Connecting the physical world to the digital world might sound like the plot of a cheesy science-fiction movie from the 1990s, but it is actually quite simple even if the technology itself is complex.
It involves using digital technology to monitor and better understand how things act and interact in the physical world and using that information to improve those actions and interactions. In fact, we already use a lot of technology that bridges the digital and physical worlds, such as fitness trackers and other health-monitoring devices.
Such devices are part of the Internet of Things (IoT), which are everyday devices and objects that are connected to the internet via the cloud. Sensors in the devices gather data in digital form for a wide variety of purposes, which is then analyzed and used to directly influence the physical world.
Why We Are Bridging the Digital and Physical Worlds
In recent times, the digital aspect of producing a product ended after the design phase. Once built and in the hands of the end user, the physical product no longer had any connection to its digital origins. Now, in theory at least if not always in practice, the whole manufacturing process is digitized, enabling manufacturers to identify issues in the production line and implement more efficient processes while minimizing waste and energy consumption.
But it doesn’t end there for many smart products. As mentioned above, the digitization of such products also involves ongoing interactions through the cloud. At a minimum, the data gathered from monitoring the performance of the physical product in the hands of the end user provides designers and manufacturers with real-time feedback about the product’s performance.
This in turn equips businesses with the data they need to optimize their designing and manufacturing processes, and subsequently maintain and improve their products throughout the entirety of the product’s life cycle.
Examples of Digital and Physical Connectivity
We mentioned fitness trackers and health-monitoring devices earlier, and these are some of the most obvious examples with wide-reaching potential. Devices carried about a person with a particular medical condition will monitor the likes of a heart rate, blood pressure and more, in order to recognize symptoms of a potential problem before it happens so the person can receive the medical help they need before it’s too late.
A smart temperature control system in a building can also represent a bridging of the physical and digital worlds, as it monitors the air and adjusts the temperature controls accordingly. Refrigerators can inform users of which items require replenishment.
Sports science is increasingly using smart monitors to devise tailored training regimens for athletes, while the likes of top level motor racing use augmented reality to fine tune their vehicles and ensure every component is optimized before a race.
We are almost at the stage where it is no longer correct to describe it as a ‘bridge’ between the digital and physical worlds, as the physical world increasingly is becoming completely intertwined with the digital.
If you would like to know more about bridging the digital and physical world, please contact our team at +1 800 974 7219 ext. 202. Alternatively, complete our short online form here and a member of the team will be in contact with you.