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From driverless cars to people-less banks: The highlights of CeBIT 2008

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CeBIT 2008, the world’s largest technology trade fair, held in Hannover, Germany, last week, featured a fascinating array of IT and telecommunications products, solutions and themes. The highlights included the latest in mobile possibilities, driverless vehicles and the bank branch of 2012. Read about all the highlights…

CeBIT 2008, the world’s largest technology trade fair, came to an end in Hannover, Germany, on Friday, leaving half-a-million visitors digesting the huge array of IT and telecommunications products, solutions and themes that were on show. From Caroline the driverless vehicle to a special show featuring a complete bank branch office of the near future, it was no easy task.

Caroline the driverless car is put though her paces at CeBIT

These were some of the highlights:

Home & Mobile Solutions

With mobile products and networks becoming ever more powerful, the benefits of associated services are now beginning to take centre stage.

Wireless, high-resolution access is now available to all sorts of data – e-mails or personal video and music compilations, for example – thanks to wireless USB and wireless HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) employing UWB (ultra wideband) technology. This includes Web content such as social networks and IPTV.

Nor is this access restricted to the four walls of one’s home, where listening to WLAN radio in the bathroom, gaming with wireless freedom or commanding a TV media centre from one’s sofa are now commonplace. Thanks to E-HSPA (evolved high-speed packet access), the same experiences can now also be enjoyed on the road via your mobile phone – all with broadband speed.

Innovative interfaces such as touch screens and movement sensors ensure user-friendly access to all your media. The smartphone trend is opening the way for interactive applications based on dynamic downloading. And services that were previously only available via in-house networks are increasingly also being offered to customers out in the field.

One example of new-world mobility is a cellphone with built-in DVT-T which lets you (or rather, your driver) cruise down the road while you watch TV in astonishingly high quality. In the notebook segment, there is a clear trend towards ever smaller, more compact and cheaper devices, alongside extravagant design options, including piano lacquer finishes and flashy colors.

Security

Data security has long been a backbone topic at CeBIT, and one with great relevance to both business and private users in need of seamless, airtight solutions. Suppliers are offering ever higher performance and lower demand on system resources.

Key topics included more effective protection against threats such as “drive-by downloads”” which can lead to a malware-infected computer merely from visiting a web site, plus ways of keeping aggressive, locally deployed boot networks at bay. Also highlighted in this section was the issue of data leakage protection in the corporate sector. Security is also becoming an increasing concern for smartphone users in view of the growing popularity and performance of these devices.

Telematics and Navigation

A huge range of innovations were on show in the Telematics & Navigation sector at CeBIT this year. Integrated databases with information on current traffic forecasts allow for automatic selection of the fastest route to your destination and more accurate predictions of the arrival time.

Route planning decisions are made easier by new technologies, such as anticipatory lane advice systems. Navigation functionality is also being extended to include driver’s logs and pedestrian maps.

Voice input of destination addresses is now possible, and the latest devices can also speak the names of the streets you are driving through, thanks to the integrated “”text-to-speech”” voice synthesis function. Navigation software is also increasingly being offered for smart phones.

Top visitor drawing cards at the show included a flight simulator installed in a section of the original fuselage of a single-engine propeller aircraft, demonstrating future satellite navigation applications.

What it takes to be a a driverless car

future parc

“”future parc”” was an opportunity for universities, research institutions and businesses to showcase current developments and future trends in information and communications technology.

Highlights included new audio and video technologies, the application of artificial intelligence and semantic processes, “”smart”” textiles and 3D cameras and monitors. Themes included approaches to easier software development and documentation processes, indoor navigation and new advances in man-machine interaction, e.g. through gesture recognition or neuronal interfaces.

Usability, i.e. the design of intuitive user interfaces, was the main focus of the “”future market”” special show. This section of the fair was supplemented by “”future talk,”” a well-attended speaker’s forum covering a comprehensive spectrum of innovations that are poised to hit the market soon.

TeleHealth

Hall 8, located next to Public Sector Parc, was the venue for the TeleHealth international conference and expo held on 7 and 8 March. TeleHealth was conceived as a networking and information platform to provide a general overview of ITC solutions in the health systems market for users, decision-makers and designers.

Core topics included electronic patient files, telemedicine and ambient assisted living ‚ intelligent assistance systems that enable older people or those suffering from chronic ailments to live independently at home for longer. The solutions on display ranged from measurement devices readable via the Internet to guidance and support systems to make everyday life easier for the user.

Green IT

The very first international “”green IT”” showcase and forum for suppliers and users from around the world was successfully launched at CeBIT 2008. Key aspects included low-emission products and manufacturing processes, lower power consumption for equipment in both operating and standby modes, and the use of IT to achieve energy savings across a wide range of industrial sectors.

Along with displays of innovative technologies for improving the efficiency of powerpacks, dynamic power and voltage reduction and switching off sub-components when not in use, visitors saw examples of intelligent management and monitoring concepts for the efficient use of energy, for the automation of building services and much more.

Digital power meters hooked up to the Internet even allow consumers to monitor their energy consumption and costs in real time, while giving power companies new ways of approaching meter-reading and billing.

Virtualization can be used to reduce numbers of individual computers and hence the requirement for cooling systems. And computing centres can save energy with more efficient UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) and by using the waste heat generated.

Business Solutions

CeBIT again provided a unique information platform for corporate customers and professional technology users.

Core themes included “”software as a service”” (SaaS), a business model in which software is provided as a web-based service.

Another trend highlighted at the tradeshow was the increasingly mobile nature of business software. More and more business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications can now be used via smart phones. This gives employees mobile access to company documents, and thanks to IP-based “”next generation networks”” (NGN), they can always be contacted at the same number.

Web 2.0 is also becoming increasingly important for businesses today, with interactive and collaborative entities such as communities, wikis, blogs and social bookmarking services adding value to business software.

Other key themes included Open Source, service-oriented architectures (SOA) and radio-frequency identification (RFID). The “”Auto ID/RFID Solutions Park”” and the “”Tracking & Tracing Theatre”” presented real-world applications in production logistics, the health sector and electronic access control, drawing major interest particularly on the part of visiting SMEs. The displays in the “”Business Solutions”” area were complemented by numerous special shows and forums such as the “”ERP Forum,”” the “”Business Intelligence + Enterprise Information Forum”” and the “”SME Forum.””

Human Resources & eLearning

The biggest magnet for HR managers was the “”Human Resources”” section of the show, and its associated forum program. And right alongside these displays, job seekers were able to check out career opportunities at the “”CeBIT Job & Career Market””.

Advanced training and professional development are clearly on the rise, as evidenced by the “”Learning & Knowledge Solutions”” showcase, where providers of digital learning and knowledge management solutions presented best-fit approaches. Other topics which drew major attention were eLearning, Web 2.0 for knowledge transfer, knowledge management and semantic technologies.

Public Sector Solutions

The “”Public Sector Parc”” was again a standout attraction for anyone interested in eGovernment at the municipal, regional, national or EU level. Solutions were on show for semi-autonomous government agencies, public sector businesses and the education sector.

Core topics included implementation of the EU services directive and the 115 public sector call number in Germany.

Other key themes were the use of geo data, homeland security and IT solutions for all aspects of energy efficiency and local and renewable energy forms.

Also in evidence were perennial issues such as the cross-departmental networking of services and systems, electronic signatures and electronic identity documents. An extensive program of lectures and presentations in the “”Local Government Forum”” and “”Public Sector Parc Forum”” rounded out this section of the show.

Banking

The “”Banking & Finance”” section – featuring a “”Point of Sale”” component for the first time – showcased a wide range of hardware and software solutions for money transactions.

The main focus was on increased flexibility as well as the standardization of company-wide business processes and IT platforms. Considerable attention was also paid to security issues and the application of service-oriented architectures (SOA).

A key attraction was “”Future Banking – Bank Branch 2012,”” a special show featuring a complete bank branch office of the future.

Hanging out in the bank branch of 2012

On over 200 square meters of display space, this platform provided a glimpse of state-of-the-art bank branches a couple of years down the road, including the functionalities and technology they will need to offer. To this end, a fully functional bank branch office with cutting edge hardware and software solutions was assembled. The goal was to highlight innovative solutions for banking processes. Exhibitors included IND, Kobil and WINCOR NIXDORF, all keen on demonstrating how banks can develop their business with the customer’s best interest in mind as well as improve their own cost-effectiveness.

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