Although consumer-oriented connected devices have gotten most of the attention in recent years, a clearer picture of the future of IoT, where the both the ‘IoT ecosystem’ as well as ‘Industrial Internet’ as the principal drivers of our connected future, is starting to take shape. Bosch, is one of the principal global leaders of this revolution. With the launch of their IoT suite, they plan to become the principal facilitator of a connected world by not only enabling applications and web-enabled devices to communicate, but also providing the tools required to analyze the massive amounts of data created by this connected future.
In advance of Bosch’s talk at Connected Conference, we’ve spoken with Bosch France President Guy Maugis, who takes us through Bosch’s vision as it relates to IoT as well as the innovative IoT initiatives they currently have underway.
What is Bosch’s vision as it relates IoT?
The world is becoming ever more connected. And at times it seems as though the internet and globalization have developed a momentum of their own. Companies like Bosch can help shape these developments, however. At Bosch we’ve created intelligent solutions designed to enable consumers to lead convenient, efficient, and secure lives. These sustainable solutions for a connected world range from smart sensors to smart energy solutions, from eMobility to automated driving, from smart software to smart cities, from telematics to thermotechnology, from home appliances to power tools.
By 2015, we at Bosch expect about 75 percent of the world’s population to have access to the internet. At the same time, six billion things will be connected to the internet. This development will also bring about major changes in the market for energy and building technology in the coming years, and will pave the way for new services and business models. At Bosch, we already have considerable experience in this realm, for instance with the 50,000 networked heating systems that have already been sold. Bosch Security Systems already generates more than half its sales in the video surveillance segment with internet-enabled cameras.
What are some of the initiatives and innovations that you’re working on is at the heart of your vision?
In the connectivity business, there is a new “3S”: sensors, software, and services. Bosch is the leading global manufacturer of micromechanical sensors, more commonly known as MEMS sensors. This year, we will manufacture 1.6 billion of these “sensory organs,” nearly 25 percent more than in the previous year. Moreover, for some years now, we’ve been expanding our software competence. Today, one in three of the 45,700 associates working in research and development at Bosch is a software engineer. Three thousand engineers are working on the internet of things alone.
As underscored by our CEO Volkmar Denner “For Bosch, software expertise is a key competence for the future. Embedded software is already one of our strong points, and we are successively adding to this with IT software know-how.” Only recently, we acquired the connectivity specialist ProSyst, a supplier of gateway software and middleware. In smart homes, ProSyst’s software acts as an interpreter for the devices of different manufacturers.
One central software platform for the internet of things is the Bosch IoT suite. It orchestrates communication and data exchange between web-enabled objects such as factory machinery, heating systems, and security cameras. Our Bosch IoT suite can also analyze and process the kind of big data generated in areas such as connected manufacturing. We plan to make parts of our IoT suite accessible for open-source developers.
The business potential of the internet of things lies above all in the services that can be derived from connectivity. “Bosch is in equal measure a supplier of technology and services, and both are an advantage for us in the connectivity business.” Even today, we offer a wide range of service solutions for many industries and customers. For example, the Security Systems division offers telematics services such as eCall for 500,000 vehicles in 16 languages. By the end of 2015, we will have facilitated the connectivity of some 100,000 vehicles for the fleet management of leasing and insurance companies.
How does your recent acquisition of Siemens’ stake in BSH reinforce your strategy around IoT?
The complete takeover of BSH will play a role in expanding our activities in the area of connected buildings and appliances. As part of smart home concepts, household appliances are to become even easier to use and more energy-efficient in the future – appliances will become even more user-friendly. For example, BSH has developed “Home Connect,” an app that allows users to control connected appliances from their smartphone or tablet PC using a wifi connection. BSH has already premiered its first appliances – ovens and dishwashers – featuring Home Connect, and more are to follow. Our strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected world.
Do you have examples of Bosch initiatives in France concerning IoT to support the growth of ‘B-to-B ecosystem’?
Since last year, we at Bosch have offered manufacturing services targeting start-ups , as well as larger companies, to help them in the industrialization phase of innovative connected devices, notably in the domain of smart mobility, industry, energy, and the smart building. Our clienst can benefit from Bosch’s domain know-how and manufacturing capability. To illustrate this new model of partnership, our plant in Mondeville will produce for Luciom, a start-up developing Li-Fi technology, smart lighting devices in France. Li-Fi is a promising wireless communication technology that allows data transmission by means of light. It could be particularly useful in a variety of applications, in particular museums, airports or large shopping malls. The know-how of Bosch in electronic engineering, test and manufacturing combined with our expertise in sensor and connected systems were key in Luciom’s selection of Bosch as an industrial partner.
Also, our Venture Capital arm, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, invests in start-up companies either directly or via other venture capital funds. We primarily invest in first/second VC rounds, with initial amount of EUR 1.5 to 4 million, and participate in the follow-on investment rounds of private companies. Enabling technologies for connectivity, web/internet based business models, sensors, actuators, and MEMS devices are part of our investment strategy.