Consuming the Consumer Electronics Show

In the first week of January 2016 we swapped the clouds and snowy peaks of Seattle for the red mountains and proud towers of Las Vegas. There, among the revelers, we joined the interlopers sporting CES tags, proudly, resolutely marching towards some hoped-for revelation. From far away they came: Mali, England, Belgium, Japan, China, Washington State…

We care deeply about innovations in connected devices, systems integration and IOT networks, so our highlights list has a very clear focus:

  • Bluetooth Special Interest Group hosted an excellent party with the theme “Discover Blue”. The cocktails were blue, the free T-shirts were blue, and the venue was the perfect place to meet the thinkers and dreamers cooking up magical new Bluetooth devices – Fliegl with their food tracker, ilumi with their smart lightbulb, and Baron BioSystems, with their intelligent BioShift bike gear system.
  • AllSeen Alliance hosted a fun home automation space, with Noah Harlan from Two Bulls demonstrating their Higgns GUI scripting platform, using a super-swish oven and Enocean energy-harvesting switches.
  • Sigfox, an exciting French outfit who is rolling out radio networks and base stations to support connected devices and M2M scenarios all over the world. La Poste in France and the city of Bergamo in Italy are working with Sigfox on two new trials.
  • Lora Alliance, who are bringing a new long-range, low-power technology to the IoT world, based on a radio chipset from Semtech. With Qualcomm, IBM, Actility and Proximus all involved, this initiative should give some very useful case studies over the next year.

If this all seems like hard work, worry not! CES is full of techno-temptations, and quite a few of them caught our eye:

  • The PicoBrew van. This team have got kit and hardware to bring brewing to the masses and connect home-brewers to each other with an online marketplace. Technology aside, the machine-made tipple tasted lovely.
  • The good ladies of JoyLux, who are our Seattle compadres and have a message of healing involving red light and vibrations.
  • Cujo, a fearsome-sounding security device you connect to your router. It looks very cute, despite the demon-dog association, and combines behavioral analysis with rich data sets to warn you when your home automation setup is under attack.
  • The rest: Bluetooth-enabled fetal Doppler wands (awaiting FDA approval, which takes years); Chinese manufacturers offering puffs on Bluetooth-enabled e-cigarettes (no thanks – there is enough smoke drifting in from the casino floors); smart beds, smart shoes, smart clothes, smart everything, everywhere.

Finally, a special mention must go to the nice German gents from GymWatch, who lifted barbells for hours without breaking a sweat, despite the previous night’s merriment at the Bluetooth Party. Strap their low-cost sensor to your arm or leg so that a companion app will count your reps and spot you, making sure you do it right. We may order one for the office gym in Brighton, so that our CEO, Andy, can do an even better job of training up the team in safe and stylish lifting.

Until Next Time

Over the 2.5 days of our adventure, it was difficult to spot a particular trend or theme beyond “bigger, better, more integrated, more ubiquitous”. Perhaps what emerged most clearly was the proliferation of electronics and software systems beyond the bounds of “Consumer” and into the worlds of industry, health, and agriculture. These are all rich fields to explore, and we look forward to helping push things along with our own projects in 2016.

Onwards!