Archive for Hardware

Resurrecting An Old Android Phone Is Easier Than You Think

Many of us have an old Android phone somewhere in the house, doing nothing. Rather than leaving it there to add no value to your life and work, you may find that it’s much easier than you think to resurrect it.

Look Beyond The Launch

Even though your phone may have been the greatest and the fastest when it was launched, the passage of time doesn’t necessarily mean that it has become obsolete.

Performance issues can, of course, be exaggerated by age and resource limitations, but there are some steps you can take to clean-up your old android phone and bring it back into active service. These steps could include:

  • Freeing -up storage space. Begin this process by backing up the media that you have on the phone. This can be done by opening Google photos, selecting “Settings,” “Back up & sync” and activating the toggle that appears. This will allow you to back up your photos and images to the cloud. Get Google’s free Files Go app, open it, grant the app permission to access your phone’s storage, and from here you will be given suggestions for freeing-up space on your device. For example, this can include removing junk and duplicate files, removing downloaded files and large files, and deleting the photos and videos (now that you have back-up copies).
  • Getting rid of unused apps. This is a good move on any phone anyway as a way to improve security. In the case of refreshing your phone, the Files Go app can show you which apps are unused and therefore suitable to uninstall. You can also regain more phone resources by clearing out your app clutter. For apps that came pre-installed (and can’t be uninstalled), look for a button to disable those apps.
  • Using ‘lite’ app alternatives. Using ‘lite’ versions of the apps that you’d still like to have on the old phone e.g. Facebook, Google Maps and Skype lite, can mean that you get plenty of basic functionality, but take up less phone resources.
  • Reducing background activity / check-ins by certain apps. This can make the phone run faster, and can reduce monthly bills.
  • Making sure your apps are up to date. Checking-in with Play Store and making sure you have the newest (lite) versions of apps on your old phone can prevent many of the problems caused by less optimized older versions.
  • Making sure the home screen is up to date and not slowing things down. You may want to use a third-party launcher e.g. the free Lawnchair Launcher.
  • Keeping the software animations to a minimum. This will involve accessing the system settings ‘Drawing’ section, but could help towards speeding your old android phone up.
  • Trying a ‘factory reset’. This can make the phone run faster. Again, this is likely to involve accessing the ‘System’ section (after making sure everything important is backed-up).
  • Adding new, efficiency-enhancing apps.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

A succession of updated models, the need (or, being convinced by marketing of the need) to constantly upgrade to the next best model, along with a throwaway society means that there is so much wastage when it comes to devices, especially mobile phone handsets. This is why many businesses have seized the opportunity of refurbishing and re-selling them e.g. smartfonestore.com, Second-hand Phones.Com, envirofone.com and more.

There’s no doubt that smart-phones have become an important part of our lives with 78% of all adults now owning one, and with each of us checking our phone once every 12 minutes on average during our waking hours (Ofcom). Web browsing and using chat and other apps (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) are now equally as important as actually being able to make a call, so as long as your re-conditioned / resurrected phone has the storage space, speed, and available resources to accommodate modern apps (lite versions), you could be saving yourself money and making life easier for yourself by bringing it back into use.

Apple’s Autonomous Car Involved in Crash

Apple’s new autonomous vehicle, part of its ‘Project Titan’, has joined an expanding list of self-driving car prangs.

What Autonomous Vehicle?

Apple is reported to have been working on vehicle projects since 2015 under the name of ‘Project Titan’. Ever since the early reports, there has been much speculation about when an iCar will come onto the market.

The evidence, that this would be likely, came in the form of reports of hundreds of Apple employees working on a car project, hints during an interview with CEO Tim Cook back in June 2007, reports of two Apple computer scientists publishing research about a 3D detection system (that could be used in an autonomous car), and in July this year, news that an ex-Apple employee had been charged with stealing trade secrets from Apple to take to a Chinese car start-up.

Apple is also reported to be working with VW on a driverless vehicle to shuttle its employees to and from work.
The Apple car involved in the recent accident is a Lexus SUV that is being used as part of the testing for its autonomous car project.

In Driverless Mode, But Rear-Ended

In this case, even though the Apple autonomous vehicle was in driverless mode at the time, the cause of the crash (last month) is thought to be that the driver of a Nissan Leaf rear-ended the Apple car while it was doing less than 1 mph, trying to find a safe space to merge onto Lawrence Expressway in California.

Most Autonomous Vehicle Crashes Caused By Humans

It’s tempting to think that testing autonomous vehicles on public roads is bound to result in crashes caused by faults with the technology. In fact, the statistics tell a different story and indicate that human error has been the main cause of accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

For example, Axios research shows that only 8% of these types of crashes were caused by a vehicle fault, and only one such crash happened when the vehicle was in autonomous mode. In fact, six out of seven accidents happened while a human was driving, and only one of a total 57 accidents to date involving moving autonomous vehicles was caused by a fault with the AI. One more left-field statistic is that self-driving vehicles have actually been attacked by humans 3 times!

That said, and joking aside, it’s worth acknowledging that there has already been one fatality related to driverless cars. It happened when a woman was hit by a driverless car that was being tested by Uber while she was crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although we may not be entirely convinced yet, or used to the idea of cars, lorries, and even planes operating autonomously on our roads and above our heads, the fact is that all have been tested, and look likely to become a more regular reality. At this time, it is still relatively early days for autonomous vehicles which means that there are still many untapped opportunities to use autonomous vehicles commercially, and there are of course many challenges and issues to consider around safety, insurance, regulations and reliability. For the time being, autonomous vehicles are, therefore, likely to be adopted more quickly on closed sites but operators who decide to adapt such sites to work for autonomy could expect significant improvements in productivity and safety.

As the technology to operate these vehicles becomes more advanced, prices decrease, and technical and operational problems are ironed-out, their potential to add-value to businesses / organisations / cities .e.g. for distribution / logistics, public transport, and many other uses will become apparent. They may also offer cost savings, greater reliability and easier management and planning, which are appealing benefits to businesses.

Apple iPad Battery Gas Leak – Shop Evacuated

The leaking of vapours from a damaged iPad battery led to an Amsterdam shop being evacuated and 3 staff being treated for breathing problems caused by the released gas.

Fire Brigade Called

Although the fire brigade was called and attended, there were no reports of any actual flames / fire coming from the affected iPad. Staff had, however, initially reacted to the smoking iPad by putting it in a sand-filled fire bucket.

Incidents of Similar Faults

Reports online indicate that similar faults have occurred elsewhere since Apple had started its iPhone battery replacement programme e.g. as reported on the Apple news site 9to5mac. Some reports indicate Apple stores in Switzerland , Spain and Hong Kong have been evacuated and medical incidents being reported this year due to problems with combusting / fumes from iPhone batteries.

While details are patchy, the insinuation by some commentators has been that the incidents involved the batteries of phones that been brought into the shop as part of the battery replacement programme.

There have, for example, been reports from 3 years ago of old batteries giving off smoke if pierced during replacement, although it is not clear if this was the cause of the latest incident.

What Battery Replacement Programme?

Back in 2017, Apple apologised for intentionally slowing down older iPhones (Phone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 models), perhaps with a view to encouraging upgrades. Since Apple’s actions were discovered, Apple owners with older models complained of facing huge costs for upgrading, and Apple highlighted how older batteries lose power over time. This led to Apple deciding to introduce a battery replacement programme. This means that Apple will offer anyone with an iPhone 6 or above a newer battery for just £25. This represents a £54 saving.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Apple phones are widely used and valued by business people and home users alike. The revelation of Apple deliberately slowing down phones to speed up the act of customers replacing their devices with the latest (and some would say expensive) versions, blotted what had been a relatively clean copy-book. The battery replacement programme appeared to be a practical way to perhaps gain customer trust back, say sorry, and legitimately solve some battery problems.

Like many phone makers, however, the at times unpredictable and potentially dangerous behaviour of some lithium-ion batteries can cause some very unwelcome incidents and publicity e.g. the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. These incidents illustrate how important it is that all aspects of the value chain in the creation and branding of premium products are right.

There may be real hope for phone manufacturers, however, since Norwegian scientists at IFE claim to have discovered a new wonder-material, ‘SiliconX’, for phone batteries that can stabilise silicon anodes for Li-ion batteries and offer five times the charge capacity.

‘SiliconX’ Next-Generation Battery Material Discovered

Norwegian scientists at IFE claim to have discovered a new wonder-material for future battery production that they have dubbed ‘SiliconX’.

Years Of Research

The new material, discovered by scientists at Norway’s Department of Energy Technology (IFE) reportedly offers a way to stabilise silicon anodes for Li-ion batteries. This is an aim that years of targeted research and experimental trials with nano-particles has been intended to achieve.

The Challenge

The challenge has been that silicon anodes can far-exceed the lithium ion storage capacity of carbon anodes, and the change in size as they absorb the ions causes a physical swelling and shrinking that can destroy the structure of a Si-Li-ion battery.

The Solution – SiliconX

The solution that the Norwegian scientists claim to have found is to use nano-particles in a finely divided mixture of silicon and another material that the scientists have called ‘the matrix’. It is this matrix that helps the silicon to withstand the big volume changes, and thereby solve the bulging / shrinking problem that would normally wreck the battery.

Much Greater Charge Capacity

The end result has been, as well as the stability, that the new SiliconX battery is reported to have three to five times the charge capacity of the negative electrode compared to common graphite technology.

Freedom From Daily Phone Charging

In short, if your smartphone battery was made from SiliconX that behaves the way that the Norwegian scientists claim, you would not need to charge that smartphone every day.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Problems with phone batteries have damaged the performance of many phones, and tarnished the reputation of their manufacturers e.g. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 batteries catching fire.

The obvious benefits of a SiliconX battery for business users are the convenience of not having to keep charging your phone, and the elimination of the worry that a lack of sufficient battery charge will leave you incommunicado when you’re not near a charging socket / in the middle of nowhere, and / or in the middle of / needing to make calls that are vital to the business.

The fact that the battery materials are more stable may also eliminate some of the safety worries about batteries that have been in the back of many users’ minds since the Galaxy Note 7 fire incidents.

Windows 10: Fuelling PC Sales Recovery?

Reports by IDC and Gartner that shows PC sales registering their first quarterly rise in six years have led to some speculation that Windows 10 may be fuelling a Business PC sales recovery.

Over 62 Million Q2 Shipments

According to Q2 figures compared to 2017, market analyst firms IDC and Gartner have both noted 62 million+ PC shipments.

Gartner’s figure of 62.1 million PC shipments represents a 1.4 % rise on last year, while IDC’s figure of 62.3 million PCs shipped represents a 2.7% rise on last year.

Either way, it looks like a small recovery in one segment of a market that many believed had been sent into decline by mobile device use.

Businesses Buying Windows 10 PCs

Most analysts agree that although the consumer side of the PC market has been negatively affected by people turning to their smartphones for even more daily tasks, this latest rise in PC sales is being fuelled by businesses.

Tech and business commentators appear to agree that the rise in PC sales is mainly due to businesses accepting that they need to make the switch to Windows 10, and buying the next office PC with Windows 10 already on it.

Big Brands

Not surprisingly, the manufacturers that are selling the most units are the big names i.e. Lenovo and HP, both with around 22% of the market, followed by Dell, Apple, then Acer in fifth place.

Supply Chain Problems Solved

Market analysts also believe that the solving of some of the supply chain problems that held back PC sales this time last year is contributing to the recent rise in sales.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

While individuals in businesses have their own smartphones, and while some smartphones may be used for business and personal use e.g. in SME’s, many UK businesses still have PCs / desktops in the office that are used purely for business. Since support has stopped for many older versions of Windows, many people have experience of using Windows10, and Microsoft is essentially forcing PC users down the Windows 10 and SaaS route, it is not surprising that many businesses have simply ordered fully equipped Windows 10 PCs as part of the office upgrade.

Although these sales figures do show a small recovery of sorts, the prevailing direction of travel for computing tasks for the future is still in the mobile direction.

NHS … Still Reliant On Fax Machines

A Poll by the Royal College of Surgeons using freedom of information requests has revealed that 8,946 fax machines are still in use in NHS Trusts in England.

World’s Largest Purchaser of Fax Machines

The poll was carried out after a report last year by DeepMind Health revealed that the NHS was the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.

The new RCS poll revealed that the NHS Trust with the most fax machines still in use is Newcastle upon Tyne NHS with 603. Barts Health NHS Trust still uses 369 fax machines.

Labour Party Says There Are More

In June this year, the Labour Party reported that it believed that there were at least 11,620 fax machines still in use across the NHS in England, costing £137,000 a year to maintain.

Fax Machines

What is considered to be the first commercial version of a modern fax machine (short for facsimile) was introduced (and patented) by Xerox Corporation in 1964. Fax machines, however, reached the peak of their popularity in the late 1980s.

NHS Also Largest User of Pagers

A report by telecoms consultancy CommonTime from last year showed that the NHS is the largest user of pagers, with 130,000 of them still in use in the NHS, mainly in acute hospitals. Pagers reached their peak of popularity back in 1994 (61 million in use), and it is believed that there are now only 1 million users worldwide. The NHS, however, spends £6.6m on them each year.

The reason for their continued popularity in the NHS is thought to be their simplicity, their use of radio frequencies rather than their reliance on Internet connections, their resilience, the fact that there’s an audit trail, they’re easy to carry, and they have a long battery life.

The CommonTime report suggests that the NHS could save up to £2,718,009 per year / over £10m across four years by simply replacing pagers with smartphone-based applications.

Hopes For Greater Move To Digital

These reports and polls appear to show that the NHS is lagging behind in the digital revolution and clinging to obsolete technology where its internal communications are concerned.

The last Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had wanted a paperless NHS by this year, and the new Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, is known to be a supporter of technology and digitisation.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Those in the NHS have pointed out that years of austerity, cuts, lack of funds, and the need to pare back spending on facilities and technology in order to keep the service going are the reasons why the NHS still uses outdated communications technology like fax machines.

The natural substitute and successor to fax machines appears to be apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp. In fact, during the WannaCry cyber attack that brought down NHS computer systems, many NHS staff used WhatsApp to communicate, with an estimated 500 patients a day being diagnosed from X-ray images sent on the app.

Clearly, there is a need for an affordable, reliable, fast and easy to use day-to-day communications platform for NHS Trust staff to use that could help them to save the Trusts money, save themselves time, and add value to the provision of services. Continuing to rely on fax machines will probably only lead to stealth IT anyway. Apps appear to be the natural way forward, provided they offer the right level of security for patient data, but the NHS also has an internal email system called NHSmail that is not being used widely enough.

Apple Offers Free Replacements / Repairs On Butterfly Keyboards

After numerous complaints over the last two years and even an online petition by a customer, Apple has decided to offer free repairs or replacements for the butterfly keyboard on its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.

What Happened?

For quite some time now, some MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop users have been complaining about problems they have experienced with the ‘Butterfly keyboard’. These problems have included letters or characters repeating unexpectedly, letters or characters not appearing, and keys feeling “sticky” or not responding in a consistent manner.

Petition and Lawsuit

The problems have been so bad that one user set up a Change.org online petition asking Apple to recall every MacBook Pro released since late 2016, and two fed up Apple customers have filed a lawsuit against the company (both back in May) in a San Jose, California, federal court.

The petition, which attracted over 21,000 signatures, was set up by someone listed as Matthew Taylor, who claimed that every one of Apple’s current-generation MacBook Pro models, 13in and 15in, is sold with a keyboard that can become defective at any moment because of a design failure. Mr Taylor is reported as saying that he believes that the problems are widespread and consistent, and can be infuriating for users.

The lawsuit has been brought by Zixuan Rao, of San Diego, California, and Kyle Barbaro, of Melrose, Massachusetts, who allege that Apple’s model year 2015 or later MacBooks and model year 2016 or later MacBook Pros are defective.

Hands Up … Maybe

Apple has now held its hands up and acknowledged in a statement online, that the problems of characters repeating unexpectedly, letters or characters not appearing, and keys feeling “sticky” or not responding in a consistent manner “may” exist in a “small percentage” of its Butterfly keyboards.

Program

Apple has, therefore, launched a program which will mean that Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider will service eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge. The type of service that Apple / the Apple Authorized Service Provider can offer will be determined after the keyboard has been examined, and Apple says that this may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard.

Eligible Models

Apple has released a list of models that are eligible for the repair / replacement program. These models are (courtesy of the Apple website):

– MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, Early 2015)
– MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, Early 2016)
– MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, 2017)
– MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
– MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
– MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
– MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
– MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2016)
– MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2017)

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

On the one hand it is good news that Apple is prepared to repair / replace keyboards free of charge. On the other hand, some would say that it’s a shame that it’s taken 2 years, thousands of complaints, a petition with tens of thousands of signatures, bad publicity, and even a lawsuit to bring Apple to the point of admitting that there “may” be a problem with the keyboards that warrants free repair / replacement program to be set up at some cost to Apple.

It is all-too-common in the technology industry for products (usually software) to be distributed before all the bugs have been discovered and ironed-out or patched. In this case, many Apple customers were clearly saying that their keyboards didn’t work as they should, and it is this kind of thing that can turn happy customers into very vocal critics of a company. For businesses that have been affected by the problem, the repair / replacement program is likely to be welcome … but long overdue.

If you / your business has been affected by the problem, the advice from Apple is to first back up your data, then find an Apple authorised service provider and make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store (or send your device by mail to the Apple Repair Centre). Apple says that your MacBook or MacBook Pro will be examined prior to any service to verify that it is eligible for this program, and examination will determine the type of service, or whether a replacement will be needed. It is estimated that the service could take a few days, and Apple says that the program covers eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

New ‘No Cheat’ “Locked Mode” For Classroom on Chromebooks

The Google Forms Quiz in its free, browser-based educational software “Classroom” now features a “locked mode” on Chromebooks which prevents students from cheating during quizzes.

What Is ‘Classroom’?

Google Classroom is a free web service (app) for schools, non-profits or indeed anyone with a personal Google Account, that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. It is reported to be used by over 30 million students globally.

Used in an actual educational setting, it enables teachers to ‘create’ classes (set up a class online), distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organised, all in one place. Teachers can invite students and co-teachers, and in the class stream, they can then share information, assignments, announcements, and questions. They can also see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and give direct, real-time feedback and grades.

Classroom works with Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Drive, and Forms.

What About Chromebooks?

In the context of this story, Chromebooks are laptops that are sold with the sole purpose of being used in the classroom. They run Google’s Chrome OS and are designed to be used while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents stored in the cloud.

Cheating?

The problem that many teachers have reported experiencing is that in order to answer questions during Classroom quizzes and tests, some students are tempted to use the Internet connection on Chromebooks to look up the answers (also known as cheating).

Cheat-Proof Feature: Locked Mode

The newly added “locked mode” feature in the Google Forms Quiz prohibits students from surfing the web or opening apps until the answers are submitted. This is the first feature added to the app that’s exclusive to managed Chromebooks, and as such, it has meant that specialised controls have been added to what was basically a standardised system.

Other Features

Other features that have also been added include the ability to organise by topic or unit in the Classwork page, whereas everything was previously just categorised by date. Also, a new People page lets teachers add and remove fellow teachers, students and guardians. The Stream and system settings pages have also received some small improvements.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For educators and trainers who use the system, the “locked mode” gives them greater control, and allows them to get a more accurate view of the level of knowledge of their students. More accurate measurements can help with the better planning and application of teaching resources, and can highlight areas that need improvement.

For Google, with such a popular system that has made inroads into the teaching / training market, it makes sense to keep their customers loyal and happy by introducing value adding improvements that solve long-running problems.

Foldable Galaxy X Smartphone Could Cost You £1,400!

After its official launch, planned for next year, it has been reported that the new Samsung Galaxy X smartphone could be priced at as much as £1,400!

More Than The iPhone X

This will mean that the world-first flexible-screened, foldable smartphone will be entering the market with a price that’s one-third higher than even the Apple iPhone X which was criticised by some for its £999 price tag.

The high price is thought to reflect the high R&D budget that went into its development, and as a premium for its innovative features.

The Galaxy X has essentially been 7 years in the making, as a prototype version of the foldable phone was shown by Samsung back in 2011.

What’s So Special About It?

The Galaxy X has two inside panels and one outside panel with the two inside panels forming the 7.3-inch OLED screen when the phone is unfolded, thereby giving the user a much larger screen area. As well as having a large screen area, the resolution is expected to be 4K (3840×2160 pixels), thereby giving it high-res when folded.

It is also rumoured that the new phone will have a dual-camera at the rear with one of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.

LG Also Going Foldable?

There have been rumours that Samsung’s rival LG is also planning to release foldable devices that could feature more advanced outward folding tech than Samsung.

To Be Shown February 2019?

Even though Samsung investors were informed that the new Galaxy X would be launched in 2018, it now looks likely that it won’t actually be shown until the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February 2019.

Production Problems

Part of the delay in the production of a commercial version of the Galaxy X from the first sighting of its prototype 7 years ago is thought to be down to production problems in the development of the flexible plastic screens.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

So much of business is now conducted using smartphones, and innovative smartphones that provide the user with features that have a real value are likely to be popular. It seems that the main benefits of the Galaxy X are that it will offer flexibility and convenience to the user with a screen area between a phone and a tablet (that can be folded), and for the initial interest factor that being seen to own and use one will create.

For the manufacturers, Galaxy X also provides a way to compete with Apple and some of its other larger competitors such as LG, and to be first to the marketplace with a foldable, flexible smartphone.

Fruit Robots

Tests are being completed of ‘robot’ fruit-picking machines that can pick strawberries as carefully and quickly as humans, and can help growers solve the labour shortage challenge next growing season.

Belgian Prototype Very Promising

European strawberry growers in Spain, Belgium and the UK are welcoming tests of robotic prototypes that can harvest soft fruit mechanically.

One example that has enjoyed some publicity is the ‘Octinion’ robotic arm on a self-driving trolley. Produced by a Belgian start-up, it is claimed that the Octinion can compete with a human in terms of price and speed as it is able to pick one strawberry every four seconds, collect between 70% and 100% of the ripe fruit, and leave the berry with only the calyx (and not the stalk), which is the way European consumers are used to buying their berries.

The success of this robot, which can grip and turns the fruit by 90 degrees to snap it off its stalk just like a human, means that it is now completing final tests in partnership with real-world growers in the UK and continental Europe, and looks like being a realistic option for next season.

Dogtooth From Cambridge

Another soft fruit-picking robot prototype that looks like being a serious competitor is the ‘Dogtooth’ which has been produced by a Cambridge-based start-up, has recently been tested in Australia, and is also made up of a robot arm mounted on a self-driving trolley.

The Dogtooth has been designed to be able to pick strawberries the way UK retailers prefer, by leaving around a centimetre of stem still attached, because it has been found to extend shelf life.

Unlike the Octinion’s machine which has been built to work on fruit grown on raised platforms in polytunnels, Dogtooth’s machine has been designed to be able to pick traditional British varieties in the field.

Genuine Labour Shortage

Some commentators have suggested that the motivation for producing the robots is simply to replace migrant labour with a cheaper, more efficient alternative, but strawberry producers across Europe and the US have insisted that they face a genuine shortage of workers to pick their fruit.

In the UK for example, the value of sterling following the Brexit vote has made it difficult to recruit overseas workers, and UK-based workers don’t appear to find seasonal picking work attractive or practical.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is an example of how a range of technologies have been combined to produce a tool that can meet very real agricultural challenges, and could revolutionize a whole industry across the world. Although these machines may be expensive to buy, they can pay for themselves over time because, unlike humans, they don’t require wages, can work any number of hours, and they don’t take holidays, get sick or leave. They also mean that growers can plan their production with more certainty and don’t have to expend time, effort, and money on recruitment.

Automation, aided by huge technological advances, is a growing trend across most industry sectors. For example, a report by PwC from March 2017 claimed that over 30% of UK jobs could be lost to automation by the year 2030. According to the report, 44% jobs in manufacturing (where there are already many robots e.g. car manufacturing), especially those involving manual work, look likely to go to AI led software or robots. Transportation jobs are also in the high-risk category for robot replacements, and according to the report, 56% of jobs could be lost to autonomous vehicles. Jobs in the UK’s largest sectors, wholesale retail jobs, also look vulnerable to automation into the future.

AI and robotics will alter what jobs look like in the future, but it is also important to remember that, as with the strawberry-picking robots, they could provide huge advantages and opportunities for businesses.

Workers can only really try to insulate themselves from the worst effects of automation by seeking more education / lifelong learning, and by trying to remain positive towards and adapting to changes. How much automation and what kind of automation individual businesses adopt will, of course, depend upon a cost / benefit analysis compared to human workers, and whether automation is appropriate and is acceptable to their customers.