Survey: Barriers to AIoT fall by 50%

Over the past 12 months, the number of engineers that see cost or power as obstacles to increasing onboard processing in their designs has halved from 2021 levels, according to a survey of engineers. The research, conducted by Semiconductor specialist XMOS, covers key trends related to the artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) market.

Survey: Barriers to AIoT fall by 50%

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The lower barrier to entry also translates into more designs with ON-device processing. The majority of engineers surveyed are actively adopting increased on-device processing into their designs. Seventy percent of respondents report that most of their planned products would require “high” or “very high” onboard-processing capabilities.

The research report, Edge of Now, XMOS’s third annual survey on the AIoT, polled over 100 engineers who design consumer, battery-powered, low-power, industrial, handheld, and rugged products across a range of industries, including consumer electronics, smart homes, automotive, smart cities, health care, and telecommunications. When asked about what specific benefits the AIoT could enable, respondents cited a wide range of potential applications, such as sensor processing, user-interface improvements, remote monitoring, communications, data integration, and predictive maintenance.

The research indicates a “significant decrease in the perceived barrier of the on-device–processing capabilities required to enable the AIoT,” said XMOS.

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Here are some research highlights: The report finds that 24% of respondents see cost as a barrier to increasing the on-device processing in their designs, which is down from 48% in 2021 and from 64% in 2020. There is also increased optimism when it comes to power consumption: Only 23% of engineers see power as a barrier to increasing onboard processing, which is down from 53% last year and 65% in 2020.

XMOS noted that it wasn’t a “surprise to see engineers reporting that cost and power are also becoming less of a barrier to adopting AI functionality in their designs” due to the importance of higher processing power to enable on-device AI functionality. The survey reveals that only 16% of engineers report cost as a barrier to adoption of the AIoT and only 13% see power requirements as a barrier to introducing AI into their products.

“However, these design challenges are mitigated — not eliminated,” said Mark Lippett, CEO of XMOS, in a statement. “User experiences still have a long way to go: We need to empower engineers to keep smashing through barriers to adoption, which means providing them compelling capabilities running on versatile, low-power silicon at a price that makes the mass proliferation of AIoT-enabled devices a realistic ambition.”

In addition to cost and power, engineers still face several other barriers. In terms of on-device–processing barriers, obstacles include design complexity (15%, though down from 38% in 2021), development time (14%), and system component requirements (12%). Barriers to adopting AI include lack of data for training AI systems (17%), availability of models (15%), and data security and autonomy (14%, though down from 31% in 2021 and 45% in 2020).

The good news for the AIoT market is that 64% of respondents are working on projects with sufficient onboard-processing capabilities to support on-device AI, which are expected to reach the market in the next six months. In addition, 38% said their entire product range will have suitable onboard-processing power to support AIoT functionality in the next two to three years, and 26% report that 70% of their product range will have on-device AI capability.

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