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Nearly every aspect of our lives bears the imprint of smart technology. From home thermostats controlled via a smart phone to watches that monitor our health, the number of traditional devices that are becoming connected is increasing. This enables us to benefit from new service offerings.
New technologies will revolutionize the way we commute and transport goods over short and long distances, helped by a plethora of IEC International Standards.
International Standards for wearable electronics devices are now being actively worked on in a number of technical committees (TCs) within the IEC community.
Cutting edge research and development (R&D) projects are improving tomorrow’s world for people with disabilities, for car drivers and even for radio listeners. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, is preparing the ground for the appropriate International Standards.
In conflicts, throughout history all sides have tried to make the best possible use of inventions and technology to gain a decisive advantage over adversaries. At the same time developing systems to minimize one’s own losses has also been a priority. Military needs have often accelerated many technologies, through improvements to existing systems or the development of new ones. More and more of these technologies have been adopted for civilian use, the reverse process from civilian to military applications is also observed, to a lesser extent.
Electronics are omnipresent today. For the younger generations, it must be difficult to imagine life without the array of electronic, smart devices that are an integral part of our daily interactions. Few realize that, without the inventors, thinkers and scientists of past centuries, the world as they know it, might not be the same.
New technology is revolutionizing the way we will consider transport in the near future. Flying cars are one of the options on the cards and a number of IEC Standards can help the various industries involved.
Baby-related technology is increasingly about monitoring newborns from afar using the latest facial recognition tools and artificial intelligence software.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was one of the big buzzwords at CES 2018. From home appliances to robots and self-driving cars, AI is able to help us with our everyday activities. While an interest in intelligent machines can be traced back to Greek mythology, recent advances in computing that enable us to collect large quantities of data and then process it using algorithms, have hastened the development of AI technologies.
What do artificial intelligence, robotics, biometrics, virtual and augmented reality, sports innovations, digital health and 5G connectivity have in common? First, they were all singled out at CES 2018, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as mega trends that will have an impact on society this year and in the future. Secondly, they all rely heavily on electronic components – in fact they would not even exist if not for them.
The world's growing population and the increasing use of renewable energies are posing unprecedented challenges for the conventional electricity grid. Intelligent systems which can accommodate renewable and distributed energy generation are a novel way of coping with these multifaceted demands.
With the digitization of societies, electronics has become ubiquitous in modern life. Smart devices and appliances, industrial automation and robotics, autonomous vehicles, the internet of things (IoT) and everything, aerospace and defense equipment medical equipment are only some of the fields where electronic equipment are increasingly becoming indispensable, leading to considerable market growth.
Railway operators are increasingly achieving greater safety and efficiency by using digital technologies and computer‑based management, control and communication systems. The technical advances in modern transportation that the industrial internet of things (IIoT) enables are driving the development of further international standards in the railway sector.
The market for smart home devices and systems is booming. The IEC is helping the various industries involved by publishing a number of Standards in the relevant sectors.
The internet of things (IoT) is now in sharp focus for the technology industry and for standards development organizations, such as IEC, which publishes consensus-based International Standards and manages conformity assessment systems for electric and electronic products, systems and services, collectively known as electrotechnology.
Using new technology and gadgets to help the elderly and people with disabilities stay independent in and outside the home is the approach favoured by most health specialists, not to mention policymakers and governments. The IEC is preparing International Standards focusing on this approach under the global aegis of its Systems Committee on active assisted living (SyC AAL).
From smart clothes to talking cows: the IEC prepares Standards for the latest wearable applications.
Vehicle makers, telecoms operators and local authorities are planning our future means of transport in big cities, with the help of some key IEC Standards. Self-driving tractors and agribots are changing agriculture in the countryside as well.
Modern virtual reality (VR) technology has its origins in the military, and later gaming industries. Many sectors use VR applications to improve business and enhance workplace safety. Some examples include aerospace, advertising, automotive, broadcasting, construction, entertainment, medical, retail and tourism.
Printed electronics is a relatively new technology, but it has already proven a disruptive, yet creative process that allows the production of new products and components, low-cost electronic devices, which open the way to a range of new applications. It has started transforming the electronics industry and many other domains by being included in different manufacturing processes. This new technology led to the creation, in 2011, of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 119: Printed electronics.
Transportation is a major source of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG); air transport is a contributor and efforts have been under way to cut emissions from the sector for many years. These are not limited to cutting down emissions from aircraft alone, but include also limiting the environmental impact from airports, and all associated support services and installations. IEC standardization work contributes significantly to this development.
Inventions of past centuries have paved the way for today’s technological innovations. This is the case for many of the electronic components that we use so liberally today. The Leyden Jar, for instance, is the ancestor of the capacitor. Just look at any technology timeline and you’ll have the complete sequence of events that leads to the tiniest components and ever smarter devices that connect everyone and everything.
Energy efficiency (EE) is the most important and easily available source of energy; it can be collected along the entire energy chain, from generation, transmission and storage to final use in industry, homes or transportation. IEC standardization and conformity assessment (CA) work are central to electrical EE at all levels.
Since the mid-18th century, manufacturing has been affected by technical innovations that have led to the gradual replacement of many craft-based activities by mechanized and automated processes. From weaving to the mass production of automobiles and consumer goods and the introduction of information technology (IT) in manufacturing, these processes have had an influence on all areas of life. The emergence of 3D printing is the latest in a long line of disruptive technologies to make its mark on manufacturing.
Smart and connectivity are two of the words that probably best describe our society in the 21st century. Everyone and everything is connected nowadays, or soon will be. Cities, buildings, homes, farms, industrial plants, transportation, appliances, wearables and mobile devices are intrinsically linked to our way of life.
Virtual reality (VR) applications are improving the workplace of diverse industries. From construction, military and mining, to training first responders, practising complex surgery, or enhancing classroom learning, the list of VR solutions being developed continues to grow.
New flexible and organic printing technologies are revolutionizing the medical wearable device market and the IEC is establishing the key relevant International Standards.
Printed electronics is set to revolutionize multiple industries from automotive to photovoltaic. The IEC is helping to find the right applications through standardization.
The rapidly growing number of connected devices that form the backbone of the internet of things must become self-powered. The US research and advisory company Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8,4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31% from 2016, and will reach 20,4 billion by 2020. Powering these with batteries or by connecting them to power networks would be totally impractical, even impossible.
The IEC regularly supports key global and regional industry events, which can present the IEC endorsement on their website and materials.
What is the future for cars, buses and trucks? Manufacturers are competing to stay relevant in the years ahead. The IEC is also paving the way with a number of forward-looking Standards.
The market for agricultural robots has the opportunity for significant expansion: the farming world needs to increase global production whilst it also faces challenges such as reduced availability and the rising costs of farm labour.
Natural disasters strike at regular intervals on our planet. As their number seems to be increasing over the years, numerous measures have been taken, at the national, regional or international level, to help prevent them or to mitigate their impact.
Rapid advances in technology are revolutionizing the roles of aerial, terrestrial and maritime robotic systems in disaster relief, search and rescue (SAR) and salvage operations. Robots and drones can be deployed quickly in areas deemed too unsafe for humans and are used to guide rescuers, collect data, deliver essential supplies or provide communication services.
Critical infrastructure systems are being increasingly targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks. A session of the annual Future Networked Car symposium, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on the fringe of the Geneva Motor Show, looked at measures aimed at Mitigating cyber security threats to automotive systems. A wide range of speakers took part, including government representatives, car and accessory manufacturers, automotive cyber security solutions developers and providers.
Recovering energy can offer attractive solutions for providing additional power to motor vehicles at the same time as cutting their fuel consumption and emissions. They rely on a number of systems that recover thermal, kinetic, or other forms of energy (such as solar) that would either be lost or not used in vehicles.
Long gone is the time when populations knew of an earthquake when it was actually happening, when rescue teams cleared rubble with their bare hands, when it took days to deliver food and medical supplies to devastated and isolated areas in the aftermath of natural disasters. Technology now plays a major role not only in disaster relief but also in disaster prevention and mitigation.
Machine vision has a great future in transportation, particularly as we move towards autonomous vehicles. Dealing with standardization in this area will require joint work between different Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs).
Keeping individuals in need of certain levels of assistance active and living at home as independently and as long as possible is emerging as a major issue in many countries. This drives a significant growth in many alarm, access and remote alert systems. Standardization work from a number of IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and their Subcommittees (SCs) makes possible the development and widespread introduction of such systems.
While recent developments in home automation are bound to make anyone’s life easier, there are certain categories of the population for which it may be a life-changing experience: elderly and/or disabled people have very specific accessibility needs and can benefit fully from the technological advances associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) and the smart home.
The demands posed by a rapidly ageing global population are leading manufacturers of robots to develop technology for providing care and rehabilitation for elderly and impaired people in their own homes.
Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are developed to automate, adapt and/or enhance vehicle systems for safety and better driving.
The IEC regularly supports key global and regional industry events, which can present the IEC endorsement on their website and materials.
The life of people with disabilities has improved drastically thanks to advances in technology. Their mobility outside of the home has increased in leaps and bounds, to the extent that the technology may be used to benefit the able-bodied as well.
The internet of things (IoT) is already part of our lives. It’s penetrated our smart cities and homes, agriculture, automotive/transportation, energy management, entertainment, healthcare, industrial automation and retail environments. It comprises billions of connected, sensorized devices and systems which help to simplify work and personal tasks. As it grows, the different systems and platforms will need to be interoperable, which can be achieved through standardization.
In our smart world, a huge number of devices are part of the internet of things (IoT), or becoming so, many of them integrated with our homes, cities, manufacturing or transport systems and infrastructures. Added to this, a growing number of connected consumer devices, appliances and systems are able to carry out many human daily tasks in the home or workplace, whether for healthcare or entertainment. Research by Gartner forecasts the number of connected things will reach 20,8 billion by 2020, of which 13,5 billion will be from the consumer sector.
For the first time in history, voice recognition has reached a level close to human understanding. This opens up new opportunities, notably in replacing the smartphone as a ubiquitous interface. The sensorization and digitization trends of previous years are now leading to adaptive automation and highly-specialized applications that fundamentally transform the user experience. Last but not least augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are entering the real world of business.
Everyday activities, such as shopping, watching sport on TV or even the ways we work and learn are going to change profoundly in the coming years, as more industries, including education, use augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
The IEC has initiated a White Paper dedicated to Vertical Edge Intelligence in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute’s FOKUS NGNI
Smartness has become a way of life. Today most of our activities are – at least in part – smart. Whether you work, drive, sleep, enjoy an idle moment, it is most likely that smartness is part of it. We also keep our energy consumption in check with smart appliances and meters. Even our pets now have their own smart devices and apps, allowing us to track their every movement. All this smartness has one common denominator: electronic components and in particular sensors.
With the steady increase in energy demand from developing, emerging and developed countries, the recent drop in oil prices as well as national or regional regulations to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the oil and gas sector needs to explore new avenues to expand productivity and at the same time cut down costs. One way to achieve this is to embrace smart technologies.
Sensors provide information about objects, or people and their environment. Networks of sensors in the shape of wearable electronics and integrated into the living environment will support Active Assisted Living (AAL) into the future. Sensors and printed electronics will be increasingly integrated into smart wearable devices to facilitate the implementation of AAL.
The proportion of people aged over 60 will almost double from 12 to 22% between 2015 and 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In line with this, the WHO World Report on Disability states that currently more than one billion people live with some form of disability worldwide. The figure is expected to rise in the coming years as populations age.
Why are home use medical and wellness devices drawing so much attention and growing at an explosive rate? It could be argued that this results from the nexus of the Internet of Things (IoT), the “super-aging” of societies around the world (which is directly tied to patients wanting to be comfortable in their home environments instead of in sterile impersonal clinical environments), the portability of devices, the growth of wearable technologies, the increasing costs of healthcare and the huge regulatory burden/costs of obtaining approval by national regulators. Also, there has been significant growth in the number of standards and regulations that apply to medical devices, especially around software, health informatics, privacy and security issues.
Smart and connectivity are two of the words that probably best describe our society in the 21st century. Everyone and everything is connected nowadays. Cities, buildings, transportation means, mobile devices are becoming smarter. Even the most mundane objects – the smart frying pan is a good example – have their connected version.
Authorities worldwide face the challenge of ensuring improved road safety and providing efficient transport systems to address congested roads and pollution in growing cities. They are also tasked with providing large aging populations and people with disabilities greater mobility.
We are more mobile today than ever before and expect to be able to carry out many daily activities outside the home or office. Having embraced the era of information overload, we want access to whatever information we need anytime and anywhere.
Initially developed for military and subsequently gaming scenarios, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications have found their way into many industries, which are enhancing their products and services through innovative technology.
Take the 169 countries in the IEC family, the 20 000 technical experts who work in standards development, the many Certification Bodies (CBs) and Test Laboratories (TLs) in the IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems, and add to the mix the rapid pace at which technologies are evolving today and you have hundreds, if not thousands of stories that can be told within the IEC community.
Imagine swiping your car seat to change the radio station or heating temperature? How about a uniform which can detect chemical contamination, a tent which generates electricity or a lamp shade which reacts to light and temperature?
Many innovations deployed on the global stage at the 2016 Olympics will find their way into the next generation of smart sports and fitness devices aimed at the consumer market, especially wearable technologies. This sector is enjoying very rapid growth, reflecting underlying trends in technology development and uptake. Improvements in activity trackers have accelerated the trend of moving beyond wearables that monitor just a few vital biometric signs, like heart rate or calories burned, to tools tracking activities specific to particular sports.
Long gone are the days when you had to be home and in front of your television to watch major sports events such as the Olympics or a football championship. Today you have access to broadcast on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and you can even experience virtual reality (VR).
Wish you could get tickets to the Olympics, World Cup or Super Bowl and experience the live atmosphere just once? A new trend is sweeping the sports world that is already allowing fans to feel as if they were at the game without leaving the couch. From football, tennis and F1 racing, to basketball, golf, hockey and more, spectators can watch games literally from new angles.
More than ever before the two major sports event of 2016, the European Football Championship, Euro 2016, and the 2016 Olympics Games, are supported by high-tech electrical and electronic equipment and systems. These make it possible to provide the best possible coverage on and off the venues and ensure high commercial returns for investors and sponsors.
Augmented reality (AR) may not have developed its full potential yet but the technology evolves at such a rapid pace that it should soon be integrated in our personal and professional environment. Architecture, education, medical, sports and entertainment, workplace are just a few areas that can benefit from AR. Tourism and sightseeing may also be revolutionized by the use of AR.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), long associated with gaming and entertainment only, are really developing into essential tools for a number of industry sector: healthcare, education, architecture, urban design and civil engineering, tourism, sports viewing, film and so forth. The explosive (Ex) industry is also beginning to see the advantages of using AR/VR in their daily operations. The mining sector in particular has a lot to gain from adopting these new technologies.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology is all around us. Whether playing a mind-blowing game, training for surgery, enhancing classroom learning, or stepping inside a building that hasn’t yet been constructed to solve problems before they happen, diverse industry sectors are using VR/AR applications in creative ways. According to a report by Digi-Capital, a company advising AR/VR, mobile and games leaders in Asia, Europe and the US, AR/VR could hit USD 150 billion revenue by 2020, with AR accounting for USD 120 billion and VR for the remaining USD 30 billion.
From sports events to cultural and historic venues, the leisure industry is embracing virtual and augmented reality in creative ways, to make game viewing even more exciting and offer new travel perspectives.
From robots delivering small packages in cities, to driverless trucks transporting bulk loads over long distances, advances in robotic delivery in the next decade will lead to significant changes in retail markets, the freight haulage industry and transport in general.
In the past, a little knowledge in mechanics was all it took to do minor repair on your car. Nowadays you probably need a degree in IT engineering to perform even the most mundane type of maintenance on your vehicle.
Robotic‑assisted surgery involves a surgeon using a computer‑assisted electromechanical device to carry out complex and technically demanding medical procedures on a patient. The value of surgical robotic tools lies in their role as machines that extend the capabilities and precision of the surgeon, rather than ones that replace human skills.
The decreasing cost of electronic devices and growing access to mobile technology and wireless networks are driving the expansion of the digital economy. Integrating biosensors into this mix could bring great benefits for medical care and for increasing safety in hazardous environments. IEC standardization work will have an important role to play in these developments.
Is there a time of day or night when we do not rely on electrical or electronic devices in one way or another? Home and workplace are obviously full of appliances, devices and equipment that help us in our daily professional tasks and domestic chores. And with the ever growing number of wearables with us at all times, everything’s connected. Our reliance on electronics seems to be a 24/7 affair.
In our mobile world, we carry our lives in our portable devices and expect to be able to access information anytime, anywhere. On a train, in a shop, out walking, we surf the net, communicate through social media and messaging and listen to music on our smart phones. We have also entered the age of continual self-monitoring, be it the number of steps we take, our heart rate, glucose levels or sleeping patterns, because it can help improve our lives and just because we can.
In our post-9/11 world, safety and security have been top priorities. We want safety and security at all times. From applications on our smartphones to complex electrical and electronic security systems in airports, from the baby monitors we install in our homes to state-of-the-art access controls in industrial plants, we try to cover and protect all aspects of our lives. But threats are still there, lurking and ready to pounce when we least expect it.
Connected safety and security systems and devices with remote monitoring capabilities are expanding their share of the global smart home market. A survey in the UK in July 2015 identified security as the second most important of five key drivers for the connected home, after smart energy. The BI Intelligence research company estimates that by 2019 home security systems will account for 38% of the connected home market.
IEC work continues to grow in importance. Today, electricity drives everything. It is unseen but indispensable. So normal that many of us never think about it.
Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Energy and Smart everything…None of these would be remotely possible without electronics. Sensors in particular are present everywhere and they have a major impact on our home and work environments.
The drone as we know it today began life in the 1800s and was originally used for target practice to train military personnel. Now, they are increasingly available for less than USD 1 000 in the consumer market, and their potential development in commercial and leisure applications is slowly replacing the public perception of their use as tools for military operations abroad.
As smart commercial buildings become incorporated into the wider energy control networks of smart cities and linked to other aspects such as transport, water and air quality, the increasing intelligence and automation of buildings will play a key role in the smart cities of the future.
Electronics are everywhere in commercial and office buildings. Elevators, escalators, automatic sliding doors or lighting all rely heavily on electronics nowadays. The same can be said of most of the smaller devices that equip stores and offices. While safety is an important issue for any electronic device, it is becoming crucial for equipment that is used by hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day.
Fibre optic lines have revolutionized communications, from long-distance phone calls to cable TV and Internet. Business and industry have used fibre optic technology for years to move large amounts of data quickly. Fibre-based communication is expected to grow tremendously in years to come.
Sensors: they are invisible, most people don’t even know what they look like, but they are omnipresent today. They have a major impact on our home and work environments and are making our lives much safer and easier in many ways.
Big Data is set to change the way we work by improving operations and allowing faster, more accurate analyses which lead to more informed decisions being made. Confident decision-making could in turn lead to greater efficiency, reduced risks and cost savings. While the oil and gas sector hasn’t really embraced the concept yet, it could derive huge benefit from it.
The focus of the January/February edition of IEC e-tech is on multimedia and consumer electronics.
Experiencing sporting events live in outdoor or indoor installations is a unique experience. In addition to suitable lighting that has made it possible to hold sporting events both indoors and at night, sports venues have seen the introduction of a variety of electrical and electronic installations that benefit followers by providing a safer environment in which they can enjoy their favourite games and events.
The vision of the future sees robots doing a number of things that humans don’t want to do, such as vacuuming. Though the use of artificial intelligence is not yet widespread, robots are moving into sectors that seemed unlikely even a decade ago; for example, assisting in surgical procedures. IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, helps to ensure the reliability of components used in any robots that care for us.
The Louvre, one of the largest museums in the world, is a grand sight to behold. Its front entrance, a glass pyramid built in the late 1980s, is imposing in its size and shine. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres. Around 9 million visits are made to the Louvre every year.
In thousands of ways, new and smaller technologies are helping us move forward. From surgical tools that are smarter to toys that let us compete at playing tennis with someone around the world, electronics and their components are doing more than ever before.
The heart has been a symbol of human emotion and complexity since before Common Era. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart ruled the way people thought, their wisdom and who they were. The ancient Greeks thought that it was the heart, and not the brain, that controlled logic and emotion. It was in the Middle Ages, when Valentine’s Day gained popularity, that the concept of romantic love became associated with the broken heart.
In countless ways, modern day technologies have changed the way we live. The emergence and extraordinary success of small mobile devices has increased our reliance on electronics at all times of day – and night. Whatever we do, wherever we are, we rely on them for communication, connecting with others – whether at work or at home – travelling, playing and keeping fit.
We don’t see them, most of us don’t even know what they look like, but we are all dependent on them. They make life easier and safer. Modern technologies couldn’t do without them. In short, sensors are indispensable.
There are all types of robots loaded with electrotechnology and the electronics and semiconductor industries are relying increasingly on robotics for their product assembly processes. According to data compiled by the US Robotic Industries Association, the volume of robot sales to the electronics and semiconductor industry rose by nearly two-thirds during the first quarter of 2011.
Your 15-year-old washing machine just broke down and you need to buy a new one? You’re in for a big surprise…the simple washing machine that you switch on by turning the operating dial and pressing the start button is gone. The new machines all use advanced technologies, taking modern lifestyles and environmental issues into consideration.