MUNICH — Brimming with excitement, and with Europe already ahead of the pack, a maturing semiconductor industry looks expectantly to the Internet of Things (IoT) for yet another facelift, while also recognizing that the IoT, as the backbone of the connected world, may provide an opportunity for hardware-based security providers. But this will require semiconductor companies to move into software to address data, cloud, and usability management issues. So concluded a panel of four presidents and CEOs plucked from the upper echelons of the industry.
Predictions of connectivity applications were wide and varied, ranging from smart cars, smart factories, and smart cities to smart lives, but Gregg Lowe, president and CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, summed up the possibilities: “In 2016 we will have cars that can't crash, can preorder a parking spot at your restaurant, and communicate with your car if you have a heart attack at the table.”
held Nov. 11 at Electronica 2014 in Munich.
(Image: Patrick Mannion, EE Times)
It sounds good, but on the path to IoT, the issue of data and device security looms large. For Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies, this is actually a plus. “The semiconductor industry opportunity is hardwired security to provide a backbone to which all applications can be attached.”
For this to happen, however, semiconductor companies must also move into software and data security. “We need the cloud for ubiquitous usage,” he said, a point not lost on Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics, who responded, “The opportunity [for semiconductor companies] is in the cloud.”
Europe is already ahead of the US and most of the world in building out the infrastructure for the cloud and connectivity, according to Ploss, thanks to the infrastructure it has in place from its leadership in smartphones. Rick Clemmer, executive director, president, and CEO of NXP, was more emphatic regarding Europe's advantage, particularly with respect to security for IoT. “US is a leader in the Internet, but is a third-world country in security,” he said.
Still, said Clemmer, usability is a key issue for IoT devices, especially, as Bozotti pointed out, when the users themselves are becoming older as part of a general aging of the population, which creates even more pull for smarter cities — based on easy-to-use devices.
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