|Issue:||Asia-Pacific III 2009|
|Topic:||The era of smart devices|
|Author:||Dr. Mohammed Yaseen|
|Organisation:||Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)|
Dr. Mohammed Yaseen is the Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). During Dr Yaseen’s career spanning almost 22 years, he worked with digital and voice communications, optical fibre transmission systems, fibre access networks and broadband access. He has contributed in commissioning, operation and maintenance of large international telecom networks, including SMW3 (Segment 2), Southern Cross (Australia – USA), I2I (India – Singapore) and provided consultancy on product development, network/product cost analysis and deployment of access networks. Dr Yaseen has more than 30 international and national publications on telecom technologies especially broadband, ICT growth, strategies and design of telecom networks. Dr. Mohammed Yaseen earned his PhD from the University of Essex, United Kingdom with specialization in Telecommunication Systems.
The rapid growth of smart devices – in both numbers and functionality – is more than a technological and marketing phenomenon. These ever smaller, more complex and functional devices are changing economic and social scenarios throughout the world. Smartphones provide ‘anywhere’ communications, access to information and entertainment along with being, indispensible business tools. Their advantages are obvious, but the multiple functions they provide and their use of a variety of separately regulated platforms has greatly complicated the regulator’s task.
Today, as we interact with the many types of small equipment that surround us, some may recall Moore’s famous law introduced in 1965. Gordon Moore’s statement that “the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years” is no longer a prediction, but a fact, and we now live in a ‘shrinking world with shrinking equipment’. The evolution of smart devices has accelerated exponentially since the beginning of this century and this trend continues to grow in significance. Mobility has already become an essential part of our daily lives and the future will certainly bring natural interface between humans and the smart devices that will surrounded them in every environment. Behind this phenomenon is the general desire to not only have easy access to information, but to share that information, to pay for purchases, to access entertainment, to seek products, to buy them and more – and all this just by pushing the buttons on a single, handheld device. There is a strong relationship between technology and equipment; they are developing together, side-by-side, and getting smarter and smarter. These increasingly smarter devices are our interface with a world of technology content, applications and services; they let us interact with technology and reap its benefits. Now, we are looking forward to the general availability of smart communications – ‘machine to machine’ – between smart devices. Technologies like Near Field Communication (NFC) are already providing excellent examples of the emerging opportunities to be found by facilitating access to, and the exchange of, content and services. Technological convergence has also created a multitude of smart devices that let the consumer use a single device to access a wide variety of services and content from a number of different platforms. Such devices offer great benefits to end-users; with a single multimedia mobile handset, a user can make voice calls, take photographs, make videos, listen to music and more. Technology has squeezed the functions of (at least) four different devices and merged them into one! This process of shrinkage is putting a world of functions, and the world itself, in the pockets of more and more people each day. The escalating demand for shrinking devices that combine portability and functionality is pushing the growth of advanced semiconductor manufacturing. Equipment manufacturers are doing extensive research in the field of surface mount device (SMD) manufacturing technologies. SMDs facilitate quick and inexpensive manufacturing of electronic equipment; they are a significant source of competitive advantage in sectors such as consumer electronics, automotive, education, healthcare and other industries as well. The demand is increasing for a wide variety of micro-devices, so vendors are hard-pressed to furnish everything required to fill global distribution and supply chains. The following table summarises an analysis of the market by Nexus that highlights a growth rate of about 20 per cent for micro- and nano-products. They expect the micro manufacturing market to reach 20 billion Euros in 2010. Micro device market 2004-2009 2004 (US$ billions) 2009 (US$ billions) IT Peripherals 8.5 13.7 Consumer Electronics 0.8 5.5 Automotive 1.3 2 Medical/ Life Science 0.6 1.5 Telecommunications 0.2 0.9 Ind. Process Control 0.6 0.9 Aero, Defence, Security 0.1 0.4 Household Applications 0.1 0.2 Source: European Platform for Micro & Nanomanufacturing (MINAM) Shrinking equipment is playing a pivotal role in social and economic development; it broadens access to healthcare, education and other essential social services by providing the platforms that enable organizations to meet community needs. As ICT technology advances, we see growing connectivity among smart devices – computers, mobile phones and even televisions. With the widespread penetration of mobile phones and other handheld devices that connect to the Internet, nearly 4 billion people worldwide have some level of access to computing. Coupled with powerful and feature-rich software applications these smart devices are helping to bridge rural / urban digital divide. The convergence of device connectivity and software innovation is enabling a greater number of people and organizations around the world to access information, and to communicate and collaborate in more powerful ways. The computational capabilities and data access that people can achieve today through a mobile phone or notebook PC exceed what was possible ten years ago using large size computers and sophisticated network-based softwares. Ten years from now we will all be using our phones, computers, televisions and other devices to collaborate, share and work completely seamlessly. Large emerging markets such as China and India are exploring the potential of smart devices to improve healthcare services. These countries are generating tremendous demand for affordable and reliable smart medical devices to improve the treatment and care of millions of patients. Today, medical device designers are devising new equipment to enhance their diagnostic, monitoring, and treatment capabilities. They are putting the capabilities of clinical devices into portable units the size of a cell phone. Healthcare sector equipment shrinkage now lets healthcare workers carry tools, which once required huge machine installations in hospitals, to provide sophisticated services in remote areas. The education sector is also readily adopting and and utilizing small, handy, teaching-aids and gadgets. The production of low cost, small, laptops has greatly changed the paradigm of ICT-enabled education, especially in the developing world. A number of vendors have started offering cheap, reliable and low power computing solutions, which are strengthening the social development as well as the recipients’ overall productivity. The concept of converged TV has recently assumed importance in the world of telecommunications; it combines access to live TV and Video on Demand (VoD) services via a variety of devices all connected to the same application platform. The converged architecture gives the consumer access to TV programming on personal devices to complement the traditional living room TV set. The converged architecture of the platform can also provide an environment that lets the user browse the Internet, handle computing tasks and/or watch TV on a laptop or mobile phone. The figure below illustrates the architecture of converged TV. The trends of miniaturization and portability grow as components shrink, but they raise various regulatory issues and implications. As a result, regulators have to carefully approach questions involving type-approval compliance and the certification process. These converged devices come with multiple services-based specifications and functions that makes them especially challenging for regulators to deal with given the different regulatory framework that apply to the various technologies and functions involved. The situation is even more complicated in an, as of yet, un-converged regulatory environment, which explains the need for converged regulations. Regulators around the world are now facing many important convergence-related issues and urgently looking for solutions to the questions convergence raises. Given the rapidly growing use of converged equipment by the general population, governments are starting to implement standards and regulations that encourage green computing and encourage environmentally sustainable device usage. The consumer, though, is more concerned with the issues of reliability, power consumption, security, privacy and safety associated with smart devices. The shrinkage of equipment has changed the world we live in today – the way we communicate, network and interact with others – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The simple Alexander Graham Bell telephone has evolved into a tiny mobile multimedia computer with steadily increasing processing power, memory and entertainment capabilities that we carry in our pockets wherever we go. This evolution has accelerated exponentially since the beginning of the 21st century and the impact of these technologies is resonating throughout every aspect of our daily life. The world around us is shrinking as we touch a button or a screen to connect with others throughout the world, find information wherever it is located or entertain ourselves wherever we may be. References: Dalibor Turina, Ola Anderson, Berndt Wallin, Miguel Blockstrand and Torbjorn Cagenius: Converged TV. Ericsson Review Vol. 86(2009) Information Technology for European Advancement Journal October (2006) Unleashing Technology to Advance Social and Economic Development, A perspective from Microsoft Community Affairs