Bosch has reached the next milestone on the road to becoming a leading global IoT supplier. The company’s first step was to give cars, machines, buildings, and other everyday objects connectivity – millions of times over.
Bosch sold 52 million web-enabled products in 2018 alone, over a third more than in the previous year. Using its open-source-based Bosch IoT Suite, the company has already connected more than 10 million devices from various manufacturers. Bosch is now working with partners to enable these things to communicate and interact in secure ecosystems.
Distributed ledger technologies (DLT) such as blockchain may well be-come the key technology in these domains. “By merging the physical and digital realms, we are making people’s everyday lives easier,” said Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner at BCW19, where he addressed some 5,000 technology buffs from the political, business, scientific, and public arenas. “In the future, things will not just be connected in order to communicate, they will do business together.”
DLT as key technology for the economy of things
Bosch is taking a strategic interest in these technologies, as they will usher in the “economy of things,” which will enable things to communicate independently with other connected things, and even enter into smart contracts on their own. In the mobility domain, for example, this could help expedite routine procedures. Ser-vices of all kinds could result, such as automatically billing vehicle owners for the use of toll roads, parking spaces, and charging stations.
A car that negotiates with charging stations
Bosch is working with the energy supplier EnBW on a prototype that uses block-chain technology to improve the e-car recharging process. The idea is to stream-line and tailor the entire process to customers’ needs, so they can select, re-serve, and pay for recharging services as they see fit.
For example, the operator could combine the software developed by
Bosch for cars with a smart charging-station manager to offer customers
transparent pricing models, with the options varying in real time according to the
availability of charging stations and green electricity sourced from
The entire transaction – reservation and payment – is a fully automated blockchain operation. This service can factor other customer preferences into the equation. For example, a customer who has small children and likes coffee could opt for a charging station with a playground and cafés nearby. Initial trials with this new system are underway.
A car that pays its own parking fees
Bosch and Siemens are jointly developing a second
application, a smart parking-management system based on blockchain. In the
future, DLT will make parking considerably less of a chore. Cars will
communicate directly with parking facilities in their vicinity and negotiate
the best terms.
As soon as the car reaches the en-trance to the chosen parking
garage, it will identify itself at the entry barrier, which will then be raised
without the driver having to remove a ticket from the dispenser.
The driver will also be able to leave the parking garage without further ado, since the vehicle will have already communicated with the exit barrier and settled the parking fee in a virtual transaction. Drivers will no longer have to keep small change at the ready or worry about losing their parking ticket. The two companies have installed a prototype at Bosch’s Renningen research campus and at the Siemens campus in Munich.
Distributed structures to restore trust in the internet
Distributed structures across the internet are at the core
of DLT. Rather than a few platform providers storing data in their data
centers, it is spread across numerous servers.
“To build trust in digital
ecosystems, we need open platforms and an internet in which users have the
power to decide for themselves,” Denner said. This will bring real benefits to
people. If users are “captive,” a web platform provider can change its terms of
use at will. By gaining independence from the big internet players, users no
longer have to blindly accept such changes. “We are building trust in internet platforms
with these distributed structures.
They enable many players to participate,” said Bosch board of management member and CDO/CTO Dr. Michael Bolle. Distributed platforms operated by an ecosystem encompassing numerous equal partners are also better protected against external attacks.