Thatâ€™s one of the many visions for the future that Broadcomâ€™s Henry Samueli shared with a crowd of some 250 engineers, scientists, designers and students at the Marconi Societyâ€™s annual symposium this week.
His insight spanned a number of topics at the event â€“ life after Mooreâ€™s Law, the unlocked potential of the human brain and the use of holographic projections and gesture inputs in future generations of television. But in terms of chip design, he sees the next frontier centered around our bodies, not our devices.
â€śHealth monitoring and diagnostics, with sensors everywhere in the environment, your body and for your health, that will be the next twenty years of innovation in our field,â€ť Broadcomâ€™s co-founder, CTO and chairman told the crowd. â€śThatâ€™s the next big thing.â€ť
His audience, of course, soaked up all of the vision and foresight that could be offered by Samueli, who was also receiving his 2012 Marconi Society Prize and Fellowship award at the event. Held on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, near Broadcom’s world headquarters, the Marconi Society event also featured a Young Scholars Panel for aspiring engineering and technology students to share their research.
This yearâ€™s theme was “Technologies and Applications Driving the Future of Communications.”
Â View photos from the Marconi Society events on Facebook.
Samueli was honored for his pioneering work in developing and commercializing analog and mixed signal circuits for modern communications systems and making the modern cable modem mainstream.
Past winners have included â€śfathers of the Internetâ€ť Vint Cerf and Leonard Kleinrock, who also spoke at the symposium.
The Marconi comes with a $100,000 award, which Samueli will donate to organizations that support Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
In addition to addressing the next big thing in chip design, he spoke about the inevitable end of Mooreâ€™s Lawâ€”the governing principle of semiconductor design that says transistor capacity doubles and chip size halves every two years.
â€śMooreâ€™s law has been an amazing phenomenon for almost 40 years,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s almost a perfect exponential. â€ś
But, he said, those who work in the field know that Mooreâ€™s Law, as well as chip size and performance limits, are set to max out.
â€śExponentials canâ€™t continue forever, the dimensions are approaching atomic limits,â€ť Samueli said. â€śSo how do you predict where we are going to head?â€ť
The answers could lie in wide-open fields such as biotechnology and quantum biology, he said.
â€śIf I had to direct students, Iâ€™d say start thinking about how the brain communicates â€¦ once we run out of steam on the traditional ways of communicating,â€ť Samueli said. â€śThatâ€™s the next frontier of communication: how the brain works, and how itâ€™s able to do things that are really unexplainable.â€ť
Other panelists echoed his sentiment.
â€śBy mid-century, there will be a new fundamental direction beyond inorganic materials and classic computation, maybe due to rapid advances in biotechnology,â€ť said Federico Faggin, the Italian physicist and electrical engineer best known for inventing the microprocessor. . â€śI believe that molecular electronics, based on biological principles, may eventually become the new frontier, even for information processing.â€ť
The trend is already gaining traction as everyday things get connected to the Internet, such as home appliances, heart monitors and more. The concept, dubbed the â€śInternet of Things,â€ť is seen as taking hold in the coming years as people adopt short-range connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy.
Among other topics, Samueli made predictions about how todayâ€™s technology might look in 2027.
Mobile phones processors will gain gigabit cellular modems, displays will be four times the resolution they are today, location-based technologies will be accurate within a centimeter and all of the apps that run on your phone will be stored in the cloud.
â€śI have no idea what you will do with all that horsepower in your hand,â€ť Samueli said.
In the connected home, 100 Gbps throughput will be commonplace and TVs will get incredibly interactive with holographic projections and gesture inputs, allowing you to manipulate objects in 3D space, Samueli said.
But perhaps the most profound change weâ€™ll see is global connectivity that Guglielmo Marconi â€“ the inventor of wireless radio transmission and the Marconi Societyâ€™s namesake â€“ couldnâ€™t have envisioned a century ago.
â€śGlobal broadband coverage will finally be achieved by enabling seamless connectivity for virtually everyone on the planet,â€ť Samueli said.Â â€śMarconi would be smiling in his grave if he could see us do something like that.â€ť
- Front-page profile story on Henry Samueli in The Orange County Register