Technologies of 2023 lightbulb with cogs

As we reach the end of another calendar year, it’s customary to look back at the standout things from the past year and then look forward, and speculate about what will be making waves in 2024. In the realms of engineering – and specifically in the electronics sector – there is never a shortage of exciting developments to talk about.

Electronic engineering has always advanced at a remarkable pace and while chip densities are no longer doubling every two years (as per Moore’s Law), exponential improvements in semiconductor performance are still in evidence. This continues to enable the development of a never-ending flow of products and solutions in the consumer and industrial spaces that we very quickly take for granted, instead looking for what is coming next over the horizon.

Even looking back just 10 years, you can see major advances in many areas. So much of what is now considered ‘normal’ barely even existed a decade ago. 5G, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the Internet of Things have achieved or begun a transformation in multiple sectors ranging from healthcare to industrial automation and from entertainment to transportation.

With so much going on and at such a pace, it’s hard to pick just a small number of technologies that have really moved the needle in 2023 and guess the ones that will be front and centre in 2024, but here are some that stand out and are noteworthy for me.

Looking back at the technologies of 2023

EVs finally gaining proper traction

Starting with the obvious – electric vehicles; with legislation, a rapidly improving and smarter charging infrastructure, plus more choice of vehicles and an improving real-world range from more powerful and better managed batteries, the speed of adoption of EVs has been a feature of 2023 (34% growth over 2022 sales).

Power semiconductor technologies – and in particular wide band gap devices in SiC and GaN – will continue to be fundamental to both efficient, practical, and reliable EVs and infrastructure. Complementing and working in tandem with the semiconductors in this area are sensing technologies and robust wireless comms protocols. A good example comes from a relatively ‘new kid on the block’ – Dukosi. Their soon to be launched single chip solution provides cell-level sensing, data processing and comms that enables the history, health and needs of each individual cell within an EV battery pack to be monitored from the point of manufacture. The technology also captures data that can indicate when a cell has reached the end of its useful life in an EV but is still perfectly adequate for 2nd and 3rd life applications. This means that the gathered data can support better sustainability and the longer use of cells, for which end-of-life decisions are an engineering challenge which remains somewhat unanswered.

Elsewhere, the likes of onsemi and ST Micro are providing high-power semiconductor solutions for DC-DC applications in vehicle charging and traction inverters, for example. These robust devices are replacing bulky IGBTs and regular silicon that has reached its performance limits. SiC and GaN are vital for the continued evolution and realisation of vehicles that consumers will accept and embrace as compelling and viable alternatives to existing ICE powered cars.

AI – from nowhere to everywhere

Just a short time ago, the term ‘AI’ was mainly heard in conversations amongst ‘techies.’ Arguably, 2023 was the year in which it became a term and a phenomenon widely recognised in the wider population. In the weeks following ChatGPT’s launch at the tail end of 2022, the hype was incredible, and during 2023 generative AI systems have become pervasive and some mention of AI has seemed almost obligatory in the business plans of all types of organisations and in society as a whole.

Data and AI are inextricably linked, so electronic devices and systems for power management, data storage and processing, connectivity and more in and around data centres / cloud computing, are essential for the inevitable proliferation of AI. Companies like NVIDIA have enabled and benefited massively from the appetite for AI with the Silicon Valley headquartered chip and software provider now regularly in the mainstream news and catapulted to the sixth most valuable business in the world.

Digital healthcare

Out of necessity, the need to minimise in-person consultations due to COVID gave a shot in the arm to the development of remote healthcare technology and that innovation continued at pace in 2023. The use of cloud services to store and share increasing amounts of medical data gathered digitally, and medical SaaS solutions delivered through the cloud, have been a major trend in the healthcare sector. Examples include remote monitoring, continuous data capture and live streaming via wearables for cardiac patients, and simplified and better monitoring and control for diabetes sufferers. In cancer care, cloud-based SaaS solutions can be employed to aid sharing and scrutiny of information from different hospital systems to support in-person or virtual ‘tumour board meetings’ for better collaborative decision making and improved patient outcomes.

Looking ahead to the technologies of 2024

In 2024 we can expect to see no relenting in the pace, diversity and innovation in the areas mentioned for 2023. In healthcare, after a taste of the potential in 2023, we might see some acceleration in the proving and deployment of over-the-Internet robot surgery for example.

In automotive, the choice, sophistication, and performance of EVs and the supporting infrastructure will continue. And those vehicles will contain ever-increasing amounts of technology not only to manage the EV powertrain but also for more and better ADAS to increase safety and move us closer to an autonomous driving experience. Vehicles will increasingly be software defined and interact more and more with their environment – sending and receiving large amounts of data during their normal operation.

Data security – a widespread and growing need

A common thread with many of the advances seen in 2023 and that we can expect to continue in 2024, is data – capturing it, processing it (either at the edge or in the cloud), transmitting, sharing, utilising or simply storing it. All of this makes cyber security a hugely important topic and one where the technologies employed to ensure the security and integrity of data need to keep at least one step ahead of the threat of unwelcome access, manipulation, and theft.

Many of the big names in the semiconductor industry will continue working as hard on cyber security solutions as they are on some of the enabling technologies described. In many cases, and in a world of big data that is moving towards ‘software defined everything’, new tech can’t be deployed without a good and robust cyber security solution to accompany it.

Digital twins

Two other very different areas that might see increased activity and profile in 2024 are digital-twins and smart agriculture. Digital-twins – a digital model of a real or intended physical product, system or process is beginning to take-off as a method for planning factories and assembly plants. For intended solutions, they can allow accurate simulation, integration and testing before complex and costly builds take place, and for existing plants and factories they can be helpful in areas such as predictive maintenance and in seeking production or process efficiencies.

Growing levels of tech

Sensing and comms technology advances are expected to continue to support innovation in smart and regenerative agriculture in 2024. Electronics technology has taken some time to really reach this sector, but can help facilitate resilience to the threats to farming from climate change and provide information to allow the strengthening and vitality of farm soil. The data gathered from highly accurate soil sensors arranged and interconnected in low-power wide area networks can also help minimise the amount of water needed for irrigation and keep down fertiliser use.

Publitek is working with a large and diverse range of clients operating and innovating in all the technologies and sectors described. Through a range of contemporary marketing strategies and tactics and based on having engineering knowhow at our core, we are helping to raise awareness and drive demand for some of the most exciting solutions that engineering businesses have to offer.