What might everyday life look like in 2040? Michael Tagscherer, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Giesecke+Devrient, has the following vision: “Groceries are transported to our front door by autonomous delivery drones. Payment is made directly via automatic recognition of my personal ID – contactless and on the spot, of course. Our money is stored as digital currency on our smartphone or smartwatch. Mobility has also arrived in the IoT age. Today, I’m taking my own car, which, thanks to digital connectivity, selects the least-congested route to the office. A smart street light tells the car where there are empty parking spaces. I’m able to gain access to the company building because terminals automatically read my ID card and compare it directly with my biometric features in real time. Before I leave the office at noon to work at home during the second half of the day, I find out more about a new startup company via augmented reality, sample its solutions, and chat to the founders as if I were in the same room with them. Before I open my front door, my smartphone tells me my washing machine has automatically chosen the optimal program and the best time when electricity prices are at their lowest.”
Setting the innovations of tomorrow on track today
For almost 170 years, G+D has been a trusted partner for securing values. The company has evolved from a banknote printer into an international technology group operating in four markets: payment, connectivity, identities, and digital infrastructures. Technological innovation has always been the driver of the company’s development. To ensure that remains the case in the future, G+D is committed to making the right decisions today for solutions that will deliver substantial added value for customers tomorrow and beyond – and move the company itself forward. A passion for research and development, targeted acquisitions, and venture capital provide the necessary basis.
And the security of all these applications? “Even when quantum computers hit the market, they won’t be able to outsmart G+D’s cyber security solutions for security-critical digital applications,” says Tagscherer confidently. Is this all just a distant dream? “No, quite the opposite. These highly digitized application scenarios, which will be taken for granted the day after tomorrow, are in the starting blocks today. In the coming decades, G+D will help shape this digital world in a pioneering way,” says the CTO. His Corporate Technology Office is driving a number of technology initiatives.
Artificial intelligence that supports people
Huge quantities of data are produced in the digital world. This can only be processed with the aid of smart analysis systems and artificial intelligence. Doing so delivers genuine added value, e.g. through greater efficiency, lower error rates, and entirely new types of analysis. “With AI, solutions can learn and improve on an ongoing basis. This allows users to better focus on essential aspects and find the mental space for new ideas,” says Tagscherer. One example is predictive maintenance of machines. G+D is working on solutions that involve analyzing machine data with the aim of detecting impending breakdowns at an early stage and thus averting them. This will help to prevent expensive downtime.
Digital representation of values
The use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) is becoming increasingly widespread, with blockchain being the best-known form of DLT. “Something that until recently was only associated with Bitcoin is now finding its way into all areas of our private and business lives,” says G+D’s CTO. DLT makes it possible for a wide variety of values and rights to be represented digitally and managed more easily. This is particularly useful if sensitive data or assets are to be exchanged in a traceable way by a certain deadline. One example of this is asset tokenization, which includes converting the rights to an asset – such as a financial product, real estate, or artwork – into a digital representation in the form of a token. These can then be stored, traded, pledged, or inherited. G+D has made a venture investment in one of the leading providers in this field, Swiss company METACO SA.
Developing tomorrow’s cyber security solutions today
The threat is not real yet, but it will be: “When quantum computers become commercially available, the potential for attacks will increase as a result of their greatly enhanced performance. Conventional security and cyber security solutions therefore face new challenges,” warns Tagscherer. It is important to start putting measures in place today to protect security-critical applications from the hackers of tomorrow’s quantum computer age. With this in mind, G+D is working on quantum computer-resistant encryption methods, or post-quantum cryptography. One example is the SINA communication solution developed by G+D subsidiary secunet, which is primarily used by government ministries, public authorities, and military units with very stringent security requirements. “At every stage in the development of SINA, secunet is already thinking about post-quantum cryptography,” says Tagscherer.
Human uniqueness ensures security
Biometric authentication uses the finger, face, retina, heartbeat, or voice to reliably identify a person. Because they are unique to each individual, biometric features are difficult to forge and – unlike passwords – cannot be forgotten. This human-machine interaction (HMI) is used in biometric checks at border control gates in airports, for example. G+D’s Veridos joint venture develops these control systems. During the check, the person’s characteristic biological features are compared with the digital counterparts on their ID card or passport. Thanks to technological advances, it is now possible to scan the iris of travelers as they are moving around (on-the-move approach). Video verification – used when opening a bank account online, for example – presents other challenges. Is the customer real or are they showing the camera a photo of someone else whose ID card they have stolen? IDNow, a company in which G+D acquired a stake, supports seamless onboarding and digital verification of identities with the aid of AI.
The whole world in view
In the rapidly growing mobile games market, it is already widely used: augmented reality (AR), meaning the computer-assisted expansion of the field of vision by including digital objects. “AR can also be used in B2B settings, such as in remote maintenance of machines, the development and testing of prototypes, telemedicine, digital marketing, and staff training,” says Tagscherer. One example is the deployment of AR for the servicing, inspection, and maintenance of machines. Swiss firm AugmentIT, in which the G+D Group has held a stake since 2020 via parent company Netcetera, provides fully digitized processes of this kind for use by industrial enterprises. Another advantage: “Because AR often eliminates the need for people to travel, it helps to reduce carbon emissions and makes a valuable contribution towards sustainability,” says Tagscherer.
Sharing data without risk
In the digital economy, data is the most valuable commodity. Analyzing it and sharing it with others can generate attractive economic benefits. “But many companies are still reluctant to do so for fear of inadequate cyber security. The dawning era of confidential computing opens up entirely new opportunities here,” says Tagscherer. With this technology, data and software are protected in the cloud, where they are stored in secure enclaves. All parties involved can precisely define and verify who is allowed to supply and retrieve what data. “This enables trust to be established between business partners, particularly those who may be wary of each other,” explains Tagscherer. For example, medical research institutions could work closely with each other without revealing sensitive patient data. Industrial enterprises operating in the same sector could help each other with machine learning without worrying about trade secrets. Car manufacturers and transportation planners could analyze data on mobility patterns without seeing the data itself. The SecuStack cloud operating system, in which G+D holds a stake via its secunet subsidiary, supports technologies such as confidential computing for trusted execution of cloud applications.
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