PC-based control is making a quiet comeback, in part because of an eroding dividing line between PLCs, PCs and ‘soft’ control. At least, that’s the opinion of David Humphrey, an analyst for ARC Advisory Group (http://rbi.ims.ca/4927-535) who reports on automation trends. PC-based control today ranges from software such as a ‘soft’ PLC delivered on a CD-ROM that runs as a task on a Windows platform, to PLC-like controllers running small footprint or embedded versions of Windows. The lines are blurring between PLCs and PC-based control, and the focus is on software integration. Humphrey uses a “Programmable Automation Controller”(PAC) to describe solutions that provide users with an integrated view of control tasks from a single tag database. New products are offering a variety of solutions, but ultimately the premium is providing users a unified environment for control.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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