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IT as a game changer – in which direction can we move in the long term future?

A couple of weeks ago I was so lucky to attend the first module at DNV GL’s “TopTech” program at UC Berkeley and Haas School of Business in California. You will find more information about this educational program further below, but here are some lessons learned with regards to one of the topics which was “IT as game changer”. It is actually very relevant for me at the moment as I am working on the Sesam Next Generation project trying to set the (very) long term direction for our CAE-solutions. Of course we will continue to push out frequent releases on what we have long time into the feature. However, this article has more like a 10-15 year horizon. Fill up your coffee cup and continue reading!

Engineering cup, by Jo Øvstaas, private

 

Some of my key learning points after listening to a bunch of extremely interesting presentations are as follows:

  • Smart systems integration and sensor networks in harsh environment
  • The BYOD concept, Bring Your Own Device
  • Benefits from cloud computing in CAE applications
  • Handling of “Big data”

For the first item, it was interesting to learn that companies are already able to manufacture extremely small sensors. By extremely small I mean sizes down to 0.04 x 0.04 millimeters. These sensors are equipped with wireless transmitters like RFID-tags. They are also harvesting energy from the environment (so no battery is needed) and they can contain sub-devices measuring temperatures, pressures, strains and much more. The research community is even doing it with nano-technology. The best thing is that such sensors can “live” in extremely harsh environments, typically what we find in marine or offshore structures and components. An impressive usage of such sensors is to actually embed them into bank notes to avoid counterfeits or put them on turbine blades in gas turbines with extremely high temperatures. Imagine if we could embed thousands of sensors into the steel in our offshore structure and get “live monitoring” of for instance the fatigue life? The world soon has commercially viable technology to do that! Have a look at the pictures of the “mu-chip” in this BBC article and you will get an impression about the size. UC San Diego and their research labs are also showing some impressive results in this area.

The mu-chip, by Hitachi

The BYOD concept was “invented” some years ago and is for instance mentioned in Gartner-reports. Did you know that it means “Bring Your Own Device“? BYOD refers to the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace, and use those devices to access privileged company information and applications. Well, that sounds like a good idea….but it gives some challenges for a software vendor when you have to deal with multiple platforms such as Apple iOS, Android, WinRT and more traditional Windows desktop systems. We have to do it in some smart way and luckily for us there are some innovative cross-platform technologies out there. As a result of some smart prototyping in our unit, we have successfully managed to show interactive Sesam 3D-models on devices as Windows Surface and Android tablets using technologies like Xamarin. We are still in the prototyping phase, but the idea is interesting. But, will our user community require Sesam to run on various mobile devices in the future? Would it be relevant to hook up your tablet computer to a video projector in a meeting room and discuss the latest design revision with your project team without bringing your heavy laptop? What about the possibility to use hand gestures on platforms like Windows 8 and WinRT…how would it feel like to manipulate your 3D-model with hand-gestures? A prototype with limited functionality is already in our test-lab…. However, we realize that support of core functionality like modelling, analysis, fatigue-calculations and code-checks are still far more important!

Mobile devices, by Muhammad Rafizeldi, Wikimedia Commons

 

Concepts like cloud computing and “big data” are also interesting within the world of design and engineering of marine and offshore structures, but I’ll come more detailed back to that in a later blog post. We are already utilizing a cloud computing platform in our Fatigue Manager product (in the process of being re-branded from Sesam Wind) to boost the performance of the computations. But cloud is more than just computations. It is also about secure and scalable storage, which is a separate topic.

Cloud computing, by Πrate, Wikimedia Commons

For your information, the internal DNV GL TopTech program consists of lectures and discussions, case studies and visits by industry experts, small group projects and visits to corporations and technology centers.

Key subject areas includes:
– Man and the ocean space
– Energy in transition
– Materials technology
Risk management
– From idea to profit
– Engineering for harsh environments
– IT as a game changer

The program features an unprecedented list of world class and renowned professors, philanthropists and entrepreneurs from the academia, private enterprise and NGOs. Lectures have also included Nobel Laureates, founders of Silicon Valley enterprises and US presidential advisors.

3 Comments Add your comment
Avatar Michael says:

What I way to say is it is a pity of becoming another Microsoft.

Avatar Michael says:

BYOD and Cloudcomputing is limited as described in the article. If it is the revolution happened in DNV Software, it is something like “update” NOT “upgrade” and of course NOT revolution. What it could change?

Jo Øvstaas Jo Øvstaas says:

Dear Michael, thanks for your valuable feedback. The intention of this blog post was just to provide some reflections after attending some interesting presentations by entrepreneur software companies in San Francisco. As mentioned it has a 10-15 year horizon and is not applicable for Sesam per today. But, who knows in the future….? DNV GL Software believes in the BYOD concept and we have already released products for mobile devices (Android and iOS). For instance you can take a look at the Synergi Life mobile application which is available in Apple AppStore. We also realize that other major software companies are working with mobile strategies and cross-platform technologies, e.g. Autodesk 360 which you can find in the Google Play store.

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