLens, but it seems that other businesses are looking to utilise the demand that they created by providing cheaper and more cost-effective alternatives.
The connected car seems to be constantly evolving and despite many predicting that models pioneered by Tesla might kill the car industry (a post by Dr Robert Goldman on Facebook in particular is prevalent in this), it seems like car manufacturers are fighting back. Mercedes-Benz announced some semi-autonomous technology that will rival Tesla, whilst Nvidia stole the show (at least in the context of cars) by announcing Xavier – their new computer to power self driving cars – whilst announcing some great partnerships with manufacturers. And of course, there was Alexa integration (along with Cortana integration and Google Assistant integration) across various manufacturers.
If you’re interested in discovering how MakoLab can help you take advantage of some of the technologies above, and many more, contact us today.