CES Asia opened it doors for the second consecutive year in Shanghai this week. As I walked around peeking in and experiencing the various exhibits, one word which every device seemed to be screaming out loud was “smart”. Most of the internet of things (IoT) and wearable devices which I scanned were smart bikes, steering wheels, luggage, skateboards, pillows, jewellery, sleeping goggles, temperature monitor patches for babies, health monitor devices, home humidity sensors to name a few.
These were over and above the usual suspects of 3D-printers, drones, car technologies, VR and Robots. With the growth of smart devices, what we are seeing is an evolution of the intent to provide some useful measurements to people. At this stage, it seems that supply is far stripping our demand and there is a huge amount of prototyping going on with new technologies. Wearable technologies will need to evolve from being passive in terms of just delivering measurements as diagnostics to being more utility driven in helping people act upon changing behaviour. This behaviour change will require a larger ecosystem of stakeholders to be involved.
Measurement is an important utility being delivered by these connected products. Brands can leverage these technologies to provide a more enriching content experience for their customers or evolve their business model from products to services by delivering utility to their customers. In this journey, it will be important for brands to ascertain their right to play, as credibility and trust are going to be important barometers for customer adoption. An example would be companies which market products aimed at people leading a healthy lifestyle. Wearable technology helps people take action on the diagnostic measurements being provided by delivering relevant content around exercise and dieting etc, or connecting people to relevant communities for support. With the over supply in smart devices, brands have a good opportunity to experiment on solutions that work for their business.
To help brands harness the potential of new technologies and develop a bridge to engaging with their consumers in a meaningful way, we have chosen our theme for the Dentsu Aegis Network CES booth as “empowered extended self”. New technologies like wearables and IoT devices are already starting to provide bits of utility to people, be it to give them statistics about their health or to connect devices at home so they can take action to replenish food almost at its sell-by date. We showcased 12 products which touch upon this evolution of measurement to action. Pace Sync is an app which uses facial recognition technology via phone’s camera to measure the heart rate and customises content to bring it to an optimum level enabling the user to relax anywhere, anytime. By amplifying the pulse signal on the surface of the face, the app triggers an animated movie on the screen that moves by a rhythm synchronised to the user’s heartbeat, and slowly lowers the heart rate when it is too high.
BVRAIN is the world’s first VR goggles that visualises the emotions of the human brain using neuro-sensors to pick up brain activity via forehead and earlobes, to customise content and games. The inspiration for them comes from one simple question: How can we see our own brains in real-time? The head-mounted device is available in two versions, BVRAIN Visualiser – allowing users to see a real-time abstraction of their brain in interactive 3D visuals, and BVRAIN Adaptive Game – a coin collecting VR game where users’ gaming journey is generated by real-time brain waves, opening up a whole new area of adaptive gaming. The first application of BVRAIN was launched for Coca Cola’s Innovation Center at Wanda Theaters in major cities across China in April, 2016.
With advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning these technologies will now be able to better understand peoples’ needs, and act as a virtual extension of their self. The robot in the house will be part of the modern family and in effect the new “influencer” in the household.
Arvind Sethumadhavan is APAC chief innovation officer at Dentsu Aegis Network