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A smart and connected world in 2017

(Image credit: Image Credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock)

In 2016, people witnessed the digital and physical worlds continue to merge as everyday objects, commercial and industrial equipment, and entire cities became smart and connected to the cloud. Analysts expect that by 2020 more than 50 billion devices – wearables, store inventory sensors, autonomous vehicles, medical equipment, city infrastructure and more – will be connected to the internet and each other.   

And human relationships with technology – how it’s used, the experiences it enables and the benefits they derive from it – are shifting dramatically.   

Not since the transition from analog to digital has there been the potential for transformation of this magnitude. Networks are evolving faster to accommodate the intense bandwidth demands created by the explosion of smart and connected devices. 

In 2016, Intel worked with policymakers, the industry and industrial leaders to evolve four areas spurring industries and consumers: artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, automated driving and virtual and merged reality.   

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

The roots of AI, machine learning, is already in use everywhere, from the commonplace (talk-to-text, photo tagging and fraud detection) to the cutting-edge (precision medicine, injury prediction and autonomous cars). We’re creating AI that will enable machines to augment human capabilities, automate tedious or dangerous tasks, unleash scientific discovery, and address challenging societal problems.   

The global robotics and AI markets are estimated to grow to $153 billion by 2020, made up of $83 billion for robotics and $70 billion for AI-based analytics.  

In 2017, technology will become more cost-effective and pervasive, new applications will emerge across a wide range of industries, creating efficiencies for businesses and consumers. The technology supporting some nascent AI applications, such as natural language processing and bots will greatly improve, paving the way for more widespread adoption of AI.  

Furthermore, machine and deep learning will become more acutely integrated into Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, which will uncover access to richer and more powerful layers of insights. This will lead to breakthrough technologies offering unprecedented compute density with high-bandwidth interconnects. 


5G is not just 4G 2.0. More than just a faster iteration of its predecessors, 5G is expected to deliver extremely low latency combined with incredibly high bandwidth. This means that 5G will provided the ability to manage an unprecedented demand for data and more connected devices.   

Powerful, agile networks can also route network traffic intelligently to give priority to safety-critical devices, such as self-driving cars and medical wearables. In geographical areas where connected infrastructure is not as fast or reliable as needed, 5G will also open a world of possibilities currently unavailable, with the global 5G network expected to support an estimated 100 billion devices. 

In 2017, 5G will move from conception and testing to meaningful plans for deployment, accelerating support across the industry. The need for faster connectivity will increase pressure for the industry to align around global standards with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and 3rd Generation Partner Project (3GPP), and will also address key challenges around interoperability, backward compatibility and future proofing. 

Automated driving   

Automated driving will change our lives and societies. The car of the future will crash less, provide transport and mobility for more people than ever and create reduced congestion in the world’s busiest and most polluted cities.   

The global market for fully autonomous vehicles could reach $42 billion by 2025; self-driving cars may claim one-quarter of worldwide auto sales by 2035. 

In 2017, significant advancements will be made to further the operation of driverless cars but also advance every part of the infrastructure – from connectivity, to use of AI, to more powerful methods of data processing. More companies will enter the autonomous driving market, new partnerships and collaborative efforts will emerge, and the industry will be standardised. 

The industry will continue to learn through testing in 2017, but this will be the first year that automated systems in cars gain mainstream access, such as through advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or automated ride-sharing fleets. 

Virtual and merged reality 

Where today’s experiences rely on engagement with a screen, tomorrow’s will completely immerse users through sight, sound and touch. The next frontier of compute will empower people to build, solve, create and play in a world where the barrier is diminished between the physical and virtual worlds. Virtual technologies hold tremendous potential for the future, but industries have only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. 

In 2017, VR experiences will move beyond the nascent phases in industries like healthcare, education and travel, employing the latest in VR technology to create fully immersive experiences. Technology and sports will become even more deeply integrated in the next year, transforming the way people train, watch and interact with sports.   

Merged reality, a new way of experiencing physical and virtual interactions and environments, will come to the forefront with five technological advances (6 degrees of mobility, integrated tracking, more natural manipulation, untethered, digitised real-world content) and is expected to come to market in this year. 

Intel is inventing foundational technologies for amazing new experiences based on all four of these key areas, which will shape the future of Intel and our industry. We expect to see a number of new developments in each of these areas which will contribute to the gradual evolution of everything becoming smart and connected to the cloud, changing the way humans and technology interact forever. 

Markus Weingartner is EMEA PR Manager at Intel.    

Image Credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock

Markus Weingartner
Markus Weingartner is EMEA PR Manager at Intel.