Sometimes a table lamp is more than just a table lamp.
At Mobile World Congress, Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) showed off a small, Internet-connected lamp that doubles as a WiFi extender. That's not the most important part of the story, however. The lamp also acts as a voice-controlled end point for interactive services enabled by Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s AWS Greengrass platform.
Technicolor announced its partnership with Amazon late last year with the goal of opening up home broadband devices to a new set of application developers. Greengrass can create an abstraction layer on Technicolor's gateways and extenders, which in turn should make it easier to develop new software for those products and for service providers to enable new services. (See Technicolor Brings AWS Home to Gateways.)
So what can Technicolor's Greengrass-enabled table lamp do? In addition to extending WiFi coverage, it can act as an Alexa-powered hub for controlling other connected devices. That's right. Just like the Amazon Echo products use Alexa for voice commands, the Technicolor table lamp (as well as the company's main broadband gateway) can do the same. Consumers could ultimately be able to use these products to control other devices like connected lighting, TVs, thermostats and more.
"The cloud's the limit," says Technicolor VP David Baylis, and he points to new opportunities for monitoring health and welfare as another example. With the Greengrass platform running on Technicolor's broadband hardware, sensor devices like those measuring heart rate and blood pressure could communicate locally with an application looking for anomalous activity. That same application could run higher up in the network, but the ability to use local computing resources for select functions should improve efficiency and performance.
Technicolor's vision for its new gateway and extender hardware is a lofty one. But it doesn't come cheap, nor will it likely take shape until next year. According to Baylis, the company expects its Greengrass-powered gear to be paired with premium services from service providers, and general availability isn't expected until 2018.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading