Connected Objects - 2014 Forecast before CES at Las Vegas

Livosphere Connected Objects

Best Wishes to all, full of connected objects

 

Here are my 2014 forecast for connected  objects before the CES in Las Vegas ( www.livosphere.com )

  • Star objects : Playable Devices, Games & Toys, pet and children care connected devices, B2B : Retail / Digital Point of sale
  • Google, Microsoft and / or Amazon launch their dedicated cloud platform for connected objects
  • The first bids more than a billion euros for the best startups of connected objects :  FitbitNest Jawbone  who knows  Withings or maybe Netatmo 
  • No launch of iWatch and no commercial launch of smart watches
  • Major brands  (DanoneNestleCoca-ColaL'OréalP&G...) engage in connected objects
  • The war on standards on "sub -1 GHz " in short range and the emergence of new ong range networks for low data rates (in addition to Sigfox) .

 

Let's see that in detail

 

1 . Connected objects  2014

 

After the health and wellness connected object, the next stars in 2014 for consumers will be playable devices ( sports equipment) , games and interactive toys, pet connected devices and for B2B,  Retail.

- Playable Devices ( sports equipment by reference to wearable devices) , will become one the flagships for connected objects in 2014. Here are some recent examples , some are still handcrafted : the Adidas Smartball soccer ball , the 94Fifty  basketball, the Babolat Play  tennis racket, the  FWD Powershot  hockey stick, the Indy Tracker  skateboard, the LifeBEAM  bike helmet , the Oakley ski mask, tracking in real time, athletes during sports competitions  with MyGeoLive, connected textiles for athletes with Cityzen Sciences. 

 

There are two reasons for this, firstly, sporting events attract the largest number of people , the 2014 Football World Cup will illustrate it in a few months . The use of connected  objects by sports greatly contributes to increase their awareness and accelerate their sales devolpment. In addition, sports are increasingly gready in data, given back to viewers through statistics, computer graphics... Connected objects will fill that data need with unrivalled accuracy and richness.

 

Like for smart activity tracker, competition also promotes the use of data to improve its performance, to compare between each other and to motivate ourselves.

 

- Games and Interactive Toys

 

There were a few key products in Santa Claus shoes this year with Disney Infinity  and especially Skylanders  ( the first version was launched in 2011), but this is the lowest interactivity level using static bases with RFID / NFC , which derives from RFID tags from Mirror  by Rafi Haladjian.

At the end of 2014, "videos toys" will be much more interactive , we know since a while the AR Drone de Parrot or Sphero from Orbotix which are already at their second release. But have you heard about Anki Drive, a smart driverless toy car where you can compete against a virtual player on a real miniature circuit able to prevent your car and beat you... or ePawn and Editions volumiques  that enhance your game boards or your tablets  so you can directly create an  interaction between your figures and the screen.

 

One of the advantages for manufacturers, beyond the one of players and new possibilities offered by this new interactivity, is to create consumer products , figures at very low cost , sell at high margins, significantly extend the life of the game and also to foster the purchase of virtual goods with zero marginal cost.

 

- The pet and children care connected devices 

How much are we willing  to sacrifice for our beloved pets ? To track their physical activity (FitBark), locate (e-Collier from SFR) , or give them something to eat when we are not present (Pintofeed) , a connected object was designed. The market for pets connected objects is still in its beginning while the needs are great and many of us are willing to pay large sums of money to feed them, cure them , distract them ...

 

For children, there will also be many solutions like the Guardian wristband to know when they come back home or track them (however, tracking them constantly isn't the best way to build trust !).

 

- Other uses: Smart Home , energy control , security, home maintenance

 

Many other uses has hit the headlines in 2013 in Smart Home , energy control, safety and home care and will continue to do so in 2014 . Companies like Netatmo, NestMyFoxLockitron develop their offer and certainly will make announcements at 5/1Instanciation 2014 CES in Las Vegas  in a few days and new companies like Archos start the connected objects market.

 

However, we must always keep in mind two questions to ask when launching  a connected object :

  • What it brings to my users by connecting my product and that they did not have before ?
  • Are they willing to pay more for it ?

 

-   Retail (B2B)

 

In B2B , the physical integration of digital technologies at the point of sale complements  the Web-to-Store or Drive-to-store strategy. Connected objects will increasingly be part of outlets to track and promote in the point of sale (iBeacon) to mix the virtual and the real (Fliike , a Facebook like counter designed by Smiirl or connected hange from C&A which allows to like your favorite clothes but is a bit outdated).

 

There are multiple interests, increase customer loyalty, learn about the buyers and non-buyers  behaviors in and out of the outlet , increase virtually  their products range (virtual showrooms), create a link between their lives on the net + social network and IRL ( In Real Life) network. It is also a Fred Cavazza  forecast for 2014.

 

2. Google , Microsoft ( B2C ) and / or Amazon ( B2B ) launch their cloud platform for connected objects

 

Many High-Tech companies would dream to become the cornerstone of the Internet of Things and collect, process and provide the data transmitted by the connected things to become the new Google, Facebook or Amazon of connected objects.

 

Only one or two players will become a general player  to receive data from connected  objects even if there are existing platforms, such as the French Sen.se  from Rafi, Qeo from Technicolor, WeIO  promoted by Jean- Louis Fréchin and  U.S. companies like Ninja Blocks, SmartThings and Salesforce1 in B2B (makes a direct link between devices that have a failure and technicians who repair them) or DCP (Device connection Platform) from Ericsson. In 2014 , Google and / or Microsoft B2C will offer to retrieve all your connected  objects data ( Fitbit , Withings ... ) , to view them and alert you easily. Amazon will offer this service in B2B2C for businesses.

 

3. The first bids exceeding one billion euros for the best startups in connected objects

 

The data collected by connected objects are far superior in number, quality , richness and generally requires an initial opt-in customer , after, all the collection is automated. Web behemoths can not miss this and have to quickly buy players with a massive customer base with connected objects to can become a leader in this market in the coming years.

 

In 2014, potential takeover targets are in order: Fitbit, NestJawboneand who knows Withings and Netatmo, the potential bidders are : Google , Microsoft, Apple and may be Samsung.

 

4 . No launch of iWatch, and no significant sales in smart watches

 

Barriers like  very low autonomy, unreliable Bluetooth transmission with the smartphone, flexible screen will not be resolved in 2014 while they are essential for the market to take off

 

5 . The big brands are engaging into connected objects

 

Major brands of power (ex: Danone, Nestle, Coca-Cola... ) cosmetics, hygiene (ex: L'Oréal, P&G ... ) and generally all major global brands will communicate widely and begin distributing their connected objects. In 2014, it is still too early to become get large sales, but e -commerce needed also  a few years before taking off.

 

Connected objects allow brands to re-create a direct link with their customers , collect more accurate usage data that they would through their usual intermediaries ( retail, media ... ). Don’t forget , the largest database in the world of weight is Withings with its WiFi scale.

 

Add a pinch of Big Data and you potentially have a gold mine  (and much more demanding customers ;)

 

However, the brands will less be able to cheat on the benefits of their products as customers require hard evidence and have all the means to verify directly or through other consumers.

 

Note for  some manufacturers, especially in electrical appliances. They may see their business in jeopardy if they do not rethink now about their strategy in terms of services, business models, Go-To-Market and Customer support about connected  objects. La Redoute (a french mail-order company) has paid the price with its e-Commerce strategy.  An approach such as the one from Livosphere helps make the right choice because it is useless to launch me-too connected objects if they do not offer differentiating services that customers are willing to use and even pay.

 

6 . The war on "sub - 1GHz " standards in short range and the emergence of long range networks at  low bandwidth  (in addition to Sigfox) .

 

"Sub - 1 GHz " short-range (868 MHz in Europe, 902-928 MHz in U.S.)

 

These frequencies widely used in the building and home automation, have two advantages over WiFi and Bluetooth (Smart / 4.1 and BLE - B. Low Energy ) technology most used by the connected objects (excluding home automation), they consume very few  energy (less than BLE) , are cheaper and have a much larger range.

 

The problem is that there are no standard among the main protocols (6LoWPan, EnOcean, Zigbee, ZWave ) . For example, you can not use your Zigbee system to communicate directly with EnOcean devices or 6lowpan while they communicate in the same frequency band.

 

It is not bearable. At the end of 2014, one or two standards in 868 MHz / 902 MHz will step out, other protocols are doomed to disappear or will be dedicated to a dedicated market ( ex: B2B in the building or dedicated to some brands ) .

 

The criteria that will tip the scales are

  • scope, low cost , ease of integration with the Internet (advantage to 6LoWPan)
  • reliability and low power consumption taking into account energy harvesting (advantage to EnOcean)
  • installed base and its evolution (advantage toZwave  and Zigbee  but the Zigbee solutions are not all interoperable between them!)

There is still an outsider released in 2016 ... WiFi 802.11ah  on "sub- 1 GHz " frequencies, but it might be too late ...

 

Long-range "Sub - 1 GHz"

 

In 2014, the "Sub - 1 GHz" longe range networks such as Sigfox  networks will extend in the world and offer national coverage . They will compete with 2G , 3G M2M mobile networks, for very low data rate (which is often the case ) for much lower prices. The only hitch, the price of mobile data and 2G/3G M2M transmitters have declined drastically in recent years , reducing the pricing advantage.

 

The interest is to enable connected objects to connect directly with server (or the cloud ) without a smartphone ( Bluetooth ), an ADSL box ( WiFi) or radio relays ( 868 MHz / 900 MHz ) itself connected to an ADSL box with a lower hardware and subscription costs, energy consumption and 2G/3G footprint.

 

And it 's not over ...

 

There are many other topics that will hit the headlines in 2014 as indoor geolocation, big data dedicated to connected  objects, data protection from connected objects , the rise of Smart Home offers by telecom operators , energy ...

 

Feel free to share your ideas and comments.

 

I wish you a happy new year 2014 year with connected objects that will often at the heart of the news and increasingly at the heart of our homes.

 

 

Dimitri Carbonnelle - Founder of Livosphere - @livosphere

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