Tuesday, September 19, 2017
IMTS 2016 Show Daily

TechTrends App Points to the Future

September 16, 2016 / , Editorial Intern Modern Machine Shop

AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology is testing a beta version of its new software application, TechTrends, at the AMT Experience in Booth NC-785. The app is designed to aggregate data from research papers published in academia and the government in order to track trends in manufacturing technology and predict advancements in the future.

According to Tim Shinbara, vice president of manufacturing technology, the app is a natural convergence of the TechTrends initiative and MTInsight, a business intelligence platform developed by AMT.

“We’re constantly trying to track and put some context behind the advancements in technology, but we quickly realized that with the breadth, acceleration and all the other growth attributes of such advancements, you just couldn’t consume them from a human’s perspective,” he says. “So we saw MTInsights as being the engine and the platform by which we could present TechTrends-like data. That’s what the software application is: It’s the data stream coming through into insight.”

The app works by breaking down research papers into three main categories: keywords, concepts and sentiments. AMT collected research papers from the past 10 years from three different organizations: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and CIRP (The International Academy for Production Engineering). The association then used robot tools to aggregate data from those organizations’ papers and put it into a visual representation.

AMT has also accepted an invitation to sit on the leadership counsel for MForesight, an NSF-funded think tank headed by Sridhar Kota out of the University of Michigan. The organization is focused on formulating a prediction curve for the next technological advancement in manufacturing or the next big material to be exploited. According to Shinbara, joining MForesight has provided AMT with a new avenue of resources and strategic alliances that it can use to help expand its app. The alliance also provides an extension to MForesight’s ability to advance its efforts in trend prediction.

IMTS attendees can view a pre-production release of TechTrends, accessible from the MT Insights platform, and test out some of its different features. These features include a summary of the top 10 trends in manufacturing, research hotspots organized by geographical region, and information regarding both dwindling and growing trends in manufacturing. Additionally, the app offers a section covering the top manufacturing concepts in recent years, and a search option that provides a brief description of the various research papers aggregated by the app.

TechTrends also features a degree of customization, enabling users to search to select specific data streams, time frames, universities, geographical regions and keywords. Users can compare manufacturing trends by typing in different keywords and concepts, and comparing the trends over a specific time frame. One of TechTrend’s main goals is to connect people to an action, says Benjamin Moses, technical director at AMT. While AMT will not be publishing research papers, it will enable people to buy papers or connect with the institution that’s conducting that research.

While AMT already has a planned set of revisions in place for the TechTrends app, it hopes to gain more user feedback at IMTS. These planned revisions include changes to the format of the app as well as the flexibility, customization, depth, volume and frequency of the app’s data. AMT plans to use intelligent searching options and natural language generation reports to further improve the app. According to Shinbara, the same platform that can serve a CEO should also be able to serve a technician on the shop floor. The association is looking at releasing a final production version of the app in the second quarter of 2017.

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