Philips Simplicity: new tech concepts, a window to the future

By Peter Blasina

I didn?t realise how difficult writing about futuristic products could be until I started writing this particular article. While the best part of my job is being provided glimpses of how technology might evolve in the next few years, actually conveying how it works, what it does and asking the reader to visualise a conceptual product that is not related to anything you might be familiar with today, is a nearly impossible challenge. But, hey, I will certainly try.

I?m attending an impressively large event in Hong Kong run by health and lifestyle technology company Philips. The product and concept show-and-tell is called Simplicity 2007, and the title of the event aptly describes the direction the company is now taking. Actually, the Simplicity show is the culmination of more than two-and-a-half years of sometimes very difficult restructuring and change for the company.

At one level the transformation process has been directed at eliminating many of the fundamental roadblocks that made it difficult for Philips, the largest of Europe?s consumer technology companies, to compete against some of its more agile and aggressive Asian competitors. So it?s rather ironic that the event is being held in Hong Kong.

On another level, the transformation has been directed at developing cross-platform products that bring together the company?s core competencies in consumer electronics, health, lifestyle and lighting.

As Rudy Provoost, Chief Executive Officer Philips Consumer Electronics, told GadgetGuy, ?convergence is not about technologies but new experiences, centred around consumers; it will emerge from new forms of content, reaching consumers through existing and emerging CE platforms?. To date, consumer electronics has mainly been a platform for entertainment content ? TV, audio, video, interactive gaming, as well as some degree of information services. But if you look carefully, you can see the emergence of a whole range of applications that extend beyond entertainment.

To be specific, ?Philips? sees convergence as being all about the union of all types of content – both in the lifestyle domain and what we call ?Health & Wellbeing?, the consumer side of healthcare,? says Provoost. ?Convergence not only means we enable consumers to be entertained in an ever-more relaxing and exciting way ? for example, through Philips? Ambilight or our new AmbX gaming innovation ? but it also enables them to access healthcare services at home, optimise their environment for the purposes of enhanced wellbeing, navigate an unknown city centre, or make their home safer through electronic security.

?Some of these opportunities have already started to emerge, particularly in the area of Health and Wellbeing. For example, televisions and set-top boxes are already used in distant care applications whereby caregivers can monitor patients at home. And in the future, we are increasingly likely to have portable, even wearable, electronics devices that offer feedback on consumers? everyday wellbeing, so that they can learn to relax more, sleep better and lead better lifestyles.?