Imagine being able a textile that is both waterproof and can absorb solar energy. That technology is here and its being made with laser printers. The primary application of this technology will be with the medical industry. These fabrics have the ability to have sensors embedded in them that can perform various actions such as checking vitals and health status of patients. The ability to laser print these textiles significantly increases the production rate makes this technology a far more viable solution to modern problems
This week, researchers at Northwestern University have been able to create “epidermal VR”. Wildly related to the black mirror episode about epidermal gaming and its harmful costs to a person, the university has gone ahead to test out their device and its ability on a virtual reality platform. The device can allow a player to feel a high five from a teammate after battling it out in a game of ‘fortnite’ or feeling the hands of a loved one from another side of the world.
This device stimulates touch through a fast, programmable array of miniature vibrating actuators embedded in the thin and flexible material that rests on top of your skin. The apparatus does not include wires or batteries and rests comfortably on a 15 by 15 centimeter sheet. The actuators are programmable to stimulate different sensations and can even give sensory feedback to prosthetic wearing individuals. The research for this device will be published in the journal Nature on Nov. 21.
Computer Vision: Shaping Our Future
As an often overlooked, exploding technology, computer vision will play a vital role in how technology shapes our future. Though overlooked, computer vision is a crucial part of artificial technology, machine learning, and many other new technology applications. Though a lot of these technologies are new, computer vision is not. In its earliest form, computer vision has been around since the 1950s, however with the recent boom in new technologies, computer vision is now seeing a renaissance.
Computer vision, at its core, utilizes photographs or videos to obtain information. Computer vision leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to process and make decisions with the information it collects. Via the power of modern technology, computer vision is able to operate real-time, collecting and synthesizing the data, and making decisions based from the data set instantaneously. Computer vision allows us to process and analyze a far greater amount of information than before. This helps speed up many manual, time consuming, processes, generating more discovery than before possible.
Computer vision is already utilized in many aspects of our life today. Traffic cameras that can detect whether or not someone ran a red light, motion detectors, and self-driving vehicles are some of the more common forms of computer vision we see today, however there are far greater uses than these. Advancements in computer vision are aiding scientists in tracking hard to find animals, manufacturers in preventive maintenance, and improving the healthcare field. Undoubtedly, computer vision will play a large role in shaping how technology impacts our future.
What other industries can computer vision be utilized in?
Will computer vision help speed up scientific discoveries?
Will there be any negative impacts of computer vision?
Warehousing is being completely transformed by advances in technology and new workplace trends.The capabilities of warehouses to store, organize, track, pick and pack, and ship out inventory determine how efficient and effective the world’s biggest businesses can be. As e-commerce continues to grow and add to the billion-dollar retail business’ bottom line, those changes are happening quickly.
The power of businesses to analyze massive amounts of data is matched only by their ability to collect it. “Big Data” is a term that refers to massively large data sets that businesses can analyze computationally to reveal larger patterns and trends that might not be obvious to the human eye. This power to collect data comes from advances in tools like barcode scanners and RFID scanners. Some of the biggest companies, like Amazon and Wal-Mart, use the humble but flexible and expanding-in-capability barcode scanner to collect information from every item that passes through their warehouses.
Barcodes hold more data than ever before thanks to maturation in the 2D barcode label space, and now warehouse workers can glean valuable information like origin, destination, photographs, price, stock levels, and more with just the scan of the code. As a result, businesses are better able to see what items are flying off the shelves at different times of year, how best to balance their inventory turnover ratio, and examine what operations could be streamlined to their fullest capacity.
From wearable barcode scanners (on fingers, wrists, and perhaps eventually glasses) to devices that track movement over the course of a shift, companies are increasingly investing in technology that delivers them as much information as possible. Big data isn’t just about tracking inventory trends. If employees wear Fitbits and other devices, they can see how efficiently their employees move around the warehouse, when they may need to take breaks, what routes they could take to arrive at a shelf faster, and how their automated vehicles and equipment (more on that below) can join the stream of movement without disruption.
The rise of autonomous machines
Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) are the next step in turning warehouses into ever-more efficient inventory management hubs. Everything from stackers, forklifts, pallet trucks, and even inventory-carrying robots like Kiva and Fetch robots are revolutionizing how work gets done in warehouses.
Advances are being made to move inventory from trucks to shelves, or around warehouses, around-the-clock. This boost to efficiency will result in untold multiplications of work output.And though these advances in technology may worry humans, it’s clear that at least in the near future, people will still be needed to handle more delicate tasks, as well as perform upkeep and oversight of the AGVs. Humans won’t lose their jobs, necessarily; the jobs will change.
The changing of hands from the Boomer generation and Generation X to Millennials will mark a change in how warehouses are managed and led going forward.
But as a generation that grew up with a lot of the technology and tools in use in warehouses today—smartphones and tablets, particularly those powered by Android; cloud computing; augmented and virtual reality—Millennials are uniquely poised to launch warehouses into the next generation of technology advances and efficiency.Additionally, Millennials will bring a sense of environmental and social consciousness to warehousing (the use of greener materials and more transparent supply chain management).
Blockchain can potentially affect warehousing in a number of ways. In terms of how it’s currently being used, smaller companies are using smart contracts and processing payments in a clear and public way to avoid disputes. Larger companies with efficient warehouses will be able to more efficiently integrate blockchain practices and technologies that promote transparency, scalability, better real-time access, and lower costs per transaction.
Now with the rise of a global supply chain and the need to track packages from origin to the doorstep, warehouses need to stay connected to every other link to the chain. Thus, IoT and cloud computing mean a lot. The best way to keep everyone on the same page is to use cloud computing, which updates seamlessly with every barcode scan, database change, reorder, and more.
Rethinking the warehouse itself
Warehouses are going up en masse around the country and world. As humanity’s insatiable need for new and exciting stuff only increases, and ease of purchasing through e-commerce and via mobile devices adds to the deluge, companies are realizing they need more space than ever.
They also need it closer to major urban centers than before. The most troublesome and costly part of delivering a package to a consumer is “the last mile,” and warehouses are looking to close that gap by building closer to the people they’re delivering to. As new warehouses are being built and older ones retrofitted for new challenges, design changes include column spacing, ceiling height, and materials that promote sustainability. Finally, it’s possible that warehouses themselves won’t even be “in buildings.” Amazon has filed patents for some wild new warehouse designs, including in blimps, underwater, and underground. New trends in warehousing are emerging as quickly as new trends in technology and workplace efficiency are.
Reference: Myers, E. (2018, August 14). 7 New Trends In The World Of Warehousing. Retrieved from http://www.systemid.com/learn/7-new-trends-in-the-world-of-warehousing/.
- How does cloud computing help in warehouse management?
- How is the rise of autonomous vehicles helping inventory management?
- How is wearable technology and big data enhancing operational efficiencies in warehouses?
Paired with Apple, Harvard Medical Researchers are conducting large scale research through users with i Phones. As part of Harvard Medical Researcher’s big push for leading the world in research, technology has become overwhelmingly versatile in their endeavor to provide large scale populations for the most accurate results. Users must travel to medical centers to be briefed by researchers and fill out paperwork, however once the mundane part of the induction has been completed, users find themselves able to volunteer for studies that peak their interest.
Another use for Apple’s new medical research app is Stanford’s research on irregular heartbeats which tracks Apple Watch users (the Apple Watch detects a person’s heartbeat). Dr. Ethan Weiss expected there to be more of these studies available because they reduce the costs and hardships of finding volunteers for studies. However, many point out the number of issues with doing studies through smartphones. Besides the countless personal information issues, doctors and researchers believe that monitoring people’s health through smartphones will lead to improvements in health.
Glass Makes a Comeback
Google Glass, a revolutionary piece of technology touted to change the way we interact with technology, smart devices and wearable technology was met with anticipation and excitement. Google was supposedly on the brink of seamlessly bringing AR into everyday lives of people. But what should have propelled us into the future was on the receiving end of widespread criticism. The wearers of Glass were ostracized by society for concerns of privacy, nobody wanted people wearing a device with a camera on it at bars, restaurants, movie theaters or any such place. They were further ridiculed with the appearance of Glass, giving the user a ‘dorky’ appearance. Furthermore, the price put it out of the reach of many potential customers. The battery life didn’t match the device’s marketing videos of being an “all-day” wearable. There were many more pitfalls, so much so that the search term most associated with glass is, “Is Google Glass still a thing?”. Google has since learnt from its failure and has quietly worked on Glass and found a new market for it, a market that appreciates the features that it has to offer.
Glass is now sold to businesses in agriculture, logistics, manufacturing and healthcare. Partnering with Proceedix, a digital work instruction platform, workers at these industries can now get access to step by step precise work instructions that are accessible without a computer screen and the mobility concerns that come with it. Glass also has a much bulkier frame that allows it to house a larger battery giving it a much larger work life. Glass can save companies costs in training, human error from newly recruited workers, a comprehensive pick to light system, space and resource consuming desktop/laptop computers at each workstation. Partnering with Ubimax, Glass is able to provide warehouse management solutions in fulfillment centers, allowing associates directly receive instructions from Glass versus having to manually scan multiple products and racks. GE has claimed a 34% increase in productivity and meaningful quality improvements while assembling wind turbines with Glass. In healthcare, a Glass solution built by Augmedix doctors are able to move away from documentation and charting duties and focus on spending their valuable time taking care of patients. With these developments in Glass technology, it may even become mainstream one day, taking the place of what it was meant to be.
Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implementation have seen an explosion in the past few years, being adopted in self-driving cars, stock trading, and many other areas. One, perhaps surprising, area AI has been slow to become adopted is among manufacturing companies, specifically those with heavy assets. To address inefficiencies, traditionally manufacturers invest in more capital expenditures, however this may not be necessary as it has been in the past. Manufactures can now leverage AI technology to help drive efficiencies and reduce costs throughout their manufacturing process.
With the resurgence of artificial intelligence technologies manufactures have additional options to address production inefficiencies, rather than relying solely upon more capital investment. AI has the ability to, in real time, utilize data that machines are already collecting and provide valuable insight into the manufacturing process. By utilizing the data that is already being collected by the machines, AI allows companies to custom tailor solutions that are machine specific, providing each machine with its own custom solution. AI can analyze the data and make real time decisions instantaneously, freeing up operators’ time to focus on more value-added areas of improvement. Levering AI technology helps manufacturers avoid costly capital expenditures, drive efficiency, and spend more time adding value in other areas of the business.
Manufacturers, specifically those with heavy assets, have been slow to adopt artificial intelligence throughout their production processes. AI provides a cheaper way for manufacturers to reduce costs and drive efficiencies in their process, providing an alternative to more costly capital investments. Manufacturers are no stranger to implementing technology to improve the manufacturing process, and AI is the next step in that journey.
How do manufactures implement AI into their everyday process?
What impact will AI have on the responsibilities of operators in the future?
Can AI help fully automate the manufacturing process?