If it’s January, it means it’s time for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and that’s where I find myself this week, checking into all the latest gadgets and products that we will start seeing in stores and online sometime later this year. As you know, my company does business exclusively with other businesses so you might be asking yourself, Why would Luis spend time at a show about consumer products?
Well, the reality is that consumer and business has started to blend, a phenomenon that is referred to as the consumerization of IT. At the heart of it is this notion that consumer products are now being used in the workplace as much as dedicated business products and that means that I need to understand how consumer focused products might influence what happens in the business world, hence my annual pilgrimage to the CES. And, I really like Vegas, even though I don’t gamble.
So, what is hot this year? Well, there is one overarching theme and that is that The Internet of Things is real and impacting everything in the technology world. The Internet of Things or IOT as it is sometimes referred to, is this concept that says all devices will be connected to each other wirelessly, communicating and coordinating to make our lives better. Let me give you an example: it’s estimated that there are currently around 16 billion active connected wireless devices in the world. Within five years, that number is projected to grow to over 40 billion devices.
This idea of the Internet of Things isn’t limited to just a few specific industries either. It’s spread across the entire spectrum, from entertainment, to automobiles, to healthcare. In fact, healthcare is one of the fastest growing areas form connected devices because of the growing popularity of self-service medical and health-related devices.
I spoke to a guy named Uwe Spiegel, the CEO of a company called iHealth, a $1.2 billion global provider of medical devices for home use and he explained that the growth in his industry is being driven largely by an aging population that is tired of having to go to the doctor to find out about their health. They want to control and understand their personal health information, everything from how effective they are exercising to their blood pressure, glucose levels, weight gain or loss – and they want to track it digitally, using simple, cloud-based apps. At the end of the day, baby boomers want to control their personal health information and share with the doctors they see, not the other way around.
As you can imagine, there are a number of manufacturers who are catering to this new desire we have to micromanage our bodies and health information. I saw a device that clips to your finger and not only measures your pulse but also gives you a reading of the oxygen level in your blood. By that way, 95% or more is good for men and women should have a blood oxygen level above 97%. There’s a little factoid to wow your friends with at the next cocktail party!
I was also impressed by the growth and expansion of automation, from cars to homes, it’s all about making it easier to manage our lives. There were even robots that can do yard work and charge light bulbs! If only half the stuff I saw this week makes it to market, it’s going to be a very interesting year!