Mobile devices are arguably the most prominent technology in people’s hands – we have them with us all the time. Because of their pervasive nature, they fulfill essential needs and solve problems for people around the world. This is particularly true for people in developing countries and it is in these nations that we expect to see the largest growth in mobile devices over the next several years. Together as an industry, we have the opportunity and the challenge to provide technologies and solutions that cater to the unique needs of this growing mobile population. At the Intel Developer Forum today, I brought in guests with diverse backgrounds from around the world to share their thoughts on both the opportunities and challenges we are facing as an industry.
Emerging Markets Teaching Us to Solve Real Problems with Mobile
In mature markets, the infrastructure is in place to bring improvements to commerce, transportation and shelter for more convenience to consumers and business owners. But in developing countries, these needs are met in very different and innovative ways.
Toby Shapshak, a well-known journalist from Africa who has written about how technology changes people’s lives in the region for the past two decades, joined me on stage to shed light on how he has seen mobile technology provide change, progress, and innovation. In remote villages around the world, Farmers are using mobile phones to control their water supply and irrigation. Another example is in Africa, mobile banking platform M-Pesa is serving consumers through short messaging services for funds transfer, without the need for a bank.
We also shared an example from Grameen Intel. Grameen is known globally for micro-financing and community development in emerging markets. Intel has teamed up with them to develop software to solve some of the world’s biggest problems and create new ecosystems with opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators. World hunger remains a huge issue, especially for this part of the world. With their new application called eAgro Suit, farmers can grow crops more efficiently at lower costs so they can feed more people. Kazi Huque, CEO of the joint venture, demonstrated the new app, which helps farmers run soil analysis and decide on when and where to plant and harvest. Results have been impressive – for example, a rice farmer saw a 26 percent greater yield with less investment in fertilizers which equated to a 46 percent return on investment. Furthermore, those with farming knowledge and access to the technology are becoming entrepreneurs, offering the service to their neighboring farms.
Intel also has various processor platforms and programs available today or in development to help emerging markets bring their innovation to life. Later this year, Intel will introduce SoFIA, our integrated mobile system-on-a-chip platform for entry and value mobile devices. This will allow for even more affordable devices with great performance, connectivity and battery life giving developers an broader audience to reach with their creative applications and solutions.
New Innovations for Mobile
In the coming months, we are going to see some exciting new technology advancements for mobile devices, which create new for developers to innovate. As an industry, we will continue to miniaturize highly sophisticated technology which historically has only been possible in PCs and bring them to phones and tablets. We showed two examples today: a depth-enabled camera and biometrics.
Neil Hand, vice president of Dell Tablet Group, joined me on stage to highlight the new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series tablet. This is the first device that includes Intel® RealSenseTM snapshot. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus, and selective filters with a touch of a finger. With the camera’s ability to recognize depth in a photograph, people have more freedom to manipulate their photos easily. For example, Neil showed how someone could change the focus of a photo to different objects or foregrounds in editing. Objects within the photo can be measured (no more arguing: How big was that fish?!). This camera is the first product in the Intel RealSense™ family – a family of technologies that consumers can more naturally and intuitively interact with their devices, bringing new ways to create, share, and collaborate in a 3D world.
Another example of new hardware and software advancements is in the area of biometrics. Dr. Salil Prabhakar, president and CEO Delta ID Inc., showed their ActiveIRIS® technology, an iris recognition technology running on an Intel® Atom™ Z3500 processor series concept phone that is expected to provide a fast, reliable, safe and secure iris recognition for mobile users on the go.Prabhakar explained how the technology is going to be a game changer for people in India, where the government wants to ensure the right to food for every citizen, but is held back by their current system which is overrun with fraud. By using ActiveIRIS scanning, they have convenient, fast and reliable biometric authentication to recognize identities and ultimately include all individuals to provide a more secure delivery of food and benefits to its population, especially the poor. Prabhakar also explained how he believes biometrics technology will also increasingly become important technology for the developed parts of the world, enabling safer, more secure, and convenient user authentication, which could help eliminate the hassle of passwords for people.
Intel’s communications portfolio is also growing to meet the evolving needs of the global mobile ecosystem. We announced today the commercial availability of our second generation LTE platform, the Intel® XMM™ 7260 LTE-Advanced modem with Samsung Galaxy Alpha* premium smartphone shipping with it. The Intel XMM™7260 modem offers multimode FDD LTE support for global coverage, and five-mode Intel® XMM™ 7262 LTE FDD/TDD chipset for China and world markets, providing device manufacturers a high-performance, power-efficient solution for the coming wave of LTE-Advanced networks and devices. I also talked about the Intel® XMM™ 6255 modem, the smallest stand-alone 3G modem, with a size just slightly larger than a penny, making it ideal for tiny and unconventional connected computing devices like wearables, smart meters, sensors, and industrial equipment.
These are just a few examples of the emerging hardware, software and communications technologies that will set in motion the next billions of devices. There are challenges for sure. But, if we are successful, mobile technology will enable economic growth, better services for agriculture, wellness, education and social connection, and will prove to be fruitful for all those serving this important population.
Prof. Dr. Hermann Eul is corporate vice president and general manager of the Mobile and Communications Group at Intel Corporation. In his role, Eul leads a worldwide organization focused on the development of hardware, software and connectivity ingredients for phones, tablets, Ultrabook™ and other mobile devices, and complete system solutions. Eul hosted a session for more than 500 developers at Intel Developers’ Forum 2014 on mobile technology.