The dust has settled from CES 2015. The Internet of Things was front and center throughout the show, a reflection of its rapidly expanding presence in products and services for consumers and businesses alike. IoT played a vital role in hundreds of products on display, including dazzling innovations such as self-driving cars and the latest drones. Here are three trends that emerged from CES that will shape the direction of IoT monetization in 2015 and beyond.
Wearables move beyond the wrist
The market for wearables is advancing beyond the realm of wristbands and smart watches. Connected wear is now available from head to toe.
- Headgear: Headsets that alter reality are nothing new. But Microsoft HoloLens, announced shortly after CES, is certainly new. It enables users to interact with holograms in the real world and, according to company executives, has the potential to radically enhance surgical procedures, vehicle design, collaborative work and play. Other new head-worn IoT gadgets include Thync, which influences brain waves to shift mood and energy levels, and Linx IAS, a real-time concussion detection system for athletes.
- Body wear: Below the neck, the evolution of biometric clothing continues. Look for more offerings like Hexosin, the body wear that tracks performance in a broad swath of athletic activities.
- Footwear: Walking to work or on the job may soon take half the time thanks to Rollkers, sensor-powered “under shoes” that the French company behind them touts as the “ideal personal transit accessory.”
Companies are stepping up to corral home devices
A legitimate industry fear is that a profusion of incompatible, hard-to-manage IoT devices will create chaos for users and make smart homes not quite so smart — or attractive to buyers. Understandably, making home devices work better together emerged as a key theme for 2015 from CES. Google and Apple — no surprises there — are each staking claims in how the coming multitude of home-based IoT devices should interoperate.
Nest Labs, owned by Google, is expanding its “Works with Nest” program with more product offerings from its growing network of OEM partners. The initiative gives homeowners a unified way to control a range of connected devices inside and outside the home, including appliances, cars, fitness bands, smoke alarms, garage doors and sprinklers.
Also making their debut at CES were several gadgets built with Apple HomeKit, Apple’s development platform for ensuring device compatibility. HomeKit products on view struck very similar themes to those built for Nest. They included remote locks, home device routing systems and smart electrical plugs, all of which can be controlled by voice command through Apple’s Siri system. Question is, will HomeKit and Nest devices talk to each other? Only time will tell.
IoT billing models are becoming more dynamic
A third significant trend emerging from CES is that billing schemes are continuing to undergo rapid change. IoT products and services coming to market this year will rely on a broad assortment of monetization models, including freemiums, premiums, upfront payments, subscription and usage, often in combination.
Here are three offerings from CES that leverage IoT technology to generate recurring revenue.
- An IoT system that lets you remotely lock and unlock your doors from any location sounds swell, until it’s hacked. That scenario is what Bitdefender BOX is designed to prevent. Available with a one-time cost plus an annual subscription, the device protects connected IoT devices in the home from Internet-based security threats.
- GM is adding new concierge services to its subscription-based OnStar service, turning its cars into veritable rolling hubs of IoT connectivity. With the services, drivers wirelessly receive coupons and discounts when they come within range of participating restaurants, stores and hotels as they tool around town, along with real-time GPS data about available parking spaces.
- With more than thirty IoT sensors packed into its sleek frame, the all-electric Gogoro Smartscooter™ can learn a rider’s habits to improve performance with every trip. But its most revolutionary feature involves refueling — recharging will take just six seconds through a planned network of cloud-connected swappable battery recharging stations available through a subscription.
While consumer products dominated CES (it is the Consumer Electronics Show, after all), this same billing trend applies equally to B2B markets. The upshot is that in order to match the versatile monetization options new IoT products and services require, billing systems will need to be more flexible and nimble than ever.