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Smart Cities and Components in the IoT Era

 

To cope with the increasing population, hyper-urbanization, globalization as well as to ensure economic and environmental stability, cities are now focusing on becoming smart cities. Smart City is a concept of utilizing technologies and connected data sensors to enhance and become powerful in terms of infrastructure and city operations. This includes monitoring and managing of public assets, transportation systems, citizens, power plants, water supplies, information systems, civil bodies, and other community services. As per the new study from Navigant Research, the global market for smart city services is expected to reach $225.5 billion within the next decade.

Connected technologies and IoT solutions play important roles in transforming cities into smart cities. Implementing smart city with IoT and connected technology helps enhance the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, optimize resources and reduce costs.

Let’s see the various components of smart city and their impact in the IoT era:

 

1. Smart Infrastructure

 

The global market for smart urban infrastructure in smart cities, include advanced connected streets, smart parking, smart lighting, and other transportation innovations. Here’s how they work:

  • Smart Lighting: With smart lighting, city authorities can keep real-time tracking of lighting to ensure optimized illumination and deliver demand-based lighting in different zones. Smart lighting also helps in daylight harvesting and save energy by dimming out sectors with no occupancies For e.g. parking lots can be dimmed during work hours and when a car is entering, it will be detected and appropriate sectors can be illuminated, while others can be kept at diffused setting.

  • Connected Streets: Connected and smart streets are capable of acquiring data and delivering information and services to and from millions of devices, which includes information about traffic, road blockages, roadworks, etc. This helps in efficient management of resources and people to enhance public transportation and the urban landscape.
  • Smart Parking Management: Smart parking management system can be used to find the vacant location for a vehicle at different public places. Smart Parking’s In-Ground Vehicle Detection Sensors are core technologies, playing a key part in the Smart Parking solution that is revolutionizing how drivers in the malls and city centers can find an available parking space. Wireless sensors are embedded into parking spaces, transmitting data on the timing and duration of the space used via local signal processors into a central parking management application. Smart Parking reduces congestion, decreases vehicle emissions, lowers enforcement costs and cuts driver stress. For effective deployment of smart parking technologies, each device needs to have a reliable connectivity with the cloud servers.
  • Connected Charging Stations: Smart infrastructure also includes implementing charging stations in parking systems, city fleets, shopping malls and buildings, airports, and bus stations across the city. Electronic vehicle (EV) charging platforms can be integrated with IoT to streamline the operations of EV charging and addresses the impact of the power grid.

2. Smart buildings utilize different systems to ensure safety and security of buildings, maintenance of assets and overall health of the surrounding.

  • Safety & Security Systems: These include implementing remote monitoring, biometrics, IP surveillance cameras, and wireless alarms to reduce unauthorized access to buildings and chances of thefts. It also includes utilizing Perimeter Access Control to stop access to restricted areas of the property and detect people in non-authorized areas.
  • Smart Garden & Sprinkler System: Smart sprinkler system synced with connected technologies and cloud can be used to water plants with the assurance that plants get the right amount of water. Smart garden devices can also perform tasks such as measuring soil moisture and levels of fertilizer, helping the city authorities to save on water bill (smart sprinkler devices use weather reports and automatically adjust their schedule to stay off when it rains), and keep the grass from overgrowing in the convenient way (robot lawnmowers).
  • Smart Heating & Ventilation: Smart heating and ventilation systems monitor various parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity of the buildings and properties such as movie theatres, and historical monuments. Wireless sensor network deployment is the key to ensuring appropriate heating and ventilation. These sensors also collect data to optimize the HVAC systems, improving their efficiency and performance in the buildings.

3. Smart Industrial Environment

 

Industrial environments present unique opportunities for developing applications associated with the Internet of things and connected technologies which can be utilized in the following areas:

  • Forest Fire Detection: Helps in monitoring of combustion gases and preemptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air/Noise Pollution: Helps in controlling of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated on farms.

  • Snow Level Monitoring: Helps in identifying the real-time condition of ski tracks, allowing security corporations for avalanche prevention.
  • Landslide and Avalanche Avoidance: Helps in monitoring of soil moisture, earth density, as well as vibrations to identify dangerous patterns in land conditions.
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Helps in detecting the chances of tremors by utilizing distributed controls at specific places of tremors.
  • Liquid Presence: Helps in detecting the presence of liquid in data centers, building grounds, and warehouses to prevent breakdowns and corrosion.
  • Radiation Levels: Helps in distributed measurement of radiation levels in nuclear power stations surroundings to generate leakage alerts.
  • Explosive and Hazardous Gases: Helps in detecting gas levels and leakages in chemical factories, industrial environments, and inside mines.

4. Smart City Services

 

Smart city services include services for public safety and emergencies.  Below are the key areas where IoT and connected technologies can help:

  • Smart Kiosk: Smart kiosks play an important role in providing different city services to the public such as Wi-Fi services, 24×7 IP surveillance cameras and analytics, Digital signage for advertisement and public announcements. In some cases, free video calling and free mobile charging station, as well as environmental sensor integration can also be implemented. Smart kiosks also provide information about restaurants, retail stores, and events in the immediate area. It can also provide mapping for visitors and can sync with smartphones to give additional data as needed.
  • Monitoring of Risky Areas: Sensors (cameras, street lights) and actuators for real-time monitoring can be implemented in risky areas or areas prone to accidents. Upon detecting any crime, or mishap, these sensors can alert the citizens to avoid such areas temporarily.
  • Public Security: IoT sensors can be installed at public organizations and houses to protect citizens and provide real-time information to fire and police departments when it detects a theft.
  • Fire/Explosion Management: Smart fire sensors can detect and automatically take actions based on the level of severity, such as detecting false alarms, informing firefighters and ambulance, blocking off nearby streets/buildings on the requirement, helping people to evacuate, and coordinating rescue drones and robots.
  • Automatic Health-Care Dispatch: Smart healthcare devices can be implemented at public places to provide 24/7 health care for patients like dispensing medicines and drugs to patients. These devices can also be used to call an ambulance to pick up the patients in cases of emergencies.

5. Smart Energy Management

 

Here’s how cities can implement smart energy management:

  • Smart Grid: Smart grids are digitally monitored, self-healing energy systems that deliver electricity or gas from generation sources. Smart grid solutions can be across industrial, residential as well as in transmission and distribution projects. Various IoT solutions like gateways can be used to achieve energy conservation at both the transmission level and consumer level. For e.g., gateways can provide a broader view of energy distribution patterns to utility companies with high connectivity and real-time analytics. Also, it develops a Demand-Response mechanism for the utility providers to optimize energy distribution based on the consumption patterns.
  • Smart Meters: Smart meters can be used in residential and industrial metering sectors for electricity and gas meters where there is a need to identify the real-time information on energy usage. Consumers and utilities with smart meters can monitor their energy consumption. Moreover, energy analytics, reports, and public dashboards can be also accessed over the internet using mobile applications integrated with these smart meters.
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Evolution of Drones

It is the 'Era' of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), an all-encompassing term which includes the aircraft or the UAV, and the ground-based controller (the person operating the machine), and the system of communications connecting the two, commonly known as 'Drones.' 

Today, the drones are revolutionizing the world and businesses which hardly anyone could have ever imagined. UAVs or drones was an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs include both autonomous drones and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). 

According to the brief history "The U.S. military experimented with pilotless aeroplanes as “aerial torpedoes” or flying bombs far back during the first world war, but with no significant success—until the Vietnam war, when jet-propelled, camera-equipped drones built by Teledyne-Ryan were launched and controlled from U.S. Air Force C-130s. 

"Abraham Karem born in 1937, is regarded as the founding father of UAV (drone) technology. "Karem built his first drone during the Yom Kippur war for the Israeli Air Force. In the 1970s, he moved to the USA and founded his company Leading Systems Inc. He started the manufacturing of his first drone 'Albatross' in his home garage. Later on, the sophisticated 'Amber' which eventually evolved into the famous 'Predator' drone that brought him the title of "drone father". Karem has been described by The Economist magazine as the man who "created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged, and at the age of 80 he continues to pioneer other airborne innovations." 

The UAVs or drones were associated with the military and those used by the US Air Force for surveillance, small intelligence, and reconnaissance craft of which some of them were light enough to be launched by hand, medium-sized armed drones to large spy planes. However, with the technology that is in use is incredibly advanced. It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), GPS, 3D scan, Biometrics, to Robotics and remote control to pilot essentially unmanned aeroplanes of different sizes, weights, reaching new heights figuratively and literally. 

Let me discuss some of the significant use-cases of the Military or Law enforcement Drones:

1. Air Strikes: The UAVs or drones are used for air strikes. According to President Obama, the US Military used drones to attack militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The drones hover over the suspected areas to fulfil the military operation.

2. Bomb Detection: The increasing frequency of terrorist attacks which the world has witnessed in the recent past can be mitigated with the help of drones. Small size drones can easily penetrate into the restricted areas. The inbuilt cameras make the drone highly suitable for bomb investigations. Thus the UAVs are apt for detecting the unexploded bombs and securely dealing with a potential bomb threat. 

3. Surveillance: Any country's Defence tends to conduct periodic surveys to ensure the protection of the place and its people usually. The drones are also used for criminal surveillance which could help trace missing persons, a search of criminal gangs or mafia groups. In 2009, the drone from Dayton carried out surveillance for 200 hours across cities. This helped in capturing the images of thirty-four murders as they happened in real-time. These attacks were carried out by a cartel, and the footages helped the Police to get to the perpetrator's getaway, vehicles and their various accomplices. 

4. Hostage Negotiation: The future of the drone could be an application of tiny drones, the size of an insect which will be capable of revealing the happenings in a hostile location. It is believed that the manufacturers will be able to provide 'Biomimetic' designs which will be suited to mimic nature along with the 3D depiction scan for appropriate handling of a hostage situation. The drone will help show precise details of exact happenings in the given locations without risking the lives of the security personnel. The drones will be of good use in conducting negotiations without the need for sending a negotiator to the hostage site. Instead, it can be achieved by sending a drone with a facility for a facetime chat with the hostage-taker. 

5. Crime Scene Analysis: Drones play a significant role in the future crime scene investigations due to the drone's ability to take photos and inspect the scene without any contamination of the pieces of evidence. Hence, the investigation team will not risk mistakes like footprints and fingerprints which were not supposed to be there. The police also could use drones to trackback discarded weapons from the crime scene location. Drones to help create maps for prosecuting or solving various crimes and documenting the evidence to convict the criminals who have walked-out scot-free due to lack of sufficient documented proof against them. 

6. Drone in Drug Interdictions or Tracing Missing Persons: Today, drones that are equipped with spectroscopic sensors help in detection of the meth labs, and similar use case can be applied for the storage of drug at sites to help in dealing with the menace of the illegal drug trade. It is most common for some close person to have gone missing. There have been several cases when a child has gone missing in a large crowd, or a person with Alzheimer disease has wandered from home. The drones equipped with cameras, facial recognition or license plate readers software will be able to swiftly and efficiently search and track the missing people. These drones will transform the way the future search operations of the missing people are conducted.

Military usage of UAVs or drones has become the primary use in today's world. According to Goldman Sachs, military spending will remain the primary driver of drone spending with an estimate of $70 billion drones by 2020. According to the latest news, "The US Military's latest autonomous aircraft is radically changing how they resupply units in the combat zone. It is all about keeping the troops safe and saving lives. The UAV helicopter is meant to resupply forces in combat zones quickly delivering ammunition, water, batteries, and even blood before returning to base. With no need for pilot or crew, it could eliminate the need for troops to fly or drive supplies to hostile, fire or dangerous roadways. The project is a partnership between the office of Naval research and tech company Aurora Flight Systems."

These are some of the use-cases of the Military or Law-Enforcement UAVs or Drones which I have discussed here. However, in my next couple of articles, I will be addressing the Non-military or Commercial, Personal and Future use-cases of the UAVs or Drones that has disrupted and transforming the world. 

To conclude, the drones will play a vital role in the resolution of future conflicts and the replacement of the human pilot. Drones are also cost-effective, time-saving and life-changing. Although, the application of drones in the Law-Enforcement domain is niche but will need the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to have the relevant regulations which would govern the right use of 'UAVs or Drones' in a lawful manner that will bring protection to the people and its nation.

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Guest post by By Eddie Amos, General Manager and VP of Industrial Applications, GE Digital 

2017 was a transformative year for the industrial world. Among the highlights: GE Digital released the most comprehensive Asset Performance Management (APM) solution on the market, as recognized by Gartner. ServiceMax was recognized (for the third year in a row) as the leader in field service management. And, Apple rolled out a native SDK for Predix. We watched machines become more productive and reliable, while the sensor networks tying them together grew smarter and more ubiquitous. 

As the pace of digital industrial innovation continues to accelerate, 2018 promises to be an even more exciting year. Here are three trends to keep an eye on in the New Year.

IIoT success will hinge on OT expertise

Industrial IoT is not like consumer IoT. Monitoring a $10 million wind turbine is infinitely more complicated than tracking a person’s footsteps, and the stakes are higher. To succeed in IIoT, operators will need to partner with a provider that not only offers best-in-class sensors and software, but also has decades of operational expertise and a deep understanding of the industrial landscape. Modeling a digital twin to accurately reflect the traits and performance of a physical asset requires comprehensive knowledge of the asset, including proprietary design information available only to the original manufacturer.

As operators move beyond the basics of connecting machines to the IIoT, they’ll face the much tougher challenge of gleaning actionable insights from their data. The sheer volume of raw telemetry streams can be overwhelming, even for sophisticated companies, but with the right software and deep OT expertise, organizations will begin leveraging data to streamline asset operations and drive more informed decision making.

Augmented reality goes mainstream

Augmented reality (AR) has already established itself as an entertainment medium thanks to the success of games like Pokémon Go and Apple’s Animoji feature. In 2018, AR will finally evolve from toy to productivity tool as the underlying technology advances to the level of an enterprise-grade solution.

For industrial organizations, AR will revolutionize the delivery of field services. Technicians who operate in some of the world’s harshest environments will be able to do their jobs more safely and efficiently through the use of AR-powered mobile devices and headsets. AR, coupled with real-time data captured via IIoT, will enable field service professionals to perform inspections without needing to physically access an asset. This not only reduces downtime, but also greatly mitigates the safety hazards facing workers every day.    

Big data gives way to big insight

The digitization of industry has created vast data lakes of asset information. Most organizations lack the tools to effectively parse these large asset datasets for actionable insights or use them to drive smarter decision making. As operators complete asset digitization efforts and move on to more advanced stages in the digital journey, having the tools and knowledge to effectively use these datasets will be critical to an organization's success.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms will help standardize the flow of data from disparate locations and streamline the process of industrial data analysis. This will enable operators to not only glean deep insights into asset performance, but also lay the groundwork for the automation of everyday decision-making. Manual tasks like work order scheduling will no longer require human intervention as AI algorithms leverage real-time analytics to optimize maintenance logistics and practices.

What digital industrial technology are you most looking forward to in 2018?

This article originally appeared here.

 

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Be careful of the Walking Dead of IoT

Those who follow my articles know that I like to make comparisons between the IoT and TV shows and movies. For this article, I have selected the famous show "The Walking Dead" (TWD).

When preparing this article, I read this piece “The Real Walking Dead: Surviving the Software-Defined Zombie Apocalypse” by Scott Noteboom and I thought, well, I am not alone. As Scott, I see a lot of similarities between IoT technology and biology.

Many companies are thinking about their survival after the apocalypse that will be produced by the mix of IoT, AI and Blockchain. CEOs, must make decisions that prevent their companies from disappearing or worse becoming walking dead. And one of the most important will be choose their travel companions well, in order to build a strong ecosystem capable of resist the most adverse scenarios one might think.

IoT solutions that companies need to implement to survive the apocalypse are composed of many apparently simple blocks (devices, protocols, edge computing, fog computing, communication networks, platforms, cloud, analytics, AI, Machine Learning, blockchain, security, applications). But the selection of the vendors and the integration of all of them in the business processes, systems and organizations of companies is complex and there are few companies who can boast of having achieved it.

You probably are tired of hearing that the IoT is very complicated and the ecosystem is very fragmented. You feel that many will become walking dead. But, no one has the crystal ball to know who will be the IoT companies are going to continue within 10 years, not even within 1, 2 or 3 years. Some of them are perhaps in the phase of becoming, when just a couple of years ago they were in good health and of they enjoyed the sympathy of the analysts.

If you have been living in a sanctuary, isolated, it will not last for a long time. You will receive soon the visit of survivors and walking dead. You have to decide to accept or fight the survivors and you must protect your community against the zombies.

The good news is that you are not alone. During the last 5 years I have lived 24x7 by and for the IoT. I have been monitoring and analyzing the IoT landscape. I have seen many IoT start-ups appear and some disappear. We have seen large companies make absurd purchases, or sell IoT businesses when they have not been able to obtain the expected return.

That´s why I am able to provide wise advice and recommendation to avoid from being trapped by partnerships with potentials Walking Dead of the IoT and help you build robust and scalable IoT solutions.

Do not walk blind alone among The Walking Dead of IoT

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Over the last couple of years, the Internet of Things grew into a huge gate between the reality and the digital world, and CES 2018 was the event that nailed it. IoT dominated the event with a vengeance, and it could be roughly divided into two major areas: smart home (with a nod to smart city) and industrial Internet of Things (with a nod to the much-hyped Industry 4.0).

The event showed the inevitable changes in the industrial sector that are likely to reward early adopters with shares on the market. Meanwhile those who avoid innovation get left behind in the long run. Such companies as Bosch reinvent the way manufacturers run their facilities, with a focus on increased performance and care for safety of human workers.

Smart home was represented not only by a huge variety of standalone products, but also by closed ecosystems created by such consumer tech giants as LG.

Automotive industry always has been leading in innovation with self-driving and connected cars being part of the IoT market. This year all major car manufacturers hosted a kind of car show inside CES, introducing new automotive IoT products.

Besides these spheres, there were two more major followers of IoT trends: healthcare and retail. Both aim for automation of operations, provision of personalized experience to customers, and overall transformation of the ways they operate.

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While IoT has become more of a reality than just an industrial buzzword, what made it impactful among the masses is its ability to build “Smart” solutions.

The IoT based home automation or smart homes endow us with more security, better control of our assets, and cost savings through judicious and efficient use of energy resources such as water & electricity, and real time monitoring.

The IoT enabled smart home solutions are of great help in preventing property damage through theft, water leakage or flood, events of fire break out  – to name a few.

The Basics/Fundamentals of an IoT smart home solution

IoT Smart Home

While a smart home application consists of a set of sensors, gateways, networking channels, cloud framework and web-dashboard and/or a mobile app ; it is the sensor that adds life to an IoT system by sensing the all important data (in the form of temperature, proximity & more).

IoT Sensors: The Cool Guys in the Town

IoT sensors are one of the coolest inventions in the modern times after internet.
Why?

Not only because IoTsensors are:

  1. Easy to set up/install
  2. Easy fault detection
  3. No messy ‘wired’ connections and hence offer advantages of better mobility and management.

But, because the sensors are the ones that render your smart home solution ‘smart’. IoT sensors are IP bases and hence can be connected to the internet.

IoT Sensor nodes sense and capture the real time data from your home appliances and the surroundings with the help of sensory nodes and send it to the cloud backend via the IoT Gateway Device.

Accuracy of the information communicated by the sensors is very important for a robust smart home solution.

Any delay or inaccuracy (due to IoT Sensor Nodes) in sensing the ambient information can be at time catastrophic; for example if a fire breaks out and the sensors fail to detect it, it is needless to say how costly it can prove to be.

Types of IoT Sensors for Smart Home Solutions

Today, various versions of Smart Home Solutions are available in the market with high end sensor technologies and advanced features for added comfort and security.

But at the core, every smart home solution application comprises of basic sensors that are capable of detecting changes in the ambient data based on various stimuli such as temperature, smoke, motion etc.

Most sensors come in two varieties:

  • those that are in direct contact with the physical objects to sense any fluctuation, and
  • those that are remotely connected to the objects

Let us look at some of the most commonly used smart home sensors:

  • Temperature Sensors: Temperature sensors are capable of detecting any fluctuations of temperature in their surroundings

    The information from these temperature sensors are used by the  a home automation solution regulation of the temperature within the rooms to a desired level, to perform certain actions such as turning on the fans and air conditioners, rolling down the curtains etc. based on the user’s request.

    Some of the commonly used temperature sensors in smart home solutions are MSP430 series from Texas Instruments (TI), LM35 from TI, Maxim Integrated DS18B20and more.

  • Humidity Sensors: Humidity sensors are a great way to keep in check the humidity levels. The ideal humid level within homes should range between30 percent and50 percent.

    If the moisture level goes below or above this range, it leads to allergy, dryness of the skin or at higher levels a feeling of heaviness and air becomes suffocating.

    Many of the smart thermostats now come integrated with humidity sensors to detect any change in the moisture level.

    These humidity sensors help in maintaining the air quality and alert you about presence of allergens, mold growth etc.  HTU21D from TE Connectivity, Honeywell Humidicon™HIH6100 series and NPA-700 Amphenol Advanced Sensors are the most commonly used humidity sensors in modern smart home solutions.

  • Optic/ Light Sensors: Optic sensors are great way to detect the ambient light levels. These sensors are useful in measuring the external light levels and accordingly switching on/off of the lights to conserve energy.

    These IoT sensors can also be used for controlling all the lighting installations within your homes – turn them on/off or change their brightness as and when required. Some of the commonly used optical sensors are Adafruit TSL2591 and Addicore BH1750.

  • Fire/Smoke sensors: When it comes to ensuring safety of people and property when a fire breaks out, the timing of alert is very crucial.

    It is here that importance of fire/ smoke sensors comes into light. Usually, smart homes come with CO (carbon monoxide) detector that alert you whenever there is unusually high level of CO inside the building. The Maxim Integrated MAX30105 is a widely used sensor for fire detection.

  • Proximity/Motion Sensors: The motion sensors are crucial for ensuring safety of your home and property especially when you are not present at your homes.

    These IoT sensors can alert you of any suspicious activity inside or around your home. These sensors sense any motion or vibration and can respond to 2D or 3D gesture, UV Index, or heart rate. Some commonly used motion sensors are Si114x and Si1102 from the Silicon Labs.

    There are even more variations of IoT sensors such as pressure/gas sensors, sound detectors, sensors to detect water levels – that are installed in smart homes these days for added security and safety of your dear ones as well as you valuable properties.

Conclusion:
Thus, the power of IoT technology to make sense out of ‘sensor ‘data and to etch out smarter and comprehensive solutions is already transforming the world. The design and development of an IoT sensor node based on standard protocols is a critical factor in deciding the success and efficiency of the IoT implementations. Unless the data sent by the sensors is not accurate or timely, there is no point in having a high-end and extensive IoT setup.

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Here's Wishing you a Very Happy, Smart, and Innovative New Year! 

Internet of Things (IoT) has been revolutionizing the world with its millions of innovations. In 2017 IoT reached its milestone by creating several break-throughs with significant technological advancements. All of these technologies, products, and solutions saw the limelight at the world's largest and the most powerful technology event, Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 at Las Vegas, a Catalyst for Innovations.  

The vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) is to transform the way individual lives, work and communicates with one another. These innovations are meant to simplify by offering products and solutions that are simple, affordable, easy to use, efficient and productive for building a Smart, Safe and Connected world. 

With these above IoT goals in mind, I am personally impressed to highlight some of these mind-boggling innovative products and solutions that was unveiled last week at the CES 2018. 

1. Forever Batteries: The battery maker Ossia launched its AA-sized batteries that suck power out of the air using its IP technology called Cota. Ossia has developed a means of wireless power transmission which Ossia claims can keep the AA battery charged up or provide power to a smartphone that either incorporates Cota's technology natively or uses specific charging case. However, Ossia hasn't revealed much about the working of their Cota technology. This irreplaceable battery will eliminate the spending expenditure 'Forever'. 

2. Byton's $45,000 Gadgeted Electric Smart Car: Chinese Start-up unveiled its first and futuristic real smart electric car. The name refers to 'Bytes on Wheels.' Former BMW and Apple Engineers created it. It has the hardware on board to enable full self-driving mode. The vision behind Byton is to be the company to bring to the market the first real 'Smart' car. Inside the car, the drivers and passengers can interact with the huge display panel. Byton aims to merge an individual's life outside the car with the experience inside the vehicle. Everything will be controlled via the touch, and certain aspects will be controlled via voice (voice recognition by Amazon's Alexa) and gesture control. The key is customisation. When the car is in drive mode, specific features will be disabled. It will not allow watching videos for instance. Byton aims to build a platform where, when there is autonomous driving all occupants of the car including the driver can interact. Some of the features of Byton will be fully-disabled until we live in a world of fully autonomous driving. Fierce competition to Tesla and from my perspective it is redefining life. But the one challenge that might stump Byton is the lack of fast-charging stations. Another major competitor to watch for will be Fisker's EMotion a luxury smart autonomous sports sedan. Although Fisker is not a competition concerning the price factor; however, is a competitor to watch for its technology and new solid-state battery which they filed for a patent. The battery is expected to provide the Electric Vehicles with a range of over 500 miles on a single charge and will take only one minute for recharging. 

3. Razer's SmartPhone Laptop - Project Linda: Razer brings you a disruption in the world of gaming with its Project Linda which is a concept of ultraportable laptop design powered by the Android-based Razer Phone. The docked phone serves as an intelligent touchpad, bridging the gap between handheld entertainment and laptop convenience. The Razer Phone's display, performance, and dual front-firing speakers combine seamlessly with Linda's keyboard, larger screen, and battery to provide ultimate mobile hybrid setup for creativity, gaming, and productivity. Although the Project Linda feels like a product from a Sci-fi world or a future that might not see the daylights after the CES 2018. However, the prototypes like a concept car for gadgets is both sensational and aspirational. Razer hasn't confirmed if it plans to make the smartphone project Linda for a go-to-market next year. 

4. Google Voice Assistant: Google creates a whirlwind at the CES 2018 with its Voice Assistants and predicts to dominate the future homes. Lilian Rincon, Google director of product management, reckons customers making their home “smart” by using the Assistant to turn on lights, boil the kettle and do other tasks could save 15 minutes from their morning routine. Google's Voice Assistant is eroding the well established Amazon's Alexa, a fierce competitor for its voice assistant. Google has already discussed partnerships with various Industry verticals for integrating their Voice Assistant in realizing the goal of "Smart and Connected World." In my opinion, I see this as the most significant breakthrough as Google is not charging the end-user but is working with all its third-party vendors to integrate the voice assistant into their products and solutions. Google showed off a plethora of new Voice Assistant-enabled devices from companies like Lenovo, Sony and LG, featuring “smart displays” that displays information like the schedules, things-to-do, cooking recipes, and other bits of visual accoutrement whenever we ask the Assistant for something. Also, you'll find Assistant integration inside more televisions, headphones — even in new cars, thanks to Android Auto, which is already available in more than 400 car models. The Assistant integration eliminates the need for having an independent device and allows you to manage everything from your one device - 'The SmartPhone.'

5. Smart Hearing-Aids EARGO Max: Technology for healthcare and especially the elderly is something I am very much interested though tech for elderly-care is still a growing area. The ageing population is a growing business opportunity, and EARGO Max might be the airpods of hearing aids. The hearing-aids have a collection of useful features, the most stand-out of which is a complete lack of need for expensive replaceable batteries. The set of hearing aids includes Dynamic Noise Reduction, with Eargo tech which allows the devices to vary noise reduction based on environment. When the environment gets louder, noise reduction ramps up. These devices also change based on user preference. The "Flexi Fibers" hold the hearing aids in place, while the domes “increase the amount of ambient bass sounds and eliminate feedback. I understand very well how useful and life-changing these features are since my mother suffers from major hearing loss and will benefit her tremendously. However, the one road-block I see is the cost factor. Currently, Eargo Max is priced at $2,500 which I believe is quite too high and defeats the purpose of providing cost-effective and affordable products. Hoping to see the Industry ramping up to address this gap. 

To summarize, CES 2018 was a curtain raiser for millions of products, solutions, and technologies which created hope for a future that is beyond imagination. In my opinion, there is still a long way for the Industry stakeholders to meet the primary objectives of IoT which will redefine this entire universe. The one vertical which has gone mainstream is the Autonomous Vehicles or the Self-driving cars. The major tech giants such as Cisco, Nvidia, Intel, Amazon, Google, Tesla, Apple, GM, Toyota, and many others made announcements focusing their investments in this sector.

 

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By Mark Benson, CTO, Exosite 

So you’re the designated IoT champion, leading the connected-product charge for your organization. You may even have “IoT” in your job title. The burden is on you, and you’re constantly absorbing everything you can about how to successfully execute the digital transformation of your business. Beware, this journey will be rife with roadblocks, both externally and internally.

Many IoT challenges exist due to a lack of industry-wide standards around proven success. Everyone starts from ground zero, and few have crossed the finish line. Based on experience working on IoT-innovation programs across a variety of industries, here are five key considerations regarding where to focus your efforts early on and how to move your company forward as you build, deploy, and launch the next generation of your product.

Understand What the Market (Really) Wants

Any corporate IoT endeavor should start by answering the question, “Why build and market a connected product in the first place?” Too many companies have implemented IoT programs centered on the “how” of their smart-product strategy. It’s no wonder over seventy percent of these initiatives are estimated to fail if they weren’t even certain they were building something of value in the first place.

Understanding your market—and what your customers will pay for—through analysis, research, and testing is a smart way to launch an IoT project. Be open and responsive to feedback and contrarian lines of questioning. Successful enterprises will run quick proof-of-concept tests early on that integrate a variety of technologies to validate feasibility, business-model mechanics, user experience, and data integration. This enables them to learn fast, pivot as needed, and plan a well-executed, long-term strategy before investing too heavily.

Garner Leadership Investment and Approval

Another important question is “Who in your company is necessary to making IoT happen?” The answer, more often than not, is everyone. Your business’s IoT success depends on organization-wide alignment from the start, and executive, top-down sponsorship is crucial to making that happen.

As the IoT torchbearer, a major hurdle will be your ability to gain the needed support and buy-in from your leadership team and decision-making stakeholders. Be prepared to present clear objectives and a comprehensive go-to-market strategy. Work with key executives to create a compelling and actionable vision statement that explains core differentiators for the future of your company.

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Device Twins In Industrial IoT Solutions

Guest post by Rick Blaisdell

Device twins are becoming a hot topic as the IoT network gathers greater popularity. Device twins are important in the development and deployment of industrial IoT solutions. They act like virtual devices representing the data and metadata of the physical device connected to the IoT network.

The rise of device twins has been noticed by one Gartner report, which placed this as a top five trend for 2016. The twin devices are typically called twins, shadows or device virtualization.

Each device activated and registered with an IoT platform contain two categories of data. The first one is the metadata which doesn’t change often. Here we include the details that describe precisely the device such as serial number, firmware version, model or year of manufacturing. The second category of data contains real-time and unique data from the device.

Why is the digital twin so valuable?

The concept of the digital twin is a powerful one that can bring real benefits such as:

  • Visibility: the virtual version of the device allows visibility in the operations of the machines and also enables larger interconnected systems.
  • Predictability: by using various modeling techniques, mathematics-based or physics-based, the digital replica can be utilized to predict a future state of the device.
  • Analysis: through well-designed interfaces, the interaction with the model is simplified, and people could address “what if” questions to simulate various conditions that are impractical to create in real life.
  • Documentation and communication mechanism: the digital twin can be used as a communication mechanism, which can provide understanding and explications for different behaviors.
  • Connecting backend business applications: the digital twin can be used successfully to create a connection with the backend business app to achieve useful outcomes in the context of supply chain including procurement, transportation, and logistics.

Industrial twins

These implementations are adopted in general by the Industrial IoT providers, and these constitute information from the Product Lifecycle Management tools on the design of a machine, but it could also be designed as a model of one device. The industrial vendors look at the physical properties, the design of information and then present them in an asset model.

These industrial twins could be implemented as:

  • Virtual twin (device virtualization);
  • Predictive twin (using analytics models);
  • Twin Projections (insights projection);

Within the next few years, billions of things will be represented by their twins, creating a dynamic software model of the physical item. The digital shadows combined with the representations of environments and facilities, as well as businesses, people or processes will enable a sophisticated digital image of the real world, suitable for analysis, simulation, and control.

If you have questions about the topic do not hold back on them.

This post originally appeared here.

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Once a shepherd had two horses. One was strong and fast, another one was slow and weak. The shepherd instead of looking after the weak one and trying to make him fit, he preferred riding the healthy one and taking him almost everywhere. He also fed him better which in long-term led the healthy horse to become heavy and feel lethargic all the time. Later the healthy one became sick and the shepherd then instead of having healthy horse has to deal with two sick and weak horses.

What does this story have to do with digitalization? Well, this is our approach to the whole idea of digitalization and its implementation worldwide. Instead of investing time and resources and bringing the idea of digitalization to the underdeveloped nation or the “weak horse”, we are feeding the already “healthy horse” or the developed nation with fascinating ideas and projects which might result into sickness in the long term. The early symptoms of this sickness can already be witnessed. A World Economic Forum (ref:weforum.org) report says that labour markets will witness a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies. Is this in line with the idea of digitalization? 

The World witnessed more than 4.000 ransomware attacks per day in 2016 (ref:Justice.gov) which approx. 300% more than that in 2015. This since we made the whole IT infrastructure more vulnerable to such attacks by simply connecting every electronic device to the internet. Are we just simply neglecting the side effects of digitalization? 

Being not able to read your power meter values on your smartphone is not a problem as compared to not having access to water and electricity due to scarcity. Being not able to sit in a self-driven car is not a problem as compared to be stuck in traffic jam in peak summer for hours and breathing exhaust gases all the time. These are some of the typical problems of the underdeveloped or developing nations. The question which the Gurus of digitalization should address is that if the idea of digitalization/IoT for industry/IT giants are about to create business and thus pushing up the turn over, then why not boosting digitalization across such nations by diverting the resources there. This is far better than making own factories intelligent and then laying down hundreds or thousands of hardworking and loyal employees.  

Here are some of the typical problems of the under-developed or emerging nations, the answer to which could be well-implemented digitalization. 

Corruption: According to an IMF report more than $ 1 trillion dollars is paid in bribes each year around the world with underdeveloped and developing countries topping the list of being the most corrupt nations. People in these nations pay up to 13 percent of their income to bribes which later discourages them from services made available by the government. Corruption is the root cause of crime in many countries and acts like a fuel to poverty and social inequality. Institutes worldwide are trying their best to strictly monitor and thus eliminate corruption worldwide, unfortunately without much success until now. This, however, might change in future. Experts nowadays are betting on the invention of blockchain to fight corruption. The blockchain is a centralized technology which offers full transaction transparency, thus providing no room for fraud or capital manipulation. Blockchain implementation, however, demands a solid digital infrastructure which in my opinion is an area where IT communication network provider should look into.

Image courtesy: Wikicommons

 

Commodity wastage or theft: Water and electricity to two important needs of every society. Their scarcity or theft leads to a major human rights problem. The figures about water scarcity worldwide are very alarming with some 780 million (ref: Water.org) people having no access to clean and safe water. One of the major reason for water scarcity is wastage or theft in emerging/underdeveloped nations. The electricity theft worldwide touched $89 billion (ref: Northeast Group LLC) annually in 2015 with India, Brazil and Russia being the top 3 nations with highest losses. With an introduction of smart water and electric meters along with in-built sensors, certain startups are trying to monitor the overall water and electricity supply and consumption. Based on which a customer profile can be generated so that any irregularities can be immediately reputed to the consumer as well as the respective authorities. This again needs support from government and the industry without which it will take ages to tackle the mentioned problem.

Image courtesy: Wikicommons

 

Landfills: Seems like the never-ending problem of nations with poor or insufficient infrastructure People in some of these nations spend their lives in an area surrounded by a heap of waste or landfills. This is there exist no proper waste management plan due to lack of manpower or resources. This bottleneck can, however, be eliminated by daily tracking and monitoring of location (webcams) with landfills and adjusting the waste management plan accordingly. Here, for instance, the resources can be diverted to a location with a frequent buildup of waste. This, however, demands a strong digital infrastructure which can only be established if government and industry work together.

 Image courtesy: Wikicommons

Street crimes are on the rise in nations with higher social inequality. Authorities in these nations feel helpless due to the degree and frequency of crime happening every day versus the available manpower. Interestingly, the biggest problem is that many of these crimes go unreported since people in these nations have lost their faith in government/authorities/police. The legal structure in these countries needs a face-lift which can be achieved by digitalization the complete process of monitoring, documenting of crime and its prosecution. The street light camera or public surveillance camera project in the US is a good example of crime monitoring here. The public surveillance camera installed in Baltimore and Chicago (ref: Urban.org) region not only resulted in reduced crime but also proven to be cost-effective than the conventional way. A cloud-based complain lodging system can be established allowing the verified victim to lodge complain straight via smartphone. A digital platform managing all these complains based on degree or severity of the crime as well as the date of occurrence can be created.

Healthcare: Proper healthcare is still considered as a luxury in many of underdeveloped/developing nations. Approximately 80 percent (ref: facts and details.com) of people in these nations rely on public hospitals for treatment. These hospitals are often running over-capacity and are ill-equipped.  A healthcare digital platform which integrates the existing database of all the hospitals in the region along with a list of their respective treatment capabilities, services could ensure the even distribution of patient load in these hospitals. Thus allowing treatment to each and very needy individual without any delay. Access to a healthcare App coupled with the platform can allow the patient to see which hospital nearby has an available bed and a doctor and can provide him/her with an option of online booking. 

Uncontrolled traffic: Interestingly an ongoing problem of developing countries. With four-wheeler getting cheaper and infrastructure narrower day by day, the traffic condition in these countries is on the verge of a breakdown. Traffic jams and road accidents are on increase with pollution level due to an increased number of vehicles on road, reaching new peaks. Equipping traffic lights with infrared sensors or webcams can help the authorities to divert the traffic in case of traffic congestion. Moreover, long-term monitoring (analytics) can be beneficial in planning infrastructural change, road buildups in regions where traffic jams are frequent. Car sharing/renting/hiring apps should be promoted. By combing the complete transportation system along with consumer profile, one can monitor the user segment preferring public transportation over own. This segment can then be rewarded in form of discounted bus/train/metro tickets or by means of an annual grant.

Image courtesy: Wikicommons

The list of problems of these nations is long but properly implemented digitalization along with the synergy between government and industry could be the answer to all of these problems. We should not repeat the mistake of the shepherd and should help the weak horse to be as fit as the healthy horse. Only this way we can achieve social and economic balance across the world. 

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IoT Gateway- Enabling Edge and Fog Computing

Connected devices are becoming essential components for enterprises as they can drive significant connectivity and integration between systems and data. The increasing number of devices getting connected to each other generates a huge amount of data.

However, when it comes to leveraging the full potential of these connected devices and data, it is necessary to have a scalable and robust environment which allows faster processing of data between systems.

The fundamental concern is on how to efficiently manage this data, as any data loss or delay in processing of data from a connected ecosystem can cause critical damage to an enterprise’s workflow.

Role of IoT gateway edge analytics in data processing & management

IoT Gateway is the key to any IoT deployment. It is a bridge between IoT devices and cloud that enables remote control of the devices and machines. The increasing number of devices propels the requirement for IoT gateways to solve the data management issues with Edge Analytics.

Edge analytics with IoT Gateway allows data processing before it is transmitted to the cloud. The gateway collects all the data from the connected devices and executes necessary algorithms or rule engine on it and sends actionable commands to connected devices. The actions allow for response to be taken in real-time and also helps in self-healing mechanism during faults/errors.

In large enterprises, having multiple geographical spread, there are a huge number of connected devices and generated data. This heterogeneous data, distributed at different levels (Devices and machines ) have high latency in cloud transferring due to the uncontrolled data flow. Here, distributed edge analytics is the solution as it allows faster data transfer and processing, resulting in the reduction of latency.

AWS Greengrass is the best example for the edge analytics setup. It allows enterprises to run local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities for connected devices in a secure way. Greengrass ensures quick response of IoT devices at the time of local events, that reduces the cost of transmitting IoT data to the cloud.

How distributed edge analytics works in larger geographical areas

Let’s take an example of smart grids to understand the concept in-detail.

Smart grids are the combinations of smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources, energy efficient resources, and substations. In a particular city area, the number of smart meters is equivalent to the number of households in that area. These AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) continuously collects the energy consumption data and route it to the IoT gateways. The gateway enables edge analytics and then the processed data is rerouted to the cloud by the gateway.

As the number of AMI is high in a particular area, the number of gateways will be proportionately higher.

Merits of distributed edge analytics:

  • Reduced data transfer latency
  • Fast access to the faulty areas
  • Quick functional recovery and self healing capabilities that brings resilience in the system

Distributed edge analytics also enables fast response to the cloud in case of faults and failures with Fog Computing so that the recovery time can be minimal. Let us understand how.

How fog computing works with smart grids for faster data processing

Fog computing is the combination of two key components of data processing, Edge and Cloud both. The idea of combining edge computing with more complex computing (cloud computing) results into more reliable and faster data processing.

As smart grid tech is increasing rapidly, fog computing is the best tool for the data and information processing between consumers, grid operators, and energy providers.

In the edge analytics concept, the gateways form a mesh network. The individual mesh network of a designated area creates Fog Nodes. Each fog node is connected to each other, resulting in a fog network of smart meters and IoT gateways in the larger setups. The combination of these fog nodes then allows distributed fog computing, which gives the benefit of fast and real-time data analysis in any large geographical area. This further enables faster fault response time.

Use case of smart grids in distributed edge analytics

eInfochips developed a solution in which gateways are being connected into a mesh network with peer-to-peer communication. Mesh and cluster of gateways enable high availability and reliabilityof the IoT deployment in smart grids. Clustering enables distributed edge analytics. These distributed edge nodes allow processing of data at the edge before transferring it to the cloud.

According to the market research data, fog computing market is growing with the attractive amount of cost annual growth rate (CAGR), 55.6% between 2017 and 2022 (MarketsandMarkets).

With our edge and fog computing expertise, we help the IoT solution providers to optimise their computing infrastructure by distributing load between the cloud and edge devices in an intelligent way through our ready-to-use dynamic rule engine or custom solutions.

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IoT Minute Episode 62: The Collaborative Edge

When retail machines talk to each other directly or collaborate through edge gateways, customers are more likely to find what they're looking for. Why lose a sale due to a lack of inventory when a customer can be redirected to a nearby location where their product preferences can be met.

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