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Hardware breakthroughs reshaping IT — and your job

Ranging from smartphones to voice-recognition hardware, a variety of hardware breakthroughs are reshaping the IT-business ecosystem and your workplace. If your job hasn’t already changed, it will. Here we take a look at some of these hardware breakthroughs and what they mean to you.

Mobile devices with foolproof security

Security continues to pose a major challenge to the wider acceptance of mobile devices in the enterprise space. One solution is in the form of the Software Guard Extension technology (SGX) from Intel. This will support the usage of encrypted secure memory spaces on regular CPUs.

The primary goal is to enable applications with access to a specific area that can provide protected and secure memory and execution. This kind of technology can be a game-changer for mobile devices.

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High-end smartphones and tablets

High-end smartphones and tablets are major hardware breakthroughs that have started to blur distinctions between laptops and mobile devices. Tablets give you a significant number of advantages so long as the security aspect is taken care of. They are ready to be used in the field and already are.

Given that they are equipped with cameras, Internet, and network access and Bluetooth, tablets are the ideal solution for personnel out in the field, for example IT support staff. And, their utility is not restricted to support staff. Consider the case of staff working at a retailer’s warehouse. The use of tablets is nothing short of a breakthrough in such situations.

Specialist data crunchers

With the Big Data revolution in full swing, specialist servers that can crunch data like it is nobody’s business are now coming out. These machines are specialized solely at processing data. With these kinds of machines available, running Big Data analytics becomes easy. Keep one of these machines at the backend, and you can implement all the Big Data crunching that you want. Such machines are also key at implementing machine learning solutions. Such servers boast extremely high-end configurations.

Machine learning hardware

Machine learning is the next upcoming hot area for advanced technologies in connection with Big Data. Platforms like IBM machine learning come ready for implementing this technology. The IBM platform gives you the ability to easily develop machine learning models.

It simplifies model creation, model management, and deployment. Even while processing terabytes and petabytes of data, it is able to ensure model accuracy. There is support for model validation and verification. It is revolutionizing areas as diverse as weather forecasting, health care, and product safety testing. Though you need to make sure the right human being with a moral conscious is in charge of those products. In the terrific movie “Chappie,” Vincent Moore sabotaged his own company’s products (law enforcement robots) for the sake of his robotic monstrosity that would have been awesome in war but not to maintain law and order. In doing this, Moore caused widespread mayhem in Johannesburg, but let’s get back on track.

AI chips

There is another approach to this issue by which chips are being designed to support AI needs from the ground up and at the board level. Google has recently unveiled plans for a cloud computing service that would provide access to a completely new kind of AI chip built by its engineers.

This processor contains a unique design by which it is can both execute and train deep neural networks to support a variety of applications ranging from image recognition, speech recognition, automated translation, and robotics. Through this cloud-based service, Google is going to give the ability to any developer or business to build and operate software on the Internet that taps the abilities of thousands of such processors.

IoT

Internet of Things-based hardware represents the other frontier of development. IoT requires a variety of devices, processors, and sensors. Each sensor needs to be enabled to implement IoT. This is a developing area.

There are a number of areas in which IoT can be extremely influential. Retail companies have got a leg up in terms of understanding how to implement IoT to improve inventory management and integrate it with ERP solutions. IoT can also be used to greatly improve the workflow optimization part of many industries. Apart from that, any platform that requires device integration can benefit from IoT.

Drones

Drones represent cool, but they represent a lot more than that as well. Unmanned aerial vehicles are revolutionizing many areas. While imaging is the most prominent application for many areas including telecasting, defense, civil surveying, and weather forecasting, the potential for applying drone-based technology is virtually endless.

Amazon, for instance, is testing drones for executing delivery of packages directly to homes, which some luddites said would never happen much to the dismay of common sense. While some of this is in the realm of sci-fi and would require regulatory approval, which presents the most knotting roadblock for drones (watch “The Good Wife” Season 7 — there is a fantastic episode on drones), eventually a lot of this is going to be a reality.

Unmanned robots

Unmanned robots are not confined to scientific applications alone. If you consider a country like Japan, there is already widespread usage of unmanned robots in industrial usages. As a logical progression, now you are having extensive use of robots in areas like retail and warehousing. Warehousing in particular has enormous scope for usage of unmanned robots.

VR

There is no two ways about it. When it comes to hardware breakthroughs, VR is hot. With the availability of new-age headgear from several companies, the VR experience is getting better all the time. Again, warehousing is a hot area for VR as companies figure out how to use the technology to handle the complexity of warehousing.

Also, in the future, VR headsets are likely to be used for verifying modelled environments and designs before they are physically created. This can extend across many sectors including architecture, housing, and gaming. VR headsets are already being used to implement telepresence technology whereby one can navigate through remote environments.

Hardware breakthroughs to power tomorrow: Local energy harvesting

This is a new technology pioneered by researchers at the University of Washington to enable Internet-connected sensors and cameras to communicate only by using the energy tapped from nearby radio, cellphone, TV, and WiFi devices.

This represents more than hardware breakthroughs: It is revolutionary technology that uses a phenomenon called backscattering, whereby IoT devices can absorb the energy emitted by electronics nearby, enabling them to reduce their demands for power and bandwidth. Some of the designs for localized WiFi, for instance, consume only a fraction of the power consumed by existing WiFi chipsets. With IoT adding a plethora of devices to the network, such technology becomes critical in order to save power and bandwidth.

Some of these hardware breakthroughs and innovations are already changing the business landscape. These have the potential to completely reshape what IT is and what IT pros do.

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