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Hardware Pioneers 2024

30th May 2024
Caitlin Gittins
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Collaboration and communication were key themes at the recent Hardware Pioneers event, as the industry faces challenges such as regulatory compliance and issues in cellular IoT connectivity that require close cooperation and information sharing. 

Electronic Specifier was present at the event, which ran from 28-29 May in London to report on the latest trends, challenges, and product innovations.

On the evening of 28 May, Hardware Pioneers ran talks by industry experts on topics including neuromorphic AI in space, developing managed ethernet switches, and machine learning in robotics applications.

Alf Kuchenbuch, VP of Sales, EMEA at BrainChip, discussed neuromorphic AI and its benefits in space. Neuromorphic computing is inspired by the brain's functions and responses. Kuchenbuch explained that while space agencies are risk-averse, they recognise the necessity of AI. The applications for neuromorphic AI are vast, including earth observation, planetary landers, rover and drone navigation, autonomous docking, debris removal, and space situational awareness (SSA).

Moe Sani, Associate Principal Software Engineer at Dyson, spoke extensively about applying machine learning on the edge for robotics. He highlighted the challenge robotics face in perceiving and responding to constantly changing environments, using the example of Dyson’s robotic hoovers. Typical challenge for robotics is their vision system in being able to perceive and respond to a continually changing environment, which is a common situation for robotics Dyson uses in a hoover, for example. If a chair is moved from the kitchen to the living room, the challenge is on the robot to perceive it as a chair leg rather than mistaking it for a pet leg. 

Sani noted, "Localisation, perception, navigation, manipulation, human-robot interaction and control systems are all challenges that AI can solve." He explained that AI's ability to continuously learn from its environment makes it well-suited to robotics, allowing robots to adapt to changes. "AI tends to be more adaptive to the changes, that’s one of the benefits it brings to the table," said Sani.

The following day, 29 May, brought new insights with talks on cellular IoT connectivity and the EU Cyber Resilience Act (CRA), addressing challenges and bottlenecks.

Toby Gasston, Mobile Core Product Lead at Wireless Logic, provided an informal history of cellular IoT connectivity, illustrating how much has changed. "The most you’d do with cellular data is to check your email," he said, highlighting the simplicity of early cellular IoT. Gasston pointed to 2010 as a turning point with the launch of the first iPhone, the App Store, and Facebook. Today's developments, such as wafer-level silicon, Narrowband-IoT, and eSim, reflect a complex landscape. Gasston also highlighted the lack of communication between technology developers and mobile network operators (MNOs), saying, "I feel people haven’t been speaking readily enough … there hasn’t been enough working together." He cited that there were two to three million modules in 2010, and in 2023 alone, 600 million modules were shipped globally.

Chris Jones, Director of Applications at Crypto Quantique, discussed the upcoming Cyber Resilience Act, which requires hardware and software manufacturers to adhere to stringent cybersecurity standards. “It’s important to understand that this is a problem,” Jones emphasised. The CRA, approved by the EU Parliament in March 2024, will come into force in January 2025. Jones noted that products need to be compliant for five years on the market, requiring continuous monitoring, and documentation must be maintained for 10 years after a product is decommissioned.

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