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Dr. Makimoto Predicts "Next Big Thing" at Semico Outlook Event

Dr. Tsugio Makimoto, Chairman of the Society of Semiconductor Industry Seniors, spoke this morning at the Semico Outlook event about "Chip Innovations Opening the Age of the Digital Nomad."  He pointed out that devices from the Communications, Computing, and Consumer areas are converging into more intelligent portable digital products, driven by the digitalization of everything and with chip innovation.  He noted how PC companies are changing, just in the last few years.  Apple is becoming a consumer company with the iPod, Microsoft is now in the game business with the Xbox, and, most significantly, IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo. 

Our world has transitioned from analog to digital, and chip innovation has been the most important enabler of this transition.  Dr. Makimoto showed a slide of a $6 million Cray-1A supercomputer from 1976, based on 5 micron bipolar technology.  He said the Cray's performance specs are comparable to the 2006 iPod Shuffle, which is based on 90nm CMOS technology.  Dr. Makimoto predicts that the "Digital Nomad" will change where and how we live, reducing or eliminating rush hour as more people telecommute and live in rural settings.  Remote health care and education will also fuel this trend, as will the desire to live a "low-carbon" lifestyle with solar power, an electric car, and LEDs for green lighting.  Dr. Makimotor predicts that the next big thing will be language translation and recognition. 

The challenges include many dialects within a language, words that have different contextual meanings, differences in people's voices and environmental noise.  When it is perfected, it will enable voice interaction with GPS devices, PCs, robots, and more.  Dr. Makimoto used the example of a little bird representing a device with voice recognition and cameras that could record his daily interactions and activities.  It would be a smart device, probably with a substantial amount of memory, but Dr. Makimoto acknowledged that the debut of such a device is probably well off from today.