Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Last month I spent nine days in Germany as a guest of Germany Trade & Invest, the foreign trade and investment agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The theme for our visit was Industry 4.0, a worldwide initiative (conceived in Germany) to develop standards and protocols to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-physical systems (CPS), and the Internet of Services (IoS) with large-scale data collection and analysis and machine learning.
In other words, it’s about smart, networked automation with smart, self-configuring components. We visited more than a dozen manufacturers, research institutes, universities, and startups across three German states, and saw smart assembly lines in action, using smart, networked processes and devices. We ended our tour at the fabled Hannover Messe (Hannover Fair)—the largest industrial trade show in the world. And it was massive. If you've ever been, think six or eight CESes (Consumer Electronics Shows) in over 5 million square feet of exhibit space in dozens of huge exhibit halls.
Hannover Messe was easily the biggest trade show I’ve ever seen.
This year there were over 5,000 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 attendees (including President Obama and yours truly):
(Left to right): German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U. S. President Barack Obama, and your intrepid reporter.
I’ll get back to the Messe and President Obama later; for now, we'll start at the very beginning (which I hear is a very good place to start): Our first stop was at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Kaiserslautern, the largest AI research center in the world. There, we were introduced to some of the technologies behind Industry 4.0, including radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, real-time data collection and analysis, and cyber-physical systems (CPS) that make decisions on their own based on that data.
Next: IBM and Watson IoT