We’ve made it to January 2017. Festive over-indulgence is behind us and we’re no doubt raring to get stuck in to 2017 and put all those resolutions into practice... but first let’s take a quick look back at 2016.
Let’s face it, 2016 was pretty bad year. The year got off to a terrible start with the news of David Bowie’s passing that shocked us all. The year went on to claim many great talents including Prince, Alan Rickman, Sir Terry Wogan, George Michael and Muhammed Ali to name just a few. If that wasn’t enough, there were terrorist attacks, Britain voted to leave EU (in doing so splitting the country), and probably the most awkward American election between poor candidates in living memory.
Despite this doom and gloom, for all of us at Orbitsound, 2016 was a very productive year, planning and developing some exciting new products, the BAR A70 received more five-star reviews, and our company welcomed many new faces and talents to the team.
Home audio remains a strong sector with wireless speakers and soundbar sales up by 50% in volume and quoted as the fastest growing product categories according to Futuresource. Currently, most wireless speakers use Bluetooth with only a minority using Wi-Fi. Major developments this year have been Google’s introduction of Cast for audio and Amazon’s voice enabled ‘Echo’. Consumers have responded very well to Amazon’s Voice Personal Assistant (VPA), and we won’t be surprised to see more and more products adopting Wi-fi connection and voice and movement-activated features. And, as average broadband speed and penetration increases, more and more Consumers shift towards cloud based services for music streaming, such as Spotify or Apple Music.
We also believe that audio will play a starring role in the rise of the connected home. The inclusion of wireless connectivity in audio devices is propelling speakers far beyond simple music playback. Speakers will become smarter and capable of communicating with other smart-home applications, placing audio at the beating heart of smart home revolution. Connectivity is key and will continue to be so in 2017. There will be better unified platforms to run your smart gadgets and we’ve seen the connected home work well to make consumer’s live easier. For example, you could turn the heating on while you are heading home, turn on the lights before you get in or boil the kettle on the go.
We expect the rise of ultra-high definition 4K TVs to continue with incredibly thin screens. Couple this with 4K streaming, and better audio solutions to complement this visual experience, you could be looking at a home-entertainment that rivals the cinema.
VR (Virtual Reality) is now reality, but at the recent CES show it failed to impress. It’s a technology that is seeking a purpose for now, with the clunky equipment and limited experience making it good for some gamers, and not much else. As with 3D a few years back, we see that Consumers want good technology that fits around them. In this way, our airSOUND technology is perfect, allowing perfect stereo reproduction, but without needing listeners in a certain place to get the right experience. Technologies like 3D glasses or VR require too much compromise, keeping them in the fringes.
We see great developments this year to come in wearable tech. This is an exciting area. Look out for better smart technology that augments life, but without limiting it.
So, here’s to 2017. Happy New Year to you, and please, let’s have a better year than the last.