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Internet of Things October 2019 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Guy Garrud

Connected Agriculture

Why is this topic significant?

The agriculture sector has much potential to gain from connected technologies.

Description

Agriculture is a vital industry that, globally, is worth in excess of $10 trillion. Smart agriculture technologies is a small but rapidly growing segment that already measures in the billions of US dollars. Indeed, a September 2019 estimate by Data Bridge Market Research estimates that the smart farming market was worth $7.53 billion in 2018 and that this worth will grow to almost $20 billion by 2026.

The promise of smart agriculture lies in leveraging greater yields and more efficiently using water, fertilizers, and labor. Key to realizing this potential is to gather and analyze data. An example of innovation in this field is start-up company Rogo Ag, which arose from research at Purdue University's College of Agriculture. Rogo Ag is developing an automated robot that takes soil samples in numerous places across individual fields. The robot uses lidar and satellite-navigation technology to track its location as it moves and logs the source for each soil sample.

Finnish telecom company Nokia is also seeking to gain a foothold in the smart agriculture market. The company recently conducted a trial of its Worldwide IoT Network Grid business in Algeria (the largest country in Africa). Nokia partnered with the country's largest network operator, Djezzy, to provide a combination of IoT devices, network connection, and cloud computing. The trial project focused on water management (an important concern in Algeria) and made use of soil monitors that measured soil temperature, humidity, water content, evaporation, and salinity. The trial resulted in a 40% drop in water consumption after one month and a 5% increase in revenue from the land.

Implications

Agriculture has the potential to be a highly data-driven industry. Crop yields are sensitive to many factors, including soil conditions, climate, and predominant weather conditions in any growing season. Most major agricultural companies have already embraced the importance of data as a core component of their industry.

Smart agriculture as a service could become an increasingly important industry in the coming decades. Changes in climate have a large impact on the viability of crops in changing atmospheric and soil conditions. Additionally, water management will become increasingly important and sophisticated in the coming decades as various countries worldwide struggle to match water supply with demands from agriculture, consumers, and industry. Dynamically monitoring soil and climate conditions both within a growing season and year to year will be vital for farmers needing to ensure that they select optimal crops, fertilizers, insecticides, and irrigation systems.

Impacts/Disruptions

Agriculture is likely to be a large market for IoT-service providers. The industry is crucial for ensuring so-called food security, and given a growing global population, the importance of optimizing the complex biological systems in growing food will continue to increase in the long term.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Farming, food production, national security, fertilizers/pesticides, telecoms, IoT device manufacturing

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Expanding Opportunities for Facial Recognition

By David Strachan-Olson
Strachan-Olson is a consultant with Strategic Business Insights.

Why is this topic significant?

Advances in facial recognition are enabling many new applications, but public perception of the technology could heavily shape commercial opportunities.

Description

In recent years, facial-recognition technology has advanced significantly. Not only can modern facial-recognition systems identify a specific face, they can do so in large crowds and in situations in which potentially hundreds of thousands of faces could constitute a database to match against. Facial-recognition technology can also analyze faces and expressions in order to estimate certain parameters—including age, attentiveness, and emotional states.

China is a leader in emerging commercial facial-recognition technology, with key players including Megvii, SenseTime, CloudWalk, and Yitu. Within China, these companies have worked on a number of government and commercial projects. For instance, some government housing projects in Beijing use facial recognition to prevent illegal subletting. Companies have also provided facial-recognition technology for smartphone manufacturers and for mobile-payment vendors. Currently, a significant portion of Chinese facial-recognition vendors' sales comes from within China, but the vendors are seeking international expansion partially through China's Belt and Road program. For example, CloudWalk is developing a facial-recognition system for the Zimbabwean government, and Yitu is providing facial-recognition capabilities to police in Malaysia.

Implications

"Internet of Cameras" in the August 2018 Viewpoints discusses how advances in computer vision and the wide availability of low-cost cameras could enable many applications that might have previously necessitated multiple physical sensors. A connected camera using facial recognition could help IoT devices and "smart spaces" better track and interact with individuals. Early initial opportunities seem to be concentrated in government and security applications, but the technology could also have applications in commercial operations and in the home. For instance, a retailer might want to track the browsing behavior and sentiment of individuals as they move through a store using cameras. In the home, facial recognition could help give digital assistants context about where occupants are and what they are doing.

Impacts/Disruptions

Facial-recognition technology has many potential applications, but individuals in certain regions may find the technology controversial. For example, individuals in the United States appear to be uncertain about facial-recognition technology, especially for government uses. Some cities—including San Francisco, California—have banned local government agencies from using facial recognition. Such early actions are likely a sign of public uncertainty and push back against the technology, which could also carry over to commercial applications. For example, Amazon.com's Amazon Go checkout-less convenience stores reportedly do not use facial-recognition technology and instead rely on other computer-vision techniques to track shoppers as they move through the store.

Countries in Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, and the Middle East seem more open than other countries to using facial-recognition technology. Although projects in these regions will initially focus on government and security applications, stakeholders should expect more commercial opportunities to follow.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Computer vision, security, ambient intelligence, smart environments, smart retailing, smart homes

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: