You already know about the Industrial Internet's power to revolutionize large-scale operations through its synergy of big data, smart machines, and ubiquitous sensors. But what about its human side? What can the Industrial Internet do to improve the everyday lives of workers? As it turns out, quite a lot.
To see exactly how the Industrial Internet can change the way we work, let's imagine a world in the not too far future, a world where the full promise of the Industrial Internet and its positive feedback loop of machine to cloud to person information slinging is flourishing. This world is populated by smart sensors built into almost every device and backed by vast, speedy communication networks that run straight into the most powerful, dynamic, and adaptable cloud brains you can imagine. What does the daily life of a worker in this Industrial Internet world look like?
The Morning Commute
You're about to leave for work and your car is explaining to you how it automatically defogged its windows over the past 20 minutes, getting ready for what it's discerned as your standard daily departure time. It also tells you the atmospheric sensors along your normal driving route predict heavy rain, and it can provide a slightly dryer path if you don't mind taking an extra few minutes to get to work. "Let's play it by ear" you say, and take off. As you hit the road, your car picks up more information from additional weather sensors and tells you that within 40 seconds, you'll hit a downpour. It gives you three options - take your standard route into the downpour, delaying your arrival time by 20 minutes, take the an alternate highway, which it cautions will see increasing traffic by the time you arrive, or go completely around the whole mess on the leisurely route, taking an extra half-hour to get to work. You smile and choose the third option, telling your car to submit a live report to your managers and colleagues, so they'll know exactly when you'll arrive, what caused your delay, and that they should reroute all your calls and messages straight to your car in the meantime. And soon enough, the first call arrives as you're taking the scenic route, without a drop of rain or a stopped in sight.
You arrive at your workplace - a wind turbine power plant. Intelligent parking lots direct your car straight to the nearest empty spot. As you walk into your building you notice the tint of the glass windows change to allow more light in from the graying sky above. You walk into the break room and ask no one in particular for a cup of coffee. Instantly, the coffee machine springs to life, triggered by the sound of your voice, and begins to make a fresh cup just the way you like it - black, two sugars.
At your desk, your management console shows you a summary of the health of the entire array of turbines you're in charge of. The turbines have already taken the incoming storm into account and are dynamically updating their optimal configuration for when it hits. There is a problem though, and it pops out at you by an automatic alert. There's a mechanical issue with one of the turbines. Your console has already alerted nearby field technicians who've been deployed to the site. In an instant you're videoconferencing with them, live. "How's it going?" You ask, but in a way, you already know. The technicians are carrying powerful handheld diagnostic devices, whose output and analyses you can see right on your console, in real-time. Interpreting the data is aided greatly by your powerful analytics software, but making decisions with it still requires experience and careful judgment. Together with the technicians, you devise the best solution. You're going to replace one of the parts of the turbine system as quickly as possible.
The inventory system already knows you were very likely to do this and shows the number of parts available and how long it will take for one to arrive at the site. With a simple command you send the part on its way. While the technicians repair the turbine, the inventory system is automatically in contact with the part supplier, communicating a need for a replacement part. Once the repair is complete it will also tell the part supplier whether the part was good or defective, allowing the part manufacturer to have a better measure of their product's quality. The repair goes well, and so does the rest of your day. On the way back home you start to feel a little bit of a chill. Are you getting sick? There's only one place you need to go to find out.
You walk into your bedroom. Hooked up to a secure network is your own in-house digital triage system. You authenticate your identity and instantly the triage system goes to work, reading vitals data directly from the sensors you chose to have implanted in your body. They tell the system your temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and congestion level. All readings seem normal. If you want, it can send your vitals along with a description of your symptoms to the system and the next available doctor across the world will contact you to check in further. "That's okay," you say and smile, relieved.