November 21, 2023

How convergence is redefining our world

Dive into the latest perspectives, insights,
and updates from our global community.

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Imagine a world where the line between our physical reality and the digital realm is not just blurred but seamlessly integrated, a world where innovation isn't just a buzzword but a tangible force driving us forward. In every corner of our lives, from the music streaming in our homes to how we interact with robots, we are witnessing a profound transformation. This is the story of not just technology but of the visionaries behind it: the founders, the dreamers, the doers. These are the individuals who look beyond the horizon and see not just what is, but what could be.

At the heart of this revolution is the concept of convergence, which combines the best of artificial intelligence, software and hardware to create technologies that are transforming how we work and play. It's a journey that began 30+ years ago with the first smartphone and has evolved into an era where generative AI, advanced sensors, and real-time data harmoniously blend the physical and digital worlds. The founders that our team at NGP Capital and I invest in are crafting a future where technology doesn't just assist but enhances and transforms our experience of the world around us.

The convergence recipe: Interaction and infrastructure enabling experience

The convergence is created through an interactive relationship between physical input processed in the digital realm and actions by a machine, robot or computer in the physical world. We believe there are three elements of this convergence: interaction, infrastructure and experience. 

●  Interaction: Interaction refers to the devices and software bridging the gap between physical and virtual worlds. In a real-world example, this could be VR glasses that allow humans to access virtual environments, sensors that draw data from the physical world to build insights and robotics that translate virtual input into physical output.

●  Infrastructure: Infrastructure is the technological foundation that enables everything. This infrastructure is the foundation upon which exciting new applications can be built, the tools to allow data to be processed and consumed, as well as the cybersecurity that allows the world to safeguard data.

●  Experience: The experience is how humans engage with the new converged digital realm. Some current technologies that embody this are XR glasses that deliver training, allow users to control machinery or give users an immersive gaming experience or autonomous taxis helping riders get from point A to B. By combining the best of artificial intelligence, software and hardware, the new generation of entrepreneurs are creating seamless experiences that will improve how we work and play.

NGP Capital invests in companies powering the new convergence

Whether it’s at home, in factories, on the road, in office buildings, or in space, AI, sensors, actuators and massive amounts of compute are the next force multipliers for companies creating technologies that solve hard problems for us humans. At NGP Capital, we believe that the next generation of iconic companies will deliver this merging of physical and digital worlds. It’s our thesis that guides all of our investment decisions at NGP Capital.

We see convergence in action with ANYbotics, a robotics company creating autonomous industrial inspection robots used in complex industrial oil and gas facilities. Natively integrated payload and edge-based analytics software enables the robot to go almost anywhere a human can and can make decisions in the moment, increasing the safety of workers at these facilities.

I see convergence in action at NILT, an optical solutions company building unique optical components that take sensing and 3D imaging to a new level. This 3D sensing is a pioneering feature used in smartphones, consumer products, AR/MR and autonomous vehicles for face and gesture recognition and enhanced spatial awareness.

I see convergence in action at Scandit, which builds highly specialized computer vision platforms for camera-equipped smart devices. This technology enables users to use their smart devices to interact with physical items by capturing data from barcodes, text, IDs and objects to automate end-to-end processes, like restocking grocery shelves to locating a specific package in a delivery truck or verifying an ID with a simple click of the camera.

Great technologies seem invisible

Convergence, at its core, leads us to more natural engagement and interaction with the digital realm. It is all about convenience, utility and lowering the barriers to adoption. Think of the transformation of music systems in your house. Today, it is just streaming from a smartphone to a loudspeaker. Voice recognition software has enabled computers to register spoken language, and now LLMs can convert that language into commands for programming without needing obscure computer language. Great technology makes the barrier between the user and the machine seem invisible, and I believe we’re just getting started.