On the heels of the MODEX show, connectivity is back in focus for many businesses.  If you missed the show, much of the attention was on augmented reality, robotics, and IoT.  Connecting these cool technologies into business use cases was hugely visible. It brought to mind all the tech workers are already connected to – and what more is to come, augmenting their productivity.

Consider the connected worker today. Already, their mobile device is connected to the corporate network, and mobile apps connect to enterprise systems. That’s the obvious stuff. Then, there are the cart or belt-mounted printers workers use across warehouse and retail use cases.  Don’t forget the speaker/microphone headsets workers may wear for voice-enabled tasks.  Add the shelving sensors and pick-to-light tech they interact with, and workers have a full tote of connectivity already in their daily work.

warehouse - bin on rumbaHaving a look at some of the cool tech at the MODEX show, it’s amazing to see how there is more connectivity that can (or soon will) further augment worker productivity. Demonstrations of robotics clogged walkways throughout the Georgia World Congress Center, as firms demonstrated how robotic shelving can drive materials around the warehouse. Other robots navigated aisles, picking items and cases off shelves – neatly lifting and carrying goods to a loading zone.

Augmented reality had a lot of cool forward-looking use cases. The most popular, and the one most have talked about for years were “Google-glass” experiences. Think workers in a warehouse environment being presented with data in front of their eyes, without looking down at a device screen. This is the “Terminator” use case many have described for years. Cool, and maybe one day reality. Another practical example of AR was a demo of worker training. Trainees board a forklift simulator, wearing a visor that simulated their environment. The training modules taught warehouse navigation safety. It’s gaming as a way to introduce new, younger workers to their jobs.

Ultimately, all of this falls into this growing, changing group of connected tech we know as IoT.  The gear that supply chain and retail workers depend on to be productive is expanding. The ideas keep coming. New and reinvented technologies continue to make this an exciting time to be focused on productivity. Though some are closer to reality than others, augmenting the productivity potential of the worker is a topic that won’t soon go out of style. Want to read more? VDC Research offered a great recap of several themes from this year’s MODEX show.