Tech event addresses key industry challenges

2 mins read

In his keynote address to the recent Future World Symposium, Imagination Technologies' chief executive Sir Hossein Yassaie outlined where the money goes when you buy a consumer product.

"Semiconductor companies will take £18 of every £100 spent," he claimed, "so it is important for UK companies to make sure they are in the right place in the supply chain."

The right place, in his opinion, is to be a fabless supplier to the consumer electronics sector. "It is good to invest in new products which excite the consumer," he continued. "That's what successful brands are doing, but we need to create international brands in the UK. There is plenty of opportunity and the industry is at a point of inflexion, with opportunities in home connectivity, robotics and computer vision."

Future World Symposium 2014 ( addressed four broad themes: connected homes; connected intelligence; the Internet of Things; and autonomous systems. Each session saw a number of presentations, followed by a panel discussion.

Introducing the connected homes session, Imagination's executive vice president of marketing Tony King-Smith said the whole home is undergoing a revolution. "The consumer today expects connectivity and that everything will work together. Consumer products must work together; it's now more than just a solution and a platform."

Looking at the trends in the sector, King-Smith said IEEE802.11ac will be dominant. "There will also be the need for low bandwidth, low power comms." But he wondered why there was so much focus on the future. "Why are we talking about 5G when we still can't keep a 2G call going?"

Keith Robertson, technical director for audio specialist Linn Products, said: "If the UK is to succeed in the connected home, we must have a strategy which goes beyond connecting light bulbs and switches." He then outlined Linn's strategy in bringing studio quality music to the consumer.

John Bird, principal consultant for FutureSource, pointed to what he sees as 'profound shifts in the way people use technology'. "Companies need vision in order to know where they need to be in five years' time," he asserted.

Presenting a range of statistics, Bird said the UK is second only to the US when it comes to embracing digital technology. "This shift to online is creating demand for new technology," he continued.

With much talk about the advent of 'superfast' broadband, the panel was asked what difference this might make. Pascal de Mul, global head of hardware partnerships with Spotify, said it will change the user experience. "Spotify has a 256ms latency; when video gets to that latency, it will bring a huge change."

Intel's Dave Boundy pointed to the ability to push new software at regular intervals. "It will abstract from hardware," he believed. Robertson, meanwhile, said more bandwidth will be of major interest to the music industry. "There have been a lot of compromises in the past, but we're now in the situation where you can stream music as it's recorded straight to the home."

Bird believes the near term impact of superfast broadband will be on video. "Streaming 4k video at 15Mbit/s is an example," he said. "If you have people in your house doing different stuff, you'll need a lot of horsepower in the network to bring immediacy of access."

Underlying the development of consumer electronics is security. How do you bring concepts such as trust and authentication to the consumer? Boundy said the concepts had to be backed by action and pointed to the opportunity for companies like Intel subsidiary McAfee to address security concerns. "Trust is difficult," he continued. "Once, data was generated by humans; now most data is generated by systems communicating with each other. How can that be trusted? By ensuring there are mechanisms at the data generation level that certify upstream using such approaches as deep packet inspection."

Bird concluded: "There are continual hacks into system software; the latest attacks on Internet Explorer, for example. The systems we use are still so vulnerable after all these years. How can this still be happening?"