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Major trends

Some people see a trend and see a threat. Smart people see the same trend and see an opportunity! -- Jim Carroll

We seem to live in two parallel worlds at this moment: the fanciful, political, “let’s make a wish” or “yell and scream” political world, and the real world. I don’t know about you, but I’m with the real world, and it’s obvious that others are too. To that end, I’m doing an increasing number of economic development talks that take a look at the real trends driving our world forward.

Case in point: I’m headlining the Nevada Economic Development Council conference this September in Las Vegas. We’ll have economic development folks, elected officials, industry representatives — all looking for insight on what comes next in terms of opportunity.

In my mind, economic opportunity comes from linking to the fast paced trends that envelop our world today. As the session description notes on my keynote: “He is an authority recognized for his deep insight into the cutting edge trends of our time, including autonomous vehicle technology, sensors and the Internet of Things, 3D printing, virtual reality, alternative energy generation and storage technologies, genomic medicine and healthcare virtualization, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual cash, machine learning and robotics, crowdthinking and next generation R&D.”

Around the world, we are building a giant new machine, and new opportunities abound. They’ll involve new skills, big bold innovators, fast new technologies, and obviously big investments. Nevada woke up to the future when Tesla established the Gigafactory outside Reno, and knows that its’ future will come from aligning itself to other, similar trends.

If only other regions and people could think like Nevada instead of hitching themselves to a failed politician from the land of make believe.

Similar to this event, I’m also headlining (for the 3rd time in 16 years!) the International Asset Management Council annual event in Richmond, Virginia this fall. This is a group that consists of corporate relocation folks for Fortune 500 companies — people who analyze where they might place their next factory or manufacturing facility. They’ve asked me to come in and do a talk around the future of manufacturing, with an eye to better understanding the trends involving the reinvention of this critical sector of this economy.  (Hint: the old jobs aren’t coming back. New jobs are appearing all the time).

As the keynote description outlines: “Collapsing product lifecycles. Mass customization. Digitization, robotics and the cloud. Rapid prototyping, sketch to scale, and agility-based business models … are you ready for the new world of manufacturing? While popular media and opportunistic politicians portray a picture of a sector in crisis, smart manufacturing executives are furiously busy with innovation, reinventing their capabilities, processes and business models using advanced ideas, materials, methodologies and technologies.”

Regions that can align themselves to the reality of future trends, and set the right tone and welcome mat for innovation will discover the future of economic success. I’m pleased to be doing what I can to help people understand the real future — not a fake future dreamed up in someone’s mind.

I’m cleaning out some old research files, and came across this simple set of statistics: between now and 2050, we will move from 7 to 10 billion people; we need 70% more food, 50% more water, and 50% more fuel.

People always ask me, ‘where are the emerging opportunities for innovation?” Those simple statistics define it perfectly…… there is big potential in agriculture, infrastructure, energy, water …. ignoring the politics for a moment.

Back in 2008, I wrote a document, “Where’s the Growth? Global Innovation Opportunities for the Long Term”. I just read it again — and it was pretty accurate, predicting the rise of the Internet-of-Things (connected thermostats), the acceleration of solar and green tech, and other trends.

Have a read — it’s a PDF, so click on the image or read it here.

Earlier this week, I spoke to several hundred executives from the trucking industry at a keynote for the Omnitracs customer conference in Phoenix. My keynote focused on the trends which are sweeping the industry, including prognostic diagnostics, the connectivity impact of the Internet of Things (#IoT), the rapid evolution of autonomous trucks and self-driving technologies, drones and the impact of bio-monitoring devices. I’ll have a full blog post on that in the next few days.

It’s a topic that I’ve been doing all over — Keynote: Accelerating the Auto & Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles

In the meantime, the trucking industry provides a good example of how the new workplace is being transformed by technology.

Here’s what you need to know: first, do you think of trucking as a kind of unsophisticated, low-tech industry, full of a bunch of guys and gals performing boring tasks while moving down the road? Forget that — here are some simple facts:

  • the typical truck today is putting off some 3 gigabytes of data per month, and that number is increasing at a furious pace
  • the typical truck cabin contains more technology than a typical small airplane
  • in the race to self-driving vehicles, trucks will be the first to cross the finish line

A few years ago, Volvo/Mack Trucks had me in for a series of leadership and dealer meetings, where I noted that “in the world of trucking, connectivity is the new horsepower.” Given those stats above, that much is true!

And here’s a key thing: with those trends, the process of innovating in the industry has gone hi-tech. The result is that the workspace in the world of trucking is less like a grimy, dirty garage, and more like an airline control tower, at the same time that the truck cabin has come to be more like an airline cockpit.

To emphasize that point, I spoke about the folks at Bison Transport, based in Winnipeg, Canada. I’ve used them in a few talks on the future of the workplace and on the future of trucking:

“It’s not how one might envision the head office of a trucking company. Youth abound in 20- and 30-somethings tracking payloads in the operations room — think of a flat airplane control tower — or working in the IT department (which in the last 15 years has grown to 15 from two). There’s the “quiet room” for breaks. The fully stocked fitness room, the laundry room, the cafeteria.” Taking Trucking into the Future, Winnipeg Free Press, June 2014

Well, freak me out with a fork! It turns out that unknown to me, the folks from Bison Trasnport were in the room, and came up to me after my keynote. I think they were a little freaked out too!

Trevor Fridfinnson, Chief Operating Officer, Bison Transport with Keynote Speaker Jim Carroll at Omintracs 2017

Their office is at the forefront of the connectivity and technology revolution accelerating the world of trucking and transportation into the future. The folks at Trucking News covered this trend from my keynote in an article, detailed below.

Clearly, in trucking, the office space, culture and fast innovation speeds of Silicon Valley are coming in, and they are coming fast!


Carroll on the future during opening of Omnitracs Outlook 2017

Futurist, trends and innovations expert Jim Carroll advised attendees to ‘think big, start small, scale fast,’ when it came to embracing technology.

Carroll said automated trucks were one of the trends that were changing the face of trucking, and questioned what would happen to the traditional driver once that occurs.

Carroll’s overall theme was that the world changes fast, has been for some time, and the trucking industry cannot get left behind.

Several factors contribute to the ever-changing world, Carroll said, including what he called the ‘era of big transformation.’

Autonomous trucks is part of that ear, according to Carroll, who declared that trucking would be the first to move to fully autonomous vehicles because it made financial sense to do so since drivers account for one third of the operational costs pie.

Servicification, the intensifying of skills training, acceleration of innovation and the impact of future generations were also factors Carroll said would contribute to how quickly the world would continue to change.

As an example of this, Carroll pointed to statistics showing that the vast majority of children aged five to six would one day have a job that today does not even exist.

Carroll said today’s truck manufactures worry not only about putting out a quality product, but also about how to best maintain that product through diagnostics and other predictive technologies.

“We are in a world in which we can determine when parts and components in a truck are going to break down,” Carroll said. “And we can bring it in for maintenance and thereby avoid the problem in advance of a truck breaking down on remote Arizona highway somewhere and thereby reduce downtime and costs.”

To further illustrate how the world and traditional workplace have experience a facelift over the years, and how the next generation will continue that trend, Carroll posted a quote from Manitoba’s Bison Transport on the screen that read: “It’s not how one might envision the head office of a trucking company. Youth abound in 20- and 30-something tracking payloads in the operations room – think of a flat airplane control tower – or working in the IT department (which in the last 15 years had grown to 15 from two). There’s the ‘quiet room’ for breaks. The fully stocked fitness room, the laundry room, the cafeteria.”

Today’s photo is actually from a keynote for an agricultural organization, but the quote in the picture actually started out having to do with the fast pace of change in the automotive sector. The thought came to mind with my morning photo preparation, because I’m currently preparing for a hands-on, interactive session with a Board of Directors, on the future of self-driving cars and more.

Companies that don’t yet exist will build cars that aren’t yet designed, using materials not yet invented, with manufacturing methods that have not yet been conceived..…”

I could have made this quote back in 2000, in the context of where Tesla Motors is today. I pretty much did when I predicted the emergence of Tesla back in 2003 when I led a leadership team for an event with DaimlerChrylser at Mercedes Benz HQ in Germany.

After I prepare my morning picture, I send it out via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (You can find all of them on my Instagram feed). This one drew some instant response:

Good point — every industry is subjected to the similar trend of uncertainty.

Since I still had the picture on my laptop and was having my morning coffee, I did a quick revision, to make it more general. “”Companies that don’t yet exist will build products that are not yet conceived, based on ideas that have yet been generated, using materials not yet invented, with manufacturing methods that have not yet been conceived..…”

That too got a fast response, with a number of shares  – but one curmudgeonly fellow decided to take a few shots:

So I tweeted back.  “Geesh you are in a bad mood. Cheer yourself up. The type of thinking is real.” I linked to a quote from Tesla Motors on their unique experience with the Model 3. It somewhat parallels my thinking.

I really should know better.


Futures-babble? Sure. Let’s check the assumptions and deconstruct my quote from a historical perspective to put this type of future-babble in perspective:

  • companies that don’t yet exist: Netflix, AirBNB, Uber are the easy ones. We’re seeing a lot of existing ones disappear. The entire history of business involves companies that come into industries, change it, do something new, and upset the balance.
  • products not yet conceived. Really? CD’s, DVD’s, drones, curved skis…. isn’t the whole human experience about conceiving new products?
  • ideas not yet generated. Um, iPads? Didn’t someone invent the concept of a car?
  • materials not yet invented. Velcro, folks. I actually just did a talk for the senior leadership team of Arconic — a new spinoff of the aluminum giant Alcoa. I can tell you that capitalizing on the rapid emergence of new materials based on advanced science is very much on their mind. Should I tell them that maybe it’s just future-babble?
  • manufacturing methodologies not yet conceived. Additive, 3DPrinted manufacturing? Build to demand manufacturing models? Mass customization? Rapid prototyping and SmartThings? Seems we have had a constant stream of new methodologies and capabilities.

I always find it fascinating when curmudgeons jump out and undertake critic-babble.

My quotes stand on their own. I don’t see anything the least bit wrong with them. They will become true, over and over and over again.

Challenge yourself to align to a future that is not yet invented, but in fact, is being invented all around you. Listen to the future-babble. Watch for all the signs and trends that are changing everything – faster. Refuse complacency.

It might make a difference in how you approach things.

My job as a futurist has me doing an increasing number of CEO level events for Fortune 500 companies around the world, helping at leadership meetings which are focused on the massive transformations and disruption occurring in every single industry.

Disruption is real, it’s big, and it’s happening faster than you think.

Here’s what you need to think about today, as the pace of change picks up:

1. Multiple trends merge. At no other time in the world of business have we seen so many trends come together all at once. Computers, exponentiating bandwidth, connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous vehicles, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry. As this happens….

2 Every company becomes a software company. From healthcare, home appliances to automotive, manufacturing to packaging, retail to sports & fitness, energy to agriculture: every industry is seeing massive change as it becomes enabled, challenged and transformed by technology and connectivity. From precision agriculture to self-driving cars, smart clothing to connected microwaves, remote medical monitoring devices to active packaging  — every company in every industry is becoming a computer company, with software and technology at its heart and soul. What this means is that …..

3. Velocity accelerates and speed defines success. Moore’s law — the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip constantly increases while the cost collapses at an exponential rate — is coming to drive the speed of innovation in every single industry. Companies are having to innovate and transform at a pace never seen before. Some can do it, and others can’t, which leads to the new rule in the economy that….

4. Small beats big. Agility and speed are the new metrics for success. Big organizations are often encumbered by legacy, and are suffering from the disease of  organizational sclerosis. New, aggressive upstarts can move faster, with the result that they can make decisions that provide for big disruption and challenge. In their world….

5. Edge thinking dominates. These small upstarts don’t follow long-established ‘rules’ for changing the future. To move faster, they source ideas and inspiration through crowd-thinking, raise their funds through crowd-funding, and prototype products through 3D printing and other fast-to-market methodologies. Global R&D has moved from massive labs to globally dispersed idea factories. The result of this trend is that ….

6. Ideas accelerate. In every field, the pace of innovation and discovery is speeding up to an unprecedented level. What use to seem like science fiction just a few years ago is todays’ reality. In such an environment …

7. Big, bold thinking predominates. We are seeing the emergence of an entire world of big dreamers and doers, individuals who dare to challenge the orthodox, and abandon routines. The concept of the ‘moonshot’ is no longer restricted to those with deep pockets — but is oxygen for those with big ideas. To get their fast, they realize that….

8. Skills access is the new gold. Did you notice Ford paid $1 billion to get access to some experts in self-driving car technology? Enough said. Those who can access the skills in trend #1 above win. We’re in a global war for niche talent, and that pretty much defines a critical strategy for the future. If it is all about skills, then success involves a strategy in which ….

9. Experience is oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century. To get there, you need to know that….

10. Action is the best reaction. If you don’t disrupt, you will be disrupted. It’s your ability to quickly act, react and do that will allow for future success. There’s not a lot of time for debate, studying; inertia is abhorred. Simply DO. That should be you.

Remember that song by the Who? “I hope I die before I get old!”

You better change before you can’t.

You might be obsolete before you know it.

Quit talking about disruption.

Do something about it.

The 11 Rules of #IOT Architecture
February 13th, 2017

In the 21st century economy, building a great product is no longer enough. It’s what you can do with it after it is shipped that is important. That idea defines the opportunity of the Internet of Things.

When the phrase “Internet of Things” came along, I had a bit of an A-HA moment! I’d been talking about the trend since 1995, referring to it as ‘hyperconnectivity.” (I went kind of ballistic back in the day when Nortel — remember them? — tried to claim that it originated the phrase in 1997….)

The impactions of IoT is significant. Yet at this point, the Internet of Things is in its very early days — there is extensive experimentation, innovation, idea exploration and such. Yet much of of the current generation of stuff will disappear, simply because it isn’t architected for the future. It’s almost like the early days of e-commerce in the late 90’s – a lot of excitement yet not quite ready for primetime. That will change as organizations and entire companies make the transition to become software companies.

A senior management team at Whirlpool/Maytag recently invited me in for a keynote for a leadership meeting that was focused on the Internet of Things. They know that they know that they are in an industry that is making the transition from to a company that sells computers that happen to feature its products. In my talk, I outlined the key components of a real, robot, scalable IOT architecture. Its good food for thought for anyone going down this path in a serious way.

A smart device architecture in the world of #IOT should involve devices that are:

  • upgradeable: any device should have the ability to be upgraded from afar, automatically, either by user choice or centralized management
  • feature addition capable: the design should provide for the addition of future capabilities, some of which might not be imagined yet at the time of development
  • prognostic, diagnostic: each device should be able to self-diagnose and report when it is not working correctly
  • self-repairing: better yet, it should not only know when things are going wrong, but have the capability to fix it once it is aware
  • programmable: the device should be modifiable by users, to the extent that is possible within a predefined robust security and privacy architecture
  • self-reporting: the device should be able to report on a wide variety of information pertaining to operations, proximity, location, status, etc
  • swarm data-generating: it should be able to generate types of information that, in concert with other similar devices, is able to be manipulated to provide some unique operational, predictive or maintenance-information data-set (or more)
  • inteligence-capable: as in, artificial intelligence; on launch, or in the future, it should have or be provided capabilities to make its own decisions based on input data
  • sensor-aware: it should have the feature of being able to link to one or more external sensors for additional information
  • grid-connectable:  it should be able to exist or participate within a connected series of devices to achieve some original or newly conceived purpose
  • individually and collectively addressable: to accomplish all of this, the device must be accessible either on its own, or as part of one of many predefined groups

The implications of #IoT are bigger than you think; its fair to say that it will be responsible for a huge amount of disruption, because it transitions many organizations from their core business to that of hi-tech companies. It accelerates the pace of innovation, has a dramatic impact on available and necessary skills, leads to market and industry upheaval, and leads to the blurring of competitive boundaries.  It impacts everything, from water to entertainment, energy to healthcare, manufacturing to communications.

As they say, just wait – there’s more!

In 2017, politics is bound to once again dominate the world of healthcare. When that happens, people tend to lose sight of the remarkable advances, driven by science and innovation that are occurring, that make this one of the most exciting industries out there.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that we are out of big ideas. WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP – consider, for example, what is occurring with the science and technology of medicine!

With that in mind, consider the tremendous advances that have occurred with the science and technology of medicine. This is a grab bag of a few of those trends:

  • technology is taking over medicine. BIo-connectivity devices such as remote blood pressure monitoring devices allows for the virtualization of many health care services (“bedless hospitals”) at a much lower cost
  • Google and other companies are working on a contact lens that will monitor blood sugar/glucose for diabetes patients
  • we will soon see ‘smart medical implants’. This will include a contact lens, surgically implanted, that will feature storage, a battery, sensors and other electronics to aid in vision
  • we have ingestible pharmaceuticals, such as from Proteus, that report on how well a particular cancer treatment might be working
  • global grand challenges and funding are set to solve big diseases, such as a $3 billion fund establish by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife
  • we will soon see a computer chip that will diagnose infectious diseases through continue bloodstream monitoring
  • 3D printing technologies now allows us to provide customized hip-replacements and other medical implants, or the printing of prosthetics for amputees — including in war ravaged areas such as Sudan and elsewhere
  • computational, real time analytical healthcare dashboards will allow us to monitor and track the emerging of infectious diseases and other conditions in real time; Google Flu Trends was a harbinger of what is coming
  • smart packaging allows the development of pharmaceutical/drug products that will aid in the use of the product
  • digital mobile technologies are allowing many people to ‘get closer’ to their health, by monitoring, gaining a better understanding and actively managing chronic conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes
  • wearable sensor technologies (such as the contact lens mentioned above) allows for continuous monitoring of medical conditions
  • personalized medicine and pharmacogenetics provides for more targeted drug and medical therapies
  • there is continued momentum towards virtualized healthcare concepts that don’t require visits to a doctors office, for common treatable conditions
  • patient generated data and shared patent edited medical records are providing for more consultative medical relationships
  • ‘frugal innovation’ is leading to such ideas as smartphone-based medical imaging capabilities
  • continued rapid advances in the cost collapse of genomic medicine
  • AI advances leading to an ongoing decrease in the cost of medical diagnosis, including pathology slides, x-rays, retina scans and more
  • continued advances in anti-aging strategies
  • inexpensive medical tests, often referred to as a “lab-in-your-pcoket” devices
  • the ‘exercise is medicine’ trend which recognizes real methods to reverse the staggering cost of lifestyle disease
  • robotic technology advances providing opportunities for those who have lost hands or limbs

But wait, there’s more!

Despite all that, the challenges in healthcare are vast. Aside from the political challenges (which will likely be a gong show), we are faced with a continuing rampup in self-inflicted lifestyle disease (which could cost Western society $150 billion more over 10 years), a shortage of specialized skills, a funding mismatch, expectation gap, anti-science hysteria and more.

But all-in-all, there are a lot of big ideas and bold solutions.

I knew ‘fake news’ was a thing in 2016. Who would expect to see it in the Wall Street Journal?

Does the science of healthcare make a difference? In 2012, I did a keynote for the health care professionals and senior leadership of Mercy Health, and suggested they get aggressively involved in exploring virtual health care ideas. Imagine my surprise when I came access this item today – Mercy Virtual! The initiative was established in 2006, but picked up significant steam from 2013 onwards…. with 300+ patients now being monitored from afar. I sspecifically remember suggesting that as an activity when some questions came up in the Q&A.

It’s nice to know that in my own small way, I am helping to effect big changes in the world of healthcare!

Today, the Wall Street Journal ran an article,”Why Saudi Arabia’s Oil Giant Aims to Be Big in Chemicals, Too“, with the subhead: “Aramco’s plans to vastly expand its petrochemical operations are part of the kingdom’s effort to remake its economy as oil’s future clouds.” 


“Aramco’s strategic goal is to create a global network of refining and petrochemical plants that let Saudi Arabia turn its biggest asset into hundreds of higher-value products crucial to modern life, from chewing gum to auto parts”

Why would one of the world’s largest oil companies shift to a new focus on the chemical industry as their key opportunity? One reason is that the math, and hence the scope of the opportunity, is so overwhelming. (The other being that in a world awash in oil, energy is no longer a growth industry. So after the world gets flat, you put a ripple in it!)

Here’s why: years ago, I dug out a fascinating observation having to do with the world of chemistry. I’ve used this in keynotes for BASF, the American Chemical Society, and many others. Consider the simple math at hand that spells opportunity with a capital ‘O’.

  • “…The number of known chemical substances has been growing exponentially since 1800, from some hundreds then to about 19 million today….”
  • “…. the number constantly doubles every 13 years….”
  • by 2025: 80 million chemical substances
  • by 2050: 300 million
  • and by 2100: 5 billion……

19 billion known chemical substances to 5 billion? That’s a pretty exponential change….

Why is this important? I always point out on stage, when using these stats, that the discovery of a single new chemical substance led to the opportunity for Apple to miniaturize the hard drive — that led to the first iPod.

Which was the birth of a multi-billion market.

For every new chemical substance, similar massive new opportunities exist.

That’s what it means to live in an exponential world! And that is what it means to focus on future opportunities through innovation. Which is precisely what Said Aramco is focused on….



So … I regularly get approached to speak at a lot of corporate leadership meetings …. and have done so for organizations like Johnson & Johnson, The GAP, Dupont, BASF, Siemens, Lockheed Martin. I frame for them the issue that the future is arriving faster than they think, and offer concise guidance on key trends that they need to align themselves to…..

To help emphasize the issue of the era of acceleration I’ve been using the story of the Jetson’s over the last 5 years while on stage. Remember it? It’s that cartoon show from 1962, purporting to show what the world will look like in 2062. Remember George Jetson? Remember the fact that there were autonomous vehicles, robot assistants, drones, and Skype and FaceTime seemed to be everywhere?

Now consider this! About a month ago, I was approached by Arconic to headline a leadership meeting for them in Phoenix; this is a newly spun-off entity from Alcoa that is focused on advanced technologies. I’ll be the opening kickoff – outlining and reaffirming the trends that will provide massive opportunity in the future.

Great minds think alike! They think the world of the Jetson’s is going to arrive here soon too — and are planning to play a major role in helping to make it happen. So much so, that they engaged Hollywood filmmaker Justin Lin of Star Trek Beyond fame, to do  a live-action re-imagination of the world of “The Jetsons!


Give it a watch!

Check their tagline: “Arconic: A Company Where the Future Takes Shape.” And my talk for them? I’m thinking this: “A keynote with the motivation that can help to make it happen!”

Do you need to accelerate your team into the future? Do it now, and read my keynote topic, The Jetson’s Have Arrived Fifty Years Early: What Are You Going to Do About It?

This is all just too much fun — just yesterday, while in Washington, I had some time to kill before a meeting, so I visited the Smithsonian Institution. What did I find, but a Jetsons lunchbox!


I so want this item….

Learn more about the making of the video

Here I am on stage in front of 2,000 in Chicago on the Jetsons!


“Using 3D-printed wax moulds for concrete components, we will have a completely different paradigm. This is transformative technology”.

It is perhaps the most staggering piece of artwork in the whole of human history, renowned for its accuracy in the depiction of the human body . Anyone who has seen it up close comes away in awe of the fact that someone had the ability to carve such a piece from stone.

Now, imagine, that one day we will see a 3D printer that could print Michelangelo’s David utilizing concrete and other advanced materials – and that if such a statue would be placed next to the original, most people would be unable to tell the difference!

Science fiction? Not to me.

That was one of my messages in my keynote last week for the American Concrete Institute, with with over 1,000 executives from this industry in the room. My job was to outline for them the opportunities that will come to the industry from embracing fast paced trends. And I put on the table for them the idea that the boldest goal in their industry would be accomplished when someone was able to print Michelangelo’s David utilizing a 3D printer.

It’s perhaps the equivalent of the well known Turing test, which is the ultimate challenge with computer technology — could a computer have the ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human?

Farfetched? No. In fact, computer companies have been pursuing the goal of the Turing test in a feverish race.

This same thing will happen in the concrete industry with 3D printing — indeed, it’s a bold goal that some people are already thinking about in terms of the transformative trends sweeping the industry today.

Every industry has, or should have the equivalent of a Turing test. Think about robotics – how quickly will this industry mature? I just toured a robotics display at a museum in Philadelphia, and one display suggested that there should be a “Jetsons goal for robotics” –” the industry will have matured when it can build a robot that will be accepted by a family, just like Rosie the Robot from the popular 1960’s television cartoon.”

Here’s the thing — we might see these big bold bets be achieved sooner rather than later. I continually emphasize to my clients that the future is happening all around them, and that it’s happening faster than they think. In China, an entire 4,305 sq foot, 2 story home has been printed with a 3D printer, with walls as thick as 
8 feet and with 9 foot ceilings. It too 45 days from start to finish, and was printed in one go at the building site.

Consider this office building in Dubai which was printed in concrete using a 3D printer (from my slide deck).

There are fascinating trends which come from the ability to 3D print with concrete. We can get more flexible designs, with concrete that is warped or twisted. Waste is significantly reduced, new design concepts are suddenly possible, and we can cut down on the cost of manufacturing. People are talking about the fact that it will lead us to an era in which we can “design for deconstruction” — printing in such a way that when a building is eventually decommissioned, we can dissassemble it rather than blowing it up!

Where is the world of construction headed? Consider this:

Your future home might be planned using virtual reality, built with a 3D printer and inspected by a robot for quality. What may sound like a sci-fi movie could become reality in a few decades as Singapore ramps up its construction productivity and employs more efficient building methods. Building with speed and quality through high-tech, Straits Times, Hong Kong, October 2016

Of course, 3D printing is already passe, I pointed out to my audience at the American Concrete Institute: people are already talking about 4D printing — which has materials that can change shape depending on the environemt they are in!

Bottom line? Consider this comment by Archite ct James Gardiner: “Using 3D-printed wax moulds for concrete components, we will have a completely different paradigm. This is transformative technology”.

What’s the Turing test or Michaelangelo’s David in your industry? And are you prepared to think in a big and bold way to get there before others do?


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