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Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity
Research without Borders
Collective
Intelligence
Plugging the world into a universal energy carrier
Developing innovations in an
international environment
Refining data into actionable information
Solutions for
Tomorrow’s
World
2 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Pictures of the Future | Editorial
T
he very first issue of Siemens’ Pictures of
the Future magazine was published a
decade ago, at the turn of the new millenni-
um. Since then our authors have researched
over 1,000 articles to find out what trends and
technologies will characterize the world of to-
morrow. We have always tried to not only con-
vey Siemens’ perspective but also to look be-
yond our own horizon and take the social and
economic environment into account. After all,
technical feasibility is only one of the factors
that determine the success of innovations.
Dr. Ulrich Eberl is head of Siemens’ worldwide innovation communications. He is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pictures of the Future, and is its co-
publisher, together with English Edition Executive Editor Arthur F. Pease.
dicted. The human race has had to cope with
the fact that terrorists can attack entire coun-
tries and that hacker attacks can strike crucial
blows to key elements of a country’s infrastruc-
ture. New security solutions must therefore be
developed to protect infrastructures (p. 105).
We are also learning how to cope with a grow-
ing number of natural disasters — earth-
quakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurri-
canes (pp. 80, 91), heat waves, and floods,
which have claimed thousands of human lives. Two severe economic collapses — the
bursting of the dotcom bubble and the recent
global financial crisis — also occurred during
the past decade. These events show us that
the risks harbored by the global financial sys-
tem need to be reassessed — just as the Gulf
of Mexico oil spill and the destruction of nu-
clear power facilities in Japan remind us of the
need to take a long hard look at the world’s
energy production systems.
Many fundamental trends have been ana-
lyzed in previous issues of Pictures of the Future:
the growing scarcity of resources, climate
change, globalization, urbanization, demo-
graphic developments, and the tremendous in-
fluence of information and communication
technologies on every area of life. I have
summarized the most important conclusions
we have reached in the first ten years of our
research into the world of tomorrow in a new
book called Life in 2050 (p. 4). In this issue of Pictures of the Future, we
once again have our finger on the pulse of the
times. We explain how the global energy sys-
tem will change as the “New Age of Electricity“
begins and electricity becomes a comprehen-
sive energy carrier (pp. 12–39). And in our “Collective Intelligence” section,
we show how the rapidly expanding universe
of data — from industry, traffic, energy, and
the healthcare sector — can be transformed
into actionable knowledge (pp. 80–113). In the second decade of Pictures of the
Future, which is now beginning, we will con-
tinue to look over the shoulders of researchers
and developers who are inventing the future.
For us, this topic has never lost any of its fasci-
nation. We share the viewpoint of Albert Ein-
stein, who once said, “I’m more interested in
the future than in the past, because the future
is where I intend to live.”
Cover:Located off the coast of Northern Ireland, SeaGen, the world’s
first commercial tidal current power
plant, is producing enough electricity to supply some 1,500 households. The
plant’s rotors can be lifted out of the
water for servicing.
Pictures of the Future is breaking new ground on
the Web. Readers visiting www.siemens.com/pof can now find a multimedia online magazine with not only the contents of the print version, but also a wealth of videos, audio slide shows, and interviews.
Pictures of the Future is also available free of charge
as an iPad app from the App Store. Customers’ wishes, social and political devel-
opments, environmental impact, the optimiza-
tion of production processes, and collabora-
tion in the global networks of partners,
suppliers, and sales structures have at least as
strong an influence.
The world has grown smaller since 2001.
The process of globalization now encompasses
more than just worldwide channels of finance
and trade. Countries such as China, India, Rus-
sia, and Brazil have become much more than
raw material producers, production plant loca-
tions or service providers — experts estimate
that these four countries alone will account for
half of all global economic growth by 2020.
Moreover, they are also becoming extremely
attractive research locations. Dozens of new universities are being found-
ed in India; an international research city is be-
ing built in Russia (p. 74); and China today has
as many university freshmen as the EU, the
U.S., and Japan put together (p. 68). Within
the last decade the number of Chinese applica-
tions for patents has increased sixfold. In the
“Research without Borders” section of this issue
of Pictures of the Future (pp. 44–77), we de-
scribe how research can be effectively pursued
in our densely networked world, what role is
being played here by the new social networks,
and how to develop products that are perfectly
tailored to the growing needs of developing
nations and emerging markets. Many of the developments that have taken
place since 2001 could hardly have been pre-
Our Mission Is the Future
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 3
Collective
Intelligence
Research without Borders
The New Age of
Electricity
Features
1
12
Scenario 2035
Energy Comes Home
1
14
Trends
Electrifying Times
1
17
Smart Buildings
Automation’s Ground Floor Opportunity
1
20
Renewable Energy in the Grid
Preparing for a Flood of Green Power 1
22 Smart Grids
No Longer a One-Way Street
1
24 Lighting Systems
Let the Sun Shine In!
1
26 Electrolysis
Second Wind for Hydrogen
1
28
Tidal Current Power Plants
Tapping Invisible Rivers
1
30
Drinking Water
Desalination: Plunging Price
1
32
Interviews: Powering China’s Dream
Prof. Li Junfeng, Prof. Du Xiangwan, and Dr. Shi Zhengrong on the Future of China’s Energy Supplies
1
34
Electric Vehicles
Just Plug ‘er in!
1
37
Facts and Forecasts
Our Evolving Energy Mix
1
38
Biogas Plants
Maximum Methane
1
44
Scenario 2030
Cosmic Mystery
1
46
Trends
Networking Knowledge
1
49
University Collaborations Meeting of Minds in Cyberspace
1
50
Research Cooperation
Uniting European Expertise
1
52 Interview with Prof. Alois Moosmüller
Intercultural Communications
1
54 Learning Campus
International School of Thought
1
56 Innovation in Emerging Markets
Products Set to Sizzle
1
58
Chinese Medicine
When Worlds Combine
1
60
Portrait of Charles Coushaine
The Idea Generator 1
62
Portrait of Ramesh Visvanathan
Systems that See What’s Important
1
63
Portrait of Heike Barlag
Plugging into Motivation
1
64
Portrait of Michael Shore
On a Roll Worldwide
1
66
Portrait of Li Pan
Paths to the Heart
1
67
Interview with Prof. Eugene Wong
A World of Opportunities
1
68
Facts and Forecasts
Emerging Markets Catching up in R&D
1
70
Biograph mMR
Hybrid Insights
1
72
Wind in Mali
Do-it-Yourself Power
1
74
Skolkovo
Heading for Russia’s Science City
1
75
Patents
Protecting Success
1
80
Scenario 2030
The City Speaks
1
82
Trends
Zettabyte Gold Mine
1
85
IT in Medicine
Data Mining Engine 1
88
Mobile Medics
Tracking Illnesses in India
1
90 Interview with Prof. Thomas W. Malone
New Models for Human-Machine Collaboration
1
91 Traffic Systems
Green Light for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communications 1
94
City Cockpit
Real-Time Government
1
96
Logistics in the Auto Industry
Wheeler-Dealer Agents
1
97
Wind Farms
Turning Many into One
1
99
Sensor Networks
Instant Communities
102
Interview with Prof. Dirk Heckmann
Data: Where is it? Who Owns it?
104
Facts and Forecasts
Cloud Services and Social Networks
105
IT Security
A Step Ahead of Intruders
106
Social Media
Enterprise 2.0
109
Cloud Computing
When the Sky’s the Limit
112
Interview with Prof. Gerhard Weikum
Melding Soft Data and Machine Intelligence
184 Book Recommendation: Life in 2050
How We Invent the Future Today
185 Short Takes News from Siemens’ Labs
187 100 Years of Superconductivity
Supercool Anniversary
188 Sustainable Cities: Rio and London
Top Efficiency in the Docklands
189 Asian Green City Index
Building a Better Quality of Life
140 Sustainability in the Gulf
Opening New Horizons
178 Galileo
A World of Precision Services
114 Feedback
115 Preview
Pictures of the Future | Contents
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 5
R
echarging electric vehicles will become faster, safer, and more con-
venient thanks to a new charging station developed by Siemens.
The system can fully recharge standard batteries with a power of 22 kilo-
watts (kW) within one hour using alternating current. Safety has very
high priority. Thus, the station’s power socket does not carry any voltage
until the vehicle is connected, the user registers with a non-contact chip
card and launches the charging and payment process on a display. But in the future, motorists may not even need a cable to recharge
their electric cars’ batteries. A non-contact inductive charging technolo-
gy developed by Siemens Corporate Technology and BMW works if driv-
ers only make a short stop to recharge — at cab stands, for example. The
charging stations can be easily incorporated into practically any setting,
making them almost invisible and effectively protecting them from van-
dalism and wear and tear. The charging station is connected to the pub-
lic grid by a primary coil that is completely underground. A secondary
coil is mounted under the car; the distance between the two coils is typ-
ically between eight and 15 centimeters. When the driver starts the
charging process, an electric current begins to flow through the primary
coil, creating a magnetic field. This induces an electric current in the sec-
ondary coil, which recharges the battery. Electricity is transmitted from
the grid at 3.6 kW through all of the components to the battery at an ef-
ficiency of over 90 percent. The magnetic field is generated only in an
exactly predetermined area between the two coils. In summer 2011 sev-
eral vehicles will be used to test the systems’ capabilities in Berlin.hd
Pictures of the Future | Short Takes
How to Charge Electric
Cars without a Cable
A
new gas sensor from Siemens can tell hours ahead of
time if someone is at risk of experiencing an asthma
attack. The system analyzes an asthma sufferer’s breath
and registers whether the user’s air passages are about to
become inflamed. This enables the patient to take anti-in-
flammatory medication in time to prevent an attack. A pro-
totype unit outfitted with the new sensor is just as sensi-
tive as larger systems that are more expensive and hardly
portable. Sensor Warns of
Asthma Attack
T
he sun’s position varies depending on the time of day and year, so most sunlight hits solar
cells mounted on fixed panels at an oblique angle. Maximum electricity yield is achieved
only when sunlight strikes cells perpendicular to their surface. With this in mind, Siemens has
come up with software that allows photovoltaic modules on movable mountings to precisely
follow the sun. The new system’s control software uses parameters such as longitude, lati-
tude, and the exact time to calculate the sun’s position. Three-phase alternating current mo-
tors align the photovoltaic modules accordingly. They swivel the modules in a semicircle
around the azimuthal support axis, tracking the sun’s daily course from east to west, and tilt
the module around the zenithal axis, tracking the sun’s height according to the time of day
and year. The modules’ energy yield is over 35 percent higher than that of fixed systems.ne
Solar Panels Follow the Light
Thanks to new software, these photovoltaic modules
with movable mountings always follow the sun. Siemens’ new charging station (left) can completely recharge an electric car in an hour. Non-contact charging techniques
are being tested (below).
Thanks to a new gas sensor (above right), asthma patients could
be able to analyze their own breath by blowing into a device.
Previously, the only way to predict an asthma attack
was to conduct expensive pulmonary examinations that
measure the patient’s breath to determine the concentra-
tion of nitrogen monoxide (NO) gas that is released into
the air passages as a result of inflammation. The patient is
at risk of an attack if his or her breath contains heightened
levels of NO. The Siemens sensor could allow patients to
analyze the NO in their breath themselves. The system first
converts the NO into nitrogen dioxide and then allows air
to flow across the actual sensor. Only those particles sig-
naling an attack adhere to the sensor’s surface. This gener-
ates a voltage that is measured by a field-effect transistor.
The voltage is directly dependent on the concentration of
nitrogen monoxide in the patient’s breath. Depending on
the amount of this gas, the patient will know the minimum
dose of medication he or she should take.ne
W
e are on the threshold of a new era. Our
planet’s climate is at risk. The century of
oil is coming to an end, and the world’s energy
supply must be put on a new and sustainable
foundation. In 2050 the number of people liv-
ing in cities will be almost as large as the
world’s entire population today — and for the
first time in history, there will be more senior
citizens than children and young people.
Life in 2050
How We Invent the Future Today
Pictures of the Future | Book Recommendation
4 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
That’s why researchers, inventors, and engi-
neers must be more creative today than ever be-
fore. Computers as medical assistants, robots as
household servants, sensory organs for electric
cars, buildings as energy traders, farms in sky-
scrapers, ceilings made of light, power plants
in deserts and on the high seas, supercomput-
ers the size of peas, virtual universities, online
factories — these are not visions but almost
tangible realities in laboratories worldwide.
For ten years now the magazine Pictures of
the Future has been exploring the world of to-
morrow. In 20 issues comprising over 2,000
pages, Pictures of the Future has been investi-
gating future trends and identifying the impor-
tant technologies that will shape our lives in
the coming decades. In the new book Life in
2050, Ulrich Eberl, Editor-in-Chief of Pictures
of the Future, provides for the first time a com-
pact, clearly structured summary of the key de-
velopments that will determine how we live in
the decades ahead. Considered in the light of
trends in society, business, and politics, these
developments point the way forward as we
journey into the future. The book is intended primarily for young
readers who are curious about how innova-
tions are born, how various developments af-
fect one another, which professions are need-
ed, and how they can help to invent
tomorrow’s world. But staying informed about
the work of today’s research centers and indus-
trial companies is important for everyone —
from schoolchildren and college students to re-
searchers, professors, managers, and politi-
cians. Life in 2050 contains 240 pages of clear-
ly presented insights into the laboratories of
the people who create the future and exciting
glimpses of the world of tomorrow. It shows
that the challenges of the 21st century can be
mastered — if we keep our minds open to po-
tential solutions and have the courage to act.
Life in 2050
Ulrich Eberl, Verlag Beltz & Gelberg, €19.95. Editor, English edition: Arthur F. Pease.
More information and a video are online at www.siemens.com/innovation/lifein2050
Zukunft 2050 (German), Ulrich Eberl, Beltz & Gel-
berg, €17.95. siemens.de/innovation/zukunft2050
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 7
D
utch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
had no idea he was launching a scientific
revolution when he became the first person to
liquefy helium back in 1908. The process he
used resulted for the first time in temperatures
only two degrees (two Kelvin) above absolute
zero (-273 degrees Celsius). Through his cryo-
genic experiments in 1911, he discovered that
the electrical resistance of mercury dropped
suddenly to a barely measurable value at a
temperature of four Kelvin (K). Superconduc-
tivity — the loss-free transmission of electrical
energy — had been discovered.
Although it would take 46 more years to
develop a theory explaining this phenomenon,
scientists nonetheless soon realized its poten-
tial. Superconductivity not only offered the
possibility of transporting large amounts of
electricity over great distances without losses,
it could also be used to generate strong mag-
netic fields, develop extremely precise meas-
urement techniques, and make energy sys-
tems more efficient and powerful. But one
major problem remained. Complex and expen-
sive cooling technology with the inert gas heli-
um seemed to be the only way to achieve the
transition temperature — i.e. the point at
which the superconducting effect first occurs.
Superconductors were therefore simply too
cost-intensive for most industrial companies.
But this changed in 1986, when two physi-
cists, Alex Müller from Switzerland and Georg
Bednorz from Germany, discovered a ceramic
compound, lanthanum barium copper oxide,
that becomes superconductive at 35 K. They
received the Nobel Prize in 1987 for their work.
Inspired by this so-called high-temperature su-
perconductor (HTS), researchers around the
world began searching for substances with
even higher transition temperatures. The HTS
record is currently held by mercury thallium
barium calcium copper oxide, whose transition
temperature is 138 K. The discovery of yttrium
barium copper oxide (transition temperature:
92 K) in 1987 made it possible to cool with liq-
uid nitrogen at 77 K. Unlike liquid helium, liq-
Pictures of the Future | Superconductivity
Back when Heike Kamerlingh Onnes used liquid helium to cool mercury 100 years ago, he could not have known he was laying the foundation for a new science known as superconductivity. Although this technology is still not used commercially on a large scale, its early applications offer a preview of the things superconductors are capable of.
Supercool Anniversary Dr. Marjin Pieter Oomen tests the practical feasibility of a superconducting coil for a future electrical generator in a cooling basin filled with liquid nitrogen.
uid nitrogen is a coolant that is easy and rela-
tively inexpensive to produce. However, until HTS technology can be used
on a broad scale, technically complex, high-
quality-superconductors will continue to domi-
nate the market. Such superconductors can be
found today in imaging systems manufactured
by Siemens, such as magnetic resonance to-
mographs (MRT). Here, superconducting wires
are made of a niobium-titanium alloy. Thanks
to the powerful electric currents flowing
through them, these superconducting mag-
nets generate very strong magnetic fields of
several tesla — stronger than those created by
HTS. Stronger magnetic fields in an MRT result
in better signal-to-noise ratios and sharper im-
ages. Ship Propulsion with Superconductors.
The first commercial HTS-based applications
are gradually emerging in Siemens’ Industry
and Energy Sectors. Working with Siemens’
Marine Solutions and Large Drives business
units, researchers at Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT) have developed an HTS ship
propulsion unit whose rotor displays no electri-
cal losses although the superconductors in the
rotor coils have a current density 100 times
greater than that of copper coils. This makes it
possible to reduce weight and volume by up to
50 percent; since fewer materials are used,
costs are also significantly lower. This is impor-
tant for ship operators, whose propulsion sys-
tems are subject to size limitations. CT researchers are also examining the use
of HTS current limiters at high-voltage facili-
ties. These limiters can automatically and rap-
idly protect power grids in the event of short
circuits, thus preventing damage to cables,
transformers, and generators. Another re-
search focus is on HTS coils that can cut power
plant generator losses in half. HTS cables in a
generator rotor must withstand centrifugal ac-
celerations 5,000 times greater than the accel-
eration due to the Earth’s gravity. They also
must be reliably cooled to 33 K. In February
2011 a project for building an HTS test rig for
such a power plant generator application was
launched with funding from Germany’s Min-
istry of Economics and Technology. The project
is being coordinated by CT and carried out in
cooperation with the Karlsruhe Institute of
Technology (KIT). The project’s long-term ob-
jective is to develop a prototype HTS generator
with an output of several hundred megawatts.
Despite all these projects and successes,
the potential of superconductors is far from ex-
hausted. Scientists are sure that Onnes’ discov-
ery will be the foundation of many future ap-
plications, from generators and motors to
current limiters and MRTs. So here’s to another
“cool” 100 years! Sebastian Webel
6 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The Train of Ideas (above) is a mobile exhibition about green cities. The train’s six containers
provide insights into the world of tomorrow. W
ith a view to addressing the challenges posed by environmental protection in ur-
ban areas, the city of Hamburg, Germany, which is the recipient of the European
Commission’s 2011 Green Capital Award, has organized an interactive exhibition
called “Visions for the Cities of the Future.” This April, as part of the exhibition, the city
launched its “Train of Ideas” for a European tour. The train showcases more than 100
projects from throughout Europe, presenting them in over 70 exhibits and on 26
touch screens. This mobile exhibition, which is housed in six display containers, is tar-
geted at a general audience. It provides a thrilling, easily understandable look at top-
ics such as mobility, energy, and energy use. The topics are addressed from perspec-
tives that range from personal and local to regional and global. As a premium partner
for green infrastructure, Siemens is supporting Hamburg by supplying some of the
train’s equipment. Among other things, the company has provided the train with the
latest model of an energy-efficient locomotive, supplied a number of exhibits, and en-
abled visitors to experience electric mobility and smart grids. The company has also
created a special issue of Pictures of the Future devoted to green cities. From now
through October 2011, the Train of Ideas will tour 18 European cities, including Brus-
sels, Vienna, Zurich, Munich, and Paris — some of the places where Hamburg and
Siemens plan to hold events on sustainable cities. hd
Green Ideas Take to the Rails C
ustomers suffering from clogged mail-
boxes, long delivery times, and unwant-
ed advertising will soon be able to benefit
from Trust-Ebox. This automation solution
from Siemens will enable postal service com-
panies to cost-effectively make physical mail
accessible in digital form. Using new sorting
and recognition technology, the system reg-
isters images of the envelopes of incoming
letters and then forwards these images by e-
mail to Trust-Ebox customers. At the click of a
mouse, customers can then decide which let-
ters the service provider should immediately
destroy and which should be sent by normal
mail or be opened and scanned for transmis-
sion. The system not only saves customers
time but also radically cuts postal service
costs. The Swiss Postal Service plans to begin
offering private end customers a Trust-Ebox-
based service this summer.hd
Zapping
Physical Mail in
its Tracks
T
he Formula 1 Red Bull Racing team has been using Siemens Teamcenter and NX simulation
applications since 2005. The products enable the team, which is headed by world champion
race car driver Sebastian Vettel, to simulate a vehicle’s performance on a specific track, identify
modifications that could improve results, and order appropriately-modified parts. For example, if
a simulated race shows that a Red Bull car needs more downforce for the track in Monaco, this
data is immediately passed on to NX developers, who can then adjust the design of the front
fender accordingly. A mouse click then ensures that new parts are cut and pressed right away. No
data has to be entered by hand or transferred into other IT systems. This has enabled Red Bull
Racing to accelerate design and manufacturing processes by up to 75 percent. The team’s success
speaks for the software’s effectiveness. In the 2010 season the British team won the Formula 1
Championship title in both the driver and constructor ratings.ne
Simulation Software Powers Red Bull to Victory
Siemens simulation software is helping Formula 1 Red Bull Racing cars win the title. An envelope reader processes over 50,000 pieces
per hour. Subscribers can delete unwanted mail.
Pictures of the Future | Short Takes
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 9
G
uangzhou is a place where people like to
work but prefer not to live” — that’s what
the Chinese say when asked about their most
important industrial center. The capital of the
southern Chinese province of Guangdong,
where China’s economic miracle was launched
30 years ago, is known for its high wages and
poor quality of life. Guangzhou’s population of
7.9 million faces traffic jams, frequent smog,
and repeated power shortages in the summer.
It’s no surprise that Guangzhou is not consid-
ered one of China’s shining cities.
But old proverbs tend to stick even after re-
ality has long since changed. When
Guangzhou welcomed some 9,700 athletes to
the Asian Games in November 2010, its
guests, as well as millions of television view-
ers, were surprised to see a city where people
evidently enjoy spending time after finishing
their day’s work. A new district has been creat-
ed in the city center over the past few years —
an area that boasts sparkling skyscrapers,
parks, a riverside promenade, and numerous
cultural facilities. In addition, a public rail sys-
tem offers hundreds of thousands of residents
an alternative to buses and cars. The trade-
mark of the new Guangzhou is the 432-meter
West Tower, whose elegant steel facade stands
out as a shining focal point at night.
Guangzhou’s government didn’t pull any
rabbits out of a hat here. Instead, it focused its
planning activities on the needs of its citizens,
utilizing state-of-the-art technology to make
the city more environmentally friendly and ef-
ficient, and more pleasant to live in. Many of
the solutions that were employed originated
with Siemens (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2010, p. 38). For example, the compa-
ny provided the technology for the high-volt-
age direct current transmission system that
supplies Guangzhou very efficiently with elec-
tricity from hydroelectric plants in Yunnan
Pictures of the Future | Asian Green City Index
Asia’s major cities were long considered overpopulated, dirty, and chaotic. But today many of them
have become pioneers in modern urban planning, as shown by the Asian Green City Index, which
gave Singapore an outstanding rating. Siemens technology is helping to improve its sustainability.
Building a Better Quality of Life
Guangzhou in southern China is attracting new residents with high wages. As it does so, the city is
focusing on improving its environmental sustainabil-
ity by investing in subways, environmentally-friendly
energy supplies, and efficient lighting.
T
he area near the Royal Victoria light rail-
way station has seen better days. In the
19th century, this part of East London was one
of the city’s leading trade centers because of
the shipping industry. Goods such as wood,
rubber, wool, and sugar were unloaded here.
But after the docks were closed, the area expe-
rienced a period of prolonged decline. Recently, however, this former industrial
wasteland has been experiencing a revival.
One of the world’s most prominent financial
centers has sprung up on the opposite bank of
the Thames, at Canary Wharf. Not far from
there is the OH2 entertainment center, better
known as the Millennium Dome. And soon the
2012 Olympics will bring numerous brand-
new buildings, thus further improving the
neighborhood.
What’s more, the Royal Victoria station will
soon acquire a striking new neighbor that will
represent the area’s urban and economic re-
newal — a conference, exhibition, and office
building on the waterfront, which will be built
by Siemens and is scheduled for completion in
spring 2012. The building’s office areas are ex-
pected to use only a third of the energy that
would be used in a conventional building.
This very high level of energy efficiency will
be the result of cutting-edge architecture and
intelligent technology. Ground source heat
pumps will cool or heat the building through-
out the year. Intelligent building management
Pictures of the Future | Sustainable Cities
Top Efficiency in the Docklands A
t night, with its arms outstretched, it
seems to float high above Rio de Janeiro.
And recently the glow it casts over the city has
been even brighter and more colorful. The
city’s 30-meter-high statue of “Cristo Redentor”
has been illuminated with LED projectors from
Osram since March 2011.
The monumental statue was erected 80
years ago at a height of 710 meters, on Mount
Corcovado, which, along with the Sugarloaf, is
one of the most impressive peaks in the city. In
the past, the statue was illuminated in a waste-
ful way. The lights that were placed around it
in the surrounding jungle consumed 74 kilo-
watts (kW). The 300 new projectors that Os-
ram installed together with its subsidiary Trax-
on — at no cost to the city — now consume a
maximum of 17.2 kW. Each of them combines
the light of 27 or 36 LEDs. This technology not
only saves energy but also generates less heat
than conventional light bulbs — a feature that
benefits plants and animals. A further advantage is the fact that the pro-
jectors focus their light even more precisely,
with the help of special lenses. This makes it
possible to illuminate individual parts of the
statue, such as the left or right hands, the
heart or the head. Thanks to the use of differ-
ent colored LEDs, it is now also possible to
change colors faster to create different moods;
this was previously done by placing different
colored foils in front of the lights by hand. This
opens up new possibilities for light shows, ac-
cording to light designer Peter Gasper, who is
the artistic director of the new system. “It used
to be a laborious task, and sometimes entirely
impossible, to change the mood lighting of the
monument,” he says. “But with the new projec-
tors we can adjust the lighting quickly and eas-
ily.” Andreas Kleinschmidt
Light in the Night
The statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro is now more effi-
ciently illuminated thanks to LEDs.
The city of the future will be on display in an energy-efficient Siemens building in London’s Docklands.
8 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
technology and energy-efficient devices such
as LED lamps will do their part to save enor-
mous amounts of electricity. The facade will
provide high levels of natural daylight while
being thermally efficient to keep heat in dur-
ing the winter and out during the summer.
Photovoltaic panels covering the roof will help
power the building; rainwater harvesting will
provide water for bathrooms and landscape ir-
rigation surrounding the site.
Thus the center will not only inform visitors
about the numerous possibilities of sustain-
able urban development, but will also be a liv-
ing demonstration of the same. Quite aptly,
the new center will also be part of London’s
new Green Enterprise District, an area de-
signed to attract low-carbon businesses in par-
ticular. Such companies provide products and
services that generate low CO
2
emissions or
help to reduce emissions. The Mayor of Lon-
don, Boris Johnson, explains, “We envisage the
District as a vibrant international hub incubat-
ing dozens of low-carbon businesses to trans-
form what have historically been some of the
poorest parts of the capital.” The area certainly
represents an ironic twist of history. This neigh-
borhood, which has experienced both the
highs and the lows of the coal-driven industrial
revolution, will now host the urban spaces of
the future. The area will offer a home to com-
panies that earn money by conserving energy
rather than wasting it.Andreas Kleinschmidt
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 11
In Latin America, Battle for Climate Focuses on Cities In 2007, for the first time in history, more people lived in cities than in the countryside. However, in Lat-
in America, this turning point had already been reached in the 1960s. Today more than 80 percent of
Latin Americans live in urban areas. The Latin American Green City Index, a study that was carried out on
behalf of Siemens by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), examines the challenges and opportunities
associated with this development. The study was presented in November 2010 in Mexico City. It exam-
ined the environmental sustainability of 17 cities with populations in excess of one million in eight Latin
American countries. Its most important finding was that cities without an integrated long-term strategy
received below-average ratings.
An impressive positive example of sustainability is offered by the Brazilian city of Curitiba, which was
named Latin America’s “greenest” city, among other things because of its long-term approach. For more
than 40 years, Curitiba has been pursuing a strategy for effectively managing urban growth and traffic
planning. “The fact that the residents of Curitiba actively participate in the political process has also
played a big role in the city’s achievements,” said Curitiba’s mayor, Luciano Ducci, while he was in Mexico
City to sign the “Mexico City Pact” with 137 other mayors from around the world. The pact obliges the
signatories to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the World Mayors Summit on Climate.
Mexico City was an ideal venue for the agreement, as the Mexican capital’s consistent environmental
protection measures are setting an example for the rest of the world.
On the day the pact was signed, Pedro Miranda, head of the Siemens One project that consolidates sus-
tainable urban development activities at the Group, said, “The battle to save the Earth’s climate must be
fought and won in the world’s cities, because it’s the cities that are responsible for around 80 percent of
man-made CO
2
emissions.” Modern technology is a must if CO
2
emissions from cities are to be reduced.
This can be seen in Latin America, where Siemens is providing state-of-the-art technologies to help
Buenos Aires and Lima, for example, to expand their rail networks. Siemens is also supporting Brazil’s na-
tional energy supplier with the installation of a new energy management system for Rio de Janeiro,
Brasilia, and other cities that will mark the first component in a future Brazilian smart grid.
These examples illustrate that products and services from the Siemens Environmental Portfolio are being
used not only in highly developed industrial countries but also in an increasing number of emerging
markets in Latin America. The economic importance of these countries will grow significantly in coming
years — along with the populations of their cities.Andreas Kleinschmidt
the environment. Siemens has carried out sim-
ilar projects in many Asian cities. Kuala
Lumpur’s airport rail line uses Siemens control
systems, as do West Rail in Hong Kong and the
new subway lines in Beijing and Nanjing.
All of these examples show that two ele-
ments are always required for contemporary
urban planning: on the one hand, political will
and farsightedness on the part of the decision-
makers; on the other, technical innovations
that enable the construction of an environ-
mentally friendly, energy-efficient, and eco-
nomical infrastructure. Asia’s megacities can
count on both.Bernhard Bartsch
achieved with state-of-the-art technologies
have a huge effect. The potential for improve-
ment here is being demonstrated by Siemens
in seven of its own offices and factories in In-
dia, where the company will invest €1.7 mil-
lion over the next two years to make its build-
ings state-of-the-art, leading to a planned 15
percent increase in energy efficiency. This
modernization is not only environmentally
sound and climate-friendly; it also makes eco-
nomic sense, because the lower energy con-
sumption will allow Siemens to recoup its in-
vestment in less than four years. Cutting Energy Use by One Third. Siemens
is also modernizing buildings belonging to
South Korea’s largest department store chain,
Shinsegae, which is based in Seoul. More effi-
cient air conditioners, electricity supplies, and
lighting systems will enable Shinsegae to cut
electricity consumption by one third and re-
duce operating costs by 20 percent. Siemens
has implemented similar projects in many
Asian cities. The Olympic swimming stadium
for the Olympic Games in Beijing and the Chi-
nese Pavilion at the Expo in Shanghai were
equipped with Siemens building technologies
— as were the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala
Lumpur, the Taipei 101 skyscraper, and the Pa-
cific Place high-rise building in Jakarta. Transport systems are the second-largest
energy consumers in cities. Owning a car is as
cherished a dream for Asia’s middle class as it is
for people in established industrialized na-
tions. But the dream usually turns into a traffic-
jam nightmare in Asian megacities, so urban
planners are building subways and commuter
rail systems that offer an attractive alternative
to automobiles. The larger and more complex
the systems get, however, the greater are the
demands placed on the control technology
needed to coordinate them and ensure ex-
tremely short intervals between trains.
Bangkok offers a good example of success
in this area. The number of cars in the Thai
capital has doubled since 1990 and now totals
5.5 million. At the end of the 1990s, urban
planners in Bangkok therefore commissioned
Siemens to build the city’s first rapid transit rail
system — the Skytrain BTS (see Pictures of the
Future,Spring 2006, p. 26). The 23-kilometer
line carries 400,000 passengers a day, and its
success led to a follow-up order for Bangkok’s
first subway, which now transports 180,000
people each day. In 2010 Siemens completed its third rapid
transit rail line for Bangkok, which links the
new Suvarnabhumi Airport with the city cen-
ter. As a result, over 600,000 people a day who
would otherwise take buses, taxis, or their
own cars now use Bangkok’s rail systems, eas-
ing the burden on both the city’s streets and
10 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Guangzhou and neighboring Foshan. The
shimmering West Tower is “engineered by
Siemens” as well. The 10,000 LEDs that illumi-
nate the building were produced by Osram. What has happened in Guangzhou is also
occurring in many other large Asian cities. In-
deed, the continent is undergoing the biggest
efficiency transformation in the world at the
moment — and its cities are the protagonists.
Many of the region’s megacities are now pio-
neers of modern urban development, as is evi-
denced by the Asian Green City Index. This in-
dex, along with those for Europe and Latin
America, was produced by the Economist Intel-
ligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of Siemens. It de-
livers objective data that helps cities improve
their environmental sustainability by providing
a foundation for sharing knowledge. 200 Cities with Over One Million People.
The challenges being faced by Asian cities to-
day are immense. Over the last five years
alone, their population has been growing by
around 100,000 every day. Experts predict that
China will have well over 200 cities with more
than a million people by 2025. The figure for
2011 is 90. By comparison, there are 25 cities
in Europe whose populations exceed one mil-
lion. Sustainability is therefore no longer sim-
ply the latest fashion for urban planners — it’s
a minimal requirement. According to the Asian
Development Bank, Asian cities need to build
20,000 new apartment units and 250 kilome-
ters of new roads every day — not to mention
Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, and Yoko-
hama received above-average ratings. “The
analysis of cities in Asia very clearly shows that
higher income doesn’t necessarily translate
into higher resource consumption,” says Jan
Friederich, who headed the research team for
the EIU study. Although it’s true that resource
consumption rises sharply up to an annual per
capita gross domestic product of around
€15,000, it declines again as per capita income
increases further. Among the more positive findings of the
study is the fact that at 4.6 tons, average annu-
al per capita CO
2
emissions
in the 22 Asian cities stud-
ied are lower than in Eu-
rope (5.2 tons of CO
2
per
capita per year). Asian cities
also produce 375 kg of
garbage annually per capi-
ta, much less than cities in
Latin America (465 kg) and Europe (511 kg).
However, Asian cities need to catch up when it
comes to air pollution and renewable energy
sources, which account for only 11 percent of
total electricity production in Asia. That’s far
below the figure for Latin America, where ex-
tensive use of hydroelectric power makes for a
64 percent share.
The citizens of Singapore are very proud
that their city-state has been able to make the
leap from the Third World to the First World in
just half a century (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2010, p. 44). This was made possible by
lization of innovative government administra-
tion systems (see p. 94). One of the city-state’s most recent initia-
tives for further improving environmental and
climate protection and reducing energy con-
sumption is a regulation stipulating that new
buildings must comply with even higher stan-
dards for energy efficiency and environmental
friendliness in the future. Singapore already
has a reference project for this, the “City
Square Mall,” a shopping complex that demon-
strates that expansive buildings can also be ef-
ficient. Sophisticated sensor controls for light-
ing, ventilation, and air conditioning at the
65,000-square-meter mall generate annual
electricity savings of 11 million kilowatt hours,
the equivalent of the power consumed by
2,000 four-room apartments. To ensure that
everyone knows that this really is the case,
video screens at the mall display the facility’s
real-time electricity and water consumption
figures, as well as other parameters. The impact of such projects extends far be-
yond Singapore. That’s because buildings ac-
count for 40 percent of global energy con-
sumption, which means that the savings
An efficient public transport system is helping to improve the quality of life in Guangzhou (left) and Bangkok (center). Tokyo now offers electric bikes for rent.
province, located 1,400 kilometers away. This
not only stabilizes the power grid, but also pro-
tects the environmental by supplying
Guangzhou with energy from renewable
sources. Siemens also supplied the signaling
systems for several of the city’s subway lines
and the commuter railroad between
the infrastructure for transporting an addition-
al six million liters of drinking water per day —
if they are going to manage this population in-
crease.
Singapore has done a very good job of mas-
tering these challenges. It achieved the best re-
sult in the Asian Green City Index, while Hong
a far-sighted strategy involving systematic in-
vestments in education and research. Today
the country is one of the leading centers for
water purification technology (see p. 30). Sin-
gapore also has one of the world’s best public
transport networks and has earned a reputa-
tion as a pioneer in the development and uti-
“Higher income doesn’t necessarily translate into higher resource consumption.”
T
he road to the new era of electricity is
bumpy and overgrown by high grass. The
bush rises up on both sides of the dirt road like
a solid multicolored wall. Now and then a
clearing appears, giving us a view of a giraffe
or two as we almost soundlessly roll past. For
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 1312 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity | Scenario 2035
Central Africa in 2035. In the middle of the bush stands a remote village that used to be dependent on fire wood for power.
But now the government has equipped it with renewable technologies and catapulted it into a new era. A visiting journalist
discovers how electricity has changed the inhabitants’ lives.
Energy Comes Home
Highlights
17 Buildings Join the Energy Picture In the future, buildings will be able
to independently adjust their power
consumption to the current supply of
renewable energies — and automati-
cally turn off power guzzlers without
compromising comfort levels. 22 Smart Grids: Two-Way Streets At the Smart Grid laboratory in Erlangen, Siemens researchers are working on the smart grid of tomor
row. The future has already begun in
the Swiss town of Arbonin, where smart meters have revolutionized the energy supply system.
26 Second Wind for Hydrogen
Siemens scientists are using excess
wind power to produce hydrogen by
electrolysis — and are thus laying
the foundation for tomorrow’s energy storage systems.
28 Tapping Invisible Rivers
Tidal power plants operate like under-
water wind turbines, producing ener-
gy from the ebb and flow of the tides.
In Northern Ireland, such a plant is
already supplying 1,500 households
with energy from the sea.
34 Just Plug ‘er in!
Siemens is using a large-scale fleet tri-
al to test the reliability of electric vehi-
cles in daily operation. Up to a hun-
dred Siemens employees are being
provided with electric cars for this
purpose. The trial will focus on
recharging technology and commu-
nications between drivers, charging
stations, and the power grid. 2035
The age of electricity has begun in a small village in central Africa that was previously
cut off from the outside world. Wind turbines
and a biogas power plant now supply renew-
able energy. Villagers use the electricity to operate household appliances, charging stations for electric vehicles, and streetlights.
The village’s medical center is equipped with
a solar-powered cooling and air-conditioning
system.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 15
The New Electrical Age | Trends
For most of us, life without electricity would be unthinkable. And with global generation capacity expected to grow by two thirds by 2030, electricity is set to provide even stiffer competition for other sources of energy in areas such as transportation, industry, and even the desalination of seawater. In short, the world is on the threshold of a new age of electricity.
In 1878, King Ludwig II of Bavaria had an grotto built at Linderhof Palace. It was lit by 24 dynamos
based on a discovery made by Werner v. Siemens. The
dynamo was the forerunner of today’s generators. Electrifying Times
candescent light bulb and Siemens’ discovery
of the dynamo-electric principle, which made
it relatively easy to generate large quantities of
electricity, more and more cities around the
world began to take the first tentative steps
into the age of electricity.
By the mid-1880s cities such as New York,
London, and Berlin were a blaze of electric
light. In the mean time, Siemens developed
the first electrically powered locomotive in
1879 and the first electric streetcar in 1881. By
1890 the world’s first electric subway was in
operation beneath the streets of London, and
in 1905 Siemens began construction in Berlin
of the Elektrische Viktoria, an electric automo-
bile that was mainly used as a hotel taxi. During the 20th century, the use of electric-
ity rapidly gathered pace. “One milestone was
the transition from steam to electrically-pow-
ered drives,” explains Umbach. “Today, you’ll
find highly efficient electric motors in use al-
most everywhere — in electric toothbrushes,
in trains, in industrial processes.” In fact, many
aspects of everyday life would be unthinkable
without electricity. These range from the home
to public transportation, communications, IT,
and healthcare. More than a Passing Trend. What’s more,
the age of electricity is by no means on the
wane. According to a study by the KIT, electric-
ity currently accounts for 22 percent of total
energy consumption in Germany. The largest
share goes to industry, with 43 percent, fol-
lowed by private households, trade, com-
merce, and services, each with 27 percent. The
KIT forecasts that consumption will continue to
rise in all of these sectors by as much as 1.4
percent a year. “We’re also seeing a shift to
electricity from other forms of energy,” says
Umbach. All in all, the International Energy
Agency predicts that global electricity con-
tricity is therefore the perfect energy carrier.
Ludwig II was not the only person to profit
from this new form of power. Only a few years
after the fairytale king had installed electric
light in his castles, the general public also be-
gan to enjoy its benefits. In the wake of
Thomas Alva Edison’s development of the in-
T
he amazing success story of electricity be-
gan in darkness — or at least it did so in
the Kingdom of Bavaria. It was there in the
tranquil valley of Graswangtal, almost 140
years ago, that the legendary King Ludwig II
ushered in a new technological era: the age of
electricity. On clear winter nights, while the
rest of the populace slept, the shy monarch
would ride through a moonlit forest in a horse-
drawn sleigh. For the lucky few who were for-
tunate enough to witness this spectacle, the
royal sled was a magnificent sight — and also
a glimpse of the future, since it was illuminat-
ed by a mysterious light that was almost as
bright as day. Ludwig’s sleigh, which was lit by battery-
powered carbon arc lamps from Siemens, was
only the first of a number of royal follies to fea-
ture electrical illumination. In 1878, for exam-
ple, the whimsical monarch commissioned the
construction of an artificial cavern, hidden
away on the grounds of Linderhof Palace.
Complete with an underground lake and a wa-
terfall, it was modeled on the Grotto of Venus
in Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser and the
Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. Some 24
Schuckert dynamos, based on a concept dis-
covered by Werner von Siemens and driven by
a steam engine housed in a specially-built ma-
chine building, provided power for the light-
ing. It was the world’s first small-scale generat-
ing facility — four years before the Edison
Electric Light Station in London and the Pearl
Street Station in New York, both built in 1882
and generally regarded as the world’s first pub-
lic power plants.
“Electricity has many advantages, not least
the fact that it’s highly flexible and easy to
use,” says Prof. Eberhard Umbach, President of
the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). “It
serves to produce light, heat, and mechanical
motion, and when the electricity itself is gener-
ated with renewable energy it doesn’t gener-
ate any greenhouse gases.” For Umbach, elec-
14 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
some time now, the bush taxis here in central
Africa have been electric. If our battery should
give out in rough terrain, a small combustion
engine can extend our vehicle’s range. At the
wheel is district physician Dr. Salim Taylor, who
is our tour guide for today. He has a rather un-
healthy lifestyle for a doctor — there’s always a
cigar in the corner of his mouth, and his driv-
ing style is almost as wild as the surrounding
landscape. But hardly anyone else on this side
of the equator is as well informed about this
country’s development and inhabitants as he
is. Taylor is on the way to his weekly outpatient
clinic in a remote village, where he plans to
view the initial results of a development pro-
gram that has literally electrified the village. “Rats!” curses Taylor as the right front wheel
suddenly disappears into a very deep pothole.
“This is the tenth aardvark hole since we left
the gravel road.” He pulls out a fresh cigar and
lights it with a snap of his lighter. “This ‘road’
doesn’t deserve its name, but the village up
ahead has really changed unbelievably,” he
says. Taylor knows this better than anyone
else, because he was there last year when
technicians catapulted the village from its
Stone Age past into the new age of electricity.
He advised the government officials in charge
of the project and provided support for the vil-
lagers. Previously, the village had in effect been cut
off from the outside world, without electricity
or access to communication networks — an
anachronism that has become rare today, even
in Africa. Through its new program for sustain-
able development in remote regions, the gov-
ernment is trying to remove the “empty
spaces” from the country’s map. “It’s a question
of evolution rather than revolution,” says Tay-
lor. “We’re not trying to abolish the village’s so-
cial structures and traditions; instead, we aim
to improve people’s living conditions.” He points to the vegetation on both sides of
the road. “Have you noticed? Even though
we’ve already almost reached the village, the
overgrowth is still as thick as ever. A few years
ago the area around the village was complete-
ly deforested — but today the people no
longer need to gather firewood.” Taylor puffs
out a cloud of cigar smoke and bumps through
yet another pothole. The bush slowly thins out,
revealing a view of a vast plain. We descend
from a small hill, at whose foot lies the village. At first glance the collection of round huts
looks more traditional than progressive. How-
ever, in the savanna behind the village stand
three wind turbines turning lazily in the light
breeze. And in the middle of the village is an
eye-catching modern building with rooftop so-
lar cells flashing in the sun. What’s more, a
closer look reveals rows of metal poles that
support LED streetlights. “We’ve arrived,” says Taylor with a smile,
then climbs out of the vehicle with a grunt of
relief. “That’s the medical center,” he says,
pointing to the building with the solar cells. “It
has a cooling and air conditioning system that
is solar-powered and uses an absorption refrig-
erator. The system keeps the building refresh-
ingly cool. But today we’re making house
calls.” He pulls a tablet PC out of his pocket and
greets Abdul, the village mayor. “Abdul is
something like a paramedic. He keeps regular
records of how my patients in the village are
doing and sends me the data by radio. The
data might consist of photographs of the find-
ings or the results of blood tests he carries out
with automatic test devices no larger than a
cell phone. So I’m always well-informed about
my patients’ current state of health.” On the way to the first patient we pass a
cylindrical container flanked by a couple of
electric charging stations. “That’s our biogas
power plant,” says Abdul proudly, tapping the
side of the tank. “We feed it with plant clip-
pings and manure. The bacteria in the tank use
it to produce methane, which is then automat-
ically turned into electricity. Together with the
wind turbines, this power plant makes us ener-
gy self-sufficient.” He points to the charging
stations and says, “Don’t forget to unplug your
vehicle when you’ve finished, Salim!”
As we approach the patient’s round grass-
roofed hut, we can hear soft music. The pot
simmering on the stove gives off a spicy aro-
ma, and an LED lamp hangs from the ceiling.
“Aardvark stew,” says Taylor with satisfaction as
he takes a look at his tablet PC. “My young pa-
tient is obviously doing better.” He points to a
boy lying on a bed, who looks to be about
twelve years old. “Does he have malaria?” I ask.
“We’ve hardly seen any cases of malaria since
the last round of vaccinations,” Taylor answers.
“Snake bites aren’t so critical any more either.
Thanks to the stable power supply, we now
have refrigeration at the medical center. This
allows us to stock enough serum and other
medications to take care of many conditions.
Now that the village has entered the age of
electricity, the villagers are no longer as vulner-
able as they were before. Previously, if an acci-
dent happened there was no way to get help.
Today, people can call for help on a cell phone
or get to the medical center on an electric bike.
This boy was such a case. He was riding his
bike without a helmet and had a crash that
gave him a concussion.” The doctor shines a flashlight into the boy’s
eyes. “Was he going too fast?” I ask. “He hit an
aardvark hole,” Taylor grins and nods to the
woman at the stove, who is holding out a ladle
of stew for him to sample. “By the way, the
cause of the accident didn’t survive the crash.”
Florian Martini
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 17
The New Age of Electricity | Smart Buildings
In the future, smart buildings will autonomously adjust their electricity consumption to fluctuating supplies of solar and wind power. A recent study demonstrates the technical feasibility
of this approach, which could involve adjusting ventilation systems and pumps without sacrificing
comfort. Switching off high-consumption devices to prevent grid overloads has long been common practice in the U.S. New automation technologies will make it even more efficient.
Future buildings will autonomously adjust their
power consumption to supplies of renewable energy
by adjusting heating and cooling systems and using
electric cars for energy storage. T
he roofs of many one-family houses are
covered with shiny blue-black photovoltaic
modules, hills are dotted with wind turbines,
and offshore wind farms generate power in
places like the North and Baltic Seas. However,
electricity from the sun and wind is unreliable,
because the energy produced fluctuates with
the weather. Wind facilities now account for
roughly seven percent of all the electricity gen-
erated in Germany, with almost two percent
Automation’s Ground Floor Opportunity
16 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
sumption will increase by around 70 percent
by 2035. In other words, we are on the thresh-
old of a new age of electricity.
According to Umbach, electricity is going to
provide serious competition for the conven-
tional heating systems used in today’s build-
ings. Electrical heat pumps, for example, are
more efficient at providing warmth than car-
bon fuel-based systems, particularly now that
improved thermal insulation is progressively
reducing the amount of energy that buildings
require for heating purposes. Moreover, ac-
cording to the Federal Association of the Heat
Pump Industry, emissions of the environmen-
tally harmful gas CO
2
caused by heat pumps
are around 40 percent lower than those from
gas-fired heating. “The generation of heat for
buildings is the largest consumer of energy in
industrial nations,” says Umbach. “I see big po-
tential for electricity here.”
New Applications for Power. Commercial
and residential buildings are an area where
new developments can be expected. Re-
searchers are investigating the use of networks
of tiny sensors to transmit data on parameters
such as temperature and CO
2
concentrations
to an intelligent building management system
(p. 99). Thus equipped, a new generation of
smart buildings could become active agents
on the power market and automatically adjust
their consumption to fluctuating supplies of
solar and wind energy. As a recent study by
Siemens and the Technical University of Mu-
nich shows, such a vision is by no means unre-
alistic (p.17). The study demonstrates that it is
perfectly feasible to ramp down air condition-
ing and heat pumps without compromising
comfort within a building. In order to ensure that green power reaches
consumers more efficiently, grid technology
will also need to smarten up its act. Engineers
from Siemens Corporate Technology are cur-
rently working on this problem at a special test
facility in Erlangen (p. 22). Here they are busy
developing special control algorithms and
hardware components for the smart grids of
the future. To date, results have been highly
encouraging, and now a pilot project to test
the findings has been launched using the grid
of power company Allgäuer Überlandwerk
(AÜW) in southern Germany.
Electric Mobility. Another area in which elec-
tricity could be an alternative to carbon fuels is
road transportation. According to the KIT,
transportation currently accounts for a mere
four percent of electricity consumption in Ger-
many. Practically all of this is for rail transport,
90 percent of which is electrified. Meanwhile,
roads remain dominated by vehicles equipped
with internal combustion engines, which are
responsible for around 20 percent of total CO
2
emissions worldwide. Given climate change,
however, and the increasing difficulty of tap-
ping the earth’s remaining oil reserves, re-
searchers at KIT confidently predict the coming
of age of the electric automobile. Just when a
mass market begins to de-
velop will depend on when
the technology — charg-
ing systems, for example
— has become affordable
and practical for everyday
use. At Siemens, engineers
are investigating concepts
to advance the development of electric mobili-
ty. At the end of last year, for example, the
company launched a major field trial with em-
ployees testing a fleet of around 100 electric
vehicles (p. 34). The project’s goal is to exam-
ine not only the everyday practicality of elec-
tric cars but also the overall system itself and
the interplay between various components —
ranging from the generation and distribution
of power to the process of recharging vehicles.
Technologies for the drive, communications,
and charging systems have been developed by
Siemens and will be progressively installed in
the company’s electric vehicles in the course of
the project. Electricity will also be required in many oth-
er areas. These include the desalination of sea-
water. In Singapore, for example, Siemens re-
searchers have developed a desalination plant
that works by means of electrical fields (p. 30).
Conventionally, seawater is desalinated using
either evaporation or reverse osmosis process-
es, both of which are extremely energy-inten-
sive. The new technology requires only half as
much energy — and that amounts to a techno-
logical revolution. Since December 2010, a pi-
lot plant has been converting seawater highly
efficiently into pure drinking water.
The future will also bring new ways of gen-
erating electricity. These include tidal energy
systems, which function like underwater wind
turbines. A number of these are already in op-
eration at various locations, including the
coast of Northern Ireland, where SeaGen went
into operation in 2008. With an output of 1.2
megawatts, enough to supply 1,500 house-
holds, it is currently the most powerful tidal
current power plant in the world (p. 28). “Elec-
tricity has virtually limitless applications,” says
Umbach. Whether these are realized or not will
depend on a number of constraints, not least
the future price of power. “The best route to a
sustainable future is not yet clear,” he empha-
sizes. “That’s why it’s crucial to continue in-
tense research in all areas and not neglect other
energy carriers such as synthetic hydrocarbon
fuels and hydrogen.” For the purposes of stor-
age, for example, excess wind-generated pow-
er could be converted into a chemical energy
carrier. Here too, Siemens is working on such a
system — one that uses hydrogen (p. 26). Ac-
cording to Umbach, when it comes to master-
ing future challenges, the most important
thing is to combine a firm grip on reality with a
well-developed sense of imagination — some-
thing that takes us right back to Ludwig II,
Bavaria’s eccentric monarch.Florian Martini
Ludwig II equipped his horse-drawn sleigh with battery-powered carbon arc lamps; by 1905 the first electric cars from Siemens were on the streets of Berlin (shown
during a battery change); and in 2011 the company fitted several Porsche models with ultramodern electric motors. Experts predict that global electricity
consumption will increase by as much as 70 percent by 2035. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 19
have an energy content of roughly 40 gigawatt
hours of electricity — the combined capacity
of all German pumped storage units.
Consumption Follows Production. And
now, a new potential solution to the energy
puzzle is emerging — one that could be imple-
mented by simply introducing a sophisticated
software package. Known as “load shifting,”
the idea is to manage electricity consumers, or
loads, in buildings in such a way that they are
mainly allowed to occur only when windmills
and photovoltaic modules are generating sur-
plus power — i.e. when electricity is cheap.
Conversely, as much electrical equipment as
possible would be powered down at night or
when winds are weak. This amounts to a para-
digm shift, since these days the operation of
gas and coal-fired power plants is geared to-
ward energy consumption behavior in house-
holds, factories, and offices. But in the future,
the situation would be exactly reversed. Build-
ings would alter their power demand in line
with current energy supplies. Consumption
would follow production.
Working with specialists from Siemens
Building Technologies, researchers at Munich’s
Technical University (TUM) have found that a
range of equipment in all kinds of buildings
can be switched on and off in a relatively sim-
ple manner. The team spent several months
collecting data from building management
centers on everything from ventilation system
and water pump activity to temperatures in of-
fices and conference rooms. They examined
questions such as: How long does it take for an
office made of lightweight materials to heat
up after you turn off the building’s air condi-
tioning system? “The key question for us was
how long you can turn off certain equipment
without affecting comfort in a room or office,”
says Timm Rössel, a research assistant in the
Department of Building Climatology and Build-
ing Services at TUM. German building stan-
dards stipulate that office temperatures should
not fall below 21 degrees Celsius if comfort is
to be maintained. Rössel and his colleague Jo-
hannes Jungwirth from the Department of En-
ergy Systems and Application Technologies an-
alyzed four different building types for their
study: office and administrative buildings, hos-
pitals, indoor swimming pools, and schools. They found that load shift potential was
particularly high in office buildings. For exam-
ple, ventilation systems in offices with normal
occupancy can be com-
pletely shut down for as
long as half an hour with-
out causing rooms to be-
come stuffy — and this
can be done several times
a day. The same goes for
ventilation systems in un-
derground garages. The researchers also ex-
amined how often and, more importantly,
how fast elevators travel in office buildings.
They determined that elevator speed could be
cut back several hours every day outside the
morning and evening rushes, thereby reducing
electricity consumption by around ten percent.
They also found that elevator users were not
annoyed by the slower speed. There is also plenty of room for improve-
ment in buildings equipped with a service wa-
ter system for toilet flushing. The pumps that
fill the system’s tanks could be started with a
delay of as much as 12 hours without any dan-
ger of the tanks running empty. And in hospi-
tals, energy-saving efforts can focus on sterili-
zation equipment for surgical utensils. In
buildings equipped with indoor swimming
pools, the greatest load shift potential lies in
the compressors used in dehumidification sys-
tems, which can actually be shut down for sev-
eral hours. The same is true of ozone and UV
units used for water purification.
“The results of the study are important for
us because they prove that large buildings
have an overall load shift potential that pays
off,” says Joachim Kiauk, a project manager at
Siemens Building Technologies (BT) in Zug,
Switzerland, who was responsible for the
study. “Put simply, Siemens is now developing
software tools with TUM that can be used to
manage building control systems in line with
tomorrow’s increasingly renewable-energy-
centered electricity supply.” A new regulation that went into effect this
year in Germany requires energy suppliers to
offer variable electricity rates that change
throughout the day in line with supply and de-
mand. Although the system still does not allow
for extremely short-term price fluctuations, ex-
perts believe that in the near future we will be
seeing electricity prices that change every
hour or even every 15 minutes. In this sce-
In the future, building management systems will take hundreds of parameters into account in real time in order to alter power demand in response to power availability.
Ventilation in most offices can be
shut down for half an hour without
causing rooms to become stuffy. 18 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Soon, Solar Energy Could Keep Your Office Cool
In the northern hemisphere, most energy consumption results from the need to generate heat. The
colder a winter, the higher the consumption of natural gas and heating oil. But in hot climates, air condi-
tioners account for a considerable amount of electricity consumption, and therefore of carbon dioxide
emissions. To address this problem, Siemens researchers in Bangalore, India, are developing a solar re-
frigeration system that generates its own electricity, allowing it to operate without an external power
supply. In India, given the country’s generally hot, muggy climate, people require plenty of cool air. As a result,
around 60 percent of the electricity consumed in India’s office buildings in the daytime isn’t used to
power lamps, computers, or servers, but to keep inefficient air conditioners running. This is why devel-
opers from Siemens Corporate Technology in Bangalore are developing a refrigeration system that runs
on electricity it generates itself. The device consists of a light collection system for capturing heat from
the sun and a photovoltaic unit for generating electricity. “We are currently creating the system’s con-
cept, and we want to test it on the roof of our Bangalore office building at the beginning of 2012,” says
project manager Peeush Kumar Bishnoi. The system is based on the proven principle of the absorption refrigerator, which generally utilizes a salt
solution, with water serving as a coolant. Solar heat warms up the water-salt solution and separates the
water by means of evaporation. The water is then condensed and pumped into a vaporizer, which is the
part of the system that generates cold. The interior of the vaporizer is a vacuum, which means that even
low outside temperatures are enough to evaporate water. Heat is drawn in from the surroundings and
the room cools off. The vaporized water (steam) is then once again bonded to the salt solution. Because
the system operates in a cycle, the surroundings are permanently cooled. Electricity from the photo-
voltaic unit is required to pump the water and the salt solution through the system. Although other developers have tried to combine refrigeration with photovoltaics, such a setup always
required expensive photovoltaic systems that were too big for the roofs of most offices. Kumar Bishnoi
and his colleagues are therefore combining both features into a single compact system that more effec-
tively exploits solar energy. The challenge lies in obtaining enough heat for the cooling process without
restricting electricity production in the photovoltaic cells. One idea here is to use a special fluid that ex-
tracts enough heat from sunlight before it reaches the photovoltaic unit. “There is very strong demand
for autonomous systems in India,” says Bishnoi. “Many people, especially in rural areas, aren’t connected
to the power grid.” According to Bishnoi, the amount of electricity supplied by the photovoltaic unit
wouldn’t suffice for conventional vapor-compression refrigeration systems, but would be enough for the
small pumps used in absorption refrigerators — and that means this technology clearly has great poten-
tial. Experts estimate that India will need around 31,000 megawatts of power to cool its business offices
in 2015. This figure corresponds to the output of roughly 30 large coal-fired power plants. If the technol-
ogy from Bangalore were to be employed on a large scale, the resulting energy savings would be huge.
obtained through solar power. Over the last
few years, wind parks in the North Sea have re-
peatedly been shut down due to strong winds
that threatened to overload the local grid. In
other cases, surplus electricity has been sent to
neighboring countries, despite the fact that it
was not really needed. This can sometimes re-
duce prices to such an extent that suppliers be-
gin losing money, especially since they still
have to pay transmission fees. Conversely,
whenever winds are weak, so-called peaking
plants must be switched on, which makes elec-
tricity more expensive.
The increasing use of energy from renew-
able sources will put even more pressure on
power grids in the future. According to the
German Energy Agency, some 3,600 kilome-
ters of new power lines will have to be built by
2020 in Germany alone to transport electricity
to consumers. But even that won’t be enough,
as grids will have to become more intelligent
so as to create greater transparency and en-
sure more flexible pricing models and better
electricity distribution (see Pictures of the Fu-
ture,Fall 2009, p.12). Also being discussed are electricity storage
units that store surplus electricity when winds
blow and the sun shines, and then return it to
the grid when winds are calm and the sky is
gray. In addition, electric vehicles might be
used in the future as a giant energy pool con-
sisting of innumerable batteries. Indeed, the
batteries in two million electric vehicles would
Siemens researchers are developing building management systems that regulate electricity consumption, enabling energy to be conserved without sacrificing comfort. How Photovoltaic-Based Cooling Systems Work
Sunlight
Optics
Solar cells
Pump
Electricity
Heat drives coolant out of salt solution
Salt solution absorbs
coolant vapor
Cooling through low-pressure coolant vaporization
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 21
The New Age of Electricity | Renewable Energy in the Grid
More and more electricity produced by solar and wind plants will be fed into the power grid. The grid will therefore have to
handle large amounts of such electricity, which can fluctuate
sharply in line with the weather. Researchers from Siemens and Munich’s Technical University are developing solutions that
can prepare the grid for this flood of green power.
Preparing for a Flood of
Green Power
between €140,000 and €200,000. That’s be-
cause today’s transformers are designed solely
for a specific voltage range and they overload
if this range is exceeded. Electricity distribution
cables could also be damaged by too much
voltage, leading to a potential proliferation of
short circuit events. Mastering Reactive Current. In view of this
challenging scenario, a pilot project near
Fürth, Germany indicates that there are less
expensive alternatives (see also p. 22). Re-
searchers there are integrating inverters into
the grid. Normally, inverters transform direct
current from photovoltaic units into alternat-
ing current and adjust it to the frequency of
the power network. However, a new develop-
ment from Siemens enables inverters to also
draw so-called reactive current from the grid
and thus assume a control function. In other
words, more electricity could be fed into the
grid without having to implement costly ex-
pansion projects. Reactive current is generated
by devices like motors that continually build up
and break down magnetic fields. In this way,
they draw current at regular intervals and then
immediately feed it back into the grid.
Another challenge associated with renew-
able energy sources is their fluctuating output.
Wind and solar power facilities do not continu-
ously generate the same amount of electricity
because winds speeds change, clouds cover
the sun, and it gets dark at night. Scientists
from Siemens and TUM are therefore looking
into electricity storage units that take in sur-
plus power and then return it to the grid when
it is needed. A variety of concepts for such stor-
age units already exist (see p. 26 and Pictures
of the Future, Fall 2009, p. 31). “The main
thing that concerns us now is the question of
how big such storage units should be to ensure
that the pressures being placed on the grid are
reduced in the most effective and least expen-
sive manner possible,” says Witzmann. To do
this, scientists are simulating the year 2005 in
a kind of slow-motion sequence that uses
weather data to depict the interactions be-
tween environmental conditions, photovoltaic
facilities, and consumers. The results, which
are expected by late 2011, will enable them to
compare electricity production with demand. Data Transfer in Milliseconds. In another
project, Dr. Dragan Obradovic from Siemens CT
and Professor Sandra Hirche from TUM are try-
ing to determine the fastest possible way to
offset fluctuations in electricity infeeds. “We’re
developing control strategies that enable all of
the plants in a grid to communicate with one
another,” Obradovic explains. At the moment,
only large power plants exchange information,
but problems can often be foreseen many
hours in advance — for example, when a pow-
er plant component needs to be replaced. A
status report every ten minutes is sufficient for
addressing smaller fluctuations. However, be-
cause photovoltaic electrical output depends
on wind and weather, an outage can occur
much more spontaneously than is the case
with other sources. And while it may not be a
big deal if only one unit goes down, failure on
a regional scale can result in a blackout. In this
case, all of the surrounding plants and storage
units have to kick in. “We believe that in the fu-
ture, the type of information required will have
to be exchanged in just milliseconds,” says
Obradovic. Obradovic and other researchers are incor-
porating the results of the project into a labo-
ratory network that is now being set up by CT
researchers at a Siemens center in Erlangen.
This network will not only test solutions for in-
dividual problems such as local voltage surges;
it will also feature a small-scale grid of the fu-
ture complete with photovoltaic plants, power
consumers, and electricity storage units. At
that point, in addition to simulating interac-
tions, it will be possible to test everything un-
der real conditions. Helen Sedlmeier
The share of solar power in the global ener-
gy mix is still relatively low, but experts agree
that it could increase by a factor of 50 over the
next 20 years. If that happens, it would put
tremendous pressure on grid stability and volt-
age. “Such changes might not only damage
important and expensive components like
transformers but also negatively affect the
functionality and lifespan of other electrical
equipment and appliances,” says Dr. Michael
Metzger from Siemens Corporate Technology
(CT). Metzger and Professor Rolf Witzmann
from the Department of Electrical Energy Sup-
ply Networks at TUM are therefore working to
find a solution to these problems. Their first step was to analyze the situation.
They calculated how much photovoltaic elec-
tricity could be generated in Germany if all
suitable roofs and open areas were fitted with
photovoltaic units. The result they came up
with was 161 to 188 gigawatts. Pilot photo-
voltaic facilities currently supply only around
ten percent of that amount — or 18 gigawatts
maximum. A second calculation showed how
costs could skyrocket if such a step were taken.
Upgrading the grid in just a single village to ac-
commodate the potential increase would cost
In a pilot project near Fürth, Germany, Siemens researchers are using inverters that intervene in the power network, thereby enabling more renewable energy to be fed into the grid.
D
ark blue is the new color of an increasing
number of roofs. That’s because ever
since Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources
Act was passed in 2000 — and was then used
as a model for similar subsidy legislation in
around 50 other countries — more and more
roofs have been transformed by photovoltaic
units into small blue power plants. Scientists from Siemens and the Technical
University of Munich (TUM) are addressing the
challenges associated with this development,
including the danger of local grid overloads.
They are also searching for new approaches
that can make power grids smarter and able to
accommodate large amounts of photovoltaic
electricity.
That’s easier said than done, as most grids
today are designed to transport electricity gen-
erated at large coal or gas-fired power plants.
Such facilities supply electricity to the high-
voltage network. The power then flows into
the medium and finally into the low-voltage
grid, the one that serves consumers. This hier-
archical principle has functioned well up until
now — but it’s not adequate for a future char-
acterized by numerous small-scale electricity
producers. 20 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
nario, building management systems would
shut down or ramp down certain types of
equipment when demand for electricity is high
and power is therefore more expensive. This
could be done in the morning or in the
evening when things like hair dryers, toasters,
and hot water boilers are being used. Up-to-
the-minute price alerts would enable building
management systems to turn on pumps and
fans primarily when solar and wind power is
flooding the grid and prices are falling.
Several hundred parameters and measure-
ment values are fed into modern building
management systems today, including office
temperatures and fan output figures. All of this
data will have to be linked together by load
shifting software. TUM re-
searchers are now using
building simulations to re-
fine the corresponding cal-
culation specifications.
“Ideally, we will be able to
integrate these algorithms
into existing control tech-
nologies like our Desigo system,” says Siemens
Building Technologies’ Kiauk. Just how the re-
quired knowledge will be incorporated into
Siemens products has yet to be determined.
“The first step is basic research,” says Christoph
Hielscher, head of Business Development for
Smart Grid Applications at Siemens Energy.
“Our goal is to make buildings intelligent and
enable them to note how quickly they cool
down, how much heat they require, and when
they can shut down certain devices in order to
conserve electricity. Each building has its own
specific characteristics.” Load Shedding Solutions. In the U.S., elec-
tricity load management has been common-
place for years. Here, the focus is not so much
on fluctuating electricity production as on so-
called load shedding. The U.S. faces a situation
in which power plants and infrastructures that
in some cases are outdated are being pushed
to the limits of their capacity. This is a problem
particularly on hot days when millions of
Americans turn on air conditioners. In order to
prevent supply bottlenecks, power companies
shut down specific consumers — i.e. they shed
loads. For example, private customers who
agree to turn off their air conditioners on sev-
eral hot days throughout the year are reward-
ed with lower electricity rates. The same is
done for industrial companies and refrigerated
warehouses. And as more precise weather
forecasts have made short-term alerts possi-
ble, power companies have been able to in-
form such consumers of the outages by e-mail
or phone the day before. Some 80 percent of
all load-shedding customers are directly in-
formed in this manner. This may sound compli-
cated, but a nationwide call center service is a
lot cheaper than building new power plants or
grid components. As part of its strategy to automate load
management operations, Siemens has ac-
quired SureGrid, a company that develops load
management software for central computers
and communication systems. SureGrid’s cen-
tral computer in Austin, Texas, can, for exam-
ple, accept an order from a power company for
a required amount of electricity and then auto-
matically distribute this total among all the
participating buildings in a region. This solves
the problem of insufficient reliability. That’s be-
cause when a power company requests load
shedding via e-mail, there’s no guarantee that
the customer will remember to turn off his or
her air conditioner the next day. The energy
supplier therefore needs to play it safe by plan-
ning in more load shedding than is actually
needed. Automation, on the other hand, will
make load management calculations more reli-
able and secure in the future. Automation also offers another advantage.
At the moment, energy suppliers must use
weather forecasts to estimate roughly one day
in advance when and for how long they need
to shed electricity loads. In this case as well,
they plan in a buffer and ask customers to shut
down their appliances for several hours — in
most cases longer than is actually necessary.
Automation would allow power companies to
react right before a bottleneck occurs, which
would reduce the duration of a load shedding
event. The U.S. energy market differs greatly from
the European market, of course. Everything in
the U.S. revolves around supply shortages,
whereas Europe focuses on fluctuating electri-
cal output from wind and solar facilities. Nevertheless, the U.S. is also taking an initial
important step toward greater building intelli-
gence and smart power consumption through
its automated load management systems. “The
next step would be to implement the type of
building management technology the TUM
project seeks to develop — technology that’s
also very flexible and able to react to changing
electricity prices,” says Hielscher. The benefits
are obvious. If people turn off their air condi-
tioners today, they start sweating — but an in-
telligent load management system would in-
stead simply reduce the speed of the elevators
in their building.Tim Schröder
In the future, electricity prices may
change every 15 minutes — thus
helping intelligent buildings to save. ously tested in the simulation. “The adjustable
components, such as the battery and the co-
generation plant respond to price signals at a
local electric power exchange,” explains Bam-
berger. Prices rise if less solar energy is avail-
able, causing the village’s more costly electrici-
ty generation or storage systems, such as its
battery and cogeneration plant, to begin sup-
plying energy. At the same time, electricity use
in the village decreases because the electricity
price influences consumption by heat pumps
and cooling units, for example (see p. 17). “If these electronic control systems prove
effective in the simulation, we can use the
findings to test the systems in laboratory ex-
periments and demonstrate their operation,”
says Schäfer. The results to date have been so
good that the Siemens researchers are plan-
ning to start a pilot test in a grid operated by
southern German utility Allgäuer Überland -
werk (AÜW). When that happens, tomorrow’s
smart grid will have taken another big step
toward becoming a reality.Urs Fitze
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 2322 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity | Smart Grids
Smart grids and meters will help to manage tomorrow’s power supply systems. This will require real-
time control of variables, including consumer demand. Researchers at Siemens’ smart grid testing facility in Erlangen, Germany are developing solutions, including algorithms based on simulations.
Smart Meters. What will things be like ten or
15 years from now? According to Knaak, at
first glance, the situation won’t change much
for private or commercial electricity customers.
That’s because electricity will continue to come
from the power socket and, of course, still be
available whenever it’s needed. But the me-
chanical meters that are still widely used and
often only read once or twice a year will be rel-
egated to science museums. The grid of the future will be an information
network, enabling households to run their
washing machines at times when electricity
prices are low. Appliances will be controlled
fully automatically, and consumers will be able
to switch devices on or off online or commis-
sion a grid operator’s energy optimization pro-
gram to do so. “Consistent implementation of
such an approach would probably lead to sub-
stantial cuts in electricity consumption,” pre-
dicts Michael Moser, a department head at the
Energy Research Section of the Swiss Federal
more electricity storage systems for collecting
energy from fluctuating renewable sources.
From today’s perspective, smart grids still
sound a bit futuristic. But scientists — includ-
ing those at the smart grid testing facility at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Erlan-
gen — are already working on a number of ad-
vanced systems. Experts at
the facility are developing
special control algorithms
and hardware components
for smart grids, which in-
volves combining experi-
ments with sophisticated
simulations. “We are simu-
lating the electricity transmission network of
an actual German village, for example, where a
large share of the energy is generated by pho-
tovoltaic systems,” says Dr. Jochen Schäfer,
who directs the development, testing, and
demonstration of hardware components in
CT’s Smart Grid lighthouse project. Joachim Bamberger, who manages Siemens’
Smart Grid research project. In practice, a demonstration scenario might
involve a cloud bank passing over the village.
This causes the electricity generated by the
imaginary photovoltaic systems (i.e. the elec-
tricity fed into the grid by inverters) to drop
drastically. Because the village has to fully cov-
er its electricity needs from local production,
researchers use a battery to temporarily offset
the decrease until a cogeneration plant can be
started up in their Erlangen lab. Electricity production is compared to actual
need by a trading mechanism that was previ-
At the Smart Grid Laboratory, researchers simulate
grid conditions — for example, when solar panels are
under clouds (left). Smart meters are already in use in
Arbon, Switzerland (right). E
urope established its first power plants
around 120 years ago and then gradually
expanded its systems for supplying electricity
through power sockets. “We’ve been pretty
much muddling along blindly ever since,” says
Jürgen Knaak, Managing Director of Arbon
Energie AG, the local power utility company in
Arbon, a small Swiss town with 13,000 inhabi-
tants. “Even today, neither consumers nor sup-
pliers know exactly when electricity is flowing
through power lines, or how much of it is flow-
ing.” But that’s about to change in Arbon,
thanks to smart meters. Since 2007, Siemens
has been replacing the town’s approximately
8,700 household meters with new high-tech
devices. “For the electricity industry, this is a
veritable revolution, comparable to the intro-
duction of cell phones or the Internet,” ex-
plains Knaak. In Arbon, “blind muddling” meant there
was practically no transparency about what ac-
tually happens in the town’s grid, with infor-
mation in this area limited to the periodic
Office of Energy. As a result, Switzerland could
reduce its energy consumption by approxi-
mately five to ten percent, thus giving con-
sumers and the environment a break.
Electricity Highways. Smart meters are a
byproduct of the trend toward digital power
supply systems. Grid design will pose a far
greater technological and economic challenge,
because most electricity will no longer be gen-
erated by a few large plants, as is the case to-
day, but by many small and medium-size pro-
ducers, which will sometimes only produce
energy for their own needs, and at other times
feed power into the grid. The grids that until now were practically
only one-way streets will be turned into multi-
lane energy highways (see Pictures of the Fu-
ture,Fall 2009, p. 12). Wind turbines, for ex-
ample, will operate at full load when there is
strong wind, while natural gas and biomass
power plants will be switched on when de-
mand increases. There will also be more and
In the simulation, one of the streets in the
village was the object of particular interest.
“The place has many big producers of photo-
voltaic energy but only a few small electricity
consumers, which means intense solar radia-
tion can create a critical situation for the grid’s
stability,” explains Schäfer. In response to this
problem, experts conducted a laboratory test
in which they recreated a 1:7 scale copy of the
parts of the grid in question, including energy
producers and consumers, as well as line re-
sistances. Solar cells are simulated by inverters that
get their energy from a separate grid. This
makes it possible to set the testing conditions,
such as the intensity of incident solar radia-
tion. “We can now test and investigate control
algorithms and critical situations not only in
simulations, but also in real life,” reports
No Longer a One-Way Street
measurement of electricity consumption by
households, businesses, and manufacturing
facilities. Much more information will be re-
quired in the future, however. “The generation
and supply of electricity is becoming increas-
ingly complex, and we have to be able to ad-
dress this challenge,” says Knaak. The “Amis”
meters from Siemens that are being installed
in Arbon are state-of-the-art devices that not
only measure electricity consumption, but can
also collect data from gas, water, and district
heating meters through corresponding inter-
faces. This data is then forwarded to the power
utility company without delay, ensuring that
the supplier is always fully informed of each
consumers’ electricity needs — from individual
refrigerators in private homes all the way up to
major industrial consumers. Around 3,300
smart meters have been installed in Arbon to
date, with this process scheduled to be com-
pleted by the end of 2013. As that date approaches, a new era will
commence for Knaak, bringing with it a new
business model that is meant to ensure the
success of his company. That’s because infor-
mation will be as valuable as energy in tomor-
row’s electricity market, where detailed data
on electricity consumption will make it possi-
ble for utility companies to offer customized
rate models and exploit a real competitive ad-
vantage. And what about consumers? Not only will
they be better informed about where electrici-
ty is being used in their businesses and homes;
they’ll also be able to manage consumption in
a more targeted manner. For example, Knaak
can tell the municipal utility company of the
Swiss city of St. Gallen almost to the exact sec-
ond when it would be least costly for it to
pump drinking water out of Lake Constance,
and thus offer the firm a better rate model.
Similarly, thanks to information furnished by
real-time metering, Arbon Energie AG should
be able to improve its bottom line by purchas-
ing electricity when the price is particularly low
due to generation overcapacities. The power grid of the future will be a comprehensive and very transparent information network.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 2524 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity| Light Guides
Capturing sunlight and using it where it’s needed is an age-
old dream. Together with a university in Nuremberg, Osram is
developing a lighting system that combines fiber optics with
LED technology. The trick is to balance these two sources to
dynamically achieve the color and intensity of sunlight. The results of the joint research project be-
tween Ohm University and Osram have
spawned a combination of energy efficiency
and heightened appreciation for the quality of
life associated with natural light. As innovation
manager, Feil interacts with a network of
young development engineers. “We have a re-
search environment that’s driven by competi-
tion between ideas,” he says. “You’ve got to be
in touch with people. Anyone who contributes
good ideas deserves support,” he says.
Osram supports the project’s young re-
searchers by providing know-how as well as
the latest LED and sensor system technology.
“Open innovation” is what Feil calls it. “It’s as
though we were pushing one another for-
ward,” he explains. He is always able to help
out when support is needed concerning tech-
nical lighting solutions, business plans, or mar-
ket analyses. What he expects for Osram in re-
Bavarian Optics. The Sollektor is expected to
make its first market appearance in the course
of 2011. By then this combination of fiber op-
tics and advanced LED technology will have to
be working flawlessly. Fundamental to the suc-
cess of this sensitive control system are sophis-
ticated algorithms that perfectly balance the
two components of the system.
Automatic Balancing Act. A project at
Siemens Building Technology in Zug, Switzer-
land, illustrates the system’s functional specifi-
cations. At first sight the project room appears
to be an ordinary office with a black uphol-
stered chair and a desk of light-brown wood
with a laptop on it. But this is just an experi-
mental setup. Bright sunlight enters the win-
dow. More light comes through a ceiling-
mounted fiber-optic source resembling a
Sollektor — a product from Sweden that was
matically adjusted to achieve an optimal bal-
ance,” says Philipp Kräuchi, who is managing
the project. “All functions must be responsive
to individual preferences regarding brightness
and contrasts. If energy consumption is to be
reduced at the same time, intelligent automa-
tion is indispensable.”
The next step in the research between Os-
ram and Ohm University will be further devel-
opment of intelligent sensor and automation
technology with a view to optimizing the inte-
gration of the Sollektor’s fiber optic compo-
nents and LEDs. While the research partners
busy themselves with this challenge, they
know that the sophisticated building systems
they have in mind are out of reach for develop-
ing economies. Nevertheless, the Sollektor has
already created excitement in the southern In-
dian city of Chennai. Two years ago, Poisel
brought a prototype to the Indian Institute of
While a photovoltaic module first converts sunlight into electric energy, so-called “Sollektors”
transport daylight directly (graphic). Light is captured by 900 lenses (top right).
A
s legend would have it, the citizens of a
town called Schilda — the Schildbürger —
always had plenty of bright ideas. But they al-
ways blundered when they tried to put their
ideas into practice. When they were building a
new city hall, for instance, they forgot an im-
portant detail: the windows. So to brighten up
the interior, they collected daylight in cooking
pots and carried it into the building. Unfortu-
nately, it didn’t get any brighter. The basic idea behind the Schildbürgers’ big
blunder has now been seized upon by Profes-
sor Hans Poisel, a lighting expert at Georg Si-
mon Ohm University of Applied Sciences in
Nuremberg. Over the past four years, along
with his students, he has developed a device
turn is new momentum that may someday
give rise to a marketable product.
Initial interest in the Sollektor is expected to
be limited to niche applications in Europe,
Poisel believes. For example, it could ensure
lifelike color fidelity in art galleries, for fitting
rooms in upscale clothing stores, or for the
vegetable sections in supermarkets. A key fac-
tor will be how fast an investment can be ex-
pected to be recovered through energy sav-
ings. Two of Poisel’s former students have
already established their own company named
already on the market when the Sollektor proj-
ect was launched in 2008. Sensors mounted
between the rectangular light panels in the
ceiling continuously collect a large volume of
data, which is used to intelligently control the
building’s automation system. If there is too
much incident light, for instance, the shades
come down just enough to dim the lighting.
The experience that is being gained from
this project flows into an EU-supported project
called “Clear Up.” The project’s goal is to devel-
op energy-efficient technologies for residential
and commercial buildings. “Ambient condi-
tions should not in any way impede anyone in
the room. So the quantities of artificial light
and daylight that illuminate the room are auto-
Let the Sun Shine In!
soon to be installed on rooftops: the Sollektor.
A square plate with sides about the length of
one’s forearm supports 900 shiny lenses that
collect sunlight and feed it into polymer fiber
optic cables like the ones used for data trans-
fers. The light travels through these plastic
conductors to ceiling-mounted light fixtures
where it is emitted. What’s more, only wave-
lengths that are visible to the eye are conduct-
ed. Harmful ultraviolet and infrared compo-
nents of the spectrum are blocked.
“When we talk about solar energy, we usu-
ally think about photovoltaic or solar thermal
systems,” says Poisel. “In those methods, light
is not even fed into the system but is converted
into other forms of energy. What we are striv-
ing to do, on the other hand, is to use this orig-
inal form of energy — sunlight — without con-
verting it and with low transfer losses.” In the
process of generating electric power with pho-
tovoltaics and then converting it into artificial
light, approximately 99 percent of the solar en-
ergy is lost. The Sollektor, on the other hand,
achieves an efficiency of over 50 percent. “We
bring daylight to interiors where nature is nor-
mally excluded — into the dark cave of the of-
fice where people spend most of their time,”
Poisel says.
It’s easy to laugh at the Schildbürgers. No
modern architect would forget to include win-
dows when planning a building. But to call our
way of lighting a building efficient would be a
fallacy. No sooner does the summer sun glare
into the windows than the blinds go down and
the lights are turned on. This is especially true
for regions in the southern hemisphere. We
spend 90 percent of our time in enclosed
rooms, working and living under artificial light.
Consequently, almost one fifth of worldwide
power consumption is spent on illuminating
interiors — even during the day.
Daylight Plus Color LEDs. Even the savings
potential of a single Sollektor gives you an idea
of what could be achieved with widespread
utilization of daylight. When the sun is shining,
the transferred light is sufficient to replace
twelve ordinary 60-watt incandescent bulbs.
During the 1,700 hours the sun shines annual-
ly in Germany, a single Sollektor could save up
to 1,200 kilowatt hours of electrical energy.
But even the fiber optic approach has its
limits. Once the sun has set, an electric alterna-
tive is indispensable. Development engineers
in Nuremberg are therefore working with Os-
ram to combine the best of both worlds. Their
goal is a solution in which daylight is variably
admixed with artificial light depending on
available light intensity — as controlled by in-
telligent sensor technology. The system can be
integrated into a single ceiling light.
Osram uses LED technology for this pur-
pose. Luminous semiconductors not only re-
place natural daylight, they also provide illumi-
nation with a changing color temperature —
which gives a boost to both comfort and
health. In particular, the blue components of
natural daylight affect our inner clock, as well
as our sleeping and waking rhythms (see Pic-
tures of the Future, Fall 2010, p. 90). “To repro-
duce this effect in the interior of a building, the
color spectrum of the light, as well as its inten-
sity, must be constantly adapted dynamically,”
explains Henry Feil, Innovation Manager at Os-
ram in Munich. In the morning and evening
hours, the blue component of the artificial
lighting source must be reduced and red is ad-
mixed. Technology — Nuremberg’s partner university.
Negotiations have taken place since then with
the Indian Railway Company, which is interest-
ed in finding an efficient lighting solution for
its production facilities. While Poisel was sitting in a conference
room during his most recent visit, the power
suddenly failed — something that happens of-
ten in India’s big cities. The overhead projec-
tion image vanished from the wall and the air
conditioning stopped humming. But in the
building next door it didn’t get dark, even
though the blinds were closed. The Sollektor
on the roof wasn’t affected by the power fail-
ure. The Schildbürgers would have turned pale
with envy. Stefan Schweiger
How Sollektor Compares with Photovoltaic Systems
1% (Artificial light)
50–70% (Sunlight)
=
˜
Photovoltaic
Power generation by
photovoltaics
100% Sunlight
Transmission and
transformation
Conventional lighting systems
Light
Flexible light guidance
(8 fiber-optic cables)
Light concentration
Sollektor
“The new unit has been operating without
interruption for several months; its predeces-
sor unit has been running since 2006,” says
Waidhas. “Right now, we’re optimizing opera-
tional parameters such as current density, and
upgrading membranes and other compo-
nents.” That’s because unlike a school lab ex-
periment involving nothing more than two
wires in a glass of water, an industrial elec-
trolyzer is an extremely complex device whose
components must have very special proper-
ties. The front and back consist of two stainless
steel plates that ensure no gas escapes and
that transport electricity into the interior.
Sandwiched between these plates are the cells
in which water is broken down.
A Teflon-like membrane in the middle of
each cell separates the sections in which hy-
drogen and oxygen form. On the front and
back of the membrane are precious-metal
electrodes that are connected to the positive
and negative poles of the voltage source. “This
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 2726 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity| Electrolysis
Hydrogen is an optimal energy carrier and a coveted raw material. It can be obtained from water
through electrolysis by using, for example, surplus electricity from renewable sources. Siemens engineers are working on new electrolyzers that could be the basis of future energy storage units.
solution. “You could set up an electrolyzer at a
location where electricity from an offshore
wind park reaches land, for example,” he says.
“If the wind park were to produce too much
electricity, you could use it to produce hydro-
gen, which could then be stored in a cavern.” If
demand for power rises, the energy-rich gas
could then drive a turbine to supply CO
2
-neu-
tral electricity to the grid. If you combine the
efficiency of the electrolysis (approx. 75 per-
cent) with that of a gas turbine (around 60 per-
cent in combined cycle operation with a steam
turbine), the resulting “energy-recirculation”
process would still exploit up to 45 percent of
the original energy. “That’s not as good as a
pumped-storage plant, but it’s better than
shutting down windmills when demand isn’t
there,” says Waidhas.
But there’s a hitch. Flames resulting from
the combustion of hydrogen gas would have a
temperature of around 3,000 degrees Celsius.
And that would cause today’s turbine blades to
melt. “In view of this, what’s technically feasi-
this methanization process can be reproduced
on an industrial scale, producers could begin
pumping the resulting synthetic natural gas
into storage facilities in Germany. The country’s pipelines and caverns can ac-
commodate enough gas to store a total energy
content of more than 200 terawatt-hours
(TWh). This is substantially
more than the current ca-
pacity of all pumped-stor-
age facilities in Germany
(0.04 TWh). It also repre-
sents roughly one-third of
the country’s annual gross
electricity consumption.
Alongside recirculation to turbines, methaniza-
tion would also make it possible to use the
new fuel in natural gas vehicles and heating
systems.
Hydrogen is a very attractive alternative be-
cause it can also serve as a feed stock for many
chemical industry processes — from semicon-
ductor production to margarine hardening.
pable of working on an industrial scale. The
current state of technology in this area is on
display at the Siemens Corporate Technology
lab in Erlangen. Here, the latest generation of
Siemens electrolyzers operate completely
silently in a metal housing. The two cube-
shaped devices are made of stainless steel and
held together by sturdy bolts. Black high-pres-
sure pipes protrude from the silver blocks on
the right and left. Their job is to transport the
hydrogen and oxygen gas produced by the
units to tanks at pressures up to 50 bars. Inter-
nal temperature measurements are transmit-
ted to the neighboring control units via vertical
cables connected to the devices.
Siemens researchers have developed a new electrolyzer based on special membranes that increase the hydrogen yield. The unit is to operate
with surplus electricity from wind-power plants.
W
ho says that far-reaching technologies
can’t be based on simple processes? Take
two electrodes, for instance, connect them to
the positive and negative poles of a voltage
source and put them in water, and presto, bub-
bles appear when electricity flows through the
liquid. The bubbles on the positive pole are
filled with oxygen, while those on the negative
pole contain hydrogen. This process of split-
ting water into its constituent elements is
called electrolysis.
Although this may not seem earth shaking
at first glance, electrolysis nevertheless has the
potential to become a key part of the energy
supply networks of the future. “The larger the
share of electricity production accounted for
by renewable sources such as the wind and
sun, the greater will be the fluctuations in the
amount of energy available,” says Dr. Manfred
Waidhas from the new Hydrogen Electrolyzer
Division at Siemens’ Industry Sector. “The prob-
lem is that supply and demand must always be
ble at the moment is a hydrogen component
of 40 to 50 percent, which could be mixed
with conventional natural gas,” says Waidhas.
“You could then circulate part of the steam
back into the combustion chamber in order to
keep the temperature below the critical level.”
Siemens researchers in Moscow are working to
make the dream of an efficient hydrogen tur-
bine a reality (see Pictures of the Future,Fall
2009, p.7).
Today’s turbines can be operated smoothly
using methane, which can be produced from
hydrogen and carbon dioxide with the help of
a catalyst. Researchers working at the Center
for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research
Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart, Germany,
and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy
and Energy System Technology in Kassel, Ger-
many, have teamed up with Austrian energy
company Solar Fuel Technology to build a pilot
facility in which hydrogen is “methanized” with
an efficiency of around 80 percent. As soon as
“Today, more than 95 percent of the annual
global hydrogen requirement is obtained from
natural gas,” says Waidhas, who is a chemist.
“With steam reforming, hydrocarbons react at
high temperatures and pressure with water,
producing carbon monoxide and hydrogen in
the process.” Electrolysis enables another alternative
here — one in which hydrogen produced from
renewable sources could be sent via pipelines
to chemical industry centers for use as a feed-
stock. Valuable natural gas would thus be con-
served, and hydrogen produced from excess
renewable energy would not produce any CO
2
emissions.
Electrolysis in the Lab. Waidhas and his col-
leagues will first have to make electrolyzers ca-
precisely balanced in the electricity grid if over-
load is to be avoided. That’s why we need elec-
trical energy storage units that absorb energy
surpluses and then return the energy to the
grid when it is needed.”
This is where electrolysis comes in. The
process uses surplus electricity from renewable
sources to produce hydrogen that can then be
stored as an energy carrier in subterranean
caverns in salt domes, for example — the kinds
of locations that energy companies typically
use for stockpiling huge amounts of natural
gas. But doesn’t proven storage technology al-
ready exist in the form of pumped-storage hy-
droelectric power plants? Such plants use sur-
plus electricity to pump water into a basin at a
higher level. Then, when extra power is need-
ed, the water is allowed to flow downwards to
drive turbines that generate electricity.
“Pumped-storage plants are in fact the ideal so-
lution,” says Waidhas. “They have efficiencies
as high as 80 percent and their technology has
been used for decades.” Unfortunately, howev-
er, the best locations for such installations
have already been tapped. What’s more, plans
to build new facilities invariably lead to mas-
sive protests. Alternatives are therefore needed. One pos-
sibility is to use batteries from electric vehicles
(see Pictures of the Future,Fall 2010, p.34).
However, the cost of batteries, and the
amount of space they need, generally prohibit
the construction of centralized storage facili-
ties. The largest such facility is in Japan. De-
spite being as big as a soccer field, it can sup-
ply only 30 megawatts of electricity for seven
hours. In the future, it will be necessary to de-
liver several hundred megawatts — and when
the wind drops, this output will have to be
available for several days.
Storing Energy in Hydrogen. Waidhas be-
lieves hydrogen offers the best energy storage
Electrolysis converts surplus electricity from wind-power facilities
into hydrogen that can be stored.
Second Wind for Hydrogen
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 2928 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
is where the water is split,” Waidhas explains.
“The electrodes need to have as large a surface
area as possible, as this guarantees a high
yield.” It’s also important that large amounts of
both electricity and water reach the electrodes.
This is ensured by current collectors made of
porous sintered metal. The collectors not only
surround the electrodes but also collect the
gas and transport it upwards.
The new membrane electrolyzers from
Siemens offer several advantages over their es-
tablished counterparts that use potash lye to
separate the electrodes. “Existing state-of-the-
art electrodes take several minutes to react to
changes in the amount of available electricity,”
says Waidhas. “Our membrane version, on the
other hand, reacts in just milliseconds.” The
new electrolyzers can be temporarily over-
loaded with a maximum of three times the lev-
el of their rated output. They can also operate
at hydrogen pressures of 50 to 100 bars —
which lowers costs and improves yield.
Coveted Gas. Waidhas and his colleagues
plan to build a demonstration unit by 2012
that will fit into a container and be able to op-
erate on site at a potential customer location.
“All we’ll need then is a water and electricity
connection,” he explains. “The new electrolyz-
er will be able to utilize a maximum of 300
kilowatts of power — as opposed to our cur-
rent test unit, which runs at 30 kilowatts maxi-
mum.” The electrolyzer, which produces around
two kilograms of hydrogen per 100 kilowatts
and hour, is already attracting interest.
Siemens is working with Bayer, RWE, and ten
other partners in a project called “CO2RRECT,”
which is exploring methods for using carbon
dioxide to produce everything from chemical
feedstocks to plastics. Here, hydrogen ob-
tained from renewable sources is used as a raw
material.
Waidhas expects the first commercial elec-
trolyzer to be ready by 2014. “That unit will be
able to operate in the single-digit megawatt
range and could be used, for example, by a re-
gional power supplier to collect surplus elec-
tricity from one or two windmills or photo-
voltaic facilities,” he says. Waidhas also believes the market for the
technology will be enormous in the future.
“Converting only ten percent of globally-gener-
ated wind energy into hydrogen using electrol-
ysis would result in the storage of several ter-
awatt-hours of energy each year — that’s a
huge amount,” he points out. In this scenario,
large electrolyzers with a capacity of 100
megawatts would be built in close proximity to
wind parks whose excess electricity would be
used to produce a universal energy carrier in
the form of hydrogen. Christian Buck
The New Age of Electricity | Tidal Power Plants
Located off the coast of Northern Ireland, the world’s first commercial tidal current power plant is producing electricity for
1,500 households using energy generated by high and low tides. T
he wind blows softly over the rich green
hills that dot the countryside around the
small coastal town of Strangford in County
Down, Northern Ireland. Just a few steps away
is the natural port of Strangford Lough — a
deep-blue harbor that today fully lives up to its
Celtic name Cuan, which means “the calm
bay.” Nevertheless, large dark waves some-
times rip through the harbor. It’s therefore no
coincidence that Strangford was called “the
powerful fjord” by the Vikings who once set-
tled there. The bay is 30 kilometers long and its
total area of 150 square kilometers makes it
the largest in the Irish Sea. It not only contains
picturesque fishing boots but also a black and
red steel tower that protrudes out of the water
just off the coastline. This tower is part of
SeaGen — the world’s first commercial tidal
current power plant. The facility, which began
operating in 2008, produces 1.2 megawatts
(MW) of electricity solely from the power of
the tides. That’s enough to supply a town of
1,500 households. Tidal flows represent a largely untapped
source of clean energy. This underutilization is
due to the fact that the technology has re-
mained in the development phase up until
now, and installing it offshore is very expen-
sive. Nevertheless, its potential is huge. Tidal
current power plants can be built anywhere
where the ebb and flood of the tides generate
strong currents. The list of places offering ideal
conditions includes Scotland, France, Canada,
and East Asia. Strangford Lough’s natural harbor is an at-
tractive location for various reasons. First and
foremost, it is relatively shallow. This has made
it possible to anchor the power plant at a
depth of around 30 meters, explains Kai Oliver
Kölmel, who is responsible for Ocean Power at
the Siemens Renewables Division. “Shallow
water makes it easier to anchor a facility into
the seabed,” he says. “In addition, the ebb and
flow of the tides is stronger in shallow waters.
For instance, the flow rate in the so-called
Strangford Narrow gets as high as four meters
of water per second; SeaGen needs a flow of at
least one meter per second to generate elec-
tricity.” Underwater Electricity Factory. The Strang-
ford Lough plant is operated by Marine Current
Turbines, a British company in which Siemens
acquired a ten percent interest in 2010. The fa-
cility is similar to a wind turbine, the only dif-
ference being that it is driven by water instead
of air. Each of its two drive trains weighs 27
tons and is equipped with a rotor measuring
16 meters in diameter. The rotor blades can be turned through 180
degrees, which means they can produce elec-
tricity for up to 20 hours a day regardless of
whether the tide is coming in or going out. The
tower to which the two propeller turbines are
attached via a cross-member has a diameter of
three meters. Depending on the tide, the tow-
er can protrude as much as 20 meters above
the sea. The rotors can’t be seen above the wa-
ter — and it’s even possible to take a small boat
directly past the turbine because the rotors are
located at least three meters below the sur-
face. “Maintenance is easy,” says Kölmel, “be-
cause the facility can be easily accessed and
the cross-members to which the turbines are
attached can be raised out of the water using a
hydraulic lifting system.” Although extensive installation costs make
an investment in tidal current power plants
around twice as high as that for offshore wind
power facilities, the resulting electricity offers
several benefits. For example, the energy den-
sity of water is 800 times higher than that of
wind, which makes generating electricity with
water much more efficient. A 1.2 MW tidal
plant like the one at Strangford Lough can pro-
duce as much electricity in a year as a 2.5 MW
offshore wind turbine. The electricity yield
from tidal facilities is also more precisely calcu-
lable, which enhances planning security. After
all, tidal currents are determined by the moon
and the Earth’s gravitation, so they’re not de-
pendent on the weather and can be predicted
years in advance.
The International Energy Agency estimates
the global output potential of tidal power
plants to be as high as 800 terawatt-hours per
year — enough to supply 250 million house-
holds with electricity. Marine Current Turbines
continues to invest in tidal technologies.
Among other things, the company plans to
start building a tidal turbine park near the Isle
of Skye in northeastern Scotland in 2013.
When it’s completed, the facility will supply up
to 4,000 households with electricity from the
sea. Sabine Sauter
Tapping Invisible Rivers
Tidal flows represent a largely untapped source
of clean energy. But with an energy density 800
times that of wind, water offers a highly-efficient
and reliable source of power. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 3130 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity | Drinking Water Production
Drinking water is becoming scarce in many coastal regions. Seawater desalination can help, but conventional processes consume huge amounts of energy. Siemens engineers have now developed an electric desalination technique that cuts energy consumption in half.
ensures that both methods are carried out un-
der optimal conditions. In addition, Siemens’
CEDI technique benefits from the company’s
experience as the market leader in the produc-
tion of highly pure water for pharmaceutical
applications. The details are as follows: The salt content
of seawater is approximately 3.5 percent —
but drinking water can contain a maximum of
only one seventieth of that amount. To achieve
this tremendous reduction in salt content the
ED and CEDI processes use powerful electric
fields. Sodium chloride (salt) in seawater con-
sists of charged ions, so the electrodialysis
process channels water between two electric
poles through an area containing more than
700 semipermeable membrane pairs. The lat-
ter ensure a high desalination capacity. The
membranes alternate between those that al-
low only positive and those that allow only
negative ions to pass through. The ions follow
the pull of the electric field through one mem-
brane and are then stopped by the next one. Water with a low salt content, which is
known as diluate, thus collects in the compart-
ment between each membrane pair. Salt col-
lects in the compartments on either side, and
the concentrate that forms is expelled from the
system as wastewater. Newly developed mem-
branes now make it possible to use electrodial-
ysis for high salt concentrations such as those
found in seawater. “This technology can be
combined with advanced electrodeionization
technology to develop a marketable product in
the medium term,” says Knauf.”
After flowing through three electrodialysis
modules, the salt content of the diluate falls to
less than one percent. At this point, desalina-
tion with electrodialysis is no longer efficient,
so the next stage is a continuous electrodeion-
ization process in which an ion exchange resin
located between the membranes significantly
increases process efficiency. The resin does
this by absorbing ions from the salt and trans-
porting them to the membranes. At the same
time, this resin also regenerates itself by ab-
sorbing the positive and negative ions that are
formed by the partial disassociation of the wa-
ter in the strong electric field. Lower Noise and Vibrations. The key bene-
fit of this technique is that it does not require
either a high level of vaporization energy or
high pressure for the filtering process. Instead,
only the relatively low electrical resistance of
the membranes has to be overcome. Other ad-
vantages over the most common technique
previously used — reverse osmosis — include
the fact that the new method is safer to oper-
ate thanks to the elimination of high-pressure
pumps. The procedure also generates less
noise and fewer vibrations, is less susceptible
to corrosion because it uses plastic pipes, and
requires only minimal water treatment before
and afterwards. In addition, the mineral con-
tent required for drinking water can be set by
varying the strength of the electric field.
Other Siemens specialists are also involved
in this innovative development. Experts from
Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT) in Singapore,
for example, are studying
the properties of the mem-
branes in order to optimize
the new materials and pro-
duction technologies em-
ployed. CT expert Dr. An-
dreas Hauser is also contributing his
knowledge of system simulations. Over the
next three years, Hauser will work with RWTH
Aachen University to create an electrodialysis
simulation model in a project funded by the
German Ministry of Education and Research. The goal is to depict processes at the molec-
ular level using extremely powerful computers
so as to gain a more precise understanding of
how ions are transported through the mem-
branes and what form the water flow dynam-
ics take in the electric field. “The results will
flow into Siemens’ product development activi-
ties,” says Hauser. Researchers will then be
able to further optimize the desalination
process. “I’m hoping we’ll end up with software
that can calculate an optimal facility design for
each individual customer,” says Knauf. Plans call for demonstration units to be set
up at customer locations in Singapore, the
U.S., and the Caribbean by mid-2012. These
units will show that the new and economical
desalination technique will work not only in
Singapore but also at any other location, de-
spite sharp regional differences in seawater
salt content. “We expect global water con-
sumption to rise by 40 percent over the next
15 years, which will make sustainable water
supplies extremely important,” Knauf explains.
“Because of its high energy efficiency and low
CO
2
balance, electrochemical seawater desali-
nation can play a major role in regions suffer-
ing from freshwater shortages.” Fenna Bleyl
Electrodialysis modules and seawater filters (below
left) have to be monitored regularly. High quality is
assured through periodic laboratory checks (bottom
center and right).
W
hen it rains in Singapore, it pours. It is
therefore difficult to imagine that this
tropical nation suffers from a lack of water.
However, Singapore measures only 40 kilome-
ters across at its widest point, which means its
land mass isn’t big enough to supply all of its
five million inhabitants with drinking water ob-
tained from either rain or groundwater. Singa-
pore’s government has therefore come up with
ideas for solving the problem. It has trans-
formed large stretches of land into reservoirs,
has begun importing some of its drinking wa-
ter from Malaysia, and now operates several
wastewater recycling facilities (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2010, p. 44). In addition, Singapore’s government views
seawater desalination as an essential part of its
water management system. The problem is
that the two common desalination processes
— distillation and reverse osmosis — require a
lot of energy. The first uses the most energy —
approximately ten kilowatt hours per cubic
meter (kWh/m
3
) of purified water, while the
second is more economical, as it requires
around four kWh/m
3
, most of which is used to
operate high-pressure pumps that push water
through extremely fine membrane filters. Engineers at Siemens Water Technologies
have therefore been searching for an even
more efficient technique. Back in 2008 they
set a new energy savings world record in a lab.
This led to Siemens winning the “Singapore
Challenge” competition initiated by the coun-
try’s government, which called for seawater
desalination at a maximum energy consump-
tion rate of 1.5 kWh/m
3
. Since then, Siemens
has been developing a commercial version of
its process, and in December 2010, using a
large pilot facility built with the help of the Sin-
gapore Public Utilities Board, the company
demonstrated that its process uses only half
the energy required with reverse osmosis. “The
new method marks a revolution in seawater
desalination,” says Dr. Rüdiger Knauf, Director
of Development at Water Technologies. “The
pilot facility shows that our technology not
only functions in the laboratory but also has a
daily capacity of 50 cubic meters of water.” Combining Two Processes. The trick behind
desalination à la Siemens lies in the combina-
tion of two techniques. First, salt is removed
from seawater using an electrodialysis unit
(ED) built to handle high concentrations of
salt. After that, water undergoes continual
electrodeionization — or CEDI — which re-
moves smaller amounts of salt. This approach
“We expect global water consumption to rise by 40 percent over the next 15 years.”
Desalination: Plunging Price
Sludge Powers Water Purification Process A new biological water purification facility developed by
Siemens Water Technologies generates enough methane
gas to power its own operations. It also produces much
less sludge than conventional systems. The pilot facility
for this process, which is located at a site run by Singa-
pore’s Public Utilities Board, has been operating in an en-
ergy-neutral manner since June 2010. The new facility’s predecessor used an aerobic (ventilat-
ed) process in which bacteria broke down impurities in water by digesting them and converting them
into new bacterial substances. This produced bacteria flakes filled with impurities — forming sludge that
is then separated and either deposited in landfills or burned. “This wastes energy, because the organic
impurities contain ten times more energy than we need to do the cleaning itself. All we have to do is use
it,” says Dr. Rüdiger Knauf, Director of Development at Siemens Water Technologies. However, sludge
concentrations in municipal sewage systems are too low to produce methane economically, so Siemens
development engineers use a trick. They charge the bacteria flakes with the organic impurities for only a
short time under ventilation. As a result, there is very little bacterial reproduction. After most of the wa-
ter is separated, the bacteria ferment the impurities into methane in an anaerobic process step. After
two aerobic steps and one anaerobic step, the sludge has been broken down so that the least possible
amount of sludge remains and the largest possible amount of methane is available for energy genera-
tion in gas turbines or combined heat and power plants. The pilot facility now in operation cleans around half a cubic meter of wastewater per day. A convention-
al water treatment plant requires a little less than 0.25 kilowatt-hours of energy to do this, so the pilot
unit needs to generate roughly that amount of energy in the form of methane. Plans call for construc-
tion to begin in May 2011 on a pilot facility in Singapore that will be a thousand times larger than the
current unit and will be able to clean wastewater for around 2,000 residents. By comparison, a typical
urban water treatment plant accommodates water from 10,000 to 100,000 residents.
Market launch is scheduled for 2012. Existing water treatment plants could be retrofitted for the new
system, which makes Knauf confident that “the process will be a viable future water treatment alterna-
tive as energy prices rise and landfill capacity in many countries declines.”
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 3332 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Prof. Li Junfeng (55) is the Chairman of the Academic Com-
mittee of the Energy Research In-
stitute and is currently serving as
Deputy Director. His work focuses
on renewable energy and climate
change issues such as the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM)
and carbon trading. He headed the
first CDM project in China and is a
representative in East Asia of the
global Renewable Energy and En-
ergy Efficiency Partnership. Prof. Du Xiangwan (73) is the
former Vice President of the Chi-
nese Academy of Engineering,
Senior Scientific Advisor of the
China Academy of Engineering Physics, and a
Member of the Standing Com-
mittee of the China Association
of Science and Technology. He
serves as the deputy head of the
National Energy Advisory Com-
mittee and is chairing a series of
studies on China’s energy devel-
opment strategy.
Dr. Shi Zhengrong (48) is Chairman of the Board of Directors
and Chief Executive Officer of Sun-
tech, the largest producer of pho-
tovoltaic (PV) panels worldwide.
He is also said to be one of the
richest individuals in China. Prior
to founding Suntech in 2001, he
was a research director and execu-
tive director of Pacific Solar, an
Australian PV company engaged in
the commercialization of next-
generation thin film technology. What role do you see for renewable energy in China?
Li Junfeng: China is investing a lot in clean
energy. We currently have more than 200 gi-
gawatts of installed hydro capacity and more
than 30 gigawatts of wind, with more projects
down the line. I think that by 2050 the share
of clean energy in China will be much larger
than many currently think it will be.
Du Xiangwan:
By 2050 renewable energy,
including exotic forms such as marine and ge-
othermal energy, could account for 25 percent
of China’s total energy production. If these re-
newables can be expanded, rather than build-
ing coal-fired power plants with the equivalent
capacity, it could add up to a reduction of
roughly four billion tons of CO
2
emissions.
Shi Zhengrong:
You may call me a dreamer,
but I believe that one day China will be able to
satisfy all its energy needs by means of renew-
able sources. It is all a question of determina-
tion. If you are determined to do something,
than you should be able to achieve it — espe-
cially in China.
On the other hand, at the moment a large share of new capacity for electricity
production in China comes in the form of
coal-fired plants…
Shi Zhengrong:
China is still a developing
country. We need strong economic growth,
and we need to produce affordable energy to
enable this growth. However, the government
does realize the need for environmental pro-
tection. There are strict regulations on emis-
sions in place, and a lot of high technology
goes into new facilities. Coal-fired plants will
become cleaner, but we need some time to
get it right.
Du Xiangwan:
It is a fact that coal is not go-
ing to go away overnight. It is an important
part of our energy mix, accounting for more
than three quarters of total energy production.
And new plants will be built in China. This in
turn means that 100 percent renewables is an
unrealistic goal. However, together with nu-
clear power and natural gas, renewables will
at least help us to reduce the growth of CO
2
emissions over time.
The New Age of Electricity| Interviews
The pace of China’s economic growth is lifting millions of people out of poverty. However, it is bring-
ing its own problems. While energy efficiency remains relatively low, demand for energy is rising
rapidly. Pictures of the Future spoke with three experts about the future of China’s energy supply.
Powering the Chinese Dream
Li Junfeng:
I agree. Gas in particular will play
an important role. It is a cleaner fuel than coal,
and compared with Europe and the U.S. it cur-
rently makes up only a tiny share of our ener-
gy mix. We have to catch up in this area, and
we will. I am convinced that in the long run
the share of coal in China’s energy mix will
gradually decrease rather than increasing.
When it comes to setting the right targets
for reducing CO
2
emissions, which of the
two should we focus on: emissions per
capita or by country?
Li Junfeng:
In my opinion we should base re-
duction targets on emissions per capita. Any
other approach would be unjust. Take the ex-
amples of China and the EU. China has approx-
imately 30 provinces. The EU has 27 states —
but only about 40 percent of China’s popula-
tion. Why would we count China as one coun-
try, but not the EU?
Du Xiangwan:
I think it is much fairer to cal-
culate emissions per capita, since every indi-
vidual should have an equal right to draw on
resources. China has a very large population.
Taking aggregate figures distorts the picture. Shi Zhengrong:
This is a political question.
Suntech’s objective as a private company —
besides being profitable — is to make a posi-
tive overall contribution by enhancing the sus-
tainability of energy production. Suntech has
to date delivered a total photovoltaic capacity
of 2.5 gigawatts. This is equivalent to five
medium-sized coal-fired plants. In 2010 alone
we delivered panels with a capacity of 1.5 gi-
gawatts. And our production is rising, helping
to avoid CO
2
emissions all over the world.
China may be the world’s largest produc-
er of photovoltaic panels, but only a mi-
nuscule number of them are used locally.
What has to happen to make China a user
rather than just a producer of PV?
Shi Zhengrong:
The government has to pro-
vide subsidies so that manufacturers and in-
vestors can make a reasonable profit. There
would be an additional benefit in this ap-
proach. Actually using the technology makes it
cheaper through economies of scale and by
fostering further efficiency gains through in-
novation. To reach grid parity in China, we
must bring the costs down to about ten euro
cents per kWh. That’s an ambitious target, but
we can get there. And we have to be ambi-
tious. In the past we only heard about the
American dream. Nowadays there are many
Chinese dreams.
What role do power grids play in the context of increasing the share of renewables in China?
Li Junfeng:
The buildup of capacity in both
wind and solar power will aggravate fluctua-
tions; the patterns of production are bound to
change extensively. This will require a more
stable and more intelligent grid. China is cur-
rently making investments in this area. In ad-
dition, wind, solar, and hydro power plants
tend to be in remote areas, far away from the
centers of consumption, which tend to be con-
centrated on the east coast and in certain ar-
eas in the south. This calls for high-voltage di-
rect current transmission lines like the one fin-
ished in 2010, which links Yunnan and
Guangzhou. I understand that it draws on
Siemens technology.
One element in making renewables more
relevant is innovation. Do you believe
that Europe and the U.S. are ahead of the
game in this regard?
Du Xiangwan:
Innovation is crucial to both
the U.S. and China. However, I admit that we
have not been particularly strong in this area.
This does not mean we should emulate the Sil-
icon Valley model. China’s problems have their
own shape — and we will come up with our
own ways of nurturing innovation to solve
them. If we take a look at research on energy
in particular, it becomes clear that China has a
growing advantage. Many more new power
plants are being built on our soil than any-
where else. Those who want to study new en-
ergy technology at work have a good reason
to come to China.
Interview by Andreas Kleinschmidt.
electric mobility. He knows that a full charge
will power his movE for around 120 kilometers
if he doesn’t drive too fast. When the “20 per-
cent” light goes on, it means he’s running on
reserve power. “I’ve never gotten stuck,” he
says, “but I don’t like driving with the reserve
light on. So I always check Google Maps before
I visit friends to make sure I know how far it is.”
Orsolleck has developed a good sense of the
car’s range. On cold days, the battery is a little
weaker. “But you hardly notice it with the dis-
tance for my commute — I always come home
with a 66 percent charge,” says Orsolleck. Nev-
ertheless there is one drawback. On frosty
days, the windshield ices up because the elec-
tric heater doesn’t get as hot as the exhaust
heat generated by a combustion engine. It’s
problems like these that make clear just how
important it is to conduct fleet trials under
real-life conditions. The Orsolleck family still
uses its gasoline-powered VW for longer trips
— but more and more of its shorter trips are
taken with the movE. “The car is ideal for what
we need to do in the city,” says Orsolleck. But
you still need to consider alternatives for
longer distances, he adds, and mentions car
sharing or car rental as possibilities.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 3534 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity | Electric Vehicles
Siemens has launched its first major fleet trials intended to test the entire concept
of electric mobility from electricity generation to battery charging and driving under everyday conditions. As many as 100 electric cars will be on the road and will be gradually equipped with charging, communication, and drive system technologies from Siemens laboratories.
56-kilowatt electric drive system, enough to re-
liably power the diminutive 1,300-kilogram
automobile — assuming that the driver shifts
properly when trying to edge into the passing
lane, that is... The after-work commuter traffic is heavy,
and car after car drives by. Finally there’s a
break. The driver shifts into first and…movE
glides at a frighteningly slow pace across the
intersection. But wait! The driver has forgotten
that first gear is actually meant for maneuver-
ing out of a parking space. If you want to sprint
from zero, you’re better off in second gear. Hit-
ting the gas pedal hard instantly pushes you
back into your seat. So second gear is just fine
for driving around town; it’ll even get you up to
90 kilometers per hour easily. In reality, electric
cars don’t even need a transmission. Still, the
first movE models have one, as they are special
versions of the Suzuki Splash conventional ve-
hicle. In just a few months, the next genera-
tion of electric cars will take off in a flash with-
out gear shifting.
which challenges still remain. “Driving this car
is really a lot of fun,” says Orsolleck, a comput-
er scientist. “My son is getting his driver’s li-
cense and he’s already excited about driving
the movE. Nothing about the car indicates its
significance for the environment, and young
people simply think it’s cool.” Orsolleck was se-
lected for the test program because his profile
precisely corresponded to what the company
was looking for. For one thing, the distance
from his home to his workplace was ideal. Or-
solleck lives in western Munich and commutes
daily to his job in Neuperlach, some 20 kilome-
ters away in the southeastern part of the city.
He used to travel by commuter train — now he
guides his movE through rush-hour traffic. “I
was thrilled by the idea of being part of the de-
velopment of electric mobility,” he says.
“This market is interesting for Siemens be-
cause we’ve got the needed expertise in all ar-
eas — from electricity generation in power
plants to power transmission, electric drives,
and end consumers,” says Andreas Romandi,
will involve the addition of new technical com-
ponents. For example, Orsolleck still recharges
his movE battery with 230-volt alternating cur-
rent from a socket at home. After getting
home in the evening, he uncoils a cable and
plugs it into his car, whose battery is fully
recharged six hours later. Soon, however, he
will have a so-called wallbox installed in his
garage — a three-phase connection with a
charging output of 11 kilowatts. This will
charge his 22-kWh battery in about two hours.
The setup only requires laying a single cable
from the house grid connection to the garage.
Fully Charged. Charging is one of the key is-
sues being addressed in 4-S, whose main par-
ticipants are a Siemens smart grid project
group and the Energy and Industry Sectors.
“We want to find out how the power grid and
electric vehicles interact, which is why we’re
developing various applications and business
models for vehicle-grid interplay,” says Ralph
Griewing, head of eCar Infrastructure at Ener-
While Klaus Orsolleck works in his office, his electric car charges up at a station in the company parking lot. A display in the vehicle
shows the remaining range and battery charge.
J
anuary is gray in Munich. Rain pounds on
the car roof and water kicks up under the
fenders. The noise seems louder than normal,
however, because the vehicle itself doesn’t
make a sound. Instead, it glides along in com-
plete silence. The small green-and-white car
known as a “movE” is one of 20 test vehicles
now being driven by Siemens employees in
Munich and Erlangen. Underneath its hood is a
gy. This includes the charging stations, which
are ready for market launch and have already
been installed in several locations around Mu-
nich, Erlangen, and Berlin. The utility company
in Erlangen is also involved in these activities.
The challenge is to ensure reliable commu-
nication between driver, vehicle, and charging
station. For one thing, the station needs to rec-
ognize that a vehicle is actually connected,
since safety considerations preclude electricity
from flowing if this is not the case. In addition,
the driver must be identified to ensure that the
supply company knows whom to bill. It’s like
cell phone billing, says Griewing: “Depending
on where we are, we make calls via different
networks through roaming, but we only re-
ceive one bill at the end of the month from our
provider. That’s the way car battery charging
will be billed in the future.” Siemens is currently building a network op-
eration center in Fürth, Germany that will be-
gin monitoring communication between test
vehicles and the electricity suppliers in mid-
2011. Similar centers are already being operat-
ed by car fleet providers, whose vehicles are
generally unlocked by customers with a chip
card that also activates the onboard computer,
which then establishes contact with the center
via radio. “As a systems supplier, Siemens can
also handle such functions with its operation
center,” says Griewing. “In this case, the owner
of an electric vehicle fleet — for example, a
municipality — wouldn’t have to manage the
cars itself, and this would
make the transition to
electric vehicles more at-
tractive and convenient.” In such a system, each
car would be equipped
with an onboard computer
— a kind of navigation sys-
tem with electric mobility functionality. Drivers
would use the computer to reserve charging
station time or to request information about
the nearest station. The system could also noti-
fy the center about defective charging sta-
tions. The center, in turn, could send data
about the current charge level to the driver’s
cell phone in response to questions such as: “Is
the vehicle fully charged? Can I make a quick
stop at the supermarket?” Solid Reserve. Orsolleck has gotten used to
the new ways of thinking that go along with
Klaus Orsolleck has gotten used to the idio-
syncrasies of his movE, which he has been
test-driving since November 2010. About 200
employees applied to take part in the largest
Siemens fleet test to date, one that will include
as many as 100 vehicles by 2012. The goal of
the “4-Sustainelectromobility” (4-S) project, as
it is known, is to find out how electric vehicles
can be integrated into everyday traffic, and
4-S project manager at Corporate Technology.
“Electric mobility will be a huge market in the
future and we want to be at the cutting edge
of developments.” (See Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2010, p. 92). The 4-S project addresses
all the components of future electric mobility
scenarios — but not all at once, of course. The
100 vehicles in the project will be put on the
road gradually, and each new project phase
Just Plug ‘er in!
An onboard computer provides infor-
mation on available charging stations
and directions to the nearest one.
2020: Nearly 18 Million New
Electric Vehicles Worldwide
Source: HSBC
Wind Power to Cover over Half
the World’s Renewables Market
Source: HSBC
2020: More than $1 Trillion for Low-CO
2
Energy Production Worldwide
Source: HSBC
Source: IEA 2010
Pure electric vehicles
Plug-in hybrids
Biofuels 18
2009
8
0
192
203
93
2020e
368
7
368
544
Heat from renewable sources
CCS
Nuclear power
Electricity from renewable sources
2009
5
657
8,650
9,226
2020e
0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000
in thousands of units investments in billions of US$
in %
2009
2020e
Declining Share of Fossil Energy Sources
in the Global Electricity Production Mix
Geothermal 0.3
Wind 1
Biomass and waste 1.3
Water 16
Nuclear 14
Gas 21
Oil 5.4
Coal 41
Sea 0 Sea 0
2008
2035e
Coal 32
Geothermal 1
Wind 8
Solar PV 2
CSP 1
Biomass and waste 4
Water 16
Nuclear 14
2020e
Water (“small hydro”) 49
Biomass 71
Solar 116
Geothermal 23 Wind 285
Gas 21
Oil 1
in billions of US$
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 37
The New Age of Electricity | Facts and Forecasts
T
he trend is clear: Global demand for energy will
continue to rise sharply. The International Energy
Agency (IEA) estimates that global energy consumption
will be around 36 percent higher by 2035 than it was in
2008. This development is primarily being driven by ex-
panding economies in the emerging markets, as well as
by world population growth. Fossil resources are limit-
ed, however, and using them to provide energy causes
the biggest share of CO
2
emissions.
The IEA believes this dilemma can be solved through
more efficient use of energy and greater utilization of
electrical power in applications where fossil fuels contin-
ue to dominate — assuming such electricity is produced
without emissions. “We believe electricity produced
from renewable sources will be the most important
form of final energy in the future,” says Prof. Ulrich Wag-
ner, member of the Executive Board of the German
Aerospace Center (DLR). The range of future application
possibilities for clean electricity is enormous, from
household appliances, lighting, and machines, to heat
pumps, desalination facilities, and electric vehicles. A
study conducted by the German Physical Society (DPG)
in 2010 concluded that “electricity is easy to generate
and transmit, and it can also be used very conveniently
and flexibly.” The IEA adds that for “no other form of fi-
nal energy” will there be such a sharp increase in de-
mand as for electricity. In fact, global electricity con-
Our Evolving Energy Mix
sumption could likely rise by around 70 percent by
2035, with most of the increase to be accounted for by
emerging markets such as China. Many homes and offices around the world are still
heated with gas or oil. If electricity is to be produced in
the future with low CO
2
emissions, though, it makes
sense to implement the necessary heating system up-
grades in older buildings by installing electrical systems,
according to the DPG. Because of this — and also due to
higher demand for electrical devices in countries outside
the OECD — annual electricity consumption in buildings
will rise by 1.5 percent between now and 2035, despite
energy conservation measures. The share of global fi-
nal-energy consumption accounted for by electricity will
then likely rise from 27 percent today to 37 percent. The potential for using electricity in automobiles is
also tremendous. “Electric mobility can reduce petrole-
um consumption and prevent emissions of climate-dam-
aging CO
2
and other pollutants, provided no fossil
sources are used to generate the electricity,” says the
DPG. The German government expects one million elec-
tric vehicles on the road (in Germany) by 2020, and ex-
pects five million in operation by 2030 (including plug-
in hybrids equipped with both an electric motor and a
combustion engine). Plans in the U.S. and China are even more ambitious.
Both of these countries want to have one million electric
cars in operation by as early as 2015. A study conducted
by investment bank HSBC in 2010 estimates that the
market volume for electric vehicles will total $473 billion
by around 2020. By that time, there are expected to be
8.7 million pure electric cars and 9.2 million plug-in-hy-
brids on the road. The key to launching the new age of electricity is to
ensure rapid de-carbonization of power generation. The
IEA anticipates that the share of the world’s electricity
produced with coal, gas, and oil will fall from 67 percent
today to about 55 percent by 2035. During the same pe-
riod, the proportion of power from renewable sources
including water, wind, and the sun will rise from 19 per-
cent to 32 percent. And these forecasts are reflected in
the outlook for the market. Siemens experts believe that
in 2020 more than half of total global investment in the
power plant market will be accounted for by renewable
energy facilities. HSBC expects the global market vol-
ume for low-CO
2
energy production to increase from
$422 billion in 2009 to $1.043 trillion in 2020. Alongside hydropower, the main sources of CO
2
-free
electricity in the future will be energy from the wind —
and to a lesser extent solar energy. HSBC expects that by
2020 the wind-power industry will boast the lion’s share
of the renewable energy market with a stake of $285
billion. Solar power will follow with a $116 billion share
of the market. Anette Freise
36 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
One of Siemens’ project partners is Sixt
Leasing, which manages the company’s elec-
tric car fleet. If an e-car breaks down, Sixt takes
care of the towing and provides a replacement
car as soon as possible. Sixt Board member
Mark Thielenhaus says 4-S is a pilot project
that’s on target and important: “The market is
still in its infancy, but we’re already seeing de-
mand from company car pools,” he says, refer-
ring to Munich and the Erlangen-Nuremberg
areas, where employees often drive back and
forth between branch offices. The challenge,
says Thielenhaus, lies in providing fast service.
“We already have a Germany-wide network of
2,500 authorized service and repair centers for
conventional cars. Such a network still has to
be built for electric vehicles. We’re still experi-
menting, but in two or three years we should
see a serious market develop,” he says.
Fast Charging. Initial experience with 4-S
shows that e-cars are ready for everyday opera-
es. Siemens is working on a solution with BMW
in an induction project funded by Germany’s
Ministry of Research. This will undergo testing
in mid-2011 in Berlin.
Siemens researchers are also working on
rapid charging features that channel electricity
into the battery with greater power. Such a
function would reduce charging times to only
minutes. At present, the fastest Siemens
charging station — which has a power of 22
kilowatts — takes around one hour to fully
recharge a battery. That’s already double the
speed of the previous generation of chargers.
Orsolleck charges his car at the company
parking lot during the day and at a household
socket at night. This is more than enough for
his needs — and probably
those of many other driv-
ers. “We believe that elec-
tric vehicles will slowly
take over the automobile
market — initially as sec-
ies at the same time, it will overload older local
transformers,” Wietschel explains. Griewing
agrees, and that’s why the 4-S project team is
working on an intelligent charging control sys-
tem for ensuring that not all vehicles in an area
attempt to maximize there charging simulta-
neously when drivers hook up to the grid in
the evening. Moreover, an intelligent meter in
a wallbox would enable charging in line with
the latest electricity prices, whereby power
would be cheapest when TVs and washing ma-
chines are turned off at night and industrial fa-
cilities have shut down. Wietschel advises caution, however. “It has
yet to be shown that customers will go for
such a pricing model,” he says, explaining that
they would have to pay close attention to vary-
ing electricity rates: “If the economic gain is
marginal, many consumers might lose inter-
est.” Still, Siemens researchers point out that
the required intelligence can be put into the
car itself, which means the vehicle would need
just a small amount of information from the
driver to make a decision as to when electricity
is cheap enough. Romandi is confident the
project will ultimately come up with the right
answers to all of these questions. Test drivers
are initially leasing the vehicles at a very favor-
able price for a period of 30 months; the fee in-
cludes electricity, maintenance, insurance, and
potential repair center costs. Siemens continu-
ally incorporates its latest research results and
technologies into the project. It’s still not
known how much new knowledge 4-S will
yield, Romandi says.
Wolfgang Geus, chairman of the Erlangen
power utility project partner, has a similar
view. “We’re using electric vehicles to find out
whether all the requirements for the cars, in-
cluding charging infrastructure and low-volt-
age network, can be met. The challenges in-
volve the influence of weather conditions on
battery performance and lifespan, charging
options in private and public garages, billing
models, and load processes in the low-voltage
network,” he says. Siemens intends to get as
many companies as possible involved in the
project. Germany E-Cars is currently providing
the vehicles. Siemens plans to install its own
inverters with a charging feature, as well as
drive system components, in the coming gen-
eration of 4-S cars. This will ensure that the ve-
hicles themselves will have more “Siemens in-
side.” Tim Schröder tion in and around cities. But several questions
remain open. For example: What’s the best
charging technology? CT developers are work-
ing with BMW on three charging modes — al-
ternating current (AC), direct current (DC), and
induction (see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2010, p. 34). The problem is that European
and international standards have yet to be
drawn up. The AC system has the charging
technology in the vehicle, which affects the
price of the car. With DC, the battery can be
rapidly charged in the vehicle without a charg-
ing regulator, which in this case is in the charg-
ing station. There’s no clear agreement at the
moment as to where the charging unit should
be installed — i.e. in the vehicle or outside of
it. Induction charging is also a promising alter-
native. Here, the battery is charged in a con-
venient manner via an electric field without a
cable. The problem is that the energy must
bridge the air gap between the charging unit
and the battery, which results in electrical loss-
ond cars for use in the city,” Romandi says. “We
also expect around 1.5 million purely electric
vehicles to be on the road in Germany by
2020.” Romandi is certain the automobile mar-
ket will become more varied. Hybrids — vehi-
cles with both gasoline and electric motors —
are expected to become the cars of choice for
all types of use. On the other hand, an eco-
nomical diesel might remain ideal for a sales-
man on the road. Grid Challenges. Prof. Martin Wietschel is the
director of the Energy division at the Fraun-
hofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Re-
search in Karlsruhe. He believes the extensive
expansion of electric mobility will cause prob-
lems with power grids in local communities. “If
ten electric cars on a street charge their batter-
Electric vehicles in Siemens’ pilot project have a
range of approximately 120 kilometers and can be recharged in two hours using a special wallbox
installed at home.
“We expect around 1.5 million purely electric vehicles to be on the
road in Germany by 2020.”
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 3938 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
The New Age of Electricity | Biogas
Biogas power plants are booming. Siemens’ infrared spectrometry technology now makes it possible to continually
monitor their output and thus operate them automatically.
ers” in phases three and four. These then con-
vert acid into methane. “You can run into prob-
lems if too large a volume of easily digestible
substances like sugar beets is on the menu,”
Fleischer says. In this case, too much acid will
form in too short a time, causing the mixture
to turn sour and the methane-producing bac-
teria to become less healthy and thus less pro-
ductive. Less acid is then broken down, and
that damages the bacteria even further. The
whole process may then come to a complete
halt, at which point the bacteria in the fer-
menter will die. CT’s new measuring unit transmits infrared
rays into the bacterial soup via glass fiber ca-
bles. The radiation that returns is measured by
detectors the size of a fist. “Fatty acids alter in-
frared light in a unique way,” Fleischer ex-
plains. The more acid there is in the mixture,
the greater the changes. The data can also be
used to determine how many of which types of
bacteria are working in the reactor, and how
large the ratio is between solids and liquids.
“This method is relatively inexpensive and ro-
bust as compared to other chemical analysis
techniques,” says Fleischer. Farmers, Sewage Plants, and Landfills.
The results of CT’s pilot study will generate in-
terest around the world. Biogas can be easily
stored, fed into the natural gas grid or, as is the
case with Götz, used on site to produce elec-
tricity and heat. A study by the Trend Research
Institute estimates that German exports of bio-
gas power plants alone will more than double
over the next ten years. Germany now has over 5,000 biogas units
— more than any other country. “Collectively,
these produce a lot of bio-methane, which,
when converted into electricity, generates the
same output as two large power plants,” says
Hirsch. The biggest users of the technology are
farmers looking to make extra money. Howev-
er, biogas facilities can also be found at
sewage plants and landfills, where they make
bio-methane from wastewater and garbage. To accelerate this trend, Siemens re-
searchers plan to closely study bacteria feed
with the help of infrared lamps in order to im-
prove feed quality. “Cost considerations have
made feed mixtures more and more heteroge-
neous,” says Fleischer. Many biogas plant oper-
ators now use food industry waste, for exam-
ple. Götz has tried out robust wild plants, and
even weeds from public and private gardens
could be used to make biogas in the future,
says Fleischer. Siemens experts will have to re-
fine their method if the methane-producing
bacteria are to be kept happy under such trying
nutritional conditions. And they’ll need a lot of
specialized knowledge here — not to mention
good gut instincts.Andrea Hoferichter
Josef Götz and his son regularly take samples from a fermenter (right) and then have them analyzed. Siemens researchers plan to use an infrared spectrometer to evaluate the status of biogas facilities much more rapidly online.
T
hanks to years of experience, Josef Götz
can follow his gut instinct. Götz, a farmer
from Markt Indersdorf in Bavaria, also needs to
call on this experience for his biogas power
plant, as the bacteria that transform forage
crops and slurry into methane in the unit’s un-
derground fermenter literally work in the dark. This guessing game is required because un-
til recently no affordable measuring technique
existed for continually monitoring the complex
operation of the fermenter. Creating optimal
conditions for measurements is also difficult.
“At the moment, we can only send samples to
an external lab, so there’s a time lag until we
can make adjustments,” Götz explains. Biogas is converted into electricity and heat
in a cogeneration plant. Ideally, the plant
should generate 860 kilowatts of electricity,
whereby each kilowatt hour translates into 15
cents of income for Götz. But Götz can also
lose hundreds of thousands of euros if the
plant fails to operate optimally. “Operation
near maximum capacity gives you the best
methane yield,” he says. The type, amount, and composition of the
nutrients fed to the bacteria primarily deter-
mine whether they develop to their most ad-
vanced stage, weaken, or even die. If the latter
occurs, the entire facility will wither like a gar-
den pond with too much fertilizer. This can
lead to complete plant failure — a risk that vir-
tually no operator is willing to take. If a plant
fails, the fermenter has to be emptied,
cleaned, and refilled. The entire fermentation
process then has to be restarted, and this can
take months. With this in mind, researchers at Siemens
Corporate Technology (CT) have developed a
solution in the form of measurement technolo-
gy that ensures the full automation of biogas
plants. The system might soon be tested with
Götz’s unit. The heart of the system is a spec-
trometer the size of a briefcase. The device op-
erates with light in the near-infrared spectrum,
which contains slightly less energy than that
emitted by a heat lamp. “The spectrometer can
measure the acidity of the mixture in the fer-
menter around the clock,” says Prof. Maximil-
ian Fleischer, whose team at CT developed the
device. Acid concentration is a key indicator of the
conditions inside a fermenter. If it exceeds a
critical level, the fermenting process will shut
down. “Continual process monitoring there-
fore allows biogas plant operators to react very
quickly to problems by, for instance, changing
the bacteria feed composition as soon as acid
concentrations rise,” Fleischer explains. If
countermeasures are to function automatical-
ly, the measurement data must be interpreted
and converted into clear commands such as
“add corn” or “decrease slurry content.” Achieving this kind of transparency is the
job of Volker Hirsch from the Siemens Industry
Sector. “We use Simatic process controls that
have already proved their value in the chemical
industry,” he explains. Siemens technology is
now used in Götz’s unit to collect data on tem-
perature and gas composition. But Götz never-
theless has to take a sample to a lab every
week for acid analysis, a process that involves
substantial costs and runs the risk that infor-
mation will be late. That’s why Götz has high
hopes for real-time measurements. Siemens researchers first had to under-
stand the details of the complex processes in
biogas facilities before they could tailor near-
infrared spectroscopy to meet the require-
ments of these facilities. “Methane is produced
in four phases,” Fleischer explains. A different
type of bacteria handles each phase. In the
first two phases, bacteria break down nutrients
into interim products such as butyric and acetic
acids, which can be digested by their “cowork-
Maximum Methane
The New Age of Electricity
In Brief
Electricity is expanding its role in our daily lives
as it moves into application areas that are still
dominated by other energy sources. These range
from electric vehicles to building systems and de-
salination plants. Global electricity consumption is
therefore set to rise rapidly — by around 70 per-
cent between now and 2035, according to the International Energy Agency. (p. 14)
Hydrogen is an ideal energy carrier and an important raw material for the chemical industry.
The gas can be obtained from water by electroly-
sis carried out using surplus electricity from re-
newable sources, for example. Siemens engineers
are working on new electrolyzers that could form
the basis for future energy storage units. (p. 26)
In the future, intelligent buildings will au-
tonomously adjust their electricity consumption
to fluctuating supplies of solar and wind power.
One way of doing this will be to temporarily shut
down ventilation systems and pumps without
sacrificing comfort. Siemens is already working
with Munich’ Technical University on software
tools for managing building systems in line with
available electricity supplies. (p.17)
Smart electric meters are bringing the vision of a “digital” electricity supply closer. In the Swiss
district of Arbon, for example, Siemens has been
replacing around 8,700 household meters with
new smart units since 2007. This work will be
completed by the end of 2013. Siemens re-
searchers at a smart grid test facility in Erlangen
are developing technologies for the intelligent
power networks of tomorrow. (p. 22)
Ensuring the supply of drinking water is becom-
ing increasingly difficult in many coastal regions.
But desalination by distillation or reverse osmosis
still needs a lot of energy. Siemens engineers
have now developed a new desalination method
that works using electric fields and cuts desalina-
tion energy requirements in half. (p. 30) More and more alternatives to fossil energy
carriers are now available. These include tidal
power plants resembling underwater windmills.
Such a plant has generated a record output of 1.2 MW of green electricity off the coast of Northern Ireland for 1,500 households since
2008. (p. 29)
PEOPLE:
Smart buildings:
Joachim Kiauk, Industry
joachim.kiauk@siemens.com
Christoph Hielscher, Energy
christoph.hielscher@siemens.com
Solar cooling:
Peeush Kumar Bishnoi, CT India
peeushkumar.bishnoi@siemens.com
Feeding solar power into the grid:
Dr. Michael Metzger, CT
michael.metzger@siemens.com
Smart meters / smart grids:
Dr. Jochen Schäfer, CT
jochen.js.schaefer@siemens.com
Joachim Bamberger, CT
joachim.bamberger@siemens.com
New lighting systems:
Henry Feil, Osram
h.feil@osram.com
Philipp Kräuchi, Industry
philipp.kraeuchi@siemens.com
Electrolysis:
Dr. Manfred Waidhas, Industry
manfred.waidhas@siemens.com
Tidal power plants:
Kai Kölmel, Energy
kai.koelmel@siemens.com
Desalination:
Dr. Rüdiger Knauf, Industry
ruediger.knauf@siemens.com
Dr. Andreas Hauser, CT
a.hauser@siemens.com
Electric mobility:
Ralph Griewing, Energy
ralph.griewing@siemens.com
Andreas Romandi, CT
andreas.romandi@siemens.com
Biogas plants:
Dr. Maximilian Fleischer, CT
maximilian.fleischer@siemens.com
LINKS:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology:
www.kit.edu
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems
ISE: www.ise.fraunhofer.de
DPG study “Electricity — Key to a Sustainable
Energy System”: www.studien.dpg-physik.de
SeaGen tidal current power plant:
www.seageneration.co.uk
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 4140 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
A
gentle breeze wafts through the narrow
alleyways of the Masdar Institute on this
winter morning. Marwan Mokhtar, a student,
is on his way to the Caribou coffee shop, but
takes a slight detour. He walks past his dormi-
tory, the walls of which are covered with
curved concrete slabs punctuated by openings
that let in light but keep direct sunlight out. A
little further on, he passes the library. Here,
the exterior walls are lined with insulating gas-
filled plastic cushions. Mokhtar walks along
the terrace with its view of the desert that is
slowly filling up with construction sites. The Masdar Institute of Science and Tech-
nology where Marwan is studying is part of the
first phase of Masdar City, one of the most sus-
tainable cities in the world. Projected to even-
tually accommodate up to 40,000 residents
and 50,000 daily commuters, the city is going
up near Abu Dhabi’s international airport, in a
country that sits on top of nearly one-tenth of
the world’s oil reserves and in a place with the
world’s highest per capita environmental foot-
print.
Marwan, who is 24, is pursuing his master’s
in mechanical engineering, but the degree
program here has little in common with those
at many other academic institutions. All 153
students at the Masdar Institute and its 40 or
so faculty members are expected to devote at
least half of their time to research projects.
Most of these projects are focused on renew-
able energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable
technologies. Standing on the terrace,
Mokhtar points to a tower off in the distance
rising up out of the desert. “My power plant is
being built back there,” he says, exaggerating
only slightly. “His plant” is a small experimental
solar-thermal power plant where he is testing a
new design.
There is no doubt that Masdar City is a
unique urban development project. But it adds
up to more than just the large-scale use of pio-
neering technologies. It is also a gigantic test-
bed in which these technologies can mature.
At its heart is the research-oriented Masdar In-
stitute — a driver and virtual think tank for the
entire project. Here, Siemens, which is slated
to build a smart power grid and supply high-ef-
ficiency building systems, is partnering with
Masdar to conduct research into technologies
for smart buildings, smart grids and carbon
capture and sequestration. Indeed, the compa-
ny plans to move its headquarters for the en-
tire region to Masdar City in order to have a lo-
cal presence where things are happening. In
addition, Siemens’ Oil & Gas Division has been
headquartered in nearby Abu Dhabi since
2010. 21st-Century Silicon Valley. What is being
built here in the immediate vicinity of some of
the world’s most productive oil wells could be-
come the Silicon Valley of the 21st century and
one of the most important innovation centers
for green technologies anywhere. Who would
have thought that possible just ten years ago?
In the first half of the last century, the region’s
place on the world economic map was, at best,
as a way station for maritime traffic headed to-
ward Asia. Its role changed dramatically in the
second half of the 20th century, however. Oil
and gas exports brought wealth to the region.
The Gulf thus became an important sales mar-
ket for products from highly developed coun-
tries and used its steady flow of income to ac-
quire holdings in companies in Europe, the
U.S. and Asia.
The development of the Gulf region’s eco-
nomic model did not end there. The area is
now establishing future-oriented industries on
their own soil. These include energy-intensive
manufacturing processes such as aluminum
production. That the Gulf region is an attrac-
Pictures of the Future | Sustainability in the Gulf
More manufacturing, more research, more green energy. The Gulf region
is preparing for the post-oil era. The passion of the region’s young people and the technological expertise of companies such as Siemens are opening new horizons.
Opening New Horizons
The energy-efficient buildings of the
Masdar Institute are the first building blocks
of Masdar City. Over 150 students, including
Noura Al Dhaheri and Marwan Mokhtar (bottom right), study here.
tive production location is documented by its
high level of direct foreign investment. Saudi
Arabia, for instance, has benefitted from near-
ly €150 billion in investment over the last 20
years. And over the next ten years it plans to
double its electrical generating capacity as it
continues to industrialize. Siemens has been awarded a contract val-
ued at over €1 billion to supply twelve high-ef-
ficiency gas turbines, generators and steam
turbines for the Saudi Ras Az Zawr power sta-
tion. The plant, which will have an output of
2,400 megawatts, is scheduled to enter serv-
ice in 2014. Siemens is also
building a production and
service center facility for
gas turbines in Saudi Ara-
bia, which will open in
2012. In th future, local
service and maintenance
will be managed from
there. This investment of several hundred mil-
lion U.S. dollars is expected to create 1,000
jobs and enable the creation of as many as
3,000 more with local suppliers.
To prepare their own people for a diversi-
fied future, the Gulf nations are investing in-
creasingly in education — for example, at the
Siemens-supported KAUST University in Saudi
Arabia (see Pictures of the Future, Spring
2010, p. 108). According to Marwan
Khraisheh, Dean of the Masdar Institute, “The
key to higher productivity is education. Tradi-
tionally, education systems in the Arab world
have been based on conventional teacher-cen-
tered instruction, where the professor is the
source of information. But the world of learn-
ing has changed. In the future, professors will
act more as guides and advisors for responsi-
ble students. That is exactly the approach we
are taking at the Masdar Institute.” Khraisheh is convinced that Abu Dhabi will
become a global research and knowledge hub.
This will help to achieve the region’s stated
goal of manufacturing an increasing number
of products based on high technology, and
thus preparing it for the day when its oil and
gas fields begin to dry up, or when oil simply
becomes too expensive for most of us to af-
ford. Dean Khraisheh has recruited his faculty
members from some of the world’s most pres-
tigious universities. For instance, Masdar Insti-
tute was established in collaboration with the
prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technol-
ogy (MIT), and its students are among the best
of the best. They come from over 30 countries
and have top scores on international standard-
ized admission tests. Many of them would
have had a good chance of being accepted at
top universities in the U.S.
But Masdar Institute offers some things
that even Ivy League universities can’t match.
Its students experience the application of the
technologies they are researching up close
every day — things like a cooling tower, for ex-
ample, right outside of Mokhtar’s window.
Fashioned after the cooling towers in tradition-
al Arabian cities, it takes in air at a height of 45
meters and directs it to the ground. Jets spray
mist into the flow of air, and the increasingly
cool air sinks further. The fresh breeze spreads
out over the entire Masdar Institute campus
and makes Marwan’s morning walk to the lab
Abu Dhabi is to become a global science and technology hub — a forum for research and knowledge.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 4342 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
more bearable in the sweltering summer heat.
The electricity needed for the system is gener-
ated with the help of photovoltaic panels on
the roofs of the Masdar Institute and at a solar
field, which has a capacity of 10 megawatts.
“I would never have heard about the Mas-
dar Institute if it weren’t for a friend of mine,”
recalls Marwan, who studied mechatronics in
Amman, Jordan and already had a passion for
climate protection. He equipped the cafeteria
of his university there with solar panels. At the
Masdar Institute, he spent his first year work-
ing as a research assistant before beginning his
master’s program. “Because the campus is so
international, my friends now come from all
four corners of the world.” His goal is to be-
come an engineer and build large-scale solar-
thermal power plants.
Masdar instead of New York. Noura Al Dha-
heri is working on a PhD at the Masdar Insti-
tute. Two out of every five students at the Mas-
dar Institute are women. “With my grades, I
could also have done my doctorate in New
York, for example. I had the offers,” says Al
Dhaheri who is from the United Arab Emirates.
“But I preferred to study here in my home
country.” Some of her friends wonder why she
is bothering studying a strenuous technical
subject at all. Thanks to oil and gas revenues,
natives of the wealthy Emirate Abu Dhabi can
earn a good living even without high academic
qualifications. But as Al Dhaheri says herself,
she doesn’t just want a comfortable life. “I
want to work toward a future without oil.” She
chats briefly with her classmates, and then
leaves the Caribou for class.
Abu Dhabi is not the only gulf country with
high ambitions — both economic and with re-
spect to sustainability. The 2022 Soccer World
Championship will draw the world’s attention
to Qatar. This will be an opportunity to show
how even in one of the world’s most inhos-
pitable regions a mega-event can be held in a
sustainable manner by, for example, cooling
the stadium with power from photovoltaic and
solar-thermal plants. As knowledge, labor, raw materials and vast
energy resources come together productively
around the Gulf, the region is turning into a
new and increasingly important hub in the
global economic network. The gigantic air-
ports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai testify to this
trend.
Cooling and Prayers. The diverse influences
that development is bringing to the region
have the potential of changing both the coun-
tries around the Gulf themselves and their peo-
ple. The Sheik Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi, for
example, illustrates how traditions that give
the region its identity can still hold their own in
rapidly changing times. The mosque is the
eighth-largest in the world. Its 82 domes of
various sizes rise as much as 75 meters into the
sky, with minarets reaching a height of 107
meters. The building, whose last sections were
completed in 2010 after roughly ten years of
construction, can hold up to 40,000 people.
Five times a day the mosque’s air condition-
ing system ramps up before dropping back
down to a lower level. It does so in coordina-
tion with prayer times, when the number of
visitors increases. To ensure that this happens
smoothly and that no pockets of heat or mois-
ture are formed in this complex building,
Siemens installed roughly 8,000 sensors,
many of them for temperature and humidity
— a challenging task, recalls Rajesh Vaswani
of Siemens Building Automation. “The numer-
ous domes make it very difficult to compute
the air flows in this huge building, to say noth-
ing of the extreme climatic conditions. An ad-
ditional challenge was that we had to make a
particular effort to hide the building systems,”
says Vaswani. In the atrium, for example, vents
were integrated into the ornamental wall dec-
orations. You have to look twice to even notice
that they are there.
The modern and the traditional converge in
Sheik Zayed mosque, which is the largest
mosque in the Emirates. This also needs to
happen in the region as a whole, which is char-
acterized by an abundance of oil and gas on
the one hand and by the effects of climate
change on the other; by the wealth of many
Emirati and by the relative poverty of guest
workers; by the increasing aspirations for cre-
ativity and high technologies from the region
itself and by the simultaneous wish to preserve
traditional values and structures. The future of the region lies in the hands of
young people like Noura Al Dhaheri. She and
many others are convinced that a future with-
out oil is inevitable sooner or later. “I have a
young son,” she says. “I want him to live in a
world worth living in and whose ecosystems
are intact. We simply have to get away from
oil.” Andreas Kleinschmidt
Pictures of the Future | Interview
Waleed Al Mokarrab Al
Muhairi (36) is Chief Oper-
ating Officer of Mubadala
Development Company, an investment and develop-
ment vehicle of the govern-
ment of Abu Dhabi.
Mubadala makes invest-
ments that are helping to
establish globally competi-
tive local industries and are
facilitating the diversifica-
tion of Abu Dhabi’s econo-
my. Al Muhairi has worked
as a consultant with McKin-
sey and holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Uni-
versity and a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown
University.
Investing in Intellectual Capital
What will Abu Dhabi’s economic model
look like in 2050?
Al Muhairi: You will probably see a diversifica-
tion away from the resource-led growth model
over the next 40 years. This means less depend-
ence on oil and gas, and more dependence on
innovation and productive sectors. Some of the
sectors that look set to grow rapidly are petro-
chemicals, aerospace, semiconductor manufac-
turing, and renewable energy, to name just a
few. The common theme that ties them togeth-
er is their emphasis on intellectual capital and
engineering talent.
Many say that the lack of skills in the re-
gion is currently the limiting factor for
this process to kick off. How can this be
changed?
Al Muhairi: There are three aspects to this.
First, we have to jump start our educational
system. The Masdar Institute of Science and
Technology is a great example of how this is
happening. We want our young men and
women to be excited about math and science.
Second, we need to remain an attractive place
for highly skilled expatriates, who are seeking
employment in the region. We want and need
the best and brightest from all over the world.
Thirdly, we have to offer an infrastructure that
is both efficient and stimulating. Currently, we
see branches of the Guggenheim Museum
and the Louvre being built on Saadiyat Island
in Abu Dhabi.
What is your vision for manufacturing in
the Gulf region?
Al Muhairi: The type of manufacturing you
will see in Abu Dhabi will be capital intensive,
and often energy intensive. It will be high-val-
ue added manufacturing that builds on a high
degree of innovation. An excellent example is
aluminum smelting and the manufacturing
processes linked to it. Given the abundant
availability of natural gas as a major input fac-
tor, we are in a very competitive position. An-
other example is the aerospace industry. Here
Abu Dhabi is not focusing on metallic compo-
nents, but on advanced materials, like carbon
fiber and composite materials. For these prod-
ucts we are already a supplier to Airbus — our
initial contracts are worth over US $1 billion.
And we are quickly building up capabilities
and expertise in this small but highly produc-
tive niche. This is not only excellent business
in itself, but also a logical move from a strate-
gic point of view. After all, It’s a very good
thing to have large and thriving airline hubs in
the region.
What opportunities do you see in the
area of green tech?
Al Muhairi: Abu Dhabi has set an ambitious
target for itself when it comes to renewable
energy production: a seven percent share of
electricity production capacity by 2020. This is
challenging by current standards but I think
Masdar, our renewable energy and clean tech-
nology initiative, is going to be at the forefront
for delivering on this goal. Masdar invests cap-
ital in those areas of renewable energy in
which we believe we can develop a compara-
tive advantage. Solar is the most obvious ex-
ample. At the same time, we can use the Mas-
dar Institute — of which Siemens is an
important partner — to build up our educa-
tion infrastructure. When will you personally switch to an
electric car?
Al Muhairi: Once they are readily available on
the market and the necessary charging infra-
structure is in place. It is good news that
Siemens and others are making good progress
on this front.
Interview by Andreas Kleinschmidt.
Mubadala
Mubadala Development Company is an investment
and development vehicle of the Emirate of Abu
Dhabi with assets of approximately US $24 billion.
The company has a double mandate of delivering
both commercial and social returns on its invest-
ments, partly by fostering local industries. The Gov-
ernment of Abu Dhabi, which is the sole sharehold-
er of Mubadala, has mapped out a detailed strategy
for the diversification of the Abu Dhabi economy
with the aim of reducing its reliance on oil and gas.
This strategy, “The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision
2030,” serves as a roadmap for Mubadala.
Sheik Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi is the eighth-largest mosque in the world. Building systems from
Siemens help to keep the temperature inside the giant building, which can hold 40,000 people, bearable.
Abu Dhabi intends to establish a world-class
healthcare system. Like the Tawam Molecular
Imaging Center shown here, many parts of this
system will use equipment from Siemens.
C
omputer log of the international Bound-
less Research Space Station (BRSS), Head
of Station Desmond Blacc: We have a visitor to-
day, the world-renowned microbiologist Prof.
Aleksandr Miller. He has just joined us via holo-
gram from the Russian “city of science” Skolko-
vo, but we’re still waiting for the voice connec-
tion to be established. We are confident that
Professor Miller will confirm that we are stand-
ing on the threshold of a new era of research. I
would like to explain exactly why we think so.
Three months ago our space probe “Science-
flight” docked for the first time at BRSS after
flying through the asteroid belt between Mars
and Jupiter. We then made a sensational dis-
covery. Adhering to the probe’s surface were
dust particles containing components of mi-
croorganisms. Had we found signs of extrater-
restrial life? We immediately sent a sample to
our “Microcosm” research module. There we
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 4544 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Scenario 2030
2030. In the BRSS international space station, astronauts are looking for answers to the fundamental
questions of our time. They have just discovered microorganisms in space, and they sense the beginning
of a new era of research — but first the microbes have
to be analyzed. An international network of researchers
on Earth will help them in their quest.
Cosmic Mystery
Highlights
46 Networking Knowledge Many pioneering technologies are
created through international proj-
ects — with universities, research institutes, and partnerships with companies. Pages 46, 49, 50
52 Schools of Thought
The success of international coopera-
tions can be threatened not only by
professional disagreements but also
by intercultural misunderstandings.
That’s why Siemens has been ad-
dressing this problem for years at its
Learning Campus. In an interview,
Prof. Alois Moosmüller explains how
intercultural misunderstandings can
be minimized from the very start.
Pages 52, 54
56 Products Set to Sizzle
Thanks to international networks,
companies are discovering what consumers in emerging economies are looking for. The results include high-tech products at low-budget prices, and a combination of tradi-
tional Chinese medicine with Western science. Pages 56, 58
60 Idea Generators
What‘s it like to do research in an international network? Five scientists
talk about their “research without borders.” Pages 60, 61, 62, 64, 65 74 Heading for Science City
In three years, top researchers from
around the world will be working in
Skolkovo, a brand new science enclave near Moscow.
2030
Scientists in a new space station have discov-
ered a previously unknown form of life by
means of a space probe and have sent it to
Earth for analysis by a research network.
Where do these microorganisms come from?
And will their gene sequences revolutionize
science? These questions can be answered
directly by microbiologist Aleksandr Miller,
who is present in the form of a hologram. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 47
Research without Borders | Trends
To maintain an edge in innovation on the international stage companies such as Siemens need to utilize their global knowledge networks as effectively as possible. Although this presents huge challenges for researchers and developers, it offers them fascinating new opportunities.
Whether it’s CO
2
separation at MIT (top), virus research in Berkeley (center), new lighting systems
(bottom), or power grid optimization, researchers
benefit by networking their knowledge.
Networking Knowledge
ceived funding of €17.5 billion; and the cur-
rent seventh program (2007–2013) has been
allocated more than €50 billion. The EU-fund-
ed joint projects in which Siemens participates
are extremely varied. The “Internet of Things at
Work” project, for example, has scientists un-
der the direction of Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT) studying the Internet of the future,
which will link machines rather than people
with one another. Other current projects are geared toward
achieving the EU’s goal of firmly establishing
energy production from renewable sources —
and Siemens is participating in these as well
(see p. 50). “The objective of the EU’s R&D
funding programs is to consolidate Europe-
wide knowledge in order to create a founda-
tion for globally successful innovations,” says
Dr. Ina Sebastian, a CT staff member in Munich
who is responsible for managing Siemens’ par-
ticipation in EU-funded projects. The company
is involved in approximately 50 such projects
at the moment. “The Commission works metic-
ulously to ensure that knowledge is truly con-
solidated and that two organizations don’t end
up studying the same thing. This is a key in-
strument for avoiding conflicts of interest and
disputes involving the use of research results,”
Sebastian adds. This approach also simplifies
the clarification of questions regarding patent
applications, ultimately ensuring that knowl-
edge and intellectual property are sufficiently
protected and that successful products can be
created as a result (see p. 75). Global Melting Pot.Siemens’ activities in EU
programs are supplemented by its participa-
tion in other research programs around the
globe. In the U.S., for example, the company is
examining new technologies for separating
world market. One such heavyweight is
Siemens.
A Commitment to Innovation.For compa-
nies, a long-standing and effective method for
gaining an edge in innovation is to bring differ-
ent sources of expertise together. That’s one
reason why, since 1984, Siemens has partici-
pated in framework research programs spon-
sored by the European Commission. These pro-
grams bring together the brightest European
scientists and technicians from research organ-
izations, universities, and companies in order
to strengthen Europe’s international competi-
tiveness. The amount of money the EU spends
on these programs illustrates the high priority
it assigns to Europe’s innovation capability. The
initial program, which ran from 1984 to 1987,
was funded to the tune of approximately €3.3
billion; the sixth program (2002–2006) re-
T
he 21st century is a very dynamic age.
Globalization is continuing at a rapid pace,
and global competition is intensifying as a re-
sult. This poses tremendous challenges — for
companies as well as entire nations. According
to international strategy consulting firm Booz
& Company, expenditures on research and de-
velopment in industrialized nations such as
Germany and the U.S. fell by more than three
percent in 2009 as compared to the prior year.
China and India, on the other hand, increased
their R&D budgets by a substantial 41.8 per-
cent during the same period. In other words, the balance of research and
development power is shifting away from the
established industrialized nations to the
emerging markets. At the same time, this shift
is offering R&D heavyweights in the industrial-
ized nations a wealth of opportunities to con-
tinue playing a major role in the reshuffled
46 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
can carry out research under zero gravity con-
ditions while our main section rotates and cre-
ates an artificial gravitational force to protect
us from muscular and bone atrophy — a safety
measure that would have been impossible ten
years ago. But to get back to our “Microcosm”: Our Chi-
nese partners are using it to carry out biomed-
ical research. Together with a research network
consisting of scientists at U.S. and European
universities, in recent years they have used
protein analysis under microgravity conditions
to discover completely new classes of biomark-
ers for the early detection of diseases and to
develop new substances for cancer therapy.
They received the Nobel Prize for this work.
Their success shows how gigantic amounts of
knowledge can be generated within an inter-
national network of this kind and applied in a
targeted fashion. That’s an advantage from which we benefit
here every day. We’re also working on minimiz-
ing the potential for cultural misunderstand-
ing. I intend to institute a stronger requirement
for researchers to participate in virtual intercul-
tural training courses — even if these courses
only consist of lessons in how to prepare space
rations. But joking aside, I wanted to tell you
about the microbes. Our researchers are very
excited about this incredible discovery. They
have analyzed the microbes’ DNA fragments
and discussed them with our Russian special-
ists in biochemistry, but they did not initially
come to any definite conclusion. They were ex-
tremely frustrated by this. Up here we’ve got
some of the world’s best researchers in the
area of innovative alloys, whose heat resist-
ance made it possible for the first fusion power
station on Earth to begin operating two years
ago. We’ve also got first-class scientists in the
area of bone growth and the structure of cell
skeletons. Together with the global research
network of universities, research organiza-
tions, and companies, we are answering many
of the questions that mankind is concerned
with today — the growing scarcity of raw ma-
terials, climate protection, and the health prob-
lems of our aging world population. But we were simply unable to find an ac-
ceptable answer to the question of what kind
of life form we had discovered. That’s why we
sent a microbe sample to Skolkovo on a supply
ship of the Circinus class, a successor of the
space shuttle that was jointly developed by the
U.S., Russia, and China. There, the microbe
was supposed to be assessed under the super-
vision of Professor Miller. Would we be able to
combat disease even more effectively with the
help of these tiny creatures, for example? Or
might they help us to discover new sources of
energy? These were the questions we were
asking here at BRSS. My Scottish colleague
James Farquharson made a rather cheeky com-
ment at the time. He claimed to be certain that
these were merely microorganisms from the
Earth that were leading us in the wrong direc-
tion. I couldn’t help betting him a bottle of fine
whisky that he was wrong, and I expect to win
it as soon as Professor Miller tells us his conclu-
sion. Right now I can see a cross-section of the
microbe being projected as a hologram in front
of him. All we need now is the voice connec-
tion… Ah, I can hear something now.” “Kkkrrzzz…hello-krrzzz… Hello, BRSS, can
you hear me now? This is Aleksandr Miller from
Skolkovo. After weeks of research, discussions,
and analyses we were able to successfully ad-
dress your inquiry. Your sample does in fact
contain previously unknown microbes. Actual-
ly, I’d prefer to say ‘generally’ unknown mi-
crobes. As you can see in
the hologram in front of
me, they are in some re-
spects different from the
forms of life that are
known to us here on Earth,
but nonetheless they have
one factor in common
with them. They originated on Earth. However,
we estimate their age to be at least 500 million
years. This ultraresistant species was probably
catapulted into space at one point by the im-
pact of a meteorite. Despite its earthly origins,
this discovery is very interesting, because it
contains some gene sequences that were pre-
viously unknown to us. They could certainly
have applications in biotechnical industry or in
the field of energy technology. We would like
to establish research projects in these areas in
cooperation with you. Some of our colleagues
from Princeton, Shanghai, Bangalore, and
Skolkovo are already set to begin. We’re also
certain of receiving financial support from the
international research association of the Unit-
ed Nations. You will receive the DNA analyses,
including the protein structure and cell config-
uration, in the next few days. Can we count on
your cooperation?”
“Professor Miller, this is Desmond Blacc
speaking for the entire team. We’re thrilled
about this proposal for a new cooperative proj-
ect without boundaries, and we’ll be glad to
participate. We’ll be in touch with you. End of
message! Entry in the computer log: I guess I
owe Farquharson a bottle of the very best
Scotch whisky.” Sebastian Webel
“We have developed new substances
under microgravity conditions for cancer therapy.”
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 49
Research without Borders | University Collaborations
In collaboration with top-ranking international universities, Siemens is developing groundbreaking
technologies in a range of areas, including the intelligent and efficient management of energy. In practical terms, such intercultural cooperation can be complicated, not least because of the distances involved. But for researchers, it all adds up to an enriching experience.
W
orking in a team across different time
zones can mean having to get up earlier
or sacrificing your lunch break,” explains Dr.
Yan Lu. She works at Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT) in Princeton, where she has been
head of the research collaboration with the
University of California, Berkeley (UCB) since
summer 2010. Despite having to allow for
time differences, she enjoys this type of inter-
cultural work. When she was writing her doc-
toral thesis, she also worked with students
from around the world. Only occasionally does
she notice differences in mentality. “My pro-
gram manager comes from Germany, and he’s
very intuitive and straightforward; we Asians
aren’t quite so direct,” says Lu, who is from Chi-
na. “But when you’re working in a team, it’s
very important to know how people think and
feel.”
With her nine-member team, which com-
prises researchers from China, India, Germany,
and the U.S., Lu is working on a building man-
agement system that uses automated load
Meeting of Minds in Cyberspace
control to respond to grid needs. This method
of handling mismatches between supply and
demand eases the burden on power grids (p.
17). The interface between a power grid and a
building system is a so-called smart energy
box. The clever aspect of this device is that it
even knows how much electricity costs at any
given moment and can therefore tailor the
power consumption of building occupants in
line with their daily routines. The system is be-
ing tested in a building on the Berkeley cam-
pus. The university provides expertise in the re-
search and development of decentralized load
control systems. Siemens is responsible for
central load management, equipping the
building, and analyzing project results.
There’s a good reason why Siemens is work-
ing with Berkeley, which came in second in the
2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities,
right behind Harvard. Since 2009, Berkeley has
been a participant in Siemens’ Center of
Knowledge Interchange (CKI) program. CKI
promotes long-term partnerships with
renowned universities in major research fields
such as sustainability. “It’s a classic win-win sit-
uation. The university gets to know what the
relevant problems are for industry and can di-
rect its own resources accordingly; and for
Siemens, it’s very important to have access to
basic and applied research as well as students
and up-and-coming researchers,” explains Jack
Hurley, who is responsible at Siemens Corpo-
Siemens researchers in Munich are working with MIT scientists in Boston on smart control systems for building automation. They bridge their
6,500-km separation with videoconferencing.
48 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
and storing CO
2
in a project funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy. “Participation in such
projects gives us access to diverse innovation
and research activities,” Sebastian explains. “At
the same time, the international networks that
have been established through projects allow
us to accumulate a great deal of new knowl-
edge. All of this is part of the Open Innovation
policy that Siemens has been extensively pur-
suing for many years outside the orbit of EU
programs as well.” (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2010, pp. 84–113)
Indeed, Siemens establishes more than
1,000 new joint programs with research insti-
tutes, other industrial companies, and universi-
ties every year (see p. 49). The company also
maintains strategic partnerships with several
top universities that are geared toward joint re-
search, fostering young talent, and establish-
ing networks. Siemens has in fact set up “Cen-
ters of Knowledge Interchange” (CKIs) at these
universities, each of which is headed by a Key
Account Manager directly on site. The CEOs of
national subsidiaries and business units, and
even members of the Siemens Managing
Board, also serve as advocates for some of the
CKI universities. The lines between business units, coun-
tries, and cultures within the company are also
becoming increasingly blurred. “When re-
searchers from different countries come to-
gether, you end up with a fascinating melting
pot of knowledge,” says Dr. Tabea Arndt, a CT
manager for Superconductor Development —
an area of research for numerous scientists
around the world (see p. 7). “Each culture brings its own unique per-
spective to the table,” Arndt explains. “For ex-
ample, whereas we Europeans know a lot
about materials research, scientists from coun-
tries such as Japan that have few raw materials
and extremely dense populations often spe-
cialize in efficiently utilizing materials in com-
pact solutions. This broadening of our horizons
through our innovation partners benefits the
research activities we
conduct throughout the
Group every day.” The same is also true
when IT experts from Ban-
galore work with col-
leagues from Munich or
Shanghai on intelligent
image processing programs for surveillance
cameras, for example (see p. 56), or when en-
gineers from Siemens Healthcare in the U.S.
and Germany get together to develop and pre-
pare the world’s first full-body MR-PET scanner
for its market launch (see p. 70).
Moving into New Markets.This “research
without borders” offers other benefits as well.
“Joint research programs with our internation-
al partners also enable us to learn about re-
quirements in their markets and to adapt our
processes and solutions to local conditions,”
says Sebastian. According to Deutsche Bank
Research, more than 90 percent of leading
technology companies pursue this type of re-
search outside their home markets. The most
popular R&D locations are the emerging mar-
kets, whose specialized requirements (i.e. the
need to meet complex technical demands at
low cost) had previously prevented market en-
try on a large scale. The idea here is not to simply transfer R&D
activities, but instead to establish new activi-
ties — which is part of the basic philosophy of
companies such as Siemens that wish to re-
main at the cutting edge of innovation and
technology developments in the future. That’s
because when someone in India discovers how
to develop a high-tech product that can be sold
at one tenth the price it would cost in the U.S.,
he or she creates an innovation that higher-
priced product segments can benefit from as
well. Whether it’s medical equipment or ener-
gy solutions, Siemens has been successfully
developing such innovations for years in its
S.M.A.R.T. program. Here as well, the company
utilizes the expertise of its global research net-
work (see p. 56). Intercultural Stumbling Blocks.Despite its
scientific and economic benefits and success-
es, global cooperation does have its pitfalls,
and these often have to do with human nature
and interaction.
“People in each culture go about their daily
business and take care of things in completely
different ways, and they also utilize different
learning habits as they do so,” says Dr. Alois
Moosmüller, a professor for Intercultural Com-
munication at Ludwig-Maximilians-University
in Munich. “A company needs to be able to
deal with that.” (see Interview, p. 52) “We fre-
quently get caught up in situations in which
we don’t understand one another. This makes
joint project work in teams more and more dif-
ficult, as people become increasingly unwilling
to work together constructively.”
Such disputes are anything but minor dif-
ferences of opinion for Siemens — a company
that not only operates a global research net-
work but also does business in 190 countries.
That’s why Siemens set up its own internal
“Learning Campus” training and consulting
center in 2003 (see p. 54). The Learning Campus thoroughly prepares
Siemens employees for the dominant culture
at their future work locations once they have
received an assignment to move abroad —
whether the company is sending them to Chi-
na, India, or North America. The policy pur-
sued at the center has a clearly defined objec-
tive: to make global teamwork more successful
by fostering intercultural understanding. After
all, in our dynamic age no one can afford to go
back to the days of the cultural ivory tower any
more. Sebastian Webel
Siemens establishes over 1,000 joint
programs with research institutes,
firms, and universities every year.
Left: A Boston-Munich videoconference. Right : Development of ultrasound medical devices for the Indian market. Both are examples of Siemens’ global research network.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 51
Research without Borders | Research Cooperation
Research is increasingly taking place across national borders. Indeed, many research projects
throughout the European Union already demonstrate what can happen when Europe’s greatest
minds come together. Whether it’s the Internet of things or new lighting technologies, Siemens is at the forefront of Europe’s research and innovation activities.
Uniting European Expertise
knowledge generated by such EU projects are
more valuable than an injection of capital,” Se-
bastian claims. Internet of Things. One such project is the
“Internet of Things at Work” (IoT@Work), in
which scientists under the direction of
Siemens CT study the Internet of the future,
which will link machines rather than people.
“Our goal is to make communication between
industrial machines and Internet technologies
more intelligent,” says Project Manager Dr.
Amine Houyou. The aim is to make the com-
missioning and replacement of defective com-
ponents as simple and fast as exchanging USB
sticks in a PC. Assembly lines in the auto indus-
try could then be retrofitted more rapidly, and
production networks could respond au-
tonomously to defects and reconfigurations. This would make production more flexible
and allow manufacturers to produce variable
small lots for different customers instead of
having to rely solely on mass production. At
the same time, the Internet of things will help
to prepare factories for extreme events in the
future. “IT security wasn’t really an issue in the
early days of the Internet,” says Houyou. “But
in our project, security solutions are developed
in parallel at every step, leading to an overall
concept in the end.” For one thing, industrial
facilities will be made more secure against
hacker and virus attacks. The European Commission selected only
one tenth of all the applications for the IoT
project. Because of its technical excellence,
Houyou’s concept was among those chosen. With her Siemens colleagues in mind, Se-
bastian searches for suitable projects such as
IoT, forwards the information to them, and as-
sists them with their applications. The latter
can be as long as 80 pages and must include
not only objectives, work package descrip-
tions, and process phases, but also a list of pos-
sible partners. After a unit has been approved
for a project, coalition negotiations are imme-
diately initiated. Each partner is granted rights
of use for the results, and patent distribution
issues are negotiated in detail. If negotiations have not concluded after six
weeks, the EU can rescind a project’s applica-
tion. Houyou’s team includes security experts
from the European Microsoft Innovation Cen-
ter and staff from City University London, as
well as Italian consulting firm TXT. Also on
board are software architecture specialists,
Centro Ricerche Fiat (which is demonstrating
some of the project results at its facilities), and
Siemens researchers are participating in nearly
50 EU-funded projects focusing on everything from
machine networking (left, Fiat plant) to OLEDs (below) that put violins in a new light.
50 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
rate Technology for joint projects with universi-
ties in North America.
Cultural diversity within a research group is
extremely productive, especially when it
comes to developing innovations. It provides
much faster access to the latest know-how in
Germany, for example, or to the requirements
of the Chinese market, or to the needs of Indi-
an consumers. After all, the products that are
under development are destined for markets
all over the world. “Research without borders is
vital, because products and information are ul-
timately all available globally. There’s no point
working in a vacuum,” says Professor Dave
Auslander, who manages the project for Berke-
ley. He is also aware of the challenges that cul-
tural difference can pose to this kind of work.
The first barrier is language. It’s difficult to con-
duct a technical discussion with only a basic
vocabulary.
“You Know…” Siemens also operates a CKI al-
liance with the world-renowned Massachu-
setts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston,
which is home to some of the world’s leading
experts in the field of control theory. “Our goal
at MIT is to gather knowledge,” says Dr. Dragan
Obradovic, who works closely with researchers
there. Based at Siemens’ Research Center in
Munich, Obradovic has headed a five-person
transatlantic team since October 2008. He is a
typical member of the global research commu-
nity. Born in Serbia, he earned his doctorate at
MIT, lives in Germany, has an Italian passport,
M
ultidisciplinary research is at least as old
as the Royal Society, the fellowship of
scholars and scientists that was founded 350
years ago. Although the society was British
through and through, it always sought to es-
tablish networks with the best scientific minds
in Europe. Today, the European Union’s Frame-
work Research Programs (FRP) seek to focus
Europe-wide research expertise. The seventh
program, which is currently under way, has re-
ceived more than €50 billion in funding. “Any firm that wants to play a leading role
in Europe’s research landscape has to get to-
gether with other companies if it’s going to
stand up to powerful American and Asian com-
petitors,” says Dr. Ina Sebastian, who is respon-
sible for EU Project Issues at Siemens Corpo-
rate Technology (CT). Part of Sebastian’s job is
to guide CT through the jungle of available
funding opportunities. CT is currently involved
in almost 50 EU-funded projects. All in all,
about 20 percent of its research activities are
conducted within the framework of publicly
funded partnerships. “The networks and
and starts even German sentences with the
English words “You know…”
With his fellow researchers from the U.S.,
Obradovic develops intelligent control systems
that play a vital role in the building automation
system being developed by Lu’s team, for ex-
ample, and in self-regulating control systems
for power networks. Such systems are based
on sensors and actuators that collectively form
a kind of intelligent nervous system. To process
their output, however, an intelligent nerve
center is needed — a controller that uses
smart algorithms to reliably and sensibly
process the wealth of measurement data gen-
erated by sensor networks. This can pose big
challenges, especially when accommodating
the effects of intermittent sources of energy
such as the sun and wind on the power grid.
Furthermore, the strain on the grid is set to in-
crease in the future as more and more electric
cars are hooked up for recharging. On the oth-
er hand, the batteries of such vehicles can help
increase grid stability. Equipped with an intelli-
gent control system, they will also be able to
feed electricity back into the network (see Pic-
tures of the Future,Fall 2010, p. 34).
“Topics like grid management are universal,
so research should be global too,” says
Obradovic. In addition to developing control
algorithms, the researchers in his team are in-
vestigating ways of ensuring that the requisite
data packets can be exchanged more or less in
real time and without loss. Even the pure disci-
pline of mathematics can produce differences
of opinion among members of an international
team. “Different cultural outlooks can lead to
friction now and then. But that’s good because
you can learn new approaches to problems,”
says Obradovic.
The roughly 6,500 kilometers between Mu-
nich and Boston are not impossible to over-
come for Obradovic. “We’re very much geared
to teleworking. Online chats, video confer-
ences, and desktop sharing are all routine,” he
says. At least twice a year he flies over to visit
his colleagues in Boston or vice versa, because
onscreen contact is no replacement for face-
to-face meetings. Personal visits make it easier
to see things from colleagues’ perspectives and
understand their working environment.
The trend toward global research is unmis-
takable. Thanks to the Internet, we can com-
municate with others in real time anywhere in
the world. Obradovic is already dreaming of a
virtual 3D lab. In 20 years, he believes, virtual
meetings between team members around the
globe, or joint projects on online platforms will
be a fact of daily life. “You know,” he muses, “I
just don’t know what the limits of technology
are. Someone may even come up with a better
remedy for jet lag or invent faster airplanes!”
SilkeWeber
A global research team at the University of California, Berkeley is testing a new energy use control system for smart buildings. Research without Borders | Interview
Intercultural Communications:
Seeing the Signposts, Avoiding the Pitfalls
oriented approach. And finally, the Japanese
had a lot of discussions between themselves
before they presented their results, which the
Americans and the Germans interpreted as a
lack of independence or even as an attempt to
conceal information. In other words, coopera-
tion between the teams increasingly ran into
difficulties. How did they manage to solve these
problems?
Moosmüller:
We gave the employees training
in intercultural skills, where they were asked
to explain how they perceived the behavior of
the other teams. By articulating their reac-
tions, they were able to develop an under-
standing of the fact that people from other
countries behave in different ways — and that
you have to be prepared for this and deal with
it. That’s very important. People are not the
same the world over. The way people go
about doing things, how they arrange their
daily affairs, what kinds of learning habits they
fall back on — all those things are completely
different from culture to culture. You have to
be prepared for that. In the light of increasing globalization,
what kind of challenges are companies
and their employees going to be facing in
the future?
Moosmüller:
Joint research projects are al-
ready doing a lot for the field of intercultural
communication. At many companies employ-
ees at certain levels are expected to possess
and exercise good intercultural skills. Diversity
is the key. Today everyone needs to be globally
minded. However, a lot more people claim to
meet this requirement than is actually the
case. The result is that people get less support
in this area than they actually need. Further-
more, there is now increasing pressure to stay
positive about things. Yet in intercultural com-
munication especially, it’s vital to be able to
talk about difficulties as well. If there is no op-
portunity to deal with problems in an honest
way, you end up creating permanent prob-
lems. Anyone working in an intercultural envi-
ronment is going to get frustrated at times, is
going to categorize and stereotype — that’s
unavoidable. How can companies go about dealing
with this situation?
Moosmüller:
Supervisors have to be pre-
pared to take employees seriously, along with
the problems that inevitably crop up in inter-
national projects. Measures that are helpful include the use of process monitors and the
introduction of regular meetings during which
concrete problems can be discussed. That uses
up time, but it is definitely worth the effort.
Supervisors should allow time for employees
to do this — and they should also properly
communicate this fact.
Interview by Gitta Rohling.
distance to reflect on what’s happening. That’s
why it’s crucial to a step back for a second and
take the time to think about the situation. If
the German engineer had discussed the
e-mails with a colleague, the two of them
would certainly have worked out what the
Chinese businessman was getting at. Is a moment of reflection or a discussion
with colleagues enough to ensure suc-
cessful intercultural communication?
Moosmüller:
As a rule, it helps enormously.
But it’s important to remember that intercul-
tural competence is not the same thing as a
familiarity with the foreign country in ques-
tion. Obviously it’s an advantage to know the
language and the customs of the country, but
anyone who has to deal with people from a lot
of different countries can’t be familiar with all
the details of each individual culture. So it’s
not merely a question of knowing the right
way to hand over a business card in China, for
example. What’s really important is the ability
to reflect on misunderstandings, ask ques-
tions, and adopt a different perspective. That’s
what intercultural competence is all about. It’s
about learning how to deal with differences
and diversity.
Let’s imagine a situation. Three scientists
are working on a joint project, one in Mu-
nich, one in the U.S., and one in Japan —
where you lectured and did research for a
number of years. How would they all get
along together? Moosmüller:
There’s a very concrete example
of exactly that situation. In the mid-1990s
Siemens, IBM, and Toshiba set up a joint proj-
ect with a total of 150 employees to develop
DRAM chips. Things got off to a great start.
But after half a year a number of problems
had developed. One difficulty was that the
various teams found the daily presentations of
research results boring and even counterpro-
ductive. Why? The Americans, for example,
presented their work in a short and snappy in-
teractive manner, which the Japanese felt
lacked credibility, since they wanted to have
background information. The Germans, on the
other hand, described the problem for which
they were looking for a solution, which tended
to irritate the Americans with their solutions-
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 53
52 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Prof. Alois Moosmüller (58)
holds the Chair of Inter-
cultural Communication at Ludwig-Maximilians-
University in Munich (LMU).
An ethnologist by training, he spent five years as an associate professor at Keio
University in Tokyo, where he investigated how U.S. and
German multinationals based
in Japan approach the issue of intercultural cooperation.
His current research interests
are transnational communi-
ties and foreign postings of employees within organizations.
What are the typical difficulties that arise
during encounters between people from
different cultures?
Moosmüller:
Imagine the following situation:
A German engineer e-mails a Chinese cus-
tomer about the latter’s forthcoming visit to
Germany. In the first e-mail, the Chinese busi-
nessman asks how to get from Munich to the
trade fair in Frankfurt; in a second e-mail, he
inquires how often the trains run from Munich
to Frankfurt; in a third, from which platform
the trains depart; and so on. The German en-
gineer is at first mildly irritated, then annoyed,
and finally he writes a rather curt e-mail —
whereupon he hears nothing from the Chi-
nese customer for quite a long time. That’s be-
cause he failed to understand the real reason
for all the questions.
The Chinese customer wants to be met at
the airport?
Moosmüller:
Exactly. The Chinese business-
man is saying: Meet me at the airport, invite
me out for dinner, let’s talk about new proj-
ects, and then you can take me, if not to
Frankfurt, then at least to the main train sta-
tion in Munich. When we look at this situation,
we can see immediately what’s going on, but
something like that is easy to miss in the rush
of everyday business. And that’s often the
problem in intercultural communication. We
get tangled up in a moment of incomprehen-
sion because we don’t have the time and the
52 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Institut Industrial IT in Lemgo, which is respon-
sible for IoT project automation and communi-
cation technologies. 100 Million Degrees Celsius. The EU is also
funding projects that address new methods of
generating energy, including nuclear fusion
(see Pictures of the Future,Spring 2010,
p.106). For decades, Scientists have been try-
ing to harness and profitably exploit this virtu-
ally inexhaustible and CO
2
-free energy source.
But getting atoms in a fusion reactor to form a
plasma requires temperatures as high as 100
million degrees Celsius. Although the tempera-
ture drops to a maximum of 2,000 degrees at
the reactor walls, it’s still too hot for most ma-
terials. A European research and industrial con-
sortium under the direction of the Max Planck
Institute for Plasma Physics has now developed
new high-performance materials. Almost 40
partners, research institutes, universities, and
materials manufacturers from six countries
have participated in this huge project. Participants held meetings alternately in
their home countries, which included France,
Greece, and Slovakia, to exchange results. Be-
tween meetings, they worked independently,
while also discussing issues via e-mail or by
phone as necessary and
passing along their results
through desktop sharing
systems. The project’s
work packages were pre-
cisely distributed among
the partners and process
phases. Siemens carried
out extensive tests to find out how resistant
the materials were. The five-year project,
which ended in September 2010, led to the
creation of new technologies for industrial sec-
tors. Siemens’ Energy Sector, for example, is
looking for heat-resistant materials for its tur-
bine blades. That’s because the higher the
temperatures the blades can withstand, the
greater will be the efficiency of the power
plant in which they are installed. High-temper-
ature materials can also be used for power
electronics in trains that are exposed to ex-
treme thermomechanical stress loads. Insufficient R&D? The seventh FRP is the
largest funded project of its kind in the world.
But with research and development expendi-
tures totaling 2.1 percent of gross domestic
product, the EU remains below its own R&D
target of three percent. It also trails its U.S. and
Japanese competitors in this regard (see p.
68). That’s why, if European companies want
to keep pace in the global race to develop top
technologies, they must constantly enter into
new partnerships and be on the lookout for
potentially game-changing market trends. Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) rep-
resent one such fundamental trend. At the
heart of every OLED are plastic coatings a hun-
dred times thinner than a human hair. These
luminescent plastics are already used in cell
phones and flat screens. The monitor market is
now dominated by Asian countries. But that
doesn’t mean that Europe doesn’t plan to be a
major player in the lighting business. Siemens’ subsidiary Osram introduced its
first OLED, the “Orbeos,” at the end of 2009.
However, the product is still too expensive for
use in general lighting applications. With this
in mind, the EU’s project CombOLED (Com-
bined Organic LED Technology) was initiated
to help search for new ways to lower manufac-
turing costs so as to pave the way for the mass
production of OLEDs. A consortium of companies, labs, and uni-
versities led by Osram, which also received
considerable support from Siemens CT, worked
on the project for three years. The result was
that a combination of wet coating and high
vacuum techniques turned out to be the least
expensive method of producing OLEDS. Wet
coating enables economical production; high
vacuum techniques ensure high-quality bright-
ness, efficiency, and a long lifespan. Flat and Bright. Another EU project is fo-
cused on developing light-emitting electro-
chemical cells (LEECs) that are thin and flat,
like OLEDs. “LEECs’ simple design leads to man-
ufacturing benefits such as the ability to use
roll-to-roll processing,” says CT researcher Dr.
Wiebke Sarfert. Prototypes are already produc-
ing light in Siemens and Osram labs, but the
technology is still in its infancy as compared to
OLEDs. Researchers are examining basic ap-
proaches to creating white light, as well as the
use of roll-to-roll wet coating processes for
achieving higher throughputs. The project in-
cludes partners from all over Europe. Siemens
has particularly close ties to, and also ex-
changes knowledge with, the University of Va-
lencia, which is responsible for the project’s
component physics. The university’s students
are often invited to Siemens’ labs to familiarize
themselves with applied research. No company can develop such innovations
on its own, which makes it all the more impor-
tant for European nations to pull together to
maintain an edge. What’s more, there’s a big
plus for participants: they get to know each
other. Silke Weber
Companies must constantly enter into
new partnerships if they want to keep
pace in the global technology race.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 5554 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Learning Campus
In order to achieve success in international markets, it’s vital to enhance one’s ability to understand foreign cultures. That’s why Siemens has been conducting intercultural training programs for more than 30 years. The Learning Campus, an internal training and consulting center,
was founded in 2003 — a pioneering step toward ensuring intercultural business expertise. due to the fact that Chinese society is develop-
ing very rapidly. Things change every day, so
priorities for various activities are reassigned
daily. Now Harms no longer waits until the
deadline; she checks up more often in order to
make sure her task stays high on the list when
schedules are rearranged.
One question Tang always hears about is
the role of women. And indeed, the seminar
covers the culture of gender. “As a rule, a ca-
reer woman will have no difficulties in China,”
he says. “If she does the same work as her
male colleagues, she receives equal pay.”
Harms knows that from
experience. “It’s much
more common to see
women in technical pro-
fessions in China than in
Germany,” she says. The
same cannot be said about
India or Arab cultures. Intercultural communication has been a fo-
cus of academic researchers for over 20 years.
At Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich
there is even a department for this discipline.
Prof. Alois Moosmüller, the department chair,
counsels companies to introduce extensive
programs in intercultural skills training. “The
aim is to prepare employees for the global
business world, make them sensitive to other
cultures, and enable them to engage in self-re-
flection,” he says (see p. 52). It’s not enough to
know that in China a business card is handed
to someone with both hands, or how to prop-
erly eat spring rolls, or that belching is consid-
ered praise for a good meal, for example. Indirect Communication. Experts at the
Learning Campus therefore use role play and
complex case studies to hone participants’ in-
tercultural business skills. In one class, Tang
plays the role of a Chinese employee and one
of the participants plays his German boss. Af-
terward, Harms and the others analyze the sit-
uation, deduce what is behind the behavior,
and talk about feelings and the intention of
what was said. “The goal is to sensitize participants to cul-
tural issues. We do that through training cours-
es in communication, presentation, and man-
agement styles for many different countries,”
says Robert Gibson, who has been teaching on
the Learning Campus from its inception. He’s
referring to matters such as one’s attitude to-
ward hierarchies and the way one expresses an
opinion, addresses a problem, or deals with
conflict. For example, in China it’s advisable to
speak about problems indirectly and avoid go-
ing on the offensive — an approach that Euro-
peans, and especially Americans, are not ac-
customed to. In China, indirect communication
usually gets you to your goal faster. In genuine
crisis situations, Germans often refer to the
fine print of the contract, whereas Chinese try
to arrive at a balance of interests on the basis
of the actual situation. Tang explains that in
negotiations Germans reveal their positions
too early, while dismissing the step-by-step
concessions made by the Chinese as a “salami
tactic.” The two cultures also differ in the way
they deal with complex issues. “One thing I’ve
learned is that presentations to Chinese col-
leagues should start out with a detail they are
familiar with,” says Harms. “That’s a good basis
for explaining a more complex system.” Work-
ing by means of references is a well-estab-
lished component of Chinese culture. “Once I
know that, I can organize my business activi-
ties completely differently,” Tang confirms. German employees are used to separating
private matters from business activities, but in
many cultures the contrary is true. “If you don’t
develop an emotional connection with a per-
son, you can’t work with him or her,” says
Tang. In China, guanxi— one’s network of per-
sonal contacts — is very important, and it’s
mainly built up outside the workplace.
Whether you’re being interviewed for a job or
meeting a business partner, you should always
check to see whether the person you’re talking
to knows somebody you also know. If so, the
conversation will immediately become several
degrees warmer. For people traveling to China,
it’s a big advantage to know somebody there
who can integrate them into such a network. A common language will not in itself pre-
vent intercultural misunderstandings. “Just
look at British people and Americans. They
speak the same language but can still com-
pletely misunderstand one another,” says
Tang. Harms, who speaks English with her col-
leagues, says, “You may think a matter is com-
pletely clear, but it’s clear on two completely
different levels. Our trainer vividly explained
this kind of situation, where people are talking
at cross-purposes.” It’s the difference between
what people say and what they mean. At the end of the day-long seminar, the par-
ticipants go to a Chinese restaurant. In this au-
thentic, relaxed atmosphere, Tang casually of-
fers additional tips — for example, don’t eat
everything; politely leave a bit of rice in your
bowl. Mirna Harms has repacked her imagi-
nary suitcase for her next trip to China — with
a much larger portion of intercultural business
expertise. Silke Weber / Sabine Sauter
Special training courses taught by experts such as
Zailiang Tang familiarize employees with unfamiliar
communication processes and the facial expressions,
gestures, and body language of other cultures.
Z
ao shang hao” are Zailiang Tang’s words of
welcome to the course participants. The
eight Siemens employees who have gathered
here at a conference hotel in Munich are listen-
ing intently to the instructor, who works for
the company’s own academy — the Learning
Campus. Only Mirna Harms is a little skeptical.
She has been working for over a year on a proj-
ect with Chinese colleagues, so what can she
really learn at this seminar on “International
Cooperation with a Focus on China”?
For Siemens, with its local workforce of
more than 43,000 and sales of over €5 billion,
China is a key focus of international coopera-
tion. This makes it all the more important for
the company and its business partners to un-
derstand one another. Communication can
quickly become a fiasco if it runs up against
cultural barriers. That’s why intercultural train-
ing courses are an important component of in-
ternal education programs — not only with re-
gard to China, but also for other countries such
as India, Thailand, and the U.S.
International School of Thought
“Most cultural training courses teach too
much culture and not enough business,” says
Tang, who trains administrators, project man-
agers, and technical specialists from Germany
who interact with Chinese colleagues or work
in China. What should a traveler bring along to
China? “Lots of curiosity, a bit of uncertainty to
keep you on your toes — and the Shanghai
Taxi Guide iPhone app to avoid getting lost in
the city,” says Tang with a wink. Participants in his courses aren’t given a
catalogue of facts to be doggedly memorized;
instead, they are taught social skills with a spe-
cific cultural flavor. Understanding and being
understood, facial expressions, gestures, body
language, and emotions are important. How
should I behave in conversations and conflict
situations, give presentations, and engage in
negotiations when I’m far from home? —
those are the kinds of question participants
want answered.
Tang, the Asia expert, believes his job is to
provide participants with some basic orienta-
tion by explaining, for example, how history
and social change have shaped Chinese think-
ing. Each of the workshops, which last three
days on average, begins with an overview of
Chinese culture and history, which Tang clever-
ly combines with information about important
industrial locations in China.
Reading Gestures Correctly. Even Mirna
Harms, a young German-Bosnian engineer, is
now listening avidly to the instructor’s expert
lectures. The chief engineer of a China project
at Siemens Industry Rail Automation in Braun-
schweig, she has been working daily with col-
leagues from Siemens Ltd. China since Novem-
ber 2009. Together with China Railway Signal & Com-
munication Corp., Siemens is equipping the
first subway system in the metropolis of
Chongqing, which, with a population of 30
million, may be the world’s biggest city. The
new subway line is expected to significantly re-
lieve traffic congestion in the city. Siemens is
supplying the subway’s switch tower, train
control, and operation control technologies.
The first 14 stations will go into operation in
the summer of 2011. Harms was initially un-
sure whether the seminar would help her, as
she felt she already knew the country and its
people since she had made several trips to Chi-
na. But now she says she feels more confident
about reading Chinese gestures. “It’s really in-
teresting to see which situations I intuitively in-
terpreted correctly or incorrectly,” she says.
Harms has already learned one thing. She
would often plan something on the phone
with her Chinese colleagues and then find out
the work wasn’t finished by the agreed time. “If
a German colleague doesn’t check up on a pro-
ject’s progress, to the Chinese that means the
work isn’t important, so it slides down on the
list of priorities,” Tang explains. This is partly
In China, unlike the U.S., one should
talk about problems indirectly and avoid going on the offensive.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 5756 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Innovation in Emerging Markets
Working in international networks, Siemens researchers and developers are coming up with inexpensive yet sophisticated entry-level products. These products have what it takes to become market leaders, and not just in emerging economies.
New Markets in Brazil. International innova-
tion processes can be used to tap into new
market segments in Brazil too, according to
Siemens engineer Thiago Pistore. He coordi-
nated a Brazilian-German development team
that made design changes to a steam turbine
conceived for the European market and arrived
at the SST-300, a turbine
ideal for use in Brazilian
sugar mills. “We had to make sure
that the whole turbine
could be manufactured
in Brazil. To do that, we
had to learn to make sac-
rifices here and there,” says Pistore. “The result-
ing turbine is a bit less flexible and slightly less
efficient than the model it was based on. But
on the other hand, at the time of market entry
it was priced at approximately thirty percent
less.” (see Pictures of the Future,Spring 2009,
p. 88). The modified turbine is now being sold
not only in Brazil, but in other Latin American
countries as well.
This success was made possible thanks to
excellent cooperation between Siemens engi-
neers in Brazil and their colleagues in Ger-
many, who passed on their know-how. This
knowledge transfer has helped the Brazilians
to perform more of the engineering them-
selves, such as complex calculations of rotor
dynamics. But that doesn’t mean that German
engineers are going to have to look for new
jobs any time soon. For instance, according to
Dr. Detlef Haje, principal engineer at a major
steam turbine plant in Görlitz, Germany, “The
plant is about products that are engineered to
order. In contrast, our colleagues in markets
such as Brazil and India specialize in standard-
ized solutions for emerging countries — solu-
tions, in other words, that can be manufac-
tured with simple processes.”
A different example, the Trainguard MT
train control system, shows that the new mar-
kets being opened up with S.M.A.R.T. products
are not only in emerging economies. In order
T
here is a flicker, and yet again the lights go
out on Hosur Road. Here at the research
site of Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in
Bangalore, the power fluctuations of the elec-
trical grid lead to regular blackouts. When the
lights go on again after a few seconds, Dr.
Zubin Varghese of Siemens CT explains the
causes of the blackouts. “India’s population
and economic output are growing at a breath-
taking pace. More people, more prosperity,
more air-conditioning systems. The expansion
of the power grids simply cannot keep up with
this pace. When there is an overload, the net-
works simply collapse,” he says.
Varghese is responsible for the develop-
ment of sustainable technologies for emerging
markets at CT in India. He and his team are
working on solutions that help raise the stan-
dard of living over the long term and in afford-
able ways for a billion Indians — and people in
emerging economies around the world. It is of-
ten the case that the solutions used in industri-
alized nations are too expensive and do not ad-
equately meet the needs of emerging markets.
Products Set to Sizzle
The price of a product is the key factor, accord-
ing to Varghese. “When a product developer
here sees a car, the first thing he thinks about
is how he can manage that at one tenth the
price,” says Varghese. “There are then two
ways to go. You can build a vehicle with three
wheels and no engine,” he says jokingly. “Or
you consider very carefully what the customer
in our market actually wants and can pay for —
and then develop according to these specific
requirements. The result could be a Tata Nano,
for example.” More and more Indians are tak-
ing a fancy to the Nano, which is considered
the cheapest car in the world. It has become a
symbol for extremely inexpensive products —
from emerging markets for emerging markets.
High Tech, Low Cost. Siemens does not build
automobiles, of course, but it does build many
other “smart” products around the world. In
this context, “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for “Simple,”
“Maintenance friendly,” “Affordable,” “Reli-
able,” and “Timely to market.” In other words,
these are entry-level products that are perfect-
ly tailored to the needs of certain market seg-
ments (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2009,
pp. 72-105).
For example, Varghese’s team has devel-
oped a low-cost, energy-saving waste water
treatment method. In India, this is quite a big
challenge. The country produces roughly 29
billion liters of waste water every day, of which
only one quarter is treated. In addition, con-
ventional treatment plants consume lots of en-
ergy, because oxygen has to be pumped in
continually. With this in mind, Siemens researchers in
Bangalore have built a bioreactor in which cer-
tain algae and bacteria enter into a symbiotic
relationship. While the bacteria generate CO
2
that the algae need for photosynthesis, the al-
gae emit oxygen, which is in turn required by
the bacteria for their growth. It is a perfect cy-
cle — and 60 percent less energy-intensive
than conventional methods. This development
has kindled the curiosity of Siemens re-
searchers in Germany, as similar processes
could be used to fix CO
2
from fossil-fuel power
plants and convert it to biomass in algae, per-
haps even on a large scale one day.
“Increasingly, engineers from India, China,
Brazil, Europe and the U.S. work together in in-
ternational teams in which the members con-
tribute what they are best at,” says Dr. Uwe Lin-
nert, who heads the Sensor Systems Global
Technology Field at CT in Erlangen, Germany.
Linnert views the research and development
center in Bangalore as an integration and con-
sulting center for the region — a place that,
with its deep understanding of the local mar-
ket, helps turn the results of research and de-
velopment into innovative products.
Another result of the international coopera-
tion between Varghese’s team and Siemens
colleagues in Germany is the Fetal Heart Moni-
tor (FHM), a device that can monitor the heart
rate of fetuses in the womb. While ultrasound
technology is often used for this in advanced
nations — where the machines can cost sever-
al thousand USD — the Fetal Heart Monitor
uses special microphones instead. The result-
ing device costs significantly less than ultra-
sound. The idea was conceived and developed
into a product in India. The team led by Lin-
nert, which is based in Germany, helped with
the development of the special microphones.
“The cutting-edge research takes place where
the cutting-edge researchers are located —
which is still usually the established industrial-
ized nations,” Linnert says. “But product devel-
opment is increasingly taking place where
there are fast-growing markets — in emerging
economies, in other words,” he adds. Other examples of successful German-Indi-
an collaborative projects have included work
on optical sensors and camera technology for
the Indian market. These technologies are now
helping Indian cookie factories to greatly in-
crease their quality and efficiency by identify-
ing imperfectly-baked cookies in a fraction of a
second (see Pictures of the Future, Spring
2009, p. 85).
to increase train throughput and therefore ca-
pacity on heavily traveled subway routes, the
control centers need information about exactly
where trains are located at any particular time.
One possibility is to install cables. The inexpen-
sive alternative, however, is wireless technolo-
gy. In this case, trains report their position via a
wireless signal to receiver stations. “We’re us-
ing mostly off-the-shelf components,” says
Mattias Lampe of Siemens CT China. That
means parts and wireless LAN equipment that
you can buy in a normal electronics shop, such
as radio modules or antennas. The actual chal-
lenge is to assemble these components into an
integrated solution that is not only inexpensive
but also reliable and safe. Siemens engineers
“A little less flexible, a little less efficient — and 30 percent cheaper.”
In developing economies, top technology and in-depth knowledge of local needs are leading the
way in power engineering (large photo), wastewater
treatment (p. 57, left) and healthcare (right).
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 5958 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
and external partners from China, France and
Denmark overcame this challenge by working
in an international team. In subway tunnels in
the Chinese cities of Beijing, Nanjing,
Guangzhou, and Chongqing, a Siemens wire-
less solution helped reduce the interval be-
tween subway trains from three minutes to
half that time. The system is now being used
not only in Chinese cities, but also in Stock-
holm and Istanbul. Additional orders have
come in from Copenhagen and Helsinki.
One Third Cheaper. These examples illus-
trate that S.M.A.R.T. products are finding their
way into industrialized countries. At the same
time, however, markets are maturing in
emerging economies. As customers in such
countries gain experience with entry-level
products, they begin to want more sophisticat-
ed equipment. A Nano can, for example, make
Research without Borders | Chinese Medicine
Doctors plan to combine the
advantages of traditional Chinese medicine with those
of Western science. To keep
medical technology at the
forefront of these changes,
Siemens is working with Chinese partners to develop
new treatment methods.
When Worlds Combine
W
hat is good medicine? Since humans be-
gan to analyze their bodily functions
thousands of years ago the answer has usually
been: “medicine that heals.” Today, medicine
has become a truly global science, in which re-
searchers systematically seek to compare vari-
ous medical traditions with one another. One
of the most intriguing fields aims to combine
Western medicine and traditional Chinese
medicine (TCM) — two schools that couldn’t
be more different, yet may also contain a
wealth of new knowledge for one another.
“Our efforts to combine both traditions will
present new challenges for medical technolo-
gy,” says Shen Hong, who is in charge of
Strategic Business Development at Siemens
Corporate Technology (CT) in Beijing. “For
years, Siemens Corporate Technology China
has been looking at ways of using modern
technology in conjunction with TCM.” (see Pic-
tures of the Future, Spring 2009, p. 81). Following years of research conducted in
conjunction with leading Chinese universities,
CT is now developing the first workstation for
traditional Chinese medicine. In the future,
this could provide TCM doctors with the same
kind of computer-based support that doctors
using Western medicine have long enjoyed. A
database enables a quick description of symp-
toms. At the click of a mouse, users can enter
acupuncture points on a 3-D depiction of the
human body or put together herbal mixtures.
“TCM doctors have been asking for such a sys-
tem for years,” says Shen. “This planned system
is intended to provide them with a solid new
foundation for their work and to offer a plat-
form to collect evidence of TCM’s effectiveness
in diagnosis and treatment.”
This advance is urgently needed. Although
more than 500,000 doctors practice TCM in
over 3,000 hospitals throughout China, their
tradition, which goes back thousands of years,
is still regarded as unscientific in the West. In-
deed, Western medical technology has not
been able to incorporate many of TCM’s princi-
ples and treatment methods. Doctors still can’t
agree on how acupuncture actually works,
even though the treatment has been recog-
nized widely outside of China. Western-orient-
ed medical experts point out that the results
are not reproducible. What may represent a
fundamental problem for these doctors is re-
garded as a strength by Chinese experts, who
realize that methods that work on one patient
might not be effective on another. This fact is
not new to Western scientists because it ap-
plies to many medicines, but it doesn’t make it
easier to establish cause and effect when it
comes to TCM. An additional challenge lies in
the lack of basic data. Chinese doctors observe
a wide spectrum of symptoms, but so far there
has been no tradition of documenting these in
as much detail as is done in the West. Four Phases. “Before we can promote TCM in
the western world, we need to answer some
very fundamental questions,” says Shen. “This
offers us an opportunity to go back and ques-
tion our basic assumptions.” As a rule, medical
treatments can be divided into four phases: a
diagnosis is followed by a treatment and then
aftercare. The fourth phase is prevention —
and that’s precisely where the strengths of Chi-
nese medicine lie. In TCM there is a much
stronger emphasis than in Western medicine
on identifying — at an early stage — which
functions have been thrown out of balance.
Whereas Western doctors are mostly con-
cerned with healing sick patients, Chinese doc-
tors concentrate mainly on preventing healthy
individuals from falling ill in the first place.
This emphasis on prevention leads to less
money being spent on medical treatments. Ac-
cording to the World Health Organization
(WHO), only five percent of people are com-
pletely healthy — but conversely, only 20 per-
cent are truly sick. Three out of four people are
classified as being “unhealthy.” People in this
“sub-health” category are neither completely
healthy nor seriously ill, but suffer from prob-
lems such as tiredness, headaches, dizziness or
irritability. “Biochemically speaking, these peo-
ple seem to be fine,” says Shen. “Western doc-
tors wouldn’t find anything wrong with them.”
Nevertheless, these common problems can
cause a huge decline in people’s performance
and quality of life, and they can be warning
signs of more serious illnesses to come, such
as heart disease or diabetes. To combat these dangers, Siemens has
teamed up with Chinese medical experts to de-
velop a unique joint research project. At South-
ern Medical University in Guangzhou in south-
ern China, Western and Chinese scientists have
been examining “unhealthy people” for years.
Together with Siemens, they want to discover
how Western and Chinese medicine can bene-
fit from each other. “The study will help us de-
velop medical technology to diagnose and
treat sub-health problems,” says Arding Hsu,
head of CT China. “Our goal is to provide TCM
with a better scientific foundation so that Chi-
nese medicine can receive greater internation-
al recognition.”
In coming years, TCM doctors will be able to
record detailed information about each diag-
nosis and the course of specific diseases on an
IT platform that was developed for this pur-
pose by Siemens. This new technology will en-
able scientists to build what will probably be
the largest database for TCM-related knowl-
edge in the world. When the data needs to be evaluated, spe-
cially-developed algorithms will help identify
specific patterns of function and effect. Says
Hu Wei, Vice President of Southern Medical
University, “This will not only help to advance
research, but will also be a very good basis for
our training programs.” In a further step, med-
ical devices will be developed later on that
comply with the standards of both Western
and Chinese medicine. The project will initially run for five years
and is the first of its kind between a Chinese
research institution and an international
health technology company. In the future, the
project will be expanded to include more part-
ners. “This could become a key project for all of
the research being done in this field,” says
Shen. Scientists involved in the project seem to
have already agreed on one point: that good
medicine not only heals but also prevents dis-
eases in the first place.Bernhard Bartsch
people desire the luxury features of a premium
car. The waterproof cell phones with flash-
lights that conquered the Indian mass market
several years ago are now being replaced in
large cities by more stylish devices. One exam-
ple of a S.M.A.R.T. product that can be success-
ful in both markets is the Multix Select DR digi-
tal X-ray machine. Its price is around one third
below comparable previous digital X-ray prod-
ucts from Siemens — a high-tech product at
low-cost prices, affordable also for smaller hos-
pitals and private practices.
Particularly high demand is expected for
this machine in emerging economies, in
which only analog machines have been af-
fordable in this market segment until now.
China, for example, wants to introduce end-
to-end digital processes for imaging proce-
dures in provincial hospitals in order to accel-
erate diagnoses and make such processes
more secure. But the Multix Select DR will al-
most certainly be used increasingly in Europe
and other developed markets as well — for ex-
ample, as a secondary device, to make more
standard examinations possible.
The software for Multix Select DR was de-
veloped using platforms established in Ger-
many and Spain. Siemens engineers in Goa
concentrated on the mechanics, such as the
design of the examination table. Project man-
agement and systems integration, in turn,
were handled in China. All in all, there are ten man-years of devel-
opment time invested in this product. “Devel-
opment costs, local product management, and
local added value play a major role in deter-
mining market price,” says Bernd Ohnesorge,
who heads the radiography products business
unit at Siemens Healthcare. Siemens’ Multix Select DR is being manu-
factured in Shanghai, which means that sup-
pliers are charging low Chinese prices. Howev-
er, in the case of relatively cheap machines,
transportation costs make up a larger percent-
age of the total price. One day, therefore, the
Multix Select DR may also be produced in oth-
er places where there is large demand, such as
in Brazil.
As the world grows closer together and be-
comes more complex, simple, functional, en-
try-level solutions and S.M.A.R.T. products will
increasingly be used in addition to high-end
machines — in emerging markets as well as in-
dustrialized countries. Companies that can
serve both segments will have the greatest op-
portunities in this diverse market, which is at
once global and local. One approach is that be-
ing taken by Siemens. That approach calls for
putting the best heads together and setting
them to work on innovations as a global team
so that, hopefully, bright ideas will eventually
replace blackouts.Andreas Kleinschmidt
Acupotomy and foot zones (below right) play an important role in traditional Chinese medicine.
The next step is to use IT support to systemize the knowledge of healing.
Camera systems immediately recognize imperfect
cashew nuts (top). X-ray machines from India
(middle) and China (bottom) are high-tech prod-
ucts at low prices.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 6160 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Charles Coushaine, 50, has played a decisive role in turning light emitting diodes (LEDs) into a household phenomena. He has even come up with an LED light for poorly illuminated showers that gets its power from water flow.
Research without Borders | LEDs
Charles Coushaine has been inventing innovative applications for halogen lamps and light emitting diodes for almost two decades. W
here do ideas come from? That’s a
good question,” says inventor Charlie
Coushaine in his office at his home in Rindge,
New Hampshire. Spread out in front of him are
thumb-sized halogen bulbs for car headlights,
light- emitting diode (LED) lamps for cars, and
LEDs for key chains, for the kitchen, and even
for the shower.
“You definitely have to have an open mind
for new ideas,” says Coushaine. But for him,
this is obviously not a problem. He’s one of the
most productive inventors at Osram Sylvania, a
Danvers, Massachusetts-based subsidiary of
Osram, the German manufacturer of lighting
products. For almost twenty years, first at the
company’s site in Hillsboro, New Hampshire,
and later in Massachusetts, he has developed
halogen lamps and LED bulbs for vehicles and
for domestic use. Among his creations are the
first standardized halogen lamp for car head-
lights and a turbine-powered light that can be
used in the shower. Coushaine majored in mechanical engi-
neering at Northeastern University in Boston in
the 1980s. After receiving his degree, he first
worked for a company that focused on au-
tomation technology. In 1988 he joined Sylva-
nia, which was acquired by Siemens subsidiary
Osram in 1993. There, his first assignment was
to design high-speed automated equipment
for putting light bulbs together. But in 1993 the company was looking for
volunteers to design a new mechanism for
aiming automobile headlights. Coushaine an-
swered the call — not because he was no
longer interested in automation technology,
but because he felt compelled to try some-
thing new. “Every now and then you have to
take some risks,” he believes.
The greatest success that resulted from this
career change so far is probably the develop-
ment of Joule, an LED taillight system — and
the world’s first standardized LED system for
the automotive industry. Coushaine worked to-
gether with a team to develop this highly suc-
cessful system. Its individual components — a
reflective cavity, a semiconductor crystal, wire
bonds, a leadframe, and a socket — are config-
ured for maximum efficiency and output. “This
systematic approach was the greatest innova-
tion for Joule,” says Coushaine. The Idea Generator
Like all LEDs, the Joule system produces a
very intense beam, lights up instantly, has long
life, and saves power. But because it was also
standardized in line with the “plug and play”
principle, it could be employed in a wide range
of car models. Today the second generation of
Joule taillights, which provide more luminosity
in smaller bulbs, is in large-scale production.
They are being used in a number of automo-
tive models all over the world, including the
Ford Mustang and models from Audi, BMW,
and Volkswagen. In 2007 Coushaine and his
team received the Osram Innovation Award for
Joule.
Coushaine’s expertise in the LED field was
well known within the company even before
he received the award. A couple of years be-
fore the completion of the Joule project, a col-
league from the marketing department asked
him whether he could design a self-adhesive
LED lamp that customers could attach at any
spot they wished in a car’s interior. Customer
surveys had shown a potential market for such
a device. Coushaine said yes, even though he
actually had no time to do an additional proj-
would have to switch gears to the design and
development of LED products for the con-
sumer market. “As a result of this change, I
now work for only two or three months on
most projects. It’s much more playful — I can
let off steam creatively,” he says.
He usually begins by designing a model on
his computer — often at home — and then
discusses it with his team.
The draft is then sent
along with detailed func-
tional specifications to
contractors in China, who
build the device and often
include changes to the
original design. “That’s not
surprising. They are manufacturing experts,
and they regularly come up with design
changes, which we are open to as long as the
specified functionality does not change. They
are even listed as co-authors on some patents,“
Coushaine says. With his creativity running freely,
Coushaine has come up with some surprising
solutions, such as a table runner with LED
patents and 59 protective rights families. And
the ideas keep coming — for example, for an
LED lamp with an integrated speaker that can
wirelessly receive music like an MP3 player.
“Retail chains have already expressed interest
— you could, for example, play different music
in men’s and women’s dressing rooms,” he
says. Other ideas include battery-operated
wind chimes lit up with LEDs and a device that
sterilizes cutting boards with ultraviolet light. Where do all these ideas come from? “They
come from everywhere,” Coushaine, who was
named a 2010 “Siemens Inventor of the Year,”
says with a smile. “They are formed during
conversations at the dinner table, in the bath-
room, during informal chats with colleagues —
and of course they also come from supervisors
ect. Nonetheless, he managed to design the
lamp on weekends. His homemade concept
design became the “Dot-It,” a small round light
that can be turned on and off by briefly press-
ing its surface. Millions of units have been sold
worldwide to date. Coushaine worked on it for
several years parallel to the Joule project. “I’m
always working on several projects at the same
time,” he says. In 2006 he was granted the Os-
ram Star Award, primarily for his clever design,
for which he holds a patent
Creative Brainstorming. After its success
with “Dot-It,” Osram Sylvania created the “New
Ventures Group,” which designs lighting prod-
ucts for residential use, and asked Coushaine
to join. For Coushaine, this meant that he
lighting, folding LED flashlights, and an LED
lamp integrated into a shower head. The latter
was a response to the fact that in many homes
the shower area is insufficiently lit.
Coushaine’s solution produces electricity by
means of a tiny generator driven by a turbine.
The turbine in turn is driven by water flow,
which is hardly impacted by this function.
An LED Lamp with a Loudspeaker. In this
fashion, Coushaine has come up with 159 in-
ventions so far and has been awarded 184
and customer surveys. But nothing works if
you don’t have the courage to try something
new.“ Even when Coushaine goes hiking, he gen-
erates new ideas — and he goes hiking often.
Coushaine has a passion for Geocaching, a
kind of GPS-guided treasure hunt that is open
to people of all ages, in which various objects
are hidden and their coordinates are published
on the Internet. But merely finding the hiding
place is not enough. Once you’re there, you
have to find the little treasure chest itself —
which may be concealed in a tree or under a
bridge. “We’ve hidden a box close to our house
as well. The theme of the box, which is filled
with small items, is of course ‘light,’”
Coushaine confides.Hubertus Breuer
Charles Coushaine has 184 individual patents to his name — and
the ideas keep on coming.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 6362 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Electromobility
Dr. Heike Barlag coordinates international electric mobility research projects at Siemens Energy. T
he EU’s “Green Emotion” project is very im-
portant to physical chemist Heike Barlag.
She enthusiastically explains how the project
will standardize electric mobility in Europe. Its
members intend to establish a system that will
allow electric vehicles in Europe to recharge
their batteries across the whole continent
thanks to standardized voltages, power sock-
ets, and software. After a while, Barlag reveals
that she is actually the chief coordinator of this
extensive undertaking, which is being funded
by the EU as part of the seventh Research
Framework Programme. Barlag will work with
42 project partners from 12 countries over the
next four years and manage the EU’s €24 mil-
lion funding contribution. Siemens is the
largest project partner — and the company has
established an interdisciplinary team that is
participating in seven of the project’s 11 work
packages, which address guidelines for charg-
ing stations, organizing demonstration proj-
ects in several model regions, and developing
infrastructure.
Barlag’s management assignment has tak-
en her away from her favorite place — her re-
search laboratory. She loves to assemble lab
equipment and test rigs. “I’ve always been in-
terested in science and technology,” she says.
When Barlag was just 12, she took apart the
hub gears on her Dutch bicycle — and then re-
assembled the complex gearbox with little out-
side help. But these days she hardly has any
time to pick up a screwdriver herself. In June
2010 she left her research unit at Siemens Cor-
porate Technology (CT) to become a senior
project manager at Siemens Energy Sector in
Fürth near Nuremberg.
She now manages several publicly funded
electric vehicle charging infrastructure proj-
ects. She continues to work closely with the CT
Plugging into Motivation
Research without Borders | Image Processing
Visvanathan Ramesh has worked for over twenty years on the science of building computer
vision systems. In the process, he has made rail stations and airports safer.
V
isvanathan Ramesh, 48, sits in a dining
room that is reminiscent of a rustic Ger-
man restaurant at a university club in midtown
Manhattan. He’s thinking about a place far
away: Mumbai (then Bombay), where, in
1984, he was working as a trainee at
Larsen&Toubro, an Indian technology compa-
ny founded by two Danes. “Young employees
worked for six weeks each in different depart-
ments,” he recalls of the job. “As a conse-
quence one could not get really involved any-
where. So I had plenty of time on my hands —
and I read a lot in the company’s research li-
brary.” This not only helped him pass the time but
also changed his future — thanks to two arti-
cles he read. One was an article in Scientific
American magazine about the neurophysiolo-
gy of vision and how evolving research proj-
ects might one day help to develop computer
vision. The other article was a story about
medical imaging in the journal Proceedings of
the IEEE
. “Because of those articles, I immedi-
ately knew that vision processing was what I
wanted to do going forward,” Ramesh says. As
a result, he decided to actively pursue his ap-
plication for a degree in
electrical engineering in
the United States.
When Ramesh is ex-
plaining his career, he of-
ten refers to his mother’s
determination, courage,
and will to work hard. But
it was not only this kind of persistence that
shaped his path. He also felt a thirst for knowl-
edge — and that brought him to a country that
at first was very foreign to him. “There were
quite a few cultural differences,” he recalls.
“Simple things could become difficult. For ex-
ample, my visa for the United States said that I
had until 1-3-1985 to enter the country — and
I figured that meant the first of March. But the
American notation puts the month before the
day. Because of this, I nearly missed my oppor-
tunity to go.”
Ramesh made his dream, which was born
in a Mumbai library, a reality. He attended Vir-
ginia Tech in southwestern Virginia. He re-
ceived his PhD from the University of Washing-
ton in Seattle, and right afterwards, in 1995,
he was offered a job as a research scientist
Toward Systems that See What’s Important
working on automated image processing at
Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, New
Jersey. Only a few years later he was promoted
and became head of the Real-Time Vision and
Modeling department. And his management
has led to success. When Ramesh arrived, the
department had 30 employees — today there
are roughly 150, a large number of them work-
ing on medical imaging.
Recognizing Danger. In recent years,
Ramesh and his team have created technolo-
gies for automatic image processing that are
the basis for monitoring systems in subway
and train stations, at airports, and in other
public spaces. They are also used for cargo and
parcel screening. In addition, the majority of
driver assistance systems would not be possi-
ble without this kind of technology. For exam-
ple, it can automatically search images for
signs of danger — whether a suitcase at an air-
port gate appears to be unattended or burglars
are trying to break into a house. Ramesh has developed a flexible system ar-
chitecture that can be adapted to different
video analysis applications. What does a video
system need in order to monitor a subway sys-
tem? How do light conditions change? What
difficulties are involved in crowd surveillance?
“It’s easy to collect vast amounts of image in-
formation, but the trick is to integrate this data
and interpret it correctly. One important aspect
of this is to know what is important and what
can be ignored,” he says. Ramesh has been de-
vising statistical models of these influences for
a large number of scenarios in recent years. He
is responsible for over 120 inventions, 37 of
which have been granted patents. The teams Ramesh works with are located
all over the globe — in Bangalore, Munich,
Graz, and other locations. “Everyone brings
their own perspective to the table,” he says.
“whether it’s a methodical German, a Chinese
team player or an entrepreneurial American. In
such groups, everyone benefits from the
strengths of the others — assuming that one is
open to these differences. And for that reason,
it’s important to have a certain sensitivity for
other cultures.”
Ramesh’s global research agenda will cer-
tainly continue in the coming years — this
time in the interdisciplinary field of cognitive
systems. Most recently, Ramesh has been
working with a group of German colleagues in
the area of artificial intelligence, specifically on
discovering how recent discoveries in brain re-
search can be applied to intelligent vision sys-
tems — a quarter of a century after he read an
article in Scientific American on the same sub-
ject. Hubertus Breuer
“It’s easy to collect image informa-
tion, but the trick is to integrate this
data and interpret it correctly.”
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 6564 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Steelmaking
For over 50 years, Michael Shore has been advancing rolling mill technology.
headquarters in Massachusetts — and even if I
sent an idea to the U.S. it might take three
weeks until it was approved. But we often did-
n’t have that much time on site. Things had to
happen faster,” he says.
One day in the early 1960s he faced exactly
this problem at a steel mill in Germany. “There
were a lot of roll breakages in the early No-
Twist mills,” he explains. “Together with the
customer, we developed a hydraulic roll
mounting device that prevented roll break-
ages.” The customer went on to patent the de-
vice, and the idea was so successful that Mor-
gan purchased the patent shortly thereafter. A Lifetime of Expertise. Shore got to know
different management cultures in Europe,
southeast Asia, and South America. But that
didn’t change his own approach. “I have always
wanted to be able to perform every single pro-
cedure on a machine myself if I need to. And I
approach everyone, from the common worker
to the factory owner, with the same respect.” Since the late 1960s, Morgan’s manage-
ment had tried in vain to persuade him to
move to the U.S. Shore lived in an early 18th-
century cottage in Cheshire, had a huge model
railway in his house, and traveled around the
world 300 days per year. “I was very happy
with my life,” he recalls. But in 1988 his son,
On a Roll Worldwide
who had moved to Worcester to work in the
sales department at Morgan — the third gen-
eration of Shores in the rolling mill industry —
convinced him otherwise. In addition, as Shore
recalls with a laugh, “My wife figured that after
a move to the U.S. I’d only travel about 180
days a year.” And since she wanted to go, he
acquiesced.
As chief engineer at Morgan, he introduced
important innovations to rolling mills. His main
goal was always to increase speed without de-
creasing quality. He precisely coordinated the
exact arrangement of thousands of plant com-
ponents and introduced sophisticated automa-
tion systems and entirely new rolling mill sys-
tems.
Particularly successful was his invention of
the Morgan Reducing/Sizing Mill, which he
conceived in the early 1990s. It increases the
production of all rod sizes by as much as
60 percent because it boosts efficiency and
works very precisely. It also allows rolling
processes to have a simplified rolling pass se-
quence and allows rods to be rolled at very low
temperatures. As a result, the rods’ surfaces
are so smooth that several steps commonly in-
cluded in the finishing process, such as anneal-
ing and peeling, are eliminated. Today more
than 60 machines of this design have been in-
stalled worldwide.
Shore also improved the rolling process
with many other inventions — for example,
the Morshor system. “The idea came to me
while I was shoveling snow,” he remembers.
The system substantially boosts the production
of small-diameter rods. The smaller the diame-
ter of the rods, the higher the rolling speed,
but the lower the tonnage rate. As a result, a
rolling mill with a capacity of 150 tons per
hour produces only half that amount when
rolling small sizes. Shore came up with a solu-
tion in the form of two drums that serve as in-
termediate storage sites downstream of the in-
termediate rolling mill and feed two separate
finishing lines at 75 tons per hour, thus allow-
ing a mill to reach its maximum capacity.
“I’m very lucky to have been able to work on
rolling mills for 56 years,” says Shore. “During
this time I’ve contributed to many changes in
the industry. The machines have become
faster and more accurate, and computer con-
trol has become increasingly important.” For
many of these developments, he finds that be-
ing part of Siemens was very helpful. “We can
tap into a lot of the company’s expertise in au-
tomation technology,” he says. But in spite of
all this progress, he is concerned that not
enough young people are excited about ca-
reers in design engineering. “They should real-
ize that one can be wonderfully creative in this
type of career in many ways, just as I was,” says
Shore. Hubertus Breuer
researchers who are developing the charging
units for electric vehicle power stations. The
objective here is electromagnetic induction
charging, which uses direct current rather than
alternating current — and could reduce charg-
ing times to just a few minutes. Barlag’s work
requires organizational talent and the ability to
skillfully direct very diverse teams. Through
her projects she works closely with coworkers
in Germany and Denmark, researchers at uni-
versities, developers in the automotive indus-
try, and engineers at energy supply compa-
nies. “Green Emotion” is by far the biggest
project Barlag is involved in at the moment.
Different Perspectives. Heike Barlag, who is
41, respects her new assignment as a project
coordinator. “I almost feel a little too young for
it,” she jokes. But she looks forward to the chal-
lenge, and she knows exactly what she needs
to do to make complex projects a success. “The
most important thing is communication, of
course,” she explains. An intense exchange of
ideas and information is crucial, especially at
the beginning, in order to
make sure the results fit
together at the end. Barlag
describes her strategy as
follows: “You have to make
sure everyone involved re-
ally understands what
they’re supposed to do.”
That’s why she continually checks with partici-
pants to make sure no misunderstandings re-
main. She is very good at getting right to the
heart of things, and has never had any lan-
guage difficulties with her European partners
because “anyone participating in an EU project
speaks English.” As a coordinator, Barlag also relies on her
own extensive technical knowledge. She stud-
ied chemistry at the University of Münster and
specialized in electrochemistry when she
worked on her PhD. She also knows a lot about
programming. Her first job when she started
working at Siemens CT in Erlangen in 2001
was to develop fuel cells. “That was really basic
research — I built electrodes, put in compo-
nent production orders, and tested fuel cells in
the lab,” she recalls. In 2004 she moved to the
Biosensor unit. She was eventually promoted
to project manager there, and this enabled her
to gain initial experience in leading interdisci-
plinary groups, which now helps her to over-
come typical barriers. “Physicists, chemists, bi-
ologists, and engineers often have different
perspectives on things,” she says. Even an ele-
mentary concept like electrical voltage can
mean something different to an electro-
chemist than it does to an electrical engineer,
as Barlag soon found out. “I wanted to under-
stand how engineers think,” she explains. “So I
mills. After receiving his diploma, he published
a report on rolling mill technology that wound
up on the desks of managers at American
rolling mill manufacturer Morgan, which had
an office in Manchester. The company, a global
supplier of wire rod rolling mill equipment, ap-
proached him about a job. At Morgan, Shore began study the weak-
nesses of new mills on site during setup and
operation. This launched him into helping to
install rolling mills in many countries — he
spent a year in Germany, then in Spain, and
later worked in Brazil, India, Japan, and Korea.
He was, so to speak, on a roll worldwide. Today
he speaks Spanish and German fluently.
It didn’t take long for the Shore to offer nu-
merous suggestions for improvements. In one
instance, he reduced the number of wrenches
needed for maintenance from 20 to three. In
1967 he recommended that the company
build a Stelmor conveyor with steps to regulate
its speed. “It was such a good idea that it went
into every mill,” he says. Shore calls 61 inven-
tions his own, and today more than 600
patents bear his name worldwide. In 2010,
along with 11 other innovators from Siemens,
he was named an “Inventor of the Year.” But it was not always easy for Shore to
make major changes in the company. “I was
close to the bottom of the hierarchy, far from
S
urrounded by a collection of pictures of
trains, horses, and boats, Michael Shore is
sitting in his office at Siemens VAI in Worces-
ter, Massachusetts, a world leader in the field
of rolling mill technology and a Siemens busi-
ness since its acquisition of Morgan in 2008.
VAI has branches in China, Brazil, India, and
Great Britain. An electric pencil sharpener sits
on the desk next to the Shore. “A remnant of
the past. Today I mostly use mechanical pen-
cils, and all design happens on the computer.
But that doesn’t prevent me from sketching
ideas with a pencil,” he says. On the wall is a
poster illustrating two drums in a wire rolling
mill, the so-called “Morshor system,” Shore’s
latest invention, which was named in his hon-
or. It is being tested in a plant in Brazil. Shore was born in Yorkshire, England, in
1937 and has been familiar with steel mills
since boyhood, as his father worked in one. As
he approached his graduation from a trade
school, he had a choice between coal mining
and steel rolling mills, his home region’s two
dominant industries at the time. He opted for
the steel mills and became a mechanical engi-
neer for metallurgy at the British Iron & Steel
Research Association (BISRA). Curious and ambitious by nature, Shore be-
gan to study mechanical engineering while
working for BISRA. His focus was on rolling
had to learn the language of electrical engi-
neering, so to speak.”
As a woman, Barlag has often felt a bit exot-
ic throughout her career. However, she doesn’t
believe her gender has been a disadvantage —
even though she did encounter some preju-
dices in the beginning. In fact, her father, him-
self an engineer, wasn’t too pleased with her
choice of profession, and her dissertation advi-
sor predicted that all of his female students
would end up working in libraries. “Here at
Siemens, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a
man or a woman or where you come from,”
Barlag says. Sometimes, however, someone
will call her office and think she’s a secretary
rather than the project manager — but Barlag
doesn’t take it personally. “People still have to
get used to women in management positions,”
she says.
Barlag’s humor and her open and uncompli-
cated demeanor definitely contribute to the
success of her projects. And, as she has
learned, when working in international
groups, it’s also important to show respect for
the professional knowledge of your partners,
says Barlag. Ideally, collaboration across bor-
ders, disciplines, and companies should be a
very enriching experience. “If you can combine
the skills and knowledge of everyone involved,
you’ll get better results than if each person
works alone,” she says.
Barlag believes research without borders
will become more and more important in the
future. “We make our money mostly with high-
tech products whose development is so com-
plex that companies can no longer do it by
themselves,” she says. Electric mobility is the
best example of how international collabora-
tion is indispensable, according to Barlag, who
says, “It’s the only way to get a market big
enough to ensure that the development work
pays off.” Inner-European borders make no
sense when it comes to infrastructure projects.
“Nobody is going to want to stop at a border
because they can’t recharge their car on the
other side,” Barlag says. In addition, interna-
tional collaboration saves money because it al-
lows uniform standards for new technologies
to be developed at a very early stage. Barlag is also seeing European borders dis-
appear in her private life. Her husband spends
half his time in Nuremberg and the other half
in Warsaw, where he has been managing a
company for the last ten years.Ute Kehse
“I wanted to understand how engi-
neers think. So I had to learn the language of electrical engineering.”
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 6766 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Interview
Eugene Wong (75) is
Emeritus Professor at the
University of California at
Berkeley, where he served
as Chair of the Depart-
ment of Electrical Engi-
neering and Computer
Sciences from 1985–1989.
His distinguished career
includes contributions to
academia, public service
and business. From 1990-
1993 he was the Associ-
ate Director of the Office
of Science and Technolo-
gy Policy, under George H.
W. Bush. He was a co-
founder of Ingres Corp., a
pioneering database com-
pany, and has participat-
ed in entrepreneurial ac-
tivities in the U.S. and in
Asia. Prof. Wong is a
member of the National
Academy of Engineering
and a Fellow of the Ameri-
can Academy of Arts and
Sciences. He holds a PhD
in Electrical Engineering
from Princeton University.
Has research and development become a
globalized process?
Wong:
The effect of globalization is more im-
portant to development than to research. To
me, research is mainly an individual activity
that involves the search for knowledge and
making path-breaking discoveries. Globaliza-
tion may mean more people are doing re-
search, but the gains have been in quantity,
not quality. It is development, with its empha-
sis on serving the individual needs of multiple
markets, where globalization has made a ma-
jor difference.
How does globalized development affect
creativity?
Wong:
First of all, creativity is absolutely important in the entire enterprise, but particularly so in the front end where ideas are conceived. No good research can be conducted without a high degree of creativity.
Beyond that, I would say that creativity is
much less process dependent and much more culture dependent than other elements
in R&D. Creativity varies a great deal from
country to country. It is not intelligence dependent. But it is very dependent on the
kind of education people get. Take China, for
instance. The gene pool is very rich. But the
culture, in terms of encouraging creativity, is
much less so. It has never fostered the ability
to think out of the box.
Are you suggesting that China isn’t as
much of a threat as people think?
Wong:
It is a threat from many points of view,
but not in terms of originating truly novel
ideas or major, new industrial sectors. China
shows no sign of being able to do this. I be-
lieve that this is very much the result of cultur-
al and educational factors, and these are not
things that are likely to change overnight. Fur-
thermore, the Chinese have no incentive to
change. Entirely new ideas and industries rep-
resent a higher risk and require a longer laten-
cy period before providing results. It is easier
and quicker for China and other Asian
economies to get into the game by exploiting
new business models than by coming up with
genuinely new technologies.
Does globalization of R&D vary from sector to sector?
Wong:
Absolutely. There are huge differences in terms of the extent of globalization of research and development between, say, information-technology-driven
areas on the one hand, and biotechnology on the other. For instance, although we
see ever-growing digitization of information, I don’t think nature has been digitized. Those technologies that are based on the
chemical, biological and physical sciences are really a different ball game. They still follow the old rules. They are still laboratory
based. They are of course aided by computing power, but they are far less prone to being globalized.
By and large, is R&D a good investment?
Wong:
Historically, public funding of R&D —
particularly research — has produced high so-
cial returns, i.e. quantifiable socio-economic
benefits, to the communities that provide the
investment. Some of the benefits are indirect,
and education stands out as a particularly im-
portant case. However, it is becoming a chal-
lenge for communities around the world to
provide the opportunities for well-educated
students to fulfill their expectations. Ultimate-
ly, creating jobs that match people’s potential
must be both a major goal for public R&D
funding and a central focus of public policy in
every country.
There’s a lot of discussion in the U.S. now
about whether the country is investing
enough in R&D. Is it?
Wong:
Well, there is a big difference between
being tight fisted and being cheap. Govern-
ments must never forget that what they spend
on R&D is taxpayers’ money. I believe that gov-
ernments are right to be tough minded, but vi-
sionary, in managing this money. I believe that
funding must be focused and strategic. Re-
garding the U.S. in particular, I would say that
R&D is not one of the areas we are failing in. I think the level of innovation here is very, very
high, but to sustain it will require continued
generous funding and enlightened public policy.Interview by Arthur F. Pease.
Global Research & Development:
A World of Opportunities
Research without Borders | Medical Technology
Li Pan, an expert on magnetic resonance imaging, is working at Johns Hopkins University hospital on ways to make interventional procedures visible in real time.
I
am a Chinese woman working in the United
States for a German technology company,”
says Li Pan, 37, as she introduces herself at the
Siemens Center for Applied Medical Imaging
(CAMI) located on the Johns Hopkins Universi-
ty medical campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
CAMI has a long list of partners for various col-
laborative projects, including universities and
research institutions in the U.S. and Europe,
hospitals worldwide, and medical technology
companies. “The center is international, the
collaborations are international, and I’m inter-
national too!” she says. Li Pan is part of a research group of about a
dozen scientists and engineers. Their common
goal is to explore various imaging modalities,
including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
and computer tomography (CT), to support
surgical interventions. For example, MRI tech-
nology will soon allow doctors to follow and
monitor a catheter in real time as it moves
through the body of a patient. The team in-
cludes seven scientists working at CAMI in Bal-
timore, Siemens Corporate Technology in
Princeton, and elsewhere. The group is devel-
oping new MRI techniques to assist minimally
invasive interventional procedures such as
biopsy of tissues and ablation, which applies
radiofrequency waves to kill cancer tissues. Scientists from all over the world come to
CAMI to design research projects for Siemens
scanners and negotiate collaborations.
Siemens delivers the software for these proj-
ects, and researchers provide feedback in order
to help the CAMI group improve their proto-
types. “To date, our interventional software
package has been delivered to eight coun-
tries,” Pan says proudly.
“At Siemens Corporate Research, we en-
counter people from all over the world,” says
Pan. “Everybody brings his or her own perspec-
tive and ways to deal with issues. For example,
Germans tend to raise issues very directly. If
you are not familiar with this custom, you may
mistake it for personal criticism — but with
time, you learn not to.”
In 1991 Pan enrolled for a degree course in
biomedical engineering at one of the best uni-
versities in China, Tsinghua University in Bei-
jing. Fascinated by math and science since
childhood, Pan loves to do hands-on work, and
Tsinghua University’s teaching method also
emphasizes that approach. Half of her class-
mates at the university continued their studies
abroad after graduation, and so did Pan. In
fact, she was the first Ph.D. candidate accepted
directly from mainland China into the biomed-
ical engineering program at Johns Hopkins
University, which is widely regarded as one of
the best teaching hospitals in the U.S. Howev-
er, when she moved from Beijing to faraway
Baltimore in 1999, things did not work out eas-
ily all the time.
A Leap into Cold Water. With less than per-
fect English, she had to manage plenty of new
tasks right after she arrived — such as finding
an apartment. “At universities in China, many
of these things are taken care of for you. Here,
I was on my own,” she says. Today she is the
only one of her class from Tsinghua University
who is still working in the field of biomedical
engineering. Others decided to do research in
different areas or became financial analysts or
computer scientists. Many went back to China,
in some cases because of the economic boom
in their home country. But Pan stayed.
When she began to study at Johns Hopkins,
she encountered a different teaching style.
Students were able to work with different pro-
fessors of their choice and develop their own
research agendas. They had to think more in-
dependently, and after they had decided on a
research project for a dissertation they them-
selves had to make sure they had the resources
to carry it out. At Johns Hopkins, Pan soon became fasci-
nated by MRI technologies. In her doctoral the-
sis she developed algorithms that helped to
identify heart dysfunction in real time using
MRI. After completing her dissertation in 2006,
she applied to Siemens. The Siemens research
group that focused on interventional MRI had
moved into a lab that was only two floors be-
low Pan’s former workplace. Pan and her colleagues, together with their
partners in industry and research, are currently
working on developing an MRI-guided inter-
ventional system to improve catheter-based
cardiac procedures. Her own focus within this
project is to develop software that allows
physicians to navigate a catheter through the
body to the heart by tracking its motion in real
time. “My hope is that these technologies will
become clinical standards in the near future,”
she says. “But for us, there will certainly be
plenty of new projects to work on. Research
never ends.” Hubertus Breuer
Paths to the Heart
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 6968 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
T
he importance of international research networks
that link universities, research institutes, and com-
panies has been increasing since the 1980s — and it
makes no difference whether the scientists live in
Beijing, Mumbai, Princeton, or Munich. Such networks
were initially designed to adapt products to local re-
quirements in emerging markets. But these days we’re
also seeing technology transfer from emerging markets
to the advanced industrialized nations. According to
Deutsche Bank Research, for instance, exports of R&D
services from India to the EU have increased by a factor
of 2.5 since 2004, while the volume of such services
from China has risen by a factor of three. Strategy consulting firm Booz & Company reports
that almost two thirds of the $503 billion spent on re-
search and development by the world’s 1,000 biggest
companies in 2009 was invested in the sectors for elec-
tronics/computers (28 percent), health/pharmaceuticals
(21 percent), and automobiles (16 percent). Global R&D
investment fell by 1.9 percent in the crisis year of 2009
— and in many industrialized countries it declined by
more than three percent, as reported in the Investment
Scoreboard published by the European Commission last
year. The report examined 1,400 companies around the
world in terms of the total value of their worldwide R&D
investments, regardless of location. Developments in China and India have been com-
pletely different. They increased their research and de-
velopment budgets by a combined 41.8 percent in the
crisis year of 2009, according to Booz & Company. The
huge extent to which the distribution of global R&D ex-
penditure has changed is also demonstrated by the UN-
ESCO Science Report 2010. Whereas in 1990 some 92
percent of total R&D activity worldwide was concentrat-
ed in just seven OECD countries, the industrial nations
accounted for only 76 percent of this activity in 2007.
The share for the U.S. was approximately one third, and
the European Union accounted for just under 25 per-
cent. The figure for Germany was 6.3 percent. Neverthe-
less, China and India are becoming increasingly impor-
tant as research locations. DB Research reports that
international companies invested almost $40 billion in
R&D units in those countries in 2007. Industrialized nations are using government funding
to counter this trend. For example, the EU’s investment
in R&D will total €50.5 billion for the period 2007–2013.
These funds will be spent on projects for battling climate
change, developing renewable energy sources, and im-
Research without Borders | Facts and Forecasts
Emerging Markets Catching Up in Research and Development
proving health and food safety. In the U.S., Government
funding of non-military research and development is set
to increase by 5.9 percent in 2011 to $65.8 billion. Most
of this investment will be earmarked for the health sec-
tor, fundamental research, aerospace, raw materials and
environmental research, and energy and transport proj-
ects. The U.S. and Japan also provide tax breaks for R&D
activities, such as deductions for personnel costs for re-
searchers and depreciation of equipment and buildings. According to the UNESCO Science Report, the U.S.
accounted for around one third of all the money spent
on research worldwide in 2010. Europe followed with
23 percent and China’s contribution was just under nine
percent. Nevertheless, “the world in which technology
and science was dominated by the triad of the U.S., the
EU, and Japan is gradually giving way to a multipolar
constellation,” says UNESCO General Director Irina
Bokowa. Along with China and India, countries such as Brazil,
Mexico, and South Africa are investing more and more
in research and development. According to the Battelle
Memorial Institute in the U.S., China’s R&D expenditure
will increase from $141.4 billion in 2010 to $153.7 bil-
lion in 2011 — which will put it ahead of Japan ($144.1
billion). Many nations also plan to invest more in higher
education. India, for example, will be building 30 new
universities, and the number of students in the country
is set to increase to 21 million as early as 2012. Scientific exchanges with China are also on the rise.
DB Research reports that the number of scientists from
abroad who visit China or work with Chinese re-
searchers tripled to almost 100,000 between 2001 and
2008. China’s government plans to make the nation a
leading scientific power by 2050. The government’s
stated goal is to increase R&D expenditure from the cur-
rent level of just under 1.6 percent of gross domestic
product (GDP) to 2.5 percent by 2020 and to provide tar-
geted funding to technology clusters that include the
energy, IT, biotechnology, and space sectors. R&D expenditure in the U.S. is currently around 2.8
percent of GDP, according to the OECD; the average for
the 27 EU countries is 1.8 percent, while Japan spends
3.4 percent of its GDP on R&D. A total of 1.7 percent of
gross world product was spent on research and develop-
ment in 2007 — 45 percent more than in 2002. This il-
lustrates the fact that countries have come to realize
that investment in knowledge and innovation holds the
key to their future competitiveness. Sylvia Trage
U.S.
Brazil
22.5
20.7
35.1
32.6
Mexico
Canada
Italy
2.0
1.9
2.4
2.1
3.3
2.8
2.2
1.9
European Union
25.3
22.5
26.1
23.1
France
3.7
3.1
4.8
3.7
United
Kingdom
3.7
3.2
3.9
3.4
Germany
4.9
4.3
7.2
6.3
Russian Federation
2.8
3.2
2.0
2.0
China
7.9
10.7
5.0
South Korea
2.0
1.9
2.8
8.9
3.6
India
3.8
4.7
1.6
2.2
Australia
1.3
1.2
1.3
1.4
Japan
7.4
6.5
13.7
12.9
2.9
2.8
1.6
1.8
2.1
2.3
0.5 0.5
Share of gross world product, 2002
Share of gross world product, 2007
Share of world GERD*, 2002
Share of world GERD*, 2007
*GERD = Gross domestic expenditure on research and development
BRIC = Brazil, Russia, India, and China
Ranking of World’s
Leading R&D Investors Toyota Motor (1)1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Roche (4)
Microsoft (2)
Volkswagen (3)
Pfizer (6)
Novartis (10)
Nokia (8)
Johnson & Johnson (7)
Sanofi-Aventis (12)
Samsung Electronics (24)
Siemens (19)
General Motors (5)
Honda Motor (11)
Daimler (13)
GlaxoSmithKline (20)
Merck (25)
Intel (17)
Panasonic (14)
Sony (16)
Cisco Systems (21)
The figures in parentheses are the ranking positions for the previous year (2009). 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
R&D investment in 2010 (in € billions)
Source: The 2010 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, European Commission, JRC/DG RTD
Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Worldwide R&D Spending: BRIC Accounts for 15%
in percent
Patent Applications: Growth in China
Share of global patent applications (in %)
Europe: Rapidly Growing
Research Funding
University Students: China Catches Up
Billions of euros
Millions of new students
Patents with Partners
Patent applications from Germany
that include foreign partners (in %)
R&D Invested Abroad
Share of German companies’ external R&D expenditure invested outside of Germany (in %)
0
10
20
30
40
50
3
2
4
5
6
7
0
5
10
15
20
1984
to
1986
1987
to
1991
1991
to
1994
1994
to
1998
1998
to
2002
2002
to
2007
2007
to
2013
FP 1
FP 2
FP 3
FP 4
FP 5
FP 6
FP 7
FP = Framework Research Program
EU + U.S. + Japan
China
Source: European Commission
Source: DB Research, Eurostat, National Statistics of China, 2010
Source: DB Research and WIPO, 2010
Source: DB Research and Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, 2010
Source: DB Research and OECD, 2010
1983
2002
10
0
20
30
40
50
1985 1989 1993 1997 2001 20052003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
1989 1995 2001 2007
EU 42
Rest 29
Japan 3
U.S. 26
Japan
U.S.
EU
Korea
China
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 7170 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Research without Borders | Biograph mMR
A new kind of medical imaging system is currently undergoing clinical use testing in Munich. Called the Biograph mMR, it is the world’s first system to combine magnetic resonance imaging and
positron emission tomography in one scanner. As a result, it is now possible for the first time to simultaneously display the position, function and metabolism of internal organs in a single image. creasing metabolic activity, which is an indica-
tor of dementia, among other illnesses. Profes-
sor Hermann Requardt, CEO of the Siemens
Healthcare Sector, expects the combination of
PET and MR in a single system to generate ma-
jor benefits. “We can overcome the challenges
to our health care systems only if we identify
diseases as early and as precisely as possible,
treat them appropriately, and keep an eye on
costs,” he says. “After all, nothing is more ex-
pensive than therapy that doesn’t work, or a
they work with magnetic fields — this tech-
nique is especially suitable for examinations of
children and for follow-up examinations.
In addition to its spatial and temporal preci-
sion, Biograph mMR offers the unique advan-
tage of being able to simultaneously acquire
MR and PET images of the whole body in about
30 minutes. Previously, two separate examina-
tions were required, after which the two im-
ages would be combined — a time-consum-
ing process with reduced precision, as patients
Doctors such as Professor Schwaiger (above in an
MR examination room) want to use the high-reso-
lution images from the Biograph mMR whole-body
MR-PET scanner to gain new insights in oncology,
cardiology, and neurology. This could result in the
early detection of diseases and the provision of
more effective treatments. M
unich’s “Klinikum rechts der Isar” univer-
sity hospital has an outstanding interna-
tional reputation for scientific advances. In
2008 the successful transplantation at the hos-
pital of two complete arms caused a sensation
around the world. In November 2010 the hos-
pital was in the spotlight again with another
first when Siemens Healthcare installed the
world’s first fully integrated whole-body MR-
PET system in the hospital’s Nuclear Medicine
Clinic. The system has been undergoing clini-
cal use testing since then. The special feature of the 3-tesla hybrid sys-
tem named Biograph mMR — the “m” stands
for molecular — is that it combines two impor-
tant imaging techniques in one system:
positron emission tomography (PET) and mag-
netic resonance imaging (MRI). Hybrid Insights
There are a number of significant differ-
ences between the ways in which these two
techniques function (see box, following page),
but they both supply mutually complementary
information about diseases. Whereas an MR
system can generate images of the human
anatomy at millimeter-scale resolution, a PET
scanner is especially useful for studying the
metabolism of cells.
“The Biograph mMR now makes it possible
for us to create whole-body images with MR
and PET at the same time and to superimpose
them,” says Professor Markus Schwaiger, the
director of Klinikum rechts der Isar’s Nuclear
Medicine Clinic. Schwaiger has high hopes for
the clinical trials. “We’re concentrating on ap-
plications in the field of oncology — on pa-
tients suffering from cancer, in other words.
What interests us is the extra value the system
offers compared with current examination
methods. We hope it will help us make better
and more precise diagnoses,” he says.
Schwaiger’s hopes should be justified, be-
cause doctors using the Biograph mMR during
an examination can see not only whether the
size of a tumor has decreased but also, for ex-
ample, whether its energy consumption and
thus its metabolism has slowed down. From
this information they can infer that the tumor
is responding to medication and that the ther-
apy (such as a chemotherapy) should be con-
tinued. Biograph mMR could also support the diag-
nosis of neurodegenerative diseases. This
might be accomplished, for example, by identi-
fying certain areas of the brain that show de-
How Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Works
MRI is characterized by very high soft-tissue contrast, making it ideal for identifying pathological
changes in organs. This is because MRI sees the hydrogen atoms in the proteins and adipose tissue that
make up organs. A very strong magnetic field of, for example, three tesla (60,000 times stronger than
the earth’s magnetic field) can be used to align the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms with the direction of
the magnetic field lines. At the same time, a radio signal is used to slightly disturb this alignment . When the extra radio signal is switched off, the hydrogen atoms return to their original alignment with
the applied magnetic field. Depending on the region in which the particles are located (such as the liver,
subcutaneous fat, or bodily fluid), this realignment takes varying lengths of time and can therefore be
depicted by means of MRI. How Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Works
PET is primarily used to study metabolism in tissue cells. To this end, a tracer is first injected into the pa-
tient’s bloodstream. This is usually a type of glucose containing short-lived radioactive fluorine as a
marker. This fluorine-18-deoxyglucose, or FDG, is absorbed primarily by those cells that use glucose as
an energy source. It therefore allows cells that are characterized by high energy demand, such as tumor
cells, to be visualized, because they absorb more of the tagged glucose than other cells. Inside the cells,
the radioactive tracer decays and emits positrons that collide with electrons — their counterparts — in
surrounding tissue and emit radiation in the resulting process of annihilation. This gives rise to two gam-
ma quanta, which fly away at an angle of 180 degrees to one another. These are measured by a ring of
detectors inside a tube that surrounds the patient. If two different detectors pick up gamma quanta at
the same time, the system has therefore discovered a positron in the body of the patient on the line con-
necting these two detectors. With the ring detector, countless lines can be traced in this way. The points
where the lines intersect can be identified as areas of heightened energy consumption.
therapy to treat an illness that the patient
doesn’t even have.” “Clinical use testing will help us to monitor
the progress of diseases. We will use the result-
ing information to develop a dedicated plan of
treatment for each individual patient,” explains
Schwaiger. “Furthermore, we expect that the
new combined technology will help us to iden-
tify tumors and perform biopsies with far
greater precision than would otherwise be the
case, while offering a significant improvement
in patient comfort.” At the same time, the new
machine is expected to facilitate progress in
the development of new biomarkers and to de-
liver insights that will help to develop new
types of treatment for cancer, heart disease,
and neurological disorders. Since MRs do not
use ionizing radiation to visualize the body —
and their organs always move, however slight-
ly, between examinations. Simultaneous imag-
ing by the Biograph mMR therefore enables a
more precise diagnosis and is also more com-
fortable for patients, since they only have to be
examined once. Combining Forces. What did it take to com-
bine MR and PET into a single system? “For one
thing, there were all kinds of technical prob-
lems in terms of combining two very large ma-
chines. But above all, we had to overcome
technological limits,” says Walter Märzendor-
fer, head of Siemens Healthcare’s Magnetic
Resonance Business Unit. To do so, Siemens’
Molecular Imaging (MI) Business Unit in Hoff-
man Estates, Illinois and Märzendorfer’s Busi-
ness Unit in Erlangen, Germany, pooled their
The Biograph mMR system requires a statement of conformity in accordance with the European Medical Devices Directive. It is at present not commercially available in the U.S.
Research without Borders | Wind in Mali
How can electricity be supplied to some of the world’s poorest regions? Siemens engineer Piet-Willem Chevalier manufactures
wind turbines in Mali and trains local people to build and service
the technology. The result is a classic example of sustainability.
Do-it-Yourself Power
M
ali nights are fantastic,” says Piet-Willem
Chevalier. “You can see countless stars
because there’s no light pollution.” Mali, a
country in West Africa, has no national power
grid and very few people can afford a diesel
generator. That’s why Chevalier, an engineer
for dynamic wind turbine analyses at Siemens
Energy in Den Haag, wants to supply Mali with
green electricity. Since 2008 he has been
working in his free time on the “I love wind
power” project, which trains Malians to build
wind turbines from locally available materials. Afterwards, trainees will be able to set up
their own companies, which will not only
make wind power systems, but also offer re-
pair service and battery charging stations.
“When a solar cell breaks, you have to buy a
new one — but wind power gets local people
involved,” says Chevalier, who believes that
technological and social progress go together.
When asked how he got started, he replies, “I
usually work on a computer, but I wanted to
build a small wind turbine with my own
hands.” On the Internet he found instructions
from Scottish developer Hugh Piggott, who
has been making wind turbines from simple
materials for decades.
“Mali is one of the world’s poorest coun-
tries,” explains Brahima Bocar, who comes
from the Timbuktu region and works for
Siemens in Warsaw. “People often have to walk
several kilometers just to get water.” In 2010
Mali ranked 160th among the 169 countries
on the United Nations Human Development In-
dex. Desert covers over 60 percent of the
country. Between 1970 and 1990 hundreds of small
wind turbines were set up in Mali to pump wa-
ter, but only a few of them are still in opera-
tion, says Bocar. “They were financed by for-
eign organizations. When the projects were
over, no one cared about the pumps any more.
The local inhabitants lacked the needed ex-
pertise to maintain them. It’s not enough to
supply a product, you also have to train and
motivate people to keep it running.” In 2008 Chevalier met Bocar at a Siemens
training course in Denmark. Bocar talked about
daily life in Mali and Chevalier described the
wind turbines he was building. They soon real-
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 7372 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
expertise and included a huge global network
of development partners in the effort —
among them researchers from the University
Hospital in Tübingen, Germany’s Jülich re-
search center, the Athinoula A. Martinos Cen-
ter in Boston, and Emory University in Atlanta,
Georgia. “It was exemplary teamwork,” says
Märzendorfer. One important approach pursued by devel-
opers was to make crucial changes to the exist-
ing PET detector. PET scans create gamma
quanta in a patient’s body. These quanta lead
to the emission of photons in the scintillation
crystals located at the front of the detector. In
the past, these photons were electronically
amplified by photomultipliers (electron tubes
several centimeters long) before they were
measured. But an MR system’s magnetic field
would so strongly deflect the cascade of elec-
trons generated by photomultipliers that it
would be impossible to measure any clear sig-
nal — a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to
the integration of the two technologies. The solution? “In the Biograph mMR we re-
placed the photomultipliers with avalanche
photodiodes (APD), which are only a fraction
of the size of electron tubes,” says Dr. Matthias
Schmand, head of Siemens Healthcare’s PET
Detector Research and Development program.
Although the APDs likewise measure an elec-
tron flow that is caused by photons, this takes
place within a semiconductor layer system that
does not react sensitively to external magnetic
fields. “At the same time, the APDs made it
possible to overcome a second hurdle: They’re
small enough to be integrated into the hous-
ing of an MR,” explains Schmand. Heading for Personalized Medicine. Before
the Biograph mMR goes to serial production —
which is initially scheduled for the European
market in the second half of 2011 — Siemens
and the Nuclear Medicine Clinic at Klinikum
rechts der Isar will review how the system fits
into daily hospital routines, including training
of personnel and patient examination schedul-
ing. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is
also playing a major role in this respect by pro-
viding broad financial support for research in
the area of MR-PET imaging in Germany. In addition to the Biograph mMR in Munich,
several more units will be installed during
2011, with devices planned for Tübingen, Es-
sen, and Leipzig. “The Biograph mMR will be
an important tool for driving personalized
medicine forward and better understanding
diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” says Märzendor-
fer. A technological revolution is thus under
way at the Klinikum rechts der Isar. Neverthe-
less, it will not be the first time in its 177 year
history that this hospital sets new standards in
the medical world.Sebastian Webel
lier. “I wanted to find the right people for the
project,” he says. “I need people who want to
change their lives and set up their own busi-
nesses.” None of the ten participants selected
for the first workshop had a permanent job.
They worked as day laborers; a joiner made
furniture and a welder recycled scrap metal
and old cars at a junkyard. When the preparations were completed in
December 2009, Chevalier traveled to Mali for
the first time. It took him and the foundation
two weeks to find the required components,
although the materials were all locally avail-
able. “I’m impatient, but everything’s different
in Africa, even the sense of time,” he says. You
have to adjust to the local rhythm “or you
won’t even last four days.” Cultural differences
turned out to be the biggest problem, not the
people’s craftsmanship, as Chevalier had origi-
nally expected. “The people in Mali know how
to use tools better than I do,” he says. People Power. Another challenge was Mali’s
strict caste system, which regulates which
classes of people are allowed to do what. The
ten participants nonetheless included two
women — a rare situation in Mali’s conserva-
tive Muslim society. Every morning Gerner
asked the participants to do exercises to
strengthen their team spirit. “It was a big step
forward when the men and women touched
each other’s hands,” she says. Another obstacle
was the language, as the Malians speak vari-
ous local dialects and pronounce French words
with a strong accent. Chevalier overcame
these difficulties by creating posters to explain
how wind turbines are built. “I was initially an-
noyed that no one asked questions,” he says.
“But then I realized they were shy. However,
their self-confidence grew after they had built
their first wind turbine.” Chevalier and Gerner managed to buy most
of the required materials from local merchants.
Only two components had to be imported: per-
manent magnets from China and polyester to
insulate the copper wires, which came from
Senegal. In workshops participants learned
how to make wind turbines that are between
12 and 20 meters tall with rotor diameters of
1.2 to 4.2 meters. A turbine with a diameter of three meters
has a peak output of 900 watts and an energy
yield of 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month,
explains Chevalier. “The materials and assem-
bly cost around €350, to which you have to
add the cost of the mast, batteries, and elec-
tronic systems, such as the voltage regulator.
Although you can buy these components in
Mali, our do-it-yourself technology allows us to
make them at 10 to 20 percent of the normal
cost.” That reduces the cost of a turbine by sev-
eral dozen euros. “If a wind turbine is sold for €650, its elec-
tricity costs about 20 euro cents per kWh,” says
Chevalier. The electricity produced by a small
diesel generator costs 80 euro cents per kWh.
“You can therefore achieve the breakeven
point after only a year,” he says. Malians who
are now getting electricity for the first time in
their lives mostly use it for lighting or to
recharge their cell phones. Some also buy a re-
frigerator or a TV. But Chevalier’s project is now on hold. “We
had big storms in August 2010,” reports Gern-
er. As a result, the mast of one of the four com-
pleted turbines snapped. Another three masts
have not yet been set up because Chevalier’s
private resources have dried up. “So far I’ve
paid for everything out of my own pocket and
done the work in my free time,” he says.
Chevalier must therefore find new sources for
funding wind power so that Mali’s people no
longer has to live in the dark.Evelyn Runge
Dutch engineer Piet Chevalier is working on wind power for Mali. His 900-watt turbines are handmade locally and almost all of the materials come from the vicinity.
ized that such open-source wind power facili-
ties could transform people’s lives in Mali. Even
uneducated people can easily build the tur-
bines, as the blades are made of wood that can
be sawed and chiseled into the right shape.
The generator consists of coiled copper wire
and the rotor spins on a car wheel hub. “You
also need a few metal brackets and a pipe for
the mast — that’s all,” says Chevalier. It doesn’t
cost much to set up the wind turbines, since
no expensive tools are required. Culture Shock. Chevalier subsequently con-
tacted Yvonne Gerner, who lives near the
provincial capital of Mopti in Mali. Together
with social worker Mamadou “Baba” Traoré,
Gerner initiated the Rondom Baba Foundation
in 2007. The foundation has bought a hectare
of land and is teaching local people agricultur-
al techniques and how to work wood, leather,
and metal. It was the ideal partner for Cheva-
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 75
Research without Borders | Patents
Thanks to a sophisticated strategy, around 58,000 patents currently protect Siemens’ expertise and technological edge. For years LEDs offered only dim points of light.
Today, tiny lights such as Osram’s Ostar are so
bright and energy efficient that they can be used
everywhere, including headlights (below).
Protecting Success
H
ow can you measure the value of a com-
pany like Siemens? You might, for exam-
ple, look at its share price, sales, real estate
and facilities, or brand value. “But the most im-
portant added value for a company like
Siemens, which is striving to be a technologi-
cal trendsetter, is its employees’ expertise,”
says Prof. Winfried Büttner, Head of Corporate
Intellectual Property and Functions and thus
ally being showered. Instead, the active man-
agement of patent portfolios is more like work-
ing on a house that is continuously being mod-
ified and expanded. That’s because the
approximately 2,000 patents added in fiscal
year 2010 actually constitute the difference
between the 8,000 patents that were granted
during the year and the 6,000 patents that ei-
ther expired after the usual term of 20 years or
patent strategy. Here, the crucial issue is to de-
termine how business will develop in the vari-
ous sectors in coming years and what tech-
nologies will be required. “We try to protect
our products by obtaining key patents years
before production actually starts,” explains An-
dreas Müller, who is responsible for Strategy at
Siemens’ patent department. To do this, the
company identifies trend-setting technologies,
the guardian of the company’s greatest assets
— its patents. As of September 30, 2010,
Siemens owned 57,900 patents, a figure that
has been steadily increasing in recent years. In
the past decade the average number of inven-
tions registered per researcher and developer
each year has doubled. In 2010 the company
registered 8,800 inventions for the first time
and applied for 4,300 patents. But one shouldn’t imagine that this huge
number of patents is like a steadily growing
pile on top of which new patents are continu-
were discarded because they had lost their rel-
evance for the company. Each year, approximately 220 patent spe-
cialists who work for Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology worldwide collaborate with their coun-
terparts in the Groups to examine all of the
company’s patents that are older than five
years and weed out those that are no longer
needed. In this way, Siemens continuously ad-
justs its patent portfolio to the current busi-
ness situation and keeps its overview up to
date. Another important factor is Siemens’
for example. The patent-related activities of
competitors can also provide valuable informa-
tion, for example when there is a sudden in-
crease in the number of a rival company’s
patent applications. Once these questions have been clarified,
the department develops a customized patent
strategy that identifies technologies worthy of
patent protection and recommends appropri-
ate research and development measures.
Patent experts at Siemens are currently con-
ducting focused patenting work for around
74 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
T
he district of Odintsovo, located just a few
kilometers southwest of Moscow, has a
great reputation as a recreational area. The dis-
trict’s village of Skolkovo, which has a popula-
tion of just a few hundred, is surrounded by
woods, meadows, and farms. Nonetheless,
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has big
plans for Skolkovo, where the Moscow School
of Management — one of the best schools for
Russia’s business elite — was opened in 2006.
Medvedev now plans to build the country’s
most advanced research and innovation center
on a 380-hectare site — surrounded by a new
city with up to 25,000 residents. Medvedev has made the rapid construction
of Skolkovo a presidential priority. Ground-
breaking is scheduled for mid-2011 and the
new city is to be completed in just three years.
When completed, it will boast comfortable res-
idential buildings, shops, kindergartens,
schools, and hotels. The new city’s centerpiece
will be the Skolkovo Institute of Technology
(SIT), a research facility focusing on informa-
tion technology, energy efficiency, medical en-
gineering, biotechnology, nuclear technology,
and aerospace systems. The Russian govern-
ment plans to spend around €3 billion on
Skolkovo. The project will be the core of an am-
bitious modernization program designed to
help Russia catch up with leading industrial-
ized nations in terms of modern technology. “Skolkovo will be an open, transparent, and
internationally focused innovation hub that
will attract not only talented Russian scientists
but also foreign experts and specialists,” says
Stanislav Naumov, a former Deputy Minister of
Industry and Trade who is now responsible for
public relations at the Skolkovo Foundation.
“The city,” he adds, “will offer the best possible
conditions for research and teaching.” The es-
tablishment of SIT will mark the first time in
Russia’s history that Russian scientists will
work, study, and teach alongside foreign na-
tionals. The Russian government is also trying
to get foreign companies and start-ups to in-
vest in Skolkovo. Foreign enterprises will be al-
lowed to hold as much as 100 percent of the
companies supported by the Skolkovo project,
and can probably also expect to receive tax
breaks from the Russian government. International Cooperation. In 2010 Siemens
became the first major German company to
launch a strategic partnership with the ini-
tiators of the Skolkovo project. Siemens will
help build the urban infrastructure for Skolko-
vo by providing building system and water
treatment technologies, public transport sys-
tem components, and solutions for energy ef-
ficiency. “Skolkovo is to become a model city
for ecology and the environment,” says
Siemens project manager Alexander Averi-
anov. Siemens Corporate Research head Dr.
Reinhold Achatz believes that “the focus areas
of the Skolkovo project align perfectly with
Siemens’ strategy, which is geared toward dif-
ferentiation and sustainability in the attractive
Russian market.” Siemens also plans to build
one of the company’s biggest international re-
search centers in Skolkovo at a facility that will
employ some 200 researchers and scientists. “The Skolkovo project is the right approach
for creating a suitable climate for international
cooperation,” says Dr. Martin Gitsels, who
manages Siemens’ research activities in Russia.
Dr. Oliver Heid, a Siemens expert in new tech-
nologies and concepts, has high hopes for
joint research in areas such as particle acceler-
ation. And he has plenty of respect for the ex-
pertise of Russian scientists. “They’ve got a
great reputation in the fields of particle accel-
eration, materials research, and mathematics,”
he says. Particle accelerators are used to fight
tumors with radiation therapy, for example.
Researchers plan to make the devices smaller
and more powerful. “That would be a major
step in medical technology,” says Heid. To ensure rapid development of the re-
search city, the Skolkovo-Innograd Foundation
was established. Viktor Vekselberg, the
founder and owner of Renova Holding, an in-
vestment firm, is the president of the founda-
tion, whose council includes representatives of
Siemens. Vekselberg is not comfortable with
the description of Skolkovo as “Russia’s Silicon
Valley.” “Skolkovo can only mark the beginning
of a long road to modernization,” he explains.
“Here we want to find out on a small scale how
we can solve some of the problems facing our
country.” He believes that one of Skolkovo’s
main purposes is to keep young skilled special-
ists in Russia and make the country an attrac-
tive research location for foreign scientists and
companies — a “Russian bridge between sci-
ence and business.” Thomas Veser
International research activities will begin in Skolkovo
in 2014. The city itself (see model above) is to be an
example of efficient energy use. Research without Borders | Skolkovo
Siemens technology is being used to create a new science city in Skolkovo on the outskirts of
Moscow. The center is expected to attract researchers from Russia and abroad. Heading for Russia’s Science City
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 77
Research Without Borders
In Brief
In the future, research will increasingly be con-
ducted across national borders because of the ad-
vantages of working closely with international in-
stitutes. EU research projects demonstrate what
can happen when Europe’s greatest minds come
together. In areas such as the Internet of things,
new lighting technologies, and energy fusion,
Siemens is at the forefront of Europe’s research
and innovation landscape. (p. 50)
A key factor for achieving success in interna-
tional markets is an improved ability to under-
stand foreign cultures. That’s why Siemens was
the first major German company to offer culture-
oriented training programs and has been doing
so for more than 30 years. The Learning Campus,
an in-house training and consulting center, was
founded in 2003 — a pioneering step for ensur-
ing intercultural business expertise. (p. 54) Siemens researchers and developers are work-
ing very effectively in international networks to
develop inexpensive and functional entry-level
products . These products now have what it takes
to conquer markets, and not just in emerging
economies. (p.56)
In another example of how solutions can be
successful worldwide, Siemens is working to-
gether with Chinese partners. The objective is to
combine the advantages of traditional Chinese
medicine (TCM) with those of Western science.
To make that possible, new approaches are re-
quired for medical technology, (p.58)
Munich’s Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital is
following new paths in medical technology. A
completely new kind of medical device went into
operation at the clinic in late 2010. Called the Bi-
ograph mMR, it is the world’s first machine to
combine magnetic resonance tomography and
positron emission tomography (PET) in one sys-
tem. The combination of these two features in a
single device for the first time allows doctors to
simultaneously display images of structural
changes in organs and visualize their perform-
ance and metabolism. (p. 70)
Siemens technology is being used to create a
new science city on the outskirts of Moscow.
Known as Skolkovo, it is designed to attract re-
searchers from Russia and abroad. (p.74)
PEOPLE:
University partnerships: Dr. Natascha Eckert, CT O UNI
natascha.eckert@siemens.com
Jack Hurley, CT
jack.hurley@siemens.com
EU projects:
Dr. Natascha Eckert, CT O UNI
natascha.eckert@siemens.com
Learning Campus:
Zailiang Tang, CHR
zailiang.tang@siemens.com
SMART products:
Dr. Zubin Varghese, CT
zubin.varghese@siemens.com
Thiago Pistore, Energy
thiago.pistore@siemens.com
Mattias Lampe, CT
mattias.lampe@siemens.com
Whole-body MR PET:
Katja Stöcker, Healthcare
katja.stoecker@siemens.com
Mali wind power plant:
Piet Willem Chevalier, Energy
piet-willem.chevalier@siemens.com
Portraits:
Charles Coushaine, Industry
charlie.coushaine@sylvania.com
Dr. Ramesh Visvanathan, CT
visvanathan.ramesh@siemens.com
Dr. Heike Barlag, Energy
heike.barlag@siemens.com
Michael Shore, Industry
michael.shore@siemens.com
Dr. Li Pan, CT
lipan@siemens.com
Skolkovo:
Alexander Averianov, Siemens One
alexander.averianov@siemens.com
Patents:
Andreas Müller, CT
andreas-a.mueller@siemens.com
Prof. Alois Moosmüller:
a.moosmueller@ikk.lmu.de
LINKS:
Skolkovo Foundation:
www.i-gorod.com/en
Klinikum rechts der Isar of Munich Technical
University:
www.med.tu-muenchen.de
metal coating is applied to the inside of the
LED. The coating acts as a mirror that reflects
the light generated within the chip to the sur-
face, where it is outside without any loss. More
than 40 such inventions are contained in the
Ostar-LED. In fact, the rapid pace of develop-
ment at Osram has helped to transform such
light emitting diodes into affordable, universal
lighting systems. Siemens does not deliberately create
patents in order to allow other companies to
use them for a fee. Instead, says Büttner “We
primarily patent things that we can use our-
selves,” But Siemens is nonetheless part of
large licensing networks. For example, the
company is involved in telecommunications,
where it has developed many technologies for
the 3G mobile communications standard.
These still play an important role on the mar-
ket even though Siemens no longer sells cell
phones. As a result, the company still makes
money from a technology it no longer uses. Siemens also has a clear policy with regard
to “blocking patents,” which are designed pri-
marily to obstruct market development by
competitors. “Putting roadblocks in other peo-
ple’s way is not part of our strategy,” says Büt-
tner. Siemens nonetheless uses patents to help
protect itself in certain areas such as ship
propulsion technology. For example, Siemens
experts have developed a drive system that
dramatically reduces ship vibrations and the
flickering of lighting. Anyone who has ever
been on a cruise ship is familiar with such in-
conveniences, which are due to rapid changes
in the output of diesel engines as they respond
to minor fluctuations in the rotation of the
ship’s propellers. Siemens therefore developed
a rotational speed control system that changes
engine output more gently in order to prevent
vibrations in the ship’s hull and fluctuations in
the onboard electrical system while at the
same time reducing engine emissions. This in-
vention and its use are protected by seven
patents. In this field Siemens is also applying
for patents that it currently does not use, but
that “act as barbed wire against alternative so-
lutions,” explains Wolfgang Zeiler, who is re-
sponsible for Siemens Marine Solutions’ patent
portfolio.
Siemens’ patent experts are watching the
up-and-coming Asian markets especially close-
ly. Chinese companies in particular use every-
thing that isn’t legally protected and some-
times even go a bit further. Yet Bütt ner is
convinced that patent violations will decrease
in China in the future, because Chinese com-
panies will increasingly apply for patents them-
selves and thus have an interest in effective
protection. “If you have property of your own
and something to lose, you’ll also respect the
property of others,” he says. Bernd Müller
76 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
500 key technologies. They don’t wait until an
invention has been completed, but instead be-
gin supporting and managing the develop-
ment process in close cooperation with ex-
perts from associated departments long before
a patent is applied for. If the pace of invention
in a specific area of technology is slower than
expected, patent specialists work with devel-
opers to organize invention-on-demand work-
shops, where participants discuss the strategy
that can support a new technology with a view
to identifying developments that might be
patented. Another possibility is to do IP bench-
marking, in which the team analyzes the tech-
nological status of a competitors’ patents and
works together with developers to come up
with suitable measures. Patents for the Environment.Innovation
and the pioneering spirit are key elements of
the Siemens mindset, producing impressive
technological advances that benefit the com-
pany’s customers and the environment.
Siemens is therefore rapidly expanding its en-
vironmental portfolio and the range of prod-
ucts and patents it has in this area. As a result,
it was able to sell €28 bil-
lion worth of especially ef-
ficient technologies in fis-
cal 2010. These solutions
have reduced the amount
of CO
2
emitted into the en-
vironment by around 270
million tons. Some 18,200
patents currently protect Siemens’ environ-
mental portfolio. A particularly successful de-
velopment in this field is the world’s largest
and most powerful gas turbine (375
megawatts), which has been undergoing test-
ing in Irsching, Bavaria, since 2007 (Pictures of
the Future, Fall 2007, p. 54). Once its expan-
sion into a combined cycle power plant has
been completed in 2011, the turbine, which is
designated SGT5-8000H, will have an efficien-
cy of over 60 percent — a world record.
Siemens has submitted patent applications
for this turbine since 2001, applying for an av-
erage of one patent every month during peak
periods of the development process. One of
the patent applications is for new compressor
blade profiles, which were previously based on
those found in airplane engines. Given that the
turbine has the output of 17 passenger jet en-
gines, these profiles are not optimal. Using
simulations, Siemens developers found that
the leading edge of each blade must be made
thicker so that compressed air can reach its
maximum speed sooner. Tests in a wind tunnel
were so positive that developers were able to
eliminate some of the rows of blades, thus sav-
ing around €100,000 in manufacturing costs
while at the same time increasing efficiency. The resulting 8000H gas turbine is also a
good example of a successful acquisition strat-
egy. When Siemens purchased Westinghouse’s
power plant business in 1998, it also acquired
ownership of all associated patents, including
those for a can combustion chamber in which
several separate combustion chambers are
arranged in a ring. “We couldn’t have taken this
step without the Westinghouse patents,” says
Willibald Fischer, Head of 8000H Develop-
ment.
More Light.Another example of successful
patenting is the Ostar light-emitting diode
from Siemens’ Osram Opto Semiconductors
lighting subsidiary. This tiny LED has a lumi-
nous efficiency of over 100 lumens per watt,
which makes it far more efficient than incan-
descent lamps (12 lumens per watt). The prod-
uct’s luminous flux can be increased via meas-
ures that channel as much light as possible
from its components to the outside. In Ostar-
LEDs, patented precision drilling and locking
pins allow the optics to be positioned to within
five hundredths of a millimeter above the tiny
chips — larger deviations would substantially
reduce the amount of usable luminous flux.
The light generated by such chips used to be
reflected several times within the chip so that
only part of it could get outside and become
visible. Osram Opto Semiconductors solved
this problem by developing a thin-film technol-
ogy that was awarded the German Future Prize
in 2007. In this manufacturing technique, a
Protecting Ideas Today’s patenting system originated in England,
where the first patent was granted in 1617. The
right to protect inventions triggered the industri-
al revolution and has accelerated the pace of in-
novation all the way to the present day. Ger-
many’s first patent law went into force on July 1,
1877, after being signed by Emperor William I.
Its passage had been preceded by decades-long
discussions of the pros and cons of patent pro-
tection. The debate took a new turn in 1876 as
a result of an essay by Werner von Siemens,
who strongly argued in favor of such a law. As
early as 1863, Werner had written to his brother
Carl, saying, “I have launched a big campaign
against the free trade crowd who would like to
eliminate all of the patent protection laws in the
world. …Of course I will have to brace myself
against many vitriolic attacks... “
About 18,200 patents protect the environmental portfolio that earned
€28 billion for Siemens in 2010.
Top row: Siemens’ Siship Drive increases passenger
comfort on ships by reducing fluctuations in the
propeller’s rotational speed. Below: World’s most
efficient gas turbine in Irsching, Bavaria. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 7978 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
I
t will take a little more time and patience be-
fore this new high-tech baby is born. Never-
theless, its “fathers” — scientists from DLR
Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen mbH
(a space applications company) at the control
center of the German Aerospace Center in
Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich — keep glanc-
ing at a monitor that is already displaying the
countdown to the blastoff of the first launcher
late in 2011. That’s when the first two satel-
lites of the new Galileo European satellite navi-
gation system are scheduled to be launched
into orbit from Kourou Space Center in French
Guyana. To date, only two test satellites have
been launched, in 2005 and 2008. This civilian
system — both a competitor and an extension
of the GPS (Global Positioning System), which
is now 25 years old — was planned by the Eu-
ropean Space Agency (ESA) and financed by
the European Union. By 2014 at least 18
Galileo satellites are scheduled to be in orbit,
thus making the system operational.
Siemens scientists and engineers have
been among those actively engaged with the
new navigation technology. At Siemens Space
in Vienna, for example, they have taken a close
look at the heart of the satellite system — the
atomic clocks used in generating the naviga-
tion signal. At another level, the Mobility Divi-
sion in Erlangen is developing concepts for
combining the signal with existing technolo-
gies to create entirely new solutions for the
transportation industry.
All Systems Go. In Oberpfaffenhofen you can
look down from a gallery through massive
glass panes into the satellite control center. It is
from here that the first Galileo satellites will be
controlled in their orbits during tests. “We’ve
already transmitted wireless commands to the
first two Galileo satellites, which are being as-
sembled in Italy and are nearly complete,” says
Walter Päffgen, who heads the control center.
“For instance, we’ve gotten the satellite to acti-
vate a control nozzle that adjusts its position.”
Everything is ready for Galileo — and that’s
true across the board, because the research to
define the three orbits in which, eventually, 30
satellites of the European navigation system
will ultimately circle the Earth, has been com-
pleted. The orbits will be located at an altitude
of 23,200 kilometers (14,407.2 miles) and in-
clined 56 degrees with respect to the equator.
This positioning will ensure that at least eight
satellites will simultaneously provide users
with information at any given time, anywhere,
even at the Earth’s poles. One of Galileo’s major advantages is accu-
racy. This is the first navigation system to be
equipped with a passive hydrogen maser clock,
which has a deviation of one second per three
million years. That’s important, as satellite nav-
igation depends on chronological postage
marks that are transmitted from satellites to
the ground. The receiver — for instance, a car’s
navigation device — compares its clock time
with that of the satellite. The distance from the
satellite can be computed from the time differ-
ential. Since the satellite knows exactly where
it is in its orbit, the receiver system can derive
its own position through simple calculations.
At least four satellites are needed to provide
unequivocal positional data: three for the spa-
tial coordinates height, length, and width, and
a fourth to correct for the inaccuracy of the re-
cipient’s clock, since it is not an atomic clock. Pictures of the Future | Navigation with Galileo
Thanks to Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system, by 2014 it may be possible to perform navigation-based services with one-meter precision. Siemens is developing initial applications, such as an exceptionally efficient way of controlling traffic lights. A World of Precision Services
In the near future, up to 30 Galileo satellites will support new mobility applications ranging
from identification of the closest electric vehicle
charging station to optimization of train speeds
depending on the grade and curvature of a track.
“The atomic clocks — and the time signals
they generate — are the heart of the satellite,”
explains Hans Steiner of Siemens Space. “A de-
viation of ten nanoseconds would result in an
inaccuracy of several meters on Earth.” Steiner
and his team plan to ensure that each atomic
clock functions flawlessly before its satellite is
launched. To do this, they have developed a
test system with a timing instrument that con-
tains an atomic clock based on an active hydro-
gen maser that is ten times more accurate
than the atomic clocks to be based on Galileo
satellites. The testing device’s timing signal is
compared with that of each satellite’s clock.
“It’s essential to keep potential errors from de-
veloping in the first place,” explains Steiner. With its one-meter ac-
curacy, the Galileo system
is of interest to Siemens
Mobility, which is develop-
ing applications that
would be inconceivable
without satellite naviga-
tion technology. For exam-
ple, the new technology would make it possi-
ble to mail test letters containing GPS
receivers. The resulting data would let the
Postal Service know how long a letter is de-
layed at different locations — which would
highlight bottlenecks in its logistics system.
This would be difficult to accomplish with the
current GPS-based system because if a letter
were opened or lost, the system would be hard
pressed to detect where this happened. GPS is
simply not as reliable. But that will change
with Galileo. “The Galileo signal always con-
tains additional information that indicates how
accurate the received signal actually is,” ex-
plains Dieter Geiger of Siemens Mobility. This
is an enormous advantage, because it makes
the information stand up in court. If a valuable
piece of mail were equipped with a Galileo re-
ceiver, it could later be proven — in court, if
necessary — at what location the item had
been lost. If the item were additionally
equipped with sensors, it would even be possi-
ble to prove where it had been opened. Another field in which Siemens Mobility has
long been active is traffic management. “Here
too we intend to use the capabilities of
Galileo,” says Geiger. One example is traffic
light control systems. A traffic signal controller
at an intersection could, for instance, automat-
ically detect the traffic flow rate on each street
and regulate its timing accordingly (for more,
see page 91). This capability is currently sup-
ported by old-fashioned induction loops in the
ground that count passing vehicles. If this
technology were augmented by Galileo re-
ceivers, however, a bus, for instance, could re-
lay its speed, direction and distance to the
nearest traffic light with one-meter accuracy.
The light would then stay green until the bus
had passed. Unnecessary braking would be
avoided and fuel would be saved.
These and other applications are being test-
ed under realistic conditions in two Galileo Test
and Development Centers — Siemens’ Test
and Validation Center for rail systems in Weg-
berg-Wildenrath (Pictures of the Future,Fall
2010, p.14) and at the Aldenhoven Test Cen-
ter, which is operated by RWTH Aachen Univer-
sity. Both centers are testing transmitters that
emit signals identical to those that will be
emitted by Galileo satellites. At Siemens’ rail
test center, engineers are investigating how
Galileo receivers can be used to optimize train
speeds and energy use. For example, in order
to avoid delays, trains must travel along curves
at a speed that makes optimal use of each
curve’s radius, while minimizing the use of
brakes on downhill sections.
Taking Weather into Account. It’s particular-
ly difficult for a train’s engineer to stay exactly
on schedule when tracks are slick with rain. But
precise positioning data from Galileo satellites
in conjunction with up-to-date weather data
will enable the train’s speed to adapt more ac-
curately to the situation, because exact infor-
mation will be available regarding the track’s
gradient and level of slippage due to moisture.
As a result, train travel will become safer and
more dependable. At the Aldenhoven Test Center, where appli-
cations for road traffic are also being explored,
scientists are looking for ways to improve safe-
ty. Since all vehicles at the facility are equipped
with Galileo receivers, drivers can be alerted in-
stantly to hazardous situations. For example, if
a car moves dangerously close to another vehi-
cle at an intersection, its navigation system trig-
gers an alarm. Safety mechanisms in both cars
are activated, seat belts tensioned, and brake
pressure increased. Siemens development engineers in Alden-
hoven are also thinking a step ahead — to the
approaching introduction of electric cars.
Galileo’s one-meter precision will enable driv-
ers of electric vehicles to see which recharging
stations are within their range and possibly
even reserve a charging port. “Once Galileo is
in orbit, many other applications will be
found,” Geiger predicts. He is convinced that
Galileo will open the door to the future of mo-
bility.Helen Sedlmeier
“A deviation of ten nanoseconds would result in an inaccuracy of several meters on Earth.”
S
he was coming right at us. Rose. Over a
thousand miles of churning thunderheads,
winds well above 300 kilometers per hour, a
predicted storm surge of at least seven meters,
and enough rain to put half of Houston under
water. Satellites crisscrossing North America had
detected a tropical depression in the Caribbean
Sea a week earlier, and oceans of remote sens-
ing data had rapidly been distilled into a warn-
ing as the depression veered northwestward,
skimming the Yucatán Peninsula and soaking
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 8180 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Collective Intelligence | Scenario 2030
As a massive storm approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast, the head of Houston’s Office of Emergency
Management briefs the mayor in an interactive chamber that collectively represents everything
that is happening throughout the city in real time and in virtually limitless detail.
The City Speaks
Highlights
85 Healthcare’s Data Mining Engine Using matrix-like intelligence to extract key information from patient electronic health records, an Ohio medical center has slashed quality-
of care evaluation time by 50 per-
cent. Soon, it could be doing this in real time, setting the stage for on-the-spot decision support.
90 Interview with Prof. Thomas W. Malone
The founding director of the MIT
Center for Collective Intelligence
foresees a growing level of collabo-
ration between humans and machines.
91 Green Light for Smart Traffic
Automobiles and traffic lights at intersections in Houston, Texas, will soon be able to communicate with one another in real time. Experts predict that the technology will help to optimize traffic flows, accelerate emergency responses (see Scenario),
reduce collisions, and minimize noise and air pollution.
96 Wheeler-Dealer Agents
Logistics networks in the automotive
industry are becoming increasingly
complex. Soon, software agents may
help negotiate the availability of
parts — in just seconds.
99 Instant Communities
Siemens researchers are working on
intelligent sensors that communicate
with one another and can organize
themselves without the need for a
control center. 2030
Bracing for a storm of unprecedented size, the
city of Houston’s Office of Emergency Manage-
ment automatically dispatches armies of soft-
ware agents. Fanning through the information
systems that control the city’s healthcare, traffic
management, power and wastewater systems,
the agents tailor each infrastructure’s functions
to the storm. Collectively, they produce a real-
time interactive information picture that literally
puts the entire city at the mayor’s fingertips.
up moisture and power from warm Gulf of
Mexico waters. Twenty-four hours before a single wisp of
cloud blemished the city’s characteristically
cobalt sky, our Office of Emergency Manage-
ment (OEM) was preparing for the worst. The
center’s vast, immersive, interactive displays
showed the storm approaching from the south
as the city’s vital signs were superimposed over
composite real-time images of the skyline like
a scene from some wildly oversized intensive
care unit. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 83
Collective Intelligence | Digital Universe
Automated systems will soon generate more data than all human users combined. With its growing focus on machine collective intelligence, Siemens is systematically refining the
data from its own systems into actionable knowledge. The real challenge, however, is figuring out how to alchemize
knowledge into profitable information technology businesses. way,” says Gerhard Kress, who is a key player in
a strategic Siemens project based in Munich
that is charged with re-evaluating the compa-
ny’s position in terms of its implementation of
information, communication and software
technologies. “Hardware is becoming generic.
Software — standalone as well as the embed-
ded software that is an integral part of almost
every Siemens product from building manage-
ment systems to medical scanners — has be-
come the differentiating factor. And in-depth
knowledge of complex applications, be it the
operation of a steel plant, a power plant, a
hospital, or a traffic management system, is
what will drive that software and keep
Siemens ahead of its competitors.” Indeed, if the company can zero in on how
to harness much of the data that its businesses
routinely generate — not just process it, but
mine actionable information from it, which is
the essence of collective intelligence — it may
be able to develop a virtually limitless pipeline
of new services that can make its customers’
businesses increasingly successful.
One area in which Siemens is already work-
ing along these lines is its Fossil Power plant
business, which tracks some 2,500 parameters
on each of its 9,000 customer gas turbines
around the world (see page 97). Known as
“Fleet Intelligence,” this massive effort not only
tracks each turbine’s vital signs, but aggregates
data across its life-cycle, from design and oper-
ations to sales, marketing and competitive in-
formation, to distill knowledge that can help
each customer — even when rare problems
crop up. “The result of this effort,” says Dejori,
“is the ability to identify, respond to, and even
predict events more rapidly and accurately.” And that knowledge is growing in ways that
sometimes surprise even the experts. With re-
gard to Siemens’ 375-MW gas turbine in
Irsching, Germany, for instance, which, in
combination with a steam turbine, is expected
to achieve a world record 60+ percent efficien-
cy, learning algorithms are helping to maxi-
mize the system’s output. The algorithms
achieve this by not only analyzing thousands
of parameter interactions and variables per
second, but by modeling what happens be-
tween those measurements. “This constitutes
a new strategy that no one has deployed be-
fore,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Runkler, who
heads CT’s Munich-based Intelligent Systems
and Control Global Technology Field (GTF).
“Our algorithms actually simulate this dynamic
behavior, and thus the entire system dynam-
ics.” Using the resulting models, algorithms au-
tonomously determine how to optimize con-
trol of the system. “Here,” explains Runkler,
“the system explores the data, learns which
parts of the solution space are promising, and
then develops an optimized control strategy.
Considering this, it is conceivable that the sys-
tem will learn enough to boost the turbine’s ef-
ficiency even more over time.”
The results of this learning process have not
been lost on Siemens’ other turbines. Thanks
to the company’s common Remote Service
Platform (cRSP), Siemens has institutionalized
a remarkably efficient knowledge acquisition
process. Developed with input from CT, the
platform allows highly-secure data exchanges
between customer sites and Siemens’ remote
service centers. “Today, every major machine
from Siemens is connected to a business-spe-
cific segment of this system,” says Volker Ganz,
who heads CT’s Munich-based Product and
Service Innovation GTF as well as a strategic
Major sources of machine-generated data
include everything from satellite telemetry and
GPS streams to the digital output of factories,
air traffic management systems, hospitals, and
energy, security, financial, and web-use data-
bases. “The data intensity of these and other
sources is expanding at such a rapid rate,” says
Mathaeus Dejori, who heads a special project
on collective intelligence at Siemens Corporate
Technology (CT) in Princeton, New Jersey, “that
in five years the amount of data generated by
machines will outpace the amount of data
generated by all human users.”
Value Shift. Why is this important for
Siemens? “A fundamental value shift is under-
Container port or data port? As systems from logistics
to building management are automated, the amount
of data transferred among machines is growing by
leaps and bounds. Harvesting actionable information
from these sources will turn them into gold mines.
Zettabyte Gold Mine
A
t some point around mid 2010 our civiliza-
tion streaked past an invisible yet astonish-
ing milestone. For the first time, the totality of
our digital information surpassed one
zettabyte — one trillion gigabytes. And accord-
ing to a study conducted by market and fore-
casting company IDC, that’s just the beginning.
By 2020, the study predicts, “our digital uni-
verse will be 44 times as big as it was in 2009.”
Much of this expanding universe is visible.
We see it every day in the firmament of social
network invitations, company intranets such
as Siemens’ TechnoWeb, emails, instant mes-
sages, documents, high-resolution pictures,
and downloadable videos (see pages 90 Mal-
one, 106 social networks, and 112 Weikum).
What is far less obvious is the explosive growth
in machine-generated data, which is being
driven by the steadily-diminishing cost and
steadily-increasing power of computing and
sensing (see sensors, page 99), and by ad-
vances in miniaturization, wireless communi-
cation, data storage, decentralized intelli-
gence, and algorithms. our agents — have tracked the message as it
has spread through all the human and ma-
chine social networking sites. We estimate that
close to 99 percent of the population and 100
percent of machines and systems that could be
affected by the storm have received it. People
are being encouraged to leave ASAP,” I added.
“They can take any route their vehicles sug-
gest. We don’t expect serious traffic jams be-
cause all the intersections in the region are
networked. Whenever traffic builds in any loca-
tion, directions go out to vehicle navigation
systems in real time to take alternate routes.” “What are your critters doing about
drainage and flooding?” asked the mayor. “First of all, water demand is drying up rap-
idly as people leave town, which will maximize
the waste water system’s capacity to absorb
runoff and minimize flooding,” I said. “During
the last few minutes, our agents identified a
series of pipeline connections and valve
changes that could carry much of the storm’s
water through a series of filter installations
that were recently activated to help replenish
parts of the Edwards Aquifer north of San An-
tonio. They are negotiating an acre-foot price
that will cover the cost of the energy needed
for pumping. We estimate that this will reduce
potential flooding by 76 percent.”
“And speaking of energy,” I added, “demand
is sinking like a stone as the city evacuates. We
estimate that in approximately 3.5 hours we
will be able to ramp down several of the older
power plants. The big off-shore wind parks will
take up any slack, and the huge amount of ex-
tra power they will generate during the storm
will be captured in hardened building storage
centers, turned into hydrogen for later use, or
distributed to charge the batteries of parked
vehicles in San Antonio and Austin. As we
speak, software agents within our wind parks
are communicating with their counterparts
from the National Weather Service and model-
ing optimum propeller speeds and angles to
minimize wind damage and maximize power
output…”
I went on an on. I could have told her the
exact speed of every propeller in every wind
park, the exact number of unoccupied parking
spaces in every high-rise garage in town, the
number of certified emergency medics avail-
able, hour by hour and sector by sector, for all
of Harris County. I felt such a sense of exhilara-
tion at having so much information in mind
that I almost forgot to look at the sky, which
had turned blacker and even more menacing. I
felt the building shake ever so slightly as the
first of Rose’s gusts of wind struck the city. “I’m impressed with you,” said Mayor D’An-
gelo as she looked at me inquisitively. “You are
so lifelike. Can it be that you are only the
OEM’s interface?” Arthur F. Pease
82 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Based on the storm’s predicted trajectory,
OEM software agents had automatically initiat-
ed dialog with their counterparts in city infra-
structures, ranging from traffic management
to power generation, healthcare, security, and
wastewater. The agents — highly-secure, au-
tonomous expert entities — can fan out
through an infrastructure such as the informa-
tion systems of all the hospitals in the area, de-
termine if each facility has adequate supplies
of everything from backup power to water,
trigger local agents to order what’s missing,
and report any problems back to OEM Central. “What are those little critters up to?” asked
Mayor Celeste D’Angelo, as if she had known
without a doubt that I was thinking about the
agents. “You know that traffic management infra-
structure we put in a few years ago?” I said.
“They’ve gone through it, intersection by inter-
section, even in outlying counties, checking
that every battery is fully charged so that the
signals will continue to operate for days even if
the power goes down. They’ve ordered in-
stallers to service or replace any batteries that
test below par. Our automated maintenance
vehicles are already at work. They’ve also
checked the traffic communication systems in
all city vehicles all the way out to Dallas and
Austin — everything from ambulances and fire
trucks to police cars, buses and service vehi-
cles. We want to be absolutely certain that any
time an emergency vehicle approaches an in-
tersection it gets a green signal…”
“And what happens if some crazy guy who
decides he wants to get out of town at the last
minute tries to run a light when a priority vehi-
cle happens to be going by?” asked D’Angelo.
“Then an emergency signal from the inter-
section controller will contact the offending
vehicle’s management system with enough
advance notice to switch off its engine and ap-
ply its brakes automatically so that it will stop
smoothly before it reaches the intersection,” I
explained. “With your permission, we’ll activate
that system right now. Legal had concerns
about applying it. But now that we have a de-
clared state of emergency…” “Permission granted,” said D’Angelo. We
were inside the OEM’s display, which created
the illusion of flying above or through the city
from any desired angle, while being able to see
it in almost any useful level of detail. Although
the brunt of the storm was still at least a hun-
dred miles away and it was midday, the sky
had started to turn black and was already
sprinkled with flashes of distant lightning. “How’s your evacuation plan shaping up?”
asked D’Angelo. “Everyone and everything within a hundred
miles of the coast has received a prioritized
message from our office,” I said. “I — I mean
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 85
Collective Intelligence | IT in Medicine
A medical center in Ohio is implementing a remarkable Siemens data mining product. Using matrix-like intelligence to extract key information from the data pouring into each patient’s elec-
tronic health record, the product has already helped slash quality-of-care evaluation time by 50%.
Soon, it could be doing this in near real time — setting the stage for on-the-spot decision support.
A MedCentral radiologist dictates a report. Once
completed, the report will become part of the patient’s electronic record, where its content will be
automatically mined for quality-of-care information.
M
edCentral Health System, a 351-bed
medical community based in Mansfield,
Ohio, is running like never before. The soft-
ware that’s helping to make this possible is a
hospital information system from Siemens
known as Soarian, an enterprise-wide solution
that is designed to help synchronize informa-
tion throughout the entire organization. From
the moment a patient is admitted, Soarian cre-
ates an electronic health record that includes
his or her demographics and medical history,
tracks diagnostics and treatment, including
surgery, medications and links to medical im-
ages, and aggregates associated clinical, finan-
cial and operational information. As this data
accumulates, it is critical to measure and ana-
lyze the outcomes of interventions and
processes.
Soarian Quality Measures (SQM) is a
Siemens product with formidable intellectual
muscle — and bottom line relevance. It is de-
The Data Mining Engine that’s
Revving up Healthcare
signed to analyze how well organizations ad-
here to best practice in the care of patients.
SQM also measures clinical practice against
the most current clinical guidelines, while pro-
viding outcome metrics for these practices.
This is set to become a critical issue for hospi-
tals across the U.S. because healthcare legisla-
tion will tie a hospital’s reimbursement to its
ability to verify that it has met quality-of-care
guidelines. “This is in stark contrast to the old
fee-for-service model in which the more you
do, the more you get reimbursed,” explains
Bharat Rao, PhD, Senior Director, Knowledge
Solutions at Siemens Healthcare and the in-
ventor of the patented software platform
known as REMIND (Reliable Extraction and
Meaningful Inference from Non-structured
Data) that drives SQM. “In the new reimburse-
ment environment the idea is that the first
time you encounter a patient, you treat them
right — because by doing so you know you are
going to reduce total costs in the long term”
(Pictures of the Future,Spring 2008, p. 89).
MedCentral has implemented Soarian Qual-
ity Measures, a remarkable data mining prod-
uct, to help propel patient care to a stunning
level of efficiency. Unlike conventional data ex-
traction tools, which evaluate only structured,
discrete data, such as lab results, MedCentral
leverages SQM to analyze mountains of struc-
tured data, but also unstructured data such as
free text from physician dictations, and turn it
into actionable information that can help im-
prove processes and outcomes. Currently used
for retrospective analysis, MedCentral’s use of
SQM capabilities is helping staff manage a
large volume of patient data and transform it
into actionable information.
Information Avalanche. How does SQM sup-
port this goal? “A patient who spends a week
or less in the hospital typically winds up with
84 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
program called ‘Leverage Service@Siemens.’
The program, which involves all major Siemens
service organizations, is designed to accelerate
business innovation by transforming data into
information and thus increasing its potential
business value. “In this context, cRSP has be-
come an important differentiator for us. In-
deed, it has become a business-critical back-
bone for the entire company, as it connects
over 135,000 systems, representing a collec-
tive monthly data volume exceeding four Ter-
abytes,” says Ganz.
Similarly, in the manufacturing area, CT has
developed market-based software agent tech-
nologies designed to intelligently and auto-
matically manage the complexity of enormous
amounts of highly heterogeneous process data
dictated physician notes. The idea is to analyze
quality of care in terms of how well this funda-
mental performance measure achieves clinical
guidelines. The software has already slashed
quality-of-care evaluation time from three
months to two weeks. Soon, it will be doing
this in near real time — setting the stage for
on-the-spot decision support services.
Genes, Diseases, and Traffic. Like astro-
nauts venturing into deeper and deeper space,
collective intelligence re-
searchers are exploring
systems that fan out
through the Internet uni-
verse to collect and com-
pare data and extrapolate
Cities are another major area in which col-
lective intelligence could make a world of dif-
ference. And one of the most formidable chal-
lenges confronted by all cities is traffic. In this
regard, Siemens has demonstrated that it can
harness the microsecond-by-microsecond data
exchanges between tomorrow’s vehicles and
the next generation of traffic-light controllers
to produce actionable information that trans-
lates into a range of safety-enhancing and en-
ergy-saving services. In Houston, Texas, for in-
stance, a pilot program along these lines could
lead to fully networked traffic management
(see page 91).
Knowledge Dividend. As amazing, auspi-
cious and complex as collective intelligence
technologies are, what may be even more of a
challenge than developing and implementing
them is to figure out how, exactly, to turn
them into profit. According to Prof. Hermann
Requardt, CEO of the company’s Healthcare
Sector, the first step on that road is clear: “I
consider collective intelligence as a way of
achieving a conglomerate premium. It will play
a key role in helping us to merge our deep do-
main knowledge in healthcare, energy, and in-
dustry with information technology know-
how. Considering the fact that 17,000 of our
30,000 R&D scientists and engineers are in-
volved in software development — more than
almost any other company — we are well posi-
tioned to exploit collective intelligence in such
a way as to get more out of the entire enter-
prise than we can get out of the sum of its
business units.” The question is: Does Siemens possess the
IT skills to alchemize its rapidly-expanding data
universe into a universe of profitable services?
“My prediction,” says Requardt, “is that in order
to harness our true potential we will have to
learn to think like an IT company in some are-
nas, and we will have to partner with IT com-
panies in others.” While the precise trajectory
for achieving Siemens’ knowledge dividend re-
mains to be determined, the mandate for em-
barking on such a journey is unambiguous.
Says Dr. Reinhold Achatz, head of Siemens Cor-
porate Research and Technologies, “I think the
model of the future will be that those compa-
nies that are able to generate knowledge from
data and put it to work in an optimized way
will beat those that are not able to do so.”
Arthur F. Pease
“In five years the amount of data gener-
ated by machines will outpace the
amount generated by all human users.”
exchanged between suppliers and manufac-
turers in automotive supply networks (see
page 96). In much the same way that software
within a turbine processes large amounts of in-
formation to discover ways of improving effi-
ciency, auto industry software agents will soon
collaborate in large-scale virtual markets to op-
timize the entire planning, order management
and delivery processes, thus enhancing vehicle
personalization and accelerating vehicle deliv-
ery to the customer.
Collective intelligence is also harnessing the
immense quantities of data generated by hos-
pitals (see page 85). For instance, at MedCen-
tral Health System, based in Mansfield, Ohio,
Siemens’ Soarian software is using matrix-like
intelligence to extract key information from
the vast amounts of data pouring into each pa-
tient’s electronic medical record from sources
such as lab tests, diagnostic exams, and even
knowledge from it (see Weikum interview,
page 112). For instance, in the context of the
European Union’s “Large Knowledge Collider”
(LarKC http://www.larkc.eu/) project, Siemens
Corporate Technology researchers in Munich
under the direction of Dr. Volker Tresp have de-
veloped a search technology that finds and ex-
tracts content from papers that refer to genes.
“It then draws a kind of graphic cloud of genes
and their relationships to diseases,” explains
Tresp. Following training, the system’s algorithms,
which use semantics to uncover meaning, ana-
lyzed 40,000 abstracts and discovered some
4,800 relationships between genes and dis-
eases. “One fascinating result is that we can
now use machine learning to predict new po-
tential relationships that no one had thought
of before such as one we discovered between
a gene and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Tresp.
Explosion of the Data Universe
Amount of stored data in bytes (logarithmic scale)
1986
1 exabyte (10
18
bytes)
10 exabytes
100 exabytes
1 zettabyte (10
21
bytes) 35 zettabytes 2020: The Internet
of things
2010: Web 2.0 and mobile terminals
2006: More than one million articles in Wikipedia
88
90
92
94
96
98
00
02
04
06
08
10
12
14
16
18 2020
Other 3%
Music cassettes 12%
Photographs (negatives) 5%Photographs
(paper prints) 8%
Video cassettes 58%
Vinyl LPs 14%
Hard disks 42%
Servers 8%
Other 6%
Video cassettes 6%
CDs and Minidiscs 6%
DVDs and Blue-Rays 21%Digital tapes 11%
1986
2007
Analog
Digital
Sources: IDC Digital Universe Study, 2010 and Süddeutsche Zeitungafter Hilbert and Lopez, Science
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 87
tion for a patient, Soarian automatically checks
all those factors. That is happening right here,
right now.” By June, 2011, the medical center
expects that 100 percent of its physicians will
be placing their medication orders through
computerized physician order entry.
Already, CPOE is helping the provider to re-
duce errors and improve efficiency. “In the
past, it was hard enough to even read what a
doctor wrote down,” notes Patterson. “A
scrawled order would go to a clerk. Then it
would be validated by a nurse, and finally the
medication would be requisitioned. Each step
opened the door to potential clerical errors,
and the entire process could easily take a cou-
ple of hours. Now, a physician makes the order
directly in the system, and the medication is
over to the patient literally within minutes.
That can make a world of difference for a pa-
tient who is experiencing severe pain.”
Eagle-Eyed Expert. And that’s just the begin-
ning. Fred Crowgey, Director of Project Expert
Care, which covers the Soarian implementa-
tion project at MedCentral, expects the soft-
ware to soon be able to cross-reference the
center’s entire patient population data. “It will
allow us to see all the salient elements from
the database,” he says.
Furthermore, Soarian Clinicals will be able
to assist with more complex questions. For in-
stance, suppose a cardiologist performing an
echocardiogram test discovers that her pa-
tient’s ejection fraction — the fraction of blood
pumped out of the heart in a single beat — has
dropped below 40 percent. Is this an anomaly
or has it happened before? Here, for instance,
Soarian would comb the entire patient record
and highlight any evidence of an abnormally
low ejection fraction. “Under these circumstances, if it uncovered
previous instances of low EF, the doctor would
normally place an order for an angiotensin
converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which is
designed to improve EF,” explains Yeater. “But
suppose that other tests had found that the pa-
tient might be suffering from chronic renal dis-
ease — a condition that is a contraindication
for the use of ACE inhibitors. Then the soft-
ware would point this out to the cardiologist,
and possibly suggest another class of medica-
tion. So Soarian will look for elements of this
kind in the documentation, thus helping to en-
sure optimized management.”
Data entered and stored in Soarian Clinicals
can be used not only to detect quality-of-care
errors in processes, but also among people.
For instance, MedCentral chose to provide 250
physicians with report cards — at first anony-
mously, and then in an openly competitive
manner. The reports were generated using
data available in Soarian that was then used to
represent color-coded red (bad), yellow (not so
good), and green (good) outcomes. “During
the anonymous phase, overall quality results
remained the same,” recalls Patterson. “But
when we opened up the data and our doctors
knew their colleagues could see their results,
competitive behavior really kicked in. The re-
sults started looking better and better. Since
the software documents everything, doctors
could check through reports and see why pa-
tient X came back. They have found that they
can learn and improve from this information.
Acceptance of the system has been total.” In
addition to the fact that the software can stim-
ulate health professionals to excel, much of its
success is the result of one very simple fact: It’s
easy to use. “The software is intuitive,” says
Yeater. “After about 35 minutes people have
figured it out.” Arthur F. Pease
At MedCentral (right), Siemens software measures and analyzes the outcomes of interventions such as angiography exams (left) and other procedures. Thanks to advanced software, physicians’ orders are entered directly into the system, thus speeding delivery of medications to patients and reducing errors. 86 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
the digital equivalent of around 200 pages of
documentation,” says MedCentral’s Chief Med-
ical Information Officer Michael Patterson, MD,
who is also a practicing nephrologist. In a Soar-
ian environment such as MedCentral, informa-
tion pours into the patient’s electronic health
record from a wide variety of sources. Typically,
it includes results from the lab, dictated notes
from one or more radiologists, entries from
nurses’ stations, physicians’ orders for medica-
tions, and the pharmacy. All of this can wind up being a bit too much
of a good thing. Digital healthcare produces
such immense quantities of data that some es-
sential part of the quality-of-care process may
fall between the cracks. Yet, even with elec-
tronic files, it is extremely time consuming and
inefficient for people to analyze content to de-
termine if quality guidelines have been met.
Nevertheless, in the near future, this will have
to be done in order to obtain reimbursement
from government healthcare programs.
And that’s where SQM fits in. “SQM uses al-
gorithms based on expert knowledge and se-
mantic reasoning to go through all these dif-
ferent systems, including the content of
dictated notes. It gathers the data, extracts the
information that is relevant, and combines this
with medical knowledge standards to answer
one key question: Did the patient receive the
quality of care that is required?” explains Pat-
terson. “I am not aware of any other product
that can read and interpret that kind of data.”
Adds Rao, “On the one hand, you have an
observational record of the patient from clini-
cians, and on the other you have a program
that contains the latest federally-mandated
guidelines for management of pneumonia,
acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and
the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP).
SQM takes these two worlds, combines them,
and produces actionable information, such as
‘you did this, you did not do that, you met this
measure, you did not meet that measure.’ And
it does this automatically. It does this on the in-
dividual patient level and on the level of a hos-
pital’s entire patient population in such a way
that the data can be sliced and diced to exam-
ine quality of care based on objective metrics.”
“Historically, collecting this data was a huge
job,” says Janene Yeater, Vice President of Qual-
ity and Planning at MedCentral. She explains
that in the past, nurses had to find the data, en-
ter it and submit it to a system. The data would
then go to the quality improvement depart-
ment, where it would be evaluated. “All of this
could easily take three or four months after a
patient was discharged,” she says. “But since
the introduction of SQM, we’ve been able to
reduce the time it takes to assemble the data
to about two weeks, while shifting our focus
from gathering information to analyzing it.” Heading for Real-Time Error Detection. A
technology that could potentially shave
months from a process sounds great. But that’s
not enough. Soarian Quality Measures’ current
two-week abstraction time
lag is set to be cut to near
zero. Before that can hap-
pen, however, process
questions have to be ad-
dressed. “SQM could oper-
ate in real time right now,”
says Rao. “But the issue is
to refine it to the point that it presents the
right information exactly when it’s needed.” In
view of this, “MedCentral expects to ramp up
SQM to real time operation within a year or
two,” says Patterson. “It will thus evolve from
being a retrospective quality measurement
system to being a concurrent quality improve-
ment system. That will open up amazing new
possibilities.”
What’s next for Siemens quality reporting
as it does this? For one thing, its ability to draw
from hundreds of thousands of case histories
and results could vastly accelerate the arduous
detective work performed by physicians every
day as they seek to zero in on the right diagno-
sis. “I’m the first to admit that physicians’ work
is often grueling, and that we are not perfect,”
says Patterson. “But with Siemens software
doctors may in the future be able to simply en-
ter symptoms. The system would then com-
pare that information with data collected over
multiple occurrences, and help to drive the fi-
nal diagnosis much faster and more accurately
than is now possible. That would be a huge
help.”
Yeater goes even further. She foresees the
technology evolving to a predictive stage. “I
think Soarian [Quality Measures] will eventually
be used to identify which patients are at risk for
certain kinds of events. So the vision is that we
will be moving from today, where we are work-
ing retroactively, to real time in the next couple
of years, to a predictive-preventive kind of care
further down the line. And as we do that we will
be saving lives, saving money, and making the
entire healthcare system far more efficient.” What such a transition can mean in practi-
cal terms is made clear considering the use of a
system such as Soarian Clinicals with its com-
puterized physician order entry (CPOE) capa-
bilities. Soarian with CPOE allows healthcare
providers to enter their medical orders directly
into the patient’s electronic record. The tech-
nology then leverages clinical conflict screen-
ing of medication orders to compare a new or-
der for a medication to the patient’s record,
checking for information such as allergies or
previously-documented reactions to the med-
ication and for possible drug-drug interactions.
It then notifies the physician of any possible
problems. “When I used to order medications
in the past, I would have to keep all these
things in mind,” says Patterson. “Now, thanks
to our database, I have support for my deci-
sion-making process. When I order a medica-
The vision is that we will move from
working retroactively, to real time, to
predictive-preventive care.
Based on Siemens technology, MedCentral’s highly automated laboratory automatically extracts information from samples and feeds it into electronic patient files.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 89
Collective Intelligence | Mobile Medics
In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Siemens and Christian Medical College are testing the use of cell phones to provide healthcare in rural areas. The phones transfer patients’ medical
data to hospitals where analytical software helps to focus resources by tracking disease trends.
In rural India, specially trained healthcare personnel collect villagers’ medical data and forward it to mobile physicians via smartphone. Their goal is to improve medical treatment and reduce the high rate of infant mortality.
T
he bus arrived on time today. Once a
month, remote areas in Tamil Nadu, India’s
southernmost state, are visited by a doctor’s
office on wheels operated by the Christian
Medical College (CMC) in the city of Vellore.
Crowds of people flock from surrounding vil-
lages to consult their doctors or have blood
samples taken. On these occasions the
“ASHAs” make their appearance too. ASHAs, or
Accredited Social Healthcare Activists, are
women who volunteer to provide health edu-
cation in villages, collect the residents’ health
data, and support pregnant women before and
after they give birth. The process of using ASHAs and bringing
doctors to villages in medical buses originated
with the “National Rural Health Mission
2005–2012” initiative, which was launched by
the Indian government in 2005. The program
was intended to improve healthcare for rural
populations. The Indian subcontinent suffers
not only from a severe shortage of physicians
— there is a deficit of about 600,000 doctors
Tracking Illnesses in India
countrywide — but also from a large gap be-
tween the urban and rural populations regard-
ing the availability of health care. For every
100,000 residents, there were about 4.48 hos-
pitals in urban areas and 0.77 in rural areas in
2005. What’s more, in 2010 there were six
times as many physicians in cities as in the
countryside, where about 70 percent of all In-
dians live.
Prior to this health care initiative, many In-
dians in the countryside had hardly any con-
tact with modern Western medicine. Instead,
they relied on traditional treatments known by
the acronym AYUSH — Ayurveda, yoga, Unani
(an Arabic counterpart of Ayurveda), Siddha
(southern Indian naturopathy), and homeopa-
thy — which are practiced by AYUSH doctors
trained at universities. The ASHAs now act as
links between villagers and the doctors in hos-
pitals. Since a primary goal of the initiative is
to lower the child mortality rate, only women
are used as ASHAs. ASHAs go from house to
house at regular intervals and inquire about ill-
nesses and the health of pregnant women. To-
day, they still record all the information they
obtain in a book. However, a paper-based sys-
tem of this kind may be incompatible with the
information storage media used at hospitals,
which in some cases already maintain elec-
tronic patient records. ASHAs also have to care-
fully protect their notes from damage.
Mobile Healthcare. Three years ago, Dhan-
dapany Raghavan, who heads Siemens Health-
care in India, had the idea of letting ASHAs
record medical data via cell phones. “We soon
realized that we need a competent and experi-
enced partner for this, and we’re proud to be
working with the Christian Medical College,”
says Dr. Zubin Varghese of Siemens Corporate
Technology (CT) in the Indian city of Banga-
lore. CMC has been active in this part of India
for over 50 years and is very familiar with local
conditions. The college has helped Siemens CT
to develop a pilot project called the “Communi-
ty Health Information System” (CHIS), which
has already been tested in some villages. “Dur-
ing the first test phase, ASHAs tried out the cell
phones,” says Prof. George Kuryan, head of the
Community Health Department at CMC in Vel-
lore. “They’re very excited about using them
and the possibilities offered by the new tech-
nology.” After the testing phase, 83 villages
with a total population of about 100,000 peo-
ple are expected to take part in the CHIS proj-
ect.
An ASHA starts her work by downloading
villagers’ up-to-date demographic data, includ-
ing some health information from a hospital
server, to her smartphone. This tells her what
she should look out for when examining par-
ticular villagers. Later, after she has recorded
all the data from a village, she transfers it via
the mobile communications network to the
hospital server, or she can upload the data to a
laptop the doctors have brought with them in
the bus. “In both cases, doctors first have to
check that the data is correct before it’s stored
laypersons, such as the ASHAs, provide reliable
results, and are robust enough to operate de-
pendably in adverse conditions. The top priori-
ty in this regard is to provide support for preg-
nant women. The device
currently at the most ad-
vanced stage of develop-
ment is the Fetal Heart Rate
Monitor (see Pictures of the
Future,Fall 2010, p. 44 and p. 56), a sort of
stethoscope that automati-
cally measures and displays the heart rate of
an unborn child. Production of this device will
soon begin at a Siemens plant in Goa. After the
test phase of the project has been completed,
the ASHAs in 83 villages in Tamil Nadu will be
equipped with cell phones and, later on, with
Fetal Heart Rate Monitors.
In the case of premature births, it is also
common to monitor not just the heart and res-
piratory rates but also blood oxygenation. With
ing countries like India,” says Varghese. “Since
we need a great quantity of devices for our
large population, we have to supply them at
the lowest possible price. These devices also
have to be as easy as possible to use and they
must be virtually maintenance-free.”
Another challenge faced by Indian society is
infectious diseases. India accounts for a fifth of
the world’s cases of tuberculosis — and a large
proportion of these occur in rural areas. The
biggest problem in this context is contaminat-
ed water, which is also partly to blame for the
high child mortality rate: Every day, over 1,000
children in India die of diarrheal illnesses.
Six times as many physicians prac-
tice in the cities as in the country,
where 70 percent of Indians live.
88 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
on the server. This is for quality control,” says
Varghese. The data transferred to the server is
included directly in patient records and under-
goes statistical analysis. All the software used
in the process, from the cell phone to the lap-
top, was developed by Siemens Corporate
Technology.
One of the ASHAs’ focus areas is on sup-
porting women during pregnancy, preparing
for birth, and providing postnatal and postpar-
tum care. Most women in India give birth at
home, usually under poor hygienic conditions.
According to the World Health Organization,
37 of every 1,000 Indian newborns died within
the first four weeks of life in 2008. By compari-
son, Germany had a mortality rate of three in
1,000 newborns that year. After a delivery, an
ASHA therefore records data such as the baby’s
weight and heart rate. If an emergency occurs,
she can call a doctor on her cell phone. Siemens CT India also hopes to provide bet-
ter support to doctors by developing inexpen-
sive medical devices that are usable by trained
this in mind, CT India is developing a portable
device for ASHAs that measures respiration
and a pulse oximeter, which uses sensors to
measure the oxygen saturation of arterial
blood after the skin is exposed to infrared
light.
Technology for Emerging Economies. In-
creasingly, the typical diseases of modern civi-
lization are spreading in India. For instance,
there are already over 40 million diabetics on
the subcontinent, and each year about two
million people suffer a heart attack. Indian au-
thorities estimate that by 2020 over seven mil-
lion Indians will die of chronic illnesses each
year. The reasons for this include population
growth as well as the country’s rising prosperi-
ty. CT developments are therefore also focus-
ing on simple devices for investigating cardio-
vascular illnesses, such as mobile ECG devices.
Also in planning are easy-to-use systems for re-
mote patient monitoring. “These devices we’re
developing are tailored to the needs of emerg-
ASHAs therefore keep a record of all cases of
diarrhea in their villages. Using analytical soft-
ware, CT researchers can evaluate the data-
base of its project partner in the hospital and
pinpoint those villages in which cases of diar-
rhea occur very frequently. Now that tests
have been completed, the first mobile water
treatment systems from Siemens Water Tech-
nology will soon be delivered to those villages
most affected by diarrheal illnesses.
For Dr. Varghese it is already clear that the
CHIS project is a successful model that can be
carried over to other Indian states and to other
countries. In its next phase, the project could
be extended to a million people in the neigh-
boring state of Andhra Pradesh. But as Vargh-
ese knows, there is still a long way to go before
that happens.
Annapurna Verma, has just finished trans-
ferring her data from a cell phone to a laptop.
She and her fellow ASHAs are done with their
examinations for the day, and the bus starts
moving again.Michael Lang
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 91
Collective Intelligence | Traffic Systems
Houston is installing systems at intersections that will allow traffic lights and vehicles to communicate with one another in real time. Based on a far-sighted traffic management program
being developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, these steps could set the stage for new
services based on oceans of vehicle-generated data that would optimize traffic flows, accelerate
emergency response, reduce collisions, and minimize noise and pollution.
Ambulances will be among the first users of a new traffic light management technology that responds dynamically to the number and level of priority of vehicles approaching an intersection .
H
ouston, Texas. A major storm is approach-
ing. Vast areas are expected to be flood-
ed. Evacuation measures are in full swing. Yet
traffic is streaming out of the city in an evenly-
distributed pattern under a menacing gray-
green sky. In a haze of red and blue lights, the
occasional ambulance or police car flashes by.
As if by magic, the traffic lights at intersections
turn green each time an emergency vehicle ap-
proaches. Everything moves according to plan.
No one wants to revisit the 2008 nightmare
that was Hurricane Ike.
Can a major metropolitan area be evacuat-
ed as smoothly as this scenario suggests? Har-
ris County, a 4,500 square-kilometer (1,700
square miles) area that includes greater Hous-
ton and, with over four million residents, is the
third most populous county in the U.S., is im-
Green Light for Vehicle-to-
Infrastructure Communications
plementing a pilot plan that may set the stage
for a revolutionary way of managing traffic not
only during emergencies in southeast Texas,
but year round throughout the United States. The plan makes use of technologies now
being developed as part of the United States
Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Intel-
liDrive
TM
program, a research initiative focused
on the creation of safe, interoperable connec-
tivity among all types of vehicles, the traffic
management infrastructure, and mobile de-
vices. And Siemens, which is the market leader
in traffic management technology in the U.S.
and a major supplier to the world automobile
industry, is a key player. During the plan’s first stage, which has al-
ready been largely implemented, Siemens Mo-
bility Division’s Intelligent Traffic Solutions
(ITS) business in Austin, Texas is equipping ap-
proximately 400 intersections throughout Har-
ris County with a simple, inexpensive control
system that dynamically alters traffic light tim-
ing based on an algorithm that estimates the
number of vehicles approaching an intersec-
tion at any given moment. To do so, the tech-
nology uses a Linux-based computer, an an-
tenna and a wireless radio reader card to tap
the anonymous addresses of smartphones in
nearby vehicles. “A study in which our pilot system was in-
stalled in the same boxes that house toll tag
readers in Houston produced basically identi-
cal travel time estimates — without any of the
expensive tolling equipment,” says Siemens
ITS Innovations Manager David Miller. “It takes
only a few cars with smartphones on standby
90 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Collective Intelligence | Interview
Thomas W. Malone
is the Patrick J. McGovern
Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of
Management and the
founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He was also the founding director of the
MIT Center for Coordination Science. Professor Malone
teaches classes on leadership and information
technology; has published
over 75 articles, research
papers, and book chapters;
and is an inventor with 11
patents. His background includes a Ph.D. and two
master’s degrees from Stanford University, a B.A.
from Rice University, and de-
grees in applied mathemat-
ics, engineering-economic
systems, and psychology.
New Models for Human-Machine Collaboration
What’s the promise of collective
intelligence (CI)?
Malone:
The idea is that there are things that
are very easy for humans to do and very hard
for computers to do, and vice versa. So the
question that CI asks is: “How can people and
computers work together to take advantage of
what each does best?” That’s the promise. Re-
search shows that even simple computer algo-
rithms can often do a better job of predicting
many things than human experts can —
things like estimating sales, economic trends,
and election results. On the other hand, hu-
mans are much better at identifying certain
qualitative factors that can influence predic-
tions.
Have you performed experiments along
these lines?
Malone: Yes. We are investigating “prediction
markets” where participants can buy and sell
predictions about future events such as prod-
uct sales. In our experiments, we let both hu-
mans and software agents predict the next
plays in an American football game. We found
that the agents were significantly more accu-
rate than the humans. But we also found that
humans and agents together were more accu-
rate than either alone. The next step will be to
build prediction economies. These will include
one or more prediction markets — markets
for information relevant to an event, and mar-
kets for human and machine-based services
that can help participants make more accurate
predictions.
There are other CI application areas that
offer higher probabilities of success. For
instance, your web site refers to the pos-
sibility of determining whether a growth
on someone’s skin is cancerous or not… Malone: That is a project we would like to do.
The idea is that the knowledge needed to re-
solve the question does not necessarily have
to reside in the head of the person standing
next to the patient. My guess is that if you had
excellent images of the growth that could be
transmitted anywhere, and if you had non-
physicians who classified such images all day
long, then I believe these non-physicians
could be — collectively — more accurate than
a dermatologist who sees only a dozen poten-
tially cancerous growths per week. Eventually,
this very specialized task may be accomplished
by an algorithm. But on the way to that goal,
we may see humans and machines working
on the problem simultaneously. Are any companies putting this kind of
networking into practice?
Malone: Yes. For instance, Amazon Mechani-
cal Turk — a crowd-sourcing marketplace on
the Internet — is designed to help software
developers build human intelligence into their
applications. Programmers can farm out spe-
cialized tasks to people, and they can do so in
the middle of programs. If, for example, you
are writing a program to create a travel direc-
tory, you can include a sub-routine that asks
people — for a few pennies per task — to read
web sites and find hotel phone numbers.
What implications does this problem-
solving model have for business?
Malone: One possibility is that much of the
work that now gets done inside big companies
will be done instead by temporary networks of
people and computers. Compensation will
range from large sums for solving complex
problems to micropayments for things like
helping a camera at a loading dock interpret
an image when something unusual occurs.
There might be on-line lists of situations
where human attention is needed, and people
could look for the highest paid tasks they are
capable of doing. Can organizations improve their IQ by applying CI to their operations?
Malone: We have recently done some work
designed to measure organizational IQ. We
gave several small groups a number of tasks
and looked at the factor analysis of how they
performed. What we found was that, just as is
the case with individuals, there is a single sta-
tistical factor that predicts the group’s per-
formance on a wide range of tasks. It is con-
ceivable that you could do this at the level of
an entire organization. It would be fascinating,
for instance, to discover what Siemens’ IQ is
and to investigate how we could boost it. We
believe that it is eminently possible to change
group intelligence. That could have tremen-
dous implications for companies, universities,
and governments.
Interview conducted by Arthur F. Pease.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 93
partment of Transportation demonstrated a
fully-functional DSRC system, including road-
side traffic signal controller, software, wireless
gear in the car, and the message set — in
short, all of the vehicle-to-infrastructure tech-
nology — from Siemens. The signal controller
constantly compared the approach distance
between a BMW 7-Series and the traffic signal.
“As we approached the intersection,” recalls
Miller, “we could see the traffic signal repre-
sented on the dashboard in a countdown for-
mat: ‘I’m green, but in five, four, three, two,
one seconds I’ll be red.’” Because the car and
the traffic light timing system were communi-
cating in real time, Miller explains, the car
knew it could not go through the light. As a re-
sult, it shut off its engine at the optimal mo-
ment for saving energy and used regenerative
braking to recharge the battery, while the bat-
tery was used to keep cockpit systems running.
“In addition,” says Miller, “the traffic signal con-
trolled the cabin temperature. It knew how
long the wait would be, so it regulated power-
hungry systems accordingly. Then, two sec-
onds before the light turned green, it switched
on the engine.” Traffic Lights that Talk to Your Car. Traffic
lights that not only talk to your car, but opti-
mize its functions? The technology used in
Palm Desert has been verified to result in up to
a 15 percent improvement in fuel savings on
manual-shift BMW vehicles, which automati-
cally turn off their engines while the clutch is
depressed. But the advantages don’t stop there. Thou-
sands of people are killed or seriously injured
each year in so-called “T-bone crashes” when a
car runs a red light and plows into another ve-
hicle. But if intersection-to-vehicle communi-
cation becomes a standard feature, such acci-
dents would practically disappear. “If, for
instance, a light is about to turn red and a car
is approaching it at high speed, tomorrow’s in-
telligent intersection will respond in one of
two ways,” says Peebles. “It will either force the
car to stop, or it can hold the light green — as
it would for an emergency vehicle — and allow
the violator to go by.”
Sound like Big Brother? Maybe. But as Pee-
bles points out, “It’s great to know that your
kids are going to get to school more safely.
And red light management is one of the many
ways that IntelliDrive and Siemens technology
will support that.” By the same token, this tech-
nology — when networked throughout an ur-
ban area — can ensure
that priority vehicles get
through in the shortest
time and can take the
shortest routes. In this
case, the vehicle-to-infra-
structure system will know
which route an ambu-
lance, police car or fire truck, for instance, will
be taking, and will clear traffic along the
way in advance — something that’s safer for
everyone, according to Peebles, “because there
are lots of emergency vehicle-related acci-
dents.” On a more prosaic level, the technology
could go a long way toward keeping buses on
schedule because the infrastructure will know
if a bus is running late and will give it more
green lights, if needed, to keep it on schedule.
This would, in all probability, help to improve
ridership. But one of the biggest selling points
of IntelliDrive technology — and a possible sig-
nificant source of revenue for Siemens — is
what it means for the individual motorist. “Let’s
say there are no emergency vehicles going by,
the busses are on schedule, and you are
alone,” says Miller. “If your car is equipped with
the right device, the light will turn green just
for you!” And of course, the same goes for
pedestrians and cyclists carrying an Intel-
liDrive-equipped device. They will have the
added advantage of becoming electronically
visible to IntelliDrive-equipped vehicles — yet
another major safety advantage. Where will all of this take us? “I think this is
going to happen quickly,” says Miller. “Once
the onboard devices become available and the
average driver sees that he or she can turn the
light green, the technology will take off. It will
make driving safer. It will save fuel. And with
software upgrades it could lead to attractive
new services such as reserving parking based
on time-of-day and event-based variable pric-
ing.” Miller also foresees an effect on traffic
group dynamics. “As soon as cars start to have
the light-changing feature, they will start to
aggregate because many vehicle navigation
systems will see at the same time that a specif-
ic route is faster than another. And this will be-
come a self-fulfilling prophecy because when a
light sees a platoon of vehicles coming its way
it will automatically turn green. That could be
the first step toward automated driving. In oth-
er words, the system tells the cars what route it
thinks is best, the cars form up and take the
route, and they affect the lights. Eventually,
you’ll be able to let go of the wheel!” Long be-
fore that happens, however, IntelliDrive tech-
nologies will be helping cities like Houston re-
spond in the safest possible way to tomorrow’s
storms.Arthur F. Pease
“When a light sees a platoon of vehicles coming its way it will automatically turn green.”
Real-time data exchanges between vehicles and traffic light control systems will improve traffic flow, increase safety, and cut pollution and noise.
92 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
to produce highly accurate estimates of vehicle
densities and speeds.”
The data from phones is aggregated using a
unique application funded by the USDOT and
developed by the Texas Transportation Insti-
tute at Texas A&M University that runs on soft-
ware developed by Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology in Princeton, New Jersey. Siemens
signal controllers at intersections throughout
the county process the resulting information to
produce highly-accurate real-time estimates of
the number of vehicles on the road and their
speeds, all of which is mapped onto a geo-
graphical database accessible to drivers via
smartphone. During an evacuation, this sys-
tem would allow each driver to choose a route
with the shortest travel time, thus conserving
fuel, which can quickly become scarce under
emergency conditions, and effectively dispers-
ing traffic instead of concentrating it on con-
gested evacuation routes.
What’s more, Siemens’ traffic signal con-
trollers throughout much of Harris County
have been networked via fiber optic cables and
connected to Siemens servers and software at
Houston’s Transtar emergency management
center. “Taken to an extreme, the traffic pat-
terns for the entire city could be optimized
with this technology, or tailored to meet the
unique needs of an emergency. This is a classic
example of what we call collective intelligence
— the aggregation of massive amounts of data
to produce information that can drive new
services,” says Justinian Rosca, who leads the
project’s software integration team in Prince-
ton and, together with Miller, has filed a num-
ber of related patents.
Priority Treatment for First Responders.
What’s next? Assuming it receives funding,
Harris County plans to outfit its roughly 2000
public vehicles — everything from ambulances
and police cars to fire trucks and buses — with
GPS radio devices that communicate with the
newly-installed intersection control technolo-
gy using a standard frequency. “One of the les-
sons learned from Hurricane Ike was that dif-
ferent districts in Houston had different
communications equipment that was not in-
teroperable,” says Miller. “Clearly, with interop-
erable equipment, comprehensive evacuation
coordination would be improved.” Setting the
stage for accomplishing this is the recent
adoption by the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission of a standard in the 5.9 GHz band
for high-speed vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-
to-infrastructure commu-
nication as part of the In-
telliDrive program. Known as Dedicated
Short Range Communica-
tion (DSRC), this develop-
ment will make it possible
to produce standardized
onboard equipment for emergency vehicles.
“The equipment has a range that exceeds a
quarter mile (400 meters). It will send its GPS
location via DSRC to an application in an inter-
section controller indicating that the approach-
ing vehicle should receive priority,” explains
Miller. “The application is able to read ap-
proach direction and speed, allowing the sig-
nal timing to initiate a green light regardless of
the speed of the approaching emergency vehi-
cle.” The solution will not only ensure that first
responder vehicles have interoperable commu-
nications with the fixed infrastructure, but is
expected to cut travel time for such vehicles
while reducing the risk of collisions at intersec-
tions. Siemens is now developing such a de-
vice for research purposes for the DOT. If ap-
proved, it will enter a DOT “qualified products
list” for extensive testing and eventually head
for commercialization.
Primed for ITS Technologies. After the de-
struction caused by Hurricane Ike, it’s easy to
understand why Houston would want to do its
best to prepare for the next big emergency.
But what’s driving the U.S. Department of
Transportation to embrace the IntelliDrive con-
cept? “For the last 60 years, our whole philoso-
phy in the U.S. has been ‘build more roads,’”
says Christy Peebles, who heads Siemens’
Austin ITS operations. “Now, American cities
are out of space and are under pressure to re-
duce pollution, noise, and, above all, improve
safety. So all of the pieces are coming together.
The U.S. is therefore primed for ITS technolo-
gies.” She explains that car-to-car data links de-
signed to automatically track frontal and rear
proximity, for instance, are already helping to
avoid accidents in situations where humans
cannot respond with sufficient speed. “But the
missing piece of the puzzle is vehicle-to-infra-
structure communication,” she says. “That
holds the potential for radically reducing inter-
section collisions, optimizing traffic flows, and
improving fuel economy. The car manufactur-
ers want it because they expect its safety fea-
tures to generate demand. And they are push-
ing for it through the Department of
Transportation.”
And Siemens is in an excellent position to
provide what’s needed. For instance, in an Oc-
tober, 2009 field trial in Palm Desert, Califor-
nia, Siemens (supported by Corporate Technol-
ogy teams in Princeton, New Jersey and
Vienna, Austria), BMW and the California De-
Vehicle-to-intersection communication holds the potential
for radically reducing collisions.
Siemens is now developing an onboard device for emergency vehicles that will trigger tomorrow’s intersection controllers to turn traffic lights green. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 95
Collective Intelligence | City Cockpit
Siemens’ City Cockpit supports better and faster decision-making by consolidating information from a wide range of administrative systems. Mayors will now be able to keep track of multiple processes that drive their cities in real time. Siemens’ City Cockpit in Singapore demonstrates how today’s information systems make it possible to
have an overview of many city activities in real time.
It provides city officials with fast and simple access to any information they need.
M
ayor S. enjoys the ride to his office this
morning. He takes the bus as he always
does — part of a campaign to persuade citi-
zens to use public transportation. He’s pleased
to see that ridership is up compared to a year
ago. Back then, a downtown toll was intro-
duced to reduce rush-hour traffic congestion,
and it seems to be having the desired effect.
When he gets to his desk, the Mayor checks
to see whether the impression he received on
the bus is borne out by facts. In his City Cockpit
he can look up how many people have traveled
to work this morning by bus or rail and how
smoothly the traffic flowed. Alongside the cur-
rent statistics and graphic displays he sees a
yellow light that tells him that his new traffic
plan still is not working smoothly in some parts
of the city. He’ll need to discuss this problem
with his traffic planners.
Mayor S. can use the City Cockpit to keep
himself informed not only about the current
traffic situation but also about many other as-
pects of city life. Green lights tell him that
everything is going very well for the police, the
Real-Time Government
fire department, and the sanitation services.
The light for the public offices is yellow and for
the finance department it’s red. So there’s a
good reason why the whole morning has been
reserved for budget discussions.
Singapore’s Living Lab. This vision could
soon become a reality, because a prototype of
the City Cockpit already exists — at Siemens in
Singapore. Here, state-of-the-art information
and communication technology (ICT) enables
the mayor and other decision-makers to track
and analyze processes in their city in real time.
All of the important information flows into a
central system that processes the data for con-
venient display and indicates to what extent
specified objectives are being met.
The computer on whose user interface all
the data of a fictitious city converge and are
displayed is located in Siemens’ “City of the Fu-
ture,“ a demonstration center for future solu-
tions that Siemens established two years ago
in Singapore with support from the govern-
ment of the city-state. “The City of the Future
demonstrates how ICT can be useful in master-
ing the challenges that are facing cities today,”
says Klaus Heidinger, who is in charge of Smart
Eco Cities at Siemens Corporate Technology
(CT). “Singapore is an excellent location for this
Competence Center because its government is
willing to serve as a ‘living lab’ for new admin-
istrative methods.” (see Pictures of the Future,
Fall 2010, p. 44) Municipal governments from all over the
world are sending delegations to Singapore in
order to learn from the city’s experiences.
More than 200 groups have already visited the
City of the Future in order to learn through
multimedia presentations and from interactive
consoles how clever networking of informa-
tion can lay the foundations for better and
faster decision-making. “The ICT revolution is opening up entirely
new opportunities for solving problems — for
instance, in the areas of communications,
transportation, and the infrastructure,” says
Andrew Tan, General Manager of Singapore’s
National Environment Agency. “It will change
the way governments work, think, and interact
with their citizens.” One example of this change is the fact that
in Singapore — as city officials are quick to
point out — it takes no longer than 15 minutes
to process the registration of a new business.
This is just one of many process optimizations
that have earned this city its status as south-
east Asia’s business hub and the affluence that
goes with it. Such high standards can only be met if the
entire administrative apparatus stays focused
on constantly becoming more efficient and ef-
fective. A vital part of this process is the estab-
lishment and testing of performance criteria,
which is supported by ICT solutions such as
those provided by the City Cockpit. So by mid-
day the fictitious Mayor S. will be able to check
and see how his public offices have been do-
ing that morning. His employees have to meet
strict targets regarding the speed at which they
implemented. In the first weeks of the new
system’s utilization he still used to see a red
light in his computer — showing that city offi-
cials were overloaded with the flood of re-
quests. But training courses and the assign-
ment of additional employees seem to have
solved the initial problems.
“City Cockpit makes in-
formation available to
mayors that would have
previously required a staff
of assistants to collect,”
says Heidinger. “We pro-
vide this information by
working with various types of data that already
exist.” For instance, traffic management sys-
tems based on the use of sensors for measur-
ing the number of vehicles crossing intersec-
tions can help optimize the timing of traffic
lights. In conjunction with information from
subway and bus management systems, such
Ashish Lall, a management professor at the
National University of Singapore, believes that
expanded use of information and communica-
tion technology will help to structure adminis-
trations more effectively, make them more ef-
ficient, and foster more cooperation and
greater transparency. In areas where depart-
ments have been operating more or less inde-
pendently of each other, their processes will be
systematically interlinked in the future. “City
management via ICT calls for organizational
changes,” says Lall. “Contradictory regulations,
complicated processes, and the ‘Not Invented
“City Cockpit makes information
available that would have required a staff of assistants in the past.”
94 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
process requests and inquiries from citizens.
The expectation is that responsive perform-
ance by city officials will encourage citizens to
support the community more responsibly in re-
turn.
Responding within 24 hours. If a citizen
takes a photo of a damaged park bench or a
filthy public toilet and uploads it to a city ad-
ministration web site, he or she can expect to
receive a response within 24 hours explaining
how municipal officials will deal with the prob-
lem. The software used by city employees to
make such responses also records how many
inquiries are received and whether the neces-
sary actions have been completed within the
specified time limit. This information is not only available to de-
partment heads but is also fed into the City
Cockpit. This shows Mayor S. that the dead-
lines are being met, even though the public’s
use of this channel for inquiries and com-
plaints regarding community matters has been
increasing steadily since the new system was
data can create a real-time image of a city’s
traffic conditions, and thus provide informa-
tion for improving services. The management
systems of a city’s energy network, water sup-
ply system, public finances, and public offices
can be similarly correlated.
Better Decision-Making. Of course the City
Cockpit doesn’t produce results on autopilot.
“State-of-the-art technology can make infor-
mation accessible and display it conveniently,
but managers still have to make decisions,”
says Seo Hian Julian Goh, a former Singapore
city planner who joined Siemens as head of
Smart City Solutions within the company’s
Cities Competence Center. “Many key changes are political in nature
and require sound judgment about how to use
available resources and where priorities lie,”
notes Goh. “But in every case, better informa-
tion leads to better decisions.” Of course, the
gathering of information must be conducted
strictly in accordance with applicable data pro-
tection regulations.
Here’ mentality must be changed.” What’s
more, ICT is an interactive medium that not
only improves coordination between govern-
mental offices but also fosters contact with the
public. Returning to our City Cockpit scenario, con-
tact with citizens has been so effective that
Mayor S. can even check to see how many peo-
ple in his city are doing their laundry at the
moment. The mayor has been urging the in-
stallation of digital electric meters that support
differentiated electric power pricing. Low elec-
tricity prices in the evening hours are designed
to offer incentives to households to not use ap-
pliances with high power demand such as
washing machines in the daytime, when the
city’s electricity consumption is high due to
business and office use. And in fact, City Cock-
pit gives Mayor S. a yellow light. The initiative
is starting to pay off. However, there is still a
lot of room for improvement in the city’s ener-
gy efficiency. But thanks to this evolving tech-
nology, city officials will at least know where
their challenges lie. Bernhard Bartsch
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 97
Collective Intelligence | Logistics in the Auto Industry
Logistics networks in the automotive industry keep getting
more complex. Before long, software agents may help negoti-
ate the availability of parts and their prices — in just seconds.
In the future, software agents are expected to take
over important aspects of logistics planning in the au-
tomotive industry — which would allow manufactur-
ers to deliver their cars to customers much faster. In offshore wind farms, the front turbines get the most wind and in the process generate wakes of turbulence kilometers in length — which reduce
the performance of downwind rotors. A
t present, customers have to wait weeks, if
not months, before they can receive a new
car. One reason for this delay is the large range
of options. In the case of some vehicle models
there are millions of possible combinations of
optional equipment. The individual parts are
ordered through logistics networks that have
to be seamlessly integrated so that everything
is available at the assembly line when a car is
put together. The people who are responsible for these
networks are logistics planners. There are
about 100 of them at each automaker, and
each one coordinates up to 100 more planners
working at supplier locations. Communicating
by phone and e-mail often takes a long time,
which contributes to the industry’s inability to
deliver cars within five days after receiving an
Wheeler-Dealer Agents
order, an ideal promoted by the European
Union in its “Intelligent Logistics for Innovative
Product Technologies” (ILIPT) research project. The project brings together 30 organiza-
tions from the research community and the
auto industry, including Daimler, BMW, Conti-
nental, ThyssenKrupp, MAN, and Hella, which
have developed methods to accelerate the
planning of supply chains. The centerpiece of
the project is a set of market-based processes
and technologies for software agents that are
being developed by Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT). Software agents are autonomous programs
that operate independently and respond to al-
tered conditions — ideally almost the way a
person does, but much more quickly. They are
already being used in robots, and in the future
they will also take on the task of performing
negotiations in virtual marketplaces. The idea
behind ILIPT is that manufacturers and suppli-
ers in their branching supply networks will au-
tomatically coordinate their output quantities
and delivery dates through the Internet using
software agents, without violating the terms
and conditions they have agreed on in their
contracts. This doesn’t put logistics planners
out of work; they still have to negotiate the ba-
sic contracts and configure the negotiating
strategies of the agents. Lightning Logistics. These intelligent com-
puter programs can even take over price nego-
tiations and perform them recursively in a cas-
cading fashion, in a manner analogous to the
structure of the supply chain. This means that
the demand for parts that is predicted by an
automaker is negotiated with the supplier, that
supplier negotiates with its own suppliers, and
so forth. If two agents in this chain cannot
reach an agreement, they negotiate backwards
again in order to meet all of the specified pa-
rameters. The agents also take part in auctions
if multiple suppliers are competing for the
same contract. To ensure that agents know how much el-
bow room they have when it comes to negoti-
ations, they are provided with capacity limits
as input parameters. The supplier, for example,
states its production capacities for certain
modules. It takes into account such constraints
as plant vacations, retooling times, and even
strikes. If a supplier’s warehouse catches fire,
the agents can re-plan the supply chain — “in a
matter of seconds,” says Jan-Gregor Fischer, a
CT expert for agent technologies in Siemens’
Intelligent Systems and Control Global Tech-
nology Field.
The availability of parts determines their
price. For example, prices rise if parts become
scarce. To make bids in the virtual marketplace,
the supplier establishes minimum and maxi-
mum values that its agent must abide by in or-
der for the transaction to be profitable. The
same is true for the purchaser. These input pa-
rameters are secret, of course — as they are to-
day when a vendor and a purchaser sit across
from one another at the negotiating table.
But there are cases when demand forecasts
cannot be brought into agreement with deliv-
ery capacities or the prices expected by partici-
pants. In this case, agents initiate a second
type of negotiation in which they renegotiate
minimum and maximum limits. Here as well,
there are quantity and price constraints that
the agents are required to heed. High Gear Supply Chain. Agent technologies
open up completely new possibilities. For ex-
ample, customers will have many more op-
tions when choosing equipment for a dream
car, but they will be able to take delivery in just
a few days. If a customer orders his vehicle
through the Internet, the required parts can be
reserved immediately according to the “build
to order” principle. They are then delivered to
the production line without delay and assem-
bled. This is not possible with the forecasting-
and long-term supply contracts commonly
used today, which involve high warehousing
expenses and require that manufacturers an-
ticipate demand for parts months in advance. The supply chain of the future will have to
adapt dynamically to demand. This is becom-
ing all the more important because the special
planning for individual model series no longer
reflects the state of the art. The future belongs
to module strategy, which puts similar compo-
nents into different models — but these addi-
tional dependencies can make logistics more
complex. “Software agents can help to make
these complex scenarios manageable,” says
Thomas Sommer-Dittrich, who is responsible
for production management at Daimler Re-
search in Ulm. Agents Hit the Road. The ILIPT project
launched in 2004 has now been brought to a
close. The concepts that were developed for
collaborative capacity planning were integrat-
ed into a software demonstrator designed by
Daimler and Siemens. Siemens CT provided
D’ACCORD, a market-based negotiation com-
ponent, and Daimler implemented the soft-
ware agents. The partners took the demon-
strator on a road show during which they
showed off the benefits of these new tech-
nologies to the European auto industry.
Daimler is already using knowledge gained
from the project — such as software for net-
work analysis — but is not yet employing
agents as standard tools for logistics. In addi-
tion to unresolved technical questions, such as
how to create a secure infrastructure for the
agent-based systems among multiple manu-
facturers, an important prerequisite for this ap-
proach will be an increase in the modulariza-
tion and standardization of components,
particularly across multiple brands and manu-
facturers, so that a market for standard bids
can be formed. “Another aspect that still has to
be resolved is how the sometimes very exten-
sive certifications of products and processes
will occur in the new framework,” says Som-
mer-Dittrich. “These aren’t things that can be
done ahead of time.”
Only when these issues have been resolved
will agents be able to negotiate in market-
places that include multiple companies. “That’s
when agents will bring their full value to bear
and help cut costs for everyone involved,” says
Sommer-Dittrich. Bernd Müller
96 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Collective Intelligence | Intelligent Wind Farms
Computer models with collective intelligence can coordinate
entire wind farms and gas turbines. This increases their output
and slows down the rate at which they age.
Turning Many into One
M
ost of us have probably been at a concert
only to find ourselves in the annoying sit-
uation of standing behind a giant person who
blocks our view. If wind turbines had feelings,
they would surely be equally frustrated to find
themselves placed in the last row of a wind
farm. That’s because the front rotors situated
in the undamped wind will supply more power
than the ones in the rear. On top of that, the
rear turbines have to cope with kilometer-long
trails of turbulence produced by rotors in the
“front row,” which cause fluctuations in power
output. It would thus be much better if the
front turbines were to forgo some power in fa-
vor of their fellows in the rear. As a result, the
wind farm would supply more energy.
With this in mind, Dr. Dragan Obradovic at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Munich
has been working closely with engineers from
Siemens Wind Power to translate this insight
into software that simulates the wind and the
behavior of a whole wind farm within seconds
and immediately transmits control commands
to wind turbines. Measurements are made of the output, ro-
tor speed, temperature, and other factors.
Each turbine is connected via fiber optic lines
to a central controller that coordinates the
whole system and, for instance, gives com-
mands to change the angle of the rotor
blades. “As a result, the entire wind farm func-
tions as if it were a single power generator
with collective intelligence,” says Obradovic. For two years Siemens Wind Power in
Brande, Denmark, has been testing the soft-
ware at the Lillgrund wind farm off the
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 99
Collective Intelligence | Sensor Networks
Sensors are the eyes and ears of a growing number of systems. The data they deliver forms the basis for monitoring and controlling everything from electric blinds to entire building complexes and industrial plants. Siemens is studying ways to make sensors self-organizing. The idea is that local intelligence is more robust than centralized systems. Dr. Rudolf Sollacher develops sensors that exchange information about their status via wireless
networks. If one sensor fails, the others keep working — a feature that enhances reliability.
Y
ou might say that Dr. Rudolf Sollacher is
abolishing hierarchies. Sollacher, who
works at Siemens Corporate Technology (CT),
studies ways in which intelligent sensors can
organize themselves in a network. Such net-
works could be used in a building to collect
data on temperature, gas levels, or smoke.
They would not simply pass data on to a con-
trol center, but instead jointly evaluate the sit-
uation. In other words, they could determine
whether a fire has broken out in the kitchen or
a pot is boiling over. Such a system would be
very robust, says Sollacher, “If a central control
unit fails in a fire, the information dries up. But
if intelligence is distributed, various sensors
will continue sending data that can be used by
the fire department.” Sensors are the eyes and ears of any intelli-
gent control system, whether for automated
Instant Communities
manufacturing or monitoring major industrial
facilities. Their data is used by control systems
to make decisions and issue commands to ac-
tuators such as controllers and motors. They
form part of intelligent building blocks — so-
called sensor nodes — that contain micro-
processors and sometimes communication or
positioning devices. Thousands of these digital
monitors can now be found in modern build-
ings. But as their numbers increase, so too
does the complexity involved in programming
associated controls. After all, every sensor
node has to be initialized and every function
— for example, the generation of a diagnostic
report — must be programmed. It would be much simpler and cheaper to
have a sensor network that does all this itself.
With this in mind, Sollacher’s team conducted
a study that showed how sensor networks can
simplify the search for building materials at
construction sites covering as much as several
square kilometers. Most such materials of val-
ue — things like cable spools and motors —
come with radio frequency identification labels
(RFID tags) that generate data that is stored in
a database. But containers are moved around,
machines are adjusted — and at some point
databases are no longer accurate. CT’s concept uses sensor nodes consisting
of a positioning device and a communication
unit. The nodes are placed on poles distributed
at 50-meter intervals across a site. The nodes
autonomously take distance measurements to
their neighbors so that each node knows its
position. They then network themselves via ra-
dio and register the RFID tags in their area.
When a worker enters the ID number of the
material he or she is looking for into an RFID
98 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Turbine Fleet Intelligence: Tapping a Data Gold Mine
A gas turbine is a bit like a person. It ages, needs care, wears out, and sometimes may need a doctor. In
order to delay that point as long as possible, it is prudent to continuously collect patient data and use it
to derive recommendations for prolonging life. This is an ambitious agenda for turbines as well as for
human beings. Today about 9,000 gas, steam, and combination turbines from Siemens are in operation
worldwide, and more than 400 of these units are monitored on a daily basis. Each system constantly
supplies information concerning more than 2,500 parameters on average. “This knowledge about our fleet differentiates us from our competitors,” says Craig Weeks, CEO of the
service business for fossil-fuel power plants at Siemens. This pertains not only to data collection, but also
to the intelligent combination of data, which will enable Siemens turbines to start up faster, run longer,
be more efficient and reliable, and generate fewer costs than models from the competition.
For example, utility companies appreciate gas turbines because of their flexibility. The world’s largest gas
turbine from Siemens can be started up in only five minutes and can reach its full-load output in 15 min-
utes. This capability can effectively offset the fluctuations in the increasing amounts of wind and solar
power being fed into the grid and thus boost the operators’ income. “Our aim is to ensure that Siemens
gas turbines start up faster and are more reliable and efficient than those of the competition,” says
Markus Zenker from the Siemens Power Diagnostics Center in Mülheim. If the data that continually ar-
rives from all Siemens installations in a power grid is evaluated quickly and intelligently, operators can
ideally start up gas turbines minutes earlier and thus generate more sales. To mine the treasure that lies hidden within all the measurement data, Siemens scientists at Corporate
Technology in Princeton have combined this data with various other information sources under one vir-
tual roof. Engineers, field service personnel, and members of the marketing staff can use this “Fleet In-
telligence” in any way they wish in order to optimize operations at customers’ facilities or to initiate re-
placement of parts subject to wear, for example when a similar plant has experienced a failure. “Our ob-
jective is the ‘living turbine’ that is constantly being improved on the basis of experiences gained with
many other similar machines,” says Mike Johnson, Director of Operation & Maintenance Programs at
Siemens Energy in Orlando, Florida. But Fleet Intelligence is only one step on the path to Unified Service
Intelligence. It is expected that in 2014 an automated, interactive knowledge manager will be able to in-
stantaneously supply forecasts regarding consumers’ energy needs and upcoming repairs, and that oper-
ators will be able to use these forecasts to op-
timize their facilities. “Customers will pay for
this knowledge because it will increase their
sales and resulting profits,” says Johnson. The fact that Siemens is ahead of the competi-
tion in data integration and the formulation of
prognoses for gas and steam turbines results
in part from its expertise in another field:
medicine. As Johnson points out, “We are ap-
plying Siemens patents in the field of medical
technology to the energy field, especially re-
garding the uniform integration of data from
various sources.”
Swedish coast. The results are expected in the
summer of 2011. “We’re sure the energy yield
will increase by several percent,” says Henrik
Stiesdal, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens
Wind Power. “It’s as if someone who buys 20
wind turbines gets an extra one for free,” adds
Professor Thomas Runkler, head of the “Intelli-
gent Systems and Control” Global Technology
Field, which developed the algorithm.
Obradovic is already working on an updat-
ed version of his computer models that takes
turbine aging into account. Turbulence that
arises in wind streams sets off vibrations in
components such as the rotor blades and tow-
ers in the rear rows of a wind farm and makes
them age faster. “Maximizing power output
and minimizing aging are actually contradicto-
ry goals,” says Obradovic, whose software will
make it possible to optimize both of these fac-
tors in the future. The data gained in this way
partially underlies the mathematical models
used to calculate the interactions between tur-
bines. If rotors age too fast, their output is re-
duced, or the output of the turbines in front of
them is reduced in order to weaken turbu-
lence. The idea is to prevent the “live fast, die
young” fate of many rock stars.
Neural Networks for Turbines. The opera-
tion of gas or steam turbines for power genera-
tion is even more complicated. They have to
provide a constant alternating current frequen-
cy through continuous rotation. If loads are
switched on and off, or if wind farms provide
less power on calm days, gas turbines must
ramp up their output or current frequency will
fluctuate. Sensors monitor such factors as air
pressure, exhaust gas temperatures, emis-
sions, and network behavior. Volkmar Sterzing and his colleagues, who
are also on Runkler’s team, have developed
neural networks that use these parameters to
generate turbine emission forecasts in sec-
onds. Their software controls the fuel supply
and ensures that the turbines are always run-
ning at ideal operational levels such that they
generate the least emissions. Their neural net-
works are constantly learning from the result-
ing data, thus automatically optimizing turbine
operations over time. In a few years the software is expected to be
mature enough for normal operation. At the
world’s largest gas turbine in Irsching, Bavaria,
1,000 neural networks monitor the system’s
components with data from approximately 5,000
measuring points. “This will lead to a measurable
reduction in emissions, including during the load
changes caused by solar parks and wind farms,”
says Sterzing. In the future such learning process-
es will also be used to achieve a more uniform
combustion process and thereby extend the serv-
ice life of turbine parts.Bernd Müller
In wind farms, depending on wind direction, different turbines experience different loads. With the help of simulations, experts can determine the direction of air flows and the strength of turbulence. Siemens researchers have now developed software that makes use of this data to optimize a park as a whole.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 101
drive system technologies. Given enough
memory capacity, the nodes can function as
intelligent labels that keep a “log” of all of a
product’s attributes. Preliminary devices along
these lines already exist in the form of RFID
chips embedded in blood bags. The units’ inte-
grated temperature sensors monitor the entire
temperature chain from donation to transfu-
sion. As part of the SemProM (Semantic Prod-
uct Memory) project funded by the BMBF,
Opgenoorth is examining possibilities for di-
rectly integrating both specific product data
and pertinent information. He’s initially look-
ing into passive product memory in the form of
easy-to-operate storage units for use with
things like Simatic controllers. “When techni-
cians service a controller today, they send a re-
port to a central database, from which they
can also download data on the controller,” says
Opgenoorth. “We’ve equipped control cabinets
with RFID chips containing integrated memory
devices so that data can easily be read and en-
tered on site.” Opgenoorth’s team also worked with CT to
develop an intelligent label prototype known
as a “smart industrial Tag,” or siTAG, which
they attached to a robot. Having recorded the
machine’s movements and actions, the smart
label sent the data to a handheld computer. As
a result, technicians were able to trace all the
work it had performed. In the future, a mini-
siTAG could even be attached to a workpiece to
monitor its processing. For instance, a motor
component could record the torque at which
its boreholes were drilled and quality assur-
ance could use the data to identify and reject
defective components. Quality engineers
could also recheck component processing if
mistakes were discovered at a later stage. To ensure that such logs function properly
throughout a product’s lifecycle, SemProM is
developing standards such as uniform data for-
mats. These will be designed to ensure that all
parties in the supplier chain — in other words,
manufacturers, customers, and even the ma-
chines the tags communicate with — can
properly store and interpret all data.
Corporate Technology researcher Dr. Chris-
tian Seitz operates a demonstration facility in
which a siTAG prototype measures tempera-
ture and humidity. When critical thresholds are
exceeded, the prototype switches signal
columns from green to red. Seitz believes that
in the distant future, products with smart tags
will run though highly flexible manufacturing
lines and stop themselves at the right station.
Here they will issue instructions on how they
should be worked — for example, regarding
the exact spot where a hole should be drilled
or a part mounted. This would allow very specialized customer
requests to be met — a
trend that would lead to
extremely low unit vol-
umes per product variant.
At present, such a feat re-
quires too much retooling.
But Prof. Thomas Runkler,
head of the Intelligent Sys-
tems and Control Technology Field at CT, be-
lieves that intelligent products will one day or-
ganize entire production processes by
themselves. In this scenario, an incoming or-
der would automatically send a signal to ware-
house components, request parts from suppli-
ers, and launch production. The result would
be a highly dynamic system in which a very
large number of devices would make decisions
— either alone or following consultation. Learning by Doing. Neural networks offer a
mathematical model for describing systems
with numerous networked decision-making
cells (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2009,
p. 54, and Spring 2006, p. 90). Originally de-
veloped to depict how the human brain works,
neural networks must be trained before they
can autonomously interpret diverse types of
data. But once such a network has reached
that stage, it can process new information.
Neural networks are ideal mathematical mod-
els for collective intelligence systems. The lat-
ter can be self-organizing sensor networks, in-
telligent products, or even a group of stock
brokers whose decisions determine the price
of a raw material. Dr. Hans-Georg Zimmermann, a mathe-
matician and economist at CT, develops neural
networks that can predict such things as the
price movements of raw materials. For exam-
ple, he simulates electricity prices based on
the purchasing decisions investors have made
on the basis of oil, coal, and gas prices as well
as other economic data. A total of 13 such pa-
rameters are fed into his calculation. Zimmer-
mann’s model currently uses data from the
preceding 440 days to calculate the develop-
ment of electricity prices over the next 20 days
with a certain degree of probability. Siemens
has been using the model for six years to buy
electricity at times when prices are cheapest. It
can now predict the best purchasing day two
thirds of the time. Zimmermann continues to refine the model
and now also assists Siemens Procurement
with its purchases of key raw materials. His
team is also using neural networks to predict
electricity consumption in an area covered by a
specific supplier on the basis of the behavior of
all consumers there. The greater the share of
the future energy mix accounted for by renew-
able sources whose output fluctuates with the
weather, the more important such forecasts
will become. Such predictions could be used
by suppliers to keep supply and demand bal-
anced by shutting gas turbines on and off as
needed.Christine Rüth
Sensors that generate their own energy — by converting vibrations into electrical energy, for instance (right) — would obviate expensive wiring and be highly flexible.
Intelligent products might one day organize entire production
processes by themselves.
100 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
reader, the query is sent to all of the nodes in
the network. The target RFID unit then displays
arrows that point the worker to its location. If
the construction site expands, you simply in-
stall additional poles and nodes. Most sensor nodes today are linked to con-
trol centers via cables. This is expensive and
complicated, especially when many devices
have to be hooked up, or when the units are
mobile, as is the case with robots in the auto-
motive industry. To get around this, re-
searchers are developing radio sensors. But to
be practical, such devices will have to have
their own energy supply while offering secure
and stable radio communication. Under Sol-
lacher’s direction, CT is developing technolo-
gies for such radio sensor networks as part of a
project known as ZESAN, which is sponsored
by the German Ministry of Education and Re-
search (BMBF). Harvesting Energy. Sollacher, a committed
microwatt miser, wants his sensors to be as en-
ergy stingy as possible. His colleague Daniel
Evers is therefore studying self-powered radio
sensors that literally harvest energy from their
surroundings (see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2009, p. 68). Evers adorns his sensors with so-
lar cells, for example, or with piezoelectric con-
verters that transform mechanical pressure
into voltage. He also equips them with ther-
mo-electric materials that generate energy
from temperature fluctuations. A sensor that’s
only a few centimeters in diameter can thus
produce several milliwatts of electricity as long
as ambient energy, such as light for solar cells,
is available. This energy is collected in a capacitor until
enough has been stored to make a radio trans-
mission possible. Because transmitting and re-
ceiving requires a lot of electricity — from ten
to just under 100 milliwatts — depending on
the technology), the network usually remains
silent. In other words, the sensors go into
stand-by mode — a state in which only a few
microwatts of electricity are needed to keep
them operating. Every 100 seconds or so, a
sensor will “wake up,” take measurements, and
communicate with its nearest neighbor. What’s
more, they forward information only if this
communication reveals something significant
— for instance, if all neighboring sensors regis-
ter higher than normal temperatures.
Such frugal exchanges of data must, how-
ever, be reliable. For example, they need to
overcome reflections that can block signals or
break up data packets. Sollacher is therefore
examining sensor nodes with several antennas
that can receive radio signals from directions
with fewer disruptions. A centrally controlled
radio security system that Siemens developed
in 2004 for buildings
works a little differently. Its
network consists of around
15 nodes — for example,
smoke detectors — that
transmit data from node to
node to a base station and
then autonomously search
for alternative routes if they encounter dead
zones. Siemens also offers processing industries
radio-based products, says Kurt Polzer, who is
responsible for the development of the wire-
less field device business at Siemens Industry.
“On the one hand,” he says, “switching to radio
technology poses risks for an industrial compa-
ny. For example, if the controller technology
fails at a plate glass factory, 1,000 tons of glass
can cool down in the melt furnace. But there
are also advantages — and you can avoid
problems by simply equipping the facility with
additional radio sensors. This reduces mainte-
nance costs and increases productivity and
production quality.” Sollacher uses a test network in his lab to
study how self-organizing networks function.
The network contains up to 80 nodes for
measuring temperature, brightness, and hu-
midity. They measure distances to their neigh-
bors in order to pinpoint their own positions,
autonomously assign radio channels, and reg-
ularly synchronize their internal clocks. They
also interpret data — for example, they can de-
termine mean temperatures. They do this by
comparing their measurements with those of
their neighbors and then using the data to esti-
mate an average value for the overall system.
This value even includes measurements made
by nodes unknown to them. By exchanging
these estimates with their neighbors, they are
thus able to quickly calculate the correct mean
temperature, which can then be called up from
any sensor node. The network uses a similar process to iden-
tify simple patterns — for example, the combi-
nation of different measurement values. Sol-
lacher describes the procedure as follows:
“Imagine a refrigerated container that is being
monitored by temperature, humidity, and door
sensors. If the door is closed, the temperature
and humidity should be within a certain range.
If it’s open, these limits will probably be ex-
ceeded.” Each sensor node utilizes predefined
ranges, and then uses its actual readings to
calculate if all system parameters are within
those ranges. Nodes exchange their estimates
and the network calculates iteratively whether
or not the system as a whole is operating prop-
erly. Such functions are crucial for industrial
monitoring systems that utilize a large number
of sensors.
Intelligent Labels. Sensor nodes could also
serve as product memory units, according to
Bernd Opgenoorth, whose team at Siemens In-
dustry studies new industrial automation and
Norman McFarland (second photo from left) was named a Siemens Inventor of the Year in 2010 for his work on wireless sensor networks.
Every 100 seconds a sensor will
“wake up,” take measurements, and
communicate with its neighbors.
102 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Dr. Dirk Heckmann (50) is
professor of Public Law, Se-
curity Law, and Internet Law
at the University of Passau.
He is an expert advisor on IT Law to the German Parlia-
ment and also provides his
IT-law consulting services to government ministries,
state parliaments, and companies. Heckmann also
serves as the director of the
Center for IT Compliance
and Trust (CIT) at the
Deutsche Telekom-Institute
for Connected Cities at
Zeppelin University in
Friedrichshafen, Germany.
The digital, virtual world is already an el-
ement that’s here to stay in our everyday
lives. But while the real world has com-
prehensive statutes and laws that ensure
order and make it difficult to misuse data
or infringe on intellectual property rights,
the legal situation on the Internet is not
entirely clear. How do you see the current
status of things in this regard? Heckmann:
Things could actually be simple
in a formal legal sense because all of the “old
laws” also apply to the new media — for ex-
ample, the German Federal Data Protection
Act of 1978, or German copyright law. These
laws also apply to the Internet. The problem is
that such legislation is becoming less and less
relevant due to the social and technical phe-
nomena the Internet generates in very short
intervals. This is particularly true of the social
networks in Web 2.0. Companies and govern-
ment authorities used to be restricted in their
activities by the Data Protection Act, which
regulates the processing and dissemination of
Internet user data in order to protect citizens’
privacy rights. But today it’s the users them-
selves who willingly circulate huge amounts of
their own personal data in forums like Face-
book, Flickr, and others. So, one question is:
How far should legislation be allowed to go
when it comes to protecting the rights of indi-
viduals from their own voluntary actions? The
pace of technological change is so rapid that
legislatures can’t keep up. What are the major weaknesses of Internet data law?
Heckmann: The Data Protection Act assumes
a right of informational self-determination,
but it doesn’t really fully address personal data
protection or private autonomy. On the one
hand, the law is designed to protect citizens
from unauthorized or undesired use of their
data. At the same time, it would actually have
to restrict an individual’s freedom of action to-
day in order to provide this protection —
which of course would be considered contrary
to the concept of freedom in this age of infor-
mation and the Internet. This dilemma is cur-
rently resolved by having Internet users ap-
prove the processing of their data, but such
authorization is in the form of incredibly long
legal explanations that are routinely “agreed
to” as quickly as possible with the click of a
mouse. That’s not self-determination.
In your opinion, how should data protection be managed? Heckmann: An interesting alternative is of-
fered by technical data protection “embedded”
in various applications — for example, in
WLAN routers, social networks, and intelligent
applications like smart electricity meters, all of
which users can alter and adjust over time.
This type of “protection ex-works” has been
under development for some time both in Ger-
many and at the European level. The Smart
Privacy Wheel, which I worked on, offers one
example. This “control wheel” consists of nu-
merous intelligent data protection measures
that don’t place unnecessary burdens on on-
line providers and users. That’s good because
many users aren’t very IT-savvy and are often
unable to take security precautions them-
selves. Can such data protection measures serve
as a bulwark against dubious providers or
data thieves?
Heckmann: No — the model is designed to
reconcile the interests of legitimate and useful
content and applications on the Internet. We
do in fact face a dilemma when it comes to
fighting computer crime. Citizens complain
that the government is monitoring their online
activities, but those very same individuals de-
mand protection from fraud and misuse of
personal data. In my opinion, all of us — by
which I mean users and legislators — need to
have an open debate relatively free of ideolo-
gy if we want to be able to implement suitable
measures. The first thing we have to do is find
out what types of conflicts of interest exist.
Only after we do this will we be able to estab-
lish scales and standards for distributing liabili-
ty and a system of data security geared toward
the Internet. Today’s inflexible laws are com-
pletely insufficient for this. Are efforts being made to create interna-
tional standards for Internet law? After
all, many of the servers we access are at
distant locations around the globe.
Heckmann: If we can’t even agree on the
rules of behavior and value standards on the
national level, how are we going to do it inter-
nationally? Along with EU-wide harmonization
of regulations like those for consumer protec-
tion, we also have trade agreements and inter-
national privacy laws — but these are relative-
ly ineffective means of protection given the
anonymity and elusiveness of some types of
Internet activity. Certain legal positions simply
can’t be implemented, especially since the le-
gal framework varies in many nations, above
all in non-European countries, and some activ-
ities prohibited here aren’t even illegal abroad.
In any case, it will be difficult to reach perti-
nent agreements in the near future. If the legal situation is still vague, what
options do users have to protect their privacy on the Internet?
Heckmann: Many technical possibilities al-
ready exist today — like firewalls. The impor-
tant thing now is to raise awareness of the is-
sue. Every Internet user needs to have an
understanding of the potential consequences
of his or her online behavior, and users also
have to know which type of information they
want to reveal. This all starts with Facebook
and the question of who may access the pri-
vate data provided to such a site. The circle
here also usually includes “Friends of Friends,”
which basically means the entire world, given
today’s very extensive networking. Another
problem involves the lack of knowledge con-
cerning technical interconnections. For exam-
ple, do people actually know what will happen
when they click on a certain item? We live in a
plug&play society whose members believe
that all they have to do is flip on a computer,
and everything will then take care of itself au-
tomatically. We do double clicks or download
an app from the App Store — and we don’t
even know what that actually means in terms
of our data. Everything’s done fast and simply
and without questions — it’s a human weak-
ness that harbors risks.
Collective intelligence involves generat-
ing new knowledge from existing data by
creating links and identifying connec-
tions. Who does the new knowledge thus
obtained belong to — who has the rights
to it, and how are they allowed to use it?
Heckmann: The right to use the ideas and
material benefits gained through this knowl-
edge initially belongs to those who created it.
However, one must also understand that there
are certain types of information whose use
serves the common good and whose genera-
tion is financed with taxpayers’ money —
through publicly funded research, for exam-
ple. In this case, it’s legitimate to restrict the
commercial use of such information by third
parties and instead make the knowledge avail-
able for free on the Internet. There are also
other areas where government support of sci-
ence and culture can place restrictions on the
scope and reach of copyright law.
Is there a danger that the inflexible laws
you mentioned might inhibit — or even
prevent — the development of new tech-
nical innovations?
Heckmann: Yes, there’s definitely a danger
that this could happen. Already today, imple-
mentation of many innovations is made more
difficult by unnecessary legal requirements.
Take smart meters for electricity, which are an
important element of the smart grid. Siemens
is very much involved in both research areas.
Smart metering enables you to measure not
only how much electricity customers use each
month overall, but also how many kilowatt-
hours they consume on specific days and at
specific times. The benefits are obvious: Sup-
pliers can ease the burden on their power net-
works by offering different electricity rates for
different times of the day, while consumers
can save money by adjusting their consump-
tion habits. It’s a win-win situation — but it of-
ten never goes beyond the pilot project stage
due to current data protection laws. That’s re-
grettable because you can in fact use smart
privacy management measures to prevent
consumers from becoming transparent, while
allowing people to enjoy the benefits of the
innovation. This example makes it clear that
laws need to be adjusted somewhat to corre-
spond to the true interests of governments,
businesses, and users. Legislation shouldn’t be
allowed to prevent innovation as long as such
innovation doesn’t call into question the basic
legal consensus in our society.
Interview conducted by Sebastian Webel.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 103
Collective Intelligence | Interview
Data: Where is it? Who Owns it? And Who Can See it?
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 105
Collective Intelligence | IT Security
The Stuxnet attack clearly showed that industrial facilities and infrastructure can be targeted by
hackers. Siemens is developing strategies to address new threats from the Internet. Among other
things, the company plans to make security updates available to customers more quickly.
More and more industrial facilities can now be remotely monitored and controlled. But the more
open the software design is and the larger the number of interfaces involved, the greater the risk of intrusion.
O
n July 15, 2010, Siemens received infor-
mation about a new computer virus — a
trojan that seemed to target only Windows
computers. The trojan is activated only when it
discovers Siemens Simatic automation soft-
ware. Just one week later, Siemens released a
program that removes the trojan, and at the
beginning of August Microsoft repaired the se-
curity flaws in its Windows operating system
that had made virus access possible. By the
end of 2010, 24 Siemens customers from in-
dustries around the world had reported the
presence of the trojan. In each case, the mal-
ware was removed without affecting the au-
tomation solutions involved.
Still, IT experts were alarmed. “Stuxnet
marked the first time that malware was used
to directly attack production processes,” says
Johann Fichtner, head of Siemens CERT (Cyber
Emergency Readiness Team), a group of ex-
perts who support the company’s business
units in warding off hacker attacks. Stuxnet
A Step Ahead of Intruders
seems to have been developed over several
months by professionals who put a huge
amount of effort into their undertaking. Spec-
ulation has suggested that the trojan may have
been programmed for the sole purpose of de-
stroying centrifuges at the Natanz uranium en-
richment facility in Iran. However, very few
people know what really happened. Nonethe-
less, the incident raises the possibility of all
kinds of different threats. After all, trojans that
smuggle malware could cripple entire infra-
structures by interrupting processes in power
plants, production facilities, and traffic guid-
ance systems. Fichtner wasn’t really surprised by the
Stuxnet attack, as the possibility of such an in-
cident had long been proven in labs. Still,
many specialists had hoped that the firewalls
between public and internal networks would
block any attack from the Internet. It should be
pointed out, however, that the Stuxnet mal-
ware didn’t just come from the Internet; it was
also spread through the insertion of an infect-
ed USB stick. “An attack like that could theoret-
ically endanger millions of facilities,” Fichtner
warns. There are differences, though. The at-
tackers’ motives can vary from industrial espi-
onage to sabotage. But whether the issue is
dealing with attempted data manipulation, a
virus, or a trojan, industry must be ready to
face every threat known to the IT world.
Access to Production Data. In general, sev-
eral trends in industrial automation are now
playing into the hands of hackers. First of all,
the strict separation between the office world
and the industrial realm in which machines
and facilities are controlled by special software
is increasingly being watered down — both in
a physical and a software sense. That’s be-
cause plant operators want to be able to re-
motely monitor and control their facilities, and
business units are demanding access to pro-
duction data so that they can, for example,
104 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
T
he Internet is an extremely intricate and far-reach-
ing infrastructure. It’s much more than just a com-
munication medium or a source of information. Global
cooperation between companies is increasingly being
carried out via data networks as well. To get an idea of
how important this can be, consider that around 100
companies in six countries are involved in manufactur-
ing 70 to 80 percent of the parts in Boeing’s 787 Dream-
liner. According to a recent study conducted by market
experts at IDC, global data volume is set to increase
from 1.2 zettabytes today to 35 zettabytes (10
21
= bil-
lion terabytes) in 2020. That figure corresponds to two
piles of DVDs stretching from the earth to the moon. Around 75 percent of these 35 zettabytes will be
copies of original data and files, so there will be great
opportunity to save costs through compression tech-
niques and a reduction of multiple storage operations,
say IDC analysts. Experts believe cloud computing (see
p.109) will be a key aspect of the future digital world,
with over 34 percent of all data worldwide expected to
be stored via cloud services in the next few years. Cloud
computing offers services such as the provision of stor-
age capacities, programming, and analyses on external
computers, all of which are billed according to actual
use. As a result, companies will no longer have to pay
for the procurement, operation, and maintenance of
servers, software, and data storage systems, which
should significantly increase their flexibility. A new study from the Gartner market research and
consulting firm predicts that the global market volume
for cloud services will more than double between now
and 2014, from $68.3 billion today to $148.8 billion.
Last year cloud service providers in the U.S. accounted
for 58 percent of worldwide income in the sector. The
second-biggest market is western Europe (23.8 per-
cent), followed by Japan (10 percent). Millions of private
consumers and small companies already access IT serv-
ices from the cloud, including e-mails, office applica-
tions, storage capacity, and social networks. Medium-sized companies in particular are big users
of cloud-based services, according to another IDC study,
which surveyed 1,500 firms in 87 countries. A total of
41 percent of medium-sized companies in Latin America
now get services from the cloud; the figure in Asia is 35
percent, while in Europe only 19 percent utilize such
services. Larger companies are in many cases still con-
cerned about data and access security and compliance
with legal stipulations. However, they could be saving a
lot of money with cloud services. In Germany alone,
such savings could total around €38 billion over five
years, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Cen-
tre for Economics and Business Research. Social networks such as Facebook and Xing and mi-
cro-blogging applications like Twitter are also very im-
portant elements of global networking. Facebook, for
example, had some 647 million users worldwide at the
end of 2010. More than 40 percent of all Internet users
in the U.S. are on Facebook, compared to only one per-
cent in India. The figure for Brazil is just under three per-
cent. China had 700,000 Facebook users at the begin-
ning of 2011; Russia had approximately 1.6 million. The
Russians and Chinese tend to use their own countries’
networks, such as VKontakte in Russia, which has more
than 86 million users, and QZone and Renren in China
(390 million and 160 million, respectively). Social networks are also changing communication
habits at companies, where they are being used as inter-
nal platforms or for contact with customers and part-
ners. More and more companies are presenting them-
selves on virtual platforms, through which they monitor
statements about their products and brands, engage in
discussions, and search for new trends and new employ-
ees. So instead of being exposed to one-sided ads, con-
sumers themselves can now communicate with and
comment on companies. Experts at Gartner consider the new communication
channels offered by Web 2.0 to be groundbreaking tech-
nology trends. One such trend is collective intelligence,
which Gartner defines as the voluntary and free-of-
charge creation of intellectual content by a large num-
ber of individuals. Wikis were among the first platforms
for collective intelligence, as their content can not only
be viewed by users but also altered online directly in
browsers.Sylvia Trage
Collective Intelligence | Facts and Forecasts
Cloud Services and Social Networks:
Explosive Corporate Growth in Usage
2010 1.1
1.9 (+70%)
3.1 (+60%)
4.5 (+45%)
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
0
2007 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12 2013
Year
In billions of euros in Germany
in billions of US dollars Which of the following Web 2.0 tools are
already being used at your company?
Wikis
75%
46%
46%
Blogs/Chats/Forums
76%
39%
45%
Social networks
60%
49%
74%
Instant messaging/Voice over IP
(e.g. Skype, MSN, iChat)
43%
45%
61%
RSS feeds
47%
29%
36%
Collaboration platforms (e.g. Sharepoint, Lotus Connection)
62%
39%
30%
Social media software suites (e.g. Jive)
13%
7%
11%
Large companies > 10,000 employees
Small companies < 100 employees
Social networks
RSS/widgets/podcasts/
mashups
Blogs/wikis
6.5 (+45%)
8.2 (+25%)
Source: BITCOM, ExpertonSource: Gartner
Source: Forester Research Inc. 2008
Source: Defacto Research & Consulting
Middle East
and Africa 1.2
Japan 12
North America 50
Asia/Pacific 3
Latin America 2
Western Europe 29
Eastern Europe 2.8
2014
0.4
0.8
1.2
1.6
2.0
in percent
Sales of Cloud-Based Services
Use of Cloud-Based Services
Investment in
Web 2.0 (firms) Use of Wikis and Blogs in
Work Environments
Midsized companies 100 — 10,000 empl.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 107
Collective Intelligence | Social Media
Many people can no longer imagine life without Wikipedia,
Amazon, Facebook, etc. But Web 2.0 is also changing the culture of work. Siemens uses a variety of social media to accelerate innovation and problem-solving processes.
Social networks can improve cooperation in international teams. Such networks help to bridge distances and cultural differences.
Enterprise 2.0
A surprise comes the next morning, when
Gammie discovers e-mail messages sent by 23
colleagues from Germany, India, and the U.S.
As a result, he is able to type up five firm solu-
tion proposals in just two days, and he eventu-
ally gets the order. Companies wishing to move innovations
forward more quickly need to enhance their
networking capabilities. That’s why global IT
giants like Google, IBM, Apple, and Microsoft
have been employing a social networking ap-
proach for many years now. In order to gather
new ideas, IBM gets thousands of employees
worldwide involved in online brainstorming
jam sessions. A study conducted by the McKin-
sey consulting firm found that most of the
more than 3,000 companies surveyed derive
an economic benefit from social media. In fact,
18 percent reported that the use of such media
led to higher revenues. Five years ago Siemens became one of the
first companies listed on the German DAX in-
dex to begin using Web 2.0 instruments in a
targeted manner by establishing an internal
wiki service, employee blogs, and departmen-
tal forums, all of which have led to more rapid
sharing of knowledge (see Pictures of the Fu-
ture, Spring 2010, pp. 84–113). Siemens’
“Technoweb” forum, for example, allows any-
one, from developers to office workers, to post
complex technical questions or obtain simple
operational assistance. The forum’s approxi-
mately 9,000 registered users discuss various
issues in some 850 theme groups. As a result,
the forum has accelerated work processes. The “Urgent Request” function Alistair Gam-
mie used is particularly useful. Here, a request
for help is issued with just a click, as opposed
to having to comb databases for hours, access
search engines, or make phone calls. The ques-
tion is assigned to a targeted category and for-
warded as an e-mail to all Technoweb users in-
terested in the subject area, so it’s exposed to a
far greater range of specialists than one’s own
circle of personal contacts. In other words, the
knowledge of specialists from the farthest cor-
ners of the organization can be called upon to
help with a problem. Top Knowledge Management. “Collective
intelligence can be used efficiently with the
help of social media, which also enable Group-
wide employee interaction,” says Dr. Manfred
Langen, who has been involved in knowledge
management issues at Siemens for 12 years.
The company’s social media have boosted in-
novation capability as well. Since 2001
Siemens has been a finalist eight times in the
rankings for “The European Most Admired
Knowledge Enterprises” (most recently in
2010) and has received an award for the best
knowledge management system in Europe.
Globally distributed research and develop-
ment, short-term project partnerships, and in-
creasing process and product complexity make
efficient knowledge filtering a must. But com-
panies often lack intelligent methods for struc-
turing data flows. For example, how can you
find the right experts for solving a specific
106 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
make seamless cost calculations. As a result,
more and more facilities are being linked to the
Internet and also being indirectly controlled by
common office operating systems. Experts
therefore now face a dilemma. “Customers
want us to base our applications on open stan-
dards, and of course we need to meet this de-
mand,” says Georg Trummer, who is responsi-
ble for IT Security at Siemens Automation.
“However, this exposes us to the types of secu-
rity problems every PC user is familiar with.” There’s also another development that indi-
cates we can expect to see more attacks in the
future, and that is that cyber-invasions are be-
coming more specifically targeted. In the past,
virus attacks were like buckshot from a shot-
gun. Hackers targeted the largest number of
computers possible on the Internet and hoped
they would hit a security gap somewhere. To-
day cyber-criminals are more sophisticated.
They send their malware to only a few comput-
ers with critical security functions, usually for
the purpose of industrial espionage. This
means viruses and trojans remain undetected
for a long time and can do a lot of damage be-
fore they’re caught by anti-virus programs. Office and industrial IT systems are merging
rapidly in a trend that is irreversible. Unfortu-
nately, in many cases awareness of potential
threats and the implementation of appropriate
measures to counteract them are not increas-
ing at the same pace. In the aftermath of the
Stuxnet attack, Siemens experts analyzed the
facilities that had been infected, including one
in East Asia. “We found not only Stuxnet but
also many other viruses and trojans,” Trummer
reports. This indicates that security measures
at these sites were inadequate. Specialists also
found a telephone line that allowed dial-in ac-
cess to a security-critical facility they exam-
ined. Amazingly, some companies choose not
to use passwords to control IT access to their
facilities. “You simply can’t do that,” says Trum-
mer. Constant State of Alert. Siemens also has to
keep its own people constantly alert to IT secu-
rity. CERT has taught hundreds of Siemens
software developers the principles of secure
programming in order to prevent program-
ming practices that could open a gateway to
hackers. CERT experts put a high priority on
the strict separation of program codes and
data. Hackers can easily remove password
prompts from naively programmed software,
for example — exactly the kind of mistake that
CERT training seeks to eliminate. In another measure, software providers are
now regularly providing updates for critical
services such as plant controls. However, oper-
ators of industrial facilities are generally reluc-
tant to use updates because they fear that op-
erations could be disturbed. So although there
are a large number of Windows updates out
there, only a few actually end up in the PCs
used at industrial plants, and if they are in fact
downloaded, it’s usually months — or even
years — after they became available. “We need to find a solution to ensure that
security updates are introduced more quickly
in the future,” says Fichtner. In any case, CERT
experts are increasingly being brought in as
consultants during the software development
phase, rather than being contacted only when
a problem arises. The challenges faced by security experts
will increase further as complex networked
systems like smart grids become the norm.
Collective intelligence will be required to make
the decentralized power grids of the future as
effective as they need to be. However, such
systems presuppose a certain amount of trust
on the part of the people involved. Completely
new types of risks are conceivable in this area.
Consider the following example: A homeown-
er who has a photovoltaic unit on the roof
could manipulate his smart meter to show that
he has fed more power into the grid than is ac-
tually the case. Preventing such fraud would
necessitate an intelligent detection system.
The smart grid is like an organism that needs
to be given an immune system, says Fichtner.
“After all, the human body doesn’t trust every-
thing that’s swimming around in its blood ei-
ther,” he says. Bernd Müller
Johann Fichtner (top, second from left) and his team exclude the possibility of security
flaws when they program their software.
A
listair Gammie, the Senior Director for Di-
agnostics Solutions at Siemens in Swin-
don, UK, is on the verge of landing a multimil-
lion euro order for diagnostic labs from a
Brazilian customer. That’s because during a vis-
it to one of the customer’s labs Gammie dis-
covered a problem in the barcode reading sys-
tem. He doesn’t have a solution that could seal
the deal, however — not yet, at least. Before
he shuts down his computer in the evening,
Gammie describes his problem in a post to the
company’s internal forum. Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 109
Collective Intelligence | Cloud Computing
Memory capacity, computing power, and software are migrating from computers to the network. Cloud computing is one of the biggest trends in the information technology
sector, and many Siemens business — and their customers —can profit from this development.
Cloud computing makes it possible to provide software as a service. As a result, future IT services
will be as easy to invoice as electricity or water is
today — on the basis of consumption.
I
f one had to pick a buzzword for the IT sector
in 2010, it would be “cloud computing.” The
cloud, which signifies the abstraction of IT in-
frastructure components such as computers,
databases, and networks, is increasingly be-
coming a home for hardware and software.
Many companies are now discovering what pi-
oneers like Google and Amazon have been of-
fering for years — cloud-based e-mail pro-
grams, storage capacity for photos and music,
and computing capacity. These companies
now market IT products and services on and
through the network. Siemens too uses cloud
computing for its businesses and customers,
and a team at Siemens Corporate Technology
(CT) has been addressing the topic at a special
center of expertise since January 2011. The term “cloud” originates from an early
phase of the Internet. Back in 1960, American
computer pioneer and artificial intelligence
specialist John McCarthy made the following
prediction: “We will someday access comput-
ing power the same way we obtain water or
When the Sky’s the Limit
electricity today.” However, it wasn’t until the
PC revolution and the advent of the Internet
that the right conditions for the cloud were
available. Things really began moving when In-
ternet bookseller Amazon decided to modern-
ize its data center following the bursting of the
dot-com bubble. At that point, the company
— like many others — discovered that only a
fraction of its computing capacity was actually
being used most of the time. IT specialists at Amazon then decided to uti-
lize emerging Web-service and virtualization
technology to make the company’s IT re-
sources available in a flexible and efficient
manner. This worked out so well that the com-
pany then launched its own Amazon Web
Services on the market, offering, among other
things, computing capacity that could be rent-
ed at extremely short notice.
Different Clouds for Different Crowds. Ex-
perts distinguish between three forms of cloud
computing. The first is known as “Software as
a Service” (SaaS) — i.e. accessing software via
the network. In this setup, programs are not
stored on a customer’s computer but instead
called up on an as-needed basis. For example,
a heating company technician can use a tablet
computer to access the latest maintenance
program on site at any time. A company could
also make print drivers available on the Web,
thereby allowing smartphone users to print on
the go. The second form of cloud computing is
called “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS),
which, as the name suggests, involves renting
computing power in the form of virtual hard-
ware — like the type of service Amazon offers.
Finally, there’s “Platform as a Service” (PaaS).
Here, customers can access common develop-
ment and operating system platforms. Put sim-
ply, PaaS can be viewed as an operating sys-
tem for an entire computer center that itself is
also able to communicate with other computer
centers.
Cloud-related hardware and software serv-
ices don’t have to be distributed across the en-
108 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
problem, so as to avoid flooding the e-mail ac-
counts of all employees with your query?
Siemens is working on a “Technology Atlas”
that semantically links related terms and tech-
nologies. Still, the perfect solution continues
to elude even the service providers who work
exclusively on the automatic generation of on-
tologies and the semantic modeling of infor-
mation flows.
Open Innovation. Online communities are
nevertheless a tried and tested instrument for
avoiding knowledge silos. These communities
can inspire product developments and safe-
guard competitive advantages. “Social media
are important for getting ideas to market more
rapidly,” says Dr. Thomas Lackner, who is re-
sponsible for Open Innovation at Siemens.
“The consolidated knowledge of individual em-
ployees and the different perspectives they
bring to the table are important drivers.” A key
goal here is the strategic utilization of employ-
ee expertise that has not yet been shared and
the external knowledge of partners. being prepared for market launch. Patent situ-
ations are being examined, project strategies
developed, and business plans drawn up. Younger employees in particular are very
familiar with social networks like Facebook,
Xing, etc., which they don’t just use to discuss
private affairs. In fact, more than 20,000
Siemens employees also talk about Group top-
ics in their networks. This, of course, poses a
danger that internal information might be
passed on. Even an offhand comment might
end up being read by the entire community —
but Siemens prefers to rely on its employees’
sense of responsibility in this regard.
The advantages offered by the internal blo-
gosphere in particular are clear. Employees can
discuss current issues in real time whenever
they want, share their expertise, or set up their
own blogs. Some 6,000
employees are particularly
active in this manner and
offer interesting content
with their event, man-
agers’, and experts’ blogs.
three different locations happen to be ponder-
ing similar problems, the wiki network will
quickly reveal this to be the case. Virtual teams
in the Group-wide wikisphere jointly compose
articles and expand the Siemens glossary.
There are also 70 specific wiki forums that are
used for everyday problem-solving and can
help to permanently improve work processes,
products, and services, for example. The Metals & Mining unit has a wiki forum
for service technicians that contains listings for
220 mines, rolling mills, and pits from Malaysia
to Bolivia. Engineers can use its digital world
atlas to zero in on individual locations, each of
which displays site-specific historical, geo-
graphic, and technical information. The latest
news from the sites can also be viewed — e.g.
which technicians are working there and what
types of measurements, repairs, or software
conversions they’ve carried out, including all
pertinent reports, photos, and charts. This wiki forum also provides information
on visa formalities and the fastest routes to
destinations, thus facilitating the work of tech-
nicians who travel frequently. One can find
out, for example, that a particular Bolivian sil-
ver mine lies at an altitude of about 4,000 me-
ters in the Andes and that the site can only be
reached by private Jeep via Calama, Chile, or
with a propeller plane from La Paz, Bolivia.
Such information is very helpful because it can
cost a company millions if such a facility re-
mains shut down for even 24 hours. Wiki information significantly speeds up
processes. For example, today 20 percent of
companies in the U.S. and Europe use blogs or
wikis and other forums. The buzzword here is
Enterprise 2.0 — and it’s leading to the forma-
tion of a new corporate culture that’s changing
the way we work. “In ten years social media
will have completely replaced e-mails,” pre-
dicts communication expert Helmut Lehner. According to a study conducted by McKin-
sey, two thirds of the companies surveyed plan
to invest in social media instruments because
they believe a shift to Enterprise 2.0 will give
them a vital competitive edge. Forrester, a
market research institute, estimates that cor-
porate investment in Web 2.0 instruments
worldwide will increase tenfold to $4.6 billion
by 2013. The challenge is to logically integrate
social media into company strategies and con-
cepts. For Alistair Gammie, meanwhile, using
Web 2.0 has already paid off. Silke Weber
One way to go about this is to stage compe-
titions such as the “Siemens Sustainability Idea
Contest” — a platform made available globally
for eight weeks that allowed employees to
submit ideas online. The community employed
a star-rating principle like the one used by
Amazon to filter out the best ideas from the
850 proposals submitted for sustainable prod-
ucts and energy-saving concepts. Bernhard Lang, a Siemens researcher in
Russia, won the competition with his idea for
“smart levees” — a monitoring system that
uses sensors to predict the stability of a dike
down to the last meter. Lang’s innovation is
now being operated at a test levee in
Eemshaven, Netherlands (see Pictures of the
Future, Fall 2010, p. 68). Other ideas are now
“With their open communication culture, blogs
can lead to better awareness of developments
at the company and more extensive sharing of
knowledge and experience,” says Helmut
Lehner, a Community Manager for the blogos-
phere and wikisphere at Siemens. Moreover,
because they’re embedded in the intranet,
these networks are less exposed to Web crimi-
nals, and the intellectual property they harbor
remains within the company.
Working in the Wikisphere. Social media
can offer a lot to internationally operating
companies in particular. In addition to lower-
ing communication costs, they foster coopera-
tion in global teams and help to avoid project
redundancies. For example, if three teams at
Corporate investment in Web 2.0 instruments worldwide is expected to
increase tenfold by 2013.
Siemens researcher Bernhard Lang had an idea for levee sensors that won a company-wide competition.
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 111
has been working closely with Microsoft,
whose Azure platform is being used for the
system. “Companies can significantly reduce
the cost of their own infrastructure and sup-
port if they opt for Windows Azure and take
advantage of the opportunities offered by
cloud computing,” says Sanjay Ravi, who is re-
sponsible for high-tech and electronics indus-
tries worldwide at Microsoft. Embedding applications into the Web also
makes it possible to continually update them.
“Up until now, Siemens has maintained com-
puter centers around the world to manage
software distribution,” says Käfer. “This re-
quires buildings, IT and data security infra-
structures, and people to run and monitor
everything. All of this ultimately costs a lot of
money, and these costs are transferred to the
customer.” Siemens is therefore now looking
into possibilities for using cloud computing
centers for its worldwide software distribution.
In an initial pilot project with Microsoft com-
puter centers, IT capacity is being rented only
when a software update is actually needed. This results in both lower costs and greater
flexibility — which are among the key benefits
offered by cloud computing. In this case, the
benefit is enjoyed by both Siemens as the soft-
ware provider and by its customers. Using the
cloud for other applications such as X-ray im-
age processing means that customers no
longer have to purchase an expensive data
processing infrastructure but instead only pay
each time they need a patient diagnosis. Cloud
solutions are also flexible — i.e. it makes no
difference whether a clinic only needs one CT
scan diagnosis on a single day or ten.
Reliable Security. One of the biggest techno-
logical challenges facing cloud computing in-
volves keeping costs low even as services be-
come more complex in the future. The fact
that microchip performance might increase
500-fold over the next 20 years does nothing
to solve the problem, since the chips will still
need the infrastructure that allows them to
communicate in order to ensure that their data
is continually updated. “Even if you were able
to store and process all the data in the world at
a certain point in time on a smartphone, it still
wouldn’t be enough,” says Käfer. That’s be-
cause up-to-date and globally available infor-
mation is becoming more and more impor-
tant, and such information requires a scalable
and efficient infrastructure. It’s a little like cars
and roads — even a Ferrari won’t get very far
on a rough farm trail. The cloud can thus also
be imagined as a type of road network that in-
cludes highways and refueling stations.
And what about securi-
ty? Just how well protected
are important company
documents if they’re
stored on the Web or on
computers in a public
cloud that more or less the
whole world can potential-
ly access? And what happens if they get lost —
or if a server is hacked? “Above all, how can
you guarantee data protection when you re-
lease sensitive data to third parties?” asks
gentschen Felde, who is convinced that large
companies are still hesitating to enter the
cloud due to such data security concerns. “Se-
curity considerations usually bring together
factors such as legal stipulations on data pro-
tection, adherence to domain standards, and
technical security measures,” says Käfer. A more difficult task, according to Käfer, in-
volves meeting the data protection guidelines
for service providers in the event that such
firms manage the personal data of other com-
panies, or if different types of certifications
need to be carried out. Käfer believes it’s “good
that there’s a lively debate on cloud computing
security” because it increases awareness of the
issue among both service providers and con-
sumers. “That’s the only way essential evolu-
tionary developments will be carried out,” he
says. Legally speaking, similar security require-
ments already exist for diverse Web applica-
tions and for cloud computing. “Many compa-
nies have been outsourcing and offshoring for
quite some time, and customers remain satis-
fied even though they’re not aware of it,” Käfer
explains. “Nevertheless, many companies will only
use private clouds for their initial cloud com-
puting because a lot of legal gray areas remain
in the public cloud, and companies first need
to gain the associated knowledge and experi-
ence,” Käfer says. However, he is convinced
that current concerns won’t stop the trend. Statistics on growth in the cloud computing
sector indicate that Käfer’s prediction is cor-
rect. Although forecasts differ, analysts gener-
ally agree that cloud computing is heading for
a boom. According to a study that was con-
ducted by the Experton Group, revenues of
€1.1 billion were generated with cloud com-
puting in Germany alone in 2010, and this fig-
ure is expected to increase to more than €8 bil-
lion by 2015. The question that arises here is:
Does cloud computing represent a technology
leap similar to the one that occurred when PCs
entered the working world? This, at least, is the
prediction made by Achim Berg, former presi-
dent of Microsoft Germany and now head of
Microsoft’s global cell phone business. We’ll
still have to wait some time to find out
whether Berg’s prediction is right — at least
until the current euphoria settles down. Still,
Käfer is convinced that “cloud computing will
permanently change the IT world, even if the
trend might be given a new name three years
down the line.” Jeanne Rubner
In the future, cloud computing will
make it possible to access IT services
as easily as electricity and water. Diagnostic systems based on advanced IT provide doctors with precise analyses of CT scan images in just minutes via the network, thereby saving money and time.
110 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
tire Web or be accessible to everyone. In other
words, there are both “public clouds” and “pri-
vate clouds” (see illustration below). The latter
is a closed private network that uses the same
technology as a public cloud, but for legal rea-
sons only a certain group of customers may
have access to it. The two architectures can be
combined into a so-called hybrid cloud that al-
lows the benefits of both to be exploited —
more specifically, efficiency and worldwide ac-
cessibility on the one hand and the highest lev-
els of security on the other. In cases where cus-
tomer data needs to be processed in complex
simulations, data storage can be handled by a
private cloud while calculations are carried out
in a public one.
“Put simply, cloud computing provides a
business model for making IT services available
via the network,” says Nils gentschen Felde, a
computer scientist and network expert in the
Munich Network Management Team at Lud-
wig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Dr. Ger-
ald Käfer, an electrical engineer who is the di-
rector of the Siemens Cloud Computing
Competence Center, says that what may sound
mundane is actually a real innovation: “Cloud
computing offers a new technological founda-
tion for providing software as a service. It’s
therefore possible that we will access IT servic-
es in the future as easily as we get electricity
and water today — including billing on the ba-
sis of consumption.” Siemens has brought together all of its
cloud activities at its Competence Center so as
to be able to advise individual company Sec-
tors on which applications they might be able
to offer cloud computing for. Conversely, the
Center also communicates with strategic
providers regarding what Siemens expects
from future industrial cloud services as a cus-
tomer. In addition, CT has a core team of cloud
specialists who call in other Siemens experts
when they are needed. “In a certain sense, we
ourselves work in a cloud,” Käfer jokes. The
benefit here, of course, is the ability to tap into
a huge pool of resources and always remain
up-to-date on the latest developments.
Remote Diagnostics. In the future, the most
impressive examples of the advantages of
cloud computing could be offered by medical
image-processing applications and remote di-
agnostics. Here’s a scenario. Let’s say a patient
is sent to a hospital because a doctor believes
he or she may have a lung tumor. The patient
is immediately given a CT scan. IT-based sys-
tems can then automatically process and eval-
uate the images, leading to an increased prob-
ability of a rapid and reliable diagnosis. Often,
however, small hospitals do not have such sys-
tems because of their relatively high cost. But in the future, physicians at such clinics
may be able to purchase diagnostic systems as
a cloud computing service. In this model, CT
images are made anonymous and then sent in
encrypted form to a Siemens service center,
where they are evaluated automatically. The
patient’s attending physician would then re-
ceive a diagnosis within a few minutes. Welding robots in automotive plants are an-
other example. PLM Software, a Siemens sub-
sidiary with headquarters in Plano, Texas, of-
fers a program for monitoring the quality of
robot operations by continually recording and
analyzing data on vehicle bodies and weld
spots. The program generates a report that ei-
ther confirms a robot’s — and thus the prod-
uct’s — quality or informs the plant manage-
ment that the robot needs to be serviced or
replaced. However, the huge amount of data
involved makes this type of monitoring ex-
tremely complex and expensive — which is
why PLM Software has been working on a
cloud-based solution for smaller production
lines since the summer of 2010. The company
Cloud Computing: A Variety of Patterns
Traditional IT
At one’s own company
On demand
Provider 1…n
Private cloud
Virtual
private cloud
Public
cloud
Applications as a service
Integration,
databases,
computing time
Virtualization
Memory
Computing in a network
SaaS Software as a Service
PaaS Platform as a Service
IaaS Infrastructure as a Service
Siemens’ Cloud Computing Competence Center combines all of the company’s cloud activities. Its experts are developing new industrial cloud services.
112 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Collective Intelligence | Interview
Prof. Gerhard Weikum
(53) is a Director at the Max
Planck Institute for Comput-
er Science in Saarbrücken,
where he heads the Data-
bases and Information Systems department. His
previous employers include
the Swiss Federal Institute
of Technology (ETH Zurich).
His special field of interest is
the automated and intelli-
gent search for information
in data systems and the
World Wide Web. Weikum is
one of the world’s leading
researchers regarding the
utilization of statistical
methods to facilitate the efficient and targeted use of
the knowledge scattered
throughout the Internet.
Weikum, who refers to his mathematical search procedures simply as
“knowledge harvesters,”
works with Siemens in training doctoral candidates. Melding Soft Data and Machine Intelligence Your vision is to bring order to the knowl-
edge that is scattered throughout the In-
ternet and make it available to everyone.
One of the search programs you’ve devel-
oped is called NAGA — “Not another
Google answer.” What’s wrong with
Google answers?
Weikum:
Search engines such as Google are
great; there’s no doubt about it. But they’re
still comparatively dumb, because they’re un-
able to answer complex questions. Let’s say
your question is “Which famous scientist sur-
vived his four children?” To answer a question
like that, the best search engines will supply
you with thousands of websites containing
the words “scientist” and “children,” but the
correct answer is Max Planck. In other words,
such engines only provide a fraction of the
knowledge that is available in the Internet.
Can your software do more?
Weikum:
It would certainly be able to identify
Max Planck. It establishes logical, semantic
connections between concepts, and it can un-
derstand the context. But regarding knowl-
edge in the Internet, there are much more ex-
citing issues than search engines. Take the
question of how best to exploit the knowledge
of the many millions of people who use the In-
ternet. How can we harvest the implicit hu-
man knowledge that is to be found in blogs,
Internet forums, and other kinds of websites?
In other words, how can we best tap the
collective intelligence of the Web?
Weikum:
Collective intelligence is something
of a myth. Why should one million non-ex-
perts know more than one expert? If a bunch
of non-experts write a heap of nonsense,
there’s no reason why that should add up to
the truth. For a long time, search engines fed
with the terms “Barack Obama” and “country
of origin” came up with the answer “Kenya,”
simply because there had been lots of specula-
tion in the Internet that President Obama was
not a U.S. citizen. The challenge is therefore to
separate the wheat from the chaff and filter
out the vagueness and untruths from the in-
formation available in the Internet. Distilling
that information to produce collective knowl-
edge only makes sense if you stick to high-
quality sources. Machine systems have an ad-
vantage here in that sensors don’t lie. So in
the case of such systems, it really is true, sta-
tistically speaking, that the sum of all the
items of information is more reliable than the
best single item.
Is collective intelligence therefore easier
to achieve in the machine world?
Weikum:
That’s difficult to say. It’s just a dif-
ferent kind of problem, that’s all. Just because
thousands of sensors are supplying data, that
doesn’t mean the system is intelligent. The im-
portant thing is what you do with the data.
Equipping all the consumers in the power grid
with intelligent sensor systems would produce
a level of networking that has never been
achieved before. But that would not be intelli-
gent per se. How can we develop an intelligent overall system?
Weikum:
The main task we will face in the fu-
ture is to make machine systems so fast and so
intelligent that they can react to change in real
time. The biggest challenge here is to ensure
that a system possesses sufficient dynamism
to be able to adjust to a new situation instan-
taneously. That requires an enormous amount
of computing power. It would be a bit like cars
being equipped with ice sensors that could is-
sue warnings in real time about which sec-
tions of the road are dangerous, so that other
cars can then be diverted onto alternative
routes. A smart power grid could react in a
similar way to fluctuations in demand or in
generating capacity. But even then, you’re still
going to push up against physical limits at
some point or other. Events such as black ice
or a downed transmission line can throw the
whole system out of kilter. I suspect that a sys-
tem is genuinely intelligent only if it also
knows what to do in such exceptional circum-
stances.
Are you saying that we need rapid adaptability in the machine world and
high data quality in the Internet?
Weikum:
Yes. I think there’s a clear distinction
to be made between the social intelligence of
the Web and the technical intelligence of in-
dustrial applications. However, there are some
overlaps. Take the common practice of adding
tags to the images posted in the Internet so as
to describe their content. This enables other
users to search for such images much more
quickly and precisely. A sea view, for example,
could be tagged with the words “cliff,” “sea” or
“sailboat.” Now, machine systems have great
difficulties recognizing the precise characteris-
tics of images — for example, of a waterfall or
an image in a mist. Tagging therefore contains
implicit, collective human intelligence. Or take
the time when Internet users were asked to
scan satellite images for the wreckage of a
missing sailboat. Hundreds of thousands of
people took part. It’s possible to imagine
something similar happening with the evalua-
tion of medical images. For many years now,
there have been software systems that search
CT scans and similar images for tumors or oth-
er signs of morbidity. This kind of software
works on the basis of statistical models and is
primed by being fed with training images. It is
certainly conceivable that several hundred
specialists from the field, working in an Inter-
net forum, might first annotate the individual
characteristics of such images. That way, their
rich knowledge would be incorporated into
the image recognition software.
That kind of forum would, of course, be
limited to experts. But how can we go
about using the collective intelligence of
the Internet as a whole?
Weikum:
That’s precisely the difficulty. For ex-
ample, at present our software only utilizes
more or less trustworthy sources such as
Wikipedia and news portals, which we evalu-
ate according to their quality and reliability.
We’re very conservative in this regard. We still
don’t use blogs. Nonetheless, that type of fo-
rum is very interesting. For example, the med-
ical portals where people talk about the side
effects of particular drugs can contain valu-
able information that goes far beyond the
broad-based guidance that is contained in pa-
tient information leaflets. The challenge here
is to find a way of utilizing these “soft” data in
the Internet and making them systematically
available to users. Alternatively, services such
as Twitter are excellent for predicting new
trends. And they could also be an important
source of information for service providers.
Say, for example, hundreds of people tweet
about a delayed train. Car rental companies or
bus operators could then advertise alternative
arrangements on cell phones. The value of the
collective intelligence that is brought together
in the Internet is largely derived from the di-
versity of the information and opinions in-
volved. The task that will face us in the future
is to make this knowledge available in such a
way that we are able to conserve its diversity.
Interview by Tim Schröder.
Collective Intelligence
In Brief
It won’t be long before automated systems are
generating more data than all their users com-
bined. The challenge remains how best to chan-
nel this flood of bits and bytes. By networking
sensors to create a kind of collective intelligence,
it should be possible to generate useful knowl-
edge on the basis of many discrete facts in such
fields as medicine, production planning, and
building systems. (pp. 83, 99)
Collective intelligence is helping specialists in a
major Ohio hospital system to provide better
care. Software from Siemens identifies key data
from electronic medical files, compares treat-
ment against the latest guidelines, and thus re-
duces quality-of-care evaluation time. This pro-
gram, which should soon be able to work in real
time, is expected to reduce errors and improve
patient outcomes. (p. 85)
Collective intelligence is also set to play a major role in traffic management. In Houston, for instance, Siemens has outfitted 400 intersection
controllers with systems that allow them to
change traffic light timing dynamically in re-
sponse to the numbers of approaching vehicles.
Major safety advantages are expected. (p. 91)
Logistics is an increasingly complex area of operations in the automotive industry, where
new approaches are now being considered.
These include the use of software agents that can autonomously negotiate prices on virtual
markets. The agents can even replan supply
chains in seconds in response to unexpected
events such as fires or strikes. (p. 96)
Advanced sensors can act like sense organs,
with tasks ranging from controlling simple de-
vices to monitoring large industrial processes.
Siemens is investigating how autonomous sensor
components are able, in the absence of a control
center, to manage communications, supply data,
make decisions, and issue commands. (p.99)
Siemens is looking at cloud computing,
whereby memory capacity, processing power,
and software are provided by an external net-
work. In the future it will be possible to buy IT
services in the same way that utilities are pur-
chased today. Siemens is concentrating its cloud
activities in a competence center and exploiting
the benefits of this worldwide trend. (p. 109)
PEOPLE:
IT in Healthcare:
Dr. Bharat Rao, Healthcare
bharat.rao@siemens.com
Jerard Berger, Healthcare
jerard.berger@siemens.com
Healthcare for India:
Dr. Zubin Varghese, CT
zubin.varghese@siemens.com
Houston traffic management:
Justinian Rosca, CT
justinian.rosca@siemens.com
David Miller, Industry
miller.dave@siemens.com
Agent technologies:
Jan-Gregor Fischer, CT
jan-gregor.fischer@siemens.com
Intelligent wind farms:
Dr. Dragan Obradovic, CT
dragan.obradovic@siemens.com
Sensor networks:
Dr. Rudolf Sollacher, CT
rudolf.sollacher@siemens.com
Daniel Evers, CT
daniel.evers@siemens.com
Dr. Hans-Georg Zimmermann, CT
hans_georg.zimmermann@siemens.com
IT security:
Johann Fichtner, CT
johann.fichtner@siemens.com
Georg Trummer, I IA
georg.trummer@siemens.com
Cloud computing: Dr. Gerald Käfer, CT
gerald.kaefer@siemens.com
LINKS:
IDC Digital Universe: www.emc.com/collateral/demos/microsites/
idc-digital-universe/iview.htm
Large Knowledge Collider project:
www.larkc.eu
MIT Sloan School of Management:
http://mitsloan.mit.edu/
Prof. Thomas Malone: http://cci.mit.edu/malone/
Prof. Gerhard Weikum: www.mpi-inf.mpg.de
IntelliDrive:
www.itssiemens.com/en/t_nav141.html
ILIPT-Project / EU automotive initiative: www.ilipt.org
European Network and Information Security
Agency: www.enisa.europa.eu
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 113
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011 115
Pictures of the Future| Preview
Achieving Growth with Fewer Resources
Every year, the world’s population grows by the equivalent of Germany’s popula-
tion. By 2030, there will be around 1.4 billion more people on earth — and the
demand for energy, consumer goods, and water will increase correspondingly.
The impact of scarcer resources is already affecting the prices of crude oil, gas,
and metals. And one of our most important raw materials — drinking water — is
also becoming scarce. Solutions that couple economic growth with lower con-
sumption of resources must be developed if we are to retain a balance between
demand, supply, and environmental protection. Achieving this feat will require
many measures, including intelligent product design, efficient industrial use of
materials and energy, and solutions for disassembly and recycling. In developing
countries, solutions will even include special plant oil cooking systems that will
cut pollutant emissions and reduce deforestation.
Cities: Building a Better Quality of Life
Today, some 3.5 billion people live in cities; in 2030 that number will have risen
to almost five billion. Alone in Asia, around 100,000 people migrate to conurba-
tions every day. Under these conditions, what can be done to make cities more
sustainable and improve the quality of life of their inhabitants? Scientists and ur-
ban planners are addressing these issues with new concepts and technological
solutions, many of which are being investigated and presented in a new Siemens
center in London. For example, in tomorrow’s metropolitan areas, travel will be
less necessary, and living and working conditions will improve. Researchers are
investigating new building and communication technologies, as well as more
sustainable mobility concepts that will integrate electric cars into public transit
systems. Senior citizens’ living conditions are also a target for improvement. The
objective here is to enable seniors to live independently for as long as possible. When Machines Learn
To an ever-increasing extent, systems in
healthcare, industry, power generation, and
urban management are being challenged by
the complexity of the data they are generat-
ing. To optimize their responses to constant-
ly changing circumstances, machines must
therefore be able to learn from experience.
The possibilities opened by this capability are
virtually limitless. For instance, can advances
in cellular imaging analysis open the door to
automated identification of cancerous tis-
sues? Can smart grids learn to decipher the
patterns of energy supply and demand, in order to optimize energy use for entire re-
gions? Basic research in how systems can
learn to form and refine hypotheses about
the meanings embedded in the data they are
processing is beginning to provide answers. Would you like to know more
about Siemens and our latest
developments?
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about Siemens innovations is also available on the Internet at: www.siemens.com/innovation (Siemens’ R&D website)
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114 Pictures of the Future | Spring 2011
Pictures of the Future | Feedback
© 2011 by Siemens AG. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
Bestellnummer: A19100-F-P173
ISSN 1618-548X
IMPRESSUM
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