Posts tagged could

Could LPWA trump 5G and Mesh for smart cities?

group of people talking in social network

Smart cities of the future will require a new way of thinking about city planning from construction to budgetary requirements. But one of the most important considerations is how these new technologies will actually communicate with one-another. One of the technologies that are in development today is referred to as low-power, wide-area (LPWA).

LPWA is one of several big communications network types with the potential to grant network connectivity to thousands of small sensors and other smart objects that power a smart city. One of the benefits of LPWA is that it enables small devices to operate, battery powered, for extended periods of time. Depending on the other demands of the device, small solar cells and other low-energy alternatives can enable them to run for extremely long times with minimal maintenance.

This is an important consideration for smart cities, where maintaining thousands of little battery-powered sensors can be costly and difficult.

LPWA networks work well with many small devices connected simultaneously, and the demands of these devices on the network are optimized for the type of use cases IoT applications require. Simply adding these devices to the same networks that will be occupied by consumer electronics such as smartphones means adding additional load to these networks, which could result in a reduction of reliability down the road.

There are also several downsides to the technology. Compared to 5G, the amount of data that can be transferred via LPWA is much lower. You wouldn’t want to use a LPWA network to monitor streaming security cameras, for example, but you could use it to monitor the status of garage doors in parking garages across the city.

Smart cities mean a significant increase in connected devices managed by the municipality. This is a gap that LPWA companies like SIGFOX are hoping to fill.

Will LPWA systems be scalable enough?

Whatever the network of choice becomes for the connected cities of the future, there are countless small considerations to take into account. For one, the rise of connected cars and autonomous vehicles means creating smart infrastructure that can support communication between these vehicles and the city’s transportation system. Data storage is another consideration.

For the citizens of these cities, having an LPWA network can have its advantages. For one, there is a potential for this type of network to host a growing number of wearables and other small IoT devices that have long depended on a nearby smartphone or tablet to communicate with the cloud. A network like this would enable them to operate independently, freeing the user to walk away from their smartphone without losing connectivity.

Indeed the city of the future may well be host to multiple network types tackling the wide range of needs tomorrow’s cities will have. Time will tell whether the technologies that power them are connected via 5G, mesh, LPWA, or a mix of all three.

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Research suggests sleep wearables could reduce PTSD risk


Wearables that are able to relax the brain could reduce PTSD, according to new research provided by Brain State Technologies and Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The research suggests that people suffering from insomnia, a sleep disorder that 10 to 30 percent of adults suffer from each year, are at a similar PTSD risk level as ex-military service members.

See Also: Can a wearable allergy-proof your child?

Brain State also claims that sleep disturbance is one of the hardest PTSD symptoms to treat, since medication for sleeping tends to have side effects like illness and addiction. With a wearable that relaxes the brain, it may reduce the chance of waking up in the middle of the night.

“We are excited about presenting this analysis to military health researchers, because prevention efforts tend to get too little attention. We think that focus on sleep quality could reduce PTSD not only in the military, but also in police, medical first-responders, and others who have high exposure to trauma,” said Brain State CEO Lee Gerdes.

Brain State provides a wearable, the Braintellect 2, which offers this type of brain relaxing functionality. The patient wears the device on their head and listens to rhythms of varying pitch, which reduce the amount of stress or excitement in preparation for rest.

The Braintellect 2 is quite an expensive piece of kit, at $1,195. It is also not the most compact design—it comes with the headband, a Bluetooth wireless control box (that connects to the headset through a wire), a pair of headphones, and a customized Windows tablet.

That’s a lot, but may be worth it for those suffering from insomnia or PTSD. Hopefully in the next few years, Brain State or some other firm can reduce the footprint of the device. Swapping the Windows tablet with an iOS/Android app and integrating the Bluetooth control box into the headband would be two smart moves.

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Intelligent alarm systems could reduce risks and costs


The alarm of the future may be able to warn workers about incidents before they happen and make sure only the people that can fix the problem are informed.

Instead of an alarm alerting the entire factory and creating lots of confusion, GE Digital senior product marketing manager, Alicia Bowers, sees a world where alarms are informative, preventive, and not annoying.

See Also: Huawei and General Electric team up to power industrial IoT

As part of GE Digital’s industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) push, it wants factories to install analytics for its machines. From there, the machine needs to be able to alert a centralized system, which will find the closest engineer able to fix the issue using geo-location.

GE Digital has built a system that does most of that, though more complex analytics, like machine self-assessment, is still in early days.

GE systems notifies engineers of needed fixes

Engineers may receive notifications on a mobile device from the system, detailing what machine needs repaired, how to fix it, and a risk assessment of the situation.

Having systems that can identify issues could save factories millions in repair costs over the years, not to mention the rise in productivity from a significant reduction in machine failures.

“Consider temperature monitoring on a piece of equipment. If the temperature exceeds the upper control limit, an alarm is activated. Traditionally, an operator would now react to the alarm. Analytics have made it possible to evolve from being reactionary to predicting when the event will occur and taking steps in advance,” said Bowers in Automation World.

Businesses are interested in IIoT, but only 25 percent in a recent survey are in the deployment stage. Many are worried that staff won’t understand the analytics, which will require the business to employ higher paid engineers.

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Could IoT be inviting malicious software into your home?

Hacker in the action on his laptop computer

It’s no secret that we here at ReadWrite love the Internet of Things (IoT). This is our focus, and one of the most interesting sectors of emerging technology today. However, it’s far from perfect. Security issues have long been a concern for IoT, and a recent speaker at the Black Hat technology and security conference shed light on exactly why those concerns aren’t just prudent, they’re often justified.

When you attend Black Hat, the devices you carry with you are about as insecure as they ever could be. A lot of attendees only bring systems with them that are sterile of private information and easily formatted afterwards. Connecting to a public network here is about as advisable as playing Marco Polo in a pool of sharks. Attendees carry cash instead of credit cards, notepads and pens instead of laptops, and often they even leave their driver’s license behind.

See also: Security expert warns of impending IoT disaster

But what about IoT devices? These devices have their own software baked in and, by design, give their users a very limited level of control over what they connect to and how.

When Eyal Ronen, a graduate student from Israel, has spent time researching the security of Philips Hue lighting systems. During his research, he was able to build a solution that tricked Philips lights into connecting to his network instead of the one they were presently assigned. He worked out a method to circumvent the 10-20 meter range limitations for controlling these lights and control them from 20-70 meters away – long enough to send signals from a passing car or drone.

He demonstrated this vulnerability during a session he presented at during Black Hat. His demonstration involved controlling a couple lamps located just off stage, but it offered attendees insight into just how easy it is to circumvent the security of some IoT devices.

The impact of an insecure IoT

The IoT is data driven. Information is continuously being shared between devices and most of them are doing this in a way that the human users never actually see on a screen. When our desktop computers are hijacked and become part of a bot net used by spammers and DDoS attackers, the evidence of this can be exceedingly difficult to identify.

If an IoT device is compromised, how would we know, and how would we be able to correct it? What would you do if your smart oven suddenly started sending spam on behalf of a scammer? These are problems that could cause a lot more heartache than light bulb flickering or baby monitor hijacking.

That doesn’t even take into account the possible implications of a smart door lock or a surveillance camera being hacked. Medical equipment is another big security concern, especially if malicious code running on the device(s) results in inaccurate measurements and/or action.

So, what does this mean for us? For one, it means that the Internet of Things still has some growing to do. For all intents and purposes, IoT solutions are in their infancy and have yet to be thoroughly tested.

Back in May, we published a two-part piece on the sorry state of IoT security. From this demonstration out of Black Hat, it’s clear that we still have a ways to go before we can fully immerse ourselves in a world of connected everything.

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Could this be the first smart car for quadriplegics?

Portfolio 15

In a time where the driverless automated car is becoming a modern reality, we are provided with great potential to make things previously improbable if not impossible suddenly possible.

My interest was piqued when I came across design plans for car that could be controlled by a driver with quadriplegia. At first the idea seemed mere fantasy but as I spoke to transport designer Rajshekhar Dass and learnt move about the control of technical devices through brain waves, facial gestures and infinitesimal movements the idea seemed more of conceivable.

Rajshekar Dass is a car designer from Mumbai, India currently based in Turkey. He has an impressive design history which includes fronting a winner team of the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design for the Google Community Vehicle and  Winner of the  Vehicle, Mobility and Transport Design 2014-15 A’Design Award for a Micro Taxi among awards. He’s interned for Volkswagen in Germany and worked in a range of car dealerships, so has seen car technology from a range of angles.

He detailed his rationale for a car designed specifically for people with quadraplegia, a cohort of people who until now have only featured in the automated cars of the future as mere passengers. Such a design is the first of its kind:

Audric Design basically was designed with a particular person in mind, Sam Schmidt, former Indy Racing League driver. He was made paraplegic due to a racing car accident in 2000.  He wanted to get back on the track but came back as an owner rather than driver. Everyone loves driving so my interest was how can we use today’s technology to solve these problems for an audience that are generally overlooked? How can today’s tech be used to enable the same driving experience that he enjoyed previously?”

It’s always interesting to learn how a designer approaches the design experience, Dass revealed:

“the first point of research is the capabilities of the human body when functionality has been impaired. In paraplegia the brain signals do not reach the human organs  bellow the neck, so the brain signals are basically lost. I thought, what if you could use today’s technology to enable the signals to be transferred to the computers onboard of a car instead, so you can give a rebirth to the whole driving experience?”

Dass explained that emerging technology like movement through brain wave signals,  gesture and facial recognition and sensor technology s along with  augmented reality made his design more than a well intentioned concept.

There’s precedence here. For example, in 2010  Emotiv released the Emotiv Epoch+, a commercial wearable device designed to enable users to play computer games on a screen through functioning as a brain-computer interface device (Admittedly the design was not without it’s challenges as this review attests).

Then in 2014, Ian Burkhart became the first paralyzed person to use neural bypass technology to pick up and hold a spoon using his own brainpower, with his abilities increasing overtime.


How could it work?

Dass stresses that the car would be completely autonomous in the first instance. But over time, the driver’s gestures and motions would be recorded by the car; for example, as the car is taking a right turn, the driver might be tilting his head. In this way, the car is learning from the driver instead of the driver learning from the car.

Dass explains further:

“There would be a series of levels which would be detected by the AI in the car, that slowly give the control to the driver. e.g. starting with audio and air-conditioning controls first. The next level could be controlling a little bit of the motion and slowly you’d graduate levels as you would in a game with the help of gesture recognition, eye movements and brain mapping. Once the car is confident as to the skill of the driver the complete controls would be available to the driver. but at the same time the car would still have the control over all the systems, as a built-in safety feature.

I’m aware that many people with paralysis experience involuntary movement such as spasms and jerking. I wondered if a car could be smart enough to distinguish these movements from voluntary actions.

Dass agreed:

It’s a good point. The car is completely autonomous and the AI is constantly monitoring the driver’s motions to learn his/her actions, and since the AI is specially developed for paralyzed drivers it can recognize such involuntary movements. Since the AI is also scanning the brain and can understand that the motion has no connection with the brain signals it can be tagged as involuntary action and not require a reaction”.

As well as its driving capabilities, the car would also be designed specifically with the needs of the driver in mind with a rear entry door suited to a wheelchair which would be specially designed to become the driving seat in the vehicle. Dass explained that the project has only been recently published online and he is keen to explore his ideas further with people with disabilities and associated organizations to enable further development.

In an era where ideas as seemingly bizarre as Google’s patent for“sticky” technology to protect pedestrians if they get struck by Google’s self-driving cars, a mind powered car doesn’t seem all that strange at all.

Dass is working on a range of diverse projects currently and judging by the ingenuity inherent in his design portfolio, this is simply an example of things to come.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 14.51.24

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German regulators could clear the road for self-driving cars

Three Bavarians in Traditional Clothing Drinking Beer and Celebrating in a Beergarden.

To suggest that global regulations around autonomous vehicles are murky, may be the understatement of the year. But Germany’s proposed regulations on self-driving cars could potentially let some daylight through.

As reported by Fast Company, the German government is updating its traffic laws to include self-driving car rules. If passed, experts say these regulations could provide some of the clearest guidelines for autonomous cars in any major world economy.

The proposed legislation stipulates that the new class of cars will still need to require a steering wheel and a conscious human sitting behind it. As well, driverless cars would need to have black boxes that record crash data to determine whether accidents were the fault of man or machine.

And while some argue the proposed rules are overly cautious, Germany’s decisive push for clear autonomous car regulations could give the country an advantage in the race to become global leader in developing the technology.

This follows chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments this spring that her government wants industry input and that all members of Germany’s ruling coalition are backing autonomous vehicles. This signaled to the industry that it could enjoy a harmonious legislative environment in the country, unlike other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, industry pundits have raised fears that America could become a disjointed patchwork of incompatible and competing regulations for self-driving cars.

German regulations won’t get knotted like elsewhere

In California, which is arguably the most advanced U.S. state for autonomous vehicle testing, convoluted rules continue to create obstacles for companies seeking to develop these cars in the state.

Bird & Bird, an international law firm, discussed details of Germany’s proposed legislation. It noted that the biggest rule change is that the driver could transfer legal responsibility to the robot car, with their liability only triggered if the driver doesn’t react to the vehicle’s “wake-up” alarm.

“In other words, the driver may read, write, or watch TV to a certain extent, but having a nap will remain prohibited,” said Alexander Duisberg, a Bird & Bird partner.

If the black-box recorder proves that the driver did respond to the car’s warning alerts, the vehicle would be held responsible for any accident rather than the human.

“Whenever evidence is had that the manufacturer of the system is responsible for the accident, [it] will be liable without limitation,” he said.

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Facebook’s drone could bring everyone connectivity

group of people talking in social network

For remote offline communities, Facebook’s autonomous test plane moved another step closer to providing internet to Earth’s least connected places.

As reported in Smart Cities World, the social media giant recently ran full scale tests of its Aquila unmanned airplane. Facebook intends to use the solar-powered plane to provide regional web connectivity to billions of people living in Earth’s most remote communities.

Previously Facebook had argued that projects like Aquila are necessary to connect isolated communities where the economics of terrestrial web infrastructure are too expensive.

The plane, which was developed by Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, faces significant technical hurdles before it is complete. As well, its chief engineer says the project needs to develop key partnerships between governments and other partners to enable it succeed in various locations around the globe.

“This will require significant advancements in science and engineering to achieve,” said Facebook’s global chief of engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh. “It will also require us to work closely with operators, governments and other partners to deploy these aircraft in the regions where they’ll be most effective.”

The solar-powered drone has a wingspan of a normal airliner and flies at a high altitude of 60,000. Its hyper-efficient design will eventually allow it to fly for three continuous months.

Facebook says the plane still has a long way to go before it can stay aloft for months at a time, though the latest test exceeded expectations.

“It was so successful that we ended up flying Aquila for more than 90 minutes — three times longer than originally planned,” Parikh said.

Facebook has now confirmed Aquila’s design

The drone uses millimeter wave systems and laser communications to beam down connectivity from above the clouds. Once fully operational, the drone will be able to circle a zone 60 miles in diameter, providing continuous internet to people living below.

Aquila is part of Connectivity Lab’s mission to connect people in far-flung locations through the use of drones, satellites and other communications systems.

In Aquila’s first functional low-level flight over Arizona, Facebook verified the plane’s overall aircraft design and operational models.

“In our next tests, we will fly Aquila faster, higher and longer, eventually taking it above 60,000 feet. Each test will help us learn and move faster toward our goal,” said Parikh.

In order for the robot plane to achieve three months of continuous solar-powered flight, its systems have been optimized to only consume 5,000 watts at cruising speed. This is equal to the electricity usage of three hair dryers.

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Digital trust could be the key to ensure personal health data


The transition into the era of electronic health records and health wearables has resulted in a plethora of electronic patient information including dates of birth, home addresses, social security records, insurance details and medical data. This data is highly desirable on the black market. But there are ways to prevent the risk for fraud.

I recently spoke to Brian Kalis, managing director of digital health at Accenture, to learn more.

Just how big is the problem?

Accenture recently released a report, The revenue risk of healthcare provider cyber security inactionIt reveals that in 2014, nearly 1.6 million people had their medical information stolen from healthcare providers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. Accenture  predicts that more than 25 million people—or approximately one in 13 patients—will have their medical and/or personal information stolen from their healthcare provider’s digitized records between 2015 and 2019

Kalis explained that what most healthcare providers don’t recognize is that as a result of cyber attacks on medical information, many patients will suffer personal financial loss. In contrast to credit card identity theft, victims of medical identity theft often have no automatic right to recover their losses.

According to the Ponemon Institute, these financial losses may take several forms. Not fully understanding their medical bills, some victims have unwittingly paid bills run up by others. Some have had to reimburse their insurers for healthcare services obtained fraudulently. Many have incurred substantial legal costs as they have sought to unravel the cyber crimes perpetuated against them. In fact, 65 percent of victims of medical identity theft pay out-of-pocket (OOP) costs at an average of $13,500 per victim.

It further shows that healthcare providers are at risk of losing $305 billion in cumulative lifetime patient revenue over the next five years due to patients switching providers because of medical identity theft. Almost half of patients said they would find a different provider if they were informed that their medical records were stolen.

What the blackhats are seeking

According to Kalis:

“Research has shown that there are multiple sources. overwhelming majority is coming from nation states and organized criminal groups, primarily because the value of medical records are greater than traditional identities on the black market, up to ten times the value of traditional credit/identity info. However there is also a high volume of employee internal responses such as the loss of laptops and usb drives, things that can be avoided through better risk management and  compliance measures”.

When you think healthcare data, the data for sale includes names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, all of which can be utilised to create fake identification to buy medical equipment and drugs that can be resold or to lodge fraudulent Medicare claims  This is compounded by delays as data breaches and medical identify theft is not always immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.

Is “digital trust” an answer?

Kalis and many others place great credence in the notion of “digital trust,” a combination of cybersecurity, privacy and “data ethics.”  It extends beyond the notion of data security to an ethical viewpoint about “the  handling, control and providence of data. about making sure data is accurate and handled effectively. Digital ethics expands data security beyond pure safety to  the decisions and actions you take to ensure that you are using that information responsibly for the people you serve as a steward of that information.”

An everyday example of this is Apple’s Health Kit. After the consumer outcry from its iCloud breach in 2014, Apple came to understand the importance of trust.

According the Accenture report:

“Apple’s efforts to be transparent in how it uses and secures customer data is testimony to the value this leading brand places on trust. Its new platforms, such as Apple Pay and HealthKit, are clear beneficiaries of this trusted-by-design approach because the strong security and ethics that are ‘baked in’ give customers confidence that their digital footprints are secure and private, easing the transition to and adoption of the Apple ecosystem. This underscores the role trust plays as digitally powered companies look to disrupt their own markets and enter new ones.”

Kalis also notes that:

“What we’re seeing is the raising of security up to the board level, executive level response, so a lot of the ways of protecting it start with the leadership and overall aspect of making security of data a priority and then extend this philosophy to all the employees in practice. Then companies can move into more advanced ways of protecting the information internally, whether through using advanced analytics to detect both internal threats or misuses of information or external threats coming in.”

Blockchain could also be health data’s savior

Kalis also believes the blockchain can be part of the solution, as it shifts the model from centralized control to decentralized power that’s ultimately controlled by the individual.  He cities the example of Estonia where blockchain technology is utilized to secure over a million healthcare records.

Ultimately the issue of data theft and health care fraud is complex and challenging. There’s not a simple solution. It requires consumer understanding of the need to secure their health data. Healthcare companies to employ advanced data analytics and top-down cultural change from the healthcare professions to preempt data breaches and the legal system to provide appropriate detection and prosecution. As both IoT technology and criminals move quickly, the challenge will be to see if the security professionals and judicial system can keep up.

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Hi-speed Aussie railroad could spark new smart cities

Shanghai, China - March 16, 2015: A model of Shanghai Maglev Train in the Train Station. The line is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world.

Backers of a controversial $151 billion high-speed rail plan claim it will be funded by the creation of eight new Australian smart cities.

As reported by Australian newspaper The Age, long-sought details are finally emerging about a proposed high-speed rail line between Sydney and Melbourne. The proposed railway would cut travel time from the current 12 hours to less than three hours.

This comes as politicians have voiced greater interest in supporting smart city plans in Australia.

As part of the rail plan, proponents Consolidated Land and Rail Australia said it would create eight new smart cities along the magnetic levitation train route. The company says its smart cities would be kitted out with such beneficial aspects as renewable energy, low water usage, high-speed internet and affordable homes.

However, the Age raised concerns that the rail line may be a grand unattainable dream. Skepticism is partly coming from the idea of building eight entirely new smart cities from scratch, which is a monumental task by any standards.

High-speed rail but no new taxes?

As well, the claim that the entire project would be completed with no taxpayer money whatsoever also raised eyebrows.

The project proponents said they would finance the railroad and smart cities through real estate speculation of the land along the proposed train route. The company predicts that the cheap farmland they’ve already optioned on the train line would skyrocket in value as soon as residential developments were built.

The Age suggests that such a strategy makes this plan more a real estate play than an investment in transport or smart cities.

While Consolidated’s smart city-driven transport plan states that it will use not burden the public purse, an alternate high-speed rail plan already exists, which was developed at considerable public expense.

The $20 million federal study by AECOM was released in 2013. It projected that a high-speed rail line, which would cover the 1,750 km between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, would have cost $84 billion in 2012 dollars.

Considering the current economic conditions in Australia, such a hefty price tag essentially ensures that such a rail line would not get built using public resources.

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MIT develops mobile sensor that could save your life


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have unveiled a new sensor that could save lives by detecting a buildup of toxic gas in an area, and then send that data to a connected mobile or wearable.

The sensor is incredibly sensitive to toxic gas, able to detect 10 parts per million of gas in the air. When toxic gas is spotted, the carbon nanotubes inside the sensor break free of the insulating material, activating a near field communication (NFC) alert that appears on the connected device.

See also: Can wearables empower patients despite doctors’ skepticism?

MIT has made the sensor incredibly lightweight and inexpensive and hopes to build in into an radio frequency identification (RFID) badge in the future.

Sensor and mobile combination in the battlefield?

The RFID badges could be implemented in the Army or security to warn of chemical weapon deployment. It could also be utilized in areas where workers are using chemicals and areas of heavy pollution, where the air might be toxic.

“Soldiers have all this extra equipment that ends up weighing way too much and they cannot sustain it,” said MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager. “We have something that would weigh less than a credit card. And soldiers already have wireless technologies with them, so it is something that can be readily integrated into a soldier’s uniform that can give them a protective capacity.”

Swager says the wearable tag can match laboratory equipment, but at a far cheaper cost while also being more mobile. He also expects that this is the smallest sensor researchers will be able to create that can track toxic gas.

Even though MIT is focused on the Army angle, the RFID tags could be utilized to report gas leaks and even notice leaks in lithium thionyl chloride batteries.

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Smart city traffic tech could save us 4.2B hours yearly

businessman late for work because of traffic jams

Smart city innovations relating to traffic and road improvements are projected to make a massive impact on the lives of urban dwellers in the coming five years.

A study by Juniper Research found that smart parking and smart traffic management projects will save 4.2 billion man-hours each year by 2021, according to an article by Enterprise Innovation. This works out to each city’s annually saving an entire working day that would have been otherwise spent on driving.

Juniper’s report, “Worldwide Smart Cities: Energy, Transport & Lighting 2016-2021″found that these efficiencies will be driven by rising city populations that are putting pressure on municipal resources. This comes as governments are investing ever-increasing amounts of their budgets on connected devices and smart technology.

“Facilitating the movement of citizens within urban agglomerations via transport networks is fundamental to a city’s economic growth,” said Steffen Sorrell, author of the study. “Congestion reduces businesses’ competitiveness, and contributes to so-called brain-drain.”

As well, traffic congestion is one of the challenges that smart cities must solve in order to boost quality of life for its citizens and increase competitiveness of the urban area.

In light of this, traffic easing plans are at the vanguard of many smart city strategies, which Juniper expects to result in 2 million smart parking spaces installed worldwide by the year 2021.

…And more lighting to stay out later with your saved hours

Another road-related development Juniper predicts is a surge in installations of smart street lighting over the next five years. The lighting systems are comprised of micro-controlled sensors and LED units and Juniper anticipates more than half of installed LED road lighting systems to be networked worldwide by 2021.

While the obvious benefit of smart street lighting is the reduction of city energy bills, there are other possible benefits as well. New services that generate revenue could stem from additional sensors installed on the LED light fixtures, including potential retail marketing opportunities and municipal Wi-Fi capacity.

Juniper’s study said the proliferation of LED lighting in cities is expected to continue growing rapidly due to plummeting costs for LED technology and the adoption of hardware standards for the light fixtures.

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Could Blackberry have a real chance in IoT?


The world may be melting down into Brexitian chaos, but for a company like Blackberry that’s the least of its worries. After all, customers already voted themselves out of Blackberry’s ecosystem years ago, choosing to embrace Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android phones. Brexit is just one more kick in the teeth for a company that has struggled for years to regain relevance.

And yet…there are signs of life at Blackberry.

The most important sign is the Internet of Things. While every company is pretending to have an IoT strategy these days, Blackberry actually has the raw materials necessary to build a highly relevant IoT business.

Chasing a niche is a good plan

To be honest, it has been years since I last thought about Blackberry, either as a vendor or as blog fodder. I didn’t want to use their phones and I couldn’t muster any energy to write yet another eulogy for the once powerful company.

So when I saw that Larry Dignan had penned a piece suggesting that Blackberry Radar could fuel a turnaround, I was surprised but intrigued. Larry is a smart guy. Why would he bother writing about a corporate corpse?

Blackberry Radar is an “end-to-end, Internet of Things (IoT)-based system that monitors the location of trailers and containers and delivers timely, actionable data to transportation managers via a secure, online portal.” In one sense, it’s a niche solution for the Transportation vertical. Even though Blackberry CEO John Chen rightly calls out the “there are anywhere between three million to 12 million [truck] trailers currently in the U.S. alone,” a fraction of which (14 to 20%) with telematics services attached to them, it’s still hardly something worth going long on BBRY as an investment.

Does Blackberry have the right IoT assets?

However, it’s not so much Blackberry Radar of itself that is interesting. Rather, it’s that Radar reminds us of the systems expertise that Blackberry has honed over decades.

For example, Chen went on to talk about QNX, the embedded, real-time operating system that has been around for eons, and sits at the heart of Blackberry’s connected car platform:

We’ve built and operate a secure end-to-end system to deliver over-the-air software updates to cars, to automotive, automobile. This technology is a growing imperative for automotive OEMs, with the average vehicle nowadays using about 60 million to 100 million lines of software code. Our solution will help the auto industry provide proactive maintenance update, without time consuming visit to the repair shop. This solution has been derived from our technology for updating 50 million mobile phones in over 100 countries.

If that sounds like exactly what is needed to operate a powerful, sophisticated IoT network then that’s because it is.

It Just Works

Two years ago I wrote about how a lack of standardization in IoT would make open source an imperative. While that shift toward open source is happening, it’s also true that developers and the enterprises they serve are hungry for workable platforms that can get them started faster. That’s where Blackberry comes in.

Companies have been calling out for someone to solve the Wi-Fi, real-time location tracking, bar codes, mobile and GPS-related IoT problems they have. Blackberry, because of its years building out a massive smartphone network, coupled with its QNX experience, has this in spades.

So today it’s right that Blackberry should start with an isolated market like trucking logistics. But there’s no reason that this same system, and its underlying assets, can’t power a whole host of other IoT projects in vastly different markets. Could this be the start of a Blackberry resurrection?

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Could wearables make you a master schmoozer?

Business people applauding at the conference

We’ve all met someone at a party or meetup and forgotten their name just minutes after shaking their hand and making an introduction. It’s difficult to remember the names and faces of everyone you meet, but what if the wearable technology you have on you can help you out with that?

With the growing trend of wearables and IoT technologies, one thing is for certain, the ability for these devices to detect and communicate with one-another is remarkable. Now, imagine that technology that already tracks our steps, heartbeat, and location and use it to remember the names of people you meet throughout the day. That would be extraordinary.

Even more impressive would be using these technologies to identify someone in a crowded room and have that person’s name and information available to you when you need it.

Researchers at Rice University have been looking to achieve just that by overcoming the challenges that come with having the camera on your phone running 24/7. Phone cameras are great, but they’re battery hogs. Having your camera on to shoot videos at a party is hard enough on battery life, but having it running from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave would be detrimental.

RedEye is a technology being developed by Rice’s Efficient Computing Group. It uses some clever software and hardware tricks to dramatically reduce the amount of energy it takes for a system to identify images being captured by image sensors and determine what is, and isn’t important enough to keep.

A virtual photographic memory?

“Real-world signals are analog, and converting them to digital signals is expensive in terms of energy,” said Robert LiKamWa, a member of the project. “There’s a physical limit to how much energy savings you can achieve for that conversion. We decided a better option might be to analyze the signals while they were still analog.”

Your phone’s camera captures analog images and converts them into digital data whenever it’s running. This data conversion is expensive in both processing and battery power. By changing the software so that it analyzes the analog data rather than the digital conversion, this cuts out a lot of the effort required by the device.

There are a bunch of technical bits and pieces, including system architecture that is designed to work much like the human brain, but the end result is clear. RedEye is on the path to make wearable, IoT, and other battery-powered devices significantly more efficient when it comes to receiving and analyzing visual data.

Back to the party, your phone (and one day other wearables) would constantly be running its camera, identifying specific objects and even people’s faces and, upon being triggered by a specific pattern it recognizes, would make information about them available to you. This technology would have to be able to be switched off, as there are obviously times and places where having photographic record is inappropriate.

At this stage, RedEye and similar technologies are in early development, but in a world where we are already using Google in place of our own memories for hard facts, phone numbers, and directions, this evolution is inevitable.

One day, we could all have photographic memories.

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Could telcos lose their shirts on the IoT-driven 5G business?


Though the Internet of Things (IoT) is heralded as a future money spinner for industries far and wide, one analyst says telcos won’t see 5G-related windfalls from IoT any time soon.

As reported by RCRwireless,  New Street Research  partner Andrew Entwistle dumped cold water on the future of IoT and its relationship to 5G wireless networks, saying  that it does not offer “any business case for a telecoms operator.” Entwistle was speaking at a 5G seminar in Australia.

Entwistle’s take goes against popular industry sentiment that 5G’s role as IoT enabler will give operators new vertical revenue streams.

“I’m perfectly prepared to accept that the internet of things is extraordinarily interesting to equipment makers and vendors, to systems integrators, to policymakers, and to people concerned with the social role of communications services in our lives,” said Entwistle.

“But there is an awful lot of noise about the internet of things that doesn’t actually translate into, to put it strongly, a whole hill of beans for the telecoms operator who’s looking to sell services to achieve revenue per customer or revenue per device.”

To illustrate his view, Entwistle described a theoretical hospital of the future that installed healthcare-related IoT devices using 5G network capability.

“Not a single penny” from 5G and IoT?

“The telecoms operator will not see a single penny from any one of those devices. They sell a 5 [gigabits per second] fiber into the data room of the hospital today, and in 10 years’ time they’ll probably still be selling a 5 Gbps connection, or 10 Gbps fiber at half the price of today’s 5 Gbps fiber,” he said.

“I can’t see any business case for a telecoms operator. An operator said: ‘We will have 1,000 times as many devices and we only need 1,000th of the [average revenue per user] in order to build a business as big as our existing business.’ That’s not a business plan, that’s just multiplying two numbers together and making a brave assumption.”

Market skeptics worry that the telcom operators’ IoT-driven 5G business faces the likelihood of low traffic volumes and revenue yields, with relatively thin margins.

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Big changes to device bidding in AdWords: What could they mean for your accounts?

Columnist Laura Collins discusses the impact of individual device bid adjustments in AdWords, an upcoming change recently announced during Google Performance Summit in San Francisco.

The post Big changes to device bidding in AdWords: What could they mean for your accounts? appeared first on Search…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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UK could bring healthcare expertise to India’s smart cities


The United Kingdom could play a “significant role” in helping India build hospitals and clinics in smart cities, according to the National Health Service (NHS) chairman Sir Malcolm Grant.

The UK has developed some of the most innovative healthcare services and systems in the world over the past seven decades of NHS. The UK has an unmatched combination of clinical, technological and academic expertise,” said Grant to the Economic Times.

“I hope that our visit will help write a new chapter in the history of India’s health services, both in the private sector and in the government’s ambition to provide universal healthcare.”

See also: Big data billionaire questions role of wearables in healthcare

Grant is part of a trade venture comprised of 23 British companies and NHS trusts, looking into potential health partnerships in North India. The team will visit Mumbai and Bengaluru and meet with healthcare officials to discuss the future of India’s healthcare system.

India is starting to see a rise in British investment, as relations between the countries blossom. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited in the UK and both countries called it the start of a “special relationship”, similar to the UK’s growing relationship with China.

That special relationship with India may provide solutions to the current problems facing the country’s healthcare system. At the current time, most citizens either use public services that are woefully underfunded or pay for private insurance.

India looking for a universal healthcare solution, on a budget

There is an initiative to build a universal health service, started under the Singh government, but Modi has called for drastic cutbacks to the service. This has caused severe delays, as the government searches for ways to lower the budget. In the meantime, millions of Indian citizens remain in limbo, unable to afford private healthcare and only receiving basic healthcare from public institutions.

Bringing in experts from the UK might help alleviate some of the budget concerns, by providing more effective and efficient systems to smart cities. The NHS may also be able to use local technology, like the high adoption rate of mobile devices, to provide healthcare on the go.

NHS executives know all about managing budget cuts too, in the past six years the Conservative government has been cutting off billions of pounds in health funds to try and balance the economic books, and still the NHS remains one of the highest rated health services in the world.

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