Jonathan Bennett, Marketing Director at Systemline, explains why embracing the new wave of technology can enhance your own products.
2016 was a fantastic year for technology as reports of driverless cars and robots made numerous headlines. Apple caused controversy with the launch of the iPhone 7, which had removed the headphone jack and introduced wireless headphones instead. Meanwhile, we also saw the increasing dominance of virtual reality through the PS VR Morpheus and the HTC Vive.
I can’t wait to see what technological advances this year will bring!
If you, like me, are surrounded by innovative products each day, it’s hard not to take a strong interest in the development of new and exciting technologies that could shape the future of tomorrow. To further fuel my interest I recently laid my hands on a copy of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.
Gartner deﬁnes a strategic technology trend as “one with substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to break out of an emerging state”, or alternatively a rapidly growing trend with “a high degree of volatility reaching tipping point over the next ﬁve years”. Of the Top 10, I was most enthralled by three particular technologies:
1. AI and Advanced Machine Learning
Intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously have made headlines for many years, but could advancing AI technology be used by professional electricians to complete projects more quickly?
2. Intelligent Things
According to Gartner, intelligent things, such as drones and autonomous vehicles, are physical items that “exploit applied AI and machine learning to deliver advanced behaviours and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people”. Why visit the wholesaler when a drone can drop off your supplies?
3. Intelligent Apps
These already play a key role in everyday life for millions of smartphone owners across the world, thanks to digital assistants such as Siri (Apple) and Cortana (Microsoft). Whether we use them to wake us up, locate an ATM, or tell us what is playing at the local cinema, these apps are based around convenience.
Arguably, Amazon introduced the most advanced technology of this kind at the end of last year. The Amazon Echo Dot device, which is powered by the company’s Alexa far-ﬁeld voice control, enables you to control the lights in your house, play your favourite music, order food, and even remind you to pick the kids up from school! As a result, home automation has entered a whole new dimension.
AI and intelligent apps have always been of interest to us at Systemline and we took the decision late last year to explore ways in which we could harness the power of the Amazon Echo Dot to further improve our innovative built-in music system, Systemline E50.
Launched last year, E50 was designed to meet the increasing consumer demand for high quality built-in music systems at an affordable price. Since being unveiled, the product has earned plaudits for its affordability, as well as the ease in which it can be installed in any home, enriching any open plan living space, kitchen or bedroom. It has proved to be a popular product for professional electricians or installers looking to expand their sales and proﬁt opportunities when working on completely new jobs or existing contracts.
E50 already features an innovative contactless gesture control that allows consumers to adjust the volume, mute and skip tracks without touching the device, which is perfect for consumers who like to listen to music when preparing food.
However, we were still determined to take E50 to the next level, so during late 2016 our team put considerable effort into optimising the connectivity of the solution to ensure that it integrates perfectly with the Amazon Echo Dot. Supporting both wired and wireless connectivity, consumers can now simply connect the two products. This will allow the user to issue voice commands such as “Alexa, play folk music from Spotify”, “Alexa, play BBC Radio 4 from TuneIn”, “Alexa, skip track” or “Alexa increase volume”.
Our key objective for exploring this integration was to enrich the experience for those homeowners who are already benefitting from using E50. As a technology company, it’s important that you do not rest on your laurels and are always looking for ways to improve your products. Home automation is already growing in popularity and more consumers are increasingly relying on smart technology to enrich their homes. By integrating with Amazon Echo Dot, we have boosted E50’s functionality whilst making it more accessible.
We unveiled this update during a recent trade show attended by professional electricians and installers. The team conducted a series of live demonstrations and we were happy to receive fantastic feedback.
At Systemline we will continue to invest heavily in R&D in order to explore how we can utilise new technologies to improve our own solutions. This will help us to provide professional electricians and installers with even more innovative products that will appeal to the increasingly tech-savvy homeowner.