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Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation | Fall 2011
Quality of Life
in Cities
Efficient Use of Resources Making urban areas more livable
Opening the gateway to intelligence Decoupling use of raw materials
from economic growth
Solutions for Tomorrow’s
2 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Pictures of the Future | Editorial
ities are like magnets. They exert a power-
ful attraction on people. More than half of
the people on our planet already live in urban
areas. According to United Nations estimates,
the world’s urban centers will grow by an addi-
tional three billion inhabitants by 2050 — and
this increase will take place almost exclusively
in today’s developing countries and emerging
economies. What’s more, about half of the
world’s total economic output is already gener-
ated in the 600 largest cities, and this trend is
gathering momentum. Dr. Roland Busch is the CEO of Siemens’ new Infrastructure & Cities Sector, which was established on October 1, 2011. He is also a
member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. the chain leading from energy generation to
distribution and consumption in an economi-
cal and sustainable manner (pp. 15, 96, 104). The huge differences between the starting
positions and requirements of cities are re-
vealed by the results of the Green City Indices
that were compiled on behalf of Siemens by
the Economist Intelligence Unit (p. 8) and by a
comparison of cities such as Jakarta (p. 30)
and London (p. 15). In Jakarta, the main focus
is on improving the living conditions of many
of its inhabitants, as well as basic infrastruc-
Cover: Tomorrow’s cities will be char-
acterized by higher population densi-
ties, increased use of public transit,
and integrated transport systems —
including electric cars. Already, many
cities are investing in networks of
charging stations (pages 15 and 22).
On the face of it, the growth of urban re-
gions is positive. They bring people together.
They help to stimulate creativity and entre-
preneurship. They attract people by offering
work, education, and healthcare. In develop-
ing countries and emerging economies in par-
ticular, living in a city promises people a con-
siderable increase of opportunities and income
compared to living in the countryside. How-
ever, it’s not unusual for city dwellers to gain
these advantages at the cost of considerable
compromises in terms of quality of life.
Heavy traffic, crowded living conditions,
pollution, and noise are problems faced by city
dwellers all over the world. Moreover, in many
places, efficient local transportation networks
and running water are scarce commodities. As
a result, making cities places where people can
enjoy a high quality of life is one of the great-
est challenges of the 21st century. This chal-
lenge is being accepted by political decision-
makers, planners, and companies such as
Siemens. That’s why we’ve established a new
company sector in which we are combining
key parts of our portfolio in order to offer sus-
tainable and holistic infrastructure solutions to
our urban customers even more consistently. We are doing this because all cities have
one thing in common: In order to grow sus-
tainably they need more than just trains, local
public transportation, traffic control systems
and charging stations for electric vehicles.
They need mobility concepts (p. 22) that inte-
grate all of these elements efficiently. One ex-
ample of such a concept is described in the
“Quality of Life in Cities” section (pp. 10–43) of
this issue of Pictures of the Future. A similar approach must be taken with re-
gard to energy supplies. Booming cities and re-
gions need more than just power stations,
power lines, and substations. In the future
they will also require smart grids, which will
help them to better coordinate energy demand
and energy use — in other words, to manage
How We Can Improve Life in Cities
ture measures, such as providing a water
supply, managing waste, and building the
city’s first subway system. By contrast, in London there is an urgent
need to modernize the Underground, which is
almost 150 years old, and to expand local pub-
lic transportation in order to cope with grow-
ing numbers of passengers. Here, Siemens
technology is helping to deal with these pres-
sures on the city’s infrastructure. Hybrid buses
and electric vehicles are improving air quality
in the British capital. Part of the city’s power
now comes from wind farms off the southern
coast of England, where it is generated by tur-
bines from Siemens. Of course, the sparing use of resources is an
important issue in general, not only in cities.
Rapid economic development in countries
such as China (p. 40), India (p. 33), and Brazil
(p. 104) has led to huge increases in resource
and energy use. A major trend in the emerging
economies is an increase in the number of
people entering the middle class, where they
generate new demand for comfort, consumer
products, and mobility.
Sustainable growth is therefore the order
of the day. Some solutions in this area are ex-
amined in the “Efficient Use of Resources”
(pp. 76–113) section of this magazine. These
solutions include making the energy supply
system more efficient (p. 96), finding alter-
natives for scarce raw materials (p. 100), opti-
mizing recycling processes (p. 88), and taking
environmental protection into account as early
as the design process. The products involved
include dishwashers (p. 90), computer tomo-
graphs (p.86), and smelters (p. 81). Achieving resource-conserving growth and
enhancing the quality of life in cities are with-
out a doubt two of the greatest challenges
of the 21st century. Siemens is determined to
respond to both of these existential issues in
order to ensure that our world remains an
attractive place to live.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 3
Efficient Use of Resources
Machine Learning
Quality of Life in Cities
Scenario 2040
Worlds Apart
Building a Better Life
Better than Broomsticks
New Siemens Headquarters
A Showpiece Takes Shape
20 Vehicle Concepts
Build Your Own Train
21 Traffic in Tel Aviv
Fast Lane to Dynamic Pricing 1
22 Networked Mobility
Flexibility in Motion
SmartSenior Project Intelligent Solutions
Untethered but Online
Living in Asia’s “Big Durian”
Urban Development in India
Infrastructures for Everyone
Interview with Dr. Joan Clos
Director of the UN Human Settlements
Programme (HABITAT) on why cities are
becoming a positive force for change
Waste Recycling in Bolivia
From Trash to Cash
Safe Water Kiosk
Mobile Solution for a Thirsty World
Facts and Forecasts
Economic Imbalances Are Growing in
Cities Worldwide
Energy Contracting in China
Winning Formula
Interview with Pablo Vaggione
An expert on sustainable urban devel-
opment explains how cities can achieve more while consuming less
United Arab Emirates
An Oasis for First-Class Care
Scenario 2035
Invisible Prophet
Thriving on Complexity
Neural Networks The Science of Prediction
How Neural Networks Learn
From Biological Systems to Machines, Learning is the Key
57 Medical Applications
Body of Knowledge
Facts and Forecasts
A Universe of Applications for Learning Systems
62 Interview with Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf
The Director of the New Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems explains why learning systems thrive on data
64 Security Applications
Flying Inspectors
Optical Character Recognition
We Read You Loud and Clear
Interview with Prof. Tomaso Poggio
A top MIT researcher views learning as the gateway to intelligence 1
Industrial Applications
On-the-Job Optimization
Scenario 2035
Less Is More
The Limits to Growth
Environmental Analyses
When is Green Really Green?
Facts and Forecasts
Decoupling Raw Materials Consumption
from Economic Growth
Interview: Dr. Mathis Wackernagel
Why We Are Destroying Wealth
86 Sustainable Development
A Benchmark for Efficiency
Recycling Trains
Fast Track to a Second Life
Household Appliances
Energy-Saving Champions
Blade Design
Wind Swords: Fighting for a Longer Life
Heat Pumps
Tapping the Earth
Virtual Production
Race to the Real World
Combined Cycle Gas Turbines
Record-Setting Power Plant
Supply Chain Management
Supporting Suppliers
Raw Materials
Alternatives in the Making
Water Treatment
Backyard Sewage Plant
Innovation in Brazil
Sugar, Oil and Inventive Minds
Interview: Brito Cruz and Ozires Silva
Research and Development in Brazil
Oil and Gas Production
The Call of the Deep
Interview with Carlos Tadeu da
Costa Fraga, Petrobras
Tapping Pools of Innovation
Vegetable Oil in Indonesia
Cooking up a Revolution
184 Short Takes
News from Siemens’ Labs
186 Rail Traffic
In Touch with Public Transit
187 Aviation
Electricity in the Air
188 Green City Index North America
And the Winners Are...
189 Green City Index Germany
Environmentally-Friendly Cities
144 Health Care in a Rain Forest Clinic under the Palms
174 Gesture Recognition in the OR
In Good Hands
114 Feedback
115 Preview
Pictures of the Future | Contents
A 6-MW gearless Siemens turbine weighs about the same as a 3 MW unit with a gearbox.
he SWT-6.0-120 is the third wind turbine model from Siemens that operates with-
out a gearbox. Instead, the unit is fitted with an innovative direct drive system. Ex-
tensive trials are now being conducted on a prototype installed off the Danish coast.
Large-scale production of the unit, which is particularly light weight, is scheduled to be-
gin in 2014. Up until now, high-output wind turbines have tended to be disproportion-
ately heavier than systems with a lower output rating. The SWT-6.0-120, by contrast,
weighs only as much as a conventional wind turbine in the two- to three-megawatt
(MW) class. Moreover, the use of very robust construction techniques has cut the costs
associated with the turbine, towers, and foundations. This in turn will further reduce
the price of power generated by offshore wind turbines. Experts from Siemens Wind
Power in Denmark developed the six-megawatt wind turbine especially for rough off-
shore conditions. For one thing, an ingenious but simple design has substantially re-
duced the number of rotating parts in the system. This, in turn, minimizes the risk of
downtime, while enhanced diagnostic methods increase the system’s reliability and
thus its availability. Offshore wind power facilities need to withstand the high winds
and severe weather encountered at sea for around 20 years. Associated maintenance
should be kept to an absolute minimum because repairing a wind power plant on the
open sea costs roughly ten times as much as fixing an onshore installation. To date,
Siemens has installed over 700 wind turbines in European waters, with a combined
output of 1,900 megawatts.
Gearless Turbine Cuts Costs
pilot project being conducted by
Siemens and E.ON has shown that CO
separation can be carried out in power plants
just as expected. More than 90 percent of the
in flue gas at the Staudinger coal-fired
power plant near Hanau, Germany, was sepa-
rated in demonstration projects. This feat was
achieved using an environmentally-friendly
detergent made from the dissolved salt of an
amino acid. The detergent is able to bind CO
and then release it later. The test at the pilot
facility, which has been operating since 2009,
also revealed that the innovative technique
reduces the power plant’s efficiency by only
six percent — much less than expected. The
separation system, which can also be retrofit-
ted to existing power stations, will undergo
testing in an even bigger project in the U.S. at
the end of 2012. Bye, Bye CO
Pilot carbon dioxide separation facility near Hanau.
Pictures of the Future | Short Takes
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 5
iemens is building power converter stations for a high-voltage direct
current (HVDC) transmission system with a record capacity of 2,000
megawatts (MW). Starting in 2013, the new HVDC Plus technology will
transmit 2,000 MW as direct current over a distance of 65 kilometers un-
derground. The system, which was financed in part by the European
Union, will link the French and Spanish grids. At the moment, the two
countries’ grids are linked only by low-capacity lines. Power grids will have
to be substantially upgraded throughout Europe if more renewable energy
is to be used in the future. If large amounts of power are to be transmitted
over long distances underwater or underground rather than via overhead
lines, alternating current is not suitable. That’s because cable capacitances
would cause high-loss charging and discharging phases. In contrast, in an
HVDC system, transmission losses are 30 to 40 percent lower than in a
comparable three-phase alternating current line. Siemens technology will
enable two cables to transmit 1,000 MW of power each at around 320
kilovolts, which is the maximum voltage that today’s cables can handle.
Compared to their predecessors, the HVDC Plus power converter stations
have much to offer. In addition to being more flexible and robust, they are
also less susceptible to breakdowns. French Connection
iemens and the Allgäuer Überlandwerk (AÜW) energy
company in Kempten, Germany, are testing a smart
grid in cooperation with RWTH Aachen University and the
Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The joint “Integra-
tion of Renewable Energy and Electric Mobility” (Irene)
project, which is scheduled to run for two years, is being
funded by Germany’s Ministry of Economics and Technolo-
gy. The project’s goal is to intelligently integrate and oper-
ate the numerous photovoltaic units, wind turbines, and
biogas facilities that AÜW has linked into the grid. A self-
organizing energy automation system from Siemens will
make this possible. Thanks to software recently developed
by the company, it will be possible to improve energy dis-
tribution planning and coordination and thus to operate
the grid more efficiently (see p. 70). As part of the project,
a charging infrastructure will be established for electric ve-
hicles, which will be able to utilize electricity produced in
an environmentally-friendly manner — for example, from
photovoltaic units. The vehicles could be used as electricity
storage units in the future. For instance, as components of
the smart grid, they would store surplus electricity and
subsequently return it to the grid during periods of peak
demand. Participating companies see the project as a win-
win situation. Consumers will save money through
changed energy consumption habits and energy suppliers
will be able to market their electricity more efficiently.
he Taipei 101 skyscraper has been granted
“Leadership in Energy and Environmental De-
sign” (LEED) certification in Platinum. The tallest
green building in the world, the tower uses 30 per-
cent less energy than conventional structures. Light-
ing and air conditioning systems are automatically
switched off in unoccupied rooms and offices, while
ice produced using cheap electricity at night helps
to cool the building during the day. Thanks to these
and other measures, the building has reduced its
emissions by around 3,000 metric tons per
year. Siemens played a major role in this success sto-
ry by serving as a LEED consultant. The company in-
stalled building management, safety, and lighting
solutions in Taipei 101 in 2004. O
sram and 2DO-Design have developed a lamp that combines organic (OLED)
and conventional (LED) light-emitting diodes. The “Airabesc” consists of 11
rectangular OLED panels with small LEDs mounted in between. The multilayered
OLED panels, which are one hundred times thinner than a human hair, are made
of layers of organic material that’s vapor-deposited onto glass. The OLEDs are ex-
ceptional in that they radiate light across their entire surface. Win-Win Energy
Towering Results Shining Combination
4 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Low losses: An 800-kV transformer for overhead HVDC transmission in China. Siemens is testing software for a self-organizing electric grid.
The Airabesc lamp combines LEDs and OLEDs.Taipei 101 has cut its energy costs by $700,000 per year. Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 7
t first glance, this unique new aircraft
makes an entirely unremarkable impres-
sion. From the outside, the DA36 E-Star motor
glider is indistinguishable from its convention-
al sibling, which goes by the name HK36 Super
Dimona. But a perceptive observer would have
noticed a difference during the maiden flight
of the two-seat motor glider, which took place
on June 8, 2011 in eastern Austria, at the
Wiener Neustadt air field: quiet operation and
the absence of any aviation fuel odors.
That’s because this unique aircraft is the
world’s first serial hybrid electric airplane, and
it doesn’t use a combustion engine at all dur-
ing takeoff and landing. A Siemens electric
motor with an output of 70 kilowatts powers
the propeller, drawing its energy from batter-
ies mounted in the wings. Once the motor
glider reaches its cruising altitude, the pilot
switches on a small 30-kilowatt combustion
engine. The sole purpose of this rotary engine
is to provide energy for the electric motor
through a generator, which simultaneously
recharges the batteries. That may sound like a complicated system,
but it has very significant benefits. “Compared
to the most efficient technologies currently in
use, electrically powered airplanes reduce fuel
consumption and emissions by 25 percent,”
says Dr. Frank Anton, the initiator of electric
aircraft development at Siemens Corporate
Technology. “In addition, we prevent noise and
emissions during takeoff and landing.” How do electric drives save energy? “In con-
ventional aircraft, the engines and turbines are
designed for maximum output, but that’s
needed only for the takeoff and the ascent,”
says Anton. “As soon as cruising altitude is
reached, about 60 percent of this output is suf-
ficient.” Conventional engines are thus not
only unnecessarily large and heavy, but they
also usually run only at partial load, which is
very inefficient — so they squander a large
share of the energy contained in the aviation
Electrifying Takeoff. That’s nothing like
what happens with the hybrid motor glider
that Siemens developed with EADS and Austri-
an manufacturer Diamond Aircraft. The DA36
E-Star’s electric motor operates at an efficiency
of close to 100 percent over a wide range of
loads. After takeoff and ascent with the help of
the battery, the rotary engine takes over the
job of supplying power, and it can be run con-
tinuously at the most efficient operating point
— if it sometimes produces too much power,
the surplus can easily be temporarily stored in
the batteries. The energy of the fuel is thus uti-
lized in the most ideal manner.
“With the serial hybrid concept, we’ve sepa-
rated the energy production and the drive, so
that we can optimize both independently of
each other,” says Anton. In the past, however,
components for electric aircraft were too
heavy to allow the technology to come into its
own. But as a result of the increasing electrifi-
cation of automobiles, manufacturers of mo-
tors, batteries, and power electronics have
been making tremendous advances, which are
now also benefiting the aviation industry. “The
year 2011 is the year of electric flight,” says
Anton. In addition to the Diamond motor glider,
the e-Genius also recently made its maiden
flight, in May 2011. The e-Genius is an all-elec-
tric aircraft developed by the University of
Stuttgart together with EADS and Airbus. The
two-seater has a 60-kilowatt electric motor
and batteries with a storage capacity of 56
kilowatt-hours. Thus equipped, the e-Genius
completed a flight of 341 kilometers in June
with an energy consumption equivalent to
four liters of gasoline. And in addition to the
DA36 E-Star motor glider, Le Bourget was also
host to the “Cri Cri,” a miniature airplane pow-
ered by four electric motors that was devel-
oped by EADS, Aero Composites Saintonage,
and the Green Cri-Cri Association. The Cri Cri
can fly on electric power alone at a speed of
110 kilometers per hour for 30 minutes. For aircraft manufacturers, electric air-
planes are an interesting alternative because
Pictures of the Future | Aviation
Siemens, EADS, and Diamond Aircraft have developed the world’s first aircraft equipped with a serial
hybrid electric drive. The result is less noise, lower fuel consumption, and reduced CO
Electricity in the Air
The DA36 E-Star motor glider has a hybrid electric drive. An electric motor powers the propeller, and the plane’s batteries are charged by a small combustion engine.
6 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
onday morning rush hour. Downtown
Berlin is packed with traffic, and the
city’s traffic control center is at its busiest. The
public transport authorities’ station masters
and schedule planners have their hands full as
they try to keep traffic flowing. Their attention
is focused on a large table-like viewing screen
in the middle of the control center where they
can monitor information on a touch-sensitive
display. The data provides an up-to-date
overview of the situation on roads and railway
tracks. Workers control intervals between
trains or optimize travel durations and dwell
times by means of finger taps and gestures.
They deploy extra trains and arrange to reroute
others. The display recognizes up to 32 simul-
taneous finger commands. Operators can use
these commands to zoom in on sections of the
rail network, block certain routes or link data,
all in the blink of an eye. “That’s our vision of a
new generation of traffic control technology
for the mobility requirements of the future,”
says Kim-Markus Rosenthal, a user interface
designer at Siemens Rail Automation. The technology is still in its infancy. In
2010, developers from Siemens Rail Automa-
tion in Braunschweig, Germany presented a
prototype of a user-friendly control station at
the InnoTrans trade show for transport tech-
nology in Berlin. Siemens is now developing
this new generation of control technology for
railways, an important part of which is an in-
teractive table that can provide an overview of
an entire transport network. The system com-
bines functionalities such as scheduling and
repair and maintenance planning. “With this prototype of future technology,
we want to show how cooperation can be opti-
mized among the increasingly complex
processes taking place in operations control
centers,” says Gerd Tasler, a product manager
for operations control systems. At the mo-
ment, each separate group — local train oper-
ators, route and junction planners, and main-
tenance personnel — uses control technology
individually for its own duties. But in order to
guarantee mobility in years to come, it will be
important to coordinate processes for buses,
subways, and light-rail systems, thus helping
to reduce transfer times, and eliminate disrup-
tions quickly and safely (p. 22).
Right now, a quick comparison of departure
and waiting times is almost impossible.
Whether it’s buses or trains, each network has
a separate control system and its own traffic
management centers. And employees at such
centers only have an overview of the activity in
their own area. “The goal is to make informa-
tion about the current traffic situation in a re-
gion available to all participants at the same
time,” says Rosenthal. Planners also want to re-
duce the influence of hierarchies on informa-
tion. Although organizational structures en-
sure clear responsibilities, they can hinder
quick responses to unforeseen events. If a
breakdown interrupts service on a certain
route, there are often long delays. “The new
system should cut down on such delays, be-
cause in the future it will give all the people in
charge a clear view of the decision-making cri-
teria of the others,” says Rosenthal. Everything in One Place. The new system’s
centerpiece is a software program that merges
workstation information into a control center
with a uniform user interface. This is based on
control technology that combines key man-
agement functions such as schedule and con-
flict management. As before, the staff perform
their own duties first and foremost, but deci-
sion-makers can access the entire transport
system via a huge multitouch display. Deci-
sions can be made quickly and collaboratively.
“The technology makes it possible to integrate
additional automation functions that take over
some of the routine jobs staff would otherwise
do,” says Tasler. For example, automatic head-
way control could optimize travel periods,
dwell times, and the intervals between trains,
and it could quickly and effectively compen-
sate for deviations from a schedule. In such
cases a computer determines the headway and
order of trains on a track. “An interdisciplinary team was needed to
solve a job this complex,” says Rosenthal. “We
applied our knowledge of rail technology, and
the German Aerospace Center contributed its
expertise in software ergonomics. The Insti-
tute of Transportation Design gave us advice
on hardware, and Studio B12 supplied creative
ideas for designing interactive elements and
the graphical user interface.” Further optimiza-
tion of the system is now under way. Using the
multitouch table, for example, work processes
are being analyzed in detail in discussions with
customers. “We hope to apply the results to de-
velopment of additional applications for con-
trol technology,” says Rosenthal. Plans call for
development of interfaces with the control
systems of other modes of transport. The sys-
tem will then be tested in the field with select-
ed customers. Hans Schürmann
Pictures of the Future | Rail Traffic
A futuristic rail management technology could help to optimize the movements of trains. Specialists are
examining how the technology could be used to combine information from all public transit systems. In Touch with Public Transit Siemens is developing a new generation of
control technology for rail systems. A multi-
touch table could help optimize transport systems (left: Hamburg’s Central Station).
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 9
ty, and annual income, and yet they all did
well. For instance, New York has 12 million in-
habitants, while Boston and Seattle have just
over 600,000. And while Vancouver has a
gross domestic product of almost $37,000 per
capita, the other cities achieve closer to
$60,000. One thing they all have in common,
though, is ambitious environmental planning.
For instance, San Francisco has opted to work
closely with the private sector and has imple-
mented strict recycling laws. Huge Gains.Interestingly, lower-ranking cities
on the Index have made huge gains: ➔
Atlanta is ranked in 21st place overall, but it
has the highest number of LEED-certified
(Leadership in Energy & Environmental De-
sign) buildings. ➔
Miami (in 22nd place) takes second place in
terms of carbon emissions, thanks to the clean
energy generated by its power plants.
Detroit, which came in last, actually boasts
one of the best public transportation systems
— better than New York’s or Seattle’s. “Altogether, North American cities rated
well compared to other parts of the world, es-
pecially thanks to measures to improve air
quality, waste management, recycling, and
water infrastructure,” says Tony Nash, Head of
the EIU. For instance, at 13 percent, water loss
due to leakage is lower than it is in Asia (22%),
Europe (23%), and Latin America (35%). And
at 26 percent, North America’s recycling rate is
approximately a third higher than in the Euro-
pean Green City Index. But despite these success stories, a lot re-
mains to be done — particularly when it
comes to resource consumption, CO
sions, and transport. For instance, the average
North American uses 590 liters of water a day,
more than twice as much as people in Europe,
Asia, or Latin America. Canadian cities in the
survey produce an average of eight tons of CO
per capita annually. American cities generate
about twice that amount. While these cities
beat the national U.S. average, which accord-
ing to the World Bank is 20 metric tons, cities
in Europe and Asia produce only about five
metric tons of CO
per capita per year. The
good news is that 21 of the 27 cities in the In-
dex have set their own targets to reduce car-
bon emissions in coming years. Commuting and Urban Density. Many trans-
portation challenges can be traced back to the
problem of urban sprawl. To avoid this, the ide-
al city should have a combination of high pop-
ulation density, plenty of green spaces, and
short commutes to work and recreational ac-
tivities. That’s a rough description of New York
German Cities Rank among Europe’s Most Environmentally-Friendly Places to Live
About 74 percent of Germans live in
metropolitan areas. The German
Green City Index analyzed twelve cities
throughout the country, and the re-
sults show that decades of growing
environmental awareness and support
from policymakers for sustainable city
planning have made a lasting impact.
Ten out of the twelve cities that were
studied achieved a better overall result
than their European counterparts in
the 2009 European Green City Index.
Ambitious regulations to reduce energy consumption in buildings and a proactive transportation policy
have proved especially effective. Yet even though Germany’s local public transportation systems are ex-
ceptionally well-equipped, almost half of all commuters get to work by car. Munich and Berlin (pictured)
are positive exceptions, since about 40 percent of their inhabitants take public transportation to work
while another 17 percent ride bicycles or walk. Water conservation is another area in which Germany
excels. Compared to the European average, Germans consume only half as much water. What’s more,
policies to reduce waste and encourage recycling are common. In Leipzig, the recycling rate is 81 per-
cent — the highest in Europe. On the downside, German cities produce unusually high CO
due to a high percentage of industry and a heavy reliance on electricity from coal. The average German
produces 9.8 metric tons of such emissions, almost twice as much as the inhabitants of other European
cities (5.2 metric tons). However, many cities have now set ambitious emissions-reduction targets. Mu-
nich, for example, plans to cut per capita carbon emissions in half by 2030.Nicole Elflein
City, which has almost 11,000 inhabitants per
square kilometer (km
) and green spaces that
make up around a fifth of its area. However,
most of the cities in the Index are comparative-
ly thinly populated, with 3,000 inhabitants per
. In Europe, that number is 3,900, and in
Asia it’s 8,100. In the United States, many peo-
ple live in suburbs and use their cars often.
Only one out of ten Americans and one out of
four Canadians commute to work by public
transportation, bicycle or on foot. In Europe,
over 60 percent do. Canada already has some
good public transportation systems in place, so
that approximately 1.5 kilometers of bus, rail,
and subway lines are available per square kilo-
meter. That’s more than three times as much
as in U.S. cities. Other positive signs are the excellent re-
sults achieved in environmental governance,
which can hold their own with those attained
in Europe. Almost every city on the Indexhas
appointed a sustainability officer and has de-
veloped a comprehensive environmental poli-
cy. NGOs are also extensively involved in these
efforts. A prominent example is the U.S. Green
Building Council, a nonprofit organization
based in Washington that developed the LEED
guidelines for buildings, which are being used
all over the world today. Karen Stelzner
very summer the Aspen Ideas Festival at-
tracts flocks of visitors to a town that is
better known as a popular winter resort. The
focus of the festival? Building a better future.
At the end of June 2011 the U.S. and Canada
Green City Index
was presented here. The
study was commissioned by Siemens and con-
ducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit
(EIU), which compared 27 cities across the U.S.
and Canada in terms of nine environmental
categories: CO
emissions, energy, land use,
buildings, transport, water, waste, air quality,
and environmental governance. Similar studies
have already been conducted in Europe, Asia,
and Latin America (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2010, p. 17 and Spring 2011, p. 9). American cities are often portrayed as a
huge resource drain, blighted by urban sprawl
and a lack of environmental awareness. But
that stereotype no longer applies. “Today’s
mayors have realized that action is needed and
are working toward a sustainable future,” says
Alison Taylor, Chief Sustainability Officer at
Siemens for North and South America. “Of
course some of them have just started, while
others are further along.” San Francisco is the greenest city according
to the Index, followed by Vancouver, New
York, Seattle, and Denver. Surprisingly, all of
these cities vary considerably in terms of their
size, number of inhabitants, population densi-
Pictures of the Future| North America’s Greenest Cities According to the U.S. and Canada Green City Index,North America boasts some very eco-
friendly cities. In terms of water infrastructure,
air quality, and recycling, they even beat many
European cities. But there’s still room for improvement when it comes to resource use,
emissions, and public transport. And the Winners Are...
Top Projects
Green targets:In 2005 the mayor of Seat-
tle launched the U.S. Conference of Mayors
Climate Protection Agreement, in which
cities pledge to reduce CO
emissions in line
with the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1,000
mayors have signed the agreement so far. Green havens:In order to improve air qual-
ity and the quality of life in New York City,
one million trees will be planted within the
next ten years by the city, private organiza-
tions, and citizen groups. Green electricity:In 2010 the largest solar
park in the United States was established in
Chicago. More than 32,000 solar panels
there produce 10 megawatts of electricity
for 1,200 homes. Green transportation:In one of the
largest transportation development projects
in U.S. history, Denver has invested over €1 billion in the expansion of its public
transportation network. Siemens has sup-
plied 55 light rail trains for the project. By
2017, an additional €4.6 billion will be in-
vested in order to triple the length of the
light rail network and set up lanes for the
city’s Bus Rapid Transit system. 8 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
they help to reduce the adverse impact of air
travel on climate — 2.2 percent of the CO
emissions caused by humans currently come
from the jets and engines of aircraft. “With our
prototypes, we’ve bought an admission ticket
to electric flight,” says Peter Jänker, who leads
an EADS team that is deeply involved in the
field. “But the components need to become
even lighter.” A good example of this are the batteries.
Top-of-the-line lithium-ion batteries can now
store about 200 watt-hours (Wh) of electrical
energy per kilogram — aviation fuel holds
13,000 Wh, of which only about half can be
used because of the poor efficiency of the tur-
bines. New lithium-sulfur batteries could reach
2,600 Wh in a few years — today their storage
capacity is 350 Wh/kg.
New Lightweight Design. Engines have to
be made lighter too, since today’s electrical
drives have an output of at most 1.5 kilowatts
(kW) per kilogram of weight. “Our goal is ten
kilowatts per kilogram,” says Anton, who has a
pilot’s license himself and practices aerobatics.
“And we’ve already come a big step closer to
achieving that target since experts at Siemens
Drive Technologies developed a motor with an
output of 6.4 kW/kg — that’s four times today’s
Lighter weight is achieved by means of a
spectrum of measures. Mechanical compo-
nents must be made not of metal but of light-
weight carbon fiber, and because of the high
number of poles in a motor, the magnetic field
has to cover only short distances. This means
that designers need less magnetic material,
which is relatively heavy but doesn’t contribute
anything to the drive. “With this patented de-
sign, Siemens is opening up a new chapter in
the development of electric motors,” reports
Swen Gediga of Siemens Drive Technologies. Over the long term, these developments
may mark the start of a new chapter in avia-
tion, because the electrification of flying
makes it possible to spatially separate energy
production and drive. For instance, the com-
bined weight of the combustion engine, the
generator, and the battery add up to about 80
percent of the weight of this plane’s drive sys-
tem, and they can be installed in the fuselage.
The lightweight electric motors — which ac-
count for the remaining 20 percent of weight
— would be mounted in the aircraft’s wings.
“So there wouldn’t be any more heavy turbines
hanging on the wings,” says Anton. “Instead,
you could mount a number of swiveling elec-
tric motors with propellers at the wings, and
some of them would only be used for takeoff.
That would lead to a major reduction in energy
consumption during flight.”
Christian Buck
San Francisco is the greenest city in North America, followed by Vancouver and
New York. Many other cities lack an extensive
public transit system.
i is sitting in the jungle and drinking a cup
of tea. The calls of countless exotic birds
resonate through dense undergrowth and
mingle with a Mozart symphony playing dis-
creetly in the background. A huge butterfly
lands on the paper-thin tablet PC Li is holding
in his lap like a newspaper. The young busi-
nessman shoos the butterfly away and concen-
trates once more on his online contacts. A
short time later he is distracted again when a
uniformed waiter comes by and offers him
pastries. Li declines the offer and briefly taps
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 1110 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
A Chinese megacity in the year 2040. Li is visiting his grandfather Jun, who lives in an oasis of peace on the edge of this ultramodern metropolis of 25 million people. Two worlds exist in parallel in the same city — acceleration meets tranquility, and living for tomorrow contrasts with living in the present.
Worlds Apart
15 The Road to the 21st Century
Urban landscapes are changing, as
are the ways people live and work.
Siemens is leading the way here. The company plans to make its head-
quarters the world’s most energy-
efficient building. Pages 15, 18, 28
20 New Transportation Concepts
To make traffic flow more smoothly
in cities such as Tel Aviv, public transportation systems and efficient
solutions for road traffic are essen-
tial. In the future, mobility will be
faster, more efficient, and greener.
The vision: With the help of smart
systems, different modes of trans-
portation will be networked with
one another. Pages 20, 22
24 Smart Solutions for Seniors
Assistance systems tailored to the needs of older people could
help seniors live independently for
longer periods of time. A report on a pilot project in Berlin.
30 Behind the Scenes
What does “quality of life” mean for
people in developing countries and
emerging markets? Whether the loca-
tion is Asia, Africa, or Latin America,
it all depends on your point of view.
Pages 30, 33, 34, 36, 38, 40, 41
42 An Oasis for First-Class Care Top medical care is an essential part
of the life of every individual. At the
Tawam Molecular Imaging Centre in
the United Arab Emirates, patients
can already experience the future of
healthcare in the Gulf region. 2040
In a Chinese metropolis with a population of 25 million people, young Li leaves the ultramodern part of the city to spend a day
in the harmonious green oasis where his
grandfather Jun Yang lives, 40 kilometers
away. On the way to this peaceful enclave, Li uses several modes of transportation that
are networked with one another. His flexible
tablet PC reliably shows him the way to this
haven of unaccustomed calm. his tablet with a fingertip. The device automat-
ically connects with the waiter’s smartphone
and pays the bill within seconds — including a
generous tip. “Thank you very much, sir,” says
the guest worker from Europe, bowing deeply.
Li sighs. He would have liked to go on work-
ing here in the café of the tropical garden on
the 50th floor of Tiger Tower, but he has
arranged to meet his old-fashioned grandfa-
ther, who lives in a remote neighborhood lo-
cated 40 kilometers from the center of this me-
tropolis of 25 million. Li stands up, rolls up his
tablet, and follows a carefully raked path that
meanders through the flowers and leaves to-
ward the exit. An unobtrusive door between
two hibiscus bushes leads to a glass elevator
on the outside of Tiger Tower that offers a
view of the real world. There are skyscrapers as
far as the eye can see. Some of them are cov-
ered with vegetation that resembles a living
carpet, while others have gardens on their
roofs. Between the buildings, countless cars
roll along an extensive road network while sus-
pension trains whoosh above them on delicate
Quality of Life in Cities | Scenario 2040
t the end of October 2011, the United Na-
tions will welcome the Earth’s seven-bil-
lionth inhabitant. It’s highly likely that this indi-
vidual will be born in a developing country or
emerging market. After all, that’s where most
of the world’s population currently lives. It’s
also very probable that he or she will begin life
in a city, as more than half of all people on
Earth reside in urban areas. Perhaps her name
will be Marcia and she’ll be born in the Brazil-
ian port city of Recife. Or maybe he will be
called Ramesh and be welcomed by proud par-
ents in Kolkata, India. Alternatively, he might
be born in Nigeria, the home country of Dr. Ba-
batunde Osotimehin. Osotimehin is the Director of the United Na-
tions Population Fund (UNFPA). Her “7 billion
actions” program is designed to draw attention
to the challenges associated with ongoing
global population growth. One of the most im-
portant of these challenges involves increasing
urbanization. Says Osotimehin: “The world will
soon be home to seven billion people, 1.8 bil-
lion of whom will be between the ages of ten
and 24. Many of these young people will try to
make their way professionally in large cities
that are still not prepared to meet all of their
for him. He had enjoyed a pleasant ride
through the city park, thus avoiding the traffic
on the ring roads. At the park’s exit a reserved
electric car had been waiting for him so that he
could drive the last few kilometers to his
grandfather’s home. According to his mobility app, this would be
the fastest way to get there, because the city
government had obviously forgotten to pro-
vide the old neighborhood with a metro sta-
tion. However, while planning the route the
smart software had not foreseen the stray dog
that had caused an accident just before Li got
to his destination. Li switches on the automatic
pilot and lets his electric car manage the stop-
and-go traffic independently. He’d like to take
advantage of the delay to do just a bit more
work. “Carpe diem,” he murmurs as he unrolls
his tablet. Meanwhile, a few kilometers away, Jun has
finally managed to make a pot of fresh tea. He
pours a cup for himself and sits down on a
bench outside his house. Jun is looking for-
ward to seeing his grandson, even though he
thinks the boy is constantly stressed out, and
he therefore is worried about Li’s health. Ironi-
cally, it was Li who persuaded him to use a dig-
ital medical assistant,
which he now constantly
wears on his arm like a
wristwatch. The device
monitors his pulse, pres-
sure, and other medical
parameters in real time
and automatically alerts
Jun’s doctor if there’s any sign of a health risk. Jun stands up and uses his hand to shield
his eyes from the sun. An electric car is softly
whirring as it rolls down the street. In it sits his
grandson, busily typing on his tablet PC while
the automatic pilot steers the vehicle. Li looks around nervously. He feels as
though someone had stepped on an invisible
brake pedal. Only a short time ago he was in
the hustle and bustle of the big city, but now
he’s suddenly in a bizarrely slowed-down
world. To him, this decelerated and silent
world seems oppressive. He pulls himself to-
gether and greets his grandfather, who guides
him to the bench and offers him a cup of tea.
“You look pale,” Jun remarks after a while.
“Maybe you should move in with me and leave
all that mad rush behind you.” Li swallows and breaks into a sweat. He
lights up one of Jun’s cigarettes and inhales
hastily. “With all the stress you have to endure,
smoking is doubly unhealthy,” old Jun warns
him. Smiling mischievously, he says, “I’ve got a
present for you,” and slips his medical wrist-
watch over his hand. “I think you ought be
wearing this. I’m convinced that you need it
more than I do.” Florian Martini Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 13
Whether it’s Shanghai, Houston, or Frankfurt, cities are not only economic centers but also — and primarily — places where a growing number of people choose to live.
grounds, and poor air quality to move to a
green suburb. Slum residents in Mumbai
would want to have access to running water
and a direct bus connection to their jobs. Their
employers from India’s growing middle class,
on the other hand, who already enjoy such ba-
sic amenities, might be more concerned with
moving closer to areas with better schools for
their kids. Rural Exodus. Mumbai and London offer
good examples of the extremely different chal-
lenges faced by major cities. Only a third of all
Indians now live in urban regions, but those
cities, whether they be Mumbai, Kolkata, or
Chennai, generate more than two-thirds of the
country’s economic output. As a result of the
tremendous number of people leaving the
countryside, city dwellers will probably make
up about half the Indian population by 2030.
The problem is that a lack of effective urban
planning and insufficient investment in infra-
structure, such as subways and water treat-
ment plants, suggest that much of the growth
potential of Indian cities might remain unex-
ploited (see p. 33). However, making the most
of such growth opportunities is crucial, other-
wise it will not be possible to generate the
funds required to build new infrastructure in
the future.
The situation is completely different in Lon-
don, where the world’s first subway was built
in the 19th century and many water pipes and
sewers were installed during the reign of
Queen Victoria. London has always been a
model for infrastructure that other big cities
have tried to follow — but investment has fall-
en behind the city’s requirements over the last
few decades. The metropolis on the Thames
must therefore now address 21st century chal-
lenges with a core infrastructure that’s more
than 100 years old (see p. 15).
London is not the only city facing this prob-
lem; many cities in highly industrialized na-
tions are dealing with similar issues. Instead of
basic infrastructure investment, what they re-
ally need is intelligent modernization and se-
lective improvements. Tel Aviv, for example,
has an automated toll collection system that
flexibly adjusts prices in line with actual traffic
volumes — a feature that helps to boost the ef-
ficiency of the road infrastructure (see p. 21).
Experience to date shows that cities stand
to benefit the most when they employ holistic
needs. That’s why we need to promote intelli-
gent planning approaches that ensure cities
can offer these people a safe and secure envi-
ronment, as well as access to health care, edu-
cation, and jobs.”
Even if — like Osotimehin — the world’s
seven-billionth human is born in a small vil-
lage, it’s still quite likely that he or she will
move to a city someday. That’s because urban
areas are more attractive places to live when it
comes to education and job opportunities, en-
tertainment, and health care. Urban residents
are better educated on average and also earn
more money than people who live in the coun-
tryside. But are they also happier? How attrac-
tive is their quality of life? And do they actually
enjoy living in cities?
“Everyone has their own subjective view of
quality of life,” says urban planner Pablo Vag-
gione (see p. 41). “These views also differ
within a given country and even within a city.”
A person’s expectations with regard to the city
they live in depend on many factors. Take cities
as different as London and Mumbai. A student
may like living in the crowded center of Lon-
don, for instance — but a family of five would
probably flee the high rents, lack of play-
scaffolding. Li leaves the perfect illusion of an
exotic garden behind him and steps into the el-
evator. He pulls out his tablet, looks at the hus-
tle and bustle below, and feels his pulse accel-
erating again. He breathes a sigh of relief —
he’s slowly returning to his normal operating
speed. While Li zooms downward in the glass ele-
vator, letting his tablet calculate the fastest
route to his destination, Grandfather Jun is sit-
ting comfortably in front of his small wooden
house. The air seems to be standing still in the
noonday heat — in much the same way that
time has come to a standstill within his small
enclave. Here, between traditional one-storey hous-
es, small green gardens, and narrow alleys, an
oasis of peace and harmony has established it-
self. In the past hundred years the neighbor-
hood has not changed substantially, whereas
the city around it has continuously grown at a
rapid pace. Over the years, city planners have focused
their attention on the expansion of the mod-
ern parts of the city; then too, perhaps there
was no money left over for developing this
small neighborhood. For his part, Jun believes
that the municipal authorities have simply for-
gotten this collection of old “huts” — but that’s
all to the good, in his opinion. After all, he
doesn’t want all that much to do with the hec-
tic outside world. Inside his hut, the tea kettle
starts to whistle. Jun blinks contentedly in the
sunlight, lights a cigarette, and takes a puff be-
fore disappearing inside. He’s got time — so
much time.
While Jun smokes and his tea kettle steams,
Li’s patience is being tested. He has been stuck
in traffic for a half-hour, even though his mo-
bility app had shown him the fastest route to
his grandfather’s home. The software had ini-
tially directed him to the next station of the
magnetic levitation train. Li had sat down in a
comfortable seat and used the time in the train
to hold a short video conference via his tablet.
Like most of his age-mates, Li knows tradition-
al offices only from history books. In his world,
the boundaries between work and leisure are
fluid; for the city’s young people, flexibility and
networking have long been an essential aspect
of life. Following the instructions shown on his
tablet, Li had then exited the train and climbed
onto an electric bicycle that his app had rented
Two worlds in a megacity of 25 million people: one characterized by
haste, the other by tranquility. 12 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Quality of Life in Cities | Trends
Building a Better Life
Cities are like magnets. They draw people hoping to find better education, employment, and opportunities.
Continuing urbanization harbors dangers, however, as an attractive quality of life for as many residents as possible can be ensured only if cities invest sufficiently and intelligently in their infrastructures.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 15
Quality of Life in Cities | London’s Infrastructure
As London works to modernize its infrastructure, Siemens is helping it become more energy efficient .
Steps include new tube trains, easy access to recharging for electric vehicles, and much more. Even Harry Potter stars seem to be trading in their broomsticks for hybrid-electric buses. Despite its poor air quality, people from all over the world flock to London. Quiet electric vehicles and
electricity produced using wind power will help to
make the city increasingly attractive.
Better than Broomsticks
t’s a hot summer day in London and the U.K.
capital is sweating. The air is thick and even
more tourists than usual are enjoying the city’s
sights. Masses of people crowd onto the nar-
row pavements and walk between cars that
barely seem to move in the constantly con-
gested streets of the inner city. Such traffic
congestion is one reason why London has the
worst air quality of any European city. Those
looking to cool off might decide to head for
the “tube,” the oldest subway system in the
world. After all, its stations are located at a
considerable depth below street level and you
would expect the air to be cooler there.
The London underground has been in serv-
ice since 1863. Although it’s overcrowded, it
remains the backbone of the city’s public trans-
port system, moving more than one billion
passengers each year. Many who venture
down into the tube are surprised to find that
rather than being refreshingly cool, it’s even
hotter than above ground. Over the decades,
constant train traffic has caused the ground to
heat up. Temperatures as high as 47 degrees
Celsius have been registered in the city’s sta-
tions, as Steve Scrimshaw from Siemens Mobil-
ity reports. As part of a tender, Siemens is working on a
preliminary study for the development of fu-
ture subway trains for London. New air-condi-
tioned rail vehicles will enter service in 2018.
“More than anything else, the trains need to be
light,” says Scrimshaw. “Lower weight means
lower energy consumption. Siemens’ design
would increase energy efficiency by nearly a
fifth and the trains will be able to accommo-
date over ten per cent more passengers.”
This would improve the utilization of exist-
ing infrastructure. But even without air-condi-
tioning, compared to the early days of the
tube, a trip in the London underground today
could almost be called pleasant. The under-
ground trains of the 19th century were pulled
by steam locomotives and travelers from that
time described conditions in the smoky tun-
nels as infernal. Flue gases escaped to the sur-
face through ventilation shafts. It therefore
seemed like witchcraft when the first electri-
cally-operated, smoke-free trains appeared in
1890. London was a pioneer when it came to
infrastructure back then.
World’s Largest Wind Park. Now the city, and
its current mayor, Boris Johnson, plan to do
nothing less than reclaim this role. As in the
past, electricity might hold the key to creating
a cleaner and more efficient city. The world’s
biggest offshore wind park is now being built
off the coast of southern England, and
Siemens engineers are working with UK Power
Networks on a smart grid for London that will
be capable of delivering renewable energy
from wind farms and from solar panels across
the city and integrating these sources with the
national grid. In addition, more and more electric and
plug-in hybrid vehicles can now be seen on the
streets of London. The new age of electricity
has begun and London is leading the way for-
ward for many other big cities interested in
generating and distributing energy more effi-
ciently while also reducing demand.
Power is increasingly being produced in the
UK without CO
emissions. What’s missing in
the narrow streets of London but is available in
abundance on the high seas are strong
breezes. Offshore wind farms are already har-
vesting this natural energy in the UK. Gunfleet
Sands, for example, a wind power facility lo-
cated seven kilometers southeast of Essex,
went into operation in August 2009. Some 48
14 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2010
Jakarta’s land area is below sea level. As a re-
sult, dams will have to be built or raised if
ocean levels rise. And if things get really bad,
entire districts may have to be abandoned. Says Dr. Joan Clos, Director of the United
Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-
HABITAT): “Urbanization was viewed for too
long as something bad that had to be slowed
down or stopped. But that’s not possible. Now,
people are beginning to understand that cities
can be a positive force for change. They could
even play an important role when it comes to
combating global warming and promoting so-
cio-economic development.” (See p. 34). Urbanization is more than just an abstract
phenomenon. It’s also the sum of individual
stories of people who live in a city in order to
pool their creativity and productivity with oth-
ers. It’s not just buildings, streets, railways, wa-
ter mains, or parks that make a city. As Gaeser
says, “We must free ourselves from our ten-
dency to see cities as their buildings, and re-
member that the real city is made of flesh, not
Regardless of who the seven billionth per-
son on the planet will be, one thing is already
certain. His or her life expectancy will be high-
er than that of previous generations. More-
over, the growing demand on the part of older
people to continue to live in their own homes
will likely be met in many cases with the help
of sensor and communication technologies.
That such a scenario is possible is being
approximately 20 tons. This is mainly due to
the higher number of miles driven by individu-
als in sparsely populated areas (see p. 8). In
other words, city people can manage with less
This comparison illustrates that urbaniza-
tion in and of itself can generate an environ-
mental benefit. Back in the 1970s, Canadian
urban expert Jane Jacobs postulated a vision of
a green metropolis in which people live very
closely together in skyscrapers and walk short
distances to work, thus
avoiding the energy-inten-
sive and environmentally-
damaging automobile cul-
ture of suburbia. Whether
most people want to live in
such a compact urban envi-
ronment is a different issue. In any case, Professor Edward Glaeser of
Harvard University provocatively puts the con-
cept in a nutshell in his book Triumph of the
, in which he states: “If you love nature,
stay away from it.” This precept partly explains
why densely populated New York did so well in
the US and Canada Green City Index, taking
third place behind San Francisco (first) and
Vancouver. Urban Districts under Water. These cities are
already displaying a trend that may further re-
duce inner-city driving in the future — the de-
velopment of new forms of interacting with
solutions rather than setting up piecemeal
schemes that address only some of their prob-
lems in isolation. This conclusion is confirmed
by the Megacity challenges — a stakeholder
study. For example, by providing
everything from rentable electric vehicles to
low-floor streetcars (see p. 20), integrated traf-
fic and transport planning can help to effi-
ciently link personal and public transport in or-
der to meet the mobility needs of a modern
society (see p. 22). Like London, many U.S. and Canadian cities
also developed their infrastructures at a rela-
tively early stage in their development — but
the edge they gained has since become a dis-
advantage, as many of their rail lines, bridges,
and parts of their power grids are no longer
modern. Their settlement structures also mirror the
urban planning visions of the past. For exam-
ple, their city centers are often surrounded by
many residential areas in suburbs that offer a
green environment but can only be reached by
car. This may superficially enhance quality of
life for some, but a price is paid in the form of
“People are beginning to understand that cities can be a positive force for change.”
demonstrated by the Smart Senior field test in
Berlin (see p. 24). It’s also highly probable that
the next generation’s level of education will be
higher than that of their parents, as will their
income. Most of these trends will take shape in
cities. And one of the biggest challenges of the
21st century will be to make urban environ-
ments worth living in — places, in short,
where people can expect to enjoy a high quali-
ty of life.Andreas Kleinschmidt
work, such as telecommuting, that are being
driven by communication technologies (see p.
28). Many people regard the ability to more or
less decide where they work as an enhance-
ment to their quality of life.
Nevertheless, environmental pollution still
remains the biggest challenge facing cities
around the world. Climate change could be-
come very expensive for coastal cities in partic-
ular. For instance, approximately 20 percent of
energy consumption, as the US and Canada
Green City Index
shows. According to this in-
dex, which was presented at the Aspen Ideas
Festival in June 2011 by the Economist Intelli-
gence Unit, European cities generate some five
tons of CO
per year per resident, while cities
in the U.S. produce around 16 tons per capita.
Others produce even more carbon dioxide
emissions. In rural regions of the U.S., for in-
stance, the average per capita emission level is
Integrated urban planning helps enhance the quality of life in cities — whether through London’s hybrid buses or thanks to top-quality medical care in Al-Ain in the U.A.E.
cally-powered vehicles such as trains and small
electric cars, these buses are the cleanest way
to get around the city. They apparently also at-
tract famous people. Parcell mentions that he once had an actor
from the Harry Potter films on his bus. He’s
convinced that the celebrity was so enchanted
by the hybrid bus that he now prefers it to a
flying broomstick. Andreas Kleinschmidt
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 17
Silent Trip. Ray Parcell is checking his brand-
new double-decker at a bus garage in London.
All the nuts are tight, all the lamps lit, and
there’s not a scratch to be seen on the red
paint. The bus run can begin. Parcell climbs be-
hind the wheel and pulls a non-descript lever
— the main power switch for the hybrid motor.
Shortly after that, the diesel engine switches
on for a brief moment, but only to show that
it’s working properly. The bus eases silently out
of the garage, its diesel engine off at this low
speed. Parcell says that many passengers ask
about his strangely quiet vehicle that doesn’t
rattle or even need a combustion engine for
long stretches. He tells them that a battery-
powered drive system does all the work.
There’s no witchcraft here. “I’ve been a bus
driver for 17 years,” he proudly says, “but hy-
brid buses are the best buses I’ve ever driven.”
Parcell’s route takes him past the Bank of
England and St. Paul’s Cathedral on the way to
Waterloo, one of the busiest train stations in
England. “This route shows Londoners and vis-
itors to the city the future of our bus fleet,”
says Parcell. “We symbolize the transport sys-
tems of tomorrow. Hybrid buses consume up
to one-third less diesel fuel than conventional
From Rails to Revitalized Neighborhoods.
It’s not just buses that are taking the strain off
the capital city’s Underground, however; so too
are the light surface rail lines. The trains on
these lines travel to and from the center, large-
Siemens has been selected as the preferred
supplier for 1,200 train cars, the building of
two new depots and for ongoing maintenance.
This combination delivers overall lower project
lifetime costs, a very important factor in tough
economic times when cities face significant
budget constraints.
A large number of businesses have sprout-
ed up underneath the archways that line many
of the elevated routes. London’s high rents
make every square meter of space extremely
valuable, which is why small shops, bars, and
restaurants have opened up un-
der the tracks. “This is typical for
London; the city keeps getting
denser,” says Mark Brearley from
Design for London, a small
group of creative planners who
draw up development ideas for
the mayor. “This trend has led to
the construction of taller buildings, and to an
increasing number of people occupying the
same space,” he adds. But this density is reaching its limits in
some places, which is clear from the cheerful
grumblings of Brearley’s colleagues, typical
Londoners, who often complain about the
overcrowded and hot tube trains that they
have to squeeze into every morning.
New Lease on Life for Brixton. Dougald Hine
doesn’t have to worry about that. A freelance
consultant, Hine doesn’t take the train until
rush hour is over. The small firm he runs,
“You constantly stumble on small, empty
spaces in a city this size,” says Hine as he takes
a sip of coffee in the huge hall of St. Pancras
station. “These spaces — or ‘pockets,’ as I call
them — also include the archways below the
elevated train lines. A city that continually reinvents itself like
London will automatically fill these spaces.
I’ve also noticed that these projects are partic-
ularly successful in locations where infrastruc-
ture is already in place, such as the areas
around the tube stations.” Hine takes a last sip
of coffee; he has to get moving because he
needs to catch a Eurostar train to the Belgian
capital Brussels on a route that will feature
high-speed trains from Siemens beginning in
Ray Parcell’s working day is also coming to
an end. After a two-hour stint, he steers his hy-
brid bus back into the garage and hands it over
to the next driver. More of these energy-saving
vehicles are set to enter London’s bus lanes
over the next few years, as the contracts hand-
ed out for many new routes stipulate the exclu-
sive use of hybrid buses. Many of them use
Siemens technology. Along with other electri-
“Our new hybrid buses use up to one-third less diesel fuel than conventional vehicles.” ly on historical tracks built on bricked archways
that form a trademark backdrop in many dis-
tricts of the city. One of these routes is
Thameslink, which runs north to south
through London. Here, new stations are being
built and the route is being upgraded to ac-
commodate a dramatic increase in capacity to
as many as 24 trains per hour. Plans also call
for new and longer trains to enter service. which is called Space Makers Agency, special-
izes in improving urban districts at a reason-
able cost. In 2010, Hine brought new life to
Brixton Market in South London by convincing
the owner of an historic market hall to allow
concerts and artistic performances to be
staged there. Empty shops quickly filled up
with tenants, and even tourists started to
come by.
Electric vehicles can only be as green as the energy used to power them. Above: The Gunfleet Sands wind park, which is located off the southeast coast of England.
16 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
In May 2011, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of
London, launched “Source London,” a network
of publically-accessible charge points. The net-
work allows owners of electric vehicles to
charge their cars at locations across the city for
100 pounds per year. Source London is plan-
ning to install a total of 1,300 charging sta-
tions by 2013. The charge points are expected
to help reduce “range anxiety” by reassuring
electric vehicle drivers that they can recharge
while out and about.
Siemens is working to ensure that Source
London functions smoothly. The company sup-
plies the back office services and information
technology to provide customers with around-
the-clock services for account management,
access to the charging network, data process-
ing, billing and payment.
Although it’s becoming clear that small
electric cars will rule the streets of the future,
as an exhibition, conference, and office com-
plex (see Pictures of the Future,Spring 2011,
p.8). “Although the building will meet the
highest standards in terms of energy efficien-
cy, it will also be one of the biggest electric
loads in East London,” says Gareth Lewis from
Siemens Energy. “This will present a challenge
in terms of grid connection, but it will also of-
fer an opportunity because it will enable effec-
tive testing of load behavior in a smart grid.” Smart Grid for London. Lewis’ team is now
planning a smart grid for a large portion of
London in cooperation with UK Power Net-
works, a distribution grid operator. “Siemens
will build a system for updating grid status and
load data every hour,” Lewis explains. “Where
peak loads can be predicted, the system can
ask the Siemens Center to cut back consump-
tion on the following day. For example in the
Siemens wind turbines, each with a capacity of
3.6 megawatts (MW), are producing enough
electricity there to supply 120,000 households.
Siemens is also supplying 175 turbines to the
London Array Offshore Wind Farm, located in
the outer Thames estuary. Once construction
is complete at the end of 2012, the 630 MW
facility will become the largest offshore wind
farm in the world. A second phase could in-
crease the facility’s capacity to one gigawatt —
enough to supply electricity to the equivalent
of around 750,000 London households. Siemens is also handling the advanced grid
connections that will bring this energy on
shore. The intelligent transport and efficient
distribution of electricity in high demand areas
— especially cities — is becoming more and
more important especially as the production of
energy from renewable sources can fluctuate
sharply. In the case of wind power, supply de-
pends on the strength of the wind. That’s why
it’s crucial to have buffers. These can take the
form of batteries in electric vehicles or build-
ings that flexibly regulate their electricity con-
sumption through load shifting (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2011, p.17).
The Siemens Center for Urban Sustainabili-
ty in East London will itself become such a
buffer when it opens in the summer of 2012
summer months the building could cool itself
off at night, reducing the need to use the air
conditioning system during the peak period of
the following day.” Electric vehicles could pro-
vide an effective buffer in the future — by stor-
ing electricity. Their batteries could do this when
demand for energy is low — for example, dur-
ing the night — and then supply electricity
back into the grid when demand increases.
clean vehicles do not make congestion go
away. After all, they require more space per
passenger than buses or trains. Major cities like
London will therefore have to expand their
public transport networks in order to prevent
gridlock. The tube is already stretched to the
limits of its capacity during rush hours, so it’s
also important to develop alternatives to the
The Siemens Center for Urban Sustainability will open its doors in London in 2012. The highly
efficient, crystal-shaped building will be part of a smart grid project.
New tube trains, hybrid buses, and electric vehicles. Siemens is helping Mayor Boris Johnson (shown here “filling up” an electric car ) to reduce emissions and clear the air.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 19
Quality of Life in Cities | New Siemens Headquarters Siemens plans to build its new headquarters in the heart of Munich. It is to be one of the most energy-
efficient buildings in the world, and thanks to its inner courtyards and restaurants, the facility will also be
unusually accessible to the public. The new headquarters reflects the company’s future-oriented outlook. CEO Peter Löscher and Munich Mayor Christian Ude
present plans for Siemens’ new headquarters, which
will set standards for transparency, sustainability,
and accessibility.
A Showpiece Takes Shape
unich is a vibrant metropolis, especially
thanks to its city center. Anyone who has
ever emerged from the downtown Odeon-
splatz subway station will be familiar with the
lively square in front of the Feldherrnhalle and
the Tambosi coffee house, which opened in
1775. In good weather its outdoor tables are
crowded with customers enjoying their cap-
puccinos and personal dolce vita. And just a few steps away is Wittelsbacher-
platz, which is surrounded on three sides by
majestic buildings. Unlike Odeonsplatz, this
square is often almost empty, even though
Munich’s mayor, Christian Ude, calls it “one of
the city’s most beautiful and most intact
squares.” The reason is simple: The square’s
imposing buildings are not open to the public.
One of the palaces houses the Bavarian Min-
istry of the Interior; another is the headquar-
ters of Siemens AG. Consequently, when Siemens decided in
early 2010 to build its new headquarters, rep-
resentatives of the company and the city of
Munich agreed that the new building complex
should be as transparent as possible in order to
portunity to attend a workshop discussion to
express their opinions, which were subse-
quently kept in mind during the architects’
competition for the bid. There were also in-
depth discussions with various target groups,
including neighbors. Today all interested par-
ties can keep abreast of the latest develop-
ments by means of websites, e-mail, and a
telephone hotline. In the next step, renowned architecture and
urban planning firm Albert Speer & Partner or-
ganized a competition and invited architecture
firms to submit proposals. Following an elabo-
rate screening process involving about 40
firms from Europe and 100 from around the
world, Siemens and the city of Munich se-
lected the finalists. The criteria were clearly de-
fined: The new building should not visually in-
trude on historic Wittelsbacherplatz but should
nonetheless exert a magnetic appeal on peo-
ple who don’t work in the complex. In addi-
tion, the architecture should reflect Siemens’
corporate values and history. Twelve architecture firms made it to the fi-
nal round. The plans they submitted were dis-
cussed by 22 representatives
of Siemens and the city of
Munich, including CEO Peter
Löscher and Mayor Christian
Ude, as well as specialists
from the areas of architec-
ture, urban planning, monument conserva-
tion, and open space planning. The contract
was awarded to Henning Larsen Architects
from Copenhagen, Denmark. According to the jury, the firm’s winning de-
sign achieved the best combination of mod-
ernism and tradition. “The appearance of Wit-
telsbacherplatz will not change. The buildings
facing the square will remain untouched, and
so will the square’s present character,” says
Louis Becker, one of the three managing direc-
tors of the architecture firm, which was
founded in 1959. “However, behind this his-
toric facade we’ll build one of the world’s most
modern and energy-efficient buildings.” “The new building will offer more than
45,000 square meters of floor space,” says Dr.
Zsolt Sluitner, CEO of SRE. “Despite its huge
size, we want the building to generate its own
energy. The new headquarters will practically
be a zero-energy building.” V-shaped facades,
special reflectors, and connected interior
courtyards that are open to pedestrian traffic
will maximize the amount of daylight entering
the offices. Photovoltaic units on the roof and
in the glass-and-stone facades, as well as the
use of ground water and rainwater to cool the
building and provide a water supply, will help
the new headquarters avoid CO
emissions. If
additional power should be needed in the fu-
ture, only alternative energy sources will be
used. “Our goal is to comply with, or even ex-
ceed, the most stringent national and interna-
tional Green Building standards, such as LEED
Platinum or DGNB Gold,” Sluitner adds. The
cost of the building, which will be inaugurated
at the end of 2015, will be in the low tripple-
digit millions. Its technological systems will not
only be ultramodern but will also be ahead of
their time for many years to come. The new headquarters is also expected to
set new benchmarks in terms of working con-
ditions. Flexible floor layouts will on principle
make every kind of office format possible. For
example, specially designed open-plan offices
can promote team spirit. State-of-the-art com-
munication technologies will enable employ-
ees to work flexibly without being tied down
to a specific desk. “Our new Siemens Office
workplace concept was one of the foundation
stones of the new construction project. It
won’t matter where we work as long as the re-
sults are good,” says Sluitner. “We want em-
ployees to enjoy maximum flexibility.”
During the construction period, many em-
ployees will have to move their workplaces to
nearby Siemens locations. The demolition
process will start at the end of 2012 and con-
tinue for several months. “In this sensitive envi-
ronment, a quick demolition process with a
wrecker’s ball is out of the question,” says
Braun. “Out of respect for nearby historic build-
ings, the neighbors, and local businesses, a
careful and, above all, low-noise demolition
process will be necessary before the construc-
tion of the new building can begin in the mid-
dle or end of 2013.” In early 2016 at the latest, Munich will then
have a new “green” visitor attraction. It will be
a technological highlight in the historic city
center — a Siemens showpiece that will be ad-
mired and enjoyed by the company’s employ-
ees and the general public.Sebastian Webel
18 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
inject new life into the Wittelsbacherplatz area.
Modern interior courtyards with exhibition ar-
eas, cafés, and restaurants are to open up the
buildings to the surrounding streets while
Siemens employees work on the upper floors. Siemens has occupied the site for decades.
In 1949 the company set up its headquarters
in the Palais Ludwig Ferdinand in Wittels-
bacherplatz, which was built in 1825 by Leo
von Klenze, one of the most renowned classi-
cist architects. Ever since then, the company
has expanded its premises. Since the 1950s it
has built, bought, and connected buildings.
Among other things, it commissioned U.S. ar-
chitect Richard Meier to build a stunning build-
ing that was completed in 2000. Today the
complex is a conglomeration of buildings in
different styles, which has reached its limits
and can no longer make the most of technical
innovations. “The current headquarters complex is sim-
ply not fit for the future,” says Thomas Braun,
head of the new construction project at
Siemens Real Estate (SRE). “It’s almost impossi-
ble to update the buildings with state-of-the-
art technology such as air conditioning or com-
munications technology. Moreover, the ram-
bling layout, which is like a maze, no longer
matches the company’s workflow concept,
which gives top priority to good communica-
tion between employees.” This is why, in 2010,
Siemens decided to build its new headquarters
from scratch.
Transparent Planning. The subsequent plan-
ning process was transparent and interactive.
In an effort to determine what such a new
building could offer the city, Siemens included
city administration officials at an early stage.
The aim was not only to liven up Wittels-
bacherplatz but also to make the buildings as
open as possible and encourage pedestrians to
use the inner courtyards. In this way the world-
renowned museum district with its pina-
cothèques, which are located behind the head-
quarters, could be reached on foot from the
city center with relative ease. The inclusion of Munich’s population in the
planning process soon became another top pri-
ority. Many citizens took advantage of the op-
Although the building will offer over 45,000 square meters of space,
it will generate its own energy.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 21
Quality of Life in Cities | Vehicle Concepts Subways and trams play a major role in reducing urban traffic congestion. But older mass transit systems, which are typical of cities in industrialized nations, can be tough to optimize. A new platform concept from Siemens offers a solution that’s flexible and affordable. The Avenio (opposite page, second from left) and
the Inspiro (large image) use platform designs that
allow a wide range of equipment variations.
Siemens has many years of expertise in this field, including that gained from the subway for Oslo. Build Your Own Train
s more people move into metropolitan ar-
eas, the limits of existing transit systems
are being tested. Cities around the world are
addressing this problem in different ways.
China, for example, is investing heavily in a
major expansion of its public transportation
systems. Such mammoth projects make it pos-
sible to manufacture products in large num-
bers, and they allow standardizations and cost
reductions. The situation is different in many
European cities, where subway and tram net-
works are sometimes decades old. Over time,
most of these systems have undergone exten-
sions and renovations. The result is patchwork
systems that offer few possibilities for opti-
mization or cost-cutting standardizations.
“Every tram system is unique, with its own
curves, gradients, tracks, and above all qual-
ity,” says Matthias Hofmann, a product man-
ager for trams at Siemens Mobility in Erlangen.
Cities that have a long history of tramways, for
instance, are more likely to have sharp curves
and obsolete track material. “If a tram isn’t per-
fectly fitted to the track, enormous forces can
the vehicle stops, an advantage not found in
previous models; ancillary components that
shut off when the vehicle is idle; an intelligent
energy management system; and a recycling
rate of approximately 90 percent (see p. 88). Subway experts at Siemens Mobility also
know a lot about uncertainties related to dif-
ferent transportation infrastructures. In this
area, though, differences in track quality are
the least significant challenge. “Since the
world’s first metro entered service in London in
1863, a panoply of different subway trains has
developed, particularly in Western Europe, and
all of them differ in height, length, width, and
technical equipment,” says Sandra Gott-Karl-
bauer, head of Siemens’ Metro-Business Unit in
Vienna, Austria. So in the past, any subway system that was
ordered had to be tailored to the correspon-
ding track network. Compared to standardized
trains, this results in longer development times
and — especially in the case of small produc-
tion runs — higher costs. customers get only what they need. In that re-
spect, we have bridged the gap between stan-
dardization and individualization,” adds Chme-
lar. And because of economies of scale and
lower development costs, risks are smaller,
with lower failure rates and reduced mainte-
nance and repair costs for operators. There are also technical refinements, such
as systems for recovering braking energy, and
an option for driverless operation. “Inspiro’s
development made use of our experience with
subways in Oslo and with driverless subways in
Nuremberg,” adds Gott-Karlbauer (see Pictures
of the Future, Spring 2010, p. 22, and Spring
2008, p. 74). Aluminum construction, which
makes Inspiro the lightest subway currently
available, and a recycling rate of up to 95 per-
cent definitely guarantee the train the title of ef-
ficiency champion.
But that alone isn’t enough to get road users
out of cars and into trains. Smoothly-running
transport connections (see p. 22), the shortest
possible intervals between trains, aesthetic pref-
erences, and, above all, passenger comfort are
essential. To that end, Siemens hired product
designers from BMW DesignworksUSA to con-
ceptualize the Inspiro’s exterior, as well as its in-
terior furnishings. The result: Large, inviting en-
trances allow passengers to board the train with
ease; LED lights provide varied mood lighting;
and broad aisles lend a spacious feel. One de-
sign specification that really made the develop-
ers sweat was the need for a passenger com-
partment completely free of electrical cabinets
This was achieved by means of several technical
tricks. Designers also paid plenty of attention to
onboard information and security systems such
as displays, cameras, and fire-safety sensors,
which make passengers feel safe. The train is clearly on track for market suc-
cess. Munich has ordered 21 trains with Inspiro
components, and Warsaw — one of Europe’s
fastest-growing cities — has commissioned 35
six-section trains as a dress rehearsal for its
transportation system of the future. Sebastian Webel
20 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
be released on some curves — the wear on the
track and the vehicle is correspondingly high,
and there have even been cases where some
passengers have been rattled about in their
seats,” adds Hofmann. Focus on Flexibility. Engineers at Siemens
recognized this problem and developed a tram
called Avenio. Instead of having a rigid chassis
flanked by a long vehicle body, which was the
customary approach in the past, this tram fea-
tures swivel trucks in a central position be-
neath each module. It’s a simple principle, but
one with major consequences because it re-
sults in a symmetrical distribution of forces
and a big reduction in the stress placed on
tramcar joints. That’s why the Avenio can be
deployed flexibly — even in older, worn-out
track systems. “For instance,” says Hofmann,
“in Budapest, with its narrow roads, old sec-
tions, and convoluted tracks, we ran a tram for
500,000 kilometers without producing exces-
sive torque on the wheel sets. The wear and
tear on the wheels was only one third what it
was in designs used by contemporary vehicles
in well-maintained Western European tram
systems.” A pleasant side effect here is that re-
duced wear makes for a more comfortable ride
for passengers. Trips tend to be quieter and
smoother; passengers no longer find them-
selves pressed roughly to one side, nor do they
hear loud screeching and jangling when mov-
ing along curves. The Avenio also features flexible length and
width that customers can determine them-
selves, and uses sophisticated low-floor tech-
nology. As the wheel drives are situated at the
sides of the bogies and are easily accessible for
maintenance, the space between the wheels
can be used. In the Avenio, the floor is thus
correspondingly low — only a few centimeters
above the track bed. Together with its large
double doors, this allows completely barrier-
free use of the tram by passengers with baby
carriages or in wheelchairs, for instance. Other
highlights that make the Avenio an all-around
user-friendly tram with low lifecycle costs in-
clude its electric brake, which operates until
Fast Lane to Dynamic Market Pricing
Time is money. With this in mind, in January
2011, the city of Tel Aviv opened a special
traffic lane that all but guarantees to be free-
flowing. All you have to do is pay. The market
decides the price. If traffic becomes congest-
ed, the price for the “fast lane” rises. Travelers
can then decide whether a shorter driving
time in the special lane is worth the cost, or
whether they would rather cool their heels in
a traffic jam. The idea isn’t new. Special lanes
of this kind have been used for years in the U.S. But there they are part of a rigid system in which toll
fees are based on the time of day and laid out in traffic tables. For the fast lane in Israel, on the other
hand, Siemens worked with Munich’s Technical University to develop a software-based procedure that,
for the first time, determines fees dynamically, based on traffic volume. The system calculates the toll on
a minute-by-minute basis. Detectors in the asphalt measure the number of cars and their speed in real
time. The result is that about 6,000 cars now use the roughly 13-kilometer special lane every day. This
means much less stress for drivers, lower emissions for the environment, and even a small measure of
relief for those inching along on the regular road. “In order to keep doing business in the sub-
way segment globally, we had to dramatically
reduce the cost of individualized vehicles with-
out sacrificing quality,” recalls Gott-Karlbauer.
The solution was the Inspiro subway platform,
a vehicle based on a building-block approach.
“Customers can put together their own per-
sonal subways from standardized, prefabri-
cated modules,” explains Werner Chmelar, In-
spiro platform manager at Siemens Mobility in
Vienna. “That brings a big cost benefit. We can
meet customers’ needs with suitable products,
but we don’t have to develop them from
scatch, thanks to our building-block approach.” The platform is essentially similar to an auto
industry configurator, except that in this case
the customer has more options to choose
from. For example, the base vehicle of the In-
spiro is a six-section unit. Configurations with
three to eight sections with different degrees
of motorization and features are also possible.
“The trains can be put together in accordance
with requirements — which means an attrac-
tive purchase price for every customer, since
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 23
Quality of Life in Cities | Networked Mobility In the future, networked transportation systems and up-to-the-minute information on the fastest
connections will help city dwellers reach their destinations with ease despite rising traffic density.
The automobile will still be with us in 2050, but it will be just one of many modes of transportation.
From buses and rental bikes in
Denver, to electric cars (facing
page, below right) — with a
multi-touch table and a mobil-
ity app from Siemens (facing
page, top), transportation
modes will merge into inte-
grated transport systems. Flexibility in Motion
arcus Zwick is feeling upbeat. It’s late on
a Friday afternoon, and the week’s work
is done. A manager at Siemens, Zwick has just
arrived home in a Munich suburb. He is look-
ing forward to attending a soccer match this
evening; during his lunch break he went online
and bought a ticket to the game. A quick
glance at his smartphone shows he will need
to leave in a half hour if he wants to arrive on
time for the opening whistle. On his way to the
stadium, traffic is still moving smoothly. As traffic gets heavier his smartphone
steers him across the city — there are still 40
minutes to go before the start of the game.
Suddenly the mobile device on the windshield
emits a shrill tone; a voice issues a traffic jam
warning and recommends that Zwick park his
car and board a commuter train, which will get
him to the stadium on time. He touches the
display with a fingertip, and the navigation
system automatically changes the destination
and guides him to the nearest park-and-ride
site. On the way, software in the smartphone
purchases a ticket, ensuring that Zwick loses
sociation of Public Transport (UITP), is sure that
local public transportation will play a very deci-
sive role in these developments. Middle Eastern megacities have also recog-
nized this fact. Planners have assigned top pri-
ority to integration of the transportation sys-
tems in Dubai, for example, where subway
lines, buses, and marine transport are linked
by a growing number of multimodal connec-
tion stations. Shuttle bus service is available at
all subway stations — even those in outlying
areas. Fares can be paid by means of a “smart-
card” or a smartphone e-ticket app, making it
easier for people to change transportation
modes. Instead of having to keep track of fare
prices, users pay for the distance they have
traveled and can also use smart technology to
pay for parking.
In Europe, according to Prof. Stefan Bratzel
of the “Center of Automotive” at the University
of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Ger-
many, buses and rail systems are becoming
preferred modes of transportation as more and
more young people in big cities are choosing
not to own cars. In a study
titled “Jugend und Auto-
mobil 2010” (Young Peo-
ple and the Automobile
2010), Bratzel and his
team surveyed over 1,100
people between the ages of 18 and 25. The re-
sults clearly indicated that this group no longer
considers the car to be a status symbol.
And surveys conducted since mid-2000 by
Prof. Peter Kruse, a Bremen-based psycholo-
gist, have confirm this trend. “Mobility used to
stand for freedom, and was considered to be a
privilege. Today, freedom tends to be ex-
pressed through mobile phones rather than
with cars,” he says. The object of desire and
symbol of personal independence is increas-
ingly becoming a down-to-earth tool for mo-
bile functionality. Many consumers subcon-
sciously feel that the automobile is just one of
many forms of transportation.
The same finding was reported by re-
searchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Sys-
tems and Innovation Research in Karlsruhe,
Germany. In their study, “Vision of Sustainable
Transport in Germany,” they predict that only
one out of four inhabitants in big cities will
own cars by 2050. “Bicycles and highly effi-
cient, lightweight electric vehicles are the new
status symbols for city-dwellers,” report the re-
searchers. Mobility as a Service. Automakers such as
BMW and Daimler have been adapting for
some time now to their customers’ changing
desires in terms of mobility. In the future, con-
sumers will want to be able to purchase not
only cars, but above all mobility. In addition to
car sharing offers for electric cars in cities, such
companies are focusing on connections to
public transportation systems. BMW wants to
make park+ride options more attractive, for ex-
ample, by means of better signs indicating
parking areas and information posted online
giving the number of available parking spaces
and upcoming train departure times.
Daimler is offering not only its car2go serv-
ice for rentals of its Smart brand cars in the
cities of Ulm, Hamburg, Austin, and Vancou-
ver, but also a new type of ride sharing, which
brings together drivers and passengers in near
real time with the help of smartphones or per-
sonal computers. This makes it possible for the
first time to arrange ride sharing for short trips
on the spur of the moment, which could ease
urban traffic congestion. All that’s left to do
now, insists Dr. Martin Zimmermann, Vice
President Strategy, Alliances & Business Inno-
vation at Daimler, is to interlink all public
transportation services to achieve maximum
efficiency. This, he believes, will make multi-
modal transportation highly attractive. This
process has already begun. The spread of the
mobile Internet offers tremendous potential
for more efficiently networking transportation
in cities. “Mobile communications technology
is making it possible to realize something
called ‘car-to-infrastructure communication,’
which enables more rapid response by traffic
control systems,” says Zwick. This concept is already taking shape in
Houston, where Siemens mobility experts
have implemented an intelligent traffic light
control solution that registers not only how
many vehicles are approaching an intersec-
tion, but also their speed. It controls traffic
light timing dynamically based on the number
of approaching vehicles. In addition to making
22 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
no time and can simply take his seat in the
Although this scenario is not quite here yet,
the day will soon arrive when a mobility app
loaded into a smartphone will enable people
to travel safely and quickly through cities. Like
Marcus Zwick and his colleagues at Siemens,
researchers and companies all over the world
are working on solutions that can closely net-
work various modes of urban transportation
with one another so that they can be intelli-
gently controlled. The idea behind this is that in order to
quickly and effectively get from A to B in the
future, people will be guided through urban
mazes by intelligent systems. Travelers and
commuters won’t be limited to just one
means of transportation; instead they’ll switch
between different modes, depending on traffic
conditions, the route in question, and personal
preferences — exchanging an electric car for a
subway, a commuter train for a rental bike, or
linking them all together. The individual sys-
tems needed for this are already available. The
challenge is to link them intelligently so that
they can be more effectively controlled for en-
hanced utility. Demand for intelligent, networked trans-
portation systems is growing rapidly. Accord-
ing to the most recent study by Frost & Sulli-
van, in 2025 about 4.5 billion people will live
in cities — one billion more than today and the
equivalent of 60 percent of the world’s popula-
tion. Worldwide, there are about 30 megacities
with populations of over ten million inhabi-
tants each, as well as conurbations like Ger-
many’s Ruhr region, with their tightly meshed
networks of urban centers. Many megacities
and conurbations are already suffering from
chronic traffic jams, parking space shortages,
and poor air quality. Cars: Fading Status Symbols. To ensure that
life in most cities continues to be attractive,
decision-makers from municipalities are work-
ing with mobility providers to find new solu-
tions. For instance, Hans Rat, who is Secretary
General of the Brussels-based International As-
Bicycles and highly efficient, light-
weight electric vehicles are the new
status symbols for city-dwellers.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 25
All SmartSenior components must interact perfectly — from a transmitter (left), blood pressure reader, and Med-I-Box (top) to the system’s webpad and smartphone.
brought together 28 industrial firms and re-
search organizations under the direction of
Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (T-Labs). Par-
ticipating companies include Siemens, BMW,
Alcatel-Lucent, Charité University Hospital in
Berlin, the German Research Center for Artifi-
cial Intelligence, the Technical University (TU)
of Berlin, and the GEWOBA real estate man-
agement company in Potsdam. Germany’s
Ministry of Education and Research has provid-
ed €24 million in project funding, with an ad-
ditional €17 million coming from industrial
companies, including €5 million from Siemens
(see Pictures of the Future, Fall 2010, p. 100). The project, which was launched in 2009,
consists of nine sub-projects for developing in-
novations that integrate information and com-
munication technologies and services, includ-
ing emergency assistance services, household
safety solutions, social networking systems,
and telemedicine service centers. The main
challenge lies in the standardization and inte-
gration of various devices — from televisions
and smartphones to household appliances and
cars. “SmartSenior is the leader in Europe
when it comes to its scope and its objective of
integrating so many services into a single plat-
form,” says Michael Balasch, Research & Inno-
vation Director at T-Labs and overall coordina-
tor of the SmartSenior consortium. Field Test with Seniors. A three-month field
test to be launched in the spring of 2012 will
show whether all the technologies fit together
and how well they’re accepted by users. To this
end, 35 existing apartments in Potsdam will be
equipped with a high-speed Internet connec-
tion and data hub known as the AAL Home
Gateway and with various room sensors. All
residents will be 50 or older. The model apart-
ment for the test in Potsdam has a flatscreen in
the living room that displays the SmartSenior
interface, a set-top box for high-resolution au-
dio-video communication via the television, a
camera, and a hands-free phone. Sensors in
the window frames register whether windows
are open or closed, while palm-sized sensors in
the ceiling collect information on the tempera-
ture, lighting conditions, and possible gas
leaks. Most of these sensors operate au-
tonomously and transfer their data to the
Gateway. “It only takes the system a week to learn a
resident’s daily routine on the basis of the sen-
sor data,” says Karsten Raddatz from TU Berlin.
If the senior leaves the house and leaves a win-
dow open that would normally be closed, he
or she can be sent a message on their smart-
phone. Data on the senior’s movements is also
valuable. Consider the following example: A
resident goes to the bathroom between 2 a.m.
and 3 a.m. as usual, but doesn’t return to the
bedroom within ten minutes as he normally
does. The system will register this anomaly
and send a signal to an assistance center,
which will then attempt to contact the senior
by phone. If this attempt fails, the assistance
center will notify an emergency rescue center. The personalization possibilities the system
offers and the modular nature of the solutions
are very important because, as Balasch points
out, “each senior citizen is unique.” Some older
people are more mobile than others and can
use the platform to maintain contact with fam-
ily and friends, while using its comfort services
Quality of Life in Cities | SmartSenior Project
Intelligent Solutions for Tomorrow’s Seniors
24 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
elga Hohmann turns on the TV shortly af-
ter she wakes up. The screen displays her
user name, after which Helga, who is 72 years
old, enters her password. Large icons immedi-
ately appear with headings like “Communica-
tion,” “Health,” “Assistance,” “At Home,” and
“Calendar.” Helga clicks on “Calendar” to view
the schedule she has made up for today. She
has a doctor’s appointment at 11, a physical
therapy session at 3, and a date with friends at
6. However, none of this will require her to
leave her comfortable apartment, as every ap-
pointment will take place virtually — via her
television’s service portal, which includes an
audio-video communication system. This is how life might be for senior citizens
in coming years in a world with Ambient As-
sisted Living (AAL) systems, which allow them
to remain independent, healthy, safe, and mo-
bile for longer periods of time. Demographic
developments make it clear that something
has to be done. For example, one out of every
three people in Germany will be older than 60
by 2035. In response to such developments, a
research project called “SmartSenior” has
traffic flow more smoothly, the new technolo-
gy is also designed to help buses stay on
schedule. The infrastructure determines if a
bus is running late and turns lights green to al-
low the driver to make up for lost time (Pic-
tures of the Future, Spring 2011, p. 91).
Multi-Touch Display. The individual ele-
ments of smart infrastructures are becoming
smarter and smarter, but that’s not enough.
“The information from traffic systems still
needs to be bundled and used for controlling
and optimizing traffic flows,” says Zwick. Siemens is a worldwide supplier of not only
traffic infrastructure components — including
traffic lights and traffic management systems
— but is also developing hardware and soft-
ware for traffic control systems and informa-
tion technology solutions for collecting associ-
ated data and making it available as new
services. For instance, Siemens Innovative Mo-
bility Solutions unit, which has locations in Er-
langen and Munich and is led by Zwick and a
colleague, has developed an oversize multi-
touch display that will make it easier for traffic
control center personnel in major cities to gain
an overview of growing amounts of informa-
tion. The multi-touch display gathers data from
individual traffic and information systems and
visualizes it for staff. It also simplifies interac-
tions between personnel in different areas of
responsibility. Zooming in on road overviews,
closing tracks, or linking units of data with one
another on a shared surface — it can all be
done by just moving a fingertip, as with to-
day’s tablet PCs. “Every activity is visualized and transparent
for everyone involved,” says Zwick. The display,
which is still in the prototype phase, is intend-
ed to demonstrate what’s going to be possible
in the future. What’s more, for staff who are
traveling, information can be transmitted to
mobile devices so that they too can be includ-
ed in decision-making. In addition to speeding
up reaction times, this should also make coor-
dination more precise and secure. Buses and
trains will be more punctual, with less waiting
time between connections.
Much of this information will of course also
be available to the public. Their smart devices
will give them access to situation updates and
will allow them to spontaneously opt for an al-
ternative mode of transport — just as Zwick
does when he wants to meet friends in the city
after the soccer match. A glance at his smart-
phone display tells him they are in a steak-
house. That’s perfect. He’s ready for a good
meal. A mobility app shows he can be at the
restaurant in 30 minutes by subway. Not want-
ing to make his friends wait for him, he checks
the menu and orders. Hans Schürmann
Highly networked, active, and mobile — that’s how seniors will be able to improve their quality of life if a project called SmartSenior becomes reality. The project sets the stage for a range of personalized
medical services and communication options. A field test will be launched in Potsdam in 2012.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 27
through perceptions of things such as odors,”
Schultz explains. “But some of this information can also be collected in telemedi-
cine by the physical presence of family mem-
bers, a nurse or a physical therapist.” Telemedi-
cine is an attractive option for seniors, not only
in cities, but also in rural areas with a shortage
of doctors. In emergency situations, telemedi-
cine physicians can explain to people how to
help themselves until professional assistance
arrives. Medical information collection by sensors
that measure and transmit data on oxygen sat-
uration, movement, and heart and respiratory
rates offers other benefits as well — for in-
stance, by helping to prevent automobile acci-
dents. BMW, for example, is developing an
emergency stop assistance system for project
scenarios in which a driver looses conscious-
ness because of a heart attack. ing falls and strokes and for implementing sub-
sequent rehabilitation measures. This is impor-
tant, as more than one million people in Ger-
many now live with the aftereffects of a stroke.
Other SmartSenior project partners address
different issues. Vivantes, for example, is re-
sponsible for dialysis, while the Berlin Pain
Center and the Klinikum Südstadt Rostock hos-
pital develop pain treatments.
Falls are another big problem. One out of
three 65-year-olds in Germany suffers a fall at
least once a year, as do more than 80 percent
of people over 80. The cost of treating the ef-
fects of such falls in Germany is estimated to
be €500 million per year, according to the Geri-
atric Research Group. Moving back home after
a hospital or rehabilitation stay is often diffi-
cult, as patients become less motivated and
neglect their training and exercise. “These peo-
ple need to keep doing intense exercise for a
project partners will continue to face many
challenges even after the research project con-
cludes in 2012. For one thing, they will have to
transform proven solutions into marketable
products. Moreover, the legal situation re-
mains unclear with regard to systems such as
the emergency stop assistant and the interface
between medical and non-medical products.
Finally, health insurers are only willing to pay
for medical services whose efficiency has been
demonstrated, which is why there still aren’t
any fee scales for telemedicine. Interest among Young and Old. The CeBIT
2011 trade fair showed the project partners
that SmartSenior could be a big sales hit, as it
became clear that the system would sell quick-
ly if it were already available. Seniors lined up
and said, “We want to take it home!” Young
people were also impressed, as the SmartSe-
The emergency stop assistant would then
automatically take control of the vehicle, turn
on the hazard lights, and safely steer the car to
the shoulder. The unit would also use sensor
technology in radars, laser scanners, and cam-
eras to determine the positions of other vehi-
cles and pedestrians, while at the same time
transmitting relevant medical data and the
precise location of the vehicle to an emergency
rescue center.
Multifaceted Target Group. ”The SmartSe-
nior target group consists of all elderly individ-
uals,” says Dr. Mehmet Gövercin, Deputy Direc-
tor of the Geriatric Research Group at Charité
Hospital. Gövercin believes this target group is
especially in need of intelligent and innovative
solutions: “The older people get, the more per-
sonalized the solutions have to be — after all,
there are 55-year-olds who have strokes and
80-year-olds who run marathons.” Gövercin’s
group works at the interface between research
and practice to develop solutions for prevent-
long time,” says Gövercin, “and a home interac-
tive training system can make sure they contin-
ue their training with the help of physical ther-
apists.” That’s why an interactive trainer is also
being tested in the field study. Gövercin knows
from his own daily experience that seniors en-
joy using computers and communication tech-
nology if they clearly see and understand their
utility. “Elderly people are anything but techno-
phobic,” he says.
The overriding objective is always to im-
prove the quality of life for seniors and allow
them to remain independent. But the project
also focuses on reducing the costs associated
with hospital stays, which would ease the bur-
den on health insurance companies. To this
end, SmartSenior will try to determine the ex-
tent to which some of these goals can actually
be achieved. Balasch is confident that the pro-
ject’s three-month field test will yield extensive
new knowledge regarding the interaction be-
tween its system components and senior citi-
zens’ acceptance of the overall system. Still,
nior service portal allows users to make pur-
chases and order meals online, notify landlords
of problems in an apartment, make appoint-
ments at the hairdresser’s, and access social
Our fictitious user Helga Hohmann would
thus not only be able to contact her doctor via
the SmartSenior portal but also her family and
friends. “Hello, Helga!” a pleasant voice might
call out of the TV at 6 p.m. Helga’s friend Ger-
da would then appear on the screen, which
might also split to reveal the virtual presence
of Helga’s friend Klaus and his wife waving and
smiling into the camera. With SmartSenior, the
friends could meet virtually once a week or
more and interact almost as if they were sitting
together. Tonight that won’t be enough,
though, so they decide to meet for dinner. Hel-
ga puts on a vest that no one will ever know is
fitted with sensors, as is her watch. She leaves
her apartment with a good feeling, because
she knows her SmartSenior network will keep
her safe tonight. Evelyn Runge
Telemedicine enables physicians to react immediately to a problem by communicating directly with the patient via an audio-video connection. 26 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
to make their lives easier. Others are suscepti-
ble to falls or are in danger of having a stroke.
That’s why the field test also includes an inter-
active trainer for preventing falls. It may even
be possible later on for hospital or emergency
services staff to utilize the video function in or-
der to get an idea of what’s going on before
they arrive — assuming that the user has ap-
proved the use of such a function. Siemens is
also developing a watch that registers the
movements and vital data of those who wear
it, and then transmits the information to the
AAL Home Gateway (see Pictures of the Future,
Fall 2010, p. 100)
Flexible Use. ”We’ve come up with different
scenarios that bring together medical, user-rel-
evant, and individual goals,” says Stefan Göll-
ner from TU Berlin and the T-Lab Quality and
Usability Lab. Here, user groups consist of sen-
sensors in the window frames and ceilings are
similar in size and design to smoke and burglar
alarms, and the AAL Home Gateway and the
Med-I-Box medical communication unit can be
installed anywhere in the home. Due to legal
considerations, the field test doesn’t offer par-
ticipants any real medical services, however.
Emergencies are therefore only being simulat-
ed in order to test how well the assistance sys-
tems work and how users interact with one an-
other. Helga Hohmann is one of the fictitious indi-
viduals created for a SmartSenior scenario. She
has had several hip operations and uses public
transport to go to the doctor, but has also ex-
pressed the desire to meet with her doctor
“with less of a hassle.” That’s why the scenario
has her calling up her personal patient file
shortly after 11 a.m. via the SmartSenior plat-
form’s “Health” icon on her TV screen. She
information on the patient’s condition and
preparing his or her electronic patient file. The
physician then obtains data on possible illness-
es, symptoms, and medications being taken.
All previous diagnoses can be viewed at the
SmartSenior portal. “The data for the patient
and the doctor will be processed and present-
ed differently,” Schultz explains. The electronic
patient file contains all relevant information,
such as ECG results, blood pressure, medica-
tions, etc. Says Schultz: “Everything is checked
by an automatic diagnosis system. Other doc-
tors can be called in for consultations if neces-
sary, and medical databases can be accessed
to determine the possible interactions of vari-
ous medications.”
More Effective Service. The TMCC is devel-
oping the project’s telemedicine service center,
which operates like a call center in which in-
iors and their families, physicians, emergency
medical technicians, physical therapists, and
other service providers as secondary and co-
users. All of these potential users will be net-
worked through the SmartSenior Service por-
tal. They will be accessible via stationary or
mobile communication devices to handle
emergencies, regularly scheduled consulta-
tions, and interactive training sessions — for
example, during physical rehabilitation periods
after a fall or stroke. Users’ fears were taken
into account in the scenarios. For example,
some people might be nervous about having
to use the technology or afraid that they’re be-
ing watched. In order to allay these fears, SmartSenior
devices have been designed to blend in per-
fectly with the users’ normal surroundings. No
resident or visitor will even notice at first
glance that an apartment is fitted with techni-
cal assistance systems. The set-top box, for ex-
ample, is a non-medical communication com-
ponent that looks like a video recorder, the
checks her vital signs, which the sensors in her
watch, her pulse oximeter, and external de-
vices have sent to the system. The screen then
shows her pulse, body temperature, blood
pressure, and respiratory rates. She can now
use the remote control to activate the “Televis-
it” audio-video connec-
tion. A short time later
she will be greeted by a
doctor’s assistant at the
telemedicine center, who
will then pass her on to
her physician. “It’s impor-
tant that the user should
be able to recognize the interactive elements
and operate them intuitively on the TV and
with mobile terminals such as smartphones,”
Göllner explains.
“A telemedicine visit proceeds like a normal
trip to a doctor or a house call,” says Dr. Martin
Schultz, head of the Telemedicine Center at
Charité Hospital (TMCC) in Berlin. In this setup,
a nurse can act as a receptionist by requesting
coming calls are prioritized and forwarded.
There are various service levels, each with its
own area of expertise. Caregivers, nurses, and
emergency medical technicians work on the
first level. “They act as medical agents and
need to be trained to communicate according-
ly,” says Schultz. The second level consists of
doctors with high availability who can react
quickly, as well as highly-skilled specialists who
are not always available. Telemedicine staff
members work at computer screens with high-
resolution audio-video systems. “Obviously, a
physician who actually meets with a patient
will be able to obtain nonverbal information
through a manual examination or even
Telemedicine is an attractive option for
seniors, not only in cities, but also in
rural areas with a shortage of doctors.
Solutions such as an ECG Shirt enable seniors to read their vital signs and transmit them directly to a physician via the SmartSenior platform.
Digitization has dramatically changed the
media industry. Which sectors will this
development affect next?
The digitization of the world of work
will forge ahead in all areas and industries.
The degree will vary, of course. A physician,
for example, has to actually examine patients
at some point and cannot treat them only via
remote diagnoses. Thus, intrapersonal differ-
ences between sectors are more important.
What do you mean by that?
I’m referring to conditions related to
life phases. The human factor plays a crucial
role when we try to make changes in the work
environment. There are the “digital natives,”
for example — young people who immedi-
ately incorporate every new technological ad-
vance into their private and professional lives.
There are also the “digital immigrants” — older
people who are used to fixed work stations
and face-to-face meetings.
What does this mean for our future work?
That the world of work is diversifying!
There will no longer be standard job profiles,
because the areas of work are becoming more
individualized, depending on a person’s skills
and commitment. Individual work environ-
ments are also changing in line with require-
ments. One example is the Bring Your Own
Device, or BYOD concept, in which every em-
ployee supplies his or her own equipment.
Companies provide self-assured, dynamic, and
highly qualified employees with a budget for
buying their preferred work equipment them-
selves. For example, I can decide myself
whether to work with a laptop and a Black-
Berry or with an iPhone and an iPad. Interview by Klaudia Kunze.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 29
Quality of Life in Cities | Communications
In the future, work will come to us instead of us going to it — thanks to high-speed connections, networked computers, and robust IT security architecture. In offices as well, fixed workstations will increasingly be replaced by flexible work centers. Modern offices require high-powered technologies.
Munich is rapidly installing fiber optic cables. Facing page, left: Munich Mayor Christian Ude and public utilities officer Kurt Mühlhäuser.
Untethered but Online L
ike many commuters, automotive engineer
Jens Müller begins his day in a traffic jam.
It takes him an hour to get from his home at
Lake Starnberg to his office in Munich. “In such
situations I really envy my colleague Marijke
van Veen,” he says. That’s because commuting
is a thing of the past for Marijke, who works for
a design company in Amsterdam. She doesn’t
have a fixed workstation. Instead, she goes to
a smart work center, otherwise knowns as a
co-working center. Such centers, which are ei-
ther company-owned or privately-operated
rental offices, can be found in many European
cities. They offer cutting-edge equipment that
enables colleagues to work together nationally
or internationally. They also feature the requi-
site computer programs, as well as rooms for
video conferences and facilities for joint work
on 3D data. Marijke only has to travel 500 me-
ters from her home to her current workplace.
In fact, she often works from her home office
as well, as long as video conferences with real-
time presentations haven’t been scheduled. “Work and home life are increasingly merg-
ing,” says Dr. Wilhelm Bauer from the Fraun-
hofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO)
Germany’s cities are also doing well in com-
parison to many other places. Munich’s munic-
ipal utility company SWM, for example, plans
to have fiber optic cables reach all of the
32,000 buildings within the area surrounded
by the city’s inner beltway by 2013. That
means 350,000 households, or half of the
households in Munich. “One fourth of Munich’s inhabitants already
have access to transmission rates of up to 100
Mbit/s,” reports Dr. Jörg Ochs, who heads the
utility’s Telecommunications unit, which is re-
sponsible for Fiber Optic Cable Access for Mu-
nich. “That makes us one of the fastest cities in
Europe from a data transmission point of
view.” Engineers at BMW and at Siemens Corpo-
rate Research in Munich have long had such
high transmission rates, since they need them
for the development of virtual products online.
“We’ve also installed redundant connections
nology. His teams are therefore developing en-
cryption and input check technologies as well
as a user rights management system that is al-
most impossible for hackers to crack.
Work processes are also set to become
more flexible. For instance, by taking advan-
tage of co-working centers, teams can sponta-
neously meet as project requirements develop,
irrespective of their locations. In line with this
approach, the new Siemens headquarters in
Munich will feature the Siemens Office con-
cept, which allows teams to meet online or in
real life in state-of-the-art office zones whose
size and equipment can be flexibly adjusted to
meet changing needs (see p. 18). It’s now September 25, 2015, and Jens
Müller has booked a virtual meeting room for
10 a.m. Marijke van Veen is still sitting in the
living room of her friend Christiane, who cele-
brated her birthday the night before. At today’s
meeting the team will discuss a “facelift” for a
small electric car. Marijke’s latest idea for the
car’s interior is on her tablet and she’s all set to
show it to her colleagues — but after a night-
long party, she wishes this meeting weren’t a
video conference.Klaudia Kunze
28 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
regarding the trend toward a new culture of
work. “But it depends very much on the avail-
able technology.” Ideally, the technology in-
cludes a network of fiber optic cables that can
transmit data at a rate of one gigabit per sec-
ond (Gbit/s) to the end user. Although VDSL
and simple DSL connections achieve less than
one tenth or one hundredth of this rate, they
still suffice for many applications. In the fu-
ture, however, it should be possible to achieve
data transmission rates of several hundred
megabits per second (Mbit/s) even with a mo-
bile phone, which would allow users to hold
high-resolution video conferences.
Optimally Networked. Virtual offices prima-
rily require networked computers, including
smartphones and desktop devices, a high-
speed transmission network, and state-of-the-
art IT security architecture. The German gov-
ernment therefore decided in 2009 that three
fourths of the country’s households should
have connections with transmission rates of at
least 50 Mbit/s by 2014. This target will proba-
bly be achieved, since the Global IP Traffic
Forecast published by Cisco Systems in June
2011 predicts that the average bandwidth will
increase in Germany from 12 Mbit/s in 2010 to
46 Mbit/s in 2015. The South Korean capital,
Seoul, has already achieved a rate of 100
Mbit/s, which it plans to increase to 1 Gbit/s by
the end of 2012. Such a high transmission rate
would allow movie fans to download films
quickly from the Internet and would also en-
able professional users to work with high-reso-
lution images in distance learning programs at
universities, for example. Rates also need to be
up to 1 Gbit/s to transmit high-resolution med-
ical images or for industrial users to collabo-
rate on virtual versions of new products.
Like other Asian countries, South Korea is
adopting new technologies in record time. Al-
though the iPhone wasn’t introduced to the
country until 2009, South Korea’s 50 million
inhabitants are expected to have 20 million
smartphones by the end of the year. Smart-
phones and tablet PCs are now standard equip-
ment for college students, enabling them to,
for example, reserve a seat at a university li-
brary from home. This is made possible by an
app that shows users which reading rooms
have space available.
Dr. Wilhelm Bauer, 54, is
Head of the Fraunhofer In-
stitute for Industrial Engi-
neering (IAO) and the Insti-
tute for Human Factors and
Technology Management
(IAT) in Stuttgart, Germany.
He also lectures on office
work design at the universi-
ties of Hanover and
Stuttgart. As the co-initiator
of the Office 21 joint proj-
ect, Bauer is particularly
concerned about how office
and knowledge work will
develop in the future.
Welcome to the BYOD Office
Quality of Life in Cities | Interview
for many companies,” adds Ochs. “As a result,
if one cable should malfunction, the second
one can go into action immediately.” “Although the telecommunications infra-
structure is pretty good in Germany’s cities, ru-
ral areas still have some catching up to do,”
says Bauer. People in rural areas in particular
would benefit from high-performance net-
works. Many employees would be able to
commute less often to work in cities. The
Bavarian government has therefore an-
nounced that it will invest €100 million to pro-
mote faster fiber optic connections in the
state’s municipalities. In thinly populated areas
where fiber optic cables would be too expen-
sive, mobile communications providers plan to
create a far-reaching solution that would use
the successor to UMTS: the LTE (Long Term
Evolution) standard, which will make transmis-
sion rates of over 100 MBit/s possible. However, this alone will not be enough to
achieve a breakthrough for offices on the
World Wide Web. “IT security is crucial when-
ever sensitive data is sent and stored on third-
party servers,” explains Dr. Johann Fichtner,
Head of IT Security at Siemens Corporate Tech-
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 31
Quality of Life in Cities | Jakarta
With approximately ten million inhabitants and almost 14,000 people per square kilometer, Jakarta is one of the most densely populated cities in Asia. The gap between rich and poor in the Indonesian metropolis is particularly great. Quality of life here is very much a question of how you define it.
Factors such as water, waste management, and traffic profoundly affect the quality of life
in Jakarta. A water filter from Siemens (below)
provides slum dwellers in Cawang with pure drinking water. Living in Asia’s “Big Durian”
he little boy is standing in a wastewater
ditch. He holds a duckling in his arm that
he carefully presses to his small chest. His feet
are submerged in a mixture of mud and old
plastic bags, and behind him extends a squalid
cemetery. Garbage has piled up between the
graves where chickens poke around in the
muck. Children use this place as a playground,
and although they happily romp around the
mud hills, their voices sound as if they’re
packed in cotton in the oppressive midday
heat. A putrid breeze blows in from a nearby
river and the stench mixes with the clove scent
of the Kretek cigarettes several men are smok-
ing as they stand around their makeshift huts.
There’s a bizarre idyllic atmosphere at the
moment in the Cawang slum, which is located
in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta — a city of
ten million. The rainy season will soon begin,
however, and monsoons will descend upon
the megacity with all their might. The small
river will then be transformed into a raging
current that will plunge the slum into misery.
Hundreds of people will lose their makeshift
dwellings — and if things get really bad, as
they did during the great flood of 2007,
dozens will also lose their lives. But regardless
of whether or not the cemetery gets some new
residents, the people in Cawang are likely to
take it all in stride. “We’re used to facing existential challenges
every day,” says Oyo, the district chief. “We’ve
also learned to adapt to any situation.” Oyo is a
55-year-old man with haggard features. He
represents the interests of the people in the
slum by acting both as a point of contact and
as the inhabitants’ spokesperson. Oyo has lived in the slum his whole life and
is very familiar with the problems the people
face there. Water has always been the biggest
threat, Oyo explains, but he doesn’t just mean
the annual floods, which he says the people
here are more than capable of dealing with.
When things get really rough, they climb up on
the roofs of their huts and wait until the threat
has passed. Clean drinking water, on the other
hand, is a major issue throughout the year.
“Families get their water from the river or else
dig makeshift wells,” Oyo says. “However, even
the groundwater is yellow and stinks.” Vini Adini experiences this every day. Adini,
like Oyo, was born in Jakarta and has lived
here most of her twenty-five years. But unlike
slum residents, she lives in a middle class
house in a district that doesn’t get hit by
floods. Adini has to deal with quality of life issues
as early as 6 a.m. every day, when she heads
out to work. “It takes me over two hours to get
there,” she says. “If the traffic were normal, I
could manage the trip in less than 30 min-
utes.” Because there’s no public transport to
ways functions properly. He cleans it once a
month by back-flushing the filters with clear
water. The unit has been operating without
any problems since it was installed in 2007.
The SkyHydrant, which costs approximately
$3,500, is more than just a “drop in the bucket”
as far as the residents of the slum are con-
cerned. The few liters of clean water it pro-
vides each day have significantly improved the
lives of the people in Cawang. “For us,” says
Oyo, as he lights up a clove cigarette, “quality
of life means health more than anything else.” Even boiling water couldn’t help after the
last disaster, which flooded more than 60 per-
cent of Jakarta and dramatically raised the wa-
ter levels in Cawang to six meters above nor-
mal. “Many of us got very sick,” Oyo recalls. Since then, however, the situation in the
Cawang slum has improved. A small water
treatment unit donated by the Susila Dharma
Indonesia aid organization and the SkyJuice
Foundation after the huge flood is now mak-
ing a fundamental difference. Known as a
“SkyHydrant,” the unit was developed by Rhett
30 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Butler, a Siemens engineer from Australia. It
uses ultra-fine membrane filters to remove vir-
tually every trace of sediments and pathogens
from water (see p. 37). The low-maintenance
unit can turn 10,000 liters of contaminated
water per day into a highly pure liquid — and it
doesn’t require any chemicals to achieve this
feat. Oyo points to a concrete platform embed-
ded in the ground between the huts and wild
banana trees. The 1.5-meter cylindrical SkyHy-
drant has been placed on the platform. Next to
it stands a large plastic tank with a faucet. A
hose connects the tank to the filter, and a
clothesline hangs between the two. “There are 180 families who get water here
for free,” says Oyo. But the water isn’t just used
for drinking. Just a few meters away there’s a
second faucet; an old woman sits on the
garbage covered ground and washes her dish-
es with the water it provides. There’s also an-
other line that leads to a wooden shed. “That’s
our shower,” Oyo says proudly.
The water comes from below the ground.
An electric pump brings it up from a depth of
12 meters to the SkyHydrant. It’s Oyo’s job to
ensure that the small freshwater factory,
which can also be operated with rainwater, al-
Seven Million Vehicles. Just a few kilometers
from Oyo’s hut, Cawang gives way to a com-
pletely different Jakarta. Here, skyscrapers
shimmer in the sunlight reflecting seemingly
endless lines of cars. This is the “Big Durian,” a
nickname given to Jakarta in reference to the
exotic but harsh-smelling fruit of the same
name. And the moniker fits. There are nearly
seven million vehicles in Jakarta, and every day
another 1,100 cars and motorcycles are added
to the mix. Indeed, according to a recent study
by Frost & Sullivan, the city ranked last in a
global survey of commuter satisfaction that
covered 23 major cities.
The city long ago lost its ability to deal with
this motorized onslaught, and the constant
congestion is also costly. According to a study
conducted by environmental expert Dr. Firdaus
Ali from the University of Indonesia, the eco-
nomic damage caused by traffic congestion
costs the city about $3 billion per year — all
due to lost hours of productive work and the
rising health care costs associated with poor
air quality. There are no subways in Jakarta.
Traffic is only reduced somewhat by a bus sys-
tem that entered service in 2004. Walking is no
easy matter either, as sidewalks and pedestrian
traffic lights are a rarity. Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 33
Quality of Life in Cities | Urban Development in India
India’s rapidly-growing economy is the envy of the developing world. Major investments in its infrastructures could significantly improve the standard of living for both rich and poor.
Rich and poor meet in Mumbai, which has 14 million people. The city will have to embrace holistic concepts in order to achieve sustainable development. Siemens has a lot to offer.
Infrastructures for Everyone
he roof over Laxmi Chinnoo’s head is an
overpass, a road over a railroad track.
Nearby, trains clatter day and night on their
way to Mumbai’s Chuna Bhatti rail station. Lax-
mi, a woman in her mid 40s, lives on a four-
sided area of hard-packed earth. Little walls of
dried clay serve as boundaries on the ground,
marking where her little parcel ends and her
neighbors’ begin. Laxmi has been living here
for three years with her three daughters and
her elderly mother. Sleeping, cooking, wash-
ing, reading — her whole life takes place out-
side. Her private sphere is limited to a parti-
tioned-off space behind rugs hung from wires,
where the women can get dressed.
Laxmi Chinnoo is an industrious woman.
She has two jobs as a household helper for
prosperous families in this metropolis of 14
million people. One of the families pays her
500 rupees a month — about $11, and the
other job pays the equivalent of around $7.
Her income is barely enough to buy food and
send the girls to school. When the family
moved from the countryside a few years ago,
she had a room in a nearby slum district, but
the authorities tore down the dwellings and
Laxmi faced a dilemma: Should she be home-
less but close to her work, or move to a squat-
ters’ area farther away and spend a major
share of her pay for transportation? She decid-
ed to live under the bridge. Chinnoo’s fate, which the American jour-
nalist Robert Neuwirth describes in his 2005
book Shadow Cities, is the everyday reality
faced by millions of Indians. Changing this
state of affairs represents a formidable chal-
lenge. After all, India’s population is growing
rapidly, especially in its cities. In addition, al-
though remarkable wealth is being created,
the gulf between rich and poor remains dra-
matic. To achieve sustainable development, In-
dia’s cities will have to reinvent themselves.
“Indian cities are far from realizing their po-
tential,” says Dr. Shirish Sankhe, Director of the
McKinsey & Company corporate consulting
firm’s Mumbai location. “That’s a troubling sit-
uation, but the problems can be solved with
the right policies.” In an extensive study titled
“India’s Urban Awakening,” Sankhe and his col-
leagues investigated how much dormant
growth potential there is in India’s cities, and
how it can be brought to life — a topic that
was also a focal point at the Future Dialogue
symposium in late September 2011 in New
Delhi, an event organized by Siemens and the
Max Planck Society.
The challenge is huge. According to the
United Nations, India is home to about 1.2 bil-
lion people, and the number is rising rapidly.
Between 1950 and 1990 the country’s popula-
tion increased from 371 to 873 million, with
another 350 million people added in the 20
years since then. And the UN predicts the pop-
ulation will grow by another 300 million peo-
ple by 2030, which would make a total of 1.5
billion. There would then be roughly 270 mil-
lion more Indians in their employable years
than there are today.
Most of them will seek work in cities. Al-
though only one third of Indians now live in ur-
ban areas, more than two thirds of the eco-
nomic output is generated there. So many
people are leaving the countryside that city
residents may account for over 40 percent of
the population by 2030, claims the McKinsey
report. Sixty-eight cities will then have over
one million inhabitants and six megacities will
each be home to more than ten million people.
32 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
speak of, Adini and her neighbors have organ-
ized a car-sharing system. She walks the last
few meters and puts on a surgical mask to pro-
tect herself against the smog. “If I were to go
to sleep and wake up again in 20 years, I’d like
to see some trees instead of traffic jams,” she
says. “I also wish I could sit under a tree in a
park and read a book.” Because there are very few green spaces in
Jakarta, Adini and many others spend their
free time in giant shopping malls that are like
air conditioned model cities where people can
buy things, stroll, eat, and go to the movies. In-
donesia’s capital already has 70 of them, and
many more are on the way. They can be
reached only by car, and local police therefore
believe they’re now one of the main reasons
why the traffic jams never seem to end. “Peo-
ple use these places to escape into a surreal
world,” says Adini, “but not everyone is al-
lowed in.” By this she means people like Oyo
cause everyone buys a motorcycle or car as
soon as he or she can afford one.” The prob-
lem, says Handhayani, is that the lack of public
transport often leaves a great number of peo-
ple no other choice: “So that’s where we’ve got
to start.” In Search of a Financing Model. Jakarta’s
first subway line is scheduled to be completed
in 2016. Work will begin in 2012 on an initial
section of about 15 kilometers, with additional
sections to be built in piecemeal fashion. The
city government also wants to expand the bus
network and is considering introducing a con-
gestion charge as well. Handhayani admits that such infrastructure
projects are rather costly given the budget re-
straints Jakarta faces. The city government
therefore frequently enters into public-private
partnerships with businesses or utilizes World
Bank financing models. Even with the huge challenges Jakarta
faces, Handhayani can still appreciate the
pleasant and beautiful side of the “Big Durian.”
“Jakarta is a very pluralistic city with many dif-
ferent ethnic groups and religions,” she says.
“And everyone gets along very well despite all
the differences.” Handhayani believes the metropolis has a
green future. For one thing, Jakarta plans to
reduce its emissions by 30 percent between
now and 2030. Indeed the city’s Development
Planning Board has teamed up with the Ger-
man Society for International Cooperation as
well as with Siemens to study ways to make
this vision of the future possible. The partner
organizations compared the Indonesian capital
to cities such as Paris and New York in the
“Jakarta 21” study and came up with recom-
mendations as to how Jakarta might be trans-
formed into a “world-class megacity” by around
2050. Good Investment. The organizations deter-
mined that achieving this goal will require ap-
proximately 1.5 percent of Indonesia’s gross
domestic product to be invested in the devel-
opment of Jakarta each year. The city accounts
for around 16 percent of Indonesia’s total eco-
nomic output. Investment in Jakarta would not
only benefit the capital but would also give the
entire surrounding region a boost. In other
words, such a project would be money well
spent, say urban planners, because the Jakarta
metropolitan area with its three satellite cities
is expected to merge into a giant megacity
over the medium term. Some 27 million peo-
ple will then be squeezed into “Jabodetabek”
(Jakarta, Bogor-Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi). A study conducted for Siemens by the Econ-
omist Intelligence Unit also came to the con-
clusion that the Indonesian capital needs to
develop sustainability strategies. According to
the Asian Green City Index, Jakarta has a lot of
catching up to do in terms of water and waste
management in particular. On the plus side,
the city stands out as a positive example in
Asia when it comes to energy conservation.
Government offices, for instance, will be re-
quired to cut back sharply on use of electricity.
Despite all the plans, Oyo and his family
aren’t getting too excited about the develop-
ments to come. In fact, they don’t expect to
see any major changes in the immediate fu-
ture. In any case, their slum in Cawang already
not only has many weeds and plants but also
little traffic to speak of. And of course, there
are also the banana trees, even if the latter are
covered with garbage most of the time. Still,
Oyo is one-hundred percent certain that a
future megacity named Jabodetabek would
bring his community at least one thing: “A lot
of new neighbors.” Florian Martini
who can’t get past the security guards at the
entrances. The only thing available to Oyo and
other slum dwellers is bitter reality. Sarwo Handhayani is well acquainted with
the bitter reality of the “Big Durian” through
her work. Handhayani, who was born in Jakar-
ta, is the director of the city’s urban develop-
ment authority — the Development Planning
Board. When she looks out the window of her
office in the business district, she sees some-
thing similar to what Adini sees — and she’s
long since grown tired of the endless stream of
cars as well. “It’s going to be difficult to solve
the congestion problem without an effective
public transport system,” she says. “That’s be-
Handhayani is also concerned about the
flooding problem. “More than 20 percent of
Jakarta is below sea level and we’ve got 13
rivers flowing through the city,” she says. “Cli-
mate change has also led to an increase in ex-
treme weather in the rainy season, which
makes things even worse.” Poverty plays a role
as well. Jakarta sinks a few cen-
timeters into the earth each
year because of the unregulat-
ed extraction of groundwater.
In addition, the drains and
sewers in the poor districts are
often clogged by plastic bags
and other trash, so that water
often has nowhere to go when the monsoon
rains come. “We plan to build more reservoirs
to retain water upstream and widen the rivers
so that they can take in more water. In addi-
tion, we’re also going to build a new dam on
the coast,” Handhayani says. This will help peo-
ple like Oyo to live in harmony with the water
in the future. To ease traffic congestion, Jakarta plans to open its first subway line in 2016.
Some seven million vehicles choke Jakarta. Around 1,100 cars and motorcycles are added each day. solutions like those offered by Siemens can
make a crucial contribution.” indeed, Siemens
is active in many fields in India. For example,
the company delivers commuter trains for
Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. It is
helping to boost the energy efficiency of new
buildings, including Mumbai’s Tata Tower, and
it has installed treatment systems at the Pan-
jrapur waterworks in Mumbai.
Infrastructure isn’t the whole story, howev-
er. Sankhe explains that Indian cities also need
more effective administration and political re-
forms, such as the direct election of mayors.
And government needs to invest in low-cost
housing. “Governments need to work in partnership
with shantytowns and squatter communities
to plan for the future,” says Neuwirth. Cities
can offer reasonable quality of life only when
they provide it for all inhabitants. And that in-
cludes not only India’s new elites, but also
hard-working people like Laxmi Chinnoo, who
will hopefully one day have a proper roof over
her head — instead of a bridge.
Bernhard Bartsch
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 35
What features make a city worth living in
and sustainable? Clos:
A liveable city is one that is well planned
and has as a priority the quality of life of its cit-
izens. This includes basic services such as wa-
ter and electricity but also extends to effective
transport and communication networks that
encourage efficient economic transactions,
productivity, jobs, and wealth. The importance
of public space cannot be underestimated. It
enables cultural interaction and social expan-
sion. To make a city worth living in and sus-
tainable there are three important things;
planning, planning and planning!
In 2050, almost 6.5 billion people — as
many as live on earth today — will be living in cities. What should cities be doing to head off major problems?
Cities are creators of wealth and can
drive national economies. We should exploit
this fact. The highest rates of urbanization are
in Africa, Asia, and South America. These ar-
eas also have very young populations. Up to
60 percent of the population of some African
cities is under the age of 35, and these people
are all looking for work. One of the main prob-
lems is job creation. Another is urban growth.
Only with strong urban policy can a govern-
ment manage the latter. Of course resources
are always a challenge, but refusal to address
questions of water and sanitation provision,
transport and housing will lead to more peo-
ple living in slums, not fewer.
What can companies like Siemens do to
help improve urban planning and living
conditions? Clos:
New technology opens up new opportu-
nities with regard to greener building and
transport systems. Private companies are well
placed to help in this process if the conditions
in a city are right for investment. Where it can,
UN-HABITAT works with companies such as
Siemens to create a cohesive approach to ur-
ban development. Siemens is, among others,
a member of our World Urban Campaign,
working with UN-HABITAT to promote sustain-
able urban development around the world. Can cities combine rapid population
growth with reduced environmental
damage, even as their standard of living
The green economy provides a range of
opportunities for businesses that have not yet
been fully explored. Policies that are environ-
mentally sound also make excellent business
sense. For example, a compact city area with
good transport and communication links not
only reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of
its residents but also allows business transac-
tions to be conducted quickly and efficiently.
Sustainable development by definition should
integrate environmental concerns and link
them strongly to economic development.
Dharavi in Mumbai is considered to be
Asia’s biggest slum. People there are
founding small enterprises to make a living. They want to improve their lives
and those of their children. How can such
people participate in a dialogue about future cities?
In India and South Africa slum dwellers
have created their own associations. There is
thus clearly a need for social and political
recognition here. During the last two decades,
slum dweller associations in India have en-
gaged in a dialogue about the present state
and future of India’s cities. UN-HABITAT has
found that micro credits promote both eco-
nomic development and political inclusion.
As well as mobilizing the productive capacities
of the poor, micro-credits also help to dissemi-
nate local knowledge to networks and con-
tribute to the recognition of associations as
social, economic, and political stakeholders. Could India become an urban develop-
ment role model for megacities in the
21st century? Clos:
India has two cities with more than 20
million inhabitants and one with more than
ten million. These large cities are merging
with other smaller cities to create urban settle-
ments on a massive scale. There is no doubt
that these huge conurbations are powerful
new engines that will drive global economic
activity. They are also creating a new urban hi-
erarchy. The scope, range, and complexity of
issues involved in these large economic re-
gions require innovative coordination mecha-
nisms for urban management and gover-
nance. In order to become a role model, India
must start to respond to these coordination
What are your expectations and wishes
from meetings such as Future Dialogue,
which is taking place in New Delhi this
UN-HABITAT has a wealth of knowledge
and expertise when it comes to urban prac-
tices. However, the responsibility for city de-
velopment ultimately falls to city authorities.
And they, in turn, cannot succeed without the
support of the private sector and society in
general. No one agent in the process will suc-
ceed alone. Meetings such as Future Dialogue
enable everyone involved to come together to
discuss and share best practices. At the same
time they play an important role in keeping ur-
ban development on the world agenda.
The people attending Future Dialogue
are scientists, economists, and politi-
cians. How can the people living in
megacities be integrated?
Community participation is very important when it comes to planning and implementing urban development. One of
UN-HABITAT’s strengths is its field work, which is performed by local partners, such as community initiatives and NGOs. The ability to involve people face to face in urban development must not be underesti-
mated, even though social media and the Internet have brought many changes that will continue to be important in coming years.
What’s your vision of future cities. What
will cities look alike in 2050?
I am optimistic about the future because
I believe there is a genuine will to positively
shape urbanization. For too long, urbanization
has been seen as something negative —
something that should be slowed down or
even stopped. But this is impossible. Now peo-
ple are starting to recognize the city as a posi-
tive force for change that will help us address
climate change and promote socio-economic
development. With proper planning we can
ensure a bright urban future.
Interview conducted by Evelyn Runge
Dr. Joan Clos, 62, has been
Executive Director of the
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
(UN-HABITAT) since October
2010. Clos studied medicine
and initially worked as Director of Public Health for
the Barcelona Municipal
Government. From 1983
until 1987 he served as a
city councillor, improving
municipal management and
promoting urban renewal
projects. During his time as
Mayor of Barcelona (1997 to
2006) the city’s dilapidated
industrial zones were refur-
bished under the guidance
of the “Barcelona@22” proj-
ect. Clos has held various international offices, includ-
ing President of the World
Association of Cities and Local Authorities, Chairman
of the United Nations Advi-
sory Committee of Local Authorities, and Vice President of United Cities
and Local Governments.
Why Cities Are Becoming a Positive Force for Change
Quality of Life in Cities | Interview
34 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Essentially, this bodes well for India’s devel-
opment, because cities are “job machines.” In-
frastructure projects, home construction, edu-
cation, entertainment and services power the
economy. Dynamic cities could quadruple In-
dia’s gross domestic product by 2030, to
$5,060 per capita — and good planning could
help boost the GDP by another one third by
then, according to McKinsey.
But that won’t happen unless many things
change. To date, India’s cities have mush-
roomed rather than grown. Neuwirth, the au-
thor, has lived in Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi Na-
gar squatter neighborhood. Many of the
people there, like Laxmi Chinnoo, live out-
doors or in settlements they build on unused
land, often without access to electricity, water
lines or sewage systems — usually on the bor-
derline to legality. “Though many squatters
work as drivers and maids and child-care work-
ers, they are seen as anti-social elements,” says
Neuwirth. “Whether a person is working as a
But the effects of traffic congestion aren’t
limited to slow travel and poor quality of life,
they also contribute to reduced economic out-
put, high fuel consumption and healthcare-re-
lated costs associated with serious air pollu-
tion. “Alongside new roads, India also needs an
entirely new traffic concept whose central ele-
ment is public transportation,” says Sankhe. In
addition to over 19,000 kilometers of new
roads each year, cities will also need up to 400
kilometers of new subway lines — that’s 20
times more than has been built in the last
In the years to come India will need be-
tween 700 and 900 million square meters of
new housing space annually. That’s an area
equivalent to two cities the size of Mumbai.
Water consumption per capita will increase by
45 liters a day. And energy use could double in
the coming decade. “Without the latest tech-
nology, India’s cities will not be able to meet
these challenges,” says Sankhe. “Infrastructure
scavenger or in a factory, whether they’ve
started their own roadside business or are
cleaning houses, they deserve to be treated
with respect and dignity.”
Holistic Approach. In the biggest cities,
where the urban landscape includes terrible
slums, even affluent families are affected by
poor air quality, noise and congestion. “India
needs holistic solutions for its cities,” says
Sankhe. A key element here is the construction
of modern infrastructures. “In the next two
decades India’s cities will need to invest $1.2
trillion.” This means the average per capita in-
vestment in cities will have to be increased
from the current level of $17 to $134.
Take congestion, for example. To ensure
free-flowing traffic, experts suggest that no
more than 112 vehicles should occupy a one-
kilometer lane. But if you compare the current
growth of the automobile market in India with
the expansion of the road network, 20 years
from now there could be 610 vehicles on each
kilometer of road — which would essentially
mean complete gridlock. Mumbai. Estimates suggest that India’s cities need $1.2 trillion in infrastructure investments.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 37
Quality of Life in Cities | Waste Recycling
Many people around the world manage to maintain a livelihood
by collecting, sorting, and recycling waste in cities. The Siemens
Foundation is helping improve their working conditions.
Recyclable materials in trash help many people in poor countries to survive. With talent, plastic sheeting for advertising can
be turned into fashionable bags (bottom). SkyHydrant provides protection against impurities and pathogens by producing clear, filtered water.
From Trash to Cash
he huge landfills on the outskirts of
Cochabamba, El Alto, La Paz, and Santa
Cruz are plain to see. Waste collectors — in
most cases women and children — sift
through the foul-smelling mountains of
garbage filling sacks with whatever recyclables
or other usable items they might find. More
than 3,000 tons of waste is produced in these
four cities every day. Swisscontact, a develop-
ment organization, estimates that 80 percent
of it could be recycled, and that waste separa-
tion and recycling could create 20,000 jobs.
However, most of the garbage ends up unsep-
arated in landfills or on the streets — even
though 70 percent of the population in Bo-
livia’s major cities are served by waste disposal
systems. The problem is that smaller munici-
palities don’t have enough funds to handle the
trash. “In such places, 40 percent of the people
burn garbage, 33 percent throw it away in
green spaces, some 16 percent dump it in
rivers and seven percent simply bury it in their
own backyards,” says Matthias Nabholz, an on-
site project manager for Swisscontact.
To improve waste management in many
cities, the Siemens Foundation began support-
ing the “Jobs and Income with Environmental
Management” project in 2010. Launched by
Swisscontact in 2009, the project is designed
to create public-private partnerships capable of
gradually establishing comprehensive systems
for waste separation; the economical recycling
of plastic, glass, paper, metal, and organic
waste; and properly disposing of residual
waste in landfill sites. “We’re using existing ur-
ban structures,” says Gerhard Hütter, the pro-
ject’s manager at the Siemens Foundation.
“We work with city districts — the lowest level
in the municipal administration hierarchy.
Here, district officials reach agreements with
‘informal’ waste collectors.” The latter collect recyclables one to three
times a week in specific assigned areas, cleanly
separate what they find, and bring every-
thing to nearby collection centers or
compost heaps. The collection centers
sell the recyclable material to compa-
nies in Bolivia and abroad. The in-
come thus generated is paid
to the collectors or invested
in waste awareness cam-
paigns. The project’s partners
also run an educational pro-
gram for children and adults
that has already reached around 75,000
households. At the end of 2010, 200 waste
collectors — 40 percent of them women —
were working on the project. “In 2010, their ef-
forts rescued around 7,000 tons of recyclable
waste from landfills,” says Hütter.
The right incentives help the project to
function properly. For example, waste collec-
tors are issued work clothes, handcarts, and in-
formation on hazardous waste. Just as impor-
tant is their steady daily income of around $6
per day and an improvement in their social sta-
tus. The project also supports budding entre-
preneurs by offering continuing educational
opportunities. “We can already report some
success stories,” Nabholz says proudly. One of
them involves Daniela Bolívar, a graphic de-
signer from La Paz. She now runs a small recy-
cling company that converts used plastic
sheeting for advertisements into bags and ac-
cessories (see picture below). 36 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Quality of Life in Cities | Clean Water
“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” wrote the poet Coleridge at the end of the 18th century — a sentiment that still describes the situation of some 900 million people who lack access to
drinking water. A filtration system that uses membranes from Siemens is helping to improve things.
Mobile Solution for a Thirsty World
lthough almost three-fourths of the Earth
is covered with water, only 0.3 percent of
all water reserves are suitable for drinking.
Worse yet, the World Health Organization esti-
mates that around 1.8 million people die each
year of diarrhea-related illnesses caused by
contaminated water.
Mercy Nyambura (below) is very familiar
with this problem. She is a student in Kilimam-
bogo, a village located 60 kilometers from
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Just a few years ago,
she had no choice but to drink the contaminat-
ed water of the nearby Thika river. As a result,
she had to go to the hospital innumerable
times and missed school on many occasions. It
was an intolerable situation, yet by no means
an insurmountable one. Indeed, a solution for
people like Mercy has been developed by Rhett
Butler from Siemens Water Technologies in
Sydney, Australia. Several years ago, Butler de-
veloped the SkyHydrant, a small, mobile water
treatment system (see Pictures of the Future,
Fall 2008, p. 36). Moved by the desire to im-
prove people’s quality of life, in 2005 he
founded SkyJuice, a non-profit organization.
Its goal is to form local partnerships in order to
make SkyHydrants better known in rural areas
as well as in cities. Today, 900 units are in oper-
ation in 42 countries. A single SkyHydrant can
accommodate the drinking water needs of a
community of up to 1,000 inhabitants.
Together with SkyJuice, the Global Nature
Fund, and PureFlow — a local partner — in
2010 the Siemens Foundation set up two safe
water kiosks in Mercy’s home country. At these
small water filling stations, SkyHydrants trans-
form contaminated water into a pure beverage
that costs only three cents per canister. “Im-
pure water can drive people from villages into
cities — something our project in Kenya is de-
signed to prevent,” says Ulrike Wahl, Chief Op-
erating Officer of the Siemens Foundation.
“Still, over the long term you need to have
binding legal stipulations for waste manage-
ment,” says Hütter. The issue is currently being
addressed by the project’s partners and city au-
thorities. “Cochabamba has announced plans
to provide $1 million for the project’s expan-
sion, and La Paz has appointed its own project
coordinator,” says Nabholz. This is important,
because every ton of waste that’s disposed
generates costs of around $30. And that is by
no means peanuts for a country like Bolivia.
The first project phase is scheduled to run until
the end of 2012. If possible, the partners would like to offer
daycare services for the children of collectors
for as long as they continue to work. Coopera-
tion with local schools is very important to
the Siemens Foundation. “We’d like to get
children and young people focused as
early as possible on the environment,
health, and hygiene,” says Hütter.
In the future, the project’s part-
ners also want to pay special at-
tention to problems related to
toxic waste and the growing
amounts of electronic scrap.
Hülya Dagli
38 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 39
The Foundation’s long-term goal is to turn Sky-
Hydrant water supply stations into micro-busi-
nesses. “The drinking water doesn’t have to be
offered for free. PureFlow trains water commit-
tees, which operate and service the kiosks,”
says Wahl. The proceeds provide employees
with a little income, which ensures the kiosks
remain viable and provides the village econo-
my with a future.
At the heart of the safe water kiosks are
four 1.5-meter-long SkyHydrants, each of
which weighs 16 kilograms and looks like a
medium-sized organ pipe. Inside each pipe is a
filter consisting of 10,000 hair-thin membrane
fibers with tiny pores that act like a sieve. “Riv-
er water is fed into a tank, from which the
head pressure causes it to flow through the
membrane filters without requiring any electri-
cal energy,” explains Project Manager Christine
Weyrich from the Siemens Foundation. “The
filters remove all of the suspended particles,
bacteria and viruses from the water. If re-
quired, the equipment can be disinfected with
citric acid; chemical agents are not required.”
Two filters are installed in each kiosk, usual-
ly a small stone building. “This protects the fil-
ters and the purified water from the effects of
sunlight and dirt,” says Weyrich. Such a “water
factory” with two units can produce around
20,000 liters of clean drinking water per day.
Four SkyHydrants can thus supply enough wa-
ter for more than 2,000 residents. Villagers
come to the kiosks with their 20-liter canisters
whenever they need water, which they can ob-
tain for only three cents. “The SkyHydrants
even allow us to save money,” says Mercy. “The
money my mother used to spend on medica-
tions can now be used to pay for my schooling
and will enable me to become a nurse when I
grow up.”
This example from Kenya shows how close-
ly social development is tied to the supply of
water. “Low water quality negatively impacts
people’s educational opportunities, destroys
the ecosystem, and causes rural flight,” says
Butler. Cities generally have water treatment
plants for potable water, but the technology is
by no means simple and is therefore often be-
yond the means of communities in developing
countries and emerging markets. In addition,
urban infrastructures are becoming increasing-
ly overloaded due to rapid population growth. Decentralized, autonomous technologies
are therefore a good alternative here. That’s
why SkyJuice also wants to work together with
partners such as Rotary International and Ox-
fam to set up SkyHydrants in cities throughout
the world. This movement has already
achieved considerable success, as the “small
organ pipe” is now used in many hospitals,
schools and slums in developing countries.
“SkyHydrants are already being used in major
cities in Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Cambodia,
and Nepal,” says Butler. “But there’s still a lot of
work to be done.”
Automatic Filtration. Butler lives up to his
promises, and he and his team have further
developed the SkyHydrant over the past nine
months. The result is the “AquaVendor,” which
runs on the same principle as its sophisticated
predecessor and also uses the same mem-
brane fibers. The difference is that the system
no longer needs to be operated manually. In-
stead, a small control device operates the
AquaVendor, making the filtration and purifi-
cation processes fully automatic. The system is also cleaned fully automati-
cally every 20 to 30 minutes by a small blower
that injects air into the filter in order to remove
any residue caught in the membranes. The
space-saving device can produce up to 25,000
liters of drinking water per day, which is more
than twice as much water as the SkyHydrant
can manage.
The only thing that’s needed for the Aqua-
Vendor is a power socket — everything else
runs fully automatically and requires a minimal
amount of maintenance. According to Butler,
the portable water treatment plant is ideal for
residential buildings, small urban water co-op-
eratives and small volume industrial users. “It
could be installed in every hotel or multi-family
home in India and China — just imagine the
possibilities,” says Butler. “You could transform
rainwater that has been collected on rooftops
into valuable drinking water.” And at a price of
$7,000, the units would also be affordable,
says Butler. The new water treatment system is
currently being refined in Sydney before it
make its way into thirsty markets throughout
the developing world.Hülya Dagli
A high-speed, electric version of the SkyHydrant, the AquaVendor has a flow rate of
25,000 liters per day.
he United Nations (UN) calculates that in the year
2050 about 6.3 billion people will live in cities — a
number almost as large as today’s entire global popula-
tion. What will the quality of life be like in these conur-
bations? Will they be safe, clean, tolerant, and energy-
efficient? Eduardo López Moreno believes that all these
factors have a decisive influence on the quality of life in
every city. Moreno, a native of Mexico, is an urban geog-
rapher and head of the Global Urban Observatory de-
partment at the UN Habitat in Nairobi, a United Nations
organization. He coordinated and co-authored a com-
prehensive survey of the cities of the world called “State
of the World’s Cities 2010/2011.” According to Moreno,
“overcoming urban divides” is the most important job of
the future. In many cities imbalances have increased
considerably since 1980, he says, with disparities evi-
dent in income distribution and access to education, nu-
trition, and healthcare. However, these issues are hardly touched on in the
city rankings published by business consultant Mercer
and lifestyle magazine Monocle. The reason is their tar-
get audience: decision-makers with a high degree of
mobility. Mercer, for example, lists 29 variables, includ-
ing political stability, economic and socio-cultural condi-
tions, infrastructure, living space, and the environment.
The rankings, which were produced in 2010, cover 221
cities. Among the top ten are Vienna, Zurich, and Gene-
va in the leading three spots, and Düsseldorf, Frankfurt,
and Munich ranked sixth to eighth. The 2011 city rank-
ing of the Economist Intelligence Unit tends to give high
marks to major English-speaking cities, with Melbourne
at number one, followed by Vienna, Vancouver, Toron-
to, Calgary, Sydney, and Helsinki. The disparity lies in the
weighting of the data, which in this case emphasizes
the supply of goods and services, safety, and the effi-
ciency of the infrastructure. Finally, the lifestyle magazine Monocleputs Helsinki
at the top of the list of “most livable cities 2011,” fol-
lowed by Zurich, Copenhagen, and Munich — and bases
its assessment on factors such as safety, international
flight connections, climate, quality of architecture, and
the balance between a pleasant atmosphere rich in tra-
dition and progressive urban planning. However, the dif-
ferences between the top-ranking cities are marginal.
New York, which was assigned 100 points as a reference
city for the Mercer index, comes in at 49th place — and
only 8.6 percentage points behind the number one city,
Vienna. The African cities with the best ratings, Cape
Town and Tunis, rank 86th and 94th. The leading city in
South America, Buenos Aires, ranks 78th. Far down on
the list are cities such as Havana (192) and Dhaka (206). Many of the city rankings only confirm what anyone
would expect: that cities in highly developed countries
are the most likely to offer a high quality of life. In many
of these studies, the dynamic development of a number
of major cities in developing countries and emerging
markets is not considered at all. One example is the de-
velopment of slums; the UN Habitat report on the state
of the world’s cities has both good and bad news in this
regard. Whereas the proportion of people living in slums
worldwide is falling, the absolute number of slum
dwellers is increasing. In 2010 it was 828 million per-
sons, compared with 657 million in 1990. From 1995 to 2005 the urban population in devel-
oping countries increased by 165,000 — per day. The
population of Dhaka alone, a metropolis of 15 million, is
growing by half a million people every year. This process
is most pronounced in Africa, which is still largely a rural
continent whose cities are growing at a rate of only 3.2
percent per year. Nonetheless, economic development
is not keeping pace with growth, and the result is the
formation of new slums. Northern Europe is still the
most urbanized area on earth, with 84.4 percent of the
population living in cities, whereas only 23.7 percent of
the people in east Africa live in cities. By 2050, however,
this situation will have radically changed. By then, 91.4
percent of the population in South America will be ur-
ban, according to UN Habitat. “In general, the quality of life in Third World cities
can only be raised if poverty can be overcome. That re-
quires economic growth, political stability, and above
all, the willingness of decision-makers to plan for the
long term and act accordingly,” says Moreno. An excel-
lent example is Chile, he says, where government has
not only backed strong economic growth but also en-
abled people to take their destinies into their own hands
by expanding social services and education programs,
particularly in slums. According to the foundation “A
Roof for Chile,” the number of families living in slums
has decreased by 77 percent to 29,000 within 13 years.
On the other hand, the global increase in economic
imbalances, as measured by the Gini coefficients com-
piled by UN Habitat, presents a more disquieting picture.
A coefficient of 0 means equality, and 1 means absolute
inequality. Values between 0.3 and 0.4 signal compara-
tively egalitarian societies, and values greater than 0.5
indicate stark imbalance. At that point, the poorest fifth
of the population earns only three percent of the total
Quality of Life in Cities | Facts and Forecasts
Economic Imbalances Are Growing in Cities Worldwide income, while the richest fifth claims half. The current
Gini coefficients show that wealth and income in many
cities of the U.S. are now distributed as unevenly as in
some major cities of the developing world. Forty major
U.S. cities, including New York, Washington D.C., and
Chicago, have values over 0.5. This is the same level as
Mexico City, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nairobi. These imbalances have increased throughout the
western world since 1980 — especially in the cities.
Even in Canada, one of the most egalitarian countries,
urban centers have a Gini coefficient of 0.36, compared
with an average of 0.28 for the country as a whole. Sim-
ilar trends can be seen in Europe, says Moreno. They are
reinforced, he adds, by the fact that migrants and ethnic
minorities are especially affected: “This is potentially a
very explosive situation socially, because it’s not just a
matter of absolute numbers but also the perception of
inequality.” The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, whose
large cities offer a relatively high quality of life for devel-
oping countries, were largely carried out by the educat-
ed classes, which were practically excluded from the la-
bor market, Moreno says. Urs Fitze
Comparative Growth in
Urban Populations Karachi, Pakistan
Population (millions)
Calcutta, India
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shanghai, China
New York-Newark, U.S.A.
Mexico City, Mexico
São Paulo, Brazil
Mumbai, India
Delhi, India
Tokyo, Japan
Growth from 1960 to 2020 (in %)
Source: data from UN Habitat
Relative Difference in Wealth between Rich and Poor
Gini coefficient (income-based)
The Poor: Smaller Slice of the Pie Johannesburg (2005)
Addis Abeba (2003)
Bogotá (2005)
Nairobi (1999)
Mexico City (2005)
Santiago (2006)
Ho Chi Minh City (2002)
Hong Kong (2001)
Rio de Janeiro
São Paulo(2005)
Shenzhen (2004/5)
Montevideo (2006)
Kuala Lumpur (1999)
Manila (2006)
Caracas (2007)
Amman (1997)
Hanoi (2002)
Shanghai (2004/5)
Beijing (2003)
The Gini coefficient de-
notes the imbalances in
the incomes of residents.
Below a coefficient of
0.4, the incomes are rel-
atively evenly distrib-
uted. Values above 0.5
indicate major imbal-
ances. 0.0
Source: UN Habitat, Global Urban Observatory, 2009Source: UN “State of the World’s Cities” (2010/2011)
International alarm line
North Africa
‘00 2010
Latin America/
East Asia South Asia Southeast Asia
1990 ‘00 2010
1990 ‘00 2010
1990 ‘00 2010
1990 ‘00 2010
1990 ‘00 2010
Slum dwellers (millions)
Percentage of urban residents in slums
Pablo Vaggione, 45, is an
urban planner who special-
izes in sustainable develop-
ment. Born in Spain, he has
overseen more than 50 proj-
ects throughout Latin Amer-
ica, North America, Western
Europe, and East Asia. He
studied urban planning, de-
sign, and business adminis-
tration at Harvard University
and sustainable develop-
ment at the United Nations
University. Vaggione was
Secretary General of the In-
ternational Society of City
and Regional Planners, an
NGO represented in 70
countries, and is the
founder of Design Conver-
gence Urbanism (DCU), a
platform for urban planners. What makes a city worth living in?
Each city has its own way of defin-
ing a good quality of life. Some might think it’s
reflected in the number of jobs, to others it
might mean a shorter commute, a wide range
of cultural attractions, widespread public safe-
ty, or even cleaner air. Does that mean that sustainability and quality of life are not necessarily
Vaggione: They’re closely related, but the
concepts are not identical. What makes up
quality of life is entirely subjective. However, a
sustainable city is much more likely to be able
to offer its residents a good quality of life over
the long term. In such a city, economic and so-
cial developments are in balance with a
healthy and protected environment. A sustain-
able city is a complex system of buildings,
transportation networks, healthcare and edu-
cational facilities, and energy and water sup-
plies. All of these different services must be
viewed as a holistic and integrated system. An
efficient city can actually achieve more while
consuming less. For example, compact and
well-planned cities take up less space and
boast lower infrastructure costs than cities
dominated by urban sprawl. Which cities are taking this alternative
Vaggione: There are several of them. Lon-
don, Helsinki and Copenhagen are noted for
taking sustainability into account in their long-
term planning. In Columbia, Bogotá was able
to solve its huge traffic congestion problem by
working with different providers in order to of-
fer a coordinated rapid transit system based
on buses. The Brazilian city of Curitiba has ef-
fectively combined both traffic use and land
use. And Porto Alegre is a pioneer in the field
of actively involved households, in which citi-
zens have a say in how resources are used.
In your opinion, which are the best cities
to live in today?
Vancouver; Portland, Maine;
Copenhagen; and Munich all continually score
high in the rankings of the healthiest and
most prosperous cities. But the endless cultur-
al attractions of New York and London are also
extremely appealing. There’s the breathtaking
beauty of Rio and Istanbul. Tokyo’s boundless
energy is a huge draw, and Ho Chi Minh City is
an extremely dynamic place with a lot of po-
What are some of the major challenges
faced by urban planners today?
Vaggione: Cities are under tremendous pres-
sure to develop. They have to deal with demo-
graphic and climate change, an overburdened
infrastructure, and limited financial resources.
City administrations need to find a way to uti-
lize their resources more efficiently. And urban
planners need to lay out a road map for the
sustainable growth of a city, including guide-
lines and technologies that help to optimize
city management.
How can information and communication
technology contribute to this process?
Information technology systems
can help to design cities more efficiently by
consolidating all of the key data — everything
from the power consumption of streetlights to
air quality readings. The data can help city of-
ficials identify consumer patterns and help ex-
ecutives make important policy decisions. How do urban planning strategies differ
in industrial nations and developing
Vaggione: You cannot apply a single urban
strategy to every city. Even within developed
countries, urban strategies can vary, as in the
case of Detroit and Portland. The main issues
facing Nairobi, for example, are transport,
land rights, and of course the number of peo-
ple living in slums. The challenge for Shanghai
is the rapid growth of the city’s population and
economy, as well as the increase in air pollu-
tion. New York, to cite another example, will
have to improve its infrastructure — especially
its airports and rail systems — if it wants to re-
main competitive. It also needs to lower the
energy consumption of its buildings. What would a city with a perfect quality
of life look like in the future?
Citizen participation will play a
much larger role than it does today. Allowing
citizens to have a say in decision-making cre-
ates a common basis for sustainable develop-
ment. Cities with informed and committed cit-
izens are better cities. That means recognizing
that we have both rights and responsibilities.
Every citizen has a voice that deserves to be
heard, and active citizen participation will be
crucial in achieving sustainability. In this con-
text, decentralizing city services will also prove
to be very important. Interview by Silke Weber
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 41
Quality of Life in Cities | Interview
Efficient Cities: Achieving More
while Consuming Less
Quality of Life in Cities | Energy Contracting
Even though budgets are tight, cities must continue investing
in their infrastructures. Financing solutions from Siemens can
help, as an administrative building in Beijing demonstrates.
ccording to a Chinese proverb, “seeing
once is better than hearing a hundred
times over.” Two years ago, Chen Gang, the
party secretary of Beijing’s Chaoyang District,
the international economic center of the Chi-
nese capital, decided to form his own opinion
of the energy-saving potential of modern
building technology. Indeed, he was faced
with an urgent matter. In the past three
decades, thousands of high-rises had been
built in his administrative area, but only a
handful of them had been built in accordance
with the latest standards. Hardly anyone had
given a thought to rising raw materials prices
or the need to reduce greenhouse gas emis-
sions, particularly in the early years of the Chi-
nese economic miracle. Chen’s district council
building, an austere, utilitarian structure near
the venerable Ritan Park, was also built in that
period. Would it be worthwhile to bring the
building up to the newest standards?
Chen found a partner that believed it was
indeed worthwhile and was prepared to prove
it, without any added cost to the municipal
budget: Siemens. The company declared its
willingness to equip the government building
Winning Formula
with the latest technology. Above all, it
planned to furnish the building with an effi-
cient heating and cooling system that allowed
individual adjustment of the temperature in
certain rooms and parts of the building, some-
thing that wasn’t possible with the old system.
Siemens experts predicted energy savings of at
least 12 percent per year, which corresponds
to about 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy
and 467 metric tons of carbon dioxide annual-
ly. In addition, they derived a risk-free financ-
ing model that makes this green investment
risk free in real terms. Siemens makes the tech-
nology available in the form of a leasing
arrangement. For five and a half years, the fi-
nancing made by Siemens is repaid through
the guaranteed savings gained through
Siemens technology. In October 2009, Siemens Building Tech-
nologies and the district government of
Chaoyang commenced a strategic partnership
under these terms, and the new system en-
tered service in the course of 2010. “We’re
helping the district government of Chaoyang
increase its operational and energy efficiency
without it having to make any cash invest-
ments,” says Yang Gang, General Manager of
Siemens Finance and Leasing Ltd. “We creating
a solution in which the leasing costs are lower
than the saved energy costs. The project thus
pays for itself and even allows extra savings.
It’s a win-win-win situation for the customers,
Siemens, and the environment.”
In other countries, these package solutions
involving technology and financing — an ap-
proach known as energy contracting — have
been common for many years. In China, how-
ever, they are quite new. “Our partnership with
Siemens will help the district government of
Chaoyang develop a model for energy saving
and emissions reduction that matches our
needs,” says Chen. He is confident the project
will influence others. “The pilot project can
serve as a model that can be duplicated in oth-
er public buildings in the city and throughout
the country,” says the party secretary. “We’d
like to have Siemens as a partner in the com-
mon effort to build a low-carbon economy.”
Huge Potential. China has set itself ambitious
goals. By 2020, it wants to reduce its emissions
by at least 40 percent from 2005 levels relative
to economic performance through a combina-
tion of emission reductions and promotion of
the use of renewable energies. This can be
achieved only by deploying the most modern
technology. Energy contracting is therefore a
solution that will increasingly be used not only
in China but in other emerging countries as
well. And because of its size and financial
strength, Siemens is in a good position to help
its customers when they are faced with high
initial investments. Indeed, the company can
often offer them terms better than those avail-
able elsewhere
Siemens Building Technologies is not the
only Siemens business that provides far-sight-
ed financing for the latest technical solutions
in emerging countries. In 2008, for example,
the Dazhou Western & TCM Hospital in the
western Chinese province of Sichuan worked
with Siemens in this way to upgrade a diagnos-
tics unit with new CT and MRI scanners. “We were in a difficult situation financially
at the time, but to increase the standard of our
medical care, we wanted to buy Siemens
equipment, because we consider the compa-
ny’s products to be the best on the market,”
says Hospital Director Ren Wanwu. “We were
glad that Siemens offered us a financing op-
tion.” Similarly, Jining Medical College hospital in
the eastern Chinese province of Shandong has
repeatedly chosen Siemens equipment via
Siemens financing over the last five years.
Here as well, it became apparent that, with the
right financing, modern technology pays off —
for everyone involved.Bernhard Bartsch
40 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Siemens helped Beijing’s Chaoyang District to boost the energy efficiency of its buildings. As a result, energy use, CO
emissions and costs were reduced.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 43
Quality of Life in Cities | Healthcare
State-of-the-art medical care is an essential part of a high quality of life in cities. One example of this is the Tawam Molecular Imaging Center in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates. Here, Siemens technology is helping to diagnose and treat illnesses.
The desert city of Al-Ain is putting new diagnostic techniques to work to provide world-class healthcare — making it a pioneer in the United Arab Emirates.
f you’re looking for models of the city of the
future, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a
good place to start. Several examples come to
mind. There’s Masdar City, an extremely en-
ergy-efficient urban center currently being
built next to Abu Dhabi’s international airport
that makes extensive use of Siemens technolo-
gies (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2011,
p. 40). Also not to be overlooked is Dubai, the
glittering metropolis in the middle of a desert,
which for the past 20 years has been pursuing
the ambitious goal of becoming one of the
world’s main hubs for the tourism, service, and
financial industries. And then there’s Al-Ain, a
city with a population of 370,000.
The contrast with Dubai and Abu Dhabi
could hardly be greater. Instead of high-rises,
the tallest buildings here are only seven stories
high. Many describe Al-Ain as an urban oasis in
comparison to the two other cities, partly due
to its tradition of gardening, which is the origin
of its second name, the “Garden City.” While
the future is only just beginning in Masdar, and
Dubai is reinventing its own future after the
the key initiatives in Mubadala Healthcare’s
plan to establish world-class medical facilities
in the UAE. Doctors and medical students from
all over the UAE are coming to Al-Ain to learn
about the center’s sophisticated diagnostic
In addition to technology and clinical ex-
pertise, another reason for interest in TMIC
may be the center’s pleasant atmosphere. The
facility’s entry hall is as beautiful and inviting
as any of the luxury hotels that proliferate in
Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The delicate wood pan-
els covering the glass facades allow natural
light into the interior, and mobiles hang from
the lobby’s high ceiling. The aim is to make the
diagnostic process as pleasant as possible for
patients during what can be an anxious time.
Patients are offered the privacy of their own
rooms, for example, all of which feature a gar-
den view.
In spite of new institutions such as the
TMIC, expansion of the healthcare system in
the UAE is a substantial challenge. Studies
42 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
economic downturn of recent years, Al-Ain has
been seen as a model of successful urban liv-
ing for approximately 4,000 years. That’s how
long this city on the border with Oman has
been continuously inhabited. A plentiful water
supply made this spot in the desert an attrac-
tive site and brought prosperity to its inhabi-
tants, who engaged in camel breeding and
market gardening. Al-Ain, like the entire surrounding region, is
also reinventing itself. The UAE is attempting
to focus its economic model on growth indus-
tries in order to reduce dependence on income
from oil and gas drilling (see Pictures of the Fu-
ture, Spring 2011, p. 43). Diagnosis and Design. Al-Ain is making a
name for itself as a center of world-class med-
ical care. A case in point is the Tawam Molecu-
lar Imaging Center (TMIC). Its diagnostic imag-
ing technology includes the Siemens Biograph
mCT, a hybrid system that fuses positron emis-
sion tomography (PET) and computer tomog-
raphy (CT). This combination brings advan-
tages — especially with regard to early detec-
tion and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular,
and neurological diseases — because it can
dramatically improve the precision of a physi-
cian’s diagnoses, thus potentially improving
patient outcome.
Patients at the Tawam Molecular Imaging
Center are also benefitting from a Siemens Cy-
clotron Eclipse HP, a particle accelerator that
produces the radioisotope biomarkers required
for PET examinations. As Bashar Al Ramahi,
Senior Manager of Business Development,
Mubadala Healthcare and acting General
Manger for TMIC explains, “By combining PET
and CT technology, we’re using the advan-
tages of both processes. We can now see more
— and we can see it in greater detail. In the
case of certain metastases, that can save lives.”
Designed and equipped by Siemens, TMIC
is owned by Mubadala Healthcare — a unit of
the Abu Dhabi investment and business devel-
opment company — and is clinically operated
by Johns Hopkins Medicine International. Op-
erational since late 2010, the center is one of
show that increasing urbanization and grow-
ing prosperity are causing a number of prob-
lems. For example, the urban lifestyle — lots of
driving, little exercise — is among the reasons
why UAE inhabitants have a high incidence of
cardiovascular diseases and the world’s sec-
ond-highest rate of diabetes. About 20 percent
of the population is affected by this life-threat-
ening illness, and another 20 percent is classi-
fied as a high-risk group.
A better alternative to diagnosis and costly
treatment of a chronic disease is its effective
prevention by means of sports and a healthy
diet. And a city’s architecture can play a role
here. For example, Masdar City has been mod-
eled along the lines of traditional Arab inner
cities. Fresh breezes circulate through the nar-
row alleys, and the house walls provide shade.
Unlike Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which do little to
encourage pedestrians, Masdar City is once
again making walking attractive — as it has
been for thousands of years in the gardens of
Al-Ain, where visitors still stroll under shady
palms.Andreas Kleinschmidt
An Oasis for First-Class Care
Quality of Life in Cities
In Brief
About 3.5 billion people live in cities today; in
2030 the number will be nearly five billion. Every
day around 100,000 people migrate to the conur-
bations of Asia. New, smart infrastructure solu-
tions are needed to ensure sustainability so that
quality of life can keep pace with population
growth. Such solutions will, for example, let peo-
ple work more flexibly in the future, live inde-
pendently longer in their old age, and stay mo-
bile in expanding megacities. (p. 12) London is modernizing major portions of its
outdated infrastructure. The city’s subway lines
are to be extended and new “tube” trains are ex-
pected to reduce strain on the transportation net-
work, beginning in 2018. Vehicle-related emis-
sions are to be curbed with hybrid buses, electric
cars, and green electricity from sources such as
the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which is
scheduled to go online in the Thames estuary in
2012. (p.15)
With roughly ten million inhabitants and al-
most 14,000 people per square kilometer, Jakarta
is one of Asia’s most densely populated cities. In-
donesia’s capital is facing tremendous challenges.
Except for a bus system, the city doesn’t have any
local public transportation, which is why it con-
tinuously suffers from traffic jams that cost
around $3 billion per year. On top of that, the city
also suffers flooding every year. (p. 30)
Life and work will change substantially in cities
in the future. High-speed rail lines, networked
computers, and a robust IT security architecture
are enabling people to manage schedules with
greater flexibility. And in offices, fixed worksta-
tions will increasingly be replaced by flexible
work centers. (p. 28)
The SmartSenior project will help elderly peo-
ple live independently in cities. A service platform
will allow senior citizens to stay in continuous
contact with doctors and physiotherapists. A field
test will be launched in 2012 in Potsdam near
Berlin. (p. 24)
“There is no such thing as an ideal city be-
cause metropolises are living and breathing enti-
ties,” says Joan Clos, Executive Director of the UN
Human Settlements Programme HABITAT, in an
interview. (p. 34)
Infrastructure in London: Kevin Worster, City Account Manager London
Mark Brearley, Design for London
New Siemens headquarters: Thomas Braun, Project Manager at Siemens SRE
Trams and subways:
Matthias Hofmann, Siemens Mobility
Dr. Stefan Wappmann, Siemens Mobility
Complete mobility:
Marcus Zwick, Siemens Mobility
SmartSenior project:
Michael Balasch, Coordinator for SmartSenior
Communications technologies for cities:
Dr. Johann Fichtner, Siemens CT / IT Security
Dr. Wilhelm Bauer, Fraunhofer Institute IAO
Megacity Jakarta:
Titin Suwartini, NGO Susila Dharma, Indonesia
Julieta Glasmacher, Siemens Indonesia
SkyHydrant: Rhett Butler, Siemens Water Technologies
Waste management in Bolivia:
Gerhard Hütter, Siemens Stiftung
Financing for Chinese cities:
Yang Gang, Siemens Financial Services China
Sustainable Cities Website:
Design for London:
SkyJuice Foundation:
ISOCARP Society for City Planners:
7 Billion Actions campaign of the UNFPA:
SmartSenior consortium:
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 4544 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
aiki pulls in his line for the last time. He’s
already landed three catfish and five pira-
nhas, but that’s not the most he’s ever caught.
“The fish don’t bite as much in the rainy sea-
son,” he says, “but it gets easier to catch them
again when the river subsides.” Paiki is very fa-
miliar with the laws of the rainforest. He has
lived in the Amazon jungle his whole life and
has been hunting wild boar, tortoises, and fish
since he was a child. Paiki starts up the outboard motor of his
small boat and begins to maneuver slowly and
skillfully through the treetops rising out of the
water. When the dry season begins in a few
weeks, the water level of the Rio Fresco will
sink by up to ten meters and the tree trunks
will become visible again. At the moment they
are still concealed beneath the masses of yel-
low-brown water that are racing through the
Brazilian state of Pará.
Paiki, who is 31, had a dentist appointment
this morning in his village, Kikretum, which is
rather remote even by Amazonian standards.
Kikretum has 500 inhabitants and is located in
the center of the territory occupied by the
Kayapo tribe. Here there is nothing but rain
forest as far as the eye can see. The nearest big
city, Marabá, is two hours away by plane, and
it’s six hours by boat to the smaller city of São
Felix do Xingú. In any case, Paiki thought it was more im-
portant to fish today since he has four children
to feed. His wife gave birth a week ago to a boy
— something that makes Paiki particularly
proud. Perhaps the little one will grow up to
become a Kayapo warrior. The associated ritu-
als won’t be easy, though. For example, the
boy will have to tear off part of a wasp nest,
and the angry insects will sting him over and
over again in this test of courage. That’s simply
the way it is here.
An assistant nurse from Brazil’s Secretaria
Especial de Saúde Indígena (SESAI) health de-
partment was present when Paiki’s youngest
son was born. Nevertheless, doctors and den-
tists generally make only fleeting one-day vis-
its to extremely remote Indio villages like
Paiki’s. “The shaman, an indigenous healer,
treats us when we get sick,” says Paiki as he
ducks to avoid a thick hanging branch on the
way to Kikretum. The shaman takes care of
things like snake bites and “illnesses of the
spirit,” which is how the Kayapo describe psy-
chological disorders. He realizes quickly
whether an ailment has to do with the water
spirit and whether his patients should be given
herbs or perhaps be ordered to avoid certain
foods. Still, the shaman isn’t much help with
tuberculosis, hernias or malaria. These days,
many Kayapo are demanding better provision
of what they call “the white man’s medicine.”
In 2009, angry Indios even occupied a building
owned by the precursor of SESAI in order to
lend weight to their demands. A Territory the Size of Austria. SESAI’s rain
forest doctors regularly visit Kikretum in a sin-
gle-engine airplane. This aircraft is necessary
because the 7,000 Kayapo are spread across a
territory the size of Austria. The physicians are
unable to treat many cases on site. In such sit-
uations, they send their Indio patients to hos-
pitals in cities such as São Felix do Xingú,
Marabá, or even Belém, which has a popula-
tion in the millions and is located near the far-
away Atlantic coast. “One of my sons had
pneumonia once,” Paiki recalls. “It took six
weeks to treat him in Belém. We stayed with
him the whole time and slept on plastic chairs
in the hospital. It would be a lot easier if we
could get more medical treatment right here in
our villages.”
Pictures of the Future | Healthcare in a Rain Forest
Until recently, the inhabitants of Brazil’s Amazon region had to travel to cities for many types of medical treatment. Now, a private initiative is changing that by providing medical services in the rain forest itself. Siemens is supplying mobile ultrasound devices to support the effort.
Clinic under the Palms
Indios such as Paiki and his family (below) and the entire village of Kikretum profit from a health expedition into the Amazon. Examinations and even operations are conducted on site (right-hand page).
Paiki’s wish is now coming true. More than
a dozen doctors arrived recently, something
that had never been seen before in Kayapo ter-
ritory. Physicians and nurses from the Expedi-
cionários de Saúde (EDS) non-governmental
organization, which is financed solely through
donations, have transformed the village school
in Kikretum into a small hospital for a ten-day
stay. They have built tents and cranked up
diesel generators, and have brought with them
air conditioners, surgical instruments, and
even ultrasound units from Siemens. The
dreaded dentists have also come as part of the
group. The Indios claim that their encounters
with these medical professionals more often
than not cause them to lose a tooth rather
than get one saved — so they are rather reluc-
tant patients.
Paiki’s boat is getting closer to his village,
and he can already see that there’s a lot going
on at the shore. A ferry has just arrived from
Gorotiri, another Kayapo settlement. The ves-
sel has brought patients — and therefore work
— for the eye doctors, the pediatrician, the
surgeon, the gynecologist, and the other
physicians, who together will conduct around
1,700 examinations and treatments (including
more than 70 operations)
during their stay. Paiki ties up
his boat and strolls through
the crowd. He has run a nar-
row pliable branch through
the gills of his freshly caught
fish and knotted the ends.
The fish hang on the stick like
a string of pearls — the long fat catfish and the
piranhas with their deadly sharp teeth. They’ll
soon be swimming in a soup. Many of the new
arrivals from Gorotiri have brought compan-
ions with them. Some have bows and arrows.
They plan to hunt for their food during their
stay in Kikretum. A cage holding an impatient
parrot with fluttering wings seems lost in the
crowd; a young Kayapo girl picks ants out of
her rat’s fur.
The fact that a boat full of patients has
landed here is a minor success when you con-
sider that rumors had spread in Gorotiri that
the doctors pull out the eyes of patients and
replace them with horse eyes. The village eld-
ers had to convince the sick people that they
would be helped in Kikretum before they
would agree to go. The seasoned Kayapo war-
rior Akiaboro set a good example. Akiaboro,
who considers himself a political leader of the
Kayapo, stands up straight as he moves
through the crowd, with yellow-green parrot
feathers adorning his head. “There are some
illnesses that the white man can treat better
than the shamans,” he says. “I myself came to
Kikretum to get a checkup.” Akiaboro also
wants to see the dentist because there’s some-
thing wrong with one of his root canals. “I
haven’t slept for days because of the pain,” he
Paiki’s visit to the dentist is still far off. It’s
now afternoon and there’s a big line in front of
the village school. A Kayapo girl is playing soc-
cer with a balloon; her skin is covered with or-
namental painting, and colorful chains hang
from her wrists and ankles. Before the patients
are sent to the right treatment station at the
school, their names are entered into a com-
puter. The nurses stick labels of various colors
onto the skin of the Indios to indicate to other
personnel where they need to go. “Blue stands
for the eye doctor, pink for the gynecologist,
yellow for the pediatrician, and green means
the operating tent,” says Claudio Braga, who
runs the computers. Wireless Network in a Forest. Kikretum’s in-
stant hospital has an IT system that would be
the envy of many facilities. “Our 11 laptops are
linked in a wireless network; and all of the pa-
tient files are digital and are accessible in the
treatment and operating tents as well,” Braga
says proudly. “Virtually no other Brazilian hos-
pital has such a high IT standard — but we’ve
got it here in the rain forest.” “Virtually no other Brazilian hospital
has such a high IT standard — but
we’ve got it here in the rain forest.”
with symptoms of malaria. Just two years ago
there were hardly any cases of malaria in this
part of Kayapo territory, but this infectious dis-
ease is now on the rise. Preventive measures
are the only thing that can help here; the EDS
doctors know that high-tech medicine and
equipment are powerless against this deadly
illness. In just a few days, the expedition team will
take down the tents and take off from the jun-
gle runway in their single-engine plane, which
will fly them to the nearest major airport in
Marabá. They will then travel on to the big
cities in southern Brazil where most of them
live and work. They won’t return to Kikretum
for some time, though, because each EDS ex-
pedition is sent out to a new destination. After
all, there are plenty of people throughout the
vast Amazon region who are in need of med-
ical attention and treatment.
Paiki walks back to the dock and watches as
a young Kayapo boy flings rocks out into the
Rio Fresco with his slingshot. “They didn’t even
drill,” Paiki yells out happily. It seems that he
has finally made it to the dentist. He smiles
and reveals teeth that have been repaired with
a lot of shiny metal during the past few years.
“We’ll be sad when the doctors leave,” he says.
Can Paiki imagine that he himself might leave
the rain forest some day? That will never hap-
pen, he says. He belongs here. And although it might be easy to sell the
jewelry his wife makes in a big city, life there
would be too complicated; he always gets lost,
he tells us. The boy on the river bank has now
begun to dance. In between shots with his
slingshot, he sings the chorus of a song in
English that he recently saw performed on
television: “Baby, baby, baby, oh! Baby, baby,
baby, oh!”
Andreas Kleinschmidt
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 4746 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Examination equipment and surgical instru-
ments are cleaned in a sterilization room be-
hind Braga’s desk, which holds the computers
and the printer. Two young members of the
Kayapo tribe are now covering the roof of a
platform with fresh palm leaves. This helps
many of the older patients, some of whom can
hardly see any more. The powerful rays of the
sun cause the lenses of the natives’ eyes to blur
sooner here than elsewhere. It’s not surprising
that cataracts are a big problem here.
“The illnesses we diagnose have a lot to do
with environmental conditions and the Indio
lifestyle,” says Fabio Atui, a surgeon with a pri-
vate practice in São Paulo who also works at
one of the megacity’s best hospitals. Even
though Atui has a family, he always takes un-
paid vacation time to join the EDS expeditions,
which have been carried out since 2003. He
considers it important to bring first-class med-
ical services to the remote regions of the Ama-
zon. “People in the tropical rain forest often
suffer from infectious diseases, fungi, and sca-
bies,” he explains. “They move around a lot,
walk for miles, and carry heavy loads, which is
why hernias are common, whereas heart prob-
lems are rare.”
When he’s in the jungle, he works in the op-
erating tent. Those who wish to enter must
first put on a pair of blue overalls and a surgical
mask in a closed-off anteroom. Atui also wears
white latex gloves. He now has a hernia pa-
tient under the knife. Several surgical instru-
ments are now in the incision; a monitor dis-
plays the patient’s vital functions. An air
conditioner continually pumps cool air into the
tent, but outside it’s hot and humid — typical
Amazon weather.
“We only do certain kinds of operations in
the rain forest,” Atui says. “The diagnoses have
to be quick and unequivocal, and the opera-
tions may not require any complicated prepa-
rations or post-surgical treatments. After all,
we’re only here for ten days.” The diagnoses in
particular are a major challenge, because EDS
doesn’t provide any X-ray machines, as they
are too big and heavy to transport. Still, Atui
can rely on a handy ultrasound unit that
Siemens provides at no cost.
He and his fellow physicians, as well as
nurses and other assistants, voluntarily forgo
the comforts of civilization and privacy when
they carry out their mission. For example, the
latrines and showers are in a wooden shed
next to the kitchen, and instead of eating at a
nice restaurant in the city, staff members ladle
out a mixture of rice, beans, and meat for
themselves from a large pot. On the first
evening, expedition director Ricardo Affonso
Ferreira tells the young doctors who are partic-
ipating in the project for the first time, “It’s a
privilege to be here. We want to show the In-
dios our respect. We don’t expect any thanks
— we’re not 21st-century missionaries.”
Atui sees things the same way. He’s con-
vinced that the only way to prevent further de-
forestation is to make sure the Indios continue
to inhabit the rain forest and view it as their
home. He believes it’s wrong to send them to a
city for a few weeks for medical treatment.
Many Indios are already exposed to the prom-
ise of luxury and good times in urban areas
through TV stations that broadcast the Carni-
val in Rio live to the huts of Kikretum. They also
watch the music videos of American pop stars,
not to mention the daily Brazilian soap operas
that also display images of material prosperity.
Older members of the Kayapo can well re-
member all the things money can buy. Back in
the 1980s, gold was discovered in Kayapo ter-
ritory, attracting all kinds of fortune hunters.
The gold diggers who swarmed into the region
had to pay the Indios a fee for what they ex-
tracted, and the Kayapo actually ended up
buying airplanes with the money. However,
the gold supply was depleted after a few years,
and the quick cash the Kayapo had made also
quickly disappeared. By this time, prostitution
and drug dealing had established themselves
on the outskirts of the reservation: “Civiliza-
tion” had found its way into the rain forest.
High Infant Mortality. Paiki has two televi-
sions in his hut, where he now arrives with his
catch. Garbage is lying around, and the fam-
ily’s few possessions are stored in plastic bags
that hang on the walls. Paiki shares his hut
with another family. Everyone sleeps on the
floor, in tents, or in hammocks. Paiki’s wife is
lying in one of the hammocks and nursing the
new baby. Young Indios in particular suffer
from the effects of poor hygiene and the hu-
mid climate of the Amazon. Respiratory dis-
eases are common among children, and doc-
tors say the child mortality rate is nearly ten
times higher here than in São Paulo. “Many women don’t like to be examined,”
says Iria Novaes, a gynecologist from Camp-
inas. “For most of the women I see, it’s the first
gynecological examination they’ve ever had in
their life.” Novaes is supported in her work by
one of two ultrasound units that Siemens sup-
plied to EDS to supplement the company’s fi-
nancial assistance to the expeditions. One
evening, just before she retires to her tent for
the night, Novaes talks about the people she
has treated earlier in the day. One patient was
a 27-year-old woman who Novaes was very
concerned about because she suspected the
woman had cancer. Novaes took a tissue sam-
ple and sent it to the university hospital in
Campinas for analysis. Meanwhile, her own ex-
amination with the ultrasound unit revealed at
least one piece of good news: No apparent
signs of metastases, indicating that there was
still hope and time for treatment and recovery.
Iria Novaes, a gynecologist, and Fabio Atui, a surgeon, use ultrasound equipment from Siemens during a stay with the Indios in the Amazon.
Communication between doctors and pa-
tients across cultural barriers is no easy thing.
Although the expedition includes interpreters,
and some Kayapo — like Paiki — who speak
enough Portuguese to get by, language is still
a problem. In addition, many gestures that are
important in doctor-patient communication
are not understood. The Amazon region isn’t
the only place where physicians face such
problems. The situation of the indigenous peo-
ple in Brazil is extreme in many respects, but
there are in fact billions of people in rural areas
around the world who have only limited access
to medical care and treatment (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2011, p. 88).
Their situation can be improved at an af-
fordable cost if two conditions can be met, as
they are in the EDS expeditions: The physicians
must be dedicated, and they must be provided
with modern and affordable technology to as-
sist them. Instead of exporting its devices,
Siemens is now manufacturing more and more
medical equipment directly in emerging mar-
kets in order to ensure that state-of-the-art
medical technology can be provided at reason-
able prices. Celso Takashi Nakano, an eye doctor, also
thinks it’s wrong to have to work with second-
class or discarded equipment just because he’s
in a rain forest. Nakano collected a large num-
ber of donations, which is why he is now able
to utilize the most modern equipment on the
market when he accompanies the expedition.
He operates mostly on cataracts, one after the
other — as often as 20 times a day. “We have
the most difficult cases in the world here,” he
It’s a huge challenge, even for Nakano, who
is considered the best man for the most com-
plicated cases at the university hospital in São
Paulo. “The Kayapos’ pupils barely dilate,
which is probably due to their diet,” he says.
This makes his work very difficult, because he
has to insert his surgical instrument into the
narrow pupils. It’s 9:30 a.m. — time for
Nakano’s first patient. He uses an ultrasound
device to shatter the man’s blurred and hard-
ened lens and then inserts a new lens with a
tiny pair of tweezers. His patients wake up
from their anesthesia in a hammock in the vil-
lage school a little while after their operation,
a thick bandage wrapped around the eye that
has been operated on.
One of the first patients, whose bandage
has since been removed, pays a visit to the
doctors during lunch. The sunglasses he’s now
wearing make him look like an aging rock star.
“Check out how clearly I can see now!” he cries
out in Portuguese as he takes off his glasses.
Prior to his operation, he had only 15 percent
of his sight, but soon — after his eye is com-
pletely healed — it could return to more than
80 percent. The doctors call out to him a
friendly “Meikumré!” — a Kayapo phrase that
translates more or less into “All right!” Toward
the end of their stay, some members of the ex-
pedition team actually start wearing the tribe’s
traditional painted decora-
The closer the end of the
expedition approaches, the
longer the line gets in front of
the dentists’ tent. Word has
spread that the dentists who
have come this time save
more teeth than they pull, so those who have
yet to see a dentist — or were afraid to before
— now want to get their turn. A sign in front of
the tent says “kekét meitere” — “nice smile.” As
Pedro Affonso Ferreira from Campinas points
out, the dentists here have to do their best
work because “we don’t have enough special
lamps. I have to use a headlamp even though
its light causes some materials to harden too
quickly. That means I have to work faster.”
Hours of Rain. The sky has darkened again
outside, as it so often does in the afternoon.
Leaves begin to rustle in the trees, and rain-
drops that will soon turn into a downpour start
falling. Kikretum will then be transformed into
a swamp. Small makeshift wooden bridges —
like those on the Piazza San Marco in Venice
when the canals flood — allow the last pa-
tients to get to their accommodation and to
the village school. One last boat comes in from
A’Ukre, and a larger one arrives from Gorotiri.
On board are, among others, nine patients
Many gestures that are important
in doctor-patient communication
are not understood.
hat do you expect them to do, Denise?”
said Dr. Higgs, squinting down at me in
consternation after I had explained my
predicament. “I don’t know for sure,” I said.
“But whatever it is, it’s likely to happen any
minute now.” I was trying to relax on a treat-
ment table in the hospital’s interventional car-
diology section while a multi-modal scanner
produced a 3D image set of my heart’s dam-
aged mitral valve. On the other hand, I was
also brimming with anticipation, fascinated by
the idea that a recently-activated pilot version
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 4948 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
2035. The inventor of software that learns to detect potential
threats to businesses and their
owners realizes that she has become the target of an insidious
plot by competitors. What the perpetrators do not realize, how-
ever, is that the software, though
still in its pilot stage, has learned to predict their actions. Invisible Prophet
53 The Science of Prediction
Siemens is developing methods that can identify, track, and learn the key parameters that drive complex systems and trends, resulting in the ability to predict many processes with amazing accuracy. 57 Body of Knowledge
Trained on thousands of annotated images, software systems have learned to identify organs and even recognize cancer stages in pathology slides. 62 Gateways to Understanding
How do machines learn? What are
the associated challenges and potential gains? Interviews with, Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf and Prof. Tomaso Poggio answer these
and other questions. Pages 62, 68.
64 Flying Inspectors
One of the toughest problems facing researchers in the field of machine learning is vision. Siemens scientists are developing video systems that are not only capable of learning, but can also independently interpret the visible world. 70 On-the-Job Optimization
Armed with learning algorithms, virtually any highly complex system can be designed to minimize its own maintenance requirements and improve its output. Examples include advanced medical equipment, gas turbines and wind parks.
As she waits on a treatment table to have a damaged cardiac valve repaired, the inventor of a unique machine learning
technology knows that competitors may try to kill her at any moment. Little do the
criminals know, however, that once the software is triggered, its agents will scru-
pulously track every conceivable lead, gradually zeroing in on their target, while
documenting every shred of evidence.
of software from my company, Prophet Analyt-
ics, was probably about to provide definitive
evidence against the perpetrators of what ap-
peared to be a fiendish plan to get rid of me.
Let me see if I can explain the events that led
up to my being here…
I founded Prophet Analytics only about a
year ago. The idea was to create a company
that would use a group of unique learning al-
gorithms I had patented to discover threats to
businesses and people and help users predict
— and avoid — the outcomes of those threats.
In its pilot version, the software, which was
trained to identify anomalous events in my ex-
tended environment, was designed to run as a
very high-security app on my communicator.
The software dispatches agents through net-
works and the agents monitor data produced
by any and all relevant sensors. Once confront-
ed with an anomaly, Prophet formulates hy-
potheses and compares them with what actu-
ally happens. In the process, it learns from
experience and refines its accuracy. Although
the software’s development had been top se-
Machine Learning | Scenario 2035
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 51
Whether trained on thousands of examples or drawing conclusions on their own, machines that learn from experience are helping to optimize everything from medical image interpretation to the output of wind farms. In the process, they are making it possible for us to not only live with, but benefit from an increasingly complex world. ry (see page 68). “As the complexity and spe-
cialization of our civilization continues to in-
crease, machine learning will become the best
way of sifting through all the data we are gen-
erating and identifying what can be optimized.
Already, when it comes to highly complex
processes, it is the only solution.” Representing the World Mathematically.
And what could be more complex than predict-
ing the prices of electricity or copper, which
are themselves based on thousands of vari-
ables? Yet that’s exactly the kind of thing —
among many examples — that Siemens’ Soft-
ware Environment for Neural Networks (SENN)
learning system has been designed to do (see
page 53). And it works! Siemens already gets
decision support for its electricity purchases in
Germany and its huge worldwide copper pur-
chases from predictions provided by this
unique software. “The science of prediction,”
says Siemens Senior Principal Research Scien-
tist Dr. Hans-Georg Zimmermann, who holds
most of the patents that make SENN possible,
“is a race between the increasing complexity of
the real world and our accelerating ability to
mathematically represent it by means of infor-
mation technology-related capabilities.”
A good example of the relationship be-
tween complexity and IT solutions is our grow-
ing capability to replace open heart surgery
with “interventional” procedures that can be
performed by means of a catheter. Such proce-
dures, however, make it necessary to practical-
ly be able to see through a patient. To meet
this requirement, scientists are developing sys-
tems trained on thousands of images of hu-
man hearts. Such systems have learned to ex-
tract the outlines of, say, an aortic valve from
angiography and ultrasound images, discover
the anatomical landmarks that are common to
both, and combine these images to produce a
single hybrid view (see page 57).
Unlike human learning, which becomes less
and less capable of extracting any useful mes-
sage from data as the number of inputs in-
creases, artificial learning systems positively
thrive on such complexity. For instance, learn-
ing systems have produced surprising insights
in experiments involving the detection of pos-
sible relationships between different parts of
the human genome — an area no human
hey work in power plants, factories and
hospitals. You can find them in the base-
ments of large buildings, in surveillance cen-
ters, and postal automation facilities. Some
dart back and forth relentlessly as they drill
through metal parts. Some sit stolidly in huge
halls producing only a mantric hum — and lots
of electricity. All are members of a new gener-
ation of systems: machines that learn. Whether the goal is to make interventional
cardiac procedures safer by automatically iden-
tifying key anatomies, or to increase the effi-
ciency of the world’s largest turbines, the abili-
ty to learn from experience is transforming
machines into systems that remember, evolve,
and sometimes surprise us. Call it a paradigm
shift or a revolution in the making, machine
learning is set to accelerate knowledge acquisi-
tion across industries and become a decisive
competitive factor as we zoom up the “on”
ramp to intelligent systems.
“Learning is the gateway to intelligence,”
says Prof. Tomaso Poggio, Eugene McDermott
Professor in the Department of Brain and Cog-
nitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Laborato-
Machine Learning | Trends
At present, image evaluation systems can only detect and count people and objects. In the future, they will also be able to interpret what’s happening in an image. Thriving on Complexity
50 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
cret, someone had gotten wind of its potential
for putting them out of business and had
seemingly decided to take it, and its inventor,
out of the picture.
But they were late. The product was already
operating on a trial — and secret — basis. And
when a visiting scientist from a potential com-
petitor casually brought up the subject of a
summer picnic for our top managers and asked
a close colleague if I had any allergies, a
Prophet agent in an AV sensor in our lobby
caught a tone of voice or a facial expression
that raised a red flag. Immediately thereafter,
Prophet agents discovered that someone had
attempted to — and possibly managed — to
gain access to the files of my childhood doctor.
Knowing, as it does, that I once experienced
an acute reaction to a bee sting, Prophet’s hy-
pothesis generation engine led it to search for
connections to apitoxin, and particularly melit-
tin, the principal active component in bee ven-
om. And sure enough a professor who had re-
cently met with Dr. Shanti — the visiting
scientist — owned a small business in nano de-
vices used to deliver industrially-produced
melittin to cancer cells. Then, about a month ago, while playing in
a benefit women’s volleyball match, a high-
speed ball managed to zip between my fingers
and slammed against my chest just below the
neck. The impact was so intense that it
knocked me down. An on-the-spot knowledge-
based ultrasound test indicated a possible rup-
ture of one of the cord-like tendons — chordae
tendineae — in my heart that hold the flaps of
the mitral valve in place. Such ruptures can
cause the valve to regurgitate blood, which
causes weakness. In the heat of the moment,
the exam was automatically sent to a nearby
hospital with only minimal data security.
The next morning, while thinking over
Prophet’s — until then — ambiguous results, it
occurred to me that my accident and its associ-
ated security breach might work as a trap to
flush out any would-be bad guys. What’s more,
if indeed someone was working against me or
the company, the more casually I managed my
information, the less likely it would be that
they would realize I was onto them. As a result,
information about my ultrasound scan went
back and forth on a low security level between
my office and the hospital’s cardiology depart-
ment — including an appointment for a fol-
low-up test and a probable interventional pro-
cedure to clip the two leaflets of the valve to-
gether, thus restoring normal function. By afternoon, Prophet was turning up all
sorts of information. Snippets of conversation
and pictures picked up by image sensors in ve-
hicle, traffic, street, parking, private and satel-
lite infrastructures indicated that the highly au-
tomated Prosthetic Device Production Center
(PDPC) in my hospital was the focus of consid-
erable attention. Of particular interest was what appeared to
be a chance encounter at a vehicle “KwickC”
charging station between Dr. Shanti and a for-
mer Prophet Analytics supervisor, Dr. Clark Hal-
lick during which both had entered the rest-
room area at the same time. In fact, I
happened to remember Clark very well, as we
had dated for a while way back in our pre-IPO
days. But all the good looks in the world could-
n’t blind me to Clark’s overbearing and self-
centered attitude. We had parted bitterly and
he had left the company shortly thereafter. Now it turned out that he was leading a ro-
botic learning optimization program at the
hospital — and that air filtration sensors in the
charge station lavatory had picked up mole-
cules of something very unusual for such a
venue: melittin. Having acquired a
huge amount of data re-
garding the potential
perpetrators’ personali-
ties, histories, and real-
time activities, Prophet’s
prediction engine began
to zero in on probable
scenarios. And the one that received the high-
est level of probability — with a 93 percent
chance of realization — was exactly what be-
gan to unfold. Late that evening, Hallick’s department ap-
parently began preparations for a test to see if
the hospital’s robotic vision systems and asso-
ciated sensors could be hacked. According to
official records, the test would be conducted
two days later during the small hours of the
night — in other words only shortly before my
admission and treatment time.
Now, as I lay on the treatment table and Dr.
Higgs examined the representation of my mi-
tral valve on a swivel arm-based display, the
outlines of an optimized prosthetic clip auto-
matically took shape on the screen. He clicked
a few virtual buttons on the screen’s interface,
dispatching the dataset to the PDPC for pro-
duction. Moments later a bright blue light on a
nearby control panel began blinking, indicat-
ing that a custom-made prosthetic clip had ar-
rived via pneumatic line. “We’ll have you squared away in no time,
Denise,” said Higgs reassuringly. “I’ll just give
you a sedative…” He started to reach for a
Using patented learning algorithms,
the high-security app can detect
threats to businesses and humans.
small, glowing dial attached to the catheter
line that had been connected to my groin. But before he could touch the dial I caught
his hand. “Dr. Higgs, let me take a look at the
prosthesis first,” I said. “Just open the pneu-
matic drawer and let me examine it with my
smartphone.” The drawer opened and I point-
ed the phone at the tiny object.
The latest phones are designed to recog-
nize objects — regardless of how unusual they
may be — to catalogue them complete with
price and location information. Specialized ap-
plications allow users to virtually “open” de-
vices by interrogating their internet datasets to
see, hear, analyze, or price-compare their inner
parts, or to remotely control them. But
equipped with Prophet technology, such a
phone will look for anything that, based on
previous knowledge, fits a predicted outcome. A moment later, a warning appeared on the
phone indicating that the PDPC had experi-
enced a data outage prior to production of the
prosthesis. And worse: the phone’s built-in
laser diode spectrometer had found traces of
melittin embedded in the prosthesis, indicat-
ing a potential time-release delivery mecha-
nism. “Good God! Exclaimed Higgs. “With your
medical history that would have…” “Exactly,” I
said. “And nothing would have happened until
well after my release from the hospital.” I pointed my phone at a long, horizontal
wall monitor normally used for displaying cel-
lular, physiological and anatomical inter-rela-
tionships pertinent to complex procedures. In-
stantly, recognizing the emergency nature of
the data, the monitor became an extension of
the phone’s display. As Prophet ran through
what it had learned, it reconstructed the crime
it had uncovered through images and reports
that snapped into focus on the wall gong back
through time. First came an extreme close-up
of my prosthesis and associated laser spec-
trometry analysis, then there was an image of
a model M6 sanitation robot with a report
showing that traces of melittin and Clark’s DNA
had been detected on gloves it had picked up
and automatically analyzed. Third was an im-
age of Clark entering the PDPC at 4:35 this
morning. And finally, as I now pressed my in-
dex finger against a Prophet icon that said
“Transmit Report to Security,” there was a bird’s
eye view of the hospital’s lobby with a red cir-
cle around one person — marked “Hallick C” —
who was apparently heading for an exit and a
blue circle around a uniformed person near the
entrance that read “Security Notified.” “Well,” I said to Higgs, “I guess that just
about wraps it up.” “Guess you’re right,
Denise,” he answered. “And now I’d recom-
mend ordering a fresh prosthesis and getting
on with the procedure.” Arthur F. Pease
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 53
Dr. Hans-Georg Zimmermann of Siemens Corporate Technology has developed a learning system capable of forecasting everything from the price of copper to the best place to locate a factory. enormous amount of data in your field of vi-
sion into things that are instantly identifiable. Now, the same sort of challenge is being
confronted by complex man-made systems;
but the models in question make sense of pat-
terns that are so multifaceted and so invisible
to our senses that no human being could ever
see them. They are the patterns from which,
with steadily growing success, predictions can
be made.
And they work! The predictive technologies
now evolving at Siemens offer surprisingly
sharp snapshots of the future output, behav-
ior, and maintenance needs of systems rang-
ing from turbines to wind parks and of the de-
velopment of economic trends such as the
prices of raw materials and the direction of the
stock market. Indeed, Siemens already gets de-
cision support for its electricity purchases in
Germany and its huge worldwide copper pur-
chases from predictions provided by its Soft-
ware Environment for Neural Networks (SENN)
learning system, which is, according to Senior
Principal Research Scientist Dr. Hans-Georg
Zimmermann, “the most advanced high-di-
mensional, non-linear modeling system of its
kind.” Thanks to more then 20 years of experi-
ence in integrating mathematical research,
software development and real world applica-
tions, SENN has been able to focus on the sci-
ence of prediction more consistently and con-
tinuously than any other program.
Zimmermann, who has laid the mathemati-
cal groundwork for over 60 predictive industri-
al applications, registered 22 patents to protect
associated software system architecture mod-
els, and holds university lectures in quantita-
tive finance, explains that neural networks of-
fer significant advantages over conventional
predictive systems based on linear logic. “Neur-
al networks can cope with real world applica-
tions, no matter how non-linear or multi-di-
mensional the underlying problem is. In
addition, neural networks are an elegant
framework for the modeling of temporal struc-
tures,” he says. For instance, in a recent study
designed to predict demand for 16 types of
electrical control cabinets, Zimmermann’s
team pitted SENN against a linear model. The
two systems predicted sales volume on a
month-by-month basis for each cabinet type
over a full year. But SENN took factors such as
foreign exchange rates and fluctuations in au-
tomation systems markets into account. The
result: SENN achieved an average error of only
23.3 percent (compared to actual demand) —
much better than the linear model’s error,
which was 52.6 percent. “This kind of highly
accurate demand forecast can help to optimize
a supply chain and reduce costs,” says Zimmer-
SENN is also playing an important role in
predicting the supply of wind energy. For in-
stance, Siemens Wind Power, Denmark, has
asked the SENN team to provide it with predic-
tions on a 72-hour basis of the hourly output
of a major wind park. In this context, SENN
takes weather predictions, which are available
only on a coarse grid pattern, and transforms
them into local energy supply predictions. “With the rising stake of renewable energy
sources such as wind in the total energy mix,”
says Zimmermann, “utilities not only need to
predict demand, but also supply. Prediction is
important because it allows them to estimate
when to activate back-up gas-fired genera-
tion.” With this in mind, Zimmermann’s team
developed a neural network based on the ma-
52 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
ake a break and look out the window for a
second. What do you see? Partially identifi-
able shapes — or buildings and trees? Chances
are that if you had never seen a building or a
tree, and had never even heard of such things,
the view might indeed appear to be a confus-
ing jumble. The reason that it isn’t is that you
have models in your mind that organize the
brain could possibly process (see page 62). “In
fact,” says Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf, Director of
the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
in Tübingen and Stuttgart, “once software has
been trained in this area, the more data you
give it, the more precise the results become.”
That’s also true of the relationship between
local weather conditions and a wind farm’s
output, which is characterized by huge
amounts of data that must be processed in real
time (see page 70). For instance, Siemens re-
searchers have developed an autonomous
learning system that collects sensor data on lo-
cal conditions such as wind speed, turbulence,
temperature and pressure and uses algorithms
to correlate this data with the farm’s output.
The software gradually learns the interrelation-
ships between inputs and outputs and adjusts
variables such as the rotor blades’ angle of inci-
dence. Over time — and as it assembles more
and more experience from data — the system
can produce significant improvements in a
farm’s collective output.
Wind farms may also benefit from machine
learning systems when it comes to external
maintenance. For instance, after a major
storm, an operator may wish to have its masts
and propellers checked for damage — a job
best performed by means of close visual in-
spection rather than with binoculars. Solution?
How about calling in a fleet of flying robots?
With this in mind, researchers at Siemens Cor-
porate Technology in Princeton and the Massa-
chusetts Institute of Technology in Boston are
developing a “quadcopter” — a small, flying
video platform that uses lasers and optical sen-
sors to create 3D models of its surroundings
(see page 64). The device, which has been test
flown to inspect huge industrial facilities and
produce detailed 3D digital maps of internal
environments to support major upgrades,
could be trained to detect and map the loca-
tions of damaged areas in wind farms.
What do envelopes, license plates, road
signs, pharmaceutical products, and supermar-
ket shelves have in common? Three things: let-
ters, numbers, and the need for systems that
can automatically read their content. And the
key to meeting all of these challenges is ma-
chine learning (see page 67). The essential
technology behind Siemens’ world-leading po-
sition in address-reading systems for postal dis-
tribution centers, machine learning not only
has made it possible to read up to 95 percent
of all texts (including those that are handwrit-
ten) without error, but is now being used to
help cities such as London enforce road pricing
through smarter and smarter license plate
reading systems — a potentially huge world-
wide market. And in the security arena, learn-
ing-based machine-reading systems are being
explored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Edu-
cation and Research as part of a system for
tracking trucks that would be specially labeled
when carrying hazardous materials.
Even machine tools, such as the heavy-duty
drills and lathes used in factories, are rumbling
into the learning systems marketplace. For in-
stance, in a program initiated in 2008 at
Siemens’ Technology-to-Business Center in
Berkeley, California under the direction of Dr.
Sarah Peach and recently transferred to
Siemens Corporate Technology in Princeton,
New Jersey for further development, Dr. Linxia
Liao and Zack Edmonson are now working
with the company’s Motion Control business
unit to put the finishing touches on software
called “Plug and Prognose” (PnP). The software
allows machine tools to learn continuously
from sensor inputs such as vibrations, current,
torque, speed and temperature, and adjust
their output accordingly to meet optimized val-
ues. This makes it unneces-
sary for the machines to go
offline for testing by a spe-
cialized technician. The soft-
ware also takes the need for
production line flexibility
into account. “For instance,”
says Liao, “When a new order
comes in that requires drilling through thicker
slabs of aluminum, PnP communicates with a
machine’s controller and adjusts associated al-
gorithm parameters accordingly. The PnP algo-
rithm automatically adapts to the change with-
out requiring any user intervention. In short, it
learns from experience.” All in all, from learning to decipher the con-
tent of medical images to instantly reading li-
cense plates and envelopes, and from identify-
ing potential maintenance problems to
predicting the future, machine learning can be
an accelerator for just about any technology.
Nevertheless, there are still some very basic
things that it cannot do. Take the simple task
of figuring out what’s happening in a photo-
graph of people at a party, for instance. “I think
that would be one of the most intellectually
challenging things for a machine to do,” says
MIT’s Poggio. “We now have systems like Wat-
son that can answer complex questions. We
have systems that count the number of people
or cars in an image. But telling what’s actually
happening in an image? I think it will take at
least twenty years before any artificial system
will be able to do that.” Arthur F. Pease
Small, flying video platforms are
learning to carry out inspections using lasers and optical sensors.
Machine Learning | Neural Networks
The Science of Prediction
What’s the best time for a company to purchase electricity or key raw materials? Is it possible to predict the hourly output of a wind park with enough accuracy to plan the use of back-up gas genera-
tors? Sie mens is developing methods that can identify, track, and learn the key parameters that underlie
such systems and trends, resulting in the ability to predict many processes with amazing accuracy. Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 55
the right pressure to get the desired thickness. “In a neural network-based learning system,” explains Tresp, “this would be achieved by adjusting the relative weight matrix (see diagram) of all the factors
that influence a given parameter, such as thickness.”
Beyond memorization and the ability to optimize skills, artificial systems are increasingly being called
upon to generalize or abstract the characteristics that make an individual item a member of a group. Op-
tical character recognition (OCR), which has traditionally been used for high-speed postal sorting, is a
case in point. Since approximately 1985, when this technology was first developed, accuracy has sky-
rocketed from single digits to over 95 percent for handwritten Latin alphabets and over 90 percent for
Arabic handwriting. In fact, in 2007, Siemens’ ARTread learning system won first place in the Interna-
tional Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition contest for OCR in Arabic. Given OCR technol-
ogy’s exceptionally high level of reliability, it is beginning to migrate to applications such as automatic li-
cense plate recognition and industrial vision (for more, see page 67).
Where is machine learning likely to go from here? Clearly, vast opportunities are emerging as sensors
proliferate in power and sheer numbers, making ever more data available locally and through informa-
tion networks. Learning in the context of networked environments is being pursued in two major proj-
ects: Theseus (see Picture of the Future,Spring 2008, page 89), where Siemens leads with MEDICO, a
project that focuses on the extraction of semantic information from images and texts to enable many
new applications designed to support physician workflow, and, second, the European Union’s LarKC
project (see Pictures of the Future,Spring 2011, page 84) for the development of scalable querying, rea-
soning and machine learning approaches for linked data. “Learning with linked information,” says Tresp,
“that’s where the excitement is today!” Arthur F. Pease
Initially, interactions
among the decision units
are random. Thus, when
the system begins its train-
ing phase (see time line
left), its error level — the
difference between expec-
tation and observation —
is high (4). Once compared
to actual output, the error
level is fed back into each
matrix (arrows pointing
right to each box), thus
modifying the internal
weights of each decision
unit away from random-
ness and altering each in-
put parameter based on
what has been learned (ar-
rows pointing left from
each box). Eventually, after thou-
sands of iterations, each of which is designed to reduce the error level, the system learns to describe the entire flow of input information over
time in such a way that its output exactly duplicates (6) — and eventually predicts — the behavior of the real world. Who Has the Most Neurons?
Roundworm 302 neurons
Fruit fly 100,000
Cockroach 1,000,000
Octopus 300,000,000
Human 100,000,000,000
Elephant 200,000,000,000
Weighting matrix
Weighting matrix
Weighting matrix
54 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
jor parameters that can affect wind power
generation. “In such cases, the goal is to create
a software model that is a mathematical repre-
sentation of the real world,” says Zimmer-
mann. But initially, he explains, the model
does not know how important each parameter
is — and that’s where learning from data
comes into play (for more, see box). All the
system knows at first is that, given the input it
receives during its training phase, it will have
to produce an output that is as close to the ac-
tual power output of the wind park as possible
over time. At first, the discrepancy between model
output and actual data is huge. But over time,
the learning algorithm begins to modify the in-
dividual parameters within its model so that
the predicted and actual results become closer
and closer.
By measuring its level of error over thou-
sands of iterations, the system gradually
moves from producing random outputs to
identifying which combinations of weights on
which input parameters result in which effects.
“It’s like learning how to score a goal in a soc-
cer game,” says Zimmermann. “All you know is
that your output should be to get the ball into
the net. Through a process of trial and error,
and given the thousands of possible circum-
stances that can influence the result, you may
learn to get it just right.” And SENN did get its prediction of the wind
park’s output right. Its average error in terms of
predicting the total energy supply of the park
per day (calculated in terms of root mean
square deviation) is now down to 7.2 percent
— a full three percent better than the closest
competing physics-based model. Similar mod-
els are currently being developed for photo-
voltaic plants.
Quantifying the Unknown. Similarly, Zim-
mermann’s team has developed a neural net-
work to model the nitrous oxide (NO
) emis-
sions of gas turbines. Such a model can be used
to analyze the relationships between numerous
input variables and the output of a turbine over
time. As with the case of the wind park, SENN
began with only raw data and a mandate to de-
scribe actual output over time. Nevertheless, as
it learned the relationships between variables
the model grew closer and closer to duplicating
the turbine’s behavior, and was eventually able
to predict its behavior in real time with almost
perfect accuracy. But of course there’s a lot more going on in a
turbine — or any other complex system for that
matter — than just its known variables. As Zim-
mermann points out, “There are variables that
you cannot measure; and then there are those
you do not even know about.” Such invisible
variables can add up to a mountain of uncer-
From Biological Systems to Machines, Learning is the Key
Biological learning systems run the gamut from the lowly roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans) with its
300 or so neurons, all the way up to the adult elephant brain, with its 200 billion neurons. Whether they’re
located in fruit flies or cockroaches, chimpanzees or dolphins, all neurons do the same thing: they process
and transmit information. And the reason for this is the same across the biological board: To avoid dan-
ger and maximize success in sustaining and propagating themselves, all organisms must be able to
sense the environment, respond to it accordingly, and remember those stimuli that indicate risks and re-
wards. Learning, in short, is a prerequisite for the survival of individuals and species in the natural world.
The same iron law, however, is becoming increasingly applicable to the world of man-made systems. According to Dr. Volker Tresp, one of Siemens’ top machine learning authorities and a computer science
professor at Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, there are three kinds of learning: memorization
(such as the ability to remember facts); skills (such as the ability to learn to throw a ball); and abstraction
(such as the ability to form rules based on observations). Computers, which are born whizzes in the first
area, are rapidly catching on to the other two. Take, for instance, the skill needed to produce a flawlessly
even sheet of steel in a given thickness — an area in which Siemens has been a leader for over 20 years.
“Here,” says Tresp, “the simplest learning schema is to make a prediction, and then check to see if the
output product meets the desired specification.” Confronted with an output requirement for, say, a par-
ticularly high grade of steel, an automated rolling mill would take sensor data (composition, strip tem-
perature, etc.) into account, estimate the required pressure based on previously learned information,
and then adjust itself accordingly in real time in response to its own output data until it achieved exactly
Neural networked-based
learning system (1) based
on input information (2)
and providing output pre-
diction (3) regarding gas
demand over seven days
based on a 14-day training
phase. Learning is represented in
three snapshots from ran-
dom weighted (4) to par-
tially learned (5), to fully
trained (6).
Neural networked-based
systems have the ability to
process huge amounts of
input data in order to ad-
just their output. To ac-
complish this, such a sys-
tem must build up a math-
ematical model that dupli-
cates its real-world coun-
terpart. Such a model is es-
sentially a community of
decision units. Collectively,
the interaction of the deci-
sion units can be repre-
sented in the form of a ma-
trix (see inset in each box).
Depending on the com-
plexity of the application,
hundreds of interaction
matrices may be required.
How Neural Networks Learn Neural simulator.
Every line represents a bundle of neurons (see box on right for
weighting matrix).
Input: Temperature, humidity, radiation, time
and external effects
Output: Gas demand (7-day forecast)
7-day forecast
14-day review
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 57
Trained on thousands of annotated images, software systems have learned to identify organs and even recognize cancer stages in pathology slides. Such capabilities are opening the door to a world of diagnostics and treatment in which anatomy and physiology become semantically addressable. scan,” says Dr. S. Kevin Zhou, who heads a pro-
gram that focuses on whole body image ana-
lytics at Siemens Corporate Technology (CT
US) in Princeton, New Jersey. “From that, we
will eventually be able to develop services such
as semantic searching, which will make it pos-
sible for a doctor to simply mention, for in-
stance, a liver tumor, and the system will pull
up images of that tumor from a patient’s most
recent exams, measure its relative size in each
image, and thus illustrate how it has respond-
ed over time to treatment. It will all add up to a
faster, more accurate, and more efficient work-
flow.” Before an image analysis system can deter-
mine whether that liver it’s looking for might
be in a given image, however, it must first get
its bearings. To do so, such systems start out
by looking for anatomical landmarks. In the
thorax, for instance, these include locations
such as the top of the lung and the lower end
of the aorta. “Landmarks keep an image analy-
sis system from getting mixed up, and allow it
to orient itself,” explains Zhou. How Machines Memorize. Behind the
growing ability of machine learning systems to
identify landmarks and zero in on objects of in-
terest is the development of software that can
learn to identify the content of an image based
on vast numbers of “classifiers” or characteris-
tics that are common to all examples of a tar-
get object. Once trained on thousands of images of,
say, the liver, each one of which has been an-
notated by experts, such software has essen-
tially memorized the three-dimensional shape
of a human liver and can therefore generalize
magine if you could have a medical scan so
complete that the location and function of
every cell in your body would be stored. This
would make it possible, for instance, to in-
stantly visualize all cardiac cells or all prostate
cells, thus presenting an unobstructed three-
dimensional view of an organ from any desired
angle, and allowing you to zoom in on any part
of that organ — or any element of its function
— down to almost any level of detail by simply
moving a joystick or typing in a request. Al-
though such a vision is perhaps 20 years from
realization, scientists are already approaching
some of these functions in limited areas of the
body on the level of voxels — in other words,
3D pixels — each of which represents roughly
100,000 cells.
“The end result of our efforts should be the
ability to automatically label every voxel in a
Machine Learning | Medical Applications
Researchers led by Dr. Kevin Zhau are developing
learning systems that will eventually be able to automatically identify and extract what a doctor
is looking for from a medical image database. Body of Knowledge
56 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
of our time, namely those associated with urban
and regional investment decisions in areas such
as road, air traffic, water, and electrical infra-
structures. Indeed, SENN’s potential as a deci-
sion support system is already being tested at
Siemens to help determine, for instance, the rel-
ative long-term advantages of different sites be-
fore building a factory.
And beyond that? A different model for our
relationship with the future is taking shape in
the form of a demonstration SENN Forecast
Server now running on Siemens’ intranet. The
system is being used to introduce internal cus-
tomers to SENN’s potential. Fast forward ten years and we may be down-
loading SENN apps to monitor, learn from, diag-
nose, and optimize the functions of our homes,
vehicles, businesses, and supply chains. SENN’s
future versions may even be able to offer sce-
narios that support optimized, personalized nu-
tritional, healthcare, educational, and financial
paths. Every question, after all, has an answer
that lies somewhere in the future. “The science of prediction,” says Zimmer-
mann, “is a race between the increasing com-
plexity of the real world and our accelerating
ability to mathematically represent it by means
of information-technology-related capabilities,
such as SENN models.” Arthur F. Pease
tainty. “In view of this,” says Zimmermann, “we
have discovered a new way of explaining uncer-
tainty — one that frames it as the interaction
between observable and hidden variables.” By comparison, the standard approach to
measuring uncertainty in mechanical and eco-
nomic dynamic systems is to translate the devia-
tion between what the model predicts and what
actually happens in the real world into an esti-
mate of risk. The underlying assumption is that
the model of uncertainty measured in the past
is a good estimator of future risk. “But this does not generally apply to predic-
tions in the world of finance, which can include
copper and electricity prices,” cautions Zimmer-
mann. “Here, the idea is that uncertainty
spreads from the present into the future as a dif-
fusion process — scaled by measured historical
model error — becoming larger and larger as
we move forward through time.” In contrast, ac-
cording to Zimmermann’s solution, since it is
not possible to reconstruct hidden system vari-
ables unambiguously, you can quantify the
amount of uncertainty in a prediction by analyz-
ing the distribution of different scenarios that
take shape. Here, the range of fluctuation be-
tween scenarios is interpreted as the level of
risk, and a scenario based on the mean values
from the different scenarios — all of which have
the same probability — can be assumed to be
the most probable future trend. “The resulting
market risk is thus characterized by the variation
between the scenarios,” says Zimmermann,
who explains that, given a finite number of ob-
servations, there will always be multiple ways to
reconstruct hidden variables, thus resulting in
different scenarios for the future. Siemens already uses these methods to aug-
ment procurement decisions for energy and
copper. “Instead of just a single model of the fu-
ture,” adds Zimmermann, “this method provides
a range of different future scenarios to be
played out and evaluated.”
How might the science of prediction evolve
over the next few years? Clearly, if the past is
any guide, we will see a steady progression to-
ward increased accuracy. As Zimmermann
points out, not only are SENN models learning
more each day, but its creators are learning
from the models it generates as they morph into
closer and closer representations of reality.
Massive Potential. Beyond forecasting energy
and raw materials prices, beyond predicting the
outputs of wind parks and turbines, SENN offers
the potential for virtually limitless numbers of
applications. It could help with some of the
most challenging, complex and costly decisions
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange. SENN (Software Environment for Neural Networks) helps Siemens to optimize the timing of its huge worldwide copper purchases. SENN 20-Day Energy Price Forecast
Energy price in €
EEX-based 09
SENN market forecast
Simulation of Gas Turbine Emissions
Observed data patterns (in seconds) 30
SENN model Real NO
EEX: European Energy Exchange
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 59
techniques and the advent of systems that can
learn to identify and automatically track every-
thing from valves and chambers to catheters
and stents, a growing number of patients can
be treated using nothing more invasive than a
specialized catheter. For instance, one year
ago, as reported in Pictures of the Future,Fall
2010, page 79, Siemens introduced a new X-
ray-based visualization and guidance technolo-
gy to facilitate the implantation of a replace-
ment aortic valve. Now, thanks to machine
learning algorithms that automatically identify
the same anatomical landmarks in different
modalities, procedures such as aortic valve re-
placement are set to become more precise. “We call this new technique ‘model-based
fusion,’” says Dr. Razvan Ionasec at Corporate
Technology in Princeton, New Jersey. “Three-
dimensional, X-ray-based angiography is great
for seeing the location of a catheter, but not
optimal for visualizing tissues. Ultrasound, on
the other hand, is exactly the opposite. So the
idea is to combine the two.”
With this in mind, researchers led by Dr. Ter-
rence Chen, also at Corporate Technology US
in Princeton, are developing a learning-based
detection and tracking technology that will
help to automatically optimize the registration
of angiography images with images produced
by a miniature intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)
device. Such devices are often used to deter-
mine the quantity of plaque in the coronary ar-
teries. Here, the learning process focuses on
automatically recognizing the ultrasound
transducer and an associated guiding catheter
in X-ray-generated angiography images as
they move through blood vessels. “This helps
to determine the exact location of a plaque de-
posit and thus supports treatment planning,”
says Chen. Automatic Identification of Calcifications.
Working along related lines, a team of re-
searchers led by Corporate Technology Visual-
and-Solid-Modeling Program Manager Dr.
Tong Fang has developed a technology called
dynamic tissue contrast enhancement (DTCE)
that identifies human anato-
my in ultrasound images and
then “optimizes image quali-
ty using advanced noise re-
duction and structure en-
hancement technologies,”
according to Fang. Based on
off-line training in which an-
notated sample images were used for learning,
the software provided “superior image quality
and clinical diagnosis benefit,” in a pilot study,
says Fang. Researchers are also using machine learn-
ing technology to train computed tomography
systems to identify calcified tissues in images
of the heart. “Calcification is the main reason
for aortic valve replacement and a key factor in
coronary artery disease,” explains Ionasec.
“Computed tomography images already pro-
vide outstanding anatomical detail. But in the
future, with software that is now in the
pipeline, we expect to develop a system that
will, for the first time, help clinicians quantify
the extent of calcium deposits on an aortic
valve and in the thoracic aorta. This informa-
tion will help them to predict the chances of
success for a replacement valve, decide which
type of valve to use, and the amount of pres-
sure to apply through a balloon when fixing
the new valve in place.” Further down the road, researchers hope
that machine learning will help them to detect
the differences between normal plaque, which
remains anchored to the surfaces it occupies,
and so-called “unstable” plaque, which can
break away from the surface and potentially
cause a heart attack or stroke — a major risk
factor in many interventional treatments. “We
can see different kinds of plaque in computed
tomography and magnetic resonance scans,”
says Dr. Gareth Funka-Lea, a specialist in car-
diovascular diseases at Corporate Technology
US in Princeton, “but we still do not know how
to differentiate unstable plaque. It is possible,
however, that we will eventually find the an-
swer by harnessing machine learning and mas-
sive data mining.”
Semantic Heart. Siemens’ teams of cardio-
vascular and machine learning experts have
also expanded their focus from the aortic valve
to cover virtually the entire human heart. “As
part of a major Siemens R&D project called the
‘Semantic Heart,’ we are now using machine
learning to automatically identify all four
valves and are integrating this information
with our models of the cardiac chambers to
produce a full model of the heart,” says
Ionasec. The idea is that, eventually, clinicians
will be able to model and compare the effects
of different forms of cardiac intervention —
from insertion of a stent or repair of an
aneurysm to replacement or repair of a valve
— on the dynamics of a patient’s entire heart
before the treatment is performed. Machine learning is helping computed tomography systems to identify calcified tissues.
...While others develop a medical reasoning engine (see insert page 60) to support physicians. Learning systems identify cancer stages in prostate biopsies (right). 58 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
to the extent that it can identify and segment
(separate from its surroundings) a liver in any
medical image, regardless of occlusions, angle
of view, imaging modality, or pathology. And
the same is true for a rapidly-growing number
of anatomical entities throughout the body,
from organs and bones, to the outlines of a fe-
tus or a lesion.
Flat Ribs. Once a system has learned to auto-
matically identify part of the anatomy, an
amazing world of possibilities begins to unfold.
Take, for instance, what happens after a rou-
tine whole-body computed tomography scan.
Today, in many countries, radiologists are re-
quired by law — regardless of the reason for
the scan — to examine all the major organs in
the image set and the entire rib cage, including
inside surfaces, to determine if there are any
signs of disease. “Examining the ribs is a partic-
ularly time-consuming activity because it is dif-
ficult to navigate all those curved surfaces,”
says Zhou. But software now being developed by
Siemens Corporate Technology in cooperation
with the company’s Computed Radiology busi-
ness unit could one day make it possible to au-
tomatically segment the rib cage from the rest
of an image and flatten the ribs, thus substan-
tially accelerating the process. “The program
will use machine learning to find each rib and
locate its center line. This, in turn, will make it
possible to apply a simple program that would
then flatten each rib,” adds Zhou. “
Fusing X-Ray and Ultrasound Information.
For over 50 years, patients with many of the
most serious cardiac conditions have had to
undergo the trauma of open heart surgery. But
today, thanks to steadily-improving imaging
Thanks to machine learning, the ability to distinguish the precise outlines of organs and
their constituent anatomies regardless of oc-
clusions, angle of view, imaging modality, or
pathology is being automated, thus opening
the door to faster, more precise diagnostics.
Using machine learning, researchers involved in Siemens’ Semantic Heart project are setting the stage for producing a fully-functional model of each patient’s heart...
60 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
A Reasoning Engine for Tomorrow’s Physicians
Envisioning a system that will one day support physicians in answering complex medical questions, re-
searchers at Siemens Corporate Technology in Princeton are developing a deep reasoning machine that
learns from large quantities of data. The simplified example shown below illustrates four steps in the
deep reasoning process: (1) acquire patient history and physical examination data, (2) determine differential diagnoses, (3) recommend diagnostic tests to cover existing knowledge gaps: e.g. perform ECG to detect ST-Eleva-
tion (i.e. occlusion of a coronary artery) and Q-Waves (i.e. local electrical dysfunction of heart muscle
cells), in order to (4) select the most likely diagnoses. “The system,” explains Project Leader Mathaeus Dejori, PhD, “reflects the decision-making process in
medical practice. Physicians typically receive lists of patient values and are expected to make hard deci-
sions.” Adds Vinay Shet, PhD, who is also involved in the project: “Our system avoids the complexity of
dealing with language directly. Instead, it works from semantic concepts such as ‘coronary occlusion’
and ‘acute chest pain’. The deep reasoning machine has an understanding of these concepts and uses
medical knowledge to draw conclusions.” Dejori, Shet, and co-researcher Dan Tecuci, PhD, envision the
technology as an intelligent assistant that will help doctors easily make use of rapidly-growing reservoirs
of digital information.
One of the most far-reaching results of the
Semantic Heart project is the rapidly-evolving
ability to model the mitral valve, which con-
trols blood flow from the left atrium to the left
ventricle. Far more complex than the aortic
valve, the mitral valve is kept in check by a net-
work of string-like tendons that keep its two
flaps from reversing direction into the left atri-
um. But the tendons can snap in response to
overexertion or disease — with consequences
that can range from minor to life-threatening.
The condition can be repaired by means of a
trans-catheter procedure that involves clipping
the flap with the snapped tendon to the re-
maining healthy flap. “But attaching a minus-
cule clip to two moving flaps by means of a
catheter using only fluoroscopy to see what
you’re doing is not easy,” says Ionasec. In view of this challenge, Ionasec’s research
team is therefore developing an approach that
combines the sub-millimeter resolution from
pre-operative ultrasound images generated by
a transducer in the esophagus, with intra-oper-
ative X-ray images acquired with syngo Dyn-
aCT Cardiac on a Siemens Artis zee angiogra-
phy system. The approach, which is based on
algorithms trained on thousands of patient im-
ages, uses machine learning to automatically
recognize and track the anatomy and move-
ments of the flaps, as well as to fuse the X-ray
and ultrasound images. The new procedure is
expected to enter clinical trials in Germany late
in 2011. Reading the Hidden Language of Cells
One day, there will be a device called a digital
diagnostic pathology scanner. It will process
thousands of pathology slides per hour, each
loaded with a paper-thin slice of tissue sus-
pected of harboring disease, and will deliver
highly-accurate analyses at minimal cost. Its
output will be combined with each patient’s
results from other areas, such as genetics,
physiology, anatomy and demographics. And
of course it will learn from each and every
slide, thus constantly refining the accuracy of
its results. In fact, such machines will probably
be networked, allowing them to learn from
each other.
Although such a machine may seem to be a
distant vision, researchers are today compiling
the basic knowledge that will eventually drive
such a device. In Princeton, New Jersey, for in-
stance, a team of researchers led by Leo Grady,
PhD, a specialist in biomedical image analytics
at Siemens Corporate Technology, is using ma-
chine learning to predict the cancer stage of
samples from prostate biopsies. Using slides previously marked by expert
pathologists as belonging to one of the four
cancer stages, “the system tries to identify fea-
tures such as cell structure and arrangement
that are consistently associated with a stage,”
explains Grady. “For each 100 graded slides,
the system is trained on ninety, and tested on
the remaining ten. Then — always randomly
— another 90 slides are selected for training
and another ten for testing.” The process is repeated until performance
is good across the board, at which point the
system has learned to generalize from experi-
ence — sometimes with very surprising re-
sults. For instance, not only has the system, as
expected, learned to identify what different
kinds of cells look like — thus opening the
door to automated counting — but it has dis-
covered something the researchers were not
even aware of. “The system extracted the fact that al-
though there are loop-shaped patterns of can-
cer cells and normal cells in each of the im-
ages, the length of the loop and the number of
cells in it is sufficient to predict the cancer
stage,” says Grady. “That was a surprise to us.
But when we discussed this with a pathologist
he said that yes, this structure is something
specialists look for to determine cancer stage.
In this case, however, the system discovered
this on its own.”
Arthur F. Pease
Example of Four-Stage Reasoning Process
Age: 54
Sex: Male
Symptoms: Acute chest pain
Neck pain
Back pain
Narrow pulse pressure
ECG: ST elevation
New Q-waves
Blood Test: Elevated markers of necrosis
Patient Data and Observations
Possible diagnosis: Acute coronary syndrome
Recommendations: Perform ECG
Sample blood
Most likely diagnosis: Myocardial infarction
Subtype: STEMI
Possible cause: STEMI
Caused by Coronary occlusion
Caused by Thrombus
Most likely Caused by Disruption of plaque
Less likely Caused by Endothelial erosion
Deep Reasoning
Justification: Patient has ST elevation and myocardial infarction
Justification: Patient has
ischemia due to elevated
markers of necrosis
he amount of data produced worldwide is skyrock-
eting. According to market research company Inter-
national Data Corporation (IDC), the digital universe —
in other words, all digitally stored data worldwide — sur-
passed one zettabyte (10
bytes, ZB) in 2010 for the
first time. And IDC expects this figure to rise to 35 ZB by
2020 (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2011, p. 82).
That is equivalent to the data contained in two piles of
DVDs stretching from the Earth to the moon. Among the
fastest-growing data categories are large data collec-
tions known as metadata, i.e. books and databases, as
well as unstructured data such as arbitrary texts and
graphics with an undefined structure. About one third
of the digital universe currently consists of high-quality
information — in other words, data and content subject
to security, compliance, and storage regulations. IDC es-
timates that this kind of information will account for al-
most half of all data by 2020.
This growing mass of increasingly complex data
must be efficiently processed. However, this is not possi-
ble without computers that help sort, analyze, and com-
press data, as well as preparing it for use by humans.
Machine Learning | Facts and Forecasts
A Universe of Applications for Learning Systems
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 61
Learning systems are particularly helpful in this regard,
since they can learn from examples, recognize patterns
in data, and use this information to predict future devel-
opments. The applications of machine learning are ex-
tremely diverse, ranging from market analyses and an-
ticipatory maintenance in industrial applications to
diagnostic methods for medical systems. In many cases,
the focus is on technologies for voice, text, and image
pattern recognition. Voice recognition systems are used to operate vehi-
cles, for example, as well as for automatic telephone
switching, the management of building and office tech-
nology, industrial quality assurance, and medical diag-
noses. Market researchers at Datamonitor expect high
growth rates here in some fields. For example, they pre-
dict that the market for advanced mobile voice recogni-
tion systems in handsets will triple from $32.7 million in
2009 to around $100 million in 2015. According to
these experts, the market for mobile voice recognition
in automobiles will increase from $64.3 million to
$208.2 million during the same period. Voice recognition systems as such are nothing new.
According to a report released by the market research
company Gartner in 2011, voice recognition technolo-
gies were already part of the “hype cycle” of technologi-
cally relevant trends in 1995. The systems are still not
fully effective, however, primarily because the recogni-
tion of colloquial speech is one of the biggest challenges
that a computer can face. The main reason for this is
that a computer needs to have extensive knowledge of
everyday life in order to really understand what some-
one is saying. Learning systems can also be used to analyze im-
ages and videos. Such systems are especially beneficial
in industrial image processing. As a result, the European
Machine Vision Association (EMVA) expects this market
to grow by 20 percent in Europe in 2011, following an
increase of 11 percent in 2010. Although inspections
and quality assurance remain the most common areas
of application for industrial image processing systems,
new technologies are also being introduced — for ex-
ample, in robotic 3D vision systems. These technologies
range from video systems for automobiles to security
solutions. Pattern recognition is, meanwhile, becoming
more and more important in medical engineering (see
Pictures of the Future, Spring 2011, p. 70). Business
consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan points out that doctors
are increasingly relying on learning software to filter out
and process the key information produced by advanced
digital imaging procedures, such as computer and mag-
netic resonance tomography and ultrasound systems.
The software is used, for example, in mammography
procedures as well as for the diagnosis of lung, pancre-
atic, and intestinal cancer. Sylvia Trage
Relative Cost of Information Management
Investment per Gigabyte
In 2009, the world spent $4 trillion
on hardware, software, services,
networks, and IT staff
Exabytes (10
Potential Areas of Use for
Machine Learning
Percentage of revenue contribution of various computer-assisted diagnosis
segments worldwide in 2010
Major Users of Data Storage in the United States by
Sector and Company
Discrete manufacturing
Communications and media
Process manufacturing
Healthcare providers
Securities and investment services
Stored data in the United States,
Stored data per firm (> 1,000 employees), 2009
Petabytes (10
bytes) Terabytes (10
Source: IDC; US Bureau of Labor Statistics; McKinsey Global Institute analysis
Source: IDC Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC, May 2010
Source: Frost & Sullivan (2011)
Investment per gigabyte Exabytes
Breast (mammography)
Thorax 14%
Colon 4%
Prostate 1.5%
Liver 1%
Bone 0.5%
What advances can we expect in machine
learning over the next ten or 20 years?
Schölkopf: Progress will certainly be made in
processing large amounts of data with increas-
ingly powerful computers. But it’s difficult to
say whether fundamentally new methods will
also be developed. I hope that advances will
be made with causal learning. At the moment,
we’ve identified statistical regularities, but not
the causal laws behind them. Consider the fol-
lowing example: Countries with high stork
populations also have higher birth rates. So
does this mean the storks bring the babies? Of
course not — but the methods we use today
don’t differentiate in such instances, so we
need to uncover causal laws. What about the age-old dream of robots
that are capable of learning?
Schölkopf: I believe there will in fact be a
greater number of physically autonomous sys-
tems in the future. Researchers 40 years ago
thought robots would be omnipresent today.
That hasn’t turned out to be the case, and I
also don’t believe we’ll be seeing robot nurses
in hospitals, for example. After all, humans are
better at taking care of other humans than
machines are. What we are more likely to see
wil be micro-robots with artificial intelligence
that can go into action where people can’t,
and do things like treat and destroy a tumor
inside the body. Interview conducted by Bernd Müller.
62 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Machine Learning | Interview
Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf,
43, is the Director of the
new Max Planck Institute for
Intelligent Systems in Tübin-
gen and Stuttgart, as well as
one of the world’s leading
experts in machine intelli-
gence. A physicist and
mathematician, Schölkopf
develops new learning tech-
niques that are designed to
uncover regularities in com-
plex data sets. He has con-
ducted research at Bell Lab-
oratories and Microsoft
Research, among other
places, and was presented
with the Max Planck Research Award in 2011. Thriving on Mountains of Data
What does learning actually mean in a
scientific sense?
That depends on who you ask. A
psychologist would say that learning can be
defined as the change in behavior that results
from experience. That’s only part of it, howev-
er. If someone injures their foot, they’re going
to limp — not because they learned to but
simply because it hurts. I as a physicist, on the
other hand, search for certain types of regular-
ities that lead from a specific input to an out-
put. Scientists refer to this drawing of cause
and effect conclusions on the basis of obser-
vations as “empirical inference.” My institute
attempts to convert the associated mecha-
nisms into algorithms in order to find solu-
tions to problems that humans are unable to
solve on their own. Can you provide an example?
Schölkopf: You’ll always find problems like
that wherever tremendous amounts of data
are involved. Take bioinformatics, for example.
Geneticists want to find out where genes on a
DNA strand begin and end. You can do this by
conducting an experiment in a lab, which will
generate data with millions of data points
linked to one another by a high-dimensional
connection. No human being is going to dis-
cover any regularities here that will allow you
to predict where the right interfaces will be
found. But if you use the data to train soft-
ware, things work out pretty well. The great
thing is that the regularities converge, as we
say, which essentially means that the results
become more precise as you feed in more
data. That’s the big benefit of machine learn-
ing. Machines find the kinds of structures in
large amounts of data that a human would
never find. That’s not surprising, given that
our brains are optimized for perception and
action — and not for scientific processes. An-
other advantage of machine learning can be
found in those applications where we observe
the environment with sensors that humans
simply don’t possess. After all, we’re not
equipped with built-in laser scanners to meas-
ure distances, for example. Where does the human brain have an advantage?
Schölkopf: The brain is a very complex organ
that can carry out some tasks very precisely
and efficiently through learning. This is espe-
cially true when the brain faces problems that
were important to us throughout evolution,
like recognizing visual patterns. That’s why we
can recognize numbers and letters in fractions
of a second, whereas computers have prob-
lems with that. On the other hand, if you con-
vert the symbols into barcodes, we can’t read
them, but computers can. This is because our
brains have been trained our whole lives to ex-
tract regularities out of numbers and letters.
Neuroscientist Horace Barlow once referred to
the brain as a statistical decision-making or-
gan. Still, we have to keep in mind that only
certain statistical tasks can be handled very ef-
fectively — the ones that have had the great-
est significance throughout evolution.
In your opinion, what role do feelings
play in learning?
Schölkopf: Feelings definitely play a role in
human learning — for example, when assess-
ing what’s important to do, or what makes
sense to do, or in situations that involve moti-
vation. Evolution seems to indicate that every-
thing “implemented” in human beings is also
useful. That’s why I believe psychology issues
will sooner or later become relevant and help-
ful in the design of intelligent systems. My
own feeling, however, tells me that we’re still
quite far from being able to understand and
implement such artificial intelligence in a
functional manner.
Forty years ago scientists thought they
would soon be able to build robots with
artificial intelligence. What went wrong?
Schölkopf: Those machines were built by en-
gineers, which is why people could under-
stand them. When a sensor in such a robot
registers a certain measurement, a motor in
the robot will begin to move. Artificial intelli-
gence isn’t an area traditionally addressed by
engineers, however. Biological systems are the
only truly intelligent systems, so it’s hard for
people to understand them. Homespun pro-
grams like those in the past won’t work here in
any case. Are you saying machines need to learn
how to learn?
Schölkopf: Learning-enabled systems do of-
fer certain benefits, but they’re also designed
by engineers. The most progress here has
been made with monitored learning, in which
case humans first must evaluate measured
data, or give it labels, as we say. You can train
facial recognition software, for example, by
telling a program when a certain person ap-
pears in an image. If you do that often
enough, the program will be able to extrapo-
late to a limited extent, even if the person in
question looks a little different each time. In other words, human and animal learning probably can’t be considered
monitored learning?
Schölkopf: Right. In most cases it isn’t; but it
is monitored learning, for example, when par-
ents show their child a picture of a cat and tell
them it’s a cat. Gripping an object, on the oth-
er hand, is something children learn by them-
selves. Machines still can’t do this. That’s why
we’re increasingly using something called “re-
inforced learning,” which is a kind of middle
way. Here, a robot designer no longer tells the
machine which path its gripper arm needs to
take. He or she only reports on whether or not
the robot successfully gripped the object. The
machine then learns which movements lead
to success, and determines the best way to
move the arm. What happens when you link biological
systems and machines, as you did with
your Brain Interface that translates brain-
waves into muscle movements?
Schölkopf: Brain Interface is designed to help
paralyzed individuals move their arms by hav-
ing them imagine the movements, while we
simultaneously measure their brainwaves. The
work our brains do can’t be mathematically
modeled, which is why we need to use moni-
tored learning here as well. During the train-
ing phase, a researcher not only records the
patient’s brainwaves but also the imagined
movements. If we put enough data in, we can
achieve a recognition rate of between 80 and
90 percent. Nevertheless, the degree of gener-
alization — by which I mean the ability to ap-
ply the same approach to similar problems —
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 63
is very low. For example, knowing what brain-
waves for hand movements look like doesn’t
mean you can figure out how to move legs.
We humans are the masters of that — after all,
we learn how to write with our hands on pa-
per but can still use our arms to write the
same letters on a blackboard more or less in
the same handwriting, only bigger. What is machine learning mainly used for
Schölkopf: It’s being used in things we don’t
see but nevertheless use every day — search
engines. Many of the people Google hires are
experts in machine learning. Banks also utilize
machine learning to predict share price move-
ments, for example. And there’s an interesting
medical application as well: Positron-emission
tomography is usually combined with a com-
puted tomography unit in clinical applications,
whereby the latter’s images are used to correct
the intensity values of the PET image data.
Still, doctors prefer magnetic resonance to-
mography (MRT) devices, because they also
provide physiological information. Siemens re-
cently presented such a combined MR-PET sys-
tem. Our institute has developed a method
that predicts synthetic CT images on the basis
of MRT pictures. This development was made
possible by using MRT-CT image pairs for ma-
chine training purposes. As a result, we can
process PET images as if they were recorded
with a computed tomography device. Robots and children learn by trying things out and from examples presented to them.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 65
Few research fields are as complex as machine learning. And one of the toughest problems facing
researchers in this area is vision. To help move things forward, Siemens is developing video systems
that are not only capable of learning but can also independently interpret the visible world.
Quadcopter is a flying platform that uses
video cameras and laser scanners to create 3D
maps of complex environments. The device
could prove to be very useful in a variety of inspection and modeling activities.
Flying Inspectors
64 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
planned paths, ready to sense and avoid obsta-
cles that may appear in its path. The data it col-
lects is processed to create precise 3D models
of the environment.
Also known as “Fly & Inspect,” the quad-
copter project is the product of a collaborative
development effort between computer scien-
tist Yakup Genc at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy in Princeton and robotics researcher
Nicholas Roy of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in Boston. The project is designed
to yield a system capable of autonomously ac-
quiring data and building digital models of
complex environments such as baggage han-
dling facilities, processing plants, and factory
halls. Such 3D digital models would then be
used to assess service needs or simulate major
renovations. Genc and Roy expect Fly & Inspect
strange aircraft buzzes through the air at
Siemens Corporate Research laboratories
in Princeton, New Jersey. Basically a square
wire frame, it is driven by a tiny engine block
with four helicopter rotors on top. The vehicle
is called a quadcopter. Using lasers, it scans
windows, walls, machines; optical sensors and
video cameras register every architectural de-
tail. It maneuvers through the air on pre-
Machine Learning | Security Applications
technology to make this process efficient and
robust. Quadcopter could also inspect hard-to-
reach places such as wind parks and power
masts for signs of wear or damage, as it can be
trained to recognize features such as cracks.
“At this point, the device still needs a human
operator with a remote control unit,” says
Genc. “But we expect that it will soon function
autonomously using its optical sensors.” The development of systems that can
process image information in the environment
is one of the major challenges facing the field
of machine learning. In February 2011 an IBM
supercomputer named “Watson” beat the best
human contestants on the quiz show “Jeop-
ardy.” But even Watson was only a sophisticat-
ed system for evaluating information from
databases and Internet searches. In the real
world, computers are still awkward. Whereas a
small child can tell a tree from an outdoor an-
tenna without any problem, computers are
challenged by the same process. But thanks to
work now being performed by research groups
at universities and companies, elements of
machine vision are now approaching commer-
cial application. At its research and development facilities in
Princeton, New Jersey, Graz, Austria and Mu-
nich, Germany, Siemens is developing systems
that search satellite images for complex pat-
terns such as industrial sites, buildings, roads,
and infrastructures; other systems analyze X-
ray images of containers and packages for sus-
picious objects, read road signs and monitor
crowds and queues, and — as in the case of
the quadcopter — map and inspect places that
are hard to access. What all
these applications have in
common is the ability to
learn in much the same way
as a small child develops the
ability to distinguish and dif-
ferentiate objects. In a
process known as “super-
vised learning” computer scientists feed hun-
dreds of thousands of object images to pro-
grams. Algorithms, in turn, distill the
characteristics that classes of objects have in
common. For example, people on streets usu-
ally walk upright, have arms and legs, and
roughly oval-shaped heads. A table, on the
other hand, has a horizontal surface to place
things on and legs underneath to support it.
Programs create digital representations of such
classes of objects. This can, in turn, make it
possible to conduct a semantic search for spe-
cialized image data or allow a driver assistance
system, for example, to detect traffic signs au-
Recognizing Differences. Often, however,
researchers would like vision systems to per-
form more complex tasks, such as counting
people in a subway station. But suppose, for
instance, that a vision system detects a head
but no torso, because a person is occluded. It
still has to be able to figure out that it is seeing
a person. It does so by knowing how one per-
son or object can occlude and conceal some-
one behind it and then reasoning about the
physical implications of such occlusions. “In the future it should be possible for com-
puters to recognize more complex patterns
from archived video data, especially in forensic
systems,” says Vinay Shet, a computer scientist
in Princeton. An example of such a forensic
search for complex patterns could be tracking
of a person across multiple cameras installed
at a large facility such as an airport. Shet com-
pares this search for a visual pattern to looking
for “visual grammar.” “Like sentences in lan-
guage, image and video data have a structure
that can be formalized and interpreted as visu-
al grammar,” he says. This works by ascribing
characteristics to the visual data; the combina-
tion of these characteristics in turn can be eval-
uated in order to assess if the same person can
be seen in the images from different cameras.
The same visual grammar technology can
be used for security screening of cargo and
luggage — a project the Siemens Infrastruc-
ture & Logistics Division is interested in. Visual
pattern recognition can help, for instance, to
recognize the characteristic arrangement of a
bomb, including a detonator cord, explosives
and a phone trigger device. At this point, this
task is still undertaken by humans at airports
around the world. At present, the automatic detection algo-
rithms that drive visual searches do not work
perfectly. One innovative approach to achieve
both the accuracy of humans and the speed of
machines is being explored by a team at New
York’s Columbia University under the direction
of Paul Sajda, an electro-encephalogram (EEG)
expert. Funding is being provided by the Unit-
ed States Department of Defense, and ma-
chine vision scientists at Siemens Corporate
Technology in Princeton are also participating.
The idea is to quickly scan very large satellite
images in order to detect objects of signifi-
cance, such as industrial sites, buildings, roads,
helicopter landing pads, etc. The researchers have combined machine vi-
sion with electronically-augmented human vi-
sion in a system that significantly speeds the
total image analysis process. First, machine vi-
sion software developed by Siemens masks
out regions that are unlikely to contain targets
— like homogenous areas without any distinc-
tive features, such as deserts, dense forests or
steppes. Second, the remaining potentially in-
teresting parts of the image are divided into
small square images or “chips” and presented
to an image analyst wearing a multi-electrode
In a step-by-step process, researchers
in universities and industry are
teaching artificial systems how to see.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 67
Optical character recognition systems have revolutionized international postal traffic. But the technology has great potential in other areas as well. Evolving applications include everything from
transport and security systems to reading assistance devices for the visually impaired.
A sophisticated automated text recognition system has
made Siemens the global market leader for mail sort-
ing systems. The software can reliably read handwrit-
ten Arabic and Chinese characters and Cyrillic letters. latest product line, ARTread, can decipher 90
to 95 percent of handwritten addresses,” says
Matthias Schulte-Austum, the technical man-
ager of the team that’s responsible for image
preprocessing and object recognition at
Siemens Mobility in Konstanz, Germany. But
the system has to do more than just decipher
messy handwriting. It also has to automatically
identify all the relevant information on an en-
velope — things like changes of address, notes
written on the side by the sender, and even the
value of stamps. Postal automation systems
also need to reliably recognize the sender’s in-
structions — for example, whether a letter
should be returned to the sender if the ad-
dressee has moved. The overall goal is to maximize the level of
automation. “We want to automatically extract
all the information relevant to the item in order
to keep the amount of manual work as low as
possible,” Schulte-Austum explains. There’s still huge development potential for
these systems, especially in Russia, India, Chi-
na, and the Arab world. “We’ve developed al-
gorithms that can read every kind of script,
whether it’s Cyrillic letters or Chinese or Arabic
characters,” says Ingolf Rauh, an expert at
Siemens’ innovation center in Konstanz. “In
fact, we recently won a competition for read-
ing Arabic handwriting.” The challenge in the
competition involved identifying the names of
Tunisian towns without any mistakes.
The principles of optical character recogni-
tion are always based on the same rules. One
method that has proved to be particularly effi-
cient trains the systems to compare thousands
of handwritten numbers or letters from various
sources and then clearly classify them in the
course of a learning process. “We quickly recognized the great variety of
potential applications for such a technique,”
Rauh explains. “That’s why we decided to ex-
plore all the possibilities for using OCR technol-
ogy, including those that involve completely
new markets.” Road Scanning. One such market is license
plate reading for road pricing systems. For in-
stance, Sicore systems from Siemens use cam-
eras equipped with image-processing software
to rapidly recognize license plate numbers as
cars speed along streets and highways. Such
systems are used in the UK, for example,
where cities such as London have introduced a
ail carriers and pharmacists have one
thing in common: Both groups often
possess cryptographic capabilities that enable
them to decipher even the worst handwriting.
Now, however, there are machines that can
automatically recognize the most diverse types
of writing — thanks to the development of
amazing new learning processes. The technology that makes this possible is
known as optical character recognition, or
OCR. “We’re the global market leader when it
comes to address recognition,” Siemens prod-
uct manager Peter Schindler says proudly. The
capabilities here have nothing to do with the
reading of machine-written texts, since any
scanner can do that; the real accomplishment
involves deciphering handwriting. Schindler
estimates that OCR technology from Siemens
is now being used at almost half of all mail
sorting facilities around the world. The global
market volume for these recognition systems
currently stands at around a billion dollars, and
Siemens’ Mobility Division, which manufac-
tures the units, has a market share of 35 per-
cent. Siemens’ OCR developers are steadily im-
proving the accuracy of their technology. “Our
66 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Using lasers, a forklift automatically scans and memorizes what it sees in its environment (center). Maneesh Singh’s robot (right) relies on 3D sensors for orientation.
electro-encephalogram sensor connected to a
signal analysis computer. The chips are shown
in very rapid succession (five to ten per sec-
ond) — more quickly than the analyst can con-
sciously analyze and respond to them. But the
EEG system can learn to detect a brain signal
generated when a chip contains a target of in-
terest. Third, the analyst is shown the regions
with the EEG-detected chips and makes the fi-
nal conscious target detection decision. “This
combined approach has increased the speed of
analysis fourfold,” says Claus Bahlmann, a
Siemens researcher in Princeton. Driverless Forklifts. Intelligent image analysis
is also essential for movement in industrial en-
vironments. A case in point is the “Au-
tonomous Navigation System” developed by
Siemens in Munich and Stuttgart, Germany for
commercial vehicles such as forklifts. The vehi-
cle learns its route by being led along it by a
worker. It takes cues from the upper regions of
a space, which rarely change. This allows it to
orient itself and to reliably drive the same
route over and over again. learn to recognize other objects in the future,
and they will also recognize the area in which
they are located,” says Lawitzky. The potential
range of applications for such systems could
include security robots, robotic guides in mu-
seums, and robotic helpers in department
stores. "
Robots that Read Maps. Research scientist
Maneesh Singh in Princeton is also working
with a mobile robot. He took a commercially
available robot, which essentially looks like a
pressure cooker on wheels, and equipped it
with a “Kinect” camera system offered by Mi-
crosoft that can recognize and interpret user
arm and hand motions (see page 74). The camera, which was originally devel-
oped for the Xbox 360 game
console, is equipped with a
3D sensor. The sensor enables
the robot to not only detect
and avoid obstacles but also
to produce a real-time model
of its surroundings, thereby
allowing it to determine its
own location after a while. “As with humans, this mobile device will be
able to look at a floor plan at a building’s en-
trance, understand it, and use it to au-
tonomously navigate to any part of the build-
ing. At the same time, it will build a visual
memory of the areas it has traveled through,”
says Singh. Like Genc’s Fly & Inspect technology,
Singh’s learning robot is still being explored.
Within Siemens’ Research and Development
Department ideas like these are usually tested
for a certain time before a decision is made —
in conjunction with associated business units
— regarding their suitability for market launch.
This gives Siemens engineers freedom to con-
tinue trying out new things. One of these at-
tempts is “Outlier,” which pushes the idea of
learning further out of the box.
Systems that Spot Anomalies. Most adap-
tive image recognition algorithms are trained
before a system is deployed. “Outlier,” on the
other hand, is an intelligent surveillance sys-
tem that learns on the job. Up to now, it has
done so only within the laboratory. As it cap-
tures video data, Outlier develops statistical
models of what can be considered normal
within its field of view. If, however, an unusual
event presents itself — such as a vehicle skid-
ding across a street — it will detect this as an
anomaly and report the incident to a supervi-
sor. It can then learn from feedback to deter-
mine whether the incident was relevant or not
and will alter its reporting accordingly in the
future. “Outlier is a paradigm shift,” says Josef
Birchbauer, a researcher at Siemens in Graz. Its
unique feature is that it can constantly adapt
to new conditions — and that, as Birchbauer
stresses, is essential “in a complex world where
it is almost impossible to predict every devel-
opment” — whether it takes place at an airport
or in the heart of Times Square. “Most likely,
this approach will not stand on its own
though,” cautions Birchbauer. “In the future,
video security systems will probably be trained
before actual use with the help of thousands
of example images, but will then learn in real
time during operation.” Hubertus Breuer
But Singh has even more ambitious plans
for his robot. In the near future, he wants it to
use machine learning to not only recognize hu-
mans and their activities but also to communi-
cate with them and learn from them via natu-
ral interaction. “Sometime soon,” he says, “we
will be able to teach robots in much the same
way that we teach our children — for example,
by pointing objects and speaking to them.”
“The system is also capable of object recog-
nition to a certain degree. It recognizes impor-
tant objects for its tasks in warehouses, such
as pallets and crates,” says Gisbert Lawitzky, a
robotics expert at Siemens in Munich. Au-
tonomous navigation vehicles are being used
at Daimler — especially for transporting pallets
to the loading ramps and bringing them back.
“Depending on the task, these vehicles will
“Robots should assimilate in human
environments, communicate with
humans and learn from them.”
Machine Learning | Optical Character Recognition
We Read You Loud and Clear
What’s your definition of machine intelligence?
The best definition was proposed by
the British mathematician Alan Turing in 1953.
He posited a situation in which you would talk
with someone in a different room. If that “per-
son” was actually a machine and you could not
tell that it was a machine, you would essen-
tially be dealing with a form of intelligence.
Is learning the gateway to intelligence?
That is an article of faith and a rea-
sonable claim. In evolutionary terms, in fact,
primates and humans are the least hardwired
beings on earth. Insects do learn. But a lot of
their behavior is limited by evolution. Humans,
instead, take many years to develop. For in-
stance, before the age of ten, a child cannot
recognize faces as well as adults can.
When it comes to learning from experience, how important are feelings?
Emotions are certainly important in
terms of explaining human behavior and the
development of intelligence. In the context of
biology, our feelings and their biochemical
correlates are likely to be quite important for
learning. In the context of developing ma-
chines that learn, I think feelings and emo-
tions are not needed for learning. But if a ma-
chine is to pass the Turing test it will have to
be able to simulate emotional intelligence.
And this brings us to a gray area: A simulation
system may be very different from a person;
but if no one can tell the difference, should it
make a difference to us? What’s the biggest obstacle to machines
becoming more like humans in their ability to learn?
We don’t know! But I don’t think
there are limits to the ability of machines to
become as good as we are or better at learn-
ing. It will take a long time, but it certainly is
not out of the question. Until about ten years
ago it was easy to argue that human memory
was much greater than that of any computer.
But you can’t say that any more. Our memory
storage cannot be much more than the num-
ber of synapses in the brain. So if we have
neurons, then we have about 1,000
times more synapses, which adds up to about
. Now 10
bits — one hundred trillion —
is a lot, but you can buy a terabit hard disc,
which is about 10
bits — one trillion — for
around $50. So machines are not far from
having the raw computing power of the human brain. What we do not yet have, how-
ever, are the algorithms to turn that power
into something we would call intelligence. Why not? What is required here? Poggio:
At the moment, we don’t know what
we need to do. If I knew, then the problem of
intelligence — probably the most far-reaching
challenge in science — would just be a matter
of engineering. I feel that the core of the prob-
lem has to do with the integration of different
aspects of intelligence — vision, language,
common sense, etc. But to figure out how
these elements relate to each other, we will
need an effort in basic research that combines
aspects of neuroscience, computer science
and cognitive science. Only in this way will we gain deeper understanding of the problem
and be able to move toward a solution.
Can knowledge about how the cortex
functions help us to develop new learning algorithms?
Yes. If we define intelligence as the
ability to pass the Turing test, which is a test of human intelligence, then understanding
the human brain is definitely going to help.
And neuroscience is doing a good job of getting us there. It has been developing at an exponential rate over the last 20 years. At this
point, I believe that it is just a question of time
before our knowledge of how the brain works
can directly help in engineering areas such as
computer vision and machine learning. Have you done any work along these
Yes. Most of our work has been with
physiologists in recording signals from the
brains of macaque monkeys using electrodes.
This produces very precise information be-
cause it makes it possible to record data from
single neurons. As a result of this work, we
have been able to produce a mathematical
model of the macaque visual cortex that simu-
lates the learning activity of about one million
neurons. We run this as a computer program
and have trained it — using thousands of pho-
tographs — to recognize eight kinds of behav-
iors — hanging, running, sleeping, feeding,
etc. — among mice that have been genetically
altered to have autism, depression or schizo-
phrenia. It simply marks a behavior as “hang-
ing,” “running,” etc. on a video and enters the
duration of the behavior into a statistical data-
base. The program also detects transitions
from one behavior to another, all of which
adds up to a kind of behavioral fingerprint. By
automating this process we have been able to
objectively relate behavior to the genome. How accurate is the system?
We have compared the system to the
output of human annotators and have found
that it is at least as good, or better. And it
works 24/7 without getting bored!
Could such a technology lead to surveil-
lance systems capable of providing de-
scriptions of human activities?
In principle, yes. But of course such a system would need an immense amount of
training. And human behaviors are far more
complicated than those of mice.
Being able to show a picture to an intelli-
gent artificial system and get a descrip-
tion of what is happening — is that some-
thing you are also working on?
Yes. But we are not there yet! I think
we are getting very close to having systems
that can automatically tell what is in a picture,
whether it is a pedestrian, a car, a bird or
whatever. But there are much more complex
questions, such as being able to understand
what people are doing in a picture. There is no
computer that can do anything like that today.
So that is the next challenge. Why is that so difficult? Poggio:
Humans benefit from a huge amount
of knowledge and experience. We know how
to identify cues that tell us, for instance, that
one person is involved in a conversation while
another is not. If you think about it, when you
look at an image and interpret what is hap-
pening, that requires far more than vision — it requires intelligence. Will machines achieve that kind of intelligence in ten years?
The ability to describe the content of
an image would be one of the most intellectu-
ally challenging things of all for a machine to
do. We will need another cycle of basic re-
search to solve this kind of question — of
telling a story from an image. I think it will
take at least 20 years before we have such a
technology. Interview by Arthur F. Pease
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 69
68 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Machine Learning | Interview
Tomaso Poggio, 63, is Eugene McDermott Profes-
sor in the Department of
Brain and Cognitive
Sciences at the Artificial In-
telligence Laboratory at the
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. He is also Co-
Director of MIT’s Center for
Biological and Computation-
al Learning. Poggio joined
the MIT faculty in 1981, after ten years at the Max
Planck Institute for Biology
and Cybernetics in Tubin-
gen, Germany. He received
a PhD in 1970 from the Uni-
versity of Genoa. Poggio is a Foreign Member
of the Italian Academy of
Sciences and a Fellow of the
American Academy of Arts
and Sciences.
Gateway to Intelligence
truck with hazardous materials is about to entered a tunnel in which an accident has occurred. It seems likely that enhanced OCR technolo-
gy will be used practically everywhere in the
future. Automatic recognition of food expira-
tion dates and medications come to mind
here, as does the identification of production
and serial numbers on the printed circuit
boards used in the automotive and electronics
industries. Visually impaired people might also
benefit, since OCR systems could read them
their letters, books, or the food labels in super-
markets. Rolf Froböse
congestion charge. Cameras automatically reg-
ister cars that enter a congestion zone and
then check with a central database to make
sure their drivers have registered with the fee
collection system. A further application involves using cam-
eras that automatically record vehicles’ license
plates in restricted-speed zones. Unlike radar
guns, these cameras measure the average
speed of vehicles over a long stretch of road.
This enables the system to determine whether
a driver has driven too fast through a tunnel,
for example. “We’ve used our camera technol-
ardous materials signs on trucks (see Pictures
of the Future,
Spring 2010, p. 78). The signs
are orange and contain two numbers. The first
number indicates the hazardous material’s
classification, while the second identifies the
hazardous substance itself. “Automatic recognition of these signs will
make tunnels and bridges safer,” says von der Nüll. Plans call for the system to automati-
cally close a tunnel if, for example, a truck carrying hydrogen gets too close to another
truck that is transporting oxygen. It will also be possible to quickly determine whether a
ogy to develop a system called Safezone in co-
operation with Siemens ITS in the UK,” says
Stephan von der Nüll, who is responsible for
developing new products and technologies at
Siemens in Konstanz. “It’s the first system that
makes this type of speed monitoring possible
in inner cities.” Safezone is almost ready for
market launch.
Tunnel Safety.An extension of the Safezone
system is currently being evaluated within the
framework of a project being carried out by
Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research.
Here, the goal is to automatically identify haz-
Whether it’s used for reading food product expiration dates, managing road pricing (above, right) or enforcing
speed limits in tunnels by reading license plates, optical character recognition is ideal for a spectrum of uses.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 71
Armed with learning algorithms, virtually any highly complex system can be designed to minimize its own maintenance requirements and improve its output. Examples include advanced medical equipment, power distribution systems, gas turbines and entire wind parks. CT’s Amit Chakraborty has developed learning software that can predict power requirements. Machine learning could play a role in expanding a smart grid in Allgäu, Germany (right). Cross-section of a gas turbine. Using neural networks, learning systems can predict
the optimal operating criteria for turbines and their
associated emission levels (for more, see page 54).
On-the-Job Optimization
70 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
tuating generation of current by renewable en-
ergy sources,” says Chakraborty. “That’s why
we have to develop methods that allow power
companies to do precise planning.” Before the end of 2011, the new software
will be tested in a pilot project using real world
power consumption data. The objective is, first
of all, to study consumers’ energy use profiles.
To that end, data will be collected from mil-
lions of customers using intelligent power me-
ters. The data will provide information about
the quantities of power used and the periods
in which it was used. Siemens researchers will
combine what they learn from the pilot project
with meteorological data and information
about special events, such as baseball play-
offs. They will use this trove of raw data to de-
velop training data for their software. Its algo-
rithms will then be able to create accurate
short-term load forecasts. Load forecasts are not a new invention.
Everyone is familiar with the peak load that oc-
curs during holidays when millions of turkeys
disappear into ovens. But these very rough
patterns fall short of the requirements for a
sustainable energy system. In the U.S., power
companies have been relying on market princi-
ples for years when managing loads. If a lot of
electricity is available, the cost is lowered. Con-
versely, consumers can enter into contractual
commitments to use less power when supplies
are tight or pay a higher price for it if they
don’t. But “demand response” systems of this
kind don’t always work perfectly. If consumers
don’t behave as expected, power companies
quickly have to produce or purchase additional
electricity; this is often inefficient and leads to
higher greenhouse gas emissions. “To prevent
this, we have to be able to predict how con-
sumers will behave under the conditions that
exist at any particular time,” says Chakraborty. Machine learning could also help to reduce
the cost of expanding the electrical grid. For
instance, Dr. Michael Metzger, who is research-
ing the automation of power grids for an ad-
vanced “smart grid” project at Siemens in Mu-
nich, has developed — along with other CT
experts — a learning algorithm that calculates
the structure of the grid using measurements
made by sensors. “Often, no information is
available about the number or location of cop-
per lines laid decades ago to supply end users
ollywood likes to play with the idea of in-
telligent robots. Just think of the au-
tonomous and uncontrolled machines in the
blockbuster film “Transformers.” But reality is
different. Most moviegoers probably don’t
know that researchers have already made
great strides in giving machines the ability to
learn and act on their own — always for the
benefit of humanity, of course. This is the sort of work that’s being done at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Prince-
ton, New Jersey. There, a team working with
Knowledge Decision Systems Program Manag-
er Amit Chakraborty is developing a new type
of software for power companies. The soft-
ware can learn the habits of electricity cus-
tomers by analyzing millions of data records.
Eventually, the system will be able to inde-
pendently make forecasts of power demand.
In the “smart grid” of the future, the main ob-
jective will be to reconcile power consumption
with fluctuating sources such as solar and
wind power plants, for example (Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2011, pp. 17, 20, 22). “Sus-
tainable energy systems will then manage con-
sumer load current so as to adapt it to the fluc-
Machine Learning | Industrial Applications
to escape there are very slight changes in tem-
perature and pressure. Thanks to early warning
algorithms, technicians at Siemens Healthcare
can zero in on the problem and repair the cool-
ing system before the machine fails. Today,
Siemens service teams use this
software not only to monitor more
than 3,500 MRI scanners but also
to perform preventive mainte-
nance. This strategy has resulted in
a reduction in maintenance and re-
pair costs of $5.8 million over a pe-
riod of three years.
One of the forerunners of these research
projects was a program led by CT Researcher
Ciprian Raileanu in Princeton that was de-
signed to monitor bridges. At the time, the U.S.
Department of Transportation was looking for
a way to optimize the maintenance and repair
of the roughly 650,000 bridges in the U.S.
Raileanu’s team developed a solution in collab-
oration with Rutgers University and its Center
for Advanced Infrastructure and Transporta-
tion, which is located near Princeton. “The system uses data from sensors at the
bridges, inspection reports, weather data, his-
torical data from construction diagrams, acci-
dent frequencies from police reports, and pho-
tographs to independently determine a
bridge’s condition,” says Raileanu. “We exam-
ined this very heterogeneous data for pat-
terns,” he adds. Based on these patterns, algo-
rithms learn what consequences might result
from the convergence of certain factors. For
Autonomous learning can raise
a wind park’s output by the
equivalent of an extra turbine.
“We’ve developed a program that can reliably
predict when a magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) machine or a nuclear medicine system
will fail,” says Dr. Fabian Mörchen, who devel-
ops learning systems in the Knowledge & Deci-
sion Systems area at Siemens’ research site in
Princeton. The approach starts with the fact
that there are telltale signs in many machines
that can indicate when failure is imminent.
“The trick is to identify those signals and make
them visible,” says Mörchen. Such signals can
include changes in electrical currents, volt-
ages, noises, vibrations, pressures, and tem-
peratures. Deviations from normal operation are
measured by sensors in the machines them-
selves. Based on information regarding what is
normal for a machine, researchers and their
learning systems use data mining to filter out
anomalous patterns. Once a series of patterns
has been correlated with a malfunction, the
team working with Mörchen can develop algo-
rithms that train a computer program to identi-
fy those patterns when processing data that
hasn’t been seen before. For example, when
the cryogenic helium in an MRI scanner begins
with power,” he says. To get this sort of basic
information about hidden parts of the electri-
cal grid, sensors can be placed within the net-
work of cables. These provide data regarding
the flow of current and voltage at their loca-
tions. Armed with this information, it is possi-
ble to determine the structure of the grid. “This
information allows a grid operator to know
how much voltage its network has and where
that voltage is located,” says Metzger. Siemens
is currently testing the estimation algorithm in
part of the electrical grid of the Allgäuer Über-
landwerke power company in Kempten, in
southern Germany.
Recognizing the Signs of Failure. In the
service field, the changes that machine learn-
ing will bring could be revolutionary. Instead
of waiting for failures in expensive equipment
such as medical diagnostic systems, Siemens
researchers are taking a giant step forward.
get a snapshot of these process,” explains
Sterzing. “In effect, our new method allows us
to take pictures of what’s happening before
and after that snapshot.” According to Sterz-
ing, this method enables researchers to know
not only what happened in the past but also
how processes will continue in the future. This
dynamic representation makes it possible to
identify and make the most of changes that
are positive while reducing the impact of those
that may be negative and altering mainte-
nance plans accordingly.
CT researchers have applied what they have
learned from gas turbines to a related field —
the optimization of wind turbines and entire
wind parks. As an ardent regatta sailor, Sterz-
ing knows that in order to steer his boat in the
best possible way he must keep an eye on the
waves, wind speed, and competing sailboats
during every minute of a race. Otherwise, it
would not be possible to forecast future devel-
opments and plan an appropriate course. This
approach inspired him to create a software sys-
tem for wind turbines based on sensors that
measure about ten factors, including wind
speed, turbulence levels, temperature, and air
pressure. Algorithms correlate this data with a
wind park’s output so that the software can
learn from thousands of interrelationships and
apply its knowledge to novel situations. As the system learns different situations, it
gets better and better at independently fore-
casting which settings — such as the rotor
blades’ angle of incidence or the generator
speed — are required for a wind turbine to
generate the greatest output from the avail-
able wind. This method has been show to in-
crease a wind turbine’s output by up to half a
percentage point. That may not sound like
much, but in a large wind park it has a major
impact. Tests at the Lillgrund wind farm in
Sweden during the last six months have shown
that, thanks to the ability to learn independ-
ently from its own actions — so-called au-
tonomous learning — the park has been able
to increase its output by the equivalent of an
additional turbine.Katrin Nikolaus
72 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
In the future, Personal Energy Agents will handle power trading between consumers and power companies via a specialized box (left) equipped with learning software. Siemens researchers are currently testing the system.
instance, if the bridge was built in 1976 in a re-
gion with heavy precipitation and has iron
girders, it is very probable that cracks have
formed in the piers after 30 years. The U.S. De-
partment of Transportation has been using the
bridge-monitoring program since 2008. The program also served as a model for an
entirely new system that railway companies in
Great Britain and Russia are using to monitor
their train fleets. The data for this learning
software comes from sensors in various sub-
systems in trains, such as those that monitor
brakes and doors, as well as from train sched-
ules and fault reports. Known as the Rail Re-
mote Service Desktop (RRSD), the system com-
bines all this data and calculates where each
train is at any given time and whether mainte-
nance work is needed. At present, RRSD is
monitoring 175 trains — and Siemens supplies
not only the software but also the automation
Mastering Complexity. Gas turbines are an-
other major application area for learning sys-
tems — in this case, those based on neural net-
works (see p.54 and Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2011, p. 97). These systems create fore-
casts regarding emissions and optimal turbine
operation in a matter of seconds . Turbines are
governed by innumerable complicated interre-
lationships that researchers can often only as-
sess via statistical methods, since many values
can only be roughly estimated. Traditional
mathematical formulas requiring exact figures
are thus not very useful in this research. But to
maximize a turbine’s lifespan and performance
while minimizing its emissions the effects of
thousands of settings have to be precisely as-
sessed and forecast.
Volkmar Sterzing and his CT team at
Siemens’ Intelligent Systems & Control Global
Technology Field in Munich have therefore de-
veloped a new method that makes this possi-
ble. Using so-called recurrent neural networks,
the researchers can depict a turbine’s entire
processes and thus make accurate forecasts re-
garding its output. “Previously, you could only
Learning from Sounds —and Saving a Lot of Energy
Melting scrap metal into steel in an elec-
tric arc furnace is a chaotic process. Metal
pieces of varying weights, some as big as
cars, slide around as they melt beneath
three powerful electric arcs. But the arcs,
which have temperatures of up to 10,000
degrees Celsius, sometimes fail to connect
with the molten scrap, instead directing
their energy toward a furnace wall. The
noise in the furnace is deafening. The arcs
generated by the three-phase AC elec-
trodes generate about 120 decibels,
which is more than a jet aircraft. It was
precisely this noise that got Dr. Detlef
Rieger, a project manager in the Global
Technology Field for Non-Destructive Test-
ing at Siemens Corporate Technology in
Munich and Dr. Thomas Matschullat, who
works at Metals Technologies in Erlangen
thinking. The two scientists wanted to
know how one could monitor and control
the melting process in order to reduce its
energy consumption.
They mounted sensors on the outer wall
of the furnace, where they could measure the sound waves that emanate from inside. In addition, they
continuously monitored the electrical current at the electrodes. “We combine the data from the elec-
trodes with the sound wave measurements. Our algorithms can then calculate what sort of sound oscil-
lations are created between the electric arcs and the furnace wall, and from that we can infer what’s
happening in the furnace at any given moment,” says Rieger. During the initial melting phase, the sys-
tem has already learned enough to determine how scrap is distributed in a furnace, thus providing infor-
mation as to whether the output of the individual electrodes should be increased or reduced. During the
second phase of melting, it is crucial that the slag resulting from foreign matter in the scrap is distrib-
uted on top of the molten metal as uniformly as possible. To that end, coal dust is blown into the fur-
nace, forming a layer of carbon monoxide foam in the slag. This layer insulates the arcs and melting
metal and prevents the furnace walls from heating up excessively. It thus reduces energy requirements.
By interpreting sound wave data, the software constantly measures whether the foamy slag is thick
enough and spread evenly enough, thus the process’s name, “SIMELT Foaming Slag Manager.” The sys-
tem is currently being used in two steel mills in Germany and one in Belarus, where it is helping to re-
duce energy consumption by 2.3 percent. “Taking a typical charge of 100 tons of steel, that’s equivalent
to saving roughly 920 kilowatt-hours every hour,” says Rieger. What’s more, the steel mills use up to 25
percent less coal and emit 12,000 fewer tons of CO
per year. Katrin Nikolaus
Machine Learning
In Brief
The future will belong to machines that are
able to learn. Machine learning makes it possible
to collect and process data in an increasingly
complex world and thus discover optimization
possibilities. Using neural networks, Siemens re-
searchers have created the mathematical basis
for dozens of industrial forecasting systems. Such
systems are trained using thousands of sample
cases. After training, learning systems can be
used for complex applications — for example, to
predict sales volumes, raw materials prices, or
the output of wind farms or gas turbines. The re-
sults are significantly better than those obtained
with conventional systems. (pp. 51, 52) Images of human organs and of human cells
from biopsies are being used to train software
systems to identify the outlines of organs and
recognize cancer stages. Other learning systems
are opening up new diagnostic and treatment
methods. Such systems could, for example, help
physicians to quantify the extent of plaque de-
posits in arteries or combine X-ray and ultra-
sound images in order to improve the safety of
minimally-invasive procedures. (p. 57) Despite more than 50 years of research, vision
continues to be one of the biggest challenges
facing machine learning experts. However, in the
future, video systems from Siemens will be able
to not only create digital models of the visible
world but also independently interpret these
models in order to detect potential danger areas.
(p. 64)
Automated text reading systems from Siemens
have revolutionized international postal traffic.
However, optical character recognition still har-
bors a great deal of unused potential. Additional
applications cover a broad spectrum, ranging
from reading signs and license plates to the secu-
rity codes marked on trucks carrying dangerous
substances. (p. 67)
Armed with learning algorithms, virtually any highly complex system can be designed to minimize its own maintenance requirements and improve its output. Examples include advanced medical equipment, power distribution systems, gas turbines and entire wind parks. (p. 70)
Forecasting: Dr. Hans-Georg Zimmermann, CT Dr. Volker Tresp, CT
Medical applications: Dr. Shaohua Kevin Zhou, CT Dr. Razvan Ionasec, CT
Security applications / Robotics: Dr. Gisbert Lawitzky, CT Maneesh Singh, Corporate Research
Optical character recognition:
Dr. Volker Tresp, CT Ingolf Rauh, Mobility Stephan von der Nuell, Mobility
Industrial applications:
Amit Chakraborty, CT Dr. Michael Metzger, CT Dr. Fabian Moerchen, CT
Prof. Tomaso Poggio:
Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf:
Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence:
European Machine Vision Association:
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems:
MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory:
Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation:
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 73
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 7574 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
hen Dr. Thomas Friese of Siemens
Healthcare stands in front of a monitor
in his laboratory in Erlangen and makes rotary
movements with his extended hands, the
scene brings to mind the character played by
Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report. On
the display in front of him, a 3D model of a
thorax starts to rotate. As soon as Friese stops
moving his hands, the image stops rotating as
well. Although standing two meters from the
monitor, he changes the field size of the image
by carefully moving his right hand from left to
right in the air. Dr. Friese scrolls through a se-
ries of images, much as he would on his smart-
phone — with a swiping movement of his
right hand. This way of using touch-free ges-
tures is intended to enable surgeons in the fu-
ture to select radiological images in the operat-
ing room or to change the way they are
displayed without touching a monitor or hav-
ing to leave the operating table. “Some of the greatest changes in medical
technology these days are happening in surgi-
cal practice,” says Michael Martens, who is in
charge of business development in surgery at
Siemens Healthcare syngo. Martens is refer-
ring in particular to the substantial increase in
minimally invasive procedures, which are char-
acterized by small incisions and are easy on the
patient. While the surgeon performing a “con-
ventional” operation actually sees the relevant
organs or bones once he or she has made the
incision, the minimally invasive approach re-
sults in an information loss, which medical im-
aging helps to offset. To prepare for an opera-
tion, surgeons therefore review not only the
radiologist’s findings, but start out by viewing
and discussing actual medical scan images
from a prior examination.
Surgeons also like to refer to these images
during an operation. Convenient access to this
information improves common surgical proce-
dures as well as management of possible com-
plications. As a result, the number of operating
rooms providing this type of display in the im-
mediate vicinity of the surgeon’s position is
steadily growing. But this also creates a prob-
lem: The surgeon has to refrain as much as
possible from touching any objects or devices
other than the patient and the surgical instru-
ments, in order to eliminate conceivable risks
of infection. To rule out every risk of infection,
however, the surgeon would have to change
all of his or her garments after contact with
any surgically irrelevant device, such as an out-
of-the-way touch screen, and that would great-
ly prolong the patient’s time in surgery and un-
der anesthesia.
Xbox Technology in the OR. Touch-free ma-
nipulation of displays by means of voice con-
trol isn’t practical for most of the complex in-
teractions that are required with medical
images. Such an approach would require an-
other team member to be on hand to speak
the voice commands for the surgeon. This per-
son would have to be in the operating room,
thus potentially increasing the presence of
germs, while also driving up costs. What’s
more, in this scenario the surgeon wouldn’t be
able to manipulate the images intuitively, but
only by proxy. Now, however, experts at Siemens Health-
carre have found a solution — in the video
games industry. “When Microsoft introduced
its Kinect technology, we immediately recog-
nized the potential of gesture recognition for
surgery,” says Friese. Kinect is used in the new
Xbox 360 game console from Microsoft, where
its technology can recognize and interpret the
motions of players.
At the heart of Kinect is PrimeSensor tech-
nology from PrimeSense, a company based in
Tel-Aviv, Israel. In this system, an infrared light
source projects an invisible infrared point pat-
tern into the room. Any persons or objects in
this space distort the point pattern. An infrared
Pictures of the Future | Gesture Recognition
Surgeons will soon be using hand gestures to scroll through or even modify digital images during surgery. This will enable them to access images and files faster without compromising sterile procedures. What makes it all possible is the latest technology from video game consoles. In Good Hands
Thanks to modified game console technology,
surgeons will soon be able to manipulate images by just moving their hands. Below: Tests
at Siemens Healthcare in Forchheim, Germany.
sensor measures the distorted point pattern,
and then software compares the measured
values with an internal reference pattern and
computes each point’s distance from the light
source — finding what’s called the “depth val-
ue.” Kinect also includes a video camera that
records a color image of the room. A depth val-
ue is assigned to each relevant point in the
video image. This enables the system to com-
pute a three-dimensional point cloud, which
represents the spatial structure of the imaged
space. The system uses probability models to
distinguish individual persons within this point
cloud. Immobile points don’t represent people
and are ignored by the system. The Xbox 360’s motion recognition soft-
ware is designed to identify
rapid body movements by
players — not the slow but
precise hand movements
that a surgeon would use to
manipulate an image on a
display. “With this in mind,
we reprogrammed the meas-
uring technique and enhanced the system’s
precision,” reports Dr. Georg von Wichert, who
researches the control of intelligent systems at
Siemens Corporate Technology.
In order to recognize gestures, the system
must first identify a user’s hand as a part of the
point cloud. The system selects a sensitive
zone between the monitor and the user. “We
start with the assumption that if something
reaches out of the point cloud into this zone
it’s an extremity, such as an arm,” explains von
Wichert. The software then computes where
the hand at the end of that extremity is locat-
ed, and to what place on the display it is point-
ing. Next, the system measures the width of
the hand. During a gesture such as spreading
the fingers, the moving object is virtually
“grasped” on the display. Then a simple hand
movement is all that’s needed to scroll through
a stack of images. To change the size of the im-
aged field, the surgeon moves both hands
away from each other.
It took only four months for Friese and von
Wichert to complete their initial prototype.
They received support from Microsoft, which
had made the interfaces from Kinect to its Win-
dows operating system available to them. This
made it possible for the researchers to make
use of the data from the software’s person-
recognition function for their calculations. “We
are really delighted with how predictably and
reliably the resulting system operates,”
Martens says. The system focuses on the zone in which it
recognizes hand gestures, and ignores move-
ments that take place outside of that space.
Thus the system is not confused by a nurse
moving around in the immediate vicinity of a
surgeon while handing him or her an instru-
ment. Plans call for the prototype to migrate from
the lab into the operating room in the near fu-
ture. In fact, surgeons at two European hospi-
tals, in Spain and in Amsterdam, are planning
to test the system in late 2011 under semi-re-
alistic conditions — though of course not yet
on patients. As a next step, the Siemens engineers are
planning to program a gesture control system
that would enable the surgeon to virtually
grasp and move an object on the monitor, and
then release it again. This would enable the
user to manipulate 3D images much more in-
tuitively than would be possible with a conven-
tional mouse control. The completed system is
also expected to interface with other hospital
systems, including image archives and elec-
tronic patient records. While performing an op-
eration, a surgeon could look up the patient’s
blood values quickly, for instance. “The system
gives the surgeon ready access to a whole uni-
verse of useful information, and that means it
can help to improve outcome,” says Martens.
Michael Lang
New technology uses infrared light to convert a surgeon’s hand
movements into commands.
can understand why they called me here to
this dark and deserted parking garage at the
plant in the middle of the night — now that I
see the vehicle in front of me in all its glory.
Apparently, what I’m looking at is a milestone
in the development of electric vehicles; a top
car for a top price. At least that’s what the
manufacturer says. One way or other, I’ll find
out tonight whether that claim is true. Maurice Lavell is my name. I work for a
company called Henry Poiret in New York — an
agency that was established around 20 years
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 7776 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
2035 — Resource scarcity has been a problem for the global economy for years. In response, companies are using as much recy-
cled and alternative material as possible. Otherwise, it would be im-
possible to offer affordable products. In pursuit of their goals, firms often seek help from substitution analysts like Maurice Lavell
— who aren’t afraid of operating at the limits of the permissible. Less is More
79 The Limits to Growth
The Earth’s population is growing —
and so too is demand for energy and
consumer products. The develop-
ment of prices for raw materials,
such as oil and metals, is already
demonstrating the impact of resource scarcities. What’s needed
now are efficient solutions that strike
a balance between supply, demand,
and environmental protection. 81 Efficiency Enhancement Whether the issue is buildings, products, or the processes for manufacturing them, efficiency has become critically important as climate change and resource scarcity
become increasingly apparent. Tools
developed by Siemens can help.
Pages 81, 86, 90, 98
84 Resource Use Accounting
The Ecological Footprint should become as important a performance
indicator as gross domestic product,
says Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, Presi-
dent of the Global Footprint Network.
100 Alternatives in the Making
Siemens is conducting research into
alternative materials and sophisticat-
ed recycling methods in order to address the challenges associated
with global resource scarcity.
104 Sugar, Oil and Inventive Minds
Brazil’s thirst for energy has inspired
the imagination of the country’s en-
gineers, whose technical innovations
have enhanced the efficiency and
stability of the energy supply system. 2035
Substitution expert Maurice Lavell has been
commissioned by automaker Wheel-E to analyze the material composition of a rival’s
new electric vehicle. The new model is said to
offer the best value for money in its class —
thanks to an optimal combination of recycled
materials and alternatives to raw materials,
such as lithium and rare earths, which have
become increasingly scarce and
correspondingly expensive. ago with the mission of optimizing ecological
balance sheets. Today, it’s the world market
leader for identifying the potential of recycling
and material substitution. We offer our cus-
tomers a very special service. Whether it’s
small products such as electric toothbrushes,
complete high-speed trains, or — as is the case
today, electric cars — we analyze product pro-
totypes down to the last nut and bolt. By doing
so, we can, for example, determine if and how
manufacturing costs can be reduced. One way
of achieving this goal is to use as much recy-
cled material as possible. Another is to employ
alternatives that cost less than expensive con-
ventional materials. Whatever the method, the
aim is always to ensure that neither product
quality nor performance suffer as a result. Our business was transformed into a gold-
mine five years ago, when resource scarcity fi-
nally hit the market with full force and prices
for materials such as copper, lithium, and alu-
minum went through the roof. But even those
things are bargains compared to rare earths.
So now, the greater the amount of recycled or
Efficient Use of Resources | Scenario 2035
extremely difficult for us to meet this request.
In the course of just a few days, the computer’s
sophisticated software virtually built and simu-
lated hundreds of thousands of electrodes
with different metal combinations until we
found a mixture whose properties were closest
to those of lithium. I suspect that this alternative material has
probably found its way into the batteries that
power the fancy car in front of me. Which
brings me back to today’s job. I’m supposed to check out the E-Ston
Boiteaux, which according to E-Captions — its
manufacturer — offers the best value for mon-
ey on the market. Up until now, that has been
the unchallenged claim of Wheel-E, which is E-
Captions’ main competitor in the vehicle’s price
segment. It is therefore not really so surprising
that Wheel-E asked me to take a close look at
the new car and demonstrate that E-Captions
is making a false claim. For this particular job,
I’m using specially-developed, foldable e-paper
that enables me to analyze the material com-
position of the vehicle. Wheel-E transferred the
electric car’s 3D data onto the paper for me.
The company was able to get it thanks to a law
stipulating that competi-
tors are allowed to de-
mand such data if there’s
reasonable suspicion that
someone might be violat-
ing the rules of fair compe-
tition. Optical sensors and
intelligent software com-
pare my field and angle of vision with the vir-
tual data. This enables the display to show a
cross-section of the exact spot I am holding the
paper against. The material information con-
tained in the vehicle data is then compared in
real time with a database at our headquarters
and analyzed. I somehow have the feeling that it won’t
take much time to get a result. At first glance,
it seems as if E-Captions has done a good job.
For example, the right amount of iron was
used to reduce the cobalt content in the bat-
tery. The wheel hub motor’s synchronous mag-
net contains a perfectly mixed combination of
neodymium, iron, and boron, which signifi-
cantly reduces costs but still provides enough
energy to ensure that the motor’s output isn’t
reduced. It also appears that all statically irrele-
vant materials have been replaced with green
polymers, and that all the remaining material
has been recycled. Just between us: Wheel-E will have its work
cut out for it in the future. In my opinion, its ri-
val’s electric speedster is ahead of its time. The
only thing that could do with some adjusting,
however, is the cockpit. More specifically, I
think I’m the only one who should be allowed
to sit in it. Sebastian Webel
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 79
Not only are freshwater supplies on the wane, but reserves of oil and metals are also dwindling
(left), even as the energy needs of a growing population are causing commodity prices to rise.
An additional example of such efforts can
be found in the construction industry, where
improved thermal insulation and the use of
heat pumps can dramatically reduce the ener-
gy required for heating purposes (see p. 92).
The aim of such efforts is not only to mini-
mize carbon dioxide emissions but also to re-
duce the use of raw materials. The impending
shortage of natural resources, and an associat-
ed increase in prices — whether for oil, gas,
coal, or metals — was one of the Club of
Rome’s predictions that now threatens to be-
come reality. In 2010 the European Union identified as
critical the issue of access to 14 minerals and
metals (including antimony, beryllium, cobalt,
and certain rare earths) that are crucial for the
manufacture of both high-tech and everyday
consumer products. Three Times Today’s Demand by 2050? Will
a scarcity of resources strangle growth? At
present, growth appears unchecked. The Unit-
ed Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)
warns that annual consumption of minerals,
ores, fossil fuels, and biomass is set to rise to
140 billion tons by 2050, nearly three times as
much as today (see p. 82). Behind this increase
is projected growth of 2.3 billion in the world’s
population and a rising middle class in many
former emerging economies. This develop-
ment will generate huge demand for comput-
ers, cars, clothing, and energy. Furthermore, as Dr. Mathis Wackernagel,
President of the Global Footprint Network, an
international think tank based in Oakland, Cali-
fornia, points out in an interview (see p. 84),
the human race is already living beyond its
means. “Although technological advances
have increased biocapacity, this expansion has
been much slower than the rise in human de-
mand for resources,” he says. “We estimate
that we’re now using nature 50 percent faster
than the speed at which it can regenerate.” “The question is therefore whether the
massive increase in new goods and services
will result in ecological collapse or can be guid-
ed into a sustainable future,” wrote Ralf Fücks,
President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in a
recent article in the German weekly Die Zeit.
the worlds of business and politics have now
taken on this challenge — as is evident in, for
example, the current boom in renewable ener-
gy, particularly wind power. Here the priority
must be to increase power yields by means of
intelligent engineering and likewise to auto-
mate the production of wind parks and thus
make them more cost-effective (see p. 91). At the same time, engineers are working to
improve the efficiency of power plants fired by
fossil fuels such as coal and gas, and thereby to
reduce our consumption of these resources.
The world efficiency record in this field is cur-
rently held by a combined cycle facility in
Irsching, Bavaria, which became the first pow-
er plant ever to convert 60.75 percent of the
energy in gas into electricity (see p. 96). Thanks to special development tools and
analytic methods, which combine maximum
environmental compatibility with high eco-
nomic performance, it is now possible to de-
sign large and complex industrial plants in
such a way that they require less and less elec-
tricity. The result is lower and lower levels of
harmful emissions (see pp. 81, 86). I
n 1972 the Club of Rome — a think tank that
was founded in 1968 and is still very active
in the world of international politics — pub-
lished its influential report The Limits to
, in which renowned economists and
thinkers such as Dr. Dennis L. Meadows pon-
dered the future of the world economy. Their
conclusion was that if the world population’s
continued to grow at the same rate, and along
with it industrialization, environmental pollu-
tion, food production, and the exploitation of
natural resources, then the absolute limits to
growth on earth would be reached within the
following 100 years.
Criticism of their position soon followed
from all quarters. Noted economist Dr. Thomas
Sowell, for example, labeled the report as per-
haps the most celebrated false prognosis of re-
cent history. Yet today, almost 40 years after
the appearance of The Limits to Growth, the
claims it makes, and those of subsequent pub-
lications, are more relevant than ever. To begin with, the evidence for climate
change already tells us that our energy policy
is anything but sustainable. Many figures from
alternative materials you use, the greater will
be your competitive edge. Manufacturers of all
types of things and from all over the world are
now queueing up to do business with us, and
we can hardly keep up with all the work. One of our first contracts came from an in-
dustrial association that wanted us to develop
a procedure for mass production of polyhy-
droxybutyrate, which is a plastic produced us-
ing a purple bacterium known as Paracoccus
denitrificans. The bacterium accomplishes this
feat by converting surplus carbohydrates into
fatty acids and then linking them in long mo-
lecular chains. We used our high-powered
computers to adjust some parameters in a vir-
tual bioreactor until we were able to increase
the stability of the plastic. The result of our
work was a material that can be produced in
any desired amount. It can even replace metals
in certain applications. This success made us
famous overnight.
The plastic can be used in a wide range of
applications. For example, every new-genera-
tion streetcar today has a high percentage of
the green polymer built into its structure. The
rest of a streetcar mainly consists of materials
that are fully recyclable — thanks to the so-
phisticated recycling methods that have been
developed and patented by my team for a
large number of substances. But let’s stick with the streetcar example.
We utilized a special assessment method that
allowed us to reduce tram operating costs in
nearly all major European cities by equipping
the streetcars with extremely efficient sand-
wich-structure batteries. As a result of this de-
velopment, the trams can travel great dis-
tances without the need for an overhead line.
They can also operate autonomously until they
return to recharge their batteries at night. Nat-
urally, this is done using electricity from re-
newable sources — and thus without produc-
ing CO
emissions — which is particularly
cheap at night. It goes without saying that we had to
search for alternative materials for the batter-
ies. Not surprisingly, lithium became very
much in demand — and therefore costly — af-
ter electric vehicles began to dominate the
scene. In fact, we received a request from the
United Nations a few months ago to find such
an alternative. Luckily, we had just put our new
quantum computer into operation a few
weeks earlier; otherwise it would have been
The greater the amount of recycled or alternative materials used, the
greater will be the competitive edge.
78 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Efficient Use of Resources | Trends
The Limits to Growth
As the world’s population grows, so too does its hunger for resources such as oil and metals, thus driv-
ing up their prices. In order to reconcile supply and demand with the need to protect the environment,
Siemens is developing solutions that require less use of raw materials to promote economic growth. tion costs and therefore makes them more
competitive. “In fact, for companies such as Siemens,
raw materials shortage are both a challenge
and an opportunity,” Kux concludes. This is be-
cause shortages are creating a major incentive
to develop solutions that not only reduce the
impact of supply bottlenecks and price increas-
es on the company but also benefit the envi-
ronment by making business operations more
efficient and significantly lowering the con-
sumption of natural resources. And in a world
that is gradually reaching the limits to growth,
such solutions translate into a competitive ad-
vantage that should not be underestimated.
Ultimately, in order to fully suspend the limits
to growth, it would be necessary to establish a
sophisticated recycling-based economy. Trains
that are as much as 95 percent recyclable —
like the ones being built by Siemens in Vienna
(see p. 88) — are a spectacular example of
how such an economy might one day become
a reality. Sebastian Webel
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 81
Efficient Use of Resources | Environmental Analyses
In the face of climate change and resource scarcity, green solutions are increasingly in demand.
But what does “green” actually mean and when do green strategies make economic sense?
Siemens has developed a testing procedure to answer these questions: the Eco-Care Analysis.
Orange dot indicates AC motor-equipped excavator, which is characterized by higher
utility and more environmentally-
compatible results than diesel models.
ractically every company offers “green so-
lutions.” But when does this label actually
mean something? Most companies answer this
question by employing analytical methods
such as the carbon footprint and environmen-
tal performance assessments that take a prod-
uct’s impact into account in the context of its
entire lifecycle — from acquiring raw materials
to design, usage, and disposal. Environmental performance assessments
are also a key part of product lifecycle manage-
ment (PLM) at Siemens Industry Solutions.
PLM systems centrally store and manage all
the data about a product from its conception
to its disposal. But that wasn’t enough for Prof.
Dieter Wegener, Chief Technology Officer at
Siemens Industry Solutions. “A truly green so-
lution must be both environmentally and eco-
nomically beneficial,” he says. “These two char-
acteristics are by no means mutually
exclusive.” To support this view, Wegener needed to
come up with a standardized and scientific
procedure that would combine ecological per-
When is Green Really Green?
formance assessments with capital and operat-
ing cost analyses. He found a competent part-
ner for such a project at Denmark Technical
University (DTU) in Copenhagen. “Their envi-
ronmental assessment expertise is impressive,”
says Wegener. “I even managed to get the proj-
ect started the day I visited the university.” In-depth Analysis. The partnership has re-
sulted in a sophisticated method called Eco-
Care Analysis. “Our job was to incorporate en-
vironmental compatibility into the analysis,”
says Dr. Stig Irving Olsen from DTU. “For exam-
ple, we had to determine how the emissions
from an industrial facility would be affected by
the use of different materials or the installa-
tion of an electronic control system.” Siemens
addressed productivity issues — factors such
as how process changes might affect material
costs, energy use, or expenditures on person-
nel and disposal.
These complex calculations led to the cre-
ation of an Eco-Care Matrix, a decision-support
tool that graphically depicts results and brings
environmental impact considerations together
with economic factors. An analysis based on
this tool can be clearly understood at a glance. The center of the tool’s matrix always con-
tains a comparative reference point that is de-
rived from traditional technologies. The y-axis
shows the new solution’s environmental com-
patibility relative to the reference point. This
combined value includes, but is not limited to,
, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and dust
emissions, as well as water, energy, and natu-
ral resource use. The x-axis shows customer
benefit expressed as a change in system costs.
If a new product or solution is to the right of
and above the reference point, customer bene-
fit is higher and environmental impact is lower.
The subject is therefore objectively “green” as
defined by Wegener. “We’ve been using the
Eco-Care Analysis at Industry Solutions since
2009, and it’s now mandatory for all green so-
lutions the Division offers,” he reports. One of the first applications of the Eco-Care
Matrix was an analysis of the Simetal Corex
Process, an innovative procedure developed by
Electric Excavator
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1
Gearless, AC motor
22% better environmental compatibility, 22.2% lower costs
Customer benefit
80 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Ultimately, therefore, the issue is whether eco-
nomic growth can be weaned off its depend-
ence on non-renewable resources, thereby en-
abling the economy to grow in a manner that
is as sustainable as possible. Achieving this, ac-
cording to Fücks, will require, on the one hand,
politically-defined “ecological guardrails that
are based on the maximum tolerable loads of
the various ecosystems” and, on the other, ac-
tion on the part of the corporate sector to de-
velop the technological solutions and the envi-
ronmentally-compatible processes that are
required to minimize dependency on increas-
such as rare earths and tungsten.” In addition,
efficiency experts are continually identifying
potential for improving existing technologies.
This includes, for instance, ideas for using
high-performance magnets in wind turbines,
for producing electric cars without the need
for rare earths, for substituting
cheaper aluminum for expen-
sive copper, and for replacing
conventional raw materials
with renewable biopolymers
without sacrificing quality or
performance. While researchers at CT
have set themselves the goal of protecting
Siemens as much as possible from future
shortages of raw materials, the job of the peo-
ple in the company’s supply chain manage-
ment business is to avoid price increases and
bottlenecks among the company’s approxi-
mately 90,000 suppliers worldwide.
ly, we also help them cut their production
costs and therefore our purchasing costs,” Kux
explains. Siemens is already using its Energy Efficien-
cy Program for Suppliers (EEP4S) to identify
and exploit energy-saving potential (see p.
99). Now, however, the company is aiming to
streamline production along the entire value
chain with the help of a program called
SPS@Suppliers (see p. 98). Each year the Sus-
tainability Office presents sustainability
awards to especially efficient suppliers. This
practice also has the side benefit of motivating
them to sign up for the two programs. “The nature of the programs themselves
should be motivation enough to take part,”
says Kux. For in the final analysis, if suppliers
can save energy, reduce throughput times, and
simultaneously improve quality, productivity,
and sustainability, this not only enhances their
green credentials but also lowers their produc-
ingly-scarce and more-and-more costly raw
materials. Siemens, for instance, has been doing this
for years, especially with the products and sys-
tems from its Environmental Portfolio. These
extend from the field of renewable energy to
intelligent power networks, energy-saving rail-
road systems, industrial plants, and household
appliances, all of which help customers oper-
ate in a sustainable way. At the same time, the
company is scrupulous about minimizing the
resources used by its own businesses. Take, for
instance, the activities of researchers in the
field of materials and manufacturing at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT). One
member of the group is Dr. Thomas Scheiter,
who heads the Material Substitution and Recy-
cling global technology field . “As soon as the availability of a raw material
becomes critical, it’s our job to develop techno-
logical alternatives,” says Scheiter (see p. 100).
“This includes the development of totally new
recycling methods for the recovery of materials
“Market monitoring is a crucial tool here,”
says Barbara Kux, a member of the Managing
Board of Siemens AG and Chief Sustainability
Officer. Kux is also responsible for supply chain
management at Siemens. “We have a depart-
ment that produces market analyses and fore-
casts, and we are thus constantly in touch with
the latest market developments. That helps us
plan ahead and secure and identify supply and
production volumes well in advance of any
price increases,” she says. In order to avoid
supply bottlenecks, Siemens also builds con-
sortiums with other companies in order to be
able to negotiate raw material rights from a
position of strength. “We recently completed
talks with mining companies in Australia that
will ensure us access to rare earths,” says Kux. Bringing Suppliers on Board. Other meas-
ures designed to enhance business sustainabil-
ity include helping suppliers improve their own
efficiency. “By striving to help our suppliers car-
ry out some of their operations more efficient-
“For companies such as Siemens,
raw materials shortages are both a challenge and an opportunity.”
High-performance natural gas turbines (left) use gas more efficiently than any other form of power generation. Recycling trains helps to conserve resources.
The OECD has determined that the G8 nations have un-
dergone this kind of decoupling to a limited extent since
1980. Canada, Germany, Japan, and Italy have been
able to decouple their absolute resource consumption
figure from GDP growth. This relative decoupling is primarily a result of high-
er resource productivity — i.e. GDP in relation to domes-
tic material consumption (DMC). This ratio measures the
amount of raw material used directly for economic ac-
tivity. For example, the European Commission reports
that resource productivity in the EU-27 nations rose
from €1.21 to €1.31 per kilogram (of raw material) be-
tween 2000 and 2007. In other words, fewer raw mate-
rials like fossil fuels, biomass, or metal ores were needed
to generate one euro of GDP in 2007. The development
of resource productivity in the U.S. has been similar, ris-
ing from €1.19 per kilogram in 2000 to €1.32 in 2005.
However, resource productivity in Asia varies greatly,
according to the Sustainable Europe Research Institute
(SERI). Whereas Singapore generated €0.87 of econom-
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 83
Many EU countries display relative decoupling of resource use from GDP. More prosperity often means more consumption.
BRIICS nations consume the most metal ores and will also consume the most oil, gas, and coal in 2020.
ic output per kilogram of raw material consumption in
2005, and Korea produced €0.65, China, India,
Malaysia, and Indonesia were much less resource effi-
cient (less than €0.29/kg). According to this measure-
ment method, the EU is 4.5 times more resource effi-
cient than China. One reason for this is that emerging
markets have built up industries and infrastructures that
are material- and energy-intensive, while the industrial-
ized nations have more strongly promoted less resource-
intensive industries such as the service sector and the
electronics industry. The EU has stated that its intention is to decouple re-
source use from economic growth by 2020 in an initia-
tive within the framework of its Europe 2020strategy.
The objective here is to achieve environmentally com-
patible growth by, for example, introducing incentives
to promote more efficient use of resources; creating
new markets by stimulating demand for environmental-
ly friendly technologies, products, and services; and tax-
ing resource consumption and environmental pollution. In general, there’s no sure formula when it comes to
implementing strategies for environmentally friendly
growth. The top priority is most certainly to formulate
economic policies that enable such growth. China, for
example, announced in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 to
2015) that it will step up investment in more efficient
technologies, recycling, and waste management. The
Chinese government also plans to reduce energy con-
sumption and CO
2 emissions by 16 percent and 17 per-
cent per unit of GDP, respectively. Among other things,
this is to be achieved by increased use of energy from re-
newable sources, which should then account for 11 per-
cent of total energy production by 2015, and 15 percent
by 2020. Sylvia Trage
Comparison of Wealth and Resource Use Resource use in metric
tons per capita and year
10050 1,000 10,000 100,000
Asia / Pacific
Latin America and the Caribbean
North America
West Asia
Per capita income (US$, as of 2000)
New Zealand
Great Britain
Puerto Rico
Equatorial Guinea
South Africa
= 0.60
Relative Levels of Resource Productivity
Average annual growth
rate of …DMC (%)
…GDP (%)
10 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Romania as an example: DMC in-
creased by 10%, GDP by 6%
DMC: Domestic material consumption
GDP: Gross domestic product
Lithuania: GDP increased by 9%, DMC by
5% (i.e. DMC increase was less than GDP)
Luxemburg: DMC declined by 2% per year
No decoupling
Relative decoupling
Absolute decoupling
Demand for Key Categories of Raw Materials by Major Economic Groups between 1980 and 2020
Billions of metric tons
Source: OECD, based on SERI (2006), MOSUS MFA database, Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Vienna
2020 BRIICS = Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, and South Africa
OECD = The 34 OECD countries, RoW = Rest of World
Metal ores + 200%
+ 81%
+ 68%
+ 114%
Fossil fuels
Biomass Non-metallic minerals
% change, 1980-2020
2002 2020
RoW 32 30 OECD
RoW 34 27 OECD
RoW 31
RoW 33 23 OECD
RoW 20
RoW 27
RoW 33 29 OECD
Source: UNEP report (2011), Decoupling natural resource use from economic growth
Source: Pedro Díaz Muñoz — Eurostat (2011), Measuring Resource Efficiency
ccording to UN estimates, the global population
will rise by a further 2.3 billion to 9.3 billion people
by 2050 — and most of that growth will occur in devel-
oping countries and emerging markets. How can such
population growth be managed without overburdening
our planet’s resources? Past experience has shown that
population growth and rising affluence have almost al-
ways been accompanied by an increase in resource and
energy consumption. However, on the basis of the “ecological footprint”
concept, mankind’s resource use is already 20 percent
higher than the Earth’s ability to accommodate it (see p.
84). The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)
therefore issued a warning in its 2010 report that if eco-
nomic growth continues to determine resource con-
sumption in the way it does today, human beings will
consume 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels,
and biomass by 2050 annually, which is nearly three
times higher than the current rate. That’s why the major
challenge facing the planet today lies in decoupling re-
source use from economic growth and reducing re-
source use in general. “Eco-sufficiency” is the term used
to describe a lifestyle and economic system that would
put an end to excessive use of goods, raw material, and
energy. The concept was developed by Dr. Wolfgang
Sachs, Head of the Berlin office of the Wuppertal Insti-
tute for Climate, Environment, Energy in Germany. Making the necessary transition won’t be easy. The
demand for oil remains unchecked, for example, and ac-
cording to the International Energy Agency, China’s oil
consumption alone will increase by 70 percent between
2009 and 2015, when the country will account for 42
percent of global petroleum consumption. The situation
with steel is similar. A recent analysis conducted by Pricewaterhouse-
Coopers (PwC) found that increasing urbanization and
industrialization in emerging markets will cause annual
steel production to rise by around one billion tons to 2.3
billion tons per year between now and 2020, at which
point the increase will begin tapering off. Drinking wa-
ter is also now a scarce resource: China’s consumption
alone will double by 2030, according to a study carried
out by the German Electrical and Electronic Manufactur-
ers’ Association (ZVEI). What’s more, groundwater re-
serves in northern China will be exhausted in 30 years. Even though global resource use will continue to in-
crease, there are now some indications of a relative de-
coupling of economic growth and gross domestic prod-
uct (GDP) from resource use. This would mean that the
economy could grow more rapidly than environmental
impact as defined by the European Commission. If, on
the other hand, environmental impact should remain
stable or actually decline even as economies expand,
the result would be a so-called “absolute decoupling.”
Efficient Use of Resources | Facts and Forecasts
Decoupling Raw Materials Consumption from Economic Growth
The Corex process reduces costs by 5% while increasing environmental compatibility by 28%.
82 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Siemens VAI Metals Technologies for making
pig iron. The process produces pig iron directly
from coal and iron ore, which obviates coking
and sinter plants that convert coal and ore to
coke and sinter in conventional blast furnaces.
In other words, the process does away with
two stages that consume huge amounts of en-
ergy and produce emissions. The Eco-Care Ma-
trix showed the technique would improve envi-
ronmental compatibility by 30 percent and
lower costs by at least five percent.
This forecast proved accurate, which is why
Shanghai Baosteel Group, China’s second
largest multinational iron and steel manufac-
turer, put its second Corex facility into opera-
tion in March 2011. Both of its Corex units are
part of a mill in Luojing near Shanghai — and
it’s only thanks to the Corex process that the
steel giant can comply with the stringent emis-
sion limits for Shanghai. The process reduces
emissions by nearly one-third compared
with conventional blast furnaces. Nitrogen ox-
ides and dust emissions are 90 percent lower
and sulfur dioxide emissions have been cut by
97 percent — while facility operating costs
have fallen by nearly ten percent.
The Eco-Care Matrix has also proved suc-
cessful in the mining sector, where trucks used
in open-pit mining consume huge amounts of
diesel fuel and large excavators are operated
with electricity from nearby power plants. The
exhaust gases from the engines and the emis-
sions from the power plants impact the envi-
ronment, while fuel and electricity are also ma-
jor cost factors at a mine. In other words, such
locations would be ideal for an Eco-Care Analy-
sis, especially since Siemens’ Simine concept
covers solutions for trucks and excavators. Simine TR, for example, is a drive system
concept for heavy-duty dump trucks — gigan-
tic vehicles that weigh over 300 tons. A power
electronics system (IGBT technology) ensures
that a truck’s diesel-electric alternating current
(AC) motor operates optimally, which sharply
reduces transmission and shifting losses.
Analysis has shown that the system’s environ-
mental compatibility is 11.6 percent higher
than that of a reference system with a diesel
engine. Operating costs were seven percent
lower. In fact the new drive system’s hourly
fuel use was cut from 400 to 350 liters. The Eco-Care Matrix assessment for Simine
DRAG was even better. Simine DRAG is a con-
cept for gearless AC motors in dragline excava-
tors — vehicles that pull a bucket freely sus-
pended on a boom across earth or rocks in
order to extract material. The high efficiency
rating of this Siemens solution makes it 22 per-
cent more environmentally compatible than
the DC motor that serves as the reference,
while reducing electricity costs by 22 percent.
Eco-Care for Everyone. Many other products
have been identified as “green” by the Eco-Care
Matrix. Examples include efficient diesel-elec-
tric drive systems for passenger and cargo
ships and energy-optimized controls for elec-
tric filters that are used to treat exhaust gases
at industrial facilities and power plants. The
matrix has proved to be an important tool for
Industry Solutions — one that allows cus-
tomers to see not only how environmentally
friendly a solution is but also the economic
utility it offers. Wegener now wants to intro-
duce the Eco-Care Matrix throughout Siemens.
“Eco-Care’s main strength is clearly its versatili-
ty,” he says. “Whether it’s light bulbs, cars, or
steel plants — the matrix can be used for any-
thing. It can even analyze a logistics path from
A to B; there are simply no limits.” Wegener
himself ensured this would be the case. “We
could have put a trademark on Eco-Care, but
ultimately I decided against that,” he says.
“Whoever wants it can have it. In fact, many in-
terested parties from outside the company ask
me about Eco-Care, and I explain the underly-
ing concept and help them to implement the
system.” Nils Ehrenberg
Where Corex Stands
0 0.5 1
Environmentally friendly Corex solution (EU):
28% better environmental compatibility, 5% lower costs
Customer benefit
Forest land
Crop land
Grazing land
Fishing 84 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Why We Are Destroying Wealth Faster than We Can Create It
What is an Ecological Footprint?
The Ecological Footprint is an
accounting tool for tracking demands on na-
ture. It measures the amount of land and wa-
ter a person, city, country, or all of humanity
uses to provide for their consumption. We
compare this Footprint value with existing bio-
capacity — in other words, with the global or
regional “farm” consisting of crop land, fish-
eries, grassland, and forests. The results show
that we’ve been living beyond our means, so
to speak, since around the mid-1970s. Al-
though technological advances have increased
biocapacity, this expansion has been much
slower than the rise in human demand for re-
sources. We estimate that we’re now using na-
ture 50 percent faster than nature can regen-
erate. Today there are 1.8 hectares of biologically productive land for every human
being on the planet, but each one of us cur-
rently uses 2.7 global hectares on average.
You’ve said an American uses 8.0, an In-
dian citizen 0.9, and a Chinese citizen 2.2
hectares. What do these numbers mean?
If everyone on the planet had
the same consumption habits as Americans,
we would need more than four Earths. You
can do the math yourself: 8.0 global hectares
of Footprint divided by 1.8 hectares of global
biocapacity. Even if we all consumed like the
Chinese, the Earth wouldn’t be big enough to
sustain that Footprint. Indians face a dilemma
because they need relatively little, but their
country has only half the biocapacity they use.
been tested by more than 12 governments.
Our results were confirmed and are repro-
ducible. Naturally, the Footprint — like Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) — is not completely
precise. But if countries applied it as seriously
as they apply GDP, we could refine the calcula-
tions somewhat. There are supposedly 7,000
people working on GDP calculations in France.
Our organization has only eight researchers
for 200 countries. The Footprint measures just
one aspect and needs to be complemented by
other measurement parameters, such as
health, people’s satisfaction scales, and the
economic dimensions of sustainability, such as
debt and inflation.
What does it mean when people say we
now need 1.5 Earths?
Let’s take the most moderate
forecasts from the UN, which predict slow
population growth, major production gains in
agriculture, and significant decarbonization.
Even if this scenario could be achieved, we’d
still need over two Earths by 2030. It’s unreal-
istic to think we can keep overdrawing our
“Earth account” by so much for so long. If we
do, the Earth will become overtaxed, and bio-
capacity will be significantly reduced. Climate
change is only one issue here; there’s also de-
forestation, water shortages, and the loss of
arable land. The result could ultimately end up
being food scarcity, energy insecurity, and in-
stability. Life would go on, of course, as it does
in Haiti and Somalia today. But don’t we want
to live comfortably?
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 85
Are there solutions to this dilemma?
Yes, there are — and we could
fill books with them. But the real question is:
Do we actually want them? We’re sitting in a
boat with a big hole and saying. “As long as
you people in the other boats don’t fix your
holes, we’re not going to fix ours either.”
Should we define prosperity on the basis
of criteria other than material wealth?
Economic growth that’s more
rapid than nature’s ability to regenerate
amounts to exploitation and pillaging — it
makes us poorer. We’re not advocating under-
mining the economy. On the contrary, we
urge economies to focus on maintaining or
even expanding our wealth. But the fact is
that today we’re destroying wealth faster than
we can create it. We’re facing a dilemma. If we
take the 350 ppm-CO
threshold for climate
change seriously, we need to admit to our-
selves that we’re already far beyond it. We’ve
also already let the best opportunities for re-
versing the trends go by.
What do you mean by that?
If we had started taking meas-
ures back in 1972, we would probably already
be able to completely cover our energy supply
needs with renewable fuels. We could also
have reversed population growth by more
strongly promoting equal opportunities for
women around the world. We could have
made cities more compact and all houses
highly energy efficient or even carbon neutral.
How have cities and countries reacted to
your studies?
Some have gotten the mes-
sage and become proactive. The United Arab
Emirates, for example, are thinking ahead as
they are investing their oil income rather than
just spending it. Abu Dhabi even made its fi-
nancial support for Dubai contingent on the
introduction of more stringent energy efficien-
cy standards. They are also looking at the
Footprint. Others who look at our calculations
quickly get very defensive and try to fight us.
But if an engineer calculates that a bridge is
too weak and therefore needs more beams,
nobody tells him or her to be more optimistic. Describe your vision of the year 2050.
I’m an engineer, so I see opportunities. The need for more compact
cities and investment in opportunities for
women remains high. The former will lower
consumption, the latter will reverse popula-
tion growth. We could also reform the tax sys-
tem by introducing substantial, continually increasing energy taxes and use the income to promote innovation and sustainability. With the right innovations, we could all lead a marvelous life in 2050 — within nature’s
budget. This scenario would require that the
Ecological Footprint have the same standing as GDP. At present, we’re in an airplane whose
pilot has taped over the fuel gauge instead of filling up the tank. Decide for yourself just how much sense that makes. Interview by Hülya Dagli
Efficient Use of Resources | Interview
Nations’ Footprint per Capita
Global hectares per person
Global average
HDI = Human Development Index (United Nations)
Built-up areas
Land for food, textiles, wood
Carbon Footprint
worldwide biocapacity (1.8 ha/
Dr. Mathis Wackernagel,
48, is the founder and Presi-
dent of the Global Footprint
Network think tank, which is
based in Oakland, Califor-
nia, and has offices in Gene-
va and Brussels. While writ-
ing his dissertation, he
developed the idea of the
“ecological footprint” to-
gether with his thesis advi-
sor, Professor William E.
Rees. Wackernagel received
an honorary doctorate from
the University of Bern in
2007 and has been a visit-
ing professor at Cornell Uni-
versity in Ithaca, New York,
since 2011. Honors he has
received include the Skoll
Award for Social Entrepre-
neurship (2007) and the Zayed International
Prize for the
Environment (2011).
Source: Global Footprint Network 2010 National Footprint Accounts
Besides, how much biocapacity do we want to
leave for all the wild plant and animal species
on our planet? What’s your method for the calculations?
It’s simple. Let’s say George
Clooney’s coffee comes from Guatemala, the
wheat to feed the chickens he eats is from
Iowa, and the cotton for his clothes comes
from New Zealand. He uses bits and pieces of
nature all over the world. To measure his Foot-
print, we need to answer these questions:
➔ How big are the fields for growing the cof-
fee beans, cotton, and grains George Clooney
consumes? The grains include his bread and
the feed for the chickens he eats. ➔ How much forest does it take to sequester
the carbon dioxide emissions from heating
and cooling his houses, his cars, etc.? ➔ How much land does his house occupy and
what’s his share of land in streets and parks?
We convert all the figures into global hectares
and add them up — and there’s George
Clooney’s Footprint!
What do you mean by “global hectares”?
Each hectare is different. Just
consider the difference between a sparse taiga
and highly productive farmland. To make com-
parisons, we need to convert a given hectare
into a hectare with the same productivity val-
ue. It’s like a currency conversion, and in this
case our currency is the “global hectare.” It’s
the equivalent of one biologically productive
hectare with world average productivity.
What are the strengths of this concept?
It’s easy to imagine farms and
forests. You can see them, feel them, and
smell them. Discussions of sustainability are
absurd if you don’t ask, “How much nature do
we have, and how much do we use?” Too
many discussions take place in a vacuum or as
if there were no physical constraints. We
measure these constraints using about 6,000
data points per year and country that we ob-
tain from UN statistical offices. This allows us
to produce a detailed balance sheet.
And what are its weaknesses?
Of course they can be im-
proved, but our accounting methods have
Carbon footprint
Anatomy of the Ecological Footprint of an Average German Household by Major Category of Use
Ecological Footprint of households*
Built-up areas
Carbon Footprint
(i.e. forest areas
needed to sequester
the amount of CO
emitted from fossil
fuel burning) Left: The Ecological Footprint
correlates with prosperity indi-
cators such as the Human De-
velopment Index (HDI). An HDI
value of more than 0.67 indi-
cates “a high degree of human
development,” which up until
now has also meant a high
level of natural resource consumption.
Right: German household’s
Ecological Footprint includes
biologically-productive land and
water areas needed to meet
demands in five categories.
Source: Global Footprint Network 2010 National Footprint Accounts
Source: Ministry of Environment, New Zealand
* in global hectares per person
Urban Land
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 87
Efficient Use of Resources | Sustainable Development
Facilities and products from Siemens should have as little environmental impact as possible. For the last 18 years, an internal standard has laid out guidelines that developers must observe. As it turns out, what’s good for the environment is also good for the bottom line.
Standards such as SN 36350 help Siemens to make its products environmentally compatible yet effective — including CT scanners and extremely low-emission sinter plants (opposite).
nvironmental protection has played a
prominent role at Siemens for 40 years.
“There has been a central Environmental Pro-
tection office at Siemens since 1971,” says Dr.
Wolfgang Bloch, who heads the department.
Its mission is to make products as environmen-
tally compatible as possible. But what’s in-
volved in ensuring that a plant consumes as
few resources as possible, that a product does-
n’t contain any harmful substances, and that
recycling works?
The answer is provided by SN 36350, a
Siemens internal standard governing Environ-
mentally Compatible Products and Facilities.
The standard is binding for all Siemens devel-
opers. The first edition of this standard, which
was drafted back in 1993, was prompted by
the extensive debate in Germany at the time
concerning a requirement for manufacturers
and suppliers to take back old electronic de-
vices. At first, the standard was focused prima-
rily on unwanted and prohibited substances. It
soon became clear, however, that the simplest
possible design is a key factor for the success
A Benchmark for Efficiency
of any recycling effort. The fewer individual
materials and components a product contains,
the easier it is to re-use its materials. “Resource and energy efficiency has be-
come more important in recent years,” says
Bloch. The standard even served as the basis
for IEC 62430 (Environmentally Conscious De-
sign for Electrical and Electronic Products),
which was issued in 2009 by the International
Electrotechnical Commission. According to
Bloch, this standard is non-binding but reflects
the worldwide state of the art. There was noth-
ing comparable to it prior to 2009, but today
numerous companies apply the standard.
“Siemens was a pioneer in environmentally
compatible product design,” says Bloch.
SN 36350 includes principles for handling
hazardous materials and for environmentally
compatible packaging, as well as an Environ-
mental Product Declaration. Other important
elements are a 20-item list with guidelines for
environmentally compatible product design
and 12 plant-related rules — all of which take
the entire life cycle into account. According to
the standard, developers should work to en-
sure that as little waste as possible is gener-
ated and that recyclable materials or renew-
able raw materials are used. In addition,
products should be easy to repair, have a long
service life, and be easy to dismantle. Production plants should also be built using
environmentally compatible materials. They
should generate minimum noise, exhaust
gases, and waste, and be suitable for retro-
fitting. “Developers must internalize these
principles to get the most out of them,” says
Johann Russinger, Environmental Officer at
Siemens Healthcare. They must also consider a
product’s schedule, budget, quality require-
ments, and function, which is why Siemens
Healthcare has adapted SN 36350 to the spe-
cific requirements of medical devices and fully
integrated it into its development process. This systematic approach has resulted in
some remarkable success stories, such as the So-
matom Definition Flash computed tomography
(CT) scanner. On the market since 2009, it is the
only scanner with two X-ray sources and two de-
tectors. This makes the scanner particularly easy
on patients. Cardiac examinations take less than
a second, for instance. That makes it much eas-
ier to examine small children and babies because
it eliminates the need to put them under full nar-
cosis while being examined. “The previous
model, the Somatom Definition, won the
Siemens Environmental Award,” reports
Russinger. “Even we were surprised that further
improvement was possible.”
Concrete environmental objectives were de-
fined in the planning stage. For the Somatom
Definition Flash, these objectives concerned the
radiation dose, energy consumption, and haz-
ardous substances. For instance, the new model
was designed to use considerably less lead than
its predecessor. The scanner’s development
team met all three objectives. Radiation dose for
a cardiac examination, for instance, was reduced
by 70 percent. A number of tricks were used to
accomplish this. For one thing, the body is
scanned very quickly. The dual X-ray sources,
which can even be operated with different spec-
model. Developers couldn’t completely eliminate
the lead shielding because the heavy metal is
needed to protect patients against unnecessary
X-ray radiation. They did, however, succeed in re-
ducing some of the lead in the X-ray shield by us-
ing bronze instead, lowering the lead content
from 5.26 to 1.45 kilograms. Recycling is also crucial. “Ninety-seven per-
cent of the materials can be re-used,” says
Russinger. To make it easier to cleanly separate
them, the materials are recorded and plastic
parts are precisely marked. Up to 60 percent of
the materials are re-used in new devices.
Russinger admits such environmental factors
don’t play a decisive role in customers’ decisions;
after all, the most important thing in medicine is
a good diagnosis. “But these aspects are becom-
ing more important. With
two otherwise equivalent
devices, energy consump-
tion can affect decisions,” he
says. Lower resource use can
also be advantageous in
terms of transport costs and
space requirements.
Cutting Emissions by 90 Percent. Well-
planned environmental protection measures
also deliver economic advantages. Take the new
exhaust gas treatment technology from Siemens
VAI Metals Technologies in Linz, Austria, for ex-
ample. Together with voestalpine Stahl, a team
led by Dr. Alexander Fleischanderl at Siemens In-
dustry Solutions succeeded in reducing harmful
emissions from a sinter plant by more than 90
percent, while also saving energy, an achieve-
ment that was honored with the 2011 Siemens
Environmental Award. Sinter plants are an important component of
steel mills. This is where finely-ground iron ore is
burned and melted into larger chunks — sin-
tered, as experts say — before it’s fed into a blast
furnace. The exhaust gas of a sinter plant con-
tains numerous pollutants: sulfur dioxide, oxides
of nitrogen, particulates, heavy metals, and or-
ganic compounds. To reduce these emissions,
developers combined two groundbreaking tech-
nologies in 2005.
First, they used exhaust gas recirculation to
reduce the volume of exhaust gas by as much as
40 percent. The hottest portion of the exhaust
gas is returned to the plant. Carbon monoxide
and other pollutants in the exhaust gas, such as
dioxins, are combusted during the second pass
through the plant, and some of the sulfur diox-
ide and particulates are bound in the sinter layer.
Exhaust gas recirculation also helps to save en-
ergy because the exhaust gas is already hot and
doesn’t have to be preheated with air as usual. It
also reduces the amount of exhaust gas, which
subsequently needs to be made free of the re-
maining pollutants in a special reactor.
Developers opted for “dry processes,” which,
unlike conventional gas cleaning processes, re-
quire no water. This approach not only reduces
energy consumption; it also cleans the exhaust
gas more effectively because it combines multi-
ple process steps, including filtration, adsorp-
tion, and particulate recirculation. “Emissions are
lower by a factor of ten compared to wet
processes,” reports Robert Neuhold, a product
life cycle manager at Siemens VAI. Environmental protection measures pay off
for customers. An analysis was performed using
the Eco-Care Matrix, a new tool for product-re-
lated environmental protection that considers
economic and environmental factors (see p. 81).
The findings show that for a plant producing 2.8
million metric tons of sinter annually, energy
86 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
trums, greatly improve image quality without in-
creasing radiation dose. And the scanner is ECG-
triggered, which means it records its images dur-
ing precisely those fractions of a second in which
the heart is barely moving. The radiation dose is
also intelligently regulated. Sensitive areas such
as the thyroid and the female breast aren’t ex-
posed to any direct radiation, and improved
analysis software further reduces the dose.
Energy consumption dropped in conjunction
with the reduced dose. Depending on the type
of examination, the scanner uses between 45
and 85 percent less energy than the previous
costs are reduced by €5 million per year com-
pared to the figure for conventional exhaust gas
treatment technology.
Bloch and his colleagues are constantly work-
ing to refine the SN 36350 standard. “We are
now in the process of integrating the guidelines
laid out in the standard into the project manage-
ment process,” he says. In addition, Web-based
training will be made available to Siemens devel-
opers in the future — to ensure that environ-
mental protection becomes as integrated in their
mindsets as cost efficiency and quality manage-
ment.Ute Kehse
The Somatom Definition Flash uses up to 85 percent less energy than the
previous model and reduces radiation.
resulting materials are treated in four different
ways: ➔ Reuse: Certain components can be reused
for the same purpose without any treatment.
For example, the reuse of computer chips in
the aerospace industry.
Alternate usage: Similar to reuse, except the
component is used for a different purpose,
such as using PC microchips in aircraft. ➔
Recycling for similar usage: In this process,
the product is broken down to create a granu-
late that serves as the starting material for a
similar product. ➔
Recycling for alternate usage: This, the most
common of the four variants, involves break-
ing down components into their constituent
raw materials, which are then used to make
simpler products such as park benches or road
surfaces. New York City has come up with a fifth
form of recycling. As a popular YouTube video
shows, decommissioned subway trains are de-
posited in the ocean off the Virginia coast,
where they serve as artificial reefs that are col-
onized by corals and fish. Bernd Müller
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 89
Efficient Use of Resources | Recycling Trains
A growing proportion of the materials in today’s trains can be recycled. In view of this, Siemens is pioneering a guideline that would make calculation of recycling rates and processes more transparent. High levels of recycling help to cut costs, save resources, and protect the environment. At Siemens Mobility’s production center in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Walter Struckl (facing page, far
right) focuses on making long-distance trains and subways as easy to recycle as possible. A
t Siemens Mobility in Vienna, Austria, a
huge assembly hall is filled with a maze of
half-finished trains and parts for installation in
rail vehicles. The components include the
mask of a train cab for the Austrian state rail-
way company that consists of a plastic wall
sandwiched together with a fiber-insulated
panel and aluminum foil. “Having to deal with
different materials that are almost impossible
to separate is every recycler’s nightmare,” says
Dr. Walter Struckl, an expert for environmen-
tally compatible product development. Al-
though Siemens keeps this recycling factor in
mind when designing new products, older pro-
duction series require more work. Just a few meters farther along in the hall,
Struckl shows there is a better way to do
things. Here, a frame holds an automated peo-
ple mover destined for the city of Uijeongbu in
South Korea. The train’s aluminum frame is
held together by high-strength hexagonal
socket head screws that can be easily unfas-
tened (picture on facing page), and panels de-
signed to dampen vibrations are simply insert-
ed between the frame and the housing. Fast Track to a Second Life
Recycling and energy efficiency are the key
issues now facing the rail industry. When call-
ing for bids for new subways or trams, cus-
tomers want suppliers to provide a disposal
concept listing all materials used and submit
concepts for their reuse. But Siemens is going
a step further, providing interested customers
with a disposal handbook that explains step by
step how a train is disassembled, from drain-
ing various fluids, including brake fluid, to
shredding plastic parts. Siemens does this be-
cause it doesn’t recycle its trains itself, a job
handled by specialized companies commis-
sioned by vehicle owners. A great example of this recycling concept is
the Oslo Metro, which is probably the world’s
most resource-conserving rail system. Many of
the metals in the city’s rail vehicles have al-
ready been recycled at least once. Siemens
first described the recycling phase in a concept
description. The resulting information has
since become a part of the customer’s mainte-
nance documentation. Unlike the automotive industry, which ben-
efits from the ISO 22628 recycling standard,
the rail industry didn’t get on the recycling
bandwagon until a few years ago. What’s been
lacking so far, though, is a guideline that de-
fines a binding method for calculating the re-
cycling rate, and mandatory recycling process-
es for the entire sector. This is why Siemens has initiated the cre-
ation of a uniform recycling guideline at the
Association of the European Rail Industry
(UNIFE) in Brussels. The association’s 73 full
members, which include Siemens, Bombardier
and other major competitors, have a combined
market share of 80 percent. These companies
want to make technological recommendations
later this year that would then serve as the ba-
sis for a European guideline as soon as the In-
ternational Union of Railways (UIC) gives its
approval next year. Such a guideline might one
day also serve as a possible standard for other
means of public transportation such as ships
and planes.
Recycling Champion. According to Siemens,
the Oslo Metro has a record recycling rate of
just under 95 percent. About 85 percent of the
materials used are recycled by means of cost-
efficient processes; a further ten percent is in-
cinerated. But the recycling rate might be a lot
higher when one of today’s trains is scrapped
in about 40 years, if higher prices for raw ma-
terials make it more worthwhile to reuse re-
sources. The recycling rate would probably
also be higher for a comparable rail system in
Japan, which has meticulously recycled even
individual screws since suffering extreme re-
source scarcity during World War II. In principle, the recycling rate can be as
high as desired. The crucial thing, however, is
for recycling to be cost effective. Recycling
rates might even drop at first after the new
guideline is introduced because it would no
longer leave room for different interpretations
of recycling, thus preventing companies from
artificially inflating their rates. “The new guide-
line will give us a competitive edge because
our calculations are already realistic,” says
Struckl. In fact, almost none of Siemens’ com-
Ille, the team leader for interior fittings at the
Vienna plant, explains the possibilities of recy-
cling-compatible design. He points to a block
that serves as the pattern for the floor of the
new subway trains that will go into service in
Munich in 2013. A three-centimeter-thick cork
board extends along the entire length of the
train (18 meters), to dampen noise from foot-
steps. Aluminum foil is glued to the top and
bottom of the board. On top of the foil is glued
a rubber floor sporting blue spots. When the
floor is disassembled, the glued-on layers can
be pulled off like a skin. Ille’s department and
BMW Designworks, a California-based think
tank associated with German automaker BMW,
jointly came up with the idea of using renew-
able raw materials like cork. Creativity Needed. The new Inspiro platform
(see p. 20) contains many ideas for making re-
cycling easy and achieving a recycling rate
even higher than that of the Oslo Metro. But
Fortunately, recycling and low CO
sions aren’t mutually exclusive, because a train
that is easy to disassemble is usually also easy
to put together. An example is the body of the
people mover for Uijeongbu. Easy recyclability
cuts CO
emissions and labor costs during con-
struction and disassembly. And recycling earns
the company carbon credits because green-
house gas emissions are reduced if new raw
materials don’t have to be produced or if non-
recyclable materials, including some plastics,
are burned to generate energy. The Oslo Metro
uses steel containing 40 percent recycled ma-
terial; aluminum parts consist of 60 percent re-
cycled material. These recycled metals proba-
bly aren’t from decommissioned trains, but
rather from many different industrial products,
which is why most Oslo trains will never wind
up in Siemens’ Vienna plant. Recycling 101. Decommissioned trains are
usually recycled by specialized companies. The
88 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
petitors has made as much progress in recy-
cling — no matter what their advertising
brochures say. Even the new guideline won’t be able to
predict what will happen over the next 40
years. Some materials now considered non-
hazardous could someday be banned, for in-
stance, making them no longer recyclable. An
example is asbestos, a health hazard that was
once considered perfectly safe and recyclable.
The main regulations banning the use of cer-
tain materials are the EU’s REACH chemicals di-
rective and the RoHS directive governing use
of heavy metals in electronic components. That’s why it is crucial for product designers
to aim for the highest possible recycling rate,
even as early as the development stage. Ernst
the challenge is more formidable if a customer
substantially changes a platform. This hap-
pened with the city of Munich, for example,
which ordered trains containing Inspiro fea-
tures but assembled according to very specific
requirements drawn up by its own designer.
“In such situations, to achieve the best results
you have to work with the customer to deter-
mine the recycling possibilities early on,” ex-
plains Ille. Sometimes designers
even face a conflict of inter-
ests, since “saving weight is
more important than recycla-
bility,” says Ille. That’s be-
cause most CO
is emitted
during operation, and can
therefore be best cut if the vehicle’s weight is
reduced. For example, the front mask for the
cab mentioned at the beginning of this article
would be much easier to recycle if it were
made of steel instead of the fibrous composite
material actually used. But a steel mask would
be several kilograms heavier, resulting in high-
er energy use during operation. About 85 percent of an Oslo Metro
train can be recycled; another ten
percent is burned to produce energy. nents,” says Gotschy. By contrast, the creation
of a virtual product depiction — including all
the reflections, mirroring, and material proper-
ties — takes no more than two days. “Of
course, we’ll continue to need real-life models,
but we can now reduce the amount of time re-
quired during the product creation process by
one-third, and in some project phases by as
much as two-thirds,” Gotschy says. BSH developers face yet another challenge,
however. “We will need to use more alternative
materials, recyclates, and new materials made
from renewable resources in the future,” says
Walfort. This makes sense, as such an ap-
proach also forms a key part of BSH’s strategy
for continually enhancing the environmental
compatibility of household appliances, and
minimizing demand for limited natural re-
sources.Nikola Wohllaib
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 91
Efficient Use of Resources | Household Appliances
Washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and ranges made by BSH Bosch und Siemens
Hausgeräte GmbH — Europe’s leading household appliance manufacturer — are true energy-saving
champions. Material efficiency plays a key role in the development of such devices. Under the direction of Robert Gotschy (shown with 3D glasses), BSH’s virtual reality
lab develops and optimizes appliances such as
fully automated coffee machines. Energy-Saving Champions T
he list of energy-saving innovations from
BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH
is long. One such innovation is a dishwasher
equipped with Zeolith drying technology that
was introduced in 2009. The appliance uses
zeolite, a natural silicate, to absorb moisture,
while at the same time emitting heat to sup-
port the dishwasher’s drying system (see Pic-
tures of the Future,Spring 2010, p. 80). The
new material thus helps to reduce energy and
water use. “With devices designed to save sig-
nificant amounts of energy, it’s very important
to combine technologies, components, and
materials in such a way that highly efficient ap-
pliances remain affordable,” says Rudolf Wal-
fort, Director of Central Technology at BSH. The company offers appliances in every
product category that bear European Union
energy labels for the new efficiency classes of
A+, A++, and A+++. An A+++ refrigerator-
freezer, for instance, is 60 percent more effi-
cient than an A unit. BSH has established a “su-
per efficiency portfolio” for its energy-saving
champions, and this portfolio now accounts
for one out of every four household appliances
sold by BSH in Europe. “The super efficiency portfolio appliances
we sold in Europe in 2010 have cut electricity
consumption by some 1.9 billion kilowatt-
hours as calculated in terms of the average
lifespan of the devices and in comparison with
the market standard from the same year,” says
Walfort. That figure corresponds to the aver-
age annual electricity consumption of 500,000
German households. Environmental Protection Guidelines. This
success derives from the environmental impact
monitoring system developed by BSH, which
has served as a stringent guideline for every
one of its newly developed products since
1996. In line with this system, designers exam-
ine the entire lifecycle of a product series in
terms of its effect on the environment — start-
ing with production and extending all the way
through to use and disposal. The questions
they ask include: What will a product’s lifetime
energy and water consumption be? Are a prod-
uct’s materials environmentally sound and re-
cyclable? Can material savings be achieved?
“Regardless of what we look at, our goal is to
always make our new products better than
their predecessors,” says Dr. Arno Ruminy from
BSH’s Environmental Protection unit. Today, up to 95 percent of an appliance’s
total environmental impact is caused by the
consumer’s use of the product — for example,
90 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Lightweight design has also made its way
into ovens, whose interiors now weigh half as
much as they did ten years ago, thanks to thin-
ner sheet metals and special stiffening tech-
nologies. Along with materials selection, intel-
ligent electronics also plays a key role in
energy efficiency. Electronic controls in wash-
ing machines and dishwashers, for example,
determine how water should be distributed in
order to minimize the amount of detergent
used and the number of washing cycles. Development in 3D. BSH designers utilize
simulations to optimize their appliances. Since
the beginning of 2011, they’ve also been able
to conduct experiments at a fully equipped vir-
tual reality (VR) lab in the German state of
Bavaria. The facility’s demonstration room
houses two powerful projectors that display
stereo images on a surface with an area of
nearly 11 square meters. The images are gen-
erated with the help of design data for appli-
cepts for energy and materials savings can be
implemented in real-life even before stamping
tools are manufactured. “Right now, we use these virtual methods
for only about ten percent of our technical
product development work,” says Robert
Gotschy, Head of BSH’s Virtual Reality Program.
They are used mostly to help engineers make
better decisions concerning product design,
operation, and the choice of materials during
early project phases. A second lab that focuses
on product design is located at BSH headquar-
ters in Munich, Germany. The overriding objective for Gotschy is to
save time and get new products to market
more quickly. The virtual approach also offers
another benefit: As it normally takes up to four
weeks to go from a design idea to a finished
model that will no longer be altered, model de-
velopment requires much less material. “Here,
we use silicones, plastic foams, artificial wood,
resins, paint, metal, and electronic compo-
through the use of energy, water, and deter-
gents (see Pictures of the Future,Spring 2009,
p. 32). This figure has been reduced to 81 per-
cent with products from the super-efficiency
portfolio. “We don’t believe we will be able to
duplicate such major energy-saving advances
for the active-use phase in the future, how-
ever,” says Ruminy. “That’s why our develop-
ment focus will shift more and more to re-
source efficiency.” One measure here involves using special
concrete rather than iron for balance control in
washing machines. “It costs less and is more
environmentally friendly,” says Ruminy. In ad-
dition, the containers that hold dishwashing
soap are now made of polypropylene, which
unlike steel can be formed into an optimal
shape that ensures less detergent residue re-
mains in the machines. ances such as stoves. The interiors of the appli-
ances are also projected onto the floor with
mirrors. Special 3D glasses allow development
engineers like VR Laboratory Director Franz
Perschl to move virtually through the oversized
depiction of a range, for example. Developers are currently simulating the
mounting of a baking sheet. “We want to see if
we can reduce fastener thickness from 0.8 to
0.6 millimeters or perhaps optimize the fas-
tener by changing its geometrical shape,” Per-
schl explains. Engineers use this procedure to
estimate whether thin sheet metal meets all
relevant stability criteria. “Until we opened this facility, we were un-
able to see such things in advance. Instead, we
had to order testing tools and build proto-
types,” Perschl reports. The virtual reality lab
makes it possible to determine whether con-
face. Water source heat pumps use the heat of
the groundwater, whereas air source heat
pumps draw their energy from ambient air. Air source heat pumps are easy to install,
since they require only a heat exchanger for
ambient air. This makes them inexpensive, but
also less effective because the outside temper-
ature can drop severely in winter. Groundwater
and ground source heat pumps require larger
investments, but also deliver more heat for the
same electrical input. “In our studies, ground
source heat pumps achieved an average an-
nual COP of 3.9,” reports Marek Miara of the
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems
in Freiburg, Germany. “Air source heat pumps
achieved just 2.9.” According to the German Environment
Agency, heat pumps must have a coefficient of
performance of three or higher before they re-
duce the level of CO
emissions relative to gas
condensing boilers given the current electricity
mix in Germany. This effect becomes more
pronounced as the share of renewable ener-
gies increases. In a study for Germany’s Federal
Heat Pump Association (BWP), the Technical
University of Munich concluded that by 2030
heat pumps with an annual COP of 3.0 could
reduce primary energy consumption by
around 40 percent compared with conven-
tional systems such as gas condensing boilers.
With an annual COP of 4.5, the expected sav-
ings would reach 60 percent.
By running a heat pump, users are not only
doing something for the environment, they are
also saving cash. Although the investment
costs for a heat pump can be several thousand
euros higher than those for a conventional gas
condensing boiler, the investment is recouped
after ten to 20 years. In some cases investors
get their money back even faster. Five years
ago, Siemens installed two heat pumps at its
Munich-Neuperlach research facility. The
pumps use heated cooling water with a tem-
perature between 14 and 17 degrees Celsius
as an energy source. “The savings enabled us
to recover our costs after just one year,” says
Thomas Braun of Siemens Real Estate. “Today
the two heat pumps deliver one-fourth of the
heating needs of 30 buildings in which as
many as 10,000 people work.”
To get an idea of the future prospects for
the widespread use of heat pumps, you need
only look to Switzerland, where heat pumps al-
ready have a market share of around 90 per-
cent for new single-family homes. Thanks to a
large amount of hydro and nuclear power, the
Swiss electricity mix is very low in CO
2 with
emissions of just 127 grams per kilowatt hour
(g/kWh) as compared to 563 g/kWh in Ger-
many. As a result, heat pump heating systems
there are already producing heat in a highly ef-
ficient manner.Christian Buck
The gas is now so hot that it can transfer
energy to a building’s heating system or hot
water system via a heat exchanger. The gas
cools and condenses as this happens. The re-
sulting liquid is then forced through an expan-
sion valve to reduce the pressure before flow-
ing back to the heat reservoir. Here, it
evaporates again and the cycle begins anew.
The heat reservoir — in this case the ground —
has given up energy through all of this activity;
but it is so large that there is no noticeable de-
crease in temperature.
Heat pumps are economically and environ-
mentally attractive because they require only a
small amount of energy to drive a compressor.
However, thanks to the input from the ground,
they generate a large amount of heat. Theoret-
ically, heat pumps can deliver more than four
kilowatt-hours (kWh) of heat from just one
kWh of electrical energy. How well a unit
works in practice is indicated by its annual co-
efficient of performance (COP). This is the ratio
of heat gained to the electricity used over one
Heat Pumps Extract Heat from the Ground Ground warms cold water flow-
ing through horizontal or vertical
Heat pump extracts heat from
the water and compresses the gas in
order to make it hotter. Heat is stored and is available for
heating and hot water production.
Geothermal heat is extracted using either large horizon-
tal loops close to the surface or a vertical loop located much deeper
Horiz. loop
Depth 80–160 cm
Temperature approx. 10 °C
Power outlet
1 kWh of electricity helps
deliver 3–5 kWh of heat
Heat pump
Hot water
Underfloor heating
Water connection
Vertical loop
Depth 100 m
Temperature approx. 13 °C
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 93
Efficient Use of Resources | Heat Pumps
year. The higher the COP, the more efficient
the system.
“The temperature of the heat reservoir
should be high and the inlet temperature of
the heating system — the temperature at
which the hot water flows into the system —
should be as low as possible,” explains Rein-
hard Imhasly of Siemens Building Technologies
in Zug, Switzerland. “Because underfloor heat-
ing systems require an inlet temperature of
just 35 degrees Celsius, they are better suited
for heat pumps than conventional radiators,
which today still need at least 50 degrees.”
A low inlet temperature also requires good
insulation, however, which is why heat pumps
are particularly effective in modern low-energy
and passive houses. It’s no wonder, then, that
the market share of such systems in new hous-
ing in Germany has increased substantially
from less than one percent in 2000 to around
23 percent in 2010. Heat pumps can also be
used in older buildings if these are thoroughly
modernized first. “However, it doesn’t make
any sense to simply replace an oil heating sys-
tem with a heat pump while leaving every-
thing else as it is,” warns Imhasly. The market
share of heat pumps in renovation projects is
six percent. Last year, some 51,000 heat
pumps were installed in Germany, pushing
their total to about 400,000.
Proper Sizing. “Demand-based control of the
heating system using temperature sensors in
every room, for instance, is also important.
Siemens offers the right products for all types
of buildings,” says Imhasly. A key consideration
during planning is to ensure that the unit is
properly sized. If it is underpowered, the user
must also heat by some other means. But if its
output is too high, the heat pump constantly
switches on and off, which reduces efficiency.
The best models allow their output to be ad-
justed to match heating demand.
The key to achieving an ideal COP is the
heat source. Heat pumps can not only extract
heat from the ground, but also from ground-
water and air. Ground source heat pumps use
either a vertical loop — at a depth of 100 me-
ters on average — or a horizontal loop, which
is laid one-and-a-half meters below the sur-
A heat pump like this one generates enough
heat for several buildings at Siemens. E
nergy sources can sometimes be found
slumbering in the most unexpected places.
Just below the surface of the Earth, for in-
stance. There, at a depth of ten meters or
more, a relatively constant temperature pre-
vails year round. In Germany, this temperature
is around ten degrees Celsius — an enormous
reservoir of heat energy just waiting to be
How can a starting temperature of just ten
degrees Celsius be used to heat a house to 20
degrees? That’s where heat pumps come into
play. Circulating within a heat pump is a
medium with a very low boiling point. This is
generally a fluorinated hydrocarbon that evap-
orates between -47 and -26 degrees Celsius
and extracts energy from a heat reservoir in
the process. A compressor compresses the gas,
thus heating it to a substantially higher tem-
perature. Essentially, it “pumps” the heat en-
ergy from the ground to a higher level.
92 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Wind Swords: Fighting for a Longer Life
In the current decade the cost of wind power in many areas is expected to fall below that of electricity
generated from coal. Achieving this ambitious goal depends on many factors, including two technologi-
cal advances: a substantial gain in the energy yield from future wind power plants and lower manufac-
turing costs. Both represent a major challenge for the materials and production experts in the power
generation industry. A new generation of rotor blades is therefore scheduled to enter large-scale production in the U.S. at the
Siemens Wind Power business segment in 2012. Based on so-called ATB (Aeroelastic Tailored Blade)
technology, the blades are gently curved like an Arabian scimitar. The curvature means that when a
blade bends, it also twists. And thanks to advanced modeling methods, this twisting can be designed so
as to reduce the load on the blade. This property represents a major advance compared with today’s
rigid blades. Wind turbines on the high seas may be subject to air masses of more than 100 metric tons
per second, arriving from different directions. But thanks to their elastic properties, the new blades will
be able to accommodate such conditions much better than conventional rotors. As a result, fatigue loads
will decrease and service life will increase. Using this new blade form, larger rotors that produce more energy can be designed without any signifi-
cant increase in aerodynamic load. “Our new rotor blade is 53 meters long. That’s four meters more than
its predecessor, which means a five percent increase in energy yield,” explains Henrik Stiesdal, Chief
Technical Officer at Siemens Wind Power. One of Stiesdal’s top priorities regarding the design of the new
rotors was to reduce the amount of materials required, so as to cut weight and minimize wind load on
the blade. “Compared to its predecessor, the new rotor blade is not only longer but also up to 500 kilo-
grams lighter, depending on final material selection,” he explains. The engineers’ biggest challenge here was to ensure that the new blade retained the necessary strength,
despite the reduction in materials and weight. “It took us some time and effort to develop a process with
which to calculate blade strength in all possible wind conditions. Once we had achieved this feat we
were able to optimize the rotor design,” says Stiesdal. The improvement in aerodynamic properties was
possible largely thanks to computer-based enhancement of the exterior shape of the rotor blades and a
large number of tests under real-life conditions.
At the same time, improvements are also being made to the manufacturing process. The entire process
of laying out and shaping the many layers of fiberglass and then adding resin is still done by hand, and
the whole mixture is cured in huge molds that resemble sandboxes. It is hoped that it will be possible to
increasingly automate this process in the future. The goal is to reduce production costs per blade by 40
percent. This will make the plants cheaper, thus ultimately cutting the kilowatt-hour cost of wind power. In addition, wind experts are taking a closer look at the issue of recycling, which will become relevant in
about five years. At present, the number of wind power plants being built worldwide is still greater than
the number of plants being dismantled. “One option might be to shred the blades and use the granulate
as an additive for concrete,” suggests Stiesdal. ReFiber, a Danish company that works closely with
Siemens Wind Power, has developed a pyrolytic process, in which rotor blades are first broken into large
pieces and subsequently decomposed in a thermochemical reaction at a temperature of 700 degrees
Celsius. This produces a gas, which can be combusted for heating purposes. All that remains is fiber-
glass, which can be used as insulation for buildings. Use of new, plant-based materials is also on the agenda. “We’re working with universities in Denmark
and the U.S. to investigate whether the wind turbine blades of the future could be genuinely green. For
example, they could be based on fiber-composite materials made of plant fibers and held together with
bio-resins made of vegetable oils,” says Stiesdal. However, he doesn’t expect to see such rotor blades for
another ten years or so. But when such blades do appear on the scene, wind plants will have truly
earned their title as the green giants of the power industry. Nikola Wohllaib
The gentle curvatures of the latest rotor blades for wind power
generation reduce stress and increase blade service life. This is
particularly important for offshore facilities, where repairs are
about ten times as expensive as for onshore installations. Tapping the Earth Take heat from the surroundings, add a dash of electricity, and combine the ingredients in a heat pump. This is the recipe for providing heat and hot water to houses without generating CO
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 95
Efficient Use of Resources | Virtual Production
Whether its high-speed trains, racing cars or electronic components — advanced simulation technologies minimize development times, reduce costs, and save energy and resources. Software for product lifecycle management from Siemens has a key role to play in this area. Many customers are reaping the benefits of PLM software, including a plant in Amberg and the Red
Bull Racing Formula 1 team . Opposite: An example of Mechatronics Concept Designer. Race to the Real World
With Tecnomatix, process design, layout plan-
ning and capacity analyses can all be carried
out with the best possible coordination. Plan-
ners can work out different production ver-
sions, which they can compare based on
known parameters. In addition, they can calcu-
late associated costs down to the smallest de-
tail. What’s more, they can do all this at an
early stage of the concept planning phase. The
development time for a new product can thus
be shortened, subsequent changes avoided,
and the coordination of development and pro-
duction improved overall. Faster to Market. The secret to this success is
a single, common database that is accessed by
not just planners, but also developers. “To im-
prove this process still further, we’re going to
integrate all of the data into the Teamcenter
PLM solution, which manages the entire prod-
uct lifecycle digitally,” says Biersack. Teamcen-
ter, the core system of a family of Siemens ap-
plications for PLM, is a suite of tools that has
earned the company a leading position in this
market worldwide. The solution brings to-
gether all of the product-related information
olutions from the Siemens electronics
plant in Amberg, Germany, are used in
everything from the roller-coasters at Munich’s
Oktoberfest to automotive factories. In fact,
such solutions have a role to play anywhere
that movements and sequences of steps are
produced and controlled electrically. Alto-
gether, roughly 2,500 workers in the eastern
Bavarian town of Amberg make electro-
mechanical devices for industrial production
engineering. The variety of products they man-
ufacture has increased considerably in recent
years — with major consequences for associ-
ated production processes. “Orders have to be
fulfilled more quickly,” says Peter Biersack, who
heads Manufacturing and Test Planning.
“What’s more, because the number of models
is growing rapidly, the complexity of produc-
tion workflows is increasing as well.” For example, the standard range of switch-
ing devices comprises 40,000 products. So in
order to set up production systems efficiently
and at the lowest cost, engineers at the Am-
berg plant plan the production process digi-
tally from start to finish with Tecnomatix, a
product lifecycle management (PLM) solution.
generated during the lifecycle of a product —
from planning, development, and production
to sales, service, and maintenance. Data sources include design programs, en-
terprise resource planning systems for corpo-
rate management, and even “Office” applica-
tions used to create manuals and marketing
documents. The across-the-board integration
of data achieved by Teamcenter software
brings with it huge benefits because the time
required to develop a market-ready product
can be cut considerably, which not only leads
to a competitive advantage but also reduces
costs and the amount of energy and resources
needed. The software can also be used to iden-
tify a product’s potential effects on the envi-
ronment. In the development and construction of rail
vehicles, the challenge is certainly not in the
large number of product versions, as in the
Amberg electronics plant. But here too, cus-
tomers are asking for ever shorter delivery
times, despite simultaneous increases in qual-
ity standards and technical complexity. In the
case of trains too, development and produc-
tion must therefore mostly be conducted in
94 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Thanks to the Mechatronics Concept De-
signer, users can develop design concepts for
machines in an extremely realistic environ-
ment. The program simulates machine behav-
ior in real time in a three-dimensional model,
allowing a developer to interact with a dy-
namic simulation as
though playing a com-
puter game. Once created,
the objects can be de-
posited in a library, com-
plete with all their mecha-
tronic data. Such a library
might contain information
on, for example, grippers, movement paths,
sensors and motors. The process cuts develop-
ment time by up to 20 percent and improves
the quality of results.
Technology for World Champions.There
are now about 6.7 million licensed users of
parallel. “That takes a lot of effort to coordi-
nate,” says Reinhard Belker, who heads the En-
gineering department at Siemens’ Mobility
production plant in Krefeld, Germany. Here as well, the company therefore relies
on across-the-board virtual product develop-
ment that encompasses the entire life cycle of
a train (Pictures of the Future, Fall 2007, p.
30). Since everyone involved in the develop-
ment of a product — even specialists from
other locations — accesses the same up-to-
date database, participants can be integrated
more effectively into the design and construc-
tion process. In addition, virtual reality tech-
niques are used for collaborative efforts that
take place in Krefeld, Munich, Vienna, Prague,
and Moscow. As a result, it is possible to create
computer-generated true-to-scale 3D develop-
ment models that can then be viewed and dis-
cussed by all the participants. These models
are generated by “Teamcenter Visualization”
PLM software from Siemens that provides a re-
alistic representation of 3D data.
One of the tools from the Siemens PLM
Software toolbox is the Mechatronics Concept
Designer, parts of which were developed by
Siemens Corporate Technology in Princeton,
New Jersey. This application, which is currently
unique on the market, makes the planning of
machine tools faster and easier, because their
functions can be simulated early on in the de-
velopment process. The tool is remarkable in
part because it uses physics-engine technology
created by NVIDIA, a leading visual computing
company. This technology is used in video
games to simulate complex physical processes.
It thus helps to portray realistic 3D environ-
ments, such as explosions that stir up dust,
and characters with complex geometry and re-
alistic joints for true-to-life movements. Siemens PLM software working in a variety of
fields worldwide. Among them is the Red Bull
Racing Formula 1 team. After all, products are
developed, modified, and manufactured faster
in Formula 1 than anywhere else. Ever since its
first Formula 1 season in 2005, Red Bull Racing
has relied on Teamcenter as well as NX, a solu-
tion that can be used to interactively develop
extremely sophisticated products and, at the
same time, intelligently control the manufac-
turing processes. Every day, around 180 engineers at Red Bull
Racing give their all to make the cars of drivers
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber that deci-
sive bit faster. “We work with 15 main modules
and around 4,000 components,” says Steve
Nevey, head of Business Development and
Chief Technical Director at Red Bull Racing.
“The key thing is that our engineers and tech-
application indicates that the car needs more
ground pressure for the Monaco Grand Prix, for
example, this information is immediately
passed on to the NX developers, who can then
adjust the design of the front wing accord-
ingly. Engineers can thus tailor race cars to the
individual conditions of any particular race
track. Then, just by clicking a mouse, they can
have new parts cut and pressed right immedi-
ately. No data has to be entered by hand or
transferred into other IT systems. Within a few
hours, the parts can be manufactured and fit-
ted to the car. At Red Bull Racing, the PLM solution has
played an important role in the team’s succes.
In the 2010 season, the British team won the
Formula 1 Championship title in both the dri-
ver’s and constructor’s ratings.
Gitta Rohling
nicians access the same, up-to-date data, and
that the designers notice as quickly as possible
when something has been changed,” says
Nevey. If, for example, the nose of a racing car
is shifted, all the relevant variables are ad-
justed automatically. “As a result, we can
quickly try out different design ideas and also
test how individual components react to fac-
tors such as heat or vibration,” says Neil Dun-
smuir, Marketing Manager for Europe, the Mid-
dle East, and Africa at Siemens PLM Software. To prepare racing cars for a track, there is a
special application for track simulation. If this
There are now roughly 6.7 million
licensed users of PLM software — including Red Bull Racing.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 97
Efficient Use of Resources | Combined Cycle Gas Turbines
Siemens’ newest combined cycle power plant converts up to 60.75 percent of the energy contained in natural gas into electricity — a world record. It can be started up and shut down in approximately 30 minutes, which is necessary to compensate for fluctuating infeeds from renewable sources. The SGT5-8000H gas turbine is the product of many years of development. Opposite: The 60-hertz
model for use in Florida. Large image: Celebrating the
trial run of the U.S. turbine in Berlin.
Record-Setting Power Plant
istory was made in a power plant in May
2011. The plant houses a turbine that has
been entered in the Guinness World Records
and recognized with numerous environmental
and innovation awards. The combined cycle
gas turbine — the world’s largest and most ef-
ficient system of its kind — is the centerpiece
of the Irsching Block 4 power plant in Ger-
many. Measuring 13 meters, and weighing
444 metric tons, the turbine, following years
of testing, entered commercial service at E.ON,
a power company, on July 22, 2011. The plant, which has an output of 375
megawatts (MW), achieves an efficiency of 40
percent. In combination with a steam turbine
and a heat recovery steam generator, which
was specially developed by Siemens, the plant
posted a world-record efficiency of 60.75 per-
cent with a net output of 578 MW — more
than originally planned. The power plant is
thus capable of supplying enough electricity
for a city the size of Berlin, with its 3.4 million
inhabitants. Compared to power plants that
had previously been considered the most ad-
vanced, the plant is 2.0 percent more efficient,
thus saving about 43,000 metric tons of CO
per year — equivalent to the emissions of
some 10,000 mid-size cars traveling 20,000
km. And in comparison to the global average
for the installed fleet of combined cycle power
plants, the new plant uses one third less natu-
ral gas and expels one third less CO
per kilo-
watt hour generated. The speed with which the gas turbine can
be started up and shut down is also un-
matched. After being shut down for several
hours, the unit can be brought up to full power
in approximately 30 minutes. This flexibility is
the combined cycle power plant’s second
trump card alongside its environmental com-
patibility. Willibald Fischer, product manager
for the gas turbine, says that “with renewable
power generating facilities, which are now
coming online in increasing numbers, a cloud
or a slight lull in the wind is enough to cause
fluctuations in the grid. Such fluctuations will
have to be offset very quickly in the future, by
using combined cycle power plants as a
backup solution, for example. And quick
startup is necessary to prevent them from hav-
ing to idle continuously while on standby.” Backbone for Renewables. Some elements
of Fischer’s scenario are now reality. On sunny
days, photovoltaic systems in Bavaria already
provide over half of the electricity needed, and
significant expansion of renewable energy
generating facilities is expected during the
next few years. By as soon as 2020, according to Fischer, it
may be possible to meet Germany’s entire elec-
tricity demand for several hours on windy sum-
mer days solely with electricity from renewable
energies. But when the weather changes suddenly,
fossil fuel power plants would then have to
kick in as quickly as possible. “By 2020 we will
need an additional power plant reserve of
roughly 30 to 50 gigawatts, or 20 to 30 per-
cent of Germany’s currently-installed power
plant capacity. Flexible gas-fired power plants
are very well suited for this purpose. Capital
96 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
expenditures are low and natural gas has the
best CO
balance of any fossil energy source,”
says Lothar Balling, general manager for gas-
fired power plants.
More than 750 employees, including 250
engineers, worked on the development, as-
sembly, and testing of the SGT5-8000H and its
combined cycle power plant (see Pictures of
the Future
, Fall 2007, p. 54). Siemens invested
over €500 million in a prototype plant before it
was handed over to E.ON. All in all, the turbine was developed from
the ground up, rather than being the next gen-
eration of an existing model. Most of the effort
that went into achieving the plant’s record-set-
ting efficiency and flexibility involved improve-
ments to the gas turbine and the overall de-
sign. Engineers increased the turbine’s operating
temperature, optimized the material and
geometry of the compressor and turbine
blades, reduced air cooling losses, and adapted
the boiler, steam turbine, and generator to the
mally matched. The steam turbine, for exam-
ple, (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2008, p.
32) was designed specifically for the turbine’s
exhaust gas temperature. The gigantic size of the boiler between the
steam turbine and the gas turbine is necessary
in order to efficiently convert the huge volume
of exhaust gas into steam. The boiler weighs
7,000 metric tons and contains heat exchang-
ers with a surface area of 510,000 square me-
ters. “A combined cycle power plant must be
perfectly coordinated down to the last detail,”
says Fischer. “It’s like a car — the best engine is
worthless if it isn’t matched to the optimum
The Fine Art of Engineering. Developers
achieved the plant’s fast startup and shutdown
times by cooling the gas turbine exclusively
with air and hydraulically optimizing the gap
between the rotating blades and the casing.
This was achieved by adjusting the position of
the rotors by three millimeters, which, in turn,
behavior, 3,000 sensors were installed for the
test runs. They measured parameters including
pressure and temperature, rotating blade vi-
brations, clearance at the tip of the rotating
blades, flows, mechanical stresses, and rota-
tional speeds. The results were used to fine-
tune and optimize the SGT5-8000H. Worldwide Demand. Customers are lining up
for the record-breaking gas turbine. South Ko-
rea has ordered a combined cycle power plant
that is scheduled for delivery starting in 2012,
and a power provider in Florida has ordered six
of the new gas turbines in the 60-hertz ver-
sion, which will allow it to save approximately
$1 billion in operating, maintenance, and capi-
tal expenditure costs over the life cycle of the
turbines. Combined cycle power plants in the U.S.
currently have an average efficiency of less
than 40 percent. If all of these units used the
new gas turbine from Siemens, additional elec-
tricity equal to that used by 25 million Ameri-
gas turbine. But the engineers’ greatest contri-
bution to the plant’s record-breaking efficiency
was increasing its combustion temperature
from about 1,400 degrees Celsius in the previ-
ous model to around 1,500 degrees in the new
gas turbine. Because the temperature on the
surface of the turbine blades is also corre-
spondingly higher, even better protection
against heat is needed. The turbine’s blades are thus made of a
nickel alloy that solidifies as a single crystal in
the direction of load, making them particularly
resistant to fracture. Next there is a two-layer
thermal barrier coating that provides heat in-
sulation. The blades’ air cooling characteristics
were also optimized. Developers also opti-
mized the blade profiles to reduce losses
caused by turbulence at the tip of the com-
pressor blades. They did this by simulating the
three-dimensional fluid dynamics within the
compressor — a particularly challenging case
for computer simulation. Achieving the gas turbine’s high efficiency
also requires all of its components to be opti-
prevents collisions between the blades and the
casing during a fast start. This approach to air
cooling is better suited for the desired flexibil-
ity than partial or complete steam cooling be-
cause it eliminates the need to wait for steam
generation when starting up the turbine. An-
other secret of the turbine’s success is the
combination of the best
technologies from
Siemens and the U.S.
company Westinghouse,
which Siemens acquired
in 1998. While a superior
Siemens turbine rotor de-
sign was retained, engi-
neers chose to use a Westinghouse combus-
tion chamber because it was easier to test on
the test bed than a combustion chamber from
Siemens. Thorough testing characterized the entire
development of the SGT5-8000H. The partner-
ship with E.ON made it possible to conduct
tests under actual conditions in Irsching from
2007 to 2009. To precisely analyze the plant’s
cans could be generated each year — without
causing additional CO
emissions. In order to
thoroughly test the 60-hertz turbine, Siemens
spent over €17 million to upgrade and expand
the testing area at its Berlin gas turbine plant.
A turbine for the customer in Florida has been
undergoing extensive testing there since July
2011. And the record-chasers at Siemens are
determined that their turbines will continue to
be champions. “I expect we can improve the
combined cycle power plant’s efficiency by an
additional percentage point in five years using
an even bigger and hotter gas turbine. That
will make the technology even more economi-
cal and environmentally compatible,” says
Balling. Fenna Bleyl
A U.S. power provider will save about $1 billion over the life cycle of six of the record-breaking turbines.
sales,” he adds. The partnership with Siemens
has thus been put on a secure footing too.
“We’d like to improve the reliability of supplies
to over 90 percent,” says Müssig. “If the price
benefit doesn’t change, then the purchasing
volume from Siemens could rise significantly
as well.” In view of these positive results, Siemens
has launched an entire program called
SPS@Suppliers and intends to extend it to oth-
er partners in the supply chain. Over the long
term, SPS@Suppliers is expected to become an
established element of the supplier develop-
ment process. And Schmees GmbH isn’t rest-
ing on its laurels either — the company hopes
to become Europe’s best steel foundry by
2020.Nils Ehrenberg
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 99
Efficient Use of Resources | Optimized Supply Chains
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So if a supplier starts having problems with quality and reliability, it hurts the entire production chain. Siemens has launched a program that can help struggling suppliers to get back on solid footing.
Customers such as Clemens Schmees and his team (facing page, above) are delighted with the results of
recommendations from the Siemens Production System
program, which include improvements in operating pro-
cedures and fabrication (facing page, below).
asting with heart and soul. That’s the mot-
to of Edelstahlwerke Schmees GmbH, a
German company that was established in
1961 and quickly became a large, successful
foundry. In 1993 the company moved its head-
quarters from the state of North Rhine-West-
phalia to the state of Saxony. Order volume
was healthy — especially for cast stainless-
steel parts for pumps and turbines. And in
2008 the company, which at the time had a
work force of 360, invested about €10 million
in new manufacturing halls in Langenfeld
(near Düsseldorf) and Pirna (near Dresden).
But the boom years of 2007 and 2008 also
brought problems. Because of the increased
number of orders, the company found it was
becoming more difficult to meet deadlines.
And product quality began to suffer. “Our per-
formance wasn’t ideal,” owner Clemens
Schmees freely admits. Siemens was con-
cerned as well, because Schmees GmbH is an
important strategic partner that supplies up to
seven metric tons of heavy castings for gas tur-
bines, in addition to being a price leader in its
field. Schmees GmbH is the sole supplier for
some Siemens projects, and since Siemens is
interested in long-term, sustainable supplier
partnerships, it knew it had to do something. Supporting Suppliers
Barbara Kux, Head of Supply Chain Man-
agement, and the member of the Siemens
Managing Board who is responsible for global
procurement, was determined to resolve the
problem. “We rank among the best companies
in the market, and we want to keep improving
our competitive advantage in the future,” says
Kux, who is originally from Switzerland. “We
can only achieve that goal with a flexible and
effective supply chain. That means all of our
partners have to continually strive to improve
their performance and optimize the supply
process as a whole.”
Streamlined Suppliers. Siemens therefore
decided to apply its in-house Siemens Produc-
tion System (SPS) at one of its suppliers for the
first time. For years, Siemens has been using
the system to improve the performance of its
own plants (Pictures of the Future, Spring
2009, p. 30). SPS focuses on streamlined pro-
duction, which calls for each production step
to be organized with maximum efficiency. Pe-
riods in which a product is not being processed
or isn’t moving forward in the production
process are considered wasteful, because no
value is being added to the product at such
times. This happens when there are long de-
lays before parts are processed further, for in-
stance, or when parts have to be moved long
distances to the next production step.
The proposal from Siemens was well re-
ceived in Pirna. “We agreed right away,” says
Schmees. “We knew we could improve, so an
offer like this could only do us good.” The steel
plant responded to the project in a very posi-
tive way, agrees Dr. Bernd Müssig, who coordi-
nated the process in his role as Head of
Siemens Operations Development. In August 2010, SPS experts traveled to Pir-
na, analyzed the production process there, and
made recommendations for optimizing it. “We
only offer advice,” explains Müssig. “The sup-
plier company is responsible for putting the
ideas into practice.” Employees at the plant
were also enthusiastic and participated with a
strong sense of motivation.
Based on Siemens’ recommendations,
Schmees GmbH introduced elements of the
kanban system, a concept that focuses on the
last step of the production process. This
process unit notifies the preceding unit that
further supplies are needed when it falls below
a previously defined minimum level. That
means that all of the preceding units produce
only as much as can actually be manufactured
in the last step. Workpieces are delivered to
special buffer stations and picked up very
quickly for further processing. As a result of the
implementation of this system, there are no
longer any unfinished castings piled up at
Schmees GmbH. Production is efficient, and
throughput times have become much faster.
In addition, the bottlenecks that workers
sometimes encountered with tools were elimi-
nated, and machine control was optimized.
The outdoor area previously used for parts
storage was also cleaned up. By May 2011 a turnaround was in full
swing. “The reliability value for the company’s
order fulfillment rose to over 80 percent,” says
Müssig. And according to Schmees, customer
complaints have dropped significantly. “Be-
cause of the faster throughput, we can now
accept more orders while also increasing
98 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Green Prescription for Suppliers
Siemens has been striving to use energy economically at its manufacturing sites for quite some time
now. To this end, the company launched an Energy Efficiency Program (EEP) in 2006. Since then, the
program has been helping to ferret out and tap into savings potential at the company’s production loca-
tions (Pictures of the Future, Fall 2007, p. 37). By 2010 the EEP had led to an 11-percent improvement in
the efficiency of electricity use, on average, and to a 23-percent efficiency gain in the area of primary
energy and district heating. “Energy efficiency is the most effective contribution to climate protection,” says Barbara Kux, the
Siemens Managing Board Member responsible for Supply Chain Management and Sustainability. And
now, with the EEP4S (EEP for Suppliers) program, Kux is bringing suppliers on board as well. “Much of
the value in our products is added by suppliers, so it’s only logical to integrate them into our EEP pro-
gram,” she says. Both sides can expect to profit from this effort, because a company that saves energy
lowers its production costs and becomes more competitive.
Supplier structures can vary greatly, however. “That’s why EEP4S has four different levels, which results
in a unique sort of consultation that takes these differences into account,” says Birgit Heftrich, who man-
ages the overall project. If the supplier opts for “Level 1” of the program, certified environmental consult-
ants from Siemens visit the company and spend several days on site. They thoroughly inspect the prem-
ises, analyze structural features of the buildings, measure energy use, study operational and mainte-
nance routines, and evaluate purchase agreements. Everything is documented in an in-depth report. “This is a concrete, detailed guide to reducing energy
consumption,” says Heftrich. The document not only lists results but also recommends which steps
should be taken. It indicates what sort of investments are needed for these steps and how quickly they
can pay for themselves in terms of energy savings. The supplier pays the consulting costs. For companies
with smaller purchasing volumes, EEP4S also offers a free, Web-based, self-assessment tool with an op-
tion to get advice from Siemens experts remotely. The effectiveness of EEP4S is clear to see in the example of Schmolz + Bickenbach Guss GmbH, which
operates a plant in Krefeld. This foundry supplies Siemens with steel castings manufactured in an ener-
gy-intensive process, ultimately used in gas and steam turbines. Schmolz + Bickenbach is very pleased
with the results of EEP4S. “In the first year we have succeeded in recouping half of the investments
made so far,” reports Managing Director Hans Schlickum (photo, top). Schlickum is saving €14,000 a
year with one energy-saving measure alone — individual preheating of foundry ladles for transporting
cast steel. In addition, the company appointed an energy officer who reports directly to management,
and all the processes in the company were studied and classified according to their environmental com-
patibility. Schmolz + Bickenbach also launched an energy-conservation program that designed to edu-
cate employees with regard to energy-efficiency and resource conservation.
“This is really a great validation of our program,” says Kux. And she still has big plans for EEP4S. “After
getting 160 suppliers with energy-intensive production involved in fiscal year 2010-2011, we want to tie
in another 840 suppliers in 2012, mainly by means of our free self-assessment tool,” she explains. Over
the longer term there are even plans to create an energy efficiency label. “EEP4S will become an estab-
lished part of the standardized system of supplier management throughout Siemens,” says Kux. Nils Ehrenberg
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 101
Efficient Use of Resources | Raw Materials
Demand for high-performance materials such as rare-earth metals is on the rise worldwide. But many of these materials are becoming scarce. That’s why Siemens experts are developing technologies designed to improve utilization, recycling, and substitution of key materials.
A Corporate Technology researcher analyzing magnetic properties. Siemens is studying how powerful permanent magnets can help to reduce the use of rare-earth elements.
reen products are gaining ground so
quickly that materials scientists are
sounding the alarm. Permanent magnets for
wind turbines are a case in point because they
require rare-earth metals, including
neodymium, pra seo dym ium, and dysprosium.
When these materials are optimally combined,
their energy density — the unit of storable
magnetic energy — exceeds 400 kilojoules per
cubic meter (kJ/m
). That value is so high that
magnetic systems, compared to conventional
magnetic materials, can be made substantially
smaller or significantly more powerful.
The designation “rare earth” is actually
somewhat misleading, because several of
these metals, such as neodymium, aren’t really
rare. They are even more common in the
Earth’s crust than lead, for example. The prob-
lem is that few sizeable deposits have been dis-
covered. Many rare earths can be found in Inner
Mongolia, Western Australia, Greenland,
Canada, and the U.S. But 97 percent of the
worldwide production of rare-earth elements
Alternatives in the Making
is presently concentrated in China. “So we’re
facing a resource problem,” warns Dr. Thomas
Scheiter, Head of the global technology field
for Material Substitution and Recycling at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT).
And such resources are hard to do without.
For instance, magnets containing only four
percent of the silver-gray heavy metal dyspro-
sium enjoy a level of temperature stability that
makes them ideal for use in wind energy sys-
tems. But today, dysprosium is found only in
low-yield deposits, and alternative deposits
probably won’t be developed for another five
years or more, making supply bottlenecks al-
most inevitable. Other rare earth deposits, however, such as
those at the Mountain Pass mine in California,
may soon become available. More remote is
exploitation of the rare-earth deposits that
were discovered in mid-2011 under the Pacific
Ocean floor, not far from Hawaii and Tahiti.
Hooked on Rare Earths. The core of the
problem is the fact that rare-earth metals are
required for many high-tech products, includ-
ing electric motors, cell phones, laser devices,
and LCD television sets. And the introduction
of energy-saving light bulbs, whose fluores-
cent materials also require rare-earth ele-
ments, has further increased demand. “The ex-
cellent properties of rare-earth elements have
led to development of new products, which
have boosted the market further,” explains Dr.
Ulrich Bast, who is in charge of Technology In-
novation at CT in Munich. Electric motors, for instance, can operate
either with two-coil magnets or with one coil
and one permanent magnet. Synchronous ma-
chines equipped with permanent magnets are
a separate class of motors and generators.
They can substantially reduce the weight of
wind turbines. “Use of conventional materials,
such as iron and copper, results in a heavy ma-
chine,” says Dr. Gotthard Rieger, who heads
Magnetic Materials Development at CT. A
much more elegant solution would be to equip
the external rotors, which “tap” the rotational
energy of such a turbine, with thin
neodymium-iron-boron magnets that induce
an electrical field in the coils. In convention-
ally-designed wind energy systems, a massive
gear set converts relatively slow rotation into
fast rotation, which then generates electric
power in the generator. New versions, how-
ever, are designed to use permanent magnets
based on rare-earth elements to generate
power directly from the slow rotation. The ad-
vantages are that no gear set is needed,
weight is reduced, and less maintenance is re-
quired, which is an advantage in offshore ap-
plications. Siemens already offers gearless tur-
bines in 3-megawatt and 6-megawatt systems.
What this means is that demand for rare-
earth elements will continue to increase.
What’s more, China is going to play a steadily
expanding role in wind turbines and electric
vehicles, so it will consume more of its own re-
sources. Siemens is addressing this challenge
in the context of an advanced project. For in-
stance, researchers led by Thomas Scheiter are
conducting an analysis of the key materials the
100 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
company uses and in what quantities. They
will then analyze current market data to deter-
mine whether there are raw materials whose
use should be considered critical with regard
to their availability. If the answer is affirmative, the roughly 200
materials scientists at CT will face the task of
developing alternatives. Given the impending
shortage of rare-earth elements, the company
has launched a project designed to develop
new kinds of powerful permanent magnets.
Such magnets will have to be produced either
without any rare-earth elements or with only
very small amounts of them.
“In order to use dysprosium more efficiently
than has been done in the past, for example,
we are no longer going to distribute it
throughout all the material in a magnet,” says
Rieger. “Instead, we will create a structure in
which this element is concentrated only along
the crystallite boundaries within the
neodymium-iron-boron part of each magnet.”
This can be achieved by applying a thin dyspro-
sium layer on the finished magnet, and then
using a heat treatment to diffuse it along the
grain boundary into the in-
terior. This approach dras-
tically reduces dysprosium
use, while leaving needed
properties unchanged or
even improving them.
Iron Age. Other concepts
are aimed at producing motors that are made
entirely without rare-earth elements. Perma-
nent magnets composed of iron oxides with
admixtures of other oxides already exist. The
problem here, however, is that without special
pretreatment these sintered ceramic magnets
have, on average, only one tenth of the energy
ple, iron is an excellent magnetic material,”
says Rieger. But it’s still too soon to tell
whether the energy density of this material
will eventually rival or even surpass that of
rare-earth magnets.
Another possible way of achieving sustain-
able utilization of rare-earth elements is to re-
cycle these materials from electric motors. But
so far there are no practical methods for doing
so. Instead, electric motors usually wind up in
smelters. “It’s true the material is recycled, but
the rare earths get mixed in with the rest and
are simply lost,” says Bast. With this in mind,
Siemens researchers have begun to develop a
process that begins with removal of magnets
density of magnets made with rare earths,
making them unsuitable for many motor and
generator applications. In order to minimize the need for rare-earth
elements, a Siemens team is therefore working
on an innovative material based on an iron-
cobalt compound in which nanometer-size
magnetic rods, strung together like a string of
pearls, are enclosed in a matrix. “We will be
able to use such nanostructures to create an
optimized permanent magnet, and eventually
to develop an alternative to rare-earth ele-
ments,” says Rieger. At Siemens in Munich
there is already a laboratory facility for syn-
thetizing and investigating such innovative
magnetic materials. But isn’t the new solution
a kind of regression to an “iron age”? “In princi-
from motors and comprises several phases of
recycling. “In the simplest case you just remove
magnets from an old motor and install them in
a new one,” explains Bast. But that wouldn’t al-
ways work because the magnets usually don’t
fit. Efforts are therefore underway to design
products from the very start in a way that will
make it possible to remove permanent mag-
nets from a motor with relative ease for recy-
cling. For this project, which is supported by
the German Ministry of Research, partnerships
with institutions and companies are also used
to develop processes for selectively concen-
trating magnetic materials from smelters in
slag, and for recovering rare-earth metals from
it. Researchers estimate this process will be
ready for industrial use in a few years. Siemens scientists are developing technologies for recycling rare earths
from scrapped electric motors. Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 103
Plants handle water treatment at a Siemens facility in Kalwa, India, where 3,000 employees manufacture
switchgear and transformers. water recycling reduces the facility’s fresh wa-
ter costs by up to €4,500 annually. What’s
more, according to Agaskar, the facility cost
less to build than a high-tech counterpart. The
only technology the system needs is pumps
and flow-rate meters, and it doesn’t have to be
continuously monitored, as is the case with
conventional sewage treatment plants. Given all these advantages, it’s no surprise
that sewage treatment plants equipped with arti-
ficial wetlands are becoming more popular
worldwide. Their only drawback is that they take
up a lot of space. A city of 100,000 inhabitants
would need a facility almost as big as 60 soccer
fields. And the facility has no control system,
making it unsuitable for wastewater whose com-
position fluctuates greatly.
The newly constructed wetland in Kalwa recy-
cles two types of wastewater, which are first sep-
arately collected and pre-treated. Most of this wa-
ter comes from toilets, sinks, and the canteen. It
is channeled into a precipitation tank, where solid
substances that are sometimes very smelly can
settle. The wastewater from the Siemens produc-
tion halls primarily contains finely distributed oil
droplets, which are pretreated separately before
the water is sent to the wetland.
“All of the pre-cleaned water then flows
through the wetland,” says Agaskar. The facility’s
concrete basins in varied sizes are more than one
meter deep and have a downward slope. Barriers
cause the water to flow into a basin at the top
and flow out again at the bottom. “Our facility pu-
rifies the water horizontally and vertically, achiev-
ing 95 percent efficiency — better than the 90
percent efficiency achieved by many conven-
tional treatment plants,” Agaskar says. Although India is home to 16 percent of the
world’s population, the country has only four per-
cent of the planet’s water reserves. “Groundwater
levels are dropping by four centimeters every
year,” says Agaskar. Climate change will probably
make this even worse. Artificial wetlands alone
will not be able to solve the problem. But as
Agaskar and Rao say, “Every component is impor-
tant.” Andrea Hoferichter
Customized Water Recycling
Wastewater that requires treatment before it
can be re-used differs widely. Not only can the
water be clear or murky, it can also contain or-
ganic impurities, pathogens, or heavy metals.
Siemens Water Technologies offers a wide
range of customized products and solutions
for removing harmful substances, while also
achieving maximum energy savings. In addi-
tion to traditional methods, municipalities and
industrial firms are increasingly demanding
more compact and energy efficient technolo-
gies, such as the MemPulse Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) system from Siemens. The pores in the system’s
membranes are so tiny that only water molecules can get through. Biomass, bacteria, and even viruses
are prevented from passing through the pores. The system utilizes bursts of air along the membrane
pores to prevent them from becoming clogged. Compared to conventional reactors, which continuously
blow air through membranes, the Siemens approach reduces electricity consumption by more than one
third. The EcoRight MBR system, currently under development, is designed to meet very stringent waste-
water discharge requirements for wastewater re-use. Effluent from the MBR is fed to a reverse osmosis
system, purifying the water further so it can be reused as boiler feed water, cooling water, and other
process water. The EcoRight system has been successfully tested at one of the refineries of the world’s
largest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, where it is treating wastewater from an oil/water separator.
Quality standards for recycled water can also differ greatly. While some industrial plants re-use the water
as cooling water or boiler feed, others use it for utility or process water. Additional treatment, if required
for applications such as beverage or semiconductor manufacturing, is provided by advanced carbon fil-
ters, ion-exchange, distillation, electrochemical systems, and chlorination and ultraviolet disinfection
systems. Another new development is Siemens’ Micro Media Column (MMC), which can remove heavy
metals such as mercury and copper from water. In this filter, contaminated water flows down a column
full of micrometer-size particles that chemically bind heavy metals. The water is purified at a throughput
rate that is unmatched in the industry, with an effectiveness beyond the levels of today’s environmental
requirements. Applications for the Micro Media Column include waste water polishing in power genera-
tion and ultrapure water polishing in the oil and gas industry. Andrea Hoferichter
garden facilities and rest rooms, where the cy-
cle begins anew.
Natural Advantages. “Besides being effec-
tive, inexpensive, and simple to maintain, the
facility just looks idyllic,” says Rajiv Agaskar,
Sustainability Officer for Siemens Real Estate
India. “It enables us to save up to 12 million
liters of water per year.” In addition, natural
Efficient Use of Resources | Water Treatment
Water is a precious resource, especially in emerging markets.
Siemens’ facility in Kalwa, India, recycles its wastewater with
one of the environmental initiatives that won the Vasundhara
Award 2011 — a sewage treatment system that uses plants.
nyone paying a visit to the new sewage
treatment plant at the Kalwa factory near
Mumbai will think they have entered an oasis.
Between production halls and areas covered
with asphalt lies a small collection tank con-
taining treated water — sparkling, turquoise-
colored and clear as glass. Next to it is a gravel-
filled basin in which meter-high reeds grow
along with plants bearing red blossoms. “On
an area of about 1,000 square meters, we re-
cycle all of the wastewater from our four sub-
plants, as well as from the administrative
building,” says Jeevan Rao, who heads the
Safety and Environmental department for
Siemens Cluster South Asia. The new sewage
treatment plant with its artificial wetland is an
important part of Siemens’ environmental ini-
tiative, which was honored with the presti-
gious Vasundhara Award 2011 in June. The Va-
sundhara Award is the most important
environmental prize of the southern Indian
state of Maharashtra.
Backyard Sewage Plant
The water recycling system used at the
Kalwa factory functions like a swamp. Instead
of relying on advanced technology, the system
employs an ecosystem of plants and microor-
ganisms that eliminate harmful substances
from the wastewater. The system features a
cascade of 32 basins that treat the water me-
chanically as well as biologically. For example,
the gravel holds back particles suspended in
the water, while the plants produce oxygen
and their roots ensure that the gravel bed is
well ventilated. Bacteria break down organic
substances — such as scraps of food or dirt
from hand washing — into carbon dioxide and
water. And nitrogen compounds such as pro-
teins or urea are ultimately converted into
harmless nitrogen gas. At the end of the clean-
ing facility, which is more than 90 meters long,
the treated water is so clean that even mosqui-
toes aren’t interested in it any longer. A system
of pipes then channels the water to the
Siemens administrative building, and to the
102 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Thrifty use of rare-earth elements or their
substitution would also benefit the environ-
ment. “It’s already clear today that it will be
possible to manufacture magnets more sus-
tainably in the future,” asserts Dr. Ute Liepold,
Project Manager in the Materials Substitution
and Recycling unit at Siemens. That’s important because mining of rare-
earth metals is having a substantial environ-
mental impact, and especially in China, be-
cause acid is used to flush the minerals out of
bored holes.
A Natural Solution. Even though rare-earth
elements presently have been assigned the
highest priority among critical raw materials,
other substances are arousing concern as well.
“The particularly robust refractory metals are
also problematic because of potential delivery
bottlenecks,” reports Liepold. These metals in-
clude niobium, tungsten, and molybdenum,
which are used in X-ray tubes, switches, and
other applications that require high heat resist-
ance combined with a certain degree of mal-
leability and conductivity.“There certainly
won’t be any across-the-board solution for this
problem,” says Liepold. “Instead, we need to
take a hard look at whatever alternatives are
available for each of these materials.” Other critical materials include metals such
as platinum, palladium, indium, gallium, and
germanium. The outlook in terms of supplies
of gold, silver, and copper is somewhat less
dramatic, although their prices will most likely
continue to rise. The prospect of higher prices
for many key materials is thus being addressed
by Siemens researchers. For example, one
project is already focused on using aluminum
(which costs about half as much as copper) in
place of copper in electric conductors. “About
20 percent of copper can be replaced by alu-
minum during the first phase,” says Liepold. In
another project, which is aimed at obviating
the need for silver solder, laser welding is be-
ing investigated (see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2008, p. 22). Siemens is also conducting research with
the objective of producing plastics from
sources that are more sustainable than petro-
leum. Its current focus is on biopolymers that
can be produced from oil-containing fruits
such as the castor-oil plant. Siemens is presently using conventional
thermoplastic polymers, for instance in spe-
cial-purpose lamps, for applications in medical
technology, and for sorting baskets in auto-
mated mail applications. In Liepold’s view, us-
ing bioplastics to replace these polymers in the
future would be a logical next step. “As a green
company we have to pay special attention to
the issue of raw materials,” Liepold says.
Rolf Froböse
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 105
Brazil’s hunger for energy is making its engineers ever more inventive. Technological innovations are boosting the efficiency and stability of the power supply. With Siemens’ help, the country is tapping into unconventional energy sources in its fields and under the ocean floor. In 2009, São Paulo experienced a six-hour
power failure. One way to satisfy increasing energy demand is to produce electricity using sugar cane (right page). U
lisses Candido da Silva Junior gazes out at
the green sea around him. The hills in the
northern part of the Brazilian state of Paraná
rise like waves and gently slope away as far as
the eye can see. Candido da Silva manages the
Santo Inácio Sugar Mill, one of five production
sites of the Alto Alegre Group. He wipes the
sweat from his forehead. “The harvest has be-
gun; in a few days big trucks will start bringing
tons of sugar cane,” he says. His mill will turn it
into raw sugar and alcohol, which is now used
to power almost all Brazilian cars. More than
half of the sugarcane produced in Brazil is con-
verted into ethanol, which is then used to refill
tanks at Brazilian fuel pumps (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2009, p. 90).
The Alto Alegre company is family-owned,
a tradition among many Brazilian sugar mills.
But changes are now occurring at a brisk pace;
international energy companies are buying
their way into the market and building larger
and more efficient production sites, and these
new plants are increasingly using automation
and state-of-the-art technology. Candido da
Silva points to the other side of the Parana-
panema River, which separates the states of
Paraná and São Paulo. A few kilometers away,
104 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
you can see the outlines of another sugar mill.
“That mill was bought by a Norwegian compa-
ny recently. If we don’t grow, that will happen
to us too,” says the manager of the Santo Iná-
cio mill.
Whether or not it is sustainable to produce
large amounts of fuel from crops is sometimes
a subject of heated debate. One thing, at least,
is clear: Biofuel is currently being produced in
Brazil more efficiently than anywhere else in
the world — because of efficient production
methods, and not least because of the blazing
sun. But comparisons with other countries im-
ply that sugar alone won’t satisfy Brazil’s grow-
ing hunger for energy. For the sake of compar-
ison, a U.S. resident today consumes more
than six times as much energy as a Brazilian. Six-Hour Blackout. But Brazil is catching up
with U.S. energy demand. The affluence and
the demands of the growing middle-class —
which is now said to include half of the popu-
lation — are rising steadily. Using a rule of
thumb, observers expect energy demand in
emerging markets to increase by about one
percentage point more than the rate of eco-
nomic growth. The Brazilian economy grew by
about 7.5 percent in 2010; electricity demand
grew by slightly less than eight percent. The
electrical grid is already overloaded, and insuf-
ficient production capacity is setting the stage
for blackouts.
In 2009, for instance, a blackout crippled
São Paulo for six hours, resulting in economic
losses totaling about $2.5 billion, according to
an estimate by Gilberto Schaefer of Siemens
Energy in Brazil. One year later, the lights went
out in parts of eight states in the northeast of
the country. In view of all this, the 333 sugar
mills in the states of São Paulo and Paraná can
clearly help in the struggle against blackouts.
They can produce not just sugar and alcohol
but electricity as well — something the mill in
Santo Inácio is already doing.
The idea is a perfect example of how to use
resources efficiently. It begins with sugar pro-
duction itself. In several stages, sugar cane is
cut, shredded, and crushed. But in the past,
the residue that remained after pressing,
known as “bagasse,” was considered refuse to
be burned under the open sky at the mills.
That is no longer the case, however. “We can’t
afford to just squander the sugarcane stalks
anymore,” says Candido da Silva, pointing to a
MSCs from Siemens entered service in the
south of Brazil, near Curitiba, in 2011. MSCs are also a perfect example of so-
called S.M.A.R.T. (simple, maintenance friend-
ly, affordable, reliable, and timely to market)
products, such as the very affordable, locally-
produced capacitors now being tested in
Brazil, that are perfectly matched to the needs
of market segments at the basic level. Indeed,
to an ever-increasing extent,
such products are being de-
veloped in emerging
economies (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2011, p.
56). Specialists at Siemens Cor-
porate Technology in Ger-
many have helped to further optimize MSCs.
As a result, higher power ratings are now pos-
sible without increasing the capacitors’ dimen-
sions. What’s more, Siemens Management
Consulting has helped to formulate a business
plan for the production, sale and distribution
of MSCs, as well as to develop a project sched-
ule. “For this solution, we’re going to manage
all the international business from Brazil,” says
Tiburcio. Sugar, Oil and Inventive Minds
Efficient Use of Resources | Research in Brazil
Sugar Power Plants for São Paulo. One sug-
ar cane-based power plant is great, but how
about a network of such plants? Such a setup,
which is also known as a virtual power plant, is
an idea Siemens engineers are now examin-
ing. “If we turn more sugar mills in the state of
São Paulo into power producers and link them
to the grid, we could provide an additional 4.5
gigawatts,” says Schaefer. For the sake of com-
parison, São Paulo’s total electricity demand is
approximately 30 gigawatts. The strategy of combining multiple small
power plants into clusters has advantages.
Most sugar mills produce only about 30
megawatts, and the investments required for
connecting them to the grid would be dispro-
portionately high if each mill had to bear them
individually. But if neighboring plants are connected to
one another through mini grids, the connec-
tion costs for each individual plant are re-
duced. “If we also integrate small, flexible nat-
ural gas power plants and small hydropower
plants into the grid, we could raise the amount
of power generated by renewable sources to
almost nine gigawatts — and it would be close
to customers in São Paulo,” adds Schaefer.
can lead not just to power failures, but also to
the potential for dangerous explosions, he
says. But such risks, along with the costs associ-
ated with manual inspections of individual
transformers at fixed maintenance intervals,
are rapidly diminishing. Siemens customers
can now have their transformers monitored
automatically around the clock. Temperature
and output measurements, for instance, are
sent via Internet to a Siemens server; and an
analysis and evaluation of these values is for-
warded to the customer twice per day via fax
or e-mail. “We’re online doctors for transform-
ers,” says Scaquetti. “We can recommend that
customers leave their transformers in service
longer than planned if they’re in good shape.
But we can also warn them — for example, by
telling them that if they don’t do something
pile of bagasse as high as a house. He adds:
“Now we burn this waste in a controlled way,
and using two 35-megawatt steam turbines,
we generate electricity that we can feed back
into the grid. We get about 170 reals per
megawatt-hour.” That’s the equivalent of
about €80. The company’s initial investment in power
generation equipment was amortized within
two years through income from electricity
sales. The majority of the equipment needed,
including a power substation, frequency con-
verter, and process automation for sugar and
alcohol production, was supplied by Siemens.
Siemens even developed a steam turbine —
which is widely used in Brazil — specifically for
this application in sugar factories. And it was
able to cut the turbine’s price compared to al-
ternative models by 30 percent (see Pictures of
the Future, Spring 2009, p. 88).
That would practically rule out the possibility
of blackouts caused by overloads, such as the
one that occurred in 2009.
Not far from Schaefer’s office in Avenida
Mutinga, in northwest São Paulo, Carlos Tibur-
cio, an employee of Siemens Energy, is work-
ing on another idea for stabilizing the power
grids in Brazil and other emerging markets. “Of
course, you can simply expand the electrical
grid, but that takes time; it’s also very expen-
sive,” says Tiburcio. His cost-saving alternative involves me-
chanically switched capacitors (MSC) — in sim-
ple terms, a cabinet full of capacitors. As soon
as these capacitors are switched on or off me-
chanically, they can absorb or release energy in
the blink of an eye. In other words, they can
act as buffers for electricity. The MSCs can thus
rapidly balance out fluctuations before the lat-
ter jeopardize the stability of the grid. The first
The Middle East and eventually North
America are other possible markets for MSCs. A
first order from abroad has already been re-
ceived. In other words, the MSCs are a Brazilian
innovation that is successfully entering the
global marketplace.
Dangerous Explosions. Schaefer’s colleagues
in Jundiaí, north of São Paulo, are also working
to make the Brazilian power supply more effi-
cient. Their solution extends the service life of
transformers and reduces maintenance costs.
“Energy providers in Brazil have to spend a lot
of money on new power plants. So if they can
cut maintenance costs and minimize trans-
former failures, there is more left over to invest
in renewable energies,” says David Scaquetti of
Siemens Energy. “Transformers rarely break
down, but if anything does go wrong, then it
goes wrong in a big way,” Scaquetti adds. That
Siemens’ customers can now have their transformers monitored
automatically around the clock.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 107106 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Prof. Brito Cruz, 55, has
been Scientific Director of
the Fundação de Amparo à
Pesquisa do Estado de São
Paulo (FAPESP) — an agency
that intends to boost innovation and promote research and development
in the Brazilian state of São
Paulo — since 2005. From
2002 to 2005, Cruz was
President of the renowned
Brazilian university UNI-
CAMP, where he earned his
PhD in physics. He earned
his bachelor’s degree at the
Instituto Tecnológico de
Aeuronáutica. Prof. Cruz has
worked for various research
organizations, including
AT&T Bell Labs in New Jersey.
Innovation: The Key to Generating More Value in Brazil
Brazil’s economy grew by 7.5 percent in
2010. If the country keeps up this pace it
could become one of the world’s top five
economies in 20 years. Today, Brazil
mainly exports raw materials. What role
do research and development play in the
Brazilian economy?
Cruz: Only a small one, unfortunately. The
universities are doing good work. Around
12,000 doctorate degrees are awarded in
Brazil every year, and Brazilian researchers
publish about 30,000 scientific articles in in-
ternational publications. An area where there’s
still a problem is the creation and use of rele-
vant innovations in business. There’s still in-
sufficient communication between academia
and the business community, so a lot of po-
tential remains unexploited. Companies and
universities need to talk to each other more
and do so in a more structured manner.
I agree. There’s no doubt that we Brazil-
ians are innovative. Just take a look at the in-
dustries for renewable energy sources or avia-
tion, for example. Our work there is definitely
world class. But we are still finding it very diffi-
cult on the whole to transform innovations
into successful products. This is due in part to
the conditions under which entrepreneurs
have to work. For example, Brazil ranked
127th in the World Bank’s Doing Business In-
dex for 2010 — between Mozambique and
Tanzania. Entrepreneurs have to deal with too
many regulations, prohibitions, and obliga-
tions. Business people call this drawback the
“custo Brazil,” the “Brazilian surcharge.”
Why is it so difficult to turn an idea into
an innovative product in Brazil?
It has to do with our history. Until the
1980s our country’s top economic objective
was to replace expensive imports with local
products. High import tariffs and barriers re-
duced competition for local goods, making it
easier for them to hold their own in the mar-
ket. Unfortunately, it also enabled low-quality
Prof. Ozires Silva, 80, is
president of Unimonte, a
renowned private university
in the state of São Paulo. He
helped establish Embraer, a
Brazilian aircraft manufac-
turer that has been interna-
tionally successfully for
decades. Silva has served as
chairman of the Boards of
Management of energy
company Petrobras and the
airline Varig. He has also
served as Brazil’s Minister of
Infrastructure. Silva studied
aviation engineering at the
Instituto Tecnológico de
Aeuronáutica and was a pilot in the Brazilian air force for four years.
Efficient Use of Resources | Interview
Brazilian products to become successful. It certainly wasn’t a recipe for top quality, and it didn’t serve as an incentive for innovation. A period of great economic uncertainty began
in the 1980s, when inflation skyrocketed. Back
then, a company benefited more from hiring a
clever accountant who was good at planning
the cash flow than from recruiting an innova-
tive engineer. Many companies are just now
slowly learning how important innovations
There are also some very concrete ob-
stacles. They include the fact that many com-
panies have innovative technologies and a fea-
sible business plan but don’t have access to
the necessary capital. This problem is further
exacerbated by Brazil’s very high interest rates.
What’s more, people whose business idea has
failed often don’t get a second chance in
Brazil. By contrast, if you fail in the U.S., peo-
ple don’t immediately consider you a loser;
they believe you’ve gained valuable experi-
ence. The attitude of many Brazilians — par-
ticularly the younger ones — is problematic.
Many of them think it’s more desirable to get a cushy job at a government ministry than to
establish one’s own company. Innovation be-
gins in your head.
What kinds of problems have you experi-
enced in setting up a business in Brazil?
Ozires Silva:
Recently we tried to launch a
new company whose products were a natural
latex-based skin cream and pharmaceutical
applications. Two researchers at a university in
São Paulo had contacted me in 2002 and told
me that latex contains special proteins that
can slow down the aging of skin and acceler-
ate the healing of wounds. Even though I now
hold several international patents, the banks
refused to give us any money. Instead, my
friends and I have had to pool our savings and
talk to investors from the U.S. The major diffi-
culty for the company is the lack of investment
I once had my own small company,
when I was 19. With my partners we were the
first to commercially make lasers in Brazil, and
we even sold a few. To some extent, it was a
bit of tinkering around, of course, and I gave it
up when I began to study. But it allowed me to
make enough money as a student to buy a car.
Had the economic climate been different back
then, I might not have pursued a career in aca-
demia but instead tried to become an entre-
What sorts of things can Brazil do to be-
come more innovative?
There are some very specific things that
we can do. For example, we can look at target-
ed subsidies and tax incentives. It would make
sense to support Brazilian companies a bit
with start-up subsidies in areas where they
have an advantage. I’m thinking here of com-
mercial use of the biodiversity in the Amazon
region by the pharmaceuticals industry, for ex-
ample. Other possibilities include the develop-
ment of innovative technologies that could
move us forward in the area of bioenergy or
make offshore oil drilling more efficient. The
same applies to tax incentives, which should
make it easier for companies to invest more in
The aviation university where I studied
is an example of how governments can suc-
cessfully invest in education. Without this uni-
versity and its graduates, we would never
have been able to establish Embraer, which is
now one of the most successful companies in
Brazil. Nevertheless we have to get to the root
of the problem and improve education in gen-
eral — from elementary school all the way up
to university level. For example, there simply
aren’t enough foreign professors and students
in our country. Believe it or not, for years
many Brazilian colleges were not allowed to employ professors from abroad. That was
one of the results of the protectionist mentality. What role do big international companies
play with regard to research and develop-
ment in Brazil?
Foreign companies often bring their
highly developed innovation culture to our
country, and in this way they serve as role
models for Brazilian businesses. They also do
this by showing how investments in innova-
tion can boost profits. A culture of innovation
can be communicated, for example, when in-
ternational companies work closely with local
suppliers, or if people change employers and
bring a lot of informal knowledge to their new
jobs. More than half of the money spent on re-
search and development in Brazil comes from
international companies such as Siemens.
We must also create innovative compa-
nies of our own that can succeed on the world
market. And I’m not talking about firms that
extract raw materials out of the ground and
ship them abroad. We need to generate more
value within the country, but that isn’t possi-
ble without innovation.
After achieving success with aircraft
manufacturer Embraer, in which industry
do you expect Brazil to achieve its next
big global hit?
Probably in information technology and health. It would obviously be great if our
country further expanded its exploration of
our very well known biodiversity.
Which location is better for conducting
research, São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro?
Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in
the world and I was born there. We Brazilians
joke that if you live in Rio, during your working
hours you think about where you will enjoy
yourself afterwards. In São Paulo, on the other
hand, you think about work while you’re en-
joying yourself. But joking aside, both of these
cities are strong centers of innovation that will
complement each other.
Interview by Andreas Kleinschmidt
oil. But the oil is buried deep underground —
in some instances, it is located more than five
kilometers below the ocean floor. Reaching it
means drilling through several layers of rock
and a corrosive layer of salt — an ideal chal-
lenge for innovative engineers. As a result, Rio
de Janeiro is becoming a global center for re-
search into technologies for the recovery of oil
using drilling equipment at the bottom of the
sea at extreme depths (see p. 109). In view of this, in 2012 Siemens will open
its own research and development center spe-
cializing in this field at the Parque Tecnológico
do Rio in Rio de Janeiro, on an island known as
Ilha do Fundão, in the middle of Guanabara
Bay. Professor Segen Estefen already has his of-
fice on the island. He directs COPPETEC, the
private-sector branch of the Universidade Fed-
eral do Rio de Janeiro. Among other things,
COPPETEC facilitates projects between private
companies and the university, and is seen as a
immediately, there will be problems in the next
30 days.” This solution is now being used to
monitor over 120 transformers. The fact that it
was devised in Brazil is no coincidence, Sca-
quetti believes. Energy providers here must op-
erate even more economically than in the U.S.
or Europe, he says. They are therefore even
more interested in making systematic use of
any available opportunity to reduce costs —
without sacrificing safety. More and more
Brazilians agree that careful use of resources is
crucial for the economic development of their
country. “Sustentabilidade” — sustainability —
has become something of a voguish word
used by an increasing number of politicians
(see Pictures of the Future, Fall 2010, p. 47). Since new oil reserves were discovered in
2007, however, Brazil must now deal with a
seductive abundance too. Located off the
coast of Rio de Janeiro is the Tupi oil field,
which could hold up to eight billion barrels of
he deep sea is a remote and forbidding
place. It’s cold and dark. Blind, pale crabs
skitter across the sea floor and ghostly trans-
parent fish float through the water, thousands
of meters below the surface. At these depths
the water pressure is immense, amounting to
several hundred bar. Slowly but surely,
mankind is advancing into this realm, because
large deposits of oil and natural gas can be
found beneath the sea floor. The International
Energy Agency estimates that global energy
demand will increase by at least one third be-
tween now and 2035, with growth primarily
being driven by developments in China and
other emerging markets. Renewable sources of
energy alone are not expected to be able to
cover this demand. As oil and gas reserves dwindle on land, in-
terest in the deep sea is steadily increasing. In
2007, 1.4 billion tons of oil were pumped up
by offshore facilities worldwide, accounting
for a relatively large share of about 37 percent
of total annual output. The situation is similar for natural gas. Most
offshore facilities are located in comparatively
shallow waters such as the North Sea, where
the average depth is just under 100 meters.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 109
Efficient Use of Resources | Oil and Gas Production
But the oil and gas industry is gradually ventur-
ing into deeper and deeper waters.
Most subsea deposits are still extracted
from the surface. Compressors and pumps on
the decks of platforms and drill ships press oil
and natural gas out of reservoirs and pump it
up from the sea floor through kilometer-long
pipes. After reaching the surface, the fuel is
cleaned and processed. But according to experts it would be much
more profitable and safer if the extraction sys-
tems were not located on drilling rigs and plat-
forms that are susceptible to storms, but in-
stead directly on the sea floor. Not only could
deposits be exploited more easily if pumps and
compressors were located closer to boreholes;
the mixture of oil, sand, and water could also
be cleaned and processed at the source. In addition, such subsea installations would
not only require less extraction technology
than do surface platforms but could cover a
larger area. A drilling rig has a limited radius in
which it can extract fuel. If all its associated
pumps and compressors were located on the
sea floor instead, oil could be pumped out by a
central extraction system (known as a “Christ-
mas tree”) from numerous boreholes in a wide
radius and then pumped up to the surface.
Such a system would reduce the number of
pumping stations required and therefore sig-
nificantly lower the risk of leaks. The process-
ing of oil and gas in the deep sea already gen-
erates slightly more than $20 billion in sales,
and Siemens estimates that this market could
double by 2020. A Grid for the Sea Floor. “As specialists for
power supply and transmission systems, we
are in the process of developing a complete
subsea power grid with which subsea process-
ing equipment can be controlled and supplied
with electricity,” says Atle Strømme, Senior
Vice President and Head of Subsea Solutions at
Siemens Energy. Siemens also plans to supply compressors
suited for deep sea use. In such a deep sea
electricity supply system, all of the electrical
devices for controlling pumps and compressors
would be located close to one another right on
the sea floor. The facility would then be much
easier to assemble and maintain, and therefore
less costly as well. Such a system would prima-
rily include transformers, frequency convert-
ers, and switchgear. Although such a complete subsea system is
not yet fully developed, Siemens has already
supplied individual components for underwa-
ter applications. For example, since the late
1990s Siemens has, supplied transformers for
use at a depth of 1,000 meters off the Brazilian
coast. However, power supply systems are still
generally found on platforms or on land, de-
pending on the location of the oil and gas de-
posits. Only a few components are installed on
the sea floor. However, compact facilities on
the sea floor would have substantial advan-
tages, since they would require only a single
supply line to transmit electricity to the area in
question. “Components would be attached to a
common template on the sea floor,” says
Strømme’s colleague Bjørn Einar Brath, Senior
Vice President at Siemens Energy. “They could
then be centrally monitored and supplied with
electricity.” With the help of an optical data cable, a
subsea facility could also be operated and con-
trolled from a service station on land. In addi-
tion, the cable could be used to transmit data
from numerous surveillance sensors, enabling
high-tech equipment to continuously monitor
the system. “The template concept would be
Subsea systems are not only safer than conventional oil and gas extraction processes;
they are also more effective. For example, they
can service more than one well at once. 108 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
driving force behind the technology park. “Oil
opens up a new path for us,” says Estefen. “But
we also have to explore the various branches
we encounter on this path. In concrete terms,
that means that we have to take the technolo-
gies associated with oil extraction and further
develop them. The goal must be to turn them
into independent future industries. For exam-
ple, we must push the boundaries forward in
the fields of materials technology, smart grid
technology, and robotics,” he says.
From the moment the technology park was
founded, there was huge interest in its land.
“We’ve allocated ten percent of the island to
corporate research centers,” says Maurício
Guedes, director of the technology park.
“That’s 350,000 square meters in all, but we
very quickly had more interested parties than
available space.” Part of the site is reserved for
a high-rise in which small, innovative compa-
nies can rent space and grow. “In order to en-
sure an appropriately diverse, innovative cli-
mate, we need areas for both small and large
projects,” he says. Siemens is devoting itself to
the latter — in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a
A Siemens R&D Center in Rio. Between now
and 2016, Siemens will invest $600 million in
the country. The company’s Rio R&D center
alone involves an investment of $50 million. At
least 800 people will be employed there,
around 150 of whom will be working in re-
search and development within the next three
years. Some of these people will come from
Chemtech, a fully-owned Siemens subsidiary.
Chemtech has been involved in Petrobras proj-
ects for many years and was named Brazil’s
most innovative company in 2009 (see p.
111). “At Chemtech, we have a great deal of ex-
pertise in software development, in planning
refineries, and in supplying equipment for off-
shore projects,” says company CEO Daniel
Moczydlower. “For example, we have supplied
instrumentation and monitoring systems for
oil platforms.” In the future, his team will form
part of an international network of innovation
and will work with Siemens in places such as
Norway and Houston to develop subsea solu-
tions (see p. 108). All in all, Siemens’ prospects in Brazil are
bright. One major challenge, however, is find-
ing enough people for its new projects. The
salaries of researchers and engineers are rising
all the time, and their private-sector compen-
sation is already five times higher than the in-
come of doctoral students. Instead of studying
for a doctorate, many students therefore go
straight to work for companies. Giovanni Fiorentino, Chairman for Latin
America at consulting firm Bain has this to say
of the competition for talent in Rio: “It’s a huge
challenge because everybody is competing for
the same resources.” And he doesn’t mean
sugar or oil, but well-trained specialists — who
may turn out to be Brazil’s most valuable re-
source. Andreas Kleinschmidt
Much of Brazil’s Oil is Five
Km beneath the Sea Floor
Brazil’s Tupi field (above, right) may hold up to 8 billion barrels of oil. Extraction will require new
technologies. Petrobras (below right) is working
with other companies to develop solutions. Ocean
0 m
”Post-salt” layer”
Salt layer
“Pre-salt” layer
1000 m
2000 m
3000 m
4000 m
5000 m
6000 m
7000 m
The Call of the Deep
Due to growing demand for fossil fuels, oil and gas companies are increasingly moving into the deep sea.
Here, extraction would be more efficient and safer if production facilities were located on the sea floor.
Siemens wants to provide reliable power systems and extraction technology to make this possible. Carlos Tadeu da Costa
Fraga, 53, has been the
head of the Petrobras research and development
center in Rio de Janeiro
since 2003. Petrobras is one
of the world’s largest oil
companies, posting annual
gross revenues of $151 billion in 2010. Fraga, who
has worked for the company
for about 30 years, was responsible, among other
things, for the management
of the company’s drilling activities in the Gulf of Mexico. He holds a B.A. in
construction engineering
from the Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro
and several postgraduate
degrees from institutions including the London Business School; INSEAD in
Fontainebleau, France; and Columbia University in New York.
Tapping Pools of Innovation
To what extent will technology help your
company to open the recently discovered
oil fields off the coast of Rio de Janeiro?
Without technical innovations we
wouldn’t be able to extract a large proportion
of the oil deposits there at all. We have to drill
through rock layers that are kilometers deep
and then through kilometers of salt layers be-
fore we can get to the oil reservoir. That’s why
we call it “pre-salt” — formed before salt depo-
sition. In order to extract the oil, we will have
to install production equipment thousands of
meters under sea level. We therefore have a
considerable incentive to invest in innovation.
However, we already had a strong innovation
culture even before the recent discovery of
new oilfields. Additionally, by law, we are required to invest one percent of the gross revenue from large oilfields into research and
development. In retrospect, I have to say that
this requirement has benefited our company.
However, small Brazilian companies have
fewer opportunities and less incentive to
invest in research and development…
I disagree, at least as far as our suppli-
ers are concerned. They have always had to
fulfill stringent technical requirements, and
these requirements became even more strin-
gent with regard to the extraction of pre-salt
oil. Companies that wish to help Petrobras ex-
tract this oil are being forced to develop new
solutions. In addition, the Brazilian govern-
ment is demanding that a large proportion of
the products and services we use at Petrobras
come from Brazil. Smaller Brazilian firms will
thus also benefit from the future oil boom.
Does Brazil intend to open these oil fields
entirely without foreign partners?
That would not be possible. We need
the support of international suppliers. Petro-
bras is the world’s fifth-largest energy compa-
ny, and the pre-salt oilfields are gigantic. We expect to be producing six million barrels
of oil per day by 2020. We need suppliers that
will not be overwhelmed by such huge vol-
umes. However, our long-term goal is to keep
a growing proportion of the value chain in
Brazil itself — from research and development
to manufacturing the drilling equipment for
the oil and gas fields.
Are you already working with other companies along these lines?
We can already point to a positive ex-
perience in Rio de Janeiro, where our R&D cen-
ter is located. On the campus of Brazil’s largest
university, some of our major global partners,
including Siemens, are building world class
R&D facilities. As a result, we are working
closely with other companies, but also with
Brazilian students and university researchers. How does the innovation process work
with so many different partners?
Well, it’s quite a challenge. Our suppli-
ers are not the only partners with whom we
work on development projects. We also fi-
nance joint projects with universities. We even
provide financial support for relevant research
initiatives in which Petrobras is not directly in-
volved. Ultimately, this means we are becom-
ing managers of open innovation processes.
“Open innovation” really is the key. We wel-
come every good idea from outside. Often, we get our best ideas from people who are
not even working in the oil and gas industry.
Isn’t Rio de Janeiro developing an innova-
tion monoculture — cutting-edge research
devoted to exploiting an energy source
that many believe is becoming obsolete?
On the contrary, the oil boom is a
unique opportunity to develop capabilities
that are valuable in other industries as well.
We are currently thinking about cost-saving
laser drills for use in deep-see drilling. We also
want to improve conventional drilling equip-
ment by using innovative materials. Nanopar-
ticles will play a role, too — for example in
coatings for metal tubes. The largely automat-
ed drilling equipment on the sea floor requires
sensors and data management systems for im-
proved control and monitoring. It’s a bit like
the race to the moon: The technologies we are
developing now for oil extraction will con-
tribute to progress in other fields as well, for
example in materials research, laser technolo-
gy, sensor technology, and nanotechnology. In
this way, the research devoted to developing
more efficient oil and gas technologies will
also help us to prepare for the challenges of
the post-oil era. Interview by Andreas Kleinschmidt
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 111
Efficient Use of Resources | Interview
110 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
very beneficial in terms of maintenance,” says
Brath. “In such a situation, deep sea robots
could safely disassemble individual compo-
nents on the standard template.”
Over the next few years Siemens plans to
develop a subsea grid to prepare it for every-
day use. The first practical test of a complete
system is scheduled to begin by early 2013,
with full commercial availability planned for
2014. Until then, the main task will be to prop-
erly seal components against water intrusion
and protect them against the tremendous
pressures found on ocean floors.
With this in mind, Siemens has entered into
a partnership with energy companies Statoil
and Chevron to produce a deep sea frequency
converter to supply oil pumps and gas com-
pressors with exactly the right operating volt-
age. The new converter’s housing is filled with
oil to offset the water pressure. Frequency converters and other compo-
nents are usually installed in casings on land
before they are lowered into the water. Al-
though this approach works well in shallow
seas, a conventional air-filled container has to
be very large to withstand the pressures at a
depth of several thousand meters. By contrast,
a frequency converter within an oil-filled hous-
ing is much easier to handle. The Deepwater Market. Because Siemens re-
gards deep sea production as a promising mar-
ket, it recently acquired Bennex and Poseidon,
two medium-sized Norwegian subsea compa-
nies. Bennex, which is based in Bergen, has
specialized in manufacturing electrical compo-
nents, cables, and connections for use at great
depths. Poseidon, which has its headquarters
in Stavanger, is an engineering company that
specializes in subsea assignments. Among oth-
er things, it modifies technologies for a range
of underwater applications. The companies are now working together
to plan a subsea grid in detail. And far more is
at stake than just big components. At great
depths, after all, even minor
details can make a huge dif-
ference. Experts from Bennex
are highly skilled in develop-
ing solutions for deep sea
environments. Their compa-
ny’s pro- duct range in-
cludes water tight titanium
connections, durable power cables with a cop-
per core, glass-fiber reinforced epoxy casings,
and doubly secured contacts with rubber seals
and protective covers made of stainless steel. But even a power electrical supply system is
not enough to extract raw materials. That’s
why Siemens also offers a very robust com-
pressor for transporting gas. Known as the
STC-ECO, the device was initially conceived for
use on land. Since 2006, however, it has been
used to pump natural gas from a field in the
Netherlands into the country’s supply network.
The fact that the machine doesn’t need any
seals makes it ideal for use in the deep sea. The Unlike conventional compressors, where
the drive motor and the natural gas compres-
sor are separate, STC-ECO’s key components
are located in the same capsule, The motor is
usually connected to the compressor housing
by a drive shaft. As a result, the location where
the shaft penetrates the housing has to be reli-
ably sealed. The STC-ECO, by contrast, doesn’t
need any seals and is therefore ideally suited
for deep sea use. “High reliability is essential underwater,” says
Brath. Repairs require special ships, which are
extremely expensive. Components therefore
must be able to operate nonstop and without
any defects. The STC-ECO, for example, is de-
signed to operate under water around the clock
for at least five years without any maintenance.
The system operated by Siemens in the
Netherlands already meets these require-
ments. And it has another feature that makes it
ideal for deep sea operation: Its bearings do
not need lubrication with oil. This is important,
because an oil change is impossible on the sea
floor. Instead, the system uses electrically ex-
cited magnetic bearings in which the shaft ef-
fectively “floats.” Improvements in the reliabili-
ty of the bearings’ electrical control are now
planned, so that subsea operation will become
even more reliable. In addition, touchdown
bearings made of small ceramic balls that
catch the shaft in the event that the magnetic
control fails are also to be further optimized.
The complete system will thus be subjected to
even more intensive stress tests before it can
commence its long-term work underwater. It
will take at least three years of testing before
the system is ready for deep sea use.
Oil extraction at great depths is of course
more expensive than comparable operations
on land. However, subsea facilities can im-
prove the exploitation of gas and oil fields,
thus substantially increasing profits and reduc-
ing costs. That’s reason enough to expand the
company’s research activities in this field as
well. Siemens has established partnerships
with government research institutes in Singa-
pore and Brazil and has also set up its own labs
in Houston, Texas, and Trondheim, Norway.
“We are not only focusing on the technology,”
says Strømme. “Training is also a major con-
cern. After all, only a few engineers worldwide
currently specialize in subsea applications.” Tim Schröder
Siemens’ STC-ECO subsea compressor
has to operate underwater for at least
five years without maintenance.
Future seafloor extraction facility. To ensure reliability, subsea systems will require the sort of expert engineering featured in the STC-ECO compressor (above) and cooling technology from Siemens inventor Wolfgang Zacharias.
bustible — jatropha, for instance, ignites at
260 degrees Celsius, while kerosene burns at
60 degrees.” Working together with the Karlsruhe Insti-
tute of Technology, BSH engineers first had to
identify the device’s ideal operating tempera-
ture. If it’s too low, the cooker will switch off; if
it’s too hot, the oil congeals into sediments
that turn hard as concrete. Says Kutschera,
“The ideal temperature for the cooker is be-
tween 720 and 800 degrees. In order to
achieve this energy density, we developed a
device with a special geometry.” The latest ver-
sion of the device uses about a quarter of a
liter per hour. But plans call for producing a
smaller and more efficient model in the future
— along with more field studies. “The most im-
portant thing is to get an idea of people’s prac-
tical needs,” Kutschera explains. Suwarto has some plans of his own. As a
pot of hot water simmers on the cooker and
his wife prepares the family meal, he reflects
on how to further expand his income. “We
could use our cooker to prepare additional
food, which we could sell,” he suggests. His
wife looks at him over her shoulder. She
doesn’t look too excited. Florian Martini
In Indonesia, families are testing a cooking device that runs on oil they can produce themselves. The result: sharply reduced demand for wood, fewer fires, and cleaner air.
In Indonesia, farmers
are testing a vegetable
oil cooking system
from BSH that runs on jatropha oil, and
they’re growing the
fuel themselves on
sustainable agricul-
tural forest land. S
uwarto’s life is short on luxury but rich in
regularity. A 43-year-old farmer, Suwarto
begins each day at five every morning in Pur-
wodadi, a small village in Indonesia. That’s
when he and his wife begin cultivating their
fields. After a two-hour siesta at noon, they
continue working until 5:30 p.m., when the
tropical sun slowly begins to set behind the ba-
nana trees. Suwarto shares the hut with his
wife, two children, a cow, and a few goats and
chickens that keep the tidy clay floor free of in-
sects. In one corner of the room stands an old
television set, and next to that is a bed that the
whole family shares. A naked light bulb dan-
gles from the ceiling. Suwarto may not be able
to afford much, but he smiles with content-
ment — after all, he once had a lot less. “I’m able to save more money now than a
year ago,” he says. This improvement is largely
due to an inconspicuous cooking device from
Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH)
and to the fuel the device uses. Suwarto points
toward the family’s makeshift kitchen, which is
located behind a woven partition and consists
of a chopping board, a few pots, and an old
hearth. Next to it stands the “Protos” device,
which is connected by a hose to a small tank
containing jatropha oil, an odorless vegetable
lution every year. Due to a lack of alternatives,
many people still use firewood or kerosene
cookers, which are expensive and a fire hazard. As mundane as the small vegetable oil
cooking device may look in Suwarto’s kitchen,
it actually represents quite an achievement.
Says Horst Kutschera, who is responsible for
development at BSH: “We needed 8 years of
lab and field tests before we could go into pro-
duction. Protos is the first cooker worldwide
that runs on vegetable oil. Right now we have
1,200 cookers in operation in various projects.” Kutschera adds that the devices aren’t lim-
ited to jatropha oil. They can run on many
other vegetable oils — even used frying oil.
That was the big challenge during product de-
velopment, says Kutschera. “Vegetable oils
have completely different properties from con-
ventional fuels. They’re also not very com-
112 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
oil that comes from the seeds of the jatropha
shrub. “I’ve been cultivating jatropha since May
2010, along with other plants, such as corn
and herbs,” Suwarto explains. “I also use the
same plot of land to grow trees. Previously, I
could only harvest corn.” To motivate Suwarto to switch from single-
crop cultivation to “agro-foresting,” in which
farmers cultivate a mixture of trees and agri-
cultural crops on their fields, Dutch vegetable
oil producer Waterland pays Suwarto about 15
U.S. cents per kilogram of his jatropha nuts. If
he delivers more than 50 kilograms, he re-
ceives two liters of jatropha oil for free. A liter
of oil usually costs him about 70 cents and
lasts for two weeks. What’s more, he received
the vegetable oil cooker from BSH free of
charge. All told, Suwarto now earns $120 a
month, compared to the $30 Indonesian farm-
ers usually make. The project run by Waterland, BSH, and the
national forest agency is meant not only to
bring farmers more prosperity but also to com-
bat deforestation, cope with population
growth, and increase the amount of land un-
der cultivation. In Indonesia, the fact that
about 50 million people use firewood for cook-
ing is a major problem. Each year, the average
Back in his kitchen, Suwarto crouches in
front of his cooking device. He fills a small pre-
heating bowl beneath the cooker with a little
ethyl alcohol and lights it. After a few minutes
the oil is hot enough to turn into a combustible
gas mixture. Suwarto turns a knob to light the
oil vapor, and the device emits a strong light-
blue flame. “We’re having sweet potatoes to-
day,” he says cheerfully, and leaves the rest to
his wife. Previously, they used wood for the
fire, he says. “That took a lot of time and filled
our whole hut with smoke.” According to
Suwarto, they hardly use their open fire any
more — only to cook large meals on special oc-
casions when the Protos cooker alone is not
enough. And the air is much better now thanks
to the Protos, he adds. Small Wonder. Indeed, the smoke from a
wood fire gives off poisonous substances such
as nitric oxides, benzenes, formaldehyde, mi-
crofine soot, and other airborne particles.
While the permissible limit for these particles
in Europe and the U.S. is 50 micrograms per
cubic meter of air, the practice of cooking in
huts can produce up to 10,000 micrograms.
According to the World Health Organization,
over 1.6 million people die from indoor air pol-
Cooking up a Revolution
Efficient Use of Resources | Alternative Vegetable Oil
family clears an entire hectare of forest —
most of the time illegally — simply to prepare
their meals. According to Samuel Shiroff, Protos Project
Manager at BSH, this is where the small veg-
etable oil cooking device might provide a real
alternative. As he points out, “25 liters of veg-
etable oil provide as much energy as 230 kilos
of firewood.” Studies have shown that the rate
of illegal deforestation in the areas where Pro-
tos has been introduced has been reduced by
90 percent. In addition, cultivation of these
vegetable oil plants does not compete with the
growing of food crops. As Shiroff explains,
“The plants may only be cultivated on special
fields which are approved by the forestry au-
thority. And jatropha grows readily on poor soil
where it is difficult or even impossible to culti-
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 113
Efficient Use of Resources
In Brief
In view of climate change and resource scarci-
ties, green solutions are needed more than ever
before. The current focus is on reducing resource
consumption in order to minimize mankind’s eco-
logical footprint. (pp. 78, 83, 84)
For the past 18 years, an in-house standard at
Siemens has ensured that the company’s prod-
ucts and facilities affect the environment as little
as possible. Developers have to heed these envi-
ronmental guidelines when creating new prod-
ucts. To find out which products are green and
whether “green” also makes good business sense,
Siemens developed a testing procedure known as
the Eco-Care Matrix. (pp. 81, 86)
The washing machines, dryers, refrigerators,
dishwashers, ranges, and other appliances from
BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH are
real energy-saving champions. Material efficiency
is becoming increasingly important in the devel-
opment of these devices. Virtual 3D development
processes help to make this possible. (p. 90)
3D work carried out in parallel and in real-time
not only minimizes development times and costs
but also saves energy and resources in areas such
as switchgear, high-speed trains and race cars.
Standardized Siemens software for product lifecy-
cle management makes it possible. (p. 94)
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If a
supplier has quality or reliability problems, the
entire production chain can suffer. Siemens has
thus launched a program to help suppliers opti-
mize processes — and save energy. (p. 98)
Demand for higher-performance materials is
growing worldwide. But since many raw materi-
als are becoming scarce, experts at Siemens are
working on strategies to improve the efficiency of
their utilization and recycling. They are also look-
ing at ways of substituting materials such as rare-
earth metals. (p. 100)
Other resources could also become scarce.
Due to the growing demand for fossil fuels, oil
and natural gas firms are increasingly moving
into the deep sea. Deposits can be exploited
more efficiently and safely if facilities are located
on the seabed instead of on drilling platforms.
Here, Siemens plans to provide power supply sys-
tems and extraction technology. (p. 108)
Eco-Care Matrix: Dr. Dieter Wegener, Industry
Environmental guidelines:
Dr. Wolfgang Bloch, CHR
Train recycling:
Dr. Walter Struckl, Industry
Design of household appliances:
Dr. Arno Ruminy, BSH,
Design of rotor blades:
Henrik Stiesdal, Energy
Heat pumps:
Reinhard Imhasly, Industry
PLM software:
Peter Biersack, Industry
Reinhard Belker, Industry
Irsching gas turbine:
Lothar Balling, Energy
Willibald Fischer, Energy
Supply chain management:
Dr. Bernd Müssig, CSCM
Raw materials:
Dr. Thomas Scheiter, CT
Kalwa water filter:
Jeevan Rao, Siemens India,
Subsea technologies:
Bjoern Einar Brath, Energy
Vegetable oil cooker:
Samuel Shiroff, BSH,
Sustainability at Siemens:
For Suppliers:
Global Footprint Network:
Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team:
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011 115
Pictures of the Future | Preview
Mastering Complexity
New technologies are entering many areas of our life and making everyday tasks easier.
However, the world is also becoming more complex and it's becoming harder to under-
stand how systems influence one another and how they can be managed most effective-
ly. How can software be written to ensure that it functions reliably, securely, and fault-
lessly? How can the energy systems of entire countries be restructured in such a way that many small decentralized power plants — with their fluctuating levels of energy —
optimally combine with large power stations which supply the base load? How should cities be organized in the future so that their inhabitants can enjoy well-functioning and
sustainable infrastructures incorporating everything from transport systems to water
supplies? The design, implementation, and optimization of such complex systems are
among the most difficult tasks facing researchers and developers. At Siemens, thousands
of engineers are facing up to this challenge — whether the issue is individual sensors
and engines, simulation tools, or the planning and optimization of entire systems.
Formulas for Efficiency
Almost every existing product, service, process and activity can be performed more effi-
ciently. For example, in spite of huge increases in efficiency in recent years, on average
more than 50 percent of primary energy is still being lost in the form of heat in areas
such as power generation, industrial processes and transportation. More than a fifth of
current carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided worldwide through smart manage-
ment of waste heat. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, might also be used commercially
to produce, for example, chemicals, biofuels and organic plastics. Moreover, buildings,
which are responsible for 40 percent of energy use worldwide, could improve their envi-
ronmental footprint and even produce energy. Around the globe, Siemens scientists are
striving to exploit these untapped sources of efficiency in fields ranging from simulation
and optimization to bioengineering, materials development and sensor networking. The Next Economy
Our world seems to be rotating faster and faster.
In the developing countries and emerging mar-
kets, we're seeing the growth of a middle class
that wants to enjoy a higher standard of living —
and has the means to do so. Production and inno-
vation are increasingly taking place in these parts
of the world. The global structures of value crea-
tion are shifting quickly and dramatically. Quite a
few supposedly unshakable assumptions about
the effects of globalization in different parts of
the world have been thrown into question. What will logistics networks look like in the world
of tomorrow? How can production facilities in dif-
ferent regions work together? Can demand for
environmentally compatible growth be fulfilled in
this dynamic context? These are questions to
which Siemens experts are trying to find sustain-
able answers — in areas such as industrial pro-
ductivity, resource-conserving energy generation,
and the infrastructure of cities, which are increas-
ingly establishing themselves as key centers of
the new global economy.
Would you like to know more
about Siemens and our latest
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of Europe’s major cities (English)
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114 Pictures of the Future | Fall 2011
Pictures of the Future | Feedback
© 2011 by Siemens AG. All rights reserved.
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
Order number: A19100-F-P174-X-7600
ISSN 1618-5498
Publisher:Siemens AG
Corporate Communications (CC) and Corporate Technology (CT)
Wittelsbacherplatz 2, 80333 Munich, Germany
For the publisher: Dr. Ulrich Eberl (CC), Arthur F. Pease (CT) (Tel. +49 89 636 33246) (Tel.+49 89 636 48824)
Editorial Office:
Dr. Ulrich Eberl (Editor-in-chief) Arthur F. Pease (Executive Editor, English Edition)
Florian Martini (Managing Editor)
Sebastian Webel
Dr. Andreas Kleinschmidt
Additional Authors in this Issue: Bernhard Bartsch, Dr. Fenna Bleyl, Dr. Hubertus Breuer, Christian Buck, Hülya Dagli, Nils Ehrenberg, Nicole Elflein, Urs Fitze, Dr. Rolf Froböse, Andrea Hoferichter, Ute Kehse, Klaudia Kunze, Michael Lang, Bernd Müller, Katrin Nikolaus,
Gitta Rohling, Evelyn Runge, Tim Schröder, Karen Stelzner, Hans Schürmann, Dr. Sylvia Trage, Silke Weber, Nikola Wohllaib
Picture Editing: Judith Egelhof, Irene Kern, Doreen Thomas, Stephanie
Rahn, Manfred Viglahn, Publicis Publishing, Munich
Photography: Kurt Bauer, Achim Bieniek, Thomas Ernsting, André Francois,
Jan Greune, Dietmar Gust, Volker Steger, Christian Tille, Jürgen Winzeck Internet ( Volkmar Dimpfl
Historical Information:
Dr. Frank Wittendorfer, Siemens Corporate Archives
Address Database:Susan Grünbaum-Süß, Publicis Erlangen
Layout / Lithography: Rigobert Ratschke, Seufferle Mediendesign, Stuttgart
Illustrations:Wolfram Gothe, Martin Peschkes
Graphics:Jochen Haller, Seufferle Mediendesign, Stuttgart
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Translations English — German: Karin Hofmann, Publicis Munich
Printing: Stark Brillant GmbH, Bogenoffset, Im Altgefäll 9, 75181 Pforzheim
Picture Credits: OSRAM GmbH (5 b.r.), Paul Bigland Photography (16 b.l.),
TfL / John Sturrock (16 b.r.), SWM (29 l.), Fraunhofer-Institut für
Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation (29 r.), laif / Martin Roemers (30-31),
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All other images: Copyright Siemens AG
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The editorial content of the reports in this publication does not necessarily
reflect the opinion of the publisher. This magazine contains forward-look-
ing statements, the accuracy of which Siemens is not able to guarantee in any way.
Pictures of the Future appears twice a year.
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