Coming from a mostly-electronics perspective, as I do, integrating functions does seem like a no-brainer. But a lot of control and automation mechanisms are, or have been, not easily integrated with electronics and/or driven by proprietary, closed software, like PLCs. So integration of functions there is happening a lot more slowly.
I know what you mean, Chuck, I feel the same way about a lot of things. I always use the smartphone as an example. But I guess at the time, it made sense to just have a phone for talking...and then a music player for music...and a GPS for GPS. So using that logic, it shows why functions might be separate. But I completely agree with you.
Components makers integration functions that were previously separate into microcontrollers and other key aspects of the automation system to make them easier to deploy and manage. This controller from Advantech is an example of that trend.
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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