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Beyond dongles and dashboards

Gary Shapiro President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) | April 21, 2016
Gary Shapiro of CTA shares his thoughts on the latest IoT-related trends coming to Asia, and what brands looking to jump on the IoT bandwagon should consider.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

In an age where smartphones can do just about everything and consumers rarely make phone calls anymore, conversations around the Internet of Things (IoT) are beginning to shift from hardware specs to apps and functionality.

Consumers are beginning to expect brands to sustain interactions with them long after a purchase is made.

Just a couple of years ago, brands equated the implementation of IoT solutions to using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies to keep tabs on inventory, identify weaknesses in the supply chain and to figure out which items were best sellers. Yet today, RFID technologies have taken on another role.

Take fashion house Ralph Lauren as an example. Ralph Lauren stores have embedded RFID antennas into interactive mirrors in the changing rooms that can immediately identify items brought into the changing room, down to size and color. These smart mirrors let customers "try on" different colors of the same outfit without leaving the dressing room, and can even adjust the lighting in the room. Not ready to commit? Have the information about what you tried on sent to you via text so you can mull it over.

Elsewhere, Korean startup WAY is working on a device that allows users to receive instant feedback on their current skin conditions, and provides personalized beauty tips and recommendations for how users can better take can of their skin. The device learns about your skin condition from the data collected and can then make personalized product recommendations.

Yet implementation of these innovative technologies often requires large capital investments, which can lead to long lag times.

In 2013, Disney World started using 'MagicBands' at their Florida resort. These RFID sensor bands allow visitors to the park to make reservations for rides, meals and other activities. But for its Shanghai location due to open later this year, Disney decided to scrap the idea of 'MagicBands' completely, opting for app implementation instead. The speed at which technology is evolving means that guests can achieve more with their smartphones, and at the same time, significantly reduce the cost of implementation for Disney.

eMarketer estimates that 40.8 percent of the mobile population in Asia Pacific has a smartphone, with figures expected to rise to 51.5 percent by 2019. Brands looking to jump on the IoT bandwagon should look to mobile as a viable, more cost-effective platform.

The biggest challenge with IoT adoption is figuring out how to harness the vast amounts of data each of us creates every day in order to make the IoT personally valuable. Technologies like smart mirrors have opened the floodgates and released vast troves of data. Besides dealing with information from these technologies, brands have to navigate these troves, pulling from both social channels and e-commerce sites, and ensure consistency across all touch points.


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