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CeBIT to give tangible shape to the digital transformation

"CeBIT 2017 offers a unique mix of technology, innovations and dialogue that will give visitors compelling first-hand insight into the digital transformation of the economy and society," remarked Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Oliver Frese at the kick-off press conference in Hannover on Tuesday. "The starring roles at this year's CeBIT will be played by a huge array of innovative technology, inspirational content and Japan as our high-tech Partner Country," he added. The five-day show will feature around 3,000 exhibitors from 70 nations, and attract some 200,000 visitors from around the globe.

"The exhibitors will be giving firm shape to our digital future, highlighting ways in which artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, drones, the Internet of Things and autonomous systems will affect business, the nature of work, and society as a whole," Frese explained, adding: "Science fiction has become science fact. If you want to shape the future, you first have to grasp it – and this year's CeBIT, with its extensive coverage of future-defining themes and trends, provides a unique opportunity to do just that."

"CeBIT 2017 will make the digital transformation tangible like never before, by means of several hundred examples of digitalization in business, and a comprehensive look at new data-driven business models and value-creation scenarios. For several years now, the digital transformation has been treated as a relatively abstract concept. But now it is taking on firm shape, and is ripe for business applications."

Artificial intelligence

The current state of the art in artificial intelligence in its many facets will be explored in the exhibition halls and at the CeBIT Global Conferences. AI has many applications, including control systems for self-driving cars, simultaneous translation of human language, cyber security, and analysis of big data. Frese: "Artificial intelligence will be on center stage at CeBIT 2017 as one of the big technology trends shaping the future. In fact, many exhibitors will be staging actual AI applications at their stands." Arguably one of the world's best-known researchers in the field of AI is author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who is an engineer at Google and a co-founder of Silicon Valley's Singularity University. Kurzweil will be speaking at the CeBIT Global Conferences.

Live: commercial drone applications

Visitors at the Intel CeBIT Drone Park on the open-air site will be able to look on as UAVs survey a solar array and a1:15 scale model of an oil rig. They will also be able to see how the raw data collected by the drones' sensors and cameras is gathered and processed at a control center and used to dramatically reduce the operating costs of the surveyed plant and equipment. Meanwhile, at the Unmanned Systems & Solutions showcase in Hall 17, some of the world's leading providers in the budding UAV industry will demonstrate further commercial done applications. The showcase includes a forum where drone technology will be discussed from various angles, including its legal implications. There is also an indoor flight arena whose many must-see highlights include drone racing on the Friday of CeBIT.

Virtual reality

Commercial virtual reality applications are developing just as rapidly as their drone counterparts and will feature at multiple locations at this year's show. The exhibitor lineup includes many of the world's leading names in VR. Moreover, this year, for the first time, CeBIT has a central hub for VR technology (Hall 17).

Internet of Things

About three years from now there could be as many as 50 billion smart devices connected to the Internet. That's all kinds of things, not just phones, tablets and smart watches. Welcome to the Internet of Things, one of the main highlights in Hall 12 at this year's CeBIT. The Internet of Things showcase will feature a broad array of exhibits and a supporting forum. For instance, acatech (Germany's National Academy of Science and Engineering) will present a dozen IoT applications. Among them will be two robots busy at work building a third robot, learning from their mistakes along the way, plus an autonomous mini-digger that can be used in hazardous environments. The forum part of the showcase will also discuss the need for worldwide standardization of IoT applications and the Industrial Ethernet technologies. It might even touch on the question as to whether and how Donald Trump's presidency might affect the discussion surrounding harmonized international standards for Industrial Ethernet.

Smart cities

The Internet of Things also enables the digital integration of urban infrastructures to form smart cities that offer their human populations greater convenience and enhanced livability. A number of the companies participating at CeBIT will be exploring this theme in their presentations and profiling smart-city solutions that are already fully developed and ready for implementation.

Cyber security

Security is an increasingly pressing consideration for all digital systems, not just IoT ones. The latest generation of solutions for combating cyber crime leverage artificial intelligence and big data analytics. Many applications in this growth area will be on display at the Business Security showcase in Hall 6. Cyber security will also be explored in multiple talks at the CeBIT Global Conferences. The most high-profile of these will doubtless be the one given by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is anticipated that he will also share his views on the recent revelations about the U.S. intelligence services. Snowden will be joining the proceedings on stage at the conferences via a live video link from Moscow.

Startups at SCALE11

Digitalization and the IoT are spawning myriad new business models – a fact that will be abundantly clear at the SCALE11 startup platform in Hall 11. There, some 320 startups from 35 nations will provide living proof that technology and creativity are fertile ground for new business models and completely new ways of creating value. The startups at SCALE11 offer potentially game-changing innovations for many industries, which is why many established corporations will be at the platform on the look-out for young cooperation partners. SCALE11 will facilitate this matchmaking with an array of new and out-of-the-ordinary pitching events, presentations, networking events and a Venture Capital Lounge.

The CeBIT Global Conferences

This year, the CeBIT Global Conferences will star another quality international lineup of visionaries, futurists, lateral thinkers and high-profile business leaders. The speakers include EU Commissioner for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip; world-renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden (via live stream); Atari founder Nolan Bushnell; Bas Lansdorp, the co-founder of Mars One, a foundation aimed at establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars; Michal Kosinski, who has developed a method for analyzing people's personalities based on their activities on Facebook and other social media; and Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai from the Japanese robotics company Cyberdyne.

Partner Country Japan

Japan will have a big presence at the CeBIT Global Conferences and indeed throughout the show. "As our Partner Country, Japan will be putting a major stamp on this year's CeBIT," Frese commented. Some 120 global corporations, SMEs and startups from Japan will be presenting themselves at the biggest Partner Country pavilion in the history of CeBIT. Their exhibits will underscore Japan's leadership role as champions of the digital transformation. The Partner Country is staging major showcases in halls 4 and 12 that will address a wide range of topics, including artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, exoskeleton technology, IoT applications and car-to-car communication, to name but a few. Japan is also contributing extensively to the show's conference and forum program, most notably in connection with the intriguing topic of "Society 5.0" – a visionary program launched by Prime Minister Abe's administration, the goal of which is to turn Japan into a super-smart, digitalized society.

Welcome Night

The great importance that the Japanese government attaches to digitalization is evident not only in the comprehensive nature of its "Society 5.0" program, but also in the Prime Minister's major involvement in CeBIT. Shinzo Abe is arriving in Hannover on Sunday, 19 March, in a dual role as his nation's prime minister and as the leader of a large Japanese business delegation comprising numerous corporate CEOs. The same evening, Abe and German Chancellor Merkel will jointly open CeBIT 2017 at the Welcome Night event. On Monday, 20 March, the two heads of government, accompanied by various government ministers, business leaders and scientists, will go on a joint walkabout of CeBIT for a first-hand impression of the latest advances on the road to digital transformation.

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