CeBIT 2014: top five tech trends dominating Hannover
NSA-proof gadgets take centre stage, as PM invests in 5G for UK that will enable instant downloads
SECURITY is one of the hottest topics at this year's CeBIT electronics trade show, following Edward Snowden's revelations about National Security Agency snooping. CeBIT, regarded as the world's largest computer expo, kicked off in Hannover, Germany this week, and runs from 10 to 14 March.
So what are the big trends dominating the show?
Bug-proof phones and encrypted messaging systems have taken centre stage in the post-Snowden era, with one in seven of the 3,500 exhibitors displaying security products. Vodafone is demonstrating an app that enables users to make encrypted voice calls, while T-Mobile is offering a similar service with the additional ability to send and receive secure text messages. Alternatives to traditional PIN codes on mobile phones have also been getting attention, with LG offering knock codes, a feature allowing users to tap a pattern on the screen to unlock it.
Intelligent and driverless cars are "no longer restricted to the pages of science fiction", says Volkswagen CEO Martin Winkerhorn. He told the trade show he is "convinced the car is on the threshold of digitalisation" and that if fridges and alarm clocks can be connected to digital devices, cars can do it better, reports TechWeek Europe. However, Winkerhorn says the intelligent car is too big a project for one manufacturer to develop alone. VW has already entered into an alliance with Google and he says other companies should contribute too, while Audi is currently testing driverless cars in California.
5G for the UK
Much of the UK might be beyond the reach of 4G, but David Cameron is already talking about 5G, which is 1,000 times faster. He took to the stage at CeBIT to announce plans to develop a 5G mobile-data network that can download a movie in less than a second. The Government will be investing £45m into new technology, including a collaboration between the University of Dresden, King's College London and the University of Surrey to develop 5G in the UK and Germany, says The Independent.
'Internet of things'
Part of the Government's £45m investment will also go towards research into the 'Internet of Things', which Cameron sees as a "new industrial revolution". He wants the UK and Germany to lead the way on new technology, from electricity meters that find users the best deals to health monitors that keep an eye on your heart rate and water pipes that warn of a fall in pressure. Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel were seen at CeBIT testing a mobile-phone-controlled prosthetic hand called the i-limb. Also on display was a suitcase called Bag2go by DT. According to PC World, it alerts its owner if anyone breaks in to steal their valuables and can share its location if lost in transit.
This year, CeBIT is featuring one of the largest visualisations of 'big data' ever created. One 5,000 sq metre hall is lined with screens displaying data in graphical form, some of which changes in real time. The analysis of large volumes of data, fed into databases from digital devices, looks set to become critical to many global issues in the coming decades. IBM Research presented a global healthcare system that handles data taken from a wide variety of devices, ranging from pedometers and sleep monitors to heart-rate sensors. Big data analysis can also increase crop yields by helping farmers make better decisions about when to plant, manage and harvest their crops.