Electronics

Signs of the times: The big three at IFA 2015

Signs of the times: The big th...
LG reveals its vision for the Internet of Things at IFA 2015
LG reveals its vision for the Internet of Things at IFA 2015
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AEG is making use of camera technology to allow home chef's a live feed view of what's cooking in its ProCombi Plus Smart oven
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AEG is making use of camera technology to allow home chef's a live feed view of what's cooking in its ProCombi Plus Smart oven
Though shown in a bathroom setting, you'll likely only be able to try out new looks on Panasonic's Smart Mirror at department stores
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Though shown in a bathroom setting, you'll likely only be able to try out new looks on Panasonic's Smart Mirror at department stores
The Panasonic interactive digital window functions as a windowpane when not displaying images, but was a non-functioning show piece at IFA 2015
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The Panasonic interactive digital window functions as a windowpane when not displaying images, but was a non-functioning show piece at IFA 2015
Harvard Medical School's Dr Christos Mantzoros and Samsung's Yoon C Lee discuss the new SleepSense system
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Harvard Medical School's Dr Christos Mantzoros and Samsung's Yoon C Lee discuss the new SleepSense system
The SleepSense sensor is slipped under a mattress and monitors a user's sleep, providing data on a connected smart device
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The SleepSense sensor is slipped under a mattress and monitors a user's sleep, providing data on a connected smart device
Sansung's range of IoT devices includes a connected camera, sensors and a smart hub
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Sansung's range of IoT devices includes a connected camera, sensors and a smart hub
Netatmo's new Wind Gauge on display with the company's Weather Station and Welcome cam
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Netatmo's new Wind Gauge on display with the company's Weather Station and Welcome cam
Neato launched a new Wi-Fi-enabled robotic vacuum cleaner that can be controlled via a smartphone app
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Neato launched a new Wi-Fi-enabled robotic vacuum cleaner that can be controlled via a smartphone app
The Bosch connected home display proved popular with show-goers
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The Bosch connected home display proved popular with show-goers
LG reveals its vision for the Internet of Things at IFA 2015
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LG reveals its vision for the Internet of Things at IFA 2015
The fashion-first Asus ZenWatch 2
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The fashion-first Asus ZenWatch 2
The Huawei Watch features the most luxurious build we've yet seen in an Android Wear-based smartwatch
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The Huawei Watch features the most luxurious build we've yet seen in an Android Wear-based smartwatch
The LG Watch Urbane Luxe with 23-karat gold case
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The LG Watch Urbane Luxe with 23-karat gold case
The Motorola Moto 360
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The Motorola Moto 360
TomTom's Spark fitness wearable
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TomTom's Spark fitness wearable
Samsung launched a HDR-compatible UHD Blu-ray player at IFA 2015
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Samsung launched a HDR-compatible UHD Blu-ray player at IFA 2015
The HDR-ready Panasonic CZ-950 4K OLED television
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The HDR-ready Panasonic CZ-950 4K OLED television
LG partnered with broadcasters to provide demo HDR content on 4K OLED TVs
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LG partnered with broadcasters to provide demo HDR content on 4K OLED TVs
A 110-inch curved monster TV from TCL, HDR-ready naturally
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A 110-inch curved monster TV from TCL, HDR-ready naturally
Sony's VPL-VW520ES projector can handle HDR content over HDMI with a 300,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
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Sony's VPL-VW520ES projector can handle HDR content over HDMI with a 300,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
The show-stealing Samsung Gear S2
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The show-stealing Samsung Gear S2
Users of Siemens' new iQ500 fridge can keep watch on supplies inside the fridge using cameras and smartphone tech
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Users of Siemens' new iQ500 fridge can keep watch on supplies inside the fridge using cameras and smartphone tech
View gallery - 22 images

As the doors close on another packed IFA at Berlin's Messe fairgrounds and exhibitors begin dismantling booths and packing away all the consumer tech treasures, Gizmag takes a look back at three technology trends that battled it out for showstopper supremacy at IFA 2015. Connected appliances came into the spotlight to take center stage, slightly overshadowing a strong showing from smartwatches, with HDR TV technology elbowing in to herald the next big thing in living room entertainment.

At the last few IFA consumer electronics shows, the Internet of Things – where everyday objects like fridges, music systems, televisions and home security systems are network connected – has been little more than a buzz phrase thrown around here and there, a kind of support act to the main events. A sign of things to come rather than something we should be investing in now. There was a definite shift in focus at this year's event though, with many consumer electronics manufacturers making much of the life-enhancing power of the connected home and some even giving IoT top billing.

Sansung's range of IoT devices includes a connected camera, sensors and a smart hub
Sansung's range of IoT devices includes a connected camera, sensors and a smart hub

Samsung's press conference, for example, opened with a lengthy affirmation of the company's commitment to a connected gadget future. President of Samsung Electronics Europe YH Eom reported that the European Commission values the IoT market to be worth one trillion Euros by 2020 and the company is hoping to tap into that market by working with commercial partners to build the ecosystem necessary to support the millions of connected devices that will make up the Internet of Things in the next five years.

A living room-sized corner of LG's booth was given over to its vision for the connected home, demonstrating air conditioning systems, washing machines, window sensors and smart plugs that all reached into the cloud to chatter away to each other and provide their users with the tools to manage home electronics remotely. In addition to the usual IoT suspects like connected kitchen appliances and home entertainment systems, Panasonic also had a Back to the Future-like interactive digital window in its vision of the near future, which would stream soothing moving images at the whim of home owners.

The Bosch connected home display proved popular with show-goers
The Bosch connected home display proved popular with show-goers

German manufacturers Bosch and Siemens both had Home Connect devices on show, where an app is used to control household appliances, including fridges packing camera technology that allowed users to check supplies remotely. AEG, meanwhile, opted to use camera technology to allow home chefs a live feed view of what's cooking in its ProCombi Plus Smart oven. Elsewhere, Neato introduced a Wi-Fi-enabled robotic vacuum to its range and Netatmo added a wind gauge to its Weather Station device, both of which can be monitored using a mobile app.

With manufacturers big and small seemingly committed to a connected future, all that remains is to see if gadget-savvy consumers buy into an IoT future. The huge crowds gathered around all manner of smart appliances at IFA 2015 would suggest that they will.

Rise of the smartwatch

While smartwatches had a strong presence last year, two big name releases ensured lots of cameras were focused on wrist candy this year at IFA.

Though the second-generation Motorola Moto 360 has a lot going for it (it comes in two sizes, is available in a wide range of build options, and is rated for up to two days up time on a single charge), the Samsung Gear S2 really stole the show. Samsung's new Tizen OS smartwatch provides users with a three-fold control solution – touchscreen, two side buttons and a rotating bezel for scrolling – that feels intuitive and lets you get your fingers out of the way while reading info off the screen.

The show-stealing Samsung Gear S2
The show-stealing Samsung Gear S2

Gizmag also took a hands-on look at the fashion-first Asus ZenWatch 2 and the Huawei Watch, the latter featuring the most luxurious build we've yet seen in an Android Wear-based smartwatch. Elsewhere, TomTom made a leap into the fitness wearable space with the Spark, and LG had its glitzy Watch Urbane Luxe on display, which features a 23-karat gold body and a hand crafted alligator leather strap.

While smartwatches might never become truly essential pieces of tech, they're certainly growing up fast. Asus and Motorola are more committed than ever to providing users with a wide selection of aesthetic choices, while Huawei has worked on raising the bar when it comes to the build quality of Android Wear devices. Samsung's Gear S2 represents the biggest development though, with refined software, nice hardware and an awesome control experience.

Three letters: HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, a technique used in photography and cinematography to present the viewer with image color and luminance that's closer to what we'd see in real life. Now HDR is coming to televisions.

"One of the most exciting advancements for the viewer is the emergence of High Dynamic Range content, or what we call HDR," said Sony's CEO Kaz Hirai at the company's IFA Press Conference. "HDR changes the way movies and TV content looks on your TV screen, with a wider range of brightness and contrast without compression. So you can really see the difference, particularly in bright or dark areas of your screen. And that means picture quality of your content becomes closer than ever to what you see and experience in real life."

LG partnered with broadcasters to provide demo HDR content on 4K OLED TVs
LG partnered with broadcasters to provide demo HDR content on 4K OLED TVs

All of the big names in TV manufacture had HDR-capable televisions to show off, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips and of course Sony. Visitors to IFA were given the opportunity to compare the HDR experience in side-by-side comparisons with non-HDR TV sets in darkened cubby holes at company booths.

And we admit to being literally taken aback by the vibrant HDR experience of the demonstrations, though suspect that the effect may be somewhat different in a living room setting. Then there's the issue of a lack of available content at the moment. Early adopters may be in for a lesson in patience. But we think it will be worth the wait.

Be sure to stop by our gallery for more photos from the show, and check out the rest of our IFA coverage.

View gallery - 22 images
2 comments
habakak
Checking the content of a fridge is one of the most boring, often used and ridiculous possibilities offered by a smart device/IoT technology. How about control of your lights, heating and cooling systems, sound and motion sensors and door and window movement for security systems, smoke and sound alarm control, security camera operation, door locks, sprinkler and pool pump operation (although these are already pretty automated), etc. Checking the content of your fridge will be one of the least used functions. If you can't remember that you should buy milk, how about remembering the stock level of all the other food items in your pantry???????
Phyzzi
habakak, you've never been on your way home, thought "I should probably stop by the store and grab some food" and the realized you don't actually know what you are low on? Also, you've clearly never lived with someone who let things shuffle to the backs of shelves and then forgotten about them. I think the camera is a great idea, and further more, every other thing you've mentioned is already available in several different flavors, even sometimes in some combination (app controllable lights/speakers are my personal favorite).