Experience the future todayJust snap your fingers, and virtual objects appear in 3D that can even be moved around with your hands! What initially seems to be a fantasy from a science fiction movie is now a reality, thanks to a mixed-reality headset that blends the virtual world with the real world.
This and other technology highlights were on display for visitors to marvel over – and experience for themselves – at the Hack & Make Creative and Technology Festival held at the "Z-Bau" cultural center, in Nuremberg, Germany. Included among the exhibits were the LOGO! logic module and the SIMATIC IOT2000 open IoT platform from Siemens. Their presence at the show reflects the fact that digitalization and automation are now playing an increasing role in the consumer and DIY markets.
"We need new young engineers and scientists coming through who enjoy working with technology," says Ralf-Michael Franke, head of the Siemens Digital Factory, Factory Automation (DF FA) Business Unit. "An event such as this offers a major opportunity to move people on from merely creative play, into creative value-adding design work." Siemens was one of the main sponsors of Hack & Make and also hosted its own booth. The show provided tech fans with insight into how small-scale automation tasks can be performed at home with ease using the LOGO! logic module and the SIMATIC IOT2000.
And as an added bonus: once kids have outgrown their automated toys, LOGO! can again be called upon to perform other tasks around the home, such as controlling the movement of window blinds.
Siemens employees also hosted a range of workshops. A series of 10 beginner's seminars were held, during which attendees had the opportunity to try out the products on display. Under the guidance of expert staff, attendees learned about the link between the real and virtual worlds. They also gained experience programming with LOGO! through the use of a model of a bank door, and they used the SIMATIC IOT2000 to program their own small-scale applications. Project manager Annemarie Lötzsch in charge of digitalization scenarios using TIA Portal at Siemens was delighted with the outcome. "All the workshops were completely booked up," she reports.
"Things such as 3D printers and laser cutters have been very popular in the consumer DIY sector for some time." But now, she adds, "those techniques are playing an increasingly important role in industry also. "Many people are not only building their own 3D printers, but also printing their components as well," says Lötzsch. All necessary instructions are available free of charge on the Internet, or exchanged in open workshops often referred to as Fablabs or makerspaces and at events such as Hack & Make. "Anything that makes life easier is generally of value," Lötzsch continues, "and digitalization and automation are, of course, key to that."
We need new young engineers and scientists coming through who enjoy working with technology.Ralf-Michael Franke, Head of the Siemens Digital Factory, Factory Automation (DF FA) Business Unit
One particularly eye-catching feature at the show was presented by students in the Siemens Electrical Engineering & IT dual-study program. Wearing a mixed-reality headset, booth visitors were able to make virtual objects "appear" in 3D and control them. With just a snap of the fingers, they could also get information on a selected exhibit presented "in person" by company founder Werner von Siemens! Of course, he was not actually present – except in the form of a bust that was animated by a robot in lifelike fashion as he spoke. The students created this exhibit using the SIMATIC IOT2000 single-board computer.
IoT, wireless communication, 3D printing, electromobility – the major topics of the industrial world – are also being discovered and developed by private manufacturers in the consumer DIY market, known as "makers." "Through play, a huge amount of know-how – and connectivity too – is being created," says Rainer Keil, a Siemens engineer and member of FabLab Nuremberg, the open workshop that organized Hack & Make. "And that collaboration between different professions, interest groups, and generations is tremendously fruitful."