From a certain technical perspective, there has been little change in how we consume media for more than 100 years. Traditional media consumption, whether by 2D or 3D video, is largely passive. It does not give you an option to move around or interact with the scene. Here is how volumetric video is becoming a key content for VR.
We have had 130 years of filmmaking — yet on the surface of it — the art and science of making films and animations have undergone tremendous evolution.
The rapidly growing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) scene are set to revolutionize how we consume media.
With the help of mixed reality, we no longer are just passive spectators. We can virtually walk through scenes and interact with the content in a realistic and immersive fashion.
Many of the current virtual reality experiences still offer limited degrees of freedom.
For example, a traditional 360 video rendered in virtual reality is still viewable only from a single perspective. The camera man’s position takes you through the experience. It does not give you the freedom to fully explore the environment by yourself.
How to bring more immersive and realistic VR content
The solution to creating greater immersion in VR is volumetric video. Volumetric capture technology enables images of real people and objects to be simultaneously captured with many cameras at the same time.
The capturing generates hyper-realistic 3D models that move in a natural and organic way. It allows us to view objects at any moment and angle, with six degrees of freedom.
The setup for volumetric capture requires a bulky array of cameras and lighting that can depth-sense 360-degree capture.
The setup also needs a processing unit that stitches all the images together. The rendering can take many hours even with the highest-end graphics cards.
However, the painful setting-up process and processing is rewarded by the ultra-high-quality 3D models. These high-quality models are becoming the core of virtual reality.
The use of volumetric video capture technology has exploded with the rise of virtual reality.
The need for greater immersion and realistic characters in VR has seen many content producers increasingly relying on the volumetric format.
The popularity of the volumetric video has seen many startups emerge that now provide volumetric video capture services. All of them have different approaches and setups. The industry is growing at such a pace that it is expected to be worth $2.78 billion by 2023 according to market research.
Despite its growing popularity — volumetric capture is still experiencing certain bottlenecks in its deployment. Cost and portability are the main problems limiting adoption. However, we can already see that hardware and software improvements are coming that are likely to lower the costs and complexity while increasing the ease of use.
As VR slowly seeps into the mainstream, the technology will become the raison d’être.
VR and AR content producers will find it indispensable in meeting the exacting demands for immersion and realism.
How Volumetric Video Capture Works
Volumetric video capture works on the same principle as photogrammetry only that it records objects in motion.
The resolutions of the cameras used in volumetric capture vary but they capture enormous amounts of data that can take an eternity to process.
Multiple cameras capture the scene from different viewpoints in specially designed volumetric capture studios. It generates a true 3D representation of the space. There are different volumetric video capture systems in place for example Intel Capture or Microsoft Mixed Reality Studios.
The studio is wrapped in a green screen and a massive camera rig. It captures multiple viewpoints of the person standing or performing in the middle.
Once the movements of the person have been recorded you can clean out all of the unwanted stuff.
A powerful computer software is interpolating and triangulating the overlapping visual information. The computer software generates a so-called point cloud. The point cloud consists of various points in space that contain both geometrical and depth information.
The data generated by the computer software is still largely a “noisy” array or representation of the original.
Therefore, the data has to be filtered and polished by connecting the fine points and generating more familiar 3D mesh. The data will then have the appropriate textures from the volumetric capture applied to it.
The point cloud filtering process isn’t fully automated in some volumetric capture setups and that can involve manual cleaning and correction.
Pixels that contains depth and color are the final product.
The content you have made might be for VR but actually it is not limited to it. You can reuse your creation on any platform including AR or on the Web.
The virtual assets created from volumetric capture simplify virtual content creation. People can use these to create new stories or shots without relying on a crew or being physically present at the set.
Challenges with Volumetric Video Capture
While the opportunities for volumetric videos are limitless thanks to the growth in the adoption of virtual reality, the technology still poses a practical change-problem.
The change has mainly to do with data. The cameras in the systems capture vast amounts of data. As a result, volumetric content creators have to grapple with some near debilitating constraints.
Often these constraints can limit the potential and scope of use of volumetric video technology on different devices.
We hope that this challenge will be addressed through hardware and software improvements and innovations — soon.
Content creators working with volumetric capture technology are also likely to face workflow challenges.
Creators have to work with lots of post-production software to stitch things together and simplify the workflow.
Most of these stitch-together-options are proprietary software.
Apart from the software tools challenge, the workflow of the volumetric video will also face a “people and talent” challenge. You have to put a collaborating team together with diverse and specialized skill sets to see the project through.
New Approaches by New Players
Several startups are investing in volumetric video and coming with newer and simpler approaches.
EF EVE dot com offers volumetric capture setup through the use of multiple Microsoft Azure Kinect and other popular 3D cameras.
EF EVE is currently the only software on the market that can automatically calibrate up to 10 sensors.
The EF EVE system allows you to record, edit, export, and publish volumetric videos via its Volcapp and Creator software. The product has created a linear workflow that enables creators to accomplish all the tasks under one roof.
These types of volumetric video software companies are bringing more affordable and portable setups that are now democratizing volumetric video capture technology. With the efforts of EF EVE and other software companies — it will make this type of volumetric video production accessible to hundreds of new companies and institutions — and may to you, too!
Image Credit: David Attenborough, “Hold the World.”
Is 2021 the Year of Digital Transformation? – ReadWrite
While all large and successful organizations have already gone through significant digital transformation, 2021 may be the year that small and medium-sized businesses dive in headfirst. Are you ready to join the fold by embracing the next iteration of the business world?
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation has been called a lot of things over the years. And while some would argue that it’s nothing more than a buzzword, those who are involved with it know that it’s more than conceptual. When executed with vision and precision, it can revolutionize a business from the inside out.
In the simplest form, digital transformation can be described as the process of leveraging the correct blend of digital technologies to modify existing business processes and/or create new ones. The objective of digital transformation is to enhance the customer experience and establish simpler, more cost-effective systems that streamline every aspect of value creation.
As industry thought leaders often say, digital transformation begins and ends with the customer. When businesses recognize and follow through on this idea, they can expect to yield an array of benefits, including:
- Greater efficiency. Think about the bottlenecks in your business – the things that slow down processes, frustrate employees, and prevent you from reaching your full potential. In many cases, technology is involved. And if we dig a layer deeper, we’ll find that these technologies are outdated and/or being improperly leveraged. The beauty of digital transformation is that it allows you to fight through these bottlenecks and speed up your business through greater efficiency and output.
- Better decision-making. It’s not enough to have data. You need to know what to do with that data. Digital transformation ensures you’re collecting and interpreting data correctly, which allows you to improve decision-making and guide your company in a better direction.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction. Research from Gartner shows that more than 81 percent of companies are competing primarily on customer experience. And as we said on the front end of this piece, digital transformation is ultimately about the customer. By enhancing customer satisfaction, businesses can cultivate loyalty and squash the competition.
- Increased profitability. An impressive 56 percent of CEOs say digital improvements have helped them increase revenue in the past. And as we move forward into a world where digital transformation becomes even more integral to the health and well-being of organizations, we’ll see this number grow even more.
- Superior company culture. While customers may be the focal point, digital transformation has a positive impact on employees as well. Over time, this emphasis on digital transformation fosters a superior company culture that reduces turnover by elevating retention.
Identifying and understanding these benefits provides some context as to the value that digital transformation provides. The only question is, are you doing what it takes to yield these advantages?
6 Strategies for Seamless Digital Transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes months and years of proper planning and careful execution. However, you can begin experiencing positive results almost immediately. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
1. Gain Top-Down Buy-In
There is no digital transformation without comprehensive buy-in from all organizational stakeholders. And more specifically, you must begin the process with buy-in from the C-suite.
Research from McKinsey & Company finds that companies who engage the chief digital officer (CDO) at the beginning of the process are 1.6 times more likely to report successful digital transformation on the back end.
Achieving buy-in requires you to be knowledgeable and articulate in your messaging, but it shouldn’t be difficult. If you do a decent job explaining the benefits of digital transformation, the C-suite will have every reason to support the strategy.
The bigger challenge, per se, is that you’ll have to reaffirm the buy-in continually. In most C-suites, approval is not a one-and-done idea. You’ll need to show momentum and progress through objective data. Be prepared to document the results every step of the way.
2. Assign a Point Person
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can roll out an entire digital transformation strategy with a hodgepodge team of people who already have their hands in a dozen other duties and responsibilities. If you want to be successful with your approach, you should find someone who can lead the way. This may look like hiring a new person for the job or reassigning someone. Whatever the case, be sure to practice discernment.
There are a few key characteristics to look for, including a comprehensive understanding of the digital marketplace, as well as a personality that’s conducive to building rapport and moving others to action.
“For business leaders driving digital transformation, they must be able to lead change and communicate a vision to superiors, peers, direct reports, and users,” mentions Box, a leader in the digital transformation space. “They must understand the impact of a new business model. At the same time, They have to be adept at working with IT managers — explaining the big picture and negotiating specific requirements from IT.”
This person won’t be in charge of executing every element of the strategy, but they will be the ones championing the cause. Everything flows from this person, so get it right!
3. Establish Clear Vision
Your “point person” will be in charge of helping to clarify and communicate the vision for your digital transformation strategy. It’s more important that your vision is comprehensive than catchy. It should be a holistic yet specific idea that considers every aspect of the organization. This includes:
- Tech stack
- Budget and operational costs
- Expected Outcomes
- Stakeholder impact
Your vision essentially amounts to a digital roadmap for the future. It explains where you’re going and which aspects of your organization the strategy will touch. (Which should end up being every department, element, and asset.)
4. Evaluate Current Gaps
Take a look at your current technology stack/processes and contrast this with where you want to be in six months, a year, or three years from now. Consider where there are opportunities to pivot and improve, as well as where you’re coming up short. These are your gaps.
Technological and process-based gaps are where the opportunities for significant digital transformation exist. It’s not just about replacing legacy systems and doing away with obsolete processes that no longer produce the results you need. You need to rethink your approach to certain areas of your strategy – like marketing and sales – and imagine what these areas could look like in a perfect world.
As always, think about these gaps through the eyes of the ideal customer. Every digital initiative should support the customer in specific ways. If an “improvement” happens at the customer’s expense, it’s not true digital transformation. It should start by enhancing the customer experience, then (and only then) should you consider the internal impact.
5. Set the Appropriate KPIs
Every organization goes into a digital transformation strategy with the hope that it’ll work out, but there’s a difference in hoping and knowing what’s actually happening. The best way to evaluate the success of your strategy is to set objective measurements ahead of time. Well-developed key performance indicators (KPIs) with pre-defined benchmarks give you something to measure against.
Setting KPIs begins with figuring out what you want to measure and then building from there. If, for example, you’re trying to measure the success of a new application that you’re introducing to your user base, good KPIs would include: daily active users, ratio of repeat to new users, conversion rates, abandon rates, and average time spent on the app.
Is the goal to evaluate customer experience based on a new onboarding process or customer loyalty program? Metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), customer loyalty index (CLI), and sentiment analytics are insightful.
User engagement is a fun one to track. You have options such as net promoter score (NPS), traffic sources, customer satisfaction index, bounce rate, and exit rate.
If it’s the reliability of IT systems that you’re interested in measuring, you may keep an eye on specific metrics like uptime, mean time to failure (MTTF), mean time to resolve (MTTR), and mean time before failure (MTBF).
Other large-scale KPIs that touch various aspects include employee performance, innovation, operational performance, and financial performance.
6. Beware of the Shine
It’s tempting to become mesmerized by the shine of new tech and innovation. And with so many different tools and applications being released on a regular basis, it’s difficult to differentiate between the ones that have the potential to be useful and the ones that are a waste of your energy and resources. Be diplomatic in your decision-making!
Where is Your Focus?
Every digital transformation strategy will have a unique flavor. And while it’ll look a bit different in execution and application, many of the same underlying principles are present across the board. For best results, study what others are doing and view their approaches through the lens of your customer and your business. Your roadmap lies somewhere inside these lines.
When Will Chatbots Become Better Than Humans? – ReadWrite
How often do you have full conversations with chatbots? It might happen more than you think.
These days, millions of businesses are employing chatbots for sales, customer service, and dozens of other functions, giving people the fluidity and directness of conversation without requiring an actual human agent to step in.
Some of the advantages of this move are obvious; if a chatbot can automatically answer basic customer questions, you don’t have to hire a person for the role. You may also see a faster response time, greater consistency, and no fatigue or frustration.
But if your intuitions are in line with the average person’s, you’ll instinctively feel like chatbots aren’t quite at the human level yet.
So is this intuition true? And if not, could chatbots ever become better than humans? When can they do it?
What Constitutes “Better”?
These are complicated questions. They’re hard to answer in part because the utility of chatbots is so diverse; you can use chatbots to field customer service questions, generate leads, or even provide direct services to paying clients in some cases.
But these questions are also difficult because we need to acknowledge what we mean by “better.” What makes a chatbot better than a human?
There are several dimensions in which a chatbot could hypothetically be better than a human being, and in some of those dimensions, chatbots are already objectively superior.
- Cost efficiency. In terms of overall cost efficiency, there’s no comparison. Chatbots are irrefutably more cost efficient than their human counterparts. You’ll need to pay people hourly, or pay them an annual salary, for them to execute conversational tasks for 8 hours a day – plus, you’ll need to pay to train them. While chatbots do carry upfront costs (especially if you’re building a chatbot from scratch), they easily pay for themselves since they function automatically, 24/7.
- Availability. The availability factor is another consideration. Human beings get tired. They get hungry. They get emotionally exhausted. But this isn’t so with chatbots. True, you can compensate for human limitations by keeping people on rotating shifts, but there’s no true substitute for the 24/7 coverage that chatbots can provide.
- Range of service. When it comes to range of service, human beings are real contenders. Modern chatbots can be trained to cover a wide range of topics and help customers with a wide range of issues – but it all needs to be programmed and it all needs to be predictable. Human beings are still much better at handling unexpected situations and improvising; the artificial intelligence (AI) that dictates chatbot behavior isn’t general enough to support this.
- Range of emotion. The emotionlessness of chatbots can be an advantage; they never become frustrated, offended, or impatient. However, many people want genuine compassion or empathy when they’re engaging with an agent – especially in certain applications. For now, human beings are better at expressing emotion and giving people a genuine, “human” experience.
- Training and preparation. We also need to consider the training and preparation required to get a human being or chatbot up to speed. To prepare a human for a role in customer service, sales, or a similar area, you’ll likely need to spend a few days, or even a few weeks training them. Programming a chatbot can take even longer, especially if you’re designing one from scratch; but with the chatbot, you’ll never have to worry about turnover or retraining new people. Additionally, you may have to train an entire team of human beings, but you’ll only have to train one chatbot.
- Communication skill. Communication skill is often at the heart of this debate. Are chatbots capable of understanding what their conversational partners are saying? Can they respond articulately and completely? The short answer is yes. As we’ll see, modern chatbots are incredibly semantically advanced.
- Consumer preference. Currently, consumers overwhelmingly prefer speaking to a human over a chatbot. While consumers do prefer self-service most of the time, most people don’t like the idea of trying to express their thoughts and concerns to a robot. For this reason, human beings are still better – and will likely keep this advantage for the foreseeable future.
- Secondary benefits. There are secondary benefits to both human beings and chatbots. For example, human beings can learn from their conversations with customers and provide qualitative feedback you can use to improve your business. But with chatbots, it’s very simple to gather data directly from conversations, and analyze those data to form objective conclusions about your business’s position.
The Turing Test and Eugene Goostman
For many consumers, the true test of whether a chatbot is better than a human being is whether it’s at least indistinguishable from a human. In other words, are its linguistic capabilities strong enough that they could be mistaken for an actual human?
This is, essentially, the Turing test – a test of a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behavior, devised by Alan Turing in 1950. A machine is said to “pass” the test if humans consistently struggle to distinguish between a real human and a sufficiently competent machine.
Chatbots have been capable of passing the Turing test as early as 2001, when the chatbot known as Eugene Goostman was developed. The Goostman bot emulated a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, and could carry out simplistic, yet linguistically diverse conversations. Participants were unable to distinguish the bot as being a machine, though there are some limitations to consider here – for example, 13-year-olds aren’t expected to carry out conversations as sophisticated as fully grown adults.
That said, we’ve technically had chatbots that rival human conversational ability for 20 years. Is this enough to qualify them as “better” than human, given their other advantages?
The State of AI-Based Chatbots
The most advanced chatbots of the modern era are robust and highly useful. Microsoft and Google have demonstrated technology capable of understanding human speech on par with human error rates. The latter has also demonstrated a chatbot that can literally make phone calls and make rudimentary small talk when carrying out basic tasks like setting appointments.
Other chatbot platforms showcase their advanced nature with customizability; businesses and individual customers can use the chatbot platform to build the perfect chatbot for their needs, training it and testing it to hone it to perfection.
Exploitability and Visible Weaknesses
There are also some major weaknesses in chatbots that we need to consider. For example, many chatbots have built-in bias from their developers, which prevent them from providing service equally to all your customers.
Other chatbots are programmed to learn from real people; they’re adaptive, and they evolve by studying the speech patterns of others. While this can be a source of major strength, it’s also exploitable. For example, Microsoft’s Tay chatbot functioned similarly when it was released in 2016, and antagonistic trolls were quick to “teach” it how to wield racist and sexually charged language.
Finding a way to preserve advantages without opening exploitable loopholes is a challenge that humans don’t generally have to contend with.
Can Humans Ever Be Replaced?
It’s clear that chatbots are already better than humans in some regards, and they’re not far behind in others. If we hold this true, the big question becomes: can humans ever truly be replaced?
Even if chatbots became so perfect that they were unquestionably better than human conversational counterparts (with no exploitable weaknesses), there would be a portion of the population who always prefers speaking with humans over bots. There’s no guarantee chatbots will ever get to this point, but it remains a realistic possibility.
In short, chatbots are already better than we would have thought possible just 20 years ago. Another 20 years could make chatbots indistinguishable from humans even to the most perceptive conversationalists. But for now, it doesn’t look like humans will ever be completely out of the picture for conversational needs.
How IoT Will Change Everyday Life By 2030? – ReadWrite
With the start of every new decade, one can’t help but wonder what the world will look like at the end of it. If we can skip the major COVID year (can we) what will 2030 be like? Human technological advancement used to take generations if not centuries up until the Renaissance era. Even then, it took several hundred years for the Industrial Revolution to start shaping the world as a precursor to how we know it today.
When assembly lines emerged, better commercial goods could be manufactured faster and more efficiently. This is arguably where modern capitalism really began to take hold.
Since then we have had several more Industrial Revolutions, such as the use of robotics, automation, computers, and the internet. Each of these technologies has not just revolutionized industrial manufacturing but has incrementally affected our way of life.
It is no accident that complex consumer products like automobiles, home electronics, and gadgets continue to not only get cheaper but also safer. And with the Digital Age, the incremental impact technology has had on everyday life has increased in both frequency and effect.
How IoT May Transform the World By 2030?
IoT technology, despite the security challenges that accompany it, promises to be the next great catalytic force. The concept of IoT has evolved far beyond the drawing board and is already seeing widespread application across a range of industries as well as everyday activities. From farming to manufacturing to local law and order, there seems to be no shortage of IoT possibilities.
The concept of a “smart home” is no longer a far-fetched idea, but well within the realm of possibility given advancements in voice-controlled virtual assistants and IoT networks. This blog will try to paint a picture of what life in 2030 could look like while attempting to remain grounded on the present-day trajectories the technology is taking. Read on to find out more about specific aspects of everyday life we can expect to change by the end of this decade, including:
1. Smarter Homes and Offices
2. Smarter and More Efficient Cities
3. Improved Manufacturing on an Industrial Scale
4. Safer, Smarter, and Better Automobiles
Let’s examine what the future could look like based on the direction IoT tech is taking at the time of this blog. However, before we begin, there is one important disclaimer. Please note that these are not predictions or guaranteed changes. They are at best cautious extrapolations but based as close to current tech as possible to avoid big leaps of faith. Let’s begin.
Smarter Homes and Offices
The more successful certain technology is, the more impactful it will be in the more obvious areas of your life. Take the internet itself. When it first emerged, it was almost a novelty. Most people didn’t think it would go on to transform the everyday consumer’s life the way it has.
But by 2020, we have seen massive investment in infrastructure as well as advancements in residential and commercial internet tech. This has put providers like Charter in a position to offer internet services to the vast majority of the US. Today, the internet pervades nearly every aspect of our lives, from work to entertainment to study to social interactions. In other words, the changes are apparent in two very obvious areas in our lives: at home and at the office.
IoT in The Workplace
The same principle can, in theory, apply to IoT. IoT devices are already appearing in homes and offices. Sensors already control things like security doors, attendance registers, fire alarms, sprinklers, and even heating and lighting in offices. Other devices like security cameras, motion detectors, and HVAC systems also depend on sensors in the current day.
How difficult could it really be to transition all the sensors and devices in an office building into a central network? At least from a layman’s perspective, it doesn’t seem like a big leap. Sounds too outlandishly futuristic for you? Cisco, a world leader in networking technology, already offers smart building solutions revolving around:
- Prioritizing building security.
- Offering better customer interactions.
- Supplementing occupant health and safety.
- Seamlessly improve building efficiency.
The smart office of 2030 will revolve around these principles. While we can’t speak for architectural design in 2030, we can certainly bank on office buildings or workplaces being safer, healthier, more efficient, and much more secure.
Efficient Smart Homes
The future smart home follows more or less the same principle. However, smart home IoT technology currently significant faces compatibility problems, mostly since different devices communicate in different languages determined by their manufacturer.
So while your Google Assistant may be able to control devices operating over Wi-Fi, it may not be able to do the same for devices that communicate in ZigBee, Bluetooth, or Z-Wave.
All of these languages being used for various devices makes the language barrier an obstacle in terms of how quickly smart homes can become the norm, instead of the exception. But given that much of this technology is very new, and currently does not have a definitive set of industry standards or regulations, this is to be expected.
As industries begin to capitalize on a market with no clear leaders, various governments will inevitably come up with regulations and standards. This, in turn, will usually improve device compatibility and integration in the average smart home. In any case, smart homes will follow similar principles as smart workplaces, including:
- Improved home security.
- Better in-home experience.
- Optimizing health and safety.
- Improved energy consumption and efficiency.
Smarter and More Efficient Cities
It is generally accepted (or even expected) that smart homes and smart workplaces will dominate the landscape by 2030. By that rationale, limiting the impact of IoT just to these two places seems a bit shortsighted. Urban areas such as large city centers and towns are usually densely populated.
That means they will most likely have a large number of offices and homes. If offices and homes can become smarter through IoT, the same concept can be applied on a more macro scale. In other words, IoT can usher in the age of the smart city.
IoT Applications in Cities
Consider any modern developed city in the US today. Local governments today have several responsibilities, including law and order, traffic regulation, waste management, energy supplies, pollution control, and much more. Many cities already use technology in strategic areas to help make these responsibilities more manageable.
Take traffic cameras for example. These can monitor traffic all over the city, and many can even identify traffic violations and issue fines autonomously.
Law enforcement can also use these cameras (along with others) to be more proactive in preventing criminal activities. Traffic management also becomes much easier, making life a bit simpler for citizens trying to commute to and from work.
Governments such as those in Hong Kong and China actually use advanced facial recognition tech in addition to sensors around cities to actively monitor citizens (although that seems a bit too Orwellian for most people’s tastes). Regardless, a smart city is not as far in the future as it was at the start of the last decade.
Smart Cities of the Future
But what will a smart city look like in 2030? Let’s take three present-day examples of local governments using IoT as a baseline. Barcelona uses IoT tech to improve parking availability. This helped by heavily reducing both fossil fuel emissions as well as traffic congestion.
Ultimately, traffic saw improved movement in busy parts of the city. Tel Aviv, Israel uses IoT to manage the use of its reserved fast lanes in busy areas. This helps with easing traffic jams and gridlocks for the entire city. It also earns the city revenue in terms of fines on violations.
San Diego, California was one of the first urban hubs to begin using IoT to reduce the city’s energy costs, namely by using smart-LED lampposts. These posts only light up when traffic or pedestrians are nearby, saving the city hundreds of thousands in public energy costs.
A smart city by the end of 2030 will probably incorporate all of these aspects. Almost certainly, they will add new ones too. In any case, we should expect smart cities by 2030 to at least offer:
- Dramatically reduced street crime rates.
- Smooth traffic flow with minimal blocks or congestion.
- Improved waste management capabilities at lowered costs.
- Significantly smaller energy consumption footprints.
- Improved city life in terms of healthcare and essential services.
- Sustainable living with smarter management of clean energy and water.
Obviously, the scale to which IoT spreads in a city will depend heavily on that city’s government. Remember, strong democracies empower local governments to deliver visible and long-lasting results in their constituencies. But the decision to adopt new technologies will ultimately depend on elected officials instead of bureaucrats.
Improved Manufacturing on an Industrial Scale
True revolutionary technologies don’t just change our everyday lives. They also have a significant transformational impact on existing processes that deliver everyday consumer goods. In other words, IoT won’t just result in an improved standard of living. It will also cause an improvement in the industrial processes that create consumer goods to improve our standard of living.
The manufacturing industry, in particular, stands to benefit the most from adopting IoT. The technology has promising applications for strategic use on the assembly line and other key processes. In fact, some of the biggest names in large-scale manufacturing have already started to board the IoT bandwagon. This is paving the way for others to follow suit.
IoT in Automotive Manufacturing
The parallel use of automation and robotics is not new to manufacturing, particularly in the automotive industry. When making complex products like the modern-day automobile, vehicle manufacturers rely on the synergy offered by machines and humans. Many automotive assembly lines are a hybrid of human workers as well as purpose-built automated machines.
All working towards a shared goal: a complete automobile rolling off the line. This speeds up the manufacturing/assembly process considerably. At the same time, it ensures consistently high quality (in keeping with stricter consumer protection laws). Now consider industries that have introduced IoT technology into the mix.
Harley-Davidson and IoT-Supported Processes
Harley-Davidson is an almost permanent part of American culture. It has done an excellent job of encapsulating the free-spiritedness and individualism of the country. All in a beautiful piece of machinery that is an icon of our culture. Up until recently, the company’s York-based motorcycle plant followed the same 1970s-style assembly operation it had for years.
But with a high-tech manufacturing systems update, courtesy of Cisco, the plant has transformed immensely. Using a network of sensors at specific points on the assembly line operation, Harley-Davidson has stepped up. It can now pinpoint and remove bottlenecks as soon as they arise.
The Cisco plant has even restructured certain operations to navigate around persistent obstacles and bottlenecks. The bottom line result? The plant can now roll out 1 model out of its 1,700 variations every 6 hours. The previous timeline was 21 days from the date of order.
Automobile Manufacturers of Tomorrow
What does this tell us about the future of industrial manufacturing by 2030? We can only extrapolate since nobody can speak for sure. But since most manufacturers are hell-bent on minimizing production costs, we can reasonably hope to see:
- Dramatic improvements in manufacturing processes and production capacities.
- Restructuring of assembly lines to create better products in less time.
- Easy identification and removal of manufacturing roadblocks and bottlenecks.
- Cheaper and better-quality products as a direct result of improved production processes.
Safer, Smarter, and Better Automobiles
The automobile is without doubt one of humankind’s greatest achievements. Henry Ford can safely be credited with developing the world’s first assembly line. This propelled automobiles from expensive novelty to a much cheaper and viable product. Over the years, the automobile industry has seen many entries and exits. Some of the early movers like Mercedes and BMW are still leading manufacturers today. Others like Lagonda and BRM couldn’t adapt to the increasing complexity and varying global demand.
Tesla offers several examples of electric vehicles that have proven to be commercially viable. It is also exactly the kind of technology needed to drive down road emissions to near-zero levels over the coming years. And that’s just one purpose for manufacturing these vehicles.
The Problem With Conventional Vehicles
Conventional automobiles run on fossil fuels. Who doesn’t love the roar of a V8 or V10 engine revving up to the redline! Generations have been captivated by the thrill and speed performance vehicles offer, as well as the exciting driving experience. But the environmental impact they have in terms of carbon emissions is a big problem. There is also the fact that road accidents are the single biggest cause of global fatalities as per the WHO. It is obvious that even many current automobiles are far from perfect.
Over the decades since Ford’s Model T, automobiles have continued to get safer and more fuel-efficient. But they haven’t been able to make transformational headway in terms of road safety and carbon emissions. That is, of course, until present-day electric vehicles arrived on the scene.
Electric vehicles had the reputation of being unreliable, short-ranged, and difficult to maintain. In other words, they were considered less viable than those powered by internal-combustion engines. However, as the fossil fuel crisis grew rapidly over recent years, manufacturers correctly anticipated the need to shift to sustainable alternatives.
Improved Road and Passenger Safety
Thanks to the vast range of sensors as well as computers with the ability to learn and adapt, things are changing quickly. We are seeing vehicles that should belong in science fiction books. From autopilot modes to automatic braking to obstacle radars, they have it all.
The modern vehicle isn’t just environment friendly, but much safer and more reliable. Modern sensors can accomplish a range of feats, from identifying when a driver is asleep to alerting occupants if the car is drifting off the lane to even detecting potential collisions before they occur. This is a direct impact of the use of IoT in modern vehicles, and it promises to only go upwards.
The E-Vehicles Of The Near Future
Automotive tech and IoT continue to advance at a fast pace. We wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect vehicles by the end of 2030 to have:
- True autonomous driving without requiring a human’s input.
- Improved vehicle capabilities with IoT transmitting performance data to manufacturers.
- Wireless performance and safety upgrades that can be “downloaded” to the vehicle.
- Sophisticated road safety systems that minimize the risks of collisions, injuries, and fatalities.
IoT continues to make its presence felt across our lives. We can reasonably hope for major changes in the coming years. The technology may well have a transformative effect similar to the internet or AI in everyday use.
Image Credit: mali maeder; pexels; thank you!