CES in the Era of IoT

As I sit here in McCarran Airport after 3 whirlwind days at CES I am blown away by what I have experienced. This is my 3rd year going to CES and each year the hype around connected products and the IoT seems to grow exponentially.  This year did not disappoint.  The sheer number of connected products at CES was…well, overwhelming to say the least.  Nearly everything and anything was “connected”.  Some of which even begged the question — how far do we take this?  Do umbrellas or belts really need to be connected to the internet?   No matter how seemingly silly or useless a gadget might seem – I was excited at the massive growth in the connected products space. As I said, there was a lot to take in this year, so here are a few of the key trends I noticed:

Home Automation Continues to Lead the Pack

Home Automation is nothing new but multiple offerings from both emerging and established vendors shows real investment and real progress in the space. Ecosystem plays such as Lowes Iris and Works with Nest lead the way with strong demos of entire homes working together. Existing connected device players such as iDevice showcased huge numbers of connected objects from leak detectors to children’s night lights. What is even more exciting about this space is that it is quickly moving away from the tech savvy DIY category into the mainstream with devices and ecosystems just as easy to setup as the Fitbit around your wrist.

Interoperability is (still) Coming

We have long been promised a world where all of our devices talk to each other without any interaction or input from us. While we are definitely still not there a few consortiums showed major progress this year.

AllSeen’s AllJoyn protocol (championed by the likes of Qualcomm and Microsoft) showed hundreds of different products from different manufactures interoperating. What is exciting about Alljoyn is they weren’t showing just interoperability but also composability. Composability allows you to create a recombinant ecosystem of devices which continue to work together even if one component is replaced by one of with same basic function but of a different brand / version / style. For example, a home theater system which automatically dims your lights continues to work even if you buy a different brand of connected light bulb (as long as they are all AllJoyn enabled).

Google’s Thread also showed a great deal of promise. Multiple booths and vendors were showing off various Thread enabled products. While the ecosystem may be a bit  less mature than AllSeen in terms of actual products in market – it may not be that way for long.  It’s not just product companies that are excited about Thread — nearly all the major chip vendors were showing off some kind of Thread reference design or demo. They are excited about Thread because it has specific PHY requirements, and many see this as a growing space.

Overall, we are still a ways from the device to device interoperability we have been promised but this year’s CES makes it look like the tipping point may be near.

Heading back from CES I am really excited about our growing world of connected products. If you are interested in the connected product or IoT space, CES is becoming the show which cannot be missed. See you all next year!

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