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Future of Technology in Racing: A Formula 1 Driver’s Perspective

By Nitin Dahad

LAS VEGAS — As my colleagues have written from CES 2020, automotive technology has somewhat dominated the conference here in Las Vegas. While there’s no doubt that advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have come a long way and there are still roadmaps to go even further to improve driving experiences and safety, the question in my mind is: How far do we go with fully autonomous vehicles?

Even in the age of digital native youngsters, the camp is divided. On the one hand, there are 20-something-year-olds who stick to their belief that they will never need to drive cars, as everything will be autonomous, and in the age of Uber and Lyft, why would they ever need to drive a car? And then there are still driving enthusiasts.

We managed to catch up at CES with someone from the latter camp, 20-year-old Formula 1 driver for McLaren, Lando Norris, a strong driving enthusiast right from his early school years. Clearly, technology is an important part of the engineering of modern racing cars, almost to the same levels of advanced electronics and communications systems as in modern commercial aircraft.

Lando Norris explained how technology, and particularly live real-time data on all aspects of his drive, is a vital part of modern racing. As a top-tier racing driver, everything evolves around the technology.

He told EE Times, “One of the biggest things that helps me to drive is to be able to compare data. So we have live data while driving on track, which is relaying back to the engineers and the whole team, which they can then relay back to me, telling me where I need to go better and when I’m not doing good enough.” As a result, this helps him to improve constantly.

And in a race environment, one of the most useful parts of his technology arsenal is the radio — where he can talk constantly to the team to change things on the fly as he drives.

We asked his thoughts on what might be next for motor sports and technology. He said, “It’s going to advance a lot.” He jokingly added, “I don’t want it to advance too much that it puts me out of a job.

“Things will advance, but you don’t want to be changing what Formula 1 is. It still has the characteristic of someone, a human being, driving around a racing car as fast as they can. You don’t want anything to be too automated. Everything will improve, efficiencies will improve, data will improve, but I still want to be able to drive a racing car, in control of brake, throttle, steering, sliding the car around and having fun. In every aspect, it’s going to get better and move forward, but Formula 1 and my passion is driving a car as fast as I can.”

To me, that says a lot. There are some people that like driving, like Lando Norris. And there are others who can’t wait for fully autonomous vehicles, whenever that might arrive.

But it also leads to the question about what we automate and how far we can go, as well as the limitations of technology. In motor racing, you can have all the driver assistance you want. But the human can still control the destiny and the difference between winning and losing.

Last year, I had visited Oulu in Finland, and part of my program involved looking in on a global drone-racing competition. It had all the razzamatazz of Formula 1, with drones whizzing around the stadium at breakneck speeds and crashing into each other and into the side netting. But they were still being controlled by human “drivers” from the sidelines.

Maybe they could have gone fully autonomous with sensors to ensure that they don’t crash into other drones or the sides. But the problem at those speeds is likely that the response times in the electronics and sensors are not fast enough.

And in the world of motor racing, while Lando Norrris clearly has a passion for driving really fast, it may still be some time before the huge amounts of processing and the sensor-actuator response times are fast enough to cope with reacting at speeds of over 200 mph.

Panel: Global Leadership in AI Depends on Gaining Public Trust

By Sally Ward-Foxton

The support of the public is paramount to any country or region’s successful global leadership in transforming businesses, markets and economies using the technology, a panel discussion at CES concluded.

To start, the panelists, which included representatives from industry, trade associations, politics and government, were in agreement that leadership in AI is not a simple win-lose conundrum.

“I would not agree with the idea that it’s a zero-sum game, that one nation is leading and that it’s a race and someday you declare a victory, and then everybody else is a loser… I think everyone can benefit from the advantages of artificial intelligence,” said Lynne Parker, deputy CTO for the United States, from the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Parker’s definition for a nation that leads in the field of AI is one with a lot of companies leading in terms of innovation, one with many leading universities in that field with cutting-edge ideas, and one with a strong innovation ecosystem which works closely with academia and the industry to foster innovation. The US is leading, according to those metrics, she argued.

“There will be winners, but maybe it’ll be first place, second place, third place, fourth place, and not winner take all,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association. “From the companies standpoint, certainly [leadership] will come from innovation and the ability to put in place transparency and safeguards to ensure there’s not bias or discrimination through artificial intelligence, and ensuring that ethics are set up in a way that meets our common goals and standards… and from the government standpoint, making sure that policies are in place that both encourage and allow for innovation.”

These policies must ensure there are safeguards for both government and private sector use of AI, Beckerman said, pointing out that some of the riskier potential applications in terms of public trust are for government applications of the technology.

The panelists also agreed that consumer trust was of paramount importance, in a way that hasn’t been seen with other technology trends in the past.

“For both private sector and public sector use, you can’t truly win or succeed with AI deployments, with scaling AI, unless you have consumer and citizen trust,” said Adelina Cooke, North American AI policy lead at Accenture. “Any [leadership] race is going to need to engender trust among the population. When we are thinking about scaling [up AI applications], it’s not just feasibility and innovation, it’s making sure that you have the proper governance and responsible oversight within an organization [that’s important].”

Government Role
Panelists took different views on the role governments should play in increasing AI leadership in their countries.

The White House’s Lynne Parker described the US government’s hands-off approach to regulation of the use of AI technology.

“Certainly, I think at the beginning, the role of the federal government is not to get in the way,” she said. “We want to foster innovation and make sure it’s being used in ways we can all benefit from, but… there are many areas in which we need to have more oversight.”

AI presents a unique challenge, she said, in that there are many existing laws that protect Americans from things like discrimination, and the country has a robust legal system to help enforce these laws. If these laws are enforced at the state and local government level, companies have to deal with a patchwork of laws and regulations, which hampers innovation in every locale.

“At some point, the federal government needs to step up and say, okay, we’re actually hampering innovation by not having regulatory oversight or a process for it, or having any consistency,” she said.

The White House released a draft memo earlier this week which will establish consistent guidelines for regulatory agencies, which should help protect the public and also help the innovation ecosystem by providing companies with some predictability in terms of regulatory approach, she said.

Italian member of parliament Mattia Fantinati detailed both the European Commission’s approach and the approach in Italy.

The European Commission’s strategy for AI leadership is based several key ideas. These include boosting technological and industrial capacity, uptake of AI across the economy with private-public partnerships, being prepared for the socioeconomic changes which will happen quickly, and ensuring a legal and ethical framework for innovation to flourish within.

Italian initiatives for adoption of AI are focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), reflecting the country’s economy, he said.

“Most developed countries have adopted an AI strategy that reflects their social and political system,” he said, noting that Italy is home to many SMEs in manufacturing and handicrafts. “My role is to… create a collaboration between the masters of handicraft and artificial intelligence. It’s not easy, but we have to do it, because the European strategy is focused on the SME.”

The European Commission’s strategy includes using public funding to stimulate private investment, particularly with early-stage startups.

USA vs. China
Asked by an audience member about Kai Fu Lee’s 2018 book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order” in which he details China’s strengths in this arena, Parker again referenced the importance of public trust.

She mentioned Lee’s postulation that China is very good at taking existing ideas and implementing them.

“At the same time, I think we, as the free world, also care about exactly how these technologies are used,” she said. “We want to make sure that we don’t use the technologies in ways that are inconsistent with the values of our nations.”

Chao Vows ‘Mystery Drone’ Solution

By David Benjamin

LAS VEGAS — It was just a tad ironic.

Only five days after her boss, President Trump, had ordered a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao promised a standing-room-only audience Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that she will be cracking down on the unregulated use of drones in U.S. airspace.

In a keynote address at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Secretary Chao made specific reference to the “mystery drones” that have been spotted recently cruising the night skies over Nebraska and Colorado. She said that these flights, which have disturbed residents of those areas, demonstrate the Wild West character of the currently unregulated drone phenomenon.

She noted that today, there are more than 1.5 million drones in private or corporate ownership, flown by 160,000 registered remote pilots, “a job category that didn’t even exist five years ago.” But there are many more drones and pilots that are neither counted nor certified. The Department of Transportation (DOT) currently has little power over who flies drones and where they fly.

She said her department is making plans to initiate drone testing for safety and airworthiness, manage drone air space, set up rules for identifying drones remotely, and registering drones and their pilots.

On the latter point, she said that, according to rules now being written, any drone heavier than eight ounces will be either registered with the government or it will be illegal. This registration would enable all federal, state, and local agencies to identify drones operating in their air space and help them manage the exploding population of these suddenly popular devices.

Chao noted that a 60-day period for public comment about the proposed drone regulations will end on March 20.

Touching on a topic dear to the hearts of CES convention-goers, Chao announced also that her department has just promulgated a document called AV 4.0, formulating updated policies on the development of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles (AVs). While offering familiar bromides on the promise of greater road safety and reduced traffic fatalities with automated vehicles, Chao hinted that the government, at this stage, remains reluctant to intervene in the development of a heavily invested technology that has recently faltered. Carmakers and technology companies are struggling with the challenge of establishing uniform AV safety standards.

Fatal accidents involving autonomous vehicles made by Uber and Tesla have exacerbated public misgivings about AVs and sent AV designers and safety experts back to the drawing board.

Suggesting a hands-off approach by the DOT’s safety agencies, Chao defined her department’s role as “promoting efficient markets.” She said, “It’s not the role of federal government to pick winners and losers.” She said that the DOT will “remain technologically neutral … and encourage innovation by protecting intellectual property.”

“Innovation,” in an expansion of its dictionary meaning, has become a sort of mantra for technology corporations to justify their opposition to regulatory scrutiny by government agencies. It pops up often in speeches delivered at CES.

Chao vowed to “modernize all these regulations” related to automotive safety in light of the emergence of self-driving technology. Regulations are important, she said, but those that are “obsolete, irrelevant, and outdated need to be changed.” She offered no specifics but promised a “consistent government approach” to the facilitation of autonomous vehicle technology as fast as possible.

Michael Kratsios, the White House’s Chief Technology Officer, followed Chao’s keynote by emphasizing the president’s commitment to artificial intelligence (AI) development — a key element in self-driving vehicles — as expressed in an executive order, issued last year on “Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence.”

Kratsios said that “the United States is leading the world” in AI research and development, a claim difficult to verify, and that the president’s involvement ensures this continued leadership. He said the administration is committed to “policies that generate trust in government and with building the applicability of artificial intelligence.”

Why CES 2020 Cares About the Supply Chain

By Barbara Jorgensen

The supply chain is one of those things that nobody cares about until something goes wrong. Then it’s everybody’s problem.

Remember the iPhone 8? Production was delayed because of problems with OLED screens, which weren’t even manufactured by Apple. Consumers were incensed, Apple was red-faced, and the supply chain took center stage.

Unfortunately, disaster is the main driver of supply-chain innovation. Resilience — the ability to shift all or part of a supply chain as needed— is mitigating disruption. Many of the technologies showcased at CES 2020 are key enablers of resilience, an expert panel told the audience.

For example, the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), which provides supply-chain assistance to disaster relief organizations, uses simulation to prepare for catastrophes, said executive director Kathy Fulton. High-risk areas such as Puerto Rico are plotted on networks as digital twins. Simulated hurricanes or earthquakes then strike the region. If a virtual aid station is destroyed by the event, alternative locations are immediately identified.

“There’s no such thing as shipping something from Point A to Point B,” said Fulton. “The supply chain is now a network.” Organizations should anticipate the loss of a supplier or a physical facility and have alternative plans in the works.

(Source: CES 2020)

The supply chain’s sphere of influence ranges from individual package delivery to materials flow into factories. But customer-facing organizations are on the front line when something goes wrong.

“We face mini-disasters every day,” said Robin Hensley, vice president for operations technology at UPS. “We call it weather.”

UPS has developed automated sorting centers that can be moved in the event of fires, floods, or other disruption. These centers can be programmed to sort for a specific zip code regardless of location. The process is largely transparent to customers, Hensley said.

Data analytics is the underpinning of many resilience efforts, panelists said. “We have lots of data that is meaningless unless it is used for insight,” Fulton said. “So we use it to improve efficiency, plan routes, or move people and equipment. We can make decisions before a disaster strikes.”

Then there are the gadgets. UPS is already using delivery drones, said Hensley — some of which are FAA-certified. “We are mostly using them on massive campuses, where it could take a half-hour to drive to your destination,” she explained. Drones deliver medical samples that need to be turned around quickly. UPS is also partnering with CVS to deliver medication to individuals.

Tracking technology has become so precise that ALAN uses RFID, electronic barcodes, and other types of tags to ensure that medicine, water, and other aid reaches intended destinations. These supplies are often “hijacked” after they arrive at a distribution hub, Fulton explained. ALAN can pinpoint whether or not medication reaches the right individual. The frequency of lost shipments has been reduced and problematic distribution centers identified.

Even wayward deliveries are improving UPS’s supply chain, Hensley said. UPS uses digital package twins to follow a delivery’s movement. Sometimes, packages head in the wrong direction or even backtrack on their delivery routes.

“We want to know what the heck is happening with those packages,” Hensley said. “So we collect data, analyze it, and plot the best route for delivery. It cuts a lot of time and waste out of the process.”

Consumer items themselves are part of supply-chain resilience efforts. During power outages, Fulton said, phone services are unavailable, but texting services are available. “We use that to get the word out — warning people of impending danger or letting them know where aid services are available,” she said, adding that cities are increasingly moving to 911 text alerts.

UPS has created “pop up” sorting centers that are used during holidays and disasters. Workers use small scanners in these temporary hubs while an earpiece feeds them sorting instructions.

Resilient supply chains anticipate disruption no matter the cause, according to panelists. “Ultimately, the destination is human,” said Hensley.

Shapiro Quizzes Activist FTC Chief

By David Benjamin

LAS VEGAS — Consumer Technology Association chief Gary Shapiro, an avid opponent of government regulation, didn’t quite know what to expect Tuesday in a cordial onstage interview with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman Joseph Simons, who is one of the Trump administration’s least-noticed administrators.

What Shapiro got was a mixed bag of free-market support and pro-consumer activism, with a tendency toward consumer protection.

Perhaps the most emphatic sign of Simons’s preference for using government power to help ordinary people came toward the end of the interview, when Shapiro asked about one law that Simons would like to see passed while he serves in the FTC. Simons said he would encourage Congress to clarify Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, a 1973 measure that empowers the FTC to punish companies for deceptive practices that harm consumers.

Simons noted that in a federal Seventh Circuit appeals court decision, the FTC was stripped of its power to impose financial penalties on violators of the FTC Act. He said that this decision, which reversed a previous Seventh Circuit judgment, “does huge damage to our fraud program,” denying vital redress to consumers who’ve been tricked, often with significant financial loss, by credit companies, drug firms, and others. Without being able to levy financial pain on these offenders, said Simons, the FTC cannot do the sort of vigorous enforcement that is his agency’s mission.

Simons urged Congress to address this issue, restoring his agency’s power to fine violators.

Earlier in the interview with Shapiro, Simons offered an example of the power of taking money from offenders, citing FTC settlements last year — for privacy violations by Facebook and Google’s YouTube division — of, respectively, $5 billion and $170 million.

The YouTube violation was especially sensitive because it involved the collection of personal information from children without obtaining consent from their parents.

Noting that the FTC settlements against these two internet juggernauts were greater than the law requires, Simons warned, “Facebook and Google know that we’re paying attention. If they continue to do what they’ve done in the past and continue to violate privacy laws, they can expect the repercussions to be more severe.”

FTC chairman Joseph Simons was both charming and combative in his CES “fireside chat” with CTA president Gary Shapiro, arguing forcefully for consumer protections that do not punish powerful internet companies like Google “just because they’re big.”

Simons made it clear, however, that his FTC feels no urgency to preemptively impose anti-trust sanctions on dominant platforms like Google and Facebook, as has been done in Europe through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the European Commission to regulate data transfer among EU nations.

“Data is the bloodstream for AI [artificial intelligence],” said Simons. “We want to do it right. we don’t want to mess it up.”

Urged by Shapiro to denounce the “chilling” effect of the GDPR, Simons spoke carefully about domestic regulation policy: “We don’t go after big companies just because they’re big and successful … We shouldn’t turn on them and penalize them for success. You have to commit an anti-competitive act. You have to harm consumers. We can’t just break up companies just because they’re big.”

Shapiro tried to lead Simons into a direct critique of Europe’s regulatory regime, suggesting that passage of the GDPR is “not a good innovation strategy.” Simons responded with a finely tuned note of diplomacy.

“People characterize it that way,” he said with a smile.

AI Can Map the World for Disaster Preparedness

By Sally Ward-Foxton

LAS VEGAS — Intel has developed AI models to identify geographical features from satellite imagery for the creation of accurate, up-to-date maps. The company has been working closely with the Red Cross on its Missing Maps project, which aims to create maps for areas of the developing world to improve disaster preparedness. Many areas of the developing world do not have up-to-date maps, which means that aid organizations can struggle to work efficiently in the event of natural disasters or epidemics.

“As someone who’s been on the ground with the Red Cross, having access to accurate maps is extremely important in disaster planning and emergency response,” said Dale Kunce, co-founder of Missing Maps and CEO of American Red Cross Cascades Region. “But there are entire parts of the world that are unmapped, which makes planning and responding to disasters much more difficult. This is why we’re collaborating with Intel to use AI to map vulnerable areas and identify roads, bridges, buildings, and cities.”

“If you don’t know where all the roads are before a hurricane hits, after it hits, you have no idea where flooding has occurred or which roads are washed out and which aren’t,” said Alexei Bastidas, deep-learning data scientist at Intel AI Lab, in an Intel podcast on the subject. “If you don’t have an accurate enough map of what was there beforehand, it really prevents you from responding to the disaster as it’s ongoing. The other thing to consider is that a lot of these disasters … are weather events — cyclones, typhoons, hurricanes, even volcanic eruptions. These weather events can occlude the satellite sensor; they create clouds … It makes it extremely challenging for somebody like the Red Cross to respond to an event.”

At present, Missing Maps uses a team of volunteers to go though satellite images and identify roads, towns, bridges, and other infrastructure. The volunteers manually update an open-source map called Open Street Map, which is laborious and time-consuming.

Intel’s AI Lab, in collaboration with Mila and CrowdAI, developed an image-segmentation model and used it to identify unmapped bridges in Uganda from satellite pictures. Object-detection approaches were discounted due to performance in favor of segmentation. Bridges were selected as a trial feature because they are critical infrastructure and are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods. Seventy previously unmapped bridges were discovered by the system; the Ugandan National Society can use this data to better plan evacuation and aid-delivery routes.

Uganda Map
The system identified 70 bridges across Uganda that were previously unmapped by either Open Street Map or the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics. (Image: Intel)

Satellite imagery can be particularly challenging to work with. The lack of an obvious frame of reference for up and down is challenging, said Bastidas. Also, images are not always taken from directly above, meaning the same feature may be seen from different angles. Differences in the local terrain as well as styles of infrastructure and architecture make it hard to train models on labelled data from other parts of the world. Even in images from the same country, terrain may look very different in summer and winter, and features such as bridges show huge variation in size and style.

Intel’s training dataset therefore had to come exclusively from Uganda. In fact, a section of Northern Uganda was used, which includes multiple views of the same bridges to enable models to learn about seasonal and nadir-angle changes.

The models started by looking for waterways and highway features, and any areas where a highway crossed a waterway was marked as a candidate point for a bridge. Known bridge locations within 30 m of any candidate points were discarded. Bounding boxes were added around these intersections, and then satellite images from areas in the bounding boxes were pulled. The models could then interpret the images to see whether they contained a bridge.

The models ran on second-generation Intel Xeon scalable processors (Cascade Lake) with DL Boost and nGraph. Bastidas said that these processors were chosen for their giant size; satellite images are often 1,024 square pixels, and it was desirable for the chip to process an entire image at once.

According to Bastidas, the next steps for the project may include the generation of models that can aid human mapping volunteers, perhaps predicting bridge locations but leaving the final decision to human eyes.

“We are also interested in trying to come up with ways to leverage existing open-source data to make models that are more robust, more generalizable, and can [work] with more tolerance for this geographically distinct area,” he said.

FCC’s Pai Favors Sharing Spectrum Pie

By David Benjamin

LAS VEGAS — With a bitter controversy over his successful efforts to undercut the Obama administration’s net-neutrality policy well in the past, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman made his first appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a kinder, gentler Ajit Pai.

Pai joked with CTA president Gary Shapiro about the Doomsday scenarios forecast by net-neutrality advocates — “I get messages that I destroyed the internet over the internet” — and focused on less prickly issues, including the implementation of 5G mobile networks and the still-unrealized FCC mission of “broadband for all.”

Indeed, with 5G on the horizon and many rural communities suffering from slow broadband, or none at all, Pai touched upon the various elements, including the availability of spectrum to giant wireless providers like Verizon and smaller fixed wireless broadband providers, the latter of whom are starving for spectrum.

“Our goal is to remove spectrum as a constraint on innovation,” said Pai. He added that there now exists “a wide variety of use cases to share spectrum assets in ways that benefit consumers … to make sure that this resource is deployed to the benefit of the American people.”

Indeed, there are proposals in the works, favored by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Office of Spectrum Management, in collaboration with the private Institute for Telecommunications Sciences, that would allow sharing, among smaller network providers, of mid-range C-Band (3.5 GHz) and Citizens Band Radio Service (3.7–4.2 GHz).

While interviewing FCC chairman Ajit Pai, CTA chief Gary Shapiro made an inadvertent political prediction, saying about Pai’s boss, “It could be President Trump again.”

Pai was emphatic about the need to deliver more spectrum to rural communities who are still missing out on the earlier generations of connectivity — LTE and 4G. “We’ve got to think about more sharing models,” he said. Citing something called “massive MIMO” (multiple input/multiple output), Pai added that the days of “zero-sum spectrum, if you’re using it, I can’t use it” must end.

However, the historical precedent is that the big networks are first to the trough. The question unasked by Shapiro was whether a libertarian FCC leadership under Pai that has been loath to interfere in the “free market” is well-suited to helping out some 200,000 “small cell” providers.

Asked by Shapiro about the deployment of 5G, Pai admitted that a host of obstacles stand in the way of getting it installed everywhere equally in fast order. The first problem, he said, is a trained workforce large enough to string fiber on a vast forest of utility poles across the continent. “It’s hard work, outdoors, in all kinds of weather.”

He cited other practicalities such as the availability of materials like utility poles and copper. He noted the need to be more aggressive about rural broadband and to “get electric companies far more involved.”

Additionally, noted Shapiro, there are some communities, states, and cities that object to the intrusion of 5G “aesthetically.” In this case, Pai came firmly against “too many layers of government getting in the way.” In this case, he suggested, the feds should rule.

“The more disparate these regulations are, the fewer companies will be able to get into the market,” he warned.

Chairman Pai, who sported a pair of colorful “sushi socks” with his loafers, brought a certain measure of suspense to his appearance at CES. Until his chairmanship, a chat between Shapiro and the FCC chairman was an annual ritual. But after threats were issued against Pai during the net-neutrality battle, he begged off the trip to Las Vegas. He agreed to attend the session after only a two-year hiatus. Even this year, the hundreds of convention-goers who arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center meeting room were subject to stop-and-frisk bag searches and pat-downs before being allowed into the hall.

Shapiro began the session by saying, “He said he was coming a couple of times and he didn’t show up.” But then, smiling, Pai broke the tension and strode onto the stage.

AMD Targets Top End Content and Gaming With New Mobile and Desktop Processors

By Nitin Dahad

LAS VEGAS — AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, was ebullient at CES 2020 as she announced what she said was the world’s highest-performance desktop processor and ultrathin laptop processors. The latest mobile processor family, the AMD Ryzen 4000 series, features 59% higher performance than its previous generation, and its desktop processor, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, is the first using 64 cores.

The new AMD Ryzen 4000 Series is the first x86 eight-core ultrathin laptop mobile processor family, built on the Zen 2 core architecture with 7-nm process technology and optimized high-performance Radeon graphics in a system-on-chip (SoC) design. As the third generation of AMD Ryzen mobile processors, it provides significant performance improvements, design enhancements, and power efficiency for ultrathin and gaming laptops. AMD also announced the AMD Athlon 3000 Series mobile processor family powered by its Zen architecture, enabling modern computing experiences with real performance for a wider range of laptop users.

Consumers will be able to purchase the first AMD Ryzen 4000 Series- and Athlon 3000 Series-powered laptops from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others starting in Q1 2020, with more systems expected to launch throughout 2020 with global OEM partners.

For high-end desktops, AMD also announced the 64-core, 128-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, which will be available globally from Feb. 7, 2020. Purpose-built to enable extreme performance for 3D, visual effects, and video professionals, the 3990X delivers up to 51% fast

AMD Ryzen

er rendering performance than the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X processor.

Su emphasized that gamers and creators helped AMD push the envelope for more performance in both laptops and desktops, as they always want more out of their system. In that respect, she said that 2020 was going to be an even bigger year in terms of being able to deliver the best to gamers and creators. “We are introducing the best laptop processor ever built. This is disruptive performance, since we wanted to be above the historical curve in terms of performance improvement.”

She added that the new Ryzen 4000 series was twice as power-efficient compared to their previous generation as a result of the gains from the 7-nm process as well as design and architecture work.

Featuring up to eight cores and 16 threads, the AMD Ryzen 4000 U-Series mobile processors provide “incredible” responsiveness and portability, delivering disruptive performance for ultrathin laptops with a configurable 15-W thermal design power (TDP). Additionally, AMD said th

at with more than 90 million laptop gamers and creators, the AMD Ryzen 4000 H-Series mobile processors will set the new standard for gaming and content creation with innovative, thin, and light laptops with a configurable 45-W TDP.

The new AMD Ryzen 7 4800U offers up to 4% greater single-thread performance and up to 90% faster multi-threaded performance than the competition, plus up to 18% faster graphics performance (benchmarked against an Intel Ice Lake processor). The H version, AMD Ryzen 7 480

0H, provides up to 5% greater single-threaded and up to 46% greater multi-threaded performance than the competition, plus up to 25% faster 4K video encoding using Adobe Premier than the competition (again compared against an Intel Ice Lake processor).

Offloading the processor for even better performance
In addition, AMD detailed its SmartShift technology, which allows users to harness Ryzen 4000 mobile processors, Radeon graphics, and its latest AMD Radeon software Adrenalin 2020 edition, to advance computing experiences by efficiently optimizing performance as needed and taking gaming experiences to “new levels.” It does so by dynamically shifting power between the Ryzen processor and Radeon graphics, which it claims can seamlessly deliver up to 10% greater gaming performance and up to 12% more content-creation performance.

AMD Threadripper

64-core desktop processor
AMD also launched the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, its first 64-core desktop processor. Creators will be able to buy the processor from participating global retailers and system integrators, with on-shelf availability expected Feb. 7, 2020.

It features an “unprecedented” amount of single-socket compute performance in a desktop platform, which AMD said will make processor the definitive solution for digital content creation professionals working with 3D animation, raytraced VFX, and 8K video codecs. It can deliver up to 51% greater performance than the Ryzen Threadripper 3970X in 3D ray tracing with the MAXON Cinema4D Renderer and a historic Cinebench R20.06 score of 25,399 points for a single processor.

CES Tech Trends: Prepare for the ‘Intelligence of Things’

By Barb Jorgensen

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already passé at CES 2020. There’s a new IoT in town — the Intelligence of Things—that will drive consumer and industrial innovation well into the next decade,  said Steve Koenig, vice president for the Consumer Technology Association.

This is the decade where smart homes, electric vehicles and telemedicine will hit their stride, Koenig said in his CES 2020 preview. “We’ve ticked the device-connectivity boxes,” he explained. The next 10 years will be about intelligent connectivity and devices that anticipate human needs, enable smart city infrastructure and contribute to global sustainability, he said.

Proof-of-concept already exists in agriculture where technology trims costs, labor and waste. Automated harvesters free up manpower. Drones identify dry spots in fields and automated systems water only those areas. Data from harvesters — such as daily yield– can be used by farmers to capitalize on the futures market.

Artificial intelligence and 5G are the underpinnings of the new IoT, Koenig said. 5G capabilities are so far beyond 4G that  enterprises—rather than consumers—will drive its growth. The new IoT can be divided into two categories: massive IoT and critical IoT. Massive IoT connects a lot of endpoints but carries very little data. Critical IoT connects fewer endpoints with lots of data. Applications for the latter include remote surgery, industrial robotics and commercial virtual reality, said Koenig.

“5G will overlay every commercial and industrial sector,” he added.

5G networks will be built parallel to 4G to prepare for a gradual transition. This means devices, networks and base stations that are yet to be designed, built and field tested. Most devices will be 5G-enabled by 2023, according to CTA, but a complete transition will still take a while.

In the meantime, established companies and start-ups are developing products and services that will capitalize on connected intelligence. Trends to watch at CES 2020 include:

AI and everything. Artificial intelligence is being “consumerized.” Machine learning has been around awhile and is well understood in the industrial sector, but devices with embedded AI are already on the market – ovens that can identify and correctly cook food; doorbells with facial recognition and speakers with advanced voice recognition. “AI is permeating every facet of commerce and culture and is focused on enhancing the user experience,” said Koenig.

Intelligence of Things
Source: Anova Smart Oven, courtesy of CES 2020

AR/VR/XR untethered.  AR devices are now wireless and provide near room-scale experiences. For the science fiction fan, Star Trek’s Holodeck is – literally – closer to reality than ever before. Other AR devices have been scaled down to sunglass sizes. “The real use case” said Koenig, “is in the commercial space and B2B.” VR is training doctors on virtual cadavers. XR, a cornerstone of gaming, is catching on in the $1 billion e-sports market.

Transportation. “This is the decade for electronic vehicles,” said Koenig. There are advancements in battery technology and electric motors; charging stations are more plentiful and easier to use. Sensors and processors proliferate in EVs. “Now we are hearing a narrative about commercial EV deployment — which means fleets — and fleets mean partnerships,” he added. “Nobody can do this on their own.”

EVs are also solving the “last mile” problem in cities that are densely populated and highly congested. Electric scooters have become a popular solution to the last-mile challenge, Koenig said.

Digital health. “This becomes a lifestyle this year,” Koenig predicted. Consumer electronics are bringing the ecosystem together.

AI and 5G are moving digital health from symptom-based telemedicine to data-based telemedicine. Applications include remote bedside consultations or second opinions, and AI-assisted diagnostics. “Hospitals are going to become data centers that will need security and encryption,” Koenig added.

Robotics.  Jetson’s-style robotic maids haven’t taken over households yet. Turns out such “social robots” haven’t caught on while “task-based” robots have. “Task-based robots do one thing really well, such as vacuuming, or on automated assembly lines.” If you add mobility to a robot, you add cost, Koenig said.  There are few use-cases for mobile, social robots.

Stationary social robots currently teach languages, monitor health or dispense medication. “There are still humanoid robots in the mix, but people are wondering ‘what am I really going to use these for?’” Koenig concluded. He suggested mobile “droids” that can guide humans to their destination on a planet-sized star ship are much more practical.


CES: Intelligence, Electrification, and Digital Health Top Trends in 2020

By Nitin Dahad

LAS VEGAS — More intelligence in devices, electrification of vehicles, and digital health are the top tech trends to watch for in 2020, said the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in the opening presentation at CES 2020 here in Las Vegas.

“The last decade was about the internet of things [IoT] — but now, we kick off a new decade defined by the intelligence of things,” said Steve Koenig, vice president of market research, CTA. “Connected intelligence defines today’s device ecosystem from consumer favorites such as smartphones and TVs to an expanding universe of smart home solutions making intelligent living spaces a reality. Over the next 10 years, the dynamic of connected intelligence will grow apace with advancing 5G networks and innovative applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to propel the consumer tech industry forward — and with it, consumer experiences, safety, health, and more.”


Consumerization of AI
AI will be found in more end devices. (Source: CTA)

To readers of EE Times, this might not be new, as embedded intelligence in connected devices has become increasingly important because of issues such as latency and security increasing with the need to gather and process significant volumes of data. Manufacturers are now taking full advantage of the potential of embedded technologies for both connectivity (such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) and sensors, which they are incorporating into practically every device on the market, according to the CTA. These technologies, embedded in several key products such as wireless earbuds, health and fitness devices, smart speakers, and smart home products, were enough to help the hardware segment maintain slightly positive growth in 2019 and will contribute to increased hardware growth in 2020.

With 5G on the horizon and AI providing the brains to everything from digital assistants to vehicles, this will drive much of the connected intelligence market. Skyrocketing popularity of streaming services and wireless earbuds along with 5G connectivity and AI-enabled devices will drive revenue growth for the U.S. consumer tech industry to a record $422 billion in retail revenues in 2020 — nearly 4% growth over last year.

“More and more consumers are embracing the faster connectivity, advanced intelligence, and seemingly infinite content that technology offers today — pushing consumer technology industry revenues toward another record-setting year in 2020,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “We’ll see advancements in 5G connectivity and AI play out across the CES 2020 show floor this week — from digital health to self-driving vehicles and smart homes — vital technologies that are changing our lives for the better.”

Smartphones lead growth due to 5G
Smartphones will lead the growth again, but so will digital health. After a dip in 2019, smartphones will recoup losses with an uptick in 5G-enabled smartphone shipments this year. Smartphones are projected to reach 166 million units (2% increase) and earn $79 billion dollars in revenue (up 3%) in 2020. 5G smartphones will hit their stride, with 20.3 million units sold (a 12× growth spurt over last year’s initial introduction) and generate $15.3 billion in revenue (10× percent jump), with the build out of U.S. 5G capabilities. According to Steve Koenig, “By 2022, the market will flip from a 4G focus to a 5G focus for handsets.”


5G led by enterprise
5G will be led by enterprise. (Source: CTA)

Digital health
CTA’s forecast for digital health devices, which includes smartwatches, fitness trackers, and connected health monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors and smart scales, projects that 64 million devices will be sold this year, with a total value of $10 billion.


Digital health
Digital health will be one of the big trends of 2020.

The future of transportation: EVs will be the big story in 2020
Koenig said that 2020 and the whole coming decade will see electrification of vehicles become more mainstream. “We are finally at the inflection point where electrification makes sense. This is the decade for electrification of vehicles, not just cars. Electric vehicles (EVs) will be the big story for CES 2020.” He pointed out that this is due to innovation in battery technologies as well as better charging infrastructure and business models.

He added that we will also see more and more commercial deployments of self-driving car fleets. Koenig also said that while a lot of the multi-modal transportation work has been focused on the last mile, CES 2020 will be about the “next mile” — in other words, flying cars for urban areas or electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) cars.


future of transportation
The future of transportation — what to expect in 2020

Highlights of trends to watch in 2020
Here are the key points in CTA’s overview of tech trends to watch in 2020:

  • Consumer tech transforming from internet of things to intelligence of things
  • 5G handset shipments to reach 20.2 million handsets in 2020
  • 5G will be led by the enterprise, with two key areas of focus: massive IoT and critical IoT
  • Consumerization of AI: We’ll find AI in a lot more end-devices and services
  • Connected intelligence in more everyday devices, with upscaling AI chips in TVs, facial recognition in doorbells, and object detection in home appliances
  • Advances in virtual reality, with six degrees of freedom, and augmented reality, with AR glasses becoming more realistic
  • Transportation will evolve, particularly self-driving fleets and electrification
  • eVTOL cars will take off
  • Digital health becomes a lifestyle, with everything from sleep tech to baby tech, plus telemedicine and remote surgery and AI-assisted diagnosis
  • Resilient technologies come to the fore, with areas like cybersecurity, public alert systems, disaster recovery, and emergency preparedness
  • Task-based robots will become the norm
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