UEI Brings Smarter Living to IBC 2019

Universal Electronics Inc., a worldwide leader in universal control and sensing technologies for the smart home, will be showing its latest products and demonstrating its range of innovative, intelligent solutions designed to bridge the home entertainment and smart home ecosystems at IBC 2019 in Hall 1, stand C41.

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Highly favored by customers and partners for several years now, UEI will showcase its latest Designovation product ideas that demonstrate UEI’s unique ability to blend user experience, consumer trends and innovative technology, which lies at the heart of UEI’s product strategy of consolidating home entertainment control and smart home applications into one seamless user experience. For this IBC 2019 edition, UEI will deliver a uniquely meaningful and personal digital lifestyle experience, by leveraging the latest technology advances in context awareness and hyper-personalization, while capitalizing on UEI’s voice and latest adaptive control innovations, to discover, recognize, and interact with smart devices and sensors within the home.

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For the first time in Europe, UEI will also welcome customers and partners in a dedicated showroom to experience the Nevo® Butler platform. Nevo Butler is an end-to-end voice-enabled smart home hub with a built-in white label digital assistant that unifies entertainment control and home automation experiences, enabling interoperability across highly fragmented ecosystems. Built-in entertainment control capabilities and smart home hub features, powered by QuickSet® Cloud, make this device a versatile assistant for the home, capable of addressing a wide range of the current installed base of devices in consumers’ homes, offering multiple use cases and innovative new service opportunities for service providers expanding in the smart home segment.

Menno Koopmans, SVP for Global Sales and Marketing at Universal Electronics Inc. said “This year at IBC, attendees who come to visit our booth will see, not only our industry’s leading entertainment control solutions but will also discover the award-winning Nevo Butler platform, a unique platform that delivers on our vision of simplifying the user experience and bringing entertainment control and smart home systems into one unified solution.”

“Only a company like UEI, leveraging unrivaled success in creating and deploying innovative and intelligent AV system control solutions, can bring a platform like Nevo Butler to market. I am excited to bring this platform to our customers and discuss the multiple opportunities we see in our industry to expand and monetize new services in the smart home domain.” added Koopmans.

Another key demonstration of UEI’s industry-leading voice platforms is highlighted in its new line-up of Android TV remote controls. With Android TV becoming a real force in the broadcasting value chain, UEI has deployed a broad range of advanced voice remote platforms to meet the demands of this fast-evolving market. Among the platforms being highlighted during IBC 2019, UEI’s new premium Android TV remote is taking a central role, as UEI’s flagship Android TV voice platform, featuring a USB-C rechargeable port and a unique contextual backlight approach (Adaptive Control), enhancing the Android TV experience and making OTT easy to use for a wide range of Pay TV audiences.

Visit the UEI team in Hall 1,  stand C41 at IBC2019 at RAI, Amsterdam 13-17 September 2019.

Universal Electronics and Microsoft collaborate on a turnkey Digital Assistant platform for smart home hub

Artificial intelligence is now playing a key role in improving access to smart living products and services, and this is only expected to expand in size and scope. Digital assistants that connect consumers to important services such as safety and security, collaboration and scheduling or bring joy through better interaction with entertainment devices, will play a key role in delivering the experiences promised by a brand.

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In order to empower brands to deliver these experiences quickly, efficiently, and directly to consumers, Universal Electronics and Microsoft have collaborated to offer a white-label smart home hub platform, Nevo® Butler, with an integrated digital assistant, as well as a range of turnkey kits addressing home safety and security, energy management, and entertainment control, in residential or hospitality domains.

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Nevo Butler is an end-to-end voice-enabled smart home hub with nevo.ai integrated and built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform leveraging Azure IoT and AI services, including Microsoft’s virtual assistant solution with Azure Bot Service and Azure Cognitive Services. Nevo.ai is a white-label digital assistant that promises to unify the entertainment control and home automation experiences, enabling interoperability across fragmented ecosystems. Built-in entertainment control capabilities and smart home hub features powered by QuickSet® Cloud make this device one of the most versatile assistants for the home, capable of addressing a wide range of devices and use cases from enabling voice on existing devices, to innovative new services in the smart home. With a customisable digital assistant experience, enterprise integration services, and an expanding ecosystem of add-on services, this platform allows service providers and consumer electronics brands to offer voice-enabled services to consumers while remaining in control of the consumer relationship.

QuickSet Cloud, running on the Azure IoT platform, is already powering millions of connected devices in the home through customers including Comcast, Sony, LGI, Samsung and others, and will benefit from the global-scale and security of Azure. The nevo.ai digital assistant development is accelerated by the Azure virtual assistant solution where complex and evolving features can be delivered through a simple natural language interface, making these experiences accessible to a wide range of audiences.

“With Nevo Butler, we are democratising access to an essential technology where consumer’s brands and service providers can quickly and efficiently deliver new services across many categories. Our sensors and hubs are pre-integrated with a configurable digital assistant where these brands can remain in charge of the relationship with the end consumer” said Arsham Hatambeiki, SVP Product and Technology for Universal Electronics Inc., “Microsoft has proven to be a reliable and innovative partner in delivering this flexibility to brands, and choice to consumers.”

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“Today and in the future, we assume every home product experience will become frictionless, controlled naturally through conversation and voice, in a personalized and trusted experience,” said Lili Cheng, CVP, Conversational AI. “By partnering with UEI on Nevo Butler and Quickset Cloud, we will enable UEI customers to create custom Virtual Assistant solutions, for millions of home products, powered by Microsoft’s AI and Azure IoT services.”

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Universal Electronics Continue to Drive Adoption of Entertainment Voice Control Across Europe

According to market data, today’s global TV audience spends an average of 4.4 hours per day watching TV and nearly 28 minutes per day searching for content. Voice navigation and control, introduced in 2015, has brought a new dimension to the TV watching experience. In a matter of a few years, voice technology has evolved from an add-on feature to becoming an essential tool consumers rely on in their daily lives for accessing entertainment, information, and services.

UEI’s advancements in contextual voice navigation have quickly become a disruptive force changing how consumers interact with their devices and TV content. Today the company has deployed one of the most experienced and knowledgeable development teams in the industry to deliver highly dependable voice interactions with home entertainment devices. Since 2015, UEI has delivered more than 60 million voice-enabled remote control solutions to the entertainment industry.

Through consumer-focused research and development, UEI has continually uncovered and delivered meaningful innovations that simplify daily experiences within the connected smart home. UEI has diligently expanded optimized voice remote offerings with state-of-the-art microprocessors, tightly coupled with software and acoustic design, to enhance the accuracy of daily voice interactions.

Packaged with UEI’s world-leading QuickSet® technology, advanced voice-enabled entertainment platforms offer consumers an unparalleled entertainment experience bringing TV, set-top, and content control into a single user interface.

Today, UEI engineers are actively working on next-generation voice platforms for operators worldwide, including Android TV platforms, which represent the fastest growing Pay-TV platform, over the next five years. As more operators launch their advanced services platforms and usher in new standards in the industry over the next twelve months, UEI expects to expand its leadership in voice control and will continue to bring new innovations to market.

“By 2023, it is estimated that there will be over 1 billion Pay-TV subscribers globally with a sizeable segment actively using voice as their natural user input. Voice control technology has the power to make the average consumer’s home viewing experience more intuitive and more enjoyable, and its adoption will boost subscriber satisfaction,” said Kuldip Singh Johal, Vice President Sales – Subscription Broadcasting in EMEA for UEI.

 

“As with any technology, it is important that the end user experience is a positive one. It leads to frequent use of the service. We work with our partners to ensure that our products provide the right level of performance and reliability for voice control. Our efforts have been recognized within the entertainment industry as we were recently awarded a Technology Emmy® for our work relating to voice navigation technologies for discovering and interacting with TV content. UEI was selected for its excellence in engineering and creativity that has materially affected the television viewing experience,” added Johal.

The future for voice control promises to be bright. For example, voice biometrics can be employed to authenticate users in the home, offering personalized content recommendations and secure services ranging from banking to online shopping to food ordering. Today, 2.7 million UK households use a voice-activated smart speaker while 22% of UK consumers use a virtual assistant on their smartphone. This number is set to increase as more products and services enter the market, and the race for convergence intensifies with manufacturers exploring new ways to help users easily configure smart devices and create an integrated smart home experience.

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The battle to reach ‘convergence 4.0’

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By Kuldip Singh Johal, Vice President Sales – Subscription Broadcasting, UEI

Now, it could be at the heart of convergence, providing users with a single device with which to perform synergised functions, controlling everything from the television to your home’s temperature, security and lighting. However, with established technology manufacturers competing against smaller, yet more agile, counterparts, who will win convergence 4.0?

While there are a handful of manufacturers most of us will associate with smart home technology, many paid TV operators and telecommunication companies are turning their backs on these devices, thus creating space for some of the smaller brands to rise to the top. Not only are devices created by these big brands more expensive for paid TV operators to deploy, but they are also less adaptable for their needs. Conversely, by partnering up with smaller manufacturers to create bespoke solutions, paid TV operators can be in control of their own destiny and create their own eco-system on which they can build in the future. This is a fluidity that isn’t offered by larger branded devices where the roadmaps for convergence are already set out for them.

Solutions developed with telcos and paid TV operators in mind also allow them to have more autonomy in their approach to the market, rather than following the trends as dictated by large manufacturers. This is a key issue in convergence as with paid TV operators on side, the smaller manufacturers have the potential to tap into different insights and develop new capabilities.

Currently, many consumers are turned off by the idea of convergence due to the difficulties they face with configuration and setting up smart devices. For the average person, configuring multiple devices can be daunting and seem like it may require some engineering know-how, which can deter consumers from buying new devices or attempting to integrate them. Difficulties with configuring, discovering and controlling devices are among the biggest pain points for consumers of smart devices and is something that needs to be considered in relation to convergence.

It is vital that manufacturers and industry leaders address these pain points in order to make convergence and configuration a frictionless and simple process for the end user. This is also likely to lead to increased uptake of smart devices. Users require intuitive devices which are capable of automatically recognising new devices and help the user to configure them. However, many of the key players within the industry are yet to offer devices capable of this. Should manufacturers, and the bigger market challengers such as Amazon and Google, want to attract audiences, the need for end-to-end solutions which simplify the process of migration to the smart home for the end user needs to be considered. For example, devices should offer simplistic, voice-based processes to increase ease of use.

Additionally, the winner of convergence 4.0 will produce devices which are capable of ‘learning’ set skills. As well as being intuitive in recognising other devices, these devices must also intuit what a user requires when they perform certain commands. For example, ultimate convergence will come when users are able to ask their device to enter ‘movie mode’, for instance, and the device will not only play a movie but will also draw the curtains and dim the lights.

Voice-Remote---ConvergenceIt is our view, that as many smart devices make use of voice-control, the two issues are intrinsically linked. Therefore, to win convergence 4.0, you must also be one step ahead in the fight for the voice-assistant market. The uptake of voice-controlled devices is growing significantly with a recent study finding that 1 in 6 adults in the US now owns a voice-activated smart speaker and 65% say they wouldn’t want to go back to a life without these devices. Their popularity and ease of use show that this technology should be a key feature for the future of convergence.

Given the current difficulties associated with configuring devices, the real winner of convergence will be the company that can make integrating these devices into the home it as easy and seamless as possible. At the moment, convergence is currently being driven primarily by the market as a pre-emptive strike to anticipate the needs of consumers. While the big names currently have a monopoly on this market, convergence 4.0 could be a case of the tortoise and the hare as smaller manufacturers step up their approach to the market. With a more insightful view of the requirements of not only the user but also telecommunication companies, these brands could be better able to tailor their offerings more precisely to suit the users’ needs.

Universal Electronics unveils NEW line-up of Android TV compatible Remote Controls during IBC2018

Android TV is one of the fastest growing advanced home entertainment set-top systems for PayTV operators offering a hybrid content delivery platform and high-quality TV experience. Android TVs enables subscribers to enjoy multi-screen linear and OTT experiences, as well as access to an increasing number of apps and gaming services.

Universal Electronics is an early adopter of the Android TV ecosystem and one of the first to launch a compatible voice remote control tailored exclusively for the Google platform. As the market leader in voice remotes, UEI leverages its broad portfolio of control technologies to deliver an unparalleled entertainment control experience for Android TV users.

UEI’s Android TV remote control range is the broadest in the industry, offering control solutions from its basic OTT-centric voice controller, the UEI OLYMPUS platform, to the more feature rich UEI DENALI and UEI Everest platforms that offers comprehensive hybrid set-top box control, and the UEI INSINQ K2 remote with its differentiating design and full functionality.

Introducing the New UEI FUJI Android TV remote featuring Adaptive Control

Each remote control in the new line-up has been carefully crafted around UEI’s proprietary Designovation process, that is founded on the premise that real design opportunities are built at the intersection of user experience, consumer trends and innovative technology, which lies at the heart of UEI’s product vision. An example of UEI’s Designovation process at work is the new UEI FUJI product. A revolutionary remote control that optimizes user-engagement by blending intuitive software features into remote hardware to deliver a unique “Adaptive Control” system that automatically alters the remote control functionality to mimic on-screen activities.

The UEI FUJI Android TV remote control is both practical, featuring easy charging with a USB cable, and aesthetically pleasing, with soft fabrics to ensure it feels as good as it looks. Adaptive Control enables the users to hop effortlessly between Live TV and OTT streaming services and is fully compatible with Google Assistant, strengthening monetization opportunities while offering a plethora of new use cases for the connected home.

Kuldip Singh Johal, Vice President Sales – Subscription Broadcasting, said, “We are delighted to be able to demonstrate our growing range of Android TV remote control devices at IBC. I believe that the IBC audience will be energized when they experience the full potential of our market leading off-the-shelf Android TV platforms for the PayTV industry, particularly our new UEI FUJI device.

“All of our platforms are based on UEI’s foundational technologies,” added Johal. “Each platform supports QuickSet® Cloud, the world’s only automated discovery, set up and control software, which enables fast time to market for customers ready to embrace Android TV.”

You can see the latest product range and other UEI technology in action in Hall 1, stand C41 at IBC2018 from September 14-18, 2018.