Today’s technology trends are all about faster speeds, more connectivity, greater security and higher efficiency. This is especially true as it relates to the major impact that IoT technology is making in almost every vertical. Specifically, IoT is being weaved into other popular connective innovations, such as 5G, Wi-Fi, AI, data analytics and blockchain.
This has been a core theme in popular user conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 in Las Vegas, which helps set the tone for the electronics manufacturers in regard to identifying what is resonating with the consumer market and creating new, innovative products.
The next technology refresh of cellular networks — generally referred to as 5G — are still being defined, but carriers are racing for a land grab or marketing bragging rights. This fifth-generation network will bring faster speeds, more connected devices and offer lower latency connectivity.
The true real-world value of these improvements is yet to be determined but be assured that it will be even more impressive than when 4G networks brought us video calling on our phones and Uber became a household name. At the same time, technology vendors were also showcasing Wi-Fi 6 and 6E built for faster speeds and more connected IoT devices.
IoT and AI
IoT and AI technologies are deepening their integration and moving into new frontiers. We are starting to see more voice interaction as device makers integrate voice services such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant into their devices, and this trend is moving from gimmick to mainstream. A good practical quality-of-life example was shown in the age-in-place market, where the aging population can continue to live a normal life with digital support in their primary residences. Imagine an elder person falling down while alone at home and being able to call for help through any voice-enabled device, such as a smart TV, Alexa or Google smart speaker.
More connected devices deliver more data and better insights. AI connects the dots faster and is very impactful with predictive maintenance on machinery. I believe the next frontier here will be using this predictive application in a broader market. For example, a security camera sees a specific person exhibiting strange behavior, such as walking by a locked fence multiple times late at night and looking over the fence. AI can turn the perimeter lights up and play a pre-recorded message over the speakers.
This will move the experience from forensic discovery after a crime is committed and locating a perpetrator to prevention as the primary goal. This behavioral intelligence layer will change our lives profoundly with a more customized user experience.
Data Analytics and Blockchain
Data analytics and blockchain are two technologies that are revolutionizing digital security. Applications range from more robust data governance to coupling AI and data analytics together to increase security by analyzing anomalies in IT traffic patterns and informing a human to act in a pre-programmed fashion. We are starting to see more of these enhanced layers of security being deployed to fight ever-increasing cyberthreats. But it’s not just for providing security in the digital realm, but also for physical security.
Another innovative trend that has drawn attention is the progress being made around smart light poles for municipal or venue applications. Streetlight poles are being converted into smart poles by adding multiple IoT edge devices and applications to them.
For example, one demonstration at CES showed a modified pole with cellular small cell antennas for 4G, 5G, CBRS private LTE and public Wi-Fi, all on a single light pole. An integrated security camera inside the LED luminaire feeds real-time video footage to a digital sign that processes the image and drives targeted advertising on the screen.
The demonstration showed female products being advertised on the digital screen when a female walked by the camera, followed by male-oriented advertising when a male walked past the camera. These types of applications drive investments and can be a source of revenue generation for the city or venue, but they can also improve quality of life for citizens with security applications running in the background detecting weapons, persons of interest or missing children.
As our world becomes digitally integrated, we are seeing more customized digital experiences being delivered to the end user as long as we have a clear notion about safety, security and privacy. It’s time we move the conversation past should we or should we not allow digitization in our lives, to a deeper discussion about the rules of engagement around digital privacy in the public domain and when the technology is our slave or our master.
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