Exclusive interview Jens Heithecker, IFA Executive Director

How is IFA changing, or evolving this year?

We put the question to IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker. The interesting thing is, instead of only one industry setting the pace, there are seven, eight, nine industries simultaneously driving innovation forward. And they are interconnected like an ecosystem. Each brings its own knowledge, skills and expertise. We call this phenomenon “co-innovation” – something that requires powerful networks. IFA serves as a linking element by bringing together brands, start-ups, developers, retailers, media and consumers. Exhibitors and visitors alike benefit from the most effective “social network” of all: the face-to-face encounter.


How is the IFA+ Summit evolving? What can we expect this year?

The IFA+ Summit is a key platform for leading thinkers, global trendsetters, and creative visionaries in regard to the next ten years.

The convention showcases disruptive ideas, visions and forward thinking on the future of new, high-tech forms of connectivity and innovative business models. The two-day program is packed with over 50 speakers who draw their inspiration from various fields and share their thoughts on the upcoming decade with visitors to the events. In 2018 there are four subject clusters – Intelligence, Society, Interaction, and Experience – each featuring different technology- driven visions and perspectives.

Amongst others, one speaker-highlight I am personally looking forward will be Garry Kasparov’s, he’s an Avast Security Ambassador and former world chess champion. At the IFA+Summit he’ll speak for one of our four clusters: INTELLIGENCE 2024: Hybrid Minds – The Age of Superintelligence.

Since Garry Kasparov’s legendary chess matches against IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in 1996 and 1997, Kasparov has been deeply engaged with artificial intelligence, human-machine interaction, and human rights issues. With the rise of intelligent technologies, questions of ethics and responsibility in online privacy gain a new level. Kasparov will share his views on the challenges arising from the proliferation of AI, and what can be done by regulators and industry to assure that ethical standards and privacy protections are a part of this exciting technology. Besides Garry, there are of course a lot exciting and inspiring personalities amongst our international speakers. Here is an excerpt of each cluster and speaker:


Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar. His latest book, a primer on emerging technologies, is entitled, A Dangerous Master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control. In addition, he co-authored (with Colin Allen) Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong.


Jens Lambrecht is professor of industry-grade clouds and networks at TU Berlin. He also is managing director of GESTALT Robotics GmbH since 2016. The Berlin based start-up provides extensive expert knowledge in the fields of robotics, computer vision, interaction and VR/AR tackling service automation problems from intuitive user interfaces to building own robotic hardware.


Moon Ribas is a Catalan avant-garde artist and cyborg activist best known for developing the Seismic Sense, an online seismic sensor implanted in her feet that allows her to perceive earthquakes taking place anywhere in the planet through vibrations in real time. Her talk is about the union between our species and technology, the extension of the human senses through cybernetics, using the internet as a sense and cyborg art.

What are you expecting in terms of growth in international trade visitors and press?
Well, we do not do predictions but one thing is for sure: IFA has globalised itself. Ten years ago, we had about 22,000 international trade visitors, today it is 74,000. This makes us the world’s largest show for Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances.

In addition: Anyone who wants to globalise must open up to the markets. We have small networking platforms in New York and China built up for the local trade. We get access to the networks and can attract more retailers and trade visitors from Asia and the US to attend IFA in Berlin.

On the other hand, it helps us understand these markets and get to know the key stakeholders. Let’s wait and see, what IFA 2018 has in store for us.

Photo: Jens Heithecker, Executive Director, IFA