30 years ago, a group from the University of Leuven spun off to set up Imec. One of that group was Luc Van den hove who is now Imec’s CEO. “It was a dream that came true – it went beyond our dreams,” said Van den Hove this morning opening the Imec Technology Forum 2014 in Brussels. A turn-out of over 900 attendees testified to that.
The speakers soon turned to the Internet of Things. Van den hove pointed out that there are now more phones on the planet than people; Paul Jacobs, executive chairman of Qualcomm, said there are more phones than toothbrushes.
Jacobs told how a friend went to an electronics show and declared that it demonstrated the Internet of Thing because, although every device at the show connected to the Internet, none of them connected to anything else.
IOT is undefined. Jacobs pointed out that some people forecast 20 million connected devices by 2025, some say 30 million and some say 50 million. “The point is,” said Jacobs, “that the number is quite large.”
“The Internet of Things is nothing new – the difficult thing is adding intelligence to these connections and this is why we prefer the term Smart Everything,” said Aart de Geus, founder and CEO of Synopsys. Connecting the unconnected is easy and has been going on for decades, but delivering software to make those connections useful is very tough.
Van den hove sees huge opportunities in health monitoring and disease diagnosis apps on smartphones. “The number of smartphones is increasing much faster than the number of doctors,” he said.
“Single-chip DNA sensing, single cell analysis and implantable devices like brain probes will deliver the Internet of Healthy Things,” said Van den hove.
Jacobs is also there. “We’re working on an implant the size of a grain of sand that notifies you when you’re about to get a heart attack,” said Jacobs, “that’s a phone call you want to get.”
Smart watches are a big deal to Young Sohn, chief strategy officer of Samsung, who was wearing the Samsung smartwatch Gear, and to Paul Jacobs who showed off Qualcomm’s smartwatch. Both devices push notifications and monitor health metrics. Both look like works in progress.
The theme of the morning was the necessity for collaboration between the industry’s different branches with speakers being modest about their roles.
de Geus likened EDA to being the industry’s plumber – and a poorly paid one at that with only $9 billion of industry revenues compared to the “zillions” being garnered by apps, while Mark Durcan, CEO of Micron, said, “I’m not even the plumber – I build the storage tanks and maybe some of the piping.”
Durcan is celebrating an anniversary of his own today, it’s 30 years to the day when he started at Micron. “In those days we had goats grazing out-front.”
As is right for a birthday celebration, many tributes were paid to Imec of which the most graceful came from de Geus who said: “Imec is one of the most fabulous models of great collaboration and that’s a tribute to its leader.”