If CES is the tech industry's Super Bowl, IFA is like the NCAA Football Bowl. Not quite the trendsetting tech event of the year, but still worth getting excited for. Held annually in Berlin, Germany, IFA is essentially Europe's version of CES with one big key difference: It's open to the public and not just industry folks. We'll be bringing you all the major tech news from the proceedings all week. It's been a quiet year for smartwatches.
Google's strategic move into selling own branded Mobile phones is another step in the merging of "Software plus Hardware" that Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and recently Facebook have realized at the making of the "Internet of Things" Era. This is the critical issue of not just providing the software and operating system but increasing the value in the devices that become the Interface to the Customer: the smart phone, the smart tablet/laptop of Microsoft Surface, the Smart Speaker of Amazon Echo and Alexa, and the Facebook Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens that are the new foundations of Natural Language speech recognition services and the VR Virtual Reality and AR Augmented Reality breaking now and into 2017 and onward. Google's long-term market is changing, the advertising revenue from search engines while still strong is now seeing new ways to search via speech or Virtual image recognition and virtual interaction Google has been late to realizing perhaps the shift to software hardware is where the Internet of Things may be shaping the market with the Connected Home, Connected Car and Connected Work through these devices. It's all about "market marking" beyond just the big cloud data centers and big data analytics to how to build out the edge of the cloud network with all these potentially billions of connected sensors and devices. If the Mobile phone is becoming the "remote control to this world" and platforms the "fabric of social networks and connected experiences" then Google like others is rushing to get into this space with stronger software and hardware offerings
The biggest hardware and software arrival since the iPad in 2010 has been Amazon's Echo voice-controlled intelligent speaker, powered by its Alexa software assistant. But just because you're not seeing amazing new consumer tech products on Amazon, in the app stores, or at the Apple Store or Best Buy, that doesn't mean the tech revolution is stuck or stopped. They are: Artificial intelligence / machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables. Google has changed its entire corporate mission to be "AI first" and, with Google Home and Google Assistant, to perform tasks via voice commands and eventually hold real, unstructured conversations.
Today at the Frankfurt motor show, one of the biggest and most prestigious motor shows in the world, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, spoke before German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now what is Facebook and most importantly, Sheryl Sandberg doing at an automotive industry event? The obvious answer that comes to mind when one relates Facebook and the car industry is the billions of advertising dollars the industry spends on marketing and advertising. However, that does not seem to be Facebook's game plan, as highlighted by Sheryl and shown at their pavilion. Facebook seems to have a strategy of leveraging its capabilities in social marketing, AR & VR and interestingly, who would have thought of it, leveraging its advanced AI and deep learning capabilities to support the development of autonomous vehicles.
LG has placed its trust on Google Assistant and has given it the power to control its smart appliances. While it teamed up with Amazon earlier this year to give its refrigerators built-in access to Alexa, its partnership with Google is much bigger in scale. Now, you can control any of the company's 87 WiFi-connected smart home appliances by barking out orders through a Google Home speaker or through a compatible iOS or Android smartphone. Once you're done setting voice control up through LG's SmartThinQ app, you can use commands within a Home speaker's range or through a phone to tell your fridge to make more ice or to tell your AC to adjust the temperature. If you have an LG washing machine, you can ask Assistant how much time is still left before your load is done.