Category Archives: Internet of Things

Jaap van Vliet, Ambit Software: Navigating the intricacies of digital transformation

In an interview at this year’s Digital Transformation Week Europe, Ambit Software Managing Director Jaap van Vliet delved into the intricacies of digital transformation and how the company utilises innovative strategies to assist clients globally. “We try to help to accelerate our customers to improve their business,” says van Vliet. “We do that from multi-angles:… Read more »

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Uber backs up self-driving car moves with new mapping tech

connected-car-normalUber has announced plans to ‘double-down’ its investments in digital mapping technologies to decrease its reliance on external sources and create a route into the autonomous vehicles sub-sector, reports

The move comes after the team announced a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, though possibly wouldn’t come as a surprise though who keep an eye on industry hires. Last year, the team hired Brian McClendon, a former Googler who was part responsible for the development of Google Maps, Earth, Streetview and EarthEngine, who has since been working on the internal Uber mapping solutions. The move also provides more credibility to a company which is planning to enter into the competitive world of self-driving cars.

“Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn’t that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography,” said McClendon in a statement on the company website. “There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pickup and drop off locations. Moreover, we need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps — or street signs.

“The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping. Last year we put mapping cars on the road in the United States. This summer they hit the road in Mexico. Our efforts are similar to what other companies including Apple and TomTom are already doing around the world.”

The company already has an in-house mapping technology, though it has also been using third-party solutions also, including Google Maps. Google and Uber have traditionally been close, Google Ventures invested almost $300 million into the Uber in 2013, though it would appear the team are keen to move away from its reliance on third parties by bolstering its own engineering team. Efforts have focused on the US to date, though the mapping vehicles have begun work in Mexico, with other countries on the list in the future.

A significant area of growth for Uber is customers using the app when they are on holiday or on business trips (i.e. US customers using when travel to Europe or Asia), as opposed to local taxis at the airport. One of the main challenges here is how accurate local maps are in developing nations. Google will likely be making efforts to improve this, though Uber has a more urgent need to improve the accuracy due to its commercial link. This could be seen as enough of a driver in itself.

Back in May, Uber launched a hybrid Ford Fusion into Pittsburgh from its Advanced Technologies Centre (ATC), its first stage of testing its own efforts in the self-driving cars arena. Uber is later to the game than others in the sub-sector, though one of the long-term use cases for the technology is in taxis, public transit and also the transportation of goods. Although a young company, due to its market dominance Uber is a solid position to capitalize on the potential of the sub-sector once the technology is perfected.

Having its own mapping technology gives the organization a sense of credibility in what could prove to be a sensitive sub-sector, but also demonstrates the commitment of the team. Although figures have not been announced, $500 million has been reported as the investment which will be made into the technology.

While the company has not outlined any intentions to be a competitor to Google Maps, it could provide another useful revenue stream for the business moving forward. During the early days of Google’s Geo division, there was no immediate return for the business though this did not stop the internet giant investing heavily into the technology. In the years since, mapping technologies have become an important component of numerous websites and apps, as well as playing a more central role in the day-to-day lives of consumers. Mapping is clearly a very important aspect of an organization such as Uber, though the long-term licensing potential for the technology should the team be able to provide a solution which can compete with Google, could be attractive.

One example of this potential is the on-going Pokémon Go craze, which is continuing to attract users each day. Although a relatively simple game itself, the app combines an augment reality offering alongside Google Maps technology to create such an experience. Numerous other applications and websites use the Google technology also, representing a useful revenue stream which the internet giant currently dominates.

“Over the past decade mapping innovation has disrupted industries and changed daily life in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started,” said McClendon. “That progress will only accelerate in the coming years especially with technologies like self-driving cars. I remain excited by the prospect of how maps can put the world at our fingertips, improve everyday life, impact billions of people and enable innovations we can’t even imagine today.”

Smart Watch market enters into decline for first time

Research firm IDC says shipments of the Apple Watch have dropped by 55% resulting in the first year-on-year quarterly shipment decline for the smart watch sector, reports

Preliminary data from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker estimates vendors shipped 3.5 million units, down from 5.1 million in the same period 2015. Apple, which dominates the smart watch market share, saw its shipments decrease from 3.6 million in Q2 2015 to 1.6 million this year. While it is a substantial drop, it does also demonstrate Apple’s strangle hold on the market. All other vendors in the top five increased shipments, however Apple still controls 47% market share.

“Consumers have held off on smart watch purchases since early 2016 in anticipation of a hardware refresh, and improvements in WatchOS are not expected until later this year, effectively stalling existing Apple Watch sales,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Apple still maintains a significant lead in the market and unfortunately a decline for Apple leads to a decline in the entire market. Every vendor faces similar challenges related to fashion and functionality, and though we expect improvements next year, growth in the remainder of 2016 will likely be muted.”

A recent report from Ericsson indicating the wearables market is not performing in-line with consumer expectations, as general consensus is the technology is not advanced enough to date. A common cause of dissatisfaction is customers feel tethered to their smartphone, as the wearable device does not have standalone features. Respondents of the survey also highlighted the price was a barrier to entry, though this may be down to the fact smart watches cannot currently be used as a standalone device. Currently, it is an add-on.

“What will bear close observation is how the smart watch market evolves from here,” said Llamas. “Continued platform development, cellular connectivity, and an increasing number of applications all point to a smartwatch market that will be constantly changing. These will appeal to a broader market, ultimately leading to a growing market.”

This is not the first warning sign for the smart watch subsector, as Strategy Analytics recently released a forecast which estimated shipments would decline by 12% over the course of 2016. There has been a growing consensus shipments of the Apple Watch may have peaked following a blockbuster launch in Q2 last year, though the research from IDC could imply the decline is moving faster than previously anticipated. IDC also stated it does not expect the market return to growth in 2017.

Although smart watches have not penetrated the mainstream market currently, what could give the devices a lift is the entry of traditional watch brands. Casio, Fossil, and Tag Heuer have launched their own models, though the brand credibility associated with these brands could give the segment a much needed boost.

Top Five Smartwatch Vendors, Shipments, Market Share and Year-Over-Year Growth, 2Q 2016 (Units in Millions)
Vendor 2Q16 Unit 


2Q16 Market


2Q15 Unit


2Q15 Market



Year Growth

  1. Apple
1.6 47% 3.6 72% -55%
  1. Samsung
0.6 16% 0.4 7% 51%
  1. Lenovo
0.3 9% 0.2 3% 75%
  1. LG Electronics
0.3 8% 0.2 4% 26%
  1. Garmin
0.1 4% 0.1 2% 25%
Others 0.6 16% 0.6 11% -1%
Total 3.5 100% 5.1 100% -32%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, July 21, 2016

Machine Vision 5G use case demonstrated by Ericsson and Vodafone

Engine manufactoringEricsson and Vodafone have successfully demonstrated another 5G Proof of Concept, this time focusing on Machine Vision (MV) application, reports

The team created a 5G Smart Network Edge prototype including a 5G ready core and demonstrated the benefits of network slicing and distributed cloud technology for MV. Making the announcement at the Innovation Days at Ericsson’s R&D Center in Aachen, the team demonstrated how the 5G Smart Network Edge enables much greater efficiency for industry. Due to reduced network latencies the recognition rate of a cloud-based face detection application was increased. The PoC also confirmed data could be stored locally, decreasing the risk of breaches, loss or unauthorized access.

“Within only 3 months we created a 5G Smart Network Edge prototype by connecting our labs,” Sonja Graf, Head of Vodafone Innovation Park at Vodafone Germany. “The Face Recognition use case is just one example demonstrating how 5G will meet the diverse needs of a wide range of industries.”

While MV is not a new concept for the industry, it is becoming increasing commonplace for quality assurance, inspection and industrial robot guidance processes in the manufacturing industry. Examples of MV include wood quality inspection, robot guidance and checking orientation of components and reading of serial numbers. Actions of the back of the inspection can be automated, opening up the door for artificial intelligence in the manufacturing industry.

“We are delighted that the Ericsson and Vodafone labs have come together to innovate and this first use case shows an excellent example of how 5G can enable industries to become more efficient as well as more secure and cost effective,” said Valter D’Avino, Head of Ericsson Western & Central Europe.

Connected home will be operated by Apple and Google

Research from Gartner has claimed 25% households in developed economies will utilise the services of digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, on smartphones as the primary means to interact with the connected home.

The user experience is an area which has been prioritized by numerous tech giants, including those in the consumer world, as the process of normalizing the connected world moves forward. Although IoT as a concept has been generally accepted by industry, efforts to take the technology into the wider consumer ecosystem are underway.

Connecting all IoT applications under a digital assistant could be a means to remove the complexity of managing the connected home, playing on the consumer drive for simplicity and efficiency. The digital assistant also presents an entry point for artificial intelligence, as appliances and systems in the home can be optimized alongside information available over the internet. Energy consumption, for example, could potentially be reduced as the digital assistant optimizes a thermostats levels dependent on current weather conditions.

“In the not-too-distant future, users will no longer have to contend with multiple apps; instead, they will literally talk to digital personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant,” said Mark O’Neill, Research Director at Gartner. “Some of these personal assistants are cloud-based and already beginning to leverage smart machine technology.”

The process of normalizing IoT in the consumer world will ultimately create a number of new opportunities for the tech giants, as the technology could offer a gateway into the home for a number of other verticals. Banks and insurance companies for example, could offer advice to customers on how they could save money on bills, should they have access to the data which is generated in the connected home.

“APIs are the key to interoperating with new digital interfaces and a well-managed API program is a key success factor for organizations that are interested in reaching consumers in their connected homes,” said O’Neill. “In the emerging programmable home, it is no longer best to spend time and money on developing individual apps. Instead, divert resources to APIs, which are the way to embrace the postapp world.”

HPE give IoT portfolio an edgy feel

Oil and gas platform in the gulf or the sea, The world energy, OHPE has unveiled new capabilities and partnerships to bring real-time data analytics and IoT insight to the network edge, reports

The team claims its new offerings, Edgeline EL1000 and Edgeline EL4000, are the first converged systems for the Internet of Things, capable of integrating data capture, analysis and storage at the source of collection. Transport and storage of data for analytics are becoming prohibitively expensive, the company claims, so the new products offer decision making insight at the network edge to reduce costs and complexities.

HPE claims the new offerings are capable of delivering heavy-duty data analytics and insights, graphically intense data visualization, and real-time response at the edge. Until recently, the technology to drive edge analytics has not been available, meaning data has had to be transferred to the network core to acquire insight. The team have also announced the launch of Vertica Analytics Platform which offers in-database machine learning algorithms and closed-loop analytics at the network edge.

“Organizations that take advantage of the vast amount of data and run deep analytics at the edge can become digital disrupters within their industries,” said Mark Potter, CTO of the Enterprise Group at HPE. “HPE has built machine learning and real time analytics into its IoT platforms, and provides services that help customers understand how data can best be leveraged, enabling them to optimize maintenance management, improve operations efficiency and ultimately, drive significant cost savings.”

The news follows an announcement from IBM and Cisco last week which also focused on IoT at the edge. Alongside the product launches from HPE, the team also announced a partnership with GE Digital to create more relevant propositions for industry. The partnership focuses on combining HPE technical know-how with GE’s industrial expertise and its Predix platform to create IoT-optimized hardware and software. GE’s Predix platform will be a preferred software solution for HPE’s industrial-related use cases and customers.

While the promise of IoT given the industry plenty to get excited about in recent years, the full potential has been difficult to realize due to the vast amount of data which needs to be transported to the network core to process and drive insight from. Although it would seem logical to process the data at the source of collection, technical capabilities have not been at the point where this has been possible. Recent advances from the IBM/Cisco and HPE/GE partnerships are removing the need to transfer information, and also the risk of bottleneck situations, points of failure and storage expenses from the IoT process.

“In order to fully take advantage of the Industrial IoT, customers need data-centre-grade computing power, both at the edge – where the action is – and in the cloud,” said Potter. “With our advanced technologies, customers are able to access data centre-level compute at every point in the Industrial IoT, delivering insight and control when and where needed.”

Applications for the edge-analytics proposition could be quite wide, ranging from production lines in Eastern Europe to oil rigs in the North Sea to smart energy grids in Copenhagen. It would appear the team are not only targeting industrial segments, where IoT could ensure faster and more accurate decision making in the manufacturing process for instance, but also those assets which do not have reliable or consistent connectivity.

44% of consumers have issues with wearables functionality

Iot isometric flowchart design bannerFindings from Ericsson ConsumerLab claim consumer enthusiasm for wearables technology is still growing but vendors are not meeting price or functionality expectations, reports

The research focused on opinions from 5,000 smartphone users from Brazil, China, South Korea, the UK and the US, though it’s worth noting 50% of respondents were current owners of wearables technology, a much higher proportion of the general public. While the statistics demonstrated there is still an appetite for wearable technologies outside of fitness applications, price of entry could be a barrier for entry, as well as customer expectations on functionality generally exceeding what vendors are currently able to offer.

32% of respondents said they would be interested or willing to buy a Panic/SOS button, and 25% said the same for an identity authentication device. Smart Watches were still of interest to the industry as 28% said they would have an interest in purchasing such as a device, but this statistic contradicts recent reports the segment has been declining. Strategy Analytics forecasted a 12% decline in Apple watch sales this year after a strong launch. A third of non-users have stated the cost of keeping digital devices connected is a key reason why they haven’t invested in wearable technology to date.

While the SA report could indicate a slight hiccup in the adoption of wearables, this is also backed up to a degree by the Ericsson report which states 10% of wearable users abandoned the technology. This is mainly due to the capabilities which are on offer. A common cause of dissatisfaction is customers feel tethered to their smartphone, as the wearable device does not have standalone features. This could also be tied into the overall value/price proposition of the devices as could be seen as a product of convenience as opposed to a smartphone replacement.

In terms of the reasoning for abandoning wearables, over half of respondents said the devices did not meet expectations. 21% highlighted limited functionality and uses, 23% stated the fact the device was not standalone or didn’t have inbuilt connectivity was the reason, where as 9% said inaccurate data and information. Despite the concerns over functionality, 83% of respondents said they expect wearables to have some form of standalone connectivity in the near future. Should this be the case, 43% believe wearables will ultimately replace smartphones.

“Although consumers show greatest interest in devices related to safety, we also see openness to wearable technology further away from today’s generation,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Consumer Insight Expert, Ericsson ConsumerLab. “In five years’ time, walking around with an ingestible sensor, which tracks your body temperature and adjusts the thermostat setting automatically once you arrive home, may be a reality.” Other use cases included a smart water purifier, gesture communicator, virtual reality sports attire, emotion sensing tattoos and a wearable camera.

The survey does demonstrate long-term viability for wearable technology, though there would have to be increased functionality before it could be considered mainstream. It would appear standalone connectivity would be the bare minimum required, as the currently offering seemingly does not offer the value to customers should they have to continue to carry a smartphone as well as the wearable device.

IBM and Cisco combine to deliver IoT insight on the network edge

Oil and gas platform in the gulf or the sea, The world energy, OIBM and Cisco have extended a long-standing partnership to enable real-time IoT analytics and insight at the point of data collection.

The partnership will focus on combining the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM’s Watson with Cisco’s analytics competencies to support data action and insight at the point of collection. The team are targeting companies who operate in remote environments or on the network edge, for example oil rigs, where time is of the essence but access to the network can be limited or disruptive.

The long promise of IoT has been to increase the amount of data organizations can collect, which once analysed can be used to gain a greater understanding of a customer, environment or asset. Cloud computing offers organizations an opportunity to realize the potential of real-time insight, but for those with remote assets where access to high bandwidth connectivity is not a given, the promise has always been out of reach.

“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the Internet of Things,” said Harriet Green, GM for IBM Watson IoT Commerce & Education. “For an oil rig in a remote location or a factory where critical decisions have to be taken immediately, uploading all data to the cloud is not always the best option.

“By coming together, IBM and Cisco are taking these powerful IoT technologies the last mile, extending Watson IoT from the cloud to the edge of computer networks, helping to make these strong analytics capabilities available virtually everywhere, always.”

IoT insight at the point of collection has been an area of interest to enterprise for a number of reasons. Firstly, by decreasing the quantity of data which has to be moved transmission costs and latency are reduced and the quality of service is improved. Secondly, the bottleneck of traffic at the network core can potentially be removed, reducing the likelihood of failure. And finally, the ability to virtualize on the network edge can extend the scalability of an organization.

ABI Research has estimated 90% of data which is collected through IoT connected devices are stored or processed locally, making it inaccessible for real-time analytics, therefore it must be transferred to another location for analysis. As the number of these devices increases, the quantity of data which must be transferred to another location, stored and analysed also increases. The cost of data transmission and storage could soon prohibit some organizations from achieving the goal of IoT. The new team are hoping the combination of Cisco’s edge analytics capabilities and the Watson cognitive solutions will enable real-time analysis at the scene, thus removing a number of the challenges faced.

“Together, Cisco and IBM are positioned to help organizations make real-time informed decisions based on business-critical data that was often previously undetected and overlooked,” said Mala Anand, SVP of the Cisco Data & Analytics Platforms Group. “With the vast amount of data being created at the edge of the network, using existing Cisco infrastructure to perform streaming analytics is the perfect way to cost-effectively obtain real-time insights. Our powerful technology provides customers with the flexibility to combine this edge processing with the cognitive computing power of the IBM Watson IoT Platform.”

Intel continues to innovate through Itseez acquisition

IntelIntel has continued its strides into the IoT market through the acquisition of Itseez, a computer vision and machine learning company.

Itseez, which was founded by two former Intel employees, specializes in computer vision algorithms and implementations, which can be used for a number of different applications, including autonomous driving, digital security and surveillance, and industrial inspection. The Itseez inclusion bolsters Intel’s capabilities to develop technology which electronically perceive and understand images.

“As the Internet of Things evolves, we see three distinct phases emerging,” said Doug Davis, GM for the Internet of Things Group at Intel. “The first is to make everyday objects smart – this is well underway with everything from smart toothbrushes to smart car seats now available. The second is to connect the unconnected, with new devices connecting to the cloud and enabling new revenue, services and savings. New devices like cars and watches are being designed with connectivity and intelligence built into the device.

“The third is just emerging when devices will require constant connectivity and will need the intelligence to make real-time decisions based on their surroundings. This is the ‘autonomous era’, and machine learning and computer vision will become critical for all kinds of machines – cars among them.”

The acquisition bolsters Intel’s capabilities in the potentially lucrative IoT segment, as the company continues its efforts to diversify its reach and enter into new growth markets. Last month, CEO Brian Krzanich outlined the organizations new strategy which is split into five sections; cloud technology, IoT, memory and programmable solutions, 5G and developing new technologies under the concept of Moore’s law. Efforts have focused around changing the perception of Intel from a PCs and mobile devices brand, to one which is built on a foundation of emerging technologies.

Intel’s move would appear to have made the decision of innovation through acquisition is a safer bet than organic, in-house innovation. There have been a small number of examples of organic diversification; Apple’s iPhone is one example, though the safer bet to move away from core competence is through acquisition.

Intel has dipped its toe into organic diversification, as it attempted to develop a portfolio of chips for mobile devices, though this would generally not be considered a successful venture, similar to Google’s continued efforts to organically grow into social, which could be seen as stuttering. On the contrary, Google’s advertising revenues now account for $67.39 billion (2015), with its platform being built almost entirely on acquisitions. The AdSense and Adwords services have been built and bolstered through various purchases including Applied Semantics ($102 million in 2003), dMarc Broadcasting ($102 million in 2006), DoubleClick ($3.1 billion in 2007), AdMob ($750 million in 2009) and Admeld ($400 million in 2011).

While diversification through acquisition can be seen as the safer, more practical and efficient means to move into new markets, it is by no means a guaranteed strategy. Intel’s strategy could be seen as a sensible option as there are far more examples off successful diversification through acquisition compared to organic growth. The jury is still out on Intel’s position in the IoT market but there are backing the tried and tested route to diversification.

Capgemini and Siemens team up to make buildings smarter

Iot isometric flowchart design bannerCapgemini and Siemens’ Building Technologies division have announced a new partnership to develop analytics-based services for the smart buildings space.

The new team will focus on developing the Siemens Navigator platform to produce an enhanced IoT management platform featuring asset management and analytics technology. The objective of the technology will be to increase energy efficiencies of the buildings, as well as the lifecycle potential of their customers’ real estate assets.

Siemens claims customers using their platform currently save 10.5 million tons of CO2 per year, though by incorporating Capgemini’s IoT, data analytics, and cloud capabilities, the ambition is to extend and drive this digital transformation project, in a phased approach.

The smart building industry has been gathering momentum in the last few months, though hasn’t been grabbing the same headlines as autonomous cars or the overarching smart cities projects. One estimate puts market value as high as $36 billion in 2020, highlighting that buildings can consume anywhere between 20-40% of the total energy intake of a country, creating a lucrative market for potential IoT vendors. While energy efficiency is one of the more obvious drivers for smart buildings initiatives, safety and security factors have also enhanced the growth of this market.

“The Internet of Things is a massive accelerator for digital transformation,” said Capgemini’s Olivier Sevillia. “Building a consistent strategy and providing an innovative platform for IoT services is an asset that companies can leverage for the benefit of their clients.

“This cloud based data driven services project will make the widespread benefits of connected buildings a reality for Siemens Building Technologies’ real estate customers, helping them to make more informed business decisions and realise operating efficiencies. Capgemini will support this roll-out from strategy development through to implementation and integration.”