Five forecasts for the new year – which connected products will make the most in 2015
After covering a number of general industry imperatives, followed by our views on enterprise traction, it is now time to focus on the topic that is most likely nearest and dearest to everybody’s heart: producing revenue. Here we’ll offer our take on the products that will either become more visible this year or follow a definitive growth curve toward the Holy Grail of monetisation.
1. In-vehicle services for the Connected Car – Garner predicts that by 2020, about 20 percent of all vehicles on the road will be connected to the Internet; for that kind of growth to happen, we will have to see some real uptick in 2015. Also, there is a lot to be said for connectivity adding to the value of the auto ownership experience.
Success for these applications this year will revolve the basic tenet of “the car doing the work for its owner.” Short of the self-driving car, which is still a ways out we believe, this concept really starts with apps that let drivers put their phone down from the moment they get behind the wheel, yet are able maintain control of all the things their phone lets them do, vis-à-vis the car. Whether the driver needs to compose and send an email or text, call his or her spouse or select music for that particular day’s drive – these actions are all creeping closer towards a completely hands-free, verbal command environment that the car can execute on behalf of the driver.
For example, by connecting to a maps application, the car will be able to account for a given day’s traffic variables and automatically suggest for its driver the best route at that given moment. This is in contrast to a) the driver having to remember to check traffic on their smartphone before setting out, or b) finding oneself trapped in an unexpected, yet perfectly avoidable, traffic delay with no way to adjust.
Connectivity will also take on the role of letting cars go one step further than merely monitoring their functional status and alerting the driver of an issue. Rather, in the event the car detects a one-off repair or recognises it is due for scheduled maintenance, it will go ahead and contact the dealer, review the owner’s calendar (since the car is now, essentially, an extension of the smartphone) and automatically suggest a mutually convenient day to bring it in. Again, the car does the work.
Finally, we will see some further evolution of applications such as Mercedes’ Attention Assist, but availability to the bulk of the mid-market is still a bit further away, given the necessary advances in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) that still must occur.
2.M-health – We touched briefly upon the role of connected technology for healthcare in our first set of predictions, but now it’s time to get more specific about products that are primed to become everyday moneymakers over the course of the year.
First and foremost, this will be a big year for pill bottles that actually bring about adherence to prescribed doses of medication; by connecting it, the bottle itself can be configured to send customisable alerts and interventions to the patient – via phone calls, text messages and the like – if he or she misses a dose. The costs associated with drug programms getting cut off prior to their full course are just too great to ignore – both from wasted medication standpoint and in that these patients so often return with recurrent symptoms.
Active heart monitors, such as those from companies like AliveCor, are another perfect candidate for expanded adoption and growth. These devices are used by people with diagnosed, but “asymptomatic,” heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation or palpitations, and can tune these patients more directly into their moment-by-moment hearth health; the healthcare system stands to save millions by avoiding pre-emptive procedures that may be overkill in these cases.
We would be remiss not to mention applications such as blood glucose monitoring for diabetes, connected sleep apnea devices and home health monitoring trackers that help doctors keep tabs on the vital stats of their patients; however, these could all be said to have already moved into a more mature stage of adoption. The money is already flowing.
3. Smart Home Services – This is an area where granularity is positioned to win the day. In other words, the products we are most bullish about are those that are set up to do a very finite task. “Home automation” and “smart home” are rather sweeping terms, but the concept will really take hold in small packages that consumers can understand, and in systems that do not require a small army of installers to make happen.
There are a handful of high-value, and wonderfully simple apps meeting this criteria, and we’d expect them to garner windfall in the near-term.
Our favorite device in this category is the WeMo Switch, which gives homeowners – even renters for that matter – much more control over the way there home uses electricity. The beauty of WeMo is that it plugs into an ordinary wall socket and that’s it. From there, any appliance plugged into it can be controlled or programmed with any Smartphone or tablet from afar. For anyone who’s tried to put a lamp on a manual timer when they’re away on vacation, WeMo is a godsend.
Best of all, it’s only $40. Extremely high value-to-cost ratio.
WeMo’s progenitor Belkin is moving this year to expand upon the concept, with connected sensors, for example, that will turn a specific set of lights on when the homeowner opens the door upon returning home. We expect products of this ilk, from Belkin and others, to rocket up the sales chain in 2015.
In the similar vein of simple pragmatism, the emergence of smart, connected door locks makes a lot of sense, and we expect this to be the year that consumers get the “Smartlock bug.” Mass adoption of electronic entry for homes is quite overdue, in fact, when you consider how long it’s been since you’ve turned a metal key to unlock your car door. Opportunity in this market has simply been a matter of building out enough options and pricepoints; as of this writing, this seems to have hit a tipping point.
4. Public and municipal services – Much of the near-term activity in the “connected” public sector, as we see it, will be focused on areas designed to boost the city experience for urban denizens. And in the U.S., that circles largely around making it easier to get in and out. The reasons are not hard to fathom. More people visiting the city means direct economic gains for everyone involved, both public and private.
That said, there have been some big leaps of late in products designed for better management of traffic and parking in the inner city; 2015 will be a year when these products start to move in earnest through the buying cycle of city managers.
On the parking side, we’ll see more ubiquitous implementation of parking meters that allow payment via consumer mobile devices and, as would be expected, that also send text alerts when the meter is about to expire so that parkers can extend time from a remote location. These connected meters also bring ancillary benefits to city coffers; by tracking the activity over time, they can enable a “supply and demand” pricing model, where the city can start charging higher rates for more sought-after spaces, while less often used spaces might carry a cheaper rate.
We’ll also see more implementation of products like Cisco’s Smart+Connected™ City Parking, which combine IP cameras, sensors, smartphone apps, and infrastructure to make parking availability visible to drivers in real time.
On the traffic management side, we believe this is the year where self-learning traffic light management starts to roll out. Having been in development by the University of Toronto for several years, we remain fascinated with the idea that streetlights can be controlled in way that actually responds to moment-to-moment traffic patterns.
When tests have shown that such a system can cut travel times by 25 percent and reduce delays at intersections by 40 percent, that’s a product whose time has come.
5. A growth curve for dual-mode devices – Switching gears now to the B2B side of things, the 2015 market has entered a sweet spot for dual-mode devices to really take off. As the name suggests, this flavor of wireless modem, unlike its “land-locked” predecessor, is able to communicate on both GSM and CDMA networks interchangeably, and can even be configured to auto-select based on moment-to-moment signal strength.
The benefits of this technology run from provider to user. On the provider side, companies can consolidate the manufacturing and sales fulfillment process down to a single SKU. No more matching a customer to its selected network on a case-by-case basis (and the errors that inevitably come with it). Just ship the same device to everyone and forget about it.
On the user side, it’s all about maintaining business continuity and security. Whether you’re a distributed retailer that simply cannot have your POS system go down when the land-line Internet service does (which it invariably does, about four hours per month on average), or a premises security company that faces a similar conundrum, the growth of dual-mode devices will prove to be a boon to business over the course of this year.
And with that, we wrap up our main predictions for “connected life” in 2015. All of these connected devices need a network to run seamlessly and globally on to add any value to the lives of consumers and we at KORE are more than prepared to offer such network service.
Written by: Alex Brisbourne, CEO, KORE