The emergence of a smart and connected world

The digitization of our analog world is fueling a revolution, with the potential to disrupt industries and transform the world

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

We are amidst one of the most profound and pervasive transformations that the world has ever experienced. Fueled by the relentless march of technology and driven by economic promise, the way we live, act, react, and interact as a society, as well as conduct business, is being fundamentally redefined. And each day, the pace of this transformation towards a truly smart and connected world is accelerating.

This shift is evident in a deluge of devices, applications and services surrounding us. And, with the rapid democratization of technology, we expect more than 50 billion devices to be connected worldwide by 2020 (as per industry estimates), enabling unparalleled access to real-time data and insights. This dramatic shift—the digitization of our analog world—is fueling a revolution, with the potential to disrupt industries and transform the world.

At the heart of this is the technological advancement driven by Moore’s Law, which delivers greater computing capability that can be used both in the cloud and in devices. This combination of increased computing capability and explosion of data is a fantastic amalgamation that will deliver amazing experiences and breakthrough services.

Real-time sensing and advanced analytics will enable doctors to diagnose conditions early and more accurately, prescribe personalized precision medicine, leading to quicker treatment and saving more lives. Self-driving vehicles would learn from the experience of millions of other cars, resulting in safer, efficient driving, and a less polluted world. Farmers may increase crop yield based on real-time insights from weather and soil data, producing more food, even in unpredictable climatic conditions.

The advancement of technology in the form of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and autonomous driving, combined with the rapid evolution of a robust wireless network, is poised to accelerate this transformation sooner than we can imagine. Moreover, amidst pervasive computing, data has attained the status of lifeline, essential to keep billions of smart and connected devices alive. By the end of 2016, it’s estimated that the average person would generate 650MB of data a day—through use of PCs, mobile phones and wearables. By 2020, this number is expected to rise to 1.5GB of data per day. While that’s an impressive 200% increase in less than four years, it still pales in comparison to let’s say what an autonomous car will generate at 4000GB of data per day, according to Datafloq.

All this data by itself has limited value. Gaining deeper insights from complex data is the key to unlocking unprecedented value for businesses and societies, and that will be enabled by the advanced analytics, decision systems powered by machine intelligence, and a pervasively connected network.

When we apply advanced data analytics to empower machines with human-like intelligence, we can effect real change. Machines are learning to sense, reason, act, and adapt to the real world, becoming capable of learning from past experiences. AI is augmenting machine capabilities, automating tedious or dangerous tasks and addressing challenging societal problems. AI is already all around us—from talk-to-text, photo tagging and fraud detection to precision medicine and autonomous cars.

This constant generation of real-time data and analytics, and the human need for connectedness, is placing unprecedented demands on wireless networks. To realize the potential of the IoT and enable richer experiences throughout daily life, wireless networks must transform to become more powerful, agile and intelligent. In this backdrop, 5G represents a significant shift for the industry, and requires an unprecedented integration of wireless connectivity, computing intelligence, and distributed cloud resources.

Pertinently, these exciting technologies, applications and usages hold tremendous promise for a country such as India. Democratization of technology paves the way for a better and enriched society, fosters inclusive growth and spurs economic growth. While opportunities are aplenty for the tech ecosystem in India, there are challenges, too.

The successful implementation of this smart and connected vision requires concerted efforts from the ecosystem—the government, academia and the industry. Programs such as Digital India, Startup India, and Make in India, are key catalysts, and the ecosystem partners play a vital role in making these initiatives real and sustainable. It is important to harness the tech prowess and skills available in the country, and make the quest for innovation and disruptive technologies-based business models proliferate across the country.

What is exciting is to see this virtuous cycle emerging – a “datafication” of our world, where economic forces will drive the interplay of technology and policy—technology will “enable”, and regulations will transform to “allow” the merging of the “real” and “digital” world to realize a smart & connected world.

Nivruti Rai is general manager, Intel India, and vice-president, Platform Engineering Group, Intel Corporation. To hear Rai speak, track Carnegie India’s Global Technology Summit in Bengaluru on 6 and 7 December. See