Context is king, or at least will be as a world increasingly stitched together by sensors matures.
That's how Ian Chen, executive vice president of Sensor Platforms, views things from his perch, where EE Times has identified him as one of the 40 key technologists to watch in the coming years.
find all these apps that will help you find where you parked your car
as long as you have the presence of mind to write down where you left
it," Chen says. "If I have that much presence of mind, I don't really
need the phone, do I? Why can't the phone figure out that you're now
walking and that you parked your car right there? That's what we mean
by user context."
Chen is part of a team that has transformed
Sensor Platforms from a semiconductor company into a software company,
one that aims to bring a lot of intelligence to your phone. In the
spring of 2012, Sensor Platforms rolled out a library of software
algorithms and middleware designed, according to company claims, to
interpret users' contexts and intents by using data from multiple
sensors in mobile devices.
Says Chen: "If you're like a typical
office worker, you only use sensors 6 percent of your waking hours. We
think the other 94 percent have some value as well. Sensors should
really be working for you."
"We came to the conclusion that if
sensors are going to be everywhere, then it comes to a point where we
really need to get people together--rocket scientists talking to
neuroscientists about what is the signal we really want to get, like
muscle tension that tells the device you're holding the phone out in
front of you."
Chen sees the "phone" as we know it today likely
remaining the vital human-digital interface it's been in the early days
of the smart phone's existence.
"Even Star Trek has a
communicator badge. That's still a phone!" Chen said. "I think it's
probably still going to be a human-to digital device. The only other
device is an implant and I'm not sure I like that too much."
I completely Agree.
As MEMS and other sensors enjoy a period of increased uptake and acceptance by CE application designers, technologists begin to look to the future of MEMS and their application - e.g., the goal of One Trillion MEMS (unit and $). Applications/Concepts that may drive this level of volume will include 'Digital Cities', etc, that create the need for MEMS/Sensors everywhere or the idea of wearable MEMS or implantable MEMS. Many of these concepts readily exist in disciplines outside of the MEMS or Sensor industry and while the MEMS guys dream of high volumes driven by such applications, computer scientists and social scientists readily contemplate existing concepts like Social/Contestual Awareness and, possibly new concepts like the Social Area Network (SAN) or the 'Body Area Network' (BAN). Its my belief that we can do some very interesting, creative and commercially viable things today if we brought together the right team from these seemingly disparate disciplines to implement a solution that served (at least for now) a "particular" or "specific" solution - these "Sensor Cell" (SC) solutions could be later tied together in a broader network of SC's to realize the broader dream of a digital city or a Boday Area Network that communicated with other people around you to augment your own interactions - its very interesting stuff and it needn't be science fiction, much or all of what is needed is here today - whats missing is the vision to put the pieces together and build a use case scenario that will pioneer a demonstration of such technologies!
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.