A Simplified Look into Cyber-Physical Systems

A Simplified Look into Cyber-Physical Systems

At first glance, the phrase “cyber-physical systems” seems like another buzz word to add to the list of confusing tech jargon. It’s actually a very important concept, and quite simple to understand. 

To simplify it, we can break it down word by word. Cyber implies that it involves computers and networks; physical implies that it is a material object; system implies it is a process or a set of things working together. Combine them together and we get “a material process or object with computing and networking capabilities.”

Surprisingly enough, they surround us in everyday life. Your smartphone equipped with a CPU is a cyber-physical system. Your car equipped with anti-lock braking and lane departure warnings is a cyber-physical system. Any physical object you own with features that perform computations or connects to a network is considered a cyber-physical system.

The purpose of these systems is to add a digital component to a physical process or object. By doing so, data can be extracted from the physical sources in order to analyze and optimize a process or task. Additionally, by adding network connectivity, multiple physical objects can be linked together in order to gain even more powerful data insights. 

When used in industry, cyber-physical systems lead to all kinds of benefits for a company. Physical processes can be automated, and with the appropriate artificial intelligence models, adapt to new conditions in real-time for exceptional efficiency and output quality. 

Take for example, applying sensors to an oil pipeline turns a standard pipeline into a cyber-physical system. The pipeline is now able to transmit important data on pressure levels inside and detect potential leaks. By programming the hundreds or thousands of sensors along the pipeline to communicate with each other, leaks can be pinpointed in real-time to alert operators where maintenance is required; a much more seamless process than sending a human to run manual leak detection tests across kilometres of pipe. 

Essentially, cyber-physical systems are changing the way humans interact with physical equipment and processes. They are enabling superior insights at a much more rapid pace. These systems have already begun to appear in all industries and will continue to manifest in more powerful and unique ways. 

The growth and importance of cyber-physical systems is best illustrated by its market size. 2019 saw a market size of USD 6.41 billion, while it is estimated to reach upwards of USD 12.7 billion by 2026. The annual growth rate of the market is expected to achieve 10.2% from 2021-2026. 

At A4 Systems, our main focus is on developing cyber-physical systems to solve unique problems. Each solution aims to boost the client’s competitive advantage so they can stay relevant in a world that is quick to adopt these technologies. We pride ourselves on creating easy to understand solutions that produce a big impact on performance.