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Intel moves away from wearables after Basis Peak failure

http://readwrite.com/2016/11/29/intel-wearables-layoffs-cl4/play episode download
November 2016, by David Curry[ —]
Young stylish and fashionable man checking his smartwatch in cafe bar. High angle shot. Selective focus. Toned image.

Intel may be in the process of drastically downscaling its wearable division, as it starts to curtail losses in several emerging markets.

The chipmaker has reportedly sent emails to staff in the New Devices Group (NDG), providing a brief of the situation. The email didn’t mention job losses, but unnamed sources claim Intel will be downscaling the division. The extent of the downscale is not yet known.

See Also: Intel adds more AI brains with Nervana Systems acquisition

The firm has had trouble breaking into the wearable market in any capacity. Its efforts with Basis—which it acquired in 2014—haven’t produced results. Earlier this year the company recalled the Basis Peak, after failing to fix overheating issues. To inspire customer confidence, Intel offered a full refund to all Peak owners, costing the company a decent chunk of cash.

Efforts to sell processors to wearable manufacturers hasn’t seen much success either, Qualcomm commands the largest share of the market.

Not clear when Intel axe will fall

It is not clear what sections of the NDG division Intel plans to cut, we would assume the company wants to step back from actually manufacturing wearables and focus on selling components to manufacturers.

Intel has denied withdrawing from the wearables market. In a statement to TechCrunch, it said:

“Intel is in no way stepping back from the wearables business. In fact, we have several products in the works that we are very excited about, as well as prior launches that highlight our wearable technology such as the TAG Heuer Connected watch and recent Oakley Radar Pace smart eyewear.”

You can take from that what you will, we’ll keep an eye out on the next few weeks, to see what changes (if any) occur.

The post Intel moves away from wearables after Basis Peak failure appeared first on ReadWrite.


Who’s better than New York? No one, says smart city group

November 2016, by David Curry[ —]
new york

New York City has been awarded “Best Smart City 2016” at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

In the last year, New York City has pushed several smart city initiatives to the public and small businesses. The congress noticed the efforts of the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI).

See Also: Sustainability will be driving the smart city bus by 2020

The Smart and Equitable City plan includes a public Wi-Fi service; a platform for companies to showcase products to the city; a fund for innovators and entrepreneurs; a programme to trial smart tech; and guidelines for the development of smart city applications.

“When used effectively, IoT devices—like sensors that capture pollution in the air or lights that turn on when someone is in the room—can produce cost savings, bolster civic engagement, and strengthen public health and safety,” said MOTI’s Director of Innovation, Jeff Merritt to Cities Today.

LinkNYC is the most high profile tech project in New York City at the moment. Up to 10,000 structures are being erected in place of old payphones; 500 are currently in place. These will provide gigabit internet to residents and super-fast WiFi to commuters and tourists near the structures.

New York has been making smart city gains

In the last year, New York City has invested an additional $3 million into sensors that will enhance public safety and received $20 million iin grant funding for a connected car pilot program.

“New York City’s strategy for a smart and equitable city is rooted in a series of practical steps and tools that city agencies can use to leverage new technologies,” added Merritt.

Most supercities have some smart city plan to keep the city innovative, safe, and interesting. London, Singapore, Barcelona, and San Francisco have all received awards in the past for smart city developments, leading startups and entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the cities.

The post Who’s better than New York? No one, says smart city group appeared first on ReadWrite.


How IoT is making IBM’s Smart Planet smarter

November 2016, by Christopher Caen[ —]
iot-man

Chris O’Connor, IBM’s General Manager for Internet of Things Offerings, has been involved with connected devices for almost 25 years. As a result, he has a unique view on the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), what it means for the future, and what we can learn from previous generations of technology. 

Chris is also an Advisory Board Member of IoT Community, the organization producing IoT Slam , so we sat down with him as he prepared for the event to hear what he plans to talk about.

ReadWrite: So as the General Manager for IoT, what does this mean for IBM?

Chris O’Conn0r: So for us at IBM it’s been a journey of experimenting with the IoT data, all these connected assets, And the early work that we did around Smart Planet. It proved that it was controlled, but the ability to do it in mass wasn’t quite there yet, and now we move to where we are today which is sensors are cheap,  connectivity is easy given Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, low power long range capabilities, and cellular capabilities in abundance. As well as now the cloud is an accepted way to work both in both a public, private, and local fashion.  And analytics are ruling the day in terms of being able to provide value and information, and thinking engines are now emerging as a way to understand the patterns and the variances of how well this data actually comes together.  So you think about all this technology as the perfect storm and now these capabilities are becoming very affordable and can make the internet of things and its wealth of data actually processable by the average enterprise, company or corporation. 

RW: And that process is really important because the first way of IoT was sort of everyone running around the hooking sensors and then putting data streams onto everything they could find and it’s great I got these huge pile of data – okay, now what?  And now you got to figure out how to take all that data and actually turn to insight and actable business information. 

CO:  That’s correct.  We think our clients need to think beyond the connection of the device. Fundamentally we see three types of the business that our clients strive for. The first is around operations and maintenance and product life cycle. This is driven by devices and I know whether it’s healthy, whether it’s well, whether it’s on, whether it’s off, whether it’s broken, whether it’s fixed. And I can more efficiently maintain that device to make something better for my enterprise if I know this.  So many of the clients we work with can pay for the experimentation of an IoT system just by savings they get being able to change that equation. 

Chris O’Conner, IBM General Manager for Internet of Things Offerings

Chris O’Conner, IBM General Manager for Internet of Things Offerings

The second pattern that we see is people talking to their clients. So many companies actually don’t really connect directly with their clients. They make devices, they put them into distribution channels, distribution channels, and then a retailer sells it. The manufacturer is not working with the client, it’s the retailer that actually talks to the client about the plus and minus of that particular product being sold.  So with a connected device, the customer hooks it up and the manufacturer now has a direct connection for the first time and that’s a huge advantage.

And then there’s a third area,  just fundamentally watching all this information about how your products are being used. So, for example, you can change your warranty, so instead of saying a warranty is 36,000 miles for three years, you can have a warranty that says, if you drive your car into these cities and these geographies your warranty as this long. Or if you drive your car in these cities and these geographies, or if the car is exposed to salt and snow, you’d really re-invent your business and the service that you sell at the same time.

RW: Do warranties even exist in five years? I mean if you’re building predictive models then you can sell products not as assets, but one with use case scenarios. If I’m selling tires and I had this information of where you live and whether there’s salt on the road and whether it’s at altitude, maybe I sell this product as a service and the idea of a warranty goes away. 

CO:  I think that’s right.  And the real benefit here is your predictive models get to account for all kinds of different variabilities and you get to also take the learnings from those predictive models to instantly tell other devices about it at the same time.

And so it’s an individual process of learning, if you think of a car driving down the road with a certain set of conditions and then flips it can instantly tell all other cars about that flip and they can also account all other cars what to watch out, those cars now can watch, learn and take action instantly based off the knowledge of that first car.

RW: And I love that because I think that’s where cognitive computing takes off when you start seeing the data pools overlap on each other and learning from each other and that’s when cognitive computing just kind of explodes. 

CO:  Well, if you think about why we bought The Weather Company, it’s to be able to have that additional processing. And in the environment are other devices and then the context of weather plays into the variability of what should take place, so having learning points we think are the key aspect of IBM’s start with IoT.

RW: Of course, with everything has been going on recently with all this data and all these sensors, over the last couple of weeks all of a sudden security is right back in the public eye.

CO:  If you think about security with IoT, we’ve solved this problem before. We solved this problem several times at the data center, we solved it when we went to client-server, we solved this problem when we started introducing cloud technologies inside the data center. But what you have going on right now is you have an end point. Some do simple things like a sports watch that simply transfers your heart rate, some do incredibly complex things like a car driving down the road or an airplane up the sky, and they require incredibly complex types of interaction. 

RW: But the thing about that is you’re saying we’ve solved this before, but we now have people entering this market who don’t have a data legacy, so the problem with IoT is people connecting devices who don’t have that background and don’t realize the implications.

CO:  That’s right. So if you’re going to be connecting your device you need to do a little business security pattern work even if it is something that seems non-threatening. You have to think that if you are putting together this system and you’re getting ready to sell something that you buy from suppliers, you need to sit down and map it out. Am I going one-way, am I going the two-way with my data, am I storing anything, do I take any personal information, where does that go? You actually need to kind of write the things down each step of the way.  And we will learn as an industry and that’s part of the growth, unfortunately, but it’s part of the growth. 

RW: So based then on people learning, what do you going to be talking about on IoT Slam?

CO:  So IoT Slam, it’s a great time because it’s such a wonderfully diverse set of people from individuals to educational institutions to systems integrators to device manufacturers.  We’re going to talk about some of the trends and directions we think are relevant around the IoT and we’re going to talk about some of the technologies that relate to business use cases around security, around usage of things like blockchain,  around usage of the IoT platform and what is that do for you if you use one. Why do you want to use one versus putting one together, maybe, yourself and so we’ll talk a little about trends and directions and some best practices we see and generally use it as a way to seed the discussion for what we hope is  really good forum and opportunity to get people to talk as individuals and groups around the internet of things.

Hear Chris O’Connor discuss the three major ways he’s seeing enterprises take advantage of IoT at IoT Grand Slam [http://tav.so/QdsuZ]. Enter code “RWW” for 20% off.

The post How IoT is making IBM’s Smart Planet smarter appeared first on ReadWrite.


BMW and Baidu break up, cite irreconcilable self-driving differences

November 2016, by David Curry[ —]
Autonomous self-driving car future transportation concept image

BMW and Baidu have ended their two year self-driving partnership, citing “irreconcilable differences” between the two companies.

Baidu said it will start to look for a new automaker to take over BMW’s role as manufacturer for its self-driving system. For now, it will use Ford’s Lincoln cars in the United States and BYD, Chery, and BAIC in China.

See Also: Mark your calendars: 2021 will be huge for autonomous cars

BMW has made a few changes to its self-driving strategy since partnering with Baidu in 2014. It revealed the iNext, a concept self-driving car, which it hopes will be available by 2021. It also partnered with Intel and Mobileye to build a smart, secure self-driving platform.

That doesn’t leave Baidu with a lot of room to work, at best it may be able to provide the infotainment to BMW in China.

BMW and Baidu grew apart

Apart from the clear conflicts of interest, BMW and Baidu are also on different timeframes when it comes to self-driving commercialization. Baidu is aiming to have self-driving shuttles on the road by 2018 in China, while BMW is more conservative, aiming for 2021.

Baidu is one of the major players in China’s self-driving market and has branched testing to the U.S. in the past year. It wants to build a shuttle platform and also may be looking into a ride-hailing service, putting it in direct competition with Didi Chuxing.

The search giant, called the “Google of China” by some, has been expanding its portfolio to include emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. It appears to be on a similar path to Google, albeit without the global approach.

The post BMW and Baidu break up, cite irreconcilable self-driving differences appeared first on ReadWrite.


Good robot design needs to be responsible, not just responsive

November 2016, by Cate Lawrence[ —]
sophia-robot

Robots have become commonplace in many aspects of life including health care, military and security work. Yet until recently little thought has been given outside of academic circles to the ethics of robots.

Silicon Valley Robotics recently launched a Good Robot Design Council — which has launched “5 Laws of Robotics” guidelines for roboticists and academics — on the ethical creation, marketing and use of robots in everyday life. The laws state:

  • Robots should not be designed as weapons.
  • Robots should comply with existing law, including privacy.
  • Robots are products; they should be safe, reliable and not misrepresent their capabilities.
  • Robots are manufactured artifacts; the illusion of emotions and agency should not be used to exploit vulnerable users.
  • It should be possible to find out who is responsible for any robot.

The laws have been adapted from the EPSRC 2010 “Principles of Robotics”. In Britain a few months ago we saw a similar document, “BS8611 Robots and robotic devices” by the British Standards Institute (BSI) presented at the  Social Robotics and AI conference in Oxford as an approach to embedding ethical risk assessment in robots. It was written by a committee of scientists, academics, ethicists, philosophers and users and intended for use by robot and robotics device designers and managers to help people identify and avoid areas of potential ethical harm. Like the US laws, it contains sentiments underpinned by Isaac Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics,” and it asserts:

“Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans” and also that“humans, not robots, are the responsible agents; it should be possible to find out who is responsible for any robot and its behavior.”

Dan Palmer Head of Manufacturing at BSI said:

“Using robots and automation techniques to make processes more efficient, flexible and adaptable is an essential part of manufacturing growth. For this to be acceptable, it is essential tha t ethical issues and hazards such as dehumanization of humans or over-dependence on robots, are identified and addressed. This new guidance on how to deal with various robot applications will help designers and users of robots and autonomous systems to establish this new area of work.”

eeb43e30110411e6814ad1f858c84ea5

Whilst the standard builds on existing safety requirements for different types of robots, covering industrial, personal care and medical, it also recognizes  that there are potential ethical hazards from the integration of robots and autonomous systems in everyday life, particularly when robots are in a care or companionship role such as with children or the elderly.

Robot design and emotional connections

picture-1-640

For a while, you could buy costumes for iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners. The PARO Therapeutic Robot is used in nursing homes around the world as a companion for the elderly with great success. But what happens when the relationship ends? One need only look at the grieving that occurred when Sony’s AIBO robotic dog  — released in 1999 — was discontinued in 2006 with the announcement repairs and spare parts would be discontinued in 2014. For many owners, it was like watching a pet slowly die. There were even Buddhist funerals available for AIBO dogs in Japan. The reality is, when people are associating robots with pets or humans, they are attaching  an emotional connection to them.

aibo

Robots for love and maybe more?

The idea of robot lovers is not a far-fetched as it might sound. Films such as Her and Ex Machina and the television series Humans present a future where humans fall in love and/or want to have physical relationships with AI and robots. However, there are currently no widely available sex robots in creation. The closest correlation seems to be incredibly lifelike sex dolls including extremely disturbing ones featuring children).

Sex business entrepreneur Bradley Charvet has revealed his plans to open a sex robot café in London, where visitors will be able to receive “cyber-fellatio” while drinking tea. “Sex with a robot will always be pleasing and they could even become better at techniques because they would be programmable to a person’s need. It’s totally normal to see a new way of using robots and others sex toys to have pleasure.”

The issue of robots and human attachments at such a level causes discomfort to many. The second annual Love and Sex with Robots academic conference was supposed to be held in Malaysia in November 2015. But in October, the Inspector-General of Police declared the conference illegal, highlighting the country’s conservative morals and likening robots to deviant culture, and it had to be canceled abruptly. The next conference is in London in December. There’s even an organization “Campaign against sex robots” that predicts their existence is not that far away. They believe that:

“The development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship. We challenge the view that the development of adult and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence.”

Even forensic researchers into the treatment of sexual deviance claim that:

“It’s very important to understand this because we need to do more to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation. And it’s only a matter of time before dolls are souped up with artificial intelligence. How lifelike can they get? Will more realistic technologies help reduce the problem, or make it worse? We need to start figuring out what the impact will be. The cost if we don’t explore it is intolerably high.”

What about robots and physical violence?

 

la_county_sheriff_bomb_robot_2

While robots aren’t sentient androids (yet), it’s worth remembering that robots are currently committing acts of violence. Drones, essentially flying robots, are utilized to strike in armed, unmanned combat in civilian and war zones. Then in the US we’ve recently seen a scenario where a robot was used to detonate a bombin response to a police killing, ultimately leading to the death of Micah Johnson who killed five police officers and wounded seven others in Dallas. This action sets a new precedent in how these robotic devices are being used at home. As Ryan Matthew Pierson writes:

“This is the first known case of a United States police department using a remotely positioned explosive to kill a suspect. Where gunfire and other means of lethal force are unfortunately common practice by police in the United States, using a robot to administer that force is new.”

If military and police are excluded from the “do no harm” pledges of the Good Robot Design Council and BSI, what kind of precedent is established? What role does defense play in robot ethics with the creation of robots designed to kill during police or military operations? Will ethics be able to keep up with the technological advances and indeed growing uses of robots?  Only time will tell.

The post Good robot design needs to be responsible, not just responsive appeared first on ReadWrite.


What is 2017’s top wireless router with the fastest speeds?

November 2016, by Christen Costa[ —]
netgear-nighthawk-x6-router

It seems like every day lately, router manufacturers are coming up with some new buzzword or marketing term to sell you on why their networking appliance is better than the rest, without actually having the real performance to back it up.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Gadget Review to extensively test and review the best wireless routers on shelves today, in order to give you a detailed breakdown of everything you need to know about the best wireless routers of 2017.

How we choose and why you should buy

To create this year’s roundup of the best routers on the market, we’ve run dozens of newer and some not-so-new models through the ringer to find the best of the best.

Using a 1GB symmetrical fiber optic line, we pushed our top picks to the absolute limits of what routers could do, testing on a variety of devices including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

See also: Are prices driving away smart home tech consumers?

To make this list, the routers we tested needed to have a minimum wireless bandwidth rating of 1900AC, have at least four ethernet ports on the back, one USB port for media server options, and be able to transmit on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum. All the routers here hit the spec of transmitting at 250Mbps or more on 5GHz, and were able to maintain a rate of 300Mbps over a hard-wired connection.

Features like software and configuration options were also thoroughly tested, in order to find the best mix of performance, reliability, and price in the best wireless routers of 2017.

Our best wireless routers for 2017, compared

#1 Pick: Linksys WRT3200ACM Smart Wi-Fi Router – Editor’s Choice/Best Home Router

Linksys-WRT3200ACM-Best-Router-2017-1

The Linksys WRT3200ACM may look old-school on the outside, but it’s all future tech under the hood

Price: $249.99

The Linksys WRT3200ACM may look on the outside like it’s a blast from the past, but after running it through the ringer on everything from downloads to streaming, we can tell you this router might as well be straight out of five years from the future.

The WRT3200ACM comes equipped with the latest in bleeding-edge features like MU-MIMO beamforming capabilities and the option to create a mesh network with Linksys’ USB dongle architecture. It also runs all of this on top of Linksys’ revolutionary Smart WiFi dashboard system, which makes it easier than ever to customize and control how your router handles traffic from family members or guests on the fly.

If you’re looking for the total package when it comes to performance and power, the Linksys WRT3200ACM is undoubtedly the best wireless router for 2017.

#2 Pick: TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless AC Gigabit Router – Best Budget Wireless Router

TP-Link-C9-Wireless-Router-Review

TP-Link Archer C9 wireless router is budget speed at its best

Price: $119.95

As great as the Linksys WRT3200ACM is, though, not everyone out there has a spare $250 laying around to spend on a single router.

Enter the TP-Link Archer C9, a smaller, unassuming router that still manages to pump out performance that’s on-par with routers two to three times the cost. In our testing on a fiber line, the Archer C9 was able to push nearly 300Mbps of download speed and almost half a gigabit of upload from 30ft away.

If you live in a larger house you may notice a few issues with signal reliability over longer distances, but otherwise the TP-Link Archer C9 is the perfect pick for apartment dwellers or small homeowners who need serious performance on a budget.

#3 Pick: Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router – Best Wireless AC Router

netgear-nighthawk-x6-router

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router does it all and then some

Price: $255

Last up on this year’s list we have the Netgear Nighthawk X6, a powerful, imposing-looking router with a rich feature set for the ultra-geek in all of us.

As far as customization and configuration goes the X6 is simply unmatched in its category, thanks to the help of Netgear’s newly refreshed online dashboard. Its six high-powered antennas ensure coverage throughout every corner of homes large and small, and although it has a bigger footprint than most, this is the kind of kit you buy if you want your house guests to know you take your home networking more seriously than most.

And which wireless router of 2017 is right for you?

So, which one is the best wireless router for 2017?

They all are, or could be. The best part about routers is that in this category, there’s something that’s just right for everyone. If you want a router that’s got an extensive number of available features like parental controls and QoS management, the Linksys WRT3200ACM is the one for the job.

If you don’t have a spare arm and a leg to spend on a router but still want speed, the TP-Link Archer C9 is the perfect budget pick, while beasts like the Netgear Nighthawk X6 are all about range, performance, and reliability in one complete (and very scary-looking) package.

No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a best wireless router in 2017 for you!

The post What is 2017’s top wireless router with the fastest speeds? appeared first on ReadWrite.


Michigan legislature approves fully autonomous vehicle tests

November 2016, by David Curry[ —]
ford-self-driving-michigan

A package of four bills that allow fully autonomous testing in Michigan were approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday.

The bills make it legal for fully autonomous cars to drive without a driver inside and open up 122 miles of public road for testing. The legislature also approved a plan to redevelop Willow Run airport into a test site for self-driving vehicles.

See Also: Toyota steers millions into University of Michigan AI project

Someone must monitor the autonomous car, but they don’t have to be inside. This provides Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing apps with the opportunity to cut the driver and have a few technicians on hand to watch for failures in the system.

Michigan has been relaxing laws on self-driving far quicker than other states, with the intention of bringing Silicon Valley dollars and jobs to the Rust Belt.

Many self-driving automakers already in Michigan

Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, and Honda are already testing autonomous vehicles or investing in autonomous projects in Michigan. Toyota also co-owns, with the other four automakers, the American Center for Mobility, the organization in charge of redeveloping the Willow Run airport into an autonomous test site.

Technology companies have been less receptive of Michigan. Uber has set up shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and both Google and Apple are sticking to San Francisco.

Bringing automotive jobs back into Detroit has been an aim of Gov. Rick Snyder, who on Thursday thanked everyone that worked on the bills for ensuring that “Michigan is the new mobility leader of the world.”

Michigan is not the only state pushing for relaxed autonomous vehicle laws, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and California have all pushed laws aimed at making it easier for companies to test self-driving vehicles.

The post Michigan legislature approves fully autonomous vehicle tests appeared first on ReadWrite.


Boston seaport becoming a testbed for autonomous vehicles

November 2016, by Ryan Matthew Pierson[ —]
Silver car speeding in tunnel

Private parties owning lots in Boston’s Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park have been enabling autonomous vehicle testing on their property for the past year. The land was paved, yet undeveloped. This made it a perfect testbed for autonomous vehicles.

This enabled companies working to perfect autonomous car technologies to test their creations in a controlled environment away from normal traffic.

Tom Miller, the vice president of Kavanaugh Advisory Group, told the Boston Herald: “We think it’s a great adventure, we think it’s a great idea, and if an opportunity comes and we have a location where we could do it again, we’d do it in a heartbeat.”

This opportunity wouldn’t last forever and is already seeing its close. Ground broke recently at the Tide Street site, which put a halt to autonomous testing.

Does this mean autonomous vehicle testing is done for in Boston? Not entirely. City and state officials are already examining ways to enable autonomous vehicles to test on public streets. This approval could happen within the year, and MassDOT is expected to release more information about these plans in the next several weeks.

Heightened driverless interest in Massachusetts

Private landholders aren’t the only ones interested in helping push autonomous vehicle technologies. Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts has also been investigating how self-driving cars can help the blind travel easier.

For the blind, the ability to travel is limited to having a driver or access to public transportation. Having a self-driving car that can operate entirely autonomously enables the blind a freedom to travel distances at will, solo.

Other companies with interest in promoting autonomous vehicles in Massachusetts include Toyota. The automaker has been participating in a $25 million effort with MIT to map the Cambridge area in preparation for autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle company Optimus Ride has also been testing its technologies in Mass.  Optimus Ride is among a host of companies that are offering technologies to aid in the forming of new smart cities. Undoubtedly, encouraging more states like Massachusetts to adopt a smart-technologies friendly platform is in the company’s best interest.

Autonomous vehicle projects are coming to Massachusetts. It’s up to the regulators and officials to get on board with it. Once it does, the financial and social benefits will provide a welcome boost to the state.

The post Boston seaport becoming a testbed for autonomous vehicles appeared first on ReadWrite.


IoT and LPWA: Perfect partners in a connected world

November 2016, by Syed Hosain[ —]
3D illustration.

Twenty years ago I was approached by a vending machine company that wanted to remotely monitor and record the temperature of their vending machine compartments to the nearest tenth of a degree. I understand that no one wants a warm soda, but the data the company wanted to record was more granular than necessary to solve their problem. The vending machine only needed to communicate whether it was above or below the recommended serving temperature of 38℉; measuring to the nearest tenth of a degree was overkill. We encoded the vending machine’s data in a much smaller size, which saved the vending machine company money on data rates while still giving the customer a cold soda.

I share this story to highlight a question decision makers for industrial, civic, and commercial Internet of Things (IoT) should be asking themselves: is it worth paying to collect and transmit data that is more detailed than you need? If the answer is “no,” then you should consider using a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network.

More data, more problems

The gap between consumer data needs and the data needs of industrial and civic IoT programs is wider than ever. Cellular networks are the current de facto standard for IoT, but they are built for the needs of smartphone users: faster connections and more data. Consumers pay a high price to quickly send and receive large amounts of data, not only for the data plan but also for the hardware and batteries necessary to keep up with cellular’s constantly evolving capabilities. While the idea of piggybacking off of a system built for smartphones seems appealing, the price to keep up with cellular’s evolution doesn’t make sense for industrial and civic IoT.

Syed Zaeem Hosain, Chief Technology Officer, Aeris

Syed Zaeem Hosain,
Chief Technology Officer, Aeris


The first problem with using cellular networks for industrial or civic IoT applications is longevity. To keep up with the Long Term Evolution (LTE) of cellular networks, organizations continuously need to upgrade their equipment much like smartphone users have to buy a new phone every three to four years. For cities or organizations with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of connected devices, upgrading every three to four years is not only expensive but would also be a logistical nightmare.

The second problem that cellular networks present industrial and civic organizations are cellular networks’ high power requirements. Even the best smartphones on the market need to be recharged after a day of regular usage. The primary reason for smartphones’ low battery life is the amount of power required to send large amounts of data through a cellular network. Luckily for consumers, they can simply recharge their phone, but most machines used in industrial or civic IoT applications need a battery than can last a long time on its own.

For many industrial and civic IoT applications, the data capabilities of cellular are overkill. By creating a separate network to transmit small amounts of data, LPWA solves many of the longevity and power issues presented by cellular networks.

Reduced data for a reduced cost

Let’s talk about the biggest motivator for LPWA network adoption for industries and cities: reduced cost. By creating a separate network to transmit small amounts of data, LPWA solves many of the longevity and power issues presented by cellular networks. Unlike cellular LTE networks, LPWA networks do not have to evolve to address growing data needs, so sensors and radios designed for LPWA use won’t become outdated. Batteries on LPWA connected radios and sensors also last a lot longer than batteries used in cellular networks, in some instances up to fifteen years. The increased longevity and battery life of LPWA devices significantly reduce labor costs associated with changing the hardware and batteries on hundreds, thousands, or even millions of remote devices.

lpwa-use-cases-graphic-by-lora-alliance-member-actility-at-the-occasion-of-its-collaboration-with-softbank-in-japan

LPWA networks’ increased battery life does come at a small cost: slower transmission speeds. But the latency associated with LPWA networks is only a few seconds up to a couple minutes depending on the protocol and size of the data being transmitted. So while LPWA networks excel at applications that aren’t time critical, such as monitoring water leaks on farms or traffic patterns in cities, they may not be ideal for applications where data could mean life or death such as a heart monitor.

Just as decreasing transmission time saves battery power, so does sending less data. LPWA networks are designed to transmit simple information that can fit into a few bytes of data. This is ideal for M2M communication in industries and cities where the data being transmitted is a simple operational condition (like the vending machine example) or basic metrics like temperature, moisture content, volume, etc.

One of the few wireless technologies to beat LPWA’s price point is Bluetooth, but Bluetooth’s range is less than desirable for large-scale IoT operations. Whereas an LPWA network can transmit anywhere up to 5 miles in wide open spaces, Bluetooth has a maximum range of about 100 meters. Bluetooth’s range is inadequate for most large-scale civic and industrial IoT infrastructures that span across cities, fields, or factories.

Under budget and ahead of the curve

Any industry or city will need to be mindful of budget when instituting an IoT network. We already discussed the increased battery life and longevity of LPWA, but there are other cost-saving benefits to consider. Radio costs are much lower for LPWA networks than cellular networks. LPWA radios and modems are shooting for a sub $5 price point, while cellular radios and modems can range anywhere from $15 to $25. A $10 to $20 saving per module is significant enough to attract large-scale industrial and civic operations into the IoT fold.

LPWA technologies and protocols fit the needs of industries and cities whether they are starting from ground zero with their IoT infrastructure or already have some monitoring in place. Industries and cities starting from scratch may find a LoRa Alliance system’s open source code beneficial. But a city that already has sensors set up on a cellular network and wants to make the transition to an LPWA network may consider a company that has developed the LPWA infrastructure to interact with the IoT sensors and equipment you already have; you just pay a licensing fee to run their protocol.

Wide area coverage is going to be a necessary requirement for cities and industries deploying an IoT infrastructure. And while LPWA is just one type of IoT network, Machina Research estimates there will be more than three billion LPWA connections by 2023. If this estimate is correct, LPWAs will collectively be the dominant form of wide area machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity technology.

It’s safe to say that Industries and cities that embrace IoT and LPWA together on their journey from unconnected products to connected services will find these two technologies uniquely suited for each other.

The post IoT and LPWA: Perfect partners in a connected world appeared first on ReadWrite.


Smart cities need banks’ data muscle more than governments

November 2016, by Donal Power[ —]
connection,computer network,Global Communications, Technology, urban scene,japan,tokyo

Though governments are vocal smart city champions, some industry pundits say connected cities need the data power of private sectors like banking to evolve.

The future of smart cities was explored in a commentary on Payments Source by Hossein Rahnama, CEO of context-aware computing startup Flybits.

As Internet of Things (IoT) technology proliferates throughout global cities, there is an accelerating need for smart cities to produce and analyze huge rivers of data. Rahnama says this creates a formidable challenge for local governments who are struggling to handle such large volumes of information and to find ways of paying for the needed technology upgrades.

“The very nature of local governments — a collection of loosely connected, heavily siloed departments — should make this a not-so-surprising outcome,” said Rahnama. “The tech required to integrate departments in a way that makes even the most basic features of a smart city possible requires a huge investment of time and capital and a shift in culture.”

Despite the efforts of Cisco and IBM to help cities scale up their data crunching capabilities, he suggests that when the full force of the coming data tsunami hits, governments will be overwhelmed.

Smart cities can leverage private sector effort

However, he argues that the banking sector already has the chops to handle the massive data flows expected from emerging smart cities.

“It is more likely that private enterprise will transform the cities of the near future, and banks are in a unique position to lead that charge, with payments data leading the way,” he says.

“Banks possess the payments and other transaction data that municipalities do not,” adds Rahnama. “That means banks can provide the kind of intelligent services and personalized information consumers yearn to have.”

He also anticipates that physical bricks-and-mortar branches have a role to play in the smart city, contrary to the frequent prediction that physical branches will soon vanish.

“Instead of closing branches, innovative banks will leverage them as hyperlocal information hubs and community search engines,” he says. “In this new model, local retailers and members will communicate, consult, and recommend services through their local branches as proxies.”

The post Smart cities need banks’ data muscle more than governments appeared first on ReadWrite.











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