Picture this: In four short years, Gartner Inc. predicts, the Internet of Things (IoT) will have expanded to a mind-blowing 26 billion units.
That’s partly because component costs are decreasing and the devices are efficient enough to allow a huge variety of devices, both simple and complex, to be connected to the IoT. As such, experts predict highly personalized, intelligent, digitally automated machines will soon maximize the use of controllers, actuators, and sensors to take care of the tasks of our daily lives.
Realizing this vision will spur demand for better processing of the vast amounts of data being collected, shared, and stored in the cloud and in-memory computing that can react to changing patterns in real time, providing quick updates, optimizing behavior, and pre-empting problems.
Enter the demand for smarter custom memory chips that perform 100 to 1,000 times better than what’s available now, opening up new revenue streams and business opportunities for innovators such as Brewer Science. The IoT is slated to drive unprecedented volumes and demands within the electronics industry, with one outcome being advanced memory and computing capability within low-cost, commonplace products.
“Nanotechnology might help satisfy the demand for inexpensive and pervasive computing by enabling low-power and robust memory, processing, and signal transmission devices,” observes Marya Lieberman, associate professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at the University of Notre Dame. “Other technologies, such as printed electronics, are also worth watching due to their potential for customization.”
Brewer Science is notably ahead of the curve in finding value-added performance and cost-efficient ways to incorporate capacity for advanced memory and greater personalization to the end user.
“Pretty much every product we offer directly or indirectly affects advances in next-generation memory,” observes Brewer Science R&D Manager Jeremy McCutcheon. “For example, our wafer-level packaging materials and equipment are used to build three-dimensional memory cells that are at the forefront of advanced memory. And our lithography materials are used in the manufacture of many of the most advanced memory devices in the world.”
Lieberman expects the coming changes to result in more responsive environments for the average consumer, and they’ll soon become rote, she says.
“If you spend enough time using a room that has a motion-sensing light, you eventually stop reaching for the light switch on the wall. Use a keyless entry device on your car and you no longer fumble with the key at the door. People can get used to the dairy case in the supermarket reminding them they need to buy milk, or having a kid's backpack automatically light up in the dark.”
Gartner projects that in 2020, IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services. Applications will include “advanced medical devices; factory automation sensors and applications in industrial robotics; sensor motes for increased agricultural yield; and automotive sensors and infrastructure integrity-monitoring systems.”
“As product designers dream up ways to exploit the inherent connectivity that will be offered in intelligent products, we expect the variety of devices offered to explode,” it notes in Gartner’s report.