3 Hardware Takeaways from CES 2018

From startup to enterprise, IoT wins the day

At times, it feels like software dominates the headlines in technology. But if this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is any indication, a huge hardware evolution is coming. This year’s event was a record breaker: nearly 4,000 exhibitors across nearly 3 million square feet of floor space showed off the latest and greatest in tech.

Here are some of the biggest hardware takeaways from CES:

1. Hardware takes center stage in Internet of Things offerings

The IoT world might seem like it’s all about the cloud. But CES showed that companies are starting to take the hardware side of IoT more seriously. There was a lot more talk of hardware and software integration at the event, highlighting the features, upgrades and hardware needed to truly make the most out of IoT connectivity—and big brands took notice.

Many major brands showed off more comprehensive offerings than years past. One was LG, which had an immersive smart home experience that started with a corridor of curved screens opening up to an entire home set up, with demos from top load washer and dryers and French door refrigerators to more classic TV and entertainment systems. But smart homes are nothing new right? CES 2018 revealed a level of smart home detail not seen before at the event. Smart toilets and showers, smart light switches, and faucets—everything in your home will eventually talk to each other in ways like never before, powered by AI offerings from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung.

From smart retail to smart factories and smart buildings, talk of connected devices is giving way to conversations about connected infrastructure—whether it’s one that’s powering a smart home or an entire smart city.

2. Hardware-software partnerships signaled customers’ needs for sophisticated tech

The conversation about connected infrastructure leads naturally to another popular topic at the show this year: technology partnerships between hardware and software vendors. The HiMirror does skincare analysis detecting bags, dark spots and rough patches all without leaving your bathroom – but only with the help of Amazon and Alexa.

Our own Ask Avnet, an artificial intelligence-powered smart assistant that connects the collective wisdom of nearly 1 million engineers across a variety of communities and the knowledge across teams in three continents runs with the help of Microsoft’s Azure.

Plus, Google software was partnered with hardware tech across every inch of the conference. Smart displays from Google Assistant showed up in Lenovo and Sony displays. TiVos can now be controlled with the Google Assistant. From HiSense TVs and Memorex speakers to integration with Android Auto in Fords, Nissans and Volkswagens—Google Assistant revved up its offerings to take on Echo and Alexa.

Integrating hardware and software is one of the most challenging pieces of the IoT puzzle. Both areas require expertise and experience, but since it’s rare to find the two skills in one company these types of partnerships will likely continue to evolve as the IoT space matures.

3. The maturation of hardware startups from around the globe

Although La French Tech was the most visible and the orange hats from the Holland StartUp Pavilion were omnipresent, Eureka Park was a showcase for startups from around the globe to showcase new tech. In fact, this section of exhibitors grew by 50% year over year.

This year, partnered with Kickstarter to run Hardware Studio, a partnership to help independent hardware creators throughout the product lifecycle, with live broadcasts from the event. For example, Volt Steadicam broke down how they solved challenges blending software and hardware to create haptic feedback on a lightweight camera. Fret Zealot guided other creators through their own challenges about how they diagrammed their manufacturing timeline around the Bluetooth-connected guitar playing assistance device and its corresponding app.

Eureka Park’s explosion shows that getting a product to market fast is critical as there’s more competition than ever to quickly go from idea to prototype. Just a great idea won’t help you hit your funding number. Startups need to think through patents, fundraising, design reviews, lead times and initial prototypes quickly. We’ve taken this to heart with our own Path to Prototype guide that breaks down every step an independent creator takes from the idea in your head to a product in your customer’s hands.

Avnet is taking to heart the lessons of CES, starting with overhauling our IoT ecosystem. Want to learn more? Get updates on the Internet of Things or see how we simplify the process to market—whether you’re a startup or an enterprise partner

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