The Digital Revolution is the Fourth Industrial Revolution and it may be the greatest invention of all time. By what I write about, you can decide if you want to participate in the revolution or not. For those who are very knowledgeable about history, it’s easy for me to compare the past with the present. In other words, let’s start with the pre-digital History.

By chronological eras Pre-digital history Prehistoric to Cybernetic. Stone Age to Neolithic. Bronze Age to Iron Age to Pottery. Iron Age to Early Pottery. Digital Revolution First Industrial Revolution to Computerized Manufacturing.

With all this technology, the question of how humans will make decentralized decisions about manufacturing is inevitable. How will humans interact with machines to build products and run manufacturing facilities? How will they access the information they need to make smart decisions? These are all important questions and they get more difficult as the world becomes a more connected place.

Today we are seeing some remarkable advances in the realm of cyber-physical systems. Consider mobile computing and its potential for wireless connectivity. Consider virtual personal assistants, tablets, digital signage and smart phones. On one hand we have the traditional keyboard, mouse, touch screen and headphone technology. On the other we have amazing emerging technologies such as RFID tags, gesture recognition, and real time audio streaming. Combine these two together and we begin to glimpse the future of manufacturing.

Will manufacturing move from localized production to real time remote monitoring? What about when parts need replacing? How about keeping track of inventory? Are we going to go wireless or stick to wired methods? The answers to these questions and others like them are still very much up in the air but one thing is clear; the digital manufacturing era is here to stay and we are all going to be affected by it.

What can you do today to ensure that you’re part of the digital future? Start making your own solar panels, windmills, generators and other digital devices. They’re cheap, easy to make and incredibly productive. Who knows what the future holds but the smart, empowered consumer is going to have a major impact. This is the wave of the future and is already happening.

The other part of the digital future is smart manufacturing. Just as cars now have chips in them, so too will someday all manufacturing equipment. With smart manufacturing, factories will not only be digital but completely networked. This means no machines can work alone, every single device will communicate with the rest of them via wireless networks. Think of the new possibilities in transportation - cars able to talk to trucks, trains and even pedestrians; entire fleets using real time GPS tracking to avoid accidents; and just about every other factory in existence will be running this type of system.

This isn’t some pipe dream, some people have been dreaming about since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Smart manufacturing is becoming real and is becoming the wave of the future. Why wait for the future? Act now and make your own digital products. They’re affordable and extremely productive!

I’ve worked in the manufacturing industry for over 35 years now and I’ve seen a lot over that period. In fact, I’d say that the digital products we’re using right now are more advanced than most anything created in the previous half century. If you look at the future, you’ll see it staring you in the face, so act now!

Many products we use every day such as cell phones, mp3 players, computers and televisions are being developed by companies using the latest computer technology. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google are making products that run on the new “Pixels” that are tiny computer chips. These are much faster, much smaller and much more powerful. This will change the way we do business and how we do things forever. Who knows, maybe future generations will have flying cars.

If you look back a few decades, you’ll see that nearly every major piece of hardware and software in existence was developed on a PDA or a Smart Phone. Things like the iPod and iPhone are examples of this. I think in the future this will be the norm. So don’t forget to plan your entertainment budget, because it’s sure to get slimmer if you choose smart products over traditional media.

The digital products we use today have become part of our lives. We go online and shop on our mobile phones. We can even check our emails while walking down the street. I think in the future, those who aren’t on the cutting edge will be left behind. I’m not saying that technology is good and everything is wonderful, far from it. But I do believe that the future is going to be better if you choose digital products over regular products.

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