Nordic Semi on 2021: 10 times more with 10 times less – for a new golden age of tech
It’s hard to believe that at the start of last year some people were still openly questioning whether IoT was real, or if it would ever arrive in any significant scale. No one is saying that now. And the primary reason is Covid-19.
As this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has spread across the world, and social distancing and lockdowns have become the ‘new normal’, it has been IoT technology that governments, businesses, and organizations within industries of all kinds have turned to. They have had no other choice in order to remain operational and commercially viable.
The introduction of IoT technology on an industrial scale has become a reality across the world, even in the notoriously conservative healthcare sector, which has rapidly adopted telemedicine, remote video consultations and patient monitoring, asset tracking, and greater use of wearables in the battle against Covid-19.
The IoT-centred changes Covid-19 has forced on almost every industry are not about to be reversed. In fact, in 2021, as we start to emerge on the other side of this pandemic, thanks to a successful, global vaccination programme, I think the IoT-driven changes will only accelerate.
Because Covid-19 is not just a health disaster for the world; it is also an economic disaster, which has hammered economies across the globe, sent unemployment figures sky-rocketing, and increased government debt levels to unprecedented peacetime highs.
So even if the world returns to ‘normal’ during 2021, it is going to have to operate a lot more efficiently than it ever did before – really to do 10-times more with 10-times less. This economic ‘push’ will be met by an equal technological ‘pull’, to cater to the demand and opportunity for IoT across every industry.
This includes advances in AI and machine learning, particularly in resource-constrained wireless IoT devices – in what’s commonly called ‘tiny machine learning’ or ‘TinyML’. This will bring previously unimagined levels of local and environmental awareness, intelligence, and basic decision making to even the most basic of products and applications.
Alongside, there will be a rapid rise in industrial automation. The way the public views this trend is of concern. A lot of the onerous and repetitive aspects of skilled manual labour jobs and professions have already disappeared during Covid-19 pandemic, and there will be less demand for this kind of work going forward.
But there will be a wave of new, higher-quality job opportunities created by IoT, as well, including to design, manage and optimize this automation, itself. In the end, despite some job losses, the benefits and new job opportunities from IoT and AI will far outweigh any short-term downsides.
These technologies have the potential to make the work and the world better places in which to work and live. And by better, I mean safer, cleaner, more sustainable, more reliable, more comfortable; maybe even more peaceful. One day, perhaps, Covid-19 might even be regarded as a primary driver for a new golden technological age.