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IoT Cyber-Security Puzzle

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I recently attended one of a significant [email protected] Internet of Things event which featured keynotes, speeches and presentations from CTOs/SVPs-Tech/VPs of major IT firms. Attending these presentations sometimes give you a feeling of being in literature or a rhetoric club where instead of hearing context oriented speeches you get to listen to a bunch of fairy tales with almost every sentence including overused adjectives like “trust”, “motivation”, “responsibility” and so on.  An SVP of a major IT player was asked about the measure (technical) her company takes to ensure data integrity and prevent cyber-attacks. Interestingly, her answer to this was the statement that “they maintain a culture of trust in and around the company”. To me, it is like standing in front of a hungry lion and telling him that you believe in non-violence. Today in the age of internet and IoT, we have to deal with thousands of cyber criminals (hungry lions) who are waiting to penetrate the system and make most out of it. To keep them out you need a lot more than just “trust”.  

On the same event, I had an opportunity to talk to many cybersecurity experts and companies, and I confronted them with a question of mentioning at least one relevant cybersecurity norm/standard/certificate pertinent for each major component in an IoT stack. Unfortunately, most of these discussions turned into some sales pitch. The question one can raise at this point is that is it so challenging to mention at least one “state of the art” cybersecurity measure for every IoT component? Or just that the topic is underestimated? 

This blog is just an attempt to name a relevant security standard/certificate or measure for every major element in IoT stack (see below) without going deep into the details of each and very standard/norm or certification. 

For this sake, we will assume a simple IoT stack as illustrated below :

 

Fig.1: IoT stack of a simple use case

In this use case, an industry sensor collects the physical parameters (temperature, pressure, humidity etc.) and transmit the values via Bluetooth/Wifi/wired connection to the gateway or edge device. The gateway device, depending on the type (simple or edge) perform a certain minimal calculation on the received data and push it into the cloud via a Wifi/4G connection. The cloud collects the data and uses this data to feed desired micro-services like analytics, anomaly detection etc. Cloud also offers an interface to the existing enterprise and resource planning (ERP) system to synchronize the running process with the current one as well to provide product /service related information over the IoT platform to the end user. What the user sees on his screen is then the dashboard of IoT use case which is a graphical representation of the micro-services running in the background. 

As we can see, there are four to five main stages and at least three interfaces (sensor-gateway, gateway-cloud, cloud-user) in a typical IoT use case. These stages and interfaces are on the target of cybercriminals who try to hack into the system with the intention of either manipulating or hi-jacking the system. Safeguarding just the components is not adequate. The underlying IoT communication layer (Bluetooth/Wifi/4G etc.) need to be secured as well.  Also, organisations running or involved in such IoT use cases must ensure safety and integrity of the process, technical as well as user data through a certain information security management system (ISMS) in place. 

To sum up, we need security measures at a component, communication-interface and organisational levels. Now if I have to write state of the art or “best in class” security measure (excluding cryptography) next to each stage, communication type and interfaces in the diagram above, then the resulting picture might look like the one below. 

 

Fig.2: IoT stack with relevant cyber-security measure

 

What, in your opinion, could be included/excluded or replaced in this diagram? Feel free to share your opinion.

 

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With so many companies and people on the search for the "IoT killer app” for a decade, and nobody has found it yet ☹. You can be sure that I do not either, otherwise I would not be writing this article and I will be furiously developing it.

Most companies are anxiously looking for the killer IoT app/solution, which their IoT reps could sell in volume to their enterprise customers. The bad news for them: “ there’s no true “killer app” for IoT and that any company can create the right killer app to solves a business need of a customer or a whole industry.

Nevertheles we can not avoid that some people think pet care or fitness could be the "killer app" for IoT, while others instead think that the killer IoT app winners will be in Verticals like predictive maintenance in manufacturing, smart home or smart city solutions and also I had read funny opinions that considers measuring Temperature and Humidity seem the killer application for most of the IoT industry. The comment is comical but at the same time ironic. In the absence of bright or innovative ideas it seems that we would have discovered the fire when we install sensors and we are able to visualize temperature and humidity in real time on the screen of our smartphone.

Instead of continuing to dream of finding the Holy Grail of the IoT, I think it will be more productive to analyse by categories what are the possible IoT applications that exist and if I am enlightened try to guess which application would be the milk to launch myself to develop it without fearThese are the 5 categories to search for the IoT horizontal Killer app:

  1. IoT-Search
  2. IoT-Messaging
  3. IoT-Security
  4. IoT-Commerce
  5. IoT-Social

Summary

Search for the killer IoT horizontal application is a chimera given the definition of the IoT. However, the challenges that the IoT has to achieve that 50 billion machines can be found, communicate safely through various networks, socialize and favour the monetization of its services, open great opportunities for hardware and software engineers to develop different killer applications. And I'm sure some will find it. I wish I could be part of one of them.

Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares

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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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