The International Consumer Electronics Show this week has showcased countless gadgets and services designed to transform the way we work, live and play, and online connectivity is more-or-less a common feature across the board.
Many of the developments presented at CES have been focused around including online services in product categories that weren’t connected before, or that relied on other technologies. These have touched upon the following themes: a shift towards reconciling internet-connected devices and the workplace, cloud streaming replacing traditional media, and the growth of the Internet of Things.
Tackling the BYOD Dilemma
AT&T showcased its “AT&T Work Platform”, which provides options for bring-your-own-device (BYOD). The Work Platform lets organizations add data, voice and messaging services to a variety of mobile enterprise management solutions including MobileIron, AirWatch by VMware, and Good Technology.
It also tracks work-related usage on an employee’s personal device, allowing them to use the device they want, and expense that added corporate usage rather than providing them a new “work” device.
While this mostly applies to phones and tablets, as more devices such as internet-connected wearable devices enter corporate environments management capabilities will have to keep up to ensure these devices aren’t harmful.
While new TVs are a major draw at CES (including Android-TV based offerings from Sharp, Sony and Philips), one of the huge developments in how people consume media has been the steady move from cable and satellite subscriptions over to streaming services.
Cisco demonstrated its cloud-based broadcast, DVR, on-demand, and pay-per-view services in a new cloud-powered solution. This “video-hub for the home” is being rolled out in Germany in partnership with the country’s largest cable company, Kabel Deutschland.
Satellite TV provider Dish Network has unveiled its web TV app “Sling TV” (not associated with the Slingbox). This allows subscribers access to live channels such as ESPN and CNN on computers, smart TVs, consoles, and smartphones for $20 per month. Streaming services like Netflix have underserved sports and news viewers, and services like Sling TV could appeal to those who need to see programs in real time.
Also, Tablo, a maker of a DVR that records and streams over-the-air HD video, unveiled the new Tablo Metro at CES. The new version has a self-contained digital antenna, DVR and wireless streaming appliance – for $250 and with an expected Q1 2015 launch date.
The Internet of Things Takes Shape
While it might be some time before self-driving cars become a usual sight, the connected car seems to be more quickly becoming a reality. BMW showcased its cloud-connected BMW i3 at CES, showing that digital devices such as a smartphone can be synchronized with the vehicle’s navigation system. This might enable a driver to automatically send a text message if they’re going to be late.
Automatic unveiled a system that sends car diagnostic data to Android or iOS device, which also logs the vehicle’s miles, hours, MPG and fuel cost. It’s designed to help users save up to 30 percent on gas and repairs. It will also communicate with the Nest thermostat, telling Nest to start turning on the heat when the driver will be home soon.
And even things as seemingly low-tech as plants are becoming internet-connected. The $100 Edyn Garden Sensor One tracks humidity and the soil’s moisture, electrical conductivity, and nutrients to gauge the plant’s health. For $60, the Edyn Water Valve can water plants when soil moisture is low.
Finally, with the prevalence of security incidents – and that new devices might open up new security risks – Bitdefender is hoping to bring strong security to IoT. The Bitdefender Box is a hardware security platform that can act as a router that encrypts the communication of internet-connected devices.
We often think of CES as presenting a vision of the future. Clearly not everything succeeds in the real world, but what we see at CES 2015 is that product makers are intent on producing more connected devices and services that connect us in smarter ways. Cloud services and hosting underpin many of these new services – although it’s becoming less of a headline feature, and more of a matter-of-course.