CES: Re-Imagining What IoT Can Do for Consumers in 2018

Another CES is upon us, and with it comes a bevy of new and exciting IoT products being unveiled to the world. I personally can’t wait all of the innovative, fun and maybe even quirky devices the industry has been working on.  Sure, we’re definitely going to see a long list of products that were previously not “smart” get an “IoT brain” (last year it was the breast pump and refrigerator camera that created a lot of buzz), but what’s really exciting to me are those products – traditional or otherwise – that are identifying customer needs and reimagine how they can fulfill those needs with the IoT.

An obvious example of this is Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa has fundamentally changed how people live in their homes, compelling them to speak their wishes and commands at this small device which has earned a place on, reportedly, over 10 million shelves and countertops in homes across the world.

Another company who caught my attention at CES 2017, and has since become a Xively customer, is ShadeCraft, a robotics and technology platform company from Los Angeles with a mission to improve human life outdoors. Last year at CES, ShadeCraft introduced their flagship product, SUNFLOWER, which ships to customers later this year. For the lucky few who can get their hands on one, they’re taking pre-orders at significant discount on their website.

At first glance one might think ShadeCraft is offering a well-designed, connected parasol, but it’s so much more than that.  ShadeCraft’s intelligent shading system, SUNFLOWER, tracks the sun using solar power for automation, AI and IoT connectivity and offers integrated audio, voice, device charging and autonomous movement features that need no assistance.  Imagine the possibility of a device that can offer you customizable control over your audio/visual experience in your back yard, extend voice control of your smart home to your outdoor space, and saves up solar power to offer it when you need it. The possibilities extend further when you think about this device in a hospitality setting, creating an outdoor environment tailored to each individual hotel guest, and putting everything someone might want right next to them while they enjoy the beach, pool, or patio.

Just as Amazon is changing how consumers interact with technology in their homes, ShadeCraft is extending the possibilities of IoT to outside the home. And while ShadeCraft chose a recognizable form factor, the parasol, for their first product, their technologies will extend into other types of outdoor robotic solutions as other ShadeCraft products come to market.

Connected products companies that are able to re-imagine how technology can integrate into and enhance consumers’ lives are the ones who will end up with the most successful products that are used for years to come. So, keep an eye out for companies who are getting creative with IoT in ways that seem like more than just an app added to a traditional device. Those are the companies that will change how we live for the better, and advance IoT into 2020 and beyond.

If you’re attending CES, don’t miss the ShadeCraft booth 41331 at Sands Expo, or the Xively IoT Suite in the Wynn Las Vegas. See you there!

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