CES 2015 – Wearables, Automation and more

I attended CES 2015 earlier in the month and it was very much worth the trip (see pictures). CES is big, very big:

  • 2.2M ft2 of exhibits
  • > 3.6K exhibitors
  • > 170K visitors overall
  • > 45K visitors from outside the US

The number of visitors is pushing the hotel capacity of Las Vegas (also see facts and more facts).  This year the show is organized in 3 main areas (PDF, web site): Tech East, Tech West, and the C Space.  There are also several other smaller areas for meetings with customers, press, etc… and there is the actual conference, which I skipped like last year.  As I said: it’s a big show. CES Tech East, at the LVCC, the Las Vegas Convention Center, was the main area. CES Tech West focused on IOTish technologies and was at the Sands Expo.  The C Space focused on media and was at The Aria. Navigating CES is a “challenge”.  Below is the “cheat sheet”; the actual catalog is the size a small phone book. 2015-CES-Page5 Since I could only attend CES for 2 days I concentrated in the Sands Expo, which included most of the IOT-related topics I was interested.  I only spent a bit over an hour on Tech West, which meant I skimmed through the LG, the Intel and the Qualcom exhibits and missed all the Connected Car exhibits.  Oh well, tradeoffs…  I certainly was not short on interactions and photo opportunities – check this album for picts. Fitness / Wellness / Health A big topic this year was fitness devices.  All the companies you would expect were there, except, of course, Apple.   Many fitness devices now include heart rate monitors and some also include GPS radios.  Some trends: Analog Dials – Some vendors use analog dials to track progress.  Withings has an elegant tracker (shown below) with two dials.  One shows the time, the other shows the percentage of the progress against a fitness goal. 16255936821_ea22877e2e_z Several other vendors had variations on this theme.  iFit (from ICON) previewed several new fitness wearables, including one that showed steps, calories and miles, plus the time, all using analog dials: 16071907527_b7b817b505_z All these arrangements rely on the companion smartphone (connected using BLE) for more information and configuration.  A benefit is that these “displays” do not consume as much battery, and that the physical design can be quite flexible, like with normal watches. Fitness as Jewelry – Misfit wearables are a good example of a minimalistic trend where the fitness device is presented more as jewelry.   The display in these devices (Shine or Flash) just shows the progress against a goal using a number of small LEDs.  These devices only have a 3-axis accelerometer and the BLE connection but the battery lasts 6 months and the device can used in many ways including several wristbands, several necklaces, your socks, a t-shirt and more.   There is even a Swarovski Shine collection. 16071594959_dbcb9d2bd4_z Convergence – This is another related and somewhat opposing trend, where these devices can also be used to relay messages from your smartphone.  Designs like the Microsoft Band, the FitBit Surge, the Android Wear devices, and many more.  I bought a MS Band at CES and I’ve been using it since then and I’m quite happy with it; it comes with a boatload of sensors and has 2 day battery life (I don’t use the GPS feature). These devices show a lot of promise and traction.  And this is all before the Apple Watch is released.  The wealth of sensor data is very interesting at multiple levels, from preventive care / wellness to post-hospital health tracking.  And all this combines with instrumented and connected exercise equipment, like the iFit devices from iCON, and with connected health support for elder at-home care, like Onkol (the base-station comes with its own cellular radio for simple 1-step configuration).  We are certainly on for a very interesting year. 15635344404_bd28bc83b1_z Home Automation Another topic of interest is home automation.  Here the interoperability situation is a bit more complicated as we have different protocols (software and hardward) and different ecosystems.  Google’s Nest is beginning to show some traction with their Works with Nest program that includes appliances like Whirlpool, smart lights like Phillps Hue, smart locks and more. CES had several other players including Mother from sen.se, which claimed significantly better reach and battery life than traditional BLE (the presenter & CEO said it was because they were much less chatty). 16256880602_5c2bb62fcb_k I asked several of the presenters about Apple HomeKit support and most everybody said it was on their plans but nobody had dates.  Some companies announced a few HomeKit certified products, including iDevices Switch and elGato Eve, but no dates either.  Apple is always hard to predict, it will be very interesting to see exactly what Apple announces.  I’m certainly awaiting for the devices so we can use it with some interns and students. More from Tech West Tech West had many other interesting booths.  From my Flickr album… PetChatz, a treat-delivery gadget for dogs (and smart cats too):

16232007856_9949fa1394_z

VisiJax, a Connected Jacket Platform (I think this can be developed into multiple directions): 16070391558_b9a4c09f20_k Cake 3-D Printing:

16072059117_df151b0f1a_k

ConnectedCycle, connected pedals with GPS and no battery (self-powered by rotational energy):

16070339958_81956d43c7_z

Tech East I spent minimal time at Tech East.  I was particularly interested in the Connected Car as I saw some of that activity a while back while at BlackBerry, but I couldn’t get there.  The most interesting gizmo I saw was the Nixie Wearable Camera, using an Intel Edison board running a bunch of real-time algorithms so the drone can fly away from you, take a picture of your group (or of the climber) and come back to you. 16072046667_f639f9eecf_o I didn’t spend any significant time looking at SmartGlasses, but the Oculus Rift was present in different booths, from Lowe to Activetainment B1 bicycle. Epson also showed their collaboration with APX Labs and several others also had new glasses, with emphasis on enterprise applications, which I think are very promising. Call To Action Compared with last year’s CES, the products this year seemed much more closer to fruition.  This will be a very interesting year for connected devices, and corresponding services. So, what is Progress angle around these technologies?   We believe that these technologies will be adopted very quickly in the consumer space and that they will then transition to enterprises, offices, factory floors, and all the environments used by our direct and indirect customers.  We have seen this adoption pattern happen before (*). The adoption for these connected devices will start later but it will be faster than with mobile devices, so we need to understand how the technologies will be used, and how our tools and platform environments should evolve to support them. (*) The adoption of SmartGlass technology may be different.  It may start in the enterprise space (hands-free worker) before the adoption in the consumer space. Progress has the key pieces for this connected future including NativeScript (so you can use JavaScript to write apps leveraging the latest APIs), Modulus (Node.js platform), Telerik tools and Platform, Rollbase and Corticon, and DataDirect Cloud and Easyl. A very interesting future indeed!

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