For the tech universe the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is one of the most exciting weeks of the year. Many, nearly 200,000 visitors, entered the exhibition halls last week and looked forward to seeing what the next big things could potentially be. Even if CES is not as focused on mobile devices as Mobile World Congress (Barcelona), CES is still showcasing lots of new devices which generates positive challenges for power supply companies. From Salcomp’s perspective, the most interesting latest tech on display was dedicated to smart homes and wireless charging.
Smart home is now one of the hottest technology categories with consumers. Digital assistants, home cameras, smart lighting and smart thermostats are leading the way but there are hundreds of other products already available or to be launched soon for connected homes. This was the year of the voice assistants as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant were popping up everywhere in CES 2018. The market for digital assistants exploded in 2017 and already now 35 million US citizens own a voice-activated assistant device. Voice is expected to become more and more common as an interface and has already emerged as the fourth sales channel to complement physical stores, online and mobile channels.
Even if the direct rivalry between Amazon and Google was noticeable in CES, there were also lots of other new smart speakers that were featuring Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri. Salcomp has a big variety of power adapters for smart speakers and there are a number of potential new customers for Salcomp in the US, Europe and China. Apart from smart speakers, outdoor and indoor cameras represents a significant opportunity as they often require an external power adapter.
Amazon Echo & Echo Dot (Alexa) Google Home (Google Assistant)
Even if only few new smartphones were launched at CES, there were tons of mobile device accessories and especially wireless charging pads. As you all know wireless charging is nothing new from a technology perspective but accessory companies are now releasing new products in a wide variety of form factors and styles. We are seeing a huge wave of inductive Qi wireless chargers following Apple’s introduction of wireless charging to its new iPhone 8 and iPhone X models. Salcomp faces an immediate opportunity in Qi charging and it makes sense to continue dialogue with accessory companies and mobile phone operators in this area as those are the main channels at this point.
Despite its current mainstream success, Qi charging is most likely not the end state of wireless charging. It is still necessary to carefully position your device on a charging pad to initiate Qi charging. However, for the curious there were some demos in the halls of CES what could be happening next. Salcomp was demoing at AirFuel’s booth resonant charging which allows charging from a distance of a few centimeters through various materials ranging from wood to concrete. While having high spatial freedom and multi-device charging, AirFuel resonant can improve user experience remarkably. CES demos showed that Salcomp can be relevant to various audiences. In addition to resonant charging, RF wireless charging was presented at the AirFuel booth. Energous and PowerCast were demoing RF technology solutions that provides low power at distances ranging from a few centimeters to a couple of meters. In addition to inductive, resonant and RF there was also an Israeli start-up Wi-Charge that was demoing an infrared wireless charging, capable of charging smartphones. Even if RF and infrared charging technologies are not yet matured enough, they are what people really want as the phones can be charged across a room without needing to position the phones on a charging pad.
Salcomp’s Antti Nurmi demoing resonant technology at AirFuel booth
All in all, CES was again a great event to better understand which big tech trends we must closely follow. The success of smart speakers means that smart home and wider Internet of Things category is finally taking off. After years of anticipation, it is now clear that consumers are ready to pay extra for wireless charging. I believe these two trends help Salcomp to grow and diversify by developing new products and acquiring new customers already this year.
President & CEO