What was big at IFA this year?
Taking place each year in Berlin, IFA dominates tech news as Europe’s biggest consumer electronics exhibition.
Major companies from around the world including Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Dell show off their latest phones, laptops, speakers and washing machines (the home appliances, largely ignored by consumer tech media, are popular on the consumer days). From 1-6 September the show is open to the public at Messe Berlin, however press and trade attendees attend beforehand when information about new products is released.
Grab some bratwurst and a German beer while I take you through my key takeaways from IFA 2017.
Wearables are still big
There were smartwatches… and lots of them.
Fitbit, my personal favorite, had already revealed its main product—the Fitbit Ionic—prior to IFA, which features animations of workouts played back on its colour screen, as well as a slick design to compete with the Apple Watch.
The Ionic in all its glory
Mini person doing a workout
Garmin revealed a fitness tracker and two smartwatches: the Vivosport, Vivomove HR and Vivoactive 3. Samsung also launched the Gear Sport, which is smaller than the Gear S3 and acts as a remote control to other Samsung devices using Samsung Connect.
Withings brought along the Steel HR, which launched earlier this year, complete with heart-rate tracking that now sits under the Nokia brand.
And it’s not over yet… Apple, who notoriously shun IFA, is rumoured to be announcing a new smartwatch on September 12, along with the hotly anticipated iPhone 8.
With all the big tech giants—Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant—racing to dominate the personal assistant market, this year IFA belonged to Google Assistant.
Google Assistant launched on a number of third-party speakers, including the Panasonic GA10, the Sony LF-S50G, and the Tichome Mini made by our our client Movboi, which is an untethered portable speaker with Google Assistant support.
Mobvoi setting up before Showstoppers, an event during IFA
Microsoft doesn’t usually have a big presence at IFA, but this year the company unveiled its Windows Mixed Reality headsets at IFA, including the Lenovo Explorer.
I was lucky enough to attend Asus’ press event, and putting aside for a moment their ZenBook Flip and VivoBook Flip laptops and the array of PC gaming hardware under the Republic of Gamers (ROG) range, it was Asus’ Windows Mixed Reality Headset that impressed the most.
My legs trying not to fall down a virtual hole
The headset weighs less than a pound, 3K resolution, and inside-out tracking, which uses two cameras on the front of the device to track the controllers. Unlike the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, it doesn’t need external sensors, resulting in a cheaper price and simple setup. The quick drying antibacterial materials also limits germs from sweaty hungover faces, notoriously prevalent around the showfloor at IFA.
Asus’ Windows mixed reality headset
Spotted at IFA: VR manufacturers have started using notorious “eye condoms”
So who won?
The product I was asked first about on return to the Dynamo office was Lenovo’s Yoga 920, which comes in Star Wars Rebel and Imperial designs, as well as the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, an augmented reality game for its Mixed Reality headset.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges needs three components to make the magic happen: Lenovo’s Mirage AR headset, a lightsaber controller, and a tracking beacon. For a game that runs off a smartphone app (iOS or Android) it’s impressive, allowing you to take on a digital recreation of Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle.
For those that have longed to swing a lightsaber and fight Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is a FORCE to be reckoned with.