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Spring 2005
As You Like It Long-Distance Vision
Solutions for a Thirsty Planet
Pictures of the Future
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Scenario 2020: One More Time 16
Trends:As You Like It 19
Transportation: Home on Wheels 20
Interview with Hartmut Wandke: Bonding with Products 23
Health: The Promise of Personalization 24
Molecular Imaging:Tiny Terminators 26
Lakeside Hospital: High-Speed Health 28
Facts and Forecasts:Why Personalization Sells 31
Data Protection: Transparency, Not Surveillance 32
Context Awareness:Things that Think 34
Scientific Development: Powered by Einstein 4
The Graying Society: When I’m 64...8
Biomax Research Partnership: Molecular Detectives 14
Research Partnerships: Fusing Ad Hoc & P2P 38
Organic Solar Cells: Photons from Flexible Plastics 64
SIMATIC History: Five Decades of Automation 86
Patents & Innovations:Talking Traffic Lights /Intelligent Image Analysis 88
Innovation News:Tutankhamen on CT / DVB TV on a Cell Phone 89
Feedback / Preview 90
Cover, top right:A powerful UV lamp developed by Radium, a Siemens Osram subsidiary, purifies drinking water by destroying all pathogens. Bottom left: Specialists at the Siemens Remote Expert Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, perform maintenance via ISDN and the Internet on power stations for approximately 140 customers around the world.
Scenario 2015: Always at Your Service 40
Trends:Data on Call 43
Interview with Gerald Weiß: Remote Services at Vattenfall Europe 45
Facts and Forecasts:Networks — Driving Growth in Remote Services 47
Facilities and Power Plants:Service without Borders 48
Machines and Appliances:Data Mining Machines 51
Ubiquitous Video Support:Service with Vision 54
Building Technology:Closely Watched Buildings 56
Telemedicine: Readings from Home 58
Vehicles:Information Autobahn 61
Scenario 2020: River of Life 66
Trends:Solutions for a Thirsty Planet 69
Simulated Water Networks:Fluid Information 73
Start-ups:Purification with Nano Pores 75
Facts and Forecasts: Water: The Elixir of Life 76
Interview with Catherine Day: Achieving the UN’s Development Goals 77
Wastewater Purification:Cannibals, Porous Fibers and Purity 78
Conserving Resources:A New Lease on Life 81
Pharmaceuticals: Medications with Built-in Quality 82
Minimizing Dangerous Substances:Fighting Soot 84
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE E d i t o r i a l
magination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is lim-
ited” is one of Albert Einstein’s best-known sayings. Exactly a century ago,
Einstein himself demonstrated how important imagination can be when it’s
combined with a generous dose of unconventional thinking. In the early sum-
mer of 1905, as a young technical expert at the Swiss Patent Office, he pub-
lished a series of articles that revolutionized our understanding of space and
time, matter and energy. But Einstein’s theories are by no means purely philo-
sophical; on the contrary, they have far-reaching effects on our everyday lives.
The more sophisticated our technologies become, the more they make use of
Einstein’s discoveries. For example, the article on page 4 of this issue of Pic-
tures of the Future
reveals that modern navigation systems can deliver results
that are precise within a few meters — and in the future, within a few cen-
timeters — because their software takes into account the effects described in
Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity. To take another example,
lasers — such as the new blue laser diodes from Osram — would have been in-
conceivable before Einstein published his ideas about quantum physics. B
ut Einstein was not merely a gifted theoretician. He also filed a series of
patents, and one of them — a ship’s gyrocompass — even became a tidy
source of supplementary income. In other words, he often combined theory
and practice. What would he have thought of mathematical models that simu-
late the relationships between an individual’s genes and use this data to draw
conclusions about the state of his or her health (p. 14)? Or mobile radio
networks that organize themselves (p. 38)? Or systems that can detect a few
billionths of a gram of pesticide in a liter of water (p. 69)? All of these have
been developed by the R&D laboratories at Siemens, which are implementing
the results of leading-edge research in products that offer tremendous
customer benefits.
instein’s discoveries were motivated by a thirst for knowledge. But for an
industrial corporation it’s the customer who stands at the beginning and
the end of every innovation. Which products will bring customers a competi-
tive advantage, better performance or enhanced comfort? Personalization, for
example, is a trend that satisfies people’s basic need to assert their individual
identity. At the same time, it makes for easier operation of devices and systems
— ranging from cell phones and cars to smart homes and electronic patient
records. You can read on pages 16 to 37 about the solutions we’re developing
for these applications and how their data security can be guaranteed.
nother major trend is the “graying” of our society — and here too we need
innovative solutions in areas such as health care and household appli-
ances (pp. 8–13). Siemens’ broad range of products and services makes it unique-
ly suited to develop comprehensive solutions in this area and take advantage of
synergies — and that goes for remote services as well (pp. 40–63). Whether it’s
power stations or computed tomography, telemedicine, automobiles or loco-
motives, supermarkets in the UK or excavators in Canada — modern telecom-
munications make it possible to consult with experts who are in distant service
centers. At Siemens, we’re developing tools, platforms and new ideas for all of
these applications. After all, Einstein’s slogan “It’s important to go on asking
questions” also applies to industrial companies. For us, that means constantly
asking ourselves what we could be doing even better.
for Success
Must Focus
on the Customer
Thomas Ganswindt is a member of the Siemens AG Corporate Executive Committee,
where he is responsible for Information and
Communications and the company’s top
+ Business Excellence Program. Ganswindt is also
chairman of Initiative D21, Germany’s largest
public-private partnership program, which coor-
dinates joint projects between business and
government to promote information technology.
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE Sci ent i f i c Devel opment
Space, time, light: Einstein’s discoveries laid the foundations for
technological develop-
ments as diverse as satel-
lite navigation and blue laser diodes (right). Powered by Einstein
Was Einstein a genius in an ivory tower? This cliché is as widespread as it is wrong. On the contrary,
rather than being abstractions, many of Einstein’s ideas can be found in everyday technology, including
quite a number of Siemens products. These range from navigation systems — soon to be accurate to
within centimeters, thanks to Einstein — to blue laser diodes, which are set to usher in the next generation of data-storage media.
his year, people around the world are
commemorating the 100th anniversary
of a publication date that stands out in hu-
man history. In 1905, Albert Einstein published
five works that radically changed our under-
standing of space, time, energy and matter
(see box, p. 7). More than anything, it was his
theory of relativity that made him one of the
strangest of 20th-century icons — a man cel-
ebrated for ideas that most of us find incom-
prehensible. Yet the image of a man married
to abstract ideas distorts the picture of a sci-
entist who also had a strong practical bent.
Einstein held many down-to-earth patents,
among them his invention of a marine gyro-
compass, which provided him with a lucrative
source of extra income. Moreover, as the man
behind the theory of relativity and a pioneer
of quantum physics, Einstein has had a pro-
found impact on everyday technology. Relative Positions.“Take GPS, the Global
Positioning System,” says IT specialist Torsten
Mosis, who develops software for automotive
navigation systems at Siemens VDO in Regens-
burg, Germany. “Through a receiver, it gives
your current position, in terms of latitude,
longitude and altitude.” But a dash of Einstein’s
thinking is included in the calculations. Of the
24 satellites in the GPS fleet, the onboard
receiver can “see” at most a dozen at any one
time. Each of these sends an accurate time sig-
nal. The navigation system is therefore able to
calculate its distance from a satellite on the ba-
sis of the delay that elapses before the signal is
received by the car. The information derived
from at least four to five satellite signals can
then be superimposed to reveal the system’s
position to an accuracy of around 20 meters.
tachometer, for example, measures the dis-
tance covered, the transmission reports
forward or reverse motion, and a gyroscope
signals a change in direction. Using this
information, the system can bridge a tem-
porary loss of satellite signal. However, this
can introduce new errors. One problem, says
Torsten Mosis, is that the tachometer is sensi-
tive to fluctuations in tire pressure. To recog-
nize such deviations, the system has to com-
pare the sensor data with a digital road atlas
stored in its memory in a process known as
“map matching.” However, this too can cause
development of the laser (Light Amplification
by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).
“To build a laser, you basically need a las-
ing medium, a resonator with mirrors and an
energy source,” says Dr. Ulrich Steegmüller, a
physicist and project manager at Osram Opto
Semiconductors, a Siemens subsidiary, in Re-
gensburg, Germany. His job is to develop lasers
from semiconductor crystals, an application
that makes practical use of quantum physics.
Such crystals only emit light quanta of a partic-
ular spectral region. To turn these into a laser
beam, the semiconductor must be placed in-
With the launch of the planned European
satellite navigation system, this level of error
will decrease to a few meters — and perhaps
to as little as ten centimeters, if additional
equipment is used. However, in line with Ein-
stein’s general theory of relativity, time on
board the GPS satellites passes faster than in
the receiver on the ground. This is because the
latter is situated some 20 kilometers deeper in
the Earth’s gravitational field. Furthermore, be-
cause a GPS satellite orbits the Earth at a speed
of around 14,000 kilometers an hour, its on-
board clock moves marginally slower than the
one in the GPS receiver — at least as far as an
observer on the ground is concerned. As these
two relativistic effects do not absolutely cancel
one another out, a GPS satellite’s onboard
clock gains almost 40 milliseconds a day. That
might not sound like much. But without rela-
tivistic correction, it is enough to limit position-
ing accuracy to 30 meters at best. Onboard GPS systems also run into prob-
lems when satellite signals are blocked by road
tunnels or corrupted by reflections from high
buildings. In such cases, a good car navigation
system will fall back on other sensors. The
problems, because even the best maps contain
inaccuracies. How, then, can the system still determine
what is right? Engineers employ a range of so-
lutions. For example, they equip the navigation
system with memory, so that it can remember
the most recent vehicle movements and con-
tinuously compare them with the map. If the
tachometer is off by ten percent, the system
recalibrates it. Such sophisticated technology
makes fully integrated onboard systems more
reliable than retrofitted terminals that can only
process satellite signals.
Photons at Work.When it comes to finding
our way around, light generally plays an indis-
pensable role. And once again, we have Albert
Einstein to thank for his fundamental insights.
For example, Einstein recognized that atoms
absorb and emit light as discrete amounts of
energy known as quanta. In an incandescent
bulb they do this in a spontaneous and unpre-
dictable manner. In 1916, however, Einstein
discovered that atoms can also be stimulated
to emit photons in a targeted way. This discov-
ery laid the theoretical foundation for the
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
1879 Born in Ulm
1896 Commences studies in Zurich
1902 Position at the Bern Patent Office
1905 Einstein’s year of greatness: In the space
of a few months he publishes five
epochal papers on the “light-quanta hy-
pothesis” (for which he later received
the Nobel Prize), on the determination
of molecular size, on Brownian motion,
on the electrodynamics of moving bod-
ies (the Special Theory of Relativity) and
on the derivation of the equivalence of
mass and energy as expressed in the
formula E = mc
1908–11 Lecturer at the University of Bern, subsequently Professor in Zurich and Prague
1914 Member of the Prussian Academy of Science; moves to Berlin
1915 Completion of the General Theory of Relativity 1916 Work on quantum theory anticipates the principle of the laser
1919 Measurement of the deflection of light in the sun’s gravitational field confirms the predictions of
the General Theory of Relativity and makes Einstein world-famous
1922 Awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics (retroactively for 1921)
1933 Einstein emigrates to the U.S. following the seizure of power in Germany by the National Socialists.
1934 Professor at Princeton
1935 Publication of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox about entangled quantum states
1939 Einstein warns President Theodore Roosevelt of the danger of a German atomic bomb
1945 Atomic bombs are exploded above Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Einstein subsequently speaks out against atomic weapons 1952 Einstein declines an offer to become the second President of Israel
1955 Dies in Princeton; Einstein’s ashes are scattered at an unknown location.
Einstein’s vision:“It is the aim of every mind to transform a miracle into something
that can be understood.”
Quantum communications: Research teams in Vienna
and Innsbruck, Austria led by
Prof. Anton Zeilinger have
demonstrated that Einstein’s
“eerie action at a distance”
does in fact exist and pro-
vides a basis for completely
new encryption methods. The
teams have shown that “entangled” light quanta
communicate with one another without any time delay — regardless of how far apart they are.
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE Sci ent i f i c Devel opment
side an optical resonator consisting essentially
of a tube with inward-facing mirrors at either
end. The light emitted when electrical voltage
is applied to the semiconductor is then re-
flected back and forth along the tube until it is
amplified to the requisite intensity — similar to
the howl produced in acoustic feedback.
The two key considerations in the develop-
ment of semiconductor light emitting diodes
(LEDs) are the color of the light and the effi-
ciency with which it is generated. These dictate
the nature and composition of the materials to
be used. The first LEDs of the 1970s and ‘80s,
which were made of gallium arsenide or gal-
lium arsenide-phosphide, produced either red
or infrared light. This meant they were only
suitable for niche applications. Subsequent in-
creases in the phosphorus content then
spawned yellow and green LEDs. Japanese researchers caused a major sen-
sation in 1993 when they developed a brilliant
blue LED made of gallium nitride and then fol-
lowed it up in 1995 with the world’s first blue
laser diode. “Before 1993, we thought that gal-
lium nitride couldn’t be controlled in this kind
of environment,” says Dr. Norbert Stath, Head
of Innovation Management at Osram Opto
Semiconductors. In the ensuing race to close
the technology gap, Osram has gained ground.
“We’re now one of the leaders in gallium ni-
tride technology, which also plays a key role in
white LEDs,” says Stath, adding that “We have
played a pioneering role in the development of
the white LED.” In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Insti-
tute for Applied Solid-State Physics in Freiburg
and the Universities of Stuttgart, Braunschweig
and Ulm, Osram has also been developing blue
laser diodes from indium-gallium nitride for
several years. The latest prototype can operate
for more than 600 hours at 10 milliwatts.
While there is also an enormous market poten-
tial for normal LEDs, this new type of laser
diode is poised to play a key role in the IT in-
dustry, where it will greatly enhance the capac-
ity of optical memory media. Compared to the
DVD, which uses a red laser diode, the shorter
wavelength of the light produced by the new
laser diode will make it possible to pack much
more data onto a disc. “Everyone agrees that
blue-based data media are on the way,” says
Steegmüller. “In fact, the first products for pro-
fessional applications are already here, and
mass-market products will follow after 2006.
The exact time of market launch depends less
on the technical properties of laser diodes and
more on commercial aspects such as the devel-
opment of the DVD market.”
Quantum Cryptography.Personal data needs
to be confidential. In online banking, for exam-
ple, information is encrypted with a code before
being transmitted. Unfortunately, most crypto-
graphic codes can in principle be cracked, albeit
with great effort. Quantum cryptography, on
the other hand, generates a code that is pro-
tected against eavesdropping by the laws of
physics. This is because it exploits a special prop-
erty of quanta by which they can be “entangled”
to form a new quantum system. Any attempt to
manipulate one of the photons in such a system
work, using entangled pairs of photons, to a dis-
tance of around 100 kilometers. Any attempt to
eavesdrop on the data immediately destroys the
entanglement and is therefore automatically re-
vealed. A small Geneva-based company is al-
ready marketing a commercial system based on
this technology. In other words, Einstein’s mis-
take has borne unexpected fruit.
Computing with Quanta.However, as Dr.
Markus Dichtl makes clear,this fruit does not yet
include broad-based applications. Dichtl, a
mathematician and cryptologist at Siemens
Corporate Technology in Munich, takes a keen
interest in developments in the field of quan-
tum cryptography and quantum computing.
The so-called quantum computer exploits the
is immediately registered by all the other entan-
gled parts. This works regardless of how far
apart the photons are from one another. Ein-
stein was the first person to identify this amaz-
ing consequence of quantum theory. For him, this also demonstrated the incom-
pleteness of a theory that he never felt at home
with. The idea of particles being able to “com-
municate” with one another over cosmic dis-
tances without any delay contradicted his pic-
ture of physical reality. Einstein formulated his
reservations in 1935 in the form of a famous
thought experiment together with physicists
Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. This paradox
was to inspire laser physicists for years to come.
Finally, at the start of the 1980s, physicists suc-
ceeded in actually making a similar experiment
work. This showed that the mysterious phenome-
non that Einstein called “eerie action at a dis-
tance” exists and that quantum theory is thus
right — contrary to Einstein’s expectations. On
the basis of this knowledge, it is now possible to
transfer information through a fiber-optic net-
fact that entangled quantum systems can rep-
resent not only the values 0 and 1 — as used
by conventional computers — but also values
in between. If researchers succeed in develop-
ing a quantum computer, it will be possible to
accelerate the speed of many calculations by a
factor of millions. Although such a processor
would be unsuitable as a replacement for to-
day’s PCs, it could be used to crack convention-
ally encrypted codes or search databases at
lightning speed. To date, however, physicists
have only managed to build very small systems
comprising just a few “quantum bits.” Accord-
ing to Dichtl, these don’t even “attain the
power of an abacus.” He therefore doesn’t ex-
pect any applications based on this technology
to emerge within the next ten years. Dichtl has identified a fundamental prob-
lem of quantum cryptography. Although it of-
fers perfect control over the actual transfer of
data, it doesn’t guarantee the authenticity of
the sender and the recipient. This only hap-
pens when they have a special key that is un-
available to others. But how can this key be
securely transferred? While cryptographic pro-
tocols could be used to transmit such a key,
these function differently from quantum cryp-
tography and are therefore incapable of provid-
ing absolutely secure data transfers. This key
distribution problem therefore continues to
pose a real headache for cryptographers.
Similarly, the physical principle behind
quantum cryptography also raises technical is-
sues that are as yet unresolved. For example,
individual photons must be able to transfer in-
formation undisturbed over long distances.
“But 100 to 200 kilometers of optical fiber is
about the maximum here,” says Dichtl. Transfer
over greater distances will require some form
of amplification along the way. As yet, how-
ever, “repeaters” capable of copying the entan-
gled quantum states and dispatching them on
the next stage of their journey don’t exist. In
fact, the only solution involves very powerful
quantum computers. After all, if normal re-
peaters were used to decrypt and then re-en-
crypt the data, the latter would no longer be
secure against eavesdropping. It is thus still un-
clear if and when these two quantum tech-
nologies might find their way into everyday ap-
plications. Notwithstanding such provisos, an
amazing amount of modern technology could
still legitimately bear the label “Powered by
Einstein.” Roland Wengenmayr
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE T h e G r a y i n g S o c i e t y
When I’m 64...
... life may still be wonderful, according to a famous song by the Beatles. But that’s by no
means a certainty. Our society has not yet fully adapted to the needs of a growing number
of senior citizens. But that’s changing as more and more companies realize that it’s not difficult to design senior-friendly products. S
eventy-year-old Ellen Gorisch loves mu-
sic, yet she’s baffled. The MP3 player on
her desk is supposed to be able to store an in-
credible amount of 20,000 songs. “But how
do I get the songs from my records into that
thing?” she wonders as she leafs through the
instruction book. The other senior citizens in
the room are equally mystified, even though
most of them — the youngest member of the
26-person team is 50, and the oldest is 95 —
are professional product testers. For years
now, they have been testing electronic prod-
ucts at the Institute of Human Factors Engi-
neering and Product Ergonomics at the
Technical University of Berlin. Today, the or-
ganization is called the “Senior Research
Group”. Ellen Gorisch calls herself a technophobe.
Nonetheless, she uses a video recorder and
checks bus schedules via SMS — which makes
her an atypical representative of her age
group. But that’s set to change. The 50+ gen-
eration will make up the majority of the
population by 2040. The people who will be-
come senior citizens over the next 20 years
will have grown up with computers and DVD
recorders and will know how to use them —
or rather, should be able to use them as long
as their vision and joints hold up. In the past, the electronics industry re-
acted to the needs of seniors by creating “or-
thopedic assistants,” complains Kai-Uwe
Neth, director of the Senior Research Group,
who heads two design offices in Berlin and
Stuttgart and teaches ergonomics at the Tech-
nical University of Berlin. But according to
Neth, senior citizens expect to be offered
high-quality consumer products rather than
walkers from medical supply stores. And they
certainly don’t want to be treated as if they’re
disabled. Thanks to medical progress, there may be
a difference of 10 to 20 years between an in-
dividual’s calendar age and how old he or she
feels. Furthermore, older people are just as
ready to learn and have fun as younger ones,
but with advancing age they tend to look for
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
A cordless phone for the whole family. Grandpa and his grandson can both operate a Siemens Gigaset E150 without any problems. The phone is based on the
“Design for All” principle.
easy operation and high quality in the goods
they buy. On top of all this, people who are over 50
have money. In the U.S., for instance, the
quarter of the population in this age group
has an annual personal income approaching
one trillion dollars. In Germany, the Institute
of Labor and Technology estimates that up
to one million new jobs could be created if
“senior citizens’ potential for consumption
and purchasing could be more effectively ac-
tivated and exploited.” The economy will have
to catch up with these demographics. After
all, even though today only one in every five
Germans is over 60, that figure will be one in
four by 2020 and one in three by 2050.
Horizons 2020, a study commissioned by
Siemens and carried out by the TNS Infratest
business research institute (see Pictures of the
Future, Fall 2004, p.4), foresees that by 2020
the driving force of German society will not
be the vitality of youth but the wisdom of old
age. Seniors Think Differently.How can this po-
tential be activated? The answer is unclear.
Even an expert like Neth admits that “Senior
citizens think differently than we had as-
sumed.” In fact, he concludes, there’s no such
thing as a typical senior citizen, which is why
there’s no typical response to modern tech-
nology in this age group. The Senior Research
Group came up with some surprising findings.
➔ For example, many senior citizens don’t
use trial and error. A person who was pun-
ished as a child for playing with the radio may
have the feeling that instruments can break
if they aren’t operated correctly. That’s why
many older people tend to follow user in-
structions precisely and give up if things go
wrong. “I had to learn that things won’t break
if you play around with them,” says Ellen
Gorisch. ➔Some older people are not familiar with the
“undo” function and don’t understand that
you can climb up a menu tree as well as down
through it. Others, who have used a type-
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE T h e G r a y i n g S o c i e t y
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
“Did I turn off the stove?” Questions like that tend to pop into people’s heads as soon as
they’ve left the house. And that’s especially true for senior citizens, according to Gerhard
Fuchs, contact person for senior-friendly design at Bosch and Siemens Hausgeräte (Home
Appliances) GmbH (BSH). In response to such needs, BSH displayed a number of products
designed to appeal to older or disabled persons at the RehaCare International trade fair at
the end of 2004. For example, some appliances use Serve@Home technology to indicate
their operative status on a display in the living room, a computer screen, or via SMS on a cell
phone, so that you can check whether the stove is on even if you’re far from home. At BSH,
the “Design for All” principle is part of the product development process. This involves, for
example, determining how much regulating power a control knob should have or what kind
of lettering would make an appliance easy to use for all age groups. The interdisciplinary co-
operation of development teams is a key factor here, especially when contradictory de-
mands have to be met. For example, hands-free controls are ideal for users with limited mo-
toric abilities, but are useless for blind users, who need to touch the controls to check
settings. Many of the solutions from BSH demonstrate that simple ideas are often the most
useful. For instance:
➔ An oven with a door that opens sideways may be more comfortable because the user
does not have to bend over as much to reach the interior.
➔ Control knobs that can be pushed in only when they’re in the “off “ position, making
them easy to “read” by touch.
➔ A stove whose burners are arranged not in a
square, but side by side (above), allows heavy
pots to be pushed from one burner to another
instead of being lifted. Because the stove is wide
rather than deep, it can be set far back on the
counter — a practical feature for households
with small children — or moved forward to
make cooking easier for people with back prob-
lems or weak hands.
➔ A washing machine with a large, high-contrast
display that indicates laundry programs and
even spot-removing tips in text form (available
in 17 languages).
But the big hit at RehaCare was the Easy-Store re-
frigerator (right), which has drawers instead of wire
racks or glass shelves. “Everyone liked that, whether
they were old, young or disabled,” says Gerhard
Fuchs. “It’s a fine example of ‘Design for All.’”
or, “Is the display contrast high enough?”
Those are typical questions manufacturers
ask when they survey seniors about their new
products. Neth responds that older people
don’t have fatter fingers and that high-con-
trast monitors are better for younger people
as well. That realization has led to the princi-
ple of “Design for All.” “If you design a good
product for older people, you also include
younger consumers. If you design a product
only for younger people, you exclude older
ones,” is sage advice for product designers. rule, they’re afraid of being stigmatized as be-
ing too old for such things. They’re also gen-
erally reluctant to buy replacement materials
because that means additional costs that are
difficult to estimate before hand. On the basis of these experiences, Neth
has concluded that designers of senior-
friendly products generally ask the wrong
questions, such as: “Are the keys big enough?”
writer all their lives, don’t understand the
“delete” function. In fact, some seniors reach
for the Tippex when they see a misspelled
word on the screen. Many senior citizens
need to learn the unfamiliar procedure of
scrolling, because they believe that when a
text disappears it’s gone forever.
➔ Older consumers tend to buy small cell
phones in trendy designs. Here’s why: As a
Are the needs of the over-50 generation
being neglected?
Pöppel: Yes, definitely. And yet the 50+ gen-
eration harbors tremendous potential. In
Germany alone, 20 million senior citizens
have purchasing power amounting to 700
billion euros but hardly anywhere to spend
it, because there are few appropriate prod-
ucts around. Older people would like to buy
high-tech products that they are able to use. Do they need special products?
Pöppel:A company will never be successful
if it manufactures products that are designed
solely for senior citizens. We shouldn’t divide
society into segments, because that makes
people feel stigmatized, and of course we all
want to have a sense of belonging. Younger
people can also use products more effec-
tively if they are designed to be user-friendly.
How can that be done?
Pöppel:Products should be designed in a
barrier-free and integrative way so that they
are appropriate for consumers aged between
ten and 80. But they should be oriented to-
ward the needs of the 50+ generation. If
that isn’t done, the older generation is ex-
cluded. To date, aesthetic aspects have
played a larger role than usability, and many
engineers still expect users to adjust to tech-
nologies. But the opposite is true. Technolo-
gies have to be adjusted to users.
In what ways?
Pöppel:Technologies must be easy to grasp.
A human being’s perceptual “window” for
each moment comprises only two to three
seconds. Within this time we can process in-
formation from a maximum of three sources.
The brain processes information in analog
fashion rather than digitally — in other
words, it deals with norm values rather than
numbers. When we look at the speedometer,
we don’t look at the numbers but at the po-
sition of the dial. From a perceptual physiol-
ogy point of view, many of the navigation
systems in our cars are incorrectly posi-
tioned. They’re far outside the driver’s angle
of vision. If something is more than 10 de-
grees off to the side, I need 0.4 seconds to
focus on it. And that can create a risky situa-
tion. Every project designer ought to be
aware of such connections. What’s the solution?
Pöppel:Two examples would be voice acti-
vation and intuitive technologies for Internet
applications, which help users quickly find
what they’re looking for. Everyone can bene-
fit from these technologies — young people
as well as those with age-related disabilities.
In general, only information relevant to the
situation at hand should be displayed. Is a young person’s perception different
from an older person’s?
Pöppel:The speed at which the brain
processes information slows down in the
course of a lifetime, diminishing by up to 50
percent in a healthy senior citizen. Decision-
making processes slow down too, and that
often leads to misunderstandings because
people frequently equate speedy decision-
making with intelligence. As a result, older
User-Friendly Products
Are the Solution
Prof. Ernst Pöppel (65) is Chairman of the Institute for Medical
Psychology and Acting Chairman of the Human Studies Center
at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. He heads the Generation Research Program in Bad Tölz, Germany, which conducts cross-generational basic research and develops innovative technologies for the 50+ generation.
people’s abilities are often underestimated.
But this attitude is wrong. In a healthy hu-
man being, qualitative intelligence, also
known as crystalline intelligence, remains
constant up to the age of about 100. What’s the 50+ generation like?
Pöppel:It’s not at all homogeneous. In fact,
it shows a larger range of variation than the
group of 20-to-40-year-olds. When we retire,
we no longer have to live according to other
people’s rules. We have the time to discover
our own needs and try out new things. Even
as a pensioner you can’t just play golf every
day. If a company wants to be successful, it
has to cater to these individual needs, for ex-
ample by personalizing its products. What’s the situation like in other parts
of the world — in Asia , for example?
Pöppel:In contrast to central Europe, sen-
iors in Asia are not regarded as disabled, but
are respected. This can be seen in the fact
that Asian products are user-friendly, a fea-
ture that is given high priority in the Far East.
That may explain why older people in Asia
are more open to high-tech products — a sit-
uation that benefits the entire society. You’re over 50 yourself.What’s your at-
titude to high-tech products?
Pöppel:I’d like to see cell phones with a
really big display, for instance. If I could have
that I wouldn’t mind the cell phone being
bigger and heavier. In general, I own only
things that are really useful. I do try to keep
abreast of the latest developments, though,
and I update the computers I use at the of-
fice. In many cases, the multitude of func-
tions remains a mystery to me at first, but
fortunately I have smart colleagues, includ-
ing some younger ones.
Interview by Florian Martini.
Nevertheless, many companies have not
understood these basic truths, according to
Prof. Ernst Pöppel of Ludwig-Maximilians-Uni-
versity in Munich (see Interview). “Dexterous
young engineers often design things that
show off their abilities, rather than things
people need,” he says. “They think in terms of
pure technology and neglect the human ele-
ment.” Pöppel, who is 65, heads the Genera-
tion Research Program (GRP) in Bad Tölz, Ger-
many, which develops senior-friendly
products and researches the physiological
and psychological characteristics of older
people, such as their perception of time and
the way they process sensory data. GRP re-
searchers don’t use an “Age Explorer” — a
heavy suit that slows down the wearer’s
movements plus a helmet with a small win-
dow that restricts the wearer’s field of vision.
Such suits are often rented by companies to
show young product developers what kind of
handicaps older people have to deal with. But
Pöppel points out that the suit doesn’t really
convey how an older person experiences the
Many older people are reluctant to explore new devices because they’re
afraid they’ll damage something.
Just as the 18th century is linked with the French Revolution and the 19th
is associated with industrialization, the 21st century may one day be associ-
ated with a very different kind of revolution: the reversal of the age pyramid.
The number of old people is increasing, while the younger generations dimin-
ish. And that’s happening all over the world, though not at the same pace
everywhere. Leading this trend are the Western countries and Japan, followed
by China and Russia with a delay of two to three decades. The only exceptions
are a few Asian countries and nearly all of sub-Saharan Africa. This development is being driven by two mutually reinforcing trends. One
of them is the progress being made in the health sector. Lower infant mortal-
ity, improved medical care and less physical labor have led to statistical in-
creases in life expectancy. The number of layers in the population pyramid
and the number of occupants in the uppermost layers are increasing. In the
future, more age cohorts will be sharing the same timeframe — but that
doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more generations, i.e. more new
children. That’s because there’s also been an increase in the age at which men
and women form partnerships and decide to have children. That too is a
worldwide trend, according to the U.N.’s World Fertility Report. Thus the
length of time between generations is increasing.
The second trend that is reversing the population pyramid is the de-
creasing birthrate. The population pyramid will retain its shape only
if women bear an average of 2.1 children each. However, birthrates
are decreasing all over the world. There are many reasons for this
phenomenon. The widespread use of contraceptives, growing pros-
perity and increasing numbers of working women are reducing
birthrates. Meanwhile, factors such as good child care provisions for
babies and infants counter this trend. Other key factors are the ac-
tive population policies of some countries, such as China’s “one child”
The consequences of this reversal of the population pyra-
mid are far-reaching. The overall structure of the world’s
population is being reshuffled, changing the rankings of
different countries and continents as well as those of dif-
ferent ethnic groups within the same country — for exam-
ple, in the U.S. According to U.N. population studies, Eu-
rope’s population will decrease by more than 120 million by
2050, while the total world population will increase by 3 bil-
lion in the same period. Some experts believe that societies
with a younger average age are more innovative than those with
older populations, assuming their educational systems are compa-
rably effective. If that is true, demographic development would
have a direct influence on the regional distribution of technological
world, because an individual’s perceptual ap-
paratus also changes over time.
The 40 researchers at the GRP, including a
doctoral candidate who is over 60, are study-
ing “anthropologically limiting conditions”
and channeling their results into products.
For example, they’ve discovered that people
can only focus on objects located up to ten
degrees to their sides. That’s why they want
automakers to mount navigation devices
replacing the rear and side mirrors with cam-
eras that transmit their images to a dashboard
monitor. His team is also considering ways to
reduce the number of interfaces in automo-
biles. In stressful situations, the cockpit would
provide only those functions that are rele-
vant. Stress would be measured by a sensor in
the steering wheel that monitors the driver’s
hand pressure. Adaptive systems of this kind
are the wave of the future, according to Pöppel. ture, Fall 2003, p. 70). Wegge, a computer
specialist at C-LAB in Paderborn — a joint re-
search institute operated by Siemens and the
University of Paderborn — helps Siemens
Groups, especially Communications, to imple-
ment the “Design for All” concept. For Wegge,
who has been blind since his childhood, spe-
cial products for disabled consumers are only
a last resort if “Design for All” can’t come up
with good products at an acceptable cost. “Products for senior citizens should never
be marketed as such,” he cautions. Products
advertised as special creations for older peo-
ple are avoided by all consumer groups. Older
people in particular feel stigmatized by them
and refuse to buy them. By contrast, the first
Siemens “Design for All” cordless phone, the
Gigaset E150, was a resounding success. Its
clear, functional design was developed with
60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60
India 2000
India 2025
Men Women
Population in millions Population in millions Population in millions
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Men Women
Population in millions Population in millions
00 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
U.S. 2000
U.S. 2025
Men Women
14 12 10 8 6 4 2
Germany 2000
Germany 2025
Men Women
00 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Men Women
14 12 10 8 6 4 2
Men Women
Population in millions
where drivers can see them while looking at
the street, rather than on the center console. The GRP team is also using a driving sim-
ulator to find out where switches should be
located so that senior citizens can easily reach
them. All too often, they find that a cockpit
has too many switches that are too far apart.
Control systems with very large menus are also
not suited for older people, says Pöppel. Be
that as it may, these problems are likely to be
around for a long time because our capacity
for perceiving and reacting to the environment
is firmly anchored in our genetic makeup. On the other hand, automotive technol-
ogy has the potential to make driving much
easier for seniors. For instance, the GRP team
has found that older drivers often need more
than one second to fix their gaze on the right-
hand side mirror. That’s why Pöppel suggests
leadership and economic growth, and thus on the future global distribution of
prosperity. Research institutions such as the McKinsey Global Institute are in-
vestigating whether, and to what extent, countries can compensate for the
low birthrates of their native populations through immigration or increases in
productivity. These investigations are leading to further questions, such as:
What is the effect of a sharp decline in population on capital and real estate
markets? A more obvious result of the population pyramid reversal is the drastic dete-
rioration in the numerical relationship between pension recipients and the
working population. That in turn will weaken an important component of
many state pension systems. In the future, supplementary private pensions
will have to make up the difference. But that, in turn, will increase savings and
decrease consumer spending. This and many other connections resulting from
demographic changes have not yet been adequately investigated. But more
and more people are becoming interested in this topic, as is demonstrated by
the success of bestsellers such as The Methusaleh Plot by Frank Schirrmacher.
After all, this is an entirely new phenomenon, and one in which history will
not be able to guide us. Sabine Saphörster
Designs for Young and Old. Siemens was
one of the first companies to realize the sig-
nificance of “Design for All.” This approach
has been applied, under other names, at BSH
Bosch and Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH since
the early 1990s (see box, p. 11). The cell
phone industry has taken longer to react. Ear-
lier generations of cell phones had clear
menus and could be easily operated by older
people, but growing complexity and ever
shorter product cycles mean that “Design for
All” is facing increasing challenges.
At Siemens, that challenge is being met
by Klaus-Peter Wegge (see Pictures of the Fu-
the needs of senior citizens in mind, but it’s
obviously attractive to young people as well
— and one of the reasons is that it’s not being
advertised as a product for seniors. Germany’s federal working group for sen-
ior citizens’ organizations has discovered that
it’s not cell phones and household appliances
that cause senior citizens the biggest
headaches — it’s unwieldy packaging, un-
clear labeling and technical jargon in instruc-
tion manuals. And sometimes minor inconveniences
can cause tremendous irritation — for every-
one. Ellen Gorisch, for example, always buys
her tickets for the Berlin public transportation
system at ticket counters rather than from a
machine. “The reason is very simple,” she ex-
plains. “My coins always fall through.” Bernd Müller
Senior citizens testing products. A spin in
a driving simulator reveals the weak-
nesses of a cockpit design (left). Everyday
household objects also often turn out to
have limited utility for older people.
The clear, functional design of the Siemens
Gigaset E150 was developed for seniors —
but younger consumers like it too.
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE T h e G r a y i n g S o c i e t y
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Children and grand-
children form the
base of the popula-
tion pyramid —
which is crumbling
in many countries.
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE Biomax Research Partnership
Partners in gene simulation. Dr. Klaus
Heumann, CEO of Biomax, and Dr.
Martin Stetter (right) of Siemens Corpo-
rate Technology are marketing a bioin-
formatics technique that identifies the
relationships between genes and
makes them visible in networks (top). H
uman cells are like tiny factories. Each
holds some 20,000 to 25,000 genes,
Each gene is continually being switched
on or off, while genetic information is
being read out. Messenger sub-
stances migrate to production
sites that manufacture the re-
quired type of the roughly one
million proteins used by hu-
man beings. If any part of this
finely tuned mechanism fails
to work, functions throughout
the body can deteriorate and
death can follow. So it‘s no
wonder that bioscientists go to
enormous lengths to under-
stand the molecular processes in
cells and find key genes so they can
develop new and better medicines.
“We ask ourselves, for example,
what genes are more active in a breast can-
cer cell than in healthy cells,” says Dr. Martin
Stetter of Siemens Corporate Technology. As
one of the biggest players in the market,
Siemens’ medical technology segment is
making increased use of bioinformatics, a key
component of future health care. Stetter’s
team has developed a method — BioSim —
that could prove to be a valuable tool for the
pharmaceutical industry in its search for new
agents. BioSim is currently being tested in collab-
oration with bioinformatics company Biomax.
“We’ve created a mathematical simulation
model that makes relationships between
genes visible using known data, and identi-
fies genes related to illnesses,” says Stetter. To
accomplish this, Stetter, who is a biophysicist,
uses data from “gene expression analysis,”
which depicts the activity of genes in a cell at
a certain point in time.
Modern genetic research has concluded
that many medications are over prescribed.
Because of genetic differences, for example,
“beta blockers” that lower blood pressure
curred that was strikingly similar to that of the
ALL subtype E2A-PBX1. The BioSim result
matched actural observations by doctors.
Through biomolecular studies, they identified
the same gene as a potential cancer trigger,
indicating that the PBX-1 gene is the decisive
factor in about one seventh of ALL cases. If it
becomes attached to another gene through a
mutation, it remains active at all times and in-
evitably triggers leukemia.
Growing Interest.The experiment con-
vinced Dr. Klaus Heumann, president and
CEO of Biomax. “For us, that was the proof
that the simulation of genetic networks really
works. After that, we finalized our partner-
ship with Siemens.” Biomax, which is based in
Martinsried near Munich, is enhancing the
genetic networks identified by Siemens with
additional information on biochemical rela-
tionships. Through a link to a huge database, future
users will be able to click on a certain gene
and immediately find out in which organs it is
especially active, which genes are connected
to it, and what technical literature exists on it.
Biomax was founded in 1997 and now em-
ploys about 100 scientists and IT specialists
worldwide. The company is financed with
venture capital and is aiming for annual sales
above ten millions euros — primarily with
bioinformatics solutions for gene and protein
Biomax has introduced the BioSim simu-
lation tool to a number of large pharmaceuti-
cal companies. The response has been uni-
formly positive. However, before the
companies make their confidential genetic re-
search data available, they would like addi-
tional demonstrations. An initial test is to be carried out this year
using mice. For this test, Siemens and Biomax
want to work together on the development of
a model that depicts the gene expression of
mice with a genetic disposition to a certain
tumor. Development of such a model would
make it possible to derive experiments that
could be run on real mice for verification — a
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
network” that makes the relationships be-
tween the genes immediately visible. If gene
A influences gene B, for example, this is illus-
trated by a connecting line. More complicated
relationships can also be derived from the
network, such as the fact that gene A and
gene B switch on together and thus activate a
third gene C. For this, Stetter’s team evaluates
the structure of probability tables. In BioSim’s simulation, the researchers in-
crease or decrease the activity of individual
genes and observe the effects. If a gene is
shut down virtually, this could change the en-
tire network and therefore the activity of
many other genes.
During one of these virtual experiments,
the researchers discovered a key gene for the
acute lymphoblastic leukemia subtype E2A-
PBX1 — without knowing its biological con-
texts. The subtype stood out because of its
unusually large number of relationships in the
network; hence it may control many other
genes. Next, the researchers permanently ac-
tivated this gene in the computer experiment
and studied its effects on the activities of the
other genes in the context of their network. The researchers found that in nearly all of
the 327 patients an expression pattern oc-
Molecular Detectives
Siemens has developed a software-based technique that analyzes and simulates the gene activity in
cells. This could enable the development of new, more individualized therapies. In particular, the phar-
maceuticals industry plans to tailor medicines to groups of genetically similar patients.
have no effect in up to one third of all pa-
tients. Side-effects emerge with varying de-
grees of intensity depending on genetic dis-
position — or do not appear at all. For
manufacturers, the financial risks associated
with these differences are enormous. Experts
believe that, in the future, the pharmaceuti-
cals industry will no longer promote “block-
buster” medications as vigorously as before
but instead back medicines for patients who
have similar genetic characteristics. The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration is considering
taking account of data from genetic analyses
when approving drugs.
Virtual Cancer Patients.Stetter’s team
proved that valuable information can be ob-
tained from BioSim analyses by examining a
special form of leukemia. In this instance, the
team used data from St. Jude Hospital in
Memphis, Tennessee. In 327 patients with
acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) — an ill-
ness that affects primarily children —
they studied the activity of about 270
relevant genes. The resulting ex-
pression patterns — snapshots of
cells as it were — result from the
analysis of the messengers in
blood cells. This “mRNA” is sent
by genes to protein factories.
The presence and concentra-
tion of mRNA allow inferences
to be made regarding the
activity of associated genes.
The mRNA samples are marked
with fluorescent dyes and ap-
plied to a biochip, where they
bind to specific molecules. When
optically stimulated, these molecules
emit light signals. Since the position of
the binder molecules is known, the light
pattern shows the gene activity at the mo-
ment of sampling.
Based on the resulting data, Siemens ex-
perts used computers to construct a “Bayesian
procedure that is out of the question for hu-
man patients but is expected to provide the
decisive proof of how powerful BioSim is.
The potential applications from such
studies could be numerous. “Pharmaceutical
companies could immediately identify side-
effects with BioSim,” says Siemens researcher
Stetter. That would require taking samples
from persons who suffer from a certain ill-
ness. With the simulation, specific genes
could then be switched on or off —a process
that corresponds to a virtual medicine. In the
network, it is possible to read which genes
are being impaired and what the effects
would be on real patients. New candidates
for medicines could be found in a similar
way, by measuring the effects of an agent in
the gene network.
In the future, BioSim could also be used to
document the impact of medicines more ef-
fectively. “Right now, research practically
stops once a medicine is on the market,” says
Biomax CEO Heumann. If these data were
universally recorded and evaluated, medica-
tions could be further optimized. “This information has a great deal of value
that isn’t being used today. Our simulations
could change that picture very significantly,”
says Heumann.Norbert Aschenbrenner
Researchers have used mathematical simulations to identify a leukemia gene.
A middle-aged man checks into a high-tech hospital. Everything he experiences,
from his own wellness portal
and tailored treatment to his
beautiful avatar, is personali-
zed. But when he wakes up,
his feelings have changed…
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
One More Time
ulticolored birds dart back and forth
against a postcard blue sky in the high
branches of tropical trees. Between cool
thickets of palms and ferns I can see a line of
hills sloping toward a distant shoreline as
whitecaps skate toward vast, empty beaches.
The sounds of the jungle mingle with the
comforting murmur of sea and wind. I
breathe deeply with satisfaction and lean
back against the big pillow. “Just what the
doctor ordered,” I think to myself, “my per-
sonalized wellness portal. No calls, no...”
Personalization will make technology
ever more user-friendly. Solutions
from Siemens can already adapt
themselves to user needs. Page 19
In 2020 a whole range of services will
be personalized — such as those in the
hospital of tomorrow. Thanks to cus-
tomized diagnostic and therapeutic
processes, diseases will in many cases
be cured before they can seriously en-
danger a patient’s health. And person-
alized Web portals — shown here in a
3-D version — will ensure patients’
well-being and provide virtual person-
al assistants in the form of avatars. BONDING WITH PRODUCTS
“Users develop a stronger emotional
connection to a personalized product,” says psychologist Hartmut
Wandke. Page 23
Thanks to molecular imaging, cancer
and plaque cells will be identified
early and all aspects of treatment
will be customized to meet patients’
individual medical needs. Page 26
Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital is
one of the world’s most technologi-
cally integrated hospitals — thanks
to systems from Siemens. Page 29
In the factory of the future, ob-
jects will be endowed with per-
sonalities, exchange information
directly, and thus help to optimize
production processes. Page 34
eople often feel overwhelmed by technol-
ogy. For example, according to a study by
Research International Deutschland, 57 per-
cent of all Germans complain that electronic
devices are becoming more and more compli-
cated. Does this mean that such devices
should be equipped with fewer features and
that manufacturers should adopt a bare-
bones approach to most consumer products?
Doing so would mean that we would lose out
on a lot of helpful innovations. Personalized
technology can offer a solution here, accord-
ing to Dr. Irene Walther from FORSIP, a Bavar-
ian Research Association, which is conducting
research into intelligent individualization of
human-machine interfaces. “Those compa-
nies that miss out on the trend toward per-
sonalization run the risk of losing their com-
petitive edge,” she says.
At Siemens, Dr. Stefan Schoen is address-
ing the issue of product usability and thus
personalization as well. Schoen is the director
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
of the User Interface Design Center at
Siemens Corporate Technology. He believes
that the personalization of medical equip-
ment, automation systems, vehicle cockpits,
cell phones, and many other systems is more
than just a marketing idea designed to boost
customer loyalty. Personalization can also
help to simplify otherwise complex operating
procedures. Schoen says there are basically
two approaches for personalizing the opera-
tion, content and functions of technical sys-
tems: “Either the customers themselves
change the system’s properties or appear-
ance, or else the system adapts itself auto-
matically to its owner’s habits and prefer-
ences.” An example of the first category
would be if the user replaces the casing of a
cell phone or adapts the software by using
menus, assigning certain commands to spe-
cific keys, changing the background image on
the display, or installing new ring tones. How-
ever, researchers don’t want users to become
too involved in the manipulation of software,
since that could put the product’s operating
logic at risk.
Profile Settings. The second category — au-
tomatic personalization — includes things
like “collaborative filtering” approaches as
practiced by online companies such as Ama-, whose software offers every cus-
tomer a selection of products that might be of
interest to him or her. The information that
serves as the basis for the selection is taken
from data on previous purchases and compar-
isons with other customers. In the future,
Siemens Enterprise Portal, an internal site for
employees, will use a similar approach. The
portal will assemble content for each
employee based on the department or area
he or she works in. The criteria it will use are
contained in a profile stored in the system.
This profile will have information on the
user’s job and department, for example. Devices that can be per-
sonalized, such as the
Siemens CX70 Emoty cell
phone, put variety into
everyday life. The phone
is capable of communicat-
ing the user’s mood to the
person he or she is talking
to. The unit’s housing con-
tains pressure sensors
that can distinguish be-
tween shaking and
stroking movements.
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N S c e n a r i o 2 0 2 0
The pleasing sounds fade and Cynthia,
my personal and perfect avatar – after all, I
designed everything from the soothing sound
of her voice to the enticing curl in her blond
hair – appears from within the portal.
“Darling, Bob, I hope the operation didn’t
stress you too much. Dr. Richmond is on the
line. Can you talk to him?” “Richmond, why of
course – and Cynthia, I love the way you say
Dr. Richmond isn’t just any doctor. He’s
my personal doctor, and he knows me like the
back of his hand. You might say that he
represents the hospital information system or
HIS. But, to be perfectly honest, Richmond is
the HIS — a genuine, real-time representation
of all the healthcare information you can
think of.
Just to fill you in, it was only a few hours
ago that I had major surgery. It was my fault.
For years my geno-pro (gene & protein) tests
had been showing that I had a predisposition
to building up dangerous plaque in my
arteries. But I felt fine, and even though I’m a
pharmaceutical company representative and
should have known better — I just shrugged
it off. Then, not long ago, my latest test
indicated real danger. My general practitioner
recommended a thorough check-up, and his
avatar — nothing compared to Cynthia in
terms of looks — organized an appointment
for me. It was a good thing she did.
A major hospital near my office had
recently converted to molecular imaging and
treatment technologies. They gave me a shot
with a cocktail of molecules that would be
drawn to different kinds of plaque. Then
came a whole-body magnetic resonance scan
to see where the different molecules had
been absorbed. A few minutes later I was
sitting in Dr. Dana’s office, a radiologist who
looked like he was fresh out of Medical
School. The young doctor was shaking his head as
he peered at a rollout monitor. “Bob,” he said.
“Problem here. MR shows unstable plaque in
seven locations. Looks like ticken time
bombs.” He spoke with a Texas accent like a
former President I could vaguely remember.
“Richmond’ll sched you for treatment ASAP,”
he said as he got up, signaling the end of our
meeting. Sure enough, the next day Dr. Richmond
appeared on my kitchen infotainment system
as I was preparing a delicacy suggested by my
Home Diet Advisor. “Bob, we’ve got you down
for two days at Freedom General starting next
Tuesday. Treatment will begin at 7. Relax.
Take it easy. See you when you get there.” A second later Cynthia appeared. “Bob,
darling, I’ve reorganized your appointments,
cancelled deliveries, and reset the house. I’ll
be sure to record your favorite shows, in case
you miss them at the hospital.” “Thanks
Cynthia,” I said, feeling truly grateful. “If you
weren’t an avatar, I’d marry you in a minute.”
She blushed faintly before being replaced by
my evening diet recommendations and
specially designed relaxation music. Easy as pie I thought. When I got to the
hospital on Tuesday it was still dark outside. I
checked myself in using my “StaWell” MedID
and two finger scans. In the process, a
washable radio frequency identification tag
was printed onto the inner surface of my left
index finger. It was good to know that in case
anything happened to me, they would know
who and where I was. Dr. Richmond appeared
on my PDA and guided me to a room in the
Therapeutic Radiology section where Dr.
Dana was waiting.
Treatment began with a sedative and an
injection of what Dana called “fluorescent
labels” — molecules designed to glow only
when absorbed by unstable plaque. Then,
guided by the MR images taken during the
previous week, he threaded a fiber optic line
into my arteries that was outfitted with a tiny
microscope and a device for heating and
killing the glowing cells …
It felt as though only seconds had
elapsed. But when I woke up I did not
recognize where I was. It looked like the
inside of “MyWorld” — my personalized
portal. A 3D globe in the foreground showed
the usual “favorites.” By moving my hand in
the air I was able to “spin the globe,” three-
dimensionally and bring up anything from
individual multimedia-mails to Cynthia. Oh,
Cynthia. I felt a warm glow. Cynthia was
great. I could rely on her. And obviously the
operation had gone well. I would be fine. I
would go home soon and crack open the best
bottle of wine in the cellar. If only…
I was just sinking into the sights and
sounds of the tropical trees and ocean when
Cynthia appeared. “Bob, Darling, Dr.
Richmond is still on the line. He’s been
waiting to speak with you for ages.” “Cynthia,”
I said, “would you say ‘darling’ one more
time”? Arthur F. Pease
No two people are alike. Al-
though that’s a simple fact,
technological solutions tend
to ignore it. Just about every-
one would like technology to
adapt itself to users and ad-
dress their individual needs.
But such a capability is by no
means a utopian vision. New
technological solutions from
Siemens can not only be ad-
justed to meet individual re-
quirements;they can also au-
tomatically adapt themselves
to their users. As You
Like It
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
sometimes feel that too much automation in
the personal realm puts limits on their own
freedom of action,” says Dr. Hans-Gerd
Krekels, head of Product Management for In-
fotainment Solutions at Siemens VDO Auto-
motive. “The services we’re developing give
users the choice of how much automation
they want.” Cell phones may thus soon evolve
into remote control units for sending com-
mands selected by the user. Building a bridge
between the home and the car is relatively
easy these days, and Siemens is already test-
ing simple services such as mobile devices
that switch household appliances on and off.
How will hands-free cell phones be com-
bined with automotive radio and navigation
systems? One answer is provided by the Blue-
tooth Kit from Siemens VDO, which wireless-
ly integrates cell phones and organizers. For
instance, the system would enable the driver
to receive a message about the status of his
oven via the cell phone’s hands-free system.
Addresses could also be transferred from an
organizer directly into the car’s navigation
system via Bluetooth wireless technology.
“You have to make sure that drivers don’t
become distracted when operating the sys-
tem,” says Dr. Nhu Nguyen Thien, head of the
team developing the EasyCo multi-modal op-
erating concept. Among other things, EasyCo
makes it possible for an infotainment plat-
form to receive commands based on hand
movements using a sensitive medium such as
a touchpad in combination with a high-per-
formance recognition system. “In such a sce-
nario, names and telephone numbers could
be written directly with a finger on the touch-
pad,” Nguyen Thien explains. “You could also
draw symbols. For example, if you draw a
heart, the system would automatically dial
the number of your wife or husband as the
case may be. If you draw a musical note, the
radio would play classical music. In each case,
you would decide for yourself what the vari-
ous symbols should stand for.” Tests conduct-
ed with the system confirm that users find it
easy to operate while driving, and that they
feel less distracted by it than they do by con-
ventional systems. Personalization can also play a role in
hardware. The latest generation of Passive
Start and Entry Systems (PASE) from Siemens
VDO has replaced car keys with a chip card
equipped with a transponder. An authentica-
tion processes is initiated when the cardhold-
er comes within five or six meters of the vehi-
cle. Before the owner touches the door han-
dle, the vehicle has already recognized the
card’s code. Within a few milliseconds, the ve-
hicle unlocks itself and adjusts the seat and
mirrors for the cardholder in accordance with
settings stored in the system. The same indi-
vidualization can be carried out for the heat
and air conditioning systems, the sunroof,
and the radio — and in the future it may even
be possible to personalize vehicle transmis-
sion and suspension dynamics. The adaptive
systems of tomorrow will also be able to rec-
ognize and adapt themselves to the typical re-
action times and driving behavior of different
drivers. The benefit here is that such systems
make it possible to maximize personalization
while maintaining a high level of safety. One of the major problems facing all au-
tomakers involves the discrepancy between
the lifecycles of vehicles and those of elec-
tronic systems. Whereas a passenger car
model is generally replaced by a successor
every six years or so, the product cycle in the
communications and consumer electronics
sector is only six to 12 months. With this in
mind, Siemens VDO has developed Top Level
Architecture (TLA). This system, which is
nearly ready to enter mass production, links
hardware and software, making it possible to
implement updates and add new features at
any time. TLA will also enable new services to
be installed even after production of a vehicle
model has been launched, thus helping to
substantially reduce development costs. It all adds up to some interesting new
possibilities. So don’t be surprised if one day
you receive an e-mail, an SMS or even a voice
mail from your car providing maintenance in-
formation, traffic reports, or a suggested de-
parture time for your next appointment.
Anja Stemmer
“Emoty figures are just the beginning of
what we call avatar technology,” says Holz auf
der Heide. Wobble and the other figures still
have to be given their moods manually, but
“the next generation of such avatars will be
able to do much more,” he adds. For example,
users will not only define how an avatar
should look, but will also be able to adjust its
behavior (see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2003, p.73), making it active or passive, seri-
ous or funny. “Future avatars will be individ-
ual conversational partners; they will appear
much like a butler and may even be able to
react to the emotions of their owners,” says
Holz auf der Heide, who deomonstrates a
prototype of the avatar he’s talking about.
Holz auf der Heide wants his electronic butler
to call a certain number. The butler does this,
but the line is busy. It’s also busy the second
time, and the avatar makes a frustrated face,
thus imitating the likely emotion of its owner.
When the line once again turns out to be
busy, the avatar looks even more upset and
suggests calling back in a few minutes. If the
user agrees, the butler disappears and then
reappears later.
“This simple model can be expanded,”
says Holz auf der Heide. For example, the
user’s facial expressions could be recorded
with the phone’s camera, after which image
recognition software would be employed to
assess the user’s emotional state. Additional
sensors would not only react to the phone
movements but also register the user’s mood
through criteria such as perspiration or ten-
sion. “Personalized services will become an
important trend,” Holz auf der Heide predicts.
“The cell phone is an ideal medium for this be-
cause it can expand the user’s real world as
needed at any given time and at any loca-
The 3D char-
acters in the
Emoty cell phone
enable users to express ten different
emotions, which can be communicated to
friends via multimedia messaging (MMS).
When it comes to personalization, there’s nothing like a car. Modular cockpit. Front
and center consoles can
be replaced and the dis-
plays can be adapted to
user requirements. An alternative to using predefined profiles in-
volves having self-learning software “observe”
the user to determine how he or she handles
a particular device, and then apply this infor-
mation to create a customized interface. This
technology is still in its infancy at the Enter-
prise Portal. As Schoen points out, there are
also some difficulties with automatic person-
alization systems. “Users could become para-
noid if they don’t know what kind of informa-
tion the software system is collecting about
them,” he says. Moreover, he adds that auto-
matic adaptation to user behavior will only be
accepted “if the characteristics of a device
don’t change so frequently that they confuse
users and force them to learn new features.”
In other words, personalization systems must
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N T r e n d s
be transparent and easy to understand. If, for
example, someone always switches his or her
cell phone into the weekend mode (different
display image, ring tone) every Friday at the
same time and then puts it back into the busi-
ness mode on Monday morning, a self-learn-
ing software system could learn to automati-
cally make those changes at the right time.
“However, the device would first have to ask
users if they want the mode to be changed,”
says Schoen’s colleague Bernd Holz auf der
Heide, a psychologist who works on adaptive
systems in the cell phone development de-
partment at Siemens Communications
(Com). A similar procedure might be used for
downloading music from the Internet, where-
by the cell phone or its server would develop
Home on Wheels
We spend a lot of time in our cars and homes, which is why
they tend to reflect our personalities and tastes. Soon, we will
be able to communicate with both of them.
a profile of the user’s taste based on songs
heard previously, and then suggest similar
songs for downloading whenever the phone
is turned on. Phones with Feelings. The CX 70 Emoty
marks an initial step in the direction of greater
personalization. This cell phone, which
Siemens recently introduced to the market,
reacts to touch and can use images to com-
municate the owner’s mood. The phone’s
keypad is used to control three-dimensional
figures that can express up to ten different
feelings. The unit’s housing contains motion
and pressure sensors that register whether
the phone is being pressed, stroked or shak-
en, and thus whether the figures Laura, Joey,
or Wobble should appear happy, sad or angry.
The animated images are then transmitted
via multimedia messaging (MMS).
he car of the future will not only guide
motorists to their destinations and enter-
tain them along the way, but will also serve as
a center for communicating with their
homes, enabling them to check and control
windows, doors, alarm systems, and appli-
ances from a remote location. Being able to
turn up the heat or AC before returning home
from a vacation would be a significant con-
venience — and certainly beats the alterna-
tives of either switching everything off or sim-
ply leaving them on. In order to create such a
system, however, you need to be able to link
smart cars with smart homes. Such a link requires that individual appli-
ances and sensors in the home be given the
capability to transfer data to any type of ter-
minal, whether it’s the owner’s cell phone or
the car’s infotainment system. All data would
then pass through a gateway. If, for example,
an alarm in the home’s network were set off,
the control unit would react by closing all
windows, shades, doors etc., or sending a
message to the police. Such a system might
also call its owner to request instructions,
sending a text message that, for instance,
someone was in the garden. The system
would then ask the owner if he or she would
like to see an image from the security system.
“The development of interactive services
for smart homes is focusing more on utility
than ever before, rather than on what is sim-
ply technically feasible,” says Erich Kamper-
schroer, head of the Siemens’ company-wide
Smart Home project. “That’s because people
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N I nt er v i ews wi t h Ex per t s
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
What does “personalization” mean to you?
Wandke: On the one hand, the need to ex-
press oneself through personal statements
that can be as simple as a bumper sticker.
Such elements communicate something
about each of us as a person. On the other
hand, personalization also includes devices
and systems that are tailored to certain per-
sonal tasks.
Are personalized products more attrac-
Wandke:People have a fundamental need
to distinguish themselves from one another
and demonstrate their membership in
groups. Harley riders greet one another, for
example, because they communicate a cer-
tain attitude via that motorcycle. There is no
doubt that users develop a stronger emo-
tional bond to personalized products and are
more satisfied with them.
Are there practical advantages as well?
Wandke:Yes. Personalization can make it
easier to handle technology. Tailoring some-
one. The user had to adapt himself to the
computer. Apple was a pioneer in personal-
ization and in 1984 for the first time offered
users the chance to adjust displays according
to their own preferences. With mobile
phones, personalization then became a mass
phenomenon. Logos, ring tones, individual
keypad layouts and interchangeable shells
give cell phones a personal touch. In PCs, on
the other hand, personalization tends to oc-
cur on an aesthetic level, as with desktop
wallpaper. Changing menus and icons re-
quires a relatively large effort and fairly spe-
cialized knowledge.
Where could personalization play a role
in the future?
Wandke:Anyplace where there is not just a
functional component but also a hedonistic
one. In cars, for example. Vehicle electronics
can register individual driving styles and shift
an automatic transmission accordingly. The
intelligent house is another example. It can
regulate room temperature according to the
preferences of residents and can even set en-
tertainment programs —. things like a chil-
dren’s station for the kids and a news pro-
gram for dad when he’s in the shower.
Are certain user groups particularly
drawn to personalized products?
Wandke:Age is important. Young people
want to develop their personalities, make
themselves independent of their parents,
and find their position in the group. Many
older people, on the other hand, don’t have
enough prior knowledge to adapt devices to
their needs. They’re glad if a system works.
Overall, men are also more playful with tech-
nology than women. They prefer to use aes-
thetic elements and try different things out.
Women are usually more pragmatic in that
regard. If they find a machine useful in its
default configuration, they usually don’t see
any need to make changes.
What are the limits of personalization?
Wandke:Automated systems are problem-
atic, like the refrigerator that orders food by
itself, which is often described as a vision of
the future. In this case there is the danger of
a loss of control, which no one likes. Studies
have also shown that passengers reject sys-
tems that automatically debit the fare. They
would rather decide that themselves. Individ-
ual adaptation can also have disadvantages
if multiple users work with a product. Then
there has to be a button for the default set-
ting. Manufacturers should take care to in-
clude not as much personalization as possi-
ble but only as much as is needed and use-
What, in your opinion, are the major
trends that will affect the future of per-
Wandke: Products that automatically evolve
are very interesting. Through observation, a
cell phone could find out what ring melodies
the user likes and then compose one for him
or her. That would be an adaptive personal-
ization. That is still very much in the future,
but is definitely being researched. Another
long-term goal is a personalized service ro-
bot that identifies the user’s preferences and
takes account of them in its behavior. After a
certain “training period,” no two of these ro-
bots anywhere in the world would be the
same, although the manufacturer would de-
liver all of them with the same functions.
Interview by Werner Pluta.
Strengthening Our Emotional Bond to Products
Hartmut Wandke (56) is Professor of Engineering Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin. For over 20 years, he has been studying human-technology interactions.
thing to the user’s own needs means relegat-
ing what he or she does not want or need to
the background. And this can also be a mat-
ter of objective conditions. Handicapped per-
sons, for example, can profit greatly from
personalization. However, the expense for
personalized adaptation must not exceed its
utility. Has personalization in technology been
around for a long time?
Wandke:No. At the beginning, computers,
for instance, worked the same way for every-
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N T r e n d s
tion.” Avatars could also work in the virtual
world, traveling through the Internet in
search of products, services, or information of
interest to their users.
Cars also lend themselves well to person-
alization — a feature from which a vast sup-
plier industry benefits. At the 2003 Interna-
tional Auto Show (IAA), Siemens VDO Auto-
motive presented a study of a modular vehi-
cle cockpit containing a driver and front pas-
senger console, and a center console. All the
cockpit elements have a standardized elec-
tronic interface, which means they can be
shield. Here, too, users have a choice as to
which content they want projected and which
content should be shown on a multi-purpose
instrument on the dashboard.
Guido Meier-Arendt, a specialist in hu-
man-machine interfaces at Siemens VDO,
believes it would be ideal if “we used only dis-
plays rather than electro-mechanical instru-
These and other scenarios are starting to
take shape at Siemens. For example, a num-
ber of teams have been coming up with ideas
for common interfaces as part of the Smart
Home company-wide project. The first thing
that needs to be done is to have all devices at
home linked to one another in a network and
then connected to the outside world via
telecommunications networks (see Pictures
of the Future, Spring 2004, p.31, and Fall
2004, p.53). easily replaced. The original concept has since
been expanded with ideas taken from the
world of computers. For example, the system
now makes it possible for drivers to use just a
few hand movements to combine frequently
used multimedia features into a favorites list,
thereby enabling them to tune in their pre-
ferred radio station or CD more quickly, or
rapidly access a telephone number. Important
information, such as the vehicle’s speed and-
current route is projected onto the wind-
ments in the future.” This, he says, would
open up new opportunities. Users would then
be able to create favorites lists for the multi-
purpose instruments, and thus decide in a
given situation whether they’d rather have
the fuel gauge in view or the speedometer,
for example. Meier-Arendt also has some new
ideas for the multimedia display used to oper-
ate the radio, CD and DVD players, and TV.
He’s decided that it makes no sense for users
to have to deal with various operating inter-
faces when they’re already familiar with the
menu for their home stereo or PDA. Instead, it
would be much simpler if they could use
these menus in their car as well (see box on
With this scenario in mind, Deutsche
Telekom opened a demonstration home in
Berlin in March 2005 that is equipped with a
full range of appliances, communications so-
lutions, consumer electronics, and home au-
tomation from Siemens, including, among
other things, media servers for audio and
video applications and set-top boxes for the
Internet and cable television. When someone
wants to watch TV and therefore also pull
down the blinds and dim the lights, he or she
can do this from the sofa using a PDA. In an-
other scenario, the home’s cordless phone
can be used as a universal information and
communications device — for talking to visi-
tors at the door via the house intercom, for
example. Residents who are out and about can also
dial into the house control center using their
cell phones in order to adjust the heat or
check whether they’ve left the stove on, for
example, in which case they can also turn it
off with the phone.
Experts agree that such developments
will progress further; the only question is how
rapidly. “There has to be an alignment be-
tween what’s being offered and what’s actu-
ally desired,” says Prof. Peter Mertens, an
economist and computer scientist at the Uni-
versity of Erlangen-Nuremberg. “Personaliza-
tion would proceed more slowly if data pro-
tection laws were violated or if negative atti-
tudes about the technology spread.” Prof.
Norbert Szyperski of the Innovative Technolo-
gies business research group at the University
of Cologne predicts that “personalization will
play a key role in the development of techni-
cal solutions in coming years.” And, as Stefan
Schoen sums up, “Personalization must offer
users clear added value that they’re willing to
pay for.” Rolf Sterbak
Networking appliances with mobile
communications provides information
when and where it’s needed. Siemens
is testing a system that enables a cell
phone to switch an oven on or off.
Personalization must provide clear added value for the user.
In the future, each of us will benefit individually from a vast, integrated and steadily improving knowledge base that includes genetic as well as traditional health informa-
tion, provides access through health cards, and crystallizes our health needs in a personalized patient record. 24
nside hospitals, digital systems that once
stood alone in radiology departments,
emergency rooms and operating theaters are
being networked. In the most technologically
integrated hospitals (see p. 28) the resulting
medical data is in turn being refined and com-
bined with administrative information in the
form of the electronic patient record — a per-
sonalized, real-time, on-demand document
that represents an efficiency revolution in terms
of the availability and accuracy of medical data.
As information technologies allow more
and more data to be focused on under-
standing and managing individual health pro-
blems, treatment is becoming increasingly
personalized. Personalization can take many
forms. Today, it can mean that a pediatric
cardiologist can analyze a fetal heart beat
from a home PC in the middle of the night to
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
The Promise of Personalization
In the mean time, healthcare’s information
revolution is gathering speed as it focuses ever
more intelligence on solving individual con-
ditions. Scientists at Siemens Medical
Solutions’ Computer-aided Diagnosis &
Therapy (CAD) group in Malvern, Pennsyl-
vania, for instance, are developing an array
of database-guided decision support systems
for lung, breast, colon and cardiac diagnos-
tics that can sift through huge medical image
sets and help physicians identify anomalies.
Says Dr. Alok Gupta, Ph.D., head of the CAD
group, “The goal is to provide the physician
with decision support tools that combine
relevant information from multiple sources
at the point-of-care of a specific patient.”
With a view to combining this informa-
tion with genetic and proteomic data, Coma-
niciu’s team is developing advanced mathe-
matical and software tools for robust informa-
tion fusion and statistics, multiple hypothesis
diagnostics, and indexing and retrieval of the
resulting information. The networking of digital technologies,
the introduction of quicklab, the development
of tools for the interpretation of quicklab-
generated genetic and proteomic data, the
funneling of such data into increasingly per-
sonalized electronic patient records, the devel-
opment of health cards to access such informa-
tion (see sidebar), and the development of a
universal database that combines knowledge
from traditional technologies with a new world
of knowledge gleaned from genomic technol-
ogies — it all adds up to a vision of medical
care in which each of us benefits individually
from a vast, integrated and steadily improving
knowledge base. Arthur F. Pease
HEALTHY DI VI DENDS Health cards can provide access to a patient’s online
medical history, allowing doc-
tors and pharmacists to see
what medications a patient is
already taking. Medications
associated with allergies can
be avoided, as can potentially
dangerous drug interactions.
Radio frequency ID bracelets from Siemens provide access to medical re-
cords. The bracelets can replace name
and bar code tags in hospitals.
These and other fundamental issues are
now being explored by a team of researchers
headed by Dr. Dorin Comaniciu at Siemens
Corporate Research (SCR) in Princeton, New
Jersey. The team — as well as other groups at
Siemens — is working with hospitals around
the world, the U.S. National Institutes of Health
and the European Union Commission’s e-Health
action plan to understand how information
from traditional imaging technologies can be
combined with information about molecular
processes on the cellular level. “The vision,” explains Mohammad
Naraghi, M.D., head of Business Development
at Siemens Medical Solutions, “is to detect
and treat illnesses such as cancer, cardio-
vascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and others on
the molecular level and refine traditional
imaging technologies to manage and provide
feedback on therapies.”
help nurses tailor treatment for an expectant
mother. Increasingly, it will mean that soft-
ware will analyze prescriptions in terms of
patients’ specific conditions and flag potential
risks to physicians. And in years to come it will
mean that a patient’s genetic data will be
used to tailor preventive treatment for illnesses
to which he or she is predisposed. “What per-
sonalization boils down to is a tailoring of the
entire healthcare process to the individual
patient’s needs,” says Michael Mankopf,
Director eHealth and Digital Hospitals at
Siemens Medical Solutions. Undoubtedly, the ultimate step in per-
sonalization through the networking of
medical technologies will be the application
of information on patients’ genetic and pro-
teomic (protein-based) constitution to a range
of preventive and medical treatments. This
process will begin to take shape with the in-
troduction of Siemens’ quicklab, a card-and-
reader combination that will extract DNA or
proteins from blood and compare them with
an array of synthetic bio-molecules to pin-
point anomalies (see p. 26). New Databases.But quicklab is just the be-
ginning. Like all other digital medical
modalities, its output will also flow into larger
databases. That output, however, will be
radically different in content from today’s
anatomically-oriented data. Scientists will
therefore need to develop new database
structures that can accommodate clinical,
imaging, and genomic / proteomic infor-
mation. More importantly, they will have to
learn how to make clinical use of the
information generated by the combination of
such varied and immense databases. H e a l t h c a r e
Millions of people in the northern Italian state of Lom-
bardy are set to benefit from a new, universally available
health card from a consortium of companies, including
Siemens Informatica, a joint venture of Siemens Business
Services and Telecom Italia. Medication errors — one of the
major causes of morbidity and mortality among people
undergoing medical treatment — could be significantly
reduced thanks to the introduction of the card, eight million of
which were in use throughout Lombardy by April 2005 — one year ahead of schedule.
Required for visits to doctors, the card is used in conjunction with a PIN to identify users
and their insurance providers. The card also contains data on the patient’s allergies,
blood group, and medical history. Once scanned by a doctor’s reader, the card transmits
prescription information to a database. The patient can then use the card at any
pharmacy to fill the prescription. “But if a medication poses a threat, or if two doctors
have prescribed medications that could cause an unwanted interaction, the system will
alert the pharmacist,” says Sales Manager Werner Braun from Siemens Communications,
a major player in the development of the cards. The customer — Lombardia Informatica,
which is associated with Lombardy’s Ministry of Health — expects to save about 100 mil-
lion euros per year, much of it as a result of the elimination of prescription abuse. In ad-
dition to what is happening in Italy, similar cards are being introduced in Austria, Slovenia
and Spain, and plans are developing for their introduction in Germany and Switzerland.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N M o l e c u l a r I m a g i n g
Tiny Terminators
By 2020 many major illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, may be managed to the extent that the threat they pose is substantially reduced. Genetic testing and a new group of molecular-based sciences being developed by Siemens and the Center for Molecular Imaging Research in Boston could make this possible.
other in close proximity, no light escapes. But
in this case, the “flashlights” are tethered to one
another by a “linker” that is made of a peptide
sequence that can be broken only by a protein
or enzyme found inside cancer cells. Once the
linker is broken, the label can fluoresce. In
short, if the labels find cancer cells, they are
first absorbed. Then, as the target protein that
signals cancer goes to work, the linker
holding the “flashlights” together is dissolved,
and the cancer cells begin to glow. Given an injection of fluorescent labels be-
fore prostate surgery, cancer cells would now
be visible using a CCD (charge coupled device)
imaging system. “This is something very new
in medicine because it means that surgeons
will be able to see cancer cells and remove
omorrow’s health care system will begin
with a pin prick. A technician at your ge-
neral practitioner’s office will deposit a drop
of your blood on a tiny card, which will be
placed in an analyzer about the size of a
laptop. Within minutes the analyzer’s organic
LEDs will tell your doctor whether you are
likely to develop — or have started to develop
— anything from breast or bladder cancer to
atherosclerosis or even Alzheimer’s. Known
as quicklab, the card, which is now being
developed by Siemens, is equivalent to an
entire laboratory on a chip (see Pictures of the
Future Fall 2004, p. 75). Using micro chan-
nels, chambers and pumps that rely on
capillary forces, the chip extracts DNA or pro-
teins from blood or other bodily fluids,
There’s no doubt about why Siemens and the Center for Molecular Imaging Research
(CMIR) make a perfect match. The Center, which offers a unique multidisciplinary
environment in which leading researchers and clinicians translate nanoparticle develop-
ment into clinical applications, is part of one of the world’s most advanced hospitals
(Massachusetts General) and leading universities (Harvard), and is headed by Prof. Ralph
Weissleder, one of the early visionaries in the field of molecular imaging. For his part,
Weissleder adds that “Siemens’ expertise in imaging technology and its commitment to
far-sighted healthcare technologies make it the ideal partner for us.”
Detecting individual cancer cells any-
where in the body may soon be possi-
ble using a combination of next-gene-
ration magnetic resonance scanning
(above) and newly developed nanopar-
ticles (left, p. 27). To surgically remove
cancer cells, scientists are developing
fluorescent nano labels (right in colon-
cross-section) that will cause cancer
cells to glow. Siemens’ quicklab(far
right) will identify people who have –
or are at risk of developing – cancer.
years from now a routine quicklab test shows
that you have prostate cancer-related proteins
in your blood.If you’ve had regular tests for
the last few years, chances are this test will
have detected the very first stage in cancer
development. What would happen next? The answer is taking shape at the Center
for Molecular Imaging Research, (CMIR) at Mas-
sachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Har-
vard University in Boston. There, researchers
led by Harvard Medical School Professor Ralph
Weissleder, Director of the CMIR, are zeroing
in on ways of spotting and exterminating can-
cer cells (and many other kinds of delinquent
cells, such as those involved in arterial “vul-
nerable plaque”) years before any of today’s
technologies can even detect them. To detect prostate cancer — and a range
of other potential killers — Weissleder’s team
has developed biodegradable nanoparticles
that fit into the cells’ receptors as precisely as
a key fits into a cylinder. Thus, any cell that
absorbs them is, by definition, cancerous.
Furthermore, since they disturb magnetic
fields, the particles will be visible to the next
generation of high-field magnetic resonance
(MR) imaging machines now being developed
by Siemens. Indeed, work in this area, which
is called molecular imaging, is already at an
advanced stage. “Fifteen clinical trials are cur-
rently underway here at MGH to determine
the efficacy of these nanomaterials and other
molecularly targeted agents,” says Weissleder.
(Siemens’ commitment to molecular imaging
was highlighted by its announced intention to
purchase Knoxville, Tennessee-based CTI Mo-
lecular Imaging in March, 2005 for about one
billion dollars.)
So the next step in tomorrow’s healthcare
scenario for your prostate condition is clear:
After an injection of nano particles, you get a
whole body MR scan to ensure that no stray
compares them with an array of synthetic bio
molecules, and pinpoints anomalies. Used on a regular basis, quicklab promises
to become the first line of defense in a new
spectrum of healthcare practices that will stress
prevention and holistic, personalized treat-
ment. Cheaper, quicker, easier to administer,
and more accurate than current tissue- and
blood-based tests, quicklab technology will
screen the population for the earliest hints of
illness, help to eliminate vast numbers of need-
less tests — 43 percent of all prostate, ovarian,
colorectal and lung cancer tests produce at
least one false positive result, costing over
$1,000 in additional medical care expendi-
tures per tested patient, according to the Amer-
ican Association for Cancer Research — and
allow the healthcare system to concentrate on
treating those who actually need treatment.
Detecting Delinquent Cells.Over the next
ten to twenty years, many illnesses, including
cancer and heart disease, may be diagnosed
and treated so early that they could cease to
be a threat. For instance, suppose that fifteen
process would be simpler and more intuitive
if the cancer cells would, for instance, glow.
With this in mind, Weissleder and Siemens
Medical Solutions are collaborating on develop-
ment of new medical devices and technologies
that could take advantage of nano “labels”
that fluoresce in the near infrared when ab-
sorbed by cancer cells. Under their direction,
CMIR scientists have identified proteins unique
to cancer cells and designed substances that
are attracted to the cells’ surface structures.
When injected, the labels, which are made of
fluorescent molecules, are “quenched” — in
other words, like two flashlights facing each
cancer cells are lurking in your body. “The
combination of nano particles and MR will be
a major step for healthcare,” says Weissleder.
“It opens the door to evaluating any patient
who is at risk. If nothing shows up, the
patient essentially gets a clean bill of health.”
In this case, in all likelihood, only a few cancer
cells will be discovered in your prostate.
Getting Cells to Glow.At this point your
doctors will know almost exactly where the
cancer is located. The only problem is that,
from a surgeon’s point of view, pre-cancerous
cells look exactly the same as normal cells.
Naturally, the images developed using nano
particles and MR could be used during surgery
(augmented reality), but the visualization
them before they have begun to do any dam-
age,” explains Dr. Christian P. Schultz, who is
Director of Molecular Imaging at Siemens.
Cellular Surgery.The operation itself would
involve an as-yet-to-be-finalized combination
of micro-endoscopy using a fiber optic con-
focal microscope (endoscopic versions of
such microscopes, which visualize fluorescent
objects three-dimensionally, are already avail-
able), and treatment using radio-frequency
heating of the cancer cells or cryoblation (freez-
ing). Infrared structures (cancer cells) would
have to be spatially overlapped on the visual
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N H o s p i t a l A p p l i c a t i o n s
Speed Health
Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska
may be the most technologi-
cally integrated medical facility in the world — and the most human. Here’s why.
alk into the vast, glassed-in lobby at
Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital on
the western outskirts of Omaha (population
about 400,000) and you may wonder if you’re
in an overgrown hunting lodge instead of a
health center. The smell of freshly baked
bread lingers in the air, and you might hear
the sound of piano music as you sink into one
of the leather sofas or easy chairs huddled
convivially around a big stone fireplace. Feel
relaxed? That’s exactly the idea. 29
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
But if Lakeside Hospital’s patients are
more relaxed than those at other hospitals, the
reasons run far deeper than the upholstery or
the chords of the baby grand emanating from
a music therapy room. Here, patients and
their families can rest assured that when
information is needed — be it an expert opin-
ion during an operation or a comparison of be-
fore and after X-rays when a patient’s mother
asks how her daughter is doing — it will be
there, exactly when and where it is needed.
Wayne A. Sensor, Alegent Health’s Chief
Executive Officer, describes the hospital’s
commitment to information technology (IT)
this way: “It’s not the number of widgets you
have. There are plenty of centers that have
those. The point is that here we have a single
solution environment. It is integrated, and the
systems talk to one another for the value of
the patient.”
Ten-Year Alliance with Siemens.That adds
up to a focus on health care that is not only
cutting edge, but, according to Tom McCaus-
land, President of Siemens Medical Solutions
USA, unique. “Lakeside,” he says, “is one of
the most technologically integrated hospitals
in the world today.” Indeed, Lakeside is the
forerunner in a ten-year alliance with Siemens
to standardize digital systems throughout
Alegent Health’s nine hospitals and 100 sites of
service. Included in the agreement are di-
agnostic and surgical systems, lighting,
building controls, fire safety, security, and IT
— an unmatchable synergistic combination.
Lakeside Hospital’s commitment to a single
solution is particularly evident when it comes
to medical care. From registration to discharge,
all the information associated with a patient
— from diagnostic and therapeutic to diet, phar-
macy, labs, billing and insurance — enters an
electronic patient record. “The centralized data-
For Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital,
which opened in 2004, these systems have
amounted to an efficiency revolution in the
way nurses and physicians work. “Soarian’s
advanced IT allows our nurses to spend more
time with patients,” says Alloway. “Rather
than having to take down vital signs on paper
and then input them at a PC, our nurses can
do this at the bedside in real time using
wireless computers on wheels or tablets.” Adds Karen Sweeney, Chief Nurse Exe-
cutive, “I think we are still in the teething
stage as far as what our IT systems will
ultimately be able to do for patients. But
already our nurses feel that IT has helped to
put them back at the bedside.”
Physicians now bring tablet PCs with
them on rounds and can pull up X-rays and
lab results and review them with patients and
their families — one of the many reasons why
patient satisfaction at Lakeside has reached
stratospheric levels. Furthermore, a growing
number of Lakeside’s physicians now review
their patients’ charts and, if necessary, their
real-time vital signs, as soon as they get up,
so that before they leave home they know
which patients have the most critical values.
“Everything is available when and where we
need it. We can view the images, report
immediately, and click off to indicate that a
study has been reviewed,” says Dr. Patty
Helke, a Lakeside radiologist. “I’m probably
twice as efficient as I was six months ago.”
Efficiency could receive yet another boost
before long. The hospital is testing the use of
PDAs that would support physicians while
making rounds. And Lakeside Health's patient
wristbands, which now carry bar code IDs,
may eventually carry a tiny radio frequency
identification device (RFID) that would help to
track patients, reduce the risk of incorrect
identification, and help physicians to get easy
base is what makes everything come together
for our medical staff,” explains Cindy Alloway,
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for
Lakeside. “That information is accessible to au-
thorized care givers wherever they may be.” At the heart of this comprehensive infor-
mation package is Siemens’ Soarian Clinical
Access and Health Information Management
(HIM) software (see Pictures of the Future Fall
2004, p.51) as well as its SIENET picture ar-
chiving and communications system (PACS). At Lakeside Hospital, information
is available when and where it’s
needed: to explain sinus surgery
to a young patient (large image),
at admission, for on-the-spot
meetings, and during a renal
arteriogram in consultation
with a remote expert (far right). images to allow the surgeon to distinguish
between normal and abnormal tissues. With a
view to eventually making such procedures
possible, Siemens is working with Weissleder’s
team in developing catheter-based, as well as
hand-held imaging devices that will function
in both the visible optical and near infrared
ranges. “Taken together, these technologies
open the door to seeing individual cancer cells
and removing them,” says Weissleder. “It adds
up to a phenomenal advance,” adds Schultz.
New Medical Knowledge.Regular, com-
prehensive gene- and protein-based screening,
early detection of illness, whole-body imaging
when disease is found, pin-point identifica-
tion of dangerous cells, precision surgery based
on the removal of only those cells that pose a
threat, and regular monitoring to ensure that
new disease has not developed — that’s the
vision that Siemens and CMIR are working to
fulfill. With few exceptions, the pieces of this
immensely complex technology puzzle are
being developed, with some having entered,
and others approaching clinical trials. “In all of this, we must not forget the
crucial role of information technology and the
software that will drive it,” Says Mohammad
Naraghi, M.D., head of Business Development
at Siemens Medical Solutions, “The develop-
ment of holistic, integrated healthcare that
goes from predisposition testing to screening
for specific illnesses, all the way to early di-
agnosis and personalized treatment will rely
on — and spur — the development of new IT
solutions that will refine our understanding of
diseases and how to manage them.” Indeed, CMIR and Siemens are on the
road to creating a new software platform called
MI Portal that will be designed to function as
a comprehensive information clearinghouse
for all medical modalities, and will integrate
knowledge from genomics and proteomics.
“The question is,” asks Schultz, “If we screen
all the information from all the diagnostic and
therapeutic tools at our disposal – and we will
have much more as quicklab and molecular
imaging gain momentum – will we be able to
create new medical knowledge that can be
translated into clinical practice?” What seems certain is that a process has
been set in motion in which growing quan-
tities of medical and molecular information
will be refined into ever more precise know-
ledge that will in turn be focused on solving
individual health needs. Arthur F. Pease
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N F a c t s a n d F o r e c a s t s
t’s no easy task to precisely measure the ad-
vantages that personalization provides for
businesses. Research on online offerings indi-
cates that a website’s sales increase in direct
proportion to the site’s level of personaliza-
tion. According to Fletcher Research, 68 per-
cent of Internet users who use a personalized
page shop online, while only 28 percent of
customers make purchases on pages without
personalization. An opinion survey of 4,500
Internet users conducted by the Personaliza-
tion Consortium (Massachusetts) showed
that in order to receive better service, many
that recognize the fingerprints of a vehicle’s
authorized users, for instance, can ensure
that only those persons can open the car’s
doors and start the engine.
Biometrics Show Strong Growth. The mar-
ket for personalized, biometric access con-
cepts is booming, and the growth figures are
high. That’s the consensus of all market re-
searchers, even though the data regarding
volume are varied. A study conducted in 2004
by Frost & Sullivan indicated that, contrary to
earlier estimates, the expectations for 2002
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Why Personalization
Personalization is gaining in importance. Test participants are more
likely to enter their personal data at individualized websites.
Increasing investment. The biometrics market has posted strong
growth since 2004 — mostly due to government spending.
vices such as cell phones and laptops. In
2001, worldwide sales totaled only $5.1 mil-
lion; by 2006, however, that figure is expect-
ed to exceed $424 million. In the area of avi-
ation security — i.e., controlling access by air-
port personnel and identifying passengers —
the world market for biometric processes is
expected to increase from $2.7 million (2002)
to nearly $640 million by 2006. Fingerprint-
ing processes account for 35 percent of that
total, and an additional 33 percent will be
spent on face recognition (see Pictures of the
Future, Spring 2003, p. 32-55). Potential for Health Care. Personalization
concepts are also becoming increasingly im-
portant factors in the provision of cost-effec-
tive and high-quality medical care. In Ger-
many, plans call for issuing electronic health
cards to approximately 80 million insured per-
sons by 2006. Personal data related to a pa-
tient’s medications, chronic ailments and vac-
cinations can be stored in the cards. In 2003,
users are willing to provide personal informa-
tion to websites that can remember their
preferences and personal data.
Saving users’ personal profiles doesn’t on-
ly make it easier to navigate and use websites
and operate devices such as cell phones and
PCs. Demand is also growing for individual-
ized automotive solutions that adjust seats,
mirrors, heating systems and air-conditioning
according to the settings selected by an indi-
vidual driver, for example. In the event of a
traffic accident, new sensors can adjust a pas-
senger airbag’s release so that it is tailored to
the passenger’s size and weight. What’s more, keyless systems are expect-
ed to make cars more theft-proof. Sensors
and 2003 were not fulfilled. This was primari-
ly due to a lack of public sector spending. This
changed in 2004, however, when many state-
funded biometrics projects were launched.
According to studies conducted by Frost &
Sullivan, the worldwide market for biometric
access concepts will grow from approximate-
ly $158 million in 2002 to more than $3.5 bil-
lion in 2009. C. Maxine Most, founder and chief ana-
lyst at the Acuity company (Boulder, Col-
orado), estimates a maximum value of $400
million for the global biometrics market in
2003. The market for chip-based fingerprint
systems, in particular, is expected to grow as
a result of more widespread use in mobile de-
the European market for software licensing
and support contracts for electronic patient
records registered a growth rate of 19.2 percent
and reached a volume of 207 million euros.
“People have realized that the electronic pa-
tient record is more than just another version
of the paper file,” explains Siddharth Saha, an
industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. By 2010,
the market researcher forecasts, the European
market will reach a volume of 688 million eu-
ros. The first successful pilot projects — in
Germany, for example, with the treatment of
cancer patients in the city of Essen and at Elis-
abeth Hospital in the city of Birkenfeld — are
contributing to greater acceptance of elec-
tronic patient records. Sylvia Trage
Name Address Credit
Hobbies Social Se-
Website without personalization
Which information would you give to an on-
line-shopping website? Website with personalization
Source: Personalization Consortium, 2000
Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2004
Sales (in millions of dollars)
Strong growth in the global market
for biometrics P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N
Hos pi t a l Appl i c a t i ons
rance companies are heading in the direction
of evaluating medical centers according to
how well — among other things — they
maintain their medical records,” points out
Alloway. “As a result, they are increasingly
demanding that facilities make use of elec-
tronic records.” Prescription for Patient Safety.With this in
mind, Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital and
Siemens are moving rapidly to the next phase
of what Alloway calls “Soarianization,” which
will involve implementation of computer-as-
sisted physician order entry (CPOE). “Once
CPOE goes online,” she predicts, “all of our
physicians will enter their orders electroni-
cally. This will mean a tremendous improve-
ment in patient safety because there will be
no room for misinterpreting physicians’ or-
ders, the patient’s name or the name of a
medication. Furthermore, the software,
which is now being tested, will flag inaccu-
racies, such as misplaced decimals or con-
traindications for patients with allergies. As with most things at Lakeside, the
software that makes new, advanced services
such as electronic order entry possible is
tailored to the user’s needs. Weekly web casts
and regular on-site visits bring Siemens
software experts together with Lakeside’s
physicians, nurses and IT specialists to shape
and optimize Soarian modules. Try as they
will, however, to make things as easy to use
as possible, there is still an element of future
shock. “New technologies are not always easy
to get used to,” says Sensor. “To say to your
doctors and nurses that because of electronic
medical records they will no longer be able to
get a physical chart is a tremendous cultural
journey. But frankly, we wouldn’t have it any
other way.” Arthur F. Pease
Soarian software assures that access to
information complies with the U.S. go-
vernment’s extraordinarily tough Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA) regulations. Says Ken Lawonn,
Alegent Health’s Senior Vice President and
Chief Information Officer, “Soarian tracks who
sees what, so that everything is documented.
Chances for abuse are extremely limited. It’s
true that IT systems allow information to be
more broadly available. But on the other
hand, they also make it possible to discretely
control access to that information.”
Naturally, given the precision with which
access to electronic medical records can be
controlled, plans are evolving to give patients
and — with their authorization — outside
doctors, access. “Why shouldn’t I, as a patient,
access to the patient file with an RFID-
enabled PDA. A similar project is now in pro-
gress at New York’s Jacobi Medical Center
(Pictures of the Future, Fall 2004, p. 89). Patients and their families benefit directly
from Lakeside’s wireless environment be-
cause they can bring their laptops in and log
on anywhere — especially since all rooms,
including ER and post-op, are singles and are
outfitted with sofa beds. Advanced IT also
plays a role in many other aspects of patient
life. For instance, if a patient is scheduled for
an early morning X-ray, Soarian automatically
notifies dining services not to deliver a meal.
Later, when the patient returns, he or she can
order breakfast from a menu. “There are
studies that show that environment has an
effect on the healing process,” says Amy Pro-
have access to my own lab results?” asks
Sensor. “Here at Lakeside, with Siemens’ help,
we are creating a platform to do just that. This
will lead to very advanced portals for con-
sumers, and will add up to true health
information portability. It will also be the be-
ginning of a new trend in which patients
become part of the care team, rather than
just care recipients.”
In addition to the privacy issue, docu-
mentation itself is becoming a red hot issue
for U.S. hospitals. “With a view to maximizing
accuracy, government agencies and insu-
texter, Alegent Health’s Operations Director
for Corporate Communications. “With that in
mind, Lakeside emphasizes a high level of
privacy and personalization.”
Medical Records: Accessible yet Private.
For those who are concerned that electronic
information may come at the expense of pa-
tient privacy, there is plenty of evidence to
the contrary. Access to Lakeside’s physical
plant, as well as to medical records, is
managed by electronic ID badges, passwords,
and / or biometric key pads. The hospital’s
Whether it’s building management information (left) or the processing of prescriptions, everything at Lakeside Hospital runs on Soarian software.
“We have a single solution environment in which systems talk to one another for the value of the patient.”
Wayne A. Sensor, CEO Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N D a t a P r o t e c t i o n
Shopping with RFID technology. Tagging goods
with radio chips would
simplify payment, storage
and logistics. But data protection advocates are
concerned about privacy.
ogurt containers that tell the refrigerator
they’re about to exceed their shelf life,
and a refrigerator that advises us to consume
such products before they expire — from a
technical point of view, there’s nothing prob-
lematic about such a scenario. All that’s
needed is a Radio Frequency Identification
(RFID) chip (see p. 34). For people with a re-
frigerator full of yogurt, milk and other per-
ishables, such technology could be highly
practical. Some, however, see a threat to pri-
vacy through the potential abuse of such
data. After all, even harmless knowledge of
this type could, when combined with other
information, offer an unwelcome insight into
our preferences, particularly if the data falls
into the wrong hands.
Many organizations are therefore calling
for a more critical approach to technologies
that process personal data. Each year, under
the umbrella of Privacy International, such or-
ganizations present the Big Brother Awards to
authorities and companies around the world.
And now, data protection advocates are tak-
ing aim at RFIDs . Rena Tangens is spokesperson for Ger-
many’s Association for the Promotion of Pub-
lic Mobile and Immobile Data Traffic. Her con-
cern is that RFID chips in a supermarket
environment will enable retailers to record
not only consumers’ preferences, but also
their movements. Take, for example, a cus-
tomer with a bonus card who enters a super-
market. The RFID chip on the card could then
radio in the customer’s location and inform
the system how long he or she spends at the
deli counter. Although seemingly trivial, such
a scenario is unacceptable for many who are
concerned about data protection. A related concern is expressed by Markus
Gildner from Siemens Business Services
(SBS), who suggests that considerable eco-
nomic damage could be caused if signals
from RFID chips in freight containers are in-
tercepted or disabled through interference. Gildner, who develops complex RFID lo-
gistics solutions, believes that sensitive appli-
cations require chips with some form of en-
cryption, such as the ones found in Siemens
employee passes. Although such chips are
Transparency, Not Surveillance
Could radio frequency ID chips
and medical chipcards be the
first step toward a surveil-
lance society? IT security ex-
perts don’t think so. In fact,
the new technologies could go
a long way toward providing
data availabilty while ensur-
ing that access is strictly lim-
ited to authorized users. 32
still relatively expensive, unit costs will fall as
their use becomes more widespread. This in
turn makes them an option for the everyday
applications that are of such concern to data
protection advocates. “Ultimately, however,
the success of RFID technology will depend
on whether people trust it and recognize its
usefulness,” says Gildner.
Cultural issues also play a role in whether
such applications are accepted. Whereas Eu-
ropeans are traditionally skeptical about tech-
nologies that can collect personal data, North
Americans are more ready to see the benefits.
For instance, the Jacobi Medical Center in
New York is already using RFIDs (Pictures of
the Future, Fall 2004, p. 89). Alegent Health
Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska (see
p. 28) is also studying RFID implementation
scenarios. According to data protection advocates,
the emerging electronic medical record could
pose a threat to privacy. But specialists dis-
agree, arguing that such records will actually
improve protection because access to them
can be easily controlled. Furthermore, the
files will automatically record who has ac-
cessed what and when — something impos-
sible to guarantee with paper files.
Secure infrastructure. The proposed med-
ical chipcard promises to bring similar bene-
fits for patients. The card helps to network ex-
isting IT solutions within an integrated
eHealth system (see p. 25). Scheduled to be
introduced in Germany from 2006 onward,
the chipcard is most valuable when used to
provide access to information on a patient’s
medical history, including medication and
treatment. Given the large data volumes in-
volved, such data is deposited in a server
rather than in the card itself, which merely
bears the code required to access the data.
But what happens when cards or access
codes fall into the wrong hands? According to
Dr. Uwe Bork, who develops chip card solu-
tions at Siemens Communications, the answer
is to integrate appropriate security mecha-
nisms into the infrastructure itself: “To guar-
antee maximum data protection, the chipcard
itself must have its own operating system.
This protects the codes that the card uses to
verify itself and to log on to the system,” he
says. Patient information itself is transferred
at an extreme level of encryption. Although,
in theory, any code can be cracked, the one
on the medical chipcard will be at least 1,024
bits — long enough to keep any current com-
puter busy for hundreds of years to come.
Moreover, patients will be expected to iden-
tify themselves by means of a PIN whenever
the card is used. After three erroneous en-
tries, the card is automatically disabled, just
as with any ATM card. But unlike cash cards
that use a magnetic strip, it is impossible to
extract the PIN from a medical chip. If the card
is lost, there is therefore no danger of data
being disclosed. The so-called connector boxes in Ger-
many’s 120,000 or so medical practices —
which will provide a link to central medical
servers — might also help prevent attacks on
the system. Firewalls, for example, could be
erected to create an enormous virtual private
network. Doctors would then have to log on
with similar cards, and the system would au-
thorize data transfers only when both cards
— the doctor’s and the patient’s — had been
verified together. “Of course, this kind of se-
curity procedure will also have to be certified
by an independent organization such as the
Federal Office for IT Security,” Bork explains.
Yet secure data transfer is no guarantee
of complete protection. Patients themselves
must retain control of their own data. This
might mean a patient need only reveal cer-
tain information to a doctor — data that is rel-
evant to treatment — whereas in an emer-
gency the full record would be
immediately accessible. But
what about server data?
Insurance companies
and others would love to gain access to such
information. “There won’t be a central pass-
word that provides unlimited access,” says
Bork. Moreover, clearly defined rules will reg-
ulate who can view which information.
A Matter of Choice. Although new tech-
nologies such as RFID chips and medical chip-
cards offer new opportunities for data abuse,
the very same research labs that developed
them are busy devising ways of preventing
unauthorized access. Indeed, experts point
out that certain developments in fact rein-
force the individual’s control over personal
data (Pictures of the Future, Spring 2003, p.
53). Ultimately, the introduction of new tech-
nologies depends on a spectrum of social and
political factors. And, as Markus Gildner ex-
plains, each of us today already determines
how much privacy he or she wants: “Anyone
who pays with a credit card, buys goods on-
line or takes part in a promotional competi-
tion already discloses more information than
is generally realized. And you don’t need
an RFID chip to do any of that.”
Andreas Kleinschmidt
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
A medical chipcard from Siemens. Sensitive
data is stored in a ser-
ver, not on the card.
Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide how much
we want to protect our private sphere.
hat dress looks great on you,” says the
friendly voice from the speaker, while the
display screen points out that it would “go
very well with this blue jacket.” Karin M. walks
out of the changing room and is guided by
her shopping navigator to the clothing rack
where the jacket is hanging. She decides to
wear her new outfit out of the store. The laser
reading device at the cash register records the
merchandise she’s purchased without making
any physical contact with it — and also prints
out her receipt. “Please note,” flashes the dis-
play at the cash register, “that your dress
should be washed in cold water only and
should not be put in a dryer.” A utopian dream? Not at all. In fact, the
technology described in this scenario already
exists. Metro AG’s “Futurestore” in Rheinberg,
Germany, already has a computer that knows
where each item of clothing in the store is lo-
cated. It can also inform customers of the var-
ious sizes available and what each item costs.
Shopping carts are equipped with a naviga-
tion system that guides customers through
the store, after which they pay at cash regis-
ters that read prices without making any
physical contact with the merchandise. In
Japan, NEC is testing a type of virtual fashion
outfitting system. The customer provides his
or her size, the computer determines which
pieces of clothing are hanging in the chang-
ing room, and then suggests a suitable com-
bination of items. Metro Futurestore’s part-
ners for its high-tech system are Siemens
Automation and Drives (A&D), which provides
components for the radio communications
technology, and Siemens Business Services
(SBS), which handles system integration.
Online Inventory with RFID. Palettes and
containers in logistics and production facili-
ties are already being equipped with elec-
tronic memories, and plans call for individual
products such as food items and automotive
spare parts to be given their own identities
over the next few years. The little brains be-
hind this new world of merchandise are so-
called RFID transponders (Radio Frequency
Identification; see Pictures of the Future, Fall
2003, p.16). These tags consist of a tiny chip
and an antenna, both of which can be made
flat enough to fit in a paper label or a piece of
clothing as a waterproof label. “RFID tags link
the world of data with the real world,” says Dr.
Carl Udo Maier, head of Strategic Marketing
Automation & Control at Siemens Corporate
Technology (CT). Sun Microsystems predicts that a trillion
objects will be equipped with RFID chips by
2012, and market researchers at Frost&Sulli-
van estimate that companies will be spending
$11.7 billion in 2010 to reach that level.
These developments are being driven by retail
companies such as WalMart and Metro. And
with good reason. According to Prof. Matthias
Lampe from the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology in Zurich, there is currently an av-
erage 35-percent discrepancy between retail-
ers’ inventory lists and the actual number of
items in stock. What’s more, 15 percent of the
products advertised are already sold out. RFID
technology could be a huge help here. It will take several years before every
product can be equipped with a transponder.
the automotive industry, for example, they
transfer manufacturing data to and from a ve-
hicle during every production step. Tags used
for this application must be especially robust
and heat resistant. The product spectrum is
rounded off by systems with a range of sev-
eral hundred meters that can localize objects
or individuals. Engineers have also come up with a uni-
versal RFID language to enable objects to
communicate around the world. The Elec-
tronic Product Code (EPC) contains informa-
tion on the manufacturer, product, and serial
number. The 96 bits in this standardized code
are sufficient to clearly label anything on the
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Passive one-way tags now cost between 30
and 50 euro cents each, which means they’re
still too expensive to be used with most su-
permarket items. High-quality, battery-pow-
ered active tags for use in factories can cost
more, but they can be used thousands of
times and also reduce the time needed for
manufacturing products. Holger Schönherr,
project manager for Automatic Identification
at A&D in Nuremberg, doesn’t believe we’ll be
seeing inexpensive polymer tags with printed
circuits of conductive plastic until 2008 at the
earliest, when the unit price will likely be
around one cent. By then, however, the only
things these tags would be too expensive for
would be gum balls (see Pictures of the Fu-
ture, Spring 2004, p.58).
However, not all RFIDs are the same, as
Schönherr emphasizes. Different transmis-
sion frequencies — from 125 kilohertz to
13.56 megahertz, from the UHF band to 920
megahertz, and microwaves of up to 2.45 gi-
gahertz — are used for different RFID applica-
tions. A&D has developed a whole range of
RFID systems, which it offers under the name
MOBY for diverse industrial applications. For
example, there are RFID systems with passive
tags that draw their energy from the reading
device’s electromagnetic field and can be
read from up to a few meters away. This par-
ticularly economical method for labeling mer-
chandise is used by large mail-order compa-
nies and logistics service firms to optimize
their processes. Active tags with a greater
range and storage capacity are used for de-
manding tasks in production automation. In
planet. Based on the principle that “I know
someone who knows a lot,” the EPC is used to
seek and retrieve information on a particular
object from a database that can conceivably
be located anywhere in the world and ac-
cessed via the Internet. In other words, the
code in an RFID chip is merely an address that
points out the location in the global database
where the information on the corresponding
item is stored. This principle is especially use-
ful in connection with information that
should be accessible to only a limited number
of people. The volume of the data for each
item can be as extensive as necessary with
this system — unlike less expensive RFID
chips, which have limited storage capacity.
The latter are sufficient for a few pages of text
or washing instructions, but cannot handle
photos, instruction manuals, or maintenance
Intelligent Objects.According to Siemens’
Maier, the technology will develop as follows:
➔ The first RFID tags are already being
equipped with sensors that could be used to
monitor the temperature of food in refrigera-
tors or to transmit data on car tire pressure to
drivers. The technology is mature and ready for
mass production. Maier refers to the abilities
described above as “context awareness,”
meaning that an object knows where it is lo-
cated at a specific time, and could, for exam-
ple, also register temperature.
➔ RFID measuring sensors will be joined in a
few years by systems that directly convert the
data into appropriate commands. Siemens will
Electronic codes can be used to assign any product a unique identity in the global data network.
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N C o n t e x t A w a r e n e s s
It may one day be possible to equip just about any object —
be it a milk carton, a car, or a machine tool — with a chip that
stores the item’s own digital
memory. Given that billions of things could then exchange information, the number of possible applications is virtually unlimited.
Things that Think
Siemens researcher Marquart
Franz has simulated a factory
using toys equipped with radio
communication systems. If a
machine fails or a production
sequence is changed, the
objects communicate with one
another and automatically
modify the processes in which
they are involved. munication systems is enormous — after all,
there are only six billion people but there are
more than 50 billion machines. In the future,
these machines will be able to communicate
with a control center or even with one another
(see p. 47).
World Cup Radio Chip.There are plenty of
application possibilities. M2M has been used in
stationary applications for years — for example
in beverage machines that forward informa-
tion about their contents to a control center, or
in machines that send out a distress signal if
they break down. More and more mobile ap-
plication possibilities are also opening up. Rail-
ion, a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn railroad
company, already monitors 13,000 of its
120,000 freight cars using an autonomous
telematics terminal manufactured by Munich-
based company transportdata AG. The termi-
nals, which look like small fire extinguishers,
are welded onto the exterior of train cars and
transmit data on their position and condition
— as well as the content of the cars — to a con-
trol center via GSM networks. The latest mod-
ules from Siemens come with a GPS receiver
and enable objects to be localized down to a
few meters. The stage has thus been set for a
perfect division of labor in the future: RFID sen-
sors will monitor individual items in freight
cars, and wireless modules will transmit the
data along with the cars’ loations.
M2M communications will also eventually
find its way into our homes, according to Alt-
wasser. At the Security trade show in Essen,
Germany, in October 2004, Siemens Building
Technologies presented a system that does not
require a fixed-line connection. This “guardian
cell phone” with hands-free operation can be
hung on a wall. It collects information via radio
from sensors that register the breaking of glass
or other signs of burglary, and then transmits
this information via the mobile communica-
tions network to a security office. The same principle can be used in automo-
biles. Here, alarm systems have been devel-
oped that notify the owner and the authorities
if a vehicle has been broken into, or send out
an emergency call if the driver pushes a special
RFID technology will undergo its biggest
test during the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Ger-
many. Tickets for the matches will transmit the
names of their holders to the turnstiles at the
stadiums. Even the ball may be used as a trans-
mitter. Adidas has developed a soccer ball
equipped with a radio chip that registers pre-
cisely whether it has crossed the goal line.
Bernd Müller
Whether you’re talking
about cream cheese or
clothing — merchandise
equipped with identifica-
tion tags can provide con-
sumers with information,
optimize warehouse stor-
age capacities, and sim-
plify retail logistics. The
copper lines are the RFID
chip’s antenna.
produce water-resistant MOBY transponders
that identify laundry in hospitals and senior cit-
izen homes. A sensor sewed into the clothing
will measure temperature. If the water is too
hot for a particular item, it will automatically
send a signal to the washing machine, which
will then lower the temperature. ➔In five to ten years, RFID tags will be able to
communicate with one another. It will then be
possible for a defective component to inform a
machine that it has to be replaced, or for a
clothes closet to check if it still contains any
clean shirts. Such tags could also be thrown
around like confetti to create a self-organizing
sensor network that monitors the weather or
identifies pollutants in soil (Pictures of the Fu-
P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N C o n t e x t A w a r e n e s s
machines, and even transport systems that
communicate on a peer-to-peer basis to guar-
antee optimal productivity in every situation.
If, for example, a machine fails, production
pieces fitted with RFID tags will search for a
new machine and transport themselves to it
autonomously. The same process would occur
if a new machine were brought into the pro-
duction system or if manufacturing processes
were altered. Franz has built a demonstration
unit for this in his lab that consists of a model
train and construction set. Toy cars serve as the
components that have to be processed at vari-
ous stations, which represent machine loca-
tions in a factory. Communication is via WLAN,
although any other transmission system could
be used as well. If Franz shuts down a station,
the train (i.e. the conveyor belt in a factory) will
go to the next suitable station. “We believe our
concept offers economic benefits,” says Franz.
The concept is currently being presented to
several Siemens divisions in order to adapt it to
production processes and business models.
Talking Machines.The “Internet of things”
cannot be created with RFIDs alone. For in-
stance, for a soft drink machine to communi-
cate with a distributor, sophisticated long-
range radio communications technologies will
be required. Such systems will use standards
such as GSM, GPRS and UMTS “to connect a
mobile radio module — a board with chips and
software — to sensors,” says Doris Altwasser
from Siemens Communications. The market
potential for machine-to-machine (M2M) com-
ture, Fall 2004, p.70 and 72). For Elgar Fleisch,
professor of Technology Management at the
Universities of Zurich and Sankt Gallen,
Switzerland, it is clear what this “Internet of
things” will lead to: “Billions of sensors and ob-
jects that transmit data will form a global nerv-
ous system of the real world.”
At Siemens Corporate Technology (CT), a
team led by Marquart Franz is addressing this
concept, which is referred to as pervasive com-
puting (Pictures of the Future, Fall 2004, p.48),
as well as the subject of distributed intelli-
gence. Franz has analyzed production
processes and discovered that they don’t dis-
play the kind of flexibility often needed. His vi-
sion of manufacturing in the future involves
rigid processes being replaced by components,
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Personalization is an important trend in the
consumer goods industry. According to experts,
companies that offer personalized products will
realize competitive advantages from stronger
ties to their customers. (see pp. 19, 23, 31)
Many everyday items can be personalized,
from websites for online shopping to computer
user interfaces, cell phones, automobiles and
individualized electronic systems for the home.
RFIDs and M2M communications will endow
objects with identity. (see pp. 19, 34)
Users alter products by changing settings to
suit their individual needs and preferences.
There are also systems that analyze users’ be-
havior and then offer suggestions related to automatic adjustments. However, users must
always be able to control changes that are
made. What’s more, personalization must provide clear benefits to the user. (see p. 19)
Cell phone-based avatars establish a personal
relationship between the product and the user.
They are designed to increase enjoyment while
simplifying use. (see p. 19)
Personalization is an important trend in the
healthcare sector. In the future, patient data
will be intelligently processed and promptly
made available for diagnostic purposes, making
clincal decision-making easier. This information
will also be accessible by means of electronic
health cards. Siemens is one of the largest suppliers of integrated systems for doctors’
practices and clinics. Technologies from
Siemens have helped Alegent Health Lakeside
Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska become a pioneer
in personalization. (see pp. 24, 28)
Molecular medicine is the wave of the future.
Together with U.S. research institutes, Siemens
is developing new processes for the early detec-
tion of tumor cells, with the help of nanotech-
nology, molecular imaging, and magnetic resonance tomography. Siemens’ quicklab mini-laboratory technology can help to identify
individual genetic predispositions, a major step
toward affordable preventive care. (see p. 26)
Access rights to personal data must be clearly regulated. With this in mind, Siemens is
developing appropriate security technologies.
Electronic patient files offer a degree of trans-
parency that was never possible with paper.
The files automatically register who has opened
which sections, thus making abuse much more
difficult. (see p. 32)
Personalization in general:
Dr. Stefan Schoen, CT IC 7
Bernd Holz auf der Heide, Com
Smart home:
Erich Kamperschroer, Com
Guido Meier-Arendt, Siemens VDO
Dr. Hans-Gerd Krekels, Siemens VDO
Dr. Nhu Nguyen Thien, Siemens VDO
Objects with personalities:
Dr. Carl Udo Maier, CT SM
Marquart Franz, CT SE
Data security:
Dr. Uwe Bork, Com
Medical technology solutions:
Dr. Mohammad Naraghi, Med
Dr. Alok Gupta, Med
Electronic health cards:
Werner Braun, Com
Molecular imaging:
Dr. Christian P. Schultz, Med
Prof. Hartmut Wandke
Amy Protexter
Director Corporate Communications
Alegent Health,
Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital
Center for Molecular Imaging Research (CMIR):
Future Store:
Finkenzeller, Klaus, RFID Handbook, Wiley, 2003
Shepard, Steven, RFID, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, New York, 2004
In Brief
Cell phones will create ad hoc
mobile radio networks by communicating with one
another and forwarding
conversations without routing
signals to base stations. M
obile telecommunications aren’t really
all that mobile. Normally, a connection
can be established only if there’s a nearby
base station with permanently installed trans-
mitting and receiving antennas, and the base
station is in turn linked to a relay center via ca-
ble. But that may change. Researchers around
the world are working on a much more flexi-
ble mobile radio network — one in which cell
phones and laptop computers will be able to
establish contact with one another directly,
without detouring through base stations. The
devices will then spontaneously form connec-
tions among themselves — “ad hoc net-
works,” as they’re called. Such networks
because each request spreads like an ava-
lanche across data lines until finally, purely by
chance, it hits a computer somewhere that
has the desired file stored on it. It’s entirely
possible that the request will cross oceans
and continents even when the computer be-
ing sought is in the house next door. With a view to resolving this problem, researchers at Siemens are developing
processes that structure data traffic. In a proj-
ect called PeerThings, information is spread
among thousands of peer computers. To
achieve this, each piece of information, such
The underlying technology for this is the
Resource Management Framework invented
and refined three years ago by a team led by
Alan Southall and Steffen Rusitschka of
Siemens Corporate Technology. This is a soft-
ware framework containing the computa-
tional rules for managing and operating the
P2P database. The team used this framework
to develop a system mature enough to be
used in an application. In the course of this
work, TUM engineers from Jörg Eberspächer’s
group simulated the framework. The results
were promising. The system worked with as
eration of mobile radio technology, which
could be market-ready in about ten years. Prof. Jörg Eberspächer, head of the TUM’s
Communications Networks Institute, is sure
cell phones will be so intelligent before then
that they’ll be capable of comprehensive ad
hoc communication. And for users, flexible
networks promise lower priced mobile com-
munications since calls will not need to be de-
toured through a central switching station. Nevertheless, a number of thorny techni-
cal questions need to be resolved before ad
hoc networks become practical. For one
thing, handsets will have to manage some of
the work now handled by relay centers —.
things like recording information and for-
warding it to the correct address. Further-
more, the ad hoc connection’s stability must
be guaranteed. As part of IPonAir (Internet Protocol on
Air), a project funded by the German Ministry
of Research, Eberspächer and his colleagues
are working with Siemens and other compa-
nies to solve such problems. In simulations,
TUM engineers have demonstrated that the
risk of a dropped connection can be reduced
by setting up multiple ad hoc paths between
transmitter and receiver. In other simulations,
the researchers are studying how buildings
affect the properties of an ad hoc network. To
what degree is the signal scattered by the cor-
ners of buildings? When does disruptive inter-
ference occur? And, since ad hoc participants
will be constantly in motion, how will mobile
terminals react spontaneously to sustain
communication? One crucial question is the
level of transmitting power needed. Re-
searchers working under Prof. Joachim Hage-
nauer, head of the TUM Institute for Commu-
nications Engineering, have found that, for ad
hoc “hopping” of conversations, the radiated
power of the cell phone can be reduced to as
little as one sixteenth of its current level.
That’s because the phone will only have to
transmit its message to the next handset.
Communications Democracy. Intensive co-
operation is now underway in another com-
munications technology that’s similar to the
ad hoc principle in its basic features: peer-to-
peer communication (P2P). This concept be-
came popular a few years ago with the emer-
gence of Internet file-sharing services, in
which music files, for instance, are sent from
one computer to another without detours
through central servers. “Peer” refers to an in-
dividual computer or user. At present, P2P ac-
counts for over half the traffic on the Internet
— a huge burden on broadband connections
Fusing Ad Hoc and P2P
In the future, conversations will hop from cell phone to cell phone and even skip over areas with no
coverage. That’s the vision being pursued by Siemens and the Technical University of Munich.
would make it possible to receive data even in
areas not covered by cellular networks. Start-
ing from the last reachable base station, a
conversation would simply hop from cell
phone to cell phone until reaching its tar-
geted device. This new concept allows radio
cells to be flexibly and spontaneously ex-
tended (ad hoc) in accord with demand, be-
cause the more cell phones are in an area, the
better it works. The current system, on the
other hand, becomes increasingly clogged as
the number of users simultaneously placing
calls increases.
But there’s more behind the idea of ad
hoc networks than just improved flexibility.
The main reason this technology is important
is that high fundamental frequencies will be
needed for future multimedia transmissions,
because such frequencies transport more
data. However, they have one major draw-
back: Their range is shorter than that of the
frequencies used today. That’s why critics are
concerned that tomorrow’s multimedia com-
munications environment could require even
more mobile phone masts. Ad hoc networks
could keep that number under control.
Considering all of this, Siemens scientists
are working with the Technical University of
Munich (TUM) on a number of research proj-
ects regarding the next — the fourth — gen-
as a music recording, is automatically con-
verted into a numerical value. Each computer
in the P2P community is in turn responsible
for a certain section of the number. For ex-
ample, a piece of music with the ordinal
number “60,000” would be stored on a com-
puter that manages values between 50,000
and 65,000. If a user sends a query into the
Internet, the search focuses specifically on
the corresponding numerical value. “Of
course, such a system works only if users’
computers are connected to the Internet,”
says Dr. Markus Böhm, PeerThings Project
Manager, who is with Siemens Communica-
tions. But considering that a growing number
of users already pay flat rates for their con-
nections, and are thus always online, a sys-
tem of this kind makes sense.
many as 1.5 million participants. What’s
more, it remained stable even though users
were online only about one hour on average,
because data was present at multiple loca-
tions. Eberspächer has faith in this global net-
work of knowledge. “I think the most impor-
tant thing in the future won’t be that we’ll
know where we can find information, but
simply that it will become available to us in
the shortest possible time,” he says. His vision
is the fusion of ad hoc and P2P technologies.
One of his favorite examples is the search for
a taxi in a major city. In the future, it might be
enough to simply press a button and send a
request from cell phone to cell phone through
a “multihop” ad hoc network to the nearest
peer — and that person could be the taxi
driver around the corner. Tim Schröder
A simulated P2P network connected 1.5 million users without using central servers.
Working together to foster talent and innovation is a top priority for Siemens and the
Technical University of Munich (TUM). That’s why both parties have been running the Center
for Knowledge Interchange (CKI) since 2001. “The CKI merges the practical experiences of
researchers at Siemens with the scientific expertise of their TUM colleagues,” explains Martin
Zißler, who manages the CKI for the TUM. It provides professional contacts for both sides
and ensures that cooperative agreements can be implemented without a lot of bureaucratic
red tape. Since the terms and conditions are clarified in principle, only a few agreements are
required for the start of a new cooperative project. “Naturally, the CKI also opens up career
prospects for young researchers engaged in joint proj-
ects — particularly for those with entre-
preneurial spirit who can combine tech-
nological expertise with business
sense,” says Prof. Hubertus von
Dewitz, Siemens CKI Manager.
Over the course of the last
two years, the CKI has
overseen more than 50
projects. For further information, visit:
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE Res ear c h Par t ner s hi ps
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
May 2015.
Jan Brenner, an augmented reality specialist, just joined a company that provides remote maintenance services
to customers worldwide. Today he’s getting a truck in
Australia back on the road.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Always at Your Service
ell, Tony,” asks Jan Brenner. “Did any-
thing happen while I was on my coffee
break?” “No, everything’s okay,” replies Tony
Wang. “I even had time to look at all the data
from the computed tomographs at the Mayo
Clinics. They all look good, except for one. I
left a note asking the chief technician in
Rochester to have a comprehensive diagnosis
performed as soon as possible — it can’t be
done during normal operations. I don’t think
the X-ray tube will last much longer,” says
Tony as he scans operating data sent by med-
ical equipment at other hospitals.
Siemens’ remote expert centers are hubs for the remote maintenance of hundreds of power stations around the world. Page 48
At the Hardware Center run by the Superior Remote Services company,
three experts are using data lines to
support customers by maintaining, repairing and optimizing various products — from vehicles to power
stations and computer tomographs.
They’re able to link up with the control systems of these devices and
see the same user information that the customers are looking at on site.
Whether it’s excavators or medical machines, all users benefit from mo-
nitoring, knowledge acquisition, and
preventive maintenance. Page 51
A new Siemens technology opens a
world of two-way audio and video maintenance using the bandwidth
employed by any cell phone. Page 54
Telemedicine is cutting healthcare
costs while allowing chroncally ill patients to be safely monitored from
home. Page 58
In the near future, remote service
will help to detect malfunctions in
cars, trucks and trains. Warranty
costs will be lowered, and many
breakdowns will be avoided. Page 61
Jan sits down again at his workstation in
the Hardware Center of Superior Remote Ser-
vices (SRS). He’s been working for two
months now at SRS, the most important com-
pany in the remote control sector. The com-
pany earns its revenues exclusively through
the remote monitoring, control and optimiza-
tion services it provides for every conceivable
type of apparatus, machine and equipment.
In his previous job, Jan was an “augmented
reality specialist” for a software company that
designed virtual computer worlds for water
parks. But the job advertisement that his em-
ployment agency found on the Web sounded
even more interesting. That’s why he decided
to come to work at SRS.
At first he was amazed by the broad range
of services the company offered. SRS started
out as a small service operation for PCs and
game consoles 15 years ago, when the dan-
ger of viruses from the Internet was still con-
siderable. By offering fast and reliable on-line
assistance, SRS soon dominated an important
part of the market. Little by little, it received
monitoring and maintenance contracts from
larger companies as well. Through purchases
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
hen a milling machine stopped work-
ing 25 years ago, a service technician
had to travel to the site to repair it. In a worst-
case situation, it could take days before the
machine would mill components again. While
mechanical components were most often to
blame back then, today many faults are soft-
ware-related. Companies therefore have serv-
ice contracts that ensure swift assistance. In
the ideal case, manufacturers cut the risk of
failure even further by remotely monitoring
machine operation and intervening promptly
if anything goes wrong. In the future, remote
services like this will have to be able to ac-
tion based on production data analysis,”
explains Dr. Rainer Speh of Siemens Power
Generation (PG). Speh heads a team that’s
addressing the opportunities and challenges
of remote services on a company-wide basis
in the context of Siemens’ top
business excellence program. “In the future, a power plant’s automation
systems could be improved by remotely mod-
ifying control system software to boost the
plant’s performance,” says Speh. Gas turbines
could be optimized by having the service
provider compare transmitted operational
data in real time with the way identical sys-
complish even more, because cost pressures
will continue to rise. As a result, the availabil-
ity of machines and facilities will be even
more critically important. Whether it’s a computer tomograph or a
welding robot, a gas turbine or an electric lo-
comotive — every customer wants prompt
service in the event of failure. Remote serv-
ices are already supplementing conventional
ones. Problems can be solved over a hotline,
or a plant can be monitored through a simple
data line. “But fault correction is only part of
the story. The other part is preventive mainte-
nance, software updates, and plant optimiza-
Help from afar. Service experts — like
these at the Remote Expert Center for Power
Plants in Karlsruhe — can
use state-of-the-art com-
munications to monitor,
maintain and optimize a large number of machines or facilities. R E M O T E S E R V I C E S S c e n a r i o 2 0 1 5
and cooperative projects with manufacturers,
the company eventually gained expertise re-
lated to industrial units and processes in areas
as diverse as power stations, building mainte-
nance technology and diagnostic equipment
in hospitals. Jan quickly realized that the com-
pany’s success was ultimately based on its
employment of leading specialists from all
over the world. After a month of training at
company headquarters in Dublin, Jan was dis-
patched to his native Prague, one of the com-
pany’s four main branch offices. If he does
well here, he may soon be working in Shang-
hai, Bangalore or Boston.
Suddenly, his co-worker Elizabeth Rowley
rouses him from these pleasant thoughts:
“Hey, Jan! Wake up! You’ve got a call from
Australia!” Elizabeth, a brunette from Ireland,
throws him an angry look, turns her back on
him and continues her conversation in Russ-
ian. She’s talking to the engineers at a gas
turbine power station in St. Petersburg, trying
to persuade them to use the operating pa-
rameters she has optimized for them so that
they can increase the facility’s efficiency. Eliz-
abeth, who has a degree in mechanical engi-
neering, is visibly irritated as she explains to
the shift foreman that the figures are based
on a comparative analysis of 250 other power
stations. As she speaks, she impatiently
swings her foot back and forth.
‘In their eyes, I’m just an insignificant
game designer,’ thinks Jan as he tries to avoid
staring at Elizabeth’s legs. Absent-mindedly
he says into his headset, “SRS Hardware Cen-
ter, AR Department. Jan Brenner speaking.
How can I help you?” “Hi, Jan,” says a resonant
voice. “It looks like I’m stuck in the outback.”
“Wait just a second for the image transmis-
sion to kick in.” A split-second later on his big
monitor, Jan sees the cab of a truck, with Ay-
ers Rock in the background. Suddenly the im-
age swerves, and a sweaty man wearing a hat
appears onscreen. He’s obviously holding his
cell phone camera in front of his own face.
“Hi, I’m Thomas from TALogistics — we’ve got
a maintenance contract with you. I’ve got
frozen pork bellies in the back, and my engine
just broke down. It’s going to be dark soon.
Can you link up with me and find out what’s
going on? I hope it’s nothing serious — ‘cause
if it is, the things are going to melt on me in
the fridge compartment.” With Thomas still
grinning at him, Jan quickly establishes radio
contact with the truck’s onboard computer.
He uses a code to access Thomas’ log-ons and
takes a look at the most recent data available.
“I wouldn’t worry,” he says. “It doesn’t look like
a mechanical defect to me. But the tempera-
ture under the cab is very high. And I also see
that a ventilator in the onboard computer is
out of commission. The system has probably
crashed because it’s overheated. Wait just a
minute, I’m going to download the operating
instructions for the truck. In the meantime, I’d
like you to open the lid of the onboard com-
puter. I’ll tell you precisely where to hold your
cell phone camera.”
Jan tells the trucker exactly what he has
to do to repair the ventilator. On his cell
phone display, Thomas sees the markings Jan
is transmitting to him from the video that’s
part of the operating instructions. This allows
Jan to help him out with the order of the in-
structions, such as loosening various screws
and removing a number of covers. In only ten
minutes, Thomas has uncovered the ventila-
tor. “Aha,” he says, “I see what’s going on. One
of the contacts is loose. Darnn unpaved roads
responsible.” “Attach the cable, screw everything to-
gether again and reboot your computer.
Maybe you should stick your chewing gum on
it for good measure,” jokes Jan. “By the way,
have you been using more diesel fuel
recently?” “How did you know that?” asks
Thomas. “I was starting to think the stuff was
evaporating from the tank!” “Well, the prob-
lem is probably the injection system. Our
automatic diagnostic tool suggests a software
update, which should optimize your synchro-
nization in no time. I can send you the update
right now.” Jan jots down a note for himself to
check the trucking company’s other vehicles
as well, he wishes Thomas a good trip, and
brings the service call to a close.
In the meantime, Elizabeth has convinced
the Russian engineers to use the parameters
she has worked out for them, and she’s sold
them a one-year contract for an optimization
tool. She’s been watching Jan in action for a
while now. “You know, for a greenhorn you’re
not too bad,” she remarks, and for the first
time her gaze isn’t mocking. ‘It’s now or
never,’ Jan thinks to himself. “Um, Elizabeth,
you know we’ve got a maintenance contract
with that fancy Italian restaurant... the one,
over near the Carl Bridge,” he says. “Isn’t it
about time we showed them our new energy-
saving model? How about the two of us stop-
ping by there, just casually, maybe this
evening…” Norbert Aschenbrenner
High machine and plant
availability is crucial to
competitiveness. Here, re-
mote maintenance can
help to cut costs and accel-
erate production. Siemens
is going one step further
with an approach that will
eventually make it possible
to optimize entire plants
via the Internet.
Data on
What are the main benefits of remote
Weiß:The most important thing is the time
factor. In the case of plant components, we
don’t always have a service partner available
locally. And as the operator, we often lack
the required nuts-and-bolts expertise. When
something goes wrong, it’s usually vital to
correct the fault promptly.
Do you improve plant availability if the
service partner can respond faster?
Weiß:Absolutely! Availability is very im-
portant. We’ve got base load plants that are operating with an availability of over 90 per-
cent. That’s as good as it gets, and not just in
Germany. Another advantage is that a service
partner like Siemens can apply experience
from all the plants that it services to help us
detect problems early.
How do your diagnostic systems work?
Weiß:We have three of them. In offline di-
agnosis we sample data at regular intervals.
Our experts analyze these data to determine
when repairs are required, say for large pump
motors. We use online diagnosis when avail-
ability is paramount. So major subsystems —
like in the newly installed power units at the
Schwarze Pumpe and Boxberg power plants
— are connected to a central control room.
We use the third version, the remote services,
particularly in our control systems, and that’s
been working very well with the Siemens Remote Expert Center in Karlsruhe.
Can you increase efficiency or perform
preventive maintenance with this
Weiß:Yes, we can. Any increase in effi-
ciency lowers specific carbon dioxide emis-
sions, among other benefits. We can use
highly specific diagnostics to detect areas
that cause a loss in efficiency, or where a
worn part needs to be replaced. As recently
as ten years ago, we had to completely dismantle every turbine into its component
parts at regular intervals and then reassem-
ble it. With today’s diagnostics, we can see
that such component-level inspections of
turbines aren’t needed that often. As a result, we’ve been able to substantially
lengthen the intervals between complete inspections in the power units of our base
load plants. We used to conduct such inspec-
tions every three to six years. Now we do
them every four to eight years.
What’s the sequence of events in your
remote maintenance?
Weiß:With our permission, a technician at
Siemens in Karlsruhe can visualize the entire
control system of a power plant via an ISDN
line on a display screen and discuss func-
tions with our technicians, or even download
new software.
Suppose a malfunction takes place on a
weekend. What happens?
Weiß:We run our base load plants continu-
ously with three shifts, even on holidays. If
anything happens that’s out of the ordinary,
the first person to be contact is a specialized
engineer at Technical Service, via mobile
phone. For special situations we have agree-
ments with service partners. A call to their
hotline might be sufficient, but we could, if
necessary, even have someone link up re-
motely. But not every problem requires an
instant solution. Many situations can wait
until Monday, because we’ve got redundan-
cies in many of our components.
Let’s talk about data protection and se-
curity. Doesn’t it bother you when a
service partner like Siemens is looking
over your shoulder?
Weiß:Not really. We’ve got nothing to hide,
and the service partner is contractually re-
quired to handle the data on a confidential
basis. I’m more inclined to expect problems
in the area of responsibility or liability. We
transmit our data without analysis to the
service partner. Let’s say something is over-
looked at the service center, and the plant
goes down. Now who’s liable? It goes with-
out saying that communication takes place
through absolutely secure channels.
What’s your vision for the year 2015?
Weiß:By then we will have made good
headway in machine, turbo set, and genera-
tor diagnostics, and we should have a serv-
ice package for the entire plant from a single
source. Maintenance steps should then be
entirely status-related, and the data should
be used to optimize processes. Neural net-
works, for instance, can be useful in detect-
ing irregularities. Recently, we had a drop in
the feed water flow rate in an operational
power unit. The control system responded by
engaging a second and even a third pump
before somebody noticed that there was a
leak in the water line. A neural network that
analyzes all of the variables and checks them
for plausibility would have detected this fault
much sooner. That’s where the future lies.
We’re researching these matters with several
partners, including Siemens. But there’s one
thing you can bet on: Even in the future, no
neural network will replace our professional
This interview was conducted by Norbert Aschenbrenner.
“Remote Services Ensure
Maximum Availability”
Gerald Weiß, 46, is head of Power Plant Technical Service at
Vattenfall Europe Generation, Europe’s fifth-largest energy supplier. Weiß is responsible for ensuring high-quality service at ten Vattenfall power plants with a total installed capacity of
more than 12,000 megawatts. 45
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S I nt er v i ews wi t h Ex per t s
tems operate elsewhere, and suggesting im-
provements. Speh explains that maintenance
could then be performed when it’s actually
needed, rather than at fixed intervals. “That’s
because faults are more readily noticed when
a system is continuously monitored — that is,
before faults have a chance to affect opera-
tions,” he says.
Prerequisites for remote services include
communications technologies that provide a
high degree of networking within a plant via
WLAN or other wireless connections with
high bandwidths. Software is being used to
Siemens service experts remotely monitor a Vattenfall power plant. Vattenfall’s
power plants have an availability rate exceeding 90 percent. phisticated sensors that can measure all
available operational data continuously and
In addition, the customer and the service
provider must fully appreciate the advantages
of remote maintenance and share the same
interests. Furthermore, customers should be
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S T r e n d s
well as security regulations prohibit direct
connections between corporate networks. A
remote services system employs servers
located in specially secure network zones
that are linked to the customer and the
service provider via encrypted lines. These
servers should also be accessible via the
Internet, so that the full range of commu-
nications can be used. Naturally, they must
also be secured against computer viruses.
Once all of these considerations have
been fully addressed and the customer’s facil-
ity has been immunized against viruses, both
partners enjoy substantial cost advantages.
“Siemens Power Generation, for instance, has
saved tens of millions of dollars in the past
three years through preventive maintenance
on gas turbines — and their customers have
saved even more,” reports Speh. In another example, remote services have
enabled the Power Generation Division of
Vattenfall Europe — Europe’s fifth-largest
energy provider — to prolong the interval be-
tween complete maintenance checkups on its
base load power plants by a year or more.
During this maintenance procedure, the
power unit is shut down for a considerable
period, and every component is carefully
inspected. Vattenfall’s power plants are oper-
ating with an availability rate of more than 90
percent. “That’s as good as it gets,” says Ger-
ald Weiß, head of Technical Service at Vatten-
fall Europe Generation (see Interview).
Foresight Cuts Costs.An optimized mainte-
nance strategy can also yield dramatic sav-
ings in other areas. Siemens experts estimate
that down times for all machine and plant cat-
egories can be reduced by up to 15 percent.
Effective maintenance can also substantially
increase plant efficiency, and that can reduce
energy costs by up to 20 percent. Improved
preventive maintenance planning also reduces
required levels of maintenance personnel and
replacement parts, which can result in further
cost reductions of up to 25 percent. Addi-
tional benefits, such as improved quality of
products and lower environmental impact,
are substantial, but more difficult to quantify.
Siemens already achieves about 30 per-
cent of its sales through service contracts and
prepared to accept manufacturers’ requrests
to track data pertaining to their machines.
Conversely, the service partner must be will-
ing to share valuable information with the
customer — information that’s been accumu-
lated by monitoring the systems of various
other customers. Security is another impor-
tant subject the experts emphasize. Above all,
data transmission must be highly dependable
and secure, to ensure that it can’t be influ-
enced by third parties. These solutions require added invest-
ments, since today’s widely used network
components, such as firewalls and routers, as
an increasing extent to perform operations
that used to be hardwired or embedded in
hardware. As a consequence, subsequent
changes can be made via remote mainte-
nance. Another important requirement is higher
computer performance to process larger data
volumes more swiftly. Images and other
graphics provide a better decision basis than
phoned-in descriptions of problems. Another
advantage is that fault conditions can be
much more quickly analyzed and identified
on the basis of similar events and the history
stored in the database. All this requires so-
Remote diagnosis can detect developing
faults, allowing maintenance to take place
when needed, rather than at fixed intervals. R E M O T E S E R V I C E S F a c t s a n d F o r e c a s t s
he market for remote maintenance and
related services will grow rapidly over the
next few years. According to an analysis con-
ducted by the Gartner Group, the annual mar-
ket volume of industrial applications for such
services will increase by approximately 21
percent between now and 2010, from $13.7
billion to $35.7 billion (see chart). This devel-
opment will be driven primarily by demand
for IT services such as support for configura-
tion and software updating, security services
for eliminating security gaps, and diagnosis
and hotline support for fault analyses. Fifty Billion Voices. Remote services can be
efficiently used only if machines and facilities
are able to communicate with one another via
fixed-line, mobile or satellite networks. Ac-
cording to Forrester Research, in 2005 more
data will be exchanged between machines
than between people, with machine-to-ma-
chine (M2M) data exchange expected to be
30 times greater than the exchange between
people by 2020. And that shouldn’t be sur-
prising. There are about 50 billion machines
equipped with micro-controllers and monitor-
ing and control units — and only six billion
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Networks: Driving Growth
in Remote Services Remote vehicle diag-
nostics is becoming
increasingly impor-
tant (left). The mar-
ket for industrial remote services applications (right) is
already worth
billions, with about
20 percent accounted
for by hardware and
software and 72
percent by remote
services centers.
euros by 2008. And with a 37 percent share,
Siemens is the worldwide leader in this mar-
ket. Furthermore, according to Allied Business
Intelligence (ABI), the total world volume for
M2M equipment and services will reach
approximately $20 billion by 2008.
Thirty Million Networked Homes. Accord-
ing to a market study conducted by Frost &
Sullivan in 2002, sales of remote vehicle
diagnostic systems in Europe will increase
from approximately 180 million euros in 2001
to 1.88 billion euros in 2009 (graph). And a
2002 analysis conducted by market re-
searchers from Datamonitor predicts that
nearly 30 million European households will
be networked by the end of 2005. Such a
development would mean the share of Euro-
pean households thus equipped will have
grown from less than five percent to nearly 20
percent in only three years.
Information released by the European
Commission indicates electronic health serv-
According to a study conducted by
Switzerland’s Intechno-Consulting, in 2003,
the global market for all types of services re-
lating to process technology for the construc-
tion of industrial facilities (i.e. feasibility stud-
ies, project management, purchasing and
financing) will increase from $42.6 billion in
2000 to more than $70 billion by 2010. “Sales
from such services can create additional prof-
itable business that remains unaffected by
economic downturns,” says Horst Meier, a
professor for Production Systems at the University of Bochum, Germany. Studies conducted by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) show that machine man-
ufacturers generate 25 percent of their sales
through services, on average.
people. Wireless M2M communication in par-
ticular is booming (see p. 34). “Mobile com-
munications can transform practically any-
thing into a networked object,” says José
Costa e Silva, head of Wireless Modules at
Siemens Communications. In 2003 there
were slightly less than 20 million wireless
M2M connections worldwide, including me-
ters, alarm systems, vending machines, and
track’n’trace modules. But there will be more
than 300 million by 2008, according to a
2004 study conducted by e-principles. The
story is similar when it comes to wireless
modules. Here, Silva sees high growth rates
— already at 34 percent per annum — based
on a 500 million euro market in 2004. But
that market is expected to reach 1.75 billion
ices such as Internet health checks and online
diagnostics and treatments could develop
into the third-largest health care segment af-
ter pharmaceuticals and medical technology
systems (see p.58). The total European mar-
ket volume for this segment is estimated to be 11 billion euros, with forecasts indicating it
will account for five percent of all health care
expenditures by 2010. Under optimal devel-
opment conditions, the European market vol-
ume for telemedicine applications such as
home ECGs, ultrasound examinations and eye
telescreenings could increase from more than 72 million euros in 2003 to 1.5 billion euros in
2011, according to a 2004 study by Frost &
Sullivan. That would amount to an annual
growth rate of 42 percent. Sylvia Trage
Value in billions of dollars
Global industrial remote services market:
A $36 billion business by 2010
Source: Gartner Group, CT SM Remote services consulting
For end-to-end solutions
System integration, incl.
hardware and software
Delivery and installation of automation and communication
Installation of remote services
communication centers
Remote services operation
Continuous monitoring Analysis of customer problems
Measures for solving problems
Making service engineers available
Software downloads 3.8
Sales in millions of euros Units in thousands
Market volume for remote vehicle diagnostic
systems in Europe:1 billion euros by 2005
Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2002
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S T r e n d s
is committed to a comprehensive appoach in
its remote maintenance activities. Virtually
every Group is studying new business mod-
els. Cross-functional and cross-divisional
teams are developing compatible interfaces
for all remotely serviceable products, as well
as a company-wide software platform. “Our
vision is to conduct remote services through a
single communications channel,” explains
Speh. “Customers will then require only a sin-
gle line to handle all their services.”
In addition to equipment that generates
electric power, power plants also have a con-
together, all of this enables us to not only
identify what kind of system we’re connected
to at the other end, but also to have it trans-
mit current operational data,” notes Speh.
Another part of this strategy is the com-
pany-wide service platform and a worldwide
information and communications pool for Re-
Orlando, Florida, Siemens operates a service
center for the centralized maintenance of gas
turbines throughout North America (see page
48). And another center located in Erlangen,
Germany provides such services for Europe
and Asia. Meanwhile, a team located in Berlin that
develops gas turbines and is thoroughly
familiar with their characteristics, works
closely with Orlando and Erlangen. Here’s
trol system, a phone system and heating and
air conditioning systems, all of which require
separate access lines. The situation is similar
in hospitals and industrial plants. Speh’s team is therefore developing an In-
ternet-based service that can consolidate re-
mote maintenance activities for products
from different Siemens Groups. A prototype
already exists that combines the Com Group’s
telecom network management system, the
Transportation Systems Group’s fleet man-
agement system for electric locomotives, and
the Power Generation Group’s next genera-
tion power plant control systems. “Taken
mote Services that supports professionals in
different Groups with know-how, service bul-
letins and strategies. “The integration and in-
terchange of data and service functions can
substantially improve service performance —
and consequently increase customer bene-
fits,” says Dr. Erich Niedermayr, who heads a
cross-functional team at Siemens Corporate
Technology (CT) that’s working on improving
this situation. At present, Siemens’ service centers are
not interconnected. They are only connected
directly to customers. But that’s changing.
Niedermayr points out, for instance, that in
how: Operational data from a plant in the
Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. can alert Or-
lando to irregularities that are uncommon,
yet which lie far below the alarm threshold.
“Now specialists in Berlin or Erlangen who
know all about that sort of plant can analyze
the data and give timely advice to prevent im-
pending damage,” Niedermayr explains.
Versatile Service Platform.Such interac-
tions are facilitated by a service platform
that’s now under development. “All author-
ized participants get the same access to the
available body of data,” says Niedermayr. The
Internet and the Siemens intranet allow very
fast and simple access to machine data
through a browser. The platform is based in
part on the existing IT infrastructure of the
Communications and Medical Solutions
Groups. Initial integration tests have been success-
ful. Experts at Power Generation, for instance,
have used the remote monitoring infrastruc-
ture originally designed for medical systems
to monitor a power plant in Indonesia and
even to correct faults. The next step will be to determine what
requirements have to be met so that other
Siemens Groups can use the platform in the
future. There’s no shortage of desire to ac-
complish this, since everyone is interested in
saving money. Niedermayr estimates that the
entire company could save more than 100
million euros by making full use of remote
services. In addition, modules of the com-
pleted service platform could be marketed,
and that would spread the use of remote serv-
ices even further. Then Rainer Speh’s vision
would become reality. “In the future,” he says,
“only the data will have to travel, not the serv-
ice technicians.” Norbert Aschenbrenner
In the future, all service specialists will be
able to access the same data in real time
from a worldwide information pool.
A mouse click is all that’s needed to check the location of Siemens’ Dispolok rental
locomotives. A comprehensive remote diagnosis is available for critical functions.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Facilities and Power Plants
More and more communication-enabled industrial facilities are being remotely monitored and optimized.
Siemens specialists serve hundreds of facilities around the
world via phone and Internet connections.
arlsruhe, Germany, 11:30 a.m.: “Hello
Vales Point, this is the Remote Expert
Center in Karlsruhe — I’d like to begin analy-
sis,” says Andreas Dobbertin, who is in charge
of the Center, which is part of the “Service for
Fossil Power Plants” unit at Siemens Power
Generation Control Systems (PG L). Dobbertin
takes a look at his world map on the left side
of his double computer screen and clicks on a
small city near Sydney where Vales Point is lo-
cated. A browser opens on the right monitor
and Dobbertin clicks “Connect.” A few sec-
onds later he sees the latest data from the
Vales Point plant. “They’re not running at full
capacity at the moment,” he comments and
points to the plant’s output, which is 440
megawatts (MW) for each block; the facility
can produce up to 50 percent more than that. Also know as “REC,” the Remote Expert
Center employs approximately 40 people
who currently serve 140 customers world-
wide, among them operators of combined
cycle plants and hard and brown coal plants.
Furthermore, the Center will soon be assist-
ing operators of wind power stations. The
REC offers a complete range of services, in-
cluding remote fault repair, maintenance and
administration. It also offers prevention and
optimization — for example, at a geothermal
plant in Kamchatka, Russia, where Siemens
commissioned the control system iand set up
a remote monitoring system (from Moscow).
“In the past, we did not offer such exten-
sive service contracts because the control
technologies were analog and weren’t com-
munication-enabled,” says REC product man-
ager Theo Rosch. “Furthermore, power plant
operators used to be able to repair a lot of
things themselves. But today, everything is
digital, which means that remote service
technologies can do a lot. On the other hand,
things have gotten more complex. All in all,
communication infrastructures have made
remote maintenance a top service , and we as
a manufacturer can now provide our com-
bined expert knowledge to our customers.”
Remote Assignments Around the World.
The REC successfully solved some 4,800 con-
trol technology problems last year. Customers
contacting the center for the first time are
asked to provide basic information such as
their name, the name of the plant in ques-
tion, and a brief description of the problem.
The call center staff then transfer the cus-
tomer to the appropriate specialist, someone
like Andreas Dobbertin, for example, who is
now in the process of dialing into the Vales
Point internal network. His screen switches to
a window containing ASCII files. “These are
the protocols for internal diagnostic data,” he
explains as he begins searching for the prob-
lem. He doesn’t need to rely on his specialized
knowledge alone but can also access a data-
base that contains documentation on similar
incidents. That isn’t necessary this time, how-
ever, because the analysis of the diagnostic
protocol shows that software for a specific
control system component has failed. Work-
ing with the customer, Dobbertin then starts
getting the software up and running.
PG L has two other service centers in the
U.S. and Australia, “in order to provide better
coverage in different time zones,” Rosch ex-
plains. The RECs are networked with one an-
other and their call centers can be reached
as well as temperature, pressure and vibra-
tion conditions — factors from which engine
performance can be derived. “Continuous
remote monitoring enables us to detect
anomalies at a very early stage. This reduces
the need for unscheduled repairs and cuts the
number of unplanned outages, which result
in losses of several hundred thousand euros
per day,” says Dr. Hans-Gerd Brummel, head
of Power Diagnostics’ Research and Develop-
ment and founder of the PDC. “It also length-
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Service without
around the clock. Staff not only speak Ger-
man and English, but also Spanish and Russ-
ian, among others. Its experts specialize in
control system problems because Karlsruhe is
where such systems are designed and devel-
oped. “This means we can ask the develop-
ment department for assistance in solving the
problem at any time,” says Rosch. Diagnosing Turbines Online. Across the At-
lantic in Orlando, Florida, employees at PG‘s
Power Diagnostics Center (PDC) deal with is-
sues relating to the “muscles” of the power
plants (the turbines) rather than the “brains”
(the control systems). Together with an addi-
tional center in Germany, up to 40 employees
continuously monitor power plants that have
long-term maintenance contracts. The key is-
sue here is the condition of the gas turbine, in
particular, the actual state of the turbine
blades, combustion chambers and bearings,
Remote maintenance
and rapid assistance
from experts leads to
a significant reduc-
tion in downtime at
power plants.
Power plants (red) and power plant net-
works (blue) served by Siemens’ Remote Expert Center in Karlsruhe, Germany
(right). The Center serves 140 customers. ens plant service life, and can help ensure
that an unplanned shutdown doesn’t last as
long as it otherwise might — and can even
keep such a shutdown from occurring. That’s
important because shutdowns can cause
hundreds of thousands of euros in lost rev-
enues every day.”
All of Siemens’ diagnostic centers use
standard telephone networks for data trans-
mission (via modem) as well as the Internet,
which is available at any time and from any
location. Regardless of where the centers are
located, security is the top priority. Firewalls
and encryption systems are standard. “The
connection to the power station is always
passive, which means the plant’s instrumen-
tation and control system sends out data but
cannot be affected by the outside world,” says
Brummel. “No customer would ever allow any
active interference via a remote diagnosis
connection.” Most plant operators today
therefore prefer to use ISDN modems, as
these enable them to cut the connection
themselves after a diagnosis has been made
and the problem solved.
Over One Thousand Parameters. “Here in
Orlando, we store gigabytes of data every
day,” says Brummel. That’s not surprising,
given the complexity of the plants and the
large number of sensors involved. For exam-
ple, some 400 to 500 process measurements
are used for the diagnosis of a gas turbine
plant, and more than 1,000 parameters are
incorporated into a diagnosis for a combined
cycle plant. All the raw data is scanned for viruses be-
fore experts examine it. If the data is found to
be clean, it is automatically processed by a
computer program known as PowerMonitor,
which was developed in close cooperation
with Siemens Corporate Research in Prince-
ton, New Jersey. PowerMonitor is a self-learn-
ing diagnostic system that analyzes all avail-
able measurements during a short training
period to determine the correlations between
physical parameters. For each measured
value, an expected value can be generated by
means of neural algorithms. The system auto-
Remote maintenance specialists can call on the expertise of control system developers, whose office is next door. R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Machi nes and Appl i ances
Remote services aren’t only used to monitor devices and machines; in some cases, they can also repair equip-
ment. Furthermore, information from around-the-clock
monitoring helps Siemens engineers to more effectively
analyze problems and optimize their service response.
round the clock, electrically powered
excavators sink huge shovels into the
earth at Fort McMurray. Here in the Canadian
province of Alberta, where the largest known
oil sand deposits on earth are found, the
machines search for oil-bearing sand — even
in the dead of winter. “Thanks to remote
maintenance services, we achieve a 98 per-
cent availability level,” says Bob Rogers, who
oversees the fleet of excavators for the Albian
Sands Energy company.
This success is a result of a carefully
planned maintenance and monitoring strat-
egy — and of Albian Sands’ partnership with
Siemens. Siras (Siemens Remote Access Sys-
tem), a computer-based data-collection tool
from Industrial Solutions and Services (I&S),
provides regular status overviews of the exca-
vator control systems. Each excavator has an
on-board recording system for its drive and
control data. The data flows from the ma-
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Data Mining
Oil sand extraction in Canada.
Huge excavators work around
the clock, even in bitter cold.
Thanks to a comprehensive re-
mote maintenance system, their
availability rate is 98 percent.
matically issues an alarm if the measured
value for a parameter starts to deviate from
the expected value. Later, when engineers
analyze the root cause of the deviation, they
are supported by a rule-based expert system.
Service contracts are currently in effect
for 80 power plants around the globe, with
more than 180 gas turbines monitored on a
continuous basis. “Remote monitoring pays
off for customers,” says Brummel. “But also
for us,” he adds, since warranty costs are
significantly reduced by the timely diagnoses
of anomalies and malfunctions. Indeed,
Siemens saved tens of millions of dollars in
this manner between 2001 and 2004. Sav-
ings for customers are even higher. PG’s cus-
tomers aren’t the only ones who benefit from
teleservice; other Siemens groups, such as
Automation and Drives, Logistics and Assembly
Systems, Building Technologies, and Commu-
nications also believe remote services offer
great potential for their own business devel-
opment. That’s why they established the Re-
Up to five million mail items pass
through the letter-sorting center in Vienna,
Austria every day — for the most part auto-
matically. The letters first go through a sort-
ing machine that generates a digital image
so that an optical character recognition system can read the address. This system
achieves a definitive identification rate of
80 to 90 percent. If the system fails to rec-
ognize an address, a postal worker has to
decode the video image and manually type
in the data — a time-consuming pro
cedure. A barcode is then attached to the letter. But this process could soon be speeded up
now that Siemens Logistics & Assembly Systems (L&A) has developed a “remote reading”
system that improves identification rates and uses the Internet. A pilot project for the new
system has been under way at the Vienna sorting center since mid-2004. In the project, addresses that cannot be recognized are sent via the Internet as encrypted image data to a reading and code center in Konstanz, Germany — which is 700 kilometers away from Vienna. Here, they are decoded while the letter continues its journey on the conveyor belt
in Vienna. The result is then sent back to the sorting center. The system is extremely fast, in most cases requiring less than two seconds. The current bandwidth of 2 Mbit/s makes it
possible to identify 57,600 mail items per hour. Plans call for this rate to be increased to 24 Mbit/s, or 690,000 letters per hour. Customers are billed according to the number of addresses recognized. The advantage for customers is that they can make use of a state-of-
the-art reading system without having to make any investments in equipment or personnel.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Facilities and Power Plants
mote Services Initiative, which is designed to
develop a platform with common applica-
tions — for administering customer data,
accessing data via the Internet, or obtaining
error reports. Plans call for this platform to be
installed in a jointly operated service center,
and to be easily accessible for employees and
customers via the Internet. The basis for the
platform is a platform that Siemens Medical
Solutions developed and now successfully op-
erates for its service package. A prototype is
now being tested. The initiative also seeks to
equip existing and future Siemens products
with standard interfaces in order to make
them teleservice-enabled. “I can imagine a re-
mote process optimization system that could
be used to increase the efficiency of a power
plant or the production quality of a rolling
mill, and also forecast the future condition of
such facilities,” says Hans-Jürgen Sauer, coor-
dinator of the initiative’s working group. Scientists at Corporate Technology in
Munich have taken an important step toward
being able to assess the condition of an in-
dustrial facility. Their “PG AID” program allows
them to conduct machine and process diag-
noses by using existing data from the control
system and then determining the interrela-
tionships between individual value measure-
ments with the help of neural networks. The
system can then calculate whether the unit or
facility in question is deviating from its normal
condition. PG AID was designed for on-site
analysis, but the software can be reconfig-
ured for remote diagnoses. Researchers are
now testing a prototype at a pilot facility.
Back in Karlsruhe, Dobbertin has switched
off the connection to Vales Point. “Our cus-
tomers can relax,” he says. “On average, we
will correct their malfunctions within less
than 90 minutes.” Evdoxia Tsakiridou
Specialists at the Power Diagnostics Center in Orlando (left) discovered a crack in a gas turbine component (right) at a distance of more than 5,000 kilometers, and were able to inform the plant’s operator before any major damage occurred. if it falls within an established range of
tolerances and to identify possible causes of
deviation. “If there’s any doubt, we mobilize
experts who assess what sort of defect may
be on the horizon,” says Lagies.
One decisive advantage over earlier main-
tenance strategies is the additional informa-
tion offered by online diagnostic data. Ex-
perts can identify an impending defect simply
from inconspicuous deviations in the radial
run-out of a drive shaft. Usually, the service
teams can even determine when the imbal-
ance of the shaft would lead to a breakdown.
To accomplish this, they compare the mea-
Agents in Hospitals.Security is also a para-
mount concern in the area of remote service
for medical equipment. Siemens Medical So-
lutions (Med) offers hospitals and doctors’ of-
fices a range of services via data lines.
Siemens Remote Service (SRS) was developed
by Med and implemented in the unit’s own
Service Center. The Guardian program developed by Med
guarantees very fast reaction and repair
times. Via remote monitoring, for example,
specialists can keep an eye on all the equip-
ment in a cardiac catheter lab around the
clock and resolve many problems reported by
the machines. The machines send status re-
ports to the Service Center without having
any impact on hospital operations. Guardian
uses software agents to put maintenance-
related status information regarding systems
on monitors in near real time. By using preset
filtering functions, these agents constantly
collect information from machines and for-
ward it. “This makes it possible for us to iden-
tify defects at an early stage, which in turn al-
lows us to carry out repairs before there can
be any interruption of clinical operations,” ex-
plains Gerald Bechtold, head of the System
Management Center in Erlangen. Before technicians visit a site, they’ve
already used the remote diagnostics system
to consult all the system information needed
to repair a problem. “SRS goes far beyond tra-
ditional maintenance service,” reports Dr.
Wolfgang Heimsch, who heads Customer Ser-
vices at Siemens Medical Solutions. “In the fu-
ture, we will use a central platform to make
benchmark improvements in our customers’
processes, and thus their productivity, while
also tapping into entirely new fields of busi-
ness,” says Heimsch. Pilot tests are currently
being carried out on the operation of clinical
networks and on projects for managing work
The value of remote monitoring becomes
clearer every day. At a hospital at the Univer-
sity of Tübingen in Germany, for instance, a
computer tomograph recently began slowing
down. Technicians at the Siemens Service
Center identified a problem with the com-
puter that calculates recorded images. They
immediately informed Andrea Ganter, the
technical supervisor of the hospital’s Radio-
logical Information System. “At that point, we
knew our tomograph would probably break
down in about two days,” explains Ganter. But
that was a big enough window of opportunity
for rescheduling patient appointments and
finding time for repairs. “Before we had re-
mote monitoring, an event like that would
have resulted in an equipment outage lasting
one and a half days,” says Ganter. “But this
time, the tomograph was up and running
again after only four hours of repairs.”
Andreas Beuthner
surements with defect development data for
similar cases, or retrieve the machine’s main-
tenance history from a database.
In principle, any authorized user can op-
erate the service platform from any PC with
Internet access. Direct access to the machine
is blocked, though. “We receive only diagnos-
tic data,” says Lagies. To unblock access to the
machine, allowing remote access to program-
mable controls, contracting service organiza-
tions and the operator must give their go-
ahead. This guarantees data privacy and
prevents manipulation. One general rule is
that the data is encrypted before it travels
from a machine to Siemens’ servers, and serv-
ice staff must identify themselves with pass-
words before the gateway to the platform can open for them. Access rights to the serv-
ices and data, as well as to administrative op-
erations and machines are in the hands of the
manufacturers and users.
A small box collects data, such as the fill levels and temperatures of storage tanks at a chemical plant near Vienna, and sends the data at regular intervals to a central Web
server via GPRS. A service specialist can connect to the server via PC or cell phone and
check operational values. In emergencies, the box even seizes the initiative itself. If the values indicate a defect, it calls the mobile phone of the expert in charge within sec-
onds. The service — Mobile Control over IP (MCoIP) — was conceived and realized by
the Mobile Communications Systems (MCS) department at PSE, Siemens’ Austrian soft-
ware subsidiary. “It’s a very compact hardware and software solution that also allows access via cell phone through a graphical user interface,” explains project manager Wolfgang Fröhlich. Soon, developers will implement MCoIP’s next level of functionality.
At that point, authorized service personnel will be able to send control signals or target
values to the box via cell phone, allowing them to react quickly if a malfunction arises or even to open a valve or switch on an additional pump, for example.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Siemens’ Guardian software allows machines like this computer tomographic scanner
to transmit reports to a remote center for continuous, around-the-clock monitoring.
chines to the mining headquarters via a wire-
less Internet connection. If an error message
appears, on-site teams can immediately re-
spond. The advantage of this process is that
all the information needed for optimal
machine performance is recorded online by
Siras and is instantly available. Soon, engi-
neers will also be able to use a keyboard and
mouse to access data on processes and elec-
trical or mechanical systems and, if necessary,
initiate a reconfiguration from their desks.
the update service and establishes the con-
nection to a service provider. “There are pro-
totypes for this, but we don’t have any real
end-to-end support yet,” explains Pasteanu.
Whereas a few years ago the concern was
simply getting any reliable maintenance-
related measurements at all for devices and
systems, today the technology is far more
advanced. “A good remote service system
doesn’t just react to error notifications; it also
constantly analyzes the behavior of systems
and compares it with similar cases, so that
major problems don’t occur in the first place,”
says Dr. Erich Niedermayr, a remote mainte-
nance expert at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy who heads a team that’s developing a
comprehensive platform for remote mainte-
nance services (see p. 43). “The trend is for
each device and machine that requires high-
quality service to have its own Web services
that provide access to important status infor-
mation and operational data,” he says.
Built-in Flight Recorders.A separate Web
page that depicts all the parameters essential
for a machine’s operations with almost no
delay — that’s also the dream of Knut Lagies,
who is managing director of ePS & RTS
Automation Software GmbH, a subsidiary of
Siemens Automation and Drives (A&D). Lagies
is convinced that an Internet-enabled service
environment can cut expensive on-site visits
by specialists. “Our customers can correct
many control settings through the ePS service
center,” says Lagies. Such adjustments not
only can fix problems; they may also prevent
them from occurring in the first place.
Like a flight data recorder, the software
registers every movement of a machine or
system, creating a seamless overview of its
status and revealing any flaws. For example,
sensors can record the circular motion of a
twin-axle machine tool, while software iden-
tifies the slightest deviations from optimal
motion. The data, which is transmitted to the
ePS service center, along with other measure-
ments, is automatically checked to determine
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Machi nes and Appl i ances
Whether it’s washing machines, stoves, ventilation hoods or blinds — Siemens
is making the home a more convenient place. The cordless phone is to be the central
user interface for controlling this equipment. And even from outside the house, essen-
tial functions can be monitored via SMS or by calling the home phone and using a voice
menu or tone dialing. By late 2005, products and subsystems for the intelligent home
are to be marketed under the name Gigaset Home Control. The technological basis for
this is a DECT radio module from Siemens Communications that can be integrated into
existing appliances. Beginning this autumn, the serve@home systems from Siemens
electrical appliances, which are already on the market, as well as GAMMA wave, an in-
stallation technology from Siemens Automation and Drives, will be linked. External part-
ners will supply compatible solutions for entrance intercoms, alarm systems and blinds.
All new Siemens household appliances are being produced with networking software
and interfaces. They can be operated with a tablet PC. An information module with a
display that plugs into an electrical outlet can show the machines’ status. A user in the
living room, for instance, could see if the freezer door in the cellar has been left open.
Remote services like this are becoming
increasingly important for efficient operation
of machines and plants. This applies to I&S as
well as to other Siemens units that offer
maintenance services for machine tools,
household appliances, medical equipment
and cell phones. For instance, cell phone manufacturers
and mobile phone companies will soon be
able to monitor and update the software in
users’ handsets via a remote call. Calinel
Pasteanu, Director of Software Technology at
Siemens Communications, expects this will
become common practice in two years. “The
protocols needed for this are already avail-
able,” says Pasteanu. In order to be capable of
receiving upgrades, a cell phone must incor-
porate software that manages its internal
data structures and device characteristics for An expert fine tunes a machine tool through remote analysis of its axle dynamics.
It will soon be possible to use web services to access status and operational data for
any machine that’s crucial to production.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Ubi qui tous Vi deo Suppor t
A world of two-way video communication between service technicians and experts is about
to open, allowing specialized knowledge to be inexpensively focused when and where it’s needed. 54
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Service with Vision
t happens every day. Something goes
wrong, alarms sound, the control panel
lights up like a department store Christmas
tree, and the technical guy on duty can’t fix
the problem. What to do? Normally, the
answer is to call an expert. And then things
really get complicated. What’s the machine’s
model number? Which panel are you looking
at? Did you flip switch number 27 or 28? It
goes on and on. The problem is that things
are just too complicated and the pressure to
get them back on track never lets up.
With a view to resolving this sort of prob-
lem more efficiently, Siemens Corporate
Technology has developed a mobile remote
assistance system called Visual Service Sup-
port (VSS) that can provide good quality, two-
way, real-time, hands-free audio and visual
communication between a technician in the
field and a specialist anywhere in the world
using only the standard 9.6 kbit/s GSM band-
width employed by conventional cell phones.
“This is the first time anyone has been able to
do this,” says Dieter Kolb, who led the VSS
development effort. The achievement is important for a num-
ber of reasons. For one thing, a vast number
of industrial facilities — anything from bot-
tling plants and transformer stations to min-
ing and drilling facilities — are in remote ar-
eas, where the communications infrastructure
is often limited to a GSM signal. Furthermore,
even when a more powerful infrastructure
such as GPRS or UMTS is available, users can
If need be, a technician can opt to send a
single, high resolution image. The image can
be annotated in the field by, for instance, draw-
ing a circle around the subject in question. Behind VSS is the new MPEG-4 AVC (Ad-
vanced Video Coding) aka H.264 video com-
pression standard — which Siemens helped
to pioneer — and an associated video
“codec,” an algorithm that codes and decodes
signals based on the specifications required
by the new standard. “The key to squeezing
video’s normally high transmission band-
width into a mere 9.6 kilobits per second is
the elimination of all inter-frame redundancy
by means of a fast and efficient motion esti-
mation algorithm,” explains Norbert Oertel,
who led the codec’s development at Siemens
Corporate Technology. “Naturally, that
pushed demand on the CPU to the limit. But it
was well worth it because there is no compe-
tition in video transmission under 64 kbit/s.” Major Markets.VSS appears to be headed
for a promising future. Indeed, Siemens Tech-
nology Accelerator (STA), a wholly-owned
subsidiary that specializes in commercializing
leading technologies, is working closely with
internal and external partners to bring VSS to
market. “We see a minimum 50 million euro
per year market for VSS, with a potential mar-
ket ten times that size,” says STA’s Albrecht
Goecke, who is managing the commercializa-
tion initiative. Goecke sees off-shore oil rigs
as a prime target. “If a platform has to shut
down for one hour, an oil company can lose
over $100,000. With VSS, technicians can re-
spond more rapidly and more efficiently, and
the need for expensive site visits from experts
will be cut.”
Goecke — and partners at Siemens Indus-
trial Solutions and Services (I&S) — see VSS
not only as a potentially valuable tool for sup-
porting sales and service on existing Siemens
installations, but as a key to opening the door
to a range of new customers. They foresee
establishment of an international pool of
experts — a kind of virtual call center — that
would support local technicians in a two-way
audio / video & information environment with
expert knowledge, online manuals, software
downloads, and more. Paradigm Shift?Reinhold Achatz, who
heads the Software & Engineering Division at
Siemens Corporate Technology and is in-
volved in the commercialization effort,
agrees. “VSS can make a good contribution to
strengthening Siemens’ position as a service
provider. It can create new business in places
where we have no business — places that are
too remote, too expensive or too dangerous
to send experts,” he says.
Looking further down the road, Achatz
sees VSS as “representing a paradigm shift in
the way service people work. It will open the
door to intuitive services and easier access to
knowledge when and where it is needed —
not just in spectacular, out-of-the-way loca-
tions, but in everyday environments, such as
automotive service centers. I think that in ten
years or so this technology could be as ubi-
quitous as the cell phone is today.”
Arthur F. Pease
Designed for hands-free use, the VSS includes a custom-made wearable computer, a 3 x 3.5 x 6 cm head-mounted
camera, and an OLED (organic light emit-
ting diode) display allowing service personnel to see diagrams, annotations or live images of an expert. VSS MEET S AUGMENTED REAL I T Y
VSS can be improved by augmented reality (AR), a technology in which data is superimposed on what the user sees. Siemens is working with partners on turning AR
into a technology that is helpful in supporting complex remote maintenance applications.
With VSS, technicians wearing data goggles on-site could obtain additional information
directly within their field of vision. As a result, non-specialized personnel could perform
complex tasks. As part of the German Research Ministry’s Artesas project, engineers are
now developing a system that is designed for use with motor vehicles, aircraft and automation technology. Siemens Automation and Drives and its partners are focusing
their efforts on automatic tracking of the technician’s eyes in combination with easy-to-
use devices. Until recently, numerous on-site markings were needed as points of refer-
ence in order to correctly place the superimposed data within the real-life visual image.
However, AR technology will now be able to detect objects without requiring any markings,
thereby making it far more suitable for practical applications. Researchers at Siemens
Corporate Technology are employing a similar approach to introduce augmented reality
to cell phone cameras. For instance, a team headed by Dr. Andreas Hutter has developed
software that merely requires users to move their phones from side to side in order to
calculate the spatial depth of a room and the location of any objects in real time. The
system can correctly identify objects and also superimpose information into the picture.
never be sure how much bandwidth they will
actually have, or for how long, because band-
width varies as the number of users changes.
Finally, even when a powerful local infra-
structure such as wireless LAN is available —
and such environments are ideal for VSS —
companies will not allow external service per-
sonnel to tap into it for security reasons.
No Competition.What makes VSS unique is
its ability to compress, transmit, and deliver
video data at a rate of five frames per second
— enough to create a moving image — over
a single GSM channel that is universally avail-
able, and deliver all of this in a comprehen-
sive hardware package that is tailored to the
ergonomic needs of service personnel. For maintenance work, VSS technology could become as ubiquitous as the cell phone is today.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S B u i l d i n g T e c h n o l o g y
More and more companies
are choosing to have their
building management sys-
tems remotely controlled. This
approach not only makes it
possible to integrate safety
and monitoring services, but
also reduces energy costs. After all, remote stations are
run by experts who know how
to maximize efficiency.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Closely Watched Buildings
matically calls additional contacts, as pro-
grammed. Frantic scrolling through phone
directories is not necessary. In some systems, display screens at mon-
itoring stations show images from closed-cir-
cuit TV cameras. “In case of fire, the police,
the fire department and our control center
are notified simultaneously. That enables us
to tell the night watchman to unlock the
doors so the firemen don’t have to smash
their way into the building,” explains Leon-
taridis. Although remote control centers use the
Internet, unauthorized access to confidential
data is not a problem. “Information is trans-
mitted over highly secure data links,” says
Leontaridis. What’s more, the centers have
emergency power generators so they can
always remain fully operational, even in the
event of a power failure. Tim Schröder
That was the main reason why Tesco, a
British retail chain, decided to connect its
department stores, one by one, to a central
control station. Tesco has about 800 stores in
the U.K., and its energy costs amount to more
than £100 million per year — enough to
supply 100,000 single-family homes. Now, SBT experts are monitoring the first
38 Tesco stores from the Advantage Opera-
tion Center in Cumbernauld, Scotland. With a
single keystroke, experts can access data from
any store. A screen automatically displays a
signal whenever a system reports unusual
values — say the lights are on late at night, or
the air conditioning system is operating at full
capacity after hours. “This may sound trivial, but such opera-
tional errors can waste a great deal of en-
ergy,” explains Peter Schmitt, who works for
Building Automation at SBT. Schmitt is also
the project manager for development of
SBT's global remote-operation infrastructure.
“People often forget to reactivate the auto-
matic timer system after repairs,” he says. to reduce fuel costs. To this end, they have
developed a program that analyzes the way
buildings consume power. Government agen-
cies and businesses that manage multiple
buildings are often unaware of the main fac-
tors involved in energy waste. “All they have is
a stack of utility bills tall enough to suggest
that last winter must have been costly in
terms of electric power, gas or fuel oil,” says
Gärtner, smiling. His Energy Monitoring & Controlling program (EMC) collects usage data from
buildings, for instance from gas and electric meters. If the technology in a building allows,
the meters can be read automatically via the
Internet. “Merely optimizing the heating and
air conditioning systems or changing user behavior can often save five to 15 percent of
energy costs,” Gärtner reports. EMC is also
monitoring energy usage in Austria’s public
tep into a modern department store in
midwinter and you’ll find the interior
pleasantly warm. That’s because the temper-
ature, humidity and ventilation are automati-
cally regulated by an elaborate microproces-
sor-based control system. But what happens
if the system fails? Few department stores can
afford to employ year-round in-house air
conditioning and heating engineers. In short,
outside help is required.
With this in mind, more and more compa-
nies are subscribing to around-the-clock
remote monitoring services. Such services
allow a building to communicate operational
data through the Internet to a remote control
center, where heating and air conditioning
engineers watch displays — much like air
traffic controllers — and intervene promptly
as soon as a system fails to meet defined val-
ues. Remote control centers can receive data
from thousands of buildings, processing fire
and security-related information, building
management information, and much more.
“Interest in remote monitoring has soared
during the past few years,” notes Bernard
Wehrli, who is responsible for the develop-
ment of operations management services in
the Building Technologies (SBT) Group at
Siemens in Zug, Switzerland. He adds that in
terms of conventional building management
systems — in other words, those that are not
remotely controlled — Siemens has the dens-
est network of services, fire control and ac-
cess control systems in Europe. He estimates
the company’s market share in Germany is
around 35 percent. But advances in comput-
ing and telecommunications have changed
the picture. “Now we are offering remote
monitoring in addition to conventional build-
ing management services,” he says. “That cer-
tainly makes us a trendsetter.” And Wehrli in-
tends to keep expanding this line of services.
“We’re committed to providing the customer
with other types of support — whenever pos-
sible through remote monitoring to maximize
efficiency. An example is remote fuel cost
management to improve economy without
reducing comfort levels,” he says.
In such an event, programmed setpoint values
are exceeded, and a warning message is displayed on the screen. It has also become
evident that, without monitoring, many instances of wasted energy were overlooked.
“Simply because people ignore anything
that’s working OK,” says Schmitt. An example
might be a heating system in the cellar that
keeps running at “max” — even though the out-
side temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius
and the room thermostats are set way down.
Monitoring Isn’t Everything. According to
Schmitt, a control station staffed with special-
ists creates value-added because its staff can
do more than just alert someone when there
is a problem. “We bring building, heating and
air conditioning expertise to this service. And
we are in a position to interpret unusual oper-
ating conditions,” he says. Since modern building management sys-
tems provide interfaces for remote diagnos-
tics, technicians at the control center can look
right into the guts of the system. This allows
them to quickly identify specific faults. Has a
pump failed, or is the problem due to the
electronics module that controls the ventila-
tion? Or has someone just forgotten to reset a
manual switch to automatic? In this manner,
they can call up on-site maintenance persons
and tell them what action to take. Robert Gärtner and his colleagues in an-
other SBT subdivision are searching for ways
schools. One advantage of such central mon-
itoring stations (CMS) is that they consolidate
data from many thousands of customers. As a
result, local staffing costs are reduced and
highly trained monitoring experts are effi-
ciently used around the clock. In addition,
products from different manufacturers can be
integrated. SBT’s Security Systems Division (SES) op-
erates 20 control centers in Austria, Germany,
Mexico, the U.S. and other countries. In the
U.S. alone, such centers serve some 12,000
properties. They register break-ins, the pres-
ence of fire or smoke, water and gas leaks,
and other fault conditions. One of the main
advantages of such safety systems, notes SES
marketing manager Maria Leontaridis, is that
the linkage to a variety of sensors and warn-
ing systems protects against a wide range of
possible fault conditions. “We also verify mes-
sages to exclude false alarms,” she adds. If an alarm regarding a possible break-in
reaches the remote control center, a color
code displayed on a monitor immediately
identifies the information as being security-
related. At the same time, the program opens
a window displaying the customer’s data. In a
matter of seconds, a computer dials the tele-
phone number of the appropriate contact
person. This individual can promptly check
whether something is really amiss at the site,
even before the police are called. If the local
person fails to answer, the computer auto-
Better management of heating systems can
reduce energy costs by up to 15 percent.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S T e l e m e d i c i n e
An important trend in healthcare is home monitoring via mobile radio or the Internet. Readings of vital signs taken at
home will mean fewer trips to the doctor and shorter hospital
stays. Software solutions from Siemens are helping medical
professionals evaluate, interpret and manage the data.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Readings from
vercrowded doctor’s offices may soon
be a thing of the past. Many patients
could be taking routine measurements at
home and transmitting the data via a mobile
phone or fixed-line network. Not only would
this cut costs; it would also free up medical
personnel for patients with more urgent con-
ditions. According to a 2004 study conducted
by Frost & Sullivan, the European telemedi-
cine market is expected to grow by an average
annual rate of 42 percent by 2011. And in the
U.S., telemedicine is already helping several
service providers reduce costly home visits by
healthcare workers. “The telemedicine solu-
tion we developed as part of the Soarian
health information system can receive meas-
urement data from many devices,” says
Michael Mankopf of Siemens Medical Solu-
tions in Erlangen. The core of the system is a small central
unit to which a range of special measuring
devices can be connected. Voice instructions
help the patient make measurements. People
with cardiovascular complaints, for example,
can record their body weight, blood pressure
and pulse. And there are other measuring devices for diabetics, coronary patients and
people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The data is then
transmitted via mobile radio to a Soarian system in a healthcare center, where it can be
accessed by authorized medical professionals.
Soarian is an advanced software system
developed by Siemens to make processes in
hospitals more transparent and efficient (see
p. 28). It administers medical records, coordi-
care. In a Bavarian pilot project, medical care
for COPD patients is combined with a psycho-
logical evaluation. Patients at home measure
their pulmonary function, before and after
medication, and answer questions on their
well-being. “We can’t cure COPD patients, but
we can certainly improve their quality of life,”
says Dr. Bernhard Werner of the Clinic for Res-
piratory Diseases in Donaustauf, near Regens-
burg. Since the measuring device is connected
to a modem, the data can be sent to the Soar-
ian database in the clinic at the press of a but-
ton. To access this data, general practitioners
and medical specialists also use a modem.
Healthcare via Mobile Phone. “In five to
ten years, mobile radio will be the standard
means for transmitting this data,” predicts
Mankopf. Among his partners in the U.S. is
the South Carolina Heart Center, where a di-
rect-communication installation featuring a
ing a mobile phone means you only need a
simple measuring device without an expen-
sive display,” he explains. “On the basis of the
data, we can determine if a patient consis-
tently suffers from hypertension or only has a
high reading at the doctor’s.” This information
is valuable since the stress of being in the examination room can sometimes distort the
picture. For other continuous measurements,
Wolf has also developed sensors that can be
mounted on the inside of a bracelet or a ring.
These sensors monitor things like pulse rate
and skin moisture and transmit the data to a
mobile phone by means of Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID) technology.
The world’s industrialized nations are
about to see a drastic increase not only in
cardiovascular diseases but also diabetes. Ex-
cessive weight, lack of exercise and poor diets
are the highest risk factors for metabolic dys-
functions. To cut healthcare costs, it’s hoped
nates the stages of treatment and features
analytic programs that assist doctors with de-
cision-making. The system is available in a
range of modules such as Soarian Cardiology,
which is designed to help diagnose cardiac
complaints; Soarian Clinical Access, which ad-
ministers medical records and is designed for
the forthcoming introduction of electronic
patient files; and Soarian Integrated Care, a
telemedicine application that supports the ex-
change of data and medical images.
The German healthcare system still
doesn’t have an accounting model for tele-
medicine services, but several projects are
evaluating the potential of remote medical
Siemens CX65 mobile phone, weighing scales
and a device for measuring blood pressure
was tested for eight weeks. Patients suffering
from hypertension and cardiac problems used
the system at home to monitor their weight,
blood pressure and heart rate. The CX65 auto-
matically received the readings via a power-
saving version of Bluetooth — thus ensuring
that batteries in the measuring devices would
last for up to three years — and then sent the
data to the Soarian system in the hospital.
Prof. Bernhard Wolf, who holds the Heinz-
Nixdorf Chair of Medical Electronics at the
Technical University of Munich, is also work-
ing in this field. His company, Sendsor, per-
forms a range of such services around the
clock, including lung capacity measurements
and automatic blood-pressure readings. “Us-
Senior citizens can measure their own blood pressure and blood sugar levels and transmit the data to doctors or a hospital, where it’s evaluated with the help of software from Siemens.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S V e h i c l e s
serlohn, a town just outside of Dortmund,
has one of the fastest fire department in
Germany. In about 90 percent of all cases, the
city’s rescue service is at the scene of a fire
within eight minutes. As soon as a caller re-
ports an emergency over a fixed line network,
his or her address appears on a monitor at the
control center. With a click of a mouse, the
fire department sends the data to a rescue
vehicle’s navigation system. Until now, the
rescue worker in the passenger seat often had
to look up the shortest route —which isn’t
surprising, given that the team members are
usually young, and don’t know every street,
even in a city like Iserlohn, which has a popu-
lation of barely 100,000.
“We weren’t able to use a standard fleet
management system here, of course,” says
Ralf Hoffmann, a communications specialist
at Siemens VDO Automotive, which supplied
the system. “So we had to make adjustments
to the equipment and software to ensure that
the route appears on the display without any
buttons having to be pushed — before the
engine is started.” Remote services means
more than using electronic pathfinders to
steer vehicles faster, safer and more effi-
ciently. These services also help to detect and
correct possible damage and malfunctions in
advance, and they make it possible to deter-
mine a vehicle’s position at any time, so that
customers and suppliers know exactly where
their valuable shipments are.
A number of developments have made
this possible. Sensors have been steadily get-
ting better, smaller and less expensive, and
they can continually collect data related to a
vehicle’s operation. Fast onboard computers
process this data in real time and transmit it
via GPRS to a control center. And software is
increasingly taking over the hardware func-
tions, which means that remote services also
can be retrofitted with relative ease. Finally,
the broadband infrastructure is being ex-
panded. That will make it possible to transmit
large volumes of data to and from fast-mov-
ing cars and trains.
In addition to the rescue services in Iser-
lohn, Siemens VDO offers customized tele-
matics solutions for shipping firms, fleet man-
agement companies and towing services.
These solutions allow a control center, for ex-
ample, to transmit loading and delivery ad-
dresses via SMS to a truck cab. Here, the data
is accepted by the navigation computer, en-
suring that the driver takes the shortest route
— even in a foreign country. What’s more, the
system can determine a truck’s position at any
time via satellite and find possible shortcuts
that improve on the originally planned route.
Especially when it comes to transporting valu-
able goods, customers usually specify a
mandatory route in order to make theft and
hijackings immediately apparent.
A control center using such tracking and
tracing also becomes aware of worrisome de-
lays ahead of time. “When it becomes clear
that an agreed-upon delivery time can’t be
met, we phone the customer,” says transport
company operator Peter Lüllau, who uses the
Siemens VDO system. This speedy reaction
avoids aggravation and helps to maintain a
good image with customers.
In the meantime, even fully automated
tracking of shipments has become a reality.
Since June 2004, Siemens VDO has been
offering the Datcom S-Box, which can be in-
stalled in unmanned vehicles such as truck
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Remote services help to detect possible malfunctions
in passenger cars, trucks and trains. As a result, fleet operators can reduce down-
time and serve their customers more quickly. An electronic pathfinder helps to save lives.
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S Interviews with Experts
“Scandinavia is a
Telemedicine Pioneer”
Siri Birgitte Uldal, 36, works at the Center for Telemedicine at Tromsø University Hospital, Norway. She is also president of the Nordic Tele-
medicine Association of Scandinavian
telemedicine organizations. Why are Scandinavian countries the
leaders in telemedicine?
Uldal:It’s because of a development ini-
tiated in 1989 by Norway Telecom (now
Telenor) with the “Telemedicine in
Northern Norway” program. The main
reason behind the program was north-
ern Norway’s very low population den-
sity. From many communities in this re-
gion, long trips to doctors’ offices or
hospitals are very difficult, especially in
winter. Another motive was that Norway
and the other Scandinavian countries
have excellent communications systems.
Each country has its strengths in the ar-
eas its telemedicine policy initially fo-
cused on. Denmark, for example, is the
leader in the exchange of text-based in-
formation, such as patient data and labo-
ratory results. They started using e-mail
for such things very early in Denmark.
Norway, however, has an edge in imag-
ing, for example in videoconferencing
and the transfer of medical images.
Have you found any specific trends?
Uldal: Traditional telemedicine was lim-
ited to videoconferences between doc-
tors and the exchange of medical images
by hospitals. Today, patients are increas-
ingly included in the process, making
telemedicine and e-health more individu-
alized. This means patients are moni-
tored at home more often, eliminating
needless trips to doctors and hospitals.
How are the patients monitored?
Uldal:Most often, this involves taking
ECG measurements. And with patients
suffering from cardiovascular problems,
blood pressure, pulse and weight are
also measured. Blood-sugar levels are
measured for diabetics, and asthma suf-
ferers have their lungs checked. A grow-
ing number of easy-to-operate devices
have become available for such applica-
tions, and all the data they collect can be
transferred to a doctor via telephone. How common are such home readings in Scandinavia?
Uldal:There are about 20 to 30 pilot
projects now, most quite small. In Nor-
way, for example, homecare personnel
take pictures of patients’ wounds and
transmit the images with other medical
data to hospitals. There was also a proj-
ect for children’s skin rashes, in which
parents took pictures and sent the infor-
mation to a hospital. In some cases, this
eliminated the need for a trip to the doc-
tor’s. And in Finland there’s currently a
project in which ECG data and X-ray im-
ages are transmitted by physician’s assis-
tants, who sometimes need the skills of
a highly experienced professional.
What can we expect in the future?
Uldal:The most important trend now in-
volves wireless communications. In the
future, the focus will likely be on special-
purpose clothing. I think rapid advances
in mobile communications will play a key
role in initiating such a step. And once
computers are lighter, it won’t be un-
comfortable for us to wear them.
This interview was conducted by Michael Lang. telephone-based supervision will reduce visits
to the doctor. For the newly diagnosed, however, this
kind of care is often not enough. “When pa-
tients are diagnosed with diabetes, they have
to radically change their habits and diet
overnight,” explains Lena Mamykina from
Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton,
New Jersey. Mamykina wants to help patients
make this change by demonstrating how
their lifestyles and blood sugar levels are in-
terrelated. Her project is aimed at older peo-
ple who mostly stay at home and have regu-
lar daily schedules. With the patients’
permission, Mamykina installs motion sen-
sors in their homes, and the patients wear
Glucowatches manufactured by Cygnus, a
California-based company. At ten minute in-
tervals, this measuring device creates a weak
electric current next to the skin to measure
the concentration of glucose in the tissue be-
tween the skin and the blood vessels. The
blood-sugar readings and the diabetic’s loca-
tion are then transmitted via radio to a laptop,
which combines these two pieces of informa-
tion. The system provides patients with direct
feedback as to how their diet is affecting their
blood-sugar levels. Mamykina is modifying
the program for PDAs and mobile phones so
that general practitioners can access the data
via mobile radio.
Pilot Project for Dementia.Intel has devel-
oped a similar system to help care for
Alzheimer patients. It allows relatives to con-
tinue going to work despite the obligations of
caring for such patients. Sensors that meas-
ure pressure, noise and motion, for example,
can determine if a patient is sleeping or has
perhaps fallen out of a chair. The information
is evaluated using a database maintained by
Soarian Disease Management. “The big chal-
lenge is how best to process the data,” says
Keith Crownover, head of Siemens Residential
Health Solutions in Altoona, Pennsylvania. To
test the sensors, Crownover will run a nine-
month pilot project later this year, together
with healthcare specialist Meridian.
Given the sophistication of the software
that automatically evaluates patient measure-
ments and monitoring data, it’s tempting to
wonder if physicians will still be needed in the
future. “Telemedicine will radically reduce
trips to the doctor, but it will never do away
with them completely,” says Kai-Uwe Schmidt
of Siemens Medical Solutions. “Whoever
takes the reading can easily be held liable.” Ul-
timately, though, it’s the doctors who are re-
sponsible for their patients. Michael Lang
indicating a malfunction, Siemens mainte-
nance specialists contact the locomotive’s on-
board computer to analyze the situation.
Info Services for Trains.Remote services
also make rail travel more convenient for pas-
sengers. Plans call for Germany’s high-speed
ICE trains to be equipped with wireless LAN
networks (WLAN), which allow the reception
of passenger information, among other ad-
vantages. “The data can be transmitted even
when trains are traveling at 300 kilometers
per hour and in tunnels,” says Hermann Dorn,
head of the Trains business segment at Trans-
portation Systems. All that’s needed are an-
tennas at tunnel entrances. “This technology
will be ready for everyday use in one to three
years,” he says. Using WLAN hotspots, information on
train connections, weather reports, and
travel destinations can be provided via cell
phones, PDAs and laptops. And of course rail
passengers can also surf the net. And the day
isn’t far off when any ticket agent will be able
to send seat reservations to a moving train —
even shortly before its departure time.
Passenger safety is another major focus of
remote service. For example, a control center
could use video cameras and a broadband
connection to monitor every rail car, which
would be especially important for local trans-
portation systems. Remote video services
would also be able to determine the numbers
of passengers using a transport system at dif-
ferent times of day, during different seasons,
and during major events, thus providing in-
formation on probable demand. In Switzer-
land, commuter train operators have already
introduced systems that count passengers
when they board and disembark trains. This
makes it possible for rail operators to adjust
service to actual demand more effectively
than was ever before possible.
Günter Heismann
trailers, semi-trailers, railroad cars and freight
containers. Primarily intended for use with
valuable goods shipments, the system auto-
matically reports every change of location
and informs the control center if the doors of
a vehicle or container are opened. The S-Box,
which was designed to ensure long service
life and minimal energy consumption, oper-
ates for years without maintenance or an ex-
ternal power supply. Silent Revolution.The intelligent network-
ing of navigation systems with telematics also
makes new services possible for private pas-
senger cars. For instance, a driver using C-IQ
software from Siemens VDO always receives
up-to-date road maps and information on
speed limits and stationary radar checkpoints
for speed limit enforcement. The system pro-
vides tips on hotels, restaurants, museums,
stores and filling stations. The TMC — Traffic
Message Channel — issues the latest reports
on traffic congestion, road construction and
route changes. “Nevertheless, drivers must
never lose sight of the system’s limitations,”
cautions Jutta Huber of Siemens VDO. “Navi-
gation system suppliers and related services
cannot assume liability for the completeness
and accuracy of the reports; as in the past,
drivers must still accept responsibility for their
behavior behind the wheel. Even the most ad-
vanced system can only support a driver; it
can’t take responsibility for safe driving.”
Disclaimers aside, remote services can
contribute significantly to safer driving. Sen-
sors will be able to collect data related to all of
a vehicle’s drivetrain components — from the
steering and engine to the transmission, axles
and brakes. This data can be transmitted to
R E M O T E S E R V I C E S V e h i c l e s
searchers at Frost & Sullivan forecast that ap-
proximately 5.4 million passenger cars with
remote diagnostics will be sold in Europe in
2009. In 2002 the total was 250,000 vehicles.
According to the study, “Remote diagnostics is
the silent revolution now taking place on Eu-
rope’s automotive market.” Though telediagnostics is still an exclu-
sive feature in a handful of luxury cars, it will
soon be standard equipment in medium-
priced vehicles. By 2009, the average price of
a remote diagnostics system is expected to
drop to 350 euros. Automakers are pleased by
this development because it is expected to
lead to reduced warranty costs and improved
accuracy in statistical data associated with
malfunctions. Design flaws will become evi-
dent more quickly, allowing manufacturers to
correct problems sooner. In similar fashion, technicians, engineers
and software specialists at Siemens Trans-
portation Systems (TS) are working on inte-
grated remote services for rail vehicles. A
notable example is the Dispolok — basically a
rental locomotive for private rail companies.
A key customer here is TX Logistics, which of-
fers about 300 rail connections for freight
transport throughout Germany and neighbor-
ing countries. Rail company managers benefit
from knowing the location of their trains at all
times. And at TX Logistics, a locomotive’s
position can be displayed anytime with the
click of a mouse. As with cars and trucks, the vital operat-
ing components of rail vehicles can also be
monitored via remote diagnostics to ensure
that they function properly and avoid possible
damage. If the telematic system reports data
service centers for analysis. By comparing the
data with reference values, technicians can
determine malfunctions, component wear
and possible component failure in advance.
Before a vacation, for instance, a vehicle
owner would be able to transmit his vehicle’s
“vital signs” to a service center. The data
would be compared with statistics related to
the probability of breakdowns. The resulting
information would allow the vehicle owner to
make an informed decision as to which re-
pairs to implement before the trip, and which
to put off until after the trip. Market re-
Systems from Siemens report on the location of vehicles and valuable goods, ensuring that customers are informed if a delay occurs.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Remote services will become increasingly
important in the future as companies try to
offset rising cost pressures and availability of
facilities and machines becomes more and
more crucial. Siemens solutions allow plant
operators to continuously monitor systems of
all types, eliminate or even prevent faults
with the help of preventive maintenance, and
optimize plant performance. Customers also
benefit from findings made by Siemens while
monitoring similar plants owned by other
customers. (see p. 43)
Remote maintenance is suitable for a wide
range of applications. Siemens systems moni-
tor the operation of machine tools, gas tur-
bines, large facilities such as power plants
and oil refineries (see p. 48), medical equip-
ment in hospitals and doctors’ offices (see p.
51); telecommunications networks, buildings
(see p. 56), and trucks, cars and trains. (see
p. 61)
Offering remote services requires the avail-
ability of advanced communications to en-
sure a sufficient degree of networking. Re-
mote services also require more powerful
computers for processing complex data and
sophisticated sensors for reliably monitoring
operating conditions. (see p. 43)
In return, these systems provide cost sav-
ings and greater plant availability because
they make possible the early detection and
elimination of problems. Siemens Power Gen-
eration, for example, has saved tens of mil-
lions of dollars for itself and its customers in
the past three years by providing preventive
maintenance for gas turbines. And Vattenfall
Europe Generation was able to extend the intervals between complete maintenance
check-ups of its base load power plants by 33 percent. (see pp. 43, 48)
Secure data transmission is essential to re-
mote services. Communications must be reli-
able and secure to prevent third-party influ-
ence. A remote services system uses separate
servers linked to the customer and the serv-
ice provider via the Internet and protected by
firewalls and encrypted lines. (see p. 43)
Siemens has developed a transmission sys-
tem that can forward sounds and images
even at very low data transmission rates.
Known as Virtual Service Support, it makes
possible new remote services applications,
even with GSM mobile phones. (see p. 54)
Remote services in general:
Dr. Rainer Speh, PG
Dr. Erich Niedermayr, CT PP 4
Power plants:
Andreas Dobbertin, PG
Wolfgang Thiel, PG
Gas turbines:
Dr. Hans-Gerd Brummel, PG
Knut Lagies, A&D
Medical equipment:
Dr. Wolfgang Heimsch, Med
Bernard Wehrli, SBT
Maria Leontaridis, SBT
Ralf Hoffmann, SV
Thorsten Riemer, TS
Hermann Dorn, TS
Virtual service support (VSS):
Dieter Kolb, CT SE 1
Augmented reality:
Wolfgang Friedrich, A&D
Dr. Andreas Hutter, CT IC 2
Michael Mankopf, Med
Siri Birgitte Uldal
Center for Telemedicine, Tromsø University
Gerald Weiß
Vattenfall Europe,
Remote services for power plants:
Services for medical equipment:
ePS network services:
In Brief
Thanks to sensors and remote diagnostics,
specialists can identify problems in cars and
trains even before there’s been any damage.
Conventional solar cells consist of two semiconductor layers. At the boundary surface
of these layers, an electric field develops. Impinging photons liberate charge carriers — elec-
trons and holes (i.e. ions lacking electrons) that are conducted to the cell’s metallic contacts.
This causes current to flow in the external electric circuit. Even organic semiconductors can
be excited by photons. But when these absorb light, no free electrons are initially generated.
Instead, excitons are created — electron-hole pairs that are linked by electromagnetic forces
and must first be separated. This separation is achieved by two layers — one that readily
emits electrons (a donor) and another that readily receives them (an acceptor). If such an exciton migrates to the boundary surface between the two layers, the donor transfers an
electron to the acceptor. Those charge carriers are conducted to the external electrodes, and
the unit generates electric current. Instead of using several layers, composites of two organic
materials can also be used (see illustration below). In such cells, donor and acceptor sub-
stances, which serve as hole and electron conductors respectively, are mixed. As a result, the
entire volume of the solar cell is utilized. In the most successful solar cells, a conjugated
polymer, such as poly-(3-hexylthiophene), is used as a donor, and a fullerene as an acceptor.
hey look like oversized photographic neg-
atives, but they also have some of the
characteristics of leaves. They can generate
energy from sunlight and are made of organic
materials. Welcome to the world of organic
solar cells. And unlike their inorganic silicon
relatives, which dominate 95 percent of
today’s solar cell market, these plastics can be
produced faster and at much lower cost,
because they don’t require high-purity crys-
tals, which must be grown. This means they
create opportunities for entirely new applica-
tions, such as plastic films that can power
small devices.
Initially, solar cells made of organic semi-
conductors offered very low efficiencies —
barely one percent, compared to the 14 to 17
percent of conventional silicon cells. That’s
because photons impinging on plastics don’t
immediately produce electrons; they
generate excited states that must
then be converted into free
charge carriers. Nanotech-
nology paved the way for the breakthrough.
A Siemens team in
Erlangen in-
stored in small spaces anytime, they can
recharge batteries in notebooks or mobile
phones — even inside buildings. That’s
because, unlike crystalline semiconductors,
organic solar cells can efficiently convert arti-
ficial light as well as sunlight.
Three key factors will determine the suc-
cess of organic solar cells: price, efficiency
and service life. And because they’re manu-
factured without complex, high-vacuum
crystal growing systems, their cost will prob-
ably only amount to approximately one fifth
of the cost of those based on silicon. Their
efficiency is already considerable, and it will
continue to increase. Service life is still a
critical factor, though, because the cells are
susceptible to oxidation and can be damaged
by humidity. What’s more, there is still a lack
of long-term experience and of standardized
test methods that can be used to measure
product life of flexible cells. Konarka’s near-term objective is to perfect
solar cells that deliver an efficiency of five
percent, have a service life of at least three
years, and that can be manufactured on a
commercial scale. Realizing these goals
would establish Konarka’s organic solar cells
in the field of consumer electronics. “You never know. In five to ten years we
might be a dominant force on the power generation market. By then you might see
rooftops covered with our solar panels,” says
Brabec with a confident grin. Bernhard Gerl
ready had excellent connections from previ-
ous joint projects. Konarka is the worldwide
leader in organic photovoltaics. Alan J. Heeger was one of Konarka’s co-
founders back in 2001. In the early 1980s, he
and his partners discovered conductive plas-
tics, which earned them the Nobel Prize in
2001. “We’re very pleased to have the oppor-
tunity to be working with Christoph Brabec,”
says Heeger. “Including my colleague Serdar
Sariciftci, we now have three of the most
prominent pioneers in conductive polymer re-
search on the same team.”
Just Print It.Brabec and his team are now
working in Linz, Austria, and Nuremburg, Ger-
many, where Konarka has its European head-
quarters. “We come from the electronics and
semiconductor industry,” Brabec explains.
“That’s why we complement the materials
scientists and chemists at Konarka so well.” The company plans to introduce a range
of solar cells to the market and is already set-
ting up its first production lines. Prototypes of
so-called dye-sensitized cells are scheduled to
be delivered by the end of 2005. Konarka researchers are also developing
market-ready multilayer solar cells and cells
based on composites of two organic materials
(box). They are searching for the ideal combi-
nations of plastics and layer thicknesses,
and are developing materials that can opti-
mize the conversion of a broad segment of
the spectrum — including infrared — into
electricity. A major advantage of organic solar cells
is that they can be produced using a simple
printing process. Individual plastic layers
are printed, one after the other, on a sup-
porting material, in a process similar to that
used by a printing press. However, the
production process requires very clean work-
ing conditions, because dust particles can
lead to short circuits in the nanometer-thin
The initial goal is not to replace the exist-
ing technology, such as solar panels used on
rooftops. Konarka is instead focusing on the
unique characteristics of the new modules.
And the fact that they can be dyed and easily
shaped creates a multitude of new opportuni-
ties. Solar cells sewn into garments could
power portable devices, such as mobile
phones or the coolest new digital music play-
ers, and colorful awnings could some day
even serve as electric power sources. Other applications could range from un-
manned vehicles to tents to battery chargers.
And since these solar cells can be folded and
Photons from Flexible
A plastic film that can power a radio on the beach —
Solar cells made of organic materials have brought this
vision within reach. Konarka, a leading manufacturer
of these materials, has joined forces with Siemens and
is planning to introduce its first prototypes this year.
corporated fullerenes — molecules contain-
ing 60 carbon atoms and resembling tiny soc-
cer balls — in a matrix of semiconducting
polymers. Impinging light liberates elec-
trons within the plastic, which are
captured and transported to an
electrode by the fullerenes. In
early 2004, researchers
used this technology
to achieve an effi-
ciency of five per-
cent for the first
time — a world
record. “Ten percent efficiency has come within
our reach. But we’re not just out to set
records,” explains Dr. Christoph Brabec, who
headed this research at Siemens Corporate
Technology. “We want to make products.” After Siemens sold its solar cell
activities to Shell Solar in 2002, Brabec
and his team initially focused on
photodetectors. But that didn’t give
them the opportunity to fully
exploit the potential of this tech-
nology. That’s why a decision
was made to involve an external
partner with abundant applica-
tions know-how in the field.
Thus, since August 2004,
Lowell, Massachusetts-based
Konarka, has been conduct-
ing Siemens’ organic solar
cell business. Brabec and five of his
colleagues transferred to
Konarka, where they al-
Solar cells made of organic materials can
supply power for
portable devices. The cells are manufac-
tured in clean rooms
(top) because dust
particles can lead to
short circuits in
nanometer-thin layers.
PEDOT-PSS: poly(3,4-ethylene-dioxithiophene)/polystyrene
sulfonate; ITO: indium tin oxide (electrically conductive layer)
Plastic film
π-conjugated polymer
– + Contact layer
Contact layer
Composite of organic materials Flexible
Source: MRS Bulletin, January 2005
“Ten percent efficiency is within reach. But we’re not just out to set records.”
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE O r g a n i c S o l a r C e l l s
It’s 2020, and India has been spectacularly successful in improving the quality of its water
treatment systems. The Ganges, India’s sacred
river, has benefited from this progress — as
two students from England discover...
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
River of Life
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E S c e n a r i o 2 0 2 0
he Ganges flows so sluggishly that it
seems to be having difficulties pushing its
way through the hot, humid atmosphere. A
young English couple stands on its banks feel-
ing the effects of the oppressive noonday
sun. Nigel and Mia feel exhausted as they
watch children splashing in the water. “Do
you feel like going swimming?” Mia laugh-
ingly asks her companion. “No, thanks,” an-
swers Nigel. “I heard that the sewage from
more than 20 million people and countless
factories is channeled directly into the
Ganges, more or less without being cleaned.
At least that’s what my father told me, and he
worked in India for a long time. Let’s just
move on.” 2020
Membrane systems will transform
polluted brews into drinking water in major cities and regions hit by natural disasters. Pages 68, 78
In the future, sewage treatment and water purification plants will ensure clean rivers and pure drinking
water — as Nigel and Mia find out in
India. A retired professor who is taking a ritual bath in the Ganges initiates them into the secrets of the
holy river. The excellent water quality of the Ganges in 2020 is due
above all to extremely effective water purification processes. FLUID INFORMATION
Simulators will calculate the waste-
water content of entire sewage systems and simulate the operation of powerful pipelines. Page 73
Catherine Day, General Director of
the EU’s Directorate General for Envi-
ronment, says that water shortages
are also a problem in the EU. Page 77
Production of tomorrow’s pharma-
ceutical products will be meticulously
monitored for quality by analytic systems in real time. Page 82
New catalysts will reduce emissions
of soot and other pollutants. And to-
morrow’s fluorescent lamps will glow without using mercury. Page 84
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E T r e n d s
A genuine “killer appli-
cation” in every sense — this UV lamp from Radium, a Siemens company, treats 20 liters of water in
about 15 minutes. Its powerful UV radiation destroys all pathogenic bacteria in the process.
lack of infrastructure, unequal distribution of
reserves, or simply adverse geographic condi-
tions that prevent access to clean water. Even
in industrial countries such as Spain and Italy,
water shortages are a serious issue (see inter-
view, p. 77). And the problem is likely to become more
acute. According to UN Environmental
Program Executive Director Prof. Klaus Töpfer,
two-thirds of the world’s population might be
living in countries with moderate or severe
water shortages by 2025. “That’s why water is
in the focus of our millennium development
targets,” emphasizes Töpfer. The UN therefore
plans to cut in half the number of people
without access to clean drinking water by
It’s an ambitious goal, and the only hope
of attaining it is by using powerful water
treatment systems that can filter out a multi-
tude of different substances. Many industrial-
ized countries have accomplished this. Their
river water still contains plenty of suspended
matter, but far fewer germs and environmen-
tal toxins than are found in the rivers of de-
veloping countries — thanks to more effec-
tive water treatment (see article, p. 78) and
tougher environmental regulations. Without these safeguards, water can turn
into a noxious soup of hepatitis viruses, bac-
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
for a Thirsty Planet
ast year’s tsunami disaster in southeast
Asia highlighted a problem that seemed
to have been long forgotten, at least in the in-
dustrialized countries: Contaminated drinking
water can be just as deadly as killer waves. According to Jan Egeland, UN coordinator
for disaster relief, contaminated water could
kill even more people than the original flood.
As a matter of fact, unclean drinking water is
literally a global killer and, according to the
UN, causes over 80 percent of all diseases and
more than a third of all deaths in developing
countries. Clean water is therefore a vital re-
source. But one-sixth of the world’s popula-
tion must do without it today — because of a
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E S c e n a r i o 2 0 2 0
A short while later, Nigel and Mia see an
amazing sight. In front of a Hindu temple,
dozens of people are frolicking in the waves,
solemnly diving under the surface or standing
in the water and meditating. “They’re taking
ritual baths,” says Mia, who is impressed.
“Hindus believe that the Ganges purifies the
mind and the soul. A single drop is supposed
to be enough to wash away all one’s sins.”
“Well, it’s certainly a sin to pollute a holy
river,” comments Nigel dryly. “You’re absolutely right,” says a man near
them in nearly unaccented English. In the
water in front of them they see an elderly
Indian man who is smiling at them in a
friendly way. “But fortunately,” he adds, “we
solved the water pollution problem a few
years ago. This river now has top-quality
water for swimming purposes.” Nigel and Mia gaze at the old man in
puzzlement, trying to match up his educated
accent with his look. “Even a retired univer-
sity professor can honor religious traditions,”
explains the old man, reaching out to shake
their hands. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Profes-
sor Mishra of the University of Mumbai,
former full professor of hydraulic engineer-
“How did you get the pollution out of the
river?” Mia asks. “Through political will and
plenty of funding,” says Mishra. “and, above
all, with the help of this technology.” The Pro-
fessor points at two state-of-the-art sewage
plants near the temple. “Every large village
and factory along the Ganges now has its
own small wastewater and water purification
plant,” he says. “That building in the front contains a
sewage treatment plant equipped with mod-
ern membrane bioreactors that separate the
water from solid materials and reduce the re-
sulting sewage sludge. Before the purified
water is rechanneled into the river down-
stream from the village, it is irradiated with
powerful beams of ultraviolet light. That
eliminates any bacteria it may still contain.” Mishra readjusts his glasses and contin-
ues: “Only ten years ago, around 80 percent
of all cases of illness in India could be traced
to polluted water. Today, the main cause of ill-
ness is unhealthy eating habits — just the
same as in England. If you look at it that way,
we’ve made tremendous progress, haven’t
we?” “And is the other building a water purifi-
cation plant?” asks Nigel, who is somewhat
embarrassed about his previous remarks.
“Yes, indeed,” answers the Professor. “A large
percentage of our drinking water comes from
the holy river — from the goddess Ganga her-
self, so to speak. We purify it completely using
nothing other than electricity —no chemical
additives are involved. To put it more pre-
cisely, we purify it with pulsed high-voltage
electricity. The high field strengths destroy all
the pathogens, and at the same time create
antiseptic substances that further disinfect
the water. These substances, by the way, also
neutralize solvents and herbicides used in
agriculture.” Mishra scoops some water out of the river
and holds it up for the two students to see.
“For millions of my countrymen, this water is
not only crucial to their survival, it’s also an
essential part of our culture,” he explains. “If
people had continued to pollute the Ganges,
at some point not a single believer would
have wanted to return to the river. That would
have meant the end of the tradition, the cul-
ture, and ultimately the religion.” Mia is visibly impressed by this combina-
tion of tradition and modernity, and she looks
around over her shoulder with interest. As she does so, she notices a small blue
box on a platform situated directly on the
riverbank. She looks questioningly at the
professor. “You have a great thirst for knowl-
edge,” says Mishra approvingly. “That’s our
analysis box. Inside is a mini-laboratory that
autonomously and continuously monitors the
river’s water quality. It transmits its results in
minutes by radio to the PDAs used by officials
responsible for water quality. The Indian
government has installed many such boxes all
along the Ganges. They tell us immediately if
anyone has dumped unpurified wastewater
into the river, for example. It’s fascinating,
isn’t it?” “Speaking of a thirst for knowledge,” says
Nigel, “my throat is getting very dry from this
heat. Can we get something to drink around
here?” “Of course, help yourself!” answers the
Indian, pointing to his bag, which is lying a
few meters away on the riverbank. Nigel takes
a bottle of water out of the bag and looks at it
askance. “Where does this water come from?”
he asks. “From the Ganges?” “No, not at all,”
protests Mishra. “It’s pure water from the
Thames...” He laughs as he sees Nigel’s look
of disgust. “Just a little joke,” he adds. “Go
ahead and drink it. It’s fine table water from
southern France.” Florian Martini
As population rises, demand for clean water
continues to grow. Advanced water treatment systems have an important role to play. Membrane filtering plants
and ulraviolet water disinfection already offer particularly efficient
solutions. Furthermore, exciting new technologies are just around the corner. 71
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
relates Bob Newton of Siemens Municipal
Services. “Following the accident, water was
contaminated with fecal bacteria and discol-
ored.” At the town’s request, Siemens
promptly dispatched two trucks equipped with
reverse osmosis and activated carbon filtration
to the site. “The water that was purified by
these systems met all standards for potable
water,” recalls Newton. Such mobile systems
can produce between 750 and 3,785 liters per
minute and continue to operate for up to 18
months — until repairs have been completed
or stationary treatment plants are built. “Depending on the extent and the cause
of contamination, we offer several solutions
that can all be used in combination,” adds
ment to the cause of pure water: Radium, an
Osram subsidiary in the German state of
North Rhine-Westphalia, has developed a UV
source for sterilizing drinking water. These UV
lamps can, for instance, be used to irradiate
wastewater in sewage plants or to sterilize
drinking water for apartment buildings. A new Radium product is a small, mobile
UV system for camping or Third World appli-
cations. “We’ve developed a low-pressure UV
lamp that works like an immersion heater,” re-
instant the system is removed from a con-
tainer,” reports Streppel. “There’s no compa-
rable UV system available anywhere at this
time.” But the sterilizer kills only microorgan-
isms. It isn’t able to eliminate environmental
toxins such as pesticides. “At least it can’t do
that just yet,” Streppel adds. “But we’re work-
ing on Xeradex lamps that emit UV radiation
of much shorter wavelengths. These can even
break up chemical compounds and render
them harmless.”
Newton. The present lineup includes six dif-
ferent purification methods, to which the
Memcor CMF membrane filter will be added
later this year. “With that we’ll be well pre-
pared, especially for the next hurricane sea-
son,” Newton says. In the southeastern United
States in particular, these storms are an annual
challenge. In the fall of 2004, for instance, as
many as 12 hurricanes made landfall and
caused enormous devastation. “Fast access to
effective water treatment then becomes a
matter of survival,” Newton emphasizes. Disinfecting Water with Light. Another
Siemens company has also made a commit-
ports Radium marketing specialist Hans-Jür-
gen Streppel. “The user simply suspends it in
a container holding about 20 liters of water
and turns it on. The emitted short-wave-
length UV radiation penetrates the nuclei of
any bacteria and destroys their genes.” Strep-
pel adds that it takes about 15 minutes to
sterilize the water completely. The UV source
is about 25 centimeters long and is best
suited for treating water that can’t be entirely
trusted — for instance, water that’s been
stored at a campsite. Radium has also developed a version for
developing countries that’s powered by solar
cells. The germicidal UV source was intro-
duced to the market in Spring 2005. While it’s
deadly for bacteria, the system is harmless to
users — a fact that can’t be taken for granted
with ultraviolet lamps. “We’ve included a
safety switch that turns the power off the
Electric Water.An entirely different method
of processing water for human consumption
is being developed by a team led by Dr.
Werner Hartmann of Siemens Corporate
Technology (CT) in Erlangen, Germany. The
researchers are experimenting with pulsed
electrical fields to convert wastewater into
potable water. The first such system may be
ready in two to four years. Here’s the idea behind it: “The water
flows through a chamber that contains two
electrodes placed a few centimeters apart.
We’re applying pulsed high voltage to these
electrodes — about 100 kilovolts with a pulse
length of less than one microsecond — which
produces very high electric field strengths,”
Hartmann explains. This high-voltage approach sets two
processes in motion that swiftly kill bacteria,
viruses, algae and even mussel larvae, Hart-
An AWACSS (far left) Automated Water Ana-
lyzer Computer System detects water-borne
pollutants. At its heart is a biochip (left).
Membrane fibers (above) filter particles out
of water treatment systems (far right).
teria such as cholera and typhus pathogens,
agricultural poisons and heavy metals, such
as lead. Siemens offers solutions that include
diverse water purification methods for even
the most unappetizing fluid wastes. They
range from disinfection systems using ultravi-
olet radiation to mechanical purification sys-
tems that may, for instance, employ sand par-
ticles or membrane filters. Often, several
methods are used in combination, because
not every method removes every different im-
purity. E L E M E N T S O F L I F E T r e n d s
modules. Although each unit is only about the
size of a passenger car, it can treat 100 cubic
meters of potable water per day — enough to
supply a small town. “These membranes can
filter out particles down to 0.1 microns in
size,” notes Stratton Tragellis, product man-
ager at Water Technologies Memcor Products
in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. “As a result, they
can be relied upon to remove protozoa, bacte-
ria, algae and other microorganisms.” In principle, a membrane module functions
like a fine-meshed sieve. It consists of some
10,000 porous plastic fibers that form a web
The principal users of Water Technologies’
systems include municipal water utilities and
industry. Among these users, the market
share represented by membrane filters is
growing rapidly because, compared to con-
ventional filtration methods, this technology
is more economical to operate. “Although the
acquisition costs of membrane systems still
exceed those of conventional systems,” says
Tragellis, “they meet increasingly stringent
water quality standards, need less space, and
cost less to install. Their operating costs are
also lower, they use less energy than distilla-
tion systems, and require very few chemi-
cals.” Tragellis expects future water treatment
plants to be universally equipped with mem-
The most effective methods include
membrane systems made by Water Technolo-
gies, a Siemens business unit (see p.78). The
most thorough of these systems use reverse
osmosis (RO) filters, which can block objects
less than one nanometer in size, allowing
only water molecules to pass through. How-
ever, the RO process uses very high pressure
to squeeze water through tiny pores and is
therefore very energy-intensive. The choice of
membrane system therefore depends on the
desired water quality and on local conditions.
Effective Tsunami Help.The tsunami disas-
ter in southeast Asia is a case in point. One of
the companies that provided water treatment
plants for the disaster region was Siemens,
which installed seven of its Memcor AXIM
systems. These systems use low-pressure
membrane filters in linear arrays of multiple
within a cylindrical housing. A pump propels
contaminated water from the outside of the
module through the membrane to the inside.
Any particle that’s larger than 0.1 microns —
which includes all bacteria — literally gets
stuck. Only filtered water emerges from the
module. However, depending on the source, the
product water may still contain some viruses.
With dimensions of less than 100 nanometers,
viruses are small enough to slip through even
tiny pores. The filter systems are therefore
coupled with a disinfection system. The result:
top-quality potable water. In order to cleanse
the membrane of collected particles, the sys-
tem is periodically back-flushed with filtered
water, while compressed air is simultaneously
used to ensure that the surface is clean. In ad-
dition, the membrane surface is cleaned with
chemicals at four- to six-week intervals.
branes. “The trend continues to favor systems
that have ever higher capacity, yet are in-
creasingly compact,” he says.
Portable and Potable.Smaller and, above
all, flexible systems are already a Siemens spe-
cialty. The company’s Mobile Services include
water treatment plants that are built into a
truck trailer for use wherever there’s an urgent
demand for the precious liquid. And the com-
pany can deliver these plants within 48 hours. Such prompt service is one reason that
Water Technologies (previously USFilter, see
p. 78) has been the U.S. market leader for
more than 20 years. Siemens has also been
supplying communities for two years. A case
in point is a Florida community. “In 2004,
construction work at a retaining pond dam-
aged a water line system that supplied drink-
ing water to the resort town of Steinhatchee,”
The finest membrane filters can block ob-
jects less than one nanometer in size, allowing
only water molecules to pass through. E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Simulated Water Networks
A training simulator for a
drinking water pipeline:
Displayed on the monitor is a simulation of the con-
trol system for a pumping
station in Fujairah, United
Arab Emirates. The opera-
tors are using the simula-
tion to train their staff.
stands for Siemens Water) that helps them
calculate, simulate and efficiently control the
flow of drinking water and wastewater in
mains and sewer pipes. Flood Control Reservoirs Under Pressure.
Simulating flows is not easy because water’s
dynamics — its flow characteristics — are
constantly changing. Small waste pipes
empty into larger ones, which branch off and
converge. As a rule, channel networks are
planned with large and expensive safety mar-
gins and reserve capacities. “But often, even
that isn’t adequate to cope with extreme nat-
ural events such as heavy rainstorms,” says
Roland Rosen, who played a key role in devel-
oping SIWA PLAN at CT in Munich. When a major storm breaks, the main
sewers, which are as tall as a man, can fill to
the brim within minutes and become rushing
torrents. The channel network may become
overloaded, meaning that instead of chan-
neling flows into sewage treatment plants, it
allows wastewater to escape into rivers with-
out being cleaned. In many cases even large
flood control reservoirs are unable to hold
the volume of water released by some
storms. But all of this can be avoided with
computer-supported calculation of water vol-
umes, according to Rosen. P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Planning water and sewage networks is
no easy task. If pipes and pumps don’t
have the right dimensions, major prob-
lems can occur. But newly developed software is making it possible for engi-
neers to precisely calculate and simulate
these labyrinths before excavators even
start their work.
eneath every city there lies a hidden
world — the storm sewage system. Movie
directors have used this concealed realm as
an uncanny backdrop. For example, the chase
through Vienna’s sewers in The Third Man is a
mythical image of the criminal underworld’s
dark depths. But researchers at Siemens Cor-
porate Technology (CT) and Industrial Solu-
tions and Services (I&S) see the labyrinths
from a more practical perspective. They deal
with the material that disappears into sewage
systems every day — including more than 10
million cubic meters of wastewater in Ger-
many alone. Researchers at Siemens have de-
veloped a software system, SIWA PLAN, (SIWA
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E T r e n d s
During the filming of the movie “Titanic” in 1996, lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio
had to risk a dive into cold water every day. However, the actual location wasn’t the
North Atlantic, but a tank containing 64 million liters of salt water near Rosarito Beach,
Mexico, where the moviemakers were using a model of the ill-fated ship. To keep the
water clean and optically clear and make sure DiCaprio remained in the best of health
at least in reality, USFilter (now Siemens Water Technologies) equipped the tank with a
Hydro-Clear Sand Filter system. Salt water from the pacific was pre-treated with chemi-
cal flocculants and pumped through the sand filters, which filtered out any suspended
matter and clarified the water. The fake ocean was then almost unnaturally clear. “You
could practically see the bottom. That was almost too clear for some of the shots,” recalls Siemens technician Bill Simpson. Siemens also played an important part in the
new Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which is scheduled to open
in theaters in November 2005. During the shoot, UV disinfection systems were used to
sanitize the water in the studio’s magic lake, so that Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry
Potter, could take a dip without causing any worry.
online or via text message (SMS). “It takes 15
minutes at most to detect a few nanograms of
pesticide in a liter of water,” says Dr. Joachim
Kaiser of Siemens Corporate Technology in
Erlangen. “No other system like this exists
anywhere in the world today.”
The core of AWACSS is a biochip that cap-
tures molecules of environmental toxins. The
water sample is first mixed with synthetic an-
tibodies that are attached to a fluorescent
pigment. If the sample contains matching
molecules, such as those of plant poisons, the
antibodies bind to and “mark” the toxic parti-
cles. A pump then propels the liquid across a
biochip — a matchbox-sized glass plate
coated with a layer of binder molecules.
These molecules capture all marked toxic
molecules. Unmarked particles are then
rinsed from the chip by a shot of clear water.
“You can then identify the type and quan-
tity of environmental poisons by causing
these molecules to fluoresce,” explains Kaiser.
The chip is therefore equipped with an opti-
cal-fiber waveguide, along which a laser
beam is directed. The laser light causes the
captured toxic particles to glow, which makes
them detectable by an optical sensor. “After
each measurement the chip is rinsed with
what we call an SDS solution, which splits off
all the captured antibodies without destroy-
ing the binder molecules. Thus, a chip can be
used for as many as 300 analyses,” explains
Sex Hormones in Water? In addition to an-
tibiotics, pesticides and other toxic sub-
stances, AWACSS is also capable of detecting
hormones, such as estrogen from birth con-
trol pills. Kaiser believes that hormone detec-
tion may become compulsory in coming
years in the European Union. Indeed, the EU
is currently investigating the potential risks
associated with these substances. At present, however, the AWACSS is fac-
ing regulatory obstacles, at least in Germany.
Only accredited laboratories are authorized to
analyze water samples in the Federal Repub-
lic. The use of independent monitoring in-
struments has not yet been approved. But
Kaiser is confident. “You can absolutely count
on AWACSS becoming important in the next
few years,” he says. Florian Martini
Autonomous Water Analyzer.Just as im-
portant as pure water from the faucet are
clean rivers and lakes, because that’s where
many communities get most of their water. In
Germany, for instance, the water quality in
such sources is checked every four weeks by
taking samples, which are then sent to large
accredited laboratories for extensive analyses.
It usually takes one or two days before the re-
sults are available. What’s more, these tests
are complex and expensive. A more economical and much faster solu-
tion is provided by a mobile water analysis
system developed by Siemens as part of an
EU project in collaboration with partners in-
cluding the University of Tübingen and the
Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe. No
larger than a suitcase, AWACSS (Automated
Water Analyzer Computer Supported System)
can automatically identify 32 substances and
transmit its findings to water authorities mann adds: “It causes all cell walls to become
more porous and eventually destroys them
completely. And it creates free radicals, such
as ozone, which have an additional germi-
cidal effect and in turn break down chemical
impurities.” Hydrocarbons, plant poisons and
hormones are rendered harmless as if by
Although this pulse technology is still in
its infancy compared to other methods and
no such water treatment systems exist as yet,
Hartmann is confident that such systems will
play an important role within 15 years. Here’s
why: He expects this technology to have a
long service life and to be very easy to main-
tain. That would make it more cost-efficient
than UV treatment systems, for instance.
However, he thinks the key advantage will be
that this system requires no chemicals. “Such
a treatment facility would operate entirely
without chemistry. Germs would not be able
to develop resistance and you wouldn’t need
to store or transport disinfectants,” he says.
What Hartmann likes most about this method
is this: “You might say that the water purifies
It takes the AWACSS analysis system 15 minutes at most to detect a few nano-
grams of pesticide in a liter of water. Start-up inge AG plans to use its innovative technology to become the leading supplier of ultrafiltration modules. Siemens Venture Capital is supporting its efforts. 75
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
into a perforated interior tube, which is in-
serted into an exterior tube. The fibers are
sealed together at both ends with an epoxy
resin, as are the two jackets. “This means we
don’t have to use seals that are subject to
wear and tear, and the treated and untreated
water are always reliably separated,” says
Hank. When the system goes into operation, un-
treated water is first pumped into the capillar-
ies. The treated water collects in the gap be-
tween the interior and exterior tube and is
drawn off with a nozzle. Depending on the
purification level desired, this water may al-
ready be suitable for drinking. If not, it goes
through additional process steps such as re-
verse osmosis for desalinization, because salt
isn’t removed by ultrafiltration. The fiber mats
also have special features. “The individual
fibers support one another in the lattice-type
arrangement we use,” Hank explains. “That’s
important because they’re impacted every
time we switch between filtration and rins-
ing. This impact would make them oscillate if
they weren’t stabilized in this manner — and
that could eventually lead to breakages.” The
arrangement also makes it possible to ensure
a pre-defined distance between fibers. This
Inge AG technology uses capillaries
with nano pores to make ultrafiltra-
tion economical for everyday uses.
form a residue that must be rinsed away at
regular intervals. This is done by reversing the
flow for a few seconds, putting significant
strain on sensitive membranes. The result is
that capillaries in systems equipped with con-
ventional technology often break. Energy-Conserving Filtration.This is
where inge AG comes in. Founded in 2000 in
Greifenberg, Germany, the company has de-
veloped hollow fibers, each containing seven
capillaries combined into a membrane fiber
(multi-bore technology). The membrane
fiber’s interior walls form the active filter
layer. Membranes are produced by using a
specially developed polyether-sulfone mate-
rial to create a foam-like support structure. The manufacturing process is controlled
to ensure the membrane walls have the exact
porosity desired. “The foam-like support
material is porous enough to ensure it won’t
inhibit water flow,” says Michael Hank, inge
AG’s CEO. “So there’s only a slight loss of
trans-membrane pressure, which makes this
material unique on the market. This property
helps reduce operating costs at industrial
facilities.” The individual fibers are bound into
membrane mats that are rolled up and fitted
makes it possible to ensure flow resistance is
the same at all locations and that all capillar-
ies are subject to the same flow pressure. inge
AG is targeting the U.S., Europe and China for
its new product. More than 30,000 municipal
water-treatment facilities will have to be built
in the U.S. alone in the next few years, and
China is expanding its energy infrastructure,
which requires vast amounts of very pure
boiler-feed water. The new EU states in East-
ern Europe also represent a growth market. Key Innovative Technology.Siemens Ven-
ture Capital (SVC) is an investor in inge AG.
“We believe the technology can offer Siemens
major synergies in its core business of power-
plant technology and in terms of our goal of
becoming a global player in the water-treat-
ment business,” says Bruno Steis, who is re-
sponsible for investments at SVC. “inge AG —
and the acquisition of USFilter — give
Siemens more access to key technology.” Adds
Hank, “We benefit from the Siemens network,
and SVC’s investment is taking us a big step
closer to our goal of becoming the leading
supplier of ultrafiltration technology. We’re
aiming to achieve annual sales of at least 100
million euros by 2010.” Björn Gondesen
To this end, the SIWA PLAN SEWER software
system is outfitted with comprehensive data
from the channel network, such as pipe diam-
eters, storage reservoir capacity and maxi-
mum outflow. Furthermore, if additional sta-
tistical data is available, such as rain volume
or fill levels of individual pipe sections, the
program can identify those sections of the
network that are reaching their limit and
those with capacity to spare. “By controlling
the outflow from a storage reservoir in a tar-
geted way, we can make the water flow much
more evenly,” Rosen explains. Electric slide
controls are used to release the water in con-
trolled doses, thus reducing scavenging effects.
In other words, a major rainfall’s first surge
can carry along (scavenge) large amounts of
material accumulated in pipes during dry pe-
riods. It’s especially important to channel this
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Simulated Water Networks
If the machines were to run for even a few
seconds without water, they would be de-
stroyed. That’s because the water flowing
over them also cools them. Hundreds of
valves, several intermediate storage reser-
voirs, and all the branches of the pipeline
have to be perfectly coordinated. Complex Liquids.“In next to no time, faults
can develop and lead to serious conse-
quences,” says Rosen, referring to possible
problems such as pipeline leaks. “With SIWA
PLAN TRAIN, we can simulate every possible
fault scenario and practice the right reactions
with the same user interface as in the real sys-
tem,” he adds. If a user makes an error, SIWA
PLAN TRAIN promptly simulates the possible
consequences. “Water is a complex sub-
stance,” says Rosen. “Even modeling the flow
wastewater so that it will find its way into treat-
ment plants, even during heavy rains. And the system has other uses in addition
to controlling channel networks. Researchers
at Siemens have developed simulator (“SIM”)
and training function (“TRAIN”) components
for SIWA PLAN. These components were put to
their first practical test in 2003, in a training
program for technicians at a new pipeline for
potable water in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
The components passed with flying colors. The water system includes a gigantic un-
derground pipeline across 180 kilometers of
desert. The pipeline connects a desalinization
plant with a number of cities. Each of the
double-walled pipes has a diameter of 1.6
meters, so that each meter of pipe holds
around two tons of water. For the first 20 kilo-
meters, the enormous pipeline climbs a 500-
meter hill. Powerful pumps are needed to
propel as much as 465,000 cubic meters of
water a day up this incline. The system’s eight
pumps provide around 50 megawatts of
power — enough to cover the needs of a
small town. Even though the system is ex-
tremely powerful, it’s also very sensitive. For
example, standing water must initially be
slowly set into motion by four backing pumps.
Only then can the main units be switched on.
of water in a garden hose that children are
stepping on is a difficult task.”
That’s why Dr. Andreas Pirsing, a project
leader at Siemens I&S in Berlin, considers
SIWA PLAN a valuable and unprecedented
tool. “We’ve linked the process technology
expertise we acquired in hydraulic engineer-
ing together with mathematical knowledge
and computer science. The result is that we
can now offer solutions for a whole range of
problems,” he says. In the future, water network planning
worldwide is likely to make greater use of this
combined expertise. “Water is becoming an
increasingly precious resource, so its efficient
transport is becoming more important,” Pirs-
ing adds. He believes “SEWER” software will
play a particularly vital role in central Europe
in coming years. “Germany alone has 7,500
wastewater networks with a total length of
400,000 kilometers, and many operators rely
on individual solutions to run them.” Hardly
any simulations or training functions have
been available to date. But that’s about to
change, says Pirsing: “Simulations are going
to be more significant, especially with stricter
environmental regulations and consumer de-
mand for improved wastewater management.”
Tim Schröder
If a user makes an error, the software simu-
lates the consequences — for example, when
pressure on a system rises and causes a leak. Ul t r af i l t r at i on — St ar t - Up
Puri fication with Nano Pores
anotechnology is playing an important
role in the purification and sterilization
of drinking water. When water is pressed
through membrane pores that have a diame-
ter of 15 nanometers, all solid particles,
viruses, bacteria and spores are left behind.
This process — known as ultrafiltration — is
currently one of the most reliable ways to dis-
infect water without having to use chemicals,
such as chlorine. Start-up inge AG, which is
co-financed by Siemens, has made a decisive
improvement to this technology. The goal was to make ultrafiltration more
economical and more suitable for everyday
use. Filters that combine several thousand
capillaries into a module have proven effec-
tive for treating large amounts of water. Each
capillary is a hollow fiber similar in appear-
ance to a straw. The fiber wall serves as a
membrane, and the primary material in the
capillaries is polysulphone, a type of plastic.
The largest ultrafiltration facilities today pro-
duce about 3,000 cubic meters of clean water
per hour, enough to supply half a million peo-
ple or a large power plant. Water is pumped at
low pressure through the capillaries in the
module, after which it escapes through
porous side walls. The particles left behind
0,9 mm
he world is thirsty. More than 4,000
trillion liters of water — that’s 4,000 cubic
kilometers — are drawn from rivers, lakes and
underwater aquifers every year. Of that
amount, 70 percent is used in agriculture, 20
percent in industry, and the rest in private
households. According to the Swiss company
Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), the
amount of water needed is increasing by 2.5
percent annually — faster than global popu-
lation growth. The main reason is the spread
of the Western lifestyle, which isn’t known for
its prudent use of natural resources. So it’s no
wonder the worldwide water market is boom-
ing. Corporate consultants at Helmut Kaiser
Consultancy in Tübingen, Germany, estimate
the volume of the water and wastewater
market will grow from $287 billion in 2004 to
$412 billion in 2010.
According to SAM, desalinization will be-
come an increasingly important technology
for supplying drinking water. The market
value of desalinization technologies will soar
from about $3 billion today to $70 billion in
2020. Today there are 13,000 desalinization
plants worldwide, and they convert 30 million
cubic meters of salt water into potable water
every day. Even some industrial countries,
such as those along the Mediterranean, suffer
from periodic water shortages. Water tables
are sinking, especially in areas serving large
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Water: The
Elixir of Life
cities, because water is being removed faster
than it’s being replenished. In many places,
sewage systems are crumbling, and not all
water purification plants fulfill legal require-
ments, which are becoming increasingly strict
in the EU and the U.S. After decades of stagnation, new tech-
nologies are gradually taking hold. Mem-
brane processes used to be considered too ex-
pensive or too energy-intensive; but today,
thanks to technical improvements, they’re
much more affordable and are being increas-
ingly used for wastewater treatment (see
p. 78) and water purification (see p. 69). An-
alysts at Frost & Sullivan predict the U.S. mar-
ket for membrane bioreactors will grow by
15.6 percent annually until 2010. Use of ultrafine membranes as filters for complex
pollutants is on the rise, gradually replacing
traditional charcoal filters. According to esti-
mates, use of UV and ozone processes to dis-
infect water will cut the market share of chlo-
rine-based methods from 85 percent to 50
percent within the next decade. SAM also pre-
dicts water monitoring will become an in-
creasingly important quality control method,
more geoinformation and satellite systems
will be used for water management, and ris-
ing prices will increasingly force industrial
companies to purify their own wastewater. In many developing countries, though,
even the most basic necessities are lacking.
More than one billion people don’t have reli-
able access to clean drinking water, and UN
statistics indicate a third of the world’s popu-
lation is forced to live without an adequate
hygiene infrastructure. In developing coun-
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E I nt er v i ews wi t h Ex per t s
Many people in developed countries
didn’t fully realize the problem of clean
water supplies until the tsunami dev-
astated large parts of Southeast Asia. In
the aftermath of the catastrophe, UN-
coordinator Jan Egeland noted that pol-
luted water could cause an even greater
disaster than the tsunami itself. Do you
think there is now a better chance to
change people’s ideas about drinking
Day:Yes, it’s true that the tragic events of De-
cember 26, 2004 served to underline our de-
pendence on clean drinking water and good
sanitation. However, already in the Millennium
development goals agreed at the level of the
UN in 2000 you’ll find a commitment to halve,
by 2015, the number of persons without
access to clean drinking water (currently 1.2 billion) and to halve the numbers with-
out appropriate sanitation (currently 2.4
billion). At the World Summit on Sustainable
Development held in Johannesburg in 2002,
the European Union gave a very high profile
to water issues and launched the EU Water
Initiative as its contribution to achieving the
water-related millennium development
rates to public water supplies and waste-
water treatment facilities are still rather low.
In some areas pollution of local water sup-
plies by nitrates is especially acute. We also
have to be alert to emerging and important
issues such as endocrine disruptors. Over the
next two to three years we will work on a re-
view of existing EU drinking water legisla-
tion. At present the approach is focused on
end-of-pipe monitoring of water quality. In
the future we will put more emphasis on sys-
tem controls and management practice.
Like other regions, Europe faces a
changing climate and declining ground-
water levels. Could EU countries — es-
pecially in southern Europe — soon face
water shortages?
Day: Water stress is already a major issue for
Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy as well as
southern France. We need a comprehensive
approach to the management of water re-
sources and in particular in order to achieve
a proper balance between supply and de-
mand.Appropriate pricing structures and the principle of cost recovery will be part of
achieving this objective. With regard to agri-
cultural irrigation, we will need to invest in
drip/proximity delivery systems as well as in-
creasing the volume of wastewater that is
reused. An integrated approach to the man-
agement of water resources in each river
basin will also promote a more adaptive ap-
proach to the protection and conservation of
our water resources. Cost recovery and inte-
grated water management are key features
of the EU Water Framework Directive, which
became effective in 2000.
Siemens sees clean water supplies as a
future-oriented business. Could you define the role of Public-Private-Part-
nerships (PPPs) in this context in the EU
and worldwide?
Day:PPPs have a potentially important role to play. Especially in developing countries, we
will need new and innovative funding models
in order to reach our goals. Wherever PPPs are used there needs to be a proper infra-
structure (legal, financial and administrative)
to ensure that the right balance is achieved
between public and private interests.
Looking to the future, in view of grow-
ing population and accelerating urban-
ization in many regions, what do you
think the worldwide water supply situa-
tion will be like in 10 to 15 years? Day:In Europe there will be greater uncer-
tainty regarding precipitation because of the
problem of climate change. This means we
may have more floods and more droughts.
However, on the positive side, full implemen-
tation of the water framework directive will
result in significant improvements to the
ecological and chemical status of our surface
water and groundwater. We’ll also be working
hard to identify innovative and more cost-
effective technical solutions for production of
drinking water and treatment of wastewater.
At a global level, I expect to see significant
progress in relation to the provision of drink-
ing water and sanitation, and I believe we will
achieve the United Nations’ Millennium devel-
opment goals. However, the greater fre-
quency of floods and droughts may result in
increased political tension and competition
for water resources in specific regions. That is
why we need to work intensively to develop
governance arrangements that will enable
cross-border water issues to be addressed
Interview conducted by Florian Martini. “We Will Achieve the UN’s Development Goals”
Catherine Day (50) has been Director General for Environment
at the European Commission since 2002. In her previous
position, her area of responsibility included relations with the
Balkan states and the countries along the Mediterranean. A native of Ireland, Day studied International Trade and Economic Integration at University College, Dublin.
goals. The EU already dedicates over 1 billion
euros per annum to water projects. Since Johannesburg we have allocated an additional
250 million euros to water issues in the
African, Caribbean and Pacific areas.
In contrast with many other countries,
most people in the EU have access to
clean water. Where do you still see a
need to take action?
Day: There is the challenge of the new mem-
ber states, where in some cases connection
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E F a c t s a n d F o r e c a s t s
tries, 90 percent of municipal wastewater and
70 percent of industrial wastewater is not
treated at all, with disastrous results. Every
year, 2.2 million people die of diseases such
as cholera and dysentery, which could be
avoided through better sanitary installations. One tremendous problem, especially in
Asia, is the megacities, where wastewater
from households and industry and untreated
chemicals and rubbish are still often dumped
into rivers, poisoning the water downstream.
Especially in China, observers expect to see
major investments in the needed infrastruc-
ture — sewage treatment plants, water purifi-
cation facilities and water supply lines.
Helmut Kaiser Consultancy estimates the
environmental market in China will grow by
up to 17 percent annually over the next dec-
ade. According to one of its studies, “Water
shortages, waste and pollution are the key
problems of the region.” Beijing, the 14th-largest city in the world
with nearly 11 million inhabitants, intends to
demonstrate its command of modern water
management by 2008, when it will host the
Olympic Games. The Olympic sites will fea-
ture water treatment methods similar to nat-
ural processes, membrane-based systems and
adsorption processes. Plans also call for treat-
ing half of the wastewater produced in this
enormous city by 2008. Ute Kehse
WORL DWI DE WATER AVAI L ABI L I T Y More than 97 percent of the water on the earth’s surface is undrinkable sea water. Most of the remaining three percent is bound as ice in glaciers and around the poles. Only 0.03 percent is potable water — and this precious supply is unevenly distributed: 60 percent of the world’s usable drinking water reserves are found in only ten countries. Egypt has only 26 cubic meters per capita per year, while Iceland has over 600,000 (graph, left). That’s why there are already local
distribution problems. In global terms, there will be shortages in the future — at the latest by 2050, when the world’s population will reach ten billion (graph, right).
Global water resources available annually
1,000 km
0 2 4 6 8 10 12
World population
(in billions)
Annual consumption (use of
water reserves plus rainwater for agriculture)
Source: SAM study
Sustainable Asset Management, Zurich
Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2004
$ Millions
Sales Growth p.a. (%)
The market for membrane bioreactors in the U.S.
and Canada is growing by 15 to 17% annually
not analyzed
per capita per year
Source: UNEP /World Resources Institute, 2000
In a wastewater treatment plant,the purification process takes place in several steps.
The most important part of the facility is the aeration basin (1). This tank is teeming with
bacteria that rapidly decompose the biodegradable constituents of the wastewater when
oxygen is added. In the next step of the process, the clarifier (2), solid particles settle to
the floor as sludge and purified water can be returned to the environment. Until now, a
large proportion of the sludge had to be disposed of at great expense in landfill sites. This is no longer necessary, thanks to Siemens’ Cannibal process. In this process, non-bio-
degradable components are first removed (3) before part of the bacteria are returned to
the aeration tank and the remainder are pumped into an oxygen-free digestion tower or
bioreactor. There, facultative anaerobic bacteria — which can survive in an anaerobic en-
vironment — consume the remains of their aerobic relations. Once this process is com-
pleted,they are pumped back into the the aeration tank, where they die off while the aero-
bic bacteria thrive. The result is a 90 to 95 percent reduction in sludge — most of which
has been converted into carbon dioxide and water thanks to the different types of bacteria.
Although pollutants in waste-
water are becoming increas-
ingly complex, higher quality is
also being demanded of puri-
fied water. Specialists at Water
Technologies, a Siemens busi-
ness unit, and at Siemens Cor-
porate Technology have come
up with new methods for puri-
fying water more effectively while cutting costs.
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Porous Fibers
and Purity
Boston’s Deer Island water treatment plant
uses processes from Siemens Water Technologies. E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Wastewater Puri f i cat i on
ractically every household sends an unap-
petizing mixture of organic materials into
the sewer system. The food industry con-
tributes grease, flour, whey and cleansing
agents; industrial wastewater often contains
chemicals; and rainwater washes dirt into
gutters — all of which adds up to an enor-
mous challenge for wastewater treatment
plants. Furthermore, stricter environmental
standards and increased awareness of health
issues are driving demand for better treat-
ment solutions. Water treatment facilities are
expected to remove complex pollutants, be
inexpensive to run, take up little space and
generate minimal hazardous waste. The most advanced facilities use develop-
ments from Siemens Water Technologies such
as MemJet — an innovative membrane biore-
actor — and the “Cannibal” process — a
purely biological process that substantially
dles of hollow fibers, the wastewater is led
along the fibers’ exterior together with a jet of
air bubbles. As in other membrane systems,
the interiors of the fibers hold a vacuum that
sucks the water molecules into the fibers
through tiny pores. Dirt particles, viruses and
bacteria are left outside. The air bubbles take
the solids along and prevent them from accu-
mulating on the membrane. The bubbles also
create a uniform flow along the membrane’s
surface, preventing “dead spots” that are par-
ticularly susceptible to fouling. Thanks to this
solution, MemJet tanks need to be chemically
cleaned only once or twice a year. Ten such
facilities are now in operation in the U.S.,
with others on the way.
Mini Treatment Plant.Since membrane
technology has recently become far more af-
fordable and water in the U.S. is increasingly
being reused right after treatment, the trend
is toward small, decentralized facilities.
“These plants are being built where the water
is needed — near irrigated fields or golf
courses, for example,” says Jordan. The satel-
lite plants are connected to a municipal sewer
be optimized without worrying about settle-
ability,” says Edward Jordan, Vice President of
Water Technologies Memcor Products.
Due to their design, membrane bioreac-
tors produce much less sludge than conven-
tional facilities. In addition, they’re compact,
can handle high levels of solids, and produce
high-quality water. “Membrane bioreactors
do have a problem with fouling, however,”
says Jordan. Solid organic and inorganic parti-
cles in the wastewater accumulate on the
membrane’s surface, creating an imperme-
able layer. When that happens, more energy
must be used to draw the water into the inte-
rior through areas that haven’t yet been
affected. Eventually, the membrane has to be
cleaned using chlorine or jets of steam.
Siemens’ MemJet process employs an elegant solution to deal with the problem of
fouling. Since the membranes consist of bun-
ation basins. In this environment, the aerobic
bacteria gain the upper hand, growing faster
than the facultative bacteria, which slowly die.
“The result is a steady-state balance between
growth and destruction,” explains Curtis. The amount of bacteria in the plant thus
remains constant and there is no accumula-
tion of sludge. Nevertheless, the entire facility
is cleaned out occasionally since some of the
particulates cannot be removed by the solids
separation module. In a typical facility, which
treats 5.6 million liters of wastewater per day
(for a population equivalent to about 15,000
U.S. residents) the new system could save up
to $300,000 a year. The Cannibal process,
which is now installed at some 25 facilities in
the U.S., can be easily added to existing
wastewater treatment facilities, thus increas-
ing their capacitiy.
In recent years, the trend has been to
separate solids from the water with the help
of membranes, rather than relying on gravity
in a clarifier. These membranes are generally
located in the aeration basin itself, thus obvi-
ating the final clarifier. Whereas in a conven-
tional plant only those bacteria that quickly
settle on the bottom of the clarifier are
allowed to multiply in the aeration basins,
membrane bioreactors can use the bacteria
that are most effective at purifying waste-
water. “The biological treatment process can
carbon dioxide (see graphic). The sludge that
accumulates in a clarifier is first pumped into
a special facility where non-biodegradable or
not readily biodegradable constituents such
as hair, trash, grit and inert material are sepa-
rated out using fine screens and a hydrocy-
clone. This — for the bacteria indigestible —
residue is easily disposed of at local landfills. Most of the remaining sludge is returned
to aeration basins, while the rest is pumped
into a sidestream bioreactor. There, the sup-
ply of oxygen is limited in order to kill the
aerobic bacteria but allow the facultative
anaerobic bacteria to multiply. “These bacte-
ria are microbes that consume oxygen when
it’s available but can do without it if need be,”
explains Curtis. In the Cannibal tanks, the fac-
ultative anaerobic bacteria then consume the
remains of the aerobic bacteria. The contents
are then gradually pumped back into the aer-
With the acquisition of USFilter in August,
2004, the leading producer of water pro-
cessing and treatment facilities in North
America, Siemens has gained a highly
competitive position in membrane, UV,
and ozone technologies, as well as 1,500
patents that will help it provide even better products and services for industrial
and municipal customers. The new busi-
ness unit, which will be known as “Water
Technologies,” is now a part of Siemens
Industrial Solutions and Services (I&S).
reduces the quantity of sludge produced by
the treatment process.
Sludge mainly consists of the remains of
the bacteria used for the treatment process.
Depending on the level of pollutants and
pathogens in the dry sludge, it can either be
used as agricultural fertilizer or sent to a land-
fill for disposal. “The cost of sludge handling,
transport and disposal has risen sharply in re-
cent years,” says Betty-Ann Curtis, Director of
Biological Processes at Water Technologies
Envirex Products in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Ravenous Bacteria. The Cannibal process
introduced by Water Technologies, however,
allows the total amount of sludge to be dras-
tically reduced — by 90 to 95 percent com-
pared to conventional methods. The process
utilizes the ravenous hunger of various types
of bacteria to thoroughly break down the or-
ganic components of wastewater. Its end
products are nothing more than water and
(1) Aeration basins
(4) Bioreactor
(3) Separation of
(2) Clarifier
Activated sludge
Bacteria thoroughly break down organic components in wastewater, producing only
water and carbon dioxide.
Siemens takes a life-cycle approach to its equipment. During product planning, engi-
neers take into account how
equipment can be repaired and
resold later in its service life. Equipment from Siemens Med-
ical Solutions is a case in point. 81
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
A New Lease on Life
n integrated product policy involves tak-
ing a product’s entire service life into ac-
count. And that’s what Siemens has been do-
ing for more than ten years. “We build
environmental compatibility into our prod-
ucts,” says Dr. Ferdinand Quella, head of
Product-Related Environmental Protection at
Siemens Corporate Technology. “In fact,” he
adds, “we have an internal standard for envi-
ronment-friendly design through a product’s
entire lifecycle.” One focus here is on design-
ing new products that can be easily recycled.
This standard calls for fewer components as
well as components and materials that can be
easily dismantled and separated. The European WEEE (Waste Electrical and
Electronic Equipment) guideline is also de-
signed to strengthen environmental protec-
tion. Beginning in August 2005, manufactur-
ers of electrical and electronic devices and
equipment will have to take back their prod-
ucts after they have outlived their useful life
— and then recycle or dispose of them. This
Siemens has been taking back old equip-
ment for years. The Refurbished Systems (RS)
division accepts used medical systems from
around the world, overhauls them and re-
markets them with a quality seal. A new plant
built for this purpose went into operation in
Forchheim, Germany, in August 2004. RS also
has a facility in Chicago that repairs computer
tomographs and gamma cameras for nuclear
medicine applications.
Siemens has created a comprehensive
process chain to ensure all used diagnostic
systems are resold in the best condition pos-
sible. The devices are first examined on site to
determine their age, condition, capabilities
and usability, and then removed by special-
ists. At a plant in Forchheim, Germany, they
are dismantled to determine the individual el-
ements’ degree of wear and potential for re-
newal — which can differ greatly for modules
in X-ray diagnostic systems, for example. All
useful components are then thoroughly
Engineers from Medical Solutions upgrade used computer tomographs and then re-market them — complete with a quality seal. E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Conser vi ng Resources
poses a major challenge, particularly with re-
gard to medical equipment. Magnetic reso-
nance tomographs, for example, can weigh
up to ten tons, and expensive electronic com-
ponents account for about 30 percent of
most X-ray systems. Siemens Medical Solu-
tions recycles up to 95 percent of the materi-
als it uses, and specific dismantling instruc-
tions for equipment make it easy to identify
and separate critical materials. This has led to
a 20 percent reduction in disposal costs in re-
cent years. The AXIOM Iconos R200 X-ray sys-
tem, for example, which has been on the
market since 2003, was designed with re-
sources conservation in mind. The number of
components in the unit is 70 percent lower
than the total for its predecessor model. In ad-
dition, Siemens specialists reduced X-ray lev-
els by up to 93 percent, which also extends
the lifecycle of the X-ray tubes. Electricity con-
sumption is very low as well — 28 kWh per
day, which is about the same as two lamps in
an operating room. cleaned, disinfected and repainted. Siemens
experts replace worn-out parts with original
spares and update all software and hardware
before running complete tests on the sys-
tems. If all quality standards are met, the unit
is given the “Proven Excellence” quality seal,
including a 12-month parts warranty. The
“new old” device is then transported to the
customer, installed and returned to service.
Such devices are much less expensive
than new products; customers can save 30
percent or more. Overhauled systems are sold
in relatively equal numbers to hospitals and
doctors’ offices in industrialized countries and
emerging markets. Siemens generates half of
all resulting revenues in Europe and the Mid-
dle East, and about one-third in the U.S.
“We’re posting double-digit growth,” says
Hans-Peter Seubert, head of RS, who believes
the global market volume for such equipment
is at least 1.3 billion euros per year: “Eastern
Europe, and Asia in particular, have enormous
growth potential.” Sylvia Trage
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Wastewater Puri f i cat i on
line and consist only of an aeration tank, a
membrane tank and a disinfecting facility.
The extracted solids are fed back into the
drain, where they are washed back to the cen-
tral wastewater treatment plant. Plant opera-
tion is largely automatic, and such facilities
need to be inspected only once or twice a
week. According to Jordan, the satellite plants
can be set up even in densely populated areas
since they produce no unpleasant odors.
layer of metal to a plastic or metal surface. It
is used to enhance vehicle parts, cell phone
housings and jewelry. “These companies’
wastewater contains all kinds of metallic
salts, particularly salts of copper, nickel,
chromium and precious metals,” says Wala-
chowicz. Although the concentration of met-
als in such wastewater is sometimes as high
as that found in ore deposits, the metal could,
until recently, not be economically recycled. in the strip is successively increased. “Even
though this concentration is eventually a
thousand times higher than in the waste-
water, the metals remain in solution due to
low pH values,” says Walachowicz. The
extracted metals can be reused for electro-
plating. A pilot plant has already been set up in
Berlin that can purify 50 liters of wastewater
per hour – which is not enough for full-scale
commercial electroplating facilities. “But it
wouldn’t be a problem in terms of technology
to enlarge the plant,” says Walachowicz. The
Purified water
Precious Metals from Wastewater.With
the new Siemens method, however, metal
ions can be inexpensively extracted from
wastewater. The system’s core component is
a hollow fiber module. The wastewater flows
past the exterior of these fibers, while a
second liquid known as a “strip” and consist-
ing largely of sulfuric acid flows in the fibers’
interior. The sides of the fibers are studded
with pores filled with a kerosene-like liquid,
whose composition varies depending on the
metal extracted. This liquid acts like a mem-
brane, allowing the metal ions to migrate
through the pores while the water remains
outside. As a result, the metal concentration
CT pilot plant can treat one cubic meter of
wastewaster for about 80 euros. In contrast, it
costs electroplating plants about 100 euros to
do the same with conventional — but not
very environmentally compatible — treat-
ment methods. And that doesn’t include the
cost of disposing of the electroplating slurry.
Walachowicz and his colleagues are still
developing a fully automatic control system
for the plant. It will use a real-time analysis
chip developed by a Siemens Corporate Tech-
nology team headed Dr. Frank Arndt. The chip
features microscopically small channels. The
metal content of tiny wastewater droplets can
be analyzed directly on the chip on the basis
of electrical conductivity. “From dosing and
identification to the separation of metal ions
— everything will take place on the chip it-
self,” says Arndt. “What’s more, it will all be
done electrically, without requiring any
pumps or other mechanical aids.” Arndt and
Walachowicz plan to integrate the chip into
the pilot plant later this year to allow auto-
matic control of the system. Ute Kehse
What’s more, the small tanks are inconspicu-
ous and are often not even recognizable. Membranes are also suitable for treating
industrial wastewater, which often contains
substances that conventional sewage sys-
tems can’t handle, such as mineral oils, salts
or heavy metals. Industrial wastewater is thus
often pretreated at company plants before it
reaches the sewage system. As part of the EU-
sponsored Mewaprev (Metal Waste Preven-
tion) project, Frank Walachowicz and his team
of engineers at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy in Berlin have developed a solution for
wastewater from the electroplating industry.
Electroplating involves the application of a thin
Catching water pollutants. Siemens’ MemJet process (diagram left) keeps
membrane filters from becoming clogged.
A Siemens Mewaprev facility (right) can
remove metal ions from electroplating
wastewater. In the future, an analysis chip (center) will enable the process to be completely automated.
The trend is toward small, decentralized treatment facilities built where pure water is needed.
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E P h a r m a c e u t i c a l s
New solutions from
Siemens continuously monitor the quality of medications throughout
production while automatically controlling
production processes themselves. The result: accelerated output and reduced costs.
ew industries require a level of purity as
high as that demanded by pharmaceutical
production. The effectiveness of medications
and the health of millions of patients depends
wholly on quality. That said, it is not unknown
for medications to fail quality test.
Last fall, for example, routine tests at one
of the world’s leading producers of flu vaccine
revealed that a number of batches were con-
taminated with bacteria. The consequences
were dramatic, since the U.S. market suddenly
faced a shortfall of almost half the quantities
of vaccine it required. Given that production
takes half a year, there was no chance of rap-
idly sourcing replacement supplies. The web-
site of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) permanently lists poor-quality drugs and
medicines that are either contaminated or
contain too many, too few or deficient active
substances. “Product quality varies more in the
pharmaceuticals industry than in other sec-
tors,” says Ingrid Maes from the Center of Com-
petence for Pharmaceuticals at Siemens Au-
sponsible for quality enhancement at Danish
pharmaceuticals manufacturer Lundbeck, iden-
tifies another benefit. “Once a patent has
expired, it’s not so easy for rival manufacturers
to attain the quality standards of our products.”
This is because the process know-how required
to produce a high-quality drug cannot be
teased out of a pill in the same way that its
constituents can.
Real-time Release.Implementing a PAT con-
cept for a production process involves more
than just making a few inline measurements. It
implies an integrated approach that comprises
risk, data and process analysis, automation,
data processing, documentation and process
timally throughout, the drug can be sold with-
out the need for an elaborate final inspection.
Thus, quality is automatically “built in” to the
product by the process itself. Although individ-
ual automation solutions have already been
implemented, fully integrated PAT concepts are
still at the developmental stage. “Siemens is one of the leading players
here,” says Bijl. For example, since 2003,
Siemens has been involved in the PaRel (Para-
metric Release) research project — together
with the Netherlands Vaccine Institute (NVI)
and Applikon, a producer of fermentor systems
— to develop the first PAT solution for biotech
processes. NVI is contributing its experience
with vaccines, Applikon its know-how with
control. First, data analysis determines which
process parameters have a decisive impact on
product quality. A selection of appropriate
inline analytical tools is then made. These
generate a picture of how the process works.
Following a short learning period, a “finger-
print” emerges of how the process should look
when managed optimally and what degree of
variation is acceptable. Finally, inline analytical
tools are hooked up to an intelligent process-
control system. This is equipped with a data-
base on the various production operations and
will automatically intervene whenever the
process deviates from a predetermined path. The objective of PAT technology is to
achieve real-time release. If it can be shown
that the production process has functioned op-
bioreactors, and Siemens its expertise in
process analysis and automation. In the biotech industry, bioreactors are
used to produce an active substance from liv-
ing bacteria or animal cells. Whereas chemical
molecules under identical conditions always
react in exactly the same way, living cells vary
in their behavior. It’s thus important to monitor
the processes inside a fermentor continuously.
At present, however, this can only be done
indirectly by measuring pressure, temperature
and oxygen saturation. “It’s like measuring a
room’s humidity and temperature and then
trying to say whether people feel happy in it,”
says Leo Hammendorp, Director of Sales and
Marketing at the Center of Competence for
Pharmaceuticals. P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Medications with Built-In
Quality In the past, stringent regulations left little room for innovation in the pharmaceuticals industry. As a result, processes often remained unchanged from licensing onward.
Soon, however, advances in process technology will ensure
quality to such an extent that final testing will be obviated.
be decades, since any modification has to be
approved by licensing authorities. In its new
guidelines on Process Analytical Technology
(PAT), however, the FDA has now pledged to
allow ongoing enhancement of production
processes in the industry. Here, drug manufac-
turers must be able to show that they under-
stand the production process and know what
impact a modification will have on a product.
Siemens recognized this trend early and has
already put together a PAT concept for the
pharmaceuticals industry. Furthermore, the
concept is being developed in close coopera-
tion with the FDA, now that the latter has
decided to put its faith in PAT. PAT generates the information required to
understand production processes and thereby
improve product quality. It enables not only in-
line quality assurance but also automatic
process control. Likewise, it largely obviates the
need for elaborate lab tests and long waiting
times and thus accelerates the manufacturing
process. Lisbeth Thierry-Carstensen, who is re-
The PaRel team is initially focusing on the
production of a whooping cough vaccine. The
project involves the use of near-infrared (NIR)
spectrometers integrated in the fermentor
using fiber-optic sensors. NIR spectrometers
measure how NIR light changes when it passes
through a liquid. The light causes the mole-
cules in the liquid to oscillate. A specific molec-
ular composition leaves a characteristic pattern
in the absorption spectrum, meaning that cell-
metabolic processes can be observed as they
happen. According to Thijs Veerman, Director Gen-
eral of NVI, the project is unique. “It’s the first
time that an end customer, an equipment
manufacturer and an automation specialist
have worked together so closely.” Before long,
NVI should be able to release the whooping
cough vaccine in real time. “PAT means faster and cheaper production
at higher quality,” says Maes. “A lot of pharma-
ceutical companies will take this route in the
near future.” A crucial aspect of all this is the
flexibility that PAT provides. After all, patients
will one day demand tailor-made medications.
This will require precise control of manufactur-
ing processes. In the meantime, PAT will provide a major
step forward by enabling early identification of
contamination and the rapid production of
replacement supplies. Then the days of draw-
ing lots for flu vaccine — as happened last fall
in the U.S. — should be a thing of the past.
Carola Hanisch
tomation and Drives (A&D) in Antwerp, Belgium.
A rejection rate of five to ten percent is not un-
common in the pharmaceutical industry. Exceptional Purity.“The problem is that
manufacturing processes are often outdated,”
says Hans Bijl, marketing manager at A&D in
Antwerp. Medications have always been pro-
duced in stages. After each process, samples
are removed — often by hand — and tested,
after which the results are documented and
filed. Only then can production continue. In
other words, quality is not monitored and con-
trolled during manufacturing itself. And pro-
duction processes often remain unchanged
from the date of licensing onward, which can
If the production process can be shown to have functioned optimally, a product may
be released without final inspection.
New diesel engine technologies save fuel and deliver good performance while reducing nitrogen oxides. They also filter
out those soot particulates that are most dangerous to health. Fighting Soot
our out of ten new cars in Germany have
diesel engines — and the number is
increasing. The reason for this popularity is
that thanks to their higher efficiency, diesel
motors use less fuel than gasoline-powered
engines. But diesel engines also have a few
shortcomings. For instance, their exhaust
contains particulate matter suspected of
causing cancer and relatively high nitrogen
oxide (NO
) emissions. That’s why strict emis-
sions limits went into effect in the European
Union as of 2005. The new Euro 4 (EU4) emis-
sions standard requires that diesel vehicles
emit 50 percent fewer particulates and NO
than allowed under the current EU3 standard.
Heavy commercial vehicles must cut their NO
emissions by 30 percent and their particulate
emissions by 80 percent. And in 2010, with
EU5, the limits will be tightened even further.
That presents manufacturers with a dilemma.
The PM Filter Catalyst removes
precisely those particulates
from diesel exhaust that are
most dangerous. Specially
shaped micro-channels guide
the tiny soot particles to a
metallic fleece, where they are burned off. Ideally, diesel engines operate at a high
combustion temperature to achieve high per-
formance and save on fuel at the same time.
But high temperatures increase nitrogen
oxide levels. If the temperature is lowered,
however, fuel consumption and particulate
emissions increase. Cutting the Smallest Particles.Emitec, a
joint venture of Siemens and British auto
equipment supplier GKN, has developed a
very efficient technology that simultaneously
combats both types of pollutants and is suit-
able for trucks and passenger cars alike. Its
PM (particulate matter) Filter Catalyst consists
of a platinum oxidation catalyst and a particle
filter. In a first stage, the catalyst converts un-
burned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide
into carbon dioxide. At the same time, it oxi-
dizes nitrogen oxide (NO) into nitrogen diox-
L I GHT WI THOUT MERCURY Many everyday products contain pollutants.
Fluorescent lamps are a case in point. They contain small quantities of poisonous mercury
that generates UV radiation, which is in turn absorbed by luminescent substances on the inside of the bulb and converted to light. When
the lamp burns out, it has to be disposed of as
hazardous waste. But there are alternatives. Re-
searchers at Siemens subsidiary Osram have de-
veloped a fluorescent lamp (Planon) that is as flat as a tile and contains xenon, a non-toxic and
thus environmentally friendly inert gas. The lamp generates illumination by means of a
“pulsed dielectrically inhibited discharge.” The
xenon then emits energetic UV radiation and
thereby excites the phosphor, which in turn gives
off visible light.
Because Planon contains no mercury that must
first vaporize, which takes several seconds, it develops its full luminosity immediately and
without flickering. Light is evenly distributed
across its entire surface. When it comes to serv-
ice life, Planon is unbeatable. It shines for up to
100,000 hours. “It works well as backlighting for
LCD industrial displays and large-screen LCD TVs,”
E L E M E N T S O F L I F E Minimizing Dangerous Substances
ide (NO
), which is playing a decisive role in
removing soot particles in the second stage.
The soot particles are removed from the
exhaust gas by means of specially shaped
micro-channels and directed to a metallic
fleece, where the particles collect in the
fleece’s tiny pores. Here, beginning at about
200° Celsius, they are continuously burned
off with the oxygen from the NO
, which is
converted back to NO.
“The PM Filter Catalyst removes about 80
percent of particles 20 to 100 nanometers in
size — in short, those that are dangerous to
the human respiratory system. Overall parti-
cle mass is reduced by 60 percent,” says
Emitec Managing Director Wolfgang Maus.
And there’s another benefit. The PM Filter
Catalyst is maintenance-free and hardly af-
fects fuel consumption. Among its first users
is truck manufacturer MAN; its latest genera-
tion of engines has been equipped with the
filter since 2004. And the filter will be
adopted in more production vehicles by the
end of 2005, Emitec predicts. In fact, Emitec
experts are convinced this technology will
also be used for retrofits on a large scale. “But
a package of measures still must be imple-
mented to meet the EU5 standard in the
longer term,” says Maus. These measures in-
clude more precise and effective engine elec-
tronics, sensor systems and fuel injection —
and exhaust gas recirculation, in which some
exhaust is routed back, cooled and added to
the intake air, decreasing the combustion
temperature and thus NO
Combination Engines. The future, Maus
believes, belongs to a new concept. “Homo-
geneous Charged Combustion Ignition”
(HCCI) combines the properties of internal
combustion and diesel engines. In contrast to
direct-injecting diesel and internal combus-
tion engines, which distribute and burn fuel
unevenly, the HCCI combustion process is
designed to be uniform throughout the entire
cylinder. The air-fuel mixture is so lean —
little fuel, lots of cooling air — that a spark
plug is needed to ignite the mixture after it’s
been compressed. This way, combustion
occurs in a homogeneous manner. The ad-
vantage of this process is that hardly any par-
ticulates or nitrogen oxides are produced. The
drawback is an increase in hydrocarbon and
carbon monoxide emissions. However, these
can be reduced by using an oxidation catalyst. Obviously, Emitec engineers have their
work cut out for them before an HCCI engine
can reach the market.
Evdoxia Tsakiridou
says Dr. Norbert Haas, head of Planon Marketing and Sales at the Osram plant in Herbrechtingen,
Germany. In the pilot production system there,
technologies are being developed for mass pro-
duction, and the first prototypes of the second
Planon generation are already being produced.
The members of Planon’s “extended family” also
include Linex, which operates on the same principle. This rod-shaped lamp runs on high-
frequency, pulsed DC voltage. And as a result, it
switches on and off with exceptional speed. It
supplies bright, flicker-free light within a few milliseconds. That makes it ideal for use in scan-
ners and copiers, for example. In addition, its
spectrum can be shifted into the UV-A range
with special phosphors, thus enabling it to neu-
tralize bacteria and other germs to improve the
air quality inside a car, for instance. Osram researchers have already developed an initial prototype for this application, and its mar-
ket launch is planned for the middle of next year.
“Now we’re working on further optimizing the luminous efficiency of both lamps so that they’ll
also be suitable for general lighting uses,” ex-
plains Haas.
Nine hundred Planon tiles act as a colossal, 3000-square-meter display on the facade of this building.
By 2015, the U.N. plans to reduce by half
the number of people who don’t have access
to clean drinking water (currently 1.2 billion)
and live without adequate sewage systems
(2.4 billion). The EU is also working toward
this goal by investing more than one billion
euros per year in water treatment projects
worldwide. EU estimates indicate the condi-
tion of groundwater and surface water in Eu-
rope will be greatly improved, thanks to com-
prehensive water management. (see p. 77)
Membrane filters for water purification are
becoming increasingly important. These filters
are cost-efficient and take up very little space,
and they can even deal with particles in the
nanometer range without requiring chemi-
cals. Another system developed by Siemens
purifies water using an environment-friendly
process involving pulsed electrical fields. The
fields destroy all bacteria in the water. In the
future, autonomous analytic devices will be
able to gage water quality and transmit the
results of their tests to an operator via text
messaging, for example. (see p. 68)
The “cannibal process” and a membrane
bioreactor from Siemens business unit Water
Technologies improve wastewater processing
in sewage treatment plants by keeping
sewage sludge to a minimum. That saves dis-
posal costs and helps to protect the environ-
ment. In the U.S., the trend is toward small,
decentralized sewage treatment plants built
where water can be immediately reused. (see p. 78)
High-quality pharmaceuticals require strict
monitoring of production processes. With a
new Siemens solution, these products can be
produced in a faster process that’s monitored
online from start to finish. Bottlenecks in
pharmaceutical production will soon be a
thing of the past. (see p. 82)
Toxic materials in consumer products and
the environment are being reduced thanks to
new technologies that produce no hazardous
waste. For example, Osram has developed flu-
orescent lamps that operate without mercury.
And a new diesel filter from Siemens company
Emitec reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide
and soot particles without significantly affect-
ing fuel efficiency. Another trend is conserva-
tion of resources. Siemens, for example, recycles up to 95 percent of materials in its
medical equipment and sells used equipment
that is as good as new. (see pp. 81, 84)
Water Technologies (USFilter):
Stratton Tragellis (Membrane Systems)
Bob Newton (Mobile Services)
Betty Ann Curtis (Biological Processes)
Edward Jordan (Memcor Products)
Radium UV sources:
Hans-Jürgen Streppel
Water treatment with electrical pulses:
Dr. Werner Hartmann, CT PS 5
AWACSS water analysis system:
Dr. Joachim Kaiser, CT PS 6
Treatment of industrial wastewater:
Frank Walachowicz, CT MM DM
Water network simulation:
Roland Rosen, CT PP 2
Dr. Andreas Pirsing, I&S
Product related environmental protec-
tion: Dr. Ferdinand Quella, CT ES PE
Siemens Refurbished Systems:
Hans-Peter Seubert, MED RS
High-purity pharmaceuticals:
Ingrid Maes, Center of Excellence Pharma
Michael Hank, CEO inge AG
Bruno Steis, SVC
Minimization of harmful substances:
Wolfgang Maus, CEO of Emitec
Dr. Norbert Haas, Osram
Siemens Water Technologies:
Information on water-related issues: United Nations / Environment:
European Union / Environment:
In Brief
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE History of Industrial Automation
SIMATIC PCS 7: “SIMATIC stands for Totally Inte-
grated Automation, and consequently for a
new way of implementing automation tasks.”
Take a brewery. A SIMATIC platform, Richter ex-
plains, makes end-to-end automation feasible.
All of the fermentation, brewing, bottling and
sales processes are controlled by a higher-order
control level. “The advantage is that this will
virtually eliminate costly system incompatibili-
ties and discontinuities,” explains Richter. Platform for Control Systems.A prerequisite
for such integration is uniform data networks
that connect all levels of automation, much
like a nervous system. Equally crucial is to
structure the system landscape according to hi-
erarchical and, as far as possible, autonomous
levels. The advantage is, if a fault occurs, only
the function of the affected process segment
is lost; the rest of the system continues to op-
erate, though with limitations. This approach
also makes it possible to expand the system
step by step. “The trend is clearly in the direc-
tion of open systems architecture,” Richter
says. He adds that this is necessary to protect
the customer’s investment. “Such a system
shouldn’t be scrapped early; it should con-
tinue to serve the customer’s needs.”
As automation systems move toward
open architectures, Siemens is focusing on im-
plementing a uniform architecture for all the
control technologies it makes. Some 40 differ-
ent control systems are used in Siemens prod-
ucts, from telephone systems to control sys-
tems for building management and power
plants. A uniform platform would be a great
advantage for Siemens and its customers,
explains Werner Schlieker, product develop-
ment manager at Siemens A&D AS in Nurem-
berg. Schlieker is coordinating the company’s
platform project as part of the top
business excellence program. A uniform plat-
form, he adds, would yield great savings from
R&D synergies. Investments of tens and even
hundreds of millions of euros have gone into
the development of each of these control sys-
tems. And customers would benefit mainly
from simplified operation due to uniform in-
terfaces. “Training expenses would also be cut
sharply,” adds Schlieker. Luitgard Marschall
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
response to the arc control system developed
in the early 1960s. Siemens equipped many
transformer substations with this system, be-
cause these facilities often suffered short cir-
cuits caused by arcs resulting from operator er-
rors in using the switchgear, or from voltage
surges due to lightning. The resulting damage
was enormous and caused prolonged power
blackouts. Arc extinction systems had to con-
vert an arc into a harmless short circuit in a
matter of milliseconds, which SIMATIC G could
do thanks to its fast switching times.
The era of programmable logic controls
(PLCs) began in the early 1970s. Their func-
tions were not determined by hardware con-
nections but by software, which made pro-
gramming a lot easier. “In addition to the
programming functions, SIMATIC has been
Five Decades
of Automation About 50 years ago, Siemens introduced microelectronics to automation technology. Suddenly, transistors were being used to
control enormous steam turbine sets. It was an advance that marked the beginning of solid-state industrial automation.
rlangen, 1956. A small team of experts is
gathered at the Siemens-Schuckert plant.
Their job is to find out what the recently in-
vented transistor can do for the electric power
industry. The team is given free rein and devel-
ops something entirely new. At the Paris ma-
chine tool fair in 1959, Siemens proudly pres-
ents the first generation of its “Building-Block
System for Solid-State Controls”: the SIMATIC G.
These controls performed many functions,
from summoning elevators when the ”up” and
“down” buttons were pushed, to directing ma-
SYSTEMS ARCHITECTURE FOR PROCESS CONTROL Control systems monitor and operate systems as integral parts of an overall system.
Their architecture is networked and hierarchically structured. Everything is linked by commu-
nications via a data network, where large volumes of data and commands are interchanged.
At the lowest level, this data flow is carried mainly by field bus systems (Profibus), while Ethernet predominates at the higher levels. In the future, real-time-capable Industrial Ether-
net will encompass all the levels. At the top of the hierarchy is a higher-order control level,
which integrates several systems into a single monitoring and operator control system. There are several lower levels. The process control level consists of local control systems and
coordinates and monitors the lower-level processes of the control level. The control and automation level executes the process control level’s commands and logically integrates the
elements of the field level into a single unit. The field level comprises actuators that execute
the control level’s control commands, and sensors that measure physical variables.
Field devices
Control and automation level
Field level
Process control level
control level
Sensors, analyzers
Control computer
control station
Local control
Central computer
management level
chine tools to perform work according to a pro-
grammed sequence. Switching elements in
that era’s conventional electromechanical sys-
tems were relays and contactors. But in the
SIMATIC G, transistors performed these func-
tions. Their advantage was that they were
smaller and not subject to wear and tear. That’s
why SIMATIC G was at first mainly used where
highly reliable control elements were needed:
in transformer substations and power plants.
In the ensuing decades, SIMATIC G has
been succeeded by five generations of controls
with an ever-expanding range of functions.
While the first generation was designed entirely
for programmed control functions, today’s
SIMATIC-S7 system, as the core of Totally Inte-
grated Automation (TIA), performs virtually any
conceivable industrial automation task, from
managing electric power generation to waste
treatment, and from controlling transportation
systems to manufacturing plants.
Worldwide Leadership.The SIMATIC plat-
form continues to make Siemens a world
leader in automation technology. “A key to our
success is the fact that individual SIMATIC com-
ponents have always interacted flawlessly,”
says Thomas Hahn, head of software develop-
ment at Siemens Automation & Drives in
Nuremberg. Another factor driving SIMATIC’s
success was that Siemens tended to swiftly in-
clude innovations in semiconductor technol-
ogy. But that also caused problems. In the
development of SIMATIC G, for instance, sev-
eral transistors proved useless for industrial ap-
plications. Their properties would gradually
change until they disintegrated at elevated
temperatures. But development engineers
devised a method for identifying unsuitable
transistors. Another problem was that insulating prop-
erties were first tested with older methods that
had been developed for robust contactor sys-
tems. Factory engineers would expose transis-
tors to peak voltages in the kilovolt range —
much more than a transistor can take. Accord-
ing to one early assembly report: “The failure
rate of SIMATIC components was far worse
than if entire control consoles had caught fire.”
On the other hand, a factor that helped
SIMATIC gain ground was the very positive
able to accomplish more and more higher-level
tasks,” notes Hahn. A key requirement for
making this possible was the continuing
increase in device computing power: In 1965,
a SIMATIC N module could perform 20 tran-
sistor functions and consequently 15 instruc-
tions per second. In the S5 module of 1988,
the numbers had soared to about four million
transistor functions and 32,000 instructions
per second.
The S5 module, which was introduced in
1979, performed automation, programming
and documentation tasks. Soon thereafter, the
first bus systems were introduced. This tech-
nology was essential for data communication
and commands. Bus systems integrated multi-
ple individual controls into a single, powerful
data network. During the 1990s, these ad-
vances enabled SIMATIC to develop into the
core of a process control and management
system that handles all automation tasks from
the signal level to the control console.
Though on many occasions SIMATIC is still
equated with programmable controls, that as-
sociation has long been incorrect, explains
Hermann Richter, product manager for
SIMATIC PCS 7 process
control systems allow
users to control, operate
and monitor processes via the Internet or an
intranet. SIMATIC ad (1959)
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE P a t e n t s & I n n o v a t i o n s
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
Traffic Lights that Talk to Cars
Once a year, Siemens honors
its “Inventors of the Year” for
their outstanding patent registrations. The company
usually selects 12 winners
from among the thousands of
researchers and developers
throughout all the Siemens
groups. Siemens registered
approximately 5,000 patents
in its last business year. Here
we present two researchers
whose inventions are making
new communication applica-
tions for traffic systems possi-
ble while making it easier to
process and analyze image
PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE I n n o v a t i o n N e w s
n the future, traffic lights may be giving drivers speed recommendations. An invention by
Dr. Paul Mathias of Munich could thus help eliminate traffic jams in urban areas and make
driving safer and more comfortable. Traffic lights that can exchange data with vehicles in
their vicinity would make possible new information services and warning systems. Moreover,
having each vehicle in a particular area traveling at an optimal speed would make it easier to
synchronize traffic lights. Because the system would recognize speeding vehicles, drivers
could be issued a warning from their onboard computers if another vehicle were in danger
hether it’s medical imaging or traffic
monitoring — the huge amount of
data generated must be analyzed and catego-
rized. Dorin Comaniciu from Siemens’ Prince-
ton Research Center in New Jersey is working
on autonomous computer systems that
reliably interpret visual information. The tech-
nology can be used when data is discovered
to be inaccurate or incomplete. Siemens Med-
ical Solutions is applying Comaniciu’s new
technique to develop systems that continually
analyze movements of the inner heart muscle
with the help of ultrasound sequences. Such
systems enable doctors to recognize heart
disease — the leading cause of death in the
U.S. and Europe — much sooner than is cur-
rently the case. Comaniciu’s inventions can do even more,
though. For example, the same image interpre-
tation system can also be used in conjunction
with a windshield-mounted camera to monitor
iemens experts have examined the mummy of the pharaoh Tutankhamen with un-
precedented precision in a CT scanner. The examination, conducted with Egypt’s chief
archeologist, Zahi Hawass, found no evidence the young pharaoh had been murdered. The
procedure marked the first time the mummy had been removed from its resting place in
Luxor since its discovery in 1922. Since 1968, when the first and only X-ray analysis of the
mummy’s head was conducted, scientists have assumed the pharaoh died after suffering a
heavy blow. But the 1,700 layered images a CT examination carried out in early 2005 didn’t
confirm this theory. It appears the
pharaoh may have broken his thigh bone
shortly before he died at the age of 19.
Some experts who took part in the study
thus believe he may have died of an in-
fection, since images of the wound show
resin from the mummification process
but no signs the wound had healed.
Other specialists believe the absence of
signs of bleeding indicates the archeolo-
gists who discovered the mummy may
have caused the injury themselves. Tu-
tankhamen was examined with a truck-
based Somatom Emotion CT. The unit
works with software that minimizes X-ray
doses to avoid damage to sensitive objects,
including mummies. na
new multimedia device from Siemens
can receive digital television while on
the move and even interact with TV pro-
grams. The device, which exists as a study,
combines the functions of a television and a
cell phone. It works with the DVB-H (Digital
Video Broadcasting Handheld) transmission
standard, and the return channel of its mobile
communication standard allows users to send
an SMS via the unit’s touchscreen to a music
station to request a song, or to a cinema to
reserve a seat after viewing a film trailer, for
example. Users can also make calls while
watching TV, and the programs they view can
be recorded and saved to the unit’s internal
traffic in front of the vehicle in which it is
installed. The camera transmits a continuous
flow of data to an onboard computer, where
special software registers the vehicle ahead
and monitors its movements. In such a situa-
tion, the driver doesn’t have to actively control
the vehicle, which automatically maintains a
constant distance from the one directly in front
of it. This particular solution was developed for
use in stop-and-go traffic, which tends to put a
strain on drivers. Comaniciu’s invention can also be used
with cameras to help monitor traffic in tunnels,
whereby the system sends a warning to a traf-
fic guidance center if it registers a traffic jam or
a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction. Co-
maniciu has registered 68 patents since 1999
— or around one per month on average. All of
them are designed to generate clear and quan-
tifiable information from a continuous flow of
of running a red light at an intersection.
Operators of traffic guidance systems
could also benefit from the invention, as
the improved communication it enables
would serve to supplement conventional
traffic control systems and make them
more efficient. Siemens plans to operate
prototypes of Mathias’ invention as part of
research projects to be conducted in sev-
eral German cities. Mathias, who is a
mathematician, has registered 13 inven-
tion patents since 1997, all of which have
helped promote the development of traf-
fic guidance systems and paved the way
for further innovations. na
Dr. Paul Mathias’ inventions could make driving safer and traffic systems more efficient.
Legendary mummy in a computer tomo-
graph. Egypt’s chief archeologist, Zahi
Hawass (left), monitored the examination.
Study of a DVB-H device equipped with a
touch-sensitive display. The device com-
bines the features of a TV and a cell phone.
Dorin Comaniciu develops mathematical procedures that reliably interpret image data.
Finding Meaning in Floods of Image Data
Watch DVB TV
on Your Phone
Tutankhamen: Not Murder
ngineers at Siemens Communications have developed a laboratory model of a cell
phone with an integrated projector. They demonstrated the device at CeBIT 2005 in
Hanover. The unit’s keypad or display can be projected onto a surface using the phone’s
swivel handle, where the projector unit
with a powerful laser diode is mounted.
Depending on how the handle is turned,
the image can be projected onto the
housing, a flat surface or a wall, so the
system can be used for presentations to
small groups. The device works with an
electronic pen that can be used to write
on the virtual keypad and also serves as a
Bluetooth headset. The researchers used
a mix of ultrasound and infrared to regis-
ter the pen’s movements. The pen point
continuously sends infrared flashes to a
sensor in the phone’s housing, forming
the basis for the starting point of sub-
sequent measurements. The point also
emits ultrasound signals that are regis-
tered at two spots in the housing. Special
software then determines the pen’s exact
position based on the time difference be-
tween the two signals. na
Equipped with a laser diode, the phone’s swivel component can project images in different directions.
Cell Phone with Projector
memory or to an external memory card. The
multimedia device, which is about the size of
a pocket calendar, contains a 1.3-megapixel
digital camera and has all the functions of the
Siemens S65 cell phone, including the tri-
band feature, for example, which makes it
possible to place calls in all GSM networks
worldwide. Two integrated speakers next to
the large-format display help the device
achieve an amazingly rich stereo sound. The
unit receives broadcast information in small
packets over short intervals. The resulting
brief transmission pauses go a long way
toward prolonging battery life. In fact, the
device can receive TV images for up to three
hours. Cell phones with DVB-H technology are
expected to hit the market sometime next
year. na
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PI CTURES OF THE FUTURE F e e d b a c k a nd S e r v i c e
P i c t u r e s o f t h e F u t u r e | S p r i n g 2 0 0 5
D I G I T A L H E A L T H P r e v i e w F a l l 2 0 0 5
A revolution in driving safety is just around
the bend. In the next few years, automotive
sensors will proliferate, giving vehicles the
ability to automatically warn each other of
dangerous road conditions and accidents,
telling drivers when it’s safe to pass, and
braking for us when time is just too short.
Tomorrow’s drivers will also be supported by
adaptive assistance systems that will provide
flawless navigation, while ensuring seamless
communications between our mobile and
fixed environments. Most important, every-
thing will be up-to-date thanks to downloads
of increasingly sophisticated software. Information technology and networking are
essential tools for improving the quality of
healthcare while simultaneously cutting
costs. Today, computing intelligence is being
used in the operating room, in the analysis
of image data and for communications be-
tween doctors, health insurance providers
and patients. Looking ahead, Siemens is developing software that can call a doctor’s
attention to suspicious areas in diagnostic
images, for example, as well as adaptive
therapy technologies and knowledge data-
bases that intelligently link information from
a wide variety of sources with one another.
Whether the challenge is easing traffic congestion in big cities, distributing power more efficiently, offering more cost-efficient healthcare, or making industrial production faster and more flexible — increasingly, the solution is intelligent networking. Individual devices,
sensors and actuators with built-in intelligence are being networked to achieve
an even higher level of system intelligence.
And when it comes to networking, Siemens
has the kind of know-how that hardly any
other company can match: sensor and actuator technologies, embedded software,
and the communications technologies needed for networking — plus plenty of systems know-how and knowledge of customers’ needs in a broad spectrum of application areas. Publisher:Siemens AG
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For the Publisher: Dr. Ulrich Eberl (CC), Prof. Dr. Dietmar Theis (CT),
Editorial Office:
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Additional Authors in this Issue:
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Ute Kehse, Andreas Kleinschmidt, Dr. Michael Lang, Dr. Luitgard Marschall, Bernd Müller, Werner Pluta, Sabine Saphörster, Tim Schröder, Anja Stemmer,
Rolf Sterbak, Dr. Sylvia Trage, Dr. Evdoxia Tsakiridou, Roland Wengenmayr English Editing:Arthur F. Pease
Author Support: Kerstin Purucker, Publicis Kommunikationsagentur GmbH, Erlangen Picture Editing: Judith Egelhof, Susanne Kerber, Vera Ferrarotti, Publicis München
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Bernd Müller, Volker Steger, Mathias Woltmann, Urban Zintel
Internet ( Volkmar Dimpfl
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Address Database:Elke Engelhardt, Anke Kimmling, Publicis Erlangen
Art Director /Lithography: Rigobert Ratschke, Büro Seufferle, Stuttgart
Illustrations:Natascha Römer, Stuttgart
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Translations: Transform GmbH, Köln
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For further information:
Picture Credits: Radium (title at the top, 69), EADS/Space (4), Osram (5, 84 b.), Vol-
ker Steger (6), picture-alliance (7), Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte (11, 22 / compo-
sing), Biomax (14), private (23, 45, 60, 77), Precision Dynamics (25 t.), AACR
Cancer Research (27 l.), Massachusetts General Hospital (27 m.), Alegent Hospi-
tal (30 b.), Metro AG (36), Photodisc (38 / composing), Austrian Postal Service
(50 b.), EPS Network (52), Cyngus (58), Honeywell Hommed (59), MRS Bulletin
(65), inge AG (75), National Geographic / Kenneth Garret (89 t.r.)
Copyright for all other images is held by Siemens AG. Pictures of the Future,syngo, Soarian, SIENET, Hydro Clear and other names are registered trademarks of Siemens AG. Multibore is a trademark belonging to inge AG.
Other product and company names mentioned in this magazine may be registered trademarks of their respective companies. The editorial content of the reports in this publication 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 Future appears twice a year.
Printed in Germany. Reproduction of the articles in whole or in part requires the permission of the editorial office. This also applies to storage in electronic databases,
the Internet, and reproduction on CD-ROMs.
© 2005 by Siemens AG. All rights reserved. Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
Order number:A19100-F-P101-X-7600
ISSN 1618-5498
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