Smart factories, smart cars, and smart homes – the digitalization of physical platforms from which the Internet of Things will be created is gaining momentum. "That said, integration at the purely technical level in terms of exchanging bits and bytes between digitally refined objects has no added value at first," says Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster. "Real communication between the objects only takes place when the networked objects actually understand the contents of the shared messages," explains the CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). According to Wahlster, semantic technologies from artificial intelligence will therefore become "the critical success factor for the Internet of Things because only then can the shared data be interpreted in a meaningful way in each particular context."
Wahlster explains what semantic technologies are in the latest edition of mag_i, an innovation magazine by CeBIT and Euroforum: "Semantics deal with the internal structure of a vocabulary of concepts, the relation between the symbols and the construction of complex structures of meaning with the aid of an inventory of relationship rules for basic meanings." With interrelationships such as "subtopic of", "opposite of" or "synonymous to", complex networks of terms, so-called onotologies, are constructed step-by-step. "Semantic technologies bridge the gap between the technical language of computer science and the language of its users because they enable different systems of concepts to be translated back and forth without losing the meaning," says Wahlster.
In order for objects from various areas of life and from various manufacturers to understand each other better, Germany is participating in large joint research projects such as SemProM (BMBF) and Theseus (BMWi). According to Prof. Wahlster, the country has thereby "gained a pole position that now needs to be transformed into a winning start by swiftly establishing international standards at the ISO and W3C for the Internet of Things with German companies as the main providers."
Among the new tools, applications and prototypes that the DFKI is presenting at "Research & Innovation" is the "Semantic Desktop" from the EU project ForgetIT (Hall 9/F43). This features managed forgetting and contextualized remembering in the personal sphere of knowledge: photos, documents, e-mails, tasks, events – on the desktop, on the device and in the cloud. ForgetIT helps users stay on top of their daily information overflow. According to DFKI, the Semantic Desktop spans "a personal sphere of knowledge that is available in a file manager, the browser, text editor, cloud space or the photo collection" enabling users to annotate, organize and semantically search according to their resources.
At the Bavarian Pavilion ( Hall 9/A40 ) gesinn.it is showcasing a semantic solution for process and quality management. "semantic::bpm" is a part of semantic::apps, a comprehensive suite of integrated business applications for Semantic MediaWiki. "By applying semantic technologies, semantic::apps combines the agile documentation of wikis with the familiar administration of structured database files," states the exhibitor. semantic::apps specifies the significance of information in a machine-readable form, integrate distributed information, structure knowledge and record complex relationships. With semantic wiki technologies, gesinn.it intends to dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of smart factory. Wikiboxx, another gesinn.it development, is a device based on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer. As semantic object memory (SOM) it saves all self-contained, computer-readable information related to a machine. The device can be integrated with various information busses and data formats. "It communicates with people, other Wikiboxxes and software solutions, enabling flexible, highly-individualized production processes," states the manufacturer. In addition, it creates a comprehensive overview of critical production knowledge and information.