How Asia is becoming the new hub of Hardware, Haptic Technology and Internet of Things

Haptic Technology, a new form of human/machine interface using in the sense of touch

Hardware used to refer simply to machines and physical components to any electronic system or computer.

This then moved on to consist of consumer electronics: phones, tablets and any other accessories. Now, it also includes two novel technological advancements: haptics and Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, the main hardware markets creating the most innovative products in Asia are actually not the likes of Korea and Japan, but are China, Indonesia, and India, where there is one key advantage: no IT legacy.

Brief definitions of Haptic Technology and The Internet of Things

Haptic technology recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user. There is an increasing demand for haptics in medical, automotive and gaming. Many would consider haptics an essential element that we are missing in virtual reality (VR) experiences, as VR is not just a function of screen resolution and touch must also be engaged to achieve a complete experience.

IoT is simply put, a network of devices connected to the internet able to communicate by sending data. Uses of the technology in the home are obvious; we’ve all seen the rise smart home devices such as Amazon Echo, Nest and Google Home. But some of the industrial uses are interesting to note. They include connected factory, logistics and supply chain optimisation and quality control to name a few.

Let’s have a look at the size of these markets

Now zooming out a bit. Let’s look at the size of these markets! The IT hardware market in 2018 is projected at $414.6 billion in Asia-Pacific (APAC) alone. On the haptics side of things, APAC accounted for the largest share of the global haptic technology market in 2015 driven by the presence of several major semiconductor companies and consumer electronics manufacturing companies in the APAC region (mainly China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan).

Globally, haptic technology is expected to be valued at $19.55 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.2% between 2016 and 2022 while consumer electronics accounts for the largest share with Asia-Pacific expected for the largest market for haptic technology. Looking a bit closer at China, in 2017, the market share of the haptic technology market amounted to about 34.6 percent and is expected to grow to approximately 38.1 percent by 2026. Now the IoT market is already estimated to be over a billion since 2017. And as early as 2025 we can expect to see over 75.44 billion connected devices.

Despite the advent of haptics and IoT, PCs and tablets remain largest and fastest-growing parts of the hardware markets, driven by the expanding white-collar workforce in the expanding markets of China, India and the ASEAN countries. Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, IBM, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung have a presence all over Asia. More locally, we’ve seen the rise of Tencent, Huawei, ZTE and BGI, Alibaba and Baidu who have now emerged as global players.

Wireless and bag-less vacuum cleaner, the key product from Dyson, the company with skyrocketing growth in Asia.

 

What I believe to be most interesting to note in the more traditional hardware market and what we will start to see more and more of, happened with Dyson. Once known for its bagless vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans, Dyson wants to develop, make and sell a lot more products in Asia In fact, three years after entering China, Dyson saw its sales there surge 244%. In addition, Japanese consumers reaffirmed their long-held love for Dyson by buying 30% more of the brand’s products. In February 2018, Dyson officially opened the Singapore Technology Centre at a cost of 330 million pounds. There is a marked recognition on the part of global hardware businesses of the potential of creating and manufacturing products in Asia.

Evidently, we can’t talk about Asia’s hardware market without mentioning Shenzhen, if only in passing. As you probably know, Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing village, with merely 300,000 people suffering in a prolonged era of extreme poverty) to a metropolis booming both technologically and economically (12 million population). Shenzhen is also home to HuaQiangBei Electronics Market (located in the Futian district of Shenzhen), where are over one hundred shops and vendors who sell, repair, and modify electronic components and devices for other inventors and consumers. Inventors, or makers (as they are called in Shenzhen) sell their products and gain inspiration from the influx of new creations popping up there every day. When looking specifically at the IoT space, Dongguan and Foshan are quickly gaining credence over Shenzhen, as a hub for creating innovative products.

Hua Qiang Bei Electronics Market, the largest “Inventor’s Market” in Shenzhen where electronics products are bought, sold and tinkered.

 

The 3 Top incubators/ecosystems for innovation in China

It’s not just the potential of Shenzhen that has made IoT and haptics in Asia more promising, but it’s also the emerging ecosystems surrounding the innovative products. There are many acceleration programmes and incubators emerging every year.

Three of which are worth remembering and keeping an eye on. Firstly, we have Hax: a hardware incubator eight floors atop the sprawling arcade spread across 42,000 square feet and equipped with all the standard fixtures found in your typical co-working space — telephone booths, meeting rooms, a ping pong table, and an auditorium for talks and pitches.

Secondly, Airmaker is another interesting IoT-focused cross-border accelerator for startups in Singapore’s Digital Health and Smart Nation space (connects SG and Shenzhen).

Finally, Brinc is a world-leading acceleration program specialising in IoT & Connected Hardware, drones & robotics and food technology. These programs offer specialist facilities, access to finance and a means of taking products to the next level.

The advantage that Asia holds in seizing on the new opportunities presented by haptics and IoT are evident. First off the bat, a fully integrated hardware ecosystem full of incubators to take inventions to the next level. Second of all, this is combined with places like Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan to change mere ideas from minimum viable product to consumer electronics in a third of the time anywhere else in the world. It is of utmost importance that Asia seizes on these early advantages to create a large proportion of the 75.44 billion connected devices we can expect to see in 2025.

I look forward to seeing what haptics and IoT can do for us in the next decade!

About the writer:

Naima Camara is policy and research coordinator for an innovation centre in London. She specialises in writing about advanced digital technology trends around blockchain, immersive, artificial intelligence and how these technologies converge to revolutionise the economy.

 


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