Remote Maintenance. The spectacular At- lantica SuperSplash water ride, Europa-Park’s latest attraction, is situated in a 4,000 square meter lake. Once again, we reach the control room via the rear entrance. Lukas is allowed to press the button that launches a couple of boats on their journey. “This display tells us exactly what’s going on,” explains Mitter- nacht. Each boat is represented by a yellow strip. A host of sensors and clever technology ensure that no two boats are ever simultane- ously under way in the same section of the water track. The control system, a Simatic S7 300F, is amazingly small — little more than a child’s lunch box. “That just goes to show how much progress we’ve made in this field. The technology is so advanced that regulations now permit the use of single fail-safe control system,” explains SSG’s Egner. “If there’s a problem, the people here can contact our experts online. The technician on duty will then give advice via a laptop, including on weekends.”
All the rides, facilities and hotels in Europa-Park are of a remarkably high quality. Is it worth the expenditure? Mack: Of course! Our business is selling emotions. And we wouldn’t succeed if we tried to do it on the cheap. Besides, our success to date means that our strat- egy is working. Seventy-eight of every 100 visitors to the park have already been here before. That’s not a bad ratio for a 3.8-million-visitors-a-year facility.
You opened a new hotel in 2004, fol- lowed by a massive water ride in 2005. What’s next on the agenda? Mack: We want to attract more short- break vacationers by expanding the number of attractions on offer here so that it’s practically impossible to get through them all in just one day. One option we’re looking at is a hotel with an indoor beach and bathing complex.
“Let’s go to the racing cars!” says Dominik, heading off toward the next attraction. This is followed by the Alpenexpress, a rafting ride and the dodgem cars, where even Leonie can drive on her own. At the end of the adven- ture, Lukas says to Mitternacht admiringly, “That’s really cool. You’ve got the keys for all the rides and can always sneak to the front through the back door!” “You’re right,” he replies with a smile. “But you can overdo it. Three years ago, when we first opened the Silver Star, I rode it so much that I dreamed about it at night.” ■ Norbert Aschenbrenner
What do you get from your close co- operation with Siemens? Mack: It’s a special partnership that ben- efits both sides. Besides running an amusement park, we also sell mobile and fixed rides worldwide. As soon as we mention the name Siemens, the interest of our customers increases. At the same time, availability is a crucial issue in this business. If a ride at Munich’s Oktober- fest is out of action for a whole day, sales fall by 150,000 euros. Using Siemens components enables us to ensure a very
What will the park look like in 20 years? Mack: A park like this needs to develop continuously rather than in leaps. We’ll have a lot more hotel beds and one or two really spectacular rides. But on the whole, the main thing will be to main- tain a balance between the new and the tried and true. That way, in 20 years our visitors will still be giving the same an- swer to the question of what they liked b e s t a b o u t o u r p a r k : “ E v e r y t h i n g ! ” ■ I n t e r v i e w : N o r b e r t A s c h e n b r e n n e r
What other contributions can Siemens make to the Europa-Park? Mack: If all the Siemens employees in Germany came to visit with their fami- lies, that would increase our sales by 10 percent (laughs). But seriously, one of the options we’re looking at is a visitor information system, which at peak times would direct people to less busy areas of the park and thereby help avoid long waiting times. Similarly, networked tech- nology could help to identify faults more rapidly and prevent down times. The big- ger we get, the more we benefit from systematic and preventive maintenance, including remote services (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2005, p. 40-63).
high level of availability. And we also provide Siemens with an ideal showcase for its products, which we use to com- bine technology with emotion.
the top. Then we plunge into the void at 140 kilometers per hour and hurtle — teeth clenched — toward the first crest, where we take off from our seats for a fraction of a sec- ond. All that prevents us from flying out of the car is the safety bars. “It’s like being an as- tronaut!” shrieks our photographer.
Our legs are shaking after the ride, but we all agree that we would do it again. “That’s part of our philosophy,” says Mitternacht. “Obviously, it would be technically feasible to build even more spectacular rides, but then people would say ‘Never again!’ instead of ‘Let’s have another go!’” With some 300 sen- sors installed along the 1,800-meter track, it goes without saying that the Silver Star meets the very highest safety standards. “If the sys- tem detects an irregularity, everything is shut down immediately,” says Mitternacht.
Roland Mack (56), a mechanical engineer, is a managing partner of the Europa-Park in Rust. He is also one of the three part- ners of the family firm Mack Rides, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of amusement park rides.
Combining Technology and Emotions
Tuning in to Internet TV
American software manufacturers Myrio and Verimatrix have transformed the old fashioned TV set into an Internet-based entertainment and communication center. Siemens not only holds shares in both companies — it now owns Myrio.
W hat’s long been normal on PCs can now also be done by a television — In- ternet providers can now use fast broadband connections such as DSL to provide television sets with back channels to broadcast stations. This enables them to offer a wide range of services including audio, video and Games on Demand as well as Internet and communica- tion services such as e-mail, video-phoning, SMS and MMS.
As the market leader in this area, Siemens now offers a complete Internet TV package in the shape of the SURPASS Home Entertain- ment System. Fundamental modules for this system are supplied by U.S. software manu- facturers Myrio and Verimatrix. Myrio, which has 75 employees and is based in Seattle, supplies the software for associated set top boxes, as well as the control infrastructure for providers. A module can, for instance, offer the user digital television with pause and record functions, Video on Demand with Pay Per View, digital music transmission, Internet access for the television set and a child lock function. Providers can, in turn, utilize mod- ules to perform subscriber administration, fee accounting and content management. “We analyzed the new home entertainment mar- ket segment over three years,” says Gerd Goette, investment partner at Siemens Ven- ture Capital (SCV), which provided Myrio with venture capital in 2003. “We soon realized that Myrio was in a unique position with its complete solution.” Additionally, the com- pany had already proved its operating effi- ciency with more than 65 customers world- wide. “For this reason,” according to Goette, “Siemens absorbed Myrio into the Group in the Spring of 2005.”
However, protection has to be provided for the film studios’ copyrights,” says Steve Oetegenn from Verimatrix Inc. — a security software manufacturer in San Diego, California.
The Verimatrix solution encrypts the digital video signals between the set top box and the provider’s video server. After identification, the set top box and all other transmission net- work components request the key from the video server and utilize this to decode the data. Due to the fact that the keys are changed thousands of times during a film, any attempt to illegally tap in on the transmission can be immediately detected.
Verimatrix is also the only software house to brand data with multiple watermarks. The watermarks are small packets of data that are inserted within a film, enabling the identifica- tion of the outgoing server, the nodes and the recipient. This allows the complete “history” of the media file to be traced. Verimatrix servers check media files, which are circulated on the Internet, for these watermarks and thus are able to identify pirate copies and their authors. The invisible watermarks cannot be separated from video content and therefore cannot be
removed from digital files. Verimatrix cooper- ates closely with Myrio. “Our collaboration with Verimatrix has proved very successful on a global scale, and we are very pleased that we can now expand our offer to include a com- plete security solution,” says Ryan Petty, Vice President of Product Management at Myrio. In January 2005, Siemens Venture Capital also invested in Verimatrix, thus rounding out its portfolio of home entertainment solutions.
Three major telecommunication compa- nies are already either applying or planning to apply technologies from Myrio and Verimatrix: Belgium’s Belgacom, the Netherlands’ KPN, and ADC from Thailand. Belgacom began tests in the fall of 2004 with around a thousand subscribers in three cities (see p. 5). Internet TV has been broadcast throughout Belgium since mid 2005. Belgacom now estimates that it will soon have a million customers. Goette is also optimistic. “Business has devel- oped much more positively than we ex- pected,” he says. “Myrio and Verimatrix have proved to be the ideal partners for further r a p i d g r o w t h i n t h i s y o u n g m a r k e t . ” ■ B e r n h a r d G e r l
Digital Watermark. The downside of digital films, however, is that, like MP3 files, they can be copied, processed and illegally distributed without any loss in quality. “Internet TV can only succeed if it provides interesting content.
Internet TV. One click takes you to your favorite film, song, or site.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2005