Drones, drones, and more drones. It’s going to be a very merry, very unmanned 2015. OK, and there’s probably a few other technologies on the verge of a breakout year.
ECN has spilled voluminous quantities of ink (digital and otherwise) trumpeting the Internet of Things’ (IoT) imminent coronation and the tech’s promise to transform the way we live our lives. We’ve ran breaking news, design pieces from industry experts, and even devoted an Engineering Live to this prescient topic, hashing out such issues as:
• Network security challenges
• Current standards and next-gen IoT standards
• Larning from the past to provide for a better connected future
Watch: Engineering Live: How to Secure the Internet of Things (On Demand)
And the chatter will only grow in the coming months. IEEE already has 80 IoT-related standards in the books with 45 more in development, and if the preshow chatter from the 48th annual Consumer Electronics Show is any indication, the industry is throwing their financial and intellectual muscle behind this burgeoning technology.
New York-based market research firm ABI Research estimates that, by 2020, more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things, and it seems as though every innovation — the “smart home”, Zigbee, wearable devices, the Cloud — will aid and abet this “interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.”
The IoT will provide individuals with an intelligent link to the world — nay, the reality — around them and according to one estimate, generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion in 2020 and $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add.
It remains to be seen whether consumers literally and figuratively buy-in to 4K (literally, a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels) and the notion of “ultra HD”, which includes 4K displays and 8K (a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320, or 33.2 megapixels). But multinational conglomerates and OEMs will be pushing it hard at CES, and America will soon vote with its wallet.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) spent nearly a decade trying to shove stereoscopic 3D TVs down our collective throats, and we responded with a collective ‘meh.’ And while a visual gimmick — that up to 12% of the population can’t even see — may not have enticed consumers to abandon their “obsolete” LED and OLED rigs, ultra-HD (UHD) could make some headway.
But UHD could also face many of the same problems as stereoscopic (and autostereoscopic) 3D. The most fundamental being — can the average person tell the difference between HD and ultra-HD? A discerning consumer can definitely appreciate the higher resolution and increased detail — especially if HD and UHD are placed side-by-side — but will Joe Schmoe at Best Buy pine for the better specs? Will he even notice?
I probably don’t have to tell you that drones are hot. Scorching. According to my own unscientific estimates, approximately 1 out of every 2 ECN stories concern drones in some way — articles, blogs, videos, news, and even products that tangentially relate to unmanned aerial systems, boats, sharks, bomb disposal, and many more.
And 2015 is a pivotal year for drones — the FAA must integrate UAS into the national airspace (read: release a comprehensive set of regulations) by next year. Along the way, the FAA will have to square a potential goldmine of economic activity with privacy and safety concerns.
Jim Williams of the FAA recently told the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) that the market for civilian and government drones could generate “nearly $90 billion in economic activity” over the next decade. But before that wellspring of innovation and industry is fully realized, the federal agency in charge of our national airspace will have to reassure a skeptical public that said airspace won’t be used to spy on them or drop errant pizzas or packages on their head.
This is one of the few instances where industry welcomes regulation — if for no other reason than to mollify their potential customers and expedite the launch of flying business opportunities. Until the FAA gives its official stamp of approval, Amazon’s “Prime Air” delivery service and commercial drone photography are pipe dreams. And until we calm the public’s jitters, politicians will be reluctant to stake their office on domestic drone activity.
Military UAV applications will continue to evolve, and with America engaged across the globe, drones will be the weapon of choice for modern, asymmetrical warfare. But domestic UAVs could steal the headlines in 2015 and fundamentally transform our industry.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense