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Jul 3, 201811:03 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Technologies on display at Foxconn event will help drive Wisconsin’s economy

(page 1 of 2)

Inside the Foxconn Technology Group’s prototype production center in Racine County, the show that naturally attracted the most news media attention starred President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Gov. Scott Walker.

Just outside the hall where Trump, Ryan, Walker, and others spoke Thursday afternoon, the real luminaries weren’t politicians or even people — but technologies that will place Wisconsin on the leading edge of an American revolution in manufacturing and health care.

The size and scope of Foxconn’s emerging presence in Wisconsin was on display for a groundbreaking ceremony that left even those familiar with the project in awe of what’s to come as the world’s fourth-largest tech company imbeds itself in the state.

The standard descriptor of Foxconn is that of a company that assembles iPhones and television sets. That’s true, but it’s also a company with technologies to combat cancer; enhance learning for students of all ages; improve manufacturing quality and efficiency; store and retrieve massive amounts of medical data; create sustainable systems; and support legacy business sectors such as retail, aviation, and transportation.

A tour of Foxconn’s exhibits was like a trip to an Epcot Center of technology, with something to amaze every visitor. Even if the 2,900-acre campus does not grow into “the eighth wonder of the world,” as Trump predicted, the company will redefine Wisconsin’s economy precisely because so many of its technologies build upon existing strengths. Consider these examples:

  • Through its Smart Technologies arm, Foxconn holds the largest market share in interactive technology for schools in the United States. About 25% of all U.S. schools license the Smart Software Suite. One of the most familiar products is the “Smart Board,” an evolution of the traditional white board.
  • About 40% of the high-performance computing servers in the world are produced by Foxconn, which is a contract manufacturer for other brands. They form the backbone of the internet cloud by helping to store, process, and transmit massive amounts of data. A leading example is medical data used for imaging and personalized medicine, a field that has grown with the mapping of the human genome.
  • Set to be constructed in the Racine complex is the Zap-X radiosurgery system. The Zap-X is a self-contained, self-shielded therapeutic radiation device dedicated to treating brain, head, and neck lesions, both benign and malignant.
  • Industrial products that rely on artificial intelligence include internet of things quality control systems, green data center systems to monitor and control wastes, robotics, transportation logistics systems, and advanced packaging processes.

Central to the “Wisconn Valley” complex in Racine County will be production of high-definition screens to be used for purposes that include mobile devices and televisions, which are part of Foxconn’s Sharp brand, but also for next-generation uses. Autonomous vehicles, avionics, and medical imaging are among the intended uses of Foxconn’s 8k/5g platform, which produces pictures so sharp that surgeons can perform critical procedures remotely.


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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.



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