On the 20th of October, we attended the CAN DO Innovation Summit in the Science Centre here in Glasgow. The day was packed with inspiring speakers and workshops covering the future of industry here in Scotland.
The future of connectivity talk was especially exciting as it presented innovation in some unexpected areas. The discussion caught me by surprise; I was sure 5G was going to dominate the conversations. Instead, it was the use of established technologies in new ways which stood out to me most.
It’s easy to think 5G is just a simple step up from what we have now, but the applications could be transformative. 5G will provide fast network connectivity for millions of devices creating opportunities in industrial IoT, transport, and paving the way to truly smart cities through embedded. It'll minimise latency issues while accommodating vast amounts of data, making the likes of streamed augmented reality for the masses viable, potentially changing healthcare, entertainment and work. While this is all represents some fantastic opportunities, it was good to see the future of connectivity is more diverse than just 5G.
The problem of reliable, remote connectivity is vast, so there is much room for innovation. Currently, billions of people do not have access to the internet, and is having a significant impact on communities and industries which work in remote areas. It's no surprise that companies like SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb are looking to capitalise on space-based communication to serve unconnected areas and people.
Scotland has many prosperous industries, both old and new, like aquaculture, whisky and renewable energy, where you wouldn’t imagine there is much connection to Scotland’s space sector. On the contrary, Allan Cannon, CEO of R3-IoT, told us how they're innovating in this space by designing and launching satellites to deliver IoT connectivity to some of the most remote parts of the world.
Gathering valuable data to craft insights and inform decisions is increasingly crucial for businesses with remote operations. For many of Scotland’s industries, this hasn't been particularly feasible. In these remote industries, workers often travel significant distances to manually collect data which quickly becomes outdated.
Industries such as remote healthcare, environmental monitoring, energy, and agriculture frequently use IoT sensors to monitor essential equipment and resources, therefore it’s critical to get quick and easy access to this data. With new connections enabled by Scottish-built nanosatellites, a salmon farm can now be outfitted with sensors that transmit live data about water quality back to the cloud. This shift to real-time data enables these companies to make faster, more informed decisions about their operations.
Bringing connectivity to remote industries is driven by a clear market need. Throughout the talk, the panel stressed the importance of the challenge, but made clear that the tech was not the driver; the innovation came from applying existing technologies to creatively solve the problem.
This idea of finding meaningful use cases and using technology as an enabler instead of allowing the technology to drive the design was echoed not only throughout this talk but throughout the whole event. I think this is a crucial sentiment to keep in mind when tackling innovation.
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