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March 26, 2015 Leah Bortz

ICYMI: Automation News Roundup, Week Ending March 27

Forget Smart Fridges – IIoT is What to Watch

TechRadar called out “everyday smart devices” like smart watches and smart kettles and told them to watch their back. There’s a force to be reckoned with in the “smart” world and it’s called the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT for short.

Photo courtesy of Neptune Pine2, Creative Commmons

Photo courtesy of Neptune Pine2, Creative Commmons

While some individuals may know it as Industry 4.0, GE is still credited with giving the concept of the IIoT its own identity.

Jamie Carter of TechRadar described the IIoT being responsible for “adding big data to create automated buildings, lighting, security, energy production, transportation, and industrial automation on a massive scale.”

Carter also pointed out that the IIoT is imperative in solving mission-critical problems– which, in turn, is shaping modern economics.

Using the example of streetlamps, Carter posits that with the help of the IIoT, a radio could be placed inside a light and then send alerts to signal that the light-bulb has burnt out and requires a fresh one.

And this is just an small-scale example of what the IIoT can revolutionize.

How to Avoid Becoming Extinct as Tech Changes

Photo courtesy of Kate Ter Haar, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Kate Ter Haar, Creative Commons

Howard Tullman uses the image of a modern Best Buy store to illustrate how technology is quickly on its way in and, on the other side, on its way out in the article published in the Chicago Tribune. 

Here’s what Tullman suggests to avoid becoming extinct:

  • Utilize multiple offline and online channels- it’s “all about the mix of offerings”
  • Be continually innovating- add new functionality wherever possible
  • Accept the modern trend of mobile computing & virtual consuming of entertainment- use it for your advantage
  • Monitor changes from analog to digital- most importantly, pay close attention to how it affects consumers

Driving a 3D-Printed Car through Manufacturing: A Q&A

Illustration courtesy of opensource, creative commons

Illustration courtesy of opensource, creative commons

Thanks to the Idea Laboratory by GE, we were treated with a detailed Q&A with CEO of Local Motors, Jay Rogers, about the process of creating the first 3D-printed car.

Rogers answers questions on 3D printing, sustainable transportation and the future of auto manufacturing in general.

“Idea Lab: You developed the first fully functional 3D-printed car. How will 3D printing technology and the way it’s used evolve? Are we moving closer to the democratization of manufacturing?

Rogers: At Local Motors, we view 3D printing (additive manufacturing) as just one of the many tools available in a suite of tools used to make things. Depending on the function and design, it may make more sense to form, cut, weld, fasten or coat material. It is important to note that 3D printing is not a “one tool fits all” solution — like anything, there are inherent benefits and drawbacks to the technique.

Perhaps the greatest advantage that 3D printing has over other manufacturing methods is that it gives the user control of where materials are placed. Smart designers are able to create complex pieces optimized for strength and weight. The net result is designs that are lighter, require vastly reduced assembly time and are digital, meaning they can be modified with a few strokes of a keyboard. Imagine each successive build of an object improving over the last with features that are uniquely tailored to the requirements of the end user. 3D printing has enabled us to make this vision a reality.”

Read the rest of the conversation at GE’s Idea Lab.

Let us Air our Grievances: Technology Edition

Photo courtesy of Omer, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Omer, Creative Commons

Technology is a wonderful thing- it’s a fact that’s indisputably proven every  day.

However, just like a college roommate or a co-worker that you see day after day, an overuse of some parts of technology can easily cause an emotional response.

I’ll admit it- forgetting a password can be one of the most aggravating mishaps you encounter in a workday.

Well, a few hundred of Wall Street Journal’s readers also felt strongly about particular nuisances in technology, and shared them for the “Tech Fails” article:

Waiting for Windows. Whether it is an update or reboot or whatever, Windows [7] makes you wait. My time has value but Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand that.

—Phil Duclos, Longmont, Colo.

Apps you can’t delete. You can only bury them deep in a folder. We know how to download apps already. Why does Apple need to put a Watch icon on every device [via iOS 8.2 update] months before launch?

—Ryan Plumley, Dayton, Ohio

Voice mails. Don’t leave them. Don’t make me stop what I’m doing to listen to a message that I could have read in an SMS or email.

—Greg Schrage, Lenexa, Kan.

 Meet Sawyer: Rethink Robotics’s New Robot

Sawyer is described to be primarily used for machine-tending, circuit-board testing and other detailed tasks according to the IEEE Spectrum. 

Specs provided by IEEE Spectrum:

  • Weight: 19 kg (42 lbs)
  • Payload: 4 kg (8.8 lb)
  • Reach: 7 degrees of freedom and 1-meter reach
  • Actuation: Series elastic actuator and Harmonic Drive, with optical encoder
  • Repeatability: N/A
  • Force sensing: High-resolution force sensing embedded at each joint
  • Vision: Camera in the head for wide field of view and Cognex camera with built-in light source in the wrist for precision vision applications
  • Software: Intera, with software updates every 4 months
  • Body: Sealed against dust and spray [Baxter isn’t]
  • Expected lifetime: 30,000 hours
  • Price: US $29,000 (available in North America, Europe, China, and Japan)

Watch the video:

Media We Link to:

“Forget Smart Fridges- The Industrial Internet of Things is the Real Revolution” – TechRadar 

 “How to Avoid Being Extinct” – Tullman, Chicago Tribune

“Driving a 3D-Printed Car Through Manufacturing” – GE Idea Laboratory 

 “Tech Fails: What Annoys You about Technology” – WSJ

 “Meet Sawyer: Rethink Robotics Unveils New Robot” – IEEE Spectrum

Featured image – by  Sebastiaan ter Burg 

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