‘Precisely because things are going so well in Brainport Eindhoven, it is important to link the power of today to the challenges of tomorrow’. According to Arnold Stokking, Managing Director Industry at TNO and initiator of the future exploration of Brainport Eindhoven; where are the opportunities for the region when it comes to innovation and new business models in 2038? In this biweekly column Stokking and those directly involved explain important points from that foresight.

One of the pillars of the success of the Brainport region is cooperation. Cooperation in chains between networks of suppliers and OEMs and cooperation in the multi helix to create the optimal conditions for successful companies and groundbreaking innovations. And yet, at the start of the future study of Brainport Eindhoven, the participants indicated that even more cooperation was needed, both within the region and with parties outside of it. Cooperation is crucial for the development of future generations of applications and systems. Because even more than now, everything will be connected with everything by 2038.

People and technology are closely intertwined and the interconnectedness of systems is great. Wearables and intrables continuously measure the health of people, in mobility autonomous cabins communicate with the infrastructure around them, drones monitor the growth of crops and blockchains register the exchange of energy between local and regional grids. In all sectors, people and devices work together almost unnoticed. Robots and cobots can be managed ‘mind-controlled’ and anticipate people’s behaviour. High-speed digital 8G networks collect data on the behaviour and interaction of people and technology. Databots interpret the yottabytes to data streams in real-time and adjust algorithms based on the patterns they identify. In new situations where artificial intelligence is still lacking, they brainstorm with users about the best and desired options.

Because of the great interdependence, systems integrate all possible disciplines and technologies from the design stage onwards. To ensure that technology responds optimally to people’s typical characteristics and preferences, in-depth insight into people’s behaviour is essential. Professionals from various social and technical fields use their specialist competencies to design applications and systems together based on observations and analyses of human behaviour. Automatic sensoring and augmented reality detect patterns and digital twins turn rough ideas into prototypes at an early stage. They are tested directly by future users and as part of the integrated systems, they will be part of. Software is an indispensable link to make full use of the opportunities offered by digitization and servitization. In his last column, Arnold Stokking rightly advocates software-centric thinking and innovation to make devices smarter through artificial intelligence and to connect them to other devices and machines in larger systems. It is the basis for increasing the ease of use of devices and systems and developing a variety of support services.

The reward is great: if we work well together, the Brainport region will be known worldwide in 2038 for combining design thinking, software development, data analysis and technological innovations at a system level in the complex manufacturing industry. The systems, devices and machines that knowledge institutions and companies design excel in the way they function and work with people. The data they collect, share and analyse together across systems makes it possible to increase the quality of products and services and reduce their costs. The region is ‘global innovation leader’ in ‘customised production‘ and ‘predictive maintenance‘ and is a leader in many sectors in both ‘product-as-a-service‘ and ‘production-as-a-service‘. The manufacturing industry of the future in which people and machines interactively work together to create personalized products and services is the first to be seen in the Brainport region. Education in the region helps people to prepare for it and acquire the new skills needed to work on new developments. Not only the latest technologies are at the forefront, but also the interfaces that allow everyone to work with them in a natural way. Because of the far-reaching integration of systems, the future can only be made together and the Brainport region is not only good at this but can become even better at it.

Illustration: BarnRaisers