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February - 2008 - issue > Semiconductor
Making-the-world-a-cleaner,-better-and-smarter-place
Jan Monney
Friday, February 1, 2008
There are three major trends that will dramatically impact all of our businesses. First, there is the global movement to green everything. Energy conservation and carbon awareness are not only becoming business mandates, they are at the heart of technology’s social responsibility for earth-friendly living. Second, there is the aging population and the special needs and opportunities this presents. And third, the vibrant new social communities and new business and consumer behaviors around the world created by the impact of broadband and constant connectivity.

As these powerful trends are converging in the world around us, there is another form of convergence taking place. Embedded intelligence, networking, and wireless technologies are merging in everything from transportation to consumer electronics, from factories to homes, and from avionics to medical equipment. These three core technologies are increasingly being combined to create new and exciting synergies.

Applications that once stood alone are becoming connected and are sharing information for more efficient operation. Simple things are gaining intelligence, and extremely complicated tasks are being solved by more simplified, system-level designs.

Energy
There should be no debate that the number one challenge facing the engineering community is to increase energy efficiency in everything we create.
Electricity consumption in India has been increasing at one of the fastest rates in the world due to population growth and economic development. The total outlay for energy in the tenth five-year plan has been projected to be Rs. 4.03 trillion, which is almost 27 percent of the plan and represents an 84 percent increase from the ninth five-year plan. On a global basis, worldwide energy consumption is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2010.

More efficient and higher quality forms of commercial energy are steadily replacing the traditional energy resources being consumed in the rural sector. Energy supply is struggling to keep pace with increasing demand, and India continues to face serious energy shortages.

As markets like India and China become affluent and expand the demand for natural resources, energy price pressures on both businesses and consumers are expected to increase. Energy management and other green issues are becoming considerations in virtually every purchase decision, consumer or corporate.

Automobile

If you own an automobile, then the price at the gas pump is probably top of mind when you think of the cost of energy. Half of new vehicles shipped globally use micro-controllers to deliver fuel-efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve safety.

Automotive manufacturers are already exploring advanced safety systems to help control speed and monitor the distance of oncoming traffic. Engineers are even looking at systems that can tailor airbag deployment and steering wheel placement for those with senior stature. The autonomous vehicle promises even more safety and conveniences for all ages. Today wireless, networking, and embedded intelligence are converging and transforming the automobile into the ultimate mobile computing device.

With the advent of electronic engine management, electronic injection systems, and catalytic converters, passenger cars now emit 95 percent less Nitrogen Oxide and other pollutants compared to 1970 levels. The automotive industry will continue to look to new technology to meet the stringent Euro 6 standards in 2014.

During 2005-06, India has emerged as the third largest automotive market in the Asia-Pacific region. Unfortunately, emissions control in India is very low by international standards, and fumes from motor vehicles contribute to India’s air pollution.

Combine that with the fact that the Indian automotive industry is the second fastest growing in the world with about 8 million vehicles produced annually, and it is clear that semiconductor technology will help protect quality of life in India.

Silver lining

Our next trend deals with the aging population, and the economic and healthcare challenges it presents. In 2006, almost 500 million people worldwide were 65 and older. By 2030, that total is projected to increase to 1 billion, or 1 in every 8 of the earth’s inhabitants.

India is no exception to this phenomenon. In the 1950s, the average male life expectancy in India was 40. In 2003, it reached 63 years, and today it is close to 70.

While it took France 120 years for the population of the elderly to double, it took India just 25 years. This population jumped from 19 million in 1951 to 77 million in 2001 and is anticipated to reach 137 million by 2021. India now has the second largest aged population in the world.

India is a land where age and wisdom are traditionally respected. But improved longevity and increased mobility of the population is challenging these age-old traditions.

In rural India, we are beginning to see the old left to themselves as the young have gone for jobs elsewhere. Fostering independence for older persons will become increasingly important as the traditional family structure changes.

Our current methods for housing and caring for the senior members of our society will not scale. We will need to find new solutions, and those solutions will be technical in nature. It will also create a demand for greater convenience and ease of use in virtually every electronic device.

Biometric health care devices of all kinds, some new, others embedded in products we already use, will see wide adoption. Geriatric telemedicine is another solution that will allow people to “age in place”, in safety, dignity, and with their autonomy intact.

Networking

When you typically think of networking and connectivity, probably the first things to come to mind are the explosion of bandwidth and the massive adoption of cell phone around the world.

But let’s look at networking and connectivity in terms of MySpace in America, Bebo in Britain, Minglebox and BigAdda in India, and Mixi in Japan, just to name a few. I want to explore the implications of social networking and personal connectivity from the vantage point of your customers.

We are witnessing the passage from the information age to the participation age. According to IDC India, social networks, blogs, and photo-video sharing offerings dominate the Web 2.0 space in India. However, the momentum toward richer, higher-value media and platforms is building and local players with deep pockets will spur growth over the next few years.

Traditions are beginning to take on new forms as we see arranged marriages by parents and relatives relying on information coming from matrimonial sites.

We are entering an era where free software and free services are changing the world. Consumers have more access to technology and networks than the largest global conglomerates.

Consumer electronics

For the first time in history, consumer spending on electronics has outpaced business IT. Consumers are increasingly in charge of what technology is used, and change is being delivered at the edge of the network – by students and people in developing countries.
Companies are starting up on minimal budgets. People who are willing to invest their own time in developing an idea can come up something innovative and viable in a few months.

Just as we see the trend toward green micro-generation of energy and smart meters that allow consumers to supply energy to the grid, social networking allows users to supply content.

Both consumer and business demand for rich content is rapidly surpassing the networks’ ability to deliver it. To meet our insatiable demands for interactive content, service providers will need the flexibility to quickly and seamlessly introduce new services that enhance the online experience.

Enabling these new modes of communication and interaction will place incredible functionality and performance demands on network components and equipment.

We can no longer think of our applications in terms of traditional market boundaries. And to solve emerging system-level design challenges, you need a partner that can combine expertise and experience in wireless, networking, and embedded technologies.

We must redefine the ways we approach energy management. It is our planet, and improving the standard of living is not going to be useful if it is not a good place to live in. Whether old in age or young at heart, consumers want products and services tailored to their specific needs. This will require unprecedented levels of flexibility and agility in manufacturing and supply.

Let us go innovate together, win together, and make the world a cleaner, better, smarter place.

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