February 2, 2018
The words “digital disruption” are invoked so often that they’re easy to ignore. They’re on the receiving end of blame for manufacturing’s woes as often as they’re used to praise those capitalizing on new business models. “Digital disruption” encompasses exponentially faster computing, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, big data, smart factories, the internet of things (IoT), digital twins and all the other buzzwords being used to describe the most significant shift society has seen since the industrial revolution.
Design engineering teams are accustomed to looking ahead and asking “what-if” questions. How will a digital design be made into a functional product? How will it perform in the field? What if this aesthetic change were made or that engineering requirement rethought? It’s risky to predict much further into the future, but there are plenty of people willing to chance it.
Futurists, entrepreneurs, leaders of established companies and newly formed startups in just about every industry are all racing to prepare for digital disruption. “It’s not like you have to work in a traditional high-tech industry to take advantage of these digital revolutions or engage in disruptive change,” says well-known futurists and Google’s Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil in “Disruptive Technologies and Dangerous Ideas,” a video of a conversation he had with serial entrepreneur and X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis. “It’s affecting everything. All of these traditional industries are becoming information technologies.”
That doesn’t mean engineering is about to be annexed by the IT department. It means the information—the data—has become the product, or at least an integral part of the product. The design engineering team is one of the primary creators (and consumers) of the information that is critical to every step of the product lifecycle. Every design and functional engineering requirement is a bit of information. Every connected product deployment is a potential goldmine of information related to the design, environment and human behavior that contribute to a product’s success or failure.
The Technological Advantage
The flow of information—the big and not-so-big data from various sources—is now the heart of the product design and development cycle. How quickly and accurately design engineering teams can arrive at the optimal product depends on how well they capitalize on that information using their time, talents and the latest technologies. Those technologies can already give design engineering teams more time, via faster simulation runs and realistic real-time visualization, for example, and it could be argued that quickly advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence and generative design will eventually equalize talent advantages.
That’s why we created the Advanced Product Development Resource Center in partnership with Dell and NVIDIA. Computing and visualization technologies continue to increase exponentially, while barriers such as cost and accessibility continue to decrease. Engineering teams who aren’t taking advantage of the latest technologies to create, collect and visualize the abundance of product design information available are at a distinct disadvantage.
Need to Know Info
The content that comprises the Advanced Product Development Resource Center consists of hand-picked articles, videos, white papers, research studies and more. Fresh content is being added regularly to show design engineering teams what is possible with the latest engineering technologies.
As Diamandis says at one point in the “Disruptive Technologies and Dangerous Ideas” video: “The day before it’s a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”
Our goal is to help design engineering teams develop those breakthrough products faster and more efficiently by using the latest technologies.
More from the Advanced Product Development Research Center:
About the Author
DE’s editors contribute news and new product announcements to Digital Engineering. Press releases can be sent to them via [email protected].Follow DE