If you want to know where the supply chain is going, just ask the end consumer. These are the people who are dreaming about what technologies will transform their lives and the world—and what trends will inspire design engineers and put new demands on the electronics supply chain.
“Everything that you read about IoT is smart watches, phones, tablets, and the like,” said Dianne Kibbey, global head of community, for Element14. “You would expect it to run to fun devices but the priority is around healthcare, environment, and clean energy. It did surprise me. I thought they would focus on the day-to-day applications, like smart appliances.”
That's what electronics distributor Element14 did in its study titled Engineering a Connected World. They found out that, although the Internet of Things (IoT) may be driving a lot of hype, end users are focused on how connected technologies can really change the world. The survey polled 3,500 adults living in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America to uncover their attitudes about IoT technologies.
It's an important question because the IoT of things market is growing and is likely to touch many areas of life. A January 2015 report from Mind Commerce indicates that the global market for connected consumer devices will reach $88 billion with a CAGR of 14.4% by 2020. “Many industries are impacted by this growth including consumer electronics, entertainment services, energy management, security, healthcare, and sports and fitness,” the Mind Commerce report said.
Element14's study found that the ways that consumers prioritize what the technology focus ought to be depending on geography. In both the United Kingdom and the United States, consumers put healthcare technology at the top of the list. In China, the focus shifts to aerospace, while Australians put renewable energy at the top of the list and Indian consumers want electronics engineers to focus on technology to support education and financial services. End users in France prioritize developments in transportation first and consumers in Germany are looking to the ways that connected devices can revolutionize entertainment.
Globally, though, everyone seems to agree that environmental concerns need to be high up on the list on the list. Over half of those surveyed (56%) said the environment should be a key technology focus, while 66% cited renewable energy.
Despite all the promised glitz and glamor promised by pundits around the internet of things, at the end of the day, user are looking for functionality, from burglar alarms in the home to automatic engine maintenance in their cars. In addition, users want to be connected with themselves and their families. Two thirds of those surveyed want to connect themselves directly to the Internet, and 23% wanted to hook up their kids.
However, most consumers are still taking a wait and see about wearable devices. Only about 6% of US and UK consumers have purchased a smart watch—and four out of five say they'll never open their wallet to have this piece of technology on their wrist.
Whether wearable or connected, connected devices need to show clear value. “The conversation is around price versus convenience,” said Kibbey. “They are willing to pay for safety or efficiency and often they are not willing to pay extra for smart appliances.”
Users are particularly excited about the idea of connected cars. In fact, 61% of those surveyed either own or plan to own an Internet connected car. These users want to get beyond aesthetics as well and are asking for on-board safety technology, electric charging, and improved performance.
When asked about their desires for future technology, users had a long list of demands for new products ranging from space tourism and electric cars and virtual reality gadgets and smart glasses.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN
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