Microsoft is busy building its Internet of Things (IoT) offering for Windows 10, but this week the company turned its attention to demonstrating Windows already has a role to play in IoT applications for industry.
At the Hannover Messe conference this week, Microsoft has been showing off how its products can be used in IoT for industry, where industrial processes are automated with the help of sensors attached to equipment that feed data back from the field.
Fujitsu has already being mixing its own and Microsoft's technologies for IoT at an agricultural production facility which grows vegetables for patients with special dietary requirements.
In 2013, Fujitsu converted an old semiconductor plant into the 2000 square metre Akisai Plant Factory in Japan, a space for growing low-potassium vegetables for patients with chronic kidney disease. The project relied on the Fujitsu's "clean rooms" for semiconductor production to control variables in vegetable production, such as fertilisers and atmospheric conditions, and create an environment that was conducive to low-potassium lettuce.
For the facility, Fujitsu combined its own and Microsoft's products. "Fujitsu brought together its Eco-Management Dashboard, the IoT/M2M platform, Microsoft cloud services and Windows tablets in a way that could enable managers, engineers and scientists to improve product quality, streamline systems and enhance functionality while reducing costs," Microsoft said.
The work has led to the creation of a joint product stack, using Fujitsu hardware running Windows 8.1 Pro, Fujitsu's Cloud A5 IoT services for Microsoft Azure, and Fujitsu's M2M platform, aimed at allowing workers in manufacturing facilities to monitor production quality and equipment performance.
The company also announced at Hannover Messe that it's teamed up with German robotics and automation outfit, Kuka Robotics, on its lightweight robot the Kuka Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant (iiwa) - a kind of robotic arm designed to aid human workers with tasks that require a high degree of sensitivity or accuracy. At the conference this week, the pair are showing off the robot threading a tube into a small hole in the back of a dishwasher.
Microsoft says the system is relying on Azure Internet of Things services and its Kinect hardware, while Azure supports the management dashboard for business analytics and trends during the manufacturing process for dishwashers.
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