What is a technology trend? We think perhaps it is all about thoughts on what technologies will be realized in our future and enrich the world. We at i-PRO looked at five technology trends in 2022.
1. Growing World of Edge AI
The evolution of semiconductors has pushed AI out of the server world and into edge devices. Edge AI, which can analyze data in the field without aggregating large amounts of data, will expand its application area.
One of the major benefits of edge AI is “higher precision real-time”. For example, if an edge-AI-mounted camera detects an intruder or an anomaly, it can generate an alert with little false recognition and no time lag.
Another benefit is “more scalability”. Scalability is the expandability of device functions. In the past, for example, technology required expensive servers to collect information about people's characteristics and clothing colors. However, AI has made it possible to transcribe this information into text. Since the data is small text data, information can be easily collected and accumulated from hundreds of terminals. With this system, even on public roads where many vehicles travel, by simply entering the characteristics of the vehicle you want to find, you can instantly search and understand when and where it was captured on the camera, and track its trajectory.
i-PRO's Edge AI cameras can install AI applications developed by partner companies on the camera to maximize the possibilities of Edge AI. Using this open development environment, we collaborate with various partners to quickly create and provide new ideas and systems.
2. Deepening and Diversification of Sensing Devices
In order to meet the diverse needs that occur at various sites, sensing devices installed in Edge AI continue to be diversified and become more accurate (deepened).
By making the sensing devices extremely miniaturized, it will be possible for financial institutions to incorporate them into ATMs and payment terminals, which will be useful for various authentications of payment terminals. By installing a fisheye lens, it will be possible to meet the needs of looking at the store from a bird's-eye view and grasping the customer's flow line and the number of people waiting for the checkout.
Edge AI is also beginning to be used in the field of factory automation (FA). Since the above-mentioned edge AI devices can be recognized completely within the system, faster product inspections are now possible, and the quality judgment of products, which was conventionally performed with multiple devices, is now possible with one system. Research is also underway to attach an edge AI with a 3D camera to the fingertips of an assembly robot so that it can operate while recognizing the position of parts. When this technology is put into practical use, the autonomous operation will be realized in which the robot finds the parts by itself and completes the assembly, no matter where the parts are placed.
3. Evolving Communication Technology and Accelerating Wirelessization
The foundation of the technology we have seen so far is the high speed, large capacity, and low latency of communication technology. Technology that transmits large amounts of data in infinitely real-time is more important than ever.
Under such circumstances, the 5th generation mobile communication system, so-called "5G", is riding the wave of DX promotion and is becoming widespread in Japan. What we pay attention to is "Local 5G," which started accepting license applications in 2020. This has enabled businesses and local governments to build a 5G environment within their buildings and premises. Since many devices can be connected at the same time and low-delay transmission is guaranteed, cooperative operation between installed equipment and mobile objects (mobile devices, FA robots, etc.) will be realized in FA and IoT environments, and it is expected that a major system change will occur.
4. Fusion of Real and Virtual
In 2022, "Metaverse," which is said to be the next-generation virtual space, is likely to be a hot topic. It is also new to remember that Facebook announced that it would shift its business focus to "Metaverse" and changed the company name to "Meta". Even in the area of edge AI and sensing devices, the fusion of the real world and virtual space is a hot topic.
For example, if you install cameras and sensors in various places in a store and collect data in real time, you can reproduce a 3D store in virtual space. This is called digital twin technology because it means copying the real in virtual space. Since camera images taken from multiple viewpoints are combined to create a virtual space, a 3D space without blind spots is reproduced.
If the movement of people can be grasped in this virtual space, it is expected that marketing data acquisition, automatic payment at the timing when the product is put in the basket, and detection of abnormalities due to crowded people will be realized.
5. Realization of Autonomous Security System Without Human Intervention
The spread of advanced sensing devices and edge AI, innovations in communication technology, and the reproduction of the real world in virtual space are expected to realize autonomous security systems that will autonomously discover and solve problems without human intervention in the near future.
It is the cooperation of edge AI and mechatronics that makes this possible. A series of security flows can be automated by collecting, integrating, and analyzing the data acquired and recognized by edge AI, and if necessary, solving problems by utilizing robots deployed at the site.
In Japan, since the ban on non-visual flight in manned areas will be lifted by December 2022, demonstration experiments using drones that perform autonomous flight are being conducted in various places, and this will also be incorporated into the automated security flow. There may be a future like that.
For example, it won't be long before the AI analyzes every moment captured by a surveillance camera and determines that an abnormality has occurred, and then robots and drones take quick action.
Technology is constantly being updated, and sensing technology that captures the "truth" in the real field is essential. In 2022, i-PRO will continue to be a manufacturer, striving to develop sensing devices that support the latest technologies.