This is a great intro and I found the discussion of safety of particular value. The implementation of safety standards throughout the factor, and in products via traceable design-for-safety processes, is going to be a huge issue in 2012 and beyond. As well, the HMI stuff in this article was extremely valuable in the context of fielding a complete automation solution.
Increasing integration in A&C does seem to be the wave of the future, and that includes robotics, as I predict in my Top 5 Robotics Trends of 2011: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=236475&. Integrating multiple control functions in hardware, as well as into a single IDE, will enable all this. And making it scalable can only be done by integrating PC-based hardware.
Really a great article, John. So do we know how it's being received in a quantitative way? What perceentage of controls engineers are willing to (as they used to say), cross over to the dark side? What percentage are just saying, no, I won't ever do this?
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Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
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