5 Technologies To Watch: Sensors Are the New Plastics
Sensors are fueling the driverless care, consumer healthcare, the connected worldOctober 21, 2013 By Jeff O'Heir
Forget about plastics. There's an even greater future for sensors in the world of consumer electronics.
Most of CEA's newly released "Five Technology Trends to Watch" - The Internet of Things, Consumer Digital Health Care, Driverless Cars, Robots, and the Curators of New Video - in some way involve the use of sensors to access, collect, monitor, move and aggregate the vast amount of data generated by digital devices. Many of the solutions are emerging, but sensor technology is fully developed and waiting in the wings to be added to a host of categories.
The Internet of Things - the continuous digitization and IP-enablement of consumer and commercial devices - is a good starting point to gauge the role sensors play in today's connected world, said panelists who gathered at CEA's Industry Forum in Los Angeles Monday to discuss how the technologies will impact consumers, retailers and manufacturers.
"It is digitizing analog devices so they can communicate with other devices and to the Internet," said Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research. "It's about taking information and moving it around to connected devices."
That's nothing new, but it will lead to the realization of new solutions the industry has been dreaming about for years.
"Health care and sensors are the beginning of a new revolution," said Eric Taub, technology writer for the New York Times, mentioning solutions such as EKG smartphone apps that can help prevent strokes, monitoring the movement of the elderly around their homes, and making sure that people take the correct amount of medication. "Sensors are becoming a big part of our lives. This is not something in the future, it's happening now."
Sensors will provide an even greater role as they are adopted into more corporate solutions, such as Apple's iBeacon location enhancement app for retailers and apps that monitor air quality and peak power usage for utility companies.
Panel members agreed that standards and bandwidth issues limit some future applications, such as those that require an immediate response. Privacy is also an issue, but it becomes less of one when the all of the risks are clearly disclosed, DuBravac said.
The delivery of new digital health care products and solutions, many of which heavily rely on sensor technology, should quicken now that the Affordable Care Act includes incentives for health care providers that cut costs. "Everyone now is looking to change fee-for-service to fee-for-performance," Taub said, adding that solutions such as remote patient monitoring started out slowly but are quickly picking up speed.