Working with computers has been seen as something cool since the very first machine made its way into consumer homes. Many of us remember the exhilaration and excitement of starting up our first real power machine, our very first Pentium processor with a staggering 4 MB RAM and a dial up internet cable offering us the world wide web at 20kbps. Aaah, the good old days.

Moore’s Law taught us that every two years processing power would double. That’s until Moore was disrupted by the previously unimaginable innovation of the digital world.

We have all seen Terminator and Skynet and the machines that will come back from the future to try and destroy us. This is probably why those who fear AI try and convice Joe public about the dangers of something that is inevitable. By inevitable we mean the congruence of machine learning and AI with integrated and interoperable systems, not being destroyed by angry robots!

But where are we really? What is it like working at a place as innovative as IoT.nxt. After all, IoT.nxt is a global leader in IoT technology in the industrial space. How does the company maintain this position? By constantly innovating. As IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn told IIoT World recently, being comfortable and resting on your laurels for just a moment will lead to you being overtaken.

It is with this in mind that we decided to speak to Juan Bothma, a software developer with the envious task of playing for his day job. Juan sits on the cusp of all things exciting. Often he can be seen wondering in his own world with his Virtual Reality headset, interacting with knobs and levers  – and, for all we know, fighting off dinosaurs and aliens too.

What is it like innovating with technology that IoT.nxt is integrating into real-world IIoT applications both now and in the very near future? Is it really as exciting as it looks?

The answer is a resounding “yes”!

Everyday is a challenge, but an exciting one. Working on technology that not everyone gets to play with and experience themselves puts me in a very fortunate and grateful position. You get to learn new things every day, not just about the technologies but also about yourself. Allowing yourself not to be put in a box is one of the best things you can do for your brain as it generates thousands of awesome ideas everyday, says Juan.

Taming the beast

Some of the ideas I have implemented and experimented with myself include a robot arm which looks at you as you walk around the room. In the early days of this prototype I was convinced the robot arm grew a personality as it has tried to escape, clawing itself away from me, hissing at certain colleagues of mine! But it is safe to say that I have finally tamed the beast.

Entering another, yet the same, realm

Other technologies include working with the HoloLens, a mixed reality headset which merges the user around holograms. So the first thing we did was map everyone’s desk with mythical creatures and an item to match their personality. Of course they can not see it, but as the headset wearer – while looking up from your desk – seeing an augmented / holographic unicorn where your colleague sits is quiet entertaining! Some more practical applications include scanning the office into a 3D model and then overlaying our IoT sensor information within this model to gain real-time information of our office in a 3D hologram which we can look at any time and any place.

Want to see what is happening in the board room? No problem, touch the 3D camera icon in the hologram and a magic window appears out of nowhere displaying the video feed of the actual location.

Imagination is the only limit

Working with innovation is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle and thought process. From augmented reality to robot arms to making a AI bot which orders you coffee and opens doors. Creativity and imagination is the only limit here!


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