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Information 4.0 – Not just smart refrigerators

by Wim on February 28th, 2017

Industry 4.0 surely has a lot to do with the Internet of Things (IoT), but it goes well beyond objects communicating the fact that the milk in your refrigerator is going bad. It’s a complex network of networks, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), in which objects make autonomous decisions that affect us directly in a number of ways.

By Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald. First published in tcworld magazine.

In Industry 4.0, information transparency is a requirement. Industry 4.0 information systems will create a virtual copy of the physical world by enriching digital plant models with sensor data. This requires the aggregation of raw sensor data to higher-value context information.

one of the most important products of Industry 4.0 will be information

The way we see it, one of the most important products of Industry 4.0 will be information. Notice that we said “product”, not “product-related” or “product instructions” or any other euphemism. We all need and want information. In a lot of ways, it will be tuned to profiles that are not defined by an individual.

Figure 2: The four industrial revolutions as defined by Wikipedia
Source: Christoph Roser at

In the context of Industry 4.0, we define Information 4.0 as having these characteristics:

  • Molecular – no documents, just information molecules
  • Dynamic – continuously updated
  • Offered rather than delivered
  • Ubiquitous, online, searchable and findable
  • Spontaneous – triggered by contexts
  • Profiled automatically

The key to this new informational environment is context-sensing technology. But this context sensing goes well beyond familiar concepts.

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