See how 3M engineers are combining advanced software with cutting-edge hardware to create the next generation of smart machines.
Kandyce Bohannon, is a software engineer who has worked at 3M since receiving her master’s degree in Computer Science in 2011. Here, she offers a unique perspective on the role software will play at a traditional, R&D product manufacturing company like 3M, both today and for years to come.
It’s the huge diversity of applications. 3M has an incredibly wide range of products and materials to work with. And at 3M, you’re able to test how software affects the performance of hardware that’s being developed at the same time. Because the company is so diverse, you’re able to collaborate and experiment on new opportunities that can impact new industries, literally around the world.
Devices are always changing, and people always expect a better experience with these devices. One challenge for software engineers is creating ways for devices to work together to create new behaviors, like collecting exercise data from one device and transferring it to your phone. I’m excited by the possibilities of other devices talking and working together to make a large social impact. Imagine if an air filter was smart enough to know when to replace itself, and help a family regulate household energy use.
This is always a tricky part. It’s good to stick to common communications standards like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can’t control how other devices will be designed, but we’re seeing over time that these communication standards are adopted very broadly. These standards are making ubiquitous computing more and more possible.
I’m excited about wearable computing. There have been a few breakthroughs recently that help people become more aware of their overall health. I think that these areas where biology and computer science overlap are the most interesting. Apps on your smartphone and products on the market take temperature readings, record heart rate for later diagnosis, and even measure brain waves. I like thinking about the experience that can be created around the underlying meaning of this data.
We’ve already developed a number of things including a cloud-based library system that uses RFIDs to enable self-checkouts and automatic inventory management. That’s helped the public libraries we work with to improve services that their communities need. But speaking generally, we’re looking at how software can tie together the hardware we design and engineer to provide new capabilities, support new behaviors, and discover new possibilities.
How the 3M Es technology platform benefits people, now and tomorrow.