The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a mainstream technology, generating unbridled opportunities for enterprises from different industries.
Jointly organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and the Hong Kong Electronics & Technologies Association, the Symposium on Innovation & Technology was held yesterday (13 October) during the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition). Leading industry players were invited to speak on the topic of “Power of IoT and Emerging Technologies,” sharing ideas on various IoT applications, future development trends and the tremendous business opportunities that IoT presents.
Trending products featuring IoT technology
The morning session of the Symposium centred on the theme of “Emerging Technologies – Smarter Technologies, Smarter Life.” Isabel Fan, Regional Director, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Tesla, stressed that the company is not simply an electric carmaker but an auto technology company that aims to make its new models smarter with IoT technology to create a more enjoyable driving experience for owners.
Electric cars are becoming more popular in Hong Kong and elsewhere, and Ms Fan pinpointed four factors for Tesla’s worldwide acclaim. “The right product is supported by the right infrastructure and the right ecosystem, as well as the right policy,” she said, adding that the brand’s philosophy is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. “We’re building the giga battery factory in North America, increasing the number of charging stations worldwide and integrating with the software technology. We hope other automakers will also join the electric car range, and create a better environment together.”
Enterprises to join forces in developing smart platforms
Olivier Klein, Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services believes that the future trend of IoT is to use cloud computing and artificial intelligence to connect different devices more efficiently. He referred to Amazon’s warehouse for its online bookstore as an example. “The warehouse doesn’t only connect robots with shelves. The shelves are arranged based on the big data of shopping habits of book buyers, which facilitates the robots’ locating the right items and enhances their efficiency,” he said.
Mr Klein said no single enterprise can make the world smarter through its use of IoT; rather, enterprises should work together to gain maximum benefit from the technology. For instance, Amazon has opened the cloud-based platform Alexa, an artificial intelligence voice-controlled assistant that can provide information, such as weather forecasts and news items, play music or even control other home appliances, to third-party developers.
Innovative nanomaterial to tap into trends
Dr Peter Lee, Chief Technology Officer, Nano and Advanced Materials Institute Ltd (NAMI) introduced new nanomaterial innovations that NAMI has developed, which have been commercialised for use in products spanning electronics, cosmetics, healthcare and home appliances.
Dr Lee spotlighted benefits brought by printable and flexible lithium ion batteries recently developed by NAMI. “Wearable electronics and smart watches have become a popular trend. Equipped with a sensor, these devices can collect such data as the user’s heart rate and walking speed, and they also serve the functions of healthcare devices. The printable and flexible lithium batteries with 180-degree flexibility tap right into the trend.”
Upgrading established devices with IoT
The afternoon session adopted the theme of “IoT Trends & Opportunities – Connected Living, the Next Big Thing.” Wee Teck Loo, Head of Global Consumer Electronics Research, Euromonitor International stated that the idea of IoT is not to replace all current devices, but that all devices should work with each other to create value-added benefits.
He explained, “A washing machine has a lifespan of seven to 10 years on average. By installing a smart meter in an old washing machine to collect data of the user’s laundry habits, it is possible to preset specific washing processes and use wearable devices or smart phones to control the processes; this helps achieve the benefits of a smart home, and reduces the consumption of energy and washing detergent.” He mentioned that the same device may be installed in a refrigerator, or it may be used to collect data of a user’s shopping habits to help build brand loyalty and increase revenue.
Enterprise transformation driven by an “idea economy”
Anthony Wai, APAC SE Director, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, cited McKinsey’s research statistics from 2015, noting that the IoT market could reach US$11.1 trillion by 2025. Its applications should assist enterprises and governments to make better decisions through the collection of various big data, he said.
“The society is moving towards an idea economy, and the key is how fast you can adapt to changes,” Mr Wai said. He highlighted enterprises like Uber and Airbnb, pointing out that the former does not own any taxis, and the latter does not operate any hotels. “That’s why everyone calls the Internet of Things a destructive technology. You’d fall behind if you’re slow in adapting.”
Michael Wong, Senior Director of Sales, Qualcomm, said that while IoT creates extensive business opportunities, it also results in fragmentation. “In bringing together the business opportunities scattered across IoT, including the opening and sharing of platforms, and the substitution of different devices with a single chip, we can achieve the benefits of a smart home and smart city more effectively.”
World’s largest electronics marketplace
The annual Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) and concurrent electronicAsia continue through 16 October at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). The 36th Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) is organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), while the 20th electronicAsia is jointly organised by the HKTDC and MMI Asia Pte Ltd. Together, the fairs form the world’s largest electronics marketplace, featuring some 4,200 exhibitors from 29 countries and regions.