Is 2016 The Year IoT / Connected Devices Reach Maturity?

Is 2016 The Year IoT / Connected Devices Reach Maturity?

19-Jan-2016 by Raph Crouan

At Startupbootcamp, we like having plenty of boots on the ground. From holding FastTrack events in every major startup hub and upcoming cities to attending the world’s best tech conferences –  we like having our ears and eyes on the ground. It’s not surprising then, that at this year’s CES, we had one of our Startupbootcamp MDs there, Hardware & IoT Expert Raph Crouan not only representing us but also making extensive notes on some of the trends coming out of this year’s CES in Las Vegas.
Follow the guide…

“All-you-can-eat” gadgetry…

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it’s known as, has always been a bit of a geek fest. As a visitor you get a sense of “all-you-can-eat” gadgetry pretty much at every turn …. You only have to see the 500+ “shenzhen-something” companies referenced in the exhibitors list this year.

Shenzen

USB-C cables / adapters this, Battery Pack that: a never ending sea of electronic clutter that will most likely never see the light of day.

Also – was it me or did half of Tech East (Main hall of the Las Vegas Conference Center) looked more like an Auto Show than an Electronic one this year?

Truth is : merging the now 100% smartphone-type electronic dashboards and an ever more connected / autonomous vehicle trends, we saw more cars at CES this year than ever. CarPlay (Apple), Android Auto (Google) and more proprietary options (Audi, Mercedes, Ford etc.) were all on display.

Even a totally new race-car concept was unveiled there for the first time = Faraday.

CARS

Of course, you could also gorge on staggeringly (& unnecessary) massive TVs with the slimmest figure or even .. transparent ones!
TV

But all craziness aside, we could clearly see a few important trends emerging this year:

1st : Startups are not the underdogs anymore at CES with a massive 300+ startups showcasing new tech from all around the world at Eureka Park (a dedicated zone in the Sands Expo hall & separated from the main Las Vegas Convention center). A majority of those surfing the IoT wave of course!

2nd : Some emerging trends, some validating existing tech & some showing market maturity were on display all over the show, namely:

  1. Baby tech is getting big;
  2. iHealth is separating from fitness & fitness is maturing / getting mainstream with multiple products;
  3. Smart home is not just about connected fridges anymore;
  4. Robotics is still up & coming with limited AI;
  5. Drones come now in all shape & forms;
  6. VR is literally everywhere!


1- BabyTech

The first time I saw baby tech looking like something that could become valuable was last year with a few examples of connected pacifiers pacif-i (from Blue Maestro). But, at this year’s CES the baby tech movement was everywhere, while its use cases have expanded considerably. From sleep monitoring, temperature capture to meal analysis and GPS positioning, all kinds of solutions are now specifically targeting the baby market. Baby tech is clearly here to stay.

BabyTech

2- Digital Health vs Fitness

Now that’s an evolution. Or rather a separation. Last year, we saw the birth of countless fitness wearables solutions. From the well known U.S. brands of JawboneFitbit or Misfit;  each one having its own version of a fitness band counting steps & tracking activity.

It’s become a commodity as Chinese manufacturers continue to white label their Shenzhen versions for a fraction of the price : just look at Xiaomi‘s version for … $15!

Which means the way forward for major brands was to either play the design / fashion card / Colors (Misfit with their new product Ray), or the expanded features one (Fitbit and it’s smartwatch version).

Meanwhile, others went for Pets (Tractive), or dedicated to specific sports such as Golf and tennis (PIQ).

Wearables

It seems the trends have evolved again, and what used to be fitness / sport only is expanding into digital health with more health data points being monitored & captured.

BreathOMeter / GetQardio / MobileVitals

Medical

Even some very advanced solutions that allow patients to live better with Parkinson’s Disease or Chronic Pain.

And as evolution is inevitable, we are actually starting to see the wearables turning into internables as described by a recent Ericsson Consumer Lab report (internal sensors in our body measuring wellbeing). Now that’s breakthrough tech.

3- Smart Home

Another area that evolved a lot over the last few years and got a kick out of the recent IoT frenzy is Smart Home. Initially led by small devices (thermostats / cameras / bulbs etc.), Smart home is now going mainstream too.

With all major brands reinventing your home – and NO it’s not only connected fridges – the Smart Home promise is now a reality.

All kinds of integrated solutions were on offer at CES and everyone is clearly betting on it to drive growth.

SmartHome

4- Robotics / Drones or Flyables

O.K. this is not new … but we have seen an ever increasing presence of Robots this year.

Help for your home, automation of tasks, Multimedia ones – all kinds.

ROBOTS

But also Drones: in all shapes & forms, not only small smartphone controlled ones, but also bigger / more extreme ones (like the brand new “ready-to-fly” winged drone Parrot Disco )!

Even human transportable drones such as the crazy new EHang one.

We know 2016 will be the year of real life / business cases for Drones (Amazon & retailers such as WallMart already pushing in that direction).

But surely also the year of more regulations.

We’ll just have to see how those connected flying things (flyable) will transform the landscape of our IoT World.

5- VR

Last but not least: VR VR VR!

Sooooo many examples of VR this year. First of course: the inevitable (& almost shockingly high priced) launch of Oculus Rift with a massive booth and a lot of people queuing to experience it for the 1st time.

VR

But also many other smaller ones … it seems like everyone is building a VR headset.

And this year, it was less about the tech and more about the content, digital art being front of mind — definitely a good evolution.

My final thoughts…

This CES 2016 edition certainly was the year of consolidation for connected-everything.

Autonomous vehicles, almost new categories with Flyables or Internables, more gadgets of all sorts … there was a never ending use of sensors everywhere!

But out of all of this, there is one trend emerging that I’d like to highlight: the one which will allow IoT devices to finally untether themselves from the overly present Smartphone. An example seen on the floor was the Seven Hugs remote.

And that my friends is a good trend we’ll be looking at very closely…

Want to check out more photos of my CES experience?

Go and visit my Flickr Gallery here.

Raph Crouan