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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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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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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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Yubico launches YubiHSM 2 a new, cost-effective Hardware Security Module (HSM) for servers and IoT gateways

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By Zenobia Hedge

Yubico, the provider of authentication and encryption hardware devices for the modern web, launched the YubiHSM 2, a new, cost-effective Hardware Security Module (HSM) for servers and IoT gateways. The product delivers the highest levels of security for cryptographic digital key generation, storage, and management, supporting an extensive range of enterprise environments and applications.

The YubiHSM 2 differs from traditional HSM models — historically limited in use by cost, size, and performance — by offering advanced digital key protection capabilities and benefits at a price within reach for all organizations. Delivered in an ultra-slim “nano” form factor, the YubiHSM 2 fits inside a USB port, eliminating the need for bulky additional hardware, and offers flexibility for offline key transfer or backup.

Essential security features, including hashing, asymmetric, and symmetric cryptography, are supported by the YubiHSM 2 to protect cryptographic keys while at rest or in use. These keys are most often used by certificate authorities, databases, code signing, and more, to secure critical applications, identities, and sensitive data in an enterprise. Furthermore, the integrity and privacy of commands and data in transit between the application and YubiHSM 2 are protected using a mutually authenticated, integrity and confidentiality-protected tunnel.

Stina Ehrensvard

“It’s estimated that 95% of all IT breaches happen when a user credential or server gets hacked. For years Yubico has been protecting user accounts from remote hijacking with our unphishable YubiKey authentication devices, but we knew that millions of servers storing sensitive data were still lacking physical security,” said Stina Ehrensvard, CEO and founder, Yubico.

“It was important to us that we brought a solution to market that embodied the signature Yubico standards of high-security, convenience, and affordability. Now, with the addition of YubiHSM 2, we can enable critical server security for organisations worldwide — regardless of size or budget.”

Common use cases for the YubiHSM 2 include protecting cryptographic keys stored on servers used in data centres, cloud server infrastructures, manufacturing and industrial services.

Critical security benefits include:

Secure Microsoft’s active directory certificate services – YubiHSM 2 provides a cost-effective hardware-backed key to secure digital keys used in a Microsoft-based PKI implementation. Deploying YubiHSM 2 to Microsoft Active Directory Certificate services not only guards the CA root keys but also protects all signing and verification services using the root key.
Enhance protection for cryptographic keys – YubiHSM 2 offers a compelling option for secure generation, storage and management of digital keys including essential capabilities to generate, write, sign, decrypt, hash and wrap keys.
Enable hardware-based cryptographic operations – YubiHSM 2 can be used as a comprehensive cryptographic toolbox for a wide range of open source and commercial applications. The most common use case being hardware-based digital signature generation and verification. The YubiHSM 2 features can be accessed through Yubico’s Key Storage Provider (KSP) for industry-standard PKCS#11 or Microsoft’s CNG , or via native Windows, Linux and macOS libraries.

Additional features include, optional network-sharing, role-based access controls, remote management, M of N wrap key backup and restore, tamper evident audit logging, concurrent connections (up to 16), and extensive cryptographic capabilities (RSA, ECC, ECDSA (ed25519), SHA-2, and AES).

For more information on the YubiHSM 2, click here. Units are available for purchase here for US $650 (€557.29). To learn more about Yubico and the company’s products and […]

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Arrow Electronics, Synaptics and NXP team to accelerate the development of Amazon Alexa-enabled smart home products

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By Zenobia Hedge

Arrow Electronics, Synaptics Incorporated and NXP Semiconductors launched a variant of the Synaptics AudioSmart 2-Mic Development Kit for Amazon AVS that is supported by a commercially available NXP system-on-chip (SoC) application processor.

This newly available development kit variant enables device makers to quickly and cost-effectively integrate the Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) into a fully functioning prototype, and then take that work into design for manufacturing and production.

The Synaptics AudioSmart 2-Mic Dev Kit for Amazon AVS includes Synaptics’ CX20921 Voice Input Processor with a dual microphone board and a wake-word engine tuned to “Alexa.” It is built on the pico-imx7d board, a purpose-built small-footprint hardware platform which features NXP’s i.MX7D dual-core applications processor optimised for the Internet of Things (IoT). The kit also includes: stereo microphones with an integrated processor, a microphone holder board, a micro USB cable, Type-A to Type-B cable, cable assembly and a +5V power supply.

The development kit features a reference client built using the AVS Device SDK (software development kit), enabling commercial device makers to get to market faster with Alexa-enabled products.

The Synaptics AudioSmart 2-Mic Dev Kit for Amazon AVS with NXP SoC is available exclusively from arrow.com for $375(€322.21). To learn more, or to purchase the kit, click here.

“This new Synaptics development kit with an NXP SoC for the Amazon Alexa Voice Service can add intelligent voice control to connected products with a microphone and speaker, enabling developers and engineers to rapidly create Alexa-enabled proof of concepts and prototypes,” said Murdoch Fitzgerald, vice president of semiconductor marketing at Arrow. “Arrow is excited to team with Synaptics and NXP to bring this new kit to the developer community and help accelerate the innovation of new smart home products.”

“Voice as a human interface is rapidly expanding in smart homes and the broader IoT landscape due to the broad global expansion of voice services like Amazon Alexa,” said Saleel Awsare, vice president and general manager, Audio and Imaging Business, Synaptics. “When voice services are combined with Synaptics’ AudioSmart far-field voice DSPs, new voice-enabled human interface devices can accelerate into numerous IoT applications whether consumer, enterprise, or commercial.”

microphone board

“Industry leaders are developing and investing to meet the growing demand of the voice-controlled future smart home,” said Martyn Humphries, vice president and general manager, Media IoT and i.MX Applications Processors at NXP. “Collaborating with leaders like Amazon and the companies it works with is essential in delivering the key tools and support needed to meet the demands of this prospering market.

The new evaluation kit moves beyond the scope of a processing board with unique integrated features designed for the AVS developer community. This enables more flexibility in designs while shortening development time to market so customers can move from prototype to production as quick as possible.”

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Education industry set to fly high with advanced drone technology

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By Zenobia Hedge

Drones are growing increasingly commonplace, both in the skies and across our collective imagination. You may have classified drone technology as exclusive to the military and wondered about its potential applications in the commercial sector. Today, drones are actively used in an assortment of industrial disciplines and have also landed in the lucrative pastures of recreational use. Associatively, educationalists have begun to harness the power of these small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to engage students and to bring lessons to life in the modern day classrooms.

How is this done? And, is the usage of drone technology in education a practical proposition?

Infusing creativity and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking with drones

Drones certainly do have the ‘wow’ factor, and, thanks to the fact that we are still at the beginning of the drone era, the potential of using drones in the classroom has yet to be fully realised. There is little doubt that in just a few years, drones will emerge as a much preferred educational tool, employed by all the major educational institutions.

When it comes to using drones for education, teachers are truly spoilt for choice. They not only can help students in building their technical skills from scratch, but can also encourage them to pick up vital insights on electronics, robotics, chemistry, mathematics, programming, and coding when doing so.

With the incorporation of these technologies, students can learn to perform complicated technical operations apart from acquiring skills such as teamwork and communication. On the other hand, instructors can track and analyse the progress of students in simulations to accordingly modify their teaching methods on complex scientific concepts.

Cost-effective technology with advanced features and scalable benefits

As drones increasingly become cheaper and more accessible, educational institutions are now able to purchase them with ease. The price of these unmanned aerial vehicles usually depend on the accessories attached to them.

For example- Extreme Fliers offers Microdrone 2.0+ without a camera at $93.00 (€79.91). However, it costs $103 (€88.50) with a 640 P camera kit and $113 (€97.09) with a 720 P HD camera kit.

These competitive prices are bound to encourage more educational institutions to embrace and deploy their own fleet of drones. Additional incentive includes the fact that costs pertaining to the incorporation of drone technology in an educational institution is quite low when compared to the implementation of camera surveillance systems. Drones are set to take the impartment of education to greater heights

Society stands at the start of an exciting and productive drone era. Similar to many new technologies with high potential, this development may seem both overly ambitious and a mere stopgap arrangement. However, nothing can derail the oncoming heyday for drones in the education sector, provided the educators first help the students understand this novel addition, make productive use of it, and help them confidently discover creative and functional ways to put this technology to the ultimate use. A tall ask, but most definitely achievable!

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