India is one of the strategic focus regions for Intel embedded system. The embedded Indian local market is rapidly growing in terms of consumption and design. One can see a lot of “localised” products coming up which are unique to the Indian market, such as portable embedded devices for the financial inclusion market and medical devices for the rural market, says Sanat Rao, Marketing Director, Emerging Markets, Embedded Computing Division, Intel Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. In an informal interaction with The Hindu, Mr. Rao points out that as per the IDC study, the embedded and communications market is significantly larger than the PC market. According to IDC (January 2009), there will be 15 billion connected devices by 2015. A vast majority of these are embedded devices such as Points-of-Sale (PoS) terminals, automobiles, medical devices, consumer electronics and communication devices. According to the recent report by the Indian Semiconductor Association and Frost and Sullivan, India will account for about 10 per cent of the world's semiconductor consumption during the period.
On Intel's embedded atom processor, he said it had completely changed the embedded landscape since it allowed new kinds of connected devices to be developed based on Intel's ‘x86 architecture'.
Intel supports over 30 segments in the embedded space. In India, it sees six primary segments which are growing rapidly and have a lot of scope for local development. They are: (a) Points-of-Sale for the retail market: India is one of the largest retail markets in the world. Public estimates put the number of retail outlets in India between 12 million and 14 million. Several small mom and pop stores (Kirana shops) are beginning to automate their stores with inventory management and billing, by upgrading to a connected PoS machine. (b) Digital signage: These are LCD screens in malls and other public areas which are meant to display ads and other information. There is a lot of innovation around customer recognition and targeted advertising. (c) Medical devices: Devices such as X-ray machines, CT scan and MRI are historically based on Intel embedded chip. Intel is working with local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on developing next generation medical devices for India like portable X-ray machine, portable ultra sound device and new range of pathology lab devices. (d) Portable handheld devices: These are rugged handheld devices that have specific applications. For example, financial inclusion (rural banking) where a bank employee goes out to villages with a portable handheld device to enrol villagers as customers and help them with banking transactions such as loans and deposits. (e) Automotive infotainment devices: These are devices based on embedded Intel atom which provide innovative applications and a rich multimedia experience inside the vehicle. And (f) Digital security and surveillance: The focus is on intelligent surveillance where the machine can automatically detect suspicious behaviour or unclaimed luggage.
Mr. Rao said Intel had recently launched a retail proof of concept which has the potential to completely change the shopping experience. The concept is in the form of a signage kiosk which recognises the customer based on their loyalty cards and makes recommendations based on their previous shopping history. Users can interact with the device, view the store inventory, match clothes and finally also make purchases, all in one place. The device is based on Intel Vpro technology and lowers the total cost of ownership to the retailer via remote manageability. Similarly, Intel was in the markets of both digital surveillance and in vehicle infotainment. Mr. Rao feels that embedded system is bound to grow much faster than chip technology. The growth for various gadgets such as MP3 players, video games, laptop computers and personal electronic devices are fast increasing. This will lead to use of more embedded technology in day-to-day affairs.