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Next generation of tech-augmented work for humans… 

Hyundai

Welcome to the new world of work, where humans have the strength of robots.

People will still be essential on the factory floors, even as robots become more common

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. The first was the steam engine-driven Industrial Revolution; the second involved the innovations from Henry Ford’s assembly line. Third, microelectronics and computer power appeared on factory floors. Now, manufacturing businesses are beginning to integrate robotics, automation and other data-driven technologies into their workflows.

Robots have taken over difficult, dangerous and repetitive physical tasks, improving factory safety, worker comfort and product quality. The next phase of labor innovation will do the same thing for cognitive work, removing mentally stressful and repetitive tasks from people’s daily routines.

Human work will become more versatile and creative. Robots and people will work more closely together than ever before. People will use their unique abilities to innovate, collaborate and adapt to new situations. They will handle challenging tasks with knowledge-based reasoning. Machines enabled by the technologies that are now becoming commonplace — virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, wearable sensors like FitBits and smart watches — will take care of tedious work details.

People will still be essential on the factory floors, even as robots become more common. Future operators will have technical support and be super-strong, super-informed, super-safe and constantly connected.

We call this new generation of tech-augmented human workers, both on factory floors and in offices, “Operator 4.0.” There are several types of enhancements available, which can be used individually or in combination to put humans at the heart of this technological revolution.

Super strong

One straightforward enhancement would let workers wear robotic exoskeletons to enhance their strength. A “super-strength operator” could let a human truly control the physical power of a large robot. In today’s warehouses and construction sites, workers risk injury and exhaustion by handling heavy objects themselves. Or they are forced to compromise, using a more powerful tool with less adaptability, like a forklift.

The benefits go well beyond the workplace. Of course, a worker in a powered robotic suit could easily handle extremely heavy objects without losing the flexibility of natural human movements. The worker would also be far less likely to suffer severe injuries from accidents or overwork. And at the end of a day, a super-strength worker could take off the exoskeleton and still have energy to play with the kids or spend time with friends.

Super informed

Fighter pilots use heads-up displays, which provide them with crucial information right on the cockpit windshield and directly in their line of sight. This is “augmented reality,” because it displays information within a live view of the world. It used to be very specialized and expensive technology. Now, Microsoft’s HoloLens makes it available for consumers.

An “augmented operator” can get directions or assistance without interrupting the task he or she is working on. Often, when new equipment or processes are developed, trainers need to travel long distances to factories, staying for weeks to teach workers what to do. Designers do the same, getting feedback for refinements and improvements. All that travel takes up a huge amount of time and is extremely expensive. With augmented reality available, it is often unnecessary.

A worker wearing a set of smart glasses can receive individualized, step-by-step instructions displayed right in front of his or her eyes, no matter where he or she is looking. With earbuds and a microphone, she or he could talk directly to trainers in real time.

Super safe

Many manufacturing environments are hazardous, involving heavy equipment, caustic chemicals and other dangers that can maim and kill human workers. A “healthy operator” may be equipped with wearable sensors tracking pulse rate, body temperature, chemical exposure or other factors that indicate risks of injury.

This type of system is already available: Truck drivers can wear the Maven Co-Pilot, a hands-free headset that detects fatigue symptoms, like head-bobbing movements. It can also ensure drivers check their rear-view mirrors regularly to stay aware of nearby traffic. It can even provide reminders to take scheduled breaks. This helps keep the truck’s driver safe and improves everyone else’s road safety.

And beyond…

Possibilities are limitless. An “analytical operator” would wear a monitor showing real-time data and analytics, such as information on chemicals in a sewage treatment plant or pollutants at an incinerator. A “collaborative operator” may be linked to collaborative robots, or co-bots, like the assembly assistant YuMi. A “smarter operator” could be equipped with an intelligent virtual personal assistant, like an advanced Siri or Alexa.

By 2020, 50% of workforce will be remote. Here’s how.

There does not have to be conflict between robots and humans, with machines taking people’s jobs and leaving them unemployed. Technology should be designed with collaboration in mind. That way, companies and workers alike will be able to capitalize on the respective strengths of both human and machine. What’s more, the inherent flexibility of “Operator 4.0” workers will also help to ensure workplaces of the future that can change and adapt. That means getting ever more efficient and safer, as new technologies emerge.

Thorsten Wuestis an assistant professor & J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellow in Engineering at West Virginia University. David Romerois a professor of advanced manufacturing, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico. Johan Stahreis a professor of production systems at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. This is published with permission of The ConversationIntroducing ‘Operator 4.0,’ a tech-augmented human worker

Via: This is what the next generation of tech-augmented work for humans will look like

Bebe is closing all its stores, the latest casualty in retail 

Bebe is closing all its stores, the latest brick-and-mortar retailer to get dumped by customers who would rather shop with their phones than their feet.

Bebe Stores (BEBE), which models itself as a purveyor of “unique, sophisticated and timelessly sexy” clothing for women, said it plans to close the stores by the end of May, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.

Bebe did not immediately return messages from CNNMoney asking whether it plans to go out of business or transition to online-only.

The company had hinted that something like this could happen. Bebe said in an SEC filing last month that it was “exploring strategic alternatives.” Earlier this month, the company said it planned to close 28 stores and was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of them.

Before that announcement, Bebe had 168 stores in the United States and Canada.

Bebe has plenty of company in the struggling brick-and-mortar retail industry. Macy’s (M), JCPenney (JCP) and Sears (SHLD) once ruled the shopping malls, but now they’re closing hundreds of stores and cutting thousands of jobs.

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus said earlier this month that it might sell itself, after ditching its plans for an IPO in January amid sorry sales.

So who’s the winner? Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), the behemoth of online retail, is seizing market share from more traditional retailers, though bargain-hunters are keeping T.J. Maxx and Dollar General (DG) in business.

Via: Bebe is closing all its stores, the latest casualty in retail 

Graphene sieve could make seawater drinkable

(CNN)Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a graphene-based sieve that can filter salt out of seawater, a development that could provide drinking water to millions of people around the globe.

The applications could be a game-changer in countries where access to safe, clean, drinkable water is severely limited.
Graphene — an ultra-thin sheet of carbon atoms organized in a hexagonal lattice — was first identified at the University of Manchester in 2002 and has since been hailed as a “wonder material,” with scientists racing to develop inexpensive graphene-based barriers for desalination on an industrial scale.
Now, the team at Manchester has used a compound of graphene, known as graphene oxide, to create a rigid sieve that could filter out salt using less energy.

Overcoming hurdles

In recent years, there had been some success in water filtration using graphene oxide to sift out other smaller nanoparticles and organic molecules.
But researchers had struggled to move forward after finding that the membrane’s pores would swell up when immersed in water, allowing particles to continue to pass through.
Rahul Nair’s team at Manchester now claims it has discovered how to control of the expansion and size of the pores.
Writing Monday in the Nature Nanotechnology journal, the team revealed it was able to restrict pore-swelling by coating the material with epoxy resin composite that prevented the sieve from expanding. This means common salt crystals could continue to be filtered out, while leaving behind uncontaminated, clean, drinking water.
The discovery is “a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology,” Nair said in a statement from the university.
“This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes,” he added.

Global implications

Boosting global access to water is critical. By 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer from water scarcity, the United Nations predicts. In addition, climate change is expected to wreak havoc on urban water supplies, with decreased rainfall and rising temperatures expected to fuel demand.
Cities have been investing heavily in diversifying their water supplies, including developing new desalination technologies to make seawater potable. But existing, industrial-scale desalination plants can be costly and normally involve one of two methods: distillation through thermal energy, or filtration of salt from water using polymer-based membranes.
These techniques have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who argue they involve large amounts of energy, produce greenhouse gases and can be harm marine organisms.

What’s next?

The graphene-oxide breakthrough has been welcomed by scientists in the field as a promising development, but some are cautious of the next steps.
“The selective separation of water molecules from ions by physical restriction of interlayer spacing opens the door to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes for desalination,” wrote Ram Devanathan of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in an accompanying news-and-views article in the journal.
More work still needs to be done to test the durability of the barriers and to confirm the membrane is resistant to “fouling by organics, salt and biological material,” he said.
Water treatment with membranes that separate water molecules from ions, pathogens and pollutants has been proposed as an energy-efficient solution to the freshwater crisis, Devanathan added.
“The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or waste water with minimal energy input.”

Via: Graphene sieve could make seawater drinkable

Wal-Mart, to acquire men’s apparel retailer Bonobos

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT, -0.39% is in advanced acquisition talks with men’s apparel retailer Bonobos, according to a Recode report published Friday. Sources tell Recode that both sides have agreed to a price and due diligence on the deal is underway. MarketWatch has reached out to Wal-Mart for comment. Bonobos launched a decade ago as a place for men to find pants with a personalized fit. Today it has nearly three dozen “guideshops” that customers can visit, though purchases are shipped. Bonobos was valued at $300 million in 2014, according to Recode. Wal-Mart has made a number of fashion acquisitions in recent months, including women’s retailer ModCloth and online outdoor retailer, Moosejaw. Wal-Mart shares are up 6.3% for the past year while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.68% is up 11.8% for the same period.

Via: Wal-Mart in talks to acquire men’s apparel retailer Bonobos, reports Recode

These Beauty and Fitness Influencers Can Make up to $300,000 Per Post 

Forbes magazine just released its first-ever “Top Influencers” list spotlighting those who’ve made major bank off of social media. The debut ranking first looks at influencers in the beauty, fitness, and home spaces, but the list will be published quarterly and will cover fashion (coming in September), travel (coming in June), food (coming in December), and more.

The combined following of the 30 social media stars featured is 250 million. According to the report created with social insight platform Captiv8 and influencer analytics firm Traackr, if they have seven million subscribers or more on YouTube, vloggers could make up to $300,000 per post for a video partnership. Additionally, top influencers could make $187,000 per Facebook post, and $150,000 per Instagram post. Even on the “lower” end of the spectrum–those who have around100,000 followers–you could make up to $5,000 per Instagram post.

That’s not even counting what they make with book deals, apps, and clothing lines, supplement brands, and other companies they start. Kayla Itsines, for example, made $17 million her “Sweat with Kayla” app alone in 2016. Meanwhile, Michelle Phan co-founded cosmetics box Ipsy, which was valued at $500 million in 2015.

With that said, here are some of the big names Forbes called out:

BEAUTY

1. Zoe “Zoella” Sugg (@zoella)

2. Michelle Phan (@michellephan)

3. Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty)

4. Nikkie de Jager (@nikkietutorials)

5. Shannon Harris (@shaaanxo)

See who else made the top 10 beauty influencers here.

FITNESS

1. Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines)

2. Jennifer Selter (@jenselter)

3. Emily Skye (@emilyskyefit)

4. Michelle Lewin (@michelle_lewin)

5. Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach)

See who else made the top 10 fitness influencers here.

Via: These Beauty and Fitness Influencers Can Make up to $300,000 Per Post

12 Comics That Will Make Sense If Your Love Life Is Kind Of A Mess 

If your love life reads like a running joke ― or a warped, millennial version of “Sex and the City” ― you’re bound to relate to Arianna Margulis’ comics.

The twenty-something, who works in fashion in New York, shares scenes from her love life with over 133,000 followers on the Instagram account But Like Maybe. Topics covered include indecisive daters:

All-too-commonplace breakup strategies:

And judgement-free ride-or-die wingwomen:

Margulis describes her crop-topped cartoon alter ego as a relentless, hopeful dater.

“She gets knocked down but gets back up again,” the artist told The Huffington Post. “She falls too hard and too fast, but she can also run too quickly before giving someone a fair shot. She knows what that butterfly feeling is, and will settle for nothing less.”

We feel you, girl. Below, 10 of our favorite comics from But Like Maybe. Head to Margulis’ Instagram page for even more.

Via: 12 Comics That Will Make Sense If Your Love Life Is Kind Of A Mess

This is how many U.S. jobs robots will create over the next 10 years

Everett Collection

One new job will be created for ever 15 lost to automation.

But will enough jobs be created to overcome the massive employment losses?

While much hay has been made about the sizable number of jobs that will be lost to automation, the workplace’s robotic revolution will also come with a new wave of hiring.

Close to 15 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. over the next decade as a direct result of automation and artificial intelligence, equivalent to 10% of the workforce, according to estimates in a new report from Forrester Research, a market research company. Those gains, however, will not come close to offsetting the 25 million jobs that technology will eliminate by 2027, Forrester predicts.

’New human resources employees will be devoted to guiding staff as robots enter the workplace.’

The new jobs will be created “in software, engineering, design, maintenance, support, training, or another specific job area,” the report found. A new generation of lawyers will be needed to regulate the interactions between human employees and robot workers, for example. And new human resources employees will be devoted to guiding staff as robots enter the workplace.

Jobs won’t just be created or lost, though. Forrester estimated that at least 25% of all jobs will be transformed in terms of responsibilities as a result of increased automation, including in finance, medicine and even farming.

Automation is eliminating jobs for factory workers and Uber drivers—will your morning fix soon come from a precision caffeine machine? WSJ’s Geoffrey A. Fowler tastes the new robot lattes at San Francisco’s Cafe X.

The debate regarding automation and artificial intelligence’s effect on U.S. employment remains far from settled. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has predicted it could take up to a century for AI to eliminate jobs.

But there is reason to be cautious about the new wave of workplace robots. The number of jobs lost may depend on how many bots are actually deployed. A study by economists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University argued that six workers will lose their positions for every robot added.

Blue collar workers, including ones that feature routine manual labor or assembly-line production, were expected to be hardest hit alongside people without a college education, the economists found. Furthermore, automation was estimated to result in no meaningful positive employment gains for any occupation, that study concluded.

Via: This is how many U.S. jobs robots will create over the next 10 years