November 2012

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Connecting the Robotics Industry

Bob Hetherington

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Having spent the last 15 years or so publishing technical eMagazines about consumer electronics, alternative energy and now robotics, I thought I should share some of my experiences and insights on "how to grow an industry".
One word - Connections - seems to be a common denominator and a crucial piece of the puzzle. And I don't mean connecting wires or components or systems. I mean connecting companies, people and ideas, sharing expertise and experience as well as technologies.
Back in the early days of the home technology and consumer electronics revolution, I attended several conferences that were actually called "Connections". And they are still going on to this day in that industry --- internationally. The idea is that everybody gets together to share knowledge, compare stumbling blocks and develop standards or common goals to move the industry forward.
Everybody knows now how well that works. There are now more connected devices in this world than dollars in the deficit. And the definition of success in business has changed from closed shops to standard modular construction and software that allows all sorts of players to add to the core products that are built. Even Steve Jobs came around to the benefit of having a somewhat open platform allowing mp3 music and app developers to continually add value to his core products - ipods, iphones and ipads.
Needless to say, our eMagazines would not survive without promoting and making "Connections" in the industries they serve. We want to help the Robotics Industry make more connections in a free and open forum where ideas can be shared and compared.
I understand that nobody wants to give away their trade secrets, especially in this competitive world. But I feel that often, top secret products may be held from success by remaining too closed. There are basic principles and technologies that can be shared for the good of all of us wanting to grow the industry and make more products to serve our customers.
Here are some examples of other industries and companies discussing how to connect with each other:
contemporary A colleague of mine, Ken Sinclair, is the guru of the Building Automation industry with his website and he is even more frevent than I about connecting his industry. He will be presenting several topics at the AHR Expo as he describes in his editorial this month. The key phrase he uses is Connecting Connection Communities.
Back to my experiences in the AV and Automations industry and, I recently attended a The CABA Digital Home Forum and wrote this article about the experience. Again, the conference focused on "Connections" for devices and standards for the protocols which allow them to communicate.
Lastly is Parks Associates, a research firm which organizes several "Connections Conferences" each year where the electronics industry gets together to shop and compare technology.
So let's start the discussions going. If you agree, let me know your thoughts. If you don't, let me know that too. You can comment below or just send me an email ( Better yet, send me an article about your company, experiences or your products to share with the rest of our readers.


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