fourth industrial revolutionI think everyone can feel that the world we live in is changing, and changing rapidly. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum believes we are at the beginning of a fourth Industrial Revolution. According to the WEF article, the first revolution was about harnessing the steam engine to mechanize production. The second was about using electric power to enable mass production. The third was about using electronics and information technology to automate production. The fourth Industrial Revolution will be about fusing technologies to enable production that combines the physical, the digital, and the biological.

The Pokemon Go phenomenon validates the World Economic Forum view. As you are probably aware, Pokemon Go is a game played on a smartphone that superimposes digitally rendered characters onto the real-world physical scene your phone camera is capturing, making it seem that the characters are there in the world with you. This is the first large-scale, mainstream adoption of “augmented reality”, which is the cutting-edge technology du-jour (a good explanation of the difference between virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality can be found at thefoundry.co ).

Similar widespread adoption of technologies that add-in the biological to the physical/digital has yet to be achieved but, with our recently-developed capability to print cellular material and grow it into living structures and organs, it’s not hard to envision that combination physical/digital/biological systems will soon be realized. Virtual/augmented/mixed reality is already being used in the medical field to enable unprecedented visualization of the human body for learning and training purposes. Being intimately involved in the interface between the physical and the biological, medical device design is going to play a significant role in the physical/digital/biological fusion that the fourth Industrial Revolution is going to be about.

These developments are significant and will have a profound effect on our lives, not all for the good. Economic upheaval will occur, and that will lead to conflict. Revolutions are always traumatic. We are in the beginning stages of the next one, but there is still time to prepare. Simply being aware of what is coming will help you begin to adapt. Start thinking now about this coming future and start planning for it. You might be able to harness it. The alternative is to be run over.