We just spent a few days out at CES in Las Vegas, the biggest, baddest technology show of the year. Taking up multiple convention halls throughout Vegas, it is next to impossible to cover the whole show. But we tried, and we learned a lot about the coming wave of smart home devices.
I have been involved in some capacity in the consumer electronics industry since 1999, when I was part of a group that acquired an architectural speaker company. Back then the buzzword was “convergence.” The industry believed that a interconnection of products, or convergence, would develop within a couple years, led by the new communication standards of Bluetooth and fiber optic wired products. Speakers would talk to your computer, your computer would talk to your refrigerator, and your stereo would be controlled by a home system. It all felt very Disney’s World of Tomorrow.
They were only 15 about years off.
Thanks to the Android and Apple iPhone ecosystems, we finally can witness what has been promised for so long. At CES, the internet of things (IoT) and smart devices allow consumers to link up any number of cool products, home appliances, entertainment, and seemingly every kind of device imaginable to each other through their phones. Holy cow.
But all is not quite as nirvana as it seems. Many of the devices do not communicate with each other effectively, if at all. There are very few standards that are universally accepted. Which ecosystem to choose – Apple, Amazon, Google, or something else? While the world seems plug and play, set up can be very difficult.
This is still very early stages.
Back to CES, you see this in the range of exhibitors. We of course have the big guns like Google and amazon. Then you have the startups that may or may not have venture backing for their new widget. There are lots and lots of really cool ideas – most of which will not see any market traction and will drift to the Island of Misfit Toys. What I was impressed with was how certain categories just dominated the show. Drones. So many drones!
From my business perspective, there are a lot of smart home gadgets, all of which need power. No one is really thinking about power in new and novel ways. How can the power supply for a device be more than just a dumb transformer? Yeah, lots of things have batteries, but how annoying is it to recharge batteries? Everything I own that needs to be recharged becomes inoperable at some point. This is where we see our opportunity. Power – clean, safe, secure all the time for all devices.
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