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Deep Integration: Comcast Bolsters, Scales Smart Home Technology

By Alex Silverman

Comcast is taking its quest for home automation domination to the next level, enabling a slew of new smart home functionality that it introduced to the media Wednesday morning at CES. The tech, which the company is extending to 15mln homes, links all of Comcast’s Xfinity services—X1 video; xFi WiFi, Xfinity Home security and Xfinity Mobile—to create a comprehensive, easily accessible household-management system.

The MSO is leveraging technology to let customers use either their X1 voice remote or any internet-connected device to control virtually any function around the house. In fact, the system will even enable a situational series of commands throughout the home. For example, a user can set up an “I’m Leaving” scenario that, when triggered, turns off all the lights, locks the door and arms the home security system simultaneously. Leave the house without locking up? The system will prompt the user via their mobile device to do so remotely. Beyond that, the system will eventually recognize patterns through machine learning and actually suggest other options to make a user’s life easier.

“We really see this opportunity around the notion of the digital home to be part of our customers’ lives every day, and our ability to really tap into these different products and bring them together in a more integrated and seamless way,” said Comcast evp, Xfinity Services Matt Strauss. “Where today we typically sell on price, in time, our ambition is to sell on experience. The more products and services you take from us, the better that experience.”

Comcast evp and chief product officer Chris Satchell said the company plans to work with any and all smart device manufacturers to integrate their IoT-based products into the Xfinity system. It will certify those devices with a “Works with Xfinity” stamp of approval. As customers add devices to their network, the system will suggest new automation scenarios and potential synergies between devices. Satchell suggested this “deep integration” is a departure from a current IoT pain point.

“A lot of people want to sell you devices, and that’s great; they’re phenomenal devices,” Satchell quipped. “But the problem is they leave it up to the customer. They say, ‘Buy our smart stuff and magic will happen.’ How does magic happen? ‘I don’t know. That’s up to you. You’re the customer.’”

Satchell pointed to the company’s partnership with Tile, a company that manufacturers tracking devices, as an example of third-party device integration. Using the Xfinity voice remote, a user can simply ask for the location of whatever object the Tile is attached to, which will instantly be displayed on the TV screen. Other brands Comcast has partnered with include August, Honeywell, Kwikset, Lutron and Nest. Comcast introduced a wide range of features for both xFi and Xfinity home that give customers greater control over their networks and homes.

Device Intelligence, for instance, is designed to simplify the process of adding smart devices to the network by identifying the specific type of device (i.e. 3rd Gen Apple TV, Nest thermostat) and offering troubleshooting steps. Another feature called Away Mode doesn’t let any new devices join the network—even with the correct login information—when a user is out of the home. In the event someone attempts to access the network, the system will notify the customer on their mobile device.

Secure Connect Mode allows customers to accept or deny requests to join the network. On the physical security side, the system can alert customers about unusual times of entry. Satchell said users can also request to be notified if there is no entry by a certain time, notifying parents in the event their child doesn’t make it home. Users with cameras hooked up to their system can remotely view entry attempts and any other disturbance on the property.

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Toshiba Unveils Microsoft Azure IoT Certified Intelligent Edge Device

By A.R. Guess

by Angela Guess According to a recent press release, “Toshiba Client Solutions Co., Ltd. today announced dynaEdge™ a high-performance Windows 10 based mobile edge computing device that is certified for Microsoft Azure IoT services to provide a next-generation Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge platform. Using Azure Cognitive Services and Machine Learning, Toshiba’s dynaEdge enables workers […]

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Avnet introduces IoTconnect software platform and smart connectivity solutions

By Zenobia Hegde

Avnet, a global technology distributor, announced its IoTConnect cloud-based software platform and a portfolio of smart, market-ready connectivity solutions built around the platform to help organisations jump-start development of IoT-enabled systems and services. Avnet will showcase the IoTConnect platform and a selection of innovative smart solutions at CES 2018, January 9-12 in Las Vegas, booth 2609, at Tech East, Westgate.

The highly scalable IoTConnect platform utilises Microsoft’s enterprise-grade Azure hybrid cloud computing service to enable the seamless distribution and analysis of data across cloud and on-premise systems. Azure’s powerful security and connectivity protocols give IoTConnect users the flexibility to develop and deploy apps and solutions using their choice of tools, applications and frameworks.

In collaboration with 14 leading suppliers across its comprehensive IoT partner ecosystem, Avnet has also developed a broad selection of smart, market-ready connectivity solutions that leverage the IoTConnect platform to tackle business challenges common to many industry verticals, including manufacturing, medical, environmental, construction, retail, food processing and smart city.

These digital solutions – Smart Factory, Smart Asset Monitoring, Smart Connected Worker, Smart Building, Smart Healthcare, Smart Retail, Smart Office, Smart Fleet Management and Smart Warehouse – can be deployed out of the box or tailored to meet segment-specific requirements. Avnet’s smart solutions combine advanced software capability with state-of-the-art silicon component technologies to transform real-time operational data into insightful information enabling more informed, strategic decision-making.

“Avnet recognises that concerns such as security risk, unexpected downtime, low efficiency and information latency frequently hinder organisations’ ability to capture the full potential of digitisation,” said Lou Lutostanski, Avnet vice president, Internet of Things. “IoTConnect, supported by Microsoft Azure, not only helps mitigate these risks, but enables enterprises to generate intelligence that will make their organisations more productive, secure and competitive in the digital age.”

“Built on Azure services, Avnet’s versatile IoTConnect platform and its new Smart Industry solutions include powerful analytics, cognitive services, artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Rodney Clark, vice president, IoT, Microsoft. “With these repeatable Edge to Cloud solutions both partners and customers will be able to take full advantage of the digital transformation opportunities IoT represents.”

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BT and Symantec partner to provide best-in-class endpoint security protection

By Zenobia Hegde

BT, one of the providers of communications services and solutions, and Symantec, the cyber security company, announced the availability of new endpoint protection solution for BT’s business customers.

Symantec’s best-in-class endpoint security technologies have been added to BT’s broad portfolio of security products and services to help customers battle the rapidly changing threat landscape with a consolidated, intelligent security infrastructure.

With advanced technologies such as machine learning, memory exploit mitigation, file reputation analysis, and real-time behaviour monitoring, Symantec Endpoint Protection 14 provides real-time threat protection, even against unknown threats, so called ‘zero-day’ attacks and ransomware.

Mark Hughes, CEO, BT Security, said: “The ongoing migration to the cloud and digital transformation further raises the importance of endpoint security. By adding Symantec endpoint protection to our already broad security portfolio, we are further extending our ability to help our customers stay secure in the face of growing cyber threat. It is an integral part of our shared commitment with Symantec to help organisations of all sizes stay secure as they build on their digital future.”

Mike Fey

Mike Fey, president and COO at Symantec said: “Enterprises are facing a perfect storm with a growing attack surface, intensifying regulatory scrutiny and an increasingly sophisticated cyber kill chain. Today’s attacks are multi-faceted, multi-staged and the endpoint is one of the most critical vulnerabilities.

Responding to this rapidly evolving threat landscape requires an integrated cyber defence strategy, with best-in-class systems that can work together, becoming greater than the sum of their parts. In continuing to grow the Symantec capabilities offered within BT’s security portfolio, BT’s business customers will be able to build and benefit from the most comprehensive security platform in the market.”

Symantec Endpoint Protection joins nine Symantec solutions available to BT’s customers. Customers can deploy and manage Symantec products from a unified management console.

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Scaling a small data team with the power of machine learning

By Zenobia Hegde

In an effort to continue to grow their business in existing and new markets, DAZN – a live and on-demand sports streaming service – wanted a fast, low-maintenance way to enable their small data team to run predictive analytics and machine learning projects at scale.

The company wanted to find a way to allow data analysts who were not necessarily technical or experienced in machine learning to be able to contribute in meaningful ways to impactful data projects. Ultimately, they wanted to support an underlying data culture with advanced analytics and machine learning at the heart of the business.

The situation

Until recently, the sports entertainment industry was dominated by cable or satellite TV systems and companies; if a customer wanted to watch a particular sporting event, he had little or no choice in how to do so. Now that consumers are breaking free from traditional TV, they are increasingly turning to specialised services streaming exactly the content they’re looking for, whether live or on-demand. And while they are willing to pay for these services, it means that entertainment companies – in the absence of the a fore mentioned virtual monopoly of TV broadcasts – are held to increasingly higher standards when it comes to quality and offerings.

In other words, because customers can turn elsewhere, entertainment companies have had to up their game, so to speak. Today, that means bringing innovation by way of predictive analytics and machine learning to optimise every aspect of the business, from marketing to customer service to product offerings. To do this efficiently, they must also bring this innovation at scale, hiring fewer people to do more such that insights grow exponentially along with the amount of data being collected.

The need for Big Data with a small staff

DAZN knew that in order to accomplish their goals quickly, they would need technologies that were simple and in the cloud. They turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Dataiku in combination for their simplicity in setup, connection, integration, and usability, and they got up and running in under one hour.

With AWS and Dataiku, the small data team built and now manages more than 30 models in parallel, all without needing to do any coding so that the processes are completely accessible to non-technical team members.

They use these models as the basis for a variety of critical processes throughout all areas of the business, specifically:

Content attribution to determine what fixtures are driving sales, enabling contextual information on key fixtures in each market.
Advanced customer segmentation to identify user behaviours, particularly regarding content and devices on which customers use the product.
Propensity modeling to identify customers that are likely to churn, enabling improved customer targeting for retention activities.
Survival analysis to understand customer stickiness, enabling calculation of expected revenues to understand customer return on investment.
Natural language processing on social networks for market research

Results of more effective team members = More data science

AWS and Dataiku have noticeably shifted the data culture at DAZN and have brought innovations in advanced analytics and machine learning into the spotlight throughout […]

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