The embedded industry traditionally moves at a much more leisurely pace than its PC and mobile phone counterparts; but after looking at the key trends that are impacting it, it is clear that the speed at which it operates will accelerate very quickly in the year ahead.
There are many different technology and business trends that are driving this acceleration. Here are some brief thoughts on three that we at VIA are taking a particularly close look at: namely the emergence of the Mobile Ecosystem, Virtual Reality (VR) and 360° Video.
With smartphones now outselling PCs by five-to-one, the supporting mobile ecosystem has taken over from the PC ecosystem as the main driving force behind not just silicon technology innovation, but also the proliferation of a multitude of different sensors and other components for an almost unlimited range of applications.
Although up to now it has been primarily hardware startups that have tapped into the mobile ecosystem in order to make devices such as low-cost consumer smart home gadgets and wearables, it is inevitable that embedded players will start to leverage its economies of scale and flexibility for future enterprise IoT system designs. Indeed, judging by the growing interest we are seeing from customers throughout the world in developing such devices, we believe that 2016 will prove to be the tipping point for the emergence of this new market for embedded devices based on the ARM architecture.
VR has already begun to make its mark this year as witnessed at CES last week, with several companies such as HTC, showcasing VR headsets that can deliver impressive new immersive experiences.
While most of the focus at the show was on gaming and entertainment applications, the technology also holds huge potential to impact many other markets. With its ability to simulate life-like situations and create hyper-realistic scenarios, VR will generate new opportunities to change training, retail, design and construction, and countless other industries. Many companies already use VR to test drive their new designs (buildings, cars, railroads and potentially harmful or dangerous products) to eliminate the need to construct expensive physical models, while others are using the technology for applications such as home interior design and real estate marketing and sales.
Although there may not immediately appear to be a direct connection between Virtual Reality and the embedded industry, it very quickly became clear when talking with developers at the recent HTC Vive event in Beijing that there are significant opportunities in the development, installation, deployment, and long-term management and support of VR system installations for a variety of leisure, business, and industrial applications. Meeting such requirements maps perfectly with the traditional strengths of the embedded industry. As a result, we see strong potential synergies when VR headsets start appearing on the market towards the middle of the year.
With all the buzz around VR, one key obstacle to overcome is how to create immersive content for the systems. 360° video capture is poised to help fulfill this role and is primed for wider adoption on its own in 2016. By providing the ability to record or live stream a 360° view of a location in which the viewer can pan and rotate to watch it from different angles, the technology delivers richer data capture, especially in monitoring and surveillance applications. If you have never experienced 360° footage, you should check it out on You Tube.
Since we announced our partnership with OmniVision last year to develop a wireless HD monitoring solution, we have been working on finalizing our 360° video system design targeted at transportation applications such as trucking. We have received a very positive response from potential customers so far. It’s going to be fascinating to see what kind of uses they find for the technology.
These are just three key trends that are set to have a huge impact on the embedded industry and beyond in 2016. What are your thoughts? Please feel free to post a comment.