The latest slew of devices from leading OEMs underscore the value and strategic roadmap for integrating technology to further our progress towards a connected life, the Internet of Things (IoT). Successfully achieving an integrated technological state, IoT, relies on the advances in engineering and architecting of embedded systems that drive the technology. Whether smartphone, tablet, or wearable electronic device, the ability to connect and maximize functionality and features to improve our daily lives relies on successfully embedded systems that seamlessly connect and transmit the necessary data. This state is IoT and it is the realization of ubiquitous computing.
It is rather clear that the general industry trajectory is the realization of IoT through uninterrupted connectivity and the seamless integration of an increasing number and variety of devices. How that is achieved is where the details can bedevil the goal.
At the device level, we see a steep increase in the number and type of wearable and highly mobile devices that people are adopting and interfacing with on a regular basis. Health and fitness electronics are certainly among the frontrunners of the wearable devices and are rapidly increasing in favor by health professionals and health service providers, as well as patients, importantly, because the benefits are relatively immediate in the ability to improve preventative healthcare and monitor outpatient events before greater health risks or significant events would otherwise likely occur. On the consumer side, fitness tracking and personal health goal achievements are improved and supported through individuals' consistent and constant self-monitoring. In this manner, the health and the fitness devices are a natural and mutually supportive technological pairing for increasing individuals' engagement with IoT environments.
Also at the device level supporting the continued expansion towards ubiquitous computing are the still hot mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, the latest of which were released by Apple and Microsoft in the recent week. In both cases, these latest devices by leading OEMs are including 64-bit processors that indicate the future roadmap of integration to the enterprise by preparing the Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) for the soon-to-be improved connectivity.
Among the lauded features for Microsoft's new Surface Pro 2 are extended battery life of roughly 10 hours, faster processing and graphics, lighter weight, improved accessories for keyboard, docking, etc. Importantly for Microsoft, the new Surface line up is able to run Windows 8.1, the latest OS version, and included are the important productivity apps for the Microsoft Office Suite that will include Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
As Intel's new CEO Brian Krzanich offered recently at Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, CA, "Smartphones and tablets are not the end-state. […]The next wave of computing is still being defined. Wearable computers and sophisticated sensors and robotics are only some of the initial applications."
Embedded designs and SoCs at the fore
The leading chip makers, Intel and ARM in partnership with AMD, are, of course, at the core of the OEMs latest device releases. While there are many improved specifications and shrinks down to 28- and 22-nanometer architectures, what is perhaps compelling in terms of design support for the IoT trajectory that devices and their users are on, is the degree to which System on Chip (SoC) and embedded designs are informing the chip makers' roadmaps, respectively. There is a keen and obvious awareness that the demands for integration are not only at the hardware-software layers at the users' interface, but that these integration steps necessarily delve down into the core processor architectures.
Integrating not only multiple processors but also 4G LTE communications, improved multi-tasking, power efficiency, performance speeds, all rolled into chips that can then be customized to meet specific OEM and end-device demands is essential to the next wave of tech innovation. What we see today, as Intel offers, is just the beginning of an increasingly integrated computing experience where our devices and our connectivity are becoming truly ubiquitous. Read more about the opportunities and new roadmaps pushing embedded designs and ubiquitous computing to the next phases in our industry in the upcoming MarketWatch Quarterly, coming soon to subscribers (free subscription).