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How IoT will change the way you work

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What will a world with many Internet-connected devices look like and how will it change the workplace? YUNUS SCHEEPERS, chief information officer of Nashua, has some answers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been described as the anchor of the 21st century industrial revolution that will connect everything around us as well as increase productivity and efficiency. Predictions estimate the growth of the IoT will reach 50 billion objects by 2020.

IoT describes a growing network of connected variables which include sensors, processors and chips that have the ability to interact with other devices on a network. The computers, smart phones and printers we use have the capacity but now we’re starting to see televisions, cars and industries being able to receive data or being controlled remotely.

Soon every device you own – and nearly every object you can imagine – will be connected to the Internet. Whether it’s through your phone, wearable tech or everyday household object. Imagine a smart office which sets the optimal workplace temperature throughout the day – that’s soon becoming a reality. No more fights about whether it’s too hot or too cold.

Businesses should be the top adopters of IoT solutions to improve the bottom line by lowering operating costs, increasing productivity and expanding into new markets or developing new product offerings.

Change is coming to the office building too and it’s geared towards worker and customer convenience. IoT allows more data for your business than you currently track. This opens the door to learn more in-depth metrics on consumers and their behaviours, your employees and how they work, and even details on how the business operates. IoT means more software and data management systems to manage and implement this information.

Nashua has implemented IoT in its printing software with a device called Pro-Act Nashua.  It sits in all Nashua’s printers and picks up any abnormal behaviour before something happens to the printer and alerts the user that there will be an issue.

Everything faster

IoT means faster inventory management systems. Having all your equipment devices and products into the same network allows for efficiency – instantly updating numbers is at your disposal and tapping into metrics can be done easily form anywhere.

Interconnected devices will include everything from robots to cars and the public transportation system. This means shorter commute times for employees and faster deliveries. You get everything you need faster, but on the one hand, customers will expect and demand faster and more efficient service.

Machines and equipment in industries will operate smoother and maintenance routines become easier. The bottom line is that less money will be spent to produce inventory ad most of your costs will likely decrease.

IoT will change how we do business. Remote work will become even more feasible. Thanks to cloud-hosted software in devices like tablets and our smartphones is already an option for many professionals. With IoT all devices are manageable on one network – given just a tablet and an internet connection you’ll be able to manage an entire store, team or production line.

The downside of IoT integration

Tech and device management can be a complex task. For IoT to work at its optimum point devices need to be updated with the latest software and connected to the network. This will be expensive and demanding. Some industries will also disappear or radically change when IoT becomes mainstream. Some might even become obsolete, for example the logistics and delivery industry will become completely automated.

Businesses need to pay close attention to how their industries develop and be prepared for major changes. There will be sectors that will start to be higher demand allowing for more profitability and entry to new entrepreneurs. It’s important to watch how this new tech develops and get your business to gradually adapt to changes and reap the benefits of IoT.

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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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