The encyclopedia explains the major technical terms used to describe the technologies for the future markets of today, tomorrow and beyond. From A as in app to M as in MEMS right through to Z as in ZigBee.

2D scanners

Non-contact laser measuring systems which scan their surroundings two-dimensionally. A pulsating laser beam scans the surroundings in one plane by way of a rotating mirror. When the individual beams encounter objects, they are reflected. By evaluating all the reflected beams, a map is created of the surroundings in the scan plane

3D printing

Production process by which a component is printed layer by layer. Depending on the method, the individual layers may be of powderous polymer, metallic powder or ink, and are hardened, sintered or fused together after each layer has been printed.


A component which converts electronic signals into mechanical motion or other physical quantities, such as pressure or temperature.


A generally interpretable unique description of a sequence of actions to resolve a – usually mathematical – problem.

Augmented reality

A combination of the perceived real world and virtual reality generated by computer. Users are provided with information to complement and enhance what they experience in the real world.


Ensures that the communication partner at the other end is authentic.


The back-end is the component of a client/server architecture or computer system kept away from the ultimate user. In a client/server architecture, the back-end is the server serving the clients. Back-ends may be mainframe or workstation computers, for example, to which peripherals are connected.


In the context of AI, this term describes the bias of a system that leads to a tendency, distortion or even an error in results. This is because, when learning from data sets, artificial intelligence adopts the cultural stereotypes or prejudices of the people who created or generated these data sets.

Big Data

The back-end is the component of a client/server architecture or computer system kept away from the ultimate user. In a client/server architecture, the back-end is the server serving the clients. Back-ends may be mainframe or workstation computers, for example, to which peripherals are connected.


Term combining the words “biology and “electronics”. According to VDI standard 6220 defined as follows: Bionics is a discipline combining biology and electronic technology to deliver technical solutions based on abstraction, transfer and application of findings from biological models.


Internationally standardised wireless data interface. It enables different mobile devices, such as mobile phones or laptop computers, to connect wirelessly. A wireless connection is made between the various devices’ transmitter and receiver units. A range of around 10 metres can be covered – enough to connect vehicles’ on-board devices, or a smartphone with accessories.

Bluetooth Low Energy

Highly energy-efficient variant of Bluetooth, standardised primarily for the transfer of sensor values and control data.


Umbrella term for Internet access via networks operating at high data transfer rates, implemented as DSL, cable TV or wireless technology (UMTS, WLAN, LTE, satellite etc.).

Bus system

In a bus system, numerous end devices share a single data line (bus line). Since only one end device may use the data line at any given time, bus systems always require a protocol to regulate access rights.


Information unit; consists of eight bits.

Decimal prefix Symbol Number of bytes      
Kilobyte kB 1,000 = 1030        
Megabyte MB 1,000,000 = 1060        
Gigabyte GB 1,000,000,000 = 1090        
Terabyte TB 1,000,000,000,000 = 1012        
Petabyte PB 1,000,000,000,000,000 = 1015        
Exabyte EB 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 1018        
Zettabyte ZB 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 1021        
Yottabyte YB 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 1024


Charge-coupled Device


Program that simulates human conversation. Chatbots are not just speech-based, but can also work using text. The chatbot is trained in advance on the answers it can give to questions from the conversation partner.


Provision of IT resources over the Internet on demand, billed according to actual usage.

Cloud Computing

The dynamically demand-based offering, use and billing of IT services over a network such as the Internet.


Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor


Central Processing Unit

Cyber-Physical Systems

Software-intensive embedded systems which are linked to each other but also to data and services on the Internet.


Solutions to counter the risks posed by connecting to and over the Internet.


A short form of the phrase “cybernetic organism”.

Data mining

Processing large data sets (big data), whereby individual data parts are connected to one another, bringing about new information.

Data protection

Protection of the sensitive interests and privacy of natural persons and legal entities against misuse by electronic media.

Data security

Laws and technical measures aimed at preventing the unauthorised storage, processing and distribution of sensitive data.

Deep learning

Sub-area of machine learning in which deep neural networks are used. Whilst machine learning works using linear algorithms, the algorithms in deep learning are hierarchical, organised according to increasing complexity.


At the core of a Digital Light Processing (DLP) system is a chip carrying more than eight million micro-mirrors. Individually controlled, the micro-mirrors are tilted either towards a light source (ON) or away from it (OFF). This generates a bright or dark pixel on the viewed object. A a result, a light pattern can be projected onto a scene which is likewise captured by a camera. A 3D pixel cloud can be calculated from the distortion of the pattern caused by the object.


WLAN variant for ad-hoc communication in the 5-GHz frequency band of IEEE 802.11p. DSRC is used in conjunction with V2X, and is normally referred to as ITS-G5 in Europe.


Intelligent processor-controlled units and modules in the automotive sector which monitor specific functions and report malfunctions.


Umbrella term for measures to improve healthcare based on the use of information and communications technology.

Embedded System

Hardware and software components integrated into a unified system to implement system-specific functional features.


A field bus developed by the Beckhoff corporation characterised by extremely short and predictable delay and cycle times (real-time Ethernet).


Ethernet Industrial Protocol (EtherNet/IP) is an open industry standard for industrial real-time Ethernet, based on TCP/IP and UDP/IP.

Field bus

Umbrella term for various physical bus systems used in industrial automation, production engineering, building automation and automotive engineering.


The result of a standardisation initiative by the Japan Electrical Manufacturers Association (JEMA) led by Mitsubishi. FL-Net is an Ethernet-based standard for communications between intelligent controllers.


Field Programmable Gate Array

Functional safety

A system is considered to be functionally safe when its electrical, electronic and programmable components always react in such a way that no intolerable harm is created in the environment of the machine or device concerned.


Link between two networks or subnetworks


General Packet Radio Service


Global Positioning System


Global System for Mobile Communications


A gyrosensor or gyrometer registers and measures rotary motion.


Someone who gains unauthorised access to IT systems by bypassing their security


Stand-alone devices, modules or cards in which cryptographic keys are generated and stored. They assure the integrity of data.


Hypertext Markup Language

Hybrid Cloud

Combination of private and public Cloud and traditional IT environment.

IEEE 802.11

Standard for local wireless networks. The various versions of the standards differ in terms of transfer rate, frequency band, modulation method, number of channels, etc. The a, b, g, n and ac versions are used in conventional Wi-Fi (WLAN) networks. IEEE 802.11p is an add-on to establish wireless technology in vehicles and create a reliable wireless standard for intelligent traffic systems.


Phase of application of artificial intelligence. After the system has been trained, it calls on what it has learned in its inference and expands its knowledge.


Internet Protocol version 6 enables unique identification of a corresponding number of devices

KA Band

A new satellite frequency band between 26.5 GHz and 40 GHz which has been in use for satellite Internet for a number of years. The benefits of Ka band frequencies are much higher transfer rates and the ability to transmit data in a concentrated way to a very small reception area.


A method of optical distance and speed measurement related to radar. It involves the emission of laser beams. Sensors then detect the reflected light. The distance is calculated from the travel time of the light.

Light field camera

The light field camera’s image sensor detects not only the brightness and colour values but also the many different incidence angles of the light beams. The focal plane can be adjusted to specific objects so as to place some image planes in sharp focus while others are out of focus.


Long Term Evolution

LTE Advanced

Successor to LTE. The mobile communications technology enables transfer rates of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Machine learning

Procedure by which computer systems acquire knowledge independently and can expand their knowledge, allowing them to be better able to solve a given problem than previously. The system extracts the most important patterns and characteristics from large data volumes, and can make predictions based on them.


Micro-Electro-Mechanical System


Nano-Electro-Mechanical System

Neuronal networks

Computer programs inspired by the functionality of organic neurons and capable of learning tasks.


Near Field Communication

NLP (natural language processing)

Technology that deals with processing natural language. Using relevant algorithms, computers can understand human language and its content-based significance, and execute relevant instructions.


Method for determining the position of a mobile robot in motion. The positioning is based on measurement of the movements of the individual robot wheels.

Open Data

Mostly public data which is freely available and usable.

Private Cloud

A standardised Cloud environment controlled and operated by a company itself. It is available exclusively to the company’s employees and partners.


Profinet is a universal concept devised by the German Profibus user organisation PNO for the homogeneous integration of Profibus into the IT environment.

Public Cloud

IT environment operated by an IT service provider. Users access resources over the Internet and share a virtualised infrastructure.


Radio detection and ranging




Device interconnecting multiple computer networks.


A GPS system which additionally works with one or more base stations. The stations know their own position to within a centimetre and transmit momentary correction values by wireless or GSM to the vehicle’s GPS receiver. The receiver then determines its own position with the aid of at least four satellites, and corrects it in real time based on the correction value received from the nearby base station.

Sensor Fusion

The intelligent convergence and processing of all (environmental) sensor data required for autonomous processes. The results of sensor fusion are better than those obtained from the interpretation of measured values from individual sensors.


Central network computer via which functional and infrastructural network services are provided.


Subscriber Identity Module

SIM lock

Lock code to restrict the use of SIM cards


Also called technological singularity – the point in time at which machines are so advanced that they can upgrade themselves.

Smart Factory

In the Smart Factory, people, machines and resources communicate freely.

Stereo camera

When a stereo camera captures an object, there is a spatial disparity between corresponding points in the left and right image. The disparity is inversely proportional to the range of the point been viewed. This enables depth information of a scene to be calculated from a stereo image. The result of the calculation is a value per pixel, and can be visualized as a depth map.


The continuous transfer of compressed data in the form of a data stream over the Internet.


Technique for calculating or measuring distance


Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors emit a light pulse which is reflected back from the viewed object and received by a detector. For each pixel, the sensor measures the time the light pulse took to get to the object and back again, and calculates the distance from it. A ToF camera thus indicates the range of the object captured by it for each pixel.


Touch-sensitive user interface with which software, for example, can be controlled by touch.


Capacitors characterised by an extremely high capacitance of up to several thousand farads. Supercapacitors have capacitances between those of conventional capacitors and rechargeable batteries and can be used as energy stores.


Universal Mobile Telecommunications System


Communication between a vehicle and any other party (V2V = vehicle, V2I = infrastructure, V2P = people …).


Creation of a virtual (as opposed to a real) version distinct from the actual operating resources, such as of a hardware platform, an operating system, a storage medium, or network resources.


Miniature electronic systems embedded into everyday objects which can be worn on – or even in – the body.


Designation for a consortium of companies issuing certification of devices with wireless interfaces as well as for the associated brand name. The consortium comprises over 300 companies and certified products from various manufacturers based on the IEEE-802.11 standard. This ensures interoperability with a range of different wireless devices.


Wireless LocalArea Network


Wireless network standard for connecting devices in the near range between 1 and 100 metres, in the 2.4 GHz, 868 and 915 MHz frequency bands.