IoT interview

How Germany is struggling with the Internet of Things

Coman Hamilton

Leading German IoT specialist Mostafa Akbari speaks about security problems and keeping up with US innovation.

Between his talk at the IoT Conference in Berlin and a technology meeting with Germany’s chamber of commerce, IoT pro and bitstars-founder Mostafa Akbari talked to JAXenter about security, beacons and how Germany is struggling to keep up with North American IoT innovation. Security seems to be the biggest issue for the Internet of Things at the moment. How serious a problem do you think security is for IoT? Security is always a problem. And security and privacy are problems that are also handled really differently in different countries. But the fear about security and privacy… you have to see it in context. Take a look at the car at the moment, which kills a lot of people every day; in Germany, in the US, in Dubai… We have to see how people proceed with technology, and if we continue in fear or learn and then make things better. We have a lot to learn about security and privacy. We need to add it to new to new technologies that we are securing, while also raising awareness. But users also have to decide personally if the technology is for them or not. But fighting technology because of security fears it is not the right thing to do at the moment. You were speaking about “Industry 4.0” during your talk. What kind of potential do you see there? I think Industry 4.0, (or I think in the US it’s called “advanced manufacturing”) is a really big thing at the moment, especially for US companies trying to develop new kinds of factories. But Chinese and German companies are also trying to introduce IoT, even to their older machines. In Germany it’s especially difficult because we have a lot of privacy issues and security issues and also a very poor internet standard, especially in Bavaria and Baden-Würtemburg. It’s a big problem for many manufacturers. And also the people don’t understand alot of the “things” because they’ve never really used the internet. So if you go some place and all the machine engineers are in a small village and they don’t have mobile internet (because there’s no mobile internet). At home they have just ISDN or very slow internet. So many engineers don’t even know what possibilities there are in advanced manufacturing. And this is a disadvantage compared to the US, where people are more open and do things faster. During your talk, you also mentioned an IoT setup at your office where you used iBeacons to create new functions for people sharing the office. Can you tell us a bit more about that? They’re not iBeacons! They’re Bluetooth beacons. Ok, they’Re the same… the iBeacon is basically just a protocol from Apple running on the device. But we wanted to support every device, so we used Bluetooth. Essentially iBeacons do the same thing. But you don’t always have to use the trademark of Apple. And you can do it with normal Bluetooth stack and develop it. We’re trying to see where the potential is in workplaces. Before we go to private homes, we wanted to see where offices can also explore with the IoT… heating, office security and also to see who in the office is where. How can you contact them? Is a certain conference room available? Where is a certain person in the office? Are they in a meeting? There’s a lot of different potential there. We’re using the beacons, we use the wi-fi signal for specific measurements, for locating people and also we have cameras with motion detectors. And we’re also connecting them all together with Google Glass. When I’m wearing them, I can look around and see which temperature I have in each room for example, or who is in each office. So we’re combining different display technologies. Out of all the IoT devices out there, do you have a favourite? The one I love most is the smartwatch with Android Wear on it. But not because the device itself is so great, but because of the services which Google provides for such devices. If you use Google, Google Now and all that, and you’re not afraid about your personal data (laughs), then it’s a really great help. — Smartwatch image via Shutterstock
Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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