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Fall 2004
COMMUNICATIONS
SOFTWARE
SENSOR TECHNOLOGY
Always-On Society
Intelligence Inside
Superhuman Senses
T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R R E S E A R C H A N D I N N O V A T I O N
Pictures of the Future
Scenario 2015: Fantasy Online 8
Trends:Always Online 11
Life at Work:The Mobile Office 14
Security:Moving Target 17
Interview with Thomas Geitner, Board Member and Group Technology Officer at Vodafone:Why Cell Phones have a Multimedia Future 19
Industry:Real-Time Value 20
Home and Leisure:Two-Way Street 23
Facts and Forecasts:Boom in Broadband Technologies 26
Far East: Broadband Mecca 28
Society:Heading for the Lonely Crowd?31
Horizons2020 Scenario — A Glimpse of Things to Come 4
Research Cooperation:Feitoza Foundation, Manaus, Brazil 34
Start-Up /Spin-Off: PolyIC — the Chip Printers (Polymer Chips) 58
History: Electronic Ears (Hearing Aids) 86
Patents:LEDs Illuminate Runways /Chin Up in the Car of the Future 88
Innovation News:Wristband with RFID / SPECT
.
CT Technology for Early, Accurate Diagnosis /Cell Phone Photo Diary 89
Feedback / Preview 90
I
n recent months, Europe has laid the groundwork for future development. The exten-
sion of the European Union in May 2004 created the world’s largest single market,
which has the economic power of the U.S. but more inhabitants than the U.S. and Japan
put together. The election of a new European Parliament in June was soon followed by a
breakthrough when the leaders of the EU states agreed on the text of the future EU con-
stitution. All of this brings Europe an important step closer to its declared goal of becom-
ing the most dynamic economic region in the world — even though much remains to be
done in terms of economic reforms.
F
or companies like Siemens, the new Europe offers tremendous opportunity. This is
where we generate 57 percent of our sales and employ two-thirds of our workforce.
After the opening of the Iron Curtain, we’ve also been able to revive contacts that go
back for more than a century, and today Siemens employs about 25,000 men and
women in central and eastern Europe. That brings us closer to customers who demand
many infrastructure services and a pool of well-qualified workers whose labor costs are
in some cases only one-sixth of those of their colleagues in Germany. B
ut in terms of costs alone, neither Germany nor Europe will be able to compete with
other business locations, for example, those in Asia. The EU’s strengths must be
sought elsewhere: in its socially stable economies, and, above all, in its people’s high
level of creativity, thanks to which we have a good chance of taking the lead in innova-
tion. And that will be the key to our competitiveness in the future. Siemens too has set
its sights high. We want to be the trendsetter in everything we do.
A
nd that’s why we’ve chosen innovation, along with customer orientation and global
competitiveness, as the focus of our top
+ business excellence program. A major
aspect of this program is the synergy between the Siemens Groups — for example, the
development of platforms such as a uniform architecture for control systems of every
kind, or wireless LAN for use in applications ranging from cell phones to data transmis-
sion in factories (see p. 20). Well thought-out platforms not only help to save costs but
also permit more flexibility and higher quality, thanks to reusable modules — and that
means more benefits for our customers. An additional focus of our innovation program
is on areas where we intend to set trends — whether it’s the rise of the mobile office
(see p. 14), the smart home (see p. 23) or the real-time enterprise (see p. 20).
T
his issue of Pictures of the Future also demonstrates the high percentage of cross-
sectional technologies at Siemens — for example, sensor technology (see p. 60 –
85) and software (see p. 36 – 57). Most of the added value in almost all of our business
areas is based on software, even if it’s not immediately visible in the products. Our
30,000 software developers — that’s more than at many leading software houses —
basically make us one of the leading software companies in the world.
I
am convinced that Siemens is well on the way to becoming theleader in innovation
and achieving a significant competitive edge. But the question remains: What will
Europe look like in 2020? We recently commissioned TNS Infratest to conduct a study on
this intriguing issue. The article that begins on page 4 reports on the future scenario we
will publish as “Horizons2020.”
Europe and
Siemens:
Innovation Is the Key Johannes Feldmayer is a mem-
ber of the Siemens AG Corpo-
rate Executive Committee. He is
responsible for the business
region Europe, as well as for
several Siemens Groups and
corporate departments (L&A,
SBT, CIO, GPL). P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
32
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
E DI T OR I AL
Cover, top right:Software is ultimately
nothing but mathematics and logic, trans-
lated into lines of code — and yet it makes
the world go round. More and more prod-
ucts contain software, though the user may
not be aware of it. Bottom left: Sensors —
like this innovative CO
2
gas sensor — are
moving in everywhere.
A L WA Y S - O N S O C I E T Y
Scenario 2015: Living Memory 36
Trends: Creating Tomorrow’s Codes 39
Programming:Taming Complex Systems 42
Security:Faultless Future?44
Facts and Forecasts:Falling Prices and Exploding Complexity 45
Quality:Model Process 46
Pervasive Computing:Developing a Digital Aura 48
International Development:Software in the Global Village 51
Standardization:Efficiency Revolution 53
Interview with Prof. Michael Cusumano, MIT
on an Automatic Transmission for Software 55
Patents:Protecting Innovations 56
S O F T W A R E
Scenario 2015: Sensing the Best Wine 60
Trends: Superhuman Senses
with information on: Sensors in Textiles, Tires, Engines and Turbines 63
Computed Tomography:Fast Ceramic in X-Ray Light 68
MEMS:Buildings that Think and Act 70
Sensor Networks:Smart Grains of Sand 72
Biosensors:The Pocket Laboratory 74
Optical Sensors:Electronic Eagle Eyes 77
Facts and Forecasts:Toward Intelligent and Networked Sensors 80
Gas Sensors:Digital Bloodhounds 81
Interview with Dr. Udo Weimar, University of Tuebingen, on Sensors that Can Smell 84
S E N S O R T E C H N O L O G Y
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
CONT E NT S
F E A T U R E S
What developments will characterize our society, our economy and our political system in the coming ten to 15 years? With its “Horizons2020” scenario — the result of a comprehensive questionnaire sent to inter-
national experts — Siemens hopes to stimulate public discussion of the issues involved and help formulate appropriate solutions.
4
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
5
I
n the theater, the props and the stage set-
ting traditionally define the framework
within which a certain scene will unfold. The
Greek term “scenarium” originally referred
to a plot summary, and its meaning was
later expanded to mean the director’s
overview of the dramatic production. The
modern word “scenario” has been borrowed
from stage terminology to mean the frame-
work within which future developments will
evolve. For example, Siemens uses Pictures
of the Future scenarios to illustrate the most
important technological trends in the com-
pany’s business areas. But on what kind of
stage will the developments of the coming
years and decades take place? What social,
political and economic frameworks are in-
volved? To find the answers to these questions,
Siemens commissioned TNS Infratest Munich,
a business research company, to conduct an
initial study throughout Europe. Since 1947,
TNS Infratest has conducted thousands of
studies for clients from the public and private
sectors, including a number of studies of fu-
ture scenarios. The company is part of the
London-based Taylor Nelson Sofres, one of
the world’s leading market research compa-
nies, which has more than 14,000 employ-
ees in 70 countries. The study which was com-
missioned by Siemens, entitled Horizons2020,
will be presented to the general public for
the first time during the “Science Days” in
Munich at the end of October, 2004. “Horizons2020 is not about political sce-
narios such as those that were developed by
the RAND Corporation during the Cold War,
nor is it about strategic scenarios that com-
panies can use to forecast probable future
developments,” says Dr. Joachim Scharioth,
CEO of TNS Infratest Business Research, who
was already working out scenarios at the
Battelle Institute in the 1980s. “Instead, it de-
velops a so-called communication scenario.
With Horizons2020, we depict several possi-
ble futures that are consistent in themselves
and together describe the entire range of
possible developments. In other words, they
are like the stage settings in a theater be-
cause they show us how much scope we will
have to shape the future.” The aim of com-
munication scenarios, he adds, is not to fore-
cast future developments and the likelihood
that they will actually happen. Rather, the
goal is to clearly visualize a variety of possible
futures and their internal relationships. The client — Dr. Barbara Filtzinger, head
of Public Relations at Siemens Corporate
Communications — adds: “Through Hori-
zons2020 we aim to initiate a dialogue with
interested parties in the general public about
possible developments, the challenges facing
us and conceivable solutions. We’ve chosen a
timeframe of 15 to 20 years, which is far
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
HOR I Z ONS
2020 S C E NAR I O
enough in the future not to be a simple con-
tinuation of today’s situation but is also not
so distant that our ideas would be only wish-
ful thinking or science fiction without any
connection to reality.” How long 20 years can
be should be clear to anyone who thinks
back to the way things were in 1984. In
those days, who would have dared to predict
the collapse of the Eastern bloc or the east-
ward extension of the EU? And who had any
idea of the coming Internet? Mobile phones
were as yet unknown and hardly anyone had
a personal computer. Alternative Developments.In order to find
out how experts view current trends in spe-
cific areas, TNS Infratest developed an exten-
sive questionnaire together with Siemens
and an international advisory board and sent
it to several hundred experts throughout Eu-
rope. The areas involved covered economics
and politics, technology and the environ-
ment, and culture and society. “The group
included many experts at universities who re-
flect on the future of their respective research
areas as well as company CEOs and European
political leaders,” says Scharioth. The ques-
tionnaire contained many descriptors — that
is, two alternative descriptions of possible fu-
ture developments. The 116 questionnaires
returned in the first round were processed
and the “non-critical” descriptors — in other
words, the areas where most of the experts
were in agreement — were filtered out. The remaining descriptors were divided
into “critical” descriptors — here, the experts
split into two opposing camps — and those
marked by a wide diversity of opinions. For
the latter group, a new questionnaire was
sent out, and this time the experts were
informed about the opinions that had been
expressed by their colleagues throughout
Europe. “This made the responses more defi-
nite,” explains Scharioth.
As a result of the two questionnaires and
the meetings of the advisory board, TNS In-
fratest identified a total of 76 critical descrip-
tors, 32 non-critical descriptors and 10 mega-
trends (see box below). “That makes this
Siemens study one of the most comprehen-
sive and complex ones I know of,” says Schar-
ioth. Normally, he adds, research companies
are commissioned to carry out much more
specific studies. For example, automakers
such as BMW or VW wish to find out about
the future of mobility, and companies like
Shell are interested in trends in the energy
supply sector. “So far, I haven’t heard of any
other companies commissioning a study that
examines every area of people’s lives and
works with as many as 76 critical descriptors,”
he says. “Of course, one reason for this is that
➔ Increasing globalization
➔ Increasing longevity
➔ Fewer children
➔ Greater significance of women in business
and society
➔ Free choice of lifestyle
➔ Growing significance of virtual communities
➔ Networking of communication media
➔ Growing mobility (“delocalization”)
➔ Growing migration to Europe
➔ Acceleration of technological knowledge
creation and product cycles
Evaluating Europe’s Future.Scharioth’s team
therefore investigated which alternatives the
experts judged to be especially important,
how often they were mentioned and the ex-
tent to which they were correlated with a
“positive future index.” To this end, the ex-
perts were asked their opinions about how
positive the future would be in their respec-
tive regions and fields of expertise. A total of
38 percent of the experts believed that living
conditions in Europe in 2020 would be very
good or excellent, whereas only 16 percent
expected good economic conditions in 2020,
and a mere seven percent believed the social
climate would be positive. By contrast, 56 per-
HORI ZONS
2020:
TEN MEGATRENDS
Experts from all over Europereviewed
developments in all areas of life.
such broadly conceived scenarios do not
serve purely economic corporate goals, since
they cannot make reliable predictions about
the likelihood of these scenarios actually tak-
ing place,” adds Scharioth. After all, in purely
mathematical terms, 76 critical descriptors
yield 2
76 = 75 x 10
21
(75 billion trillion) possi-
ble futures. It wouldn’t make much sense to
carry out a statistical evaluation of that much
data. cent of the experts expected cultural life in
Europe to be exciting in 2020. “All in all, we
received 38 different descriptor impressions
that are likely to have a positive impact on the
future,” says Scharioth. In order not to arrive at one purely opti-
mistic and one purely pessimistic future sce-
nario version, TNS Infratest used a strategy
that, according to Scharioth, has rarely been
used in previous studies. “We put about the
Horizons2020 — A Glimpse
of Things to Come
6
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004 7
H OR I Z ON
1: T H E D E C E L E R AT E D S OC I E T Y
H
OR I Z ON
2: T
H E
P
E R F OR MA N C E
- O
R I E N T E D
“ M
E
” S
OC I E T Y
In the first version of the Horizon2020 scenario, by 2020 European national
governments, political bodies and societies have developed sustainable solutions
to the problems of health care, education and old-age care. They have also
found ways to ensure legal security and protect their citizens effectively from
terrorism. A “35-state Europe” has still not completely evolved, but Europe is
nonetheless a peaceful island floating in the chaotic global ocean, in contrast
to other associations of states and economic blocs. Europeans generally trust
their governments, political parties and trade unions. Their basic attitudes are
conservative, and they tend to hold on to tried and tested institutions. They are
skeptical about major changes and immigration by non-Europeans. In this society, a socially responsible market economy is highly valued, as
are top environmental quality and the shared European cultural tradition.
Companies, organizations and individuals are judged according to their fair-
ness, consideration for others and sense of responsibility. People feel responsi-
ble for the generations that will follow them. Environmentally friendly tech-
nologies are very popular, and sustainable economic planning is desired and
actively promoted. With regard to the ethical applications of genetic engineering and biotech-
nology, Europeans have agreed on a common denominator that allows indus-
try to establish secure legal claims in these areas. Security is so highly valued
that people are open to new technologies for surveillance and personal identi-
fication. However, any innovations that might lead to outside scrutiny of their
behavior as consumers are roundly rejected. People focus on their private spheres, old people are well integrated in so-
ciety and children represent one of the very highest values. The proportion of
patchwork families and other non-traditional lifestyles continues to increase,
but it is relatively easy to combine families and careers. Thanks to modern
communication media and the growing trend toward the information, knowl-
edge and service society, people are increasingly doing a large proportion of
their professional work at home. The smart home, with special zones for me-
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
HOR I Z ONS
2020 S C E NAR I O
dia, work and rest, is gaining in importance — and people’s lives are once
again centering on their homes. These overall developments represent a trend toward “deceleration” in
large parts of Europe. People are putting a brake on their demands, partly as a
necessary response to global competition and partly as a matter of free choice.
Economic growth is slow, and as a production location Europe cannot keep
pace with the up-and-coming countries of Asia. In central and northern Europe,
the service and information sectors are well developed; in eastern Europe,
traditional industry is strong, and in southern Europe the strongest sector is
tourism. The amount of disposable income in private households is declining,
partly as a result of the growing proportion of self-financed healthcare, pen-
sions and security. In addition, the cost of mobility is growing, because an in-
creasing proportion of the transport infrastructure is being privately financed,
from toll roads to local public transportation and parking fees. As a result of
declining incomes, consumption is no longer a status symbol and the trend is
toward careful shopping. In the private sector, do-it-yourself services are gain-
ing in popularity. Cars and other major investments are often shared, cultural
tourism is on the increase, and hotels are selected for their flair, as the aim of
travel is in many cases meditation, carefully chosen pleasures and closeness to
nature. People’s lives are becoming more deliberate, quiet and socially secure, be-
cause the differences in income between rich and poor are gradually shrinking.
There is a large variety of work models to choose from, and they permit new
combinations of earning, learning and leisure time. Many people are striving
to achieve the right balance between work and leisure, even if they need to
hold down two or even three jobs, and they try to schedule “out times” so
they’re not continuously accessible. For many individuals, relaxation and retreat
into private comfort zones, enjoyment of life and a holistic focus on health are
more important than professional success.
In the second scenario version, a dynamic market economy is the distinguish-
ing feature of Europe in the year 2020. National states now define only the
regulatory framework and restrict their services to minimal state-supported so-
cial security — even in areas they had in the past regarded as essential. Because
government attempts to reform the areas of education, health care and retire-
ment provisions have failed, these areas have been increasingly taken over by
private companies. This has led to the creation of international education and
healthcare companies, and an increasing number of private firms are responsible
for such matters as citizens’ safety from terrorists and network saboteurs. The
healthcare and security sectors are the strongest engines driving the economy.
Hand in hand with the retreat of the state goes an emphasis on individual
responsibility, motivation to achieve and flexibility. Self-realization is regarded
as the highest goal, and consumption is a value in itself. Change is viewed as
positive, and citizen initiatives and self-help groups have gained significant
ground. Companies as well as individuals strive to further their own interests.
Lifestyles in this society are characterized by rampant competition and little
commitment to permanent structures. Private as well as professional partner-
ships are quickly formed and just as quickly dissolved.
Many plans are very short-term, and private networks fluctuate greatly.
Some friends are for evenings at the theater, while others are for vacations.
The world has become a village. It’s nothing unusual to have friends and ac-
quaintances all over the globe who are easily accessible, thanks to increased
mobility and more powerful communication technology. Meanwhile, the tradi-
tional family is losing significance and being replaced by a wide variety of rela-
tionships. Only affluent couples find it easy to combine children and careers. On the whole, all these developments are leading to an increase in social
problems. People who are “time poor and money rich” stand in contrast to those
who are “time rich and money poor.” A well-educated elite dominates econom-
ically and culturally. There is conspicuous consumption, multifunctional adven-
ture vacations and luxury brands as well as poverty, no-frills vacations and dis-
count stores. It is also easier to move from one social class to another, and social
advancement is easy for high achievers — at least in principle. A variety of ed-
ucational institutions compete with one another, and most new jobs are being
created in the areas of information acquisition, processing and communication.
Thanks to the development of the knowledge society — especially in the core
states of Europe — a moderate but constant rate of economic growth has been
achieved. Consequently, the average amount of disposable income has risen
and there is still some leeway for private consumption in spite of the pressure
to privately finance individual healthcare, pension plans, mobility and security. E-commerce has become part of everyday life, as has the use of the Inter-
net and multimedia communication. All the devices that surround us daily are
intelligent and networked, and autonomous systems (robots and software
agents) help us with our everyday tasks and professional work. Constant ac-
cessibility, even when we’re traveling and during our leisure time, makes it
possible to delocalize the workplace — people can do their work anywhere in
the world, and that makes it easier to form ad hoc teams for a variety of projects.
That’s why more and more companies are working with a small core team of
employees and a large number of cooperative arrangements and flexible con-
tracts with freelancers. At the same time, this means that companies are mak-
ing greater efforts to keep their valuable employees for a longer period of time.
On the other hand, workers feel less loyalty to their employers.
Every generation is its own top priority, and as a result, overarching issues
that affect more than one generation are seldom addressed. Global competition
for resources — energy, water and food — is in full swing and is causing short-
ages outside of Europe. Environmental protection receives lip service as an im-
portant value, but most people are not prepared to pay a higher price for it. With
regard to biotechnology, genetic engineering and medical therapies, every
country has its own ideas about what should be permitted — and therefore
medical tourism is on the rise as wealthy patients travel to other countries in
order to take advantage of advanced therapies.
together define the framework within which
Europe will most probably develop between
now and 2020. The reality will certainly lie
somewhere in between.Ulrich Eberl
www.siemens.com/horizons2020
same number of positive alternatives for the
descriptors in Horizon1 and Horizon2,” he
says. “That was the only way to ensure a
meaningful discussion; otherwise everyone
would have welcomed the one scenario ver-
sion and rejected the other one.” Additional
input came from the Pictures of the Future
scenarios, as worked out by Siemens experts
from Corporate Technology and the Groups.
These deal with the most important techno-
logical trends of the future. Horizon1, the first
scenario version, describes a development
very much in the European tradition: a rela-
tively strong state and a society that values
solidarity and sustainability. Such a society is
willing to accept a modest rate of economic
growth — along with the associated conse-
quences for its social services system. The
other scenario version, Horizon2, which is also
logically consistent, sketches an economically
dynamic society shaped by markets and glob-
al competition. In addition to being very flex-
ible, such a society must be prepared to ac-
cept a high level of individual responsibility
and greater social risk. Horizon1 and 2 taken
ALWAYS-ON SOCI ETY
HIGHLIGHTS
Two-Way Street
TV will be interactive and even accessible on your mobile phone.
Broadband access,wireless tech-
nologies and networked house-
hold appliances will transform the
home environment.
The Value of Real-Time Information
Comprehensive networking of all
production and equipment data
will increase cost-effectiveness in
industry. Lonely Crowd?
Sociologists expect a shift to new
communication norms. Constant
accessibility will increase the
value of privacy.
Dialing up a Multimedia Future
Vodafone’s Thomas Geitner
has high hopes for UMTS and
data services that transform
cell phones into all-purpose
multimedia devices.
Always onin the Mobile Office
Whether it’s phone calls, e-mails
or SMS, future systems will
know where, when and how
people can best be reached,
thanks to LifeWorks.
Page 23
Page 31
Page 14
Page 19
Page 20
2015
Peter, a participant in an online computer game, has taken on the
role of a dwarf and is fighting along-
side his three teammates. His home
entertainment system gives him a
realistic impression of the game’s
virtual world by means of his 3-D
glasses, while a data glove enables
him to move through his virtual sur-
roundings. But suddenly, there’s an
emergency call from the real world…
8
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
9
S C E NAR I O
2015
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
Fantasy Online
Munich, October 2015: Bogoroth, the dwarf, is battling his way through the virtual
world of a computer game. Back in real
life, he’s Peter, the engineer, who has just corrected a malfunction at the factory.
L
ovely elf-woman, it’s a pleasure to see
you again,” says Peter, greeting his fellow
player. Peter has taken the afternoon off so
that he can dive into the virtual world of the
computer game “Fellows of Glendalough.”
“Dwarf Bogoroth, I greet you,” answers Al-
wyne, the elf-woman. “The others must al-
ready be at the meeting place. A severe trial
awaits us today.”
Peter’s hand is sheathed in a data glove
with sensors that translate his finger move-
ments into computer commands. Peter balls
his hand into a fist, which is the signal for his
figure in the game to start walking. In the
real world, Peter is sitting in a comfortable
armchair and wearing 3-D glasses. The stereo
display and sound system of his home enter-
tainment system provide him with an aston-
ishingly realistic impression of the game’s vir-
tual setting. His voice and his movements are
transmitted via a high speed data transmis-
sion line into the Internet, or, more precisely,
into the game server. There, all the informa-
tion gathered from all the players converges
in real time and is immediately sent back to
the players. Peter is now at the entrance of
the valley in which the monastery of Glen-
dalough lies. He can see the stone tower of
the monastery looming above the treetops.
Alwyne is at his side, clad in a white chiffon
gown. Peter has already forgotten that in the
real world he’s not the 294-year-old dwarf
Bogoroth but a 40-year-old engineer who
works for a major automotive supplier.
“Hail, Bogoroth and Alwyne,” calls the
magician Eogarth as the two of them step
Harry Strasser, Chief Innova-
tion Officer at Siemens Com.
Strasser now finds it easier to read, write and send e-mails
when he’s on the move —
thanks to the new Siemens
SK65 cell phone. The phone’s
complete keyboard appears
when its housing is turned. A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
T R E NDS
Group ICM have merged to become Siemens
Communications in October 2004. The new
Group has nearly 60,000 employees who
generate annual sales of about 17 billion eu-
ros, offering infrastructure and terminals
from a single source. A main activity area at
the division involves the LifeWorks concept,
which Siemens is using to bring together
separate networks such as company LANs,
mobile communications networks and fixed-
line networks into a single platform (see p. 14).
Telecommunication companies are al-
ready using the Internet Protocol (IP) for long-
distance phone calls, where data is transmit-
ted as separate packets rather than via a
reserved line. The advantage here is that
much more data can be transmitted when
pauses in conversation are used to transfer
additional data. The UMTS mobile communi-
cations standard also utilizes this “packet
switched” system. And it is already possible
to route calls made via cordless phones
through the Internet (Voice over IP, or VoIP).
“In the future, a communications device will
have perhaps only one external IP interface
but have different modems working inside,
with each utilizing a different standard,” says
Dr. Jürgen Schindler, who works on Access
Technologies at Siemens Com.
When Worlds Converge. This convergence
trend involves two currently separate worlds.
Standardization committees in partnership
projects for third-generation mobile commu-
nications (3GPP) are working on unifying the
mobile communications networks, which in-
clude UMTS and HSDPA. These networks let
users roam freely, since data is forwarded
from one mobile radio cell to the next. On
the other hand, the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is working on
standards for transmission techniques that
originated on the Web: WLAN and, for
greater distances, WiMAX. Central radio
servers used in conjunction with these tech-
nologies make users independent of wires.
But users can’t leave the transmission radius
of a hot spot without the risk of losing the
connection. Experts refer to this as a “no-
madic” system, as opposed to true mobile radio. “The worlds of 3GPP and IEEE are ap-
T
he Internet will soon be as omnipresent
as the electricity that comes out of your
socket. One current trend in telecommunica-
tions is to be “always on” (online). “For me,
that means being available and able to com-
municate when I want to and how I want to,”
says Harry Strasser, Chief Innovation Officer
at Siemens Communications (Com). Actually
most of us are already more or less always
available. Just about everyone has a cell
phone, a fixed-line connection, e-mail and In-
ternet access. But no one is really always on
yet. That’s because availability is often diffi-
cult due to the number of devices involved in
communication. Moreover, accessing the In-
ternet and writing e-mails on a cell phone
isn’t much fun, and downloading music, im-
ages and documents requires much higher
data transfer rates than are currently the
norm. The telecommunications industry has
developed many new processes for broad-
band communications — on both a mobile
and fixed-line basis. “We’re approaching a
point of fragmentation in terms of data
transmission technology,” says Strasser. An
important goal in this regard is the seamless
transfer between different technologies.
Users shouldn’t notice which transmission
standard their laptop, cell phone or PDA is us-
ing — whether it’s WLAN or WiMAX, UMTS
or HSDPA (see box on p. 13).
Several different standards will co-exist
over the next few years, but fixed-line net-
works, mobile networks and the Internet will
ultimately merge. Siemens has responded to
this trend with one of its biggest restructur-
ing programs in recent years. The fixed-line
Group ICN and the mobile communications
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
S C E NAR I O
2015
into a clearing. Beside the blue-robed magi-
cian stands a tall man — Grimbergen, the
archer. Eogarth is the leader of their team,
which meets at irregular intervals in the vir-
tual world of the game. The four of them
have known each other for about two years,
but they know very little about each other’s
true identities. Peter suspects that Alwyne is
a journalist. Eogarth seems to be a teacher or
a professor. And Grimbergen’s prowess as an
archer suggests that he might be a police-
man or a soldier. “Here in the forest lie the
hidden fragments of an amulet. Each of us
must look for a fragment. A floating sphere
will show you the direction in which you
must search,” says Eogarth, explaining the
task before them. “Bring your fragment back
to the meeting place. Once we put the
amulet together, we will progress to a higher
level of the game,” he adds. “If you are pre-
pared for the challenge, the time has come
to go forth.” Peter checks his weapons and
his supply of food before plunging into the
forest in pursuit of the hovering sphere.
Soon, the dwarf has lost sight of his com-
rades. The forest is dark and deep...
Two hours later, Peter finds himself in a
cave. He has had to do battle with a troll and
a huge snake. By means of a display, he has
also been able to track the adventures of his
companions, who have made good progress.
Alwyne is on the way back with her amulet
fragment, and Eogarth is engaged in a
swordfight. Peter is standing in a treasure
chamber and has just solved the riddle that
will open a wooden chest that contains the
amulet. Suddenly, the ringing of his mobile
phone jerks him out of his fantasy world and
an urgent message appears on his 3-D dis-
play. “Oh no, this can’t be happening!” Peter
exclaims. The call can mean only one thing:
Something’s gone wrong at the plant. It’s his
day off, and he made sure he’d be inaccessi-
ble. Only the crisis center of his company re-
ceived the authorization to be put through to
him in case of an emergency.
An engineer once again, Peter puts the
game on hold and answers the phone:
“What’s happening?” In a flash, the treasure
chamber disappears and the display is trans-
formed into a computer screen. “The sorting
machine for the compressed-air cartridges
has crashed,” a technician informs him. “We
can’t get it going again. In a few minutes the
production line will come to a standstill.” “OK,
I’m logging on,” says Peter. He dials into the
company network, receives authorization
and gains access to all the data he needs on
his large home monitor — just as though he
were sitting at his workstation. The company
he works for produces airbags — around the
clock. New software for industrial Ethernet
was installed two days ago, and maybe some
part of it is incompatible with the machine’s
control system. Peter’s an expert when it
comes to production, but his suspicion can
be confirmed only by his colleague Mark,
who understands the software installed at
the company better than anyone else. “Could
you please set up a video conference with
Mark for me?” asks Peter. Mark is in India at
the moment, setting up new contracts with
Indian software developers.
Seconds later, Mark’s image appears on
the monitor. “What could be so important
that you need to interrupt my dinner?” he
asks jokingly. It doesn’t take him long to fig-
ure out what’s going on. “It’s definitely a
compatibility problem,” he says. “Can you get
me the documentation just before the sys-
tem went down?” he asks his colleagues at
the company. Lines of codes promptly glide
across the display. Peter can see no pattern in
the flood of letters and figures — but Mark
obviously can, because he soon says: “An up-
date of the control program should take care
of things. Peter, you’ll find the modules in my
file.” “OK, Mark, thanks! If that doesn’t do it,
we’ll get back in touch,” Peter replies. He
finds the module and immediately starts the
installation of the update. “Integrate the sort-
ing machine into the network again,” he says
to the technician in the control center. “OK,
it’s working again. Please send me an e-mail
documenting the event,” he says before sign-
ing off. He then immediately clicks on the
Glendalough icon, which has been pulsating
the whole time to indicate that it’s in the
standby mode. Once again, he becomes the
dwarf Bogoroth. He lifts the amulet fragment
out of the wooden chest and hastens back to
the meeting place.Norbert Aschenbrenner
In the “always on” society of
the future, we’ll be able to
continuously keep in touch
with the whole world, if we
choose — regardless of which
terminals we use and without
having to think about how the
data is transmitted. Siemens is
creating devices and networks
to meet just these challenges.
Always
Online
10
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11
MA N Y R OA D S L E A D T O T H E MOB I L E I N T E R N E T
Key technologies:(see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2002, p. 11 for more information):
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System): Standard for third-generation
mobile communications (3G); operates in specially licensed frequency bands in the two-
gigahertz (GHz) range.Its theoretical maximum data transfer rate is two megabits per
second (Mbit/s). But there are two limits to any type of mobile radio technology: First, all
users of a given cell share the available capacity. Secondly, the maximum data transfer
rate decreases when the user’s speed of movement increases. In practice, UMTS
achieves a rate of 384 kilobits per second (kbit/s) when downloading data (downlink).
HSDPA(High Speed Downlink Packet Access): A further UMTS software development,
with a maximum downlink data transfer rate of 14.4 Mbit/s. The base station’s capacity
can be increased by 50 percent by optimizing the modulation and coding algorithms and
by making distribution of the data load at the base stations more efficient. Siemens net-
work technology already supports the HSDPA protocol; so the only thing still needed for
implementation is a software update. Siemens also plans to introduce an HSDPA card for
laptops at the end of 2005. Thereafter, cell phones will also support the HSDPA standard.
WLAN(Wireless Local Area Network): A locally limited radio network operating in fre-
quencies not subject to licenses. Inside a hot spot with a range of ten to 50 meters, a
WLAN achieves maximum data transfer rates of 11 Mbit/s (Standard IEEE 802.11b at 2.4 GHz) and 54 Mbit/s (IEEE 802.11a at five GHz; or IEEE 802.11g at 2.4 GHz).
WiMAX(Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access): An expansion of WLAN. Like
WLAN, WiMAX transmits data packets (small packets, like on the Internet) at frequencies
of between two and 11 GHz; the data transfer rate can reach 75 Mbit/s. Depending on the
standard (IEEE 802.16a, b, d, e, g), a range of several hundred meters to several kilometers
is possible. Here too, all users share the data transfer capacity. Unlike with UMTS, WLAN and
WiMAX users’ speed of movement is restricted — to a maximum of walking speed. Siemens
is developing a solution for WiMAX networks that’s scheduled for market launch in the
summer of 2005. Along with a base station, the package will consist of integration sup-
port and other services. Intel plans to begin installing WiMAX chips in notebooks in 2006.
GSM, GPRS and EDGE:Standards for second generation mobile communications.
DECT:Standard for cordless telephones.
Bluetooth:Standard for wireless communication between devices in a limited area.
4G:Requirements for fourth-generation mobile communications.
SDR Project Manager at Siemens Com. “We’ll
proceed gradually and first incorporate sev-
eral standards, like UMTS, GSM and WLAN.”
Product development can begin in mid-2006,
says Landenberger, who adds that Siemens
would enjoy cost benefits from manufactur-
ing cell phones with SDR. For example, with
the new software it would be possible to de-
cide which transmission standard and regional
market to equip the unit for after assembly.
Gbit/s with your cell phone? Siemens is also
lead partner in the EU-sponsored WINNER re-
search project. The project’s 40 partners plan
to develop a universal radio technology to
supplement current standards after 2010.
One goal is to achieve data transfer rates of
up to one gigabit per second (Gbit/s) at dis-
tances under 100 meters, and approximately
100 Mbit/s for a broader radius. In the labora-
tory, Siemens developers have already achieved data transfer rates of 360 Mbit/s
with a carrier frequency of five gigahertz and
a bandwidth of 100 megahertz, divided into
256 subfrequencies using Orthogonal Fre-
quency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). This
reduces the effect of echoes, which often
occur at such a high carrier frequency due to
reflections from buildings, for example. The
researchers are also using wireless “multihop
stations” — a combination of base station,
repeater and router. Thanks to such stations,
signals can be redirected around obstacles
and amplified. During a recent field study in
Munich, these multihop stations significantly
increased the range of such radio systems.
Researchers are also working on a combin-
ation of several antennae (MIMO) to raise the
transmission rate to one Gbit/s. So at least
data transfer rates would no longer pose a
problem for realizing the always-on society.
But one limit will always exist: U.S. math-
ematician Claude Shannon, who invented
the concept of the bit and founded informa-
tion theory, calculated 50 years ago that, de-
pending on transmission bandwidth and am-
bient noise, there is a theoretical limit to data
transfer speeds. A cell phone could receive a
maximum of 100 to 1,000 Gbit/s — if such a
super cell phone doesn’t start smoking from
all that data.Norbert Aschenbrenner
High-speed train
Mobility
Data transfer rate (Mbit/s)
Driving in the country
Driving in the city
Walking
Shifting locations
(nomadic behavior)
In buildings
Personal sphere
0.1 1 10 100
Stationary
In motion
In vehicle
12
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13
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
T R E NDS
proaching each other,” says Schindler. “UMTS
is increasing data transfer rates and the
WiMAX standards 802.16e,g will improve
mobility in the future.” Mobile network oper-
ators and UMTS users place great store in the
stability and quality of their telephone conversations. “With WiMAX, though, the
connection can suddenly be cut off, which is
a problem when dealing with encrypted, secure data — as with online banking, for example,” Schindler says. an e-mail feature from the U.S. company RIM
that was previously only available in the
rather quirky BlackBerry devices.A special
server automatically sends e-mails to the
user’s cell phone and office PC. The calendar
and address book can be synchronized and
company data accessed.
The SK65 also offers a new form of com-
munication: Push to Talk over Cellular (PoC)
— which Siemens calls “Push and Talk” — a
type of walkie-talkie for cell phones (see p.
But to be always online, seamless switch-
ing must be feasible. Siemens developers
have built a demonstrator that makes it pos-
sible to change networks during a call. The
caller uses a data card in a laptop or PDA to
call via either the company network (Ether-
net), a WLAN or the UMTS network. If the
user leaves the office during the call, the Ether-
net connection is cut off. The VoIP data pack-
ets then automatically take the most efficient
route depending on the availability of other
networks. The unit also allows the UMTS net-
work and WLANs to be simultaneously used
to increase the transfer rate if large amounts
of data need to be sent. The system won’t be
ready for market launch until at least 2005.
UMTS, WLAN, WiMAX— tomorrow’s cell
phones will need to handle them all.
“Standards are a key success factor for al-
ways on,” says Thomas Geitner, board mem-
ber and Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone
(see p. 19). As an example, Geitner points to
the GSM standard, which made a decisive
contribution to a rapid drop in prices for
everyone. “True always on won’t be achieved
until fees are lowered and new rate models
are introduced,” says Thomas Künstner, who
is responsible for new media at the consult-
ing firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Always on will surely change our lives.
Critics already warn of the stress from being
constantly available, but sociologists claim
this won’t be a problem when individuals can
decide for themselves how available they
want to be (see p. 31). In our free time, we’ll
communicate more rapidly, in a more tar-
geted manner and more frequently than to-
day, whether playing online games or ex-
changing messages via cell phones in
walkie-talkie mode. E-mail has already chang-
ed the workplace; always on will simply add
a new dimension (see p. 14). “Productivity
will again increase significantly,” says Strasser.
“It will soon be routine to use e-mails via cell
phones or UMTS-enabled laptops as an inte-
gral element of communications.”
Cell phones become walkie-talkies. One of
the first cell phones to accommodate mobile
mailing is the new Siemens SK65, which was
introduced in August 2004. The device has
26). And Siemens has developed a picture-
chat system that functions in a similar man-
ner. Tests conducted in cooperation with the
mobile network operator TeliaSonera during
a World Rally Championship in Finland were
successful. Users were able to see on their
SX1 cell phones who was online at any given
moment. They then simply pushed a button
to send pictures taken with the phone’s cam-
era to the other users. Siemens developers
combined both services at the wireless trade
show in Cannes in early 2004, enabling users
to operate PoC and the picture-chat system
simultaneously.
Next year, Siemens will introduce a
UMTS cell phone with an integrated WLAN.
This requires a unit equipped with two chips.
And Siemens Com developers are even work-
ing on integrating different transmission
standards on a single chip, with the Software
Defined Radio (SDR) system. With SDR, a
hard-wired chip architecture will no longer
decide the frequency a terminal can transmit
or receive in. Software installed in the unit
will decide, so one cell phone can function in
all networks. “I can imagine a market launch
for such a comprehensive solution at the end
of the decade,” says Holger Landenberger,
High-bandwidth videoconferencing will soon be possible on the move as well.
GSM
GPRS
DECT
Bluetooth
EDGE
3G / UMTS
HSDPA
WLAN
(IEEE
802.11a,g)
Beyond 3G
(requirements
for 4G)
WiMax
(IEEE
802.16a,d)
WiMax
(IEEE
802.16e)
possible WiMax-
expansion
HiPath OpenScape is easy to use, as all
applications are administered via a uniform
PC interface developed in cooperation with
Microsoft. The system is now only usable
with Windows, but it will be adapted for
Linux as well in the future. Users define
when and through which terminal they can
be contacted, allowing them to remain inac-
cessible if necessary. The system also comes
with a VIP function that gives preferential
treatment to certain callers. If the person to
be contacted is inaccessible, the system de-
termines to whom or through what medium
contact attempts should be forwarded. The
system’s biggest advantage is that users can
be accessible at all times at a single number,
wherever they are. What’s more, the system
always selects the least expensive route.
Virtual cell phone secretary.HiPath Open-
Scape is already being used by the Greek ho-
tel chain Grecotel, the German Military Col-
lege near Munich and a German furniture
manufacturer. Now developers are working
to integrate mobile communications into the
their TV cables to make phone calls thanks to
Softswitch. Telephone companies Bellsouth
and SBC have also begun to introduce the
Siemens system. “LifeWorks enables network
operators to offer new, innovative services,”
says Eve Aretakis, head of SNC. “That sets
them apart from their competitors and allows
them to tap new sources of income.”
The first marketable LifeWorks product is
HiPath OpenScape. “In addition to three soft-
ware components for presence, collaboration
and communication, the system consists of
terminals and a gateway that creates a bridge
Thanks to a virtual cell phone
secretary, users will one day be
able to employ profiles to deter-
mine which calls are forwarded.
in address books or schedules. And access to
corporate data is just as important, regard-
less of what kind of terminal or infrastructure
is being used or if employees are on the go.
Broadband applications for all types of multi-
media data transmission are therefore
needed. Siemens has now developed the
first solutions to make life easier for the mo-
bile “office workers” of the future.
“Until recently, it was often difficult to es-
tablish immediate contact with colleagues on
normal workdays, as many of them were on
the road or in meetings. You’d end up leaving
one or more messages on the answering ma-
chine and sending an e-mail. The person you
tried to reach had to listen to all the mes-
sages and then delete them,” says Schinke,
who is responsible for the product definition
of multimedia applications in the Enterprise
Systems business area at Siemens Com. “I just
demonstrated our solution to this problem.
Called LifeWorks, our concept combines pre-
viously separate networks such as company
LANs, mobile communication systems and
fixed-line networks into one system that en-
ables uninterrupted communication.”
The key component of LifeWorks is a
software-based switching station known as
Softswitch. It functions as a cross-network
control and connection interface that directs
and forwards incoming signals. The media-
independent Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
plays a key role here, as it’s the world’s first
protocol that can be used in all communica-
tion environments (fixed line, Internet and
mobile wireless). According to experts from
Siemens, SIP will become the dominant pro-
tocol for multimedia communications in the
future. Because all SIP user access data is
centrally stored on a single server, it’s pos-
sible to determine at all times if and how
anyone can be contacted, irrespective of the
time, network, location or device.
Voice, Data and New Customers.Developed
by start-up company Siemens Network Convergence (SNC) in Chelmsford, Massa-
chusetts, Softswitch has helped Siemens
gain new customers. One of these is the
New York-based company Cablevision,
whose 100,000 subscribers can now use
OpenScape usersare reachable world-
wide,
all the time and at a single number.
between telephone and IP networks,” ex-
plains Rudolf Bitzinger, head of technology,
Enterprise Systems, at Siemens Com. HiPath
OpenScape brings together telephone and e-
mail communication, voice-controlled ser-
vices, text messaging, calendar functions and
instant messaging — a service that lets users
chat and exchange data in real time. Further-
more,it is possible to conduct network-inde-
pendent video conferences with several par-
ticipants, and for several individuals to jointly
work on documents and files of all types.
This is a particularly important aspect, since it
substantially reduces the number of business
trips required. The system’s core architecture
was designed by Com employee Randy
Wuerfel in San José, California, who was
named Inventor of the Year at Siemens in
2003 in recognition of his patent registrations. system. “We want to have all the features
available on mobile devices as well,” says Dr.
Thomas Werner from the Mobile Networks
division at Siemens Com, who coordinates
Siemens-wide activities in the Mobile
Enterprise segment as part of the top
+
Inno-
vation program. “That would make it possible
to transmit voice messages or e-mails to a
smartphone without needing to call them up
separately,” he adds.
Researchers synchronized the Outlook
content by using the Sync ML open standard.
This enables data synchronization, ensuring
that cell phones, PDAs, laptops and PCs are
always up to date, even across great dis-
tances. Siemens has integrated SyncML into
its cell phones, making it possible for cell
phones to receive e-mail. As a result, in the
near future, mobile network operators will be
The use of different terminals and separate networks makes accessing office data difficult when on the go. But help is on the
way. Siemens has developed solutions for ensuring unimpeded,
user-friendly communications.
The Mobile Office
14
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15
J
ohann-Heinrich Schinke is sitting in front
of his laptop in Munich. The screen dis-
plays a list of his contacts’ addresses. Schinke
decides to call his colleague Michael Maier in
San Diego. Behind Maier’s name are several
icons that stand for various types of commu-
nication Schinke can select. He skips over the
symbols for e-mail and instant messaging
Siemens manager Dr. Johann-
Heinrich Schinke needs to make
only a few clicks to reach col-
leagues around the world. The
right communications channel is
chosen by HiPath OpenScape.
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
L I F E AT WOR K
and opts for the highlighted voice icon. “It
means Michael is currently accessible by
phone,” says Schinke while putting on his
headset and clicking on the telephone icon.
Soon Schinke has a connection to Maier,
even though he doesn’t know if he’s reaching
his colleague on the latter’s cell phone, fixed-
line phone or PDA. “Hello Michael, please
don’t hang up,” says Schinke, “I’m going to
get Werner Schmid hooked up as well.”
Schinke then looks for Schmid’s name, clicks
on the icon and Schmid’s phone begins ring-
ing in Florida. As soon as Schmid picks up the
receiver, a three-way conference call can be-
gin. Schinke then calls up a document onto
his screen in order to discuss it with his col-
leagues.
“In 2010, 65 percent of the work at com-
panies will be performed by teams separated
in terms of space, time or in some cases
both. In 2000, this figure was only 45 per-
cent,” says Dr. Stephan Scholz, head of Car-
rier Development at Siemens Communica-
tions (Com). In the future, employees in
project teams will therefore be even more
dependent on having access to up-to-date
personal information, such as that contained
If you’re always online, you are always a potential target for hackers. Businesses, in particular, need solid, multi-
layered protective mechanisms as their employees access corporate data networks from the outside.
Moving
Target
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
17
only caused the word “Cabir” to be displayed
on the cell phones, there’s simply no way we
can predict the potential damage from mo-
bile phone viruses. They could cause the dis-
play to freeze, for instance, trigger calls to ex-
pensive pay-per-minute numbers or unleash
SMS mass mailings. Avoiding Nightmares. “Hackers have to
have a great deal of information about the
cell phones or smartphones they want to at-
tack,” notes Otmar Knoller of Siemens Com-
munications. What kind of software is in-
stalled? Which protocols are supported?
When a user connects a mobile terminal to a PC to synchronize data, for instance, this
creates a new, potentially unprotected con-
nection to the internal data network that by-
passes the firewall. At that very moment, it
would be possible for a hacker to obtain
unauthorized access to the Intranet, or a
worm could enter the Intranet from the cell
phone. That’s a nightmarish thought for compa-
nies, but it remains purely hypothetical for
the time being, according to Lechner. “Hack-
ers would not only need a wealth of techni-
cal information; they’d also need to know ex-
actly the time when the data was
synchronized with the PC, which person was
doing the synchronizing and which data that
person could access via the Intranet,” ex-
plains Lechner. This scenario also assumes
that no security mechanisms exist at the time
the synchronization takes place.
The technological cognoscenti actually
know about many worst-case scenarios like
these. But a technical solution already exists
for most of them. Today, few manufacturers
are supplying firewalls for mobile terminals.
But when cell phones with high-speed Inter-
net access come into widespread use a few
years from now, users will be able to choose
from among many security solutions for their
quently because those potential targets are
all using the same operating system, inva-
sions like this will cause much less damage in
mobile terminals. “That’s because, unlike in
the PC world, there isn’t a uniform platform
for mobile terminals,” explains Dr. Stephan
Lechner, who is responsible for the security
of information technology at Siemens Corpo-
rate Technology.
Experts predict that, even after the ex-
pected market consolidation for mobile com-
munications systems, there will be at least
three to five different manufacturers. But
their operating systems — for example Win-
dows CE, Palm and Symbian — are very well-
known to hackers. In theory, that means a
virus attack could affect some 20 to 25 per-
cent of all mobile phones. Until now, viruses have been able to suc-
cessfully attack mobile phones only by ex-
Viruses on a cell phone? With so many different mobile operating systems, hackers have to work hard to get in. A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
S E C UR I T Y
F
irst the bad news: All the problems we’ve
already experienced on the Internet —
viruses, worms, Trojan horses, denial-of-ser-
vice attacks and more — we’ll also experi-
ence on our mobile terminals in the future,
regardless of whether they’re ordinary cell
phones or smartphones. The good news is
that we already know most of the security
problems the always-on society will have to
contend with. We know them from the Inter-
net. So mobile communications aren’t sub-
ject to any totally unknown risks. On the contrary: While mass attacks of
viruses paralyze entire corporations and mil-
lions of private PCs more and more fre-
ploiting particular, model-specific weak
spots. The Cabir cell-phone virus for instance,
which was rampant in early summer 2004,
exploited a weak spot in the Bluetooth wire-
less technology. Only four mobile phone
models of one manufacturer were affected,
and then only if the Bluetooth function had
also been activated. And though that virus
Hackers need a lot of information to attack — like which softwareis installed,
and which protocols the phone uses.
16
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
L I F E AT WOR K
able to transmit new cell phone software via
their networks, which will simplify service.
In August 2004, Siemens unveiled its
SK65 cell phone — a first step toward the
mobile office. The phone is equipped with a
BlackBerry function for forwarding e-mails to
mobile phones (see p. 12). Another step is
the virtual secretary for mobile devices,
which allows users to select profiles such as
“Conference” or “Vacation” to determine for
which individuals or services (such as text
messages or MMS) they will be reachable.
Callers who also have the Presence Service
Virtual Secretary installed in their phones can
immediately see in their address books which
profile the intended recipient has activated.
When callers click on the name, they are told
when the recipient is scheduled to be done
with a meeting and if he or she currently ac-
cepts text messages or might still take urgent
calls. Siemens Com is now checking how this
intelligent filter function might be integrated
into the next generation of cell phones.
Werner’s team has also developed a sys-
tem that’s already being used by more than
50,000 people in Norway and Sweden, most
of whom work for companies with large
numbers of mobile employees. Called mobile
Private Branch Exchange (PBX), this solution
serves as a cell phone network switching sta-
tion. “It lets people conduct conference calls
and address groups via their cell phones,”
says Werner. “This is particularly convenient
in the service sector, where teams of mainte-
nance technicians form so-called hunting
groups. If the first person on the list is not
reachable, the call is forwarded on down un-
til somebody accepts the commission.”
But it’s not just the mobile communica-
tions sector that’s changing:Fixed-line net-
works are now also being transformed. Voice
Next-generationtelephone networks will
transmit voice over the Internet.
INTERNET ACCESS IN AIRCRAFT AND HIGH
-
SPEED TRAINS
Starting in 2006, passengers in the new wide-bodied Airbus
A380 jet will be able to make phone calls and surf the Inter-
net with their own equipment, provided the equipment uses-
the WLAN, Bluetooth or GSM standards. Organizations taking
part in this Wireless Cabin project include Airbus, the German
Aerospace Center DLR, and the Program and System Engi-
neering (PSE) unit of Siemens Austria. The system’s core
component is a specially designed mobile communication
facility that combines various transmission technologies. An
antenna extending along the length of the aircraft’s roof per-
mits communication by phone or PC at every seat. WLAN will
allow passengers to access websites or e-mail accounts, while
the GSM antenna will enable them to make phone calls. Con-
ceivably, Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as printers or Fujitsu-
Siemens Pocket Loox PDAs, could also be used. Here, a central
mobile communications system would transmit the data via
an external antenna to a satellite, which forwards it to ground stations. In September 2004,
the consortium tested the technology during a demonstration flight in an Airbus A340. With WLAN, the Internet can also be accessed from high-speed trains with an enter-
tainment server, in which films and games can also be stored. The data is transmitted
outside the train by a broadband multilink combiner box, based on UMTS systems devel-
oped by Siemens. Transmission is unimpaired even when the train travels through tun-
nels or at top speed.
and data communication are being com-
bined, and the next generation of telephone
networks will transmit voice communication
via Internet Protocol (IP). To do so, the net-
works cut the voice signals into small pack-
ages that are transmitted individually before
being recombined at their destination. This
approach is a sensible alternative for compa-
nies, as most of them already have an IP in-
frastructure. “Voice-over-IP (VoIP) will play a
key role in the future because it costs less to
transmit voice signals through data chan-
nels,” says Dr. Tilo Messer, who is responsible
for innovations strategy at Siemens Com’s
Chief Technology Office. In addition, the price
of the corresponding terminals is becoming in-
creasingly attractive, and voice transmission
quality has recently improved considerably .
But even VoIP keeps users tied to wires. It
would be more convenient, however, if em-
ployees were reachable when moving about
at the company. To achieve this goal, the
method of choice is clearly wireless LAN (See
graphic, p. 13). And with the help of
VoWLAN (Voice-over WLAN), WLAN infra-
structures could also be used for voice com-
munication and services in the future. “A
VoWLAN handset would allow employees to
use their phones at other workstations or
while attending a meeting,” says Messer.
Wireless Broadband Internet.But there’s
still room for improvement when it comes to
bandwidth and transmission range. Siemens
has teamed up with Intel and the WiMAX Fo-
rum (an industry organization) to standardize
new broadband radio technologies. Siemens
Com will probably launch the first WiMAX
components on the market next year (see
p.13). “WiMAX is an addition to systems such
as DSL and UMTS,” says Werner. “It has ad-
vantages in areas where cables can’t be laid,
and can be used to connect whole regions to
the Internet.” Evdoxia Tsakiridou
attempted to sell data services using buzz-
words like WAP or GPRS, but there weren’t
many takers. We’ve chosen a different ap-
proach. Just a few clicks from snapping a
picture to sending the MMS, and just one
click to get on the Internet. That’s new.
Is the concept working?
Geitner: Sure. We’ve been marketing it for a couple of years. This summer we had
about three million active Vodafone live!
users worldwide. That’s far more than we
expected when we started. And increased
usage also brings down prices: In Germany
we now charge 39 euro cents for an MMS.
That’s less than half of what it used to cost.
What else can we look forward to, when
UMTS becomes widely used?
Geitner: With Vodafone live! and Vodafone
office we’ve created the marketing platforms
for mobile data services. First we gained ex-
perience in this market by using GPRS, and
we learned which services and what content
the customer really needs and wants. In 3G,
we’re continuing to put that experience to
good use. We’re expanding our applications
and we’re making our portals faster, more
colorful and richer in content. Moreover,
videotelephony is adding a new dimension.
And of course we’ve been accumulating ex-
perience for quite some time with a UMTS
card for laptops and PDAs. In that area too
we’ll have more to offer in the future.
Have you found the killer application for
UMTS yet?
Geitner: The killer application for mobile
communications is voice. When it comes to
data there are many services, and you can’t
single out any one of them. The market will
be more segmented than in the GSM era. Your customers won’t have more money
to spend than they do now. What
enticement will you use to boost sales?
Geitner: Enticement is not what’s needed.
We’ll offer our customers solutions to solve
their problems, to make their lives simpler
and more enjoyable. Private individuals in
Germany presently spend 3.5 percent of their
budgets on mobile communications. That
figure is already higher in other European
countries. Mobile communications wasn’t a
mass market at all twelve years ago. And
there’s absolutely no reason to assume that
expenditures for mobile communications are
going to level off.
Which data services are successful now?
Geitner: Downloads of ringtones are grow-
ing by 50 percent annually. If we’d predicted
four years ago that this sector would
amount to ten percent of the global music
market by 2003, everyone would have
laughed at us. But that’s what happened last
year, and every multimedia cell phone that’s
added boosts the number of music playback
devices. Another surprise was the mush-
rooming growth in download of games. Five
years from now, no one will question that
the mobile phone is a device customers use
on a large scale for consumption of media.
What’s the role of WLAN or WiMAX in
Vodafone’s strategy?
Geitner: Most of our investments in new
networks involve UMTS. Of course WLAN
and WiMAX are technologies that work well,
but only in hot spots, not over large areas. If
that becomes relevant to our customers,
they can also access WLAN now or WiMAX
later on their Vodafone account. But UMTS is
the most widely usable, and it’s also simple
to operate.
Will there be a UMTS-WLAN-WiMAX cell
phone someday?
Geitner: The day will come when the cus-
tomer won’t want to be bothered anymore
with having to think about access technolo-
gies. Instead, they’re simply going to insist:
Wherever I am, I’ll want to use whatever is
fastest, simplest and cheapest.
The number of transmission technologies
is almost endless. How important are
standards?
Geitner: Standards are the key. Here in Eu-
rope we’ve got an advantage with the GSM
standard — both with respect to the avail-
ability of networks and of terminals. A single
company never could have achieved cost reductions the way the GSM industry as a
whole has been able to do. So standards are
a much faster route to mass market solutions.
That’s another reason why we’ve built Voda-
fone live! on the basis of WAP, because we
believe our customers like the open standard.
Thanks to standards, suppliers of content
can amortize their costs across a larger num-
ber of terminals. Customers benefit because
they, in turn, are offered more content more
rapidly than would otherwise be the case.
We’re still a long way from approaching the
end of standardization. Interview: Norbert Aschenbrenner
Why Cell Phones Have a Multimedia Future
Thomas Geitner (49) has been a member of the Board of Vodafone Group Plc. since May 2000. As
Group Technology Officer, he’s in charge of technological development, the expansion of UMTS and
business integration for the entire Vodafone Group. Prior to joining Vodafone, he was a member of
the Board of the RWE Group with responsibility for telecommunications.
Are you already always on?
Geitner: Of course. On the Internet, with my
mobile phone and with the BlackBerry. To
me, always on means that I can always
communicate, even when my partner at the
other end isn’t available online at the time
— and that I have access to the information I
need, anytime. But sometimes it also means
I have to exert the self-discipline to turn it off.
Does constant accessibility have a greater
impact on the professional environment
or in the private sphere?
Geitner: Always on impacts our business life
more profoundly than our private life. But I
haven’t met anyone yet who uses e-mail for
business and doesn’t take advantage of it at
home. I think they go together.
What else needs to be done to develop
always on to its full potential?
Geitner: In my view, technology isn’t the
bottleneck. The greatest challenge is making
things easier to operate. And that’s a multi-
faceted challenge. How user-friendly are the
devices? How readily is information available
in portals? What services are being offered
to the customer? What’s more, manufactur-
ers of terminals are improving security and
working to increase battery life. That sounds
trivial, but it’s a major problem.
Vodafone uses the slogan “Vodafone
live!” What’s that about?
Geitner: Vodafone live! isn’t a slogan. It’s a
product and marketing concept that encom-
passes different services we’ve developed
from the customer’s point of view. Early
on, the mobile communications industry
phones — as with PCs today. Mobile personal
firewalls will shield the terminal. Companies
will establish a centralized profile that de-
fines which users are authorized to access
which applications. But it’s possible that pri-
vate users, on the other hand, might lack the
know-how required to set up a complex se-
curity profile. They’ll be able to get standard-
ized profiles. Secure Tunnels. And virtual private networks
(VPNs) will also be technically feasible. With
this technology, data transfer, for example
data sent from a cell phone to a corporate
server, takes place via a secure “tunnel” over
the Internet. Along with precise authentica-
tion, this technology is the ideal way today of
providing security in mobile Internet commu-
nications. And regardless of whether the con-
nection is made from outside to the Intranet
or using Voice-over-IP telephony, VPNs can
transmit sensitive data securely. A virtual con-
tions in a key. Before the software could find
the right combination, the key would in most
cases have already been changed. Automated Security. At present, though, pri-
vate users of open WLANs probably run no
greater risk than having someone read their
private e-mail. In truly sensitive transactions
such as online banking, customers are pro-
tected anyway by end-to-end encryption and
secure authentication by means of PIN and
TAN codes. Data entered and encrypted in the
terminal are decrypted only in the bank’s com-
puter center. The browser automatically acti-
vates these safety provisions when it opens
the banking site. The same kind of automatic features will
also protect the users of mobile multimedia
devices. “Siemens is guided by the principle
that security must originate in the product and
not depend on the customers’ awareness,”
Lechner points out. Experience has shown
Security must originate in the products— not in the mind of the customer.
nection is established between a company’s
special security server and the mobile termi-
nal. All of the security transactions are trans-
mitted through this connection, as is the en-
crypted user data.
The security awareness of mobile users is
quite limited at present. Anyone who surfs the
Internet using public WLAN access in hotels,
airports or cafes without activating the recom-
mended security features is easy to spy on.
This is because today’s wireless networks fre-
quently provide standard encryption of data
packets with a key length of only 40 bits. The
longer a key is, the more secure it is. That’s be-
cause the number of possible keys doubles
with every additional bit. The standard for high security is a key
length of at least 128 bits. With key lengths
like this, it would take a hacker using special
software too long to test all possible combina-
that private users as well as many smaller
companies hardly bother with consistently up-
dating the protection of their Internet access
to the latest status — both mobile and in the
home. One solution would be updates of al-
ready purchased software that are transmitted
automatically and securely. This approach
could also be used to protect smartphones
against virus attacks.
Absolute security, however, will still be
technically and organizationally impossible to
achieve. “Just imagine you’re aboard a flight.
You’re using your notebook to communicate
via a VPN Internet connection with your mar-
keting chief, and it’s about a highly confiden-
tial marketing strategy. Sure, you’d have a se-
cure communications link, but the person
behind you could easily spy on anything that’s
happening on your screen,” Lechner cautions.
Katrin Nikolaus
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21
gies needed for this when it comes to Real-
Time Enterprise.”
The market potential is huge, as is clear
from the example of the real-time informa-
tion portal XHQ, a development of the Cali-
fornia-based Siemens company IndX Soft-
ware Corporation. One XHQ user, the El
Segundo Refinery of ChevronTexaco, expects
a return on investment of more than 300
percent over five years. Other users report
that they have achieved an eight-percent
reduction in operating costs, a ten-percent
increase in the quality of their output, or an
8.5 percent increase in the utilization rate of
their plants.
With their recently introduced “Real-Time
Operations Intelligence,” solution, Siemens
and SAP are playing a groundbreaking role in
bringing together the previously separate
worlds of production process and business
process data in the oil and gas industry. The
Real-time-capable solutions allow digital control of plants.
solution is based on XHQ and SAP’s
NetWeaver integration and application plat-
form. Siemens has developed software that
seamlessly integrates SAP’s business man-
agement data into its plant and product-spe-
cific world. The software uses the data to
generate user-customized overviews, called
Management Dashboards. The dashboards
are loaded with indicators such as plant uti-
lization, availability of raw materials, addi-
tives, and product quality. Users can compare
actual plant performance with business man-
agement targets at any time.
This end-to-end linkup of production,
sales and management is made possible by
many and diverse breakthroughs in informa-
tion and communications technology. “Com-
panies profit from real-time-capable solutions
at all stages of the value chain — from end-
to-end computer simulations of whole pro-
duction lines and digital control and monitor-
ing of plants, to computer-based user
training,” says Dr. Carl-Udo Maier, who heads
day’s factory halls are usually full of isolated
solutions. Through the use of protocols es-
tablished in the Ethernet world (TCP/UDP and
IP), the automation level can be integrated
into other networks too. This increases trans-
parency, because data can then flow freely
from the level of production equipment and
production control to the office software
used for business administration. This elimi-
nates complex translation processes, and the
costs of maintenance and employee training
drop considerably. The condition of compo-
nents is reported directly to a Manufacturing
Execution System (MES) program that orga-
nizes and monitors follow-up actions — like
maintenance, upgrades or replacements.
And that’s just the beginning. “We want
to optimize and correct processes remotely.
There will be a huge increase in these ‘teleop-
erations’ that provide a range of technical
support for equipment extending practically
to the point of remote-controlled operation,”
says Prof. Engelbert Westkämper (see Pictures
the “Picture of the Future Automation & Con-
trol” project at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy.
Internet in the Factory. Years ago, PC tech-
nology spurred a wave of innovation in pro-
duction. Today, Internet technologies are
making their way into the world of automa-
tion. Whether in Web servers, browsers, pro-
tocols and Internet languages (TCP/IP, XML)
or transmission technologies such as Indus-
trial Ethernet and Industrial WLAN — stan-
dards are now being developed for operation
and monitoring as well as for the attachment
of intelligent sensors and actuators and for
data exchange.
One important trend is the effort to es-
tablish the Ethernet bus system — which ma-
tured in the office setting — in the produc-
tion environment as well (see box p. 22).
That’s because from the IT point of view, to-
of the Future, Fall 2002, p. 27). With the help
of virtual reality, specialists create a depiction
of what is actually taking place, and they can
simulate their plans in real time with power-
ful computers. It then becomes easy to
change processes and control production
equipment parameters later on, even from re-
motely, thanks to the Internet and the Web-
capability of the machines.
In addition, equipping goods with RFID
labels (See p. 58 and Pictures of the Future,
Fall 2003, p. 16) and processing logistics
data in real time are measures that create
new opportunities in their own right. Being
able to uniquely identify merchandise makes
it possible to report the level of sales to a
company’s production centers at any time so
they can adjust accordingly. “We want a very
close integration of the processes in the real
world and their depiction in the digital world.
To a much greater extent than today, that will
Manufacturers need to react to
new market conditions faster
and faster. That means closing
the information gap between
business management, produc-
tion and control systems, so
that meaningful data can be obtained in realtime. The foun-
dation for this is provided by
Internet technology, real-time-
capable Ethernet, intelligent
sensors and end-to-end digitization of processes. Real-Time Value
The XHQ information portal provides
meaningful indicators in realtime, allowing decisions to be made more
quickly, and with a higher probability of being on target.
M
anagers often need steady nerves,
experience and plenty of common
sense. They must be quick to draw the right
conclusions from an abundance of informa-
tion regarding plant utilization, raw materi-
als costs and energy use. Companies like
Siemens want to simplify and improve this
decision process. “In the future, managers
will have meaningful operating figures avail-
able to them in real time, without the burden
of superfluous details. They will be able to
react more quickly to changes in production
and in the market,” says Dr. Thomas Moser,
head of strategy department at Industrial
Solutions and Services (I&S). “For the first
time, this will give us a lever for increasing
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productivity that includes the entire value
chain.”
This is called the “real-time enterprise”
model. It actually has less to do with real time
than with the immediate compaction, trans-
formation and organization of data from vari-
ous sources in a professional and appropriate
manner. In this context, real time means that
the information is at the right place at the
right time. To offer such solutions, Siemens
created the Real-Time Enterprise project in the
framework of the company-wide program
top
+
Innovation. This project brings together
the strengths of units like I&S, Siemens Busi-
ness Services (SBS) and Automation and Dri-
ves (A&D). “The management of value-added
chains will turn into the management of
value creation networks across companies
and industries,” explains Rudi Reinhard, head
of the center of competence for production
at SBS. “At Siemens we have all the technolo-
Online everywhere and all the
time — broadband connections
and new mobile communica-
tion technologies are changing
the way we watch television,
make phone calls and run our
homes. And Siemens is devel-
oping all the technologies that
are needed. In the future, TVs
will have a feedback channel
so viewers can participate in
broadcasts, while cell phones will be able to receive
TV signals and send texts and
images in chat mode.
Two-Way
Street
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23
W
e’re in a sparsely furnished office with
cardboard boxes on the floor, right
next to a densely populated open-plan office.
No one would suspect this is where visions
for a global corporation are born. The first vi-
sion is scribbled on a piece of paper by Stefan
Jenzowsky, head of a small strategy team
that’s exploring new business areas for
Siemens Communications (Com). It’s a circle
intersected by two lines. “Imagine a video
recorder with neither a hard drive nor a DVD
burner,” says Jenzowsky, pointing at the mys-
terious diagram. But in the digital home of
the future, where would the films be stored?
A third line leading out of the circle answers
this question: Internet service providers re-
ceive the videos from the households via a
DSL connection and store them in gigantic
storage cabinets. “That’s much cheaper, be-
cause users pay only for the storage space
they actually use,” Jenzowsky adds. It sounds visionary, but it’s already been
created in a demonstration room in a south-
ern suburb of Munich (see picture above).
Here, visitors can try out the streamlined box
with its glowing orange screen as they sit
comfortably on a leather sofa. It’s a good
way to get an impression of where the much-
heralded convergence of communications
technology and consumer electronics is lead-
ing us — and how it feels to be always on-
line. In addition to a key for the network
video recorder, the remote control’s features
include a phone button that can be used to
create a video phone connection. The flat box which is called “Surpass
Home Entertainment Solution” is online
around the clock. Communications scientist
Heidi Anders, who is also on Jenzowsky’s
team, is convinced that always-on devices
like this one are going to change our lives:
“Surveys indicate that this is what customers
want.” The boom in broadband Internet ac-
cess (see p. 26) is smoothing the way for this
development, she adds. According to Bitkom,
a communications sector association, 15
percent of German households already have
a DSL connection, and in two years that fig-
ure will be 21 percent, making Germany one
of the world leaders in this regard. DSL al-
ready enables users to watch videos online if
the data is transmitted in a compressed form. The largest Belgian telephone company,
Belgacom, will be launching a pilot project in
Online around the clock. Siemens’ Surpass Home
Entertainment Solution offers videos via broad-
band Internet, interactive TV, online games and e-shopping.
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WLAN AND ETHERNET
: OFFICE TECHNOLOGIES FOR INDUSTRIAL SETTINGS
Ethernet, the office standard for data transfer, takes hold in production environments
too, allowing companies to achieve a uniform communications infrastructure ranging
from production to office software. In the past, businesses have used two distinct tech-
nologies whose integration has required considerable readjustment: Ethernet in the of-
fice and the field bus systems used in automation with items such as sensors, actuators
and PLCs. However, for Ethernet to be used in the factory, it must be made “realtime-ca-
pable.” In Ethernet networks, the attached stations compete on equal terms for access
to the data network, so it’s not possible to achieve the sometimes extremely high, sub-
millisecond clock speeds or sub-microsecond jitter accuracies (time variation in the trans-
mission of cyclical data) required by industry. To devise a solution, Siemens and the
organization of Profibus users are relying on Profinet technology, which combines the
realtime advantages of the field bus with the high data throughput of Internet technology.
One initial step has been taken with the development of Profinet IO, in which a channel
implemented in software regulates the transmission of time-critical data — with perfor-
mance levels matching those of previous field bus systems. The Siemens group Automa-
tion and Drives (A&D) is also developing an “isochronous realtime Ethernet.” For the first
time, this will allow precision-timed synchronous operation of more than 100 driving
axes on one bus with a variance of less than one microsecond, and without impeding
standard Ethernet functions like high data throughput or Internet access.
Another innovation in the industrial setting is
the use of the wireless technology WLAN,
which can partially eliminate the need for ex-
pensive rewiring and allow specialists to oper-
ate the machines via mobile terminals. In Feb-
ruary 2002, Siemens installed WLAN in a plant
in Amberg, Germany, where A&D manufactures
Simatic controls, among other products. In this
case, the wireless technology is used to record
process and maintenance data online at the
machine itself (picture at left), and the incom-
ing goods inspection takes place right at the pallet. In other words, the employee can
now process data right at the spot where it’s needed, with complete freedom of move-
ment. A product line that goes even further is IWLAN (Industrial WLAN), which Siemens
presented at this year’s Hanover Trade Fair. “For the first time, this gives industry world-
wide a secure, robust and reliable platform for wireless data transfer,” says Ewald Kuk,
head of Simatic NET product marketing at A&D. The most important feature: IWLAN
can reserve fixed transmission bandwidths, for example for control commands, which
has so far not been possible with normal WLAN. In WLAN, high volumes of data traffic
mean the devices have to “wait their turn.” “That’s intolerable in an industrial setting,”
says Kuk. “Imagine a driverless forklift that’s supposed to halt at a certain point — but
doesn’t get this information in time. Or a robot that’s machining a workpiece, and re-
ceives an important control command too late.” With IWLAN, Siemens is a year-and-a-
half ahead of the competition, Kuk says. The components operate even at -20 degrees
Celsius and in wet conditions, so they are also suited for use at train stations or container
transshipment centers. Encryption guarantees access protection and data security;
redundant antennas ensure a stable wireless link. Inside buildings, the range is about
30 meters; outdoors it is 100 meters. mean the automation of data entry, the inte-
gration of system components via Web ser-
vices and the networking of business
processes,” says Dr. Joachim Schaper of SAP
Research, who oversees strategic research
programs in North America.
SAP is striving to develop “smart items”
— in other words, intelligent merchandise.
Containers would monitor their contents
themselves, register changes, such as in tem-
perature or location, and sound an alarm
when necessary. “Today, this data is fed into
business administration software manually.
But that doesn’t always allow you to deter-
mine, for instance, whether merchandise
was spoiled by excessive temperatures dur-
ing transport or whether it was already de-
fective at the outset. To put it differently: In
the future, the business logic of the software
systems will migrate forward into the mer-
chandise,” says Schaper.
Tailor Made yet Inexpensive. “Real-Time En-
terprise is primarily concerned with innova-
tion and integration,” says Reinhard. The idea
is to evaluate innovations of all kinds — from
RFID to real-time-capable Ethernet — on the
basis of their capacity to accelerate the flow
of information, and also their capacity for in-
tegration into modern software systems. The
potential of end-to-end digitization and
transparent integration of all production, lo-
gistics and management processes is far
from exhausted. The objective is the digital
factory, in which products are developed and
tested with customers and partners on com-
puters under true-to-life conditions (see Pic-
tures of the Future, Fall 2002, p. 6-29). At the
same time, automation in production and lo-
gistics is being fueled by advances in sensor
technology, and by intelligent on-site systems
that facilitate autonomous adaptation to given
situations. And thanks to Real-Time Enterprise,
the head office is always kept abreast of
company performance and market activity.
Maier is convinced that “the interaction
of all these developments presents us with
the unique opportunity to manufacture cus-
tomer-specific products tailored to individual
requests and to do this at the cost level of
mass-market items.” Achim Born
Household appliances and enter-
tainment systems can be net-
worked and accessed via a single
device. Push-and-Talk will give
cell phones a chat function.
Services such as entertainment, security or
energy management could be offered for a
monthly fee. But customers won’t be confi-
dent that all of the networked components
are completely compatible unless interna-
tional standards are put in place. That’s why
the members of the Digital Living Network Al-
liance include all of the major manufacturers
from the IT and PC sectors as well as the con-
sumer electronics and household appliances
industries. Standards being developed in the
UPnP Forum and the WLAN Forum will make
it possible for consumers to integrate new de-
vices into their smart networks without hav-
ing to lay any new cables or hire specialists to
do the job. At Siemens as well, a project in the
corporate program top
+
Innovation ensures
that all of Siemens’ products can be combined
with one another and are easy to install. A
“Siemens Smart Home” label is being devel-
oped for these products.
A central role in Gärtner’s vision is played
by a residential gateway that connects the
home network with the outside world, in par-
ticular with the Internet. Jenzowsky’s set-top
box is also in principle only a DSL router that
has been adapted for TV entertainment sys-
tems — integrating a household manage-
ment system would be the next step. Market
researchers at ABI Research expect that in
2008 a total of 20 million such devices will be
sold in the U.S. alone, although these will be
adjusted to be compatible with local TV cable
networks. According to Gärtner, the increas-
ing number of broadband connections and
the growing popularity of the Internet is fruit-
ful ground for the growth of customer de-
mand for comfort, security, time savings and
cost-effectiveness in the private sphere. “Our
aim now is to spur this demand by offering
customer-oriented solutions that are easy to
use,” he says. TV on a Cell Phone.Martin Gebler of
Siemens Com has all kinds of new business
models up his sleeve — and all of them in-
volve cell phones. In the future, we’ll even be
able to watch TV on a mobile phone. And be-
cause every mobile phone has a built-in feed-
back channel, mobile TV will be interactive
from the very start. But first, the technology
for mobile TV has to be developed. Gebler
sees tremendous opportunities ahead for
DVB-H (digital video broadcasting for hand-
helds). This spinoff from terrestrial digital TV
(DVB-T) is specially adapted for handy “smart
phones,” which are expected to come on the
market in 2005. But it will take several more
years for DVB to be universally accessible. Nor
is it yet clear how many channels, if any, will
then be available for DVB-H. But that doesn’t make Gebler any less op-
timistic. The first services will be offered to
certain communities in connection with the
2006 World Cup in Germany. One such com-
munity could be spectators in the soccer sta-
diums, who would be able to watch replays of
particularly exciting scenes on their cell
phones during the game, in real time or slow
motion. Sports reporters would be continu-
ously supplied with game statistics. “There
will be several channels, and you’ll be able to
switch back and forth,” Gebler promises. De-
velopers are also thinking about the possibil-
ity of personalizing broadcasting services. For
example, shops in pedestrian zones could in-
form passersby about special offers through
small advertising videos that would be re-
ceived only by the nearby owners of UMTS
smart phones.
That would benefit TV broadcasters as
well as mobile phone providers who offer a
feedback channel via GSM or UMTS. A large
share of added value would be created by
companies generating new content for mo-
bile infotainment from pre-existing material.
Berlin already has “What’s up” — a subscriber
service that provides tips from trend scouts
on the hottest upcoming events via texts and
images. There’s no lack of ideas to pursue,
says Gebler: Music stations could use DVB-H
to broadcast the Top 20 around the clock, for
example, and listeners could choose their fa-
vorite video to influence the song sequence.
Or users could participate in eBay auctions of
fan items while they’re out and about.
Standards will ensure that all networked devices are compatible.
24
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
25
around 1,000 households in November of
2004. In addition to a digital video recorder,
Belgacom will be offering an electronic pro-
gram guide, video-on-demand, games,
e-shopping and surfing on the Internet. A
similar program will be started in the Fall in
600 German households by telephone giant
Deutsche Telekom. This Siemens devel-
opment gives network operators the oppor-
tunity to more fully use the capacity of their
DSL networks and open up new business ar-
eas, for example by renting out storage space
in the network or making one feedback
channel available for interactive television.
This means that TV is no longer a one-way
street. The viewer now has a direct line to
broadcasters around the clock. Jenzowsky’s
think tank is even working to develop appro-
priate broadcasting formats, such as a new
game show similar to the legendary quiz
show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” In this
show, however, the candidates won’t be
sweating in the studio chair — they’ll be at
home in front of their own TVs. Video tele-
phony will connect them with the studio and
put them on the viewers’ TV screens.
Fully Networked Digital Homes. The Sur-
pass Home Entertainment Solution is only
one small element in the mix of devices that
will be connected around the clock with the
Internet and with one another. The man who
can explain all the details of this scenario is
Walter Reithmayer. In the Group Strategy de-
partment of Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, he
clicks through images of the digital home of
the future on his monitor. We first see a PC,
then an LCD TV with a digital video recording
station, followed by a music center, game
consoles, a telephone, household appliances
and much more — all on a single network.
These items aren’t merely a pipe dream for
Reithmayer, who uses a range of unusual
devices at home. “I have to admit my wife
isn’t crazy about my 25 remote controls,” he
smiles. “One for each of us would be
enough.”
For Reithmayer, the digital home will
have many connections. These include a con-
stant connection with the Internet (prefer-
ably DSL), and a link with a cable or a satellite
dish. Inside the home, music and videos are
brought to every room via wireless LAN or
fast Ethernet cables. In the future, even the
TV signal may be transmitted via WLAN to a
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
HOME AND L E I S UR E
TV in the living room or a notebook in the
study, by means of a TV feeder. According to
Reithmayer, no decision has yet been made
about when to launch the magic box on the
market. His scenario doesn’t include an all-
purpose device that combines a TV and
stereo system with a PC, one that ideally
would also make coffee. “In the future we
will continue to have many different termi-
nals in our homes,” says Paul O’Donovan of
the Gartner market research institute. How-
ever, they may be completely digital and net-
worked — for example, via the UPnP (Univer-
sal Plug & Play) standard (see p. 49).
The boom in digital consumer electronics
is also inspiring the manufacturers of PC hard-
ware and software. In early 2004, Microsoft
presented the Media Center Extender — a
box that wirelessly networks a PC with a TV
and a stereo system. The PC stores large vol-
umes of digital music and video files originat-
ing from many sources, including the Inter-
net. “The PC could even manage the entire
house,” says Andreas Schönberger, a product
manager for WindowsXP. Lutz Gärtner from
MY
-
AY
— WE B C A M A N D WAT C H D OG I N ON E
What is it? It’s a cell phone, but without a keypad or display. That’s right, it’s the My-Ay!
This stylish egg-shaped object is a baby phone, alarm system, webcam and lots more
in one. What’s more, it stays in touch with other cell phones via a built-in mobile radio
module. It’s a classic always-on device. For example, if a certain sound level is reached,
or if something moves in front of its lens, the My-Ay sends a warning SMS or an MMS
with a photo. “Left in a car, it informs the
owner if something unforeseen hap-
pens,” explains Dr. Karl Bitzer of
Siemens Com, father of the My-Ay.
The My-Ay uses sensors to measure
temperature, brightness, sound and
movement. It even knows its own lo-
cation. This watertight watchdog is
programmed via SMS, a website or a
WAP-enabled cell phone. It’s expected
to be on the market in summer, 2005. TV viewers will have a direct link with
broadcasters around the clock.
Siemens Com also believes such a scenario is
completely realistic. He’s the head of an inter-
disciplinary team that has developed an archi-
tecture for the smart home of the future,
where an integrated and unified user inter-
face is wholly responsible for managing
everything from entertainment, telephony
and lighting to household appliances and
building security. The owner can access this
web-based user interface via several devices,
including the TV, a portable tablet PC, a Per-
sonal Digital Assistant (PDA) or a cordless
phone (see Pictures of the Future, Spring
2004, p. 31).
Gärtner has noted a recent quickening of
the market. Telecommunications firms and
home construction companies are increas-
ingly becoming interested in services that are
made possible by networking in the home.
I NDUSTRI AL ETHERNET I S BOOMI NG
Companies are also seeing an increasing
number of advantages in the always-on soci-
ety. For example, production data can now
be evaluated in real time, and that makes it
possible to reduce stock inventories and track
orders more effectively. Data exchange also
enables applications including remote main-
tenance of plants and machines. Ethernet,
the IT standard for offices, is gaining in im-
portance as a transmission medium. And the
Industrial Ethernet variant, which has been
modified to meet the needs of industrial
companies, is being increasingly used in pro-
duction instead of proprietary solutions.
Among other things, this makes it easier to
transmit data between production sites and
administrative offices.
Most Ethernet versions support the TCP/IP
Internet protocol, so production plants can
also be accessed via the Internet. “In a factory
that’s networked using Ethernet, nearly every
worker can observe all the machines operat-
ing in a production line,” explains Harry
Forbes, an analyst at the ARC Advisory
Group, which is based in Massachusetts. Al-
though reality still hasn’t quite caught up
with this scenario, ARC predicts that by 2007
about 6.06 million Industrial Ethernet nodes
will be in use, compared to only 287,000 in
2002. Siemens alone has installed about
550,000 Industrial Ethernet nodes in its au-
tomation systems, says Günter Baumann,
Marketing Services Manager in the Automa-
tion and Drives Group at Siemens.
Number of installations (in millions)
Source: ARC Advisory Group, 2003
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
But Ethernet still isn’t adequate for time-
critical tasks. One example is motion control
applications, where integration of a machine’s
different drives is controlled with software
(see p. 22). Here, the drives must exchange
data rapidly and at precisely defined time in-
tervals. For this task, industrial Ethernet must
display “deterministic behavior.” But Ethernet-
based reaction times are still 20 to 50 times
slower than motion control requires — and
they’re not deterministic, says Baumann. In
the future, additional protocols like Isoch-
ronous Real-time Ethernet (IRT) will make In-
dustrial Ethernet real-time-capable. Siemens
is planning to introduce the first IRT products
in late 2004.
Mary Lisbeth D’Amico
HIGHER DATA TRANSMISSION RATES EXPAND APPLICATIONS
26
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
27
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
FAC T S AND F OR E C AS T S
Boom in
Broadband
Technologies N
ew technologies open up new perspec-
tives. In the future, people will be able
to work at home with all the amenities they
have at the office, for example, and man-
agers will be able to monitor robots on production lines from their desks. And those
are only two examples from the always-on
society. These applications require broad-
band connections — in other words, trans-
mission capacities of more than 200 kilobits
Source: The Yankee Group, 2003
TV with several channels
Video streaming (DVD quality)
Video streaming (close to DVD quality)
Non-compressed audio streaming (close to DVD quality)
Video streaming (VHS quality)
Very fast surfing, video streaming (close to VHS quality),
software and audio downloads
Fast surfing, video streaming (below VHS quality), soft-
ware and audio downloads, multi-player games
MP3 audio streaming, software downloads, online computer games
IP telephony, slow Internet surfing, e-mail, e-commerce,
audio streaming (medium quality)
10.00
8.00
4.00
1.50
1.20
1.00
0.51
0.26
0.13
Required data transmission rate (downstream)
Megabits per second
ber of DSL users is expected to rise to 86.5
million, increasing to 156.7 million by 2007.
Second place is occupied by the cable mo-
dem, which has many users in the U.S.,
Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands;
though only in the U.S. do modem users out-
number DSL customers. In Japan there were
already 1.14 million high-speed fiber-to-the-
home connections in March 2004 — double
the number for 2003.
Increasingly, complex data services can
also be used on the move. Although Third
Generation (3G) networks are establishing
themselves more slowly than expected, tech-
nologies such as General Packet Radio Ser-
vice (GPRS) are on the increase. Forrester Re-
search expects that GPRS will be standard for
per second, as are offered by the Digital Sub-
scriber Line (DSL), cable modems or satellite
links. The number of broadband users world-
wide has risen from 100,000 in 1996 to 98.8
million at the end of 2003, and this trend is
set to continue. In a report entitled Broad-
band Worldwide 2004
, market researchers at
the New York-based company eMarketer Inc.
predict that about 246 million private and
commercial customers will be using broad-
band access by 2007. The U.S. and Japan are
the largest broadband markets today, with
27.6 million and 12.1 million customers re-
spectively (Status:August 2003). DSL is the
global leader: By the end of 2004 the num-
The concept of “always online” will be-
come a reality for phone callers too. Private
customers can now use their cordless phones
to make calls via the Internet — with the
Siemens Gigaset M34 USB. The tiny USB plug
uses the tried-and-tested DECT radio stan-
dard. It enables the user to make calls as usual
via the phone network or to call via the Inter-
net using a radio adapter, with a PC acting as
the gateway.
Thanks to DSL,Internet telephony is inex-
pensive, and even for conference calls involv-
ing as many as five people. The Skype soft-
ware program is based on the same
technology as the Kazaa music file sharing
service. “In the future, phone calls and data
communication will take place directly via a
PC by means of a residential gateway,” says
Marco Bambach, who is involved in Web tele-
phony business at Com. In the future, the
classic cordless DECT phones will be supple-
mented by WLAN phones that can be used to
communicate at home via the WLAN router
or at a public hotspot via the Internet. Thanks
to higher computing power and larger dis-
plays, these devices will also make video tele-
phony possible. Picture Chat for Flirting. Germany’s mobile
phone users will soon be enjoying a service
that’s already become very popular in the
United States; Push to Talk over Cellular (PoC).
As with a walkie-talkie, the caller pushes a
button to set up a connection with one or
more friends. The technology doesn’t set up a
fixed one-to-one connection, as is the case
with a normal phone call; instead, a session is
set up via GPRS using an Internet server. The
sessions can be active as long as the callers
wish, and they pay only for the time period
when data is actually being transmitted. It’s
similar to an Internet chat room, where you
can play games or invite other people in.
Mirko Naumann, a technology developer at
Siemens Com, has already developed a pos-
sible extension called Picture Chat, which
makes it possible for callers to send images
and texts back and forth between mobile
phones in a mobile chat room. According to
Naumann, “It’s the ideal way to flirt.” Bernd Müller
cell phones in Europe as early as 2005 and
will be used by about 72 percent of cell
phone owners. By 2008, 60 percent of all
cell phone users are expected to be using
mobile Internet services regularly. “From a
technical viewpoint, the future looks rosy.
But the operators have to ask themselves
which services work best via cell phone,”
says Michelle de Lussanet, a Senior Analyst
at Forrester in Amsterdam. “Consumer be-
havior is not changing as fast as the range of
possible applications.” She expects that by
2008 about 28 percent of all mobile devices
will correspond to the 3G standard and
smooth the way for services such as video
via cell phone.
Source: eMarketer, March 2004
WORLDWI DE GROWTH OF BROADBAND CONNECTI ONS
*
* Includes all residential and commercial connections
without WLAN, Bluetooth or UMTS (in millions)
1996 0,1
0,6
1,6
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2006
2007
4,2
13,1
35,3
63,0
98,8
209,6
245,5
UMTS I S GAI NI NG GROUND
Transmission technologies available in cell phones
Percentage of cell phones
in use in Western Europe Source: Forrester Research, Inc., 2004
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
UMTS 0% 1% 4% 8% 16% 28% 40%
GPRS 28% 54% 72% 79% 77% 69% 58%
GSM-only 72% 45% 25% 12% 6% 3% 2%
at year end
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
29
Currently, Samsung Electronics is equip-
ping apartments in Seoul with broadband
connections, networked household appli-
ances and security systems that can in some
cases be controlled via a cell phone too (see
interview). According to the road map of the
Korean Ministry for Information and Commu-
nication, about 500,000 homes will be fully
digitalized by the end of 2004. At first they’ll
have video-on-demand and monitoring ser-
vices — in which a cell phone is used to see
who’s at the front door, for instance. By
2007, ten million dwellings should have
home networks, according to the “IT-8-3-9
Strategy” (eight favored services based on
three broadband networks that will boost
nine growth fields). The government intends
to spend 175 billion euros by 2007 to
achieve this goal. However, Kevin Morrow,
head of the Digital Solution Center at Sam-
sung, says, “the way things are going now,
there will be about 1.4 million of those
homes by 2007,” far fewer than the govern-
ment wants, but still an impressive number.
At Home with Internet Telephony.Korea is
introducing Internet telephony (VoIP) — each
week about 3,000 users subscribe to this ser-
vice at Hanaro, Korea’s second largest broad-
band provider. Furthermore, video telephony
is in the testing stage. Increasingly, fiber-
optic cables are extending all the way to the
living room — fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) —
and replacing copper cables. One reason is
that parallel applications — like downloading
a movie and playing games at the same time
over the network — require bandwidths of
25 Mbits/s and more. At this time, Japan has
a big head start when it comes to FTTH. At
the Broadband World Forum, Yuji Inoue, Se-
nior Vice President at Japan’s largest telecom-
munications company, NTT, said that over a
million of the 15 million broadband users in
Japan already access the high-speed network
via FTTH. Fiber-to-the-home technology al-
lows speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s and cur-
rently costs less than 50 euros per household
per month. Inoue expects there to be about
five million subscribers by 2005. By 2008,
FTTH will have surpassed even ADSL with
about 30 million users.
MOBI L E T E L E COMMUNI C AT I ONS BOOMI NG I N CHI NA
China boasts spectacular economic growth, but its communications infrastructure can’t yet
compete with those in Japan and South Korea.In much of the country, fixed-line and cell radio
networks are only now being built. Almost 80 million Chinese surf the Internet, two-thirds
from home, the rest at Internet cafes. At 6.2 percent of the population, Internet penetration is
thus still relatively low. However, according to the market researchers of the Gartner Group,
the number of broadband connections in China rose by 7.6 million to 11 million in 2003, and the Chinese cell phone market is one of the fastest growing in the world. One out of five
Chinese has a cell phone, and every month there are four to five million new customers. According to the Ministry of the Information Industry (MII), there were 272 million cell phone
customers and 263 million fixed-network customers at the end of 2003. Experts estimate that
there will be 320 million cell phone users by the end of 2004 and 550 million by 2009.But the
government will probably not begin awarding licenses for broadband mobile radio networks
before 2005. Alongside international standards, separate Chinese standards like TD-SCDMA
are being developed — also in collaboration with Siemens. Since 2001, Siemens has been
working with Chinese and German universities in the “FuTURE” project (Future Technologies for
Universal Radio Environment) as part of the Chinese Research Initiative 863. The goal is to
achieve data speeds ten times higher than those possible with UMTS. Can South Koreans already use a cell phone to fill the bathtub while
they’re on the way home?
Morrow:That probably happens
mostly in advertising spots. It would
likely be more useful if people could
control their air-conditioning or secu-
rity cameras from the office or from a
cell phone. That’s just what you can do
with a home network, which can be
accessed through any Web browser. Do you yourself live in a digital
home?
Morrow: No, but I have VDSL broad-
band access. Cyber apartments or digi-
tal homes are still pretty new, even in
Korea. They’re found mainly in expen-
sive new high-rise buildings with up to
1,000 apartments. So far, most cus-
tomers haven’t paid much attention to
the added value a home network can
offer, like comfort and greater security
— that may take another five years.
Kevin Morrow, 39, manages Samsung Electronics’ Digital Solution Center in Seoul,
South Korea. Here, 250 engineers work on
solutions for “homevita,” the Samsung term
for the networked home. What sort of added value does one
of these cyber apartments have?
Morrow: Right now the most com-
monly used features are the control of
home equipment with touchscreen or
Webpad, community portals on the In-
ternet, and the remote monitoring of
the house or of children’s play areas. In
the future, WLAN will become increas-
ingly important for distributing data,
audio and video inside the apartment.
We’re currently developing solutions
that require only the push of a button
when you get home to make every-
thing happen automatically: The light
goes on; the air-conditioning starts;
the blinds open; and your favorite mu-
sic plays. In the kitchen, you can go to
one of the culinary pages on the Inter-
net and download a video that shows
how to prepare a certain meal. And
the instructions can be transmitted on-
ward to the stove or the microwave. Interview by Nikola Wohllaib.
Cyber Apartment Solutions
In terms of broadband Internet access, South Korea and
Japan are world leaders. It is nothing unusual for users in
these countries to be able to download videos and games,
have access to telelearning, conduct online banking by
cell phone, or keep an eye on play areas remotely. Broadband
Mecca
T
hey do their shopping or bank transac-
tions via cell phone and play against one
another over ultra-fast broadband networks
— at PC Bang, as the Internet cafes are
called, or at home in high-tech living rooms.
Welcome to South Korea, the current mecca
of broadband technology. About 75 percent
of South Korea’s 14 million households can
surf at high speed. In Japan, it is one out of
three, in the U.S. one out of four, and in Ger-
many only one out of seven households. In
this respect, South Korea is the world leader.
Since 1998, the Korean government has spent
132 billion euros to expand access to broad-
band for its 48 million people. As part of the
“e-Korea Vision 2006,” nearly 95 percent of
companies and private households are to have
super-fast Internet access by the end of 2005. At home, most South Koreans use ADSL,
which provides them with speeds between
640 kilobits per second (kbit/s) and eight
megabits per second (Mbit/s). At the Broad-
band World Forum in May 2004 in Seoul, ex-
perts estimated that a fourth of Korean
broadband users already have very high data
rate digital subscriber lines (VDSL) offering
speeds of 13 Mbit/s. One of the main suppli-
ers of VDSL technology for Korea Telecom,
Korea’s largest broadband provider, is the net-
work outfitter Dasan. Siemens owns a nearly
50-percent stake in Dasan. “That means we’re
involved in this VDSL rollout, and we’re gain-
ing valuable experience for our own network
strategy and product planning,” says Bern-
hard Neef, Senior Vice President of Siemens
Com, who is based at the central office for
southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In addition to TV series, movies and en-
tertainment, including the games that are so
popular in Korea, educational content is also
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
FAR E AS T
28
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
being brought into the living room. “Koreans
spend more money on their children’s educa-
tion than they do on rent and food,” Neef
says. Quite a few private tutors are already
helping students with their studies via broad-
band networks. Currently, Korea Telecom is
promoting a video-on-demand service to pro-
vide movies at data speeds of 0.5 to 1 Mbit/s.
Initially, home computers will receive the
data streams in VHS quality, later in DVD
quality. And then they will send them to the
TV through a wireless connection. “Right
now products are being developed with a
wireless interface,” says Neef. Given the pace
of innovation in Korea, they will soon be
ready to market, he adds. “In the final stage,
there will be a box supplying all the terminals
in the home with broadband access via
WLAN; the telephone will be linked up over
DECT and the TV through a set-top box.” For many South Koreans,
Internet cafes are just as indispensable as mobile Internet and the broadband connections they have at home. “Always on” is changing our
society. The value of privacy is
growing, but people are also
communicating faster and
more often about more trivial
matters. At work we’re becom-
ing more flexible than ever.
And we are unconsciously de-
veloping new norms of com-
munication — like the ones
that govern the distinction between work and leisure.
Heading for the
Lonely Crowd?
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
S OC I E T Y
M
odern man rushes through the tech-
nologically advanced city, dominated
by products of every kind, always accessible,
yet somehow absent. Oppressed by the rapid
transformations of his external and internal
impressions, he seeks his salvation in ner-
vous superficiality.” This could be a contemporary scene, but
in fact it’s an account of life in Berlin in the
year 1900, as seen by the German philoso-
pher Georg Simmel. In Simmel’s vision of the
future, the urbanite becomes a dandy — cyn-
ical and emotionless, but also very lonely, be-
cause the only way to master the constant
flow of stimuli is by deadening his feelings.
So far, Simmel’s prophecy hasn’t come
true. On the contrary, more than a century af-
ter his observations, there seem to be fewer
of the isolated urban neurotics he described,
even though modern technology has vastly
increased the flow of information and sen-
sory impressions to which we are subjected.
And this trend has been continued by the
boom in cell phone and Internet use since the
1990s. According to a study commissioned by
AOL, the Internet is already young Americans’
primary means of communication. And mar-
ket research firm Gartner Group estimates
that by 2007 some 75 percent of Europeans
will be spending 80 percent of their leisure
time in close proximity to mobile electronic
communication devices that are continually
online. In other words, tomorrow’s society will
be “always on“ — accessible anywhere, any-
time. It’s not a trend everyone likes, because
in the face of rapid progress many questions
remain unanswered — including questions
about the social effects of being always on.
Privacy Has Priority. “Our concern about the
influence of technology is exaggerated.”
That’s the reassuring conclusion of Prof.
Heinz Bude, an expert on contemporary soci-
ety who teaches at the University of Kassel.
“The future will be much less dramatic than
people often claim. Paradoxically, being acces-
sible everywhere and at all times makes pri-
vacy all the more valuable. Being inaccessible
by choice will therefore be a much more
sought-after alternative.” According to the
sociologist, this trend also offers new oppor-
tunities — for example, to develop solutions
that satisfy the increased need for privacy. This means that face-to-face communica-
tion will play a more exclusive role in the lives
of the always-on generation. “The one-on-
one conversation may become rarer, and thus
more valuable,” says Bude. And he points out
that people already assign different values to
different forms of communication. For exam-
ple, today people write letters only on impor-
tant or formal occasions; in their e-mails they
deal with more everyday matters. In the fu-
ture, according to Dr. Nadia Kutscher of the
Competence Center for Informal Education at
the University of Bielefeld, the level of banal-
Online games, fast text messages, sending snapshots —
keeping in touch is the credo of the always-on society. 30
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
FAR E AS T
DI GI TAL FAMI L I E S I N T HE L AND OF T HE MORNI NG C AL M
“Daddy, I want you to bring me home a nice notebook from
work today,” says the not entirely serious SMS text message
that Sang-Il Lee receives on his cell phone from his eight-
year-old daughter, Hae-Yin, who already has several e-mail
addresses and is now trying to set up her own Web site as
well. She often sends her father short messages — even
during school recess. When it comes to the use of new
communications technologies, Sang-Il Lee’s family is typical
for South Korea. The 43-year-old father of two children works as the political editor at the newspaper
JoongAng in Seoul, one of the large dailies. Korea ranks 12th in the world in terms of
economic output, but it is the world leader in IT. More than ten million families in the
country have access to broadband Internet connections, usually DSL, which means that
some 30 million of the almost 48 million people who live in South Korea can surf the
Web at high speed and download music files, among other things. In addition, 35 mil-
lion people have cell phone services. Korea can safely be called the first “always-on”
society. For Sang-Il, the Internet is an important
tool for work, just as it is for every other jour-
nalist. He searches through online documents
for his research and develops contacts through
e-mail. Among other things, his PC serves as
the file administrator for his valuable sources.
Sang-Il frequently takes part in background dis-
cussions and attends social events, both of
which can net him important tips. “I was re-
cently out at a karaoke bar and ended up send-
ing information back to the editorial office via
my laptop and cell phone,” he says. Sang-Il’s wife, Mi-Young Kim, also works at the
paper and also loves the Internet. “I like online
banking,” she says, “because it allows me to
manage the family account, as most Korean
women do.” She even manages the account
while on the bus, using a cell phone. Hae-
Moon, their 14-year-old son, has his own interests when it comes to the Internet. He doesn’t like to go to the movies because he finds it more comfortable to download
videos from the Web via DSL and watch them on his PC. He recently had problems with
his mother after he downloaded a huge number of pictures of stars onto his mobile
MP3 player via an expensive service. Hae-Moon has never written a letter by hand. His favorite form of communication is instant messaging — chatting with friends who
happen to be online at that time. Communication in the family runs along similar lines: Both
Sang-Il and Mi-Young say that e-mail, messaging and cell
phone conversations give them the feeling that despite the
long working day, the members of the family are somehow
always together. “We even talk to our parents more often
now than we did as kids!” says Sang-Il with a smile. Sehee Hwang
Inoue is promising faster connections for
cell phone service too, starting in spring
2005. At that point, data will zip into cell
phones at up to three Mbit/s. Japan launched
its first mobile broadband network back in
October 2001 (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2002, p. 17). Freedom of Mobile Ac-
cess — FOMA, the Japanese counterpart to
UMTS — already had over two million sub-
scribers by early 2004. Japan is currently also
the leader in the development of fourth-gen-
eration (4G) mobile telecommunications ser-
vices, which will provide even higher speeds.
The Japanese network operator NTT DoCoMo
is testing systems with downlink speeds of
100 Mbit/s and uplink speeds of 20 to 40
Mbit/s — even in a slowly moving car, accord-
ing to the magazine Nikkei Electronics Asia.
4G in Korea.“Korea wants to play the leading
role in Asia in the development of 4G,” says
Dr. Werner Mohr, who coordinates strategic
research alliances for Siemens Com. The Ko-
rean EV-DO network, which was launched
two years ago, provides download speeds of
up to two Mbit/s and has some five million
subscribers, it was reported at the Broadband
World Forum. “Korea may leapfrog the third
generation of mobile radio services and work
with the more advanced solution WIBRO —
wireless broadband — an intermediate stage
on the way to 4G,” says Mohr. According to Dae-Je Chin, the South Ko-
rean Minister for Communication and Infor-
mation, this new cellular network will be
complete by the end of 2005. It will combine
the benefits of fixed-line networks, mobile
telecommunications and WLAN on the basis
of the WiMAX standard (see p. 13). In the first
stage, WIBRO should give users within one
kilometer of a base station a data transfer
rate of three Mbit/s. Though the definition of the WiMAX stan-
dard has not yet been finalized internation-
ally, Korea does not want to wait. The govern-
ment has already reserved the necessary
frequency spectrum. Deviations from the international standard will simply have to be revised later, said many Korean experts at the Broadband World Forum.
Nikola Wohllaib
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
31
in the long run than grudgingly adjusting
sometimes to the new circumstances.”
To ensure people aren’t shortchanged in
the always-on society, Kutscher advocates
more incentives and support for learning
about new technologies. “Studies show that
people with higher levels of education are
more likely to use new technologies than
people with lower levels of education,”
Kutscher says. “The world is becoming a
global village, but that is generally happen-
ing only at the level of the information elite.
Educational institutions should try to close this
gap.” If they don’t, she warns, a division be-
tween social groups will be the result. (To
find out more about the “Digital Divide,” see
Pictures of the Future, Fall 2002, p. 51).
Modern Nomadism. Flexibility is a buzzword
of tomorrow. That’s because more and more
things can be done simultaneously with mod-
ern communications. According to Jäckel, this
trend is also affecting how we spend our
leisure time. “To take just one example, many
people don’t want to commit to spending
their evening at a given event, restaurant or
party,” he says. “We’re seeing the develop-
ment of a modern nomadism that’s influ-
enced by cell phone networks.” Already, we
often see people using short phone calls or
SMS to change schedules and meeting points
again and again because it’s so easy to reach
one another. The new walkie-talkie functions
of future cell phones, which make it possible
to send a message to many recipients simul-
taneously (see p. 26) will intensify this trend.
The future face of the “always-on society”
may seem strange to us now, but there’s one
point on which the scientists agree: Human
beings are born into their environment, but
they are selective — they choose the things
that appeal to them — and, above all, they
are adaptable. In other words, Simmel’s urban
neurotic will be no more typical of tomor-
row’s world than the individual who has
avoided technology altogether. “The human
beings of the future,” says Bude, “will gladly
benefit from the opportunities offered by
technology, but according to their own rules.
Individuals will decide how accessible they
want to be.” Florian Martini
Always on(line) means that, in the
future, we will constantly be connect-
ed to the Internet and always reach-
able by phone, e-mail, text messaging
or video messaging. However, this calls for higher bandwidths, particu-
larly in mobile communications. Data
for always onis now increasingly being
sent in packets — as on the Internet —
even in the case of voice (VoIP). Over
the next few years, VoIP will also be-
come available for home users. (p.11)
Various broadband transmission
methods are being created for fixed-
line and mobile networks. HSDPA, for
example, will expand UMTS to even
higher data transfer rates, while the
WiMAX standard builds on the wireless
system WLAN. Siemens is working on
ways to create a seamless transition
between these techniques. (p.11)
According to experts, mobile com-
munications systems and fixed-line
networks will one day converge. The
trend toward uniform platforms also
affects computers, TV sets and other
devices, for which home networks are
being set up with Internet gateways as
links to the outside world. (p.11, 23)
Accessibility must be ensured irre-
spective of the technical solution used.
At the same, it must be possible to cus-
tomize the settings, as this is one of
the main preconditions for creating a
functioning always-on society. With its
LifeWorks concept, Siemens is develop-
ing solutions for office environments
and for mobile use. (p.14, 23)
Industry is boosting its productivity
by comprehensively networking its
communications systems (which range
from manufacturing process control
technologies to office software) and
making them usable in real-time. The
Ethernet standard familiar from offices
is now also being introduced into pro-
duction environments in the form of In-
dustrial Ethernet. In addition, Siemens
has enhanced WLAN applications to
make them suitable for the greater demands posed by industry. (p.20)
Sociologists do not think that people
who are always online will risk sensory
overload. Instead, we will adapt to new
technology and establish new commu-
nications standards. Face-to-face con-
tact is growing in importance. (p.31)
PEOPLE:
Innovations in mobile communications:
Harry Strasser, Com harry.strasser@siemens.com
Dr. Tilo Messer, Com
tilo.messer@siemens.com
Transmission technology:
Dr. Jürgen Schindler, Com schindler.juergen@siemens.com
Dr. Werner Mohr, Com
werner.mohr@siemens.com
Dr. Egon Schulz, Com
egon.schulz@siemens.com
Software-defined radio:
Holger Landenberger, Com
holger.landenberger@siemens.com
HiPath OpenScape:
Dr. Johann-Heinrich Schinke, Com
johann-heinrich.schinke@siemens.com
Mobile enterprise:
Dr. Thomas Werner, Com
thomas-werner@siemens.com
Home entertainment:
Stefan Jenzowsky, Com
stefan.jenzowsky@siemens.com
Walter Reithmayer, Fujitsu-Siemens
walter.reithmayer@fujitsu-siemens.com
Security:
Dr. Stephan Lechner, CT IC 3
stephan.lechner@siemens.com
Realtime in industry:
Dr. Thomas Moser, I&S
thomasmoser@siemens.com
Rudi Reinhard, SBS
rudi.reinhard@siemens.com
Ewald Kuk, A&D
ewald.kuk@siemens.com
Strategy Field Automation&Control:
Dr. Carl-Udo Maier, CT SM ICA
carl-udo.maier@siemens.com
Siemens Southeast Asia:
Bernhard Neef
bernhard.neef@siemens.com
Thomas Geitner, Vodafone Group
thomas.geitner@vodafone.com
Heinz Bude, University of Kassel
heinz_bude@his-online.de
LINKS:
Siemens Mobile:
www.siemens-mobile.com
LifeWorks concept:
www.siemens.com/lifeworks
Standards and standardization:
www.3gpp.org
www.ieee.org
LITERATURE:
Smythe, Peter, Mobile and Wireless
Communications:Key Technologies
and Future Applications, 2004
In Brief
32
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
33
ity in our communication may increase even
further. “The new technologies encourage
social contact, but their users then communi-
cate faster and about more trivial subjects,”
she says. That’s a trend all of us have already
observed — for example, when young peo-
ple communicate via cell phone and SMS.
Etiquette for the Networked World. The
transformation of how we communicate is
already becoming visible as we unconsciously
develop and internalize a large number of in-
formal norms. “For example, cell phone users
usually switch off their phones at the movies,”
says Dr. Robert Gaßner of the Berlin Institute
for Futures Studies and Technology Assess-
ment. “People cope with technological
progress by developing culturally acceptable
arrangements.” In the future, the need for
norms of this kind will increase considerably. To feel comfortable in the networked fu-
ture, people will have to create a host of new
conventions, according to Michael Jäckel, a
professor of sociology at the University of
Trier. “In a world of permanent accessibility,
we feel a growing need for a clear division
between work and leisure,” Jäckel says, “the
division that’s being blurred by the use of
new technologies.” In a paradoxical way, our
work life may also become more stressful in
the future:“We are becoming less and less
able to really enjoy being undisturbed. Multi-
tasking is becoming a standard activity,” ex-
plains the sociologist. “Today, if an hour goes
by and we haven’t received any e-mails,
we’re likely to wonder if there’s something
wrong with our computer.”
For the individual, modern communica-
tions bring more opportunities and more
freedom but they also pose a challenge,
A L WAY S - O N S O C I E T Y
S OC I E T Y
What will tomorrow’s “always on” society
look like?
Bude:Electronic communication will be-
come part of everyday life — after all, an al-
ways-on society has no prejudices against
technology. But people are again starting to
value the personal side of life, what we call
the private sphere. In the future,this could
give rise to a contradictory situation where
people live relatively withdrawn in their
small worlds, yet they’ll have a great need to
communicate and be part of networks.
They’ll accept offers to join in a network only
when this makes sense to them, though. How is the constantly increasing flood of
information affecting us?
Bude:We have to distinguish between infor-
mation and knowledge. More and more peo-
ple are concluding that the tremendous in-
crease of available information doesn’t mean
we’re also gaining more knowledge. Conse-
quently, systems that not only deliver infor-
mation but also evaluate it may become
much more important. The key concept here
is relevance. People want to be able to sort
out the things that are important to them
from those that are unimportant.
People in the always-on society are gen-
erally accessible, even during their leisure
time. How is this affecting us?
Bude:We’re already seeing a tendency to
separate our workplace from our home. Peo-
ple will again enjoy being entirely inaccessi-
ble during leisure time or on vacation, so
they can decide for themselves when they’ll
be reached. We’re going to start seeing our-
selves as “stayers” — people with a relatively
quiet lifestyle — as opposed to the “movers”
Why Inaccessibility Is Attractive
Heinz Bude (50) is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kassel. His research fo-
cuses on the macrosociological analysis of modern societies. Bude is also the director
of “The Society of the Federal Republic of Germany” research unit at the Hamburg In-
stitute for Social Research.
of the 1990s. Today we tend to think of the
“movers” as nervous individuals. In the future,
people will retreat into the personal worlds
where they live while enjoying the advan-
tages of communications systems that reach
far beyond their own individual spheres. What will happen to the people who reject the always-on lifestyle?
Bude:For many people, a paradoxical effect
may arise. The spread of accessibility means
that inaccessibility will be connected with an
enhanced status. In other words, the more
inaccessible you become, the more impor-
tant you are. This development can already
be seen today. For example, I don’t believe
you’ll ever be able to reach former Chancellor
Helmut Schmidt via your cell phone — and
for many people, that makes him seem very
interesting.Interview:Florian Martini Returning to the private sphere — a response to a networked future
which is especially true for people who
refuse to keep up with the rapid pace of de-
velopment.“We’re caught up in a world
where nothing works any more without tech-
nology,” says Jäckel. “Trying to operate out-
side these structures may be more exhausting
Siemens and the Feitoza foundation in Manaus, Brazil, are creating applications for cell phones that merge reality and the virtual world in real time.
34
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Good Connections
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
R E S E AR C H COOP E R AT I ON
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
35
The six-hour time difference between
Germany and Brazil hasn’t been a problem;
instead, it actually promotes efficiency. “It
lengthens working hours,” says Geisberger.
While developing the software for the SX1
cell phone, the team in Munich sent its most
recent version of the mobile phone manager
to Feitoza in the evening. When the develop-
ers in Munich arrived at work the next morn-
ing the latest latest version from Manaus was
already on their computers. “Thanks to our partnership with
Siemens, we have improved our knowledge
I
t may soon be the big hit among cell
phone games: cartoon panda bears and
similar creatures that crawl around in living
rooms or on the street — but only virtually
on a cell phone display. Dr. Alexandra Musto,
head of a Multimedia Applications team at
Siemens Com, describes the game which has
initially been called “Cuddly Combat” as fol-
lows: “The 3D figures are set into the back-
ground in such a way that it appears as if
they were walking around on the real table,
for example. Players can zoom in on their
mascots, turn them around and view them
from above or below. The real backgrounds
are recorded by the cell phone camera. Two
players can play the game using a Bluetooth
connection.”
This combination of real and artificial
worlds, which is known as augmented real-
ity, is difficult to achieve even on a powerful
PC. Implementing it in a cell phone, however,
which has a relatively limited computing ca-
pacity by comparison, represented a major
challenge. Nevertheless, the Feitoza founda-
tion and Siemens managed to pull it off by
working closely together. Specialists at
Siemens designed the game’s concept and a
catalog of image processing algorithms re-
quired for augmented reality applications. In
order to merge the real world with artificial
elements, the software has to learn to recog-
nize the movements the telephone makes.
The Multimedia Applications group has been
working for years in this area. Among other
things, it developed the algorithms for move-
Six hours time difference is no handicap— in fact, both partners gain in efficiency.
in software development and also learned to
work in global, multicultural teams,” says
Lopez. “Feitoza also gained experience and
expertise in new areas of software develop-
ment for the mobile communications sector
and has become one of the leading software
development companies in the rapidly
changing cell phone market in Brazil.”
According to Geisberger, development
activities in Manaus focus on user interfaces
for cell phones and PC software. Siemens has
provided additional funding to further ex-
pand Java development activities in Manaus.
It also searched for and found new partner
companies, such as the Genius Institute, Fu-
capi and DBA. Genius, a non-profit research
center in Manaus, specializes in voice recog-
nition software and digital TV. Fucapi, which
is also non-profit, analyzes hardware. DBA, a
large, Rio de Janeiro-based software com-
pany, has some 1,500 employees and a
branch office in Manaus. At the moment, in-
novative developments in the area of user in-
terface design for next generation cell
phones are being pursued in cooperation
with a company called Quality. In addition, all
partners are involved in setting up special ed-
ucation programs in cooperation with the
University of Amazonas. It is thus clear that
Manaus is gradually developing into a core
location for research cooperation between
Siemens and Brazilian institutions and com-
panies. Barbara Stumpp
ment estimation that form the basis of the
game known as “Mozzies” (mosquito hunt),
which comes with the Siemens SX1 cell
phone. This work also resulted in several im-
portant patents for such applications. The
Feitoza foundation created and optimized
procedures for compressing data as well as
algorithms that ensure the game runs
smoothly. The interesting aspect of this coop-
erative effort was that the Siemens experts
did their work in Munich, while Feitoza made
its contribution from Manaus, Brazil.
When asked why Siemens chose a com-
pany in Manaus as a partner, Bernhard Geis-
berger, director of PC Software at Siemens
Com and head of R&D in Manaus, talks about
the huge economic potential that exists in
Latin American countries. “Only those who
invest directly here can expect to participate
in the region’s growth,” he says. “All of this
started with the establishment of a Global
Support Center for the Java and Symbian
community in 2002. Because that went so
well, we decided to set up many other PC
software partnerships, and then opened our
R&D Center in Manaus in November 2003.
We chose Manaus because there are a lot of
highly motivated developers here and be-
cause the region offers financial benefits.”
The designers of the new augmented re-
ality game wanted it to be so real that players
would not notice any difference between
their real environment and its virtual supple-
ment. To do this, the development teams
had to combine methods from linear algebra,
animation, rendering technologies and artifi-
cial intelligence and then depict them on the
target platform — the Symbian operating
system. Renato Lopez, director of Feitoza,
says his organization not only had its team
members take courses in fuzzy logic, neural
networks and computer mathematics, but
also had them conduct research into move-
ment and collision detection and pattern
recognition. All work has now been com-
pleted and the game is scheduled to become
available soon in the SX1 cell phone and as a
download version.
Some 160 of Feitoza's 200 employees
work in R&D, most of them in projects involv-
ing Siemens. The foundation is a non-profit
organization dedicated to promoting social
development in the region through research
projects. It supports 12 computer program-
ming schools in the region and also develops
devices for physically handicapped people.
One of these devices is a special mouse. Here
users control the cursor through eye move-
ments and blink when they want to click on
an object. The eye movements are detected
by sensors attached to the user’s temples.
One aim of the cooperative activities be-
tween Siemens Com and Feitoza is to de-
velop a globally valid platform for a cell
phone manager. Such a system can synchro-
nize contacts, e-mails, text messages and
similar applications between a PC and a cell
phone. The partners are also looking at soft-
ware such as a processing program for im-
ages recorded with the cell phone camera.
8:00 a.m. in Munich 2:00 p.m.6:00 p.m.12:00
midnight
Working hours in Munich
Working hours in Manaus
As developers in Munich are having lunch, their colleagues in Manaus are
starting the day’s work. A few hours are available for joint conferences,
then the Brazilians continue where Munich leaves off. The result: a work-
day with 16 productive hours.
Cuddly Combat is a
new virtual reality
game available on
Siemens SX1 cell
phones. It was created by developers in Mu-
nich in close
cooperation with the
Feitoza foundation — 9,000 kilometers
away in Manaus, in the Brazilian rain forest.
36
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
37
Living Memory
Armed with haptic gloves, 3D headsets and their own
personal navigation devices, visitors to the Center
for Living Memory will be able to interact with “exhibits” in ways never before dreamed. Software that already exists could make it a reality.
S C E NAR I O
2015
S O F T W A R E
O
ctober 2015. This place – you’ve got
to see it to believe it. It’s big enough
to get lost in without navigation. And it
covers everything – literally – because it’s
organized like an encyclopedia, except
that it’s one you can walk through, talk
to, touch, download and more. They call
it the Center for Living Memory, and
Efficiency Revolution
Whether in the car or the home,
the use of common standards
holds the key to cheaper and bet-
ter software.
Developing Software in the Global Village
Software development is becom-
ing international. Experts explain
how they managed two of Sie-
mens’ biggest, most geographi-
cally dispersed projects.
Simplifying Software Software management expert
Michael Cusumano says it will be
a long time before computers and
software are easy to use.
Software for the Digital Aura
Products equipped with a digital
aura will communicate indepen-
dently with other devices in their
vicinity, cooperate with one an-
other, and bring people with the
same interests together. Creating Tomorrow’s Codes
Software is being “embedded” in products ranging from cell
phones to cars and washing machines -- and giving them in-
creasingly sophisticated capabili-
ties. Researchers are striving to
make software cheaper, better,
and faster to produce.
Page 53
Page 55
Page 39
Page 49
Page 51
2015
The “Center for Living Memory” is a
futuristic cross between a museum
and vetted data bases. Prof. Carna-
dine, Director of the Center (right),
and his Chief Programmer, use “digital
auras” to open a dialogue with Queen
Nefertari of Egypt. Using their head-
sets and navigation devices, they can see a highly realistic, real-time simulation of the queen. What’s more, they can talk with Nefertari, hear her voice and even touch her. there are wings that cover “The Universe,”
“Life on Earth,” “Man and Science,” and of
course Prof. Carnadine’s pet, “History and
Culture.” Carnadine is the boss, and I
think he’s a little edgy these days because
the Center is due to open soon. My crew’s been doing all the pro-
gramming. In fact, even before the auto-
mated bulldozers broke ground, we had
simulated the main exhibits. Standard-
ized software tools, open systems and
an online library of modules helped de-
velopment and testing to move even
faster than our project optimization plan
had predicted. And much of the software
– such as the programs that make the
SOFT WARE
HIGHLIGHTS
S O F T W A R E
T R E NDS
Although software consists of bare lines of code, entire factories can be controlled by
mathematical formulae (left), an intelligently designed soft-
ware architecture, and power-
ful computers. Background: an automated transport system
used in the automotive industry.
D
eep down, there’s a program behind
everything. Somewhere in your brain
there is a program that tells you how to lift
your eyelids. And buried in every cell of every
plant and creature on earth is a program that
tells it how to manufacture the proteins and
enzymes that keep it alive and allow it to re-
produce. The brilliant patterns on a butter-
fly’s wings are the outward expression of a
program — as are the dots on the page
you’re reading. In one universe, a few lines of
code express the texture of a fruit fly’s ab-
domen, in another they say “welcome” when
a cell phone is switched on. Even decades after the introduction of
computers, laymen are still marveling that
the physical world can be altered by merely
writing or editing code — the underlying pat-
terns of ones and zeros that are combined to
produce programs. And when married to an
operating system — a kind of traffic cop that
intermediates between user commands and
the distribution of physical resources, such as
a device’s memory and power — programs
can perform a virtually limitless variety of dif-
ferent functions. “In fact, to an ever-increasing extent, the
functionality of our products is being defined
by the software we develop,” says Reinhold
Achatz, who heads the Software & Engineer-
ing division at Siemens Corporate Technology,
as well as the company’s Software Initiative,
which is part of its Global Competitiveness
Program. Indeed, with some 30,000 people
involved in this crucial area — about as many
as Microsoft — and over three billion euros
per year invested in software research and
development, Siemens’ businesses are driven
by software.
Embedded Software. What’s driving the explo-
sive shift away from hardware and toward
software as the engine of innovation? Pro-
bably the most fundamental factor is the
nose-diving cost of computing power. In
1976, a Cray computer capable of 100 mil-
lion floating point operations per second cost
the equivalent of about 13 million euros. To-
day, you can find the same computing power
under the hood of an average car, and the
price tag will be a modest 13 euros. In 1994,
one megabit (one million bits) of memory
cost the equivalent of about 3.26 dollars. By
2003 it had dropped to approximately two
cents.
This trend means that devices ranging
from cell phones to automotive infotainment
systems and set-top boxes can have enough
computing capacity to accommodate an op-
erating system and a spectrum of application
software (see p. 48). Indeed, these so-called
“embedded” systems now account for a ma-
jor part of the $185 billion world software
market.
“Some embedded systems use con-
trollers that can be as advanced as a PC. That
makes it possible to process more and more
signals and manage growing levels of com-
plexity, which in turn means new services
ranging from networking to diagnostics for
users,” says Dr. Lothar Borrmann, head of the
S O F T W A R E
S C E NAR I O
2015
walk-through, interactive environments
possible – actually wrote itself based on
demonstrations recorded by industrial
robots using 3D-x vision. But, as I say, History and Culture is
Carnadine’s baby, and as soon as his
scheduling program surmised that we
were getting close to completing our
work, he wanted to experience that sec-
tion. Agreeing to make believe we were
just visitors, we picked up haptic gloves
and a couple of standard head mounted
display (HMD) units from a lobby dis-
penser, gave each other a thumbs up as
all systems chirped confirmation of be-
ing networked with our personal com-
municators and the Center’s database,
and followed a bright yellow augmented
reality carpet displayed in the HMDs
to Carnadine’s favorite section – 19th
Dynasty Ancient Egypt.
As we entered the most magnificent of
all the burial chambers, I was delighted to
see through my HMD that it now ap-
peared to be populated with period arti-
facts ranging from ointment bowls to
sculptures of Horus and Anubis and beauti-
fully painted hieroglyphs on the walls
. But
besides a likely reproduction of the tomb
and mummy of Queen Nefertari – Ram-
ses II’s principal wife circa 1290 BC – I
knew that there were actually very few
physical objects in the chamber. "You can touch these objects, pick
them up and look inside them using the
haps and your HMD. Your movements,
the position of your head – everything is,
as you can see, seamlessly networked,” I
explained. "I see,” said Carnadine, gin-
gerly picking up a priceless virtual vase
and peering inside it. "Remarkable! Even
the viscera appear to be intact! How far
can you take this…”
"First let me show you something
even more exciting,” I interjected, indi-
cating that we should focus our commu-
nicators on the mummy. An image of
the sarcophagus appeared in their dis-
plays with the question: Open Dialogue?
The communicators signaled that they
were now in contact with each other
and could share mutually interesting in-
formation. Both of us said "Yes” into the
HMDs’ microphones. And an instant
later, the mummy, now in the form of a
lovely young woman, stood before us.
"Wow!” exclaimed Carnadine. "And I
suppose it – I mean, she – is interactive?”
"She is indeed,” I answered. "What we’re
looking at is a real-time simulated em-
bodiment of all digitally available infor-
mation about her. It’s simply a question
of translating the semantic information
in vetted databases into corresponding
visual, audio and haptic elements, and
projecting those elements into the HMDs
so that it overlaps the physical environ-
ment with extreme spatial accuracy.”
"You mean I could… touch her?” in-
quired Carnadine. "Absolutely, the haps
will let you feel her clothing, or you
could even perform a virtual examina-
tion – whatever. It’s very realistic. You’ll
note,” I went on, "that the menus on our
communicators now suggest a number
of possible interactions, including multi-
media downloads. We’ll even be able to
hold a conference call with her from
other locations. It’s as if she had given us
her private number.” "Can I address her normally?” Carna-
dine asked. "Of course,” I said, noting
that he had not taken his eyes off of her
since she had appeared. "Nefertari?
Nofretiri?Which is your proper name?”
he asked her. "I amNefertari, beloved of
the goddess Mut, Great King’s Wife,
Hereditary Princess of the Two Lands,
Most Beautiful of Them,” she responded
in a delicate and enticing voice through
the HMDs’ speakers. "Professor, are you all right?” I asked,
somewhat concerned by a look of ap-
parent disorientation that had spread
across his face. "Oh, I guess so,” he said,
reluctantly removing the HMD. "It’s just
that she looked and sounded exactly like
an old flame – someone I knew a long,
long time ago,” he said. "It seems ‘The
Center for Living Memory’ will be a very
appropriate name for this place.”
Arthur F. Pease
Creating Tomorrow’s Codes
With over three billion euros a year invested in
software R&D, Siemens is not only exploring the evolution of this crucial field — it’s driving it. Experts explain why software is becoming pervasive, networked, self-optimizing and responsive to our needs.
38
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39
trace chemicals left by ants to find the short-
est paths to a food supply. Interestingly, the
concept can apply to industrial pick-and-place
machines. Here, tiny software programs have
been developed that mimic the pheromone-
based decision-making of ants and can work
together to collectively optimize the path of
the 12-nozzle revolver head on a machine to
the components to be picked and placed on
printed circuit boards. “The question is: Which components should
be placed in which sequence to maximize
throughput, and when?,” says Nierwetberg.
“A few percentage points of improvement
can make a significant productivity differ-
ence, because under optimal circumstances
the machine can place as many as 60,000
components per hour.” The technology could
offer solutions for applications as varied as
robot movements in a warehouse to choos-
ing the best place to order a pizza.
Toward Software That Writes Itself.Consi-
dering the immense and steadily growing de-
mand for software (see p. 45), it’s not sur-
prising that researchers are exploring
methodologies that will accelerate software
development itself. In addition to a variety of highly promi-
sing standardization (see p. 53) and process
improvement scenarios (see p. 46), one of
their software. These points allow future
modules to be plugged into a program.
Faster and more accurate assembly is
one thing. But what about automating the
process of writing software itself? According
to software architect Borrmann, mo-
dularization could be the first step in that di-
rection. Research that’s currently being con-
ducted in cooperation with Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, Tennessee, for in-
stance, indicates that “in principle, a model
interpreter — basically a software tool — can
identify the modules that are needed for a
so-called “model-driven” software (see p. 42).
The idea here is to sharply reduce the time
needed for software development by simply
drawing a formal model of a program. A spe-
cial program then translates the model into
code. “We are clearly moving in the direction
of faster, more efficient development, and
that means model-driven development,” says
Siegfried Zopf, an expert in software devel-
opment methodology and quality mana-
gement at PSE.
Meanwhile, in cooperation with Tecno-
matix, an Israel-based company that spe-
cializes in simulations of industrial processes,
Siemens researchers have developed a tech-
nology that generates code directly from au-
tomotive part descriptions and production
simulations. “Admittedly, this is a narrow en-
vironment. But it is my expectation that this
solution will widen to embrace more indus-
try segments,” reports Software & Engineer-
ing head Achatz. Taken together, the trends that are shap-
ing the development and application of the
most invisible technology on earth are likely
to have the profoundest implications for the
way we live. “The software that will drive our
world in coming years will be pervasive, net-
worked, self-optimizing and responsive to
our needs,” says Achatz. As in the natural uni-
verse, it will become a truism that, deep
down, there will be a program behind every-
thing. Arthur F. Pease
Tomorrow’s software will be pervasive , networked, self-optimizingand highly
responsive to our needs.
the quickest and best ways to accelerate soft-
ware development is modularization. Once
they have been optimized and outfitted with
a standardized interface, modules can be
snapped together to form programs almost
as easily as squeezing Lego blocks together
— and with just as little room for error. Work-
ing along these lines, researchers are now us-
ing aspect-oriented programming, a promis-
ing new concept that makes it possible for
developers to leave so-called “join points” in
program, and locate and interconnect them
to build a functional system,” says Borrmann.
“Naturally, if we could get this to work, it
would mean a significant reduction in the
amount of time needed to produce software
systems,” he explains. With this in mind, researchers in Borr-
mann’s department in Munich, at Vanderbilt
University and at Siemens’ giant PSE software
subsidiary in Vienna, Austria, are working on
Sightseeing with a cell phone. Information about a city’s sights can be read from electronic Post-It notes.
S OF T WAR E T R E NDS AND T OOL S
Object-Oriented Programming (OOP):Program and data form a single unit (an object)
that communicates with the outside world via interfaces. The interfaces define the be-
havior of the objects toward one another. The events within the object remain private.
Objects are defined in a general way, so that they can be used in varying contexts. A car
is a good analogy — the same parts can be used in different models, all of which are
functional automobiles.
Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP):Provides the means by which specific sections of programs (aspect code) can be reused many times. For example, security functions for
account inquiries are also active during online funds transfers.
Model-Driven Development (MDD):Based on graphical modeling languages that represent real tasks and “map” the processes in the system that’s to be developed. Development tools then create outline code that is tailored to the specific application by programming. Programming Languages:There are languages close to machine level (Assembler),
higher-level languages (ADA, Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, PL/1, C) and object-oriented lan-
guages such as C++, Java, Delphi or Smalltalk. Application-specific, script, modeling and
page description languages are also important. Manufacturers offer their own collections
of tools and methods (frameworks). Andreas Beuthner
40
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41
DI GI TAL GR AF F I T I
: A ME DI UM WI T H A ME S S AGE
Researchers at Siemens Corporate
Technology in Munich have developed a
unique software platform and prototype
cell phone that let users post messages
on buildings, doors and — if they’re
working on road crews — even on pot-
holes. Unlike an SMS, these messages
cause the target person’s phone to ring
only when and where it makes sense to
do so. Known as “Digital Graffiti,” the
technology will make it possible for
maintenance personnel to digitally mark
the locations of potholes on runways, for
instance, by simply positioning a phone
above them and clicking. Using a built-in
gyroscope, GPS transmitter and magnetic
sensor, such a phone can send a geo-
graphically postmarked message to a
server — with a spatial accuracy of up to 30 centimeters. Later, when the person to be contacted, in this case a repairman,
enters a radius that can be a mile or more in diameter from the pothole, the server
transmits the message to his phone. When the phone’s camera is panned across the
tarmac, arrows will appear on the images in the phone’s display, showing exactly
where the potholes can be found. According to project development director Dieter
Kolb, the technology could also be used for posting and reading personalized messages
at “Info Points” in airports, or as a navigational and information guide for tourists or
museum visitors. “Eventually, users will be able to simply ask their cell phone where
the Renoir paintings are, and the phone will display a path to them. By pointing the
phone at an individual painting, the user will be able to access a fountain of informa-
tion about it,” says Kolb.
S O F T W A R E
T R E NDS
Software Architecture department at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT). “Software is entering the smallest items,
even parts of motors,” adds Dr. Ulrich Löwen,
head of CT’s Systems Engineering depart-
ment, “and that makes the overview of a sys-
tem extremely complex — but also more ex-
act.” Nowhere is this trend more evident than
in the automotive industry, where software
delivers enhanced comfort, convenience and
security without adding weight. “Premium
cars today have up to 70 electronic control
units that use software to govern everything
from motor management to braking,” says
Hans-Georg Frischkorn, head of system archi-
tecture and integration at BMW. In the near
future (see p. 53) these embedded systems
will be increasingly networked. “For in-
stance,” says Borrmann, “The navigation sys-
tem will know that a hill is coming up around
the next bend and will prepare the engine
and brakes accordingly.”
As more and more embedded software
systems take over increasingly safety-critical
functions, the need for software quality and
associated testing is growing. In the power
distribution area, for example, CT's Software
Development Techniques department has
developed software that can simulate
whether the time it takes to detect, analyze
and transfer information on a dangerous
short circuit to the next highest node in a
network of protection devices is sufficient to
stem the problem. This avoids a potential
cascade of events leading to power outages,
explains department head Klaus Beetz. Software embedded in circuit breakers
for power-distribution systems and countless
other safety-critical areas is not only increa-
singly being designed to share information
on a networked basis, thus reducing real-
time risks. It is also playing an increasingly
valuable role in terms of archiving data, diag-
nosing errors and helping to improve system
efficiency. “That’s important,” says Beetz, “be-
cause more and more things are happening
simultaneously.” He points out, for instance,
that the latest medical magnetic resonance
systems have as many as 60 separate pro-
grams in operation simultaneously. From Ants to Robots.With a veritable ex-
plosion in the number of systems interacting
with one another on a real-time basis — or
very close to it — optimization of the routes
taken by signals and moving objects has be-
come a booming area of software research.
“The age-old question of ‘What's the shortest
route between a number of locations in a
transport network?’ now has enormous eco-
nomic relevance,” explains Dr. Johannes Nier-
wetberg, who heads CT's Software Optimiza-
tion department. A physicist, Nierwetberg
points out that the answer could be “digital
pheromones” — a concept based on the
In the early days, programmers tended to
work in assembler languages, which describe
each instruction in detail. Soon afterward,
procedural languages became popular. In
these languages, a program is broken up into
smaller subtasks called “procedures” that are
later linked together into an overall system.
This approach is geared to making source
code reusable and to achieving a high degree
of clarity in regard to overall program struc-
ture. “Researchers and developers have
learned very quickly,” says programming ex-
pert Douglas C. Schmidt of Vanderbilt Univer-
sity in Nashville, Tennessee. “The level of ab-
straction of programming routines has been
increased from year to year, increasing the
degree to which they can be automated.”
Encapsulated and Reusable.Improvements
in existing languages and techniques (see p.
41) as well as fundamental changes in the
way developers approach and think about
software have gone a long way toward ex-
panding what software architects can do. Ob-
ject-oriented development caused a sensation
20 years ago; but today it is firmly estab-
lished. Its most important hallmark: Rules,
commands and functions are prefabricated
and “encapsulated” in building blocks that
have been pre-tested for quality. These
blocks contain clearly defined interfaces that
are used to link them with other compo-
nents, and they have instructions governing
their interaction with other program ele-
ments. “The trend is toward the development
of reusable code,” summarizes Borrmann col-
league Christa Schwanninger.
What this means is that, even when de-
veloping unusual applications, software engi-
neers are increasingly using program libraries
that contain large numbers of prefabricated
templates and prototypes. An alternative is to design objects using
graphic modeling languages — what experts
call Model Driven Development (MDD). “In
MDD, we describe the real world we want to
automate using symbols and then model the
corresponding procedures in a data-process-
ing system,” explains Zopf. The conversion
customer satisfaction at lower costs,” says
Schwanninger. The new architectures make
possible a high degree of modification and
extension, and they don’t adhere to a rigid
development model as before. As a result of
better project management with shorter re-
lease cycles and planning that’s based on de-
fined objectives, working program parts are
available to the user at a very early stage in
the process. That means users are able to
pass on requests to the appropriate teams,
even as the development process moves for-
ward, and immediately receive modified ver-
sions.
Software Machines. Schmidt expects that
model-based programming languages that
automatically generate the appropriate ma-
chine code will soon be part of the standard
repertoire of many development depart-
ments. A German-Spanish company known
as CARE Technologies already offers a ma-
Users will be able to request modifications
while development is still under way.
into working program code is done in part
automatically by the development tools.
The model-based approach reduces the
amount of work required for individual
pieces of software, particularly the amount
of programming. Even complicated functions
are portrayed by manageable symbols in a di-
agram. A structure is created, and is then in-
creasingly adapted to the requirements of
the particular application in subsequent
phases of the development process. The un-
derlying model is composed of encapsulated,
reusable system components that can be
linked like Lego blocks to form various appli-
cations (system families).
Experts anticipate that model driven de-
velopment has a bright future. Already, “gen-
erative” and “aspect-oriented” development
tools are emerging, and these new ap-
proaches promise even better, more reliable
and more secure software. “We expect these
agile software processes to produce more
chine that writes software fully automatically
and faster than any human programmer. The
secret: prefabricated data flowcharts that de-
fine the processes involved. The user de-
scribes task with graphic symbols and links
them to the diagrams. A software generator
then provides working source code assem-
bled from existing building blocks.
In spite of such advances, code at the
push of a button and self-organizing soft-
ware aren’t likely to be common for a while.
Still missing is an adequate technical and sci-
entific basis for versatile software compo-
nents. CARE’s software generator, for in-
stance, can only manage rudimentary tasks.
Large software systems with parts that have
to meet high reliability and security standards
will continue to be planned by teams of spe-
cialists — although at a highly abstract level.
“It still takes the knowledge and cooperation
of many experts to get a system up and run-
ning,” says Borrmann. Andreas Beuthner
Siemens programmer Kai
Tödter assembles the software
that drives a new avatar. Java-
based modular techniques and
a program that simulates the
functions of a real phone accel-
erate the development process.
Software has become the heart of every complex system. The re-
sult: exploding demand for faster, more accurate and economical
programming technologies. The goal: adaptable software architec-
tures made of optimally matched, reusable components.
Taming Complex Systems
I
t was a long road from the abacus of an-
cient times to the first programmable cal-
culating machines, which were built in the
1930s and ‘40s in Germany, the U.S. and
Great Britain. A
s a discipline in its own right,
computer science has only been around for a
few decades. Initially an academic tool, soft-
ware has rapidly evolved to become an im-
portant part of the economy. As a result, de-
mand for improved software development
productivity is steadily increasing. All of this may have a downside, how-
ever. According to Dr. Lothar Borrmann,
head of the Software Architecture depart-
ment at Siemens Corporate Technology (CT)
in Munich, “Our methods and tools are get-
ting better and better, but the demands on
software architects and project manage-
ment are growing by leaps and bounds as
well. It’s no longer possible for any one per-
son to program today’s complex software
systems.”
42
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43
New methods have taken the place of
the machine-level programming of earlier
years, which has been pushed to the back
burner. Today, it is not even possible to create
the desktop of a modern personal computer
with simple programming techniques. And
there’s enough “intelligence” in any laptop on
the market to make the mainframe comput-
ers of the founding years look like bumbling
museum pieces. Program code is found in every circuit —
in everything from cars to mobile phones to
power plants. At Siemens alone, software en-
gineers produce several billion lines of code
each year. Initially, the lines of a programwere
laboriously written out by hand. Today, pre-
fabricated software components and “design
S O F T W A R E
P R OGR AMMI NG
patterns” (templates) provide the basic struc-
tural framework. “There are already program-
ming environments that generate powerful
operations with just a few instructions,” says
Siegfried Zopf of Program and Systems Engi-
neering (PSE) in Vienna, Austria. A Siemens-
owned software and electronics company
with branches in several countries and more
than 5,000 employees, PSE works almost ex-
clusively for the Siemens Groups. A glance at the variegated world of de-
velopment environments makes it clear that
writing software entails a daunting number
of choices. There are over 200 programming
languages. Some professionals swear by Perl,
Basic, Eiffel or Smalltalk, while others work
with Delphi, C/C++, Java or Ada. Even the “ve-
terans” among the programming languages,
like Cobol and Assembler, are still in service,
with no prospect of being retired any time
soon. At Siemens, there is no prescribed pro-
gramming language in use throughout the
company. Usually, though, Siemens opts for
solutions based on established techniques. “It
makes no sense to program with unusual
languages for two years and then be left at
the end of the day with an isolated solution,”
explains Borrmann. As a rule, Siemens ex-
perts work with mainstream languages like
C/C++ and Java or platforms like J2EE (Java 2
Enterprise Edition) or Microsoft’s .Net. “But
every approach has its strengths and weak-
nesses; each is suitable for different pur-
poses,” says Zopf.
45
Falling Prices and Exploding Complexity
T
he world software market is growing steadily. U.S. market re-
searchers at IDC report that worldwide spending on packaged soft-
ware alone was $185 billion in 2003 and is expected to reach some
$260 billion by 2008. The overall software market is, of course, much
larger, because it includes software that companies write themselves.
Siemens spends over three billion euros on software development an-
nually. In contrast to the market for PC-based software, where growth
is slowing, analysts expect explosive growth in embedded software —
software used where most people don’t see it, as part of anything from
a cell phone to an industrial control system.
The main factor driving this trend is rapidly falling memory prices.
In the past decade, for example, the dollar price per megabit of DRAM
(dynamic random access memory) fell from $3.50 in 1995 to about 2
cents in 2004, reports California-based semiconductor research house
iSuppli, which predicts DRAM prices will fall to 0.4 cent per megabit by
2008. Today’s automobiles tell the story. Embedded functions are mi-
grating from hardware to software as microprocessors take over func-
tions from electromechanical devices. In 2000, car manufacturers and
suppliers spent about 25 billion euros on development and production
of software designed for automobiles, according to Mercer Manage-
ment Consulting. Mercer predicts spending will quadruple by 2010. By
then, 35 percent of the value of the average car will come from elec-
tronics and software (with 13 percent being software). Some day
soon, car owners will go to their local dealers for software upgrades,
S O F T W A R E
FAC T S AND F OR E C AS T S
ded software. “The analytical methods com-
monly used are sometimes unable to answer
important questions,” he explains. With fault
tree analysis, for instance, it is impossible to
decide whether data is being processed at
sufficient speed. “Fault trees link cause and
effect, for example when system compo-
nents fail, but they don’t take time into ac-
count.” Liggesmeyer’s research group devel-
ops tools for problems like these. “This new
approach involves greater effort at the begin-
ning of a project, because a great deal of en-
ergy goes into producing clean descriptions,”
he explains. “Later on, though, you don’t
have to go back and iron out errors.” Further-
more, a model that has been carefully devel-
oped and tested can be reused much more
easily. One stipulation, however, is that the
model’s compatibility with new components
— unlike the case of Ariane 5 — has been
properly resolved. Bernd Schöne
says Jan Dannenberg, who heads Mercer’s automotive analysis group.
For example, they could download a program that supports safer brak-
ing on snow and ice. Of course, embedded software is in more than
just cars. Daya Nadamuni, principal analyst with Gartner Dataquest,
says the greatest potential for embedded software is where there is a
human interface. Examples include cell phones, information points,
patient monitoring systems and industrial control systems. Massachu-
setts-based research firm VDC also predicts that the automotive, con-
sumer electronics and military and aerospace industries will lead the
way in developing new embedded software applications. A typical embedded application has grown from 100,000 to one
million lines of code over the past two years, according to Wind River, a
U.S.-based maker of embedded software operating systems. This com-
plexity will grow as devices are increasingly networked. According to
Watts Humphrey of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering
Institute, the size and complexity of systems and applications grows
exponentially, increasing by a factor of ten every five years. In order to master this complexity, more and more software com-
ponents are being encapsulated in standardized modules. Reinhold
Achatz, head of the Software & Engineering division at Siemens Corpo-
rate Technology, sums up the advantages: “Once the content of such a
module is shown to be error-free, its size is no longer a factor. Only its
interface counts. As long as the interface is simple enough, we can
handle it.” Mary Lisbeth d’Amico
Hardware
100 bil
Software 25 bil
Software
126 bil
Source: Mercer Management Consulting (2003)
Source: iSuppli Corporation (2004)
Basic soft-
ware 5 bil
Operating
system 20 bil
Applications
software 75 bil
Hardware
190 bil
8% p.a.
3% p.a.
80%
E125 bil
E270 bil
20%
2000 2010 2015
62%
2%
8%
28%
60%
40%
E316 bil
Hardware
170 bil
...
MORE S OF T WARE I S HI T T I NG T HE ROAD
AS ME MOR Y C HI P S B E C OME C HE AP E R
...
The value of the software and electronics in automobiles is set to grow by around eight percent a year to 270 billion euros by 2010 — on average, 35 percent of total vehicle value. $1.00
$0.50
$2.00
$3.00
$4.00
$5.00
1991
1993
1995
1997
1999
2001
Dollars per megabit
2004
2003
2005
2006
2007
2008
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
2.5
Cents per megabit
Office computers regularly re-
ceive software updates. Indus-
trial processes, however, must
function properly from the
word go. Siemens has taken on
this challenge and is now re-
searching methods to develop
secure and reliable software.
Faultless
Future?
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45
I
n 1996, when the first Ariane 5 rocket ex-
ploded only 37 seconds after lifting off
from the mangrove swamps of French
Guiana, software was at fault. The problem
— investigators found — was that engineers
had adopted a module from Ariane 4 without
testing it. The purpose of the software was to
convert the rocket’s speed from a long float-
ing point number into a shorter data format.
This was no problem for Ariane 4, because it
was impossible for the number to exceed the
upper limit of the abbreviated format. But
with the more powerful Ariane 5, this oc-
curred within half a minute, and the com-
puter went down. The resulting loss wiped
out more than half a billion euros.
Ariane 5’s unfortunate fate illustrates the
extent to which software has become safety-
critical — and the dramatic need for flawless
quality. “In the old days, you would do what
was known as a ‘walk-through,’ accompanied
by an experienced colleague,” explains Rein-
hold Achatz, who heads the Software & Engi-
neering division at Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT). “Given the complexity of today’s
systems, we have to find alternatives, other-
wise software wouldn’t be ready until years
after the hardware.”
With this in mind, software engineers de-
termine whether the rules of the language
used — that is, the software’s syntax — have
S O F T W A R E
S E C UR I T Y
Achatz explains. Experts are therefore exam-
ining how to accelerate this process. In the past, expensive capital goods such
as aircraft and power plants would always
feature redundancy on critical control sys-
tems, with the result that codes had to be de-
veloped for two or three independent hard-
ware platforms. This meant, however, that
several development teams were required,
and there still was no guarantee that errors
wouldn’t be carried through from the design
stage to the program itself. Engineers would
much prefer the kind of exact implementa-
tion offered by programming in specific
model languages. A Dictionary for Every Problem. Model Dri-
ven Development (MDD) may help to solve
this problem by bringing technology and
software closer together (see p. 42). A com-
pany-wide platform coordinates the project
(www.omg.org). “Regardless of whether it
was a car radio or a railroad switching sys-
tem, programmers in the past had to get by
with one and the same programming lan-
guage. MDD provides a kind of dictionary for
each and every technical problem,” explains
Andrey Nechypurenko from Siemens CT. In
other words, a model language is developed
for each task. The symbols in the flow dia-
gram are task-specific. “Engineers don’t talk
MDD, we completed a 40-month project in
21 months, and the number of errors fell by
a factor of 17.” Worldwide, only a few major software
projects have as yet been completed with
MDD, because the decision in favor of a new
process always means a long-term commit-
ment. “Our initial experience with real pro-
jects has been very encouraging,” says Mar-
tin Rothfelder from CT. “The technology will
be ready for use in one to two years.” Using similar semiautomatic tools, secu-
rity specialists also analyze the code for po-
tential weaknesses. And they’re not only
looking for the classic bug, which can crash
the computer; they’re also hunting for design
faults, which present a hidden risk and may
well have been introduced during the design
stage. For example, banking software from
Siemens must be capable of administering
dozens of different encrypted communica-
tions channels — without giving a potential
eavesdropper a chance to decode the confi-
dential content.
One of the scientists with whom
Siemens works most closely in the field of se-
curity and reliability technologies is Prof. Pe-
ter Liggesmeyer, Director of the Fraunhofer
Institute for Experimental Software Engineer-
ing in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Liggesmeyer
is primarily involved in the security of embed-
been respected. For safety-relevant applica-
tions, a formal verification of the program se-
quence’s logic is conducted. The problem
with this is that testing takes up a large share
of any software project. “Tests and unsched-
uled debugging can consume up to 80 per-
cent of a major project’s time budget,”
in terms of loops and calls, they have their
own language to open valves or run motors
up to speed,” explains Nechypurenko. The ac-
tual programming is undertaken by software
agents. “This reduces the number of errors,
since less code has to be written by hand,”
says Rainer Hochecker from IBM. “Using
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
47
Code inspector — an analytical tool— sniffs
out bugs in source codeand warns of errors.
Pomberger’s spiral model of software development. Prototypes are repeatedly im-
proved and expanded in feedback loops. Risk
analysis
Selection
Risk
analysis
Risk
analysis
Prototype 1
Prototype 2
Prototype 3-n
Evaluation
Evaluation
Evaluation
System design
Archi-
tecture design
Validation of
system concept
Development
and validation of the next-level
product
Planning of next activities
Specification of objec-
tives, secondary require-
ments and constraints
Development and
evaluation of proposed solutions,
recognition and elimination of risks
Milestone plan
Development plan
Data takeover, integration and
test plan
Acceptance test
Training
Integration &
integration
test
Compo-
nent test
Implemen-
tation
Refined design
Validation and verification of the design
Installation
Data takeover
Bid document
To reach level 4 or higher, which is advisable
in safety-critical applications, one must in-
crease the use of metrics. These are measur-
ing methods that define the quality of the
program code — a parameter of error den-
sity. Another level 4 requirement is the mod-
ularity and reusability capability of the soft-
ware, which reduces both cost and
complexity.
Modules Assure Quality. One Group that
has embraced software modularity is
Siemens Medical Solutions. Instead of devel-
oping new software for each product, devel-
opers at Med now rely on the syngo software
platform for CT, MRI and other medical imag-
ing systems. This “platform strategy” reduces
the chances of errors. Engineers at Med rely
on a proven development methodology that
moves from defining specifications, to de-
sign, implementation and testing in succes-
sive but overlapping stages designed to mini-
mize development time. Still more advanced, though not yet
widely used, are incremental methods, in
which the entire development process is sub-
divided into a succession of mini-waterfalls
with predefined interfaces. Gustav
Pomberger, Professor of Software Engineer-
ing at the University of Linz, Austria, is ex-
ploring such processes in collaboration with
Siemens. Pomberger is an advocate of proto-
typing. In this strategy, developers create
testable prototypes of their software at an
early stage. The prototypes are designed to
give the client a foretaste of a program’s ulti-
mate suitability for an application. If changes
are needed the prototype is modified and
perfected in feedback loops. Pomberger has
refined the concept of prototyping for certain
decision processes in a spiral process model
(see diagram above). In a pattern resembling
a snail shell, software engineers work in suc-
cessive loops from the center (awarding of
the project) outward through prototypes,
evaluations, concepts and tests. Yet another approach to software devel-
opment can be found at Regensburg, Ger-
many-based automotive supplier Siemens
VDO. There, Stefan Hohrein, who heads
VDO’s System and Software Initiative, is com-
mitted to close coordination of software de-
velopment with systems engineering, hard-
ware and mechanical development. This
approach can serve as a model throughout
Siemens, since most of the company’s soft-
ware is created for embedded systems, in
which software is very closely linked with
hardware, as is the case in cell phones and
automotive infotainment systems. In auto-
mobiles, hardware is increasingly being re-
placed by software, because it is more flexi-
ble. According to a study by the Mercer
Group, software will account for 13 percent
of the value of a typical car by 2010, com-
pared to four percent in 2000. Systems and software development at
Siemens VDO follow well-defined processes,
but testing is determined by customer re-
quirements. When a program is complete,
individual program sections are first tested
separately. The next phase is an integration
test, which ensures that individual functions
interact smoothly. The final hurdle is a
system test on the complete device under
realistic environmental conditions. To keep
complexity to a minimum, automakers are
developing a type of operating system with
uniform interfaces that allows proven pro-
gram modules to be ‘docked’ and reused
(see p. 53). The intent is to reduce the num-
ber of control devices in premium cars from
the present 70 to about 20. Programs that Test Programs. Automated
tests during an early phase of development
are gaining in importance. Basic syntax errors
in code are detected upfront by compilers,
which translate a program into machine lan-
guage. New test methods are designed to
ensure smooth interaction between all pro-
gram sections. To meet this objective, the
Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Architec-
ture and Software Engineering in Berlin
and its sister institute for Experimental Soft-
ware Engineering in Kaiserslautern, have
developed Quasar, a software tool that tests
The processes involved in software development can
hide a multitude of ineffi-
ciencies. Analyzing these
processes with the help of objective, standardized
models can sharply reduce development costs and significantly improve quality.
Model
Process
46
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
S O F T W A R E
QUAL I T Y
G
erman comedy star Dieter Nuhr is hav-
ing a hard time. With women. With his
mother. But most of all with computers. Just
the other day, he says, he experienced an es-
pecially interesting computer crash. “Unex-
pected fault,” was the message on the dis-
play. “It’s reassuring to know,” sighs Nuhr,
“that all the other faults met expectations.” The audience loves it. It’s nice to know
that you’re not the only one having prob-
lems. Everyone knows about the tribulations
common in office software, and sometimes a
sense of humor makes them seem more
bearable. It would be a lot less funny, how-
ever, if the software running cars, trains, fac-
tories, medical equipment and power plants
experienced similar faults to those all of us
are familiar with when on our PCs. As software assumes ever more func-
tions that used to be performed by hardware,
fears of such failures are increasing. In cell
phones, for instance, software accounts for
70 percent of the devices’ value. Lines of
code have quintupled between the launches
of Siemens’ S25 and S65 cell phones. And
that adds up to more code than controlled
NASA’s rockets of the early 1960s. “Software
is becoming ever more complex,” concedes
Dr. Frances Paulisch who directs the Software
Initiative, a program established at Siemens
in 1996. But complexity doesn’t necessarily
tell you anything about error rates. Indeed,
eliminating errors from program code is not
the principal purpose of the Inititive. Instead,
the Initiative is designed to support the
30,000 software developers at Siemens by
establishing optimized processes.
Scrutinizing Software Quality. With this in
mind, the Software & Engineering/Processes
department at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy (CT) — an internationally renowned as-
sessment center for software processes —
uses a catalog of 250 standardized questions
to interview key project development peo-
ple. The questions are designed to sort out
the strengths and weaknesses of an organi-
zation’s software development processes.
Questions cover topics such as the compe-
tencies project manager must have, and the
value of quality assurance measures. Based
on the responses, a maturity profile is formu-
lated with a maturity level ranging from 1 to
5. The international Capability Maturity
Model Integration (CMMI) is used as a yard-
stick. In the CMMI, a maturity level of 1 is as-
signed to disorganized processes, while a 5 is
awarded to software whose development is
continually improved, based on specified
metrics. By 2005, the Software Initiative aims
to achieve a maturity level of 3 for R&D pro-
jects at Siemens, which corresponds to inter-
national targets. In several groups, this goal
has already been reached or even surpassed. Following evaluation, project participants
are provided with feedback and, if necessary,
with training. Such training includes review
techniques in which a software engineer
must present programming results to team
members. While there may be some grum-
bling at the beginning, participants invariably
come to appreciate their colleagues’ advice.
“It’s 20 percent technology and 80 percent
psychology,” confides department head
Ludger Meyer. His 36 employees conduct
worldwide assessments for all software units
throughout Siemens.
A high CMMI level, however, is no guar-
antee that software will be flawless. Still,
there’s a measurable correlation between
CMMI levels on the one hand and software
quality and costs on the other. “When the
processes are OK, it’s easier to estimate the
costs and the time required,” notes Paulisch.
Software should never look like a multitude of interconnected blocks — a nightmare for developers.
Source: Pomberger, University of Linz
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
49
them, as it were, with a digital cloak. When-
ever two such auras come into contact, infor-
mation flows.” In other words, coded prefer-
ence profiles are exchanged and compared.
For example, if your profile authorizes this,
an electronic movie poster might transmit
the trailer of the latest box office hit to your
PDA; or your cell phone might inform you
that the woman sitting at the next table in
the cafe wants to sell her car.
The technology is already available. The
Linz researchers have fitted various objects
with so-called RFID tags — small chips that
store relevant data. Communication takes
place via the Bluetooth wireless radio stan-
dard. Initial demonstrations already exist in
the fields of healthcare, the home, and traffic
management. “The major challenges now
are to write universally applicable digital
auras for a huge number of people and
things, to ensure that these auras can
change over time, to transfer and compare
them wirelessly, and, finally, to use washable
microchips that can be integrated into cloth-
ing,” explains Ferscha. For the last three
years, his institute has been working closely
on the digital aura project with Dr. Lothar
Borrmann and others at Siemens Corporate
Technology’s Software Architecture depart-
ment, a part of the Siemens Software & Engi-
neering division.
No Keyboard, No Mouse.Pervasive Com-
puting (PvC) — also known as Ubiquitous
Computing (see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2002, p. 44) — will usher in a new era. In-
stead of do-it-all computers, we will see the
advent of simple, task-specific, miniaturized
and intuitively operable processors that will
be invisibly integrated in everyday objects.
Similarly, traditional input devices such as
keyboards and mice will not be required. In-
stead, the processors will be controlled by
electronic, optical, acoustic or chemical sen-
sors, and they will output via actuators such
motors or other control units.
In order to reach that point, however, re-
searchers need to develop new software that
is capable of the following: ➔Self-configuration, that is, automatic adap-
tation to changing environments T HE F UL LY NE T WOR K E D HOME I S J US T A C L I C K AWAY
A hot candidate for networking household hardware is the Universal Plug & Play stan-
dard (see p. 53). This covers hardware with network interfaces that support IP commu-
nications — for example, Ethernet, wireless (Bluetooth, WLAN) and FireWire. The first
generation of products featuring Internet gateways, WLAN access points and digital media
adapters with UPnP is already available. Further applications have been exhibited by Fokus,
the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, at the eHome trade fair in
September 2004 in Berlin. A team led by Thomas Luckenbach has developed a PC media
server that enables a computer, TV, video recorder and other household appliances to
recognize each another automatically. Users can therefore combine hardware from dif-
ferent manufacturers within a home network and access data from various sources. For
example, the set-top box in the living room can get photos from the PC in the study, which
in turn accesses videos from the set-top box. Meanwhile, MP3 music files are transferred
back and forth between the kids’ bedrooms. And since home networks can communicate
with one another, relatives in another country can receive vacation snaps. Access to other
home networks enables remote diagnosis and maintenance — assuming you have an
appropriate “key.” The industry is also sold on UpnP. “It seems clear that companies such
as Philips, Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Intel and Siemens will build on this platform,”
says Markus Wischy from the Siemens CT Competence Center for Software & Engineering.
➔ Self-optimization, including continual
monitoring and analysis of its own perfor-
mance and the use of available resources ac-
cording to specific processes
➔Self-organization and the implementation
of decisions across the system as a whole ➔ Self-protection, meaning identification
and control of unauthorized access and virus
activity
➔ Self-repair, for example, discovering and
resolving problems
➔ Self-teaching, that is, recognition of be-
havioral patterns and their incorporation in
internal management mechanisms
Of particular importance here is sensitiv-
ity to context. In other words, the system
must not only be capable of recognizing ob-
jects and persons, but it must also be able to
prepare for future situations. Although sci-
ence and industry are still at the start of this
project, two things are already evident: Clas-
sic programs that process only one predeter-
mined task are outdated; by contrast, the PvC
environment requires global platforms and
software that integrate individual systems
such as mobile devices, sensor networks and
applications in vehicles or intelligent homes. “When building a house, it’s not so im-
portant whether you use brick, stone or
wood. Similarly, the important thing here is
not a specific programming language but
rather the right software architecture,” ex-
plains Ferscha. For this reason, his team has
developed a new architecture that consists of
three levels. The top level is where sensor
data such as temperature, humidity,and
pulse frequency are received from the imme-
diate environment. The middle level is where
data for the specific application are process-
ed and converted into a form that can be un-
derstood by the various embedded systems.
The preferred language is XML (Extensible
Markup Language) — a universal and exten-
sible data-description language that is inde-
pendent of any specific platform or operating
system. In fact, this is why the Linz team has
The shirt tells the washing machinethe
temperatureat which it has to be washed.
Researchers have long dreamt
of pervasive computing, which
enables everyday objects to
recognize our needs and react
to them in an intelligent man-
ner. The requisite hardware is
already available. What’s
needed now is new software
and global standards.
Developing a
Digital Aura
48
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
S O F T W A R E
P E R VAS I V E COMP UT I NG
S
igns that show the way to the nearest
cinema; cars that automatically locate
the next parking space; shirts that tell the
washing machine what temperature they
should be washed — in the future, according
to Prof. Alois Ferscha, objects and people will
be enveloped in their very own “digital auras.”
This might sound esoteric, but Ferscha, who
is the Director of the Institute of Pervasive
Computing at the Johannes Kepler University
in Linz, Austria has some very concrete ideas
of what it might entail. “We create an artifi-
cial aura for people and objects by fitting
As computing becomes perva-
sive, objects such as bulletin
boards will be able to exhange information with mobile devices
such as PDAs and phones .
functions in automobiles before components
are produced. Quasar’s first test object was a car door
with integrated pushbuttons for seat adjust-
ments. To begin with, Quasar was used to
represent the manufacturer’s — Daimler-
Chrysler — requirements in lucid diagrams.
For example, seat adjustments had to be lim-
ited to very low driving speeds, which re-
quired a link with the speedometer. As the
next step, several hundred combinations of
functions were then simulated and tested for
consistency. Only then was the seat adjust-
ment software engineered. Quasar also
comes in handy in later stages. It simulates
sensors and automatically activates all micro-
controller functions. Safety-critical functions
such as the electronic steering systems of the
future can’t even be developed without such
test tools. “Manufacturers will need to prove
that steer-by-wire is just as reliable as me-
chanical steering,” says Prof. Holger Schlin-
gloff, Quasar project manager. Code Inspector. Across the Atlantic, at
Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton,
New Jersey software engineers are develop-
ing “code inspector,” an analytical tool that
sniffs out bugs in the source code of the
most important programming languages, in-
cluding C (20% share at Siemens), C++ (30%)
and Java (12%). This sniffer has already
proven its value in several sectors and saved
time and money by providing early fault indi-
cations. Code inspector also provides specific key
figures that customers request. The German
Federal Railroad Administration, for example,
uses a catalog of quality criteria for software
written in C++. Code inspector enabled
Siemens Transportation Systems to generate
the documentation at half the expected cost. The next logical development would be
to endow code inspector with the ability to
automatically correct errors in code. “That’s
already feasible for some quality criteria,” as-
serts Jean Hartmann, who helped create
code inspector in Princeton. “But as a former
software developer I wouldn’t appreciate
having a machine messing around with my
code.” Bernd Müller
Two software projects — one to
streamline processes in hospitals,
the other to transform cell phones
into multimedia platforms — illustrate the complexities of
global software development.
Software in the
Global Village
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
51
S O F T W A R E
I NT E R NAT I ONAL DE VE L OP ME NT
N
ext year, your teenager may be able to
call all his buddies and talk to them at
once by pressing a single button on a cell
phone. In a few months, a hospital near you
may cut the time it takes to generate a diag-
nostic report from 48 hours to 15 minutes.
Nurses may soon have as much as 50 per-
cent more time for their patients.
What these technologies have in com-
mon is that they are the progeny of two vast
software development projects that have
been structured to harvest the know-how of
specialized groups in a worldwide organiza-
tion. Soarian, a comprehensive healthcare in-
formation system for hospitals that has al-
ready entered service, is a software
tour-de-force built on some 3,500 man-years
of research and development in the United
States, Sweden, India, and Germany.
IMS, on the other hand, which stands for
IP — (Internet Protocol) Based Multimedia
Subsystem, is a visionary software system
developed in Germany, Austria, the Czech
Republic, Slovenija, Croatia, India, France,
Finland, Britain, Belgium and Greece that
could soon transform every communication
terminal into a multimedia platform. The largest software development pro-
ject ever conducted by Siemens Medical So-
lutions, Soarian captures and tracks a pa-
tient’s clinical and financial data from
hospital admission to release while making it
available throughout the enterprise to all au-
thorized personnel. The very first Web-based
enterprise health care information system
available anywhere, Soarian has a potential
market “in the range of four to five billion
dollars,” says Dr. Siegfried Bocionek, Chief
Operating Officer, Siemens Health Services,
and Group Vice President of the Soarian
Enterprise business unit. Soarian is now be-
ing tested at some 20 healthcare centers in
the U.S. and Germany. Mobile Media Center. IMS, a project involv-
ing years of work by as many as 250 soft-
ware developers, is now being tested by ma-
jor communication service providers around
the world and is slated for commercial intro-
duction in 2005 when the first IMS/SIP-en-
abled cell phones hit the market. (SIP, or Ses-
sion Initiation Protocol, is a de facto standard
that defines how Internet communications
are initiated and terminated.) Basically a service control infrastructure
for all forms of communication, “IMS will es-
tablish Internet technology in the wired and
wireless network environment” says Dr. Ed-
ward Scheiterer, head of IMS business line
management at Siemens Communication
(Com). He adds that IMS will also introduce
“the concept of a session broker to mix and
manipulate all types of media.” Adds Jo-
hannes Schinko, Vice President, Core Net-
works, at Program and System Engineering
(PSE), a Siemens software house based in Vi-
enna, Austria, “IMS will make mobile com-
munication as multifaceted as natural com-
munication.”
IMS and Soarian are outstanding exam-
ples of how software mega projects have
come to be organized and managed. “Divid-
ing a project like IMS is always a challenge,”
says PSE’s Schinko. “Of course, it would be
easier to have everyone at one location —
The Soarian hospital information system:
Developers in both the U.S. and in India work on the project.
50
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P HONE C ONT R OL
Equipped witha Bluetooth extension,
a cell phone can interact with a vehi-
cle’s navigation system, whereby the
phone’s display is shown on the sys-
tem’s screen. Using this wireless on-
board communication system from
Siemens, the latest traffic news, to-
gether with relevant road maps can
be fed directly into a car’s navigation
system from a cell phone. In addition,
Siemens offers a hands-free automo-
tive communications system that al-
lows the user’s cell phone to be placed
anywhere in the vehicle. All of the
phone’s relevant functions are auto-
matically transferred via Bluetooth to
an easy-to-use accessory device. used it to code the personal profile contained
in a digital aura. Such a profile features not
only a personal description including name
and address but also changeable data such
as favorite music and, above all, personal
preferences and intended courses of action.
In turn, it is crucial that these are evaluated
according to context, since a person’s favorite
music may differ between morning and
evening. Similarly, readiness to engage in
small talk is probably higher when relaxing in
a bar than at work in the office. MOPS Lay the Ground Rules. Finally, certain
rules control how the mini-processors and
networks should behave. “This is the lowest
level of the architecture,” says Ferscha. By
helping to control motors, displays and even
complete networks, such rules — also known
as “policies” — enable the system to operate
autonomously. “These rules are required to
control complexity. They center on a compo-
nent’s subject, target object, event, condition
and action. You can store them in a database
or decentrally,” says Christoph Niedermeier
of CT’s Software & Engineering Architecture
department. MOPS (Mobility cOmmunication & Pol-
icy-based Systems) is the name of the project
have to be defined for every conceivable situ-
ation. “Security is a major challenge,” says
Ferscha. How, for example, can we establish
if data has been transferred from A to B, and
if it has been transferred completely? How do
we know that a person is who he or she
claims to be? How can errors be identified
and resolved during, for example, data trans-
fer? How can users be sure that they are safe
from eavesdroppers? How can they protect
their privacy? And how can they deactivate
their digital auras?
In the light of such questions, it is evi-
dent that PvC will be implemented only in
certain spheres (see boxes) for the foresee-
able future. Nevertheless, common stan-
dards must be adopted. To date, however, in-
dustry has failed to agree on appropriate
wireless protocols or language and software
architectures for this area. “The subject is
simply too complex, and companies are still
orientating themselves. Many approaches
are being tried out at present,” says Dr.
Michael Berger from the Intelligent Auto-
nomous Systems department at CT’s Infor-
mation & Communications Group. The depart-
ment develops PvC solutions for Siemens
Com and Siemens VDO.
Why Standards Are Needed. The need for
standards is especially evident in the net-
working area. Although an infrastructure has
existed for quite some time here, uncertainty
still remains as to which wireless standards
will prevail (see p. 11). According to the au-
thors of a study at TA-Swiss, the Center for
Technology Assessment in Bern, Switzerland,
“Many devices will probably support the IPv6
Internet protocol. For network applications,
however, additional protocols for dispersed
architectures will be required. While there are
numerous systems for this purpose, these are
still proprietary and not interoperable. The
development of manufacturer-independent
standards is overdue and hinders the break-
through of appropriate systems.” Nevertheless, Alois Ferscha is confident
that PvC will become a reality. “The develop-
ment of network capability was the first step.
The next step will be to create ubiquitous
networked computer systems that can recog-
nize situations and people’s intentions, and
support them in the best possible way,” he
says.Evdoxia Tsakiridou
S O F T W A R E
DI GI TAL AUR A
that Niedermeier is running in cooperation
with scientists from the Ludwig Maximilian
University in Munich. The project’s objective
is to develop management policies for fourth
generation mobile radio networks. An addi-
tional MOPS feature will be that software
problems will be treated remotely and up-
dates downloaded from the network. By mid-
2005 Niedermeier’s team expects to produce
a demonstration that simulates the policy-
based control of software downloads to a
large number of terminals.
PvC Researchers have their work cut out
for them, since such behavioral rules will
Auras in the office. Cell phones, lap-
tops and PDAs automatically commu-
nicate with one another and exchange
data in line with user profiles. Home care / telemedicine
Audio / video / PC networks
Switches / sockets / controllers
Home server
White goods
Telephones / communications
From cars to communications, standards are the key to
radically cutting the cost of software development —
and ushering in a new world of efficiency in which consumers benefit from a widening spectrum of new,
affordable functions and services. Efficiency Revolution
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
53
S O F T W A R E
S TANDAR DI Z AT I ON
I
magine running a production line without
standardized parts — or a railroad with dif-
ferent gauges of track, or cooking with
recipes that mixed up teaspoons and milli-
liters. For traditional manufacturing indus-
tries, such problems are ancient history —
with one very major exception: software. The
global software industry may be a relative
upstart, but its youthfulness is giving way to
a growing level of maturity and dependability
— a process driven largely by the industry’s
common interest in a range of standards.
“Standards make software cheaper,” says
Reinhold Achatz, head of Siemens Corporate
Technology’s Software & Engineering division
and Vice President of the OPC Foundation, a
non-profit international standards organization
that promotes open software standards in the
automation industry. “I’m not talking about ten
or 20 percent. I’m talking about a factor ten to
100 in savings over the long run, not to men-
tion improvements in development speed,
competitiveness, quality and efficiency.”
tecture and integration at BMW, “Around 35
to 40 percent of the added value of our cars
is determined by electronics and software.”
(See graphic on p. 45) He explains that the
most important factors affecting automotive
software development costs are standardiza-
tion, open systems architecture and reusability
of software application system components.
With a view to cutting costs in these in-
terrelated areas, the key players in the auto-
motive and electronics industries are devel-
oping AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System
Architecture) — a standardized software plat-
form architecture that will make it easy to
add and reuse software components.
Typically, when new hardware, such as a mi-
crocontroller, is added to a model group, ex-
isting software has to be updated to accom-
modate it. “That one software modification
can cost millions of euros,” explains Dr.
Michael Golm, a member of Siemens’ part of
the AUTOSAR partnership. “The new stan-
dard could obviate that.” He explains that a combination of increas-
ingly standardized development tools, grow-
ing libraries of software components, stan-
dardized application interfaces and much
more are making it easier to produce increas-
ingly complex software packages of higher
quality at greater speeds. “Just look at the
cost of software development ten or 20 years
ago. We have certainly cut costs by a factor
of between ten and 100 — otherwise it
would be impossible to implement a new cell
phone generation with the speed we have
today,” says Achatz. Cars: Accelerated Innovation. Since software
is becoming one of the dominant cost factors
in all areas of industry, the cost of its devel-
opment can change the economics of entire
industries while offering consumers higher
quality, more convenience and more services
at less cost. That’s becoming increasingly
true for the automotive sector. According to
Hans-Georg Frischkorn, head of system archi-
In Siemens’ vision of tomor-
row’s e-home, all types of
household appliances and systems will be able to com-
municate with one another
and the user — thanks to a
common language and stan-
dardized interfaces.
52
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
and cheaper to have everyone in India or
China. But at the end of the day, the division
of work depends on system architecture and
the level of experience that different sites
bring to the table. Those are the determining
factors.” Schinko points out, for instance, that
a key part of IMS — something called the
Media Gateway Control Function — was con-
ceptualized jointly by two Munich-based
Siemens Groups, ICM and ICN. “But,” he ex-
plains, “the know-how for this component
was primarily available at a Siemens site in
Greece, and it was therefore reasonable to
develop much of the software there.” Another Siemens location, Romsey, Eng-
land-based Roke Manor Research, was
tapped for its specialized knowledge in ad-
dressing and compressing messages for the
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Only one
part of the giant project — development of
functionalities specific to Symbian, an oper-
ating system for cell phones — was turned
over to an outside company. “That work was
performed by Digia of Finland,” says Schinko.
“They had specialized knowledge in that
area. But,” he emphasizes, “for strategic rea-
sons, key technologies are never given to
outside companies for development.”
Unlike IMS, which benefited from many
existing communication standards and proto-
cols, thus simplifying development of its soft-
awake.” Naturally, coordinating so many peo-
ple in different cultures was also a challenge.
“People need to take the time to understand
their counterparts in another culture,” says
Bocionek. “That means that team leaders
need to develop strong personal relation-
ships and be good at imparting complex
ideas to their people.” He cautions that size
itself can become an obstacle. “It’s crucial
that the individual R&D groups don’t become
too large. I would avoid having more than
150 people at one location because anything
more than that requires an added layer of
management, which slows things down.”
For the IMS project’s Scheiterer, architec-
ture, processes and project management are
the cornerstones of successful software de-
velopment projects. “However,” he adds,
S O F T W A R E
I NT E R NAT I ONAL DE VE L OP ME NT
The division of work depends on system
architecture
and experienceat each site.
ware applications, most of Soarian was
developed from scratch. Manpower require-
ments ranged from approximately 900
Siemens developers in the U.S. to 350 people
in India and 50 in Sweden. “We had experi-
ence in Bangalore with developing the syngo
diagnostic imaging platform,” says Bocionek,
who headed that project as well. “And in
some specialized areas where Siemens Med-
ical Solutions did not have experience at the
time, we tapped (what was then known as)
Siemens Nixdorf in Sweden.”
Technology and Psychology.With most of
its people in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and Ban-
galore, India, Soarian development struggled
with basic technical problems. “We were of-
ten confronted with breakdowns in line car-
The IMS multimedia platform for cell phones was developed by software engineers
at 13 locations in 11 countries in Europe and Asia.
“good communication and clear responsibili-
ties for all participants are a precondition for
all of these. At the end of the day, a shared
vision and common goals are the key.”
But the flip side of that is that without
good architecture, even the best teams
would fail. So what is good architecture? “In
the context of an international development
project,” says Schinko, “it is architecture that,
when possible, separates functional blocks,
allowing them to be developed indepen-
dently of one another. That helps to avoid
misunderstandings, and sets the stage for
good motivation.” Adds Scheiterer, “Good ar-
chitecture minimizes overlap while improv-
ing end-to-end functionality and quality.”
However, no project, no matter who the
architect is, is flawless. “The step from logical
structure to technical solution can be a big
one,” says Bocionek, pointing out that over-
lap has a way of creeping in. “There are parts
of almost any project that are not self-con-
tained and need to be used in other places. It
is the nature of the beast. After all, good ar-
chitecture should describe the real world —
but that is never perfect.” Arthur F. Pease
Salzgitter
Berlin
Helsinki
Munich
Zagreb
Athens
Kranj
Romsey
Lannion
Herentals
Brno
Vienna
Bangalore
rying capacity when we transmitted code
overnight from India to the U.S.,” recalls Bo-
cionek. “And management reviews were
hampered by time zone differences. One
group would be worn out after a day’s work,
while the other group would not yet be fully
Michael Cusumano (50) is the Sloan Management Review Distin-
guished Professor at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A world-
renowned expert on software management, he is the author of
books such as Microsoft Secrets, Competing on Internet Timeand
The Business of Software.
Looking for an Automatic Transmission
S O F T W A R E
I NT E R V I E WS WI T H E XP E R T S
Are users overwhelmed by the increasing
number of PC functions?
Cusumano: Well, we're talking about com-
puters, not toasters. If you want to download
a video or log into a LAN, you simply need
more functions. But it’s true that when graph-
ical user interfaces were introduced ten years
ago user-friendliness had a higher priority than
it does today. Developers should take note.
What should software firms be doing?
Cusumano: Software developers are special
users with lots of technical expertise. Com-
panies need to set up usability labs where
teams that include ordinary people try to
imagine what goes on in normal users’
heads. In the North American market, the
automatic transmission made cars accessible
to the masses. We need something like that
in the software industry. Devices like cell phones and MP3 players
contain more and more software. Don’t
their developers need new concepts?
Cusumano: Most of these devices have
no keyboard and small memories, so
they have to function autonomously.
But
we don’t really need new concepts for this
embedded software. Take speech recogni-
tion. Some cell phones recognize spoken
language. But speech recognition pro-
grams were ultimately developed for PCs.
When do you think we’ll have really intel-
ligent computers?
Cusumano: I think we'll need a century to
develop a computer that is even half as
intelligent as the human brain. None of
the intelligent software I've seen so far
has impressed me. You still need a
tremendous amount of memory and
computing power to recognize even sim-
ple patterns, and neural networks also
need large databases. A century is per-
haps too long an estimate, but on the
other hand, some of my colleagues be-
lieve we’ll never create a computer that
imitates the human brain.
What about autonomous programs that
write themselves?
Cusumano: The only thing that’s really
impressed me recently is a self-diagnosis
program that finds out why a computer
has crashed. There are also intelligent
agents based on autonomous software
— but nothing really revolutionary.
Do we need revolutions?
Cusumano: We recently had one — the
Internet. And some people still call wire-
less technology or peer-to-peer comput-
ing revolutionary. Swap shops could also
trigger a small revolution.
In your book The Business of Software,
you wrote: “The driving force behind soft-
ware development is not so much tech-
nology as business.” What’s your view of
the evolution of the Microsoft monopoly?
Cusumano: Don’t forget that this monop-
oly has made PCs cheaper and accessible
to millions. But a monopoly is usually
only the second-best solution. Nonethe-
less, we're dependent on Microsoft be-
cause of the many applications it offers.
You've said that software is regarded as a
science in Europe, a production process in
Japan and a business in the U.S.
Cusumano: In the U.S. we have an enor-
mous market driving developments. But
software development is a global busi-
ness today and will continue to be one.
You only have to design software as
modules and synchronize the develop-
ment worldwide. IBM developed an op-
erating system in eight different loca-
tions all over the world as early as the
1960s. Back then, you had to transport
copies of tapes by plane. Today, the In-
ternet is making exchange much easier.
One of the main reasons for the malfunc-
tion of the electronic toll collection sys-
tem in Germany was the involvement of
so many different software companies.
Combining the modules simply became
too complicated.
Cusumano: That could have been due to
synchronization or architectural problems.
Of course, a system developed at different
locations is never as good as one developed
by a single team. Development is always a
trade-off between costs and manpower, or
quality and speed.
Interview conducted by Jeanne Rubner.
In addition, AUTOSAR, which is expected
to be implemented in 2008, will make it pos-
sible for automotive manufacturers to cut
costs by mixing and matching software from
different suppliers. And the new open system
environment will open the door to acceler-
ated introduction of innovations, better diag-
nostics and lower maintenance costs.
At Home: Device Ecosystems. About the
same time AUTOSAR hits the market, a simi-
larly comprehensive new technology called
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) could begin to
radically change our homes (see p. 49). “If
you’ve ever plugged a memory stick into the
back of a PC and watched its icon automati-
cally appear on the screen, you can imagine
how UPnP technology works — except that
that will happen on a networked basis,” says
Markus A. Wischy, a software architect who
represents Siemens on the UPnP Forum’s
Steering Committee. The UPnP Forum con-
sists of over 680 corporate members. Install electric blinds, a security system or
a networked stereo system based on UPnP
technology and these systems will automati-
cally be recognized by your favorite interface
device — a TV, phone or tablet PC. All you’ll
need is home automation software in a set-
top box or other “Internet Gateway Device.”
threats,” says Thomas Eitzenberger, head
of a center of competence for mobile appli-
cations at PSE. He points out that as applica-
tions become increasingly networked — and
thus subject to attack — more and more
customers are requesting Linux-based solu-
tions.
Spurred by the explosive increase in net-
worked applications and the related need to
allow applications from different companies
to “talk to each other,” software developers
are increasingly turning to Java as a standard
programming language and platform. Like a
skilled diplomat, Java can smooth over the
difference between parties. “If you write an
application for Windows, it can only run on
Windows,” explains Marquart C. Franz, who
has played an important role in guiding de-
velopment of the standard, as the Siemens
representative on the Java Executive Com-
mittee. “But,” he adds, “if you write an appli-
cation for Java, it can run on a Windows sys-
tem, a Linux system or just about any other
platform. The user will not see a difference.
But for developers, the choice is simple.” Obviously, for a company like Siemens,
with some 30,000 software developers,
broad-based implementation of Java could
translate into enormous improvements in
productivity. Add in a hefty dash of Linux,
several heaping spoonfuls of AUTOSAR and
UPnP, prepare with a gleaming set of stan-
dardized tools, and the company — not to
mention the world economy — could have a
recipe for an efficiency revolution.
Arthur F. Pease
Your TV will automatically recognize any UPnP
device. And devices will recognize each other.
ized architecture and device access protocol,
it will allow appliances to communicate with
one another. That can have significant impli-
cations for energy use. With some countries
switching to variable electricity rates, a heat-
ing system could, for instance, wait for a
washing machine to complete its cycle be-
fore switching on in order to avoid triggering
a higher rate. But software stadnardization goes well
beyond the home and automotive environ-
ments. In fact, it goes right to the heart of
how software is produced. Major efforts are
underway to harmonize the “tools” — pro-
grams that govern processes such as error
detection, diagnostics, editing and testing —
that researchers use to develop and main-
tain software. “Harmonization in this area is
helping to accelerate development, improve
accuracy and share the burden of licensing
costs,” says Rainer Ersch, a Siemens software
engineer with special responsibility for com-
pany-wide software tool harmonization, as
well as tool coordination with IBM Rational.
His words are echoed by Oliver Fendt, a
software architect in charge of Siemens’
Linux Corporate Competence Center. Fendt
says that “New features such as networking
and built-in security are being developed so
quickly that adding them to proprietary oper-
This will automatically establish a seamless
network, allowing the gateway device to
read standardized identification signals from
every UPnP device in the home. The signals
will be transmitted wirelessly or over the
home’s electric lines — so-called powerline
communication — meaning that no extra
wiring or programming will be necessary.
Switch on your TV or access your home re-
motely, and you’ll have an overview of the
status of every electronic device.
But the new technology will usher in
much more than just an advanced remote
control scenario. Thanks to UPnP’s standard-
ating systems costs too much and is far too
slow. But with the Linux kernel, which is
available under the open source General Pur-
pose License (GPL) and offers a full range of
state-of-the-art features, we can save millions
in licensing for embedded software and can
develop valuable synergies by sharing newly
developed code that runs on a common em-
bedded operating system platform.” The so-called “open source” discussion is
also in full swing at Siemens’ giant PSE soft-
ware subsidiary in Vienna, Austria. “Major
companies see established operating sys-
tems as being too slow to react to security
Standardization will turn cell phones
into universal remote control units.
S O F T W A R E
S TANDAR DI Z AT I ON
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
55
54
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
“They simply set down in writing what has al-
ready been legal practice for the past 20 years.”
Patented Business Models? On the other
hand, patent experts at Siemens do not con-
sider it necessary and useful for Europe to
adopt the farther-reaching patentability of
software from the U.S. At the height of the
Internet boom in the late 1990s, U.S. courts
declared that new Web-based business mod-
els and processes were eligible for patent
protections independent of their relationship
to a technology. This, however, presents the
threat that inventions requiring little intellec-
tual input can enjoy patent protection.
Siemens rejects the idea of such “trivial
patents,” believing a certain measure of in-
ventiveness to be necessary. “The systematic
optimization of our patent portfolio makes
for higher-quality patents,” says Büttner. “In
this way, we do our best to improve useful-
ness for customers, while strengthening our
lead in trend-setting technologies.” But often,
says Büttner, software developers aren’t
aware of the value of their inventions and
their need for protection. “We still find it diffi-
cult to describe the functionality represented
by a piece of software in such a way as to
clearly define its patentability,” adds Achatz.
This is why the patent department meets
regularly with representatives of Siemens
Groups, to review the eligibility of individual
inventions for patenting. Using business
strategy as a guide, it is determined which
patents should be submitted by individual
Groups in the course of the following year.
To avoid trivial patents, each invention is
assessed for its potential value, strategic
importance, added value for the customer
and attractiveness to competitors. Patent
applications are only submitted for highly
ranked inventions.
Despite the legal differences in various
countries, Siemens intends to increase the
overall number and quality of software patents
worldwide. Why? Because patents not only
protect its technological advantage, but also
serve as a barometer of innovation resulting
from the capital invested in R&D. They are
thus extremely valuable, both strategically
and financially.Günter Heismann
Over 30,000 software developers
work for Siemens. Annual R&D soft-
ware expenditures total more than
three billion euros. Software — usu-
ally invisibly “embedded” — is a part
of a wide range of products, from cell
phones to industrial control systems.
This trend is set to continue as a re-
sult of the decreasing cost of com-
puting power and memory. The com-
plexity of software grows with the
performance and new functions it
can deliver, such as networking, real-
time capability, error diagnoses and
security. (p. 39, 44, 45)
New programming methods accel-
erate software development. The
trend is toward highly adaptable soft-
ware architectures with optimally
matched, reusable components. It is
already possible to automate some
programming tasks. (p. 41, 42)
Software development is simulta-
neously becoming more international
— which means that the distribution
of tasks in global teams is over-
whelmingly determined by system
architecture and respective levels of
know-how. (p.51)
In order to improve the quality of
software, researchers are working —
at Siemens in the Software Initiative
and at an internationally recognized
assessment center — on optimizing
development and test processes. For
automatic tests, Siemens has devel-
oped the “Code Inspector.” (p. 46)
Standardization makes software
more cost-efficient, easier to develop
and more user-friendly, e.g. with a
new platform architecture for future
vehicles or at home with the Univer-
sal Plug and Play standard. This sim-
plifies installation and data exchange
between devices. Thanks to open-
source software like Linux, companies
can develop software platforms and
save on licensing fees. (p. 53)
P
ervasive computing will lead to
everyday intelligent devices capable
of recognizing our needs and
reacting to specific situations.
Most of the necessary hardware is available today — but the corre-
sponding autonomous software
and universal standards are still
needed.
(p.49)
PEOPLE:
Software & Engineering at
Corporate Technology:
Reinhold Achatz, CT SE reinhold.achatz@siemens.com
Software development technologies:
Klaus Beetz, CT SE 1 klaus.beetz@siemens.com
Siegfried Zopf, PSE
siegfried.zopf@siemens.com
Software architecture:
Dr. Lothar Borrmann, CT SE 2 lothar.borrmann@siemens.com
Software processes:
Ludger Meyer, CT SE 3 ludger.meyer@siemens.com
Software engineering:
Dr. Ulrich Löwen, CT SE 5 ulrich.loewen@siemens.com
Software Initiative:
Dr. Frances Paulisch, CT SWI frances.paulisch@siemens.com
Discrete optimization:
Dr. Johannes Nierwetberg, CT SE 6
johannes.nierwetberg@siemens.com
Digital graffiti:
Dieter Kolb, CT SE 1 kolb.dieter@siemens.com
Software standards (UPnP):
Markus A. Wischy, CT SE 2 markus.wischy@siemens.com Pervasive computing:
Dr. Michael Berger, CT IC 6 m.berger@siemens.com
Patent protection for software:
Dr. Kai Brandt, CT IP A&D
kai.brandt@siemens.com
International development projects: Dr. Siegfried Bocionek, SMS, USA siegfried.bocionek@siemens.com
Dr. Edward Scheiterer, PSE, Austria
edward.scheiterer@siemens.com
Prof. Alois Ferscha, Institute for Per-
vasive Computing, University of Linz,
ferscha@soft.uni-linz.ac.at
Prof. Dr. Gustav Pomberger
gustav.pomberger@jku.at
LINKS:
Siemens Software & Engineering
Department: w4.siemens.de/ct/en/
technologies/se/index.html
Program and System Engineering
(PSE):www.pse.siemens.at
How Software Works:computer.how
stuffworks.com/software-channel.htm
LITERATURE:
Cusumano, Michael A.,
The Business of Software,
Free Press, 2004
In Brief
56
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Pi ct ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
57
S O F T W A R E
PAT E NT S
Protecting Innovations
Software can only be patented in Europe if it is deemed a technological invention. Defining
what this means is sometimes difficult. Three examples illustrate when a software product sat-
isfies the required “contribution to state-of-the-art technology”:
1.The software solves a technical problem. In this case, the developers are required to work
with concepts that clearly require expert knowledge. Example: a computer-supported process
to monitor the correct functioning of a microchip.
2.The software produces a technical effect. This would be the case when an x-ray machine is
controlled by a computer in order to achieve better imaging.
3.The software measures, analyzes or influences physical quantities. Example: a speech-recognition program that associates acoustical measurements with a series of sounds.
The new algorithm requires very little memory. As an abstract formula, the algorithm alone is
not patentable. Its use for the processing of the acoustical data, however, can be deemed a
technical process for the analysis of a physical quantity in accordance with patent law.
WHEN I S SOFTWARE A TECHNOLOGI CAL I NVENTI ON
?
T
he new Siemens Somatom Sensation 64
computer tomograph is a tough act to
follow. It is not only the industry’s fastest CT;
it also has the highest resolution (see p. 68).
Here, a key role is played by the Somatom’s
software, which pieces together a myriad of
values in seconds to create an image of inter-
nal body structures. The same holds true in
many other areas. Whether we’re talking
about navigation systems or cell phones —
almost all recent cutting-edge inventions
would have been impossible without innova-
tive software. A key to market success thus
involves protecting technologically meaning-
ful software with patents in the same way
that hardware innovations are safeguarded.
“Patenting is becoming more important to
our innovation strategy,” says Dr. Winfried
Büttner, Head of the Corporate Intellectual
Today, software inventions are
every bit as important as innova-
tions in hardware. Yet there are
major differences between U.S.
and European law when it comes
to software patents.
Property department. “Siemens posts 75 per-
cent of its sales from products that are less
than five years old. That’s why our patents
must also be renewed every five to six years.
The most significant value creation today is
in software.” Some 60 percent of the around
five billion euros spent annually on R&D at Sie-
mens, along with most of the roughly 7,000
inventions registered for patents by Siemens
each year, are associated with software.
What’s more, the dividing line between
software and hardware is becoming less dis-
tinct — for instance, in automotive electronic
suspension systems. “Certain characteristics
that used to require hardware, such as stabil-
ity and rigidity, can now be achieved through
software regulation,” says Reinhold Achatz,
Head of the Software & Engineering division
at Siemens Corporate Technology.
Copyright or Patent Protection? Although
software is generally covered by copyright
law, these protections are easily circum-
vented. Often, all it takes is for a programmer
to make slight modifications to code. Simply
put, copyrights protect only the outward
charcteristics of the software — in other
words, the code. Considerably more effective
are patents, which can be used to safeguard
the general idea and the functionality behind
a computer program.
In Europe, however, strict conditions
must be met in order to make software eligi-
ble for a patent. In particular, the software
must display the characteristics of a techno-
logical invention according to the prevailing
legal definition (see box). Computer programs
commonly used by the general public fre-
quently do not satisfy this criterion, whether
they’re word processing programs or systems
used for Internet trading forums.
This legal pattern, which has been devel-
oped by courts over the past decades, is now
to be permanently established by the Com-
petitiveness Council of the European Union
(EU) in a directive on the “Patentability of
Computer-Implemented Inventions.” How-
ever, the European Parliament made changes
in the fall of 2003 that would have had the
effect of completely negating patent protec-
tions. Had the changes stood, nothing relat-
ing to computers or even to a programmable
chip would have been left patentable in
Europe. Now, however, the EU Council has
adopted a version of the directive that ad-
dresses the interests of all parties involved.
“We support the new rules,” says Büttner.
Start-up company PolyIC has an ambitious goal. It plans to replace today’s ubiquitous barcodes on merchandise with electronic chips made of plastic. 58
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
The Chip Printers PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
P OLY ME R C HI P S
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
59
PolyIC is taking advantage of the expertise of
Leonhard Kurz GmbH & Co. KG. Together
with Siemens Automation & Drives, Kurz, a leading manufacturer of stamping foils, established PolyIC in November 2003.
“Basically, we have to invent a plastic-
based silicon semiconductor technology,”
says Mildner. But this is doable, as Dr. Wolf-
gang Clemens, head of Applications, demon-
strated with several successes. Even back
when he was a project manager at Siemens
Corporate Technology, for example, Clemens
and his team had already built key microelec-
tronics components — transistors and recti-
fiers — from polymers (see Pictures of the
Future, Fall 2002, p. 20). Today, PolyIC has
about a dozen developers and is much fur-
ther along with the technology. “We’ve used
W
olfgang Mildner places a plastic yogurt
container on his desk and points to
the barcode. “We’re going to replace these
with plastic chips,” he says. Mildner is the
Managing Director of PolyIC, a start-up lo-
cated in Erlangen, Germany. Barcodes are on
all products today, but the only significant
data they contain is price. To identify prod-
ucts individually (for example, by expiration
date or other information) what’s needed are
so-called intelligent labels that use RFID (ra-
dio frequency identification) technology.
These radio chips, which are affixed to prod-
ucts, are opening up new possibilities in de-
livery, inventory management and labeling,
especially because they can be read from a
distance. In theory, this means a company
could identify all the products it has in stock
at the push of a button — and determine
their exact location. Another conceivable ap-
plication for this technology is the automatic
check-out line, where customers would sim-
ply move their shopping carts past a radio
scanner that automatically registers every-
thing in the wagon.
Major retailers such as WalMart, Tesco
and Metro are currently testing RFID systems
that use conventional silicon chips, which
cost one euro or more each. “That’s so ex-
pensive that they’re only suitable for use with
expensive merchandise,” Mildner says. Even
with great effort, a silicon-based RFID chip
will never cost less than five to ten cents per
unit, even over the long term. Silicon does
offer advantages, though. The chips feature
very high performance and are also fast. “In
this respect, we’re not even competing with
silicon by using plastic,” says Mildner. A study by the German market research
firm Soreon forecasts that total market vol-
ume for RFID systems in Europe alone will in-
crease from 400 million euros this year to 2.5
billion euros in 2008. “This market will be
open for plastic chips too because we’re
sharply cutting costs,” says Mildner. “Over the
long term, we’ll get them down to one cent
per unit — or even less.” To do this, the start-
up company is relying on revolutionary pro-
duction technology. The idea is to print cir-
cuits made of organic polymers onto foils —
like a newspaper is printed on paper. For this,
different printing techniques to create very
stable circuits that conduct logical opera-
tions,” says Clemens. No other research
group has done this using printing tech-
niques. One polymer chip, for example, ran
continuously for more than ten months. The
chips also function after two days stored at a
temperature of 60 degrees Celsius and at
100 percent humidity, and they’ll work in a
heat chamber until temperatures exceed the
120 degrees Celsius mark. PolyIC also holds
the world record for the highest frequency
for a polymer circuit: One of the company’s
plastic ring oscillators achieved 200,000 cy-
cles per second. That’s more than enough for
processing data in an RFID chip. But it’s not
The first product that PolyIC plans to
launch on the market in two years will be a
simple RFID polymer chip with a few hundred
transistors, for use in applications such as
forgery-proof labeling. “The next step will be
a 32-bit chip that will usher in the first appli-
cations for such units in the logistics sector,”
says Mildner. This chip type will enable com-
panies to establish internal standards for
their inventory management systems. Then,
in five years, it might be possible to introduce
the electronic product code containing several
thousand transistors onto the market. The
storage capacity of these chips will range from
64 to 128 bits, which means they have the
potential to replace barcodes, which usually
stores only 44 bits of data. “We’re working on
printing chips directly onto packaging, the way
barcodes are printed today,” says Mildner. “In-
expensive chips could also serve as logic circuits
for electronic advertisements, to be placed in
areas never considered before.” Mildner is re-
ferring to displays that could be mounted on
packaging to show different types of product
information, or small digital display units for
blood, urine, and pregnancy test kits. But even
128 bits sounds modest when you consider
the gigabit storage capacities of silicon. So will
we ever see computer chips made of plastic?
“From today’s perspective, that seems a bit
utopian,” says Mildner. “But then again, never
say never…” Norbert Aschenbrenner
so easy to achieve the standard carrier fre-
quency for radio communication — around
13 megahertz — using organic components. Developers must solve several problems
before polymer chips can be printed on foils
like newspaper is printed on paper (see box).
And silicon-chip designs can’t just be applied
to polymer chips; silicon has entirely differ-
ent material properties that are the basis for
optimizing production processes. “That’s
why we develop special simulation models
to create new circuit layouts compatible with
printing procedures,” says Walter Fix, head
of Chip Design. “But compared with silicon
technology, we can implement new chip
generations more rapidly.” In fact, it only
takes a few days to set up the layout on the
computer, produce the masks and then
make the chip. B I L L I ONS OF P OLY ME R C HI P S P E R Y E AR
The plastic chips contain at least four layers placed on a foil substrate made of a special
type of polyester.The electrodes in the prototypes are made of gold, and plans call for
them to later consist of conductive polymers. Above them is a semiconductive layer, typi-
cally made from poly-3 alkylthiophene, followed by an insulating polymer layer and a
counter-electrode. The chip is only a few square centimeters in area and has a thickness
of one micrometer, while the electrodes and the semiconductor layer only account for a
few hundred nanometers of the total. The distance between the two conductors is less
than 50 micrometers — about the thickness of a human hair. Located at the edge of the
chips are antennas that transmit and receive radio signals and convey the energy re-
quired to operate the unit. The signals are sent at frequencies of either 125 kilohertz or
13.56 megahertz. The prototypes are coated by means a spin-coating-procedure, where
a fluid is distributed in a very even manner over the supporting structure by means of ro-
tation. In the lab printing process, the researchers use stamps to print the conductors.
They then coat the foil with the semiconductor and insulator using a type of squeegee
technology that’s common in the textile-printing industry. PolyIC has its own testing facil-
ity for continuous printing, and the foil experts at Kurz have even larger printing presses.
If all goes well, PolyIC will soon be printing several billion polymer chips per year.
It’s a long road from polymer starting material to finished foil chip (far right). Developers at PolyIC test
possibilities for future
mass production of plastic chips on a print-
ing machine in a lab in Erlangen (left). Electronic Eagle Eyes
Optical sensors will identify errors
at the nanometer level and make
possible virtual 3D flights through
industrial components.
Labs the Size of a Credit Card New biosensors will quickly help identify dangerous illnesses
in rapid and easily performed
tests.
Digital Bloodhounds Gas sensors will sniff out fires,
could serve as millimeter-sized
alcohol testers in cell phones,
and warn of gas leaks.
Tough Sensors
Sensors located in the fiery heart
of a gas turbine will monitor the
rotating blades — at 1,500 de-
grees Celsius.
Page 77
Page 81
Autonomous Workers
Sensors are now being devel-
oped that autonomously link to-
gether to form networks, ex-
change data and monitor
buildings.
Page 72
Pages 65, 70
Page 67
Page 74
2015
In the future, sensors will be just about
everywhere — as engineer Maria-Laura
and technology buff-winegrower Pedro
discover while tasting one of Pedro’s
fine wines at his vineyard in the Argentinean countryside. As they drink
and walk, a huge number of the most
diverse types of sensors are busy at work — hidden between the vines,
concealed within tires, integrated in a
cell phone and even mixed in with the
wall paint in the wine cellar.
Mini-sensors in a cell phone
measure alcohol and NO
x
levels in the user’s breath.
A vineyard sensor network
monitors temperature, soil nutrient content and humidity.
Tiny sensors in wall paint en-
sure optimal conditions in the
wine cellar.
Sensors in automobile tires
monitor pressure, profile and
road grip.
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61
SCENARI O
2015
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
Sensing the Best Wine Argentina, 2015. Maria-Laura, a sensor expert from Buenos Aires, takes a little vacation at a remote vine-
yard. Yet even in this quiet area, she still finds herself surrounded by sensors. M
aria-Laura takes a deep breath. It’s
been a long time since she’s breathed
air this clear and clean. That’s not surprising,
since the young engineer comes from
Buenos Aires, a metropolitan area with a
population of many millions. Maria-Laura has
come here to the wine-growing region in
Mendoza province, at the foot of the Andes,
in order to get away from the big city hustle
and bustle for a couple of days. For the past
half hour, she’s been happily walking
through the vineyard where she’s staying.
She hasn’t run into anybody yet — only a
couple of harvester robots interrupt the tran-
quility with their monotonous rattling. Suddenly somebody yells “Hola!” from
somewhere behind the grapevines. A tanned
man appears, carrying a high-tech PDA on his
belt. A pair of old garden shears is hanging
around his neck. “I’m Pedro,” he says. “This is
my vineyard,” he continues with a trace of
pride and a grin. “If you want, I can show you
the secret of my excellent wines.” “Si, claro,”
says Maria-Laura, who appreciates a fine
glass of wine. The two walk into the vineyard
and climb up the hill. Suddenly Pedro’s PDA
MEMS: Masters of Diversity Micro-electro-mechanical sensors
will be concealed in tires and
even painted on the walls of
building.
begins playing the Beatles’ “Yellow Subma-
rine.” “Hmm, these vines here are too dry,” he
says, after taking a quick look at his PDA.
“There must be a leak in the irrigation sys-
tem.” “How do you know that?” Maria-Laura
asks in surprise, touching a grape as if this
might give her the answer. “Look, over there, see?” Pedro points to a
yellow device about the size of a matchbox
that is stuck into the ground next to the
vines. “That’s a sensor. It’s part of an exten-
sive radio network that runs through my
vineyard. These little bloodhounds organize
SENSOR TECHNOLOGY
HIGHLIGHTS
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
63
A
s any child who has ever touched the
burner on a stove knows only too well,
our fingers are pretty poor temperature sen-
sors. High speeds, too, can pose problems for
our senses. Above a certain velocity, the hu-
man eye is incapable of recognizing even the
closest of friends in a train rushing by. Not to
Superhuman Senses
mention our sense of smell. We can’t even
detect the odor of many of the gases that are
dangerous to us. By contrast, highly developed artificial
sense organs are able to feel, see and smell
as much as 1,000 times more precisely than
any human. What’s more, they can do so in
wear and tear in the wires at a speed of 80
kilometers per hour and in complete dark-
ness (see p. 78). ➔X-ray sensors scan tiny computer chips for
defects and enable a virtual 3D flight through
the layers of the component, even detecting
flaws on the nanometer scale (see p. 79). the most adverse conditions. Today, sensors
are an integral part of our everyday life. A
modern car, for example, is equipped with
around 100 of these tiny components. Of in-
creasing importance here are so-called
MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems),
sensors which combine microelectronics
with micromechanics and other technologies
to form new systems. Sensors also play an
important role in manufacturing, quality as-
surance, environmental technology and
healthcare. Today, the companies gathered in
the German trade association for sensor
technology market 100 different types of
sensor systems, and the industry is booming.
In fact, the world market for civilian sensor
systems is forecast to grow to a volume of
around $50 billion a year by 2008 (see p. 80). Operating at around 1,500 Degrees Celsius.
Siemens has also placed a high priority on
sensor technology as a field that cuts across
many areas at Corporate Technology (CT). In-
deed, Siemens has pioneered the develop-
ment of sensor systems, and today the tiny
devices are entering areas into which no hu-
man could ever venture. For example: ➔A new type of sensor is now being used to
analyze gas concentrations in combustion
chambers and dusty factory chimneys — at
temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees Celsius
(see p. 81). ➔Sensors inside industrial gas turbines mon-
itor the huge turbine blades as they rotate at
3,600 r.p.m. (see p. 67). ➔Sensors inspect the overhead lines of rail
vehicles and are able to detect tiny traces of
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S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
S C E NAR I O
2015
themselves. They measure temperature and
water and nutrient levels in the soil, and then
they send the data to my PDA.” He pets the
sensor as if it were a puppy. “Thanks to this
tiny little helper I always have an overview of
the condition of my vines. I also hardly need
any fertilizer, and I know exactly when to har-
vest the grapes.” Pedro pushes a button on
his PDA. “Now I’m sending the data to my as-
sistant, José. He’ll then know exactly where
the irrigation system is leaking, and he’ll be
able to repair it immediately. Of course, that’s
assuming he’s turned on his cell phone for a
change.” The two continue walking and soon arrive at a dusty road. “My car’s over there,”
Pedro says. He goes to the car and takes out
two glasses and a bottle of red wine. “This is
a truly fine Malbec — try it,” he says, and
hands her a glass expectantly. Maria-Laura
takes a sip — and then can’t help blurting
out: “Hey, did you know there are around
150 sensors in your car?” Pedro takes a gulp of wine and looks up
in surprise. “That many? But why? What for?”
The young engineer smiles. “Well, for one
thing, they make sure that your car sticks to
the strict emission limits required by law. The
sensors for that are only a few millimeters
long and are installed in the glow plugs right
in the middle of the engine — at tempera-
tures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius.
They optimize the combustion process,
which is how they help reduce fuel consump-
tion and pollutant emissions.” Pedro’s mouth
begins to form a big “O,” into which he pours
another gulp of wine. “Or take your tires,”
Maria-Laura continues. “They’ve also got tiny
sensors whose probes can identify defects in
the tire and measure profiles, road grip and
air pressure.” Maria-Laura smacks her lips apprecia-
tively. “Your wine is fantastic, but I would
think that’s due more to experience than to
technology,” she says. “Yes and no,” says Pe-
dro, obviously flattered. “You see that build-
ing at the end of the road? That’s my wine
cellar. When you look at it from the outside,
it just seems like a traditional old building,
but actually it’s got a lot of concealed high-
tech equipment in it.” “And what kind of
equipment might that be?” Maria-Laura asks.
“My cellar is filled with tiny radio sensors
measuring only a few millimeters,” Pedro
replies. “I had them sent over from the Uni-
ted States. These things are so small that I
was able to mix them in with the paint for
the walls. They measure humidity and tem-
perature and in that way ensure the best
conditions for the wine to mature in. I’ll bet
you’ve never heard of anything like that,” Pe-
dro concludes with a look of satisfaction, and
then gives himself a reward in the form of
another gulp of wine. Maria-Laura is not impressed, however.
Without batting an eye, she says: “That’s fas-
cinating, but actually I’ve got something here
fresh out of our lab in Buenos Aires that I
don’t believe you’ve ever seen before.” She
grabs her cell phone and holds it under Pe-
dro’s nose, which by now has turned some-
what red. “This phone contains several inte-
grated chemo-sensors,” she says. “You simply
speak into the phone and the sensors deter-
mine within seconds the nitrogen-oxide con-
tent in your breath.” “And what’s so good
about that?” asks Pedro “I suffer from
asthma,” Maria-Laura replies. “Around two
days before an attack comes, the concentra-
tion of nitrogen oxide in my breath begins to
increase. I can use the sensor cell phone to
check the values quickly and then take my
medication long before an attack even oc-
curs. But it can do even more,” she says with
a smile. Then she pushes a button and hands the
phone to Pedro: “Say something,” she says.
Pedro gives her a look of surprise, but then
takes the phone and says: “In vino veritas.”
Maria-Laura glances at the display and
laughs. “You’re right, amigo,” she says. “Take
a look for yourself.” “Madre de dios!” Pedro
gasps as he sees that the color display is now
showing the alcohol content of his breath.
“Your wine’s not only good, it’s also effec-
tive,” Maria-Laura laughs. Pedro looks at her
a little guiltily. “Would you like to go get
something to eat?” he asks somewhat shyly.
“I can drive you back in my car.” “Muchas gra-
cias,” Maria-Laura replies charmingly — and
then takes the keys out of his hand. “But I’m
driving.” Florian Martini
Siemens researcher Dr. Maxi-
milian Fleischer presents a new
gas sensor that measures the
amount of carbon dioxide in
the air. CO
2
, which is used in
today’s air-conditioning systems,
is an odorless gas that can
cause unconsciousness and
even death when present in excessive concentrations. Sensors can detect a vast
range of microscopic parti-
cles and identify odorless
gases. Destined to become
smaller and smarter, they
will one day even be able to
recognize one another and
form networks.
tive fibers touch each other.
The result is a stronger electrical current.
This technology could be used, for example, to
produce “smart” toys. A doll with a built-in foldable sensor
could burp when patted on the back, cry if it is hugged too strongly or laugh
when it is tickled. However, the foldable sensors can not only detect pres-
sure, but also humidity. As they are washable and very robust, they would
be ideally suited for the healthcare sector, where they could, for example,
determine if an incontinent patient needed new bed linen or if a patient has
left his or her bed. Car seats that adapt themselves to accommodate differ-
ent drivers’ backs are another possible application. One of the main
strengths of ElekSen’s textile sensors is their versatility. But this versatility
also presents a challenge. “The wide range of potential uses is forcing us to
focus on certain areas,” says Dr. Uwe Albrecht, Head of Corporate Funding at
Siemens Venture Capital GmbH, an important investor in ElekSen.
A further development — individual sensor fibers that can be woven
into textiles — may well also contribute to market success. Sangster is hop-
ing for big opportunities, especially since development of the sensors has al-
ready taken four years. “ElekSen is now working together with 82 different
companies,” says Sangster. “To raise that figure, we’ll have to make people
aware of potential new applications.” Examples of such applications include
flexible keypads for mobile phones and automotive controls that are inte-
grated into car seats. In fact, the only limit to their application is imagination.
Stefanie Hense
D
efective tires are a common cause of serious
road accidents. A frequent problem is insuffi-
cient tire pressure. In extreme cases, the resulting
deformation to the tire makes it heat up so much
that it melts and bursts. Regular — or, ideally, con-
tinuous — monitoring of tire pressure is the only
way to avoid this. Indeed, millions of vehicles are
already equipped with pressure sensors designed
to warn drivers that tires are dangerously short of
air. In the U.S., there are even moves to make such
sensors compulsory from 2006 onward. The bat-
tery-powered sensors are mounted on the valve,
inside the wheel rim. Once the vehicle has traveled
a certain distance, they start to register tire pres-
sure and temperature, and transmit this data to a
central receiver unit.
Unfortunately, such sensors are complicated
to install. Moreover, if the brakes significantly heat
up, this can cause the wheel rims to become hot,
thereby falsifying the temperature reading. To-
gether with Goodyear, Siemens VDO has now un-
veiled a new generation of tire-pressure sensors
that really deserves to be called a diagnostic sys-
tem. The electronics, which are the size of a finger-
nail, are mounted on a sturdy, heat-resistant ce-
ramic base and consist essentially of so-called bare
dies — in other words semiconductors without the
standard black plastic packaging — only a few
square millimeters in size. Using this type of con-
struction, Siemens engineers were able to inte-
A new sensor measures tire
pressure and temperature. Although minuscule, it could
make a big contribution to
road safety.
grate pressure and temperature sensors, along
with evaluation electronics and a memory, in a
very small space. The memory, which also marks a
new advance, records pressure and temperature
data, tire operating life and changes to tire pres-
sure over time. In addition, it communicates with
the onboard electronics, providing the systems re-
sponsible for vehicle stability (ABS, ESP, ASR) with
up-to-date information on tire condition.
The complete sensor system is mounted on a
rubber ring, which runs around the whole tire and
also incorporates the antenna. The ring, which is
not heavy enough to affect the running properties
of the tire, is joined inseparably to one of the side
walls. As a result, the electronics no longer have to
be mounted to the wheel rim in addition to the tire
and then transferred to another wheel whenever a
tire is changed. Similarly, the new system automat-
Continual Tire
Monitoring
ically communicates all the details of the type of
tire, thereby obviating the need to reset the on-
board electronic systems following a tire change. A
transmitter-receiver unit mounted in each wheel
arch receives data from the sensor, provides it with
control pulses and feeds it with energy. As both
data and energy transmission take place induc-
tively via coils in the chip and the wheel arch, a
battery is no longer required. What’s more, the
sensor registers the tire pressure — or a flat — as
soon as the driver turns the ignition key, and not,
as in the past, only after the vehicle has traveled a
certain distance. Dieter Wagner, Project Manager
at Siemens VDO, says that this is only the first step
toward the truly intelligent tire. “Before long, sen-
sors will be able to detect defects in tires. They’ll be
able to measure tread depth, slip on wet roads and
the forces inside the tire.” Bernhard Gerl
Researchers have developed a sensor that constantly monitors tire pressures and
temperature. The sensor and its associated electronics are so compact that they
can be built into tires. Sensor data is transmitted to receivers in the wheel arches.
Sensor & Actuator Center at the University of
California in Berkeley. “This could radically
change the face of healthcare.” The Swiss sci-
entist and his team have already developed a
biosensor that is capable of accurately identi-
fying one condition — dengue fever, a seri-
ous viral disease found in the tropics, which
strikes 100 million people every year. The
test for dengue fever merely involves putting
a drop of blood on a sensor chip one square
millimeter in size and inserting the latter into
a laptop — a simple, flexible procedure that
could conceivably, at some later date, be
used by anyone. In the long term, Boser ex-
plains, “people who suspect they have the
flu, for instance, should be able to buy a test,
just like a pregnancy testing kit, and then go
to a physician if it proves positive.”
Dr. Walter Gumbrecht from Siemens CT
has developed a similar biosensor. Quicklab,
a mini-laboratory in check card format, ex-
amines a person’s drop of blood within the
space of an hour for traces of pathogens.
Using quicklab, physicians would be able to
diagnose an infection on the spot and there-
fore prescribe the right medication much
more rapidly than today (see p. 74).
However, while high-tech sensors are of-
ten much more powerful than the human
senses, our eyes, ears, noses and hands do
have one advantage over technology: They
are connected with a brain and can thus ben-
efit from a unique source of know-how. For
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Destined to become smaller, more versa-
tile and more accurate, tomorrow’s sensors
will be able to take on even more complex
tasks. The drive toward smaller and cheaper
components is one of the major trends in
sensor development, as manufacturers move
toward miniaturization in order to simplify
production and reduce costs. At the same
time, smaller dimensions generate new ap-
plications in the sensor market. Potential ex-
amples here include a healthcare diagnostics
system the size of a check card (see p. 74)
and minuscule sensors which, when mixed
with paint and applied to interior walls, will
monitor the climate in buildings (see p. 70).
Closer to market launch is an astonishing
development from the Fraunhofer Institute
for Silicon Technology in Itzehoe, Germany. A
disposable sensor in the form of a pill en-
ables athletes to determine lactic acid levels,
thus helping them to determine their current
fitness. “The athlete puts the pill in his or her
mouth and then starts the training program,”
explains Institute Director Prof. Anton
Heuberger. “During the training session, the
sensor continuously measures lactic acid lev-
els and transmits the data via Bluetooth to a
reader unit.” This saves on blood tests and
provides continual monitoring. The pill sen-
sor is due to come on the market in 2006. Electronic Doctor. According to Heuberger,
however, there are limits to miniaturization:
“Sensors of a few millimeters in length are re-
alistic,” explains the Professor of Microsys-
tems Technology. “Anything much smaller is
certainly technically feasible but still illusory
from a financial aspect.” Ultimately, he em-
phasizes, to be successful, technology must
be affordable. “A sensor component that is
extremely small but still costs over ten euros
is just too expensive.”
A further trend is to integrate a number
of sensors in one system, which can then
measure a number of variables at the same
time. Such applications could have a big fu-
ture in the field of healthcare. “Our vision is
to combine a number of chips in one pack-
age, which will be able to provide rapid and
early diagnosis of a whole range of diseases,”
says Prof. Bernhard Boser, a Director at the
A
ccording to Ray Sangster, CEO of Britain’s ElekSen, digging around in
your bag to find that ringing cell phone or to skip a track on your MP3
player might soon be a thing or the past. “One of the most promising appli-
cations for our technology is clothing that can be used to operate electronic
devices,” says Sangster, pointing out that ElekSen has developed textile sen-
sors that can be integrated into all types of “soft” materials and could enable
users to operate cell phones, PDAs and MP3 players by simply touching their
sleeves. These sensors possess a sandwich structure in which the external layers
consist of conductive nylon sheets that are glued together with an adhesive.
A layer located between the external layers contains individual conductive
fibers, which are incorporated into an insulating material. The system works
as follows: A low measuring-circuit voltage is
applied to the layers by the device (for ex-
ample, an MP3 player) or by a battery. If
the sensor is touched, the pressure es-
tablishes a connection between the con-
ductive layers, making it possible to
measure where the sensor is being
touched. The strength with
which the sensor is
pressed can also be de-
termined. As the pres-
sure increases, more conduc-
Sensitive Textiles
Technology from ElekSen makes it possible to manufacture
flexible sensors and switches that can be integrated into
everyday objects such as cell phones, toys and car seats.
F
or most people, the word “turbine” proba-
bly brings to mind images of jet engines. Yet
the propulsion unit of a jumbo jet is tiny in com-
parison to the turbines used to generate electricity
in a power plant. In a gas turbine, for example,
the rotor alone can weigh anything up to 75 tons
— as much as a diesel locomotive. Mounted onto
the rotor is an arrangement of rims with increas-
ingly smaller blades that suck in and compress air
before forcing it into the combustion chamber,
where the energy of the fuel is converted into
heat. As it expands in the downstream turbine,
the hot exhaust gas drives the rotor, which is also
connected up to the generator used to produce
electricity. Powered by a stream of exhaust gas heated
to a temperature of up to 1,500 degrees Celsius,
the turbine blades rotate at a speed of around
3,600 r.p.m. Only high-tensile alloys which are
cooled and covered with a protective ceramic
coating are able to handle such stresses. Power-
plant turbines are therefore expensive acquisi-
tions. In fact, a single turbine blade costs as much
as a family car. For the power plant manager,
monitoring of these parts is enormously impor-
tant — and difficult. On the one hand, the gap be-
tween the blades and housing must be as small as
possible in order to achieve a high energy yield;
on the other, any contact must be avoided as this
reduces efficiency and damages the blades.
Siemens Power Generation (PG) in Berlin has
now developed a sensor system that measures the
so-called radial gap — the distance between the
blade tips and the turbine wall. A sensor mounted
directly in the turbine housing determines the dis-
tance to the rotating turbine blades on the basis
of changes in electrical capacitance between itself
and the blade tips speeding past. A hydraulic sys-
Defying the
Inferno
Siemens engineers have devel-
oped sensors that can monitor
events inside a gas turbine
during normal operation — at
speeds of 3,600 r.p.m. and
temperatures as high as 1,500
degrees Celsius. As a result,
damage can be recognized in
good time or in some cases
completely prevented. tem is then used to move the rotor into an optimal
position. “We’re talking here about rotors of be-
tween two and three meters in diameter,” says
Olaf König, Manager of the Berlin Test Center,
“and a radial gap of only a few millimeters.” The
sensor must therefore be able to determine the
position of the huge rotor to a 10th of a millimeter
— and do so at extremely high temperatures.
Online diagnosis via camera.The extreme tem-
peratures within a turbine are one of the greatest
impediments to the use of complex measurement
technology. In a project led by Dr. Hans-Gerd
Brummel, development engineers at Siemens
Westinghouse Power Corporation in Orlando, Flo-
rida, have equipped their sensor unit — a high-
and damaging downtimes. By contrast, the new
system opens up a whole new dimension of on-
line diagnosis. Previously, temperature and pres-
sure measurements were the only means of draw-
ing imprecise conclusions as to events inside the
turbine, since the speed of the blade tips (approx-
imately 1,400 kilometers per hour) plus the ex-
treme temperature and high pressure prevented
any direct access. Thanks to a package of high-tech compo-
nents such as the infrared camera, which was
originally developed for military aircraft, it is now
possible to record infrared images of the turbine
blades operating at full load. “With exposure times
of less than a millionth of a second in combina-
tion with tailor-made optics and a complex control
speed infrared camera plus a flange-mounted op-
tical probe — with a refined cooling system. This
is because the camera is directly exposed to the
immense heat of the turbine blades, the heat-pro-
tective coating of which can reach temperatures
of 1,200 degrees Celsius. The aim is to continu-
ously monitor the condition of the blades during
turbine operation, as the ceramic coating has a
tendency to flake with use, which naturally short-
ens their service life. In order to preempt blade
failure and the enormous damage potential that
this entails, power-plant operators generally re-
place blades after a certain number of operating
hours — a procedure associated with high costs
and image-analysis system, it is now possible to
produce sharp images of each of the 72 most in-
tensely stressed blades of a 200-megawatt gas
turbine under full load,” says Brummel. “As a re-
sult, we can clearly identify any damage to the
heat-protective coating.” In other words, the actual
condition of the blades can be monitored, thereby
obviating the need for a merely prophylactic and
possibly unnecessary replacement. Thanks to this
monitoring of the gas turbine, operating lifetimes
can be lengthened, which, in turn, cuts costs sig-
nificantly. Preparations are now being made to in-
stall the sensor system in a commercially operated
plant in the U.S.
Tim Schröder
A sensor system inspects gas turbines. Using an optical probe, an infrared camera
records images of red-hot turbine blades.
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P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
67
example, some sensors have problems distin-
guishing certain things. “For a long time, nat-
ural gas sensors would react not only to car-
bon monoxide but also to the vapor of any
naphtha cleaning agent in the air,” explains
Dr. Udo Weimar, a specialist for biosensors
and chemosensors at the University of Tübin-
gen. “We therefore need to come up with
sensors that are highly selective — in other
words, sensors that react to only one sub-
stance.” (see p. 84)
Sensor Networks. Moreover, as Michael
Staudt from Siemens Automation and Drives
explains, the intelligent sensors of the future
will be able not only to transmit signals but
also to interpret events. In fact, this is exactly
what CS10, an optical sensor developed by
Staudt, does when it reads complex color
patterns (see p. 79 and picture below). The
sensor is designed for use in environments
such as filling plants, where it can monitor
colored labels on bottles every 30 milli-
seconds and sound the alarm in the event of
an error. A further trend is the attempt to make
sensors work independently in a similar fash-
T
he more precisely the combustion processes in an engine can be monitored, the better the
engine can be managed by adjustment of the amounts of fuel injected and the ignition
points. This in turn can reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, as well as lowering
noise levels, according to Gérard Troy and Dr. Bernd Last, who are responsible for Business De-
velopment and Pre-Development Activities at Siemens VDO in Toulouse, France.
Current monitoring methods use measurements from the engine’s periphery, such as
coolant temperature, amount of manifold air, or engine r.p.m. It would be more effective, how-
ever, to measure pressure changes directly in cylinder, since they are closely related to the ther-
modynamics of the combustion process. “This kind of information is important because it will
help us meet new emission limits for diesel engines — such as Euro V — that will go into effect
in the next few years,” says Troy. “But it’s also useful for gasoline direct injection.” The best way
to measure combustion pressure is to use a sensor installed directly on or in the combustion
chamber. However, the space available for such a sensor is very limited in modern engines, with
their multi-valve technology. It is often necessary to bore additional holes for the sensors.
With this in mind, Siemens VDO in Toulouse developed a sensor that can be directly in-
stalled in a diesel engine glow plug. “What we’re doing is using a combustion chamber access
point that’s already there, which means it’s very easy to equip existing engines with the sensor,”
Last explains. The glow plug facilitates cold starts in diesel engines, where air is sucked in and
compressed so strongly in the combustion chamber that it heats up to 900 degrees Celsius. The
diesel fuel that is then injected immediately ignites when it makes contact with the hot air. Because it’s integrated into the glow plug, the sensor membrane is not directly exposed to
the heat and pressure that develop in the combustion chamber. The sensor therefore lasts
longer and its measurements are more precise. The innovative sensor element is made of a
heat-resistant ceramic and functions using the piezoelectric effect. Under pressure, the ceramic
material changes its atomic structure within a few milliseconds, displacing electric charges in
the material itself. The sensor thus emits electric signals that the control electronics use to mon-
itor pressure changes in the cylinder. “Mass production of the glow plug sensor is scheduled to
begin in 2006,” says Troy. “ We have already established a partnership with Federal Mogul to
jointly develop and market glow plug sensors”. Sylvia Trage
Cutting Fuel Consumption,
Emissions and Noise
A piezo sensor developed by Siemens VDO can be inte-
grated into a glow plug to directly monitor combustion in
diesel engine cylinders. The sensor could be ready by 2006.
Histogram produced by an optical sensor
which is capable of interpreting highly
complex color patterns in milliseconds. ion to highly complex biological systems
such as the human brain or immune system.
The aim is that sensors should become au-
tonomous and self-organizing, and that they
should be able to independently determine
their precise location, communicate with one
another via radio, and establish and maintain
a network without any outside support (see
Pictures of the Future, Spring 2003, p. 48).
Dr. Rudolf Sollacher from Siemens CT is
working on just such a project. For example,
his sensor network would be able to guide a
fire crew to the source of the blaze inside a
building and also provide information on the
ambient temperature (see p. 72). “Self-orga-
nizing sensor networks are already techni-
cally feasible,” says Sollacher. He identifies
further applications in agriculture or in areas
at risk from forest fires or avalanches, where
sensor networks could provide early warning
of an impending catastrophe. Here, sensors
located throughout the risk area would inde-
pendently gather all the data required. “But
that’s still some way off,” admits Sollacher.
Florian Martini
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
69
In Siemens’ latest computed tomography
system, the X-ray tube and detector rotate around the patient three times
every second, creating images with a
previously unheard-of resolution of 0.4
millimeters (below). This innovation was
made possible by the ceramic material
used in the detector (the upper row of
images depict the manufacturing
process; the ceramic components are
shown on the far right). X-rays into light signals, which are then trans-
formed into electrical pulses by photodiodes.
The more effectively the detector trans-
forms the X-rays, the smaller the dosage re-
quired for an examination. Detector materials
therefore need to be very good at absorbing
X-ray quanta. This requirement is met by the
ceramic developed by Siemens Medical Solu-
ing process results in a substance with ex-
tremely pure, precise crystalline structures —
one of the preconditions for high luminous
efficiency,” says Berger. The end product is a
hard, yellow substance that weighs about as
much as gold and is just about as valuable. The
recipe for producing the ceramic remains a
secret. “It’s the same with Coca-Cola,” says
tween tissue and bone, the afterglow must be
minimized. Just as the radiation reaching the
detector is reduced abruptly at the transition
from soft tissue to bone, the afterglow of the
detector material should also cease immedi-
ately. In other words, the shorter the after-
glow, the sharper the image. Although the
new ceramic has been used in Siemens CT
posite the X-ray tube in a ring measuring 1.5
meters in diameter. This ring, which is known
as the gantry, rotates quickly around the pa-
tient. By doing so, it creates individual im-
ages that are combined to create a 3D pic-
ture. In the detector, the ceramic converts
tions (Med) in Forchheim, Germany, and Sie-
mens Corporate Technology in Munich. In
addition, the material works extremely quick-
ly, taking only a fraction of a second to react
to changes in radiation intensity. This is par-
ticularly important in cases where the X-ray
beam first penetrates soft tissue and then
bone. Since soft tissue allows more radiation
to pass through than bone does, this transi-
tion is visible in the CT image as a light-dark
contrast. The sharpness of the image is de-
pendent on the material used for the detec-
tor, because each substance has some after-
glow, which means it emits fluorescent light
longer than desired. For sharp contrast be-
systems since 1996, it achieves its full poten-
tial only at the extremely fast rotation times
found in the Somatom Sensation 64, where
the gantry circles the patient in 0.33 seconds.
Secret Recipe. ”The afterglow of our special
ceramic decays about 400 times faster than is
the case with yttrium-gadolinium oxide,
which has been used for some time by other
manufacturers,” says Frank Berger, head of
Ceramic Manufacturing at Med. “That’s why
we dubbed the material UFC — or Ultra-
FastCeramic.” In addition to the rare earth ele-
ment gadolinium, this ceramic contains sulfur,
oxygen and other additives. “Our manufactur-
68
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
C
omputed tomography (CT) has become
an indispensable tool for visualizing
anatomic structures in the human body. CT
generates three-dimensional images of inter-
nal organs in seconds, giving physicians pre-
cise information regarding disease conditions.
A few years ago, Siemens introduced the first
CT scanner capable of generating images of
the beating heart (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2003,p. 61). This feat will be even
easier to achieve with the launch of the new
Somatom Sensation 64 this year, as the de-
vice is even faster than its predecessor and its
images have a higher resolution. As a conse-
quence, it will be able to visualize even tiny
deposits in heart vessels. Alongside sophisti-
cated electronics, one of the main reasons
for the new device’s high image quality is an
inconspicuous ceramic. This component
forms part of the detector, which is located op-
The capabilities of the new Somatom Sensation 64 CT system are largely dependent on the unit’s detector, which contains a
high-speed ceramic that efficiently transforms X-rays into light
quanta without delay. This makes it possible to create extremely
sharp images of the beating heart as well as fast scans of any part of the body. S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
C E R AMI C DE T E C T OR S
Fast
Ceramic
in X-Ray Light
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
71
can also be used to transmit information
from fire alarms or even images taken by tiny
MEMS cameras. They are also less suscepti-
ble to faults. The result is cost-effective, intel-
ligent building automation. “Such tiny sen-
sors could form the backbone of next
generation of building systems,” says Ahmed.
However, alongside easily installable sensors,
a new breed of even more powerful comput-
ers will be required to process and convert
the volume of data from the large number of
sensors. “Thanks to the wide range of its ac-
tivities, and the work of Corporate Technol-
ogy (CT) — in microsystems, for instance —
Siemens has fulfilled all of the requirements
for offering the best solutions,” says Ahmed.
Monolithic MEMS. One of the goals MEMS
researchers are currently pursuing is to create
a so-called monolithic MEMS chip that is
made from a single piece of silicon instead of
using the established practice of transplant-
ing different components onto a silicon sub-
strate. Such systems would have a great
advantage — they could be produced rela-
tively inexpensively by using standard semi-
conductor methods. Researchers hope that
these silicon components will function just
as reliably as conventional microprocessors.
Using exposure and etching techniques, for
example, it would be possible to etch tiny
arms capable of detecting airflows in the
monolithic MEMS, which also contain a micro-
processor. The microprocessor would register
the vibration signals as a change in voltage.
Such a chip could sense and process environ-
mental stimuli, take on control functions and
pass on the information.
Here, according to Ahmed, the biggest
challenge faced by MEMS engineers is the
packaging of the various technical compon-
ents. The difficulty lies also in protecting the
electronics against damage while ensuring
that the sensors remain in contact with their
surroundings. Because standard miniature
housings do not yet exist, Siemens Building
Technologies is actively tracking professional
organizations such as Memsnet (www.mems-
net.org), a forum that brings developers and
users together. The forum’s aim is to develop
solutions that would make further miniatur-
ization and new applications possible. Ex-
perts at Memsnet expect that the first mono-
lithic MEMS will reach maturity in about five
years. In five to ten years the sensors could
be ready for use on walls. However, no one
can predict the practical value of this devel-
opment.
But no monolithic silicon MEMS chip is
available today that provides all the function-
ality SBT is looking for. Nevertheless, the al-
ternative to a single MEMS chip that can do it
all is no less exciting. It consists of a micro-
system platform that integrates a MEMS chip,
a wireless module, a microprocessor and an
efficient power management system. The
advantage of the microsystem is that it can
also be produced by using standard semicon-
ductor methods that are matured, stable,
underlying aim is actually quite serious,” re-
ports Ahmed. Scientists conducting experi-
ments with mice want to make sure the ani-
mals’ reactions really are caused by a certain
medication or treatment, and are not due to
changes in temperature or muggy air. The
MEMS measure airborne carbon dioxide and
ammonia levels. High levels indicate a risk of
suffocation and the need for changing the
straw.
These MEMS consist of a silicon substrate
with integrated components such as gas sen-
sors or heating elements that measure air-
flows. Weak electric currents flow through
these elements to heat them. When air flows
past, it cools them. The researchers plan to
further miniaturize the unit and increase its
user friendliness before its market launch.
Atom
DNA
Virus
Cell
Diameter of a hair
Drop of water
Person
µm: Millionth of a meter nm: Billionth of a meter
Chemistry, nanotech-
nology, molecular biology
Precision mechanics.... traditional mechanics
MEMS
Thin films Thickness of a solar cell
Optical lithography Integrated circuit
Silicon wafer
1Å
1nm
1µm
1mm
1m
Sensors just one centimeter square
monitor very small homes — mouse cages.
and extremely cost-effective. SBT is currently
using one-centimeter-square, multiple-com-
ponent MEMS from Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology in a cooperative project with the Uni-
versity of Florida. The sensors will be used to
monitor relatively small houses — mouse
cages — rather than buildings. Testing of the
prototypes will begin in the university’s labs
at the end of the year. “Although this applica-
tion may raise a few eyebrows at first, the
They expect to be able to significantly reduce
the price of their MEMS unit through suitable
packaging and adding wireless data commu-
nications. Following a preliminary market as-
sessment, SBT estimates that in the U.S.
alone there are about 4–5 million cages. The
success of the project could thus give the
company a head start in the development of
further building management systems in
microchip format.Tim Schröder
Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) could monitor and even control buildings.
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
B UI L DI NG T E C HNOL OGI E S
70
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Buildings that
Think and Act In the future, tiny sensors
could be used to control sys-
tems in buildings. They will
measure temperatures, light
levels, communicate with one
another, and decide what has
to be done — intelligently.
S
oon, people will no longer have to worry
about getting cold feet when inside a
building. Just like living organisms, buildings
will be equipped with innumerable sensory
cells capable of detecting a draft on the floor
or determining if workers’ fingers are getting
numb from the cold. Thousands of these tiny
sensors will be distributed throughout build-
ings. Hidden in the carpets or in the paint on
the walls, these speck-sized sensors will mea-
sure temperatures, airflow or the amount of
carbon dioxide in the air, and subsequently
transmit their data to a control system. In the
even more distant future, these high-tech
specks, using micro and nanotechnologies,
will even be able to take action — for exam-
ple, by opening tiny warm-air valves in table-
tops or by using miniature photovoltaic cells
to harness solar energy for a building.
What might sound like science fiction is
already an everyday reality for Dr. Osman
Ahmed, Senior Principal Engineer with the
Building Automation unit (BAU) of Siemens
Building Technologies (SBT) in Buffalo Grove,
Illinois. His department studies the practical-
ity of such ideas. At the core of these systems
is MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)
technology — tiny silicon building blocks
which can ideally serve as sensors, proces-
sors and actuators all in one, and also have
radio modules for communication with other
devices. As a result, these systems can not
only measure environmental conditions and
process signals; they can even take action on
their own. The first MEMS sensors already ex-
ist, carrying out tasks such as measuring the
pressure in car tires and transmitting this in-
formation via radio to the vehicle (see p. 65).
Ahmed is convinced that MEMS sensors’
wireless communication is their greatest ad-
vantage. Today’s systems measure the condi-
tions inside a building using sensors and de-
vices mounted on the walls, he says. “All of
these devices have two things in common:
They need wires to supply them with electric-
ity and wires to transmit signals to a central
control unit.” But that drives up costs be-
cause installation and any fault-finding
required are immensely time-consuming.
MEMS sensors, on the other hand, do not re-
quire wiring and can transmit their signals via
radio. Besides reporting climate data, they
Dr. Thomas von der Haar, Head of CT Detector
Development. “The ingredients are known,
but aside from the manufacturer, nobody
knows the full recipe.” Since the new material
has a significant effect on CT system charac-
teristics, it creates considerable competitive
advantages for Siemens — one of the reasons
for the in-house UFC development.
A Heart in Nine Seconds.Furthermore, UFC
has additional advantages: It can be easily cut
with tools from the silicon industry into rough-
ly one-millimeter-thick, stamp-sized plates —
approximately the size of a detector element.
In the Somatom Sensation 64, 42 detector el-
ements are arranged next to each other over a
distance of approximately one meter. This is
wide enough to image a patient from shoul-
der to shoulder. Each detector element is
divided into a precise pattern of millimeter-
wide rows and columns of tiny pixels. Until a
few years ago, CT scanners were equipped
with only one detector line, which meant that
only a single slice could be acquired per revo-
lution of the gantry. These devices were followed by multi-slice
systems, which feature several detector lines
located next to each other.During one rota-
tion, several adjoining slices are acquired. As a
result, a wider body region can be imaged
within the same time period. Each of the de-
tector elements in the Somatom Sensation 64
has 40 pixel rows as well as 16 pixel columns
set at right angles. Since the focus of the X-
ray tube shifts in a fraction of a second, 64
slices can be measured during each rotation.
As a result, the system has about 43,000
pixels altogether, which means it can achieve
an unparalleled resolution of 0.4 millimeter.
Thanks to this development, physicians can
study many structures in detail that were pre-
viously impossible to see. When the gantry rotates, electronics pro-
cess 2.5 billion signals every second. Due to
the fast rotation, examinations can now be
performed more quickly;in fact, the new CT
can depict the heart in just nine seconds.
“The ultra-fast ceramic can handle this chal-
lenge with relative ease,” says Berger. “There’s
still a long way to go before we reach the limits
of its potential.” Tim Schröder
Source: Osman Ahmed, SBT
How small are MEMS?
EXAMPLES OF SENSOR NETWORK PROJECTS WORLDWI DE
The Free University of Berlin has devel-
oped a miniature Internet in which data
from individual sensors is collected and
sent out over a sensor network. Dubbed
“Scatterweb,” the sensor network was
made public at this year’s Hanover Fair.
Any Web browser can be used to provide
access to Scatterweb. The network is
very flexible and freely programmable
even when in operation. A variety of sen-
sor nodes were developed. An embedded sensor board (ESB) is pictured above. ESBs are small devices whose surfaces measure 4 x 5 centimeters and contain numerous sensors for
parameters such as brightness, noise levels, vibrations and motion. A microphone, speaker
and infrared transmitter/receiver are also integrated into the units. An ESB “at rest” only requires eight microamperes of power, while an active one consumes between eight and 12
milliamperes. When used with a conventional AAA battery, an ESB will last between five and
17 years, assuming it sends 25 bytes of data every 20 seconds. (www.scatterweb.net)
The EU projects “Eyes” and “Bison”: The “Eyes” project (2002 – 2005) focuses on energy efficiency. “Bison” (2003 – 2005) deals with biologically modeled sensor networks. Here, the
focus is on robustness, self-organization and self-repair.
Great Duck Island: On this island off the coast of Maine, the College of the Atlantic (COA), Intel and the University of California at Berkeley are using a sensor network to observe a rare
type of storm swallow. The sensors measure temperature, humidity and air pressure in the
nests and surroundings. A sensor base station driven by batteries that last up to a year is con-
nected to the Internet. The second network generation, containing 105 nodes, was installed in
summer 2003, then again 60 hatching nest sensors and 25 weather sensors were added. Sensor networks at UC Berkeley: Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are
striving to pack digital circuits, laser-based wireless communications and MEMS (micro-electro-
mechanical systems) into one tiny system. Plans call for a complete sensor node — consisting
of a microcontroller, storage unit, sensor, radio transceiver and power supply — to be inte-
grated into a volume of one or two cubic millimeters (mm
3
). Whereas the old Flashy Dust Mote
model was 138 mm
3
, the new type of Golem Dust Mote is 11 mm
3
and five millimeters long. Sensors can guide firefighters
to a blaze. A fireman is linked
to a sensor network, thereby
receiving data on temperature
and gas distribution.
depths. A so-called multi-hop technique is
used to conserve the energy needed for
transmission. Here, the signals are routed
from buoy to buoy until they reach land.
Whereas the Scatterweb project is primar-
ily designed to provide a development plat-
form, Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) is
focusing on self-organization solutions that
enable sensor nodes to set up communica-
tion networks on their own. Using special lo-
cal positioning radar technology, each sensor
would measure the distance to its neighbors
and thus determine its own position. The sen-
sors also need to be able to find out for them-
selves where they can send their data. They
must also organize data processing opera-
tions autonomously and be able to interpo-
late so as to forecast data in the future. “It’s al-
ready possible for them to make a spatial
forecast,” says Dr. Rudolf Sollacher, head of
Neural Data Processing at CT and an expert
on self-organizing sensor networks. For ex-
ample, a sensor node in a building can also
estimate a temperature profile for those areas
where no sensors are located. Fireman in a Sensor Network.Siemens re-
searchers plan to present largely self-organiz-
ing sensor networks in November 2004. In
this particular scenario (see illustration above)
a fireman with a display inside his helmet and
a portable PC enters a burning house. The PC
is equipped with an integrated sensor node
with an Internet interface. Numerous sensors
located in the building transmit data via radio
over distances of 30 to 100 meters. The sen-
sor network displays the temperature in his
immediate area and guides him to the fire
step by step. The display on the helmet could
later be replaced by 3D headsets that display
information about smoke concentration or
the presence of toxic gases, for example.
Today, sensors are already registering
data on temperature, motion, brightness and
noise in buildings. Siemens Building Tech-
nologies recently launched the world’s first
security system with bi-directional radio com-
munication on the market. In addition to
smoke detectors, it consists of devices that
recognize when glass has been broken, mo-
tion detectors, door contacts and a module
for controlling lights, shades and other equip-
ment. The SiRoute radio units can also inde-
pendently find a way to get their data to the
central control office via other components in
the event of a radio disturbance, sabotage or
if distances are too great. Because inactive el-
ements are automatically put into an energy-
saving “rest mode,” the batteries last up to
four years. The entire system is operated by a
remote control unit the size of a credit card.
Plans call for similar sensor networks to au-
tonomously register tension and cracks in the
materials of buildings and tunnels, and report
this information to maintenance teams.
Sensor networks might also be able to fa-
cilitate the monitoring of patients. Intel and
the Alzheimer’s Association plan to develop a
wireless sensor network that observes the be-
havior of Alzheimer patients and sounds an
Alarm sent
to head-
quarters
Fire
Sensor nodes
Calling up data on the immediate environment
Information
on the location
of the fire and
how to get
there
72
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
73
I
magine a network that links itself together
autonomously, reacts to its environment
and transfers information at lightning speed.
What sounds like something out of a science
fiction novel actually exists. Specifically, it is a
self-organizing sensor network, consisting of
sensor components called nodes that can in-
dependently determine their location, com-
municate wirelessly and create a network
without any outside support. To accomplish
this, each node is equipped with modules for
location positioning, communication, data-
processing and power supply units. The first such sensor networks are still rel-
atively simple. They measure parameters such
as gas concentration, acoustic signals, tem-
perature, brightness, humidity and accelera-
tion. Using these measurements, it is possible
to detect forest fires, the damage caused by
an earthquake or the amount of dangerous
chemicals present at a production facility (see
Pictures of the Future,Spring 2003, p. 48).
The miniaturization of electronic components and communication devices has enabled sensor net-
works to organize themselves using radio signals. Applications of such networks include the control
of industrial plants, building technology and medicine. The first prototypes are already in operation.
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
Siemens researcher Dr. Rudolf Sollacher
(right) holds a node that can register up to eight measurement parameters. Such
sensors can also autonomously find the
shortest route through the radio network
(display, left). S E NS OR NE T WOR K S
Smart Grains of Sand Five years ago, scientists at DARPA (Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the
U.S. began the Smart Dust project. The objec-
tive was to enable thousands of miniature sen-
sor units to observe enemy troop movements
without being detected. Acoustic, magnetic
and seismographic sensors would enable the
units to register troop and vehicle movements.
The sensors would then filter the raw data
and only forward relevant information. With
this in mind, researchers at the University of
California at Berkeley have developed sensor
nodes measuring just a few cubic millimeters
(see box p. 73). These nodes have to commu-
nicate via targeted laser beams because the
components for radio communications are
still too large and use too much energy for
such an application.
In contrast, in the Scatterweb project the
sensor nodes, although larger, can already
communicate wirelessly and configure them-
selves independently for the most part. “Our
Scatterweb can be used for a range of appli-
cations, as the nodes can register light, vibra-
tions, temperature, air pressure, motion and
other parameters,” says Jochen Schiller, Pro-
fessor of Technical Computer Science at the
Free University of Berlin. “Today’s sensor net-
works display great differences in terms of
their ability to network themselves au-
tonomously, integrate into systems such as
the Internet or Ethernet and achieve the nec-
essary level of flexibility should reprogram-
ming be required.”
Scatterweb sensors have different ranges
depending on the data they are transmitting:
Neighboring nodes can be recognized via ra-
dio up to a distance of four kilometers; move-
ments can be registered up to ten meters
away. Marine biologists at the University of
Umeå in northern Sweden are using Scatter-
web technology to monitor the Baltic Sea.
The sensor nodes, which are installed in
buoys, measure temperatures at different
THE CATCHER I N THE CHI P
tests in their own offices. It’s suitable for both
genetic material (DNA) and proteins — a fea-
ture that makes it ideal for a broad range of
applications. It can be used to track down
pathogens that cause infectious diseases and
to detect allergies, hereditary diseases and
incompatibilities when medicine is pre-
scribed or transplants are performed. In the
future, there will be quick tests for every
medical requirement.
The foundation for quicklab was laid in
the years 2000 to 2003 by the German Fed-
eral Ministry of Research’s SiBAnaT project
(Silicon Chip System for Biochemical Analysis
Technology). SiBAnaT involved the coopera-
tion of Siemens, the Fraunhofer Institute for
Silicon Technology (ISIT), Infineon Technolo-
gies AG, november AG and Eppendorf Instru-
mente GmbH. The high value of the above mentioned
innovations was also recognized by the jury
for the German President’s Award in the field
of technology and innovation:For the “Lab
on a Chip — Electric Biochip Technology,”
ISIT, Siemens and Infineon were nominated
for the German Future Prize 2004.
One Card. At the heart of quicklab, which
was developed by Siemens, is a miniature
laboratory the size of a credit card that auto-
matically extracts DNA or proteins from a
drop of blood or other bodily fluid and emits
the diagnostic information as an electrical
signal. “In the last six months, we’ve pressed
forward with the development of the DNA
analysis in particular,” says Gumbrecht. As
economically efficient,” says Birkle. The non-
reusable cards will cost only a fraction of a
laboratory test.
And for the same reason, researchers are
relying on existing technologies wherever
possible. For instance, they are using the
gold contacts of a conventional chip card as
electrodes, because gold is the ideal base for
the “receptors” — synthetically produced bio-
molecules that pick out specific DNA se-
quences or proteins from a sample. The bind-
ing of enzymes and the decomposition of a
If the DNA sequence tested for is
contained in the sample, it binds with
the receptor on the gold electrode.
The DNA marked with biotin (B) acts
as a docking point for the enzyme alkaline phosphatase (Str/E), which
releases a molecule (P) from the sub-
strate (S). P releases two electrons at
the positive electrode. After that, it
migrates to the negative electrode,
receives two electrons again and
shuttles back to the positive elec-
trode. Because of P’s migration, an
electric current flows between the
electrodes — this is the actual proof
that a matching DNA sequence was
found. Otherwise, there is no pairing
of the DNA with the receptor; no
substrate molecule P and no elec-
trons are released, and therefore no
current is measured.
DNA tests could soon be
conducted on handheld devices
based on Siemens’ quicklab.
A prototype with its channels
and reaction chambers is shown
in the large image. The small pic-
ture at right illustrates a vision of
a future quick test.
part of this effort, his working group designed
a microfluidic system composed of channels,
chambers and pumps. Capillary forces draw a
microliter of an injected drop of blood into a
channel. Water is pumped in to dissolve
chemicals present there, which break down
the cells in minutes. Water is pumped in
again to rinse the constituents through a
chamber in which the DNA is extracted and
held. There, the tiny initial quantity of DNA is
reproduced on a large level and marked with
biotin molecules. Afterward, the DNA reaches
a chamber that contains the biosensor.
“We’ve combined existing technologies
into an innovative platform,” says Dr.
Siegfried Birkle, head of the Power & Sensor
Transducer Systems unit. For example, the
researchers succeeded in placing dry forms
of all of the enzymes and reagents on the in-
ner walls of the reaction spaces. The quicklab
cards must have a shelf life of at least six
months at room temperature to ensure that
the general practitioner can always keep
them in stock. “The system is designed to be
Drop of blood 74
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P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
75
R
unny nose, a cough, a worn-out feeling
and fever: Is it dangerous influenza or
just a cold? Often only a laboratory test can
provide the answer — but once the sample is
transported to the lab, it takes an average of
two days for a doctor to get the results. That
delays treatment, which can have a serious
impact in the case of viral infections. “Our quicklab system performs a test in
just under an hour,” says Dr. Walter Gum-
brecht, an expert in the Power & Sensor Sys-
tems department at Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology (CT) in Erlangen, Germany. “And we’ll
be able to make it even faster than that.”
The new quicklab molecular diagnostic
system will allow family doctors to do rapid
The Pocket Laboratory
Molecular diagnostics is becoming increasingly important in the identifica-
tion of illnesses. The latest
biosensors and a new
technology platform
known as quicklab are expected to make many
medical tests faster, sim-
pler and less expensive.
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
B I OS E NS OR S
alarm should anything unusual happen. The
network will be able to register the patient’s
location and remind him or her to take their
medicine. Sensors distributed throughout
hospital rooms and on the body could also be
used to monitor pulse and temperature.
No one knows whether sensor networks
will also be placed inside human bodies in the
foreseeable future. Sensors that can be swal-
lowed do in fact exist today. These are used to
measure temperature or provide color images
of the digestive tract. The biggest technical
problem here, according to Sollacher, is not
miniaturization but involves communication
between the sensors, since they need an au-
tarkic energy supply, especially if the sensor
network is to remain in the body for a long
time. Sollacher can imagine using “passive el-
ements that obtain the energy they need
from outside sources or from the body itself.”
If self-organizing sensor networks are to
be employed on a massive scale, the costs of
the nodes, their energy requirements and size
will have to be reduced. A Scatterweb node
today costs around 50 euros, for example.
“What we need are sensors the size of a
matchbox that cost 20 euros,” says Schiller.
Such a reduction in price presupposes produc-
tion in large lots, he says. Mass production
would cut costs even more. As far as power is
concerned, the sensors of the future will have
to use ambient energy, since a battery
change will be impossible. “Solar cells are one
option,” says Schiller, “but the nodes could
also exploit temperature differences or vibra-
tions.” The main thing is that only those sen-
sor nodes that have enough energy transmit
data — for example, only those that are ex-
posed to sunshine at a given moment. “Communication should be minimized as
much as possible, and computers’ built-in in-
telligence has to be increased, since both
measures decrease the energy requirement,”
says Sollacher, who is convinced that the
biggest gains in energy efficiency can be
achieved with the data processing unit. Ex-
perts are also expecting smaller nodes to ap-
pear. Nevertheless, grains of sand that emit
radio signals, as envisioned by the Smart Dust
concept, will remain science fiction — at least
for the time being.Sylvia Trage
C
T
C
C G
T A
G C
Red
B
STR
E
S
S
P
P
P
P
Ox
Siemens’ 3D SISCAN scan-
ner system examines sili-
con chip surfaces for pro-
duction errors with a
high-relief resolution of
approximately one hun-
dred nanometers.
The human eye is hard to beat.
To equal its power, about 125
million photo sensors would
have to be concentrated in a
few square millimeters, and
that’s without considering image processing. Although today’s sensors still can’t match that, when it comes to
some things — like resolution
and speed — they are already
superior to the human eye. Electronic Eagle Eyes
and nano structures. Dr. Günter Doemens,
head of the Sensor Solutions Center at
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Mu-
nich, describes one of the key trends here:
“The development of optical sensors is cur-
rently moving from the second into the third
dimension — in other words, toward three-
dimensional vision, because recognition pro-
cesses are more robust in 3D.”
Measuring Height on a Nanometer Scale.
Dr. Anton Schick, head of Development at
Siemens Logistics and Assembly Systems in
Munich, and his team developed and
launched the SISCAN sensors for 3D analyses
a few years ago. On SISCAN’s screen, Schick
can view large-scale, relief images of mi-
crometer-size components or tiny laser
welds. SISCAN precisely measures surfaces
(for example wafers) in nanometers and ex-
amines them for flaws. The system works by
the confocal microscope principle: Laser light
is beamed vertically onto the object to be
measured, and a detector captures the re-
flected light. To measure height and depth
profiles to within 100 nanometers, the fo-
cused laser beam oscillates 4,000 times per
second back and forth in the direction of the
beam. The detector receives the strongest
signal precisely when the beam focus hits the
surface. The associated height value is calcu-
lated in real time.
Schick also splits the laser beam in his
sensor into 64 parallel beams that measure
more than half a million pixels (height val-
ues) per second. To get a 3D surface image
from this, the measured object is simultane-
ously shifted horizontally at a speed of 80
millimeters per second. Researchers are aim-
ing to reduce the size of the sensor head,
which weighs four kilos, so it can easily be
guided by a robot arm. The beam from the
semiconductor laser also isn’t the ideal light
source: Its cross-section is generally both el-
liptical and astigmatic, which creates un-
wanted signal spread. A glass fiber-optical
device would be the ideal solution. Schick’s
team recently developed such a sensor. With
a scanning rate of 8,000 pixels per second,
it’s considered the world’s fastest single-
channel, fiber-optical measurement sensor.
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
T
he human eye is getting some competi-
tion from sensors: Automotive industry
engineers are developing optical assistance
systems that can recognize road signs and
other traffic. And the systems may be able to
guide drivers automatically through traffic in
the future. Intelligent cameras monitor high-
ways and tunnels and control access to vari-
ous locations through biometric procedures
(see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2002,
p.33, and Spring 2003, p. 44). Modern med-
icine would be unthinkable without imaging
technology (see p. 68), while optical measur-
ing technology also helps monitor pollutant
emissions. And high-tech eyes in industrial
production and quality assurance scan micro
OP T I C AL S E NS OR S
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
B I OS E NS OR S
Researchers are working on a sensor that is compatible with the quicklab system and is likewise
capable of electric read-outs — the micro-balance sensor, which is being developed by Dr. Rein-
hard Gabl of the Materials & Microsystems department at Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in
Munich. In contrast to the electro-chemical sensor, here the conversion into an electrical signal
does not take place via a linked enzymatic reaction. That means the molecule being detected
doesn’t have to be specially marked either, which makes the sensor even more economical. The
receptor rests on a vibrating base, which is the actual sensor element. When a DNA or protein
sample binds to the sensor, the frequency of this oscillator changes. “In a sense, we use this to reg-
ister the change in weight due to the bound molecule,” says Gabl. The sensor is constructed of
several layers (graphic below). The fundamental oscillation is produced in a piezo-ceramic with
the help of an alternating current. The surface is coated with a very thin layer of gold, “because for
gold there is an established coupling chemistry,” says Dr. Hans-Dieter Feucht of the Erlangen, Ger-
many CT labs. Feucht ensures that the receptors bind onto the surface of the sensor with pinpoint
precision. That requires a few tricks, because the molecules are in a solution. To make sure they
don’t disperse at the sensor, Feucht had plastic rings ten micrometers high mounted on its sur-
face. Into these rings, a pipetting robot injects a few billionths of a liter of the receptor solution —
aided by cameras with automatic image processing. Thanks to its high operating frequency, the
micro-balance system is more sensitive than conventional piezo oscillators. The sensor therefore
functions with very small measuring areas, which makes it cheaper. “In three years, at the earliest,
it will enter product development,” Gabl estimates. Before then, he still has to develop a transverse
oscillator. Currently, the sensor simply oscillates up and down, which results in a significant damp-
ening of the signal when measurements are made in liquids. “The future transverse oscillator, on
the other hand, shakes like a pudding,” says Gabl. “That reduces the dampening.”
WEI GHI NG DNA
— VI BRATI ONS REVEAL I LLNESSES
substrate ultimately give rise to an electric
current that the researchers can record with
a read-out device (see box p. 75).
The system is so sensitive that even the
smallest deviations in genes can be detected.
In a DNA test, the DNA sample and the recep-
tors fit together like a lock and key. “When we
slowly raise the temperature, the precisely
matching molecules remain bound longer
than those which differ in some constituent,”
says Gumbrecht. In the past, analysis of indi-
vidual mutations of this kind, which play a
key role in many illnesses, was possible only
with expensive laboratory equipment.
Expensive Lenses Not Needed. In large
part, it is the electric detection which is re-
sponsible for the compact and inexpensive
design. This makes it possible for the re-
searchers to forgo the light sources, lenses
and filters of a conventional optical detection
system, in which the biomolecules are
marked with fluorescent dyes. “In about a
year we’ll have a prototype,” says Gumbrecht.
In the meantime, he wants to make the sys-
tem more user-friendly, simplify the process
of acquiring the sample and make further
progress with miniaturization. In the long run, there may be no need
for the card reader at all, because it could be
replaced by a highly integrated microchip —
with an electronic evaluation unit, sensors
for various questions and organic LEDs that
display the result directly on the card. Gum-
brecht’s vision is as follows: Just as diabetics
now measure their indicators at home, pa-
tients could one day use rapid tests to check
the course of treatment for their illnesses.
Pressing one’s thumb on a fine pin on the
card would be enough to start an analysis of
the drop of blood.
Dr. Mohammad Naraghi, who oversees
business development at Siemens Medical
Solutions, is already looking into the first po-
tential applications. He has great confidence
in the system. “A drop goes in and informa-
tion comes out,” says Naraghi. “So far no one
has successfully implemented such a com-
prehensive integrated approach — but that’s
the vision we’re all pursuing.” Michael Lang
Principle of the micro-balance sensor.An electrical voltage causes
the resonator — the piezo layer —
to oscillate. When a target molecule
binds with a receptor according to
the lock-and-key principle, it changes
the frequency of resonance because
of its weight. This change is then
translated into an electrical signal
and processed further.
A micropipette (left) deposits a nano-liter of a biomolecular solution on a test sensor
array. A sputter system for the piezo layer of the sensor (right).
76
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77
Electrodes
Piezo layer
Target molecule
receptor
Acoustic reflector
Silicon base
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
79
recognizes within 30 milliseconds if packages
are lying properly on a production line or if
bottle labels are correctly affixed. In a bot-
tling plant, a conveyor belt moves bottles
past a color sensor in a matter of millisec-
onds. In this short time, four white-light LEDs
flash on the passing labels. A camera chip,
similar to the CMOS chip in a photo cell
phone, records the images. The image pro-
cessing system in the sensor is only inter-
ested in the number of color pixels and how
they are distributed (see p. 66). The software
compares this color pattern with a stored
sample and emits a warning signal if there is
a deviation in the color values. “This color
sensor makes Siemens the leader in this
field,” says Staudt. “And to ensure this re-
mains the case, I want to build as small and
compact a sensor as possible in the future.
step, we want to reduce the size of the sen-
sor and pack the components into a single
device,” says Lüthe. The team has already ac-
complished much in terms of sensor perfor-
mance. Until recently, the data matrix sensor
could perform five evaluations per second,
but now it‘s capable of reading the codes of
20 parts in just one second. Such high scan-
ning speed is very useful in applications such
as letter-sorting. The technology behind it in-
volves an LED lamp that illuminates the ob-
ject to be examined — whether a letter or a
gray cast-iron housing. The image is then
recorded by a CCD camera and analyzed by a
digital signal processor. The real expertise
here is contained in the image-processing al-
gorithm, which must first find the code in
the picture before it can evaluate it, under
extremely difficult conditions in some cases.
For example, the codes are lased, stamped or
printed, and the surfaces can be smooth,
rough, dirty or reflective. “But our sensor can
handle it,” says Lüthe with pride.
3D Flight through a Hearing Aid.Imaging
sensors can do even more, like looking di-
rectly into a component — something the
human eye will never be able to do. Jürgen
Stephan, who is responsible for X-ray Tech-
nology at CT’s Sensor Solutions Center, uses a
computer tomograph to peek into computer
chips, inner-ear hearing aids and cell phones.
The image-processing system then merges up
to 2,000 individual X-ray images into a single 3D picture. Stephan can even fly through
the component on his screen in a manner
similar to a virtual endoscopy in the medical
sector. This allows him to detect hidden cracks
or other material flaws at the micrometer
scale, without damaging the component. To
do this, he uses microfocus and nanofocus X-
ray tubes with focal points measuring around
600 nanometers — much smaller than those
of the X-ray tubes used for medical applica-
tions and capable of much higher resolution.
The largest flat detector measures 24 x
24 centimeters and achieves a resolution of
one-thousandth of a millimeter. “Today’s mi-
crosystem technology is taking us to the lim-
its of all components,” Stephan says. He ex-
plains that he could move the detector to the
left and right to achieve a virtual detection
width of 6,000 pixels, which would yield a
three-fold improvement in resolution. How-
ever, this would also result in a data volume
of 100 gigabytes. With that amount of data,
Stephan points out, no standard commercial
computer today could create a 3D image that
you could virtually travel through. But per-
haps in the future… Rolf Sterbak
“Optical sensorsare developing from the
second into the third dimension.”
searchers’ goal is to be able to conduct the
tests at higher speeds, which would let them
check more routes in a given period of time.
To do this, though, they will have to increase
the camera’s shutter speed and improve the
image processing system. “We’re developing
a sensor system that will allow the measur-
ing train to travel at up to 120 kilometers per
hour,” says Dr. Richard Schneider from CT.
The human eye is getting some competi-
tion from the CS10 sensor, says developer
Michael Staudt from the New Sensor Tech-
nologies unit at Siemens Automation and
Drives (A&D) in Amberg, Germany. By ob-
serving color distribution, the CS10 sensor
The camera chip and image processor, which
are still separate, should someday be in-
stalled together on one chip.” Such a design
should also make it possible to cut the recog-
nition time from 30 to ten milliseconds.
Ernst Lüthe’s team from the A&D Factory
Automation Sensors development depart-
ment is facing similar challenges. Their high-
tech eye can read data matrix codes, a sort of
pixel image printed on production parts that
provide graphically encrypted information on
product type or serial number, much like a
bar code. The sensor currently consists of
three components: the sensor head, the illu-
mination unit and the controller. “In the next
Examples of sensors that see in 3D. Left: A CT image of a hearing-aid component only a
few millimeters long. Center: The shape of a vehicle occupant
as seen by an extremely fast
CMOS sensor. Right: A laser scanner as it scans a surface’s
nanometer-scale defects. S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
OP T I C AL S E NS OR S
78
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Another scanner that Siemens developed
for detecting defects at nanometer scales
(the smallest particles on what should be an
ultra-precise surface, for example) also works
with a laser beam. “It’s as if you were moving
along a mirrored surface the size of a soccer
field at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour
looking for a grain of dust,” says Dieter
Spriegel, Project Manager at CT’s Sensor So-
lutions Center. The laser beam simply scans
the object line by line. The beam is focused
on just a few micrometers, and if it hits a de-
fect, it gets scattered. A special set of optics
guides the scattered light to the system’s
highly sensitive detectors. The developers
can currently spot particles measuring ap-
proximately 80 nanometers using the sys-
tem. “But that’s not small enough for us,”
says Spriegel. In a project sponsored by the
German Ministry of Education and Research,
he and his team are therefore looking to spot
particles of 60 nanometers in an initial phase
and then those measuring 30 nanometers
beginning in 2007. Such detection power
would be suitable for ensuring defect-free
lithography masks in microchip production.
But it will require the laser beam to be more
sharply focused. The problem here is that the
smaller the scanning beam, the faster the
signal recognition and processing systems
have to be for the application to be economi-
cally feasible: Three detectors have to register
8,000 scan lines of 3,000 pixels each per sec-
ond and then process them at a speed of ap-
proximately one gigabit per second. To ex-
amine an area of approximately 15 x 15
centimeters with the desired sensitivity of 60
nanometers, the system would need to
process 2,400 gigabits, which would take
nearly 30 minutes with three high-perfor-
mance computers — just about acceptable
for semiconductor production. A sensitivity
of 30 nanometers would increase the data
volume fourfold, presenting a Herculean
challenge for developers.
Laser Flash for 3D Cameras.Dr. Peter Men-
gel, Project Manager at CT’s Sensor Solutions
Center, and his team are developing a CMOS
sensor that can register three-dimensional
objects by using laser flashes. Plans call for
the unit to be used to register 3D profiles of
persons in entryways, for automatic baggage
check-in at airports and to recognize unusual
positions of vehicle drivers and passengers,
to ensure airbags inflate properly (see Pic-
tures of the Future, Fall 2003, p. 80). The
unit’s sensor sends laser pulses (each less
than 30 nanoseconds) to the object to be
measured, and a semiconductor array, typi-
cally containing some 1,000 pixels, analyzes
the reflected light impulses. A high-speed
electronic shutter ensures the light intensity
a pixel is exposed to is dependent on the dis-
tance to the associated point on the object.
The software uses this data to calculate and
process the 3D image. A reference measure-
ment, taken by leaving the shutter open
somewhat longer, compensates for possible
differences in object surface brightness.
Researchers are also using laser light to
inspect overhead power lines for rail systems.
The faster the trains travel, the sooner the
overhead lines and their supports wear out. If
the damage isn’t detected in time, the over-
head traction line can tear, blocking the route
and causing substantial delays. To detect
such wear and tear, developers in a joint pro-
ject by CT and Siemens Transportation Sys-
tems have installed diode line cameras with
infrared lasers onto the roof of a measuring
rail vehicle that travels at up to 80 kilometers
per hour, even at night. These diode lasers il-
luminate the overhead traction line and its
suspension in any light conditions. They
record 22,000 image lines per second, which
when laid together result in an “infinitely”
long picture. At a resolution of 0.2 to two
millimeters, the image processing system
recognizes in real time how severely the line
has been worn by the pantograph. The re-
A sensor recognizes the shape of up to 20 parts per second. Faulty items are removed, while the correct ones are picked up by a robot.
Robot
Sensor head
(camera)
Illumination Ejector
Good part
Faulty part Conveyor belt Trigger
Evaluation unit
Controller
Profibus
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
GAS S E NS OR S
D
riving and alcohol don’t mix.
But relying on electronic blood-alcohol
test devices to determine whether you can
get behind the wheel is not the solution. Not
one of these devices measures actual blood-
alcohol level precisely, according to a test
conducted by the German automobile associ-
ation ADAC early in 2004. There are also very few methods today
for measuring concentrations of other gases
quickly and efficiently. “The devices are either
too expensive and complicated to operate or,
if they’re simple and cheap, they don’t yield
reliable results,” says U.S. scientist Allan Chen
from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. This will
soon change if Dr. Maximilian Fleischer from
Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Mu-
nich achieves his goals. Here, in the labora-
tory of the Power and Sensor Systems Center
at CT, a new generation of gas sensors is be-
ing developed. Fleischer, who heads the pro-
ject, has electronic bloodhounds for the most
diverse applications: He’s got miniature sen-
sors that fit into a cell phone, sensors that re-
quire hardly any electricity and powerful opti-
cal sensors for industrial applications.
Demand for small and inexpensive gas
sensors is huge. Methane sensors could trig-
ger an alarm when gas seeps into a house
due to defective pipes, for example, while
oxygen sensors could be used to optimize
combustion in heating units, engines and
power plants. Sensors that detect carbon
dioxide (CO
2
) could be used in air-condi-
tioned buildings or vehicle interiors. Joggers
could use ozone sensors to determine
whether they should postpone their run. Fi-
nally, certain illnesses can be detected on the
basis of trace gases on a person’s breath.
However, detecting what are invisible
and often odorless and volatile gas mole-
cules is not easy. Although sophisticated
methods of analysis, such as gaschromatog-
raphy or mass spectrometry, can reliably
identify even complicated molecules, such
procedures are less suitable for rapid, mobile
utilization, which requires small electronic
components that immediately emit a signal
as soon as the presence of a specific gas is
detected. All currently known sensors for
gases are based on changes in physical para-
meters that can be measured when mole-
cules of a particular gas that are present in
Digital Bloodhounds
The latest gas sensors
are making our lives
safer, industrial plants
more efficient, and driving less risky. Reli-
able, fast and small,
they range from
methane sensors that
can spot defects in gas
pipes to an alcohol
tester in a cell phone.
Testing a prototype methane
gas sensor. Smaller and less expensive than anything
available today, such elec-
tronic bloodhounds will examine gas pipes for leaks.
80
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P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
81
Toward Intelligent and Networked Sensors
T
he market for sensors will grow steadily
in the coming years, according to a study
conducted by INTECHNO Consulting in Basel,
Switzerland. In 2008, a total of approxi-
mately $50 billion will be spent worldwide
on sensors for the civilian sector, meaning
primarily for use in industry and in products
for private households. That’s nearly $18 bil-
lion more than was spent in 1998. Western
Europe, Japan and the U.S. will remain the
major markets for such sensors, accounting
for some 83 percent of market volume in
2008.
The driving forces behind this growth are
sensors with built-in intelligence and sensors
with integrated network interfaces. The for-
mer include micro-electro-mechanical sys-
tems (MEMS), which have the sensor, me-
chanical parts and electronics all on one chip.
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
FAC T S AND F OR E C AS T S
The automotive sector is one of several
branches of industry that will be employing
more and more sensors in their products in
the coming years. For the next three or four
years, high growth rates are also forecast in
the processing industry and the consumer
electronics and building technology sectors.
A study by the Freedonia Group market
research company reaches similar conclu-
sions about developments in the U.S. Accord-
ing to that study, the U.S. will remain the
world’s leading market for sensors in the next
ten years. Freedonia estimates that market
volume in the U.S. will nearly double be-
tween 2003 and 2013, from approximately
$9.5 billion to $18.3 billion. The automotive
industry is a big growth sector in the U.S. as
well and will expand its share of the sensor
market in the next ten years from 26 percent
to 28 percent. The second-most important
sector for sensors — industrial applications
— will primarily require sensors for measur-
ing process parameters, such as distance or
position recognition. It will also require light-
sensitive CMOS sensors that can be used for
image recognition. All sensors, including those used in in-
dustry, are becoming increasingly small and
intelligent. Sensors without a communica-
tion interface will practically disappear from
the market by 2010, to be replaced by sys-
tems with integrated electronics and connec-
tions to communication networks such as
field bus and Ethernet. Profibus and field bus-
enabled sensors are already posting growth
rates of 30 percent per year, for example. At
the same time, sensors are becoming smaller
and smaller, as demonstrated by the Coriolis
flow sensor. Devices with a rated diameter of
40 millimeters are currently state of the art;
in 2010, that figure will have been reduced
to just 0.1 millimeters.
The automotive industry is definitely the
trendsetter in the consumer goods sector. To-
day, there are already up to 100 sensors in
every vehicle. These support the vehicle elec-
tronics by providing information on speed,
acceleration, engine speed and other data —
and the number of such sensors is clearly on
the increase. Chip manufacturer Infineon expects the
share of electronic systems in vehicles to in-
crease from the current 20 percent to 30 –
40 percent over the next ten to 15 years.
Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm, predicts
that the market for vehicle sensors will grow
from $1.56 billion in 2002 to $2.55 billion in
2009 in Europe alone. According to the Zen-
tralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikin-
dustrie e.V. (Electrical and Electronics Indus-
try Association — ZVEI), this will also
generate a significant market growth for micro-mechanical sensors, which are used
primarily in the automotive sector in applica-
tions such as airbag inflation. Sales of such
systems increased by 12 percent last year.
Kerstin Purucker
0
Plant and
production
technology
Processing industry
Vehicles Aircraft
and ships
Building
technology
Consumer
and office
electronics
Other industries
Billions of dollars
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
1998
2008
...
AND THE I NDUSTRI ES THAT ARE USI NG THEM
U.S.
31.0%
Rest of
Western
Europe
20.8%
Japan
19.4%
Germany
10.9%
Rest of
Asia/Pacific
8.8%
Rest of America 6.1%
Rest of World
3.0%
U.S.
29.0%
Rest of
Western
Europe
21.0%
Japan
19.5%
Germany
11.3%
Rest of
Asia/Pacific
9.8%
Rest of America 6.5%
Rest of World
2.9%
GLOBAL MARKET FOR SENSORS
...
Source: INTECHNO Consulting, 1999
Source: INTECHNO Consulting (1999), Freedonia (2003)
Regional distribution of the global sensor market in 1998 (left) and 2008 (right)
MAJ OR C AT E GOR I E S OF GAS S E NS OR S
Sensor type
Conductometric gas
sensors
Amperometric gas
sensors
Potentiometric gas
sensors
Optical gas sensors
FET gas sensors
How it works
Gas causes a change in the conduc-
tivity of a semiconductor
Gas causes a change in the conduc-
tivity of a polymer
Gas takes electrons from one elec-
trode and passes them to the other.
The current flow is a measure of the
gas concentration.
Electrical charge on an ion-conduct-
ing membrane Gas absorbs light
Gas alters the transmission of light
through a polymer layer
Gas is adsorbed on the surface, a
voltage is generated
Example
Metal oxide
semiconductor
Conductive
polymers
Electrochemical cells
Lambda sensors
Laser diode
spectrometer
Optode
Applications
Broad area of application for nearly
all gases, e.g. blood-alcohol,
volatile organic molecules, food
testing, use in arrays as an “elec-
tronic nose”
Applications: For example, monitor-
ing the presence of toxic gases at the
workplace, measurement of numer-
ous inorganic and organic molecules
Measurement of oxygen content in
vehicle exhaust or in metallurgical
processes
Simple gases such as O
2
, CO
2
, CH
4
,
HCl, HF
Fire detector
Still under development
Advantages/disadvantages
+ Robust, long life, versatile, miniaturizable
– Low selectivity, high power consumption + Broad selectivity, high sensitivity, operation at ambient temperature
– Humidity interferes with the measurements, sensor could be “poisoned”
+ Versatile – Average level of selectivity, low lifespan,
sensitive to high humidity and extreme
temperatures
+ Functions at high temperatures
+ Very precise, selective
– Gases require sharp absorption lines in the
near IR, unsuitable for complex molecules
+ Miniaturizable, low power consumption
+ Inexpensive, partially miniaturizable, rapid reaction, sensitive, selective cle’s interior could be dangerous, since CO
2
inhalation causes fatigue. Drivers can lose
consciousness if the gas exceeds a certain
concentration. “CO
2
sensors would also be
very useful for building-technology applica-
tions — for example, to regulate ventilation
in conference rooms,” Fleischer points out.
Simon and Fleischer believe that FET sensors
also have potential medical uses. Those who
suffer from asthma, for example, could use
such a sensor to check the nitrogen-oxide
content of their exhaled air to identify a possible infection of lung tissue early on. This
is crucial because the nitrogen-oxide level in
exhaled air increases three to fivefold a few
days before an asthma attack. At the mo-
ment, pulmonary clinics are only equipped
with expensive and bulky stationary nitro-
gen-oxide measuring units. When technically
fully developed, the sensor from Siemens
might be able to fit into a handbag.
Remote Measurements. The third type of
gas sensor from Siemens works with laser
light, which takes measurements without
making physical contact and can be guided
to difficult-to-reach locations with glass
fibers. Such sensors are thus very suitable for
industrial applications. They function as fol-
lows: Most gases allow visible light to pass
through but absorb certain light wavelengths
in the infrared range. Conventional diode
lasers, such as those used in communications
technology, can be used to pinpoint individ-
ual absorption lines. If the gas in question is
present, less light reaches the detector, and
this information can be used to calculate gas
concentration. Because each gas has its own
absorption lines, there is no danger of the
detector being confused by other gases or
dust particles. Until now, it has been possible
to use such sensors to measure oxygen, am-
monia, water vapor, CO
2
, methane and hy-
drogen sulfide. New laser technologies could
enable the detection of other gases that ab-
sorb light in the mid-infrared region.
The main area of application for laser
spectrometry is industry. The Swedish com-
pany AltOptronic developed this sensor tech-
nique for flue gas denitrogenization units at
the end of the 1980s. Siemens acquired the
Siemens researcher Fleischer
with sensors from his lab. A tiny
metallic-oxide sensor measur-
ing a few square millimeters detects alcohol on a person’s
breath — simulated here with
dry ice (left). A FET sensor mea-
sures carbon dioxide (right).
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
GAS S E NS OR S
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83
Where there’s smoke is there also fire?
Not always: Detecting a fire automatically is
no easy feat. Many fire detectors can be set
off by steam from the shower or kitchen, or
by cigarette smoke. But not the Sinteso from
Siemens Building Technologies (SBT). “Some
of our customers think our fire detector
doesn’t really work right,” says Enzo Peduzzi,
head of Systems & Solutions at the Fire
Safety unit in Männedorf, near Zurich.
“Customers were used to three or four false
alarms per week, so they were surprised
when Sinteso never went off.” The detect-
ing abilities of the Sinteso fire alarm, which
will be gradually launched in Europe in
2004, are even better than those of the predecessor model. At the core of the system is a
sophisticated measuring chamber containing two optical sensors and two temperature sen-
sors. The combination of the two optical sensors makes it possible to reliably differentiate
between harmless particles, such as water droplets, and dangerous smoke. But the truly
amazing part of the fire detector is its signal processing system. The unit more or less
“knows” in what type of surroundings it is located and what types of signals to expect when
something is burning. “What’s more, the detector automatically increases its own sensitivity
when it receives the first indications that a fire might have started,” says Peduzzi. Sinteso is
so foolproof that Siemens has pledged in many European countries to assume the costs if
the fire department is forced to go into action due to a false alarm. The scientists in Männe-
dorf are currently examining whether fires can be detected more rapidly with the help of
additional gas sensors, since gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides are released
even before temperatures rise and smoke begins to form. FET sensors from Siemens are
most suitable for fire detection systems, as they require very little electrical power. “We’re
now conducting tests to see if they can be combined with our fire detectors,” says Peduzzi.
E L I MI NAT I NG F AL S E AL AR MS
the air have bonded to a surface or reacted
with other substances (see table). Fleischer
believes that three types of sensors hold par-
ticular promise: those that function with me-
tal oxides, field-effect transistors and lasers. Hot Coating with Molecule Filters.Siemens
researchers have succeeded in improving the
type of sensor used for measuring blood-al-
cohol content. At the core of these so-called
metal oxide semiconductor sensors is a tiny
chip heated up to several 100 degrees Cel-
sius, which also contains a thin layer of a
semiconducting metal oxide. When a specific
gas is present, the electric conductivity of the
semiconducter is altered. There have been
two problems with such sensors up until
now: The first is that the metal oxide reacts
to several different gases — for example,
methane sensors also sound an alarm when
alcohol is present. Such natural-gas warning
units thus often set off false alarms when
ethanol vapor (for instance, from cleaning
agents) is present. The second problem be-
came apparent when the ADAC tests of
blood-alcohol measuring devices revealed
that the devices only supplied stable results
after a warm-up phase of an hour or more. Siemens researchers have overcome
both problems, however. Their sensors work
with different materials and at higher tem-
peratures than older models, which means
they react much more quickly. Fleischer’s
team has also developed filters that keep un-
wanted gases away from the sensor surface.
For example, their hydrogen sensor is sealed
with a glass-like coating of silicon dioxide,
through which only tiny hydrogen molecules
can penetrate. The researchers also wrapped
a porous layer around a methane sensor
probe that breaks down any ethanol mole-
cules present. “A particular advantage of the
metal oxide sensors is that they’re easy to
miniaturize,” says Fleischer. Because the sen-
sor surface is only about as large as a grain of
sand, it doesn’t emit much heat, despite the
high operating temperatures. This means
that metal oxide sensors can be installed in
portable devices such as cell phones and
then used to measure alcohol on a person’s
breath or ozone in the air. The high tempera-
tures even offer advantages in other applica-
tions, such as exhaust gas measurement for
heating units or car engines.
Cool Sensing. Fleischer is especially proud of
his second group of sensors. Unlike the metal
oxide sensors, these bloodhounds do not need
to be heated up, which means they require
less power to run. These devices are known
by the name of field-effect transistor — or FET
— gas sensors. Like the metal oxide sensors,
they consist of a small plate with a chemically
active layer whose surface adsorbs gases.
This generates a voltage that is measured by
the electric component — the FET. “What’s
great about these sensors,” says Fleischer, „is
that they work at room temeprature. That ex-
tends the range of applicable stable materi-
als, thereby increasing the chances of finding
the right material for each gas.“ The re-
searchers use metals, salts, polymers, and
even dyes for the sensitive coating. “These
sensors have a tremendous future, but devel-
opment is still in its infancy,” says Fleischer. However, Siemens researchers have used
this technology to develop the first solid-
state carbon-dioxide sensor. “There are a lot
of applications for this type of sensor,” says
Fleischer’s colleague Dr. Elfriede Simon. Ac-
cording to planned guidelines, new cars in
the EU will have to use CO
2
as a coolant be-
ginning in 2012. However, a leak in a vehi-
ation, temperature or pressure. That’s a
much more manageable number. The chal-
lenge here primarily involves the engineer-
ing — in other words, coming up with the
ideal design for each application and making
sure that it’s both robust and sensitive. In ad-
dition, customers are demanding that such
sensors become smaller and less expensive.
Developers of chemical sensors, on the
other hand, are confronted with problems
such as cross-sensitivity — in other words,
the fact that one sensor can detect more
than one substance. For example, natural
gas sensors don’t just react to methane;they
also often sound an alarm when vapor from
a naphtha cleaning agent fills the air. We
therefore need to develop sensors that are
very selective — in other words, react to
only one substance. We can now more or
less accomplish this with sensor arrays,
whereby sensors of differing affinities and
sensitivities are linked together. A mathe-
matical comparison is then used to deter-
mine which substance is actually present in
the air.
What do you think are the prospects for
bio-sensors — can they be used to com-
bat disease, for example?
Weimar: In my opinion, you won’t soon be
seeing sensors that travel through the body’s
circulation system and radio their diagnosis
to the outside. One of the reasons for this is
that blood is a rather unfavorable medium,
since it can easily clot. At the same time,
sensors that measure blood sugar outside
the body have been standard for quite some
time. Much more exciting and promising, in
my opinion, is the possibility of detecting
diseases through odor. It is said that the al-
chemists of old and practitioners of tradi-
tional Chinese medicine were able to diag-
nose illnesses on the basis of body odors.
For example, respiratory infections have a
typical odor. It’s therefore conceivable that
sensors will be used in the future to conduct
odor diagnoses. Initially, however, we have
to clarify the old question: What exactly
causes a typical odor? And which molecules
are actually responsible for it?
Interview by Tim Schröder
Today, sensors are an integral
part of our lives — a car, for exam-
ple, contains around 100 of them.
They also perform key functions in
industrial production, environmen-
tal and building systems and medi-
cine. In 2008, the world market for
civilian sensor systems will amount
to about $50 billion — some $18
billion more than in 1998.
Future trends: Sensors are be-
coming smaller, cheaper and more
powerful. They are being inte-
grated into networks and gaining
intelligence to act on their own and
pre-process measured data (p. 63).
Tiny wireless micro-electro-me-
chanical systems sensors could
some day be used in building
technology to measure air tem-
perature or CO
2
content. (p. 70) Researchers have developed the
first s
ensors that can independently
communicate with one another
and organize themselves into a net-
work. Siemens has developed a
sensor network that guides fire-
fighters to the source of the fire in
burning buildings. (p. 72)
Biosensors can help detect dis-
eases quickly. Although the DNA
and protein diagnostic system
quicklab from Siemens is only the
size of a credit card, it can supply
test results completely automati-
cally in about an hour. (p. 74)
Optical sensors are increasingly
using 3D images, as recognition al-
gorithms are more effective in 3D
than in 2D. Siemens has developed
sensors that can spot defects mea-
suring only a few nanometers. Hid-
den defects can be discovered by
making a virtual 3D flight through
the component. (p. 77)
Siemens develops gas sensors
for industrial facilities and build-
ing technology systems and for
detecting leaks in gas pipelines. In
the future, they will be able to de-
termine the amount of alcohol or
nitrogen oxides in a person’s
breath. The latter can warn of an
impending asthma attack. The
unit will be small enough to fit
into a cell phone. (p. 81)
PEOPLE:
Optical sensors:
Dr. Günter Doemens, CT PS 9
guenter.doemens@siemens.com
Ernst Lüthe, A&D
ernst.luethe@siemens.com
Dr. Peter Mengel, CT PS 9
peter.mengel@siemens.com
Dr. Anton Schick, L&A
anton.schick@siemens.com
Michael Staudt, A&D
michael.staudt@siemens.com
Jürgen Stephan, CT PS 9
juergen.stephan@siemens.com
Gas sensors:
Dr. Maximilian Fleischer, CT PS 8
maximilian.fleischer@siemens.com
Stefan Lundqvist, Siemens Laser Ana-
lytics, stefan.lundqvist@siemens.com
MEMS sensors:
Dr. Osman Ahmed, SBT, USA osman.ahmed@siemens.com
Biosensors:
Dr. Walter Gumbrecht, CT PS 6
walter.gumbrecht@siemens.com
Dr. Reinhard Gabl, CT MM 2
reinhard.gabl@siemens.com
Sensor networks:
Dr. Rudolf Sollacher, CT IC 4
rudolf.sollacher@siemens.com
Turbine sensors:
Dr. Hans-Gerd Brummel, PG USA
hans-gerd.brummel@siemens.com
Olaf König, PG
olaf.koenig@siemens.com
Automobile sensors:
Gérard Troy, Siemens VDO
gerard.troy@siemens.com
Dieter Wagner, Siemens VDO
dieterwagner@siemens.com Somatom, ultra-fast ceramics:
Frank Berger, Med
frank.berger@siemens.com
Prof. Bernhard Boser
boser@eecs.berkeley.edu
Prof. Anton Heuberger
heuberger@isit.fhg.de
Ray Sangster, pr@eleksen.com
Prof. Jochen Schiller
schiller@inf.fu-berlin.de
Dr. Udo Weimar
upw@ipc.uni-tuebingen.de
LINKS:
Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center: www-bsac.eecs.
berkeley.edu
Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon
Technology:www.isit.fhg.de
Forum for MEMS sensors:
www.memsnet.org
In Brief
Sniffing out Illnesses by their Odors
S E NS OR T E C HNOL OGY
I NT E R V I E WS WI T H E XP E R T S
Dr. Udo Weimar (41) is a lecturer and specialist in bio-
logical and chemical sensors at
the Physical Chemistry depart-
ment of the University of Tuebingen. He believes the
biggest challenge facing de-
tector developers is how to
come up with sensor probes
capable of detecting odors on
a selective basis.
Sensors are currently used for measuring
things like acceleration, gas concentra-
tion and tire pressure. What will they be
able to do in the future?
Weimar:Tomorrow’s sensors will be able to
detect chemicals and molecules much more
easily and clearly than those of today. This
represents a major challenge, since even rough
estimates say that about a billion different
chemical substances exist. Ultimately, you
would have to develop a sensor for each of
them. Do we really need to be able to identify
all of these substances?
Weimar:No, of course not. The problem is that we often don’t know what it is we
should be looking for. Coffee, for instance,
contains around 1,500 substances that
influence aroma. But to date, we are only
familiar with a portion of those molecules
that are decisive for giving it that spicy
taste. The real question is: What causes
aroma and taste to be perceived by the
brain? It’s as if developers of chemical
sensors are searching for the right chemi-
cals in a smashed-up pharmacy.
How do you build the appropriate sen-
sors?
Weimar:The important thing is to come up
with a sensitive layer that displays a high
level of affinity with the substance you’re
targeting. This greatly facilitates detection.
For example, aromatic compounds or bio-
logical molecules can bind on and in open-
pored organic surfaces, such as polymers.
The result is a change in the weight of the
surface layer that can be detected by a unit
made of sensitive oscillating quartz. However,
the substance you’re trying to detect can’t
be allowed to bind too solidly to the sensor,
since it has to drop off from the sensor as
soon as its concentration in the surrounding
environment begins to decrease. As this is
not very easy to achieve, it’s often necessary
to wash off the biological molecules. Sen-
sors used for measuring physical parameters
are significantly less affected by these prob-
lems than are biological or chemical sensors. Does that mean it’s easier to develop
physical sensors?
Weimar:Well, the fact is there are only
about 100 physical parameters, like acceler-
84
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85
company in 2001. The Swedish team then
got together with Siemens Automation and
Drives in Karlsruhe, Germany, to rework their
measuring device. The new version, present-
ed as LDS 6 at the Hanover Trade Fair in 2004,
is completely digital. It rapidly and accurately
analyzes gas concentrations in smokestacks,
combustion chambers and pipes at tempera-
tures of up to 1,500 degrees Celsius. The sys-
tem consists of a sensor and an analysis unit,
which are linked to a glass fiber cable and
can be separated by up to one kilometer.
LDS 6 can assist in the automatic control
of combustion processes in power plants and
other industrial facilities. “You can practically
look into the combustion chamber and get
results within seconds,” says Stefan Lundqvist
from Siemens Laser Analytics in Solna, Swe-
den. If the oxygen level is too high, the air in-
flow is automatically reduced, for example.
“Up until now, many facilities have extracted
the gas and then analyzed it — but that’s too
long if you want to control a facility effi-
ciently,” says Lundqvist. The LDS 6 is also
used in petrochemical facilities to reduce the
risk of explosion, and the spectrometer can
also be found at engine test stands, where it
supports catalytic converter research. Other
conceivable areas of application include the
medical sector and the food industry. Multiple Sensitivity. The future, says Flei-
scher, lies in the combination of several sen-
sors to create a type of “electronic nose.” “At
present, everyone is using a separate device
for each application,” he says. “But the goal
must be to bring together the various mea-
suring principles and integrate them into a
single device.” However, much development
work still needs to be done before several
sensor probes can be combined on one chip.
Controlling them and processing their data
represent further major challenges. If the sci-
entists succeed, however, the measurement
signal could not only be checked directly on
the chip but also freed from interfering sig-
nals. Fleischer describes his vision as follows:
“Future sensors should know what kind of
device and environment they are in. And
they’ll be intelligent enough to do more than
just take measurements.” Ute Kehse
Siemens founder Werner von Siemens built a telephone amplifier for the hard-of-hearing way back
in 1878. Over the past 125 years, these devices have evolved into high-tech mini-marvels that can
handle even extreme acoustic challenges. 86
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
Electronic Ears
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
87
In the future, hearing aids will use radio
to communicatewith each other and even serve as headsets for cell phones.
It’s been a long road from the first hearing instruments to today’s tiny models.In this 1922 ad, Siemens’ Phonophor was packaged in an elegant handbag. In today’s laboratories, hearing aids are manu-
factured under a microscope. Right: cross-secton of a Triano 3.
C US T OMI Z E D HE AR I NG AI DS
— S C UL P T E D BY L AS E R S
Today’s hearing aids can be concealed within the ear, thanks to ever smaller electronic
components. The shell is now customized to fit the patient, designed in a computer, and
sculpted to perfection by a laser. “The advantage of this new process is a better fit and improved patient comfort,” explains Gerhard Hillig, president of “Forum besseres Hören”
(Improved Hearing Forum), established by 14 hearing aid companies active in the Ger-
man market. If the device can be made just a millimeter smaller than in the past, due to
more precise dimensions, it can be concealed several millimeters deeper within the audi-
tory canal. Siemens and its partners have perfected a new manufacturing method for this
process. First the audiologist or acoustician makes a cast of the patient’s auditory canal.
Then this cast is precisely measured by a laser, and the data are entered into a CAD pro-
gram. This initial design is then perfected by a technician, who can observe the model
while rotating it about any axis on a display screen, to ensure that it will fit precisely
within the virtual canal. In addition, the position of the chips must be established and the
course of the ventilation channels optimized. Then a powerful laser comes into play,
which slowly sinters a nylon powder to precisely create the shape of the hollow housing.
This process takes four hours but can produce 200 housings simultaneously. W
henever a hearing aid is sold any-
where in the world, the odds are good
that it’s from Siemens. For a century now,
Siemens Audiologische Technik (S.A.T.) in Er-
langen, Germany, has been the number one
address for good hearing. About one in every
three hearing aids sold anywhere in the
world was designed here. But this level of
success has taken a lot of hard work, because
a good reputation and a far-flung dealer net-
work don’t necessary result in high sales. “In
many countries, dealers are required to pro-
vide the hard-of-hearing with a choice of de-
vices by different manufacturers,” explains
Dr. Gerhard Röhrlein, in charge of research
and development at S.A.T.. After several days
of hearing tests, the customer chooses the
product that provides the greatest hearing
improvement and feels best. Telephone with Amplification.Siemens
founder Werner von Siemens himself took an
interest in helping people with hearing prob-
lems. In 1878, he built a telephone handset
with powerful amplification for the hard-of-
hearing. Since 1910, Siemens has been mak-
ing “real” hearing aids that amplify ambient
sound too — initially only for Siemens em-
ployees and their families. In 1913, an im-
proved model named “Phonophor” was intro-
duced to the market. It consisted of a battery,
microphone and receiver — plus a handbag
or carrying case (see poster, above). Starting
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
HE AR I NG AI DS
in 1914, Siemens marketed Phonophor mod-
els with a proprietary miniature receiver. This
insert receiver was not only less conspicuous
but also located closer to the eardrum, so
that the sound waves could produce greater
effect. This “Ear-Speaker” was one of the first
Siemens inventions specifically for hearing
aids.
In 1924, a carbon microphone amplifier
boosted sound by up to 46 dB. The abbrevia-
tion dB stands for decibel, a logarithmic unit
of measure that’s useful in technology but
can be somewhat misleading. An increase of
3 dB corresponds to a doubling of the sound
pressure. By way of comparison: The hand
behind the ear amplifies by about 10 dB, the
ear trumpet Beethoven had to rely on, by 25
dB. “Modern hearing aids can amplify sound
intensity by up to 80 db,” Röhrlein notes
about the state of technology. “That’s
enough to help virtually deaf people live ac-
tively again.”
Hearing aid manufacturers are con-
stantly striving to exploit new technologies.
In the late 1920s it was tube amplifiers with
better sound — and a hefty weight. Not until
the 1950s did miniature tubes allow devices
to shrink to something hardly larger than a
pack of cards. Next came transistor technol-
ogy, and hearing aids shrank to the size of a
pillbox. These Siemens devices were still sold
under the name Phonophor. Electronics in the Ear. Since the 1960s, elec-
tronics have migrated into the immediate
vicinity of the ear. First in the form of the eye-
glass hearing aid. But then Siemens devel-
oped behind-the-ear hearing aids that con-
tained all the electronics and fitted snugly
behind the ear. Today’s in-the-ear hearing in-
struments can actually be contained entirely
within the auditory canal. “They’re virtually
invisible in actual use — and that’s an import-
ant selling point,” notes Röhrlein. Both be-
hind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing instru-
ments have their proponents. Only subjects
with the most severe degrees of hearing loss
may still encounter certain limitations with
in-the-ear devices. Since the microphone and
the sound transducer are separated by mere
millimeters, there is a risk of feedback when
the amplification is too great.
prove sound quality. And there will be fur-
ther advances in ease-of-use. Users of dual
hearing aids, for instance, have always had
to manually adjust the volume or the pro-
grams of both devices when a change was
necessary. Yet physicians and acousticians
believe that dual devices are a necessity:The
brain can only relearn how to hear correctly
in stereo.
In the future, dual hearing aids should
therefore be able to communicate easily with
each other through wireless signals. This con-
vergence of hearing aid and wireless technol-
ogy presents a new challenge, because engineers have to cram the antenna and the
wireless electronics into the same space with
all the other components.
But there’s the promise of a dual pay-off
too, because wireless communications can be
used to connect hearing aids to other devices.
As a result, the hearing aid could become the
headset of a cell phone, and perhaps shift its
image away from healthcare and toward
lifestyle. Perhaps people would then be less
likely to put off dealing with hearing prob-
lems.Because unlike glasses or contact lenses,
hearing aids continue to have a negative image. “Today it takes ten to 15 years on
average,” says Röhrlein, “before someone
with hearing problems decides to take a
professional hearing test.” Bernd Schöne
For nearly three decades, engineers had
to be satisfied with relatively minor improve-
ments, because they couldn’t fit more than
four transistors plus a few coils and capaci-
tors into these instruments. A new era began
in 1996, when the first all-digital hearing in-
strument arrived in the market. A digital
hearing aid not only amplifies sound, it re-
computes it. “In most cases a person with
hearing loss can no longer perceive the high
notes,” explains Röhrlein. “Speech and music
therefore sound muted, and as hearing loss
progresses, they become unintelligible.”
A digital hearing aid amplifies the af-
fected frequency bands quite selectively. In
the Triano, Siemens top-of-the-line device,
three microphones provide the data input
(see illustration above). If necessary, ambient
noises can be filtered out mathematically.
And thanks to directional microphone tech-
nology, a user can pick out what another in-
dividual is saying among a cluster of people.
The signal processors in these devices have a
respectable computing power of several mil-
lion operations per second.
Digital technology, however, did pose a
real challenge for engineers, since the volt-
age and capacity of the batteries are limited.
Even a brand-new hearing aid battery packs
only 1.6 volts, and often puts out as little as
0.9 volt during operation. “But standard com-
ponents used to require three to four volts,”
explains Röhrlein. “And our chips had to work
on a mere 0.9 volt. Very few companies were
able to make such silicon wafers.” But pa-
tients were ecstatic. Much like the equalizer
in a stereo system, the amplification of the
hearing instrument can be adapted by the
acoustician to the entire tonal spectrum of
the individual patient’s hearing deficiency. When Hearing Aids Go Wireless. Still more
advances are in the works. In the foresee-
able future, microphones will no longer be
separate components but will be integrated
into the chip. That will save space and im-
Microphones
Pushbutton
Battery compartment
Receiver
88
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
89
Early, Accurate Diagnosis
T
o provide earlier and more accurate diagnoses, Siemens has combined two imaging
processes into one instrument. The True Point SPECT
.
CT technology combines nuclear
medicine-based SPECT (Single Photon Emission CT) diagnostics with computer tomogra-
phy. The x-ray images from computer tomography are used to obtain high-resolution 3D
images of the inside of the body. SPECT, however, is based on the detection of small quan-
tities of radioactive substance that
accumulate in certain organs. The
emitted gamma radiation is recorded
by a special camera. SPECT not only lets
physicians and doctors draw inferences
on body and cell functions;it can iden-
tify pathological changes at a very early
stage. However, compared to computer
tomography, SPECT images have a
lower spatial resolution, so the two
methods are combined to reap the
benefits of each. As a result, it is possi-
ble to improve diagnoses of cancer,
heart diseases and nervous disorders.
The technology will be launched on the
German market beginning in June
2005.na
Cell Phone Photo Diary S
iemens developers have written software that cell phone users will be able to use to
keep a mobile photo diary. When combined with the GPS satellite navigation system,
photographs taken by a mobile phone camera can be provided with location data. If the
images are then linked to a digital map, the locations where they were taken can be indi-
cated in appropriate sections of the map. With a Bluetooth-enabled input device (for exam-
ple, a digital pen or mouse) it’s also
possible to link handwritten notes or
voice messages to the photos and send
these too. In the future, the program
could also run on a large cell phone dis-
play. The monitor shows a section of a
map that displays each digital photo as
a thumbnail image, and a user clicks on
the image to enlarge it. A menu at the
bottom of the screen lists the pictures
chronologically. By labeling the photos
with information on when and where
they were taken — during a trip or at a
trade fair, for example — experiences
and events can be chronologically doc-
umented. na
Siemens’ SPECT
.
CT combines the benefits of nuclear medicine and computer tomography.
Picture chronicle on a display. Thanks
to GPS, software can link cell phone
photos with locations.
Always 100% informed: Doctors know
their patients’ case histories almost
from the moment they shake hands.
Wristband
with RFID
I
n the future, hospital treatment could
become simpler for physicians and more
transparent for patients — thanks to a radio
wristband from Siemens that contains a 0.5-
square-millimeter radio frequency identifica-
tion (RFID) chip. To ensure data privacy,
instead of storing the patient file, the chip
stores the file’s Web address on a central
computer that can be dialed up by an autho-
rized doctor — even from mobile devices. As
part of a pilot project at the Jacobi Medical
Center in New York, Siemens Business Ser-
vices has provided more than 200 patients
with the radio wristbands. Doctors can read
out the data with an RFID-enabled PDA, and
if a patient is sent to the x-ray station, for
instance, the physician there can immediate-
ly work with the digital patient file and add
data such as diagnoses or x-ray images.
Siemens is also developing an innovative
RFID watch. With the help of antennas
around the hospital grounds, a person wear-
ing the watch can be located to within two
meters. Patients wear a sensor on their
chests that also measures their heartbeat
and sends the data to the watch, which then
transmits the readings to the doctor. So
high-risk patients are always under medical
supervision — even in the hospital park, for
instance.na
Once a year, Siemens honors
outstanding employees for
their patent registrations by
naming them “Inventors of
the Year.” The prize-winners
(there are usually 12 of
them) are selected from
among thousands of
researchers and developers
in all of the Siemens groups.
Approximately 600 inven-
tions can be attributed to the
winners from last year
alone. Here we introduce
two typical researchers
whose developments have
made traffic safer — in the
air and on the ground.
Energy-Saving LEDs
Illuminate Runways
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
PAT E NT S
& I NNOVAT I ONS
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
I NNOVAT I ON NE WS
PATENTS
U
ntil recently, experts thought only halogen lamps could meet the high safety
standards for lighting airport runways during take-offs and landings. The con-
sensus was that the luminous efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) was not up
to the task. Unconvinced, Jean-Claude Vandevoorde of Industrial Solutions and Ser-
vices in Belgium began intensive research into airport lighting. Equipped with high-
performance LEDs, the lighting systems he developed are now in use on runways at
airports in Brussels, Vancouver and Cincinnati. These LEDs have several benefits:
M
any
of the inventions created by Dr.
Heinz-Bernhard Abel of Siemens
VDO in Babenhausen, Germany, are asso-
ciated with “head-up displays” for cars.
LED runway lights are economical,
robust, miniature and maintenance-
free.
Chin Up in the Car of the Future
They have much shorter reaction
times and use up to 70 percent less
electricity than halogen lamps. They
don’t have to be made of heat-proof
material and are largely immune to
corrosion and the ageing effects of
extreme temperatures. And they
have a service life of up to 20 years.
This eliminates the need for expen-
sive runway-maintenance work,
which lowers costs and increases
safety. In the past eight years, Van-
devoorde has registered 21 inven-
tions.
Louise Christensen
These displays use mirror systems to pro-
ject important information — such as
speed or navigation tips — onto the
windshield. To a motorist, the informa-
tion appears to be floating
above the hood of the car,
and that means there’s no
need for the driver to con-
tinually look away from
the road and then refocus
on the traffic situation.
Not only is this convenient;
it also makes a substantial
contribution to the safety
of all drivers and passen-
gers on the road. Abel’s
latest invention centers on
a technique for controlling
how a reading is to be dis-
played. It allows displays
Displays developed by Heinz-Bernhard Abel will be able to automatically adapt to individual driving situations. to be used in a way that’s suitable for
any imaginable situation. The manner in
which information is conveyed depends
on the driving conditions of the moment
or how much strain the driver is being
subjected to, for instance. This enhances
the driver’s ability to perceive warnings or
other safety-related notifications, and
that contributes to making streets and
highways safer. In the future, the system
will automatically identify the situation
the car is in and then set the display
properties of the appropriate instru-
ments. Since the mid-1990s, Abel has
come up with 18 inventions, several of
which have been patented and imple-
mented in products. The inventor also
collaborated on the head-up display now
used in the new Series 5 BMW.
Louise Christensen
SERVICES FROM A DISTANCE
According to the UN, more than one billion people
worldwide have no access to clean drinking water
— and the problem is getting worse. The abstrac-
tion and treatment of water is thus a key task
when it comes to sustaining our resources, as are
the management of water supply networks and
the treatment of waste water. The avoidance of
dangerous materials and the conservation of raw
materials are also key goals — and that means
addressing everything from product design to recycling and disposal. Using modern communication networks, it will be
possible to remotely start up, service and even con-
trol power plants and industrial facilities — be they
steelworks or sewage treatment plants. Such
remote services will be suitable for use with other
products too: In addition to providing software
updates, it will be possible to conduct remote fault
diagnosis on medical equipment, cell phones and
vehicles. Thanks to video and augmented reality,
technicians will be able to consult experts as though
they were in the room. Users will also be able to
benefit from these remote services personally, since
physicians will be able to make virtual house calls. There’s nothing more personal than a visit to your
physician. One day, electronic health cards and
digital patient files will be used to store medical
records. But personalized services go way beyond
the area of health. The Internet will see the arrival
of personalized portals for shopping as well as
administrative and security applications. Personal
user interfaces and electronic helpers will make it
easier to operate equipment. What’s more, prod-
ucts — up to and including medications — will be
tailor-made to suit individual needs. E L E M E N T S O F L I F E
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE
P R E V I E W S P R I NG
2005
P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
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P i c t ur es of t he Fut ur e | Fal l 2004
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about Siemens’ innovations is also available on the Internet at:
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PICTURES OF THE FUTURE
F E E DB AC K AND S E R V I C E
Back issues of Pictures of the Future magazine:
Publisher: Siemens AG
Corporate Communications (CC) and Corporate Technology (CT) Wittelsbacherplatz 2, 80333 Munich For the Publisher: Dr. Ulrich Eberl (CC), Dr. Dietmar Theis (CT) ulrich.eberl@siemens.com, dietmar.theis@siemens.com
Editorial Office:
Dr. Ulrich Eberl (ue) (Editor-in-Chief) Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner (na) (Managing Editor) Arthur F. Pease (afp) (Senior Correspondent, Corporate Technology)
Additional Authors in this Issue:
Marybeth d’Amico, Andreas Beuthner, Achim Born, Louise Christensen, Bernhard Gerl, Günter Heismann, Dr. Stefanie Hense, Sehee Hwang, Ute Kehse, Dr. Michael Lang, Katrin Nikolaus, Florian Martini, Bernd Müller, Kerstin Purucker, Dr. Jeanne Rubner, Bernd Schöne, Tim Schröder, Rolf Sterbak, Barbara Stumpp, Dr. Sylvia Trage, Dr. Evdoxia Tsakiridou, Nikola Wohllaib Author Support, English Editing: Kerstin Purucker, Christoph Manegold, Publicis Kommunikationsagentur GmbH, Erlangen
Picture Editor: Judith Egelhof, Julia Berg, Publicis Kommunikationsagentur GmbH, Munich
Photography:Kurt Bauer, Bernd Müller, Volker Steger
Internet (www.siemens.com/pof): Volkmar Dimpfl
Historical Information:Dr. Frank Wittendorfer, Siemens Archive
Address Database:Elke Engelhardt, Anke Kimmling, Publicis Erlangen
Layout / Lithography: Rigobert Ratschke, Büro Seufferle, Stuttgart
Illustrations:Natascha Römer, Stuttgart
Graphics:Jochen Haller, Büro Seufferle, Stuttgart
Translations: TransForm GmbH, Cologne
Printing: BechtleDruckZentrum, Esslingen
For further information: www.siemens.com/pof
Picture Credits: Meiré and Meiré (4-7), Zefa / image 100 (16), Vodafone Group Plc. (18), Fujitsu Siemens Computers / Siemens AG (20-21), Siemens Electroge-
räte GmbH (25 l.), Nikola Wohllaib (28), private (29, 84), Sehee Hwang (30),
images.de (32 b.), laif (34), picture-alliance (35 t. r.), Just Imagine (56), Poly-IC GmbH & Co. KG (58-59), ElekSen Ltd. (66), University of Erlangen (69, lower row), Free University of Berlin (73). Copyright of all other images is held by Siemens AG.
© 2004 by Siemens AG. All rights reserved. Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
Order number:A19100-F-P100-X-7600
ISSN 1618-5498
Pictures of the Future,syngo and other names are registered trademarks of Siemens
AG. Other product and company names mentioned in the magazine may be registered
trademarks of their respective companies.
The editorial content of the reports does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. This magazine contains forward-looking statements, the accuracy of which
Siemens is not able to guarantee in any way.
Pictures of the Futureappears twice a year.
Printed in Germany. Reproduction of the articles in whole or in part requires the per-
mission of the editorial office. This also applies to storage in electronic databases or on the Internet and reproduction on CD-ROM.
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