Which Connected Products will make the Most in 2015?
Over the past month, we’ve been rolling out our “15 for ‘15” series, highlighting the areas we believe M2M and the Internet-of-Things will inevitably define themselves over the course of the coming year. After covering a number of general industry imperatives, followed by our views on enterprise traction, it is now time to focus on the topic that is most likely nearest and dearest to everybody’s heart: producing revenue.
Here we’ll offer our take on the products that will either become more visible this year or follow a definitive growth curve toward the Holy Grail of monetization.
In-vehicle services for the Connected Car – Garner predicts that by 2020, about 20 percent of all vehicles on the road will be connected to the Internet; for that kind of growth to happen, we will have to see some real uptick in 2015. Also, there is a lot to be said for connectivity adding to the value of the auto ownership experience. Success for these applications this year will revolve the basic tenet of “the car doing the work for its owner.” Short of the self-driving car, which is still a ways out we believe, this concept really starts with apps that let drivers put their phone down from the moment they get behind the wheel, yet are able maintain control of all the things their phone lets them do, vis-à-vis the car. Whether the driver needs to compose and send an email or text, call his or her spouse or select music for that particular day’s drive – these actions are all creeping closer towards a completely hands-free, verbal command environment that the car can execute on behalf of the driver.
For example, by connecting to a maps application, the car will be able to account for a given day’s traffic variables and automatically suggest for its driver the best route at that given moment. This is in contrast to a) the driver having to remember to check traffic on their smartphone before setting out, or b) finding oneself trapped in an unexpected, yet perfectly avoidable, traffic delay with no way to adjust.
Connectivity will also take on the role of letting cars go one step further than merely monitoring their functional status and alerting the driver of an issue. Rather, in the event the car detects a one-off repair or recognizes it is due for scheduled maintenance, it will go ahead and contact the dealer, review the owner’s calendar (since the car is now, essentially, an extension of the smartphone) and automatically suggest a mutually convenient day to bring it in. Again, the car does the work.
Finally, we will see some further evolution of applications such as Mercedes’ Attention Assist, but availability to the bulk of the mid-market is still a bit further away, given the necessary advances in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) that still must occur.
M-health – We touched briefly upon the role of connected technology for healthcare in our first set of predictions, but now it’s time to get more specific about products that are primed to become everyday moneymakers over the course of the year.
First and foremost, this will be a big year for pill bottles that actually bring about adherence to prescribed doses of medication; by connecting it, the bottle itself can be configured to send customizable alerts and interventions to the patient – via phone calls, text messages and the like – if he or she misses a dose. The costs associated with drug programs getting cut off prior to their full course are just too great to ignore – both from wasted medication standpoint and in that these patients so often return with recurrent symptoms. AdhereTech is leading the way and has been since 2013.
Active heart monitors, such as those from companies like AliveCor, are another perfect candidate for expanded adoption and growth. These devices are used by people with diagnosed, but “asymptomatic,” heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation or palpitations, and can tune these patients more directly into their moment-by-moment hearth health; the healthcare system stands to save millions by avoiding pre-emptive procedures that may be overkill in these cases.
We would be remiss not to mention applications such as blood glucose monitoring for diabetes, connected sleep apnea devices and home health monitoring trackers that help doctors keep tabs on the vital stats of their patients; however, these could all be said to have already moved into a more mature stage of adoption. The money is already flowing.
Smart Home Services – This is an area where granularity is positioned to win the day. In other words, the products we are most bullish about are those that are set up to do a very finite task. “Home automation” and “smart home” are rather sweeping terms, but the concept will really take hold in small packages that consumers can understand, and in systems that do not require a small army of installers to make happen.
There are a handful of high-value, and wonderfully simple apps meeting this criteria, and we’d expect them to garner windfall in the near-term.
That said, there have been some big leaps of late in products designed for better management of traffic and parking in the inner city; 2015 will be a year when these products start to move in earnest through the buying cycle of city managers.
On the parking side, we’ll see more ubiquitous implementation of parking meters that allow payment via consumer mobile devices and, as would be expected, that also send text alerts when the meter is about to expire so that parkers can extend time from a remote location. These connected meters also bring ancillary benefits to city coffers; by tracking the activity over time, they can enable a “supply and demand” pricing model, where the city can start charging higher rates for more sought-after spaces, while less often used spaces might carry a cheaper rate.
We’ll also see more implementation of products like Cisco’s Smart+Connected™ City Parking, which combine IP cameras, sensors, smartphone apps, and infrastructure to make parking availability visible to drivers in real time.
The benefits of this technology run from provider to user. On the provider side, companies can consolidate the manufacturing and sales fulfillment process down to a single SKU. No more matching a customer to its selected network on a case-by-case basis (and the errors that inevitably come with it). Just ship the same device to everyone and forget about it.
On the user side, it’s all about maintaining business continuity and security. Whether you’re a distributed retailer that simply cannot have your POS system go down when the land-line Internet service does (which it invariably does, about four hours per month on average), or a premises security company that faces a similar conundrum, the growth of dual-mode devices will prove to be a boon to business over the course of this year.