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Verizon to launch 5G residential broadband services in up to 5 markets in 2018

By IoT – Internet of Things

Leading the industry with the first commercial application of next-generation broadband services, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) recently announced it will launch wireless residential broadband services in three to five U.S. markets in 2018. As a first application of fifth-generation – or 5G — wireless, these services will use radio signals, rather than copper […]

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Global customer engagement spending by utilities is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2026

By Zenobia Hedge

A new report from Navigant Research analyses the market for utility customer engagement solutions across the web, call center, billing, and outage notification segments, providing forecasts through 2026.

Today’s electric utility customers expect more insight into their energy usage, as well as a service experience on par with that of industry leaders such as Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Uber. Changing tools for engagement, such as online, mobile, and social networks, are helping utilities to meet those expectations in the face of the most competitive environment that the electric power industry has ever experienced.

“Engaging customers used to entail sending a monthly energy bill, dealing with high bill complaints, and finding resolutions for customers experiencing power outages,” says Michael Kelly, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Today, utilities must work to engage customers proactively through multiple channels—and for multiple purposes.”

Michael Kelly

Websites with sophisticated self-service capabilities, mobile applications, and online chat support are just a few of the engagement channels now considered standard, according to the report. Investment and support from senior utility leadership is growing as utilities adapt to evolving customer expectations and explore new technologies aimed at improving the customer experience.

The report, Customer Management and Experience Technologies, examines the drivers and challenges related to customer engagement solutions. The study focuses on four key segments for applications and technologies aimed at improving the customer experience: web, call centre, billing, and outage notification. Global market forecasts, segmented by region, technology segment, type, and category, extend through 2026.

The report also provides in-depth profiles of key vendors in the customer engagement market and examines several utility deployment case studies. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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Amazon Echo & Google Home to reside in over 50% of US households by 2022, as multi-assistant devices take off

By Zenobia Hedge

A new study from Juniper Research has found that smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the Sonos One will be installed in over 70 million US households by 2022, reaching 55% of all homes. Total installed devices will exceed 175 million.

Juniper forecasts that Voice Assistant devices across all platforms – smartphones, tablets, PCs, speakers, connected TVs, cars and wearables, will reach 870 million devices in the US by 2022, an increase of 95% over the 450 million estimated for 2017.

For more insights, download Juniper’s complimentary whitepaper: Voice Assistants – The Next Advertising Battleground.

Omni-platform assistants & multi-assistant platforms to proliferate

The new research, Digital Voice Assistants: Platforms, Revenues & Opportunities 2017-2022, found that the ability to pass information between device platforms will become critical for digital assistants in future, due to many users engaging multiple assistants.

However, despite rising numbers of smart home assistants, Juniper forecasts that most voice assistant usage will be on smartphones, with over 5 billion in use globally by 2022.

The research found a growing trend for devices with multiple assistants (eg, Google Assistant and Cortana being available on the same speaker). The current experience with multi-assistant devices is unwieldy, and Juniper argues that hardware and software vendors need to make cross-assistant usage smoother and more intuitive.

Voice assistant ad-spend to reach $19 billon by 2022

The research notes that end-user monetisation is uncertain for digital voice assistants, with most either provided for free or only charging developers for language processing.

Juniper believes that advertising is the biggest revenue opportunity for voice assistants, forecasting ad-spend to reach nearly $19 billion (€16.38 billion) globally by 2022; although it is not without pitfalls:

“Voice-based interaction presents less options than other forms of advertising, meaning less adverts are possible”, notes research author James Moar. “Not all voice interactions are product searches, meaning advertisers will need to adjust their strategies to build a brand’s voice strategy around information provision as well as sales.”

Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.

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Renesas Electronics unveils integrated software development environment for ADAS and automated driving

By Sheetal Kumbhar

Renesas Electronics, a supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced that the Renesas e² studio integrated software development environment now has been expanded with new features to support the R-Car V3M system-on-chip (SoC) for in-vehicle infotainment and advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS).

e² studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) based on the open-source Eclipse C/C++ Development Tooling (CDT) software and already supports other Renesas devices including the RZ/G Family and the Renesas Synergy™ microcontrollers (MCUs).Expanded to support the R-Car V3M, the e² studio can now be used as a core tool for automotive SoC software development. The e² studio-based R-Car V3M solution is part of Renesas autonomy™, which was announced in April 2017.

“We are excited to provide our open-source e² studio IDE along with our automotive SoC for ADAS and automated driving. The e² studio has been upgraded for R-Car V3M with various features to boost the performance of ADAS and automated driving applications,” said Akiya Fukui, vice president, Software Development Division, Broad-Based Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “With the new e² studio, we enable our customers to achieve improved development efficiency and faster time-to-market.”

Renesas’ low-power, high-performance R-Car SoCs consist of a heterogeneous architecture with various types of intellectual properties (IPs), including central processing units (CPUs) and accelerators, to optimise power efficiency. Each IP uses its own programming languages, toolchain, trace interface, and debugging protocols, which enable system developers to maximise the functionality and performance of the IP to optimally develop various software and applications for ADAS and automated driving.

To make full use of the computing performance and low-power performance of each IP, including the integrated IMP-X5 image recognition engine, Renesas has added various new features to e² studio.

System developers using e² studio for R-Car V3M can develop software for various IPs installed in the R-Car V3M with a comprehensive and unified graphical user interface (GUI) to accelerate time-to-market for ADAS and automated driving systems.

Key features of the e² studio for R-Car V3M
Enhanced ADAS software development support

Multithreaded programming environment: The e² studio includes a unified GUI provided by Eclipse that supports programming for the IMP-X5’s built-in 64 thread processor. The e² studio for R-Car V3M incorporates the newly developed IMP-X 5-dedicated ccimp C compiler which enables development in C programming language. It also provides a feature that debugs the operation of threads on a step-by-step basis from the GUI, which contributes to reducing the man-hours required for program development to approximately one-tenth.

Image viewer: The IDE with a simple UI configuration enables system developers to check the image generated by IMP-X5 directly from the GUI. This eliminates the need to store the image for image verification, making it easier to check images.

IP tracer: The e² studio visualises the interaction between subcomponents in IMP-X5, which enables software developers to solve complex software errors linked to a specific IP at an early stage. This contributes to a shorter software development period.

Bus Traffic Monitor: The IDE monitors the amount of data being transferred through the complex bus structure in the SoC. In the past, […]

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Book review : Working with blockchain

By Sheetal Kumbhar

“Working with Blockchain: all the basics” is a concise, clear explanation of Bitcoin and Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) that is ushering in a groundbreaking way of conducting business. There’s been a lot of hype on the Net about Bitcoin, but this publication puts the business case front and center and backs it up real-world use cases.

The key message is obvious once you read it. “Business over the Internet is based on antiquated rules and processes that were conceived in the pre-Internet age and never designed for the scale, speed and granularity of today’s networked economy.” Think banks and letters of credit, says Bob Emmerson.

The 21st century much-needed alternative it to employ a crypto-currency, Bitcoin, and use a distributed ledger to enable cheap, fast, worldwide payments, conducted transparently and without intermediaries. This is not only doable, it’s being done. Blockchain is improving transparency and trust, simplifying business processes, creating brand-new opportunities and bringing benefits to society and businesses.

There is a clear analogy to the IoT. Although IoT is not essential for Blockchain to function, the combination packs a powerful punch. Check it out here followed by a search on Bitcoin.

The book doesn’t go into techie details but it is comprehensive. There is a brief history of Blockchain and a chapter that covers the issues that are addressed, such as immunity to hacks, the different types of Blockchain Technology and business basics.

Chapter 5 covers a key topic, where and how to apply Blockchain for business processes and it highlights aspects that add value in business ecosystems. They include: the involvement of multiple parties; areas where trust and confidentiality are important; where fast transactions are required; and where there is a community, e.g. a union, association or consortium.

Practical advice on how to get some hands-on experience comes in the next chapter. You start by installing a Bitcoin wallet, and pay for the proposed small number of Bitcoins. Then you download the Bitcoin Blockchain, and that enables participation in a distributed ledger. The authors do not advice investing serious money and speculating with Bitcoins.

Now you can make and receive payments and experience how the verification of payments proceeds transparently. The remainder of the chapter provides advice on how to identify and check use cases followed by a four-step process that will get your business up Blockchain speed.

The remaining chapters cover a variety of Blockchain solutions that include: climate change; critical infrastructure protection; financial services; government and utilities; travel and transportation; and finally the entertainment industry. The book concludes with real-world examples and references.

Conclusion: This publication is an easy, informative read that will get you up to speed with a breakthrough development that meets a real market need.

The authors: Louis de Bruin, European Blockchain leader with IBM Global Business Services, and Willem Vermeend, an Internet entrepreneur and a Professor of Economics at the Open University in the Netherlands. The book costs € 17,50 and can be ordered here.

The author of this blog is Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry observer

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