Reflections on Computex

Posted By John Boladian
Marketing Director, Asia Pacific & Greater China

Hi I’m John Boladian, this is my first entry here on the Windows Embedded Blog, so it’s probably worth introducing myself. I’ve lived in Asia for 14 years now, 7 with Microsoft and 5 in Taipei, arguably one of the technology capitals of the world. Each year industry leaders from around the world come to Taipei to discuss new products and look at ways of growing their business. Computex has rapidly become the largest ICT show in the world, with embedded technologies taking more mindshare year upon year.

clip_image002Computex 2012 has come to a close, and there were quite a few highlights from this year worth spending some time looking through a little more closely.

This is the first time a car manufacturer has used Computex as a way to introduce a new car – one that uses its technology as a competitive advantage. Ford Motor Company introduced its first ever car with Sync for Taiwan, powered by Microsoft technology. With in-car upgradeable software, never again will you buy a car that starts its techno-redundancy the minute it leaves the showroom floor. Instead, a short trip to the dealer or even an owner-upgradeable solution enables the car to stay up to date with new technologies and devices, such as Bluetooth standards and profiles or new handsets. Ford is positioning themselves as a technology company and partnering with Microsoft gives them a chance to do this.

clip_image004This is the first time Microsoft has devoted an entire section to Windows Embedded scenarios. Everything from a storefront solution for a restaurant, to a virtual fitting room solution for a clothing retailer, to the all important back-end processing solutions using cutting edge devices. By integrating front end devices with natural user interfaces, enabled by Kinect for Windows Embedded, we used gestures to try on different outfits. This demo was assembled with hardware and software from different partners, including FaceCake who developed the front end solution.

clip_image006In what is definitely a phenomenon in Asia, vending machines continue to get some attention from device makers. Combining digital signage, gaming and POS all into one device, this makes a compelling solution for companies who want to go with unmanned devices. Ranging from food and beverage all the way to higher priced electronics, and using advancement in multi-touch and semi-transparent displays, we have a great way to attract and engage users. In fact, there was a similar type of device in the Intel booth, underscoring how important Retail continues to be and how retailers are continually looking for ways to increase their coverage while using innovation. Cloud connectivity and business intelligence are critical components of this solution – to drive real time reporting, sales data & just in time replenishment. Integration of cameras helps to drive user purchase analytics and demographic measurement.

clip_image008With the addition of natural user interfaces, enabled by Kinect for Windows Embedded we’ve seen digital signs come a long way. Some would say that the new, more effective digital sign is a must have technology that enables interaction to drive value for the business. Driving data analytics is key to get the maximum business impact and even on the Intel booth, there was a Kinect-based system using Intel’s Core range of CPUs for Embedded applications. This was a photo booth, with social networking integration – in this case you’re able to control the booth with gestures, then snap a picture and email yourself. Took a few seconds to get used to, but after that I was using my first ever Kinect photo booth like a pro!

Other thoughts or observations:

  • Natural user interfaces have evolved – multi-touch interfaces on many embedded devices are now the norm. From industrial touch panels to information kiosks, I don’t remember seeing one that didn’t support this technology. This will help to pave the way for newer NUIs to be mainstream in the future – with gesture and voice working their way into devices for 2013 and beyond. All of this enabled by intelligent software and powerful hardware.
  • Selling devices is not enough anymore – many suppliers are moving to showcasing how they can provide additional value to their customers by either providing a cloud service or providing assistance to helping them develop and implement a cloud strategy. Great examples are companies like Advantech who does this, or the evolution of the automotive industry with Ford’s Evos concept car that has full cloud integration.
  • Not forgetting our release of the latest Community Tech Preview of Windows Embedded Standard 8, announced by Steven Guggenheimer at the Computex keynote, which enables many of these new scenarios and makes for an exciting year ahead for us and our partners.

Judging by the responses from booth visitors and others I asked about the show in general, we really see the ecosystem of partners in Taiwan embracing many of the key components of Intelligent Systems. Moving from pure hardware manufacturing is seen as a key differentiator and critical to ensuring relevance in an evolving industry.

Looking forward to seeing what’s in store over the following year in this space of Intelligent Systems and Computex 2013.

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