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Klaus vom Hofe

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I fly at sensors

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Hardly any other device stimulates creativity more than sensors. So I say. For a simpler and better everyday life for humans. And just as much for a production, as smart as never before. And, and, and, and. Examples? Voilà.

Bees and Sensors.

Of course, sensors do not attract bees. The picture montage was invented by a sensor fan 😉. The depicted sensor makes buildings intelligent and reports impending damage at an early stage.

It is in the air: billions of sensors send out their measurements all over the world. Continuously. They detect objects or pets and locate them. They determine environmental conditions such as heat, cold, humidity, vibrations, movement, light, pressure or altitude. Some monitor food in fresh produce warehouses, for example, while others monitor fill levels in machines. And smart city projects generously equip entire regions with sensors that help us understand the environment and, for example, intelligently control street lights. 

More specifically? Here are just a few examples from Telekom's world of sensors:

Registering sensors ...

... particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide in cities;

...rain, wind, light, temperature, humidity around the smart home; 

...where goods are on a pallet. Whether they were shaken by a forklift truck falling... or if they've become too hot or too cold;  

... corrosion damage, temperature or humidity in buildings, as well as cracks and structural problems;  

... temperature, humidity and CO2 content in trees to detect forest fires;

... attacks on businesses by cyber criminals;

... the sound of drones and sensors can distinguish it from other noise, such as leaf blower;

... radio frequencies of a drone's remote control system: this allows the pilot's location on the ground to be determined; 

... the temperature inside heated clothing; 

... whether containers are being illegally opened and used as drug stashes; 

...if garbage cans are full;

...whether parking spaces are free or occupied. 

And not to forget, my highlight: Sensors as baby monitors for bees in the Internet of Things. They measure the temperature, humidity and weight of a beehive - and also the background noise. The beekeeper thus learns how active and healthy the insects are.  

"Solution Builder" helps

The list goes on and on. It shows: The ideas for the Internet of Things with sensors seem limitless. But how do business customers use this for their own benefit? My Internet of Things colleagues at Deutsche Telekom want to help them come up with the most suitable concepts. With their new "Solution Builder", for example. It makes it easy to put together sensors and other components for the Internet of Things. For every purpose.

Sensors for smart production

But it goes beyond the Internet of things. Keyword smart factory. Producers are increasingly digitalising their production. Campus networks with 5G - long a topic of the future - are becoming reality. This is about precisely controlling robots, for example. Or, as at OSRAM in Schwabmünchen, for example, to allow transport vehicles to drive seamlessly, intelligently and safely through halls. Or keeping machines running efficiently and reliably.  

The secret stars here too: sensors. Right in the middle of the action, they record not only the desired measured values but also an abundance of information from production. But: "So far, not all the data lake flows up to those who control the measurement technology. Only the most relevant data, such as filling quantities, pressure or serious irregularities," explains my colleague Jens Muttschall, who is responsible for partnerships with sensor manufacturers for 5G campus networks. 

Sensors feed artificial intelligence for early warnings

The new networks now open up a second signal path independent of the control system. In other words, the sensor data lake is completely transmitted and evaluated with computing power, and also with artificial intelligence. This helps to detect early signs, for example. That is, before anything deviates, i.e. is disturbed. This enables "predictive maintenance" - also a young topic.

Studies predict a golden future for sensors.  According to "Research and Markets", the global sensor market will have a volume of 238 billion dollars in 2025. It will grow by 9.3 percent by then. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that data lakes, i.e. big data, computing power, artificial intelligence, intelligent high-performance networks and sensors are the recipe for success - for the smart Internet of Things and for the smart factory.

What is your favorite application with sensors? Or what do you think the future holds in store? Or, to put it another way: What concerns do you have when you think about it? Just write it under the blog post.

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Media information: One click - 10,000 sensors: IoT Solution Builder

Graphics IoT solution builder

One click - 10,000 sensors: IoT Solution Builder

IoT made easy: With the IoT Solution Builder, the online configurator for the networked future. The access to over 10,000 sensors for a wide range of applications underlines the almost unlimited possibilities. 

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