Are we at a tipping point where incremental improvement comes at exponential cost?
For decades technology has been improving rapidly and today we see massive leaps forward with consumer and industrial technologies. Referred to as Moore’s Law, the doubling of transistors on the same sized integrated circuit every 24 months, tech companies have literally doubled their products capacity or shrunk their size every two years for decades. Recently there has been some discussion that at some point Moore’s Law is no longer economically viable. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel made the observation decades ago but there may be an economic natural end to the doubling of density of transistors as we reach the 7nm and beyond.
This is an interesting observation as it appears that in many industries technology can outstrip consumer demand and desire to spend, or the cost to improve is beyond the manufacturers return on investment. The automotive industry has been suffering for years, always adding “New Tech” to entice the consumer but not always has that translated to an improved customer experience and sales demand. Sometimes it has had the opposite effect, increasing frustration with the user interface and driving down sales; increasing the frustration is the cost of maintenance and the speed of redundancy. Tech for tech sake is not the answer and if there isn’t a significant improvement over the previous version, is the extra cost worth it? We can see this argument play out across many areas of Aged Care Technology, from CCTV, Access Control, MATV and even Nurse Call.
There are clear benefits moving from analogue systems to digital, i.e. from Analogue CCTV Cameras to megapixel IP cameras, the difference is clear but for some other systems incremental change can come at significant cost. When reviewing footage of old analogue CCTV almost everyone is disappointed, expecting the footage to be something they see on CSI when normally it is grainy and hard to make out, like most footage you see on the news. With megapixel IP cameras the footage is more in line with consumer expectations and the image quality is actually quite usable.
When it comes to nurse call, the past 10 years have seen a significant shift also. Systems are often wireless, either Wi-Fi or another IoT protocol. For the hardwired systems standardising on Cat5 or Cat6 infrastructure has allowed for future flexibility, if the system were to ever be replaced with another hard wired system, but at what cost? Initially the cabling is significantly more expensive and if technology changes before the refit and cable is no-longer required, then the money is completely wasted. Upfront the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 is also significant, often the specification is for Cat6 as that is the current standard for data cabling but at 50% more to purchase, is there a benefit?
Technology that drives down cost or features that improve efficiency is the future of Aged Care. Manufacturers that are looking at ways to simplify installation, reduce total cost of ownership and improve usability whilst focusing on the end user and environment are the ones to watch. The agile manufacturer that is able to partner with their client to deliver solutions that are standardised but customised is the manufacturer of the future.
So are we at a tipping point? Not yet, technology is still improving with AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and voice interaction, there is still plenty to come. It is with this in mind that although we may be hitting the limit of transistor technology, new ideas are always around the corner and we should never discount what may happen next.
“Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. … Moore’s law is an observation and projection of a historical trend and not a physical or natural law. (Wikipedia)”
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