Home Event Reviews PTC’s LiveWorx 2016: the WhichPLM Report (Part one)

PTC’s LiveWorx 2016: the WhichPLM Report (Part one)


LiveWorx part 1header

Our CEO has recently returned from the multi-day LiveWorx event; hosted by PTC, LiveWorx centred on all things IoT. This year the event took place in Boston, MA, and with thousands of participants and a jam-packed schedule, our coverage is coming to you in two parts. This is Mark Harrop’s exclusive coverage, part one.


Four days, five keynotes, and more than four thousand attendees; this was LiveWorx 2016.

The event took place from June 6th to June 9th in Boston, MA. PTC’s event was dubbed the ‘premier IoT business event’ of the year and judging by the attendee numbers (4,500+ visitors, 200 technology analysts, investors and journalists from around the globe) it was truly an impressive gathering.  I have to say that it lived up to its hype and I imagine it will be more than just a point of reference to many of the attendees when the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes a commonplace term in daily life.

Having attended LiveWorx 2015 (check out the report here), I made my way to Boston’s Convention Centre to see what progress had been made since last year’s event and, in particular, what these new offerings mean for our RFA (Retail, Footwear & Apparel) community.

LiveWorx 2016 was marketed not just as an event, but rather an ‘event movement’, boasting more than 200 breakout sessions this year with the physical and virtual worlds coming together as part of a transformational journey. The idea was to connect people from varying industries and varying roles – be it engineers, developers, designers including those from the world of fashion, entrepreneurs, professors or inventors – all coming together around the Internet of Things.

For myself, one of the most enjoyable parts was taking time out to visit technology suppliers and inventors (more on that soon), and searching out those that might offer solutions for a wide variety of industry sectors. Most of which I’ll be researching further over the coming weeks in an effort to see what might work for the RFA space based on the type of use-cases and ROI expectations our community will be looking for, and also helping to form some new partnering opportunities across the technology fashion world.

As the WhichPLM community will know, the Internet of Things is a very hot topic right now. And one that won’t be going away any time soon, if ever. Put simply, the IoT is a network of platforms, systems, solutions, applications and real objects working together; all of these interconnecting ‘things,’ as they are known, combine to create an unrivalled source of data, which can be used by businesses to create the ultimate consumer experience, both external (e.g. for our retail and brand end user) and throughout the interconnected supply-chain. I could write for hours on the topic (as indeed I have and will) but, in it’s rawest form, the IoT is a way of joining everything together. It’s huge, colossal even, and relentless. It’s first wave is already here (in-store sensors, wearable’s and the like), with a tidal wave of new IoT-related solutions coming our way.

And a slice of the awareness for this term can be attributed to PTC. Yes, the term was coined some 17 years ago by Kevin Ashton [more on WhichPLM’s interview with Kevin Ashton in our upcoming 6th Edition Report, due out early September] and today more and more businesses are learning about it hourly, but companies like PTC have been pushing the world to understand the IoT for some time now. The obvious example being last year’s LiveWorx event. Now in it’s third year, LiveWorx is focused on one thing and one thing only: the Internet of Things.


All in all, PTC is really changing the game in the way we design, develop, manufacturer and sell “Things.” Ultimately what lies behind this new approach is a platform that will use data coming from all of PTC’s solution stack and data generated from it’s many partners, making it much easier for all partners not only to share digital content in real-time as part of the transformation journey, but at the same time constantly analysing (Cloud or via the Edge data sources) and learning from the new insights that will come from the enormous data we’ve not been able to analyse until now.  At the same time they’re changing the traditional ways fashion designers and engineers will design, develop and service new products using a combination of physical, augmented and virtual reality solutions that will soon find their way into the design studios, material development, garment technical, quality assurance departments (to name but a few) and, ultimately, onto the factory floors of supply-chain partners and their extended partner networks.

Everything is heading down this path of change, offering many new opportunities, but at the same time greater threats to those that don’t keep pace with change. There are challenges along the way for PTC (“joining the dots” effectively across it’s existing solution stack and that of it’s customers), it’s partners (new integrations to help fuel PLM under the umbrella of the IoT) and it’s customers in transitioning toward the IoT.

As a sidenote, I have to say that it would have been nice to see elements of fashion used on stage at LiveWorx, especially given that one of the biggest and fastest predicted growth areas for the IoT is in retail. I’m sure the visiting engineers would like that too.


During the opening of the event PTC unveiled VSE (Vuforia Studio Enterprise) – part of the new open platform strategy that will allow technical designers and technologists, or partner companies, to develop codeless apps (you won’t need a programmer to develop your next Apps!). It will allow users to work in both the physical and virtual worlds by using a combination of pre-programmed and configured use-case Apps that can be dragged and dropped onto a product. The demo given in this case was a Caterpillar generator that allowed the presenter to point her iPad at a digital image / QR code (in this case a QR logo attached to the generator) that then overlaid a dashboard showing a fuel gauge, battery life etc. [Editor’s note: to find out more, watch this video.]


In the case of fashion garments this translates to just about anything: a small component (button, zipper, packaging), main material design, 2D pattern linked back to a style block, the finished garment on a fit model augmenting how to measure guides, or even attached to the machines that we use within the supply-chain for correct material property setting on a NC cutter. Other examples could be fabric inspection machines, spreaders, N.C. cutters, knitting & sewing machines, overhead rail systems all as part of real-time visibility of your contracted production orders and or for preventative maintenance.

PTC also rolled out an IoT solution stack for what it described as “computing at the edge.” Edge computing refers to data processing power at the edge of a network instead of holding that processing power in a cloud or a central data warehouse. There are many examples of where it’s advantageous to do so in the Internet of Things applications, such as maintaining critical machinery that will be used in production – in this case it could be your spreaders and N.C. cutting machines, overhead rail systems or even sewing machines that are all using electronic motors. These types of edge devices can capture streaming data that can be used for preventative purposes like a motor failure or, better still, providing advanced warnings to mechanics and machine operatives of pending issues, or to optimise production, and at the same time to improve quality of the products and greatly reduce defects and material wastage.

An edge device could also be found in a retail store that is using a beacon to push in-store incentives to a customer using their mobile phone (provided they’ve opted in of course) as a gateway device that collects data from other endpoints before sending it to the cloud.

Looking at the big picture for both AR (Augmented Reality) and IoT tech, both announcements are part of the emerging transition from the IoT hype to a more widespread adoption of a new methodology that will fundamentally change how machines and other devices co-exist together.



Attendees this year also heard from many industry thought leaders, educationalists, and scientists and interacted with some amazing technologies., I’m sure that, like myself, they learned a great deal more on how the IoT can help to transform their ways of working and, ultimately, help to improve their businesses.  And I don’t mean theoretically. Attendees were able to experience lots of hands-on time with new IoT applications – applications spanning a multitude of industries, from aerospace and defense, to consumer products and even gaming as part of the consumer experience. For the RFA visitors, PTC had ‘5th Avenue’ – an exhibition dedicated to our retail journey, with plenty of apps on show. Every industry is set to be touched and changed by the IoT (if it hasn’t been already), and having the ability to leverage these applications has no doubt given these attendees an edge over their competition.

Speaking of attendees, the team at PTC was open to sharing some key statistics into who exactly was present this year – so open, in fact, that this information can even be found on the LiveWorx website. So, those of you with an eye for numbers will be keen to read that of the 4,500+ who attended this year, 64% held a title of Manager, Director, VP or C-level, and 43% came from companies with annual revenues over $1 billion US. By WhichPLM’s definitions, this means 43% of attendees were from tier 1 or tier 0 – otherwise known as the ‘super tier’ retailers and brands.

And with the IoT reportedly [reference: PTC] unleashing $6.2 trillion in new global economic value annually by 2025 (just 9 years away) it’s not hard to see why the turnout this year was immense. In fact, the attendee numbers for 2016 almost doubled those from 2015 (at a still very respectable 2,500 attendees).


So, we know that 43% of attendees were from tier 1 or 0 enterprises, and that 64% were of ‘Manager’ status or higher, but what about who actually attended?

Major retailers and brands in attendance included Applied Materials, Bose, Cisco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GE, Harley Davidson, iRobot, Johnson & Johnson, John Deere, Lockheed Martin, Moen, Oshkosh Defense, Patagonia, Burberry, Raytheon, Stryker, Target, Nike, Marks and Spencer, C&A, Target, LC Waikiki, Levi Strauss, and Whirlpool to name just a few of the many companies that attended.


The event was targeted at just about anybody: fashion designers, engineers, technologists, manufacturers, servicers of products, as well as application developers and ‘experienced technical developers’. And in light of this, and just like last year, LiveWorx 2016 had specific tracks for each role to follow. With so much on offer, having specific-to-you sessions, breakouts and keynotes was a winning idea.

And for this year, LiveWorx added sessions exclusively for retailers and brands – something that wasn’t available in 2015. These new tracks and learning sessions gave retailers and brands a great deal of valuable information on potential use-cases using the IoT for a variety of benefits, including the use of devices to achieve visibility to materials and products that traverse the supply-chain network from concept to consumer. Retailers and brands also gained valuable insights into factory production (use-cases) and after sales opportunities (servicing products that can talk back to the retailer or brand), used to improve product innovation, development, sourcing decisions, and loyalty programs – all using new insights coming from data constantly being fed to the platform.

In addition to the dedicated retail track, with a number of customers sharing their PLM success stories, retailers and brands also took full advantage of what was on show in the exhibition hall, and not only on 5th Avenue. Like myself, I’m sure they discovered a few new ways of working and could see some real-life examples of the many benefits of integrated technologies working together with some new and very interesting solution partners.

The RFA ‘5th Avenue’ partners included First Insight, Optitex, Nextgen Packaging and Kalypso. Outside of the avenue I found several more including Mesh01, KeyShot and others in the world of connected retail. It’s also worth pointing out that the PTC partnering team is on a mission to work with many of the RFA eco-system technologies including, in some cases, technology suppliers that today are considered to be competitors. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens here but I, for one, can see the sense in using the best products for the job regardless of vendor, with each vendor focusing on what they do best rather than trying to do too much and delivering too little! One great example of this is what I call ‘enterprise 3D’ (Hats, Eyewear, Jewellery, Clothing, Components, Footwear), which for fashion requires multiple competitive products working together and in some cases sharing the same materials that would ideally be held in a single database.

5th Ave

Retailers and brands at LiveWorx could learn a great deal more around real-time visibility, as well as role-based visibility and performance data, coming from existing internal systems, equipment, people and their supply-chain partners. They could also build on existing knowledge of operational practice and effectiveness through the IoT for a broad range of activities including: education and measurement by cost-effectively building, operating and servicing in the future. Imagine being able to teach users within your off-shore offices, or factory partners, via Hololens-portation.

The idea of servicing and gaining insights from supply-chain machinery and equipment is a crucial part of the IoT; and for myself one of the most obvious starting points in terms of quick wins and good potential for ROI (Return on Investment). With the help of applications using augmented reality, service operatives can increase efficiency and reduce the time taken to service or fix a piece of critical equipment – like the N.C. cutting machine, found in almost every supplier factory, that if not working could result in several hundred machinists being paid for downtime and a retailer or brand missing their tight delivery window. LiveWorx highlighted many new and exciting ways of harnessing the IoT; management, vendors and servicers heard about remote monitoring and analytics to anticipate failures and respond efficiently to equipment problems. And not only can the IoT help response time, it can help corrective measures as well, by providing more complete information on the root cause, as well as how to fix it and prevent it from happening in the future. All in all, use of the IoT can help to predict machinery failures before they happen (and even prevent them altogether), enabling remote service, education and giving technicians everything they need to deliver service faster and more efficiently.  Whilst a great deal of this software is already available (and indeed was demonstrated at the event), there will be a huge number of new applications that will be developed and released in the coming weeks, months and years.

Beyond maintenance, just imagine the benefits of being able to know at any point in a product’s lifecycle where it is, from it’s raw material state all the way to it arriving in the warehouse ready to be picked and placed into the retail store!

Hololens Action


Some of the most important elements for developers (and indeed all attendees) were the networking events, allowing free-flowing discussion between peers, and the passing on of valuable knowledge. Xtropolis was the home of networking and a great place to share thoughts and ideas on new innovations. It was more like a playground for grownups; I had several really great meetings with some fantastic forward-thinking brands and retailers and also found several new technologies that would fit well into the RFA sector…!

Xtropolis acted as the epicenter of LiveWorx – an experiential place to get inspired and connect, through groundbreaking technology demos and unique meetings. Xtropolis was open for visitors throughout the event, from 7:30am until around the same hour at night …when it turned into Happy Hour and party time!




As with any event, a major part of LiveWorx was the keynote speeches. This year, five speeches were given by six industry headliners, each sharing their insights, perspectives and success stories.

David Pogue, host of NOVA ScienceNow and Founder of Yahoo Tech was ‘the host of LiveWorx’. For thirteen years Pogue was the weekly personal technology columnist for the New York Times, then only a few years ago, in 2013, he made the move to Yahoo where he founded the website for “non-techies”, Yahoo Tech.

Pogue is a pre-eminent speaker on today’s latest consumer technology, as well as a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a technology correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, and the current host of NOVA ScienceNow.

Pogue set the agenda for the three-day event and reminded everyone to download the LiveWorx App – along with the keynotes and breakout sessions it also had the key time for each of the Happy Hours! Pogue is a best-selling “how-to” author, having written seven books in the ‘For Dummies’ series, and has over 3 million books in print. As the “non-techie” Yahoo Tech site would imply, Pogue is an expert in writing for ‘regular folk’. Pogue has his own series of witty computer books: the ‘Missing Manuals’ which now includes 120 titles.

Pogue isn’t only well averse in the world of technology; he has a musical theatre background. Graduating from Yale in 1985, he spent ten years conducting and arranging musicals for Broadway, New York, for which he won numerous awards. Merging his musical background with his knowledge of science, Pogue delivers very unique presentations, which tend to include a performance of one of his famous song parodies – a fan favourite being “I got YouTube”.


Having recently written countless consumer IoT related product reviews (on light bulbs, coffee machines, door bells, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers etc.), Pogue was the perfect host to kick start this year’s LiveWorx event. He got things off to a great start by sharing some of his own experiences of the IoT, including a joke of his own. A user of two Nester thermostats controlling his home heating system, Pogue whipped out his phone, joking that his kids had the heating on high during a heat wave; he adjusted the temperature down from 66 degrees to around 50, whilst suggesting his kids should “put on some extra T-shirts!”

He shared a few serious points on the huge commercial applications awaiting the world of the IoT, listing many industry sectors like manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, medical, engineering, automotive, security and experiences of  “Things.” He reiterated that this was the biggest IoT event of its kind. He reminded attendees in the audience that, apart from all of the on-stage keynote IoT experts, we also had “4,500+ interested IoT attendees to mingle with and to learn from” and over the next three days I saw this happening like bees finding the IoT honey!

Superstar keynote speaker this year (and someone very used to being in the limelight) was actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Known from earlier work including award-winning comedy series, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and teen-hit movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, I doubt there was a single participant who wasn’t familiar with Gordon-Levitt – if not his name, then at least his face.

In recent years, Gordon-Levitt has starred in major Hollywood blockbusters The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and Looper as well as indie hits like 500 Days of Summer, with New Girl Zooey Deschanel. He will also appear in Oliver Stone’s film, Snowdon, releases this summer, and based on Edward Snowdon and his infamous leaking of thousands of classified documents to the press.

Aside from starring in movies, Gordon- Levitt founded (and directs) hitRECord, a community business formed in 2004, which he opened up about.

An open collaborative production, hitRECord creates and develops all kinds of art and media collectively using its website – where anyone is able to upload their records, download and remix others’ records, and work on projects collaboratively. hitRECord has published books, put out records, and gone on tour as well as screened works at major festivals like Sundance.  Most recently, the community of more than 500,000 artists completed the second season of Emmy award-winning Hit Record on TV with Joseph Gordon-Levitt – a 30 minute variety programme consisting short films, live performance, music, animation and conversation.

Gordon-Levitt is a seasoned campaigner for fair compensation in this new collaborative, connected world. Levitt made the point that for a community platform to be successful then it needs to play fair with it’s contributors and share some of the revenues with those that help to create it and make it successful.

IMG_6129Likely the second most well-known keynotes this year were Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman – otherwise known as TV’s Mythbusters. For those members of our growing community not familiar with the show, Mythbusters is a scientific entertainment programme, which premiered on the Discovery Channel in 2003. Hosts Savage and Hyneman use elements of engineering and science to test the validity of rumours, news stories, and myths (hence the name).


For their keynote Savage and Hyneman brought their unique, eccentric perspectives to the stage. They addressed problem solving and the importance of looking at things in a completely new way – applicable to all businesses and industry types. Their backgrounds in robotics and prototyping certainly made for an interesting keynote.

There were several messages and points made by the pair worth sharing with our community. The duo shared that for every programme made by the Mythbusters crew, they first had to learn to collaborate effectively like a well oiled engine on design and script, whilst working across three different continents and time zones: the USA for Adam and Jamie; my home city of Manchester for the Editor; and Australia for the production crew. Each member had to work incredibly closely with every second counting when it came to making great shows full of exciting experiments and explosions, and at the same time with the greatest level of safely in mind …at least that was the case most of the time.


Let’s wrap up part one of this report with none other than PTC’s CEO.

Familiar with large crowds, James (Jim) Heppelman, President & CEO of PTC, delivered his keynote for PTC. As CEO, Jim is responsible for driving the company’s global business strategy and operations. During his time as Chief Executive, PTC has advanced it’s technological capabilities to enable companies to create, connect, and operate products and systems that comprise the Internet of Things.

Jim, opened his presentation by stating that this was the single largest ever audience that PTC had gathered anywhere in the world and perhaps the biggest ever that was focused on the IoT and smart connected products.  He went on to suggest that the audience might be asking themselves why so many people had gathered; his answer given was that “the audience realizes that we are in the midst of a fundamental transformation in our world and in our relationship to the “Things” that are all around us.”

Jim suggested that in 20 years we would look back and remember that we were at LiveWorx when something as special as the IoT really started.  He also challenged the IoT hype and sighted the founder of the IOTF (Institute of The Future), Roy Amara, on suggesting that we tend to over-estimate the benefits of technology in the short-term and under-estimate those types of technology in the long run, like the first computers, the internet and mobile phones – great examples of under-estimating their technologies that have gone on to transform our world.


Jim and the rest of the PTC business believe that the IoT will be one of the biggest game changing technologies of our time. Jim and several eminent professors from Harvard have carried out a great deal of research over recent years and have spoken to many of the world’s leading businesses who share the same beliefs and are actively developing IoT strategies of their won. Jim suggested that everything is heading down this exciting, yet slippery, slope of transformation, with traditional “Things” (part product, part digital operating on the cloud and on the edge) beginning to communicate with networks, and other “Things”, systems, machines and Cloud databases gathering astronomical amounts of both structured and unstructured data and using smart-analytics to interpret new insights.

We live in a data-driven economy where companies have already started generating business value from data. With the advent of the IoT, increased connectivity and improved analytics companies are now starting to unlock significant opportunities. IoT solutions are starting to help enterprises from around the globe to enhance situation awareness, make better decisions, and gain competitive advantage.

Even our cars, our homes, infrastructures and our cities are heading down the path of the IoT and, this concept completely changes all businesses as we now them today and will bring many challenges, opportunities and threats. Jim stated that both the physical and virtual worlds will come together thanks to the Internet of Things; this new reality will create so many new opportunities for innovation and so much value. It’s not fixed, it’s evolving by the second and the way we think of the IoT will continue to change and develop along the way as well.

PTC are helping to change the current understanding of the IoT by designing new products that converge the physical and virtual with augmented reality to improve the human experience.

Look out for the second part of the LiveWorx 2016 report, coming soon. 

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for eight years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like our PLM Project Pack, or our Annual Publications, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.