Rüdiger Stroh, Executive Vice President of NXP and General Manager of the Security & Connectivity division, talks to Hamburg News about rapid developments in digitalisation, cyber security and safely connected cars.
Concentrating on forward-looking digital markets
Plenty is happening at NXP’s Germany headquarters in Hamburg. In 2015, the Dutch firm’s merger with the U.S. Freescale company saw the former become Europe’s leading producer of semiconductors. In late October 2016, the U.S. chip provider Qualcomm announced a USD 47 billion takeover of NXP pending approval. The transaction would solidify both firms leading roles in strategically important sectors such as mobile chip solutions, safe connectivity for the Internet of Things and in the fields of automotives and semiconductors. Hamburg is likely to play a key role as the headquarters of both the Internet of Things as well as the security and automotive divisions.
Last year, NXP also sold its standard semiconductor sector to a consortium of Chinese investors for an estimated USD 2.7 billion. The sale is due to conclude in the first quarter of 2017 and will see the emergence of an independent company called Nexperia. This will not effect operations in Hamburg, said Stroh, adding: “Everything that has been done by NXP here so far will be done by Nexperia. The new firm will be responsible for standard semi-conductor production.” Hamburg will remain NXP’s research and development base for automotive as well as security and connectivity. “This transaction will allow us to concentrate our core secure connectivity expertise on important, digital, forward-looking sectors including self-driving cars, smart cities, mobile payment methods and Industry 4.0 – secure connection in the Internet of Things.“
Comprehensive security from attacks by criminals
NXP’s core business lies in developing a multitude of products for using technology safely. “We ensure that your data, digital identity and gadgets are protected from criminal attacks. This applies to encrypted bank and credit cards as well as passports and ID cards in Germany and 80 other countries. Smart phone payments, electronic tickets, conditional access systems and safe metering systems are developed with this technology.“
White hat hackers – computer specialists
“Security by Design” allows NXP to achieve the highest levels of protection from unauthorised access to protected hardware. The so-called white hat hackers or computer specialists, who break into protected systems and networks to test and asses their security, seal any gaps on behalf of NXP. This is occuring against the backdrop of global digitalisation and more complex cyber attacks that wreak havoc and cause untold damage.
Stroh noted: “Networked technologies and the smart phone revolution have changed our everyday lives completely. Some 2.9 billion people or around 40 per cent of the world’s population are online today. Experts estimate that around 50 billion gadgets will be networked in 2020. The development holds both huge potential and risks. Mobile and stationary gadgets are gathering and generating more and more data today and even moreso in future and the number of applications is growing. We have to ensure the security and protection of personal data so that internet users can trust that their date is safe online. NXP is developing the right technology for exactly that purpose.“
Cyber security crucial to success of networked vehicles
The technology behind networked vehicles is making rapid advances. NXP is the automobile industry’s largest chip supplier and the company is developing security elements for digital components in cars similar to the technology behind bank cards or electronic passports. “That ranges from locking systems for opening and turning on vehicles, electronic components in the car that allow hackers to enter, right up to building components that facilitate safe car-to-car exchange of information or between traffic control and the car. Infotainment is another important business division in Hamburg. Cyber security is fundamental to the success of networked vehicles in future,“ Stroh believes.
Opportunities in networked vehicles
Rapid advances in digitalisation are bringing networked, self-driving cars within reach. “The car knows, for instance that the next traffic light is red or recognises road blocks that the driver has not yet seen. It tells the following cars that the road is slippery or about traffic jams allowing the other cars to make a detour.” And the car can also contact intelligent houses. “If you wish, your apartment can tell that you are on the way home. Then it turns up the heating and switches on the lights. The car will remind you of any shopping that you need to do because your fridge has sent information about missing items. And, of course, the car pinpoints the next, affordable supermarket on your route,” said Stroh.
No limits to digitalisation
Such visions will become reality, Stroh believes. “Anything that can go digital will go digital“, he stressed. This will cause upheaval in entire economic sectors and will have far-reaching impacts on our lives and ultimately make many things simpler. “Take for instance, gadgets that you can talk to and that answer questions. Your smart phone is not the only one. Soon your wishes will be the gadgets’ commands – household appliances, light, heating, water and taps. Lot size one i.e. individually produced single goods will become a production reality. And, and, and.“ Although these things are not new, they continue a trend, said Stroh. But watch out for innovative leaps and bounds like those on the mobile internet at present, said Stroh, adding, “They may not be foreseeable today, but NXP will ensure that they function – safely.”
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