The Acceleration of Innovation, Technology and IoT into Daily Life

Friday, March 10, 2017

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In 1994, the American author and sci-fi writer William Gibson wrote, “There's a big cinder block stuck on the technology accelerator pedal, and we're only gonna go faster and faster, never stopping.”

He was right. So when anyone proposes to talk about technology trends, you can almost hear the smirking laughter in company board rooms, labs, incubators, garages and co-work spaces across Irvine and Orange County. Technological advances are occurring hourly. There are no trends in this sense. There is just continuous improvement and innovation – and the IoT (Internet of Things).  

The IoT is how technology companies, engineers and scientists, futurists and innovators describe the intersection and connectivity of technology and devices with every part of our lives. It already has and will continue to change our lives and the way we do business in many ways.

This super-integrated, hyper-connected cloud platform allows applications to interface as never before across all devices and into our devices – entertainment, database management, media, retail sales and marketing, security and safety monitoring, energy, infrastructure management, utilities, construction, building and home management, medical and healthcare systems, and transportation – yes, as in the driverless car.

Bill Waldo, serial entrepreneur, investor and senior consultant for TriTech Small Business Development Center tells us that by 2020, just three short years from now, more than 50 billion devices around the globe will be connected to the Internet – one third will be computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs. Two thirds will be sensors, actuators and intelligent devices that monitor, control, analyze and optimize our daily tasks. He and others see this as a $19 trillion economic impact opportunity in hardware, software and support services.

So, it is expected that our own University of California, Irvine (UCI) is leading the way with technology development across all disciplines and industries - culture, healthcare, energy, environment, infrastructure, photonics and nano-technology are at the forefront of faculty and student work underway in the Calit2 labs. And at the core of the university's Intellectual Property initiative is The COVE at UCI’s Applied Innovation. With more than 130 inventions, 140 license agreements, 100 start-up companies and more than 1,000 active technology inventions, UCI Applied Innovation is engaged in taking to market more than 50 technology companies ranging from fitness to project management software to medical devices.   

Recognizing the competitive challenges and opportunities presented by fast-changing advances, Matt Bailey, director of Collaborative Venturing Group at UCI Applied Innovation tells us to strengthen our public-private collaborations.

"With the scale and sophistication of technology continuing to ramp up, the interplay between public and private innovation becomes ever more critical. Private industry has long benefitted from publically-funded research but greater levels of technical breakthroughs demand that this public-private partnership become tighter and more integrated. Industry can benefit by leveraging, and even sponsoring, university research which could accelerate the lab-to-market path and enhance a company's competitive positioning."

And Orange County's first and most productive incubator OCTANe is at the center of the technology industry growth in Orange County. Specializing in nurturing cutting-edge medical device and technology developments, OCTANe has enabled hundreds of medical, information, sports and clean technology companies to get started by connecting ideas and people with resources and capital. An example is Irvine-based Bioniz Therapeutics, one of more than 60 companies OCTANe has helped launch in Irvine alone in the last five years. Bioniz Therapeutics came through the OCTANe LaunchPad and its peptide platform technology will change how serious diseases are managed. 

Irvine's robust startup eco-system is composed of strong university and college platforms, private sector incubators ideation platforms including The Eureka Building, PeopleSpace, EvoNexus, ROC, K5, Tech Coast Angels, ChickLabs and a half dozen others - all engaged in helping developing new companies, most with technology at their core.

But for those still looking for the short-hand of technology trends, Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) the world's leading information technology research and advisory company is happy to oblige with its picks for 2017 including:

Trend No. 1: Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine-learning techniques are evolving rapidly. Investment in skills, process and tools is needed in terms of setup, integration, algorithm/approach selection, data preparation and model creation. In other words, people are needed who can collect and evaluate the findings, update and change the algorithms and models to improve results and "train" the system. Robotics, autonomous vehicles and consumer electronics as well as apps and services all must be created and maintained by real people and used by real people to help manage situations, build things and even identify likely buyers.

Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps

Organizations are applying AI and machine-learning techniques to create new app categories and improve traditional applications such as worker performance analysis, sales and marketing, and security. Intelligent apps have the potential to transform the nature of work and the structure of the workplace. During the next 10 years, virtually every app, application and service is expected to incorporate some level of AI in much the same way. Some intelligent apps are already part of our lives like prioritizing emails or closing our garage doors, for example.

Physical things like robots, drones and autonomous vehicles can be made to be capable of advanced behaviors and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people. Once again, these intelligent things are built and maintained and programmed by real people who have the skills to do so.

Trend No. 3: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), are part of a new wave of computing devices that transform the way individuals interact with one another and with software systems. Entertainment and gaming has been one of the obvious early markets for this new technology. However, it has practical applications for the workplace - training oil rig employees by creating an authentic VR oil rig environment in which workers can practice their skills without danger to themselves or others. VR and AR apps and services represent new forms of user interaction finding their way into the workplace.

Technology continues to impact our lives, work, play, politics, environment, business and global interaction. There are big challenges ahead to know what, how and when to adopt, adapt and integrate these developments into your business. There will also be great opportunities ahead for those who learn how to leverage the developments and for a highly-skilled workforce who knows how to create, manage and maintain new technologies. 

By Linda DiMario, Vice President of Economic Development & Tourism, Greater Irvine Chamber

Category: Chamber News