Report on CEBIT in Hannover, 14 - 20 March 1996
Every March the world travels to Hannover in Germany to witness the largest
information show in the world. A total of over 5,500 companies exhibiting
in some 25 halls set in an area about the size of the City of London with
some 700,000 visitors with over 100,000 from outside Germany makes this
the largest gathering of IT people in the world. Britain was represented
by 267 exhibitor companies and was only exceeded by Taiwan (318), the USA
(513) and, of course, Germany with 3804 exhibiting companies.
The European market is analysed annually by a European body called the European
Information Technology Observatory. This is a useful report for anyone looking
to the market developments. The suggested European growth in the IT business
is 8%, with the UK as one of the highest growth areas with 8.9% growth.
The academic sector was well represented with one hall exclusively dedicated
to Technology Transfer. Some 36 stands, covering an area of approximately
50,000 square metres, allowed all the German, some Swiss and Russian Universities
to demonstrate their technology skills and to offer information technology
exchange to industrialists from around the World. The University of Berlin
offered a compendium of the research projects underway in the form of two
floppy discs, which replaced last year's 680 page booklet.
The big trend in the show was Video Conferencing - over 200 companies were
showing video conference facilities, with 75% showing for the first time.
Along with this trend was the growth in sub-miniature video cameras to enable
the user to conference from any corner of the office or workplace.
On the rapid prototyping front a number of companies were showing low temperature
prototype systems which etch plastic with heat rather than with laser. These
systems enable the user to have the prototype machine on a desktop in their
office rather than in a specially constructed room. These were all known
as 3D printers and produce complex models from 'STL' files.
The growing number of LCD flat screen displays with 180 degree viewing areas
was clearly evident at the show. Prices in this sector are expected to fall
to those of conventional monitors by the year 2000.
Within the virtual reality sector a number of exhibitors were showing "CAVE's".
One of these areas enabled the visitor to experience driving a mechanical
digger! In addition, more normal situations were presented such as home
kitchen design and garden simulation. A particularly interesting simulation
was garden designing for the disabled.
Connection to the Internet was almost standard for all exhibitors and the
only exceptional interface I found was the new Superscape Visnet 3D Browser.
In an attempt to spread the load at the CEBIT, a new show will start this
year called CEBIT Home. This new show will cover the Home electronics area
and will be held 28 August - 1 September 1996. The show is already a sell
out and I suspect that it will grow to the size of CEBIT. New concepts in
exhibition staging will be tried out including a massive Multimedia arena,
Chancel 2000 - a presentation of technology and its interaction with man,
and an exotic games area including waterfalls, rope bridges and skyscrapers
linking the major exhibitors.
People in the multimedia, games and entertainment area can look forward
to spending both March and August in Hannover from now on. From the hype
I am certainly interested to visit to see this new show and will perhaps
report again in September on its realisation.
Bill Boffin & Associates