CES or Consumer Electronics Show first started in 1967 as a venue for electronics companies to preview their products to industry professionals and the press. Over the years, it became the destination for new product launches. Defining technologies of the 20th century like the VCR, CD Player, DVD, Microsoft Xbox, Blu-Ray Disc and OLED TV were announced at CES.
This year’s CES happened last week and like previous shows, this year has seen some amazing technology being previewed. In our summary of the event, we highlight 4 “Smart” trends that have defined CES 2015 for us as mobile app developers.
Wearables have been in the news for the past few years accompanied by so many releases that there is a website dedicated only to showcase all the available and announced wearables (http://www.wearables.com). A treasure trove of new wearables have been revealed this year in CES. Here are the ones that captured our attention.
Nymi Band uses an individual's pulse to verify the identity and use that to authenticate various access points, which usually would have required other conventional methods of authentication. Nymi claims that it can work with other technologies to enable you unlock systems, pay for purchases and also provide keyless entry possibilities to your home and vehicles. While the pulse reading technology seems very promising, we are keen to see how effective the device is in real world use when our developer kit arrives next week.
Misfit’s Swarovski Shine
Misfit’s Swarovski Shine is a device that falls in a grey area between a jewellery product and a fitness tracker. It paves the path for the future where fitness technology can be integrated with devices that would enable not just the fitness and technology enthusiasts, but regular people also wear. We are looking forward to seeing more of this type of technology that can be used for authentication or to act as beacons to trigger preset commands.
Jins Meme is a wearable glass made by a Japanese company, which looks at understanding information based on your eye activity on a daily basis. Unlike other glass products being launched in the market, this product concentrates on deriving data and information from your eyes instead of broadcasting data onto your eyes. The device can measure fatigue levels and can enable users to be reminded to get a rest at appropriate times. It also does usual activity tracking by measuring the posture of the user while wearing the glasses.
LG’s WebOS Smartwatch
LG had previously launched an Android wear watch which released last year after Android announced the Wear platform. Now LG is partnering with Audi to release a watch that based on WebOS. This is the first Smartwatch to have WebOS, so something to try.
Technically cars have been getting smarter over the years, with chips being installed in engines to provide diagnostic information and monitor data. This year's CES introduces a sleuth of smart car products that make the car marketing very interesting for app designers and developers.
Harman Integrated Essentials Cockpit
Harman has unveiled an integrated essentials cockpit solution which would integrate CarPlay technology with a console screen of the vehicles. One positive effect of this is that the driver will not have to shift their focus from driving to interact with the entertainment system. Instead, the driver would use a touchpad installed on the steering wheel to interact with CarPlay system. Putting everything on the console screen of the driver can potentially distract the driver, but we are hoping that effective integration of Siri & voice would lower the risk of distraction.
Pioneer NEX in-dash receivers
Pioneer was one of the first companies to release a CarPlay enabled system that were sold separately without being packaged with a brand new car. Now during CES 2015 Pioneer has released the second generation of in-dash receivers that would enable consumers to purchase this and embed it into their current vehicles. Pioneer has announced that they would be release devices that would support both CarPlay, as well as Android Auto in the same unit, , enabling users to switch systems based on their smartphone usage.
Blue Link System
One of the interesting new technology systems demonstrated during CES is the Blue Link system that Hyundai previewed. Currently, the Blue Link system works with Android Wear and enables the user to interact with their car in various ways. It can flash the parking lights or unlock the car doors or even start the car. Hyundai claims that this will launch during the first quarter of this year and is also talking about enabling this system for the Apple Watch too. This opens up immense number of opportunities for other vehicle manufacturers to introduce similar systems.
Parrot RNB6 Infotainment System
Parrot was one of the first companies to push into the drone making business and have been quite successful at that. Their drones have become some of the most talked about and used in the market. Now they are entering the in-car infotainment systems business and their first system is Parrot RNB6 Infotainment System, which is compatible with both CarPlay and Android Auto. It is going to be interesting to see how it fares with existing players in the market and most high-end auto manufacturers looking at launching their infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto embedded in them. As a bonus, Parrot is also throwing in few extra features like on-board diagnostics, maintenance alerts and a dash cam, which is accessed through the infotainment system.
Smart homes are essentially the Internet of Things, which has been gaining a lot of importance over the past few years. This year at CES there were quite a few announcements of products that are looking at pushing this ecosystem forward into providing better set of features to end consumers.
Nest the smart thermostat was a revolutionary product when it released 2010. In 2014, Google acquired it and since then they have been looking at setting up the whole ecosystem around this technology. This year at CES Nest has announced that a lot of companies like Whirlpool, Philips Hue and IFTTT have been working on integrating their services into Nest’s ecosystem under a program called Works. In all Nest, is getting ready to become the thermostat that could eventually become the base for a whole connected Smart Home.
Since its acquisition of SmartThings, Samsung has been working on enabling all their various electronic devices to interact with each other. During CES, Samsung declared that every product of their’s, be it a smartphone or a washing machine will be IOT ready in the next few years. This puts Samsung at an advantage being one of the few companies which have a presence in most of the consumer electronic categories. It will be exciting to see the future (which Samsung claims is NOW) where all devices will be truly connected and will create an actual Smart Home.
Apple announced HomeKit in WWDC 2014 and app developers, and enthusiasts have been waiting to see what kind of integration this will enable for end users. During CES 2015, a couple of companies have shown how HomeKit will work and have previewed devices empowered with this technology. Schlage Sense is one of the examples that utilises Siri’s voice commands to unlock doors, without having to use traditional keys. Elgato Eve and Belkin Wemo have both worked with HomeKit to launch a series of devices which will enable users to seamlessly connect their homes.
Television companies have been implementing internet connectivity and other smart features to their devices for the past few years, but they have been very restricted due to unavailability of specialised operating systems for these devices. They had to rely on their operating systems for these devices and had to encourage developers to create applications that they could then install these devices. This year CES saw the launch of few television devices which are now empowered with specialised operating systems, opening up opportunities for developers worldwide to create interactive and innovative applications for televisions.
Android TV is a television focused operating system version of the mobile OS Android. This was announced in mid-2014 and companies have been investing in looking at opportunities to implement it into their televisions. A lot of companies including Sony have adopted this OS into their television sets. Sony has announced that from 2015, all Bravia televisions will be equipped with Android TV OS.
Razer is known for its beautifully designed gaming peripherals. In the past few years, they have been entering various related industries by launching devices themed like their peripherals. One of the devices, they have previewed during this year's CES, is a device called Razer Forge. Razer Forge is essentially a box shaped device which lets you access Android TV features by connecting it to your television. Along with it this device can also stream games from various services that stream PC games like Steam, Origin, etc. This provides the user with an option to both interact with their Android ecosystem of movies, music, apps and games as well as enjoy games they have already purchased for their PC using Steam or Origin or similar systems that are supported by Forge.
Samsung announced that they would be using Tizen OS for all the Smart TV’s that will be released by them from this year. These televisions will be preprogrammed to interact with Samsung’s mobile and tablet devices quickly, enabling a better viewing experience for their consumers. Also, they will be working towards ensuring that this system is appropriately integrated with their plans to create a completely connected home for their customers in the future.
This year theme seems to be Smart, and we are extremely excited to see all these and the hundreds of other smart technologies that we could not cover here to launch in the coming years. As mobile app developers, we are looking forward to working with these technologies and creating apps that would interact with these devices when they launch. We already have developer kits for a few of these devices and can't wait to share some of the work we have been doing with enterprises and start-ups in the wearables space.