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IoT and its applications: Connecting you, your home and your town

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 6:00pm

The Internet of Things (IoT) is massive, and getting bigger by the day. As new applications come to light for these sensor-driven networked technologies, our world will become increasingly connected, and more autonomous.

IoT is the virtual Wild West of the technology world. Since it can include just about every “thing” we interact with on a day-to-day basis, the potential for new applications is boundless. In a largely uncharted category of technology, one thing is absolutely certain, that the world as we know it is changing.

Smart home automation

Your home may already have several IoT devices in it. Many modern thermostats connect to the Internet and enable you to control them from your smartphone or desktop browser. That same thermostat could be receiving data from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors placed throughout the home, or even your home security system along with its various sensors placed on doors and windows, motion detectors, and cameras.

See also: What is the Internet of Things?

This is becoming a very common home security solution as it is accessible from virtually anywhere in the world. It gives you greater peace of mind as you travel, being able to monitor and receive real-time updates of your home’s security from afar. Want to save money on cooling costs when you’re away? Just load the app and adjust the thermostat or set it up so your thermostat automatically adjusts depending on how close you are to it.

Some less common applications include smart refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances that enable you to do things like make a shopping list and have it sent to the cloud, control them remotely, or even take a peek inside them from your smartphone.

Industry 4.0

Industrial applications for IoT technologies are vast. Sensors that monitor a machine and relay data to a centralized console pave the way for entire floors of automated manufacturing equipment to be monitored and controlled by one person in a control room. This decreases staffing costs, improves general safety, and enables companies to more easily run their operation around the clock without the need for breaks and lunch hours.

One practical application comes by way of a sensor placed in industrial trash compactors that communicate with waste management companies to let them know when that compactor is full and ready for pick-up. Because it’s difficult for a human to tell when a compactor is at capacity, scheduling a costly pickup is often done by date rather than if the compactor is actually full or not. This technology ensures that a pick up only occurs when it’s actually needed, and that on the other side, you don’t end up in a situation where your compactor is overflowing.

Connected healthcare

Healthcare is one sector that absolutely stands to gain from IoT technologies. Hospitals, which are an area where things can go from calm and efficient to chaotic and overcrowded in a matter of minutes, rely on remote monitoring equipment to track their patient’s status when healthcare providers can’t be bedside at all times. A nurse’s station already receives real-time updates on a patient’s heart rate, oxygen, and other vitals which alerts them to a potential problem as soon as it arises, but this is really only useful at the patient’s bedside.

A new generation of health monitoring devices are more portable and capable of transmitting vital information wirelessly from virtually anywhere. Heart monitors a cardiac patient can wear on them day-to-day will enable doctors to make more accurate diagnosis and create a more targeted healthcare plan.

For newborn infants, products like Neopenda have the potential of enabling the vital signs of an infant to be monitored even in areas of the world where infant mortality is an especially big problem. It’s a minimally invasive, efficient solution for monitoring the vital signs of infants.

Tomorrow’s smart cities

Smart city projects are underway around the globe. The potential for IoT applications here is incredible.

Smart construction paves (literally) the way for structural sensors to detect weakening or structural damage to buildings, bridges, roadways, and more. A parking lot could be fitted with sensors at each parking spot, enabling visitors to see a billboard with real-time updates as to how many spots are open avoiding the all-too-frustrating issue of overcrowding.

Traffic sensors can transmit updates to central traffic control, enabling city management to adjust the pacing of traffic signals to improve efficiency and avoid traffic jams. Smart highways can even update drivers on their expected driving conditions enabling them to make better decisions about which route they take to work.

Surveillance cameras and audio sensors that detect problematic sounds like gunfire can enable local law enforcement to respond to an incident as it is happening rather than relying on citizens to call 9-1-1 to report that a crime has taken place. Finding and prosecuting a suspect is also easier when they can see the crime happening, identify the perpetrator, and quickly locate them as they flee the scene.

We are just now scratching the surface of the potential the Internet of Things offers us. We are beginning to discover new and exciting ways to put these technologies to use for us in order to improve our quality of life.

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Categories: Technology

5 key technologies of a smart city

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 5:00pm

People are increasingly migrating from rural to urban areas. By 2050, about 86 percent of people in developed countries and 64 percent of people in developing countries are expected to live in cities. Because cities will absorb future population growth, it is crucial to use resources more efficiently. How will smart city technology make the urbanization process as smooth as possible?

1. Smart energy

Smart energy systems will monitor and control energy usage to more efficiently manage and conserve energy. Cisco estimates that cities that run on information can improve their energy efficiency by 30 percent within 20 years. By using renewable energy sources, manage water supply and have a waste management system, cities can reduce pollution and use less energy.

2. Smart mobility

Smart mobility strives to find more sustainable transport options. Deloitte reported that an average American is stuck about 34 hours in traffic every year. With rapidly growing cities, new transportation solutions need to be developed to keep mobility dynamic. This could save the US government for about 124 billion dollars every year. Walking, cycling and combined mobility are a few of the solutions that partially could solve the problem. By conducting big data drive projects, information can be gathered to identify driving and movement patterns and minimize the accident probability. Finding new and improved solutions will reduce costs and have a positive environmental impact. Last, but not least, a huge bonus is the improved health effect some of the solutions bring.

3. Smart infrastructure

Smart infrastructure creates the fundament for all smart solutions. By using new technology to convert raw data into information, urban and regional development can be planed and designed to fit future demand. Also existing systems can be improved by analyzing data from sensors, traffic patterns and tracking systems.

4. Smart public services

By connecting city residents and authorities using innovative communication technology, cities can become safer, cleaner and the general city standard will improve. If residents have the possibility to report trash or infrastructural problems, authorities can act faster to solve problems they otherwise would not be aware of.

5. Smart care

To adapt to changes in population demographics, the development of smarter healthcare services will provide quality services also in the future. Smarter care will reduce costs and connect users within the healthcare industry to provide necessary patient information. Giving caretakers access to patient information will help doctors collaborate in new ways to give the best patient care possible.

 

A smart city will respond better to emerging population challenges than traditional city management. By utilizing resources more efficiently governments can save money, improve life quality and meet the needs of future generations.

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Categories: Technology

Will Jiobit’s tiny hardware turn wearables into “invisibles”?

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 4:00pm

Jiobit’s new chip for tiny devices uses cloud-based machine learning in its quest to shrink wearables so much they become “invisibles.”

Yahoo! explores the device-shrinking strategy of the Chicago-based startup, which has been operating in stealth mode for nearly a year. And as wearables proliferate across the world, miniaturization and improved battery life become an increasing priority.

Jiobit’s new chips are looking to miniaturize connected devices to the point where they are so small that users forget they’re wearing them, hence “invisibles.” On top of this the company aims to extend battery life from current devices that use energy hogging sensors so that recharging is only done a couple times a month, all without sacrificing functionality.

“We’re shooting for two to three weeks of active time with a battery half the size of current devices,” said Jiobit CEO John Renaldi.

The initial focus of the company will be on developing miniaturized wearables that will let parents track their children. Renaldi says the inspiration for this came from a family road trip where he and his wife lost track of their son for a brief while, which was “a very traumatic experience.”

He says that the secret sauce for achieving smaller devices without losing battery juice or functionality is Jiobit’s mix of specially tailored mini hardware and software.

Jiobit’s motherboard a compact winner

On the hardware front, Jiobit’s compact motherboard includes the processor, sensors and such radios as GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth. Renaldi claims his in-house motherboard is smaller than any comparable hardware currently on the market.

“Some people get very lazy with how they build their [chips] and stack their components,” said Renaldi. “They use huge … chips. But our components are much more efficient in terms of space.”

He says the real magic comes with how this miniaturized hardware leverages contextual awareness, machine learning and selective connectivity to max out energy efficiency. The end result is maximum optimization with minimum real estate.

“Our approach is not only to rely on context, but to progressively figure out behavior with awareness of different actions in terms of power consumption,” says Renaldi.

The Jiobit chip increases power efficiency by using machine learning-powered software to contextualize energy usage. The software does this by crunching location and usage data the chip’s sensors send to a dedicated server.

“It starts learning behaviors,” he said. “The server can communicate with the wearable to influence behavior.”

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Categories: Technology

EU, Japan to connect for faster autonomous car rollout

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 1:00pm

The Japanese government has announced a plan to connect its global positioning system with the European Union’s Galileo to speed the deployment of autonomous cars in both regions.

It follows some Japanese firms complaining that the Quasi-Zenith satellite system (QZSS) is incapable of working for consumers outside of Japan, because it is unable to speak in a common digital language. That will change with the Galileo partnership, letting the satellite communicate with the EU’s 30 satellite constellation that spans the globe.

See Also: Japan and Germany allying over IoT standard

Once connected, Japanese automakers will be able to install autonomous tech in cars that work with satellites across the world. Japanese drivers will also be able to take their car on holiday or immigrate with their car, without the fear of systems not working in a new country.

Japan, EU hope deal is done quickly

Officials hope the plan will be ratified by the end of the year, according to Nikkei, but it will take another two years before the satellite systems are linked.

Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi Zosen, NTT Data, and French defense contractor Thales are all taking part in the discussions, forming the plan and ensuring that other satellite integrations are approved.

The Japanese government has made it a priority to push autonomous cars and other emerging technologies, as it attempts to get the economy back on track. It is already seeing some success: Nippon Ceramic, a parts manufacturer, sells a sensor fitted inside half of all autonomous cars.

Automakers in Japan are some of the most prepared in the industry for the autonomous revolution, according to a report from Lux Research. Toyota leads the pack in business execution, with Hyundai and Honda not far behind in execution or technical value.

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Categories: Technology

Sylvania shines a light on smart tech

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 12:45pm

A new report issued by LEDVANCE, a lighting company that sells Sylvania lightbulbs, gives valuable insight about the smart technology that people have already deployed in their homes.

The eighth annual Sylvania Socket Survey shows that lighting appears to be one of the top kinds of smart technology that Americans own.

See Also: Smart Homes Need Smarter Apps

According to the survey, there has been a 40 percent increase in smart lighting purchases since 2015, with more than 60 percent of Americans thinking that smart lighting fits their lifestyle, and 55 percent stating they’re probably going to purchase smart lighting when they need new lightbulbs.

Actually, a majority of U.S. citizens think that smart bulbs will totally replace traditional bulbs in the near future. The report shows that lighting falls among the top 3 smart technology devices that Americans own, along with thermostats and house alarms.

The report moves on to say that almost three quarters of consumers have bought LEDs, and close to half have done so in the last 12 months. Most of these shoppers say they expect to buy LEDs the next time they need lightbulbs too, with LEDs now the top replacement choice over CFLs and halogen bulbs.

Sylvania rolls out Lightify

With so much appreciation for more advanced, smart lighting options, Sylvania Lightify has become a major player in the market.

Sylvania’s Lightify offers many lighting products and accessories that allow users to have more convenient control over their lighting and electronics, improving efficiency and helping to save time and energy. The free app that accompanies the product line, to control lighting from anywhere, runs on Apple iOS7 and Android 4.1 or above.

The system starts with the Lightify Gateway, which can be plugged into a regular wall outlet within range of Wi-Fi and wirelessly sync with existing networks. This device can then connect to various other products.

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Categories: Technology

U.S. health policy can’t stop wearables data-bleeding

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 11:30am

Proliferating health and fitness devices is eroding the privacy of U.S. citizens, and current government policy is falling woefully short of addressing the privacy gap.

These privacy gaps were revealed in a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to Morning Consult.

The report found that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not cover health technology firms, who are creating legions of new health and fitness trackers.

“New types of entities that collect, share, and use health information are not regulated by HIPAA,” said the report.

It continues by explaining that the HIPAA only covers some electronic transactions by insurance companies, healthcare providers and clearing houses, along with health-related companies holding personally identifiable medical information.

However, the HIPAA does not address patient privacy concerns created by these new devices created by companies out of the traditional health care industry which are routinely sharing loads of personal medical data on unregulated networks.

“Health information is increasingly collected, shared, or used by new types of organizations beyond the traditional health care organizations currently covered by HIPAA,” said the report. It adds that these include “peer health communities, online health management tools, and websites used to generate information for research, any of which might be accessed on computers or smart phones and other mobile devices.”

Policy having trouble staying ahead of tech

This study comes amid increasing concerns about privacy of health information and fears of increased theft of personal medical data. Accenture released a report that predicted that more than 25 million people—or approximately one in 13 patients—will have their medical and/or personal information stolen from their healthcare provider’s digitized records between 2015 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the HIPAA study did not outline specific procedures that would address these privacy gaps, but instead gave suggestions on how regulations could address this issue.

“To ensure privacy, security, and access by consumers to health data, and to create a predictable business environment for health data collectors, developers, and entrepreneurs to foster innovation, the gaps in oversight identified in this Report should be filled,” said the report.

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Categories: Technology