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The 4th Industrial Revolution

The 4th Industrial Revolution blends the physica, digital and biological worlds.

“The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”(1)

- Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

The avalanche of disruptive technologies that is fast changing the world as we know it, is blending the physical, digital and biological worlds. This phenomenon is called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

So, how did this evolve?

Timeline of the Industrial Revolutions
Figure 1: Timeline depicting the development of the industrial revolutions. 
What does this mean?

Society and economic systems are changing as the fourth revolution is evolving at an exponential rate. As advances in technology cause rapid change and transformation in numerous industries, the blurring of technology into every part of our lives and business practices is becoming the norm.

There are many documented potential threats, such as:

  • Businesses failing to respond, adapt and innovate in time.
  • Governments failing to regulate the technologies appropriately.
  • Increased security and privacy risks.
  • Increase in inequality as automation and robotics threatens low-skill jobs whilst artificial intelligence (AI) and technology drives demand for high-skill jobs.

However, just as society and businesses had to adapt to the consequences and opportunities created by the previous three revolutions, we today need to choose how we are managing the challenges and embracing the opportunities of Industry 4.0.  By intelligently employing and harnessing the benefits and potential of smart technologies and data we can drive positive change.

It is critical for New Zealand businesses to respond to this rapidly changing environment and ceaselessly innovate:

  • Finding new ways to serve existing customer needs.
  • Using the global digital platforms to speed up research and development, facilitating speed to market, agility and competitiveness (price and quality).
  • Anticipating and understanding changing consumer needs as a result of smartphone enabled platforms that are causing consumption and behaviour changes.
  • Using data to better design products whilst improving marketing and finding/creating new distribution channels.
  • Adapting management and business strategies to be agile and responsive to change, with new leadership styles and entrepreneurial intelligence.
  • Questioning and redefining strategies and business models whilst investing in continuous internal innovation and skills training.

In the informative video The Fourth Industrial Revolution(2) by World Economic Forum, William McDonough (Stanford University) says, “The goal is really about a diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy.”

One example of a New Zealand organisation that is pioneering the way in blending the physical, digital and biological worlds for the greater good is The Cacophony Project.

The Cacophony Project is built with a wide variety of technologies including embedded systems, web applications, backend services and machine learning (artificial intelligence) in order to solve the problem of invasive predators in New Zealand(3), by:

  • Luring invasive predators with sound and light,
  • Observing predators using a thermal camera,
  • Identifying predators automatically using machine learning algorithms,
  • Eliminating positively identified predators,
  • Monitoring the bird song over time to measure the impact.
The Cacophony Project’s System
Figure 2: The Cacophony Project’s System(4)

We, at Beta Solutions, are very excited to have recently partnered with the Cacophony Project to produce their embedded platform, the Cacophonator, and are looking forward to further future involvement.

The engineers at Beta Solutions are experienced and well versed in many current and emerging technologies. We are constantly researching, discussing, employing and testing new technologies and are passionate about finding the right technology for our clients’ new electronic products.

Conclusion:

Be part of the revolution! Feel free to contact us, call us or pop in to discuss how technology can improve and future proof your current product, or enable your new product idea to have the competitive edge.

I leave you with this quote from the The Fourth Industrial Revolution video mentioned above:

We need to take responsibility at every level of society... to adapt to these technological challenges and changes which are redefining what it means to be human, what it means to work, what it means to be completely embedded in this world.(1)

Industry 4.0

References:

  1. World Economic Forum. "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means and how to respond".
  2. World Economic Forum (Apr 13, 2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution | Full Version. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/khjY5LWF3tg
  3. The Cacophony Project https://cacophony.org.nz/
  4. The Cacophony Project’s System retrieved from: https://cacophony.org.nz/technology
  5. Vector of Steam Engine sourced from: Vector Graphics by www.vecteezy.com
  6. Banner photograph by Tan Danh from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/selective-focus-photography-of-right-human-hand-1358534/
  7. Images from https://www.pexels.com/


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