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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

PTC’s IoT Equation Becomes Technology Platform

June 9th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

What a difference a few days make. Last week I was in Denver teaching math to middle schoolers and this week I was in Boston with about 4,000 others attending PTC’s LiveWorx 16. The spotlight at the conference shone on the Internet of Things (IoT) and PTC’s commitment to it.

So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) thing is still just a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 16 in Boston this week, IoT is becoming an increasingly big part of the future – not only for PTC, but for all of us.

Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over the past couple might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (~2,300 attendees); LiveWorx 16 (~4,000 attendees). Attendance numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.

Although a standard definition is still in the works, IoT generally refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999, although the concept has been discussed since 1991. PTC, of course, and understandably, is defining IoT in terms that serve it best.

Today, the term IoT is used to denote advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.

For PTC, IoT represents the next natural progressive/evolutionary step to PLM and describes it as the confluence/convergence of physical and digital entities.


PTC’s New Logo – The “d” is for digital and the “p” is for physical – Convergence

 Unlike last year when IoT was talked about in broad terms at the conference, PTC has added augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and data analytics that fundamentally changes our relationship with things. Analytics has become a critical element of IoT along with AR/VR. AR communicated through IoT becomes VR for a remote user.

So, the equation becomes:

IoT + VR/AR + Analytics = PTC’s Solution, a technology platform.

A platform being much more valuable than a mere software product or service.

Never at a loss for words, PTC’s president and CEO, Jim Heppelmann this week proclaimed, “Data is the new oil, and analytics is the new refinery”. He said that service is the “killer app” for IoT and that the manufacturing floor is the first place where convergence of the physical and digital (IoT) is being realized big time.

He admitted that IoT product/service development is scary, exciting, and difficult. He views IoT as next-generation PLM, and not surprisingly, he feels that for IoT, CAD, and PLM, PTC has no real competition at this time. As for standards, he said that with the rapid rate of development there is really no time for IoT standards for adding value, although that may change down the road.

For a company that began and grew based on CAD, its flagship MCAD offering, Creo (formerly Pro/ENGINEER), was not front and center on the main stage during keynotes this year. Center stage was reserved exclusively for PTC’s IoT push. Creo announcements were relegated to breakout session rooms. How things change. Interestingly,  though, Creo in the cloud was shown for the first time.

There was way too much presented this week to cover here, so in the coming weeks I’ll discuss in more detail several of the significant things that were served up this week, including:

  • Scrum teams and agile methods for developing software AND hardware
  • Creo in the cloud
  • The significance of a technology platform
  • PTC Navigate and Predictive Analytics
  • The growing concerns, attention, and resources being paid to IoT security
  • Vuforia Studio Enterprise – a new tool for creating augmented reality (AR) experiences
  • Kepware for integrating industrial automation and IoT

Disclosure: PTC provided my airfare, hotel accommodations, some meals, and entertainment.

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