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CeBIT2017: The Internet of Things, Connected Cars and Virtual Reality Promise a Bright Future at Japan and Germany's Landmark Partner Year

Event Report

April 28, 2017

Virtual Reality Overthrows Serious Stereotypes

While the focus at CeBIT was often sobering regarding economic and social issues, the conference found time to have fun in its expansive VR section. Here Germany cast off serious stereotypes and exhibited a playful side through multiple cutting-edge, creative entertainment solutions. Köln-based Evrbit smashed the convention that VR is by nature an insular experience by showcasing VR Sync — a revolutionary product that allows an unlimited number of devices to be synced together to deliver a shared media experience that is frame-accurate to the millisecond. Controls operated via app allow the media to be synchronized from any location with no time lag, meaning entire stadiums can be fully immersed in the same virtual world at the same time with the touch of a button. This socially-minded approach has potential to transcend the entertainment sector and extend into a business realm by delivering immersive presentations.

Health and Exploration Take Center Stage in the Field of Robotics

The sphere of robotics at CeBIT could be seen as a microcosm that sums up the differing priorities of Japan and Germany as nations. Exploration, safety and autonomous labour were central themes in the German market with exhibits such as CAPIO's passive exoskeleton (funded by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) tackling the precise, mechanical control of space exploration robots — in this case a unit named AILA — through tele-operation. Looking toward Japan, however, more socially minded concerns are immediately apparent with communication and medical aid at the forefront of the country's robotic offerings.

passive exoskeleton

A Global Outlook: Utilizing the Power of Technology for Everyone

Along with working to counteract social problems in their home territories, both Germany and Japan were eager to demonstrate how technology can also be utilized to combat global issues such as hunger, famine and disease. One of the most compelling examples was the partnership between Saarland University and Curetis GmbH in the rapidly growing field of bioinformatics. Their exhibit showcased how data analysis can be utilized to tackle "one of the most urgent problems in healthcare worldwide"; Antibiotic resistance. By analysing data, information can be shared with more vulnerable, less-developed nations to help deliver efficient aid relief that will not encourage bacterial resistance.

A Courageous Leap Into the Infrastructure of The Internet Of Things

The offerings of CeBIT 2017 show that Germany is at the technical forefront alongside Japan, but there is a feeling from industry experts, including Thorsten Dirks, that in "Germany we could do with some more courage when it comes to innovation".

This somewhat conservative attitude towards new technology within European markets was central to a panel discussing one of the ubiquitous buzzwords of the conference — The Internet of Things (IoT). Kees Van Der Klauw (Philips Lighting) voiced concerns that low consumer trust paired with an industry reluctance to embrace standardisation could lead to the ambitious network of linked technologies becoming "a false promise without a shared platform". Offering a Japanese perspective, NEC chairman Dr. Nobuhiro Endo was more optimistic about tackling the challenges of IoT: He seemed confident the wealth of knowledge amassed by larger companies will be used to thrust development forward. Dr. Endo explained how, by utilising their expert staff, tech giants such a NEC can use their unique skills "to establish an environment where even smaller sized companies have access to IoT".

Germany and Japan: Differing Tech Industries United by a Common Goal

Although they have differing approaches, Japan and Germany are stronger in collaboration and CeBIT 2017 is proof that they are committed to a longterm partnership. In the words of Mattius Machnig, Germany's State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy:

"Japan is one of the few countries that has understood that digitisation is the very condition for keeping one's competitiveness for years to come and I think there's a wide range of areas of cooperation between Japan and Germany, in particular in this field."

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