CES 2015: Creating connected devices is easy -- and hard

Noke is offering a Bluetooth padlock at CES 2015. (Barn door not included.)
Noke is offering a Bluetooth padlock at CES 2015. (Barn door not included.)

In his Day Two recap, the global strategy director for TBWA's Digital Arts Network says prototyping new gear is cheaper and simpler than ever ... But shipping product is a steaper challenge

LAS VEGAS — One of the key trends this year at CES is the vast amount of connected devices — it seems like anything that can be connected to the Internet will be.

The Internet of Things is here. The ever-lower cost of chips that provide connectivity and smarts to any device has created an explosion of gadgets, home appliances and wearable devices that know, help and monitor you. It could be compared to the industrial revolution, where a new breed of offering eats up the old one. If your washer and dryer don’t sync with your phone, you have no reason to exist here.

Besides cost, the key driver for this development is the evolution of ready-to-use middleware that companies can employ to cut their development time significantly. As a brand thinking of doing something in this space, it’s a huge improvement.

Whatever your idea — chances are you’re not the first to try it. And that’s a good thing. Middleware lowers risk and cuts development time. For marketers this means agencies can produce rich prototypes of connected devices quickly and within the marketing budget. You could fairly simply create the world’s first connected ice-cream cone, tweeting blue jeans or the smart toilet plunger for your campaign.

(Brands that aren’t really in this space but borrow the excitement of the category for effect end up creating YouTube videos that are then shown to the audience. No one can actually buy the thing, but they do the trick. They get the attention.)

But the trap for many marketers: Even if the prototype was simple to create, the actual production hardware is another story. Without hardware expertise, it will be difficult to execute without getting into trouble — and that’s one thing companies should be looking for at events like CES: partners for the long haul, not just gimmicks.

Juuso Myllyrinne is global strategy director of TBWA\Digital Arts Network.

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