The US congress should be commended for its efforts to ensure that connected and autonomous cars are safe and secure by requiring minimal cyber security standards. We have heard time and time again about cars being hacked and control taken over from the outside. This is a serious threat when you consider these 2 ton machines being converted into weapons.
But authorities should also not forget that unsecured home IoT devices are also a serious threat. We have seen cases of home web cameras used to violate privacy but also attempts at physical harm or kidnap children. We also hear of terrorist organizations trying to interfere with infrastructure connected to IoT. There was one instance where water dam measurement and control systems open, even without password protection. Though they may not be a 2 ton weapon they still are dangerous
There is little doubt that the semiconductor industry has become a key enabler of the IoT revolution. Integrated chips and reference designs with all the necessary computing, sensing, communicating, encrypting functions necessary to supporting the IoT are flourishing and are enabling new services to come to the market
With forecasts of many billions of these devices being connected in the network, the future seems very bright for the industry.
But when you take a closer look, IoT is not an industry, rather it is an enabler for business to become smarter and more efficient in capturing value. With so many activities to accelerate this, it has become easier for smaller players with innovative ideas to assemble the technologies without necessarily having to develop the knowhow in-house.
The semiconductor industry is largely a volume-based industry requiring heavy capital investment. The potential dilemma is how does this match with serving the increasing long tail, and fragmented customer base?
Some initial attempts have started by taking the manufacturing outsourcing EMS model and stretching it to include shipping and end-customer services on the back-end with ideation to prototyping on the front end. Some chip companies have ramped up free web-based digital design tools, and a few have reverted to using AI. Some have even moved more radically and are repositioning themselves as machine learning software companies.
Are we seeing the start of radical change in the semiconductor go-to-market model?
With the advent of the connected vehicle, car cyber security, autonomous driving, my company hosted a conference to engage OEM and tier-1 customers, partners and specialized media to give thought to all the potential technical and engineering challenges, issues with the hope of finding solutions. We managed to land great speakers from industry as well as the government. We were very satisfied to find out that we were sold out.
We were however hit with a surprise. The attendee list had a very large number of attendees from the insurance industry, especially given the specialized focus of the event.
It is relatively clear that autonomous driving was a threat to business loss if the number of cars were to decrease in the future. However, more interesting was the other concerns that surfaced:
Clearly the potential across industries for disruptions of IoT is larger than what meets the eye initially.
Last time I was at CES was back in 2013. I remember a neat laser car headlight demo in the North Hall by a European car manufacturer. I distinctly remember this as this as the rest of the hall was mostly audio entertainment and other specialized aftermarket car products. The impression was that CES was no longer the show case event of years past but that it was still a useful gathering place.
Skip to January 2016. The North Hall was now bulging with the who’s who of the automotive world with car manufactures, tier-1 ECU vendors and selected component vendors who morphed into systems software players. Despite the dominance of the car vendors, it was distinctly different from those car shows in Frankfurt or Detroit as it did not display cars per se but was redefining what kind of services cars could offer customers.
Also noteworthy were the entire new halls devoted to smart heath and wearable devices. The main hall was redefining the household appliance by making it smarter: smart TV of course but smart washing machines, smart fridges, smart everything.
In the short three years, my take was that CES had morphed from a latest and greatest gadget showcase to a demonstration platform of gadgets that enable services connected through the internet. The electronics is no longer center stage. Welcome to the new reality.