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What to expect from electronics in the near future

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By Dunstan Power, Director, ByteSnap Design

  • Smarter shopping

In supermarkets, smart trolleys could lead the way to the correct aisle with the product you are looking for. It could also weigh loose produce, scan items and take contactless payment.

  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning

Although true intelligence seems a little way off yet, machine learning (ML) is finding real-world niches. This year we will see it integrated in some innovative and real products, such as computer-assisted gun/weapon detection in public buildings and airports from live camera feeds, and heavy machinery stoppages of abnormal inputs to minimise potential injuries.

  • Smarter car integration

Cars will use data plans and Wi-Fi to learn about drivers’ habits and prepare routes for their daily commutes, for example. This way, traffic can be redirected or better managed on busy roads. This will be further aided by the car’s sensors such as cameras for reverse parking, lane departure, collision warning and so on. Telematics use will increase for vehicle insurance purposes.

  • EV chargers will be rolled out for new builds

EV chargers will become standard in new-build houses with off-road parking. There will be developments to protect smart chargers from vandalism and attacks.

  • Greater hardware acceleration for FPGAs

Since the big push into machine learning, FPGAs are well positioned to benefit, despite their high development costs. With the recent deployment of high-level C-based tools, ML applications will benefit from performance gains and power efficiency offered from hardware acceleration in FPGAs.

  • Rise of RISC-V

We expect 2020 to see a big increase in silicon vendors offering real RISC-V devices. An alternative to ARM, RISC-V is open source, hence no royalties are paid to the copyright owners. There is great activity around this architecture, especially the software written for RISC-V, but, so far, little real hardware. Year 2020 should change that, with RISC-V chips being announced by large silicon heavyweight companies.

  • Big data vs big brother

Discussions surrounding controversial use of facial recognition and personal data, as well as “Big Brother” setups, will feature more prominently this year. There should be a line drawn between gaining access to everyday data to better society and access to data without it being misused.

  • Virtual assistants

Virtual assistants are on the rise, with built-in screens such as Echo Show or Google Home Hub. Competition here is growing, so manufacturers will move away from “neutral” virtual assistants next year to giving them personalities. Amazon has already started by using celebrity voices like that of Samuel L Jackson.

  • Sophisticated mobility products

Existing mobility scooters are typically very basic – just a speed controller and a horn. With an ageing and increasingly tech-literate population, we expect this to change with more features for greater range, better battery management, increased security features, and wireless connectivity for communication and location tracking.

  • Increase in automatic medical diagnoses

If given access to large datasets, AI and ML could help spot developing diseases and draw correlations to give early diagnosis for some medical conditions.

  • Smarter security

Smart locks are undergoing major developments, involving intercoms with cameras and voice communication, accessible over the Internet. Home owners could remotely unlock doors to trusted individuals. On the security side, multiple technologies are being tested, with the most promising being biometric recognition.

IP cameras will also improve, with better security, higher quality, lower latency, improved operation in low light conditions, and app-activated.

  • Intelligent drones and curbing rogue pilots

The drone industry is on the rise too. As well as campaigns raising awareness of new drone registration laws, expect to see advances in sensor technology for data acquisition, imaging and real-time data processing across drone technology over the next year or two.

We will see campaigns raising awareness of the law to establish its importance and help curb rogue pilots. Until recently, drones were largely unregulated, but a new category for the registration of remote-controlled aircraft will help deter disruptive pilots. Online tests make registration easily accessible to all, there is no limit on the number of attempts and a multiple-choice test is straightforward.

[Image credit: Ananthu Ganesh for Unsplash]

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