IFA 2015 global press meet gave a glimpse into innovative products in the smart home and consumer electronics industry that will be showcased in this year’s show, to be held in Berlin from September 4 to 9, 2015
It was a press conference for IT, communications, and tech journalists. But the products being discussed and displayed were from everyday life in the drawing room, the living room, and the kitchen. While Gibson Innovations provided a peek into their very interesting new products such as a loudspeaker that features crystal-clear 360-degree sound, Grundig’s kitchen showcased how IT and Internet are making kitchens smarter.
On similar lines, Haier, a major Chinese manufacturer of home appliances, presented a more energy-efficient and smarter washing machine than we see in the markets. And Microsoft talked about how Windows 10 will play a role in household appliances. Philips showcased its smart lighting solutions that conserve energy, and another tech player TP Vision said that in 2015, 80% of its TV sets will be equipped with Android. Further, ZTE showcased a mobile HD projector, and a smartphone which recognizes spoken commands without being connected to a network.
The global press meet gave a glimpse into trends that will dominate the forthcoming consumer electronics and white goods show, IFA 2015. The show attracted over 240,000 visitors and almost 1,500 exhibitors last year. This year, the mega show will focus on convergence of IT and connectivity in devices and smarter living.
Jürgen Boyny, Global Director, Consumer Electronics at market research firm, GfK said, “Consumers are increasingly spending on consumer electronics. We expect the positive trend to continue worldwide in 2015 and anticipate 1.5% growth in the consumer electronics sector. Smart cities and smart living will push the growth further.”
The opportunity in smart home appliances
Device makers uniformly echoed the need for more efficient products that are simple and yet enhance the quality of life. They talked about the rapidly growing need of integrating more ICT into the traditional household devices. According to Bernd Laudahn, MD, Philips, “There are a lot of opportunities emerging in the health technology space due to increased collaboration between healthcare professionals, care givers, and institutions.” According to him, appliance makers are now realizing that data is the oil of the future, and trying to leverage that in their offerings.
Similarly, Yannick Fierling, CEO, Haier Europe said, “We are very aggressively getting into healthcare and energy solutions. Our new watch will help you track where your kids and ageing parents are.”
Murat Sahin, CEO, Grundig Multimedia who presented the VUX technology for smart kitchens of the future said, “We have more than 500 products for every room of a household today, and in each one of them we are trying to build in more intelligence.”
Similarly, Waiman Lam, Sr Director at ZTE Devices said “We now have a mobile-ICT vision for the entire product range.” And Marc Harmsen, Global Marketing Lead, TP Vision said, “Smart TV is going to be the center piece of the main living room.”
What India needs to do to be ‘smarter’
Just when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rolled out the first level plan for building 100 smart cities at the cost of Rs 48,000 crore, it is important that concerned city planners, IT secretaries, and even smart city specialists be exposed to all the new technologies and business models that are coming up across the world. And what better place than these expositions where in under one roof one gets to see a whole range of alternative solutions and live examples. This year again, the discussions are likely to be focused around ideas and solutions for a digital future in the context of mobility, health, energy, big data, smart home, and new entertainment, to name a few.
While the fact is that traditionally IFA has been more Europe-centric, the organizers now agree that the growth markets now lie in the emerging geographies such as India.
“We know there is a lot of action in India, and we are accordingly planning to reach out to more exhibitors and visitors there,” said Jens Heithecker, IFA Executive Director. However, he also thinks that doing business in and with India has its own challenges.
Hope the Indian industry and government is listening. It will not be just about buying, but it could also explore opportunities for manufacturing in India, another very important thing on the country’s agenda.