Category Archives: Sensors

Qualcomm Looks to Acquire CSR

Qualcomm continues it seemingly relentless charge to the top of the semiconductor vendor charts with another high profile acquisition.  It aims to acquire UK based CSR for $2.5 billion, the deal still needs to go through the usual regulatory hurdles and be accepted by CSR but it certainly seems quite generous.

CSR has had its own fair share of acquisitions and sell offs in recent years, it bought Zoran in 2011 and sold its mobile division to Samsung in 2012.

Qualcomm has made some significant purchases to bolster its wireless connectivity prowess over recent years including its recent purchase of Wilocity, but CSR will be the most significant one since Qualcomm acquired Atheros in 2011 ($3.1 billion).

A successful purchase of CSR will put Qualcomm in an enviable position in the connectivity market and certainly see it become a force to reckon with in IoT.

The Global Market for mHealth Wellness Devices

mHealth Wellness/Sports & Fitness Device Market to Grow to $3.8 Billion in 2020; Growth Led by Activity Trackers and High End Sports Watches

The market for mHealth Wellness/Sports & Fitness Devices will be worth $2.4 billion in 2014 and grow at a CAGR of 8% to reach $3.8 billion in 2020. It represents a total opportunity of >$22.5 billion in the seven years from 2014 to 2020. This market includes many end device types, including Heart Rate Monitors, Connected Weighing Scales and Smart Sports Clothing, but the major growth markets will be Activity Trackers and High End Sports Watches.

“Heart Rate Monitors and Sports Watches have been around for many years. However, more recently the range of devices that are emerging and the increasing amount of technology being used is drastically changing the market dynamics.”, commented Peter Cooney, Principal Analyst & Director of SensiAn Research. “Activity Monitors, Smart Sports Watches, Heart Rate Monitors and Smart Sports Clothing are all becoming significant markets for device and technology vendors and the list of device types continues to grow.”

SensiAn Research expects that the total market for mHealth Wellness/Sports & Fitness Devices will grow to almost 25 million units shipped per annum in 2014.  Much of this growth has been driven by the emergence of Activity Tracker devices and consumer demand for these connected devices. Other devices (such as high end Sports and Fitness Smart Watches and Heart Rate Monitors) are also seeing growth but not in the same volumes as Activity Trackers. Smart Clothing is a category of devices that has long term potential, but it is not expected to reach annual shipments >1 million before 2017. It is expected that simple pedometers will continue to have a place in the market but shipments of these have been severely negatively affected as consumers increasingly choose Activity Trackers and Smart Watches with added functionality.

The mHealth Wellness/Sports & Fitness Device market is served by a wide range of suppliers, from well-established health and wellness/sports and fitness device vendors such as Polar, Garmin, Suunto, Omron and Beurer, to newer more focused vendors such as Fitbit and Jawbone, large multinational sports clothing suppliers such as Nike, and many smaller niche suppliers.

These are findings from SensiAn Research’s recently published study on “mHealth Wellness Wearable Devices: Activity Trackers, Sports Watches, Heart Rate Monitors, Smart Sports Clothing, Connected Weighing Scales and Other Consumer Wellness Devices”.

Suunto Range of Devices Added. Wellness / Sports and Fitness Device Database Now >400 Products

The LivingWithoutWires.com mHealth Wellness / Sports & Fitness device database has been updated again, this time an extensive range of Suunto devices have been added and this now brings the total number of devices included to more than 400.

We’ve also opened this up as a free resource to all! :)

Check it out here

Sensor Standards a Must, MIG and IEEE Team Up to Drive Standardization for Sensors

Standardization is usually one of the first steps taken when bringing a new technology to bare, look at Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as examples. It could be argued that standardization isn’t needed for a technology such as MEMS accelerometers as it is already well established and well used in many of today’s consumer devices (MEMS accelerometers are a standard feature in smartphones today).

There are two main drivers towards standardization for sensors today: one is that increasingly more complicated outputs from combinations of sensors leads to a need for standardization of those sensor outputs in order that device vendors, apps developers and those vendors offering complementary components such as sensor hubs can easily use these outputs. Secondly, and leading on from the first point, is a need for devices to be part of a wider ecosystem in order to reach a much larger potential market, for example a nationwide health system.

Having standardization of sensor outputs drives interoperability and in the long run will increase the overall market for sensors as they pervade through many of todays “dumb” devices, helping to make them smart. The sensor industry could perhaps learn a lot from how wireless connectivity organisations operate such as the Bluetooth SIG or Wi-Fi Alliance.

Bluetooth SIG Europe Event, Amsterdam Round Up

I was lucky to be able to attend the Bluetooth SIG Europe event in Amsterdam this week (16/17th September 2014) and it was a pleasure to learn about all the interesting applications that Bluetooth is currently being used for and what is on the horizon.

Day 1 kicked off with a keynote from Mark Powell, Exec Director of the SIG and his presentation highlighted just how ubiquitous Bluetooth is today. Two interesting facts were that >70% of all wireless connectivity related projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo used Bluetooth and that Bluetooth Audio has grown 451% from 2010 to 2013. Pretty staggering really.

There were many presentations that demonstrated Bluetooth use, too many to include in this blog (a full list is here) but we’ll look at some of those that were most interesting to SensiAn Research.

Simon Drabble from Adidas discussed the Adidas miCoach Elite Training System (ETS) and described the way in which many leading football (soccer) teams, including national teams, are using miCoach to improve and track performance of their players. He also discussed consumer applications for this technology and how Adidas are using Bluetooth Smart as part of a range of wireless technologies.

There was an interesting panel session examining the explosion in beacons (a market that SensiAn Research is tracking). Panellists were from two Beacon users (Autograph and LocalSocial) and from two IC vendors (Dialog Semiconductor and Nordic Semiconductor). Some key takeaways were that Beacons are being used in retail today but have a myriad of uses. Beacons can be standalone devices (such as those from Estimote or Kontact.io) but pretty much any Bluetooth Smart device could become a beacon. Today the market is focused on stationary beacons but beacons could move – for example having a beacon in a car could be used to advertise the presence of a vehicle and improve road safety. Sean from LocalSocial coined an interesting phrase “Becosystem” which relates to the ecosystem built around beacon technology.

Dr Kate Stone, Founder of Novalia Ltd talked about her companies various projects using printing techniques to produce smart paper for posters and other interesting printed devices. These combine conventional printing, capacitive touch and Bluetooth for audio streaming and connection to a smartphone. A novel use of Bluetooth to improve existing things.

Day 2 was unfortunately short lived as I needed to catch a flight, but I was invited to join a panel on “The Connected Fitness and Wearables Market” which was timely having recently published a study on the market, see here). I was joined by John Leonard (Nordic Semiconductor), Ernest Chiang (PAFERS Tech) and Pierre Mace (Babolat). The panel discussed innovation in sports and fitness, what would be the next wearable markets to take off, wearable devices use in IoT and interaction with beacons and also the impact of recent devices introductions from Apple, Motorola, Samsung and others on the wearable device market.

Before dashing for the airport I was lucky to catch Radek Tadajewski’s presentation on his company oort’s view of the future connected home. The most interesting thing in my mind about this solution is the hub device that oort has introduced which is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart enabled and could be a key bridging device as a Bluetooth-enabled headless gateway in the home.

Moto 360 Available from Today, On Paper It’s Looks Very Impressive But Can It Be Successful in the Market?

 

The eagerly anticipated Moto 360 smartwatch goes on sale today (9/5) and it its specs are very impressive, some that stand out include:

  • Wireless Charging
  • Accelerometer
  • Optical HRM
  • Bluetooth Smart
  • Stereo Mics
  • TI OMAP AP

Moto 360 Dynamic Black

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.

This market is just starting to heat up …….

Broadcom Releases Connectivity + Sensors Dev Kit

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.

Broadcom’s release is here

 

 

Family Tracker – Sync Smartband Reaches Goal on Indiegogo

Image courtesy of Indiegogo
Image courtesy of Indiegogo

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.