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.
The latest press release from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) predicts good news for semiconductor suppliers in the short term.
WSTS expects the overall market to grow 6.5% in 2014 (from 2013) to reach total annual revenues of US$325 billion. It stated “All major product categories will show a high single digit growth rate, except microprocessors which will show a soft decline. The growth will be largely driven by smartphones, tablets and automotive. The highest growth rates are shown for the Analog (9.1%) and Sensor (9.1%) category. ”
SensiAn Research’s assumption is that while overall microprocessor revenue may be falling the market for microcontrollers is growing as many low power devices associated with IoT (wearable devices, beacons, etc.) are growing rapidly.
WSTS predict that overall market growth will continue into 2015 and 2016 reaching US$350 billion in 2016.
Another Beacon device has reached its goal on Indiegogo
The Silent Beacon has reached $20k+ in 2 weeks.
What sets this apart from many other beacons is that it uses GPS to track location rather than using Bluetooth for proximity.
It does use Bluetooth as the connection technology though and is capable of being used as a Bluetooth hands free device.