(Apple Watch image courtesy of the manufacturer.)
Among the new devices and concepts displayed at this year’s CES conference, wearables continued to have a strong showing along with many new home automation devices and more automotive applications than in previous years. Electronics companies have their focus clearly on bringing Internet of Things (IoT) into common use by consumers.
For wearables, the trend continued toward making the devices more attractive and functional for everyday use. Fitness bands, which were a big focus at last year’s CES, are fading in favor of smartwatches and other form factors, including clothing. In part this is due to the large abandonment rate of fitness bands and to the convergence of multiple sensors on smartwatch devices, allowing for fitness tracking (like running apps), as well as larger displays providing users with more information. Also, Intel introduced their Curie computer device for wearables that will shrink the size and battery requirements, allowing new form factors. Apple, while not attending the show as usual, announced the release of the iWatch for March, which will leverage their HealthKit and HomeKit standards to expand the functionality of wearables. Insurers need to continue to monitor consumer trends and plan for including wearables in their mobile and customer engagement strategies.
Another trend was in home automation devices, everything from new home security devices to smart washing machines and coffee makers, even a plant sensor that will allow users to water their plants remotely. As in the past, many products are focused on specific use cases, but some products and standards are beginning to emerge to allow integration of capabilities. Samsung, Google and Apple are all working on presenting IoT device standards, which are a key to full adoption of IoT by consumers and improved capabilities and analytics by device suppliers. Insurers should consider how the future common use of these devices and standards can be integrated into property risk reduction and coverage products.
Finally, there was the increased presence of automotive applications, including Audi introducing a new wearable that connects with their high-end models and many new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto applications. These devices provide integrated capabilities for connected cars, with devices based on both being incorporated into both high-end and inexpensive models. A few self-driving and self-parking vehicles were also demonstrated and will soon have an impact on auto safety and collision reduction. The abundance of low-cost technology for automobiles will have an increased impact on auto insurers.
CES has evolved into an early indicator not only of consumer trends, but of how technology can better engage customers, improve lifestyles and reduce risk for property. Insurers looking to innovate to meet customer needs can learn from the trends and new products displayed at the show.