Firstly, nostalgia. Secondly, soft finishes. Thirdly, mass customization. Here are the three style trends that were clearly visible at the beginning of September at IFA 2019 consumer electronics fair in Berlin.
Three tendencies, fifty photos. The photographs present both new products that premiered in September in Berlin and products that have been available on some markets for some time.
(here: custimizable fridge fronts)
Photography by Michał Mazur/TrendNomad.
Do you like this photo essay from IFA 2019? Do you think I deserve a cup of coffee (or two)? Wherever you are, you can donate a small sum of money using your PayPal account or credit card. All donations will help me to finance my journeys to fairs, festivals and conferences about design and new technology – this is where I find news for my website. Just click the rectangular button below to perform a secure transaction. Thank you for your support, it will help me to take a step forward and write new posts.
At CES, the consumer electronics and technology tradeshow that run in January in Las Vegas, it was clear in which direction tech companies are heading. However, the most interesting discovery from the heart of the world’s biggest tech event was a discreet sign of revolt against connecting virtually any device to the Internet.
Vocal computing and engaging the sense of touch for two-way communication with machines, as well as taking advantage of the data generated by the Internet of Things devices to increase sales of products adjusted to the needs of each client individually are no longer a plan for the future, but quickly becoming a standard. These trends include also companies which until yesterday had a little in common with consumer technology.
Here you can find the list of trends that dominated the fiftieth edition of CES. Plus, a signal that the future will not exclusively belong to corporations focused on connecting almost any device to the internet. Businesses that promise to protect customers from the digital world may also be successful.
On the presentation “2017 Tech Trend to Watch” that was given before the tradeshow, Consumer Technology Association’s chief economist Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., pointed the voice interface as the most important tech trend right now.
DuBravac drew attention to the fact that since circa 2010, when first wearable devices entered the market, the graphical user interface has been disappearing in certain categories of consumer electronics. DuBravac indicates that communication with machines relies more on more often on voice.
It did not take long to find many confirmations of his words. Two days later, when the CES was officially opened, plenty of consumer technology companies – including those offering vacuum cleaners (Samsung), ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers (Whirlpool), air purifiers (Coway) and printers (Canon) – launched products that can be connected to Amazon Echo to be managed by Alexa, the virtual assistant that speaks English and German.
Alexa can be asked, for example, to print a document, to turn on an automatic vacuum cleaner, to warm-up and to set an oven, to check the remaining time of the washing cycle and to change the temperature in the selected compartment of the refrigerator.
Amazonon Alexa was the top star at CES. Voice assistants from Google, Apple and Microsoft were mentioned very occasionally.
Today, Alexa is nothing more than a slimy on and off virtual switch activated by voice. It can also order a pizza or a taxi, and respond to simple questions, for example, those concerning weather or the traffic in the city.
Speaking of mobility, Ford and Volkswagen have promised to make Alexa a permanent passenger of their cars. In addition to the long list of obvious questions and commands, eg. to give directions, write down notes on the go, remotely control home lighting (seriously, what for?), one (!) function seems to be pretty useful. While driving a car, you can ask Alexa to read your Kindle e-book out. Naturally, Alexa will start declaiming it from the point you recently stopped reading the text.
More or less useful functions and various incarnations of Alexa were on everyone’s lips. However, her drawbacks were left unsaid. And Alexa, at least now, is far from perfect.
Today, Alexa does not understand the meaning of a series of commands spoken in the same sentence. For example, the request: “Alexa, increase the temperature in the room, play the music and dim the lights” will not work. Every request must be said separately, starting with the name of the Amazon’s virtual assistant.
Alexa does not distinguish different voices and does not know whose commands she should prioritise. Anyone who is in the range of microphones built into the Amazon Echo can control voice-friendly home devices. In theory, access to the system can be protected with a voice password. In practice, it is not difficult to eavesdrop it.
Film zamieszczony przez użytkownika TrendNomad.com (@trendnomad)
LG tries to fix this issue with face recognition technology. Apart from the built-in camera, the design of LG Hub Robot includes a screen to express “emotions” of the digital assistant, as well as moving parts to use “body language” that all go beyond verbal communication.
Regardless of the physical form of Alexa, doubts raise as the digital assistant never says “no”. It will take some time before Alexa will be able to refuse to execute some of our commands, asks how do we feel, and find the cause of our unusual behavior, when, for example, we ask her to increase the room temperature when it is already hot inside.
Today, “smart home” does not deserve its name. And it won’t until a home management system will be connected to artificial intelligence such as the IBM Watson supercomputer (goodbye, beloved privacy). Such cooperation was recently announced by EnOcean, the company specialised on energy independent Internet of Things.
Touch screens that are available on the market do not fully deserve their name either. They will be fully “touchable” when they enable us to feel textures of displayed materials (eg. textiles, wood, paper) with a bare finger. At CES I experienced that tactile sensations may be convincingly simulated by a smartphone or tablet.
When touching a flat screen with built-in haptic technology developed by a team of US-based company Tanvas, you can feel choppy, grainy, fine and other textures of displayed materials. Tanvas creates tactile sensations by affecting the friction that occurs between the screen and a finger. Their technology is based on electrostatics.
On a tablet with embedded haptic technology, an image of sand is grainy when touched.
Similar tactile experience, but based on a different technology, is delivered by the French start-up HAP2U. Here the friction between the screen and a finger is manipulated by ultrasonic vibrations.
Visiting Tanvas’s and HAP2U’s booths was interesting, but then in another hall, it came out that haptic technology goes far beyond tactile sensations given on a flat screen. The UK-based company Ultrahaptics has developed a technology that enables users to receive tactile feedback in 3D without touching any physical object.
This technology uses ultrasounds to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user. Users can “feel” touchless buttons and get feedback for mid-air gestures or interact with virtual objects. One of the areas of application of this technology may be the automobile industry.
Bosch cooperated with Ultrahaptics to unveiled at CES the prototype of in-car infotainment system based on contactless haptic technology. The goal is that a driver can intuitively, conveniently and safely operates onboard electronics without taking his or her eyes off the road.
3. Real virtual reality
People working on VR also shown their interest in the sense of touch. Slightly less stunning than Ultrahaptics’s technology, but still very interesting one was demonstrated by the TACTAI company at Ericsson’s booth.
Tactai Touch put on a fingertip gives you the impression of touching an object that you see on VR goggles. TACTAI team wants to replace the legacy buttons-based controllers by allowing users to interact directly and naturally with virtual worlds.
Another idea of accessories for VR was shown by the Tokyo-based company Cerevo. The set includes gloves-like controllers and shoes with built-in haptic technology.
When wearing Taclim shoes, a player feels under his or her feet delicate vibrations. Depending on a content watched on VR gogles, it may feel like walking on snow, sand, grass, etc.
Apart from technologies engaging the sense of touch, the next emerging trend in the field of VR is body 3D scanning. The aim is to put three-dimensional avatars that reflect individuals look into games and VR social media.
Start-up Bellus3D presented a scanner attached to a smartphone or tablet that measures 500,000 points on a human face to create a high-resolution and accurate face model in seconds. And the 3D model may be used not only for VR applications.
Bellus3D wants to use this technology also for confirming people’s identity and for a realistic simulation of the makeup effect without the time and mess associated with normal trial-and-error. Virtual beauty stores already exist, but now they use only 2D images, so there is a space for progress.
4. Beauty under control
The YouCam Makeup app is not new. It is already popular in many markets, but for me the time and place I discovered this brand was CES 2017. The app is used for putting a virtual makeup (including powder, lipstick, eye shadow, hair dyes etc.) on a selfie stored in the memory of a mobile device, or in real-time in the augmented reality.
Film zamieszczony przez użytkownika TrendNomad.com (@trendnomad)
The most interesting feature here is the online shop. Once you virtually try-on some cosmetics, you pay (with a real money, sorry) for those you like the most, and then you receive (real) products. The lesson worth to remember: virtual fitting in AR is made for real business.
Another product, HiMirror Plus is not an e-beauty store (at least, not yet). It is a smart mirror offering personalised skincare analysis based on the evolving condition of a user’s skin. The device also measures the effect of cosmetics applied on the skin.
Through the built-in camera and using the software, HiMirror analyse user’s skin condition including wrinkles, fine lines, complexion, dark circles, dark spots, red spots, and pores. The device identifies problem areas, so the user can react with suggested solutions. Plus, it measures the effectiveness of given cosmetics that can be scanned with a barcode.
HiMirror Plus also helps to apply makeup appropriately for any occasion. The mirror comes with LED light to simulate five different lighting scenarios: a sunset view, outdoor on a sunny day, a brightly lit office, a shopping mall or supermarket, and a restaurant or party venue.
You can analyse at home not only your skin but hair as well. For this purpose, you can use Hair Coach, a hair brush developed by Withings (Internet of Things) and Kérastase (hair care products) brands. The brush is equipped with a built-in microphone, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer.
Hair Coach diagnoses hair conditions mainly by listening to the sound of hair brushing. It identifies patterns, providing insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends, and breakage. And, naturally, it recommends appropriate Kérastase cosmetics to fix hair problems.
Here lies the core of a business based on Internet of Things: selling more products and services recommended and personalized to each client individually, using data generated by everyday devices connected to the Internet.
5. Giants are transforming
Why among the exhibitors present at CES you could find a huge cruise line and a sports clothing company? Well, both corporations announced in Las Vegas that they strongly bind their businesses with wearable technologies.
Carnival, the largest cruise vacation company in the world operating more than 100 ships worldwide under 10 brands, launched the wearable device called Ocean Medallion. Later this year it will replace keys, wallets, and tickets on The Regal Princess, the largest cruise ship in the company’s fleet. Then, gradually, the technology will be put on boards of other ships belonging to the corporation.
The medallion is delivered free of charge to client’s home. Then the device makes boarding and disembarking the ship as simple as walking past a sensor.
It unlocks your room door when you walk up without any other key. It lets you pay for any purchase you do on the ship and it remembers your preferences to make it much easier to order your favorite meal and drink (through a smartphone or on touch screens placed throughout the ship). All you have to do is to wear the tiny device equipped with the Bluetooth and NFC technology on your wrist or as a pendant, or just keep it in a pocket.
It was not such a huge sensation that the American sports clothing company Under Armour unveiled at CES a new line of shoes with built-in sensors. What is here really worth noticing is the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear line. It is all about the inner side of the fabric that features soft bioceramic particles.
Every piece from the hi-tech apparel collection that includes long and short sleeves, pants and shorts, absorbs the body’s natural heat and reflects it back to the skin as far infrared. It helps the body to recover faster, reduces inflammation, regulates cell metabolism, and foster better sleep. Good night, competitors!
Sticking to the story of new kind of clothing related to technology, but looking beyond five trends from CES 2017 mentioned above, one should also pay attention to the extremely interesting product that can be seen as an expression of people’s lack of comfort (or a fear) caused by the increasing number of devices connected to the Internet, as well as a revolt against our addiction to online life and technology. Let me present you the winner of CES 2017 (in my personal competition): men’s underwear brand SPARTAN.
SPARTAN underwear is made of cotton with the pure silver fibre sewn throughout it. The company’s CEO claims that metal thread acts as an electromagnetic shield, blocking 99% of radiation from cellphones and Wi-Fi.
If someone is concerned whether radiation has a direct and negative impact on men’s fertility, this is a perfect product made for him. Additionally, the silver prevents bacteria from proliferating and, in doing so, eliminates odours that may build up throughout the day.
All pictures and videos by TrendNomad.com. More content from CES 2017 you can find on my Instagram profile.
Do you find my CES 2017 summary interesting? Then buy me a coffee! Wherever you are, you can donate a small sum of money using your PayPal account or credit card.
All donations will help me to finance my journeys to fairs, festivals and conferences devoted to design and new technology – this is where I find news for my website. Just click the rectangular button below to perform a secure transaction. Thank you for your support, it will help me to take a step forward and write new posts.
Cheap home appliances connected to the Internet will be linked to the development of many – rather not so cheap – online subscription services, including those ordered through home robots using voice interface. After IFA 2016 fairs it is quite clear what kind of household appliances may become the standard over the next decade, even though today they still may look like quite futuristic.
Internet of Things – or, better to say: Internet of household appliances – closely associated with development of businesses based on online shopping and delivery services, voice interface, devices that provide a sense of self-sufficiency, and accessories of virtual reality beyond the VR-these goggles – these are five trends spotted at IFA fairs that run in early September in Berlin.
1. The high price of cheap Internet of Things
A. – Every device that we connect to the electricity grid, will be very soon connected to the internet as well. There will be also gadgets and devices that will go online without us, the consumers, even knowing about that – tells Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure at IFA+ Summit.
– This could be really simple devices such as a toaster or a lightbulb. [Manufacturers] will do that to gather information about the usage, to gather analytics about how much our devices are being used, and where they are being used. [They want to know for marketing purpose whether they] have more customers toasting bread on the East side of Berlin or on the West side of Berlin – adds Mikko Hyppönen.
Not all devices will go online with a benefit to consumers. Some of them will go online not to benefit us, but to benefit their manufacturers.
– Why would anybody like to hack my fridge? Hackers are not interested in my fridge or a toaster, but they are interested in the network that they are connected to. Hackers do it to steal something. When you have a typical network, a home or an office network, it is typically well secured. And then an employee brings to an office an IoT coffee maker and connects it to the Wi-Fi. That is the weakest point in the corporate network. In the future, remember not only to patch your computer, phone and tablet. Remember to also patch your lightbulb – concludes Mikko Hyppönen.
B. – From the business point of view, we will see any non-connected product as a lost business opportunity – tells David Cronström (on the video below, first from the right), Head of Innovation/Connectivity, Electrolux, on the panel session titled ”Smart World: Home Appliances”.
– It looks like the value of the connected consumer compared to the not-connected one is twice higher. If this assumption becomes real, we can imagine that some companies will release products that are much cheaper than non-connected versions or even for free – tells Cyril Brignone (in the centre), CEO at Arrayent.
2. Merging products with services
A. At some markets, there are washing machines that can automatically place an order for a detergent, as well as refrigerators connected to an online supermarket. Now, it is time to merge an oven with IoT and home delivery services. But instead of ordering food from the control panel of an oven, it is about programming the kitchen device from an external mobile app which is an online grocery store and a cookbook in one.
Bosch announced at IFA to cooperate with HelloFresh, an online deli offering a regular supply of fresh food. Every box containing the right proportions of ingredients includes recipes. Printouts are, of course, also available on HelloFresh mobile app.
Soon, every recipe available in the HelloFresh app will also include a one-click button to program the Bosch connected oven. The kitchen appliance will heat up to a temperature perfectly matched to a dish from the recipe and then will work for an appropriate time.
B. It came out that a direct collaboration with delivery services is also as a business opportunity for Daimler, the owner of Smart car brand. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Managers at Daimler AG announced the start of “Ready to Drop” service provided in cooperation with DHL.
An order placed online with “Ready to Drop” option will be delivered by DHL courier directly to the trunk of our parked Smart car (or picked-up from it if we want to return something).
You can use your car as a personal mobile mailbox – tells Dr. Dieter Zetsche in his keynote.
The courier will open doors by the application using a one-use code. At the beginning of the “Ready to Drop” service will be available in Stuttgart, Germany, and then will start in Cologne and Berlin. Next year, the service will be also launched in Mercedes cars.
3. In-home robots with the voice interface
A. Visitors of Bosch and Siemens booths (both companies belong to BSH) could meet Mykie, a concept of a smart kitchen assistant.
Mykie responds to the user’s voice by means of voice recognition. It listens to users and answers their simple questions about the weather or the latest stock market prices. When communicating with the user, the robot uses his voice and head movements, as well as simple facial expressions and varying light signals to express his ”emotions”.
The user can use Mykie to conveniently control the entire range of home appliances functions. Mykie knows, for example, what’s stored inside the connected fridge, and how much longer the cake still has to bake in the oven.
Alternatively, additional services such as recipe ideas or suggestions from online cooking shows can also be called up. If ingredients are still missing, they can be ordered online via Mykie and delivered directly. Mykie sends the recommended settings from the recipe straight to the connected appliances.
B. Sony is another company that showed a prototype of a cute-voice-controlled-robot with mesmerising eyes.
Sony’s Xperia Agent is going to be not only a digital assistant like Siri and Alexa, that answers simple questions and lets you complete tasks like checking your calendar and making phone calls. By being connected to a sound system, a TV, and a coffee machine, Xperia Agent is able to play music (play the video above to see how it dances!), display movie trailers, and, by combining the robot with Nestlé Japan, even order a coffee.
The date of launching final versions of Mykie or Xperia Agent on the consumer market was not given.
4. Illusive self-sufficiency
A. Grundig HerbGarden is a prototype of a kitchen appliance that enables users to grow fresh and organic herbs at their own home. Indoors and without pesticides.
HerbGarden features three sets of growing chambers and a LED light box. Through a mobile app, the user can monitor and control the humidity, as well as track what herbs are growing, when the last harvest was, approximate harvest time for each item, its temperature, and the remaining water levels. It also allows owners to perfectly grow the amount of herbs needed, with the security of knowing exactly when harvesting is.
B. Some time ago household appliances that can be programmed in advance to work at night, when the price of electricity is lower, became standard. Now the trend is reversed.
With the growing popularity of home renewable energy installations, Siemens introduces FlexStart system that enables programming dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers to start working during the daytime, when the sun shines most strongly, and home solar panels produce the greatest amount of power, or when the household wind turbines operate the most efficient way. The user can select the latest time at which the dishes or clothes should be clean and dry, and the devices themselves will start working at the right moments.
As soon as the program is active, it reverts to these cheaper energy sources. If the decentralised electricity is insufficient to get the selected appliance up and running within a set time window, the power required is covered by conventional sources.
C. The self-sufficiency trend is also well represented by Lifepack, the anti-theft backpack designed with mobile working and digital nomads in mind.
The integrated Solarbank, which is a 3-in-1 power bank, solar panel, and a Bluetooth speaker, stores six charges for a smartphone, generates one extra smartphone charge per four hours of sunlight and provides with great-sounding audio for 96 hours from the full battery.
5. Virtual reality beyond VR goggles
A. During the IFA, the list of winners in UX Design Awards competition was announced. The main, golden prize went to ICAROS.
The ICAROS is a fitness device and gaming controller in one gadget. It is designed to train muscles and stimulate the capability of reaction and balance. User’s movements on the ICAROS control and determine the virtual flight path or diving path in the VR game.
B. Virtual reality is not only about visual effects. In this immersive format, equally important is the 3D sound.
Sennheiser’s AMBEO VR Mic, developed in conjunction with VR content producers, and designed for professional VR production, captures high-quality audio in 360 degrees. The ambisonic microphone is fitted with four capsules in a tetrahedral arrangement. This special design allows you to capture the sound that surrounds you from a single point in space. As a result, you get fully spherical ambisonics sound to match a VR and 360 content.
C. In the field of amateur 360 videos, a device that is definitely worth mentioning is Insta360 camera.
Insta360 Nano is the world’s first HD camera to shoot and live-stream high definition virtual reality and panoramic stills and videos directly from an iPhone. Additionally, for panoramic action shots or videos the Insta360 Nano can be attached to a bike or boarding helmet, drone or selfie stick. Plus, the Insta360 packaging is easily converted into a Google Cardboard VR viewer.
Conclusion after IFA 2016
After listening to the above quoted, as well as many other experts participating in the IFA Keynotes and IFA+ Summit, as well as visiting hundreds of exhibitors, I found the following conclusion: in the twenties of the twentieth century, offline household appliances, that will not generate any data about the user, will not use a microphone to listen to him or her, and will not push anyone to online subscription services with delivery (which means, they will not generate any extra income for service providers nor manufacturers), will become a luxury.
All pictures and videos by TrendNomad.com. More photos and videos I took at IFA 2016 you can find on my Instagram profile.
Do you find this material interesting? Then buy me a coffee! Wherever you are, you can donate a small sum of money using your PayPal account or credit card. All donations will help me to finance my journeys to fairs, festivals and conferences devoted to design and new technology – this is where I find news for my website. Just click the rectangular button below to perform a secure transaction. Thank you for your support, it will help me to take a step forward and write new posts.