2015 – bigger than ever

It only wrapped up less than a week ago, but with registration open for 2016’s show, the proverbial dust has well and truly settled on Las Vegas’s International Consumer Electronics Show

The annual trade event for innovation is hotly anticipated amongst the tech community, and this year saw over 170,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors from around the world clamber to see or sell what they think will be the breakthrough trend or product which will drive the industry for the coming year.  Over 20,000 products whetted the appetite of attendees, which ranged from a 3D sweet printer, remote free smart electric skates, a smart sensor to keep your plants alive and countless drones and ever-smarter TVs (feel free to browse at your leisure).

Did we learn anything?

Despite the tidal wave of technical innovation on show, there were two words that seemed consistent: ‘smart’ and ‘connected’. The Internet of Things (IoT) emerged as a key focus for 2015 - at its most basic, this is the concept of connecting everyday objects with the internet. This could include people, headphones, homes, bicycles – more or less anything you can think of - and reinterpreting data from them ‘smartly’ (more of this later).  

Arguably, the trend itself may have already 'trended' a couple of years ago with various permutations like the ‘internet of me’ and the ‘internet of caring things’ being talked about in its place. But the real difference this year is that fully marketable products were presented in place of the high fidelity prototypes of the past couple of years. For example – take wearables, which since 2011 have moved from being a simple concept to a fully-fledged market segment.

The feedback loop

In order for the IoT to truly deliver success throughout 2015 and beyond, companies need to balance harnessing the possibility of technology with establishing utility. Success for the IoT feels like a slightly intangible concept, but put simply, it’s about impacting users’ lives in a meaningful way – i.e. making them spend less, become more environmentally conscious or take better care of their health.

This idea was highlighted in Shawn G. DuBravac’s keynote speech, where he discussed the need for feedback loops – the process of carefully actioning the insight gleaned from data collected. DuBravac, who is Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research at the Consumer Electronics Association stated: “The quality of a feedback loop for a digitised product will determine whether or not the product will be any use for a consumer...not just that we can digitise it, but if we can digitise it, is it going to be meaningful?” 

The year ahead

The IoT is gaining a lot of traction, particularly in the areas of the smarthome, wearables and transport and travel. This latter category is led by the increased testing of ‘semi-autonomous’ and ‘autonomous vehicles’ – driverless cars. What is interesting about this category above all others is that it seems the most defined; wearables tend to cross into lots of categories such as health and fitness, nutrition etc., but this sits squarely within one sector. 

In 2014, our whitepaper looked at ‘The Connected Traveller’ in some detail. For the year ahead, we’ll continue to look at the Travel & Leisure sector and think about how the IoT will inevitably broaden our choices of where and when to travel, connecting us more closely to new destinations by facilitating the way we get there.