SANTA CLARA, Calif.—If you attended ARM TechCon 2015, you may have heard ARM CEO Simon Segars’ keynote, which was interrupted by a fire alarm and a brief evacuation of the convention center here.


It turned out that the cause was a burning bagel in a toaster. It was ironic because in 2014 ARM CTO Mike Muller gave keynote in which he talked about a connected toaster, prototyped 15 years before.

Now, whether connected toasters become hot consumer items in the future is to be seen. But we in electronics are certainly in the early, exciting days of a connected world of opportunity.

Segars will take the keynotes stage twice at ARM TechCon 2016 this month. On Tuesday, he’ll introduce the ARM TechCon community to Masayoshi Son, the chairman and CEO of SoftBank, which acquired ARM this year. Son will offer his vision of the future that ARM and SoftBank will now share.

Segars will return to the main stage Wednesday morning to talk about some of the opportunities for developers that he’s excited about, as the partnership plays its part in making the world smarter and more connected.

Big scale

As part of this, Segars will discuss how he sees billions of devices scaling to trillions of devices as IoT applications proliferate. We know it’s happening: Today, there are around 800,000 IoT developers worldwide, but that’s expected to jump to 4.5 million by 2020, according to the research firm VisionMobile. In fact, more than half of all mobile app developers are diversifying into IoT.

So how are we going to enable these innovators to succeed?

“We need to be thinking about the system and not just individual elements,” Segars says. “The rapid innovation we’ve seen in the app world is carrying over to hardware, therefore we need to ensure hardware is easy to build, maintain, power and has the security attributes that will keep data protected.”

The more the ARM ecosystem can solve the questions–in every layer from sensor to server to service–the faster that adoption and IoT expansion.

It won’t happen overnight, but neither will it take years of painfully slow progress. Parallels to what makes IoT possible can be found in the history of the mobile phone, Segars says.

“The first mobile phones were big and bulky, and not very interoperable between networks and other devices. As devices came down in size, cost and power consumption, the user base increased, but it still wasn’t a ‘must-have device’ for everyone. And even if you wanted a mobile phone you didn’t necessarily have a network to support it.”

As the network evolved and system-on-chip innovation enabled sophisticated, low-power processing, smartphones came on the scene and sparked an inflection point, he said. “The mobile phone was no longer a communications device enabling you to text, send emails and take pictures. Instead, it became a full-blooded computing device with the ability to become your one-and-only portal to a secure digital world,” he added.

Thanks to society’s broad adoption of the smart phone, people are finding new and innovative ways every day to use technology in places and in products where computing was never before possible. That’s what’s going to help power this connected world of opportunity, Segars argues.

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