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IoT Evolution, Not Revolution

06 Jun 2016
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Last week (31 May – 4 June 2016) I attended the Computex Taipei Trade Show for the third year running. With over 130,000 visitors, 1,600+ exhibitors from 29 countries and 5,000+ booths to visit – it can be a bit overwhelming. For those who didn’t attend, here’s my take on the 2016 event…

  1. The move from ICT to IoT: I have long stated that IoT is not something new, rather it is an extension of what we have always done – leveraging technical innovations to improve the way we live, work and play. The people behind Computex seem to agree as this year’s underlying theme was how IoT will lead to the evolution of the ICT industry. This led organisers to focus Computex 2016 around four pillars: IoT applications, innovation & startups, business solutions, and gaming.During the IoT Applications Forum, I had the opportunity to deliver the keynote (“IoT in Asia: What’s Hot, What’s Not & What’s Next”) and lead a panel discussion on the impact of IoT with industry leaders from SK Telecom, Advantech, Bosch Sensortec, TSMC and Blocks. The key takeaways from the panel were 1) both consumers and enterprises are looking for solutions, not just new technology, and 2) the IoT ecosystem is complex and developing partnerships is the key to success.

  1. AR/VR everywhere – With the release of so many new VR headsets over the past year, it was no surprise that AR/VR was being showcased everywhere. I’ll admit, for someone like me whose first video game was Pong, this can be quite daunting, but I can’t wait to test some of these out on my VR headset. While most these solutions were for “gaming” and “experiences”, I think the next year will see a wave of enterprise AR/VR solutions come to market. AR has been around for years and there are already proven business cases in industries like construction, building management and commercial real estate. I expect that the enterprise VR will focus more on training solutions, but time will tell.

  2. Evolution, not revolution, for wearables – There were noticeably fewer wearable vendors at this year’s event, but that isn’t a bad thing. There are too many “me too” offerings in the space, so I was looking for companies that were offering something new. One interesting concept comes from the Taiwan-based startup Blocks(chooseblocks.com), who has developed a modular-based smartwatch that allows the users to select unique modules (e.g. SIM card, extra battery, HRM, GPS, ECG, NFC) to create their personalised smartwatch. They will initially target the consumer, but I think there is a good future for this device in the enterprise sector for employee tracking, health & safety, and notifications.


    Other “evolutions” included more types of wearables (e.g. in-ear, rings, clothing) for fitness tracking – but I think many of these will struggle in an already over-crowded marketplace. The “coolest” wearable by far was the Intel-inside Tag Heuer smartwatch. As anyone who knows me knows, I was not a big fan of the early smartwatches, but I will admit, this one will turn heads.

  3. Where did the Smart Cities and Smart Homes go? – At Computex 2015, many of the major vendor announcements and a far greater amount of booths were focused on Smart Cities and Smart Homes, however, this year they were few and far between. I have long believed that Smart Home solutions will struggle in Asia as there are few compelling use cases that will drive the purchasing decision. I think many mobile operators understand this which leaves the technology vendors stuck with products and platforms but no channel to market. On the Smart City front, I think this is a natural evolution. The industry built up too much hype around Smart Cities in 2014/2015, and 2016 has been a reality check. Projects are still on-going, but the astronomic hype has calmed.
  4. SHOCK of the event! – There was an interesting retail solution that tracked passersby and analysed and displayed their demographics (age range, male/female) in real-time. I have seen similar solutions before, but was impressed with the graphics on this one. So what was the shock? When it analysed me it said that my age range was between 60 – 100! Either the technology needs to improve or I am aging way faster than I thought.

Thank you Computex Taipei – see you in 2017!