Autonomous cars, artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart spaces are among the ten most important technology trends in 2019 identified by the U.S. research company Gartner Inc. These trends are characterized mainly by their disruptive potential over the next five years, according to the analysts. Hamburg News shows which innovative Hamburg companies and projects are behind these technological developments.

1. Autonomous objects

Autonomous objects including Gartner’s autonomous vehicles, robots and drones top the list of trends in 2019. Artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly automate these objects to perform tasks previously performed by humans. Automated and networked driving is an important part of the senate’s strategy for intelligent transport systems in the run-up to the ITS World Congress which Hamburg is hosting in 2021. These include various projects such as tests of autonomous trucks in the Port of Hamburg (Hamburg TruckPilot) and a pilot project on autonomous parking at the airport. Since last June, Hamburg has been the official EU model region for drones.

2. Augmented analytics

Machine learning will become increasingly important in 2019 and is set to expand classical analytics and data management tasks. Machine learning is a sub-area of AI and enables a system or machine to generate knowledge independently from experience. Areas of application are conceivable in the HR sector, sales, marketing or customer service. Deep Learning sees itself as a sub-area of machine learning. The use of artificial, neural networks allows it to achieve highly efficient learning results. The Hamburg-based Synergeticon uses this mechanism to teach its robots multi-tasking.

3. Artificial intelligence in development

The use of AI will change the development of software, Gartner has predicted. In future, developers will work with pre-developed tools based on AI algorithms. AI supported functions can also develop software for automated tests of new applications. Hamburg News is publishing a serieson artificial intelligence. Part II highlights the Hamburg-based jung diagnostics company, which has developed algorithms to help doctors analyse MRI images. Many Hanseatic start-ups such as Quantilope (Agile Insights technology), Vilisto (self-learning radiator thermostats) and Cargonexx (digital forwarding company) are working on AI-based business models.

4. Digital twins

A digital twin is a digital copy of a physical product and is created when the idea behind the product emerges. The twin serves as a virtual template during production and is used throughout the development process and remains connected for the lifespan of the product. From microchips to luxury cruise ships – instead of costly prototypes and tedious test chains, digital twins can act out scenarios and develop solutions or improvement strategies and will become increasingly important in 2019. By its own admission, the Hamburg-based Lufthansa Technik has recently developed the world’s first robot for testing cockpit panels. This should pave the way for more accurate predictions and to carry out simulations in combination with a digital twin.

5. Edge computing

Masses of data generated by a variety of Internet of Things devices will be processed on the “edge” of the network i.e. during data production rather than in a remote data centre to ease conventional data traffic. In future, centralized cloud computing and local edge computing approaches will complement each other. Edge computing and 5G, the next generation of mobile communications, are interdependent. The Hamburg Port Authority, Nokia and Deutsche Telekom have been testing 5G in the Port of Hamburg since last autumn.

6. Immersive experience

The use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) changes how humans perceive and interact with the world as well as with conversation platforms like virtual assistants or chatbots. More and more connected devices e.g. smart watches, fitness wristbands and connected cars will connect people to the Internet, according to Gartner Inc. A test track with intelligent traffic light assistants, which can communicate with cars in downtown Hamburg, is being set up in time for the ITS World Congress and is just one example. The VR Prototyping Lab, launched last autumn in the creative warehouse M28 in Speicherstadt, also houses the VR headquarters. A VR therapy project with Hanseatic participation recently received funds of some EUR 2 million.

7. Blockchain

A blockchain is a decentralized database with a growing list of transaction records. The database is extended chronologically and linearly similar to a chain. New elements are constantly added – hence the term blockchain. Each block contains a checksum of the previous block to prevent abuseof the technology. Blockchain technology has the potential to change entire industries, not only the financial sector (The keyword here is bitcoins.), but also healthcare and logistics, according to Gartner Inc. Last year, the first Blockchance Conference was held in Hamburg and is seen as the largest industry event of its kind in northern Germany. In August 2019, the initiator Fabian Friedrichplans to open a campus in HafenCity targeting start-ups with emphasis on blockchains.

8. Smart spaces

Smart spaces are defined as physical or digital environments in which people and technology-supported systems interact, according to U.S. IT experts. Examples include smart city concepts, digital workspaces and smart homes all of which are likely to gain importance in 2019. In summer 2017, Hamburg and Deutsche Bahn formed a smart city partnership, which includes projects on integrated mobility, intelligently-controlled urban logistics and digital networking. A survey conducted in Hamburg found that Germans are open to speech assistants as smart home devices.

9. Digital ethics and privacy

Privacy and using it responsibly will also play a major role in 2019. Data protection effects individuals and both companies and public authorities. The Hamburg App Bundle, for instance, offers a DSGVO-compliant app for group communication in companies.

Quantum computer

Traditional computers will soon reach their limits when processing big data, according to the tenth trend. And the solution might be a quantum computer for use in the automotive, finance and insurance industries as well as research. Last year, contracts for a new HLRN-IV supercomputer system were signed with Atos, Germany following a tender across Europe. The German government and the participating states are each paying half of the EUR 30 million investment.

Source: Hamburg News, City of Hamburg