There’s never a dull moment for technology enthusiasts, and the best is always yet to come
By Prakash Mallya
Technology continues to redefine the way we live. It is an enabler that fulfills our wants and needs, and enriches our lives with comfort, convenience, entertainment, good health and even prosperity. And going by the trends, it seems like we can’t get enough.
Our growing demand for compute and connectivity on-the-go has led to tremendous innovation in mobile devices. Technological innovations, such as autonomous cars for intelligent and safe travel and electronic banking facility for real-time monetary transactions, seem to emulate the ‘change’ constant of life.
Here’s a look at how this evolution continued in the past year:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We have seen AI and machine learning (ML) gradually move out of the cloud and closer to edge devices where analytics happen in real-time. This is because data transmission delays (latency) associated with the cloud can adversely impact mission critical outcomes. In order to keep AI-powered devices, such as those in smart city surveillance systems, autonomous cars and healthcare systems responsive enough, the data needs to reside as close as possible to the source. This shift has also been possible due to System-on-Chip (SoC) processors that lend more computing power to edge devices.
AI based solutions have progressed out of research labs and become mainstream now. For instance, in the world of healthcare, asthmatics have an AI-powered inhaler that runs real-time ML algorithms to recognise a patient’s breath pattern with the help of a sensor module. AI-enabled voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant provide users the comfort and convenience of interacting with devices by simply using speech as the medium of communication.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Gartner forecasts that there will be 20 billion Internet-connected things by 2020. While the list of IoT gadgets for consumers may seem unending, ranging from smart and connected gadgets as well as appliances such as smart refrigerators, air-conditioners, watches, fire alarms, door locks, bicycles, medical sensors, fitness trackers, security systems, etc., there were some that particularly caught our attention this year. Take, for example, a specially designed watch with IoT integration for people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or autism, allowing the patient and the caregiver to stay connected round the clock.
Several automation products have IoT integration, such as the home automation range of connected smart devices, including those catering to the user’s light and music preferences. This year saw several of these devices offering users a hands-free, voice-enabled experience rather than a touch screen.
In India, we’ve seen applications across retail, education, smart city initiatives, healthcare, among others. From self-service kiosks to smart classroom solutions to remote patient monitoring to surveillance applications, India has seen both product innovation and implementations with potential to scale.
VR, AR and MR
Taking things up a notch, Extended Reality (ER) is another trend that will make headlines in 2020. It can be explained as a term covering several new and revolutionary technologies that create immersive digital experiences. To break it down, this refers to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). We have all seen or experienced the digitally immersive experience of a computer-generated world that we can literally walk into using headsets that cut out the real world. AR, on the other hand, overlays digital objects and portrays them in the real world via smartphone screens or any other display. MR is an elaborate version of AR, where users can interact with digital objects in the real world. For example, a user could play holographic drums via an AR headset. The concept of Extended Reality is that of experiences.
Powered with advanced AI technology, consumer robots will soon play a defining role in our daily life, assisting us with vacuuming the house, mowing the lawn, and cleaning the pool. The social robots will serve as companions and care for us. Advanced computer vision is also transforming the way drones operate. Drones with AI-enabled vision processing capabilities are being used to assess structural damage in buildings, rescue operations, remote study of wildlife and the effects of climate change, etc., without having to put human life at risk.
The world of technology is limitless and the list of technological innovations seemingly unending. There’s never a dull moment for technology enthusiasts, and the best is always yet to come.
The writer is VP and MD – Sales and Marketing Group, Intel India