Convening Leaders in Emerging Technologies

Committee brings together tech fields to promote new innovations

2 December 2013

Image: IEEE Future Directions

For those of you unfamiliar with the IEEE Future Directions Committee (FDC), we are a small team that works to support and cultivate emerging technologies for which IEEE has thought leadership.

Each technology is championed by a working group, which organizes activities through outlets such as conferences, educational webinars, newsletters, publications, social media, and standards development. Additionally, each emerging technology has a technical community that further promotes advancements through collaboration and resource sharing, and is open to both IEEE members and non-members. To date, these technical communities include cloud computing, life sciences, the smart grid, transportation electrification, green information communication technology (ICT), Internet of Things, rebooting computing, smart cities, and software-defined networks.

Traditionally, new technical activities within IEEE have originated and been organized within a given society, council, or other organizational unit. Anecdotally, it has not been surprising to find two societies working on a similar effort. That’s where the FDC provides a value-add service by reaching across IEEE entities to pull together interested parties for a cohesive approach to an emerging technology.

What started out as a spontaneous idea at a June FDC meeting is now going to be an event at an international conference—bringing together experts from distinct technological industries to share their ideas on the intersection and connections around a single and common topic. In partnership with the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, we will be hosting the Future Directions Convergence Event at the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), to be held from 10 to 13 January 2014* in Las Vegas. The Convergence Event is taking place on the first day of the conference on Friday, 10 January. By organizing this session, we hope to provide an opportunity to showcase all the distinct technology groups in one forum with ICCE as our conduit.

The event will demonstrate the convergence in what are seemingly different technology fields. We will focus on cloud computing and big data, and highlight other new technologies from life sciences, the smart grid, transportation electrification, and green ICT, and back to their reliance on the cloud and data. We’ll further explore the technologies’ interconnections. Mobile devices, for example, are becoming a commonplace diagnostic tool used by medical professionals around the world. By leveraging the science and technology of bioengineering and medicine with the design and implementation of smart devices, diagnostic applications in mobile devices are now possible. Moreover, these smart devices cannot successfully operate without the IT support and networking infrastructure provided by the cloud. And all the massive amounts of data that are generated from these diagnostics—including transport, storage, and security data—are supported by big data applications.

When divergent technologies come together, they can provide a winning solution to solve today’s problems. We have just touched on one example of how technologies can converge. Who would have thought that what was portrayed in science fiction is now a reality and in practice today? The Future Directions Convergence Event will offer an exciting view of what might be if more emerging fields converge. We hope to see you there.

Kathy Grise and Bichlien Hoang are senior program directors with IEEE Future Directions, which is part of the IEEE Technical Activities group.

Grise is also the staff program manager for the IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative, IEEE Green ICT Initiative, and the IEEE Technology Navigator. Bichlien is the staff program manager for the IEEE Life Sciences Initiative, the IEEE Rebooting Computing Initiative, and the IEEE Future Directions Committee.

*This article has been corrected from a previous version.

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