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A fine Euro hello to Vodafone’s NarrowBand IoT next year


Vodafone announced on Wednesday rollout plans for its NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB IoT) network, which will start in four European countries next year.

The dedicated IoT network will go live in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain in the first quarter of 2017.

See Also: Australia to spend millions making its cities smarter

Vodafone wants the NB IoT network live in all countries (where it offers wireless service) by 2020.

NarrowBand is a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) technology that uses licensed spectrum to provide communications over long distance.

This type of networking is useful for enterprise IoT projects, like agriculture and factories, where normal wireless service is either unavailable or expensive.

Vodafone has been one of the largest backers on NarrowBand, an evolution of Huawei’s NB-CIoT effort. 3GPP, the largest telecommunication association, standardized the technology in June.

NarrowBand vs. LoRa

NarrowBand is currently competing with LoRa, another IoT network built by Semtech. A few developments in Asia have cropped up in the past using that standard, creating fragmentation in the IoT networking industry.

“The questions of battery life and deep in-building penetration have now been answered by NB-IoT,” said Vodafone’s IoT director Ivo Rook, in a statement.

“The low cost of the modules means we can expect a new wave of connected devices and soaring market demand,” he said. “Vodafone’s world-leading expertise and experience in IoT will prove invaluable in shaping this exciting market.”

The IoT market is expected to balloon in the next few years, as more enterprise and home devices launch. Vodafone is paving the way for this surge, adding dedicated networks to even more markets.

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Smart dog collars could be the next big thing in wearables


The wearables industry has been primarily focused on building devices for humans, but that could change in the next few years, if the excitement over dog wearables with the Link AKC is any indicator.

The smart collar, designed in collaboration with the American Kennel Club (AKC), comes packed with features you would find on a normal human wearable, including a fitness tracker and step count.

Seee Also: World’s second biggest wearables maker debuts new smartwatch

The fitness tracker offers analysis on the dog’s activity level and length. It also breaks down the activity by breed, so there will be varied amounts of daily exercise, depending on the needs of your dog.

Link AKC also comes with a few features built specifically for dogs, like a temperature tracker that warns you when the dog is too hot or too cold. Owners can also create a ‘virtual fence’, and will notify you when the dog’s collar leaves the zone.

Dog adventures can be shared

Owners can also share “Adventures” they have been on with their dog, similar to Facebook’s check-in feature. Photos can be added to the post, and we suspect users will be able to add the route walked.

For dog owners that want their pooch to be fit, healthy, and safe, this could be a good investment. However, it doesn’t come cheap, starting at $199 with a two-year $6.95 monthly contract.

That’s a big commitment, even for the most pampered pooches.

Design-conscious folks should be happy with the Link AKC. It looks similar to most dog collars, the buttons are well hidden, and the leather exterior is quite premium compared to plastic and metal collars that a lot of dogs wear.

Could this be the future of wearables? There’s enough overindulgent pet owners that it could become a trend, but we’ll have to wait and see as more pet wearables hit the market.

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Next iPhone could double as a glucose monitor


To nobody’s surprise, Apple has merged audio into the Lightning connector on the iPhone 7, removing the 3.5mm audio jack. As evidence of the lack of surprise, DarioHealth unveiled a new glucose meter on Thursday, one day after Apple’s announcement, which works with the iPhone’s Lightning connector.

Previously, the DarioHealth blood glucose monitoring system connected via the audio jack. The new device offers the same functionality and design, the only difference is the connector.

See Also: How close are we to the robotic human heart?

“This news comes as no surprise to us, and we’ve been working on a solution for quite some time now,” said DarioHealth CEO, Erez Raphael. “Our team’s agility to navigate the complex mobile ecosystem showcases DarioHealth’s versatility and passion to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology in general, and the diabetes healthcare market specifically.”

Easier glucose monitoring could slow disease’s progress

DarioHealth provides the glucose meter to diabetics, letting them measure their blood sugar levels. The scan results are shown on the company’s iPhone app, alongside previous measurements.

Data is sent to a carer or physician, giving them a routine update on blood sugar levels and any issues. The app also gives patients an emotional and environmental log, and a list of food options.

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in certain parts of the world. In the U.S., 21 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the CDC, with a further 8 million undiagnosed, totalling 9.3 percent of the population.

DarioHealth recently received approval from the FDA to sell its glucose meter in the U.S. It already sells the device in Australia, Canada, and parts of Europe. The new Lightning connector option will be available at the start of the next year.

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Is art the next frontier in the IoT revolution?

artists brushes and oil paints on wooden palette. Vintage stylized photo of paintbrushes closeup and artist palette. palette with paintbrush and palette-knife

The Internet is a tool of connection. We share photos, videos, ideas—all at the click of a button, or the tap of a screen. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution has further transformed our lives, allowing our devices to fully integrate with our world in ways unimaginable even five years ago. The very concept of IoT has even forced us to rethink traditionally staid cultural mores. In the last few years, the art world has seen an immense impact as a result of this trend. However, its prevalence remains under the radar.

We all know about the conveniences of IoT devices—Nest’s popular Wi-Fi thermostat comes to mind, a tool that can learn about its users habits and program your home’s temperature accordingly. The world is now awash in items that perform various functions using a similar concept.

Leveraging smart homes for art’s sake

These interconnected and interactive gadgets have helped make “smart homes” a reality. But in the process, they’ve become little more than the sum of their parts. They certainly have great utilitarian use, but the vast majority of them have done little to add value beyond that. This reality has created a bit of a tech overload, with multiple products competing for attention, seemingly tripping over themselves in the process. The clutter effect is palpably felt, and has led some users to doubt whether a bit of added convenience is really worth the costs.

See also: How 5 artists use Pinterest

Thankfully, this is not the case with all aspects of connected tech. While most devices, as previously mentioned, seek to create a hive mind among the various wearables and gadgets that incessantly pervade our daily lives, there has been a thriving subculture of technologists, designers, architects, and more that have uncovered a wealth of opportunity to subvert the traditional artistic approach by integrating IoT very carefully into their work. These groups have set out to make IoT more than a robotic afterthought, and instead infuse it with same warmth and emotion that permeates the great artistic masterpieces from the past and present.

There are tons of examples of innovative takes by way of intricately developed installations that use technology to create all sorts of wonders—everything from weather simulations, proximity-based interactive lighting structures, and pieces that react through sensors to the changing conditions of the sea via connected buoys. In each of these cases, the masterminds behind each installation used sensors as the proverbial ‘paint brush’ for their creations.

Art adds a deep, personal touch to otherwise cold tech

Art has effectively added a deep and intimate personal touch to the tech world—one that has largely been lacking. With the advent of IoT, people have the ability to customize and express themselves in brand new ways, all the while being enabled by intuitive new products that allow us experience the world with unique perspectives. Like the IoT revolution, art is an examination and reassessment of the space we inhabit triggered by an intense emotional reaction to the creations in front of us. This makes the marriage of the two concepts inherently natural and organic.

Already, products like Lightswarm have become integrated into homes. Lightswarm tracks the movements of people in a room and adjusts the lighting to match where they are and what time of day it is; it is both useful while also adding to the ambience of the environment. The concept has been adapted to various other fixtures, both for private homes, as well as public spaces. These pieces of technology, while utilitarian on the surface, actually hide a creative subtext beneath their layers, which makes them aesthetically pleasing, as well as fundamentally functional.

Of course, the intersection of art and technology goes much further than just simple lighting. It has also radically democratized the nature of the art world itself. Years ago, you needed to live near a big city to be able to explore visual culture through museums or galleries. That paradigm has greatly shifted as people now have the ability to view and appreciate art from anywhere, sometimes with just a few taps on their phone, or by exploring art in 360 degrees through Google cardboard.

It doesn’t stop there.

Google is also adapting the IoT revolution to give people the chance to create artistic works in a whole new plane of “reality” through the Google Tilt Brush, which will effectively make it possible to render the entire concept of a dedicated studio space as obsolete. Virtual reality will be the prospective artist’s new canvas. These are perfect examples of innovations that can break down the barriers to accessibility and understanding of art while making the world at large your studio.

Ultimately, art has brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the IoT revolution—one that’s all too often hidden from the spotlight. Connected technology shouldn’t just be about convenience or fulfilling a certain task, not when it’s possible to rise above utility and make it an integral part of the human experience. Art has always occupied that space, but as it continues to exist hand-in-hand with technology, the door is always open for pushing the envelope and tapping into a part of the human condition that, as a result of the digital age, might have become buried within us over time.

The author is the co-founder and CEO of Meural, a digital art company.

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Germany’s first smart bridge to open next month


An $12.3 million smart bridge, opening this October, is being built in northern Bavaria and will include technology never seen before on the German Autobahn.

Sensors built into the bridge on the Autobahn 9, will capture and analyze data such as the strain, movements and inclinations of the bridge, as well as the temperature, humidity and pressure from vehicles. Experts will then be able to tell the state of the bridge according to the data they receive, with the aim of discovering damage before regular tests.

The bridge in Nuremberg will be tested out as a five-year pilot project to determine whether it might also work in the rest of Germany.

New bridge part of the digital autobahn test field

The new bridge is part of the “Digital Autobahn Test Field,” a project which the government launched in 2015.  The A9 between Munich and Nuremberg, one of the most important traffic routes in Europe, is gradually being transformed into a test route for innovations. Using the slogan “Mobility 4.0”, the German Federal Government, the Free State of Bavaria and companies such as Siemens and Infineon, are developing the A9 into a proving ground for the technologies of the future.

The aim is make driving faster, safer and reduce congestion. Another advantage of the project is that it could reduce the number of Geisterfahrer – ghost drivers, or those who enter the road on an exit and drive against the flow of traffic. By warning these people and other drivers of the mistake they are about to make, the system will increase safety for what is a recurrent problem on German roads.

The digital project also involves introducing free Wi-Fi access in six different parking lots of the north Bavarian region which will be available from mid-November.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 14.27.30

Bridge moves vehicle safety improvements outside of the car?

While automobile manufacturers are concentrating on creating self driving cars, traffic planners are looking to develop an intelligent road infrastructure that will direct vehicles but also actively communicate with them. The German Ministry’s aim is to create a platform ready for introducing and testing additional vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication features.

Radar sensors is utilized in the project, controlled by modern 77 GHz microchips made by Infineon. They have already formed an integral part of driver assistance systems for some years and can for example, maintain a constant distance to the vehicle ahead, and initiate or automatically perform emergency braking. They will make it possible to guide vehicles to an emergency stop on the bridge if a vehicle’s sensor system fails, removing the need for emergency braking.

A second signal could simultaneously be sent out to warn other vehicles to keep a safe distance away. Obviously, this would avoid any interruption to the flow of traffic.

See also: Connected cars need to play well with smart cities

Many companies are interested in testing new technologies on the route with test vehicles from Audi, Mercedes and BMW are already using their on-board computers to regularly make their way through heavy traffic on the A9. The highway’s communication network is also being tested, including the ability of the system to warn vehicles on the A9 in good time before they attempt risky passing maneuvers.

In addition, technology from the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Communication Systems and Continental is making it possible for a vehicle to warn the cars behind it that it is about to brake – even before the brake lights go on. Such capabilities are designed to provide drivers with alternative routes and warn them of impending dangers.

Upon project completion, Siemens and Infineon will release all test data in an open source format. “The idea is that creative minds from the automotive industry, the digital sector, and the scientific community will be able to use the data generated from this project to develop additional innovative mobility solutions,” says Marcus Zwick, who responsible for Siemens Mobility’s technology incubator. It’ll be interesting to see what innovations develop on the intelligent autobahn.

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Voice UI and intelligent assistants: trends to watch out for next

Earlier this year, a report from Consumer Intelligence Research partners (CIRP) pegged the sales of Amazon’s Echo at more than 3 million units.

Echo of course uses Amazon’s cloud based AI “Alexa” to answer questions, play music/games, control smart devices including home automation systems and of course re-order products off Amazon.

More importantly, awareness of this device and others like it continues to accelerate.


In fact, according to CIRP, awareness of Echo more than doubled though the course of last year from 20% in March 2015 to more than 50% by year’s end.

While an aggressive and memorable ad effort featuring Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino, and Missy Elliot may have contributed to Echo’s increasing awareness and popularity, its value proposition, robust and growing functionality and perceived promise are ushering in a new era – the AI, Machine Learning and voice UI era.

Here are a few trends and predictions to look for as we prepare for this exciting wave which will most certainly become ever more present in our everyday lives and tasks.

Trends in intelligent assistants

Listening to Amazon’s Charles Kindel at the Eniac M1 Summit confirms, Amazon has big plans for its cloud based omnipresent AI technology.

Those plans include how this intelligent assistant can be integrated into and can interact with other IOT devices and services be it your smart phone/watch/home, gaming/music systems and even cars, as is the case with Ford SYNC.

Clearly Amazon believes Echo and “Alexa” is so much more than just a product, it’s a framework and platform that will be open to a growing number of outside developers.

Expect tens of thousands of developers to jump on the bandwagon in the coming years as they look to integrate Alexa into their own products as this technology moves quickly into the mainstream.

But don’t be fooled, Amazon won’t be alone and it’s not the only game in town.

Both Apple with its Siri, Microsoft with its Cortana and Google with the Google Assistant and Google Home offering will compete aggressively here, particularly given their dominance on the mobile/smartphone OS front.


Given that advantage and footprint, it will be particularly interesting to see how Amazon will explore ways in which Alexa can be more deeply integrated into Apple, Google and Microsoft powered smartphones.

It should also not come as a big surprise if Amazon looks to both acquire and build solutions to support the continued adoption of its intelligent assistant Alexa.

The company’s strong track record to continually experiment and innovate remains part of its culture. Bigger and bigger successes, such as AWS and Echo/Alexa, will only fuel bigger bets and experiments, and rest assured, Alexa-related investments and innovations are forthcoming.

Finally, because these voice UI’s and intelligent assistants continually listen for key words and are collecting more and more info about its users to be helpful, privacy concerns have arisen.

Hopes and fears

While each company has assured users the data is not stored or shared, the always listening and learning capabilities can be unsettling.

Look for greater notice, data access and controls to be integrated into all solutions as our intelligent assistants become an increasing part of our lives.

We are on the threshold of a new era lead by AI, NL and machine learning and the emergence of the voice UI somewhat depicted in the Spike Jonze movie HER is yet another step closer to reality.

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Will Uber and Volvo roll out a fully autonomous car next year?


Uber has scooped its second automotive partner, announcing on Thursday that Volvo will build a fully autonomous car for the ride-sharing giant’s Pittsburgh fleet.

The partnership includes a $300 million investment from both parties into the development of the autonomous car.

See Also: Can taxi drivers still have a place in a driverless world?

Volvo will use the PSA chassis to build the autonomous car, which is used in the XC90, S90, and V90. From there, Uber will import its self-driving system and ride hailing platform, to make it a fully autonomous taxi.

The most interesting detail is the timeline, Uber says the Volvo cars will appear in the company’s commercial fleet by late August. Customers that enter into the autonomous vehicle will receive a free ride.

If you are in Pittsburgh, you won’t be able to request a self-driving car, but a lucky few will get the chance to ride in it. We assume that an Uber representative will be inside, to avoid even more regulatory issues.

Uber could provide Volvo with a strong market in the future, if we move from car ownership to ride-hailing as the main source of transportation. Volvo doesn’t appear too phased by the deal, stating that its own self-driving division is still active.

Volvo and Uber follow Ford’s big news

The news comes on the same day Ford CEO Mark Fields set a 2021 target date for the company’s first fully autonomous vehicle. Fields said the car would not have a steering wheel or any pedals.

If Uber is able to get a driverless car on the road in any capacity by the end of the year, that 2021 date may be too late. Tesla has also hinted at a fully autonomous system coming to the Model S, X, and 3 far before 2020, which may put regular automotive firms to shame.

Volvo is the second to partner with Uber, following a Hyundai partnership in South Korea. More automotive firms may follow; Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said that he would like to partner with Uber and Amazon on self-driving cars, after partnering with Google.

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Dubai accelerates smart city plans to the next level

Dubai Marina from a high view showing the boats, sea, and the city scape.

Persian Gulf metropolis Dubai is ramping up its long-running smart city strategy to capitalize on emerging opportunities in a market worth trillions of dollars.

While many municipal governments around the globe are only now beginning to explore smart city projects, Dubai is more than a decade into its smart city strategy.  Trade Arabia says the largest city in the United Arab Emirates is now in the process of shifting into Phase Two of its expansive smart city strategy.

The city wrapped up Phase One of its smart city plans this spring.  One part of that phase was the Smart Dubai Government initiative, which has already saved the government $1.17 billion in its 13 years of existence.

As part of Phase Two, the new Smart Dubai Office (SDO) will take over this initiative as well as the Dubai Data initiative. The SDO will incorporate these projects into its Happiness Agenda for the city which it announced this May. This project will guide Dubai’s smart city transformation with a methodical, science-based approach to improving the urban area’s overall happiness.

A key component of the Happiness Agenda is the Happiness Metre, which contributes to cutting-edge benchmarking processes that are widely used by private and public sectors in the city.

“Smart Cities are rising throughout the world, but governments and industry need to agree on what actually makes a city smart,” said Palo Alto City’s chief information officer Jonathan Reichental, who is slated to speak at Dubai’s Gitex conference this fall. “Dubai’s efforts to develop global benchmarks will help cities measure their progress, so that leading innovators, from Silicon Valley to Dubai to Bangalore, can deploy practical tools to measure how they’re improving people’s lives.”

Dubai knows benchmarking is critical

Smart Dubai director general Aisha Bin Bishr said that benchmarking was an integral part of the such smart city projects as The Happiness Metre, the Dubai Data Portal and the Smart Dubai Platform.

“After spending over two years working on benchmarking, creating a blue print, building the framework and testing services on a government level, we are now working on delivering tangible benefits to the residents and visitors of Dubai,” he said.

Dubai is pushing forward into further Internet of Things (IoT) integration, embracing the burgeoning technology that is expected to generate $1.6 trillion in smart cities impact by 2025. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report predicts these IoT impacts will include $800 billion in transportation opportunities and $700 billion in healthcare.

Yet despite the global buzz around the topic of smart cities, concerns are mounting that many smart city initiatives are focusing on solving peripheral urban problems, with few big projects tackling core city issues.

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Five ways analysts can take their skills to the next level

As I’ve been writing about tools and tactics quite a bit lately, I thought for this month’s column I’d take a step back and share some ideas on how you can become a better analyst.

And improving our analysis skills as marketers goes beyond broadening our career options and helping us be better at our craft.

It should actually improve all areas of your life as a byproduct of nurturing our critical thinking skills. Some ideas follow that I apply in my own life and hope you’ll consider too.

Find a passion outside work which involves developing hypotheses

The scientific method, as you know, is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.

You’re already applying this to your marketing and analytics practice by putting it to work for testing and optimization efforts (for example, having a hypothesis that a new landing page with less clutter will convert better, which you then test).

But beyond work, you should also, in free time, be involved in something which flexes your prediction muscle.

Whether this manifests as fantasy sports, investing in startups or some other activity which involves future predictions (and cool datasets!), this can be a fun and rewarding way to sharpen your mind and will help you see analysis problems in a new light.

Learn to fill in the missing pieces, be comfortable working with imperfect data/information

100% perfect data is really only possible in a controlled lab setting with expensive and fine-tuned equipment. While, of course, we should ensure our analytics implementation is setup correctly to keep our own data as clean as possible, we must also get comfortable working with a “good enough” information.


This is necessary in order to be agile in how we work and keep projects moving forward. A great analyst will work out the way to fill in the missing pieces and make effective projections (while of course providing a rationale/caveats where needed).

You want to get confident enough to make recommendations and create analysis’ based off “minimum viable data.”

Have a sandbox project to test new tools

If you are truly serious about improving your skills, doing analyst work in your live business environment isn’t enough.

The reason being you can’t test and tinker with any new tool without permission or change settings at whim, you likely have compliance and managers to work through.

But a sandbox project such as your own site, app or side business provides a place you can test, tinker and experiment in a no-stress setting.

Bonus: our team at Google recently launched an Analytics Demo Account for this very purpose.

GA demo

Live and breathe your company and sector metrics (beyond what you’re accountable for)

Being a great analyst isn’t about just running reports and delivering insights that are your remit.

Rather, the best analysts have their finger on the pulse of the bigger pictures and are deftly able to put their own work into context with the larger organization and sector as a whole.

The analysts I talk to that leave a lasting impression are the ones who can speak articulately about various areas of the business and how they make impact across teams and functions.

Be a part of the industry, network and collaborate with peers

I’m personally a big believer in educating others about digital marketing and since starting my career well over a decade ago I’ve spent time both at and outside of work helping others learn our craft.

Our industry is tight knit and so being an active participant who helps others is of great benefit (not to mention fulfilling).

For you, whether this takes the form of speaking/attending events (such as ClickZ Live), starting your own local analytics meetup, or even making friends with other analysts near you to talk shop this is a valuable use of time.

Adam Singer will be speaking at ClickZ Live San Francisco in August. 

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‘Omnichannel’ may never catch on, but it’s the next big thing for local

Wesley Young of the Local Search Association provides 5 tips to create a seamless search-to-purchase experience for your local business.

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Does Google’s next big OS have a touch of Fuchsia?

Mountain View, CA, USA - April 14, 2013: Google bikes for employee transportation inside Googleplex.

Fans of Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems will want to keep their eyes on a new project recently mirrored on GitHub called Fuchsia, and despite it appearing on the open source repository source, very little is actually known about the project as of now.

There haven’t been any official announcements from Google, seemingly because the project is in its earliest stages of development.

In an IRC chatlog distributed on popular technology news aggregate Hacker News, Google’s Brian Swetland stated: “The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning,”

What we can expect is an operating system that isn’t based on either the Chrome or Android systems. In fact, Fuchsia may not even be based on an existing Linux kernel. Android Police, the site that initially reported on rumors of the new project, expanded on Fuchsia’s use of the Magenta kernel, a powerful solution for operating systems that power a variety of device types down to the simplest IoT systems.

As a kernel, Magenta has the ability to scale from small connected devices to mobile, and even desktop systems.

If Chrome is the solution of choice for desktop systems, and Android the designated operating system for mobile, then it stands to reason that Google’s next big operating system project would be focused on the emerging Internet of Things market, a quickly-evolving ecosystem of networked systems and devices that span many levels of size and complexity.

Is Fuchsia the next step for Chrome and Android?

Other rumors indicated that Fuchsia would become the base for a new generation of Chrome and/or Android, enabling these systems to take advantage of tomorrow’s demands. With augmented reality and VR putting additional strain on current-generation hardware and software, a streamlined operating environment would make expanding on these applications easier.

Nick Mediati of PC World theorized: “One possibility I see is where Google uses Fuchsia instead of Linux as the underpinnings for next-generation versions of Chrome OS and Android. That is, both would use some form of Fuchsia — or the Magenta kernel — as the underlying basis of the two operating systems (as well as the operating system for other Google devices such as the Chromecast).”

Whatever the case may be: This is going to be one project worth watching.

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Come out for the next season of America’s Greatest Makers

Portrait thinking woman in glasses looking up with light idea bulb above head isolated on gray wall background

After a premiere season that saw Grush — an IoT-enabled gaming toothbrush aimed at getting kids to brush their teeth more effectively — take home the $1 million top prize, America’s Greatest Makers is coming back for another season of bringing IoT inventors together in a head-to-head battle for a sweet cash prize.

The primetime television show is produced by reality TV giant Mark Burnett, in partnership with Intel. Last season was especially exciting here at ReadWrite. Not only did we get to see emerging IoT technologies displayed on a national stage, but winning team was also an alumni of the IoT accelerator run by our parent company, Wearable IoT World.

This year, two IoT startup alumni are confirmed as auditioning  – SoundSight and Metron Force.

SoundSight produces an integrated video recording smart headphone that connects to your smartphone. Metron Force is a smart wristband for device radio control that uses intelligent wrist gestures.

“America’s Greatest Makers would be a good opportunity to explain how our technology differentiates us from the competition,” said Alex Hai, founder of Metron Force. “If we can tell our story to a national audience, our product will speak for itself.”

Makers to use new IoT technologies

Television series have a habit of upping the stakes. So for season two, in addition to Intel’s Curie Module that was used last year, Intel is making new technologies are available to be integrated into the product.

The next-generation Intel Atom processor-based platform can provide contestants with advanced display, graphics and high-speed I/O in a low-power, small form-factor configuration for product ideas. And Intel’s RealSense ZR300 camera offers makers a small form-factor solution for contestants who want to add visual depth sensing and tracking capabilities to their product ideas.

“We’ve already been getting excited about what we can do with the Intel Atom,” says Stephen Chase, founder of SoundSight Smart-Headphones, about the audition process. “One of the things we’re most excited about with this competition that we would get to work closely with the brilliant people of Intel.” 

The shows producers hope that the new technologies will elevate the competition. From Grush founder Ethan Schur’s experience, the lack of ability to code should not scare a potential applicant away. “If you find a problem big enough (to solve), you can prototype quickly,” he said. “There’s help out there. The maker community is there.”

Interested? You have until August 19th to apply here.

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Smart energy market valued at $136 billion for next decade


Smart energy firms could see a surge in adoption, as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, platforms and off-the-grid technology reduces the cost of power and improves efficiency in a smart city.

Market research group Navigant Research estimates in a report the global revenue of the industry between 2015 to 2024 will be $136 billion. It also expects the revenue to rise from $7.6 billion this year to $20.9 billion in 2024, bolstered in the U.S. and other countries with a strong renewable movement.

See Also:  Does Zap&Go have this energy storage issue solved?

“Smart cities are emerging as an important force in implementing the Energy Cloud philosophy across different sectors such as transportation, public and private institutions and buildings, and land use and development,” said Lauren Callaway, research analyst with Navigant Research. “For utilities, this creates myriad opportunities to test and deploy new technologies, services, and business models.”

Energy needs require a special agency?

Navigant Research calls for cities need to develop an agency for smart energy planning and infrastructure. The agency would smooth the issues of interoperability of standards and the alignment between various stakeholders—city leaders, utilities, and private shareholders—that have the power to change the future of the grid and turn homes and enterprise green.

A strong carbon tax and reductions in the cost of renewables may give smart cities an edge on the rest of the country, especially if it lets citizens go off-the-grid and send power back if it has excess. There are worries that business model may kill energy companies however, which must move from a supplier to a trader of energy.

We’ve already wrote about how the IoT could negatively affect renewable energy adoption, by making coal power more efficient and less pollutive, but it could also make renewables even cheaper and a more viable option to some households in the United States.

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Nissan adds semi-autonomousness to next Serena Minivan


Nissan introduced the 2017 Serena minivan on Wednesday, a slightly redesigned model that features semi-autonomous highway driving.

The Nissan ProPilot system provides one-lane highway driving for the Serena minivan, but that’s where the system sophistication ends. It cannot change lanes or routes autonomously, and is not functional in urban environments.

See Also: BMW strikes autonomous car deal with Intel, Mobileye

Drivers will be able to turn on the autonomous pilot at speeds between 19 and 62 mph (30 to 100 kph) and follow the road until the driver takes over. The autonomous tech follows the preceding vehicle in the same lane, and gives room for cut-ins from other lanes.


Mobileye, the Israeli driver assistance firm, has provided the on-board front facing cameras that track the car in front, according to ExtremeTech. Unlike some 360 systems currently being tested, the 2017 Serena minivan can only see what’s in front or to the side of the car.

Nissan has plans to add lane switching in 2018, followed by autonomous driving in urban environments by 2020. This is a similar timeline to most automakers that are invested in autonomous driving.

It is a step behind Tesla’s Model S, which can already switch lanes. Given the recent turmoil following the death of a Model S driver using Tesla’s AutoPilot mode, we suspect automakers to be even more cautious of adoption self-driving technology early.

Nissan takes an early lead on hometown rivals

Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to bring semi-autonomous features on the road, but Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi are all working on self-driving services for future cars.

On top of being the first Japanese automaker to hit the road, Nissan is also one of the first to test its autonomous functionality in the United Kingdom. It has already completed a few tests on UK roads, and the Queen’s Speech address—which is essentially a manifesto of the government’s near term plans—calling for the legalization of self-driving cars could spur further investment from Nissan.

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GE and Hitachi see IIoT unlocking the next industrial revolution

Pressing gear icon, Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Selling connected devices to the public continues to be hit or miss, but General Electric and Hitachi have no qualms about going all-in for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

According to Application Resource Center (ARC), the technology leviathans Hitachi and GE are betting big on IIoT, a market which GE recently estimated could be worth $225 billion in four years. By 2030 GE Digital predicts total investment in IIoT will reach a mind-boggling $60 trillion.

With an increasing flood of data that IIoT technology is producing, various industrial sectors could be revolutionized if they can efficiently harness this information.

“If we look at the next 10-15 years we anticipate an investment in harnessing all this data around the end-to-end value chain of industrial companies across many industries,” said Greg Kinsey, vice president of Hitachi Insight Group. “For example, if you look at aerospace and automotive manufacture, there is still massive potential in digitizing and integrating those end-to-end value chains.”

Kinsey also identified the food and agriculture industry as another sector that IIoT will help flourish.

“If we look at the food industry, we have value in farm-to-fork—that entire value chain from the planting of the seed to the meal on the table,” said Kinsey. “There is a massive opportunity to make that more efficient, to improve the quality, to improve the safety and eliminate waste.”

IIoT means a new view on asset management

One of the revolutionary aspects of IIoT is the change in how companies conceive their industrial assets.

“The center of the Industrial Internet of Things is assets – plane engines, locomotive engines, oil refineries etc.,” said Vish Soaji, GE Digital’s head of engineering for industrial IOT application.

“How do I improve the performance of my asset and how do I get more juice out of it by spending less?”

“Around these assets there are so many things that we can do to maximize the life of assets, to do predictive analytics so we can catch failure before it happens,” adds Soaji.

GE is prioritizing investment in software solutions like its Predix cloud-based platform-as-a-service that provides tools for improving assets’ productivity and efficiency. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, GE plans to invest $1.4 billion into its software business this year.

“There are three big things in play,” said Soaji. “Machine learning … sensors collecting data, then you combine that data with other types of data to make changes. Second is big data and third is analytics.”

Meanwhile, Kinsey said Hitachi had identified three areas where IIoT can produce a major impact on the manufacturing sector: smart maintenance; improving quality in production; and dynamic scheduling.

In light of this, Hitachi is investing $2.8 billion over the next three years on predictive technology to help its clients achieve significant productivity improvement in factories.

The post GE and Hitachi see IIoT unlocking the next industrial revolution appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Are self-driving cars the next crime frontier?

Bank robber in black balaclava waiting inside a car

While autonomous vehicle enthusiasts gush about the technology’s positive potential, Russian experts are raising fears that self-driving cars will be used to commit crime.

Russia Beyond the Headlines recently examined worries from Russia that self-driving cars have great potential for mayhem and murder when controlled by nefarious actors.

Private sector firms such as Russia’s Cognitive Technologies (CT) are already grappling with the moral consequences of autonomous vehicles and crime. CT is currently developing an unmanned truck for Russian truck manufacturer KamAZ.

“There is a set of moral aspects and criteria that must be considered in the development of robotic car driving scenarios,” said CT President Olga Uskova. “When developing unmanned vehicle driving scenarios, we proceed from the first law of robotics formulated by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, and try to minimize damage and casualties.”

CT experts confirmed that a hijacked driverless car could be used as a weapon, even to commit murder. Hackers could potentially weaponize a robot car by feeding false information to sensors or devices, disabling some artificial intelligence functions or overthrowing the main control system.

Uskova says that her firm is tackling these vulnerabilities by equipping the vehicles with recorders similar to black boxes on airplanes and hardening systems to outside attacks.

“CT’s approach is most resistant to external influences since the camera and ‘intelligence’ are in the cab,” she said.

Meanwhile, Russian law-enforcement officials are raising concerns that autonomous vehicle technology is moving so fast, governments haven’t begun to understand the future hazards.

“In 20 years, conventional cars will be replaced by autonomous vehicles,” said chief of the State Road Safety Inspectorate’s Road Patrol Service department Alexander Bykov. “However, no one has studied the potential future dangers.”

Russians already noting remote car hijackings

With Russia proving to be a global hacker hotbed, Bykov’s department has already logged incidents where vehicles were remotely hijacked using electronic means. And as autonomous vehicles eventually start to appear on roads of Russia and elsewhere, there are expectations that hackers will increasingly target remote control of such vehicles to injure the occupant or others outside the car.

This has raised the thorny issue among officials as to who is responsible for self-driving car crashes and injuries, be they deliberate or accidental.

The State Duma’s strategic information systems commission’s first hearing on the subject concluded that all responsibility rests with the driver – even if he is sitting in a car controlled by AI. Yet Bykov suggests future rulings will likely consider the autonomous vehicle’s software maker also culpable to some extent.

“Essentially, it is the software system installed by the manufacturer that will be responsible for the autopilot’s actions,” said Bykov.

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Next 30 day challenge: social media/news cleanse

For January 2015, I tried to declutter around the house for 15 minutes a day. We now have a couple rooms that are much cleaner, and I gave away a bunch of magazines.

For February 2015, my 30 day challenge was to go on daily 15 minute walks with my wife. That was nice.

Lately I’ve been spending more time than I’d like on social media and reading news sites. So for March 2015, I’m going to do a social media and news cleanse. I’ve done a social media cleanse several times before and it’s usually quite helpful for getting re-centered.

Here’s the steps that I’m taking:
– I’m using the StayFocusd Chrome extension to limit myself to 15 minutes a day of Google News, Twitter, Google+, Hacker News, Techmeme, Nuzzel, Reddit, and Imgur.
– On my R7000 home router I’m using the “block site” functionality for several of these sites. It looks like the R7000 can block HTTP sites, but not HTTPS.
– On my phone, I’m removing the new tab thumbnails for these sites. I’m also removing some social media apps from my home screen.

I figure that either I’ll get some good stuff done, read a lot of books, or die of boredom. I may (rarely) drop a link on social media, but if you see me just hanging out, please remind me to close my tab and move on. :)

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My next project: AutoSEO

This was an April Fool’s joke.

I’ve been working really hard with some friends on a project to handle SEO automatically. Now we’re ready to take the wraps off it over at

One of the ideas that helped the World Wide Web succeed was that it separated presentation and content. You could write your text and decouple it from the problem of how the text looked. AutoSEO takes that to the next stage with search engines, so you don’t have to think about things like redirects.

How much would you pay to never have to worry about keyword density, H1 headers, or meta descriptions again? How about.. free? That’s right, AutoSEO is free for individual, students, self-hosted installs, and companies with fewer than 100 employees. AutoSEO is also built from the ground up to handle mobile browsers.

We’re starting with a limited set of invites to kick the tires on the system before opening things up for wider usage. Read more about the project over at!

This was an April Fool’s joke.

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