Posts tagged Europe

MarTech Europe preview: here’s what to expect in 6 weeks

We’re only six weeks away from MarTech Europe in London, November 1-2, and I’m thrilled with the program — an incredible roster of speakers bringing deep insights and experience across the intersecting fields of marketing, technology, and management. I’m excited to give you a preview of what the…

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Alexa gets more skilled every week and looks toward Europe


Amazon’s voice recognition platform, Alexa, has reached 3,000 skills. The platform has been available for a little over a year in the U.S., providing developers with a way to integrate their services and smart home devices into the Echo, Dot, Tap, and Fire TV.

The Food Network, GE Appliances, Twitter Reader, and KAYAK were a few of the new additions to the Alexa skills.

See Also: Bezos: “I would never say” no to Amazon wearables

“Voice connectivity has a big role in the Internet of Things, as well as in the home,” said GE Appliances vice president, Liz VerSchure. “Integrating our connected appliances with Alexa will help make consumers’ lives easier, more productive and a little more fun.”

In the last few months, Amazon has seen a surge in Alexa interest from developers. It claims that tens of thousands of developers are working on skills for the Echo, Amazon’s flagship voice product, which has apparently exceeded the company’s sales expectations.

Even though Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners claims it has sold three million Echo speakers so far.

Alexa and her european tour

To push the voice recognition products to even more customers, Amazon also announced an expansion into select European markets.

Austria, Ireland, Germany, the United Kingdom will be the first outside the U.S. to receive the Alexa products, which will be available on the company’s store in October. Amazon did not disclose the regional prices for these devices.

Interestingly, Amazon also tweeted a new, cheaper Echo Dot earlier today, but has since deleted the tweet. The tweet said the Dot would cost $49.99, but Amazon has not commented or confirmed the Dot.

The cheaper Dot might fit well with Amazon’s voice package, especially for customers that aren’t confident enough to splash hundreds of dollars on a voice recognition device.

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Brexit muddies waters for UK IoT firms selling into Europe

Brexit - Detail of Silky Flag of Blue European Union EU Flag Drapery With Puzzle Piece With Great Britain

The British decision to exit the European Union is creating uncertainty for U.K. Internet of Things (IoT) statups looking to sell gadgets in Europe.

In an article by the Register, Damon Hart-Davis discusses the impact of the vote for the British to exit the EU (Brexit) on his company. He runs OpenTRV, a green-tech startup that sells smart radiator valves.

The natural core market for OpenTRV products is the EU which, including the U.K., totals nearly 500 million people. And so Hart-Davis says it is paramount for British-based IoT firms like his to maintain access to the whole continent.

However, he says there is much uncertainty surrounding the ubiquitous CE stamp which is required for most IoT gadgets and appliances sold in Europe. The stamp indicates that the equipment has complied with standards that can cover everything from radio band use to safety.

“On the regulatory front alone, what do I, or someone else in my position, need to know about how the world of CE marking will change?” he asks.

Political negotiations on future relations between the EU and Britain haven’t even begun. Yet Hart-Davis has learned that some industry experts are already speculating about how such standards would work in the post-Brexit reality.

“Long-term there is likely to be some loss of influence on setting new standards where the UK would not, post-Brexit, have an automatic right to participate in EU working groups,” he says.

However, in the past non-EU citizens from such countries as Norway have been able to make contributions to standards working groups. This could indicate that Britain won’t be frozen out of the dialogue around industry standards.

“Unless the UK and EU have a really major falling out, the UK is likely to be able to continue to contribute and influence,” said Hart-Davis.

Brexit still years away

By most estimates it will take years to disentangle Britain from the web of EU laws and regulations as both parties renegotiate such issues as trade treaties and industry standards.

In the meantime Hart-Davis says that most industry experts he’s spoken with say that the best approach is to soldier on with the CE compliance standards.

Indeed CE compliance may remain the standard for U.K.-based IoT device makers for the foreseeable future as industry would likely find another layer of standards cumbersome to manage.

“Manufacturers are unlikely to want to have to support extra U.K.-only standards for cost and complexity reasons if possible,” he says. “The CE mark will probably continue to work much as now from a purchaser’s point of view, either consumer or business, across all the current EU-27 and UK across the Brexit epoch.”


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MarTech Europe is just 2 months away, don’t miss out!

We’re now less than two months away from MarTech Europe, which will take place in London on 1-2 November, and my anticipation is building. The high-velocity exchange of ideas and experiences at MarTech always teaches me so much about the rapidly evolving practice of marketing technology in B2B and…

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Europe, Japan team boost smart cities with open data project

smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things

A new EU-Japan collaboration looks to take smart cities to the next level with a cloud-based open data platform.

Telecom Paper recently reported on the summer launch of the research project “City Platform-as-a-Service – integrated and open,” or for short.

The EU-funded initiative is a partnership between government and private sector players in Japan and Europe, with a key role played by Bern University’s E-Government Institute.

This project comes amid increased interest in collaboration between smart cities around the globe.

The collaboration aims to develop cloud-based urban data infrastructure that will be used as a key foundation that smart cities can be built on.

The experimental platform will work toward linking such technologies as big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing with Linked Open Data and open government data. This will allow cities and private firms to develop new applications and services for the public and businesses.

“The platform – operated by or on behalf of a city – thus forms the basis for an open digitized society, making the city more attractive for its citizens and new businesses, and also helping the city in streamlining and improving its own governmental processes and services,” according to the project website.

Creating a platform-as-a-service?

Project proponents stressed the focus of the platform to act as a service solution.

“Flexibility and elasticity will be key principles in the design of the architecture in order to support the deployment in many different cities with differing requirements, both regarding use cases, services and operational aspects,” said the site. “The platform will also annotate such inherently unreliable IoT data with quality parameters, so that applications can decide if the data quality is good enough to be used.”

As the platform is rolled out, it will be validated in cities currently possessing advanced Open Data capability. Currently the European cities involved include Amsterdam, Zurich and Murcia, while Japanese locations include Tokyo, Sapporo and Yokosuka.

The two-and-half year project is being run by Bern University and Japan’s YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory. Other European players involved include NEC, Odin Solutions, Europe AGT, The Things Network, the University of Surrey and Europe AGT. Japanese partners include Microsoft Japan, the University of Tokyo, Japan Access Co. and Ubiquitous Computing Technology Corp.

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Don’t miss your last chance to save big on MarTech Europe

Don’t miss out on MarTech Europe, THE conference for professionals at the intersection of marketing and IT. Rates go up this Saturday, register now and save £300 off on-site prices. You’ll get case studies from leading brands about the marketing, technology and management issues we all struggle…

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Will Europe beat the U.S. in smart city innovation?

usa x eu

Though Europe is currently battered by a refugee crisis, economic laggards and Britain’s potential exit, some argue that its future smart cities will still be more innovative than those in the US.

In the global entrepreneurial landscape, the EU has a reputation as an overly bureaucratic, risk averse zone with poorer access to venture capital than America. But over at FastCompany, Boyd Cohen argues that the old continent is nonetheless poised to steal the innovation crown from a US that offers dimmer prospects in its entrepreneurial technology hubs.

“The EU is well positioned to not only compete but even potentially lead the democratized and urbanized entrepreneurial revolution in the decades to come,” said Cohen, who lists several key factors for the EU’s coming dominance.

“European cities tend to be way ahead of North American cities in the smart cities arena,” he said, with the EU pushing the smart cities agenda for about a decade. The US is comparatively late to the party, with President Obama beginning to push smart city initiatives only last year.

Cohen also sees the EU benefiting from better designed cities that are intrinsically more walkable and liveable. Liveability remains a key attractant for millennials, mobile professionals and the “creative class” of entrepreneurs, technologists and artists.

A 2016 Mercer quality of life survey revealing seven of the top ten global cities to be European. The highest rated US city was San Francisco, ranked 28th.

America may be scrappier..but is Europe more agile?

Next he sees greater European proliferation of soft infrastructure, such as maker spaces and co-working facilities than in the US. There are only 115 Fab Labs, or maker spaces, in the US, compared to 300 in Europe. As well, co-working locations have blossomed in Europe, with Barcelona boasting more than 300 compared to a paltry dozen in Philadelphia, though both have similar populations.

America has generally a higher tolerance of failure in its entrepreneurial communities. However, Cohen sees the rise of US inequality combined with its poorer safety social safety nets impeding US innovation prospects, as the real cost of failure to the individual is much higher stateside than in Europe.

America also lags Europe in removing barriers to entrepreneurial immigrants, where obtaining visas in the US keeps getting harder while in the EU it’s become easier than ever before.

And as more smart cities compete for the global pool of high quality entrepreneurs, technologists and investors, whichever metropolises can attract the best minds and talent will ultimately win the day.

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