EMEA Vertical Segment Director
It was the day after Christmas. I had just installed a Google Home device on my Wi-Fi® network – a Christmas present to myself – and it was quickly working perfectly. But the voice activating it was not mine. My four year-old daughter had taken an instant liking to the new technology, and spent the rest of the day in conversation with her new digital friend.
It started me thinking about the expectations that a new generation of workers will bring to the devices and equipment that they use at home and at work. People’s relationship to technology objects is radically different from the way it was even just five years ago.
Back in the first decade of the 21st century, the main interface to a mobile phone’s functions was through a keypad. Many consumers now deem it unacceptable to have to key in a code to unlock their phone: a fingerprint or face recognition is the new requirement. And who needs a debit or credit card? Or a camera? Or a music player? Or a map? Young people expect their phone to be all of these things, and much more.
So just as my daughter will grow up assuming that she can get machines to do what she wants by talking to them, a whole generation of employees is set to start work in offices and factories expecting their workplace machines to respond to their voices, fingerprints, faces and gestures. Industrial and office equipment manufacturers therefore have some interesting decisions to make about the way they incorporate advanced consumer technology into their products.
It’s been done before: Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi and NFC wireless standards are all consumer technologies which have been widely adopted in industrial equipment. Led by manufacturers in the heartland of industrial applications, Germany, the talk today is of smart factories: a trend which is often named ‘Industrie 4.0’ or ‘the industrial IoT’ (IIoT).
This fourth industrial revolution presents considerable challenges to equipment designers, who have to implement human-machine interfaces such as voice activation, image recognition and touchscreen displays while also handling concurrent wireless and wired data connections, and protecting customers’ data security and privacy.
We will address this combination of challenges at the Future Electronics stand at Embedded World, where our applications engineering experts are on hand to discuss all aspects of smart industry backed by live technology demonstrations. For visitors to the Embedded World exhibition, Nuremberg, 27 February to 1 March, you can find Future Electronics at stand 3.225. And if you do not attend the show, you can always learn more by contacting your local branch of Future Electronics or emailing email@example.com.