Felix Wortmann sees promising applications in the Internet of Things (IoT): “The Internet of Things creates completely new business potentials by networking products of an increasingly smart nature. Whole industries including mobility, health and manufacturing are being fundamentally altered”, comments the Scientific Director of the Bosch IoT Lab. Bosch decided to establish this organization back in 2012 with the aim of investigating and ultimately taking advantage of these opportunities. The Bosch IoT Lab is tasked with conducting research into newly emerging business models and developing disruptive IoT solutions. Bosch has teamed up with two strong partners in the form of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) with which it collaborates at the Lab. “The aim was to generate genuine added value by ensuring close cooperation between practice and research”, Wortmann explains, “for Bosch, but also for the world of science”.
Lab supports application-oriented projects
Wolfgang Bronner also believes that setting up shop in the Greater Zurich Area makes total sense: “It is in Bosch’s interest to approach new innovations with an international mentality. For such a large company, it is of particular importance to identify significant advancements in technology and business administration before successfully integrating relevant topics within the business model of Bosch”, Bronner explains. The company has attempted to get a handle on this challenge by establishing the Bosch IoT Lab in the IoT ecosystem of Greater Zurich, among other measures. Here, the Lab conducts research at the interface between business administration processes and technology – two areas which happen to make up the respective fields of expertise of its two partners. In order to close the gap between research and practical application, the Lab focuses on application-oriented projects. In this context, the usefulness and practicality of the approaches developed can be verified rapidly. After all, as Lab Director Wortmann and Bronner have been forced to realize, many IoT solutions continue to fail on grounds of profitability. “For us, the most important question is where we can best use IoT disruptively in order to generate genuine added value that, in turn, leads to commercial success”, Wortmann comments.
Innovative solutions for safe and sustainable mobility
One of the Lab’s most recent projects focuses on the early detection of low blood sugar levels in drivers with diabetes. In-built sensors register early indicators of low blood sugar levels and switch on warning systems that can help to avoid any loss of control at the steering wheel and resultant accidents. The researchers are also playing around with ideas to develop innovative solutions in other areas of road safety: For example, field test participants analyzed the main road accidents areas and developed an early warning system for this. These zones were identified by leveraging data from more than 266,000 accidents before being uploaded to the warning system. The result was that the test drivers displayed a significant improvement in their own perception of driving safety. “In order to successfully implement projects of this kind in practice, you have to learn quickly from field tests with prototypes and also be prepared to accept failure at an early stage”, Bronner states. In this way, problems that would have otherwise arisen later on in the process can be neatly resolved early on.
Innovative talents drawn to the Greater Zurich Area
“The major strengths of the IoT Lab are the extremely committed PhD students”, Bronner adds. They are responsible for projects being implemented quickly and tested in real scenarios. Initiatives such as the IoT Lab facilitate the establishment of a network that generates impetus and cross-connections, which in turn help to attract innovative talents to the area. “Zurich has been transformed into a European IoT hotspot”, according to Bronner. Innovative elite universities, an environment that is open to innovations in general and access to financial support are the key factors behind the collaboration between Bosch, ETH Zurich and HSG. “Switzerland is characterized here by a healthy dose of pragmatism”, Wortmann adds. This has now made the Greater Zurich Area an attractive proposition to talents from across southern Germany, as Bronner illustrates: “Top experts from my field have also moved to Zurich to work for the major companies located in the area”.
by Smilla Diener