Celent Says

New Gadgets and What They Could Mean for Insurers

Craig Beattie
Insurance Experts' Forum, April 11, 2013

I had the good fortune to attend Gadget Show Live this year—a day off secured on the proviso that I would write a blog post. There were a few things that were a surprise to me that I thought it worth sharing here.

What’s running computers: In terms of platform presence, Android won. There were a few phones on display but this was a small subset of the total Android estate. There were many tablets including a good portion from small vendors I hadn’t heard of. There were set top boxes that ran Android and doubled as a media player, a games machine, a social media engine. Also, Android is still making its way into cars through app-enabled, in-car entertainment systems. In all, you could find Android devices in all shapes and sizes. Windows 8 was present and getting some attention, but these machines seemed over-engineered and almost out of place. Funny enough, despite its absence, there were lots of things that hooked up to iOS devices.

It's not the Internet of Things, but the Internet of People:
The Internet of Things or connected devices was a theme at the show but it was eclipsed by another theme – the quantified self movement. Quantified self is the practice of individuals capturing digital data about themselves over time to improve their health, compete with friends and well, because they can. There were devices here for measuring brainwaves, oxygen levels, heart rate, breaths per minute, stress levels, activity levels, body fat, weight and I’m sure other metrics. There must be some data of use here to the life and health insurance industries?

These devices came in all shapes and sizes from bracelets on your wrist, widgets you plug into your iPhone to connected scales but one thing was common – all of these new sensors were mobile first. The devices primarily connected to phones and tablets or the cloud, not desktop or laptop computers.

3-D printing in all it’s glory:
There were multiple vendors, sizes, types and even different materials on offer. All were printing interesting designs, often downloaded there before our eyes. Prices started from around £850 for a 3-D printer designed one or two years ago. My friend suggested that, “Next year, you’ll be able to buy these for £30 from any [electrical goods supplier]“. Perhaps a little optimistic but the stands got a great deal of interest as well as sales from what I could see. What has been a geek or “maker” trend is shifting in affordability and accessibility.

3-D scanning made an appearance at the Microsoft stand where I witnessed a 3-D printer printing something scanned using Kinect style technology.

Finally – TV’s and the new 3-D:
The Gadget Show followed the trend set at CES—the 3-D TV’s that were hyped in 2012 were dead or absent in 2013. Intriguingly, even in the high-end gaming areas, the conversation simply wasn’t there about the latest 3-D TV’s. 4K TV’s were there in abundance and even some novel technology that upgraded Blu-ray titles to 4K resolution—the mere presence of which highlights the big deficiency here: there’s no content in 4K, and arguably, UK bandwidth may not be up to it.

New 3-D? Well I was surprised to see a few stands selling modern hologram technology. On asking one of the reps at a stand if holograms were dead since we had 3-D TVs he replied, “the test of true 3-D is if you can see it with one eye”. There were some very interesting displays of what the technology could do and how it could be used for education and visualisations of data and architectural designs.

So what of all this for insurers? A few things stood out for me with potential to disrupt our industry:

* We’re in a mobile-first world—desktops and laptops must take a back seat to mobile development.

* The number of sensors—and capability of those sensors—is increasing, which means a wealth of structured data in the near future.

* Doctors no longer own the measuring of our health.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Craig Beattie is an analyst in Celent's insurance group, and can be reached at cbeattie@celent.com.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Craig using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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