Wearable Technologies Spark $50 Billion Investment Frenzy
Wearable technologies have attracted the attention of numerous giant electronics manufacturers including the likes of Samsung, General Electric (GE), Google and even Apple as they seek for investment opportunities and the ‘next big thing’ to counter their saturating sales in mature markets.
The latter of those heavyweights has a reported $133 billion available for such a venture and Google Trends has revealed that this crop of manufacturing heavyweights are certainly not alone in their research and development.
In March 2014, Facebook announced it will buy Oculus VR, a Californian company which specialises in virtual reality headsets, for around $2 billion and now, Apple is negotiating to buy the company Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, its biggest ever expenditure on a takeover.
Beats is not huge: it has 27 percent of the $1.8 billion US headphones business mainly because of its premium pricing. Indeed, it has 57 percent of the premium sector of that market and it also has a music streaming service, both of which can leverage existing Apple offerings in wearable electronics.
Facebook and Apple do not talk of paybacks, calling the investments strategic, probably meaning that they are proceeding regardless. Many of these huge ‘gut feel’ investments also tick a box under newly hot topics overlapping wearable technology; namely Internet of People (IoP) or Internet of Things (IoT).
These devices are directly internet-identified now that IPv6 allows an effectively infinite number of IP addresses to be issued. IDTechEx predicts that as many as 55 billion IoP devices will be in use by 2025; many employing printed, flexible electronics and completely new components.
Recently, Google has paid a strategic $3.2 billion for the small IoT/IoP company, Nest Labs who manufactures smart thermostats and smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
Nest hopes to earn more from selling measurement analytics than from the devices themselves. These devices detect and respond to personal needs just like most wearable technologies and compliments Google’s ongoing investment into the internal development of Google Glass, an experimental diagnostic contact lens for diabetics and a planned smart watch; all of which are actually or potentially connected wearable technologies.
One use of Google Glass is in industry where, in February 2014, GE announced it would invest $1.5 billion into industrial internet research from 2012 to 2015.
Now, the likes of Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle are also circling with multimillion dollar opportunities signalling that the investment frenzy will continue.
Alone among the analysts, IDTechEx has anticipated all of these developments via recent reports on wearable technology while FactSet’s listing of the top 10 cash-rich companies features more than half from within the tech domain, all of whom have invested into IoP, IoT and ultimately, the benefits of wearable technologies.
Sprinkling a few billion here and there to participate does not ‘bet the shop’ for any of these companies. It is a good time to be a small business launching inspired wearable and other electronics for humans.
You may get bought for an eye watering sum of money. Alternatively, IDTechEx counsels that you do not meet the giants head on but take a look at the smaller but still substantial sector of wearable electronics for animals with an initially addressable market of 20 billion animals managed by humans.
Later, that business will add substantial wearable electronic ID, diagnostics, location and treatment for billions of endangered species.
The big boys are giving that a miss for now but will no doubt react as the trend continues to gather momentum and value.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.