On September 11th the ZigBee Alliance announced that it has ratified the updated ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 standard. The new standard adds many new features such as Find my Remote, universal remote functions (e.g. automatic IR code download), voice control, and simple pairing.
In conjunction with this IC vendors such as GreenPeak and TI have been quick to announce related chips capable of supporting the new standard. Freescale, NXP and Silicon labs have also contributed to the implementation of the standard.
Device vendors have also announced solutions based on this new standard. Such as Universal Electronic’s latest QuickSet SDK.
This new standard addresses many of the needs of Service Providers as they continue to roll out Set-Top Boxes for use as Smart Home hubs. ZigBee continues to remain relevant as an important technology in the growing Home Automation market.
Peter Cooney, SensiAn Research Principal Analyst will be participating on a panel at the Bluetooth SIG Europe event in Amsterdam next week (16/17 September 2014). The panel is titled “The Connected Fitness and Wearables Market”.
This is hot on the heels of the recently published research on the mHealth Wellness market (more details here).
The eagerly anticipated Moto 360 smartwatch goes on sale today (9/5) and it its specs are very impressive, some that stand out include:
TI OMAP AP
This device really looks like a good all rounder, providing much of the functionality that consumers are looking for in a companion smart watch. The smartwatch/band market is still developing and very fragmented but this could be a good solution for many. This has come a long way since the Moto ACTV (although we still believe this was well ahead of its time).
Motorola has a good chance of getting ahead of its competitors (again) as long as it puts lots of support behind it (users will remember how the Moto ACTV was discarded and will be wary it may happen again).
No doubt many will point to the possibly imminent arrival of an iWatch as the killer of any other smartwatch but I don’t agree. Yes, an iWatch will be successful, if not purely due to the Apple ecosystem but the Android ecosystem has grown significantly over the last few years and we believe there is a place for 3-4 main brands, with a few specialist suppliers on the fringes.
For the last few years start-ups have been the major innovators, now is the time for the incumbents to start to flex their muscles and take over the market as it starts to reach significant volumes. Watch (no pun intended) out for an uptick in mergers and acquisitions in this space as major consumer device manufactures start to gobble up smaller specialist suppliers in order to purchase interesting technology.
There have recently been many new interesting combinations of technologies coming to market through development kits (see this post) . TI have now released a dev kit that combines haptics and Bluetooth Smart. This allows developers to play around with haptic feedback and control it wirelessly using a Bluetooth Smart connection with a smartphone.
There are also lots of other useful tools such as LED lights and an “audio to haptics” mode which can convert audio signals into haptic feedback.
This is likely to be a very interesting tool for developers looking to create new devices with haptic feedback or for testing new functionality for device upgrades, it has uses across a number of end markets – the smartwatch market being a prime area where haptics could be used to differentiate a product from the growing competition. Perhaps more interesting is its possible use to develop devices that do not have a screen but do have a need for some form of feedback, for instance in small medical devices.
Being a bit of a wireless audio geek it probably comes as no surprise that my recent trip to the End of the Road Festival, UK one of the highlights was the Silent Disco.
In a silent disco the revelers are given wireless headphones and are able to choose (usually) between 2 DJ or music streams to dance and or sing to. It all comes together for a unique and really enjoyable experience. You have to try it to really appreciate it!
It’s not new, silent discos have been a regular attraction at music festivals for a 10+ years, the Flaming Lips (which incidentally I also saw at EOTR and where excellent) played one of the first headphone concerts in 1999 at SXSW) but it’s not a common experience for everyone.
So why add this to the LWW blog? Well it is a good example of what can be achieved with wireless audio that wired audio just couldn’t do, imagine groups of people trying to dance around with wired headphones, it would not end well.
FM has largely been the technology of choice for these systems but there is potential for other wireless technology to be used.
It may be a small market when compared to smartphones but it should still be on the radar for equipment and technology vendors. It is growing in popularity not only at music festivals but for cinemas, weddings, etc.
Broadcom recently released a dev kit that combines both Bluetooth Smart for connectivity and also 5 MEMS sensors, this seems to me to be a good implementation to bring together these two staples of IoT devices and make development of many new devices even simpler.
There are many connectivity suppliers out there and many MEMS sensor suppliers but not many that can do both. It seems likely that partnerships will continue to be made by these largely disparate groups, consolidation is a very likely future trend.
This is not a place to speculate on which companies are likely to consolidate but there are many good combinations that I can think of.
SensiAn Research’s recently published “mHealth Wellness Product and Technology Database 2014″ contains more than 370 devices from more than 100 suppliers.
From the data it is clear that Wireless Connectivity is a key component of the technology that is enabling these devices to operate. Our research shows that almost 80% of mHealth Wellness devices used some form of wireless connectivity.
Some key data includes:
60% are Bluetooth enabled
10% are ANT+ enabled
Almost 10% use a proprietary wireless technology but this number has fallen dramatically in the last few years.
It seems clear that interoperable standards are a key technology that is helping drive growth in this market.
More information is available in a trio of products recently released by SensiAn Research, more details can be found here
Although the activity tracker market is becoming increasingly crowded there is still room for innovation and for new products to capture the imagination of consumers.
Indiegogo continues to be one of the major enablers for entrepreneurs to reach a wide audience and help get their products to market and move from a concept to production.
The Sync Smartband is another device that is making waves on Indiegogo and has reached its rather modest goal of raising $50k with almost 4 weeks to go before funding close date. The underlying technology doesn’t seem to be all that different from other products on the market – it seems to uses Bluetooth for proximity, tracking and connection to a smartphone/tablet and an accelerometer for motion detection. What sets this product apart from others though is that it is aiming at a family market.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this campaign, our guess is that it is on track to reach $200k+ before the campaign is over.