Smith representatives were on-hand last week at COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2019 to showcase the tools and resources available to support the many disruptive trends happening in the tech industry. Disruptive tech was the trade show’s opening-day theme, kicking off this leading information and communications-tech trade show with discussions of quantum computing, digital twins, blockchain applications, and more.
Now that the show has concluded, there are some additional disruptive tech topics our experts are keeping an eye on. From smart automotive advances and Industry 4.0 to edge computing and 5G networks, here’s a look at some of the most anticipated game-changers we see on the horizon.
Projections indicate that, by the end of the next decade, nearly all commercial and 20 percent of personal automobiles will be connected to the “autonet” – the global network of smart vehicles. These automation features are expected to allow for faster driving speeds and higher traffic density, while also increasing overall safety.
These smart vehicles will require components that can handle high voltage and high current in a wide range of climate conditions. Advancements in cameras, lidar, radar, and sensor technology will continue to pave the way for fully autonomous vehicles, many of which will be electric-powered, as battery storage capacity continues to increase.
The next wave of industrial revolution aims to automate monotonous and technical tasks so that employees can instead focus on creative or other critical responsibilities. While this automation is predicted to reduce up to 50 percent of factory jobs in the next three years, it will also create a greater demand for jobs in cybersecurity and engineering as the technology continues to improve.
Additionally, automated monitoring systems will help create safer and more efficient manufacturing floors by managing supply levels, maintaining consistent and high-quality performance levels, and predicting inventory and maintenance needs to decrease downtime. Other rising innovations, including 3D printing and simulation/digital twins, are expected to work in tandem with Industry 4.0 to improve processes, products, and services while also reducing overhead costs.
As trends like smart automotive and Industry 4.0 continue to grow, the amount of data processing necessary for individual devices must also increase, forcing computing power out of centralized data centers and into edge devices, such as home electronics and autonomous vehicles. By shifting data processing to edge devices, users can experience quicker response times and more efficient functionality. However, this shift also pushes the costs of energy, security, and server power back on the individual. Currently, only about 20 percent of enterprise data is processed outside of data centers. This percentage is expected to increase fourfold by 2023.
MCUs may still be appropriate for smaller-scale needs, but more complex projects may require higher-end CPUs and GPUs. Additionally, as more data is processed locally, higher storage-capacity DRAM and NAND are also necessary. Demand for intelligent sensors, which are able to perform a predefined action based on input, is also expected to increase.
Although edge computing requires significant increases in power and storage, portability of individual devices continues to be an essential feature. This necessary convenience demands that devices contain continually smaller chips and batteries, particularly in wearables and embedded technology. As such, the confined size limits the practicality of touch- and screen-based interfaces, requiring alternative options, including biometric recognition tools such as voice activation and spatial gestures that allow users to ditch the single screen and take advantage of the full environment around them.
None of these trends, however, can be fully implemented without consistent, low-power, and high-bandwidth connectivity. 5G promises better consistency than Bluetooth, lower power needs than Wi-Fi, and better bandwidth than 4G or LTE. At its peak, LTE can support data rates up to 300 megabits per second. Currently, 5G has been measured at 3 gigabits per second and is expected to reach up to 10 gigabits per second under ideal conditions. These speeds drastically reduce the latency period from LTE’s 150-250 ms to a mere 1-2 ms with 5G, essentially allowing systems to react in real time.
This low latency time is of utmost importance to sectors like smart automotive, where split-second reaction times are needed. When paired with 5G, automated vehicles would have the capacity to reduce reaction time to 1/1000th of the average human reaction time. However, further testing of 5G is required to determine guaranteed reaction times in real-world scenarios, rather than ideal times in laboratory settings.
Keep up with our Market Blog for more discussion on innovations, market trends, and how these dynamics may impact the global supply chain.