Rambus CMO Jerome Nadel recently headlined a CES 2016 AppNation panel exploring the market potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). The panel was moderated by Matthew Quint of the Columbia Business School, and also included Brian Dunphy of Gimbal and Andres Wolberg-Stok of Citi.
Quint kicked off the panel by noting that Gartner predicts over 50 billion connected devices by 2020, with Cisco calculating a staggering $14.4 trillion (in value at stake) from 2013 to 2022. According to Nadel, successfully participating in the burgeoning IoT economy will require companies to adopt a comprehensive platform-centric approach to products, rather than making do with point solutions.
“It is important for companies to think at least three steps ahead – like in chess – when it comes to the designing, manufacturing and marketing products for the Internet of Things,” he explained. “A product that does not interact well with others in its category could very well be a one-off; a point solution rather than a platform. If that is the case, it may very well be ephemeral without much of a future.”
Nadel also pointed out that the true value of IoT products – for both consumers and providers – could be found in their potential ability to create meaningful and actionable data for the end-user. As such, says Nadel, it is critical for consumer data to be protected by devices powered by chips that offer a hardware-based, silicon root of trust.
“[Of course], this is true not only of individual consumer devices, but for smart city infrastructure as well,” Nadel continued. “That is why we see hardware, like software, evolving to meet industry needs. Firmware has been around for a long time, so we are now placing more emphasis on creating a versatile, secure core and stack capable of managing and even reprogramming [repurposing] a device throughout its life-cycle.”
In addition to discussing hardware-based security, Nadel touched upon Rambus’ lensless smart sensor (LSS) technology, which he described as an integral part of the company’s “capture, secure, move” approach to the IoT. LSS – which was recently featured by the New York Times, offers a new approach to optical sensing that delivers on package, power and price by replacing traditional lenses with tiny diffractive optics.
“LSS optics are approximately the size of a human hair, with a power envelope so low that certain applications could ultimately run on energy harvested from their environment,” Nadel told conference attendees. “As such, we believe LSS technology offers the potential to positively disrupt the future of smart homes and cities, transportation and eye tracking for digital eyewear and VR/AR devices .”