Driving the Connected Society

 

Often overlooked by the end-user, the connected society has truly been built upon the advances in technology & business processes achieved by the semiconductor industry.

Everything today is being driven by, and built for the connected society. We all talk of the impact of Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and emergence of new eco-systems. These new faces of the connected services have re-kindled the vision of connecting many more devices that are part of our lives such as televisions, appliances and cars; and more recently we see renewed interest in expanding into new solutions in Smart Energy, Mobile Healthcare etc.

Many talk of this as a new vision. And yet, it has been around for many years now. What is often overlooked is that the recent optimism is truly driven by the advances in underlying technologies over the last several years. In fact, it is not just the availability of the new technology or the continuous improvements in size and processing capability, but the drastic reduction in price-points that has been achieved by the semiconductor industry that has opened up the reach for mass scale adoption.

I have been tracking the M2M world for more than 5 years now – I have seen many technology advances that have led to the current point of inflection – from the changed world of microprocessors with their ever increasing processing power and capability, to the re-incarnation of memory with flash memory & in-memory computing; validation of  wireless connectivity and the viability of embedded sensor technology; besides the new thresholds achieved on  video resolution, imaging and voice quality, and many more.

It is true that each of these technologies has opened up new possibilities. But I believe that the tipping point was achieved through the power of combination – as created by harnessing multiple of these individual technologies together into new applications. This led to a new level of innovation delivering far-reaching impact on user experience, operational costs and new business services. It is even more fascinating that the impact spans across verticals, businesses and industries.

Apple provides a good example of this seamless integration of multiple technologies – from rich media experience to optimized browsing experience to new user interfaces like touch, gesture or speech recognition or the extension of storage into seamless cloud repositories or the management of media across devices.

Apple is of-course also largely responsible for relegating technology to behind the scenes – they have focused on user experience and combined smart designs with streamlined processes to create easy-to-use touch points; thus hiding the technology and its complexity from the user.

Hidden or not – yet these technology advances will need to continue and maybe even gather more momentum. If the prediction that the connected devices will reach 15 billion over the next few years comes true, the spurt in data traffic and its implications on processing capability can barely be imagined today. We will need all the power that we can get.

And it is re-assuring to hear (from industry leaders like Intel) that the next generation chip technologies will continue to maintain the pace demanded by Moore’s Law, with the number of transistors doubling every 2 years. It is this power that will drive the connected world – and we should give it its due credit!

This article was written on 20 October 2011.