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  • feedwordpress 02:44:19 on 2014/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , Android, , bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, digital strategy, Digital wallets, GPS, iBeacon, , industry disruption, , , Interactive design, Macrumors, Major League Baseball, MLB, Paypal, qualcomm, retail 2.0, retail strategy, , WIFI, WIRED   

    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars? 


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    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars?

    It’s Friday – time for RE:INVENTION’s 5×5. Every Friday RE:INVENTION’s leadership team explores a news topic or research report in depth, sharing our unique perspectives.

    UP THIS WEEK: Beacon Technology, Apple’s iBeacon, and Innovation

    What is a beacon? A beacon is a small, low cost sensor that uses BlueTooth to track your location inside buildings and push information to your phone. It’s more precise than GPS or WiFI and consumes less power. The technology has the potential to bridge physical locations and digital experiences, transforming how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors.

    To date, iBeacon (Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth) appears to be leading the pack in advancing this new technology. But the beacon wars have just begun. Paypal, Qualcomm, and a variety of smaller vendors are entering the market with their own beacon hardware.

    This Week’s Reference Articles

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    Will Apple’s iBeacon emerge as the leader in beacon technology? Or will another company win the beacon wars?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    Beacon technology will improve the way consumers use smart phones and transform numerous industries by solving the indoor geo-location challenge. It has great potential to facilitate better mobile payments thereby disrupting the whole credit card ecosystem because of its range. But there will be hurdles with regard to beacon technology commercialization. Beacon technology already has privacy advocates and legal experts buzzing about the implications. The key to beacon technology success will be winning over consumers and heightening their user experience.

    At first blush, the company that seems best positioned to achieve competitive advantage is Apple. Apple is exceptionally good at function and interactive design. Apple excels at branding and educating consumers about new product categories. According to TechCrunch, Apple appears to have a secret leg up on the competition since “every compatible iPad currently deployed in a retail store is already capable of being configured as an iBeacon transmitter — and the iPad is already dominant in the retail space.”

    But here’s the rub. Android can discover beacons that aren’t your own, while Apple restricts this ability. Open ecosystems typically win when it comes to consumers embracing new technologies.

    And since Apple doesn’t have patents on the technology involved with iBeacon, competitors will increasingly come forward with low cost beacons of their own.

    Regardless of who wins the wars, Apple will relentlessly improve and expand the system going forward. And that’s a good thing. When it comes to beacon technology, this is just the first wave of innovation. There’s much more to come.

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    iBeacon is Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth.  What makes BlueTooth LE special is that it requires very little power to run and won’t be a drain on your device’s battery.  This will finally allow independent communication between devices and other objects that have not previously been thought of as being communication enabled.

    Technologists have long been predicting the arrival of The Internet of Things which is a future state rapidly coming where everyday household items (or things) are hooked up to the Internet allowing for remote control or two way communication.  Examples might be your oven signaling you when the food is cooked or your refrigerator doing your monthly shopping without you.  BlueTooth LE will take this concept one step further by enabling local point-to-point communication between devices and “things.” but only within a short range proximity to each other.

    The use cases are boundless and, in my opinion, fairly exciting to think about.   Many are thinking about consumer oriented uses, however, use cases can span across many different environments from driving revenue for a company to providing social good.  What it will really drive is extreme personalizition of experience and increased inefficiencies.  Imagine going into Starbucks and having the coffee maker automatically start brewing your favorite drink without having to get into line.  The coffee-maker communicates with your phone to start the order and the cash register automatically debits your account.  This can leave the baristas free to focus on making coffee and customer service.  BlueTooth LE can also further enable augmented reality use cases for your smartphone or tablet.  Imagine walking through your favorite tourist city and as you come across various landmarks, etc. with embedded BlueTooth LE devices, your device could overlay imagery or text to provide additional information on that landmark, etc.

    Apple is very good at branding and driving adoption of new technologies by connecting well with the consumer.  However, the technology is not exclusive to Apple.  So, while Apple may perhaps be first to market with some innovative usage of this technology, other vendors will quickly fall in behind to fully take advantage.  I am looking forward to it.

    Dennis Jarvis (“The Marketeer”)

    While perhaps not befitting the label of disruptive, Beacon Technology represents yet another evolution in our daily digital lives. iBeacon leads the way and my money is on Apple capturing the lion’s share while competitors seek their own point-of-difference.

    Let’s consider the dynamics of this evolution, those that are good, maybe great, as well as the possible pitfall? On the one hand, Beacon brings with it the potential for significantly adding value to our experiences, be they entertainment events, retail, transit, education, etc. And, consumers will be drawn to the siren, with all of its conveniences and efficiencies. The availability of a seamless stream of real-time information at any leisure venue – ballgames, museums, concerts, etc. – will enable unencumbered access to tickets, seating locations, insights about the event, and concession bargains. Add to that the ease of navigation afforded to us at retail, along with specials and deals seemingly more within reach, and the ability for more efficient exchange of currency, means Beacon technology is a sure bet. Yet, I wonder just how many more push notifications we can or want to handle. Still, the real pitfall comes with the realization that the ultimate success of Beacon technology, as with most things digital, resides with our dependence on just how responsible organizations are in managing it, versus exploitation to the point where we say “enough.” Already, we are somewhat skeptical as evidenced by the following: 93% of consumers are concerned with their privacy from digital technologies; 73% don’t want their clicks tracked; 41% distrust businesses who collect data about them online; 40% are uncomfortable about personalized ads pushed to them; 36% have unfriended a brand over privacy concerns (Brandology. May, 2013). So, yes the public most certainly will gravitate to “the” Beacon, but it will be monitoring and voting on organizations and companies who violate their trust.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    There’s potential. Beacon technologies will keep driving the big trend of “automation”, where there is less human interaction. This might not work for every person and situation though, as some people will prefer to talk to a human at some point.

    The main topic of conversation will be how this changes the retail experience, but the bigger picture here is that we may end up getting fatigued by all the varied applications that can use these technologies.

    The iPhone might end up pushing this forward, but there are a varied amount of apps that could potentially play here: Square, Google+, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, among others. These are all situation aware apps that one way or another have the signals necessary to know where you are.

    We are already inundated with notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other apps, in the big picture, how will this sit with people? What happens next?

    This is the short-term issue I’d think about. This is a wave that is just getting started, and people will be forced to adopt this technology because of their phones. Many questions still remain unanswered.

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    I don’t need much guidance to find good products. I rely on my nose. Dogs like me instinctively know how to sniff out opportunities. Hmmm….wonder if I can patent my nose as a tracking device?

    THE FINAL WORD
    Apple’s iBeacon is a strong contender in an exciting emerging category. Beacons can be utilized for a bevy of new purposes from geolocation to shopping analytics to targeted messaging. Many of the new entrants will provide solutions that complement each other. At RE:INVENTION, we’re excited to see where the industry is headed next.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:25:53 on 2013/12/04 Permalink
    Tags: 2013 predictions, alivecor, Android, , , cheap tablets, eHealth, google glass, google now, Harvard Business Review, , , , innovation forecast, , innovation trends, look back look forward, mDevices, , , rethink robotics, retrofit, scripps health, tablets, tech trends, , UCSF, , wall-ye   

    A Look Back at Vivek Wadhwa’s Five 2013 Innovation Predictions 


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    A Look Back at Vivek Wadhwa’s Five 2013 Innovation Predictions

    Over the holiday weekend, Global Language Monitor released its Top 50 Business Buzzwords of 2013. Some of the words on the list? Content. Social Media. Game Changer. It’s official – Trend Recap and Forecasting season has begun.

    Before the entire business world starts to look back and look ahead, it’s always entertaining to revisit what the “experts” predicted for this year last December. I love keeping score.

    Let’s get things started with a review of Singularity University Professor Vivek Wadhwa’s five 2013 innovation predictions, featured in his WASHINGTON POST COLUMN. I’ll briefly recap each of Wadhwa’s predictions and evaluate his clairvoyant powers.

    1. A cheap tablet explosion

    Wadhwa predicted that the price of tablet computers would drop to under $100 in 2013 and keep dropping to near zero over the next two to three years. “Companies will give tablets away,” he said, “in exchange for plan subscriptions.”

    Scorecard: It happened (kinda).

    PC shipments declined 8 percent in 2013 while tablet shipments increased 53 percent. The market is being driven by a shift to lower-priced devices across all device categories, not just tablets. The average price of a tablet during 2013 was roughly $380 but if you factor out Apple iPADs, the average tablet price drops below $40.

    It is important to note, however, that recent research suggests substantial buyer remorse for cheap tablets. Many industry analysts think Apple will be able to retain premium vendor pricepoints. Tablet quality still has a clear price threshold.

    2. Wireless health self-monitoring devices will go “mainstream”

    Mobile devices will reshape healthcare in 2013, Wadhwa declared. He raved about the AliveCor Heart Monitor and heralded its potential for success.

    Scorecard: We’re headed that direction.

    Is a m-health gold rush on? Absolutely. RE:INVENTION recently featured the CEO of Retrofit on our blog. A new 2013 Consumer Electronics Association survey found that one-third of mobile device owners have used their mobile phones to track some aspect of their health.

    Still, “mainstream” is an optimist’s exaggeration. Less than 5 percent of U.S. broadband households currently own wireless health monitoring devices (like AliveCor). A mere 1,000 patients are currently using AliveCor devices, primarily through the company’s clinical trials with Scripps Health and UCSF. In November 2013, Alivecor transformed their heart monitor into an eHealth Service — that’s promising.

    3. Manufacturing jobs will return to the U.S.

    We’ll see a renaissance in design and creativity in 2013, portended Wadhwa, driven by advances in robotics, A.I., and 3D printing. And this will bring a wave of manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Wadhwa also expected growing commercial availability of a new generation of robots like Baxter from Rethink Robotics and the grape-picking Wall-Ye.

    Scorecard: A renaissance? No. Progress, but it’s slow…

    A September 2013 BCG study revealed that over half of executives at manufacturing companies with sales of more than $1 billion INTEND to return some production to the United States from overseas. Twenty-one percent say that they are in the “process of some reshoring.”

    On the robotics front, Rethink Robotics recently expanded its Baxter Research Robot into the Asian market in partnership with Nihon Binary. But the price of robots will need to come down dramatically before they go mainstream. At $32K, the Wall-Ye is more expensive than manual labor. Despite its cool factor, Wall-Ye only has 17 likes on Facebook.

    When it comes to the robotics industry, we place our bets on drones. Even average Joes wanna own their own personal aerial surveillance technology. Some of us find the privacy implications terrifying. If you were my Facebook friend, you could explore my Photo Album featuring drones caught on camera across San Diego. Eerie? You bet.

    4. From big baloney to big opportunities in big data

    Wadhwa forecasted huge big data success stories in 2013 and triumph for Google Now, Popular Science’s 2012 Innovation of the Year.

    Scorecard: MEH.

    RE:INVENTION’s team discussed the deluge of Big Data in a recent Friday 5×5 blog post. Big Data still has a credibility problem. While Big Data can provide unprecedented amounts of information, many companies are still struggling to use Big Data effectively. If your company doesn’t have deep pockets like Google or Facebook and tons of dedicated data analysts and engineers on staff, mining business answers from Big Data can be a backbreaker. And from consumers’ perspectives, Big Data comes with the threat of infringing on privacy.

    Huge data sets are useless unless they provide actionable insights. For companies to generate value from Big Data, they need to connect data sets to insights to action in a fast, repeatable way.

    All this said, our lives and daily patterns will increasingly be up in “the cloud” for bidding to the highest payer. And this makes some folks nervous. For a quick read on the challenges Google Now faces with mainstream acceptance, check out the reader comments on THIS ARTICLE.

    5. A surge in wearable devices and new user interface paradigms

    Wadhwa brazenly predicted the obsolescence of the computer keyboard and mouse in 2013. And he expected Google Glass to soar: “When Google releases Project Glass…I predict we won’t even need computer screens at all.”

    Scorecard: When pigs fly, Sir Vivek Wadhwa.

    Wearable devices will be a companion to mobile phones, tablets, and computers, not a replacement. Gartner predicts that less than 1 percent of consumers will replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017.

    While size matters less and Time Magazine recently reported that people overwhelmingly prefer 7-inch tablets over 10-inch tablets – many wearable devices lack utility because of their tiny screen size (particularly tough for us older “vision-challenged” folks). Kind note to you youngsters out there: you will get old, despite Google’s hell-bent intention to cheat death. Dare to dream, Google. Dreams are great innovation kickstarters.

    As for Google Glass, the product faces H-U-G-E challenges before going mainstream. Privacy issues, a fugly design, usability problems, and fear (fear of Google and fear of change). Google’s “do no evil” mantra is akin to a car salesman telling you to trust him.

    For the record, we suspect Google will be a huge proponent of stealth drones. We’re NOT ALONE IN THIS OPINION. And we don’t think tablets and computers will be replaced by interactive glasses or wearable devices any time soon.

    MY OVERALL EVALUATION OF VIVEK WADHWA’S 2013 INNOVATION PREDICTIONS
    Pretty good job. Miss Cleo, John Edward, and Sylvia Browne would be impressed.

    So, how would you score Wadhwa’s 2013 predictions? Which trend surprised you most this year? What was YOUR favorite 2013 innovation or technology prediction?

    Later this week, I’ll review MIT Sloan School Center research fellow Michael Schrage’s four 2013 innovation predictions, as featured in his December 2012 Harvard Business Review Column.

     
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