Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Trends on display at Cebit show

By David Reid
Reporter, BBC Click

3D laser scanner
A handheld 3D scanner can be used as "hobby" said its makers

The opening months of every year are a good time for technology conferences. CES takes place in January, the Mobile World Congress is in February and if it is March then it is time for Cebit.

Held in the German city of Hanover, the giant trade fair is typically has more than 400,000 attendees who come to see, try and buy the latest in hardware and software.

The difficult economic conditions means that some of the larger players, such as Samsumg, are not attending. But their absence has given smaller companies a chance to show off their innovations.

Hobby device

One such firm is David Vision Systems which is fighting for a place in the 3D scanning market.

"Others are expensive because they require complicated and precise mechanics, our scanning systems consists of standard components that are available at a low price," said Sven Molkenstruck from David Vision Systems.

The company has come up with a pocket-sized 3D laser scanner.

Blaupunkt's internet car radio
The world's first internet car radio by Blaupunkt works with Bluetooth

"You take the laser in your hand and sweep it over the object with your handů this can be used to calculate 3D data," said Mr Molkenstruck.

He added the device could be used by anyone as a hobby.

"For example for computer games you can include your own 3D models, your own face in a computer game or another virtual environment."

Global product

Another innovation on display at Cebit was the world's first internet car radio by Blaupunkt.

The device has come out of a collaboration between Blaupunkt and Australian internet radio platform miRoamer.

Drivers need a 3G mobile phone that is Bluetooth-enabled to listen to 35,000 radio stations from across the world.

Rohde & Schwarz's encryption device
This encryption device can can be connected to mobile phones
"You pair your mobile telephone to the actual head unit, and then the head unit uses the mobile phone as the gateway to access the internet," explained Robert Demian from miRoamer

"The beauty about internet radio is that it is global. Anyone who has a mobile telephone can use the product. It is a global product, global content and a global audience," he added.

Voice encryption

Feeding off the trend for handset gadgets at Cebit, those conscious of phone eavesdropping can turn to voice encryption devices.

Rohde & Schwarz has developed a small device that can be connected to mobile phones and encrypts a user's voice.

"To protect your transmission, your speech, you have to do it end to end," said Henning Krieghoff from the crypto tech firm.

"On the other end we have a decrypter mobile as well, or we have some boxes which can be connected to normal telephones, be it analogue or digital telephones."

This technology originates in government and military communications circles.

Agricultural tech

Other kinds of wireless technology were on display at the trade fair. But perhaps not in the form visitors expected.

Those wandering the show grounds may have come across a driverless tractor driving around the site. In fact the vehicle is controlled by an electronic tow bar.

Tractor with electronic tow
The car detects the tractor's position and guides it electronically

"The car detects its position and transmits it by radio connection and then the tractor finds the position that it is supposed to drive to," said Ralf Demuth from Gotting which has developed the system.

"The purpose is to build a convoy of several vehicles and only the first one has a driver and all the other vehicles are following automatically," he said.

He added that the cars can detect obstacles like other vehicles and people, and that they stop and wait until the road is clear.

The remotely-towed tractor was not the only agricultural technology on display at Cebit.

New Zealand company Tracmap showed off a GPS system that helps farmers economise when spraying crops or pasture. It also helps out a rookie behind the wheel.

"We use a GPS to feed it into a very sophisticated computer system with a large screen. It paints on the screen where you've been and it is a simple as: anything that's painted in, you've been. Anything that you haven't painted in, you've still got to do," said Colin Brown from Tracmap.

"The productivity part is important in terms of farmers needing to look at saving costs and doing more with less," he added.

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