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The Internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is arguably one of the most important technical developments in recent history, on a par with the advent of personal computing in the 1980s. While the concept has been around for decades now, recent advances in technology—such as extreme miniaturization, low-power electronics, and pervasive satellite and wireless connectivity for personal devices—have made it a reality: almost five billion objects could be described as connected in 2015.

By some estimates, the IoT will generate up to USD 19 trillion in revenues over the next decade.

But how many businesses are ready to benefit from these opportunities?

CSEM is one of Europe's leading providers of IoT solutions. With more than 15 years of experience in this domain, our multidisciplinary team includes experts in hardware and software, wireless communications and sensors, and systems integration and standards, all taking a holistic view of our customers' applications in order to provide them with optimized answers to the challenges they face.

Our focus is not on the latest gadget but on developing practical, robust systems that can solve problems and add value to our customers' businesses.

Recent CSEM technological developments and solutions include:

  • A best-in-class Bluetooth Low Energy RFIC consuming less than 5mW.
  • An award-winning, fully autonomous wireless sensor network for aircraft.
  • An emergency evacuation system for cruise liners.
  • A fully integrated optical heart-rate monitor for smartwatches.
  • A miniaturized wireless sensing module for hearing aids and pacemakers.
  • A portable, 3-lead medical ECG sensor.
  • High performance, easy to integrate, photovoltaic energy scavengers.

The world’s leading corporations rely on CSEM for their advanced IOT solutions.

With each challenge, an opportunity for Switzerland

During CSEM’s November 2015 Business Day, Jean-Paul Bardyn, CTO of Semtech, and Alain-Serge Porret, Vice-President of Integrated and Wireless Systems at CSEM, led a discussion with industry experts on the prospects and potential pitfalls of the IoT for Switzerland’s economy.

Opportunities for the Swiss market

The introductory talk began by highlighting the importance of end-user software in the IoT ecosystem: "The IoT is enabled by hardware, empowered by the cloud, and sold as an application." And while software development is not Switzerland’s strongest sector, there is also serious business waiting to be done in big-data storage hardware solutions, particularly in view of the massive amount of data generated by today’s systems—best illustrated by the fact that we will soon go beyond petabytes and exabytes into yottabytes (1024) and brontobytes (1027) of storage.

With all of this data comes a further challenge—and thus an opportunity: ensuring security for and gaining the trust of those users who are generating the data. The potential malicious manipulation of connected cars (a projected 250,000 cars will be connected to the Internet by 2020) and the possible disruption of heavily connected energy infrastructures are just two examples of the dangers that cyberattacks pose. In a world where data privacy and protection will soon become its own subset of economic opportunities within IoT development, Switzerland could play a key role. There is, after all, a lot to be said for Switzerland’s stability—economic, political, and social—in an ultra-globalized market in which data security is a top priority.

The experts converge

After the introduction, it was time for the over 30 industry experts attending the November 2015 Business Day to come up with some solutions to the challenges facing IoT development in Switzerland. One solution proposed was to capitalize on Swiss strengths in hardware to create a fully connected ecosystem. By building vertically integrated solutions directly into the hardware—having devices that interact smoothly between themselves at the deepest architectural level—Switzerland could come out ahead in a typically software-driven market.

And what if—with the aim of capitalizing on Switzerland’s existing strengths in this field—a nationwide research program was launched? Such a program could, for example, take the form of one of the country’s well-established and highly effective National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR). Such an NCCR could federate research and technology organizations such as CSEM, industry partners, and academic powerhouses such as ETHZ and EPFL. Taking advantage of this rich R&D ecosystem—a system that already benefits from healthy cross-institutional integration and generous support from the public sector—Switzerland could come out on top in the IoT race. All that is required is that policy makers and experts converge on a shared path to competitive development.

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