IEEE Digital Reality eBooks

 Post Pandemic Megatrends

eBook Cover Image portalsizeBy Roberto Saracco, IEEE Digital Reality Co-Chair

One of the goals of the Digital Reality Initiative is to monitor and foster the Digital Transformation, a major factor in pushing several activities into the cyberspace maintaining a seamless continuum between the physical space and the cyberspace. This is affecting much more than the way we operate, do business, and access services: it is changing our perception of reality, blurring the dividing line between physical and cyber.

The pandemic and the related countermeasures have accelerated the use of the cyberspace, most of the time as a way to survive the new landscape and constraints. The big question for companies is to understand what will happen once the pandemic will be over. Will our life go back to the pre-pandemic “normal” or will there be a new normal? Also, what will be the long-term effect of the changes induced by the pandemic?
This eBook is addressing these questions

Click here to access the eBook (PDF, 9.2 MB)

 The Future of Digital Twins

DT TitleimageBy Derrick de Kerchove, Scientific Direction at Media 2000, and Roberto Saracco, IEEE Digital Reality Co-Chair

The broad variety of ideas defining Digital Twins and their uses is a clear indication of the rapid evolution and the diversity of application areas. This leads to several ways of defining them since, in a way, they get twisted to fit the specific need of an area, and those needs may significantly differ across diverse application areas such as manufacturing, healthcare, machines, people, etc.
In this eBook, derived from a webinar conducted via the IEEE Digital Reality Webinar Series, we try to address the Future of Digital Twins by looking at the forces that are pushing their adoption, and the adaptations taking place in their deployment.

Click here to access the eBook (PDF, 2.6 MB)

Megatrends for 2021-2030

Megatrends eBookgGraphic 3By Roberto Saracco, IEEE Digital Reality Co-Chair

The ongoing pandemic was nowhere to be seen in 2019, hence it was not taken into account in laying the forecast for the incoming decade. However, several people in the previous 10 years have been warning that a pandemic was due as, statistically, we get a major one every 100 years. The pandemic clearly disrupted short-term forecasts, but Megatrends spanning the next ten years may not have been affected significantly. Clearly, some tuning is required, like taking into account acceleration or slow down following the pandemic and countermeasures taken, but most of the forecasts can still be considered valid.

In this eBook, I will be looking at the optimistic Megatrends, proposed by Peter Diamandis.

Before looking at the proposed Megatrends, I plan to present and briefly discuss the ones resulting from the analysis of forecasts coming from the WorldBank, WEF, and a few Intelligence Agencies. These are useful to set the scene for Peter's Megatrends that are more focusing on the expected impact of technology evolution…

Click here to access the eBook (PDF, 26.3 MB)

The Path Towards 6G and Digital Reality

6GandDR eBookGraphic2

 By Roberto Saracco, IEEE Digital Reality Co-Chair

In this newly published eBook, Dr. Roberto Saracco discusses the kind of impact 6G might have on telecom operators, telecom manufacturers, and the semiconductor industry.

In addition, looking far down the line, Dr. Saracco hypothesizes and explains what type of services may require 6G connectivity. As per a recent conversation with industry analysts, Roberto started the conversation by saying that 6G does not exist (and most will agree), but then he reveals that it is already here, in terms of “prodrome”. Using this word may suggest that he sees 6G as a disease, but that is not completely the case. In other words, looking at the past evolution and at the present situation, it may be possible to detect a few signs that can be used to make some predictions about 6G.


 Click here to access the eBook (PDF, 2.2 MB) 


These eBooks collect posts each year that have been published since 2016 on the FDC blog touching upon the broad area of symbiotic autonomous systems from technology enablers evolution to personal and social impacts.

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Related Articles

Article DTandSociety portalThe Impacts That Digital Transformation Has on Society

Digital transformation, also called DX, begins with using new technology in a strategic way. This means understanding, implementing, and maximizing the use of digital processes.

These processes involve the convergence of information technology and actual devices. Data, comprised of computer bits, can talk to physical entities. They talk back through sensors connected to cloud computing. This convergence challenges conventional manufacturing methods, but it also sparks digital innovation and promotes fundamental organizational change.

Digital transformation may start with using technology, but it endures through societal response. Customer choices are sending a clear message to industry and to the research environment about the direction of the market: competitive advantage depends upon embracing digitalization.

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DTandDisruption ImageDigital Transformation and Disruption

Digital transformation, or the phenomenon of integrating digital technology into every aspect of a business, organization, or public administration, is happening rapidly. It’s moving the world from the physical, or atoms, to the digital, or bits. Businesses born out of new technologies have a competitive advantage. But for organizations using a pre-existing business model, digital transformation and disruption can cause a loss of value.

However, trying to combat digital transformation is not the solution. Digital transformation is inevitable, happening at different speeds in different geographical areas and in different verticals. Consumers and organizations alike must either be a part of it or risk getting left behind.

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mixed reality videoWhat is Augmented Intelligence?

By Roberto Saracco, IEEE Senior member and leader in the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chair of the Digital Reality Initiative

The general public tends to have a very “sci-fi” view of artificial intelligence (AI), imagining robots and computer systems independent of—and often antithetical to—their human creators. Science fiction has given us HAL 9000, the dehumanizing Borg of Star Trek, and the robotic assassins of the Terminator series. AI is popularly seen as human-made but essentially inhuman, where cold, logical software takes human intelligence out of the decision-making process. The truth is more nuanced.

While independent AI systems are necessary for many types of technology, their intelligence is generally limited to specific applications: an AI system used as a virtual customer service representative, such as eBay’s Louise, lacks the capacity to seize control of the planet.

And while some AI technology is intended to operate autonomously, one of the most useful types of AI—augmented intelligence (also known as intelligence amplification, or IA)—uses machine learning and predictive analytics of data sets not to replace human intelligence, but to enhance it.

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The Deming Twin

By Patrick Henz, Head of Governance & Compliance, Regional Compliance Officer Americas

"Gianluca Bacchiega shortly defined in 2017: 'A digital twin is a real time digital replica of a physical device.” To be more specific, the IEEE’s work-group for Symbiotic Autonomous Systems defined in its second white paper: “a Digital Twin is a digital representation of any characteristics of a real entity, including human beings. The characteristics represented by a Digital Twin are a subset of the overall characteristics of a real entity. The choice of which characteristics are digitalized depends on the purpose of the digitalization, i.e., the intended use of the Digital Twin'. Based on this definition, the virtual model is not limited to being the second (replica), but instead understands it as a digital mirror of a physical object (including a living organism) or process."

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IEEE White Papers

Digital Transformation WP CoverDigital Transformation
IEEE Digital Reality - November 2020

By IEEE Digital Reality Initiative Working Group

The FDC Initiative on Digital Reality felt there is a need to look at the Digital Transformation from the point of view of a profound change that is pervading the entire society—a change made possible by technology and that keeps changing due to technology evolution opening new possibilities but is also a change happening because it has strong economic reasons. The direction of this change is not easy to predict because it is steered by a cultural evolution of society, an evolution that is happening in niches and that may expand rapidly to larger constituencies and as rapidly may fade away. This creation, selection by experimentation, adoption, and sudden disappearance, is what makes the whole scenario so unpredictable and continuously changing.

IEEE has made the progress of “technology to benefit humanity” its banner. It is just appropriate to use the tremendous capital of knowledge and skills of its volunteers to look at Digital Transformation from this point of view.

Access the white paper (PDF, 8.79 MB)


evolution interface social mediaThe Evolution of Human to Whatever Interface
IEEE Digital Reality - May 2020

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

A journalist working on a piece on the future of human-computer interfaces (HCI) recently posed the following four questions:

  • What HCI technology is being developed and by what companies?
  • What form will it take and will the future of the human-computer interface be intrusive or subtle?
  • How will the interface between human and computer be protected, and how will privacy be assured?

Human machine interfaces originated to direct a machine to perform a given task, like using a key to operate an engine or flip a switch to start the air conditioning. As machines became more complex they required more variety of commands but at the same time they could also accept more powerful commands, mostly in textual form. The point is that human machine interaction was designed, out of necessity, with the machine in mind. It did not mirror the way humans interact with one another. This situation has not really changed in the last fifty years, but it is starting to change now thanks to software and artificial intelligence.

Access the white paper (PDF, 0.14 MB)


digital handshakeWhat If Reality + Digital Reality Becomes Reality

IEEE Digital Reality - May 2020

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

The area of “Digital Reality” is a mélange of technology that is influenced by psychology, economics, society and even a bit of philosophy. It is an interesting field due to its broad-reaching nature, and the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative solicits involvement of people of varied backgrounds.

The evolution of modern computers allowed for a progressive capability to process numbers on the one hand and to convert a growing variety of manifestation of the physical world in numbers. As an example sounds, music, voice can be converted into digits, transported via telecommunications networks, and then translated back into sounds, music, voice. As technology improved the fidelity of the transformation, that is, the conversion from the physical reality to the digital one and back to the physical one, has become so good that we no longer appreciate the conversion going on.

Access the white paper (PDF, 1.6 MB)


Coronavirus ImagePersonal Digital Twins and their Role in Epidemics Control
IEEE Digital Reality - April 2020

By Roberto Saracco with Juuso Autiosalo, Derrick de Kerckhove, Francesco Flammini, and Louis Nisiotis

Since the shift from nomadic life, to aggregation in clusters or cities, humanity has faced epidemics. It is the cluster of people that provides the fertile environment for viruses to jump from one host to the next, generating an epidemic. The geographical distance among clusters is a barrier to the spread of the epidemics; traveling from one locale to another was the only way to continue the spread. In the past, the epidemics spread along the commerce, maritime, and land pathways. Travel was slow and sporadic so an epidemic took years to become a pandemic.

Today we have both bigger clusters (megacities and cities that on average are much bigger than the ones of the past) and much faster and denser traffic among clusters. This fuels both epidemics and pandemics.

Access the white paper (PDF, 2.7 MB)


Digital Transformation in HealthcareDigital Transformation in Healthcare
IEEE Digital Reality - February 2020

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

Healthcare costs are on the rise, and this is causing an increased interest in automation. However, it should be noted that in a few health care areas automation is sought to deliver better quality, like in pharmaceuticals or assistive automation in surgery which enables procedures that go beyond human abilities (micro surgeries among others). In surgery, there is a growing digital transformation, with diagnostic procedures generating data that are analyzed automatically, creating a model that is used for simulating procedures and eventually used by autonomous or semi-autonomous systems in surgery.

Access the white paper (PDF, 2 MB)


Infrastructures for a new ecomomyPlatforms: Infrastructures for a New Economy
IEEE Digital Reality - January 2020

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

The Digital Transformation is made possible by technology advances and is steered by economic and societal factors. It is a whole system transformation that requires the availability of a tremendously complex infrastructure, similar to how the atoms economy has evolved over centuries by creating in parallel tremendously complex and intertwined infrastructures. Logistics value chains have become extremely effective and extremely complex. Computers have boosted their efficiencies and made possible the creation and management of even more complex infrastructures. These computers supporting infrastructures are slowly morphing into infrastructures of their own. The large data centers that are supporting shipping of parcels and containers are now managing the shipping of bits in a structured way (e.g. by adopting blockchain).

These infrastructures, or platforms, have been around for quite some time and exist independently of the Digital Transformation. However, this latter has created an economic environment where platforms become a fundamental component. This whitepaper presents a synthesis of discussions with key industry players regarding platforms in this age of Digital Transformation.

Access the white paper (PDF, 3 MB)

SAS White Paper PromotionIEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems White Paper III
IEEE Digital Reality - November 2019

By Stefan Boschert, Tom Coughlin, Maurizio Ferraris, Francesco Flammini, Jose Gonzalez Florido, Alejandro Cadenas Gonzalez, Patrick Henz, Derrick de Kerckhove, Roland Rosen, Roberto Saracco, Aman Singh, Antony Vitillo, Mazin Yousif
Edited by Theresa Cavrak

This document represents the third white paper produced by the IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems (SAS) Initiative that in 2019 merged with the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative to further foster the Digital Transformation and continue the work of the first two years of the SAS Initiative. This third white paper focuses on today’s application of (Symbiotic) Autonomous Systems, the industrial application research, and the feedback coming from leading edge products, since these are the stepping stones to foster the evolution. Notice that at this time, and considering the observation time frame of this white paper, the focus is on Autonomous Systems. Symbioses will not materialize in the coming two years, at least in a significant way from the point of view of implants and more generally of symbiotic technologies. However, symbioses at a societal level is already here (for example, we are in a symbiotic relation with our smartphones) and is addressed. The target audience of this third White Paper includes professionals, industry leaders, public institutions, and government decision makers on whom lies the responsibility of investing resources and delivering to the market, affecting the society and wellbeing of citizens as well as creating business wealth.

Access the white paper (PDF, 7 MB)

Applying Cognitive Digital Twins to Professional EducationApplying Cognitive Digital Twins to Professional Education
IEEE Digital Reality - September 2019

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

It is clearly impossible to keep up with the advance of knowledge. A novel Leonardo da Vinci is no longer possible given the breadth and depth of knowledge built in these last centuries and particularly in these last decades. Connectivity and digital processing (that used to comprise storage and access but now is evolving into analysis, correlation, and creation) have created, paradoxically, a sort of black hole of knowledge. We know that there is a huge wealth of knowledge potentially available, but in practice it remains beyond reach to the single person and more to the individual company.

And it is getting worse. In several (technical and scientific) areas, the knowledge gap is widening, and in spite of the abundance of good and accessible courses, staying up to date has become impossible. Even obtaining a general awareness of what knowledge is available is challenging.

Access the white paper (PDF, 1 MB)

Augmented Machines and Augmented Humans Converging on TranshumanismAugmented Machines and Augmented Humans Converging on Transhumanism
IEEE Digital Reality - June 2019

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

We have experienced a significant evolution in the capabilities of machines over the last 250 years with an incredible acceleration in the last 50 years, thanks to electronics and software. This evolution is going to continue and accelerate in the coming two decades leading to machines as "smart" as humans.

At the same time the human species has augmented its capability in various areas more than doubling life expectation over the last 100 years, and individuals have learned to leverage machines as never before to improve their life, their performances and extend their knowledge. This is also expected to progress in the coming two decades to the point that the boundary between humans and machines will become, in many instances, fuzzier and fuzzier, partly due to the growing use of digital twins. The progress seen in the last decades and the one expected is reshaping the idea of transhumanism, making it much more concrete.

Access the white paper (PDF, 2 MB)


Digital TransformationDigital Transformation
IEEE Digital Reality - March 2019

By Roberto Saracco, Co-chair, IEEE Digital Reality Initiative

The Digital Transformation everyone is talking about today is fueled by advances in technology, mostly transducers, i.e., sensors and actuators, and semantics extraction tools, i.e., artificial intelligence supporting data analytics. The reason why industries and institutions alike are interested in the Digital Transformation, however, is based on economics. The Digital Transformation is shifting the economy of atoms to the economy of bits. The economy of atoms is an economy of scarcity: atoms are limited; if you give an atom away you no longer have it. On the contrary, the economy of bits is an economy of abundance; if you give bits away you still have them (a copy actually, but in the world of bits copies are indistinguishable from the original). This whitepaper addresses the changes expected due to the Digital Transformation on society, technology, and the economy, and studies its impact on multiple verticals, including Smart Cities, car sharing, and the camera/photography industry.

Access the white paper (PDF, 2 MB)


IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems White Paper IIIEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems White Paper II
IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems - October 2018

By S. Mason Dambrot, Derrick de Kerchove, Francesco Flammini, Witold Kinsner, Linda MacDonald Glenn, Roberto Saracco
Edited by Theresa Cavrak

This White Paper follows the first one produced in 2017 by the IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative (SAS), extending it to address updated technologies and cover additional topics due to the evolution of science and technology. Additional white papers will follow because this is an area in continuous development.

The first examples of symbioses are already available in a number of areas and even now, these are impacting our economic system and way of life. The IEEE SAS Initiative takes a 360° view based on technology and standardization—the foundation of IEEE—and invites all interested constituencies to contribute complementary points of view, including economic, regulatory, and sociocultural perspectives. The transformation fostered by technology evolution in all paths of life requires planning and education by current and future players. Another goal of the initiative is to consider the future of education, given that these symbioses transform its meaning, making it both shared and distributed.

In this respect, the aims of this White Paper are to further develop the ideas presented in the first white paper: (1) to highlight impacts that are clearly identifiable today, and (2) to indicate emerging issues, thus providing a starting point to those involved in making public policy to understand the technical fundamentals, their evolution and their potential implications.

Note that this White Paper is intended to be self-contained, without requiring the reader to read the previous white paper.

Access the white paper (PDF, 6 MB)


Symbiotic Autonomous Systems White Paper I
IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems - November 2017

By Roberto Saracco, Raj Madhavan, S. Mason Dambrot, Derrick de Kerchove, and Tom Coughlin

This White Paper is the result of a joint effort by several people and represents a consensus reached among the members of the IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems (SAS) Initiative at the end of October 2017. Since the SAS field is in continuous evolution, this White Paper should be considered a “work in progress.”

SAS leverages many technologies and has applications in many vertical markets. The field will therefore have an increasing impact on our society—and on the way, each one of us perceives and relates to his or her environment. Hence, the issues related to Symbiotic Autonomous Systems go far beyond just technology evolution and utilization.

In this respect, the aims of this White Paper are to (1) highlight those issues that are clearly identifiable today, and (2) to indicate emerging issues, thus providing a starting point to those involved in making public policy to understand the technical fundamentals, their evolution and their potential implications.

Access the white paper (PDF, 3 MB)

IEEE Future Directions Blog

Looking Ahead to 2050The IEEE Future Directions Blog, authored by Roberto Saracco, offers daily insight and observations on emerging technologies, trends, and their implications. See a selection of blog posts on the digital transformation, digital reality, symbiotic autonomous systems, and related topics.

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IEEE Talks Digital Reality

IEEE Talks Digital RealityIEEE Talks Digital Reality: Q&A with Raj Tiwari

In our first IEEE Talks Digital Reality Q&A session, we spoke with Raj Tiwari, lead co-chair of the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative. Raj provided his insights on Extended Reality (XR) and its potential for changing how we live, work, learn and share, providing information on use cases for the technology and highlighting its importance for both enterprises and individuals as we move into a new transformational era.

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External Reports

IEEE SAS Workshop Report
IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems - October 2018

The IEEE SAS Workshop in San Diego was run in conjunction with TTM 2018, a fitting association since the horizon on the initiative is long term 2040-2050. As it was pointed out in the opening introduction by Roberto Saracco, the Initiative chair, the implications are being felt today and steps need to be taken today to prepare for a future that we like. It was pointed out that the evolution towards Symbiotic Autonomous Systems is "almost" inevitable. It will be the end result of the concurrent evolution of machine augmentation and human augmentation converging on a symbioses.

Read the report (PDF, 454 KB)


IEEE Scenarios for AR in 2020
IEEE Standards Association - 2014

This project permits a large group of companies and other organizations that have not taken into account the rise of mobile AR in their planning process to explore how they might contribute to and adjust their strategies in order to excel in a just and healthy future wherein everyone will be able to acquire (capture), publish, and receive/combine digital assets in real time and synchronized with their physical world surroundings.

Access the Report at IEEE Standards Association


Augmented Reality and Standards
IEEE Standards Association - 2014

The Augmented Reality and Standards white paper provides a brief overview of the opportunities for AR expansion in various areas. It also highlights the challenges faced in the AR market and how standardization can help through interoperability, improving efficiencies, and driving market adoption.

Access the White Paper at IEEE Standards Association

IEEE XploreSearch IEEE Xplore for articles on Digital Reality