Visit the internet today, and you’ll be certain to find people wailing about the new change to Apple’s iPhones – namely, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. This transition will not be easy for many, and some will never miss this port. Apple is not even the first manufacturer to get rid of the headphone jack – Lenovo and Moto have both released phones without them.
The 3.5mm port is fifty two years old, adds bulk to the hardware, and impedes water resistance on electronics. However, many will miss its universal nature and some argue that the sound quality is better with the physical port. Others argue that the benefits of Bluetooth, which include bidirectional data and the ability to transmit more information outweigh the downsides of charging and pairing troubles.
Wherever you stand on the issue, it’s likely that technology you have grown accustomed to will one day be replaced. In 2011 ARC did a survey that concluded that over $65 Billion dollars’ worth of the installed userbase relied on obsolete technology. Over the years we’ve seen countless ports come and go. When was the last time you used a DB25 serial port? Laptops are rarely equipped with an optical drive, and ask a teenager why hard drives start with C: and see what their answer is.
Whether or not Apple finds success with the new iPhone remains to be seen, but it’s time to accept that this and many other technologies are going to be phased out. This is also true in industrial control systems, and it’s important to plan ahead so that when obsolete equipment is phased out, you’ll be ready to move to new hardware without a hitch.
Always be ready to Adapt
There are already adapters on sale that will translate the signal of a 3.5mm jack to the lightning port. Control systems engineers can do the same by getting as much of their systems future-ready as possible. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when determining how adaptable your systems are.
- Wires are on the way out. How are you handling remote and wireless connectivity?
- Are you ready to access and store data in the Cloud (safely)?
- Can you easily add equipment from new manufacturers into your system, or are you using proprietary software?
- Can you update your software without recreating your HMI and SCADA interfaces?
- Will your SCADA/HMI software support new operating systems and new input methods?
InduSoft Web Studio has been working hard to take these concerns off the shoulders of control systems engineers and provide easy answers. InduSoft Web Studio supports wireless communications, and makes it easy to view and manage systems remotely. Sending data to and from the cloud is easy, with patented methods for SQL and relational database communication. InduSoft Web Studio includes over 250 native communication protocols and is platform agnostic, meaning that you can install InduSoft Web Studio to a dizzying array of devices, or add equipment to your system and communicate with it easily. InduSoft Web Studio always incorporates new input methods, and supports multi-touch, as well as experimental devices like Google Glass, Kinect, and VR. Most importantly, you can always trust that your software will grow with you. Each new update of InduSoft Web Studio allows you to open and change applications made with earlier versions, meaning you will always be able to work with the most recent software and keep up-to-date on patches and new features.