High-tech: real and virtual mix at IFA Berlin
REALITY. If it is not certain that Pokemon will be to be hunted in the aisles of the high-tech mass, which opens its doors this Friday 2 September, virtual reality, just like augmented reality, “is THE trend of the moment”, says Ian Fogg, analyst at IHS Insight. This is the “Next Big Thing” in the world of consumer electronics for Deloitte, which on Wednesday presented a joint study with the German high-tech federation Bitkom. The worldwide success of the game inspired by Nintendo’s little monsters “gives a taste of the fascination” exerted on many these new technologies superimposing or mixing real and virtual, believes Hans-Joachim Kamp, president of the professional federation gfu, co-organizer of the IFA. This “has the potential to change a lot of our habits, far beyond gaming and leisure,” says Kamp. The Deloitte and Bitkom study sees an interest in viewing concerts, sporting events, films and even some information. According to Goldman Sachs, virtual reality, which transports elsewhere thanks to special glasses, and augmented reality, which embellishes what we see with virtual elements, will represent by 2025 a global market of $ 80 billion, the current size of the desktop market. One billion euros by 2020 in Germany alone, according to Deloitte.
Call directly from your smartwatch
By ricochets, virtual reality and its need for very high quality images could well give a boost to a smartphone market that has become mature, and while the global consumer electronics market is expected to decline by 5% this year, weighing still some 814 billion euros. More focused on the general public than its Las Vegas competitor, the Consumer Electronic Show, which takes place in January, the IFA, visited last year by some 240,000 visitors, generally sets the tone for Christmas shopping, both in electronics and in appliances. Many international groups take the opportunity to unveil their latest news.
As of Wednesday, Samsung, great faithful of the IFA, has unveiled its new connected watch the Gear S3, just like Asus and the round ZenWatch3. Completed the massive blocks with futuristic looks on the wrist, these new smartwatches are more similar to a classic watch, without losing the technological advantages, the last of Samsung being equipped with a microphone and speaker to make calls directly from the watch. Flagship objects of the IFA for three years, connected watches are gradually tracing their way in the high-tech universe. In Germany, their sales more than doubled in 2016, to 1.6 million units, according to a tally by GfK.
High-tech at any time
But, if virtual reality headsets, drones and other 3D printers will concentrate a lot of eyes, smartphones are the traditional big stars of the IFA, alongside televisions with ever more advanced definition, such as those presented by Panasonic. Acer thus showed two new smartphones and ultra-thin computers. Thursday Sony and Huawei are in turn expected with their latest creations. Heavily fined by Brussels on Tuesday, Apple will be the usual absentee of the IFA, but will occupy minds as always, especially since the seventh version of the iPhone could be presented in San Francisco on September 7, the last day of the Berlin trade fair.
In the technological jungle, other devices will try to exist in the face of smartphones and tablets that have “become sufficiently powerful, to replace for many customers basic digital cameras, MP3 players and GPS”, notes Martin Börner, of Bitkom. Some ten years after the appearance of the first smartphones, the competition is launched for the one who will manage to govern “the 24 hours of the day” with its high-tech products and services. “It starts in the morning at home and goes through work, lunch, but also free time until the night, back home,” says Annette Zimmermann of Gartner.