M2M applications that take advantage of LTE networks will dominate this year's CeBIT, said Norbert Handke, CEO of ITS Network Germany (Brussels, Belgium), in an exclusive interview earlier this month. Dr. Handke also let slip a few products and services that his company, Intelligent Communications Systems, will be exhibiting during the week.
Although LTE technology has arrived, the question remains: will customers actually buy it? Handke believes this year's show will be responsible for selling LTE conceptually. For that reason, he expects plenty of hands-on applications. In his company's sector, automotive connectivity, smartphone interfacing with onboard systems will likely be the most common application. This arrangement is appealing to consumers, who would rather pay one mobile bill, than pay separately for smartphone and in-car connectivity.
Handke also expects further refinements to technologies either in-use or close to market, particularly emergency functionality, navigation, and hands-free smartphone calling. We may even see the first attempts at RFID ignition keys.
Connected electric bicycles, segways, and mopeds should also have a presence this year, as well as fully electric cars. ITS will be showcasing an all-electric BMW Mini Cooper and an unspecified all-electric Fiat model. A new gasoline-powered Range Rover equipped with onboard ITS systems will also be on display.
Dr. Handke was equally specific in naming the technologies he does not expect to see this year. Mobile billing and ticketing, he says, is one or two years away, at least in his native Germany. Likewise, while direct car-to-car communication has the potential to revolutionize occupant safety, the technology is not sufficiently widespread. Handke calls car-to-car communication "far off," and prematurity could do more harm than good. Although the promise is exciting, "everything has its place," Handke says, "there's someone in every car who's going to become enraged when it's not working."