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How IoT is getting us closer to zero unplanned downtime

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By Zenobia Hegde

As industrial automation continues to digitse, one area in particular is becoming a critical area of concern– unplanned downtime. The shift to outcome-based business models, IoT sensors on connected equipment, and of course, the pervasive and increasing reliance on machines, are all adding to the pressure to avoid outages. Mitigating downtime is a critical, strategic priority in the digital age.

Thankfully, technology has finally caught up to address the problem. IoT enabled connected service is closing this downtime gap. – which is important because it’s not only costly, it’s a fundamental step in an organisation’s digital maturity, and a core part of their transformation journey, says Mark Homer, vice president Global Customer Transformation for ServiceMax, a GE Digital company.

The growing reliance on automation is already widening performance gaps. Businesses are losing sight of assets, especially in terms of efficiency, leading to a fractured insight of manufacturing or service delivery. The upshot is that unplanned downtime becomes a real problem and even worse, the lack of visibility leads to an unnecessary lengthening of recovery time. Closing this downtime gap is a fundamental step in an organisation’s digital maturity, and a core part of their transformation journey.

According to a new Vanson Bourne global study After The Fall: Cost, Causes and Consequences of Unplanned Downtime, 82% companies have experienced at least one unplanned downtime outage over the past three years, and two on average. These outages have lasted four hours.

Depending on the company and type of equipment, this can cost organisations anywhere from $50k (€42.56k)-$150k (€127.69k) per hour for say, a medical device company, and up to $2 million (€1.70 million) for a major outage on an industrial critical asset. (Aberdeen estimates the cost across all businesses to be $260,000 (€221323.69) an hour). The research also revealed high levels of asset estate ignorance across organisations, with seventy percent of companies lacking full awareness of when equipment is due for maintenance, upgrade or replacement.

In addition to financial losses, the research found that almost a third of respondents said they were unable to service or support specific equipment assets, while 65% of respondents from the energy and utilities sector, and 62% from the medical sector cited losing the trust of their customers as a possible impact of suffering a high-profile incident or disaster. Across all sectors, around one in ten admitted their company would never recover from such critical incidents and would ultimately cease to exist.

Nobody wants to be blindsided with those sorts of numbers. But what are companies doing about it?

The research hints at a tipping point in recognition of the problem and planned investment to address it. Over time, zero tolerance and zero unplanned downtime will become the norm as companies develop and invest in their industrial digital strategies. Key to this, is an understanding of and investment in field service management and asset performance management capabilities.

According to Vanson Bourne, eight in ten companies have already recognised this, at least that digital tools can improve visibility of assets and help eliminate unplanned downtime. Around 50% of […]

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Computer Vision Will Help 650 Million Mobile Devices See and Do More Than Ever

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By IoT – Internet of Things

We are entering an era where devices can see rather than simply respond to touch. Recent smartphone launches from Apple (iPhone X), Huawei (Mate 10), and Google (Pixel 2 and Google Clips) are starting to shift the focus from what we see and do with our devices, to what the devices see and do for […]

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[video] Integrating IoT Technology with Evatronix | @ThingsExpo #DX #IoT #M2M #Sensors

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“Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don’t necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so,” explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

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The Internet of lightbulbs: Lunera turns lighting into “ambient cloud” for IoT

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By Sean Gallagher

Enlarge / We’ll keep the cloud on for you. (credit: Lunera)

The Internet of Things is a powerful concept, especially in the industrial world—but it’s also full of potential security disasters and hidden computing and networking costs. But what if all you had to do to create a secure network of distributed Linux systems—complete with location awareness and custom application support capable of supporting location-based applications like asset tracking, robotic delivery, and “smart rooms”—was to change the lightbulbs?

That’s the concept behind Lunera’s Smart Lamps. These LED-based replacements for fluorescent and other commercial lighting systems also have a full Linux server with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and 2 gigabytes of Flash storage embedded in their end-caps. The Bluetooth capability includes iBeacon micro-location services—enabling retail, medical, and industrial location services. And the Wi-Fi “enables Wi-Fi network monitoring and also extending the Wi-Fi mesh,” CEO John Bruggeman explained in an interview with Ars. “Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are like electricity and water for the digital experience.”

Lunera had previously shipped LED replacements for commercial lighting system tubes and lamps, including fluorescent and high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs. But the new Smart Lamps carry quad-core, 700 MhZ ARM-based processors with memory and storage on the same die. Configurable with a mobile application and controlled through a cloud portal via a dedicated virtual private network, Lunera’s smart lamps can sense each other and create a location-sensitive wireless network mesh using Bluetooth iBeacons—a mesh that can be mapped to CAD drawings of commercial facilities’ lighting systems. And these lamps can run Docker containers, allowing anyone to develop applications that leverage location and Wi-Fi services and what Bruggeman describes as “ambient compute services.”

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First Global Review of smart cities published

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By Zenobia Hegde

Future Cities Catapult have released its first global review of smart city strategies at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. The report looks at 21 smart city strategies from around the world including New York, Berlin, Sao Paulo and Manchester.

The global market for smart cities is shifting, with Asia’s smart city market expected to grow from $50 billion (€42.64 billion) to $220 billion (€187.63 billion) by 2020. By 2050, the UN projects an extra 2.5 billion people will live in cities, with 90% of this growth coming from Asia and Africa. The report argues that understanding how smart cities are being developed from a global perspective is crucial to empowering both cities and industry to deliver the smarter cities that prosperity and sustainability require.

This Global Review charts the evolution in smart city strategies from technology-driven towards citizen-centred. It highlights the challenges in creating collaborative citizen-led strategies that can cope with a new wave of digital disruption as evidenced by apps such as Uber and Airbnb.

Produced with the support of Arup, the review provides city leaders with an analysis of what leading cities are doing to create smart city strategies that are suited to their needs, and how they are structuring themselves to deliver these strategies within difficult, complex environments.

Based on the research, the review makes the following five recommendations for city governments:

Establish strong leadership to develop skills and capacity within local government to initiate and deliver at-scale smart city projects
Embed your smart city strategy within existing statutory frameworks in order to ensure the strategy’s implementation and funding
When creating your smart city strategy, consider a collaborative approach, coupled with strong political support, to ensure that you harness your citizens’ and businesses’ capabilities and respond to their needs
Tap into core city funding by regularly scanning your existing city assets and budgets in order to leverage these for smart city projects
Create a plan for private sector engagement and long-term collaboration, as well as a designated person or team for communicating with businesses and investors.

Steve Turner

Jarmo Eskelinen, chief technology and innovation officer at Future Cities Catapult, reinforced the need for city leaders to learn from each other. He says: “At Future Cities Catapult we believe that creating positive transformation on the ground requires strategies for dealing with the reality of cities. We created this report to give city leaders a head start on how they can learn from the experience of those cities that have been developing smart city strategies for years, and those that have only just started.”

Steve Turner, Smart Cities lead at Arup, emphasises the role that this learning will have in creating better performing, more competitive cities: “City authorities are at the core of digital transformation. Their ability to be the fulcrum between articulating citizen need and engaging technology providers, will be key in determining overall city competitiveness. This research will help authorities around the world to create strategies that enable them to fulfil this critical role.”

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ETSI and VRARA cooperate on Virtual and Augmented Reality

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By Zenobia Hedge

ETSI is pleased to announce that the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Association (VRARA) has recently signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on interactive VR and AR technologies delivered over emerging 5G networks and hosted on Multi-Access Edge Computing sites. VRARA will be primarily involved with ETSI’s Multi-Access Edge Computing group.

“Virtual and Augmented Reality technology holds the promise to fundamentally transform how people interact with and experience the physical world, how they are entertained, and how services are delivered to them.” states Alex Reznik, ETSI MEC chairman. “We are at the cusp of this transformation, and, yet, it cannot happen unless the networks that will have to support these applications can deliver the required performance, e.g. latency on the order of several milliseconds. Edge computing is necessary to deliver such performance; while mobile networks, which today already provide pervasive global connectivity, are likely to continue occupying this central role.”

Alex Reznik

The partnership between ETSI, the home of the Multi-Access Edge Computing standardisation activity and VRARA, the industry association representing the Virtual and Augmented reality industry recognises the need to bring the two communities together.

This cooperation will encourage common member companies to pursue VR/AR focused use cases and requirements for ETSI MEC Phase 2 so as to ensure that the resulting specifications address the needs of this key industry sector. VRARA will support adoption of ETSI MEC work as appropriate and highlight benefits of Edge computing to VR/AR solution developers.

“In a recent research report we’ve published, we learnt that enterprise AR & VR have more receptive buyers than consumer markets, due to a strong ROI case.” says Kris Kolo, executive director of the VR/AR Association. “Working closely with ETSI which expertise lays in all ITC related sectors makes sense. We’re really excited to start this collaboration with their MEC group.”

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Orange launches three connected objects

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By Zenobia Hedge

After the launch of its VR2 headset and its drone in October, Orange launches Live Cam to complete the range of connected objects under the operator’s brand. Orange has long been involved in the distribution of connected objects and support for start-ups. With this collection, Orange offers its customers to discover new entertainment uses with simple to use and accessible products, while benefiting from Orange’s quality of service.

The Live Cam, a 360˚ camera for smartphones

The Live Cam from Orange transforms your smartphone into a high-performance 360° camera. Available on Android, the camera works with a dedicated application for easy use. With this accessory, the user can take photos and 360˚ videos in HD quality, share the moment instantly on social networks or perform live streaming on Facebook, YouTube or Periscope (Twitter).

Designed in partnership with Giroptic, a pioneering French start-up in 360° imaging, the Live Cam is available in stores and on Orange.fr priced at €149.99 (two year warranty).

The Orange VR2 headset, accessible high-quality virtual reality

After the V1 headset sold 20,000 units across Europe, and won two awards from the industry, Orange launches a second version of its virtual reality headset. More comfortable and lighter than its predecessor, the Orange VR2 headset has a sleeker design and high-quality sound.

Compatible with most smartphones, the Orange VR2 headset is the only one with integrated audio and in addition offers a free application with virtual reality content. By downloading the Orange VR360 and Orange VR Experience applications, this headset offers a new virtual reality experience with 15 pieces of high-quality content consisting of Hollywood films and documentaries.

Developed with the STRAX Group, already a partner for the VR1, the Orange VR2 headset is priced at €49.99 VAT inc. (2 year warranty). Available in shops and on Orange.fr.

The Orange Drone, a unique flying experience

The Orange Drone offers a fun flying experience, simple and complete with new features such as automatic take-off and landing, hovering at different heights, the 360˚ loop in a gesture and a simplified flight path using a finger on the smartphone.

It is pilotable directly from the smartphone via the iOS and Android app or with the handle provided in the pack for more comfortable use. It also allows for the taking of instantaneous photos and videos thanks to its embedded HD camera.

For an even more immersive flying experience, the user can use a virtual reality headset, such as the Orange VR2, to instantly see what the on-board camera on the drone is recording during the flight (control mode FPV).

The Orange Drone was designed by Bigben which is endorsed by Dunkan Bossion, race world champion in 2016 and champion of France in 2017 to give the novice user an immediate racing driver sensation on this first edition drone to Orange customers.

The Orange Drone is available in Orange shops and Orange.fr priced at €79.99, VAT inc. (2 year warranty).

More information can be found at Orange.fr

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Software AG launches new Terracotta DB In-Memory Data platform for high performance computing at scale

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By Zenobia Hedge

Software AG announced the availability of Terracotta DB, a new generation, distributed, In-Memory Database platform that delivers high-speed performance for combined operational and analytical processing.

Terracotta DB can work with any application that creates new, rapidly changing data types—structured, semi-structured, unstructured and polymorphic data—as well as humongous volumes of data or scale beyond the capacity constraints of existing systems. With the explosion in growth of the Internet of Things and fast-moving streams of data, organisations will find Terracotta DB the ideal solution for managing and extracting value in real-time.

Wolfram Jost, chief technology officer, Software AG, said: “Unlike traditional NoSQL Database platforms, Terracotta DB is in-memory, provides predictable latency at scale and can handle high-speed operational storage and analytical processing requirements on the same platform. This is a significant differentiator for enterprises wishing to leverage a data store that is a natural fit for building microservices and IoT applications for scale.”

Wolfram Jost

Most enterprises find real-time transactions have become critical in this digital, on-demand era. This means that at the database level, operational transactions require instant access to any system of record, where the data or activity is permanently recorded. According to a recent Harvard Business Review, successful retailers who focused on operational improvements were able to “increase revenues faster than expenses, which had a powerful impact on earnings.”

Terracotta DB is built on top of the distributed in-memory data grid—Terracotta BigMemory, which is currently used by more than 500 organisations worldwide (for example, Octo Telematics, Kiabi, CERN, and Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS.gov]). In the last 12 months, Terracotta was downloaded more than 2 million times, and more recently several Terracotta customers participated in a Terracotta DB beta program at Software AG labs in July 2017 to experience the benefits first hand and provide early feedback.

Tarun Sirohi, senior architect, Westrock and Terracotta DB Beta Program participant noted: “We are really excited about this new release of Terracotta DB and believe it addresses the need for in-memory translytical databases, where a single data tier can serve both transactional and analytical workloads. We see a technology like terracotta playing a pivotal role in any modern microservices architecture.”

Software AG was named a leader for its Terracotta In-Memory Data Fabric platform in the most recent Forrester WaveTM: In-Memory Data Grids report. In the report, author Mike Gualtieri says that leaders “offer the most comprehensive set of features to accommodate the broadest use cases.”

Tarun Sirohi

According to the Forrester Wave report, “Terracotta has a unique architecture compared to the other vendors in that it uses a striping architecture instead of a peer-to-peer architecture to achieve high-availability.” Software AG believes that this achieves high availability and is the fastest way to corral fast Big Data and then apply analytics to extract key correlations and information.

Key business use cases include supply chain, inventory management, payment processing, fraud detection, e-commerce order processing and fulfilment, claim management, and any form of distributed data storage with low latency data access requirements across web applications.

Terracotta DB offers:

In-Memory data storage at scale;
In-Memory search with optional secondary indexes
Simplified management, monitoring […]

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In-Memory Database Goes ‘Translytical’

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By George Leopold

Database vendors continue to move computing and analytical processing closer to data as applications leverage more data types ranging from structured to those data sets that can be transformed to another data type, or polymorphic.

Among those joining the rush to in-memory computing and “operational” storage is Software AG, which this week rolled out the next generation of its Terracotta database that supports “translytical” workloads. The company (Frankfurt TecDAX: SOW) touts the latest release as an in-memory data platform that can handle operational storage and analytical processing steps on the same platform.

Terracotta “is a natural fit for building micro-services and [Internet of Things] applications for scale,” Software AG CTO Wolfram Jost asserted in a statement on Monday (Nov. 6).

Software AG joins a growing list of database vendors offering new operational analytics capabilities that use operational data stores to deliver live data to applications. For instance, that latest version of the MapR-DB platform incorporates new features designed to make it easier for application developers to integrate real-time analytics directly into operational data stores.

Database vendors are responding to growing enterprise requirements for real-time access to stored data. The Terracotta database runs on top of a distributed in-memory data grid dubbed BigMemory, which the German database vendor said is used by more than 500 organizations and is aimed at both large and small enterprises.

Software AG said Terracotta has been downloaded more than 2 million times. According to the download site, an open source version of the database is planned.

The data management platform also supports what Software AG calls “translytical” workloads in which a single data tier can serve both transactional and analytical workloads. The approach includes caching and operational storage along with analytical search and computing on the server side. The result, the company claims, is the convenience of a NoSQL data store running on top of its in-memory data grid technology.

Meanwhile, analytical processing is accelerated via stream-based computational data pipelines, the company said. The new version of Terracotta also includes visual analytics features along with an accelerator for building micro-services increasingly be used to speed delivery of enterprise applications.

Like the latest MapR database, Terracotta also includes optional secondary indexes as part of its in-memory search capabilities. Secondary indexes are widely seen as essential for adding analytics to a range of operational systems.

Use cases cited by Software AG include supply chain and inventory control along with transaction processing and fraud detection. Generally, the new database is aimed at business requirements around distributed data storage with low-latency access requirements for web applications.

Recent items:

MapR-DB Gets Secondary Indexes to Drive Operational Analytics

Gartner: Top Storage Vendors Taming Unstructured Data

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TomTom offers developers free and easy access to their online APIs

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By Zenobia Hedge

TomTom (TOM2), a global provider of maps and traffic data, announced their completely revamped developer portal. Updates include enhancements to its product offerings and a pricing model geared towards small and medium sized businesses to easily integrate TomTom’s Online APIs into their applications.

TomTom’s APIs and SDKs are already being used by a large array of enterprises and startups for artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) applications such as fleet management, vehicle tracking and logistics. Access to any of TomTom’s online APIs, together with full documentation, daily free allowances of 2,500 transactions, and easy sign-up is available at TomTom Maps APIs Developer Portal.

“High-quality and comprehensive location data is a critical foundation for building the next generation of IoT applications and smart cities innovation,” said Anders Truelsen, managing director of BU Licensing at TomTom. “The increased demand for location aware technology and applications across industries will provide an environment for developers to easily access our online APIs and help optimise their applications with our location technologies.”

TomTom’s Online APIs pricing model supports start-ups and allows businesses to grow at their own pace with access to all APIs in every package. “We have crafted our product offerings and pricing with the start-up developer in mind. Developers can evaluate, develop, and commercially deploy their products for free,” states Gregory De Jans, head of Developer Relations at TomTom.

Even when businesses have brought their products to market, TomTom provides thousands of free transactions, keeping the barrier of entry low. “We want to work alongside developers and help every developer be as successful as possible.”

The LBS Platform and Developer Portal can be accessed via developer.tomtommaps.com. For further information click here.

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