Platform for smart assistance systems

Platform for smart assistance systems
Foto: Bernd Müller, © Fraunhofer IAO


ENTOURAGE project among the winners in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s Smart Service World competition

ENTOURAGE, an interdisciplinary project involving Fraunhofer IAO, has succeeded in attracting funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) through its Smart Service World technology competition. ENTOURAGE is one of 16 successful projects selected from among 130 entries. Over the next three years it will seek to build a bridge connecting the Internet of Things with smart assistance systems.

The Internet of Things connects things, products and services. It relies on a wide variety of data supplied by sensors such as traffic monitors, weather stations, thermostats or GPS navigation devices, and by other sources such as timetable information services. Smart services transform all of this data into tailored solutions – but so far there is no established, open way to connect data and services easily. However, that’s precisely what’s needed for smart assistants, which filter, aggregate, and process data from a variety of sources to make it easily accessible to the user and are even capable of making autonomous decisions within the boundaries of pre-defined user preferences.

Ecosystem for smart assistance systems

To fill this gap, the partners in the project “ENTOURAGE – Smart Assistance – Enabling Trusted Ubiquitous Assistance” are developing and testing an open ecosystem to support smart, secure, and reliable assistance systems in the Internet of Things. ENTOURAGE provides a hub for data and services, functioning as the link between IoT-platforms and services. It unites technical, organizational, and legal components, and lays the groundwork for innovative, open assistance systems. The BMWi is funding the project as part of its Smart Service World program.

“The nub of the problem is that all the various data sources supply their data in different ways. That leaves providers of assistance systems with the challenge of how to accommodate each data source individually – making it much harder to develop smart assistants that can provide intelligent support by combining all sorts of different information,” explains Dr. Michael Kubach, project manager for ENTOURAGE at Fraunhofer IAO. The hub developed as part of the project is designed to act as the intermediary between the various data formats and services, allowing assistance systems to easily make use of and respond to data from a range of sources. “This new approach overcomes market barriers and paves the way for cross-application and cross-manufacturer smart service solutions. It’s an extremely promising area, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises both in Germany and across Europe,” forecasts Kubach.

Fraunhofer IAO analyzes and develops business models

Fraunhofer IAO’s main focus in ENTOURAGE is on analyzing and developing business models. “We’re also contributing our usability expertise, to make sure that security doesn’t conflict with user-friendliness,” Kubach says.

Expert team from research and industry

The ENTOURAGE team brings together experts from Robert Bosch GmbH, Fraunhofer IAO, CONWEAVER GmbH, HaCon Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH and the Technische Universität Darmstadt, and is coordinated by the ENX Association. Other associate partners include BITKOM, TeleTrust, T-Systems, the city of Cologne and the transit network of Berlin-Brandenburg.

BMWi Smart Service World program

“Smart Service World – Internet-Based Services for the Economy” is a program run by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) through which it is providing total funding of around 50 million euros to 16 projects to develop and test web-based services. This is supplemented by project partners’ own funding amounting to 40 million euros. Smart services form part of the digital agenda and the German federal government’s high-tech strategy.

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