Smart Systems Summit 2018 – Compass on a smart planet

Thursday, October 11, 8h45, a smooth drive to Eindhoven is the prelude to a rich and informative day at the Smart Systems Summit. To offer broad opportunities to matchmake, DSP Valley and Bits & Chips organize the event together. A report of a fruitful day.

by DSP Valley

The Van der Valk hotel, with its stately lounge with woodfire next to the entrance, is a marked change of the scenery for many DSP Valley attendants. Purpose of their day is an update on the latest evolutions in the smart systems market.

Arm sets the ball rolling

“To the day exact, 50 years ago, the first manned Apollo flight was launched. On board were 3 man and 1 flight computer with sensors and actuators. Quite literally an ‘edge’ computer with a mere 12 300 transistors, it needed sustained connectivity to earth to really be able to navigate the skies; the IBM computing system in Houston crunched sensor data, augmented with context, and uploaded indispensable additional guidance. A tiered, intelligent system – long before IoT. When 12 300 transistors can take you to the moon and back, think about today’s possibilities…”

After this short welcome by Dieter Therssen, CEO of DSP Valley, it is the Chairman of this Summit, Aad Vredenbregt, owner of ValOli and VP Bizdev at coMakeIT, who introduces the keynote speakers.

Jürgen Jagst outlines the opportunities for the smart industry of tomorrow

First on is Jürgen Jagst, senior manager automotive at arm. During his talk, Jürgen Jagst outlines the opportunities he sees for the smart industry in the society of tomorrow. Several macro-observations are discussed and documented, such as the escalating costs of designing solutions for volume markets, and the stalled cost-benefit of finer technology nodes since 28nm – cost per gate became essentially flat. There is a strong likelihood that after 10 years of customization wave (SoC and SiP for mobile market), we have embarked on 10 years of a ‘standardization’ trend with highly flexible devices for IoT applications. The silicon pendulum always seems to swing back.

We might have embarked on 10 years of a ‘standardization’ trend with highly flexible devices for IoT applications.

“We are living in interesting times”, Jürgen Jagst concludes ”, with innovation speed accelerating, China investing heavily in silicon technology, software more than ever becoming a key enabler, and – after the silicon industry consolidation wave – a consolidation ahead amongst platform and services players.” As if he was able to predict the very recent acquisition of the largest, independent Open Source company by IBM.

Microfsoft takes an open stance

After the 10 ‘o clock break Katrien De Graeve, IoT tech solutions architect at the Global Black Belt team of Microsoft brings the second keynote. She openly shares lessons learned from many actual implementations of IoT solutions. What are the challenges with digital transformation, what are the values realized when done properly? With Microsoft’s “Ignite” annual innovation showcase just 2 weeks earlier, a lot of new things and updates are introduced. Not in the least the investment commitment and strong emphasis Microsoft is putting on IoT solution enablers; cloud, security, AI, edge computing. Digital Twins are introduced as a concept to allow modeling the physical environment before connecting devices to that model. This facilitates factoring in ‘context’, ‘people’ and ‘spaces’ into the solution.

With Microsoft’s “Ignite” annual innovation showcase just 2 weeks earlier, a lot of new things and updates are introduced.

Katrien De Graeve also presents Azure IoT Central, a fully managed SaaS offering, which abstracts cloud intricacies from novel or novice users and helps them build compelling IoT scenarios. IoT Edge and Azure Sphere are introduced as platforms on the edge of the system, embracing – or at least supporting – Linux, and Docker containers. As perhaps best illustrated by its acquisition of GitHub, Microsoft seems to gradually take a more open stance and, on this summit too, Katrien De Graeve invites companies present to enter in discussion and join the ecosystem.

Katrien De Graeve of Microsoft invites companies present to enter in discussion and join the ecosystem.

Indeed, Microsoft as well as arm are looking for new ideas and companies to work with, and after the keynotes and during lunch both Katrien De Graeve and Jürgen Jagst take their time to visit the exhibition and interact with the attendants.

“Rock-solid” presentations

After the keynotes are delivered, the participants split up and choose a presentation of their interest. The selection to choose from is quite diverse. There is Georgi Gayadadjiev from Maxeler. He kicks off in the Technologies for the IoT-track and demonstrates the advantages and the importance of cumulonimbus cloud systems and how that interface only captures the information you really need. After lunch, Robbert Lohmann from 2getthere explains how his company will integrate autonomous systems operating on public roads without safety driver or steward and uses his project at Brussels Airport as an example. In Smart Health, Nico Zeeders and Olesya Bliznyuk from Unitron tell the listeners what to pay attention to when bringing medical solutions to the European market. DSP Valley-members are also well represented in the pack of speakers. Peter Schepers from Itility takes IoT into the sky, Ramses Valvekens (easics) and Daan Gheysens (Robovision) tell us more on deep learning on FPGA in the case automated optical inspection (AOI) . And much more. The overall impression: a strong program with a high level of speeches. Or as one of the participants expresses it: “The quality of the speakers and their presentations is rock-solid”.

Overall impression of the different tracks: A strong program with a high level of speeches.
Members and start-ups take the floor

In between the different presentations, there is time for visiting the different booths and for networking. Next to members as Thaumatec, Itility and Achilles Design, there is also room for start-ups. Crodeon presents its hardware for IoT in the farming industry, Ivex shows how it programs the behavior of autonomous vehicles, Pozyx demonstrates its capabilities to track people and objects all over the world. And Epihunter exihibits the tool with which it monitors invisible epileptic seizures. Because the company has been in the news lately with this new technology, Ephihunter also gets the chance to give a presentation on the technology in the Smart Health-track.

In between the presentations, there is time for visiting the different booths and for networking.
Young blood showcases smart cars

To top off the conference, a display of the innovative power of young teams is presented in the form of 2 advanced vehicles from KU Leuven and the Eindhoven university of technology.

The solar vehicles presented by KU Leuven and the Eindhoven university both won first prizes.

The “Stella” from TU/E is the prototype solar car that led to the ’Lightyear‘ vehicle presented by Arjo van der Ham in the mobility track. The team has been multiple winner of the Solare Challenge, and the car demonstrated raced 3 000 kilometers across the Australian outback to win the World Solar Challenge in October of 2017.

The “Pulse” from KU Leuven is this year’s contender in the Formula Electric for students. It is equipped with novel, artificial intelligence-based cooling technology and comprehensive telemetry, and won the 2018 First Prize for the design at the Formula Student Competition in the Czech Republic.

A great way to end the day, over a bite and a drink, having some concluding discussions, before heading home and let it all sink in.