Industrial Disruption Takes Center Stage at LiveWorx 2019

Written By: Stacy Thompson
  • 6/14/2019
  • Read Time : 7 min

At this year’s LiveWorx conference, the theme of “disruption” took the show by storm. LiveWorx 2019 demonstrated to attendees that there are many kinds of disruption – disruptive technologies, disruptive business concepts, disruptive industry leaders and thinkers – and that the quest for dominance in a crowded market requires industrial enterprises to leverage innovative new ways of thinking.

Following transformative LiveTalx keynotes, Ignite Talx, cutting-edge demos, and tech tours, the LiveWorx crowd gathered on Lawn on D for the Mix@6, Boston’s premiere tech party! Who better to co-host the tech party of the summer than Game of Thrones stars Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) and Richard Madden (Robb Stark), who took viewers of the global TV phenomenon on an incredible, disruptive ride over eight epic seasons?


With LiveWorx 2019 a wrap, let’s take a look through some of the key highlights from days three and four of the show:

Unleash Creativity and the “Maker” Mentality

A standing-room only crowd took in a thought-provoking conversation between Mythbusters’ Adam Savage and Deloitte Digital’s ‘Mr. IoT’ Robert Schmid on day three of LiveWorx. The wide-ranging exchange included perspectives on the connection between science and art, how to unlock a creative mentality, and excitement about the possibilities of IoT and augmented reality.

Working on Mythbusters, Savage said he’s had the opportunity to dispel a myth about science and scientists. “I used to think science was something only smart people did, but I’ve come to realize science is a mode of thinking,” he said.


Asking questions, nurturing curiosity, and developing a point-of-view are essential to the process, Savage shared. He drew a comparison between deciding what to paint on a canvas to determining a scientific hypothesis.

“Science and art are two different ways to build stories that help us understand the world,” Savage said. “To me, science is a deeply creative discipline.”

On augmented reality, Savage said loves the idea of a physical and digital world coming together in one view. “I’m excited about experiencing something that’s there but not there.”

Usher in the Generative Era of CAD

PTC’s Senior Vice President of Technology, Advanced Development Jesse Coors-Blankenship followed up on the keynote from PTC President & CEO Jim Heppelmann with a scintillating session on the renaissance of CAD.

“With generative design, the way you design will never be the same,” said Blankenship. He described the evolution of mechanical CAD, moving from digital drafting to AI-driven generative design over the course of six decades. The disruption of the CAD market has been driven by three factors, Blankenship said: increased competition on a global scale, the manufacturing skills gap, and the opportunity for generative design to boost productivity.


Core to Blankenship’s session was that generative design pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in product design. With generative, engineers can interactively specify their requirements and goals, including preferred materials and manufacturing processes—and the generative engine will automatically produce a manufacture-ready design as a starting point or as a final solution. As a result, engineers can leverage the technology to create superior designs and innovative products, more quickly-expediting time to market.

Blankenship gave the audience an overview of PTC’s generative design Innovators Program – and the results customers have achieved by innovating with generative design. Jacobs Engineering, for example, has derived a new design of their CO2 sensor bracket by defining the sensor cavities, surrounding areas to avoid, and applying loads. The result is a bracket that is 25 percent lighter than the original design, which improves performance and reduces costs/scrap.

Quarterback a Digital Revolution

Continuing with the theme of digital disruption, Michelle McKenna, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, National Football League (NFL) took center stage to talk about accelerating innovation in the enterprise.

McKenna has been a driving force behind the NFL's digital transformation and shared how the NFL is augmenting its data analytics, AI, and omnichannel capabilities to drive fan engagement and experience and how technology changes have already swept across every department in the organization.


McKenna said there are four key trends that are changing workforce collaboration:

  • Location independence: Remote teams are collaborating and driving productivity; employers need to prepare for this shift in the workforce
  • Performance measurement: With the influx of data from technologies like IoT, we can measure performance more quickly
  • Intense collaboration: Agile practices have enabled small teams to work together in a collaborative way; vertical integration is going away in favor of ecosystems that require integration to co-exist
  • Micro services: By combining systems, features, transactions, and logic into micro services, they become more agile, flexible, and scalable; this is a key mechanism that enables enterprises to collaborate

“Digital disruption is here and it’s front and center,” said McKenna. “It’s a generational change that’s about to change the workforce.”

Move from Disruption to Augmentation

A leading authority on human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence, Pattie Maes of the MIT Media Lab, closed out LiveWorx with a forward-looking perspective on how the next-generation of technology will enable us to work smarter and live better.

“Right now, the way we’re using our devices is extraordinarily disruptive yet inefficient. It requires our complete attention and is disconnected from the real world,” Maes said.

She shared three technologies that have the potential to radically change our relationship and interaction with personal devices: new display devices, sensors, and artificial intelligence.


Maes shared some of the innovative research her MIT Media Lab students and former students (some of which now run the PTC Reality Lab are working on in this area, including audio-based augmented reality, silent speech interfaces, kinesthetic learning, and smart jackets).

The future of technologies work with humans to help them learn faster, be more creative, work effectively, and even manage emotions. “We believe that next-generation devices will really integrate a lot more with people to seamlessly support all of their cognitive functions for optimal performance,” she said.

Final Thoughts

With LiveWorx 2019 in the books, the time is now for the innovators, change makers, and influencers who attended the conference to put digital transformation strategies and tactics into practice.
The question is: Will you be on the frontier of digital innovation?


  • Augmented Reality
  • CAD
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Digital Transformation
  • PTC Reality Lab

About the Author

Stacy Thompson Stacy Thompson is the Director of Corporate Content Marketing at PTC. She has more than a decade of experience in content, SEO, and social media development, B2B and B2C communications, demand generation campaigns, and analytics/content measurement. She is also a Professor of Content Strategy in Kent State University’s User Experience Design Master’s program.