We’ve heard the trends, predictions and insights about consumer electronics a million times. Devices will become more specialized. The newly released iPhone has revolutionary features. IoT is everywhere. The list goes on.
It sounds unbelievable, but CNET actually bought a 5,800-square-foot home in Louisville, Ky. Funny thing is, this is the second facility CNET has opened of this kind -- in 2013, the company opened an appliance testing facility (also in the Louisville area) as it began testing a wide range of connected home appliances and devices.
Today, Target opened its 3,500-square-foot "Target Open House" in San Francisco's Metreon shopping center (pictured above), which it described on the company blog as "part retail space, part lab, part meeting venue for the connected home tech community."
JCK Magazine reported yesterday (June 9) on a pair of companies making "connected" engagement rings that use NFC technology for a) tracking for loss or spousal infidelity (Gemporia's "fidelity engagement ring") and b) storing cherished images, audio and video (Galatea's Momento Diamond engagement ring, pictured above).
Last week (March 23) Advertising Age published an article about "smart malls," like the new Fashion District at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.
Australian carrier Optus announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month that it has partnered with wearables firm Connected Device and Visa to develop a smartwatch that will allow users to access its Cash by Optus payments platform without requiring an NFC-enabled Android phone.
It's back in the news: Disney's incredible MagicBand! We blogged about this a couple years ago (I can't believe it's been two years already); the bracelet was being called "MyMagic+" at the time.
Today was Apple's official launch announcement of its Apple Watch device, which will become available on April 24 for $349 for a base model and up to $10,000+ for its luxury models.
Last week (Nov. 13), Engadget reported on Samsung's new 'Proximity' technology, the company's BLE competitor to Apple's branded iBeacon standard. (See 'Proximity'-branded promotional diagram above.)
Samsung unveiled Proximity more than a year after Apple announced iBeacon.
"The Korean electronics giant has a website introducing Samsung 'Proximity,' a 'mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology,'" wrote Engadget's Ben Gilbert.
"As nakedly awful as that sounds, the "marketing platform" described sounds a lot like Apple's iBeacon -- technology that enables communication between your mobile device and the places you go."
Apple first announced iBeacon back in Sept. 2013, so Samsung is playing a bit of catch-up here.
Proximity touts one advantage over iBeacon: Its beacons don't require an app to 'talk to' a mobile device.
Gilbert notes one distinction between the two competing beacon technologies: Samsung's apparently does not require an app for its beacon to "talk to" a mobile device. Sounds familiar. Safe to assume it will employ some variation of Google's experimental 'Physical Web' technology. Also safe to assume: Apple will introduce its own "app-less" version of iBeacon.
Stay tuned for more developments in the BLE arms race.
Target App Identifies Desired Products Stocked In-Store
Another story caught our eye today, about an update to the Target app, which allows users to see which products are available in a given store location.
The updated Target app, with an in-store product locator, has potential but it falls flat for the time being.
"With the updated Target app, a shopper begins by making a shopping list, using a type-ahead function that knows brand names. The app indicates if the product is available in that store," wrote VentureBeat's Barry Levine.
The app is still clunky though, for the following reasons:
- It only lists your items and (based on the screenshots on the VentureBeat article) you have to click on them one-at-a-time to see them on the store map.
- Once you find an item on your list, you can delete it manually within the app.
- The app does not yet identify the fastest singular path for finding all your desired items.
- It also does not have a blue dot to show you where you are in-store, because GPS is lost inside the store walls. LAME!
- Currently the updated iOS app works for all U.S. Target stores; the Android version only works for 40 stores for now.
Retail and tech consultant David Chivers posted an article on LinkedIn last week (Nov. 6) on the impact of the "Internet of things" on retail.
He quoted Kevin Meagher, VP for Smart Home at Lowe's, who said, "Connected home is the first truly new category that Lowe's has added in nearly 20 years."
Connected home is the first truly new category that Lowe's has added in nearly 20 years.Kevin Meagher, VP for Smart Home, Lowe's
And the category is growing quickly. Just last week, we saw reports of Amazon's new entry to the connected home: the Amazon Echo speaker/assistant. Amazon is not blazing a new trail here: Google has its Nest thermostats in many homes; Apple has Apple TV in even more homes. And there are a number of competitors in the streaming TV space as well: Google's new Nexus Player (as well as Google Chromecast), Amazon Fire TV, and Roku to name a few...
We've blogged many times about connected cars and obviously connected home appliances (pictured above) have become commonplace too.
Wireless retailers can occupy space between consumers and all their connected devices -- it's a natural fit.
The growth of this space was forecasted by many, including then-Brightstar-CEO (now Sprint CEO) Marcelo Claure at the 2012 iQmetrix Summit. Claure urged wireless retailers to "be the wireless specialist that understands the customers' needs and can offer a complete solution for all their connected needs."
Claure was talking about how wireless retailers can occupy space between consumers and all their connected devices -- wireless retailers sell the smartphones around which a user's Internet of things revolves. It's a natural fit.
(Wireless retailers) can be the CONNECTED CENTER for (their) customers.Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO, at the 2012 iQmetrix Summit
Below are a few more highlights from Claure's Summit keynote:
- "Learn from a company like Apple: They truly understand the needs of their customers.
- Omnichannel/ecosystem experience: Paying with iTunes, personal pick-up service, in-store return of online purchases (or vice-versa)
- Apple is innovative and they must be doing something right: $4,000 in sales/square foot (in 2012)."
- "We need to make sure we are set up to drive multiple connections."
- "You can be the CONNECTED CENTER for your customers."
Now is an exciting time for electronics retailers. The key for wireless retailers is to offer the hardware, and more importantly the know-how, to get people buying into the Internet of things.
The team behind the product formerly known as "Nokia Here" has separated itself from Microsoft and branded its auto in-car software as "Here Now," Engadget reported today.
VentureBeat reported today that Google is working on a project, called "Physical Web," which would let smart devices (phones, watches, beacons, etc.) connect without the need for an app.