Wireless Technologies

ARM makes predictions for the digital Big Bang era

The following is a contributed article by Rene Haas, President of chip design company ARM’s Intellectual Property Group (IPG) which licenses advanced semiconductor products and enabling technologies to global partners creating billions of intelligent devices each year.


Lately I have been hearing the word “potential” quite a bit in the context of two things I’m most passionate about – technology and basketball. As a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, the numbers showing potential is the best they can hope for right now, if they are to get back to consistently competing for championships again.

When it comes to technology however, specifically around the Internet of Things (IoT), the numbers indicate we are past potential and in the midst of a digital big bang which has seen IoT move out of its infancy and into meaningful deployments. This is evidenced by ARM partners who have shipped more than half of their 30 billion chips over the past two years into a diverse range of smart embedded applications and worldwide data traffic keeps pushing well beyond the zettabyte per year reached in 2016.


A universal new reality

The digitisation of the world has been happening for close to half a century but we are now entering a phase of unprecedented acceleration. Governments prioritise digital economy development and almost half the world’s population has a smartphone. Technology is spreading to all sectors and billions of mobile computing devices act as sensors and a portal to our digital lives. Computing technology is so small and intelligent that it can give me real-time data to improve my jump shot.

A connected basketball may be a novelty for some, but if you play basketball regularly like I do, it is another reminder that computing technology has greatly expanded the scope of what we expect from all products. The latest evidence of this was at CES last month as Amazon Alexa integrations were announced for Whirlpool washing machines and Ford cars. For this reason, we predict an acceleration of our digital universe in 2017 as the application of device and cloud-based machine learning takes us towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a natural and more intuitive computing world.


IoT security gets smart and organic

With digital data flowing from more devices, and the information becoming increasingly sensitive, how do we secure our digital universe? The answer is to look inwards – literally. The human immune system could deliver a masterclass in threat detection and solution deployment. It is highly adaptable, resilient and self-sustaining with white blood cells filtering out the vast majority of viral threats.

ARM predicts IoT security solutions will take on immune system characteristics, identifying attack patterns through machine learning to create virtual white blood cells that identify viruses and defeat them.This will build on foundational security technologies already in place today including hardware root of trust and secure update, to ensure device health and user trust from commissioning through to end of life.


Fitness/medical wearables will become a B2B-driven market

Ensuring the trust and security of data along with the ability to always have computing with us is driving a shift from reactive to proactive healthcare. Quantitative health data from wearable compute devices is stored, integrated and analysed by machine learning smartphones (e.g. Babylon Health) and the cloud (e.g. IBM Watson). This can deliver personal behaviour suggestions back to the user or send data to a physician to help them advise on treatments or life-style changes.

US health insurance companies are increasingly encouraging this shift and in 2016 we saw the first wearable device subsidies from health insurers. Other organisations are expected to take steps to enable employees with a more holistic understanding of their health and wellness. We predict that at least 50 percent of Fortune 100 companies will roll out employee wellness programs in 2017 that fund the purchase of fitness trackers. Through this effort, companies will improve the overall productivity of their people by encouraging healthier behaviour, including a reduction in the current average of 6.3 sick days per person year.

For the next few years I suppose I can lower my expectations when it comes to the Lakers and trust their young players who have the potential to win, start to just win. But when it comes to the computing technology fuelling the convergence of IoT, AI, security and wearables, my expectations increase every day as I see it become more pervasive and accessible. 


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