Editor's comment: What does 2020 hold for the electronics industry?...

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

05 February 2020

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT
Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

As I write this month’s comment, in the first few weeks of the new year, I’m following along with all the innovation being shown off at #CES2020 and thinking about what 2020 holds for our electronics industry...

This editorial was originally featured in the February 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

What will be the new technologies, products and killer apps that will influence our industry – and as embedded connectivity, intelligence and smart electronics become more and more pervasive, all the other industries and applications that it touches? Will innovation be incremental, building on trends we already see – or will some new, disruptive tech or application emerge?...

There is always an onslaught of cool tech launches at CES, the world’s biggest tech & consumer electronics show, held in Las Vegas at the beginning of each January – and 2020 did not disappoint. Once again, show organisers, the CTA (Consumer Technology Association) focused on key themes of AI, 5G & mobile connectivity – but also gave prominence to ‘non-traditional’ tech companies (like food and FMCG brands) and ‘tech for good’ (including digital health, smart cities, ‘resilient tech’ and diversity & inclusion). Examples of 8K and foldable & flexible displays may have been some of the eye-catching announcements, but Dave Evans at business magazine, Forbes succinctly captured some of the key takeaways from the show:

1. Ingredient technologies create a playground for innovators – today’s innovators are building transformative new products & solutions using a toolkit of maturing technology building blocks like voice recognition, AI, AR/VR, robotics, 5G connectivity and IoT.

CES logo
CES logo

2. Every company is a technology company – from automotive to aerospace to cosmetics, all kinds of corporations are now morphing into tech companies, intent on participating in the latest mega-trends, as they pivot their business models to meet the challenges of a disrupted future in which there are few industries that technology doesn’t touch or is not transforming in some way.

3. Innovation is a team sport – more and more companies are looking to partnerships to bring skills and technologies together to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, shorten development cycles and accelerate speed to market. One of The FT’s key takeaways from CES was “Big Tech inside”, meaning how some consumer electronics companies have, to their discomfort, been forced to align their strategies around those of the tech giants, as the likes of Amazon and Google have battled to plant their voice-activated assistants in as many gadgets as possible. The software and services of the biggest tech companies – including Apple – have become influential animating forces in consumer tech.

4. Industry lines are blurring, even disappearing – the ongoing blurring of industry lines is making it increasingly hard (and unnecessary) to pigeon hole companies into specific industry segments. Companies are transforming their offerings by bringing technology from adjacent, and sometimes far flung, industries.

EPDT February 2020 cover image_580x280
EPDT February 2020 cover image_580x280

5. Mobility is becoming autonomous, shared and multimodal – according to some, smart cities will completely revolutionise mobility. 5G is seen as the connectivity game-changer that will enable V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication at a bandwidth, speed and latency to make autonomous vehicles viable. In the future, mobility will likely become part of the shared economy, with consumer desire to own cars diminishing.

6. Security is top of mind – over recent years, data security has sometimes seemed a secondary topic at CES, with some concerned that big data has trumped privacy. However, this year, cybersecurity was clearly top of mind again, seen as a fundamental issue that could slow or stop the adoption of certain technologies. Hacking a smart city, autonomous vehicle or smart hospital could have disastrous consequences, so this continues to be a vital issue for industry to tackle.

EPDT February’s issue contains features on Sensor technologies & Medical applications, plus our embedded world show preview. Read more on what's inside EPDT this month...

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