IFA 2015 – What will Europe’s biggest consumer tech show bring this year?

Brid-Aine Parnell

Wednesday 2 September 2015

IFA Berlin will highlight current and upcoming tech trends, as well as showing off the latest gadgets including Windows 10 devices and IoT-led smart home gizmos and wearables.

The annual European consumer electronics extravaganza that is the IFA Berlin is one of the world’s oldest trade shows, dazzling us with the latest gizmos and gadgets since way back in 1924 when it was all about radios.

This year, attendees and the waiting masses can expect announcements and unveilings about everything from laptops to smartphones, wearables to smart home sensors and TVs to VR headsets.

The launch of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 10, just before the September show should mean that the Berlin event sees a whole host of new ranges of laptops, PCs, tablets and phones. Microsoft has already announced that it will be hosting its own event, “Windows 10 Lights up New Devices”.

The keynote, delivered by corporate vice president of the OEM division Nick Parker, will cover “a breadth of new Windows 10 devices, including tablets, 2-in-1s, premium notebooks, gaming devices and all-in-ones that will light up the Windows 10 experience for customers”, according to a Microsoft statement.

That’s likely to mean some devices from Redmond itself, as well as a selection from the ranges that its manufacturing partners will be showcasing. New devices with the OS installed have been in short supply so far, although Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. IFA will be the first chance that big PC manufacturers like Lenovo get to get people excited about the next raft of new Windows machines.

Wearables were big last year and there are likely to be plenty more in evidence this year. Attendees will probably come across some more stylish and trendy Android smartwatches, now that the technology is somewhat more in the proven category, as well as fitness wearables, which are still a growing market niche.

Over in consumer electronics, IFA will host many more 4K devices than last year, including more curved 4K televisions and 4K Blu-ray players, since the standards for the 4K Blu-ray format have now been finalised. However, so far, 4K has proven to be a pricey option and manufacturers will need to start getting some more wallet-friendly devices onto shelves if they want to maintain consumer interest.

There may be a head-to-head comparison in a rather unlikely category this year as well – virtual reality headsets. Well-known VR firm Oculus Rift is not exhibiting at the show, so there isn’t supposed to be a chance to see its final Rift headset ahead of consumer release, which is expected next year. However, rumours have persisted that the firm is planning a surprise launch of the device at the show, so it can’t be ruled out.

Meanwhile, HTC has said that IFA will be a stop on the tour for its Vive headset, which it co-created with Valve. Sony’s Project Morpheus PS4 headset is a strong possibility for the show, along with firms like Razer, which may have a demo of its open-source project OSVR, and Carl Zeiss, which will be giving folks the chance to see its Zeiss VR One headset for mobiles.

As well as consumer gadgets, IFA also gives attendees the first look at some cutting edge home appliances. At last year’s show, Dyson unveiled its robot vacuum cleaner, the 360 Eye, and other smart home technology was also very much in evidence. This year won’t be any different, as the Internet of Things hype continues and smart home devices in particular take centre stage.

Devolo has already announced that it will be demonstrating new products for intelligent home control and home networking at the event, while industry bodies like the ULE Alliance, a non-profit promoting the worldwide adoption of Ultra Low Energy wireless tech for IoT, will also be attending. And German firm Tado has already outted new remote controls for radiators and floor heaters and plans to showcase its “zoned heating” tech at IFA.

While consumers are obviously most interested in new device launches, IFA has also proven to be a good indicator of general tech trends as ideas move from the new gizmo to mainstream gadgets. Innovations like flexible screens and 4K resolution are slowly filtering down to the actual tech store shelves and the continued strong interest in IoT shows that despite Gartner’s assessment that the sector is overhyped, it’s still well worth keeping an eye on.

Consumers, industry analysts and IT decision-makers alike will have their eye on the show floor this year to see what new tech trends are on the horizon.


Building the next-gen data centre

Where traditional and web-scale apps co-exist