37 : UTC Startups - Series I

All vertical market segments are affected by digital innovations and by trends seen at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), undoubtedly the greatest hi-tech event in the world, which 3 UTC start-ups chose to attend.

37 : UTC Startups - Series I

Consider the distribution sector which is having to think hard about on-line trade (e-commerce) and virtual reality. Insurance companies are concerned by the development of driverless cars. Banks are closely monitoring mobile phone transactions. Automobiles are taking on board more and more technologies, for audio, sensors, assisted even automatic driving. Traditional sectors can see how their competitors are jumping on the connected object band wagon or not. In short, everyone is involved to a greater or lesser extent!

Visiting the CES provides the opportunity to analyse digital strategies with real-life ingredients, users and targeted uses, without forgetting or neglecting the underlying economics: is the price to pay for a connected solution worth it? Could the price possibly drop radically to democratize uses? This sort of question is valid everywhere: for 3D printing, for 4K TV and all sorts of connected objects to come. The 3 UTC start-ups had a continuous education boost at the CES2016, Las Vegas.

Major industries innovate by integrating what is technologically imaginable, mixing with the possibilities offered with what can lead to better client services and/or better company performance ratings. It now remains to balance outsourcing and in-house resources for the risks connected with innovation. In particular UTC fully approved when we heard Shawn DuBravac -chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ®, a U.S. trade association – declaring loud and clear that it is not the technology that counts but rather the uses made of technologies. You have to focus on what is possible, from a technological point of view and also on what is meaningful. The name of the game is meaningful versus possible. The products presented by three UTC graduates present at Las Vegas and the other French start-ups detailed in the brochure underline this priority. To a large extent, they have taken on board the future trends in health, food and entertainment sectors.

However, it is clear today - as Professor Dubravac confirmed - two third of the business turn over in digital products is concentrated in only a few categories: mobile phones, i-pads, television sets and computers. But the emergence of new categories such as drones, virtual reality or 3-D printing could change the ‘givens’ here.

Over and beyond the products aspects, the 2016 CES has underscored three key mega-trends that help us foresee the coming major digital world changes:

• Ambient detection: we already have sensors that can measure everything continuously, monitor babies, drivers, house temperatures, physical activities, cats and dogs, what we eat and all of this is ‘filmable’ and ‘recordable’.

• Aggregate learning relates not only to making use of data from the sensors (light levels, weather, numbers of persons present, temperatures, level of fatigue), but also involves the Google learning algorithms also based on the data, IBM Watson …in a word, aggregate learning comes via collective learning and continuous system information to develop the best scenarios as seen in video games and with the equipment manufacturers who are now creating machine learning and auto-learning protocols.

• Building up ecosystems: it may seem self-evident, but new technologies tend to mature as and when their local ecosystems are established. A good example here is in VR (virtual reality) which will soon be used to promote travel spots. The ecosystem here will surely integrate the 360°’ full-circle’ cameras seen at the 2016 CES. And we also note that 4K TV is coming of age.