Monthly Archives: February 2019

Logitech’s New Tap Solves Videoconferencing Control Woes

As corporate videoconferencing systems get more affordable and customizable, Logitech leads the way with Tap, a low-profile, software-agnostic, touch-screen console.

 

Michael Muchmore Icon

By Michael Muchmore
Lead analyst for software and web applications – PC Magazine
February 4, 2019 10:49AM EST

Forget searching for remote controls or trying to decipher their various buttons. Logitech’s Tap, its new touch-screen control unit is always at the ready in the conference room.

More than any other vendor, Logitech is leading the transformation of corporate videoconferencing systems from massive five-figure installations with software lock-ins to more affordable BYOD setups that let companies choose service and software. Its Group, Meetup, and SmartDock were earlier videoconferencing entries, and the Logitech Tap, coming this spring, is a similar but refined device in the tradition of the SmartDock, but with some important, basic differences.

The Tap ($999 standalone), introduced today at the AV-focused ISE trade show, can be considered a refinement of the Logitech SmartDock $2,399.00 at Dell, which used a Microsoft Surface Pro to control Skype Room Systems conferencing. It was sturdy and locked down so it wouldn’t be swiped by coworkers who wanted to use it as a standard tablet. Feedback to Logitech, however, noted that the SmartDock was a bit bulky, taking up valuable tabletop space, and was tied to a single conferencing software system.

Tap Mounting Options

In contrast, the Tap is low-slung and compact, at 2.3 by 9.6 by 7.0 inches (HWD), and works with multiple conferencing service providers. The device doesn’t have its own brains; it must be connected to a small-form-factor computer like an Intel NUC ($499.99 at Amazon) that runs software from (to start with) Google, Microsoft, or Zoom. Load that up via USB.

The table-top (or wall-mounted) device itself has just a single connector and a power cable. Other A/V components—microphones, cameras, displays—will instead connect to the controlling computer. Wireless connection between the Tap and the computer unfortunately isn’t yet an option, despite this being the age of everything going wireless.

Tap Topology

SmartDock users also informed Logitech that cabling needed to longer and sturdier, so the company offers a 25m Strong USB cable for $499, which doesn’t require an extender or repeater. The cable is rated for 300 pounds of pull force, and is reinforced with Aramid. You can pick up the Tap by the cables and shake it with no harmful effects, since it’s so well secured, Logitech’s head of marketing, Joan Vandermate, told PCMag.

Logitech Tap Cabling

The Tap will be available in several packages. For $999 you can get the device alone, but it’s more useful in a bundle that includes the computer ($1,999). For $4,999, you get a full system including Tap, Rally Plus (which includes a hi-res camera, two speaker bars, and two mic units), Rally mounts, the computer, and a PC mount. Initial distributors include include Ingram, Tech Data, and Synnex.

Virtual reality for retail, marketing could hit $1.8B in 2022


Contributing Editor for Retail Dive
Published Jan. 28, 2019

 

Dive Brief:
  • Revenue related to virtual reality technology initiatives is expected to jump by 3,000% over the next four years, and could generate as much as $1.8 billion for retail and marketing companies in 2022, according to a new report from PYMNTS.com called “Virtual Reality in Retail: 2019 and Beyond.”
  • The report suggests that use of VR and similar technologies by retailers could help consumers to do more research before they buy items, whether by trying out products through VR experiences before they visit stores, or by using in-store technologies to help them gauge fit of apparel or different makeup looks
  • While augmented reality features in mobile apps have become more common, VR features may not become prominent so quickly in mobile form. Smartphone-based VR features, however, could help supplement in-store VR services and shopping experiences, the report said.
Dive Insight:

The report calls out Macy’s as one retailer that has embraced virtual reality technology and similar innovations to reinvent store experiences. Macy’s has used smart mirrors in dozens of stores, and also late last year announced a major expansion of its use of VR in store for furniture shopping. That use case allowed shoppers to employ VR to see furniture items in different virtual room settings.

For Macy’s, using VR isn’t just about enhancing the store experience, but also part of how it is using various technologies in an attempt to change perceptions about the Macy’s name and department stores in general.

This report, like others in recent years, noted that retail shopping use cases and applications for retailers are still in their infancy, and perhaps years from a real growth spurt. Although the projected 3,000% growth is impressive, it needs to be placed in a context of little to no growth.

It’s starting to become clear, however, that users are understanding how the technology can help them for shopping, and that could benefit retailers in many different ways, including a greater likelihood of conversions, less likelihood of returns and potential lower fulfillment costs, according to another recent study referenced in the PYMNTS.com report.

As more retailers adopt VR for different uses, it will be interesting to see how that affects the use of mobile smartphones during in-store shopping. Right now, mobile devices are frequently and widely used for research during the shopping process, but that might lessen if more personalized research and planning could be accomplished via VR before shoppers ever leave their homes, the report noted. However, that’s not likely for a very long time, the report also said.

To Fully Realize Its Benefits, IIoT Cannot Be Conducted in a Vacuum

February 5, 2019
by Sean Riley via Manufacturing.net

 

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has almost infinite potential but potential is always grounded by a tangible ROI. In addition to the obvious cost savings and productivity gains, IIoT can be leveraged for developing more innovative products and services more efficiently. For instance, with IIoT, a manufacturing organization can optimize machine reliability and production, improve product quality, reduce wait times for quality checks, launch connected products and drive usage-based business models. More and more organizations are catching on to these demonstrable benefits, with Vanson Bourne research indicating the average manufacturer already houses 749 connected devices and that 90 percent of organizations believe the IIoT serves as a crucial competitive differentiator.

Common IIoT Project Complications

Still, IIoT implementations can prove challenging. Determining a clear starting point and ensuring value is delivered quickly are two incredibly common hurdles. Another common scenario that can lead to dire consequences is conducting IIoT in a vacuum. For example, if a manufacturer selects an IIoT software platform for a particular need or use case but neglects to consider any other needs the IIoT platform could fulfill, expanding that IIoT implementation will prove exceptionally difficult. The truth is, successfully scaling any IIoT project requires continually expanding to incorporate other use cases and/or expanding single use cases horizontally across the entire organization.

Understandably, organizations often start with cloud-based IIoT software trials that promise quick delivery and easy implementations. However such an approach only deepens the IIoT vacuum problem, as it removes the critical step of thinking holistically and taking the time to carefully evaluate how the software will meet a range of criteria and long-term operational goals. That said, taking months or even years to engage in a more traditional software evaluation process and request for proposal is no longer realistic from a competitive standpoint, even if this approach does tend to encourage more holistic IIoT thinking.

Best Practices for Escaping the Vacuum

To escape the IIoT vacuum scenario and implement software that supports both current operational needs and long-term business goals, organizations should adhere to the following three best practices:

  1. Evaluate all use cases. For any IIoT project to be successful, organizations must first determine their current and potential use cases, as well as carefully consider their current IIoT platform capabilities. Even if future use cases aren’t obvious yet, there’s enough information out there that can help organizations understand what they should be working towards. For instance, perhaps designing a predictive maintenance program could serve as a future use case, or maybe realizing condition-based quality maintenance should be the goal.
  2. Determine supporting capabilities. After evaluating both current and potential IIoT use cases, organizations need to determine what specific capabilities are required in order to deliver those use cases. This could include capabilities such as device connectivity, analytics, application connectivity and/or partner connectivity requirements. To ensure all capabilities are accounted for, it’s important to also take into consideration any previously pursued IIoT projects (whether they were successful or not).
  3. Confirm what’s real. Once all use cases have been evaluated and relevant supporting capabilities have been determined, it’s time to confirm the capabilities of whatever IIoT platform is currently in place. This is a difficult yet critical step that must be completed objectively, as often many software capabilities have been promised but they’re not real. Furthermore, if a significant amount of time and work has already been devoted to an IIoT platform, some project stakeholders may be reticent to admit to any shortcomings and inflate the actual capabilities of the platform.

A Holistic Approach Leads to Greater Value

Organizations that are able to avoid the perennial IIoT vacuum stand to gain far more value from their implementations. Thinking more comprehensively allows them to scale their IIoT projects vertically and horizontally, which can increase existing investment returns and create additional returns as new projects are completed. Escaping the IIoT vacuum also allows organizations to devise stronger strategies around emerging IIoT capabilities and accurately forecast the real-world impact of their IIoT project on critical business processes.

Too many IIoT initiatives promise lofty strategic differentiation, impressive increased revenue figures and enticingly low operational costs, when in reality most result in comparatively smaller gains due to the structure or current capabilities of the organization in question. Avoid falling victim to this widespread phenomenon by putting ample thought into the specific use cases, necessary capabilities and objective truths of your IIoT project before implementing a myriad of potentially conflicting solutions. In doing so, organizations can realize the full benefits of IIoT, while also gaining the ability to scale (up and/or out) their use of IIoT in iterations and reduce any potential implementation risks.

Sean Riley is Director of the Manufacturing Practice at Software AG