10 electronics trends to expect in 2020

STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 22 January, 2020



10 electronics trends to expect in 2020

As CES 2020 came to a close in early January, semiconductor company STMicroelectronics wanted to take a look at what to expect in 2020.

The Consumer Electronics Show is full of proofs-of-concept and prototypes, but it’s also a great place to look at what drives innovations and the tech leaders of tomorrow. Additionally, 2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and will thus be a seminal year for the products that will change our lives during the next 10 years. Let’s, therefore, look at what seems to be peeking over the horizon.

10. Predictive maintenance in real-world applications

The last decade saw the rise of predictive maintenance: the ability to anticipate failure and better plan for maintenance operations thanks to machine learning. However, 2020 should be a symbolic year as solutions are becoming much more accessible. For instance, engineers can acquire development boards and start writing companion apps in a few minutes without worrying about cloud security, server farms or computational throughput. Industrial actors are no longer simply thinking about predictive maintenance but actively implementing it.

9. Machine learning at the edge

During the last decade, machine learning required massive servers, complex models, teams of extremely rare experts, and excessive amounts of time and resources. Now, machine learning can fit inside a motion sensor, and we can expect a lot more intelligence at the edge. It will never replace what we can achieve with cloud computing, but it will rapidly complement it. By implementing decision-making systems inside sensors, engineers can optimise resources, saving a lot of energy and time.

8. Data science everywhere

One of the major hurdles preventing the adoption of machine learning is the scarcity of data and the lack of data scientists. The creation of a neural network demands clean, accurate and plentiful data, which means that the democratisation of machine learning can only happen when useful data are freely available in large quantities. However, ST Partners like Cartesiam are approaching this problem from a different angle by replacing the data scientist with a system capable of performing training and inference operations on the same embedded system.

7. Critical adoption of sub-gigahertz networks and 5G

Connecting embedded devices to the internet is getting easier thanks to the increasing popularity of sub-gigahertz networks and the arrival of 5G. We see more infrastructure as well as easier and cheaper solutions to connect to them. Even start-ups can now plan to use LoRa, Sigfox or any other sub-gigahertz network without breaking the bank because developing for these solutions is also getting a lot more practical.

6. More rigorous cybersecurity

At one point, some critics nicknamed IoT the ‘Internet of Threats’. However, companies have come a long way and are better understanding why it is crucial to secure an embedded system, the information it processes and its update mechanisms. We can expect companies to protect their products better as consumers demand more rigorous defences against hacks. A few years ago, a breach was simply an educational exercise with little repercussions. Today, it is a PR nightmare that can harm companies and even put lives at risk.

5. Crypto to boost data transfer and IoT?

Blockchain technology was one of the significant trends to come out of the last decade. However, companies are starting to realise that such systems can do far more than currency. With projects like IOTA and X-CUBE-IOTA1, we see entire communities harness ledgers to facilitate machine-to-machine communication, especially between IoT nodes. The project itself is gaining momentum, and 2020 could see a shift in the way we propagate information.

4. GUIs in embedded systems

For the longest time, embedded systems were black boxes with a few buttons and a routine. Nowadays, they are interactive systems conquering new industries and applications. One consequence is that a product’s success increasingly depends on its accessibility, which very often means that developers need to spend time creating a graphical user interface. Designing a UI is now a lot simpler than it used to be, while the latest optimisations enable low-power MCUs to support 60 FPS animations, as well as lots of colours and details.

3. Chargers driving electric car adoption

Electric cars continue to get cheaper thanks, in part, to new SiC devices. However, 2019 saw the rise of a new trend that should fully bloom in 2020: the rise of more efficient and practical chargers. Range anxiety can only be a thing of the past if chargers become ubiquitous, cities populate their streets with stations, and consumers can install them in their homes without breaking the bank. ST’s latest IGBT devices are designed to help create much more efficient systems.

2. Education around embedded systems

ST worked with major universities to make a difference in the education of future engineers. For instance, Professor William J Kaiser, from UCLA, demonstrated a rotary inverted pendulum platform that is affordable enough to enable each student to purchase a kit and learn more quickly about control systems. We also showed how our drone kit could bring students to understand embedded systems better. 2020 will continue to see massive innovations in academia as educators prepare their students for the trends of the next decade.

1. Quality of life improvements

During the last decade, embedded systems truly touched people’s lives. From smartwatches monitoring heart rates to fitness bands tracking activities or fall detection monitors for the elderly, it’s all about what technology can do for us. 2020 should anchor this trend, and the next decade should all be about the improvements to our quality of life. We are going from gadgets to meaningful impacts, and thanks to machine learning, people get data and advice about ways to improve their health, reduce their stress, drive safer and have more mindful interactions. 2020 will take what we learned from the last 10 years and start to make it more meaningful.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Maksym Yemelyanov

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Originally published here.

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