By Bill Huseby
As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, more companies have made connectivity a major priority for their organizations. By 2020, there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices, and that number is expected to rise to 64 billion by 2025*. That’s a whole lot of connectivity and data! With billions of embedded devices that allow sharing of data over the internet, there is a continuous exchange of information. Making this data available to other IoT devices facilitates a continuous learning process and increases functionality. Connected devices create capability to control a variety of tasks and functions remotely and will influence the way companies do work and how we live at home. The challenge, as I see it, is for companies to incorporate their existing technologies and services with new embedded electronics. Recently, I was involved in a couple of events that got me thinking more about automation, IoT, and the connectivity trend in industries as diverse as manufacturing and smart kitchens. There are and will be many challenges that companies face with security and innovation integration.
At the third-annual Schwabe and Aldrich Manufacturing Symposium in downtown Portland, I sat on a panel discussing innovation in manufacturing. It was a great opportunity to learn about what’s coming from the world of manufacturing, and discuss ideas with those effecting and leading change in the industry. Manufacturing is at an interesting point where the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (also known as IIoT) has combined production operations with smart digital technology, machine learning and big data. This will revolutionize the way manufacturing is done, making it a more comprehensive, interlinked process. During this panel discussion, I emphasized that even with the focus on machine learning and data, the importance of people can’t be overlooked. The people behind the process will benefit from greater collaboration and understanding of operations. They will leverage data to improve productivity and processes and they play a key role in this innovation. Transforming to become an innovative business is about more than technology. It’s also about the people and processes that will power it.
I also participated in a thought leadership dinner which SIGMADESIGN hosted for attendees of the Smart Kitchen Summit (SKS), in Seattle. The summit brought together many leaders in the industry to explore solutions across the food value chain. The expansive list of speakers included experts from Samsung, Kraft-Heinz, NVIDIA, Panasonic, Microsoft, Sub-Zero and many more. The demand for smart home appliances is increasing due to several factors; increased digitalization, growing consumer awareness of smart centers, rising living standards, and increasing consumer purchasing power to name a few. Conversations with company representatives centered on the challenge of modifying existing product lines with new embedded electronics technology. Many of these big name companies are experts at manufacturing their products, but integrating embedded electronics to add functionality and connectivity are presenting challenges. Many of these devices, like refrigerators, can last for nearly 20 years. Incorporating electronics will challenge the longevity of these products. At SIGMADESIGN, I’m proud of the team we’ve assembled. They understand how to develop platforms that function robustly in multiple devices and architect solutions that work across multiple product lines. These types of solutions will help clients overcome their product integration challenges. Sometimes outsourcing consulting services can be difficult for companies, but speaking from experience, the approach of using an integrated design team who understands the technology and the processes involved will lead to successful product development and testing.
As many of you know, the work of SIGMADESIGN is very diverse. We provide expertise in a number of market sectors that continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Our experience with automation, manufacturing, IoT and AI provides the creative teams needed to implement products from manufacturing to smart home devices. We enjoy being a partner for companies that continue to push the boundaries and hopefully improve the lives of many. Taking products from the “then” to the “now” is exciting work. We look forward to being a part of the product development process that keeps innovative companies at the forefront.
* according to https://www.vxchnge.com/blog/iot-statistics