Ottawa's technology companies are driving some of the most important headlines at the International CES this year in Las Vegas, NV.
© Joël Côté-Cright
Pretzil co-founder Kyle McInnes.
By Kyle McInnes
Both large companies and small startups from Ottawa are disrupting industries and challenging incumbents from around the world. Here is a look at some of those companies that are putting Ottawa on the map at the world's largest consumer technology conference.
It is clear that one of the biggest trends at CES is in automotive, where nobody is pushing the limits more than Ottawa's own QNX. Acquired by BlackBerry in October 2011, QNX's operating system, with applications in automotive, space, high speed rail, nuclear power plants, TV, aviation and a staggering number of other verticals, is incredibly versatile. At this year's CES, QNX showed off a number of concept cars including a Mercedes-Benz CLA45 and a Kia Soul. They also had a Jeep Wrangler on hand to demonstrate the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment.
QNX's modified Mercedes CLA45 showcased what the company believes to be the next three to five years of automotive innovation. With features such as natural speech recognition, multiple navigation engines, rear-seat interaction with native apps for tablets and phones, support for Android Jellybean apps, and an HTML5 Keyfob app, this Mercedes was a huge hit with attendees at the show.
The Kia Soul at CES is a QNX technology concept car, modified to demonstrate the future of acoustics. This vehicle showed off, for the first time, QNX's Acoustics technology. The car features advanced hands-free capabilities, Engine Sound Enhancement (ESE) so you can hear what your engine sounds like over the stereo, as well as a high-performance software solution for dramatically reducing unwanted engine noise inside the vehicle.
One of the other biggest consumer technology trends of 2014, aside from automotive, will be what's called the Internet of things, and the connected home. Both of these trends are best embodied in Ottawa's Blacksumac, which is showing off its latest home security and automation product, Piper. Blacksumac made headlines when Piper won the CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards. The award is given to products that have outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products across 29 product categories.
Piper first made headlines when it launched its crowdfunding campaign, which later grew past its initial funding goal of $100K by over 300 percent.
Blacksumac's Piper features Z-Wave integration, which is a common standard for integration of home automation features such as motion detection and power monitoring. At CES 2014, Piper is featured at the Z-Wave Alliance Pavillion and has been a big hit with attendees.
The home of tomorrow wouldn't be complete with the home entertainment system of tomorrow but that’s why Ottawa's Nuvyyo is at CES showing off its latest product: Tablo. As traditional cable companies fight to keep subscribers tethered to obsolete cables, Tablo has a product that allows customers to cut their cords and get free, local HDTV broadcast programs streamed to any device, anytime, anywhere in the world. Using an antenna accessory, Tablo grabs HDTV broadcasts and feeds them to your mobile devices using the Tablo app for iOS, as well as an HTML5 app for any other device. Nuvyyo's Tablo is at the Eureka Park TechZone at CES and the company has just recently announced the pre-order availability of Tablo.
Apps are also an important part of any consumer technology conference. Ottawa's Hipplay is at CES giving a preview of its new app, which has a lot of potential to disrupt cloud storage for digital media. The Hipplay app is the world's first cross-platform media aggregator that gives iOS and Android users a new way to instantly access, view and share their entire collection of digital photos, videos and music. Cloud storage is another consumer tech trend that is going to explode, with companies such as Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and more all creating products to help mitigate the exponential increase in digital file creation. Hipplay has created a product that will surely be a player for the mobile cloud storage side of this trend.
With so much news at CES 2014 coming from Ottawa, it's clear that the city has come a long way from being known as a government town. Combined with the news that Shopify has recently announced a $100M round of funding, it seems a technology job explosion is poised to happen and Ottawa may soon be able to reclaim its title as "Silicon Valley North.”
Kyle McInnes is the cofounder of local app developer Pretzil.