Tag Archive for: consumer electronics

After kicking off with a rare torrential downpour in Las Vegas that forced even Google to seek shelter, the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show — better known as CES — officially concluded on Jan. 12.

CES is an annual tech-stravoganza where companies large and small descend on Sin City to unveil their latest innovations.

Although the booths and displays have been taken down and packed up, the products and technology unveiled throughout the week will undoubtedly shape the coming years across many sectors.

Here are some quick highlights, and stay tuned for a look at CES 2018 announcements from the autonomous vehicle sector later this week.

Artificial Intelligence

Any direction you looked in Las Vegas last week, chances are you saw the words “Hey Google” (the Google Home wake word) festooned on everything from billboards to the Las Vegas monorail.

Google’s voice-powered smart home assistant is clearly giving Amazon’s Alexa a run for its money in spite of its first-mover advantage.

Alexa was also a prominent player at CES this year as well, with devices ranging from watches to robots to home appliances and yes, even toilets, starting to incorporate Amazon’s proprietary AI engine.

Elsewhere, while Samsung used the event to show off the latest version of its smart home assistant, Bixby, AI like Apple’s Siri/HomeKit and Microsoft’s Cortana were all but unseen, according to numerous reports.

This means Apple and Microsoft may have some serious ground to make up — at least, in terms of perception — as CES 2018 cemented Amazon and Google’s dominance in the space.

Consumer Electronics

The concept of a smart home is morphing beyond voice-enabled speakers and smart thermostats. Based on some of the reveals at CES this year, it won’t be long before every room in the house is equipped with some form of AI smarts.

Kohler’s Verdera smart mirror was on display at CES, which brings the full suite of Amazon’s Alexa voice controls to your bathroom. The Verdera enables voice control like other smart home devices, including adjusting lights and temperature, playing music, and more, all during your morning routine.

Also featured by Kohler was its DTV Prompt, a smart showerhead (also Alexa-enabled, no surprise there) that allows you to, using voice control, turn on your shower, adjust the flow and temperature, and even create pre-set personalized shower setting profiles for multiple-member households.

LG showed off its ThinQ smart refrigerator, a smart fridge that seems straight out of the future. The ThinQ has a 29-inch touchscreen display running WebOS that becomes transparent with two knocks, enabling users to see inside the fridge without opening the door. It also lets you enter your food’s expiration dates, which triggers reminders when something is about to spoil or when you’re running low on supply. It’s even got a camera inside the fridge so you can view its contents remotely, putting an end to the “do we have any butter?” questions at the supermarket.

Health and Wellness

CES 2018 was also a big showcase for some exciting emerging technology in the health space, much of it focusing on giving patients the ability to more efficiently monitor their well-being and even self-diagnose.

The EyeQue Insight, for example, is a viewer and mobile app that lets people test their own vision. Insight uses the same test done in an eye doctor’s office except on mobile phones, which the company told ExtremeTech lets people determine whether or not they need glasses, or whether their need to make updates to an existing prescription.

Eargo is making a run at the hearing aid business. The company’s on-site audiologists determine whether the user needs a hearing aid, and when the device arrives at your home, it’s already properly tuned, charged and ready to wear. It also incorporates fiber materials and an innovative fit, making it nearly invisible when worn.

Sleep is a cornerstone of good health, and the Nokia Sleep is looking to give you a detailed look at your body’s functions as you hit the hay, utilizing smart sensors and a mobile app to track everything from heart rate and breathing patterns to snoring.

The resulting data is then crunched, giving you a “sleep score” and even estimating how much deep, restful REM sleep you get in a typical evening. It can also be integrated into home automation devices to adjust lighting or temperature to optimize your slumber.

Tight timelines. Fewer human resources. Rising costs.

These are the top challenges the Consumer Electronics (CE) sector faces when it comes to product development, says new data from VDC Research.

But the outlook is not all bad. Success can be achieved if companies are willing to implement modern processes that will enable them to take important steps forward.

If they can do this, they’ll realize benefits such as:

  • Greater visibility
  • Improved efficiency
  • More effective collaboration
  • Better requirements management

Take a look at the infographic below for details on the data and how CE companies can surmount the barriers before them.

Download the infographic here.

This article series is based on the findings of a VDC Research report, “Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics.”

Consumer electronics manufacturers are facing new hurdles in getting their products out to market and into the hands of customers. More than ever, consumers are expecting rapidly advancing functionality and innovative new applications to be released quickly and frequently. At the same time, they also want these products to be affordable and eminently functional.

This puts multilateral pressure on both developers and manufacturers, who must continually innovate, often with a lean staff, to deliver better products all while keeping the price point appealing to the end-consumer.

A recent report by VDC Research, highlights a few methods to improve the existing development lifecycle to meet these challenges. When used in concert, these approaches can increase the likelihood of success with consumer electronics development projects.

Development Platforms and Plans

For starters, using a modern product development tool facilitates engagement between stakeholders. This makes key development items readily available to those who need access to the information to provide timely feedback.

Rights management tools also support multiple teams with different core competencies, enabling more seamless communication and improving collaboration between groups working on different aspects of a project. This is a key step for hitting the many goals along the path to market for new products.

Next, a comprehensive testing plan ensures quality at key junctures throughout the development process and prevents costly, late-stage bug discoveries from derailing a project or adding time to already tight product cycle timelines. VDC Research says such a testing plan should tie in to the features tracked in the organization’s requirements management tool to enable quality assurance teams to verify the system functions as intended.

Using different test-tool types is also recommended to ensure a variety of bugs and security vulnerabilities are properly addressed. The report suggests these tests be carried out early and often, to catch problems before they become project-delaying disasters.

Software Improvements

Lastly, VDC Research advises consumer electronics companies to improve the management of software supply chains, as software content needs are accelerating more rapidly than developers can keep pace with through internal coding alone. The combination of tight deadlines and limited team resources means, in order to hit all of the targets, code generation must be streamlined and sometimes come from sources beyond an organization’s own in-house coders.

Using more code generated by modeling tools, re-used from other projects, or acquired from third-party sources can help companies improve efficiency and meet expanding software requirements.

To avoid adding liability, security or vulnerability issues along the way, teams must carefully manage the process and use automated test and composition analysis tools to track code’s origin and ensure it meets all compliance mandates.

It’s not impossible to improve efficiency while also meeting evolving consumer demands in the consumer electronics space. With a few process tweaks, companies can take some of the pressure off development teams and ensure the finished product is delivered on time, on budget, and as problem-free as possible.

Download report: Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics

This article series is based on the findings of a VDC Research report, “Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics.”

Time-to-market pressures are a constant source of concern for product and software developers. The period between a product’s inception and public release is shrinking, and the dearth of developers, engineers, and coders allocated to tackle this challenge is requiring organizations to turn more and more to collaborative solutions to get the job done.

This transformation comes in the form of increased adoption of Agile software development methodologies and improving team integration from different engineering domains. These changes enable companies to efficiently complete the mountain of tasks required to get a product to market quickly and successfully.

However, according to a recent VDC Research report, the consumer electronics industry has been slower to embrace these methods than other industries. In fact, the report’s survey respondents in consumer electronics had the lowest adoption rate among all embedded industries.

Changing Standards, Changing Expectations

That may shift soon, as rapid change in industry standards and expectations are forcing holdout companies to start adopting new collaboration practices in earnest, or at least begin adding aspects of these new methodologies to their existing processes. Hybrid, or multimodal model development, processes are now being created to enhance collaboration, and include extensive preplanning or requirements documentation, along with stand-up meetings, sprints, and retrospectives.

Bringing in disparate teams — often located in different geographies or not full-time employees of the companies they’re coding for — requires a higher level of coordination to ensure the right hand is talking to the left. It’s also important to make sure all teams are making the most of their efforts without doubling up on tasks or repeating work that already completed by another team at a different site. Beyond those challenges, stakeholders are demanding detailed, real-time progress reports of these teams to ensure the projects are being completed efficiently and on time.

To meet these rigorous demands, as well as those of the end-consumer, alternative methods to completing projects are coming to the fire. Code generated by modeling tools, re-used from other projects, or acquired from third-party sources, are all options for helping developers meet the demands of expanding software requirements. However, these methods must be done cautiously to avoid potential liability, security, or vulnerability issues. That’s one of the reasons why risk assessments are a critical component of this multi-faceted method of development, and an integrated product development platform can be helpful in tracking code origins and providing traceability audits to ensure compliance mandates are met.

This traceability cannot be completed solely in-house, as consumer electronic device failures can have safety-critical consequences. By employing traceability data, teams finding and fixing software bugs can quickly find potential vulnerabilities and determine where else they might be located. But this solution is not a panacea — many organizations have difficulty effectively managing traceability across their development lifecycle, according to the VDC Research study.

Out With the Old, in With the New

Existing practices include the use of in-house tools or commercial software like Microsoft Word or Excel, but these methods are becoming less feasible as variant management needs and system dependencies bridge multiple engineering domains, as well as the number of applications facing compliance verification.

Lifecycle Traceability of Requirements Engineering

The number of organizations focusing on establishing collaborative development processes is on the rise. Integrated teams are helping the consumer electronics industry re-shape their practices to ensure products are delivered on schedule and free of bugs, which are too often discovered late in the process, and can require costly and time-consuming recoding.

As the industry catches up to other markets in the collaboration space, the result should be cohesive teams working together on solving issues before they become major calamities.

Download report: Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics

This article series is based on the findings of a VDC Research report, “Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics.

Engineers, manufacturers, and developers are being forced to rapidly adapt to keep pace with consumer demands for security, connectivity, and functionality. New practices must be adopted to replace outdated, inefficient ones that simply no longer meet the evolving requirements of the end consumer. If these methods aren’t implemented quickly and correctly, consumer electronics makers risk falling behind.

In the world of consumer electronics, with shrinking time-to-market windows and razor-thin profit margins, time is money. Yet consumer electronics engineers report the worst project schedule performance of any industry according to VDC Research’s Software and System Development Survey of 619 engineers, in which 55.9% of respondents report their current projects are behind schedule.

This is a major issue, and the reasons for it are manifold, but the bottom line is simple: many organizations in the consumer electronics industry are not taking key steps to position themselves for success.

55.9% of consumer electronics engineers report their current projects are behind schedule

Building Pressure From All Sides

In addition to tight profit margins, which influences hiring, scheduling, and strategic investment decisions, a lack of manpower contributes greatly to the ability of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to stay on deadline.

VDC Research’s survey respondents reported an average of 15.5 engineers per project, as compared to an average of 24.4 in other industries. Increasing consumer demand for new and better products also puts pressure on OEMs from the other side, forcing companies to work quickly, with fewer workers, to crank out products faster than they would like, sacrificing key project preplanning in the hopes of saving critical weeks and months.

The effect of this truncated timetable often results in the need to revisit products for necessary changes that weren’t readily apparent at early stages in the process, as would be the case if there was more time to sort out those issues earlier on. This leads to further delays, constricting the timetable of future projects even more.

This challenge for software engineers stems, in part, from its ubiquity, particularly when it comes to web and IoT applications. Not only does software account for an ever-increasing proportion of overall development costs, but the demand for rapid innovation in this space is already high and increasing all the time. Software updates are the most efficient way to add functionality to consumer electronics products already out in the wild, so their effective implementation and distribution becomes key with the timetables faced by OEMs to get their products to market.

Facing all the above challenges — lean staffing, tight budgets, and aggressive production schedules — engineering teams find themselves clamoring to increase output and efficiency of the software while at the same time continuing to improve the quality.

Rising to the Challenge

So how can developers and engineers rise to meet these challenges and hit their moving targets? Improving collaboration among teams can go a long way to speed up iteration through their design processes. This can be achieved, in part, by using a modern product development platform. These solutions must be highly accessible, so a variety of stakeholders can easily find information and provide real-time feedback.

Implementing automated testing linked to these tools can also ensure quality assurance teams get a look at emerging products — warts and all — to be sure the products going to market are operating as expected. Ideally this happens as early in the production stage as possible to catch problems and implement necessary fixes to products ready to be pushed to market.

Another option for better and more efficient product development is for companies to look beyond their in-house coding teams, even incorporating external sources to improve the efficiency of their development staff.

In order to improve these processes, the existing way of doing things must be carefully scrutinized and adjusted to meet the rigorous demands development teams are facing. By implementing new processes — and scrapping others that don’t work efficiently — outcomes can be improved.

Download Report: Developing for Success in Consumer Electronics


Last summer, Pokémon GO erupted onto the scene becoming an overnight phenomenon. At the same time, it introduced the world to the concept of Augmented Reality… the blending of digital content with the real world.

Mixing digital information with the physical world isn’t entirely new. Many cars today have a Heads Up Display (HUD) that shows the driver speed and navigation information up on the front windshield. This technology is poised to grow rapidly over the next few years… moving far beyond the windshield. Soon, eyewear will become widely available that perfectly embeds digital content on top of the real world.

The most advanced augmented reality system in existence today is the pilot helmet for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. Costing nearly a half million dollars each, this helmet gives the pilot near super human abilities. For example, in addition to seeing all of the needed flight information, using the advanced cameras embedded all around the aircraft, the pilot can zoom, can see in the dark, the helmet even makes the aircraft appear invisible… if the pilot looks down he is presented video of the scene below.

Fortunately, this technology is beginning to become available even to us civilians. Microsoft has their HoloLens device, Epson has Moverio, and MagicLeap has teased the market with their impressive concepts. Industry experts predict that we sit on the verge of an explosion of such devices. Analysts at Goldman Sachs see the market for growing to somewhere over $50 billion within the next eight years.

One look at a group of people staring intently at their 5 inch phone screen will provide a clue as to why pundits are so bullish on this segment.

Businesses will be the first to identify the value of augmented reality and will purchase entire fleets of these devices for workers. Here’s a scenario. An air conditioning repair person needs to fix a broken hose, but is unfamiliar with a new model she is looking at. Instead of returning to the truck to find the specification book for this particular model, she looks at the model number and asks her augmented reality headset to query the database for the plans on this model. A camera in the headset captures the model number and searches a database in the cloud for the information. A second later, a detailed schematic is downloaded into the headset. The technician sees the digital schematic drawn on top of the actual system. The headset then draws an arrow to the first screw to be removed. Each step of the repair is illustrated for the technician until the hose is replaced quickly and efficiently.

This synthesis of digital information with the real world will provide each of us super human type abilities. Imagine walking into a job interview with a person
you’ve never met. Your eyewear takes a photo of the interviewer, queries the cloud, and instantly presents you important and relevant facts about him or her from their LinkedIn profile.

Professional applications will take off first, but soon augmented reality will enter our homes as well. Consider a loved one living across the country appearing as if she was sitting on the chair across from you. Not a small video screen of your loved one… a full three dimensional likeness of her sitting in the room with you. Or, a game where alien robots were crashing through your walls attacking you from all directions.

This ubiquitous access to information may sound like science fiction, but one just needs to remember that smart phones only became available a decade ago, and look how far they have come in that time. Ten years from now will the phone be relegated to the museum in favor smart, voice activated, augmented reality eyewear? Time will tell.

When I joined Jama as CEO earlier this year, I was excited to become part of a team that was passionate about our customers and solving their problems. The companies we get to work with are a major reason I wanted to join Jama to begin with — it’s an honor and a thrill to partner with them as they build products that will change their industries and the economy. I know I’m not alone in that enthusiasm: As I met individually with every employee during my first three months on the job, over and over again “our customers” was a top reason people cited for coming to work here.

Market Forces

Our customers span an array of critical industries — aerospace, financial and consulting services, medical devices, government, semiconductor, consumer electronics and automotive, to name a few. I’ve now had the privilege of meeting with dozens of them, and I’ve consistently heard them describe the following market forces in play:

The new generation of smart, connected products is increasing competition.

For the first time ever, when consumers buy something new, whether a phone, a thermostat or a car, they expect its capabilities to improve over time. They expect new features over the lifetime of the product, automatic fixes where there were previously recalls, and unprecedented options for customization. With each release of Jama, we’re rolling out new features and improvements that focus on enabling innovation for our customers. We invested in building our REST API to add more even customization and extend the functionality of our solution.

Increasing complexity and new regulation add new challenges.

Development cycles are more complicated than before, requiring close coordination of hardware and software teams, often using different tools and methodologies. Connected products introduce new security risks, often into industries that were previously immune to regulatory compliance. As software becomes an increasingly critical component of new cars, the automotive industry has responded with new compliance regulations such as ISO26262, and so have we. This year we achieved ISO 26262 fit-for-purpose certification by TÜV SÜD to give our customers confidence as they navigate the path to compliance in their product development process.

Systems development teams require a purpose-built product development platform and must take a continuous engineering approach to create products for the modern world.

ALM was built for software, PLM was built for hardware, but today’s product teams require a unified set of capabilities. Teams need contextual, ongoing collaboration and a single source of truth for their data and requirements. In June, we released Jama 8, kicking off a series of releases that will build on our core traceability and collaboration features. We’re also investing in our product ecosystem with the launch of our Partner Alliance Program, working with best-of-breed solution providers to better serve our customers.

At face value, these challenges are daunting. But we get to see our customers overcome them each day through disciplined, modern management of their development processes, which lets them better capitalize on industry trends. As they work to deliver the life- and economy-critical products that are going to change the way we live, we’re glad to be their partners and are eager to foster their success every step of the way.