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What happens in Vegas…CES from an Internet of Things perspective

Telenor Connexion’s CMO Robert Brunbäck reports from the International CES
(Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.

With over 150.000 attendees and
3200 exhibitors in Vegas the Consumer Electronics show gives an early heads up
for where the consumer electronics market is heading. As electronics is
becoming an integral part of nearly any product nowadays much attention was
beyond the obvious ones of curved smartphones and huge ultra-thin, ultra HD TV-screens.
The exhibition was flooded with internet enabled things ranging from the
connected toothbrush learning your kids how to brush their teeth, the basketball
with 8 built-in sensors and the smart bed pushing movement, heart rate and
breathing data to the cloud. While overwhelming to cover the whole exhibition I
have tried to list a few key examples and trends from CES 2014, with special
focus in the area of Internet of Things.

#1 Connected sports – become your own coach

Although sport giants such as Nike
and Adidas has been in the game for quite a while launching technology gadgets
such as Nike+, Fuelband and Smartwatch sports are increasingly becoming a
hotbed for innovation in how Internet connectivity can enable smarter,  more valuable and fun sporting goods and
services. For example Zepp labs sport motion sensors are tailored to analyze
and help improve your golf swing, baseball or tennis moves. For example, the
baseball app lets players and coaches review swings in 3D and measure important
aspects of each swing like bat speed and angle at impact, track progress and
trends over time, compare swings to pros and friends, and get personalized
tips, drills and coaching.

94fifty is a basketball with 8 integrated
sensors analyzing dribbling and shooting via a smartphone app. 94fifty apps are
for free but premium options will later on include personal coaching for a
small fee. Tennis giant Babolat has launched their first tennis racket including
sensors to track how well you hit the ball and analyze your tennis game in
detail. You get a score based on endurance, power and technique that you can improve
over time and compare with friends. Instabeat – a new startup showed a
prototype of swimming googles measuring heart beat directly in the googles for
the swimmer to optimize pace and master performance during training. Gadgets all
connected to the cloud – all dramatically changing how the user interact with
these brands and pave the way for new business models.

#2 Wearable technology in all form factors

Wearable sensor technology
comes in many forms  – integrated in
clothes or soles like Footlogger, or as small clip-on devices such as Kiwi
enabling you to build rules similar to the “if this then that” model. For
example using gestures to talk to home appliances or updating your online
nutrition log by talking the Kiwi device on your collar. Even smart jewelry was
demonstrated – making it possible to update integrated jewelry images via
bluetooth. Reebok showcased Checklight – a small impact detector for contact
sports to detect possible dangerous impacts in need of closer attention.
Although Google were not exhibiting, Google glasses were quite frequently seen
throughout the exhibition and were referenced as the ultimate wearable gadget. Garmin
launched Vivofit, their version of a Fuelband helping you to keep track of your
daily exercise and many more similar examples were showcased.

#3 “Mommytech” making life a little simpler

One area of CES was called “Mommytech”
showcasing anything from smart phone connected baby monitors to a sensor
equipped toothbrush making it possible to support kids in how to brush their
teeth in a proper way. Sensemother showed a smart hub with 12 different apps to
make life simpler at home. It includes small motion “cookies” which, attached
to different things and combined with rules, can bring real-time information
like if medicine box taken, when kids get back from school or a possible
intrusion in the home. Although Mommytech is a badly chosen descriptor it is
showing the movement to find usable and life improving services for daily
usage. These “appcessories” are often closely tied to the smartphone,
increasingly becoming an even more central part of daily practicalities.

#4 Connected, smart toys and kids gadgets

As sensor and connected
technology is getting cheaper and smaller it of course finds its way into toys
and kids gadgets as well. Beyond some 50 kids tablet versions there were
innovative new products such as Ibitz – an activity tracker for kids bundled
with an online game with the simple idea of rewards for physical activity that
you can use in the online game later on. Sphero looks like a simple plastic
ball but is a combination of a robot, gyro and accelerometer; bluetooth enabled
and steered by your smartphone with access to over 30 different apps and games.
It also includes an open development platform to spur 3rd party app
development, and inspire young kids into simple programming.

#5 Robotics – moving into the consumer space

Not surprisingly robots in all
forms draw a lot of attention at CES. More and more advanced robot vacuum
cleaners is now followed by robot window cleaners such as Ecovacs winbot and
home aid robots aimed for the consumer market. Another example is the Paro
therapeutic robot looking like a baby harp seal with fur meant to become a
companion or substitute to an ordinary pet, aimed to release stress and support
persons for example suffering from depression. Even simple consumer robots are
built to constantly learn and improve their skills over time.

#6 Life improving Health & Wellness products 

CES was flooded with  health and wellness products all getting
increasingly connected, either through inbuilt connectivity or via your smart
phone, and sending data to the cloud to help you to keep track of body
functions and activity levels. Wihtings showcased multiple smart products ranging
from scales to the Aura the sleep monitoring system. Vancive demonstrated the
Metria solution – almost like a band aid measuring calorie burned, activity and
sleep pattern.

Talking about sleep – the bed
is also getting smarter. Bed manufacturers Sleepnumbers launched the SleepIQ
app whereby you get detailed information about your sleep pattern all collected
in the cloud for historical trends and advanced analysis etc. Integrated
sensors collect data such as breathing rate, movement, heart rate and coupled
with your information about your eating, drinking, training etc. the aim is for
you to learn how to secure the right prerequisites for a good night’s sleep.

#7 Connected cars – moving towards standardization

As always a lot of attention focused
around the car manufacturers launching more and more advanced connected
services now moving far beyond the vehicle centric services such as remote
diagnostic and e-Call. Infotainment, real-time navigation, streaming music and
internet hotspot are deployed, not only in premium segments but are becoming a more
integral part of the future standard car. Kia, Ford, Audi and Volvo showcased
new applications, Chevrolet are integrating 4G services and Internet hotspots across
multiple models and Mercedes-Benz showcased how they have integrated their
in-car services  linked to other connected
“things” such as the Pebble watch and the Nest thermostat. And of course, “born
connected” electric and hybrid vehicles were also in the spotlight where the
fantastic Toyota I-road draw huge attention. It is evident that Internet
enabled services in the car can make driving both more safe, green and
convenient and that it is becoming one of the key selling points for most car

#8 The smart home – finally?

The smart home seems to have
gained some momentum and we are starting to see more products and services with
focus on the user value and usability rather than technology itself. Numerous
products in the home environment such as smart plugs, connected lightning such
as Philips Hue, thermostats and smart fire alarms (Nest), connected doorbell/camera
(Doorbot) coupled with remotely controlled door locks like Kwikset, smart
kitchen appliances from Samsung and Whirlpool, smart phone controlled watering
of indoor plants is of course side by side the all-connected TVs, gaming
consoles and Hi-Fi systems such as Sonos. Notably, more focus is now also about
tying it all together rather than to serve as totally separate streams and apps.
Revolv demonstrated a smart hub supporting 10 different wireless languages to
facilitate interaction between various home product manufacturers using
different protocols and technologies. Simplification like this will in turn
enable new services and improved usability for the end user – critical for the
smart home to reach beyond the obvious early adopters’ to the mass market.

Everything connected

In summary – the CES event is
clearly showing a vast momentum in that sensor and connected technology are
becoming a critical component for consumer companies of all kinds. It is also
evident that the big corporations are struggling to keep up with the pace of
small, (often crowd funded) companies where Internet is in their DNA from
scratch. The movement from selling “hard” products to smart services is not
easy to take. We will do our best to lower the barrier and enable more
companies get into the connected space to find new revenue streams, cut cost
and move towards a more sustainable business. Read more about how we can get
smarter together and our Cloud Connect concept.

/Robert Brunbäck, CMO at
Telenor Connexion

About CESThe International
CES is the world’s gathering place
for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Held in Las Vegas
every year, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough
technologies for more than 40 years—the global stage where next-generation
innovations are introduced to the marketplace.
Read more about the show here: http://www.cesweb.org

Telenor Connexion ist eine Tochtergesellschaft der Telenor Gruppe, einem der weltweit größten Mobilfunkbetreiber.