CeBIT 2010: Trends and topics: A condensed look at the CeBIT highlights

Hannover, Germany. Exhibitors at CeBIT 2009 presented the gamut of today’s global ICT industry, showcasing all the latest topics and trends.
Webciety: The Webciety pavilion put the spotlight on today’s Web-based society, featuring mobile Internet, wikis, communities, blogs, microblogs and other interactive Internet services which are making our lives increasingly digital.

With “cloud computing”, for example, data and applications are stored on the Internet rather than on the user’s local system. This makes it possible to access data and use software from any number of devices via the Internet, including on the go. This approach is especially beneficial for interactive work groups, bringing in-house and field staff closer together for tangible gains in flexibility, cost efficiency and scalability.

More and more devices are now going online, thanks in part to the upgraded IPv6 Internet protocol which simplifies configuration and mobile access by giving every end point its own physical address. The “Webciety” is also leading to new consumer realities. For example, NAS (network attached storage) and streaming servers now give us access to our photos, music, movies and documents anywhere we like in our networked homes: on streaming clients, TV sets, netbooks or game consoles. By means of inexpensive single-chip mini-servers, even non-Web-enabled devices are getting networked via the Web.

At the CeBIT Learning & Knowledge Solutions Forum, the spotlight was on new technologies such as Web 2.0 and game-based learning. Another key aspect was software for the easy and flexible preparation of multimedia course material. Forum visitors were treated to a series of specialist presentations, keynotes and panel discussions on knowledge management, eLearning, and mobile and blended learning.

Green IT
The “Green IT Village”, which premiered at CeBIT 2008, has now grown into “Green IT World”, filling almost an entire hall at this year’s show. Among the innovations on display were compact, power-saving desktop PCs, or “net-tops”, which use optimized standby circuitry for significant energy savings.

“Cloud computing”, or software as a service (SaaS), allows users to rent computing and memory capacity and applications precisely as required, thus avoiding the need to invest in and manage such resources. Computer center climate control systems are also getting smarter, thanks to auxiliary systems which monitor weather conditions and then decide whether to use solar power or bring in additional outside air to keep things temperate inside. And instead of using lead batteries to bridge short-term voltage drops, longer-life super-capacitors are the order of the day.

Special software now enables mobile communications providers to optimize their transmission stations individually according to traffic volume and reduce energy consumption by switching off subcomponents not currently in use.

Other displays included economical VDUs based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology, or with LED back-lighting. Compact LED-based data projectors use less energy, run on batteries and are even small enough to carry around in your jacket pocket.

Security
The wide consumer acceptance of cloud computing and social networks makes security and data protection more important than ever. Individual computers and networks increase the risk of ‘drive-by downloads,’ where a computer can be infected with malware programs simply by visiting a manipulated website. Software packages now available offer extensive protection against these risks. Hierarchical scanning technologies provide a simple mechanism for distributing scanning tasks in the network, thus reducing the load on clients. These systems also ensure up-to-date and consistent signature data.

The widespread use of portable storage media (particularly flash memories) and mobile devices is making network admission control (NAC) an ever higher priority. These systems ensure that only devices that have all the required updates and are free of malware can access company networks.

Encryption and anti-theft protection for mobile terminal devices as well as managed security services, i.e. the outsourcing of IT security services, are other major issues. Providers and users alike are also increasingly concerned about protecting children and young adults engaging in online social networking.

However, software is not the only essential ingredient for security: High-resolution surveillance cameras for corporate and home use are also gaining in importance, together with the need to integrate such devices into existing IT landscapes.

Health
Running the entire duration of CeBIT for the first time this year, the TeleHealth international congress and expo provided a comprehensive overview of IT solutions for the health care sector. Focal points included tele-home care and telemonitoring systems for keeping track of vital parameters in the home environment, plus ambient assisted living for further home-based support. These technologies promise an improved quality of life for the chronically ill and aged as two key beneficiary groups.

There were also numerous applications on display for the wellness and fitness sector, for example, for recording sports performance data with sensors and transferring that information to a smart phone or Web-based system.

Other key topics included electronic health cards and patient files, and the use of RFID. Benefits of RFID systems include optimized hospital equipment management and improved safety for medication logistics.

A special highlight involved the FutureCare health program, featuring realistic scenarios illustrating how the interaction of health care information and IT systems can lead to optimized health care services.

Research and visions for the future
Apart from showcasing solutions, CeBIT also aimed to present some of the innovations that are about to significantly impact our lives. Highlights included semantic analysis, search and visualization processes using metadata as well as text elements. The aim here is to enable computers to interpret and process not only the content of information, but also its significance. This makes the information search process for the user much easier and more precise.

High-performance computers and algorithms for real-time video manipulation and mixed reality promise new applications such as virtual changing rooms or interactive multimedia product presentations.

3D displays are also trying to make inroads into the commercial marketplace, with potential applications in medicine, computer games, television and automotive. Exhibits also included ultra-thin, bendable displays and innovative forms of human-machine interaction, for example via gesture and facial expression recognition, or through the measurement of neuron signals. Domestic robots and the integration of the home environment with sensors and agents aim to improve the convenience of everyday life.

Public administration and local government
“Public Sector Parc” once again functioned as a show within a show for IT solutions in the public sector. Key topics included the implementation of the EU Services Directive, the standardized citizens service line “D115″ and electronic procurement. Other focal points were long-term archiving, the refinement of digital Terrestrial Trunked Radio systems for police and administrative applications, and infrastructure as a service – involving the outsourcing of IT infrastructure and operations.

Another widely discussed issue was the use of De-Mail as a communication medium for the simple and secure exchange of legally valid electronic documents between citizens, public authorities and businesses over the Internet. The aim is to reduce the number of over-the-counter transactions with public authorities. The “Citizens Meet Administrators” special event during the weekend, designed to bring public authorities and their clients together, focused on everyday issues such as electronic ID documents or the use of geodata.

Automotive and navigation
One of the most innovation-intensive areas at CeBIT 2009 involved navigation solutions. Route calculations now allow for individual driving styles, and include assistance with fuel conservation. 3D displays of buildings in downtown areas make it easier for drivers to find their destination. Cyclists and pedestrians can now obtain maps tailored to their needs, offering a choice of different trails.

New additional functions draw attention to traffic signs, or calculate the route to the next parking lot or bus stop, simply by pressing a button. Mobile Internet access means that data is always up to date, providing the basis for real-time information like traffic congestion warnings, bus and train departure times, or the nearest parking space or cheapest gas station. Drivers can display the distance traveled and later download this information to a PC for analysis and reporting purposes.

More and more navigation solutions are becoming available for smart phones. Car2X communication, i.e. inter-vehicle communication and communication between a vehicle and the surrounding environment, helps to optimize traffic flows and prevent traffic jams and accidents. Internet access in the car makes it easier to locate a stolen vehicle and also allows for remote diagnosis in the event of a breakdown, plus enabling Internet radio reception during the trip.

For logistics firms, there are fleet management solutions for route optimization and avoiding redundant kilometers. Navigation systems specifically for trucks include loading and rest times, and also road widths and bridge overhead clearances.

Mobility
Smart phones boast increasing functionality and are becoming ever more popular, with new hardware and software manufacturers helping energize the market. Current models provide fast and easy access to social networks, blogs and microblogs, and direct connections to enterprise applications and networks. High-resolution screens take up more and more of the surface area of these devices, providing enhanced content display quality. They have an intuitive touch screen operation system.

Integrated GPS receivers can be used to obtain local services, to locate nearby restaurants, or to find the way to the nearest public transport point. Functionality can be further extended via downloadable plug-ins or applications.

Telecom providers are luring entry-level customers with low-cost flat rates and high-speed data connections via HSPA+ (up to 28 Mbit/s) as well as the UMTS successor LTE (Long Term Evolution), with up to 100 Mbit/s and a wider range, designed to cover even those areas that were formerly out of reach for high-speed Internet access.

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