IoT, IIoT, and Industry 4.0—Our Common Future or Summoning the Demons?

What’s your initial reaction when you hear the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrie/Industry 4.0? Are you excited because it represents an unparalleled opportunity to make things better? Or are you defensive because you fear that robots are taking over the world and will significantly degrade humanity? Well, I don’t have the answer to that one, but you’ve got to admit it’s a pretty good question!

So why continue to read? Hopefully, something will spark a thought or two about the right middle ground between these two extremes for you and encourage you to consciously think about the range of issues related to this coming evolution.

Where to start is hard so, as the King in Alice in Wonderland said, let’s “begin at the beginning.” Being a simple engineer, I have a simplistic understanding of the IoT. Sensor technology is exploding and this is especially true for sensors that can directly connect to the Internet. Availability and assortment are increasing while cost is decreasing. You know the rest of this story. The number of devices of all kinds that are connected to, and communicating through, the Internet in real time is exploding as well. Anyone who was at ProMat 2017 had to be impressed with how common this feature was on all types of new equipment.

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