What we can all learn from latest smart TVs, washing machines and gadgets

If you are struggling to keep on top of the developments and changes in technology then here's some bad news. You ain't seen anything yet. 

The world around us is getting quicker, smaller and smarter. 

Last week I had the chance to gaze somewhat bafflingly in to the future of home electronics at that world's biggest trade show, IFA Berlin - whilst helping pull together 56 pages of a show daily for a full eight days. 

Some 16 football pitches of new ideas and technological breakthroughs and TVs, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and wearable technology that will be on a Christmas wish list near you soon. 

It was all mightily impressive with all the PR and razzmatazz that only big global brands like Sony, Siemens, Panasonic, Philips and the like can get away with.  

How smart can we be?

You were left wondering just how smart the average house needs to be. Virtually every kitchen appliance, from fridge to freezer, dishwasher to washing machine, will soon all came fully connected meaning you can set, stop or start any of them via your smartphone, from anywhere in the world. If you wanted to. 

Some of the headlines from the event show how fast the world is changing and adopting new technologies:

* Smarphones now make up  41% of all the technical devices used in the world.

*Sales of ultra premium UHD TVs are up 178% in the last year and curved TVs up 333%

* Wearable devices have leaped 131% in sales in the last year and are predicted to "conquer our daily lives," according to the technology forecasters at IFA.

But it is not just our devices and appliances that are getting smarter, but the companies behind them. Which is good news for those of us who ply their trade mainly in other less well connected fields.

We can all learn a lot, for example, from the long term consumer trends projections of the electronic giants.


World is going to get a whole lot smaller


We are, for example, going to live in an increasingly more urbanised world. An estimated 70% of the world's population will be living in urban communities by 2050, but 70% of those will be living in what can be classified as small households. 

The rise of the middle class will also continue with an estimated 4.9 billion people globally claiming to be middle class by 2030 compared to 1.8 billion in 2010. The figure is likely to be 3.2 billion by 2020. 

That means the demand for the kind of products that urban consumers is going to increase rapidly.

Space at a premium

But crucially space for a lot of those people is going to be at a premium. Living spaces are going to become more compact and consumers are going to be looking for appliances and products that literally fit in to those confined spaces. 

Will there, for instance, be even room for a wine rack never mind the space to accept a regular case of wine from your favourite wine merchant? 

Interestingly wine storage was a key feature of the show. So much so that one of the big innovation awards, amongst the super clever smartphones and talking washing machines, was for a wine unit that...

It won't be long perhaps before we start seeing wine dispensing taps for kitchens. One for red, one for white with a text to tell you that you are running low on Albarino and urging you to get your Miele wine dispensing unit refilled. 

They are already offering this functionality for smart washing machines. In-built detergent levels are monitored and owners texted to tell them they need to order more.  

Top 5 bright ideas  
So what did I see that really caught my eye? Well if any of the electrical giants just happen to be reading this here's my Top 5 wish list from the show. 

1 Game changing washing machine

OK washing clothes is not mine or I guess anyone's favourite past time so how about this idea from Haier. A washing machine that allows you to do a coloured and a white wash at the same time. Game changer surely for any household. 


2 The world's biggest curved TV

If you are looking to upgrade your TV and just happen to have a basketball court for a front room then you can't go wrong with what is being claimed as the world's largest curved TV - the 110 inch China Star Curved Ultra HD complete with full on 4K screen and as much immersive sound as your local Multiplex. 

But apparently they are great at showing all the slow motion butterflies on the screens in the TV showroom, but rubbish at delivering a decent picture for a fast moving game of football. So big yes for nature lovers. Perhaps not for Sky Sports fans. But am happy to be proved otherwise.



3 Passport style controls for your smartphone

New Axon smartphone from Chinese giant ZTE has full biometric security that can check your fingerprint, retinal imagery or can be secured by voice control 

New Axon smartphone from Chinese giant ZTE has full biometric security that can check your fingerprint, retinal imagery or can be secured by voice control 

Fed up of your kids downloading stuff on your smartphone and draining all the battery phone? Well how about a full biometric security system courtesy of Chinese firm ZTC's new Axon    Smartphone that allows you to lock and unlock your phone either by fingerprint (so 2014), voice or, wait for it, retinal imagery. Certainly beats a 1,2,3, 4 password. 


4 The Big Sleep

The Withings Aura will help you sleep like never before and even make sure you wake up gently

The Withings Aura will help you sleep like never before and even make sure you wake up gently

Then there are the machines that promise you a perfect night sleep, like the Withings Aura Sleep System, that thanks to a whole range of soothing lights, sounds and mood music they promise to not only assure you drift off to sleep smoothly it then wake you up in the most stress free environment possible.  By fitting a sensor in your bed it can then monitor everything about you whilst you are dreaming away. Not sure what it does with the rest of the family mind. 


5 Big Brother is looking after you


As I hate a trip to the ever judgemental eyes of the doctor like every other stubborn man out there then it would be good to get my hands on one of these new wearable health monitors, like the new range from Philips, that are equipped with enough technology to do away with at least one local private hospital. 

It seems we the consumer are very much open to trying them out and making them part of our daily lives. Particularly if it takes the burden of health care budgets. Some 49% of consumers in a recent study would welcome such a move.   

How technology can be applied in world of wine and spirits?

Well all these smart kitchen appliances are not actually going to cook the food for you or pick the right wine. 

Surely a great chance for some food and wine app to link up with a kitchen gizmo manufacturer to offer instant recipe and wine recommendations as soon as their smart pan hits the hob. Or better still send wine suggestions to people's smartphones when they are out buying the ingredients for that night's dinner. 

There is a clear opportunity for wine merchants to develop smart apps that allow them to communicate with their customers and vice versa. They might be able to talk about what is going on in-store and a customer might fire through a question or a request for a specific wine. 

Then there is a clear link up with all the wellbeing and health monitoring apps being developed. Apps that can calculate the calorie contents per types and glasses of wine? A weekly, monthly, yearly alcohol unit aggregator and what the health implications are based on your intake. On reflection perhaps not! 

But overall what was clear from my Segway in to the world of electronics was that many of the trends we once dismissed as science fiction or coming only from the creative minds of Pixar will soon be on discount at your local Costco.