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Bosch establishes new connected devices company for Internet of Things

20 December 2013

Bosch has established a new company, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH, for the Internet of Things (IoT) and related services; the company will supply compact electronic products and software expertise designed to make devices and objects intelligent and web-enabled across a broad range of applications. It will initially focus on sensor-based applications for intelligently networked homes, or “smart homes,” as well as for activities in the fields of traffic, transportation, and logistics.

From vehicles and smart phones to containers and machines – by 2015 more than six billion things will be connected to the internet. Entirely new services will emerge that will transform people’s everyday lives and open up huge new business opportunities. These services will rely on the smart networking of devices within wider systems. Setting up Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions is a key strategic step in our plans to expand our portfolio for the internet of things and services.

—Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH

Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH is headquartered in Reutlingen and will also have sites in Coimbatore, India, and Suzhou, China. It specializes in the development of networked sensors and actuators. Actuators convert electrical signals from sensors or control units into a physical action, such as automatically switching a light on and off or opening and closing a valve.

MEMS and autos
MEMS sensors were originally developed for use in cars, for instance in skid detection for the ESP electronic stability program. Today, Bosch notes, each modern vehicle is home to up to 50 of MEMS sensors.
These sensors support significant safety and comfort functions such as “Adaptive Cruise Control” (ACC) or softer gear changing of automatic gearboxes.
All these sensors have turned cars into suppliers of data for what is known as the automotive cloud, which is already providing drivers with valuable additional information in various situations and connecting them ever more closely to the world in real time.

MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) sensors with their microscopically fine structures can be used to measure acceleration, air pressure, the earth’s magnetic field, yaw rate, noise, or temperature. The sensors can be intelligently programmed using software algorithms and equipped with microcontrollers, miniature batteries, and tiny radio chips, enabling them to process measurement data and send it over the internet to other devices, such as a user’s smart phone. In principle, this makes it possible to bring all the things that people use in their everyday lives online, gradually merging together the real and virtual worlds.

Building on many years of expertise in electronics and sensor technology More than almost any other company, Bosch can draw on many years of expertise in the development and manufacture of electronics and sensor technology. As the world’s largest supplier of MEMS sensors in terms of sales revenue, Bosch produces more than one billion micromechanical sensors a year for the automotive and consumer electronics markets.

The introduction of MEMS sensors in automotive electronics in the 1980s and 1990s marked the first wave of growth. The second major wave has been their widespread incorporation in smart phones, tablets, and games consoles since the beginning of the 21st century—and the internet of things and services now heralds the third wave. We’re convinced that it will far surpass the first two waves. Sensors, signal processing, batteries, and transmitters have become so small, energy efficient, and inexpensive—even as all-in-one units—that they can be used in their billions. And at the same time radio networks are now available almost everywhere.

—Volkmar Denner

Using a combination of sensors and software, a smart home can, for instance, detect that the windows upstairs are open and link this piece of information to a weather forecast from the internet. To protect the house from an approaching storm, the system would be able to automatically close the windows and lower the shutters. Meanwhile, “smart plugs” can be used to switch a nursery’s irrigation system on and off depending on the soil’s moisture content. Sensors integrated in packages and consignments of goods can be used to monitor their transportation. The data shows whether the goods have been handled roughly, dropped, left out in the rain, or exposed to unusual temperatures, so responsibilities can be correctly assigned at all times. And if a consignment disappears, the recorded geodata allow the route it took to be easily tracked. With the rapid increase of internet commerce, this is a fast-growing market.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas in January, Bosch will be presenting many of the possibilities for the home offered by the internet of things and services. Combined in a radio-enabled network, multiple sensors will continuously read and transmit information on their immediate environment. This will enable authorized users to find out which doors are open or closed, how noisy it is, and how the temperature, pressure, and humidity have varied over the course of the day at different points in the booth. This combination of sensors will turn the Bosch trade fair booth into a showcase for devices that maintain radio contact and exchange information with each other.

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