The second age of hardware: A sneak peek at the 2017 Hardware Trends from HAX
The hardware accelerator HAX held its annual ‘Hardware Trends’ conference yesterday in San Francisco. A good occasion to keep an eye on what’s happening in the hardware ecosystems in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen, before the release of the Hardware Trends 2017 report.
A new industrial revolution
Connectivity, robotics, and 3D printing are the main factors impacting the manufacturing industry. As highlighted by Duncan Turner, Managing Director of HAX, labour economics will no longer drive production.
“Cheaper manufacturing areas will not be able to compete with robotics for high value manufacturing. China has to invest heavily in robotics to keep the production in China.”
Industry isn’t the only sector to be shaken by automation and big data: vertical and indoor farming, connected livestock… the face of agriculture is dramatically changing. In addition, cannabis tech is set to boom in 2018 thanks to better growing systems and broad legalization in the US.
Crowdfunding still rules
Crowdfunding remains the preferred funding and early distribution option for hardware startups. Is it safe? Despite epic failures, most of products backed on Kickstarter and Indiegogo are shipped. Not to mention that some infamous fails, such as the $400 Juicero juicer, were VC-backed.
Data, data, data
Connected devices are going beyond tracking, particularly in health tech and the smart home category. Utility companies see value in IoT startups to gather data, as well as to better manage power usage and efficiency.
“Consumer devices play a role as Trojan horse for high value data.”
Will connected mean smart, at last?
AI agents are booming, opening new coaching capabilities for connected devices like Peloton or Trainerbot. The first wave of domestic robots–vacuum robots such as Roomba, robot mowers, etc.–is mature yet still basic. Get ready to a next wave of autonomous, learning robots.
VR and AR on the path to mainstream
VR is heading towards standalone, bridging the content gap and solving main challenges, including interactions or 3D sound capture. Regarding AR, the most notable trend is the second coming of smart glasses: Snap’s Spectacles, Vue… the new generation is betting on a less awkward, more pragmatic approach.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific
Giving an overview of trends in China, Cyril Ebersweiler, Founder of HAX, confirmed the continued rise of Shenzhen as the Silicon Valley of hardware. “China today is like Japan in the 60s,” Ebersweiler says, mentioning the fast growth of global leaders like Xiaomi, DJI, and Midea.
“China is both copycat and innovator, at high speed.”
China’s rise as a leader is already a reality: Chinese VC investment is #2 globally, and the country is set to set to overtake on Japan as #2 in patents. The backlash? Startup valuations are at an all time high, with an overflow at seed stage and mega late rounds.
One last thing
Hoverboards are so 2016, 2017 is the year of Ninebots.