Cyber Physical Products Are All Around Us

Cyber Physical Products Are All Around Us

Cyber physical products are already all around us. We interact with them every day and we hardly notice anymore. The growth of cyber physical systems is just getting started. A cyber physical system is a material object with computing and networking capabilities. It is a device with computerization. In common language it is a “smart device.”

A great example of a cyber physical product is a smartphone. Telephones used to just make phone calls. The old rotary dial phones were simple. Dial the number and make a phone call. Today we have smartphones. Physical devices with computing and networking. The first smartphone, invented by IBM, went on sale in 1994. It had a touch screen and could send and receive email and faxes. It came with a calendar, address book and appointment scheduler. A lot has changed in the last 25 years!

Today’s automobiles are also cyber physical systems. A car is filled with computerized devices. Automatic transmissions, anti-lock brakes, air bags, advanced climate control, keyless entry, and cruise control are areas where computers are common. Long gone are the days when cars were wholly mechanical. The car with the first truly computerized part was the 1968 Volkswagen. It used the Bosch Jetronic electronic fuel injection system which was computer based.

Wearables are a big market featuring cyber physical products. Fitness wearables are bands worn around the wrist that help you keep track of things like sleep cycles, steps taken and things you have eaten. Fabric heart sensing devices are worn around the chest to monitor the heart rate.  Google Glass is eyewear that puts a small LCD screen in front of your eyes. It can record what you see, surf the Internet, and make calls. Hearing aids are often thought of as the first computerized wearable device. In 1987, the Nicolet Corporation developed the first full digital hearing aid. It would be another two years before the first behind-the-ear hearing aid would be sold.

The healthcare market is booming with smart devices. Asthma monitoring devices are attached to the upper torso like a patch and monitor symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Insulin pumps can now dispense insulin to diabetics automatically in real time so diabetics can finally get a full night’s sleep. Smart drills are used to assist doctors by making recommendations on where to drill based on bone density, resistance, and other factors. Heart rate monitors can be worn around the upper torso using a fabric with heart sensors built in. Blood pressure can be monitored through a wearable wrist device instead of the bulky bicep cuffs. While the first implantable pacemaker was installed in 1958, microprocessor enabled pacemakers were introduced in the 1990’s. Smart healthcare has come a long way.

A4 Systems is a world-class team of cyber-physical system product developers. A4 builds mission-critical SaaS products focused on the corporate value chain.