Embedded World via Stansted World – a game of two technological halves

09-03-2016 |   |  By Paul Whytock

The other week I returned from the excellent Embedded World exhibition in Nuremberg which in my opinion is now one of Europe's best electronics exhibitions and ranks right up there with its Munich-based rival Electronica which happens later this year.

But could it actually be better than Electronica? Well the Nuremberg show is all about electronics technology and what engineers want and is housed in the impressive Messe (pictured). The vast array of technologies on display define how industries like communications, computing, automotive, avionics, manufacturing, power generation and conservation and many more will evolve, although one would be forgiven for thinking the amount of exhibition stand space dedicated to the omnipotent IoETYCPTO (Internet of Everything You Can Possibly Think Of) had reached overkill proportions.

In comparison to Nuremberg's engineering driven event Munich's Electronica has evolved into a huge industry arena where companies spend massive budgets creating gargantuan exhibition stands in a bid to dwarf their competitors. Nevertheless, at its core has to be a progression in electronics technology or there really is no justification in companies exhibiting at the show. So the difference between the two events in reality is only marginal. They are both packed with electronics technology.

Goodbye technical Mecca, hello Stansted World

So having enjoyed Nuremberg's excellent electronics show I set off on my journey back to London via Stansted airport. In doing so I was unwittingly leaving a Mecca of groundbreaking electronics only to find myself landing in what can be described in some areas a technology-free zone.

You know how air travel is. The very second the pilot cut the engines on arrival at Stansted so the usual demented scrum begins to get luggage out of the overhead lockers and depart the confines of the long metal tube. Except on this flight that’s where departure ended. No stairs were currently available for passengers to leave the aircraft. Apologies from the flight crew. Probably not their fault anyway. So whereas moments ago passengers where trying to club each other to death with their hand luggage now they where left standing or half sitting like a lot of strange frozen statues. Fifteen minutes later we eventually get off the plane. Why didn't Stansted know about our arriving aircraft? It's not exactly a rare occurrence.

Onward to passport control to be greeted by a seething mass of humanity. Absolute mayhem. Never in all my years of travel have I seen such chaos at passport control. And during my long career as a journalist I have made over 400 flights so have seen plenty of inept border controls but this was gold standard. Yes there were booths for electronically controlled passports but the queue there looked like something from a theme park during school summer holidays. I opted for the conventional passport line which was hundreds of people long but looked possibly the better bet.

Forty minutes later I finally got to the UK Border Agency officer. While he gave my passport the quick onceover I said to him that he looked like he was in for a very busy evening. His glum reply was that this was nothing unusual and you should see it in summer.

Escaping Stansted World. The final fence

Finally I was through and back in England, or so I thought. Free to make my way to the London Stansted Airport short-term car park and get into my car and drive home. Off I set toward the exit barrier. I'd checked the car park instructions during the flight and they were simple enough. Just drive up to the barrier and your number plate will be automatically scanned and the barrier will rise.

But of course I was still in Stansted World. Did the barrier rise? Of course not. OK, just press the button for assistance said the instructions at the barrier and one of our staff will help you. Tried it. No answer. Tried again. No answer. What to do. It's mid-evening, very cold, very dark and I am still trying to break out of Stansted World.

A chap in the barrier next to me was having the same problem. We start talking to each other and decided the only thing to try, which we were told in written instructions is not required, was to find the ticket we got on entry and shove that into the machine. It worked. But why tell people the barriers are automatic. In fact they are but they don't work. We all know that companies love replacing humans with automatic systems but what's the point if they are not properly maintained and fail.

So that was it. The end of my journey from a haven of technological progress in Nuremberg to Stansted World where thanks to either a lack of technology, or technology that is poorly maintained, it took longer to escape the airport than the whole of the flight time from Germany to England.


By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is Technology Correspondent for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over thirty years. Prior to entering journalism, he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

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