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Panasonic Launches New IoT Services with Silicon Valley Startups at CES 2018 Sands Expo

By IoT – Internet of Things

The Automotive & Industrial Systems Company of Panasonic Corporation is challenging to develop new businesses and services in the IoT field, in cooperation with Silicon Valley startups. Panasonic is advancing the development of new IoT services and solutions by combining leading UI/UX(*1) technology with its strong HMI (human machine interface) design technology, which has been […]

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Voice: The New Interface for Analytics

By Alex Woodie

We’ve grown accustomed to interacting with computers through a visual interface. But thanks to big gains in the accuracy of speech recognition, that’s changing, and among the applications being targeted for voice-enablement are business intelligence and analytics.

It wasn’t long ago that trying to interact with a computer through voice commands was an exercise in frustration. The computer could correctly pick out a few words here and there, but the number of mistakes made the whole process unfeasible. The reason was simple: The algorithms simply were not good enough to be able to accurately determine what a person is saying, at least without extensive training to learn the nuances of a single person’s voice.

But speech recognition has improved vastly over the past few years. Thanks to powerful neural network algorithms and a huge corpus of voice data to train on, the Web giants have made big strides in creating computers that one can talk to without feeling like you want to throw it out the window.

We’ve seen the biggest impact of this new AI-powered service at home. Anybody who has used Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, or Google Home device can tell you that the systems are accurate enough to be worth using for a set of tasks, like playing a song, checking the weather, or ordering pizza. Consumers, being the fickle creatures they are, would simply move on to something else if the home assistants were too frustrating, inaccurate, or cumbersome to use.

That’s not to say that the devices are perfect. A year ago, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google has improved its speech recognition technology accuracy to about a 5% error rate, which means one out of every 20 words is missed. While there’s room for improvement, that’s a big step up from 2015, when the error rate was 8%, and a giant leap from 2013, when it was an unusable 23%. (For the record, Microsoft has announced similar improvements in its speech recognition tech.)

Amazon’s Echo leads the AI-powered home assistant race at the moment (Roman Tiraspolsky/Shutterstock)

As a result of this new capability, the Web giants have turned to voice as an input for many of their consumer products. “Our word error rate continues to improve even in very noisy environments,” Pichai said at the 2017 Google I/O event. “This is why if you speak to Google on your phone or Google Home, we can pick up your voice accurately.”

When you pair speech recognition’s newfound capabilities with another computing trend — the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the proliferation of network-connected smart devices – you quickly realize that we’re on the cusp of a whole new world of voice-driven control.

That jibes with Amazon’s vision, which is to give customers access to Alexa “whenever and wherever they want,” Steve Rabuchin, VP of Amazon Alexa, recently told Adweek. “That means customers may be able to talk to their cars, refrigerators, thermostats, lamps, and all kinds of devices in and outside their homes.”

Today, this trend manifests with the specter of voice search, which sees people speaking into an Amazon Echo or a smartphone app and expecting to hear a verbalized response (the text-to-speech part of the equation is a much easier problem to solve). In fact, voice search is getting so big that media analytics company comScore predicts that it will account for 50 percent of all searches by 2020. The popularity of voice-enabled trend shows up in the numbers. According to eMarketer, there are 45 million voice-assisted devices in the United States, a number that’s projected to increase to 67 million by next year.

But the AI-powered technology is projected to quickly move beyond voice search and into a whole new realm of personalized, voice-enabled services. Nobody knows what the Web giants are working on behind closed doors, but it’s likely going to demand a lot of attention when it’s ready.

That’s not stopping businesses from utilizing the tech that’s already available to help things run smoother in the office. Zach Holmquist, Chief of Workplace Experience for Teem, says the automated office is closer at hand than many realize.

Thanks to improvements in speech recognition, users can now interact with enterprise systems via voice (chombosan/Shutterstock)

“Virtual home assistants like Alexa and beacons have entered the workplace, resulting in more personalized interactions, voice- and sensor-activated meeting scheduling, and sensors automatically adjusting temperature, meeting check-ins or anticipating lunch requests,” he says.

The improved speech recognition is also showing up in new analytics and business intelligence solutions that allow workers to query databases using nothing but their voices. One company on the cutting edge of this trend is iOLAP, a San Francisco-based analytics company that’s working with Amazon and other Web giants to turn their speech recognition tech into the new user interface for enterprise systems.

“Think of it as voice-enabling your corporate dashboard,” says Chris Jordan, the CEO and managing director of iOLAP. “Think of it as an executive walk into his office and wants his daily briefing, and it’s a rundown of main KPIs that he’s interested in.”

While algorithms from Amazon and Microsoft handle the speech recognition bit, iOLAP is building all the other stuff that’s needed to make the whole system work, including turning text payloads into SQL and submitting them to a database, working with APIs, and handling the necessary user access and security controls required in the corporate environment.

iOLAP’s enterprise voice technology can work with analytics and transactional applications. In the analytics space, it’s more about setting up pre-built access paths to data. “It can be anything, as long as we know somewhat ahead of time,” Jordan says. “It’s definitely not data exploration. The queries are pre-defined with variables, and the variable can be data elements.”

For example, if the CEO of a retailer wants to be able to query sales results across 1,000 stores over time, those columns in the database will need to be set up ahead of time. “But I don’t have to know what all the possible dates or what the possible stores are,” Jordan says. “We’re querying the database to get those responses.”

Owing to the nature of a voice-enabled interaction, one must be careful not to tread too deeply into the data waters. There’s only a certain amount of data that can be transmitted verbally, so customers are wise to pick and choose their use cases carefully.

“You don’t want to sit and listen to Alexa read a Tableau report for you,” Jordan says. “You probably want to ask a more specific question that come up with a more finite answer.”

iOLAP’s voice analytics solution has seen action at several real-world customers, including at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, where the solution is used to give air traffic controllers a way to verbally query and track the overall flow of airplanes; at the Dickey’s Barbeque Pit chain, where it’s used to help employees more efficiently track the temperatures of meat; and at Pioneer Natural Resources, where it’s used to voice-enable an enterprise dashboard.

The timing is right for voice-enabled analytics apps to enter our lives, Jordan says. “People are getting more and more used to interacting with their system via voice, in their consumer life, and we believe that will be drawn into the enterprise as well,” he says.

Related Items:

Speak Easy: Why Voice Data Is Poised for Big Growth

AI to Surpass Human Perception in 5 to 10 Years, Zuckerberg Says

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Toshiba Introduces New Bluetooth 5-Compliant ICs with Industry-Leading Sensitivity Level of -105dBm

By IoT – Internet of Things

Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. has added two new devices to its lineup of ICs that are compliant with the Bluetooth® low energy standard[1]. The new TC35680FSG (featuring built-in flash memory) and TC35681FSG are well-suited to applications requiring long-range communication, including beacon tags, IoT devices and industrial equipment. Sample shipments will begin later this month. The […]

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Top ten mobile operators have 76% market share in cellular IoT, says Berg Insight

By Zenobia Hegde

A new report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight says that the ten leading global mobile operator groups have a combined market share of 76% in cellular IoT. The top players reported a combined active base of 407 million cellular IoT connections at the end of H1-2017.

China Mobile was number one with 150 million IoT connections in the period. Vodafone ranked second, with a reported 59 million connections, ahead of China Unicom with 50 million IoT connections. AT&T and China Telecom ranked fourth and fifth with 36 million and 28 million IoT connections respectively.

Deutsche Telecom, Softbank/Sprint, Verizon and Telefónica currently had in the range of 15–20 million cellular IoT subscribers, which are growing at yearly rates of 15–30%. Telenor was the last player in the top ten with approximately 12 million cellular IoT subscribers.

“The Chinese mobile operators achieved tremendous volume growth in 2017, driven by accelerating uptake of cellular IoT in the domestic market”, says Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight and author of the report. “China Mobile is believed to have reached 200 million cellular IoT connections at the end of 2017”.

Vodafone and AT&T are consolidating their positions as regional market leaders in Europe and North America respectively, serving multinational clients on a global basis. “In 2017, Vodafone extended its lead in the European market”, says Mr Ryberg. “The competitors are however also gaining momentum and the expanding market has room for multiple players”.

In terms of revenues, the Western mobile operators are ahead of their Chinese counterparts. Berg Insight expects that at least three operator groups – AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone – will generate more than US$ 1 billion (€0.83 billion) in revenues from IoT in 2018. “The main strategy for growing IoT revenues is vertical plays in major application areas,” says Mr Ryberg.

“Verizon, Vodafone and others have made significant acquisitions in the connected vehicle space to extend their product portfolios. AT&T and Deutsche Telekom develop dedicated practices for smart cities and many operators seek to play leading roles in national projects in areas like smart metering and electronic road charging”.

Download report brochure here.

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Living in Digital Times Reveals This Year’s Top Lifestyle Tech Trends at CES 2018

By IoT – Internet of Things

Living in Digital Times (LIDT) revealed the top lifestyle tech trends of 2018 in a press conference on CES Media Day 1. In addition to trends overviews in High-Tech Retail, Fitness Tech, Digital Health, Sleep Tech, Beauty Tech, Baby Tech, Kids & Family Tech, Digital Money and Wearables, four exciting companies (Philips, Neutrogena, Project Nursery […]

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Senet and TrackNet demonstrate LoRaWAN location tracking and roaming at CES

By Zenobia Hegde

Senet, a provider of cloud-based software, global connectivity service platforms and network build-out for the Internet of Things (IoT) and TrackNet, Inc., a cutting-edge LoRaWAN Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider and developer of Tabs,

the all-in-one monitoring solution, today announce an interoperability and roaming demonstration highlighting the TrackNet Tabs consumer solution running over Senet’s public Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) in Las Vegas.

Roaming between the Senet network and the TrackNet TrackCentral network for Tabs is the first production demonstration of the recently released LoRaWAN specifications in the world, and the first large-scale roaming demonstration using LoRaWAN.

The key to success in the rapidly expanding IoT and Low Power Wide Area Network market is standardisation, ecosystem strength, and scalable, cost effective network coverage. The LoRaWAN specification release 1.1 is instrumental in defining roaming and interoperability between different LoRaWAN network deployments.

The 1.1 specification was released in October 2017 and Senet and TrackNet are the first to demonstrate roaming per 1.1 in a large-scale deployment.

The demonstration of the Tabs solution with the Senet network at CES highlights the ease of interoperability with LoRaWAN which is the key to success for scaling production ecosystem solutions in network deployments around the world.

The inside out deployment model with low cost indoor gateways enabled by Tabs is a critical differentiator for LoRaWAN to enable cost effective and scalable network deployment. A hybrid strategy of low cost indoor gateways mixed with cost effective outdoor elevated point access is critical to the success of LPWAN.

“Senet and TrackNet have been instrumental in the development and definition of LoRaWAN in the US market” says Thorsten Kramp, CTO of TrackNet and co-author of LoRaWAN. “TrackNet and Senet are leaders in the development of advanced features for LoRaWAN such as firmware updates over the air, class-B device support, and roaming”.

We are proud to demonstrate the latest technology advancements from Senet and TrackNet to showcase the power of LoRaWAN and its interoperability functionality” says Dave Kjendal, CTO of Senet and technical committee lead for LoRaWAN in North America. “LoRaWAN achieved significant growth during 2017 and the rapid advancements delivered by market leaders like Senet and TrackNet will be instrumental in the adoption of IoT solutions at mass scale.”

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Effective IoT security must begin at the drawing board

By Zenobia Hegde

Thomas Fischer, global security advocate at Digital Guardian, assesses the role security will play in the IoT and argues that manufacturers must return to the drawing board to find a sustainable, long-term solution.

For a while now, the issue of IoT security has been a growing problem that few want to face up to. The technology industry is renowned for its fast pace and the advantages of being first to market can often be significant, so it’s no surprise to see new IoT products being released at a furious rate. Unfortunately, this rush to market can often result in products and devices that are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

For manufacturers, the IoT is a particularly difficult nut to crack. In addition to time pressures, the demand for user friendliness – combined with highly stringent cost controls – means that, even if the will is there, finding a fast, cost-efficient security solution can be a challenge.

One major problem is that many IoT devices still use extremely cheap processing units akin to something that would have been used several decades ago, only on a much smaller scale. These kinds of processors lack both the memory capacity and input mechanisms required to conduct the regular security updates and patches that would normally take place on PCs and mobile phones.

With the lifespan of some IoT devices now expected to exceed ten years, the security issue this presents is a growing cause for alarm. The threat landscape is a highly dynamic environment and devices that can’t be patched are vulnerable not only to the threats that are out there today but also to all threats that emerge after the device has gone to market.

A new approach to IoT security is needed

Fortunately, organisations are starting to take note. The IoT Security Foundation is driving the creation of new standards and enlisting companies to work together to improve the overall security of IoT devices from the ground up. Elsewhere, the GSM Association (GSMA) has recently produced a set of major guidelines around IoT security best practice.

But in order for businesses to make meaningful security improvements, changes must take place at the design phase, not as an afterthought prior to launch. Security must also be considered from a variety of different angles including software, hardware and the network if it is to be effective.

1) Secure software: Building new devices on a foundation of robust and secure software is critical. Best practice encompasses a variety design considerations including:

Proper and secure authentication for each individual device, so organisations can quickly confirm that any individual device is the one it claims to be
The use of secure coding practices, focusing on QA and vulnerability identification as part of the development lifecycle in order to streamline security and mitigate risks
Industry standard encryption of all data flowing between the IoT device and backend servers, meaning that even if the data is intercepted, it is meaningless without the correct encryption key
Making provision for the deployment of new firmware on the device over time. Moving to more advanced and versatile processing units will allow device software to be […]

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Greenwave Systems and CUJO AI fend off cyberattacks for ISPs

By Zenobia Hegde

Greenwave Systems, Inc. announced its partnership with CUJO AI to fight cyberattacks by providing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) an end-to-end home security solution for home network users. Greenwave Systems is the global software leader for managed services.

CUJO AI is the leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company that provides telecommunications companies a multi-solution AI-driven software platform.

Based on CUJO AI customer data, a typical household with a CUJO AI device has an average of 14.5 devices. These devices come with default configurations, undocumented backdoor accounts and exposed legacy services. CUJO AI blocks an average of 50 threats per user, each month, protecting home users from these external, unseen threats. CUJO AI offers the essential building blocks required to succeed in home automation, including AI network security, AI device intelligence and semantic parental controls.

CUJO AI is designed to protect home network users who lack secure devices, where over 1 million threats per day from viruses go undetected. CUJO AI analyses device behavior through threat intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. It is the first multi-solution home automation platform offering for ISPs, with AI network security, device intelligence and semantic parental controls. This complete home security package reduces costs and delivers additional value to customers.

Greenwave Systems’ AXON Platform offers real-time edge analytics that interface with CUJO AI’s data security and parental control capabilities to enable ISPs to manage critical data and services at the edge of a network. Greenwave Systems revolutionises the way companies create connected ecosystems to monetise their networks. The AXON Platform translates communications from a wide variety of devices to create a managed service, offering real intelligence to industrial, commercial and consumer market segments within broadband systems.

Einaras von Gravrock

“Internet security is a top concern for ISPs and their home network customers. Greenwave’s platform resonates with big carriers and we are deeply concerned about security,” said Martin Manniche, Greenwave Systems CEO and chairman.

“By integrating CUJO AI with the AXON Platform, we offer a solution designed to help ISPs protect their subscribers, who face huge threats from cyberattacks. These software solutions are dynamic, and ARM ISPs with the tools to provide full end-to-end internet security for users, even those with legacy systems.”

“The AXON platform extends CUJO AI, with its real-time edge analytics, managing critical data and services at the edge of the network so time-sensitive data can be acted upon locally, which is important for cyberattacks,” said Einaras von Gravrock, CUJO AI CEO. “By working together, Greenwave and CUJO AI form a strategic partnership to enrich the cybersecurity ecosystem.”

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AlgoSec the security management solutions provider announces strategic partnership with MEGAZONE

By Zenobia Hegde

AlgoSec, the provider of business-driven security management solutions with its headquarter located in Boston, U.S., and MEGAZONE Corporation, a Korean cloud-specialised IT company announced a strategic partnership.

This partnership between the two companies was designed to face growing cloud security threats and provide high levels of security and control monitoring services in cloud environments.

AlgoSec is a network security infrastructure provider established in 2004 with over 1,700 customers worldwide. AlgoSec security management suite, including AlgoSec BusinessFlow, AlgoSec FireFlow, AlgoSec Firewall Analyser and etc. are built for enterprise security management by delivering unique business-driven security policy optimisation and automation. Their mission is to simplify and automate security policies to accelerate application delivery.

The partnership between AWS Premier Consulting Partner and Asia’s largest AWS partner, MEGAZONE, and global network security software provider, AlgoSec, will enable local AWS users to carry out their own customisable security management system in their own business pace.

“AlgoSec’s solutions, which are considered innovative for automation, security and productivity in the operations and management of work process, will be optimised for a variety of cloud-related solutions and services MEGAZONE offers to its customers. With the strategic partnership with AlgoSec, our team expects that MEGAZONE will be able to provide more effective security policies to meet customer needs and open up opportunities to differentiate itself based on the MSP capabilities.” said Max Lee, CSO at MEGAZONE.

“We are very pleased to sign this partnership with MEGAZONE since it will allow us to introduce AlgoSec’s security management solutions, optimised for cloud environments, and market-proven best practices in the rapidly growing Korea’s public cloud market. Especially, for many enterprise customers planning for cloud migration in the near future, we will help them successfully migrate to the cloud based on AlgoSec’s state-of-the-art technology.” said Jeongsoo Tak, AlgoSec’s Regional GM in Korea.

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Sequans and NTT DOCOMO partner to accelerate adoption of LTE-M technology in Japan

By Zenobia Hegde

LTE for IoT chipmaker Sequans Communications S.A. has formalised an agreement with NTT DOCOMO, the Japan-based mobile operator, to accelerate the development of LTE-M devices and applications on DOCOMO’s network, using Sequans’ Monarch LTE Platform, the world’s most highly optimised LTE-M chip solution.

The two companies have been working together on LTE for IoT for several years, beginning first with LTE Cat 1 technology, and the goal of this current collaboration is to develop and mature an end-to-end LTE-M ecosystem in Japan.

“We are pleased to extend our longtime and successful partnership with Sequans to address the LTE-M market,” said Toshiyuki Futakata, vice president and general manager of the Communication Device Development Department, NTT DOCOMO.

“The use of Sequans’ Monarch technology will be instrumental for us in reaching our goal of widespread adoption of LTE-M technology across Japan. Sequans is a key player in IoT in Japan and their leading Monarch solution has the key characteristics needed to spur rapid adoption, including low power consumption, low cost, and ease of integration.”

“Working in close collaboration with DOCOMO over the years has yielded excellent results and we look forward to continuing our work together in anticipation of DOCOMO’s LTE-M network launch,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. “DOCOMO has everything in place to serve its IoT customers well and we are proud that our Monarch technology will be a key part of DOCOMO’s LTE for IoT solutions.”

Monarch is claimed to be the industry’s best integrated LTE Cat M1/NB1 chip, whereby baseband, RF transceiver, power management, and RAM memory are integrated into a single, tiny 6.5 x 8.5 mm package. Monarch is fully compliant with the 3GPP’s Release 13 definitions for narrowband LTE (LTE-M and NB-IoT).

In addition, Monarch supports advanced features such as programmable RF filtering for global band support in a single SKU, and proprietary dynamic power management technology for ultra low power consumption and operating life of 10+ years.

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