The Internet of Things, i.e. the intelligent connection of machines and devices via the Internet, is growing at a rapid pace. Smart devices are not only increasingly gaining in significance in industry but also in domestic living environments. According to information provided by the sector association Bitkom, the number of smart homes in this country will more than treble until the year 2020, increasing to one million. In doing so, the primary aim of this connection of home technology, entertainment devices and household appliances is to enhance the quality of living conditions and the quality of life as well as to increase security and energy efficiency. It is not only possible to operate lighting elements and security locks with the new applications, which enable the objects in our homes to be connected up to via Bluetooth or WLAN. "For the first time ever at ZOW, the various trades involved in the production of a kitchen will be brought together to form one smart kitchen via a single technological platform, in a manufacturer-independent fashion", stated Udo Traeger in his keynote lecture. "In the process, all appliances will be controlled via a single application based on the latest Bluetooth wireless standard, whereby it is possible to incorporate sensors and define application scenarios via this app." The participants were able to gain an initial insight into this technology in the lecture held by Burkhard Herbach of the company ASM Synchrotec GmbH, who presented some scenarios from an interconnected kitchen at the event. One particular highlight here was the connection of a so-called Smart Cube to the control app, which enables a variety of devices or scenarios to be controlled by simple and intuitively understandable gestures. The issue of the smart kitchen will be continued at ZOW on the ZOW_trend exhibition space covering an area of 500 square metres. Katrin de Louw of the company Trendfilter will be focusing her attention on social trends in three topic-related areas, which will have an impact on furniture design in the future.
Big Data – the driving force of the future
Hosted by magician Christian Glade, two specialists from the world of industry and science then provided the audience with an account of their experiences in this field. In his keynote lecture, Helmut Kampe of BKC Consulting took a look ahead and demonstrated some of the changes which will take place until 2030 - after all, even unspectacular products such as a microwave can gain a whole new significance by means of microprocessors, sensors, memory and Internet connection. For instance, recipes from the Internet could be downloaded with this new technology and fed directly into the digital microwave, whereby integrated scales would not only portion the ingredients but also work out calorie consumption. Or the interconnected control of heating and ventilation, enhancing comfort and convenience as well as lowering energy costs: Today, smart thermostats are already available which recognise the habits of the residents and react to it with control of the heating. However, this system only works with personal data, which is saved, traded and analysed. One key question does, however, remain: How the appliances of different manufacturers can interact with each other in the future without this resulting in greater complexity for the user.
This is where Professor Dr. Manfred Leisenberg of the company Mediatechnology Consulting took up the discussion, who sees great potential particularly for business-to-business applications, such as in Industry 4.0. "The new technologies are opening up completely new possibilities for the furniture industry in this country, which must be taken advantage of." It is a fact that Big Data is the driving force of the future. The question is only how to generate value-added from the information gathered – after all, the data has to be analysed at a high mathematical level. By now, it should be clear that digitalisation is not a purely IT-related subject, but rather that the boundaries between technology groups and traditional companies are becoming blurred. Companies need to break away from traditional methods of operation in order to tap the full potential of digitalisation and generate profits. For instance, the data can be used for profile-based targeting with which the customer can be permanently reached in a fragmented media world. However, clarification is still required as to who actually owns the data generated by a device when in use.