Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018!

As we set into the New Year, and on the onset of CES 2018 where companies showcase their capabilities and plans for coming year, its time to set our eyes on the things we might or even want to expect in the year 2018.

There are a few trends that we can expect to see across a wide range of technology segments emerging in 2018, however these will also create challenges and questions for the industry in the year ahead.

  1. The CES Show is now becoming Show of IoE (Internet of Everything), moving beyond TVs, smart phones and appliances, now even covering automobile from technology perspective.
  2. Voice is the new consumer interface, so we could expect voice-recognition technology embedded into almost everything. Smart speakers will grow to be a key element of wider digital assistant market.
  3. Appliances move to ‘Generation Next’, becoming mainstream with digital technology – getting more and more efficient, smarter, intelligent, connected and integrated within the smart home ecosystem and also extended home i.e. cars, bikes, wearables and also offices.
  4. Move over VR and AR, Mixed Reality is next ‘in thing’. However, content will be key.
  5. Backed by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learnings, Cloud Storage and Computing, the world of IoT is becoming more and more data-driven, intelligent and automated.

 

The Home Appliance market is going through rigourous transformation

  • Home appliances are moving from being smarter to intelligent to connected to being  integrated into wider IoT ecosystem, backed by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
  • Appliances are expected to get more energy efficient backed by design and technology re-engineering. As innovations become key for differentiation and survival it would be vital to see if upcoming innovations are step forward or leap forward
  • Connectivity and voice-recognition technology will see adoption beyond major home (white goods) to small home to personal care appliances to robotic appliances (domestic service robots)
  • Technology evolving from ‘No Touch’ to ‘Touch/Swipe’ to ‘Touchless’. From Touch to Voice Recognition to Face & Image Recognition.
  • Laundry robots market start to get crowded – Expect few launches and more news on this technology segment.
  • How much transformation has taken place so far?
    • Have appliance manufacturers started the process of technology transformation?
    • Change in mind-set and approach of doing business will determine whether companies want to compete or feel redundant.
    • Appliance makers needs to stop thinking like a manufacturer and approaching the business like a technology company. Focus has to shift from being customer-led (dealer/distributor) to being consumer-led (end-user), as business is shifting from that of selling products (appliances) to selling services (technology solutions)
  • How unique, differentiated and sustainable are the proposed use-cases for consumers to shift to smart connected home appliances and how have we planned to keep consumers engaged?
  • Time to monetise
    • It will be  interesting to examine how have companies started to reap (monetise) from the connectivity opportunity
  • How appliances makers intend to use Big Data, predictive analysis and other high-speed data analytics, it will be interesting to watch the development of Cloud Computing throughout 2018. Time to speculate next round of acquisition news
    • Expecting couple of major announcements related to M&A, technology tie-up and partnerships as home appliance market is set to consolidate further
    • Some of expected partnership and collaboration news would surprise many.

 

The Smart Digital Assistant market will continue to grow and further evolve

  • We moving into Alexa ‘Voice-etailing’ economy or 'voice commerce', where digital assistants becomes our  commands or sends us reminders to one who guides and help in shopping.
    • That being said we may be circling back, working along the inseparable brick and motor economy (offline trade). As smart speakers continue to gain adoption, we expect the market entering premium segment. This is where Apple, Samsung and other brands will want to catch up.
  • Smart speakers form-factor will see some innovations
    • From standard looking speaker to one with displays, face/image recognition technology, touch screens, cameras; multi-functional uses; from being standalone single unit to ones that could be detached and integrated format.
    • Alexa everywhere - Alexa family is expected to grow beyond Echo Dots, Shows, Spots into other form factors
    • Digital assistants will increasingly move beyond smart phone and smart speakers, even outside homes into smart home appliances; security devices like doors, locks; smart thermostats, lights, plugs; furniture & fixtures; smart mirrors, keys, cars, bikes, toys, fitness trackers, wearables, smart watches, ear-buds, service robots and drones, everywhere. We will even see voice-recognition technology used in offices, businesses and small and large enterprises.
  • Smart speakers extend from being common household device to one that is personalised to every family member; from being located in living rooms to entering other sections of house. One would have personalised designs, sleek, elegant, contemperory, classic, different materials (steel, fabric, mirror, wood finsih). etc. Evolution has just started to begun. 
  • Smart speakers using Artificial Intelligence with even predict your questions; knowing your day as well as personality.
  • Smart speakers market is expected to widen into other language markets
  • One device, many assistants
    • Many smart speakers may shift from having a dedicated assistant to integrating multiple assistants leaving the choice with consumer whether they want to use Alexa, Google Home, Siri, Cortana, Bixby or other personal digital assistant.
    • Many more players expected to enter the smart speaker market in 2018

 

Robotic technology

  • Wider adoption robotic technology expected – from selling robotic appliances to manufacturing appliances with robotic technology
  • How far are robotic appliances entering our lives – vacuum cleaners, floor cleaners, lawn movers, swimming pool cleaners, window cleaners, kitchen chefs, laundry folding bots, domestic service robots, social robots
  • Extended use of domestic service robots, as info-edutainment robots for example
  • With nearly one million drones expected to have been sold during Christmas 2017, what new innovations are in the pipeline – better batteries, more payload, better navigations, connectivity, image sensing, less noisy, more safe…
  • More humanoids to be seen soon.

 

Blockchain technology

  • Blockchain technology could be utilised within the consumer electronics market, beyond the hype of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies.
    • Application of Blockchain technology for monitoring and adding time and costs efficiency for supply chain management is set as good use-case.

 

Best of wishes and successes for the new year! 

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