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Inventions for the Future

The word “Technology“ on a blue background.

The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, automated driving, robotics, and virtual reality — the fourth industrial revolution has transformed society across several levels. How will things proceed? What innovations await us? We speak to experts from different fields about the future — and they give us a glimpse into what they believe is the “next big thing.”

Binary image oft he first steam engine onpink background with a timeline mark at 1712.
Timeline with a marked happening from the 19th century to 1876 on a purple background.
Binary image oft he first automobile with a mark on the timeline at 1886 on a blue background.
Binary image oft he first computer with a mark on the timeline at 1941 on a blue background.
Timeline with a marked happening at 1969 and 1989 on a light blue background.
Image of a computer with chess on the desktop with a mark on the timeline at 1997 on a light blue background.
The sentence „What will come next?“ on a green background.

What will come next?

The road from the steam engine to artificial intelligence has been long and shaped by pioneering inventions developed by visionary minds. But it’s not over yet. We asked thought leaders about which developments with revolutionary potential they believe await us, and which technologies will come to enrich, shape, and define the society of the future — from the mobility of tomorrow, to neurosciences and new business models, right through to the high data volumes that will become available.

Sami Haddadin against a purple background. On the picture is the quote: “Hydrogen a big solution”

Sami Haddadin, Director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence

One of the most fundamental challenges we have is energy supply. There I see hydrogen as a big solution and a future technology.

Sarik Weber, Digital Advisor at Ottobock in front of a pink background

Sarik Weber, Digital Advisor, Ottobock

Mobility will play a vital role, both in factories but also for humans. Ottobock will play an important role in enhancing human mobility. In future, humans will move in different ways enhanced by devices.

Christian Bauer, Head of Business Development at Volocopter in front of a pink background.

Christian Bauer, Head of Business Development, Volocopter

There is more and more data generated worldwide. How can we transform this data into services and how can we transform the services into a customer experience? Going from A to B intermodal or paying on demand — both is not happening today. So, the big question will be: How will we connect our hubs with other hubs or people and their destination?

Scott Guthrie against a purple background. On the picture is the quote: “Edge-based AI.”

Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President Cloud + AI at Microsoft

The #nextbigthing is edge-based AI, which transforms the physical world. Technologies, such as augmented reality, will change how humans interact with each other as well as with their physical environment.

Andrew Ng against a purple background. The image includes the quote, “Software for accelerating the development of AI”.

Andrew Ng, expert in AI and CEO of Landing AI

My personal #NextBigThing is to develop principles, algorithms, ideas, and tools for machine learning operations (MLOps) with a data-centric view that enable teams to develop, deploy, and maintain artificial intelligence ten times faster and more cost-effectively than possible today. I believe this will be key to the deployment of AI in industry and other sectors.

Tim Berners-Lee, CTO and Professor at CSAIL/MIT in front of a blue background.

Tim Berners-Lee, CTO and Professor, CSAIL/MIT

Unwanted control and manipulation of our data — that is the downside of the internet in present days. So, the #NextBigThing from my point of view is “Solid”, our platform, which flips the whole privacy questions upside down and so the right way up. As a consequence, you own all your data and you control all your data to be empowered to do your next big things.

Alexander Otto against a blue background. On the picture is the quote: “Digital solutions for stationary retail.”

Alexander Otto, Chief Executive Officer of ECE

The #nextbigthing for us as a company is to look for digital solutions in other areas. We’re really interested in the hotel business, which is also being revolutionized through digitalization at the moment. There are a lot of innovative concepts coming up.

Alejandro Agag, Chairman of Formula E Holdings in front of a blue background.

Alejandro Agag, Chairman, Formula E Holdings

The #NextBigThing is gonna be a combination of technologies. The real power is in combining — mixing different technologies to obtain completely new and different products. The combination of e-mobility with connected and driverless vehicles — this will be a revolution.

Jean-Marie Sol, Group Agronomy Director of Bonduelle in front of a blue background.

Jean-Marie Sol, Group Agronomy Director, Bonduelle

The #NextBigThing is the understanding of the interaction between microbes, the plant and the soil in the fight against plant diseases. Digitalization is going to stimulate innovations in terms of biocontrol and biostimulance and IoT will be able to analyze soil quality and accompanying flora and plant diseases very quickly. The data will be available at short notice and appropriate measures can be taken — a key element to agricultural transformation.

Sebastian Thrun against a blue background. On the picture is the quote: “AI improves our work.”

Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Robotics expert and CEO at Kitty Hawk

The #nextbigthing is artificial intelligence taking over repetitive work. It will take jobs that we don’t like, so we are able to focus on more creative work. AI will also help humans to become experts in certain job fields much more quickly by coaching them, and it will make experts such as medical doctors more efficient.

The picture shows a portrait photo of Dr. Shohini Ghose and a quote from her with the text: Understanding the human brain.

Dr. Shohini Ghose, professor of quantum physics and computer science

For me, the final frontier is actually inside us — it’s the human brain. I think better understanding the human brain is the real road to understanding artificial intelligence, how quantum will work, and a lot of other technologies.

Jörg Dederichs, Member of the Board of 3M in front of a blue background.

Jörg Dederichs, Member of the Board of Management, 3M

Technologies like digital printing, rapid prototyping, will disrupt what we do today — so we need to anticipate where the markets are going and come up with entirely new business models. The Business model thinking is our #NextBigThing.

Roland Bush against a blue background. On the picture is the quote: “Machines sharing more information.”

Dr. Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens

The #NextBigThing is increased communication between machines. There are more technological devices on earth than human beings. When the majority of them becomes smart and starts sharing information this will bring the internet of things to a new level. Among other things this will change our manufacturing processes and improve manufacturing on demand.

Catharina van Delden, Founder and CEO of innosabi GmbH in front of a blue background.

Catharina van Delden, Founder and CEO of innosabi GmbH

In our fast-paced digital world, I think we have to realize the importance of mental health. Every employee, every person has to focus on emotional and mental stability in order to be able to thrive in a digital world.

Aries Liu, General Manager of DiDi Mobility Innovation Center in front of a turquoise background.

Aries Liu, General Manager, DiDi Mobility Innovation Center

AI will be the next big thing for smart transportation architecture. AI will play an important role in transportation platforms, but also contribute to autonomous driving and also enable the whole transportation infrastructure to run more safely and convenient.

Katja Nettesheim, Founder and CEO of _MEDIATE GmbH in front of a turquoise background.

Katja Nettesheim, Founder and CEO, _MEDIATE GmbH

The #NextBigThing is neuroscience, because Digital Transformation needs culture change. And culture change means behavioral change and we all know how difficult behavior changes are. Neuroscience made such great advances in the last decade that we should use these findings in order to affect better cultural change — and thus the Digital Transformation.

Franz Josef Radermacher against a green background. On the picture is the quote: “Mobilize potential of deserts”

Franz Josef Radermacher, Head of the Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing

For me, this is Desertec. We have to mobilize the potential of those huge deserts that lie in the sun belt and ground does cost essentially nothing. We have to produce solar energy where there is a lot of sun. With large solar power plants in the Sahara, we could, for instance, supply energy to North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Russia.

Chris Adams against a green background. On the picture is the quote: “A more human scale city environment”

Chris Adams, organizer of the community

The #nextbigthing is a more pedestrian friendly city environment. The idea that we are moving towards surroundings that are designed for people and are not so dependent on cars is really exciting.

The picture shows a portrait photo of Claudia Nemat and a quote from her with the text: “Technological ecosystems.”

Claudia Nemat, Member of Deutsche Telekom’s Board of Management

We will increasingly live and work technological in ecosystems. By this I mean that everything is connected — people with people and machines, and machines with each other. Ecosystems are digitized, work with open standards, and turn competitors into partners through coopetition. This makes it possible to respond individually to the diversity of people’s needs.

Stefan Dohler against a green background. On the picture there is the quote: "Green hydrogen as a storage of energy".

Stefan Dohler, CEO of EWE AG

The northern German hydrogen project, which goes under the name “Clean Hydrogen Coastline,” has just reached the second stage of a nationwide selection process and is thus one step closer to joining other proposed European projects in receiving funding. This highlights the importance of the northern German coastal region as a hub for a future national and European hydrogen economy.

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