The IT industry is banking on Internet of things (IoT) technologies to help usher in an era of safer cities, healthier offices and more efficient manufacturing plants, not to mention a healthy dose of additional technology spending over the next few years. During CES 2016, Microsoft and Samsung teamed up to demonstrate the possibilities for IoT in another potentially big market: smart homes.
"Along with Samsung, we share a common vision for millions and millions of devices and Things all communicating together using open protocols and standards within inclusive ecosystems, inspiring the creativity of software developers, device manufacturers, and rising star Makers around the world," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, wrote in a company blog post.
"Our demo on stage highlighted Windows 10 and Samsung IoT-ready appliances working together through a potential scenario of openness and collaboration, creating a future where people have more choice and ultimately can be more productive at home," he continued, referencing an on-stage demo of how Windows 10 interoperates with Samsung's IoT-enabled devices.
On Jan. 7, Microsoft Marketing Manager Bryan Roper showed how users can ask Cortana, the virtual assistant technology built into Windows 10, to determine a Samsung washing machine's status. Cortana can also help parents keep an eye on their kids' TV viewing habits and how much of an impact they're having on the grocery and power bills by monitoring metrics like changes in a refrigerator's capacity or times the door was left open.
It makes sense for both Microsoft and Samsung—any home gadget maker, in fact—to keep an eye on the fast-growing market for IoT-enabled consumer electronics.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organization that hosts CES, estimates that IoT will help the U.S. consumer electronics market reach record sales of $287 billion in retail and $224 billion in wholesale revenues in 2016. The group expects smart TV sales to rise 13 percent this year compared to 2015, for a total of 27 million units. The smart home device category, which includes connected thermostats, lighting and WiFi cameras, will jump 21 percent on sales of $1.2 billion compared to 2015.
Microsoft is already setting the stage for Windows- and cloud-powered IoT solutions with the release of the Windows 10 IoT Core and gathering support from OEMs and maker board manufacturers.
"We've delivered Windows 10 IoT Core for popular IoT maker boards since releasing it last year, including Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c, Intel Minnowboard MAX and the Raspberry Pi 2," Myerson said. "Our investment in Windows IoT continues, with our recent release of Windows 10 IoT Core Pro on Dec. 3, where we extended our Windows 10 IoT Core offering to large organizations and the professional community looking for additional update controls for their Windows IoT Core products."