SHENZHEN, China — 5G, Sensors and AI came into a sharp focus here at the Global CEO Summit here this week.

As China builds out its 5G networks, tech companies see the technology as critical infrastructure on which they can build businesses. Those businesses will depend on complementary technologies; high in demand are reliable sensors, low-power edge computing, sensor modules with built-in security, killer AI apps and services.

Speakers and panelists at the summit stressed that IoT (or the connectivity to the Internet) alone is no longer enough to deliver value to customers. “We must be able to send to the cloud ‘data with a soul’...or ‘meaningful data,’” said Carl Zhang, vice president at Horizon Robotics, during a panel entitled “Ubiquitous Connectivity.”

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From left to right: Wayne Dai, Verisilicon CEO; James Liu, vice president and general manager China at Imagination; Zhang Yongqian, general manager at Horizon Robotics; David He, acting general manager, GigaDevice; Michael Wu, senior vice president, Omnivision Technologies; Maria Tang, vice president, Greater China, Xilinx; Quincy Liang, vice president, Arm China

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From left to right: Wayne Dai, Verisilicon CEO; James Liu, vice president and general manager China at Imagination; Zhang Yongqian, general manager at Horizon Robotics; David He, acting general manager, GigaDevice; Michael Wu, senior vice president, Omnivision Technologies; Maria Tang, vice president, Greater China, Xilinx; Quincy Liang, vice president, Arm China

While panelists viewed ubiquitous connectivity as “imperative,” they also struggled to answer when asked if it is actually a good thing to be always connected. A few executives floated the idea of designing connectivity that allows users to choose between “connected” or “not connected," but they acknowledged enabling such a democratic option would difficult.

Increasingly essential is the ability to design a connected system that can protect privacy and secure data. A key element in ubiquitous connectivity is the ability to process data locally and add security mechanisms to “sensor modules” (if not on a sensor itself), stressed Wayne Dai, president and CEO of Verisilicon, “so that you can minimize the risk of your data getting hacked in the network.”

Ubiquitous connectivity is demanding, though. Challenges include keeping power drain minimal when the connection is always on and data is being processed on the edge. Moreover, when the sensor modules are involved in the decision-makings, for example during remote surgeries (via 5G), “the reliability of sensors becomes critical,” said Michael Wu, senior vice president of OmniVision Technologies. Locally processing data from a host of different sensors would also require new types of memory storage, noted David He, acting general manager of GigaDevice.

Keynote speakers at this year's event included C-level executives from Ams, Horizon Robotics, Graphcore, Arm China, Synopsys, Siemens Digital Industries Software, Renesas Electronics, Unigroup, Qorvo and Yole Développement.

Unveiling 2019 World Electronics Achievement Awards winners
Following the Global CEO Summit, Aspencore (the media company that owns EE Times) presented the World Electronics Achievement Awards (WEAA) to honor companies and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the electronics industry.

Recognition as 2019 Executive of the Year went to Alexander Everke, CEO, ams AG. Both Yu Kai, CEO & founder of Horizon Robotics, and Allen Wu, executive chairman and CEO of Arm China received an Innovator of the Year award.

Siemens Digital Industries Software won the Outstanding Product Performance of the Year award. The Design Team of the Year award went to Cypress Semiconductor Corp. A complete list of the winners of this year's World Electronics Achievement awards winners is included.

Below, share snapshots of movers and shakers of the industry spotted at the Global CEO Summit and World Electronics Achievements award ceremony in Shenzhen this week.

Aart de Geus, chairman and co-CEO of Synopsys, in a front row seat at the Global CEO Summit

Nigel Toon, co-founder and CEO at Graphcore, surrounded by reporters

Carl Zhang, general manager of Horizon Robotics, presenting the company's AIoT

Packed ballroom at the Global CEO Summit

Pierre Laboisse, executive vice president at Ams, delivering a keynote, as he stood in for Ams CEO Alexander Everke, who couldn't make it to Shenzhen.

Maria Tang, vice president of sales, greater China, Xilinx, during the "Ubiquitous Connectivity" panel at the Global CEO Summit.

Tony Hemmelgarn, president, CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, at the Global CEO Summit.

Jean-Christoph Eloy, president and CEO of Yole Développement, during his keynote speech on MEMS, sensors, power and tiny light-source packages

Allen Wu, executive chairman and CEO of Arm China, during a video interview at the Global CEO Summit

Roger Hall (right), general manager of Qorvo, interviewed by Brian Santo, editor-in-chief of EE Times, during the Global CEO Summit.

Tomomitsu Maoka, senior vice president of Renesas Electronics. He wowed the local audience with his fluent Chinese keynote.

Echo Zhao, chief analyst of Aspencore China, and EE Times editor-in-chief Brian Santo hosted 2019 World Electronics Achievement Awards ceremony, right after the Global CEO Summit.

Steve Chu, CEO of Unisoc group and executive vice president of Tsinghua Unigroup, received the 2019 Executive of the Year Award.

Wayne Dai, chairman, president and CEO of Verisilicon received 2019 Contributor of the Year award for his tireless efforts to bring up the Chinese electronics industry.

The 2019 Startup of the Year went to Horizon Robotics founded by Kai Yu.

Alexander Everke, CEO of Ams, won the 2019 Executive of the Year.

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2019 World Electronics Achievement Awards winners on stage

Industry Analysts’ Choice and Company Awards

Innovative Product of the Year Awards

(winners in each category listed in random order)