Evolution of Hardware

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hardware

FountainBlue’s February 8 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Evolution of Hardware’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Maxim. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The executives in this month’s roundtable represented decades of experience across many industry sectors – from semiconductor to healthcare, from telecommunications to networking, from automotive to manufacturing. They also represented the technical, product, management, research and marketing side of the business.

There was general agreement that hardware innovations have taken place across decades and across industries, creating an infrastructure and a foundation upon which software and integrated solutions can be built. But hardware innovations are continuing to happen, ensuring that we have the Power to make things work, that we can Communicate with others, that we have Sensors to detect what’s happening in our environment, and that we build Connections between people and things.

The Digital Age rests on the premise that this hardware foundation is solid, pervasive, reliable, expandable, and inclusive.  

Our executives in attendance were all clearly bullish on the hardware innovation opportunities ahead and agreed on the following:

  • We went from a world dependent on the right materials, and more materials. Then the emphasis became focused on control of the hardware. Then the integration of hardware and software. And now the integration of software and hardware with the cloud.
  • Hardware and software are generally integrated, and will become more so.
  • Technologies and solutions have applications across teams, across companies, across industries. Therefore, leveraging past successes might help address current challenges.
  • Complex systems will become even more so, and these systems will be integrated into other complex systems.
  • Customers are tending to stay within specific niches, yet they need partners to tackle specific elements of project challenges. When they secure that partner, they expect end-to-end, reliable, integrated hardware/software solutions.
  • Forward-thinking companies are still investing in hardware innovations. The current mindset which touts the digital and dismisses the foundational hardware and integration will soon evolve a more balanced, more considered viewpoint… once small, unexpected hardware failures cause unexpected impact.
  • In order to foster larger adoption of hardware, we need to collaborate on building our local infrastructure. Cities and counties don’t generally have the budget or talent to create that foundational infrastructure which would lead to better telecommunications, better digital access – enabling everyone living within cities to be more connected, more informed, more empowered.

Below is their advice on how to develop innovative hardware:

  • Find ways to deliver the personalized solutions customers want in a way that’s extensible and scalable and cost-productive to deliver.
  • Define technologies and processes which would make it easier to integrate hardware and software as part of the customer deliverables.
  • Balance having a versatile and elegant design addressing practical questions (can it be done, is there a demand for it) and efficient delivery and customized service.

Below are thoughts on the hardware opportunities ahead.

  • There will always be a need for more power – smaller, more reliable, less heat-emitting, more cost-effective, etc. But the power must also not give off too much heat or noise. Perhaps materials beyond copper would make the power source more sustainable.
  • It’s harder to innovate hardware for the healthcare and automotive industries because lives are at stake and policies need to be obeyed. But when these hardware innovations work, the need is great, the market is large.
  • Hearables, wearables, IoT devices will be prominent both at work and at work.  
  • Software will be integrated with hardware for customized solutions deliver real-time results, leveraging AI, ML and IoT. 
  • There are huge material science opportunities – around power generation, storage and distribution, around temperature and voltage management.
  • Packaging hardware elements will see many advances and many opportunities.
  • Customers will continue to demand personalized solutions which require customized hardware solutions, with embedded software. Forward-thinking companies will elegantly design solutions which are both versatile and practical, both personalized and scalable.

The bottom line is that hardware goes well beyond a ‘necessary evil’. It is an essential technology which is the foundation of the explosive technology advancements we’re all witnessing and benefitting from.

Working together, we can collaboratively improve the infrastructure so that we can get more done faster and more effectively.


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