A2A – SMART WORLD SYMPOSIUM 2018: digitally network people and technology

On 21 June, history met the digital world of the future in the classic car factory “Oldtimerfabrik Classic” in Neu-Ulm. For the ninth time, the A2A – SMART WORLD SYMPOSIUM participants from research and various sectors of industry networked and discussed the trends and challenges of the smart digital world.

Digital transformation means much more than a purely technological change. It is transforming our world by creating new ways of interacting with people and technology through new technologies, establishing new services and business models, and ultimately rethinking our society through digitalisation. In the numerous lectures from the field of research and the various economic sectors, the speakers of this year's A2A – SMART WORLD SYMPOSIUM informed the approximately 70 participants which opportunities, risks, investments and challenges of digitalisation are currently keeping them occupied. Once again, the event’s concept of networking participants from various industries with a mix of exciting lectures, exhibits and networking opportunities proved its worth.

With an outline of the challenges en-route to a “Silicon Germany”, Felix Traier, Team Leader User Experience at AKKA and General Coordinator of the A2A Symposium welcomed the participants and introduced the programme of lectures. For him, it is clear that technologies like virtual reality are changing the way we interact with things, so digitalisation is about connecting people and technology. Actively promoting progress through new technologies and ventures in Germany also means breaking the typical zero-defect philosophy – a particular challenge for the mobility industry. This is where consulting and development service providers like AKKA, which act as partners for the mobility industry, can help. Achim Wohnhaas demonstrated the range of services offered by AKKA as an end-to-end solutions provider with its focus on the automotive, aerospace, digital and consulting sectors, helping to shape digitalisation and bring innovations to its customers.

Digitalisation as an opportunity for the economy

The significance of digitalisation for the entire development process was explained by Matthias Schmich from Siemens Industry Software. The challenge of bringing products to market faster, despite the ever-increasing number of variants and complexity is achieved through digital protection, according to Schmich. All product information and processes, production and performance are recorded in a “digital twin”. By doing so, for example, the complete launch can be digitally secured by simulation and therefore considerable time and costs can be saved.

An example of a comprehensive digitalisation strategy was provided by Boaz Heller in his presentation on the Swiss Federal Railway’s (SBB) “Smart Rail 4.0” project. Today, many of the SBB's 5,000 signal boxes are still analogue and hardwired, meaning both low flexibility and high maintenance costs. In the Smart Rail project, SBB intends to reduce 70% of its expensive outdoor installations and thus save CHF 450 million a year. Signals, for example, are then displayed to the driver digitally in the train cockpit. The digitisation project includes traffic management, signal boxes, localisation and autonomous driving. Automated timetable adjustments and semi-automated shunting are planned for 2020 which will improve capacity and efficiency.

Where digitalisation has already taken place, you can generally find its raw material in huge quantities: data. The challenge of creating useful answers from raw data, was reported on by data scientist Katharina Schüller from STAT-UP. It is important to establish relationships between data, to interpret and ultimately control future events for your own benefit. One factor that should not be underestimated as a success factor for the data strategy is an open-minded attitude by the management.

Smart technology, smart world

Which products and services have potential for the smart world of the future, and how do we use and interact with them? Four short lectures on eye tracking, emotion detection in cameras, an electro kick scooter and impulses for app development provided an outlook. Target group-specific development is crucial for apps, as Lars Helmuth Probst and Patrick Solisch of Esslingen University examined in their scientific work. In doing so, the chances are good that older people can also participate in the smart world and, for example, use connected car apps for autonomous electric light vehicles. In his lecture, Karsten Füßer from KADAKON revealed further ingredients of a successful recipe for apps: a trigger for using the app must be found and a varied gratification for the user should be provided.

AKKA Group exhibits also invited the participants to experience the smart future: VR glasses put the participants into space and demonstrated how objects can be virtually explored in 3D. A real landscape model with parking lot sensors, light and level sensors showed how sensor data can be transferred and used in a cost and energy efficient manner using special ultrasonic band technology. Jens Binder from iThinx presented the low-power WAN technology used for this in more detail in his presentation. It is considered a key technology for the volume market in the IoT environment because of its diverse application options.

Mobility of the future

In the automotive industry broadband rather than narrowband is usually required as extremely high data throughput is created, especially in the development of autonomous driving functions. As an exhibit, AKKA Provetech showed a measuring technology that sits in the vehicle trunk and links vehicle data with the data of 4 all-round cameras. During longer tests, only the previously defined scenarios are recorded and can therefore, be optimally mapped during the evaluation.

Autonomous driving, as one of the most important future topics for the automotive industry, offers both completely new opportunities and risks. Frank Halmen from AKKA commented on the “OEM Future Mobility Dilemma” in his lecture. According to the user’s expectations, our vehicles should drive autonomously in the next 5 years. But who will have the power in their hands when it comes to taking advantage of the time gained in the vehicle? The digital giants Amazon and Google owe their success to their adaptability and continuous investment in new business models. It remains to be seen whether they can penetrate this scenario with their strategy or whether the OEMs can claim it for themselves. The OEMs do not lack ideas: Igor Troskin from Audi showed a variety of ideas for advanced services for the gained “25th hour” in the autonomous vehicle. The aim is a complete integration of the vehicle in the infrastructure, up to and including automatic payment of the refuelling process, shared mobility or the electric car’s electricity use during downtime. Lots of clicks on the smartphone should no longer be necessary for the intended applications; the trend goes in the direction of voice control through to fully automated execution.

“Digitalisation is changing the world and affecting us all. This was clearly reflected in the lively exchange by participants,” concludes Felix Traier. “I am especially pleased about the positive feedback from the participants regarding the format and the selection of topics”. The ninth edition of the A2A – SMART WORLD SYMPOSIUM builds on the concept of the previous year highlighting a wide range of topics in the smart world and focussing on participant networking.

Florian Rubländer
Corporate Communications