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TECH TALK: Digital Gadgetry: Key Drivers

February 20th, 2002 · No Comments

Some of they key drivers pushing innovation in the world of gadgets are:

Miniaturisation: Things just keep getting smaller. Driven by Moore’s Law (processing power doubles every 18 months), more and more power is being packed into tinier spaces, creating smaller gadgets. This has been the key factor in the PC revolution and continues to drive to the next era.

Storage: Storage capacities are increasing rapidly (estimated to be doubling every 9 months) and costs are falling. Apple’s iPod comes with a 5 GB disk. As storage space increases, it now becomes possible to put hundreds of songs or even movies on to hard disks and equally importantly, be able to transfer them.

Bandwidth: The fibre optics revolution and falling bandwidth prices may have caused grief to many telecom companies but it has surely made customers very happy! As broadband now moves towards homes, it becomes possible to push digital content to consumers.

Wireless:This is being driven in two directions – the cellphone companies are creating high-speed networks (2.5G and 3G, capable of transmitting in speeds in excess of hundreds of kilobits per second), and wireless LANs (via the 802.11 family of protocols, using open spectrum). Both will co-exist: 802.11 will deliver connectivity for the last few feet (for example, in homes) while the cellular networks will create the platform for ubiquitous wide area networks.

Digitisation:The world is moving from analog to digital rapidly.

The Internet Protocol (IP) is forming the distribution base for digital media. Digital communications was earlier limited to messages and files; it now extends to photos, music and movies. This digitisation leverages on the Internet as the transmission medium and computers and specialised devices for storage, recording, playback and manipulation.

Content Distribution: How do you get the content to the users? Writes Kevin Werbach in Release 1.0, “Distributed content distribution focuses on end-to-end delivery of replicated objects or streams instead of packets or code. It differs from content-delivery networks (CDNs) such as Digital Island and Akamai that are now widely used by popular Websites, because these services optimize distribution from Web hosting facilities only to the edge of the public Internet, not all the way to a particular desktop. Distributed distribution creates multiple copies of each object and uses smart algorithms to pull data from nearby sources, including other users. Because it involves replication, it works well for one-to-many scenarios, such as streaming video broadcasts and downloads from a Web page. The economics of the distributed approach improve as the same content goes out to a larger audience.”

Battery Power:Improving battery power is critical for portable devices. We want to take photos without having to worry about the nearest power socket. We want our music to travel with us. As batteries last longer, our usage of digital gadgets will increase.

Taken together, all of these drivers are creating the underpinnings of a revolution in the converging world of computers, communications and consumer electronics.

Tags: Tech Talk

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