Bosch Exec Dishes on the Company’s Renewed IoT Commitment
At CES, Bosch unveiled a new branding campaign that puts the Internet of Things front and center. In a video clip, a mustachioed IoT-savvy protagonist showcases the manifold ways he takes advantage of the technology: to do everything from park his car to mow his lawn autonomously.
“We want to become a leading IoT company,” said Michael Bolle, chief digital officer of Bosch in an exclusive interview following the CES press announcement regarding the renewed IoT commitment.
And for the German conglomerate, that means doubling down on what it has been doing for several years in making many of its traditional products Internet of Things enabled. “The ‘things,’ in our case, are our products,” said Bolle, who also serves as a board member and chief technology officer at Bosch. Those products stretch across several industries, ranging from consumer goods to industrial technology to energy and building technology. “We are saying all of our products will become part of our IoT solution,” he added.
In 2014, the company’s CEO Volkmar Denner announced the firm’s early IoT commitment, vowing to make all of the firm’s electronic products connected. “In 2014, that was a radical idea,” Bolle mused.
By connecting its products, the company can build an Internet of Things ecosystem and progressively offer customers new functionality. “It’s not a technology game here. It’s more the thought of starting with the customers,” Bolle said. In other words, smart products don’t just have sensors, compute power and connectivity built in, they can learn from interactions with customers.
Of course, using IoT to learn from customers over time is itself no simple prospect. And here, Bosch’s strategy is different from many of its competitors in its vertical integration, which ranges from its manufacture of sensors to its AI research. The company just manufactures 4 million sensors each day for internal and third-party applications. Since 1995, the company has manufactured more than 10 billion MEMS sensors alone. In addition, Bosch also has its own IoT cloud and has a research arm that studies AI applications of IoT.
In the following interview, Bolle shares his thoughts on AI adoption, open source, his background in multimedia and semiconductors and how IoT can change product development.