The revolution called Industry 4.0 is bringing changes to manufacturing more dramatic than seen at any other time in history. This revolution will need strong management and collaboration from many angles to provide viable housing options for the future.

In his book “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum describes the technological mega forces behind the fundamental changes that will impact (if not already) the way we live, work, consume and produce (see also the video below).

The 4th industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is described as the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.

But things like robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, 3D printing and nanotechnology not only enable what has been called a ‘smart factory’. As Professor Schwab argues, it is not only about connecting machines and systems via the internet. The simultaneous wave and merger of technology breakthroughs that will connect the physical, digital and biological domains has broader implications.

Deep shifts in technology

The book lists a series of ‘deep shifts’ that are likely go beyond the ‘tipping point’ and become (or are already becoming) reality in daily life within the next 5-10 years, such as:

  • Vision and wearables as the new interface, with smart glasses augmenting the reality as seen by your eyes, watches looking after your health and fitness; baby clothes as monitors.
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone computing power and data storage available as a commodity to over 90% of the world population. One Google search query nowadays equals the computing power used by the entire Apollo programme in the 1960s. The hard drive cost per Gigabyte dropped from US$ 1 mln in 1980 to US$ 0.10 in 2010.
  • Over 1 trillion Intelligent sensors connecting things like machine parts with the internet, for instance enabling smart maintenance of cars and machines (IoT).
  • Connected homes (remotely controlled appliances and devices are expected to exceed 50% of household internet traffic soon).
  • Smart cities connecting buildings, infrastructure, transport, utilities and networks via the internet.
  • Big data being used by governments, manufacturing, services and agricultural businesses for decision making (the volume of available business data worldwide doubles every 1.2 years).
  • Driverless cars (or as, in the case of Dubai, drones) reaching 10% of all traffic on US roads.
  • Artificial intelligence, ‘deep learning’ software that adapts to data from previous mistakes being used in corporate decision making processes and replacing white collar jobs (for instance in corporate auditing).
  • Robotics replacing not only manufacturing but also service jobs.
  • Bitcoins and blockchains replacing at least 10% of regular currency and banking systems.
  • The sharing economy has introduced a new notion of ownership: Amazon doesn’t own a single store, Airbnb not a single hotel, Uber not a single car. Imagine what 4.0 means for the scalability of new business models!
  • 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, the layer-by-layer printing of complex shapes from digitally shared files, will soon go beyond Gartner’s ‘hype cycle’ once the obstacles of speed, cost and size are taken. Next to the desktop market of rapid design and prototyping, customized tooling, personalized gifts etc., it is already (becoming) a significant industrial factor in automotive, aerospace and medical science, where 3D printed teeth, organs, braces and body tissues are already being transplanted.
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