A convergence of low-cost electronics, new kinds of sensors,
and high-performance computer power opens up enormous potential
in making things "smart":
Provide intuitive, interactive capabilities.
Help people work more safely and efficiently.
Respond intelligently to users and environs.
Many tasks can be performed more efficiently and safely
when sensors, electronics, and controls are incorporated
into the process. Productivity improvements through automation
and robotics have been extremely successful in factory settings,
but these depend on a tightly controlled environment.
To bring automation to less structured environments,
intelligent use of sensors can help make things smart enough
to know where they are, where you are, and what you want them
to do. They work cooperatively in carrying out each task by
sensing and responding to the environment and the user.
In some cases autonomous robotic systems will take over
certain kinds of jobs. However, in the near future smaller
steps are more likely. Already, portable drills learn the maximum
torque required and shut off power as soon as a screw is fully
driven in, extending battery life. Automated devices remove spots
in carpet, and GPS-enabled systems can tell us exactly where we
are and where we need to go. Lifting devices respond to the
user's guidance by sensing touch on the object, eliminating
Just as robots and automation machinery greatly increased the
productivity and safety of manufacturing, so too will automation
rapidly advance for those who work in:
- construction sites
- agricultural fields
- maintenance activities
- foodservice, and
- commercial and retail settings.
Last Updated 2005 November 17