Smart Industry 1/2020

Smart Industry 1/2020 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica

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The IoT Business Magazine

7.50 EUR 01.2020





The Future of








IoT at the Speed of Light

With faster design cycles and

increased competition, you need

more than parts.

You deserve solutions.




Europe Takes

the Lead

Tim Cole

is the editor of Smart

Industry – the IoT Business

Magazine. His latest book,

Wild Wild West – What

the History of the American

Wild West Teaches Us

About the Future of the

Digital Society is published

in German by Vahlen/Beck.

The Internet needs fixing, there’s no

doubt about it, but whose job is it?

Much can be left to the IT industry itself,

which has shown itself quite competent

in the past to self-regulate, standardize, and

hold itself to high moral standards.

Unfortunately, that is not enough. The invisible

hand of the market needs help from national

and international legislators. In the old Wild

West, they would have called it Law ‘n’ Order.

The logical body to regulate a transnational

network like the Internet, you might think, is

the United Nations but, given the diversity of

economic and political systems with their competing

and, more often, conflicting goals and

ethics, that hardly seems likely. So, who else?

The Internet was born in the United States and

for decades US authorities exercised a selfassumed

authority in cyberspace. Then regulation

became the watchword – of conservatives,

at least – and the current administration

is more likely to loosen than tighten things like

antitrust regulation, much less put Big Tech

on a leash for things like hate speech, child

pornography, or unfair business practices. The

other big player, China, is more interested in

putting the Internet under the control of party

apparatchiks, which is unacceptable to Western

liberal democracies.

Only one remains: Europe. The third-largest

economic bloc in the world is powerful enough

to enforce rules and regulations on its own

turf and influential enough to persuade other

countries to follow their lead.

More important, Europeans appear to be the

only ones willing to tackle the many problems

in the digital realm. In 2016, the European

Commission fined Google $5 billion for abusing

its mobile operating system to ensure the

popularity of Google apps and services over

others. Last year, the EU hit Google again for

$1.6 billion for abusing its market dominance

by imposing a number of restrictive clauses

in contracts with third-party websites which

prevented Google’s rivals from placing their

search adverts on these websites. European

authorities also have forced the likes of Facebook

and Twitter to remove extremist or sexist

content – or face the consequences. And, in

2017, Amazon was ordered to pay the EU $294

million in unpaid taxes.

Europe, it seems, is the only authority in the

world willing to take a hard line. Add to that

the unfairly criticized General Data Protection

Regulation (GDPR), which turns out to be the

only strong attempt by any national regulation

system to solve the problem of data ownership.

California is reputedly considering introducing

its own legislation following the lines of

Europe’s new data law.

The European Union, it seems, is just getting

warmed up. In June 2019, the new EU Cybersecurity

Act came into effect. Once more, critics

were quick to denounce undue government

meddling and overregulation, but any serious

student of the new legislation will have to admit

that, for the very first time, manufacturers

have a standardized framework to guide them

in implementing security across their products

and proving to their customers that they have

done so.

In fact, the act will not make life miserable for

ICT product manufacturers, but instead make

it easier. Companies doing business in the EU

will only have to certify their ICT products, processes,

and services once to see their certificates

recognized across all of Europe.

A better way to understand what is going on

is to consider what happens when buying a

fridge. For years there has been a universally

accepted energy-efficiency scale (A+++ down

to G) that lets buyers compare products from

many manufacturers. The EU wants to make

this available also with security.

Once again, it can be expected that the EU cybersecurity

act will lead the rest of the world,

triggering similar legislation in the US and Asia,

moving security standards and certification

methods across borders and applications.

After all, somebody has to do it!


contents Imprint


03 Editorial

04 Contents/Imprint

06 Smart People

Smart Business

10 AI Means Business

12 Plugging the Leaks

15 Why AI Initiatives Need CIO Support

16 Can AI Be Evil?

19 Microsoft Study Looks at AI Adoption in Europe

22 When and How Should AI Explain its Decisions?

24 Business Forecasting: Rethinking Risk

28 IoT in Mining: Deep Connectivity

32 Blockchain: Smart Contracts

38 Interview with Professor Dieter Kempf, BDI

Smart Communications

40 Next-Gen GNSS: Eyes in the Sky

46 Agencies: Jump-Starting IoT

52 A Network for Everybody: Interview

with Senet CEO Bruce Chatterley

54 Urban Robots: Street Smarts

60 Li-Fi: IoT at the Speed of Light


Title Story:

AI Means Business

Around the world, applications for artificial intelligence

(AI) are popping up all over the place. Once

something only for nerds, AI is transforming virtually

every aspect of business, from supply chains to

hiring, manufacturing to marketing, and customer

services to medicine. And managers everywhere are

asking themselves: how can I best seize upon the

business potential of AI?

Smart Lifestyle

64 Hybrid Design: The Future of Fashion

68 Wearables: Smart Buds

72 Brain–Computer Interfaces: Smart Connections

Smart Solutions

76 Logistics: Automating the Last 50 Feet

80 Home Threats: Security and Things

82 Bernd Schoene: IoT is Not for Free

84 Augmented Reality: Making a MES

86 Huawei: The Monsters Are Back

88 Marco Giegerich: Cooking up Next-Level IoT

90 Smart Companies

94 Smart Products

98 Gerd Leonhard: The Ethics of Technology


IoT Is All the Fashion

Designers and manufacturers of men’s

and women’s apparel are exploring

ways to predict trends faster and more

accurately than ever before. They are

helped by researchers who are looking

for ways to utilize artificial intelligence.



the Last 50 Feet

Everybody’s talking about the

“last mile,” but in fact it’s the last

50 feet that are the biggest bottleneck

for e-commerce growth,

ac counting for between 25 percent

and 50 percent of total shipping

costs. This offers a huge market

opportunity for innovation

in logistics.



Eyes in the Sky

Viewed as a utility often taken for

granted, GNSS enables real-time and

accurate product tracking, telematics,

timing, and other positioning-enabled,

machine-to-machine communication.

As the IoT market continues to expand,

so will the demands and expectations

placed on these satellite systems.



Avnet Silica (Avnet EMG GmbH), Gruberstrasse 60d,

85586 Poing - Germany

Production and Project Management

RSP Management GmbH, Hohenbrunner Weg 41B,

82024 Taufkirchen, rspitz@rsp-publishing.de

pmc active GmbH, Bretonischer Ring 10, 85630 Grasbrunn

Tel. 089 / 45 45 577 28, Fax 089 / 45 45 577 0

Project Manager Richard Spitz

Editor-in-Chief Tim Cole

Text editor Eric Doyle

Art Director Sara D’Auria, www.inframedesign.de,

Harald Sayffaerth, www.01graphics.de

Contributors Alan Earls, Eamon Earls, Gordon Feller,

Marco Giegerich, Gerhard Kafka, Jürgen Kalwa, Greg Langley,

Gerd Leonard, Stian Overdahl, Christ Parsons, Bengt Sahlin,

Bernd Schöne, Oliver Schonscheck, Marcel Weiss,

Chris Young, Anthony Bourne, Rainer Claaßen

Pictures Shutterstock, fotolia

Production Manager Stephan Quinkertz

Printing Westermann

Managing Director Richard Spitz, Stephan Quinkertz,

Alan Markovic

© 2020 RSP Management GmbH and pmc active GmbH

Smart People Behind the scenes

Behind the Scenes

Smart people

All over the world, brilliant individuals are hard at work creating the technologies and

solutions that will one day make the Internet of Things come alive. We visited a few

of them and listened to their fascinating stories.

source ©: Transfer. Das Steinbeis Magazin

Csaba Singer of

Hybrid-Airplane Technologies

The Sky’s No Limit

Csaba Singer hates the word “drone,”

which may seem surprising because

that’s what his small company makes

– except that his drone looks like a giant,

inflatable frisbee with two, tiny,

diametrically opposed wings.

Based in Baden-Baden, Germany,

Hybrid-Airplane Technologies was


flights can now

be done with



Csaba Singer

Founder, Hybrid-Airplane


Next-Gen Drones

Is it a blimp, is it a

plane? H-Aeros is as

energy efficient as a

Zeppelin but as agile

as a helicopter, making

it far superior to

conventional drones

in terms of safety,

payload, and endurance.

founded to produce a completely different

kind of unmanned aerial vehicle

(UAV): one that can stay airborne

for days or weeks on end and even fly

indoors, automatically following preprogrammed

routes or be piloted

over the Internet.

H-Aero, as Singer calls his brainchild,

is a combination of airplane, helicopter,

and balloon. It can take off

and land horizontally, fly from A to B,

or hover indefinitely, recharging its

batteries on the fly via built-in solar

panels. Consisting of a helium-filled

lenticular hull, the H-Aero is as energy

efficient as a Zeppelin or a balloon

but is as agile as multicopters or airplanes,

he claims.

In an interview with Droneii, an online

trade magazine, Singer expounded

the virtues of his company’s invention.

“Compared to conventional

drones, H-Aero is far superior in terms

of flight endurance, safety, payload,

and capabilities. This proves [useful]

especially in the field of agriculture

and forestry. Surveillance flights

which were previously only possible

with manned systems (because of

flight endurance or safety reasons),

can now be executed with the H-Aero

as the first unmanned system. For

source ©: Hybrid-Airplane Technologies


the client, this means a cost saving of

around 20 times and a low-emission

and friendlier option due to noise

protection and no CO2 emissions.”

Applications for H-Aero are many,

he believes. The flying frisbee can

be put to use inspecting bridges or

tunnels, keeping track of inventory in

warehouses, or keeping an eye from

above on crops or forests. Thanks to

its extended operating span, it could

even serve as a hotspot for local wireless

networks where antenna towers

are impractical or impossible to build.

With a payload of 10 kilograms, it can

even be used for transporting small

cargoes, for instance medicines to remote


The best thing, Singer believes, is

that his company’s first product isn’t

subject to many of the laws and restrictions

that apply to conventional

drones. “We just received a positive

safety certificate as ‘harmless’ even

over public gatherings,” he claims,

adding that if a malfunction occurs,

the craft simply glides to the ground

like a parachute. “Besides, our starting

mass is below the limit that requires a

human operator and instead of using

a camera, which would be a problem

for most missions, we use sensors to

measure things like pollution or heat

spots,” he says.

Hybrid-Airplane Technologies already

has plans for a much larger

version of H-Aero that can carry passengers.

“Maybe we can become the

Uber of air taxis,” he hopes. A loworbit

version could be produced to

expand the use of dirigible UAVs to

the edge of outer space itself. In fact,

Singer is talking to NASA about using

the H-Aero on a future Mars mission.

Obviously, when it comes to bright

ideas, for this young man not even

the sky’s the limit.

Brent Seales of

University of Kentucky

Virtually Unrolling

Ancient Scrolls

Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted in

79 AD and buried the towns of Pompeii

and Herculaneum in ash and lava.

Everything was buried in the inferno,

including an invaluable library of

scrolls whose contents were rendered

unreadable – or at least they were

considered lost until Brent Seales

came along. As director of the Center

for Visualization and Virtual Environments

at the University of Kentucky,

Seales was fascinated by the hundreds

of carbonized papyrus scrolls

that were unearthed in 1752 in a villa

in Herculaneum that allegedly once

belonged to Julius Caesar’s father-inlaw.

Today, the scrolls are kept at the

National Archaeological Museum in

Naples and are believed to be the only

intact library from antiquity to survive.

Except, of course, that nobody could

actually read what was written on


Historians have been searching for

centuries for lost works from classical

antiquity such as Sappho’s poems or

Mark Antony’s treatise on drunkenness

– works which are known only

through references to them by other


Until now, reading the scrolls from the

Villa of the Papyri, as it has become

With ultrabright


we will be

able to see

the internal

structure of

the papyri.

Brent Seales

University of Kentucky

known, has been impossible. Various

attempts in the past to unroll some

of them have led to their destruction

– they simply fall to pieces. Seales

believes he has found a way to “virtually

unroll” them using artificial intelligence,

machine learning, and highenergy


To get there, he first traveled to Oxford

in England. There, at the Harwell

Science and Innovation Campus, a

small university spin-off named Diamond

Light Source was operating

the UK’s national synchrotron. The

device is a giant microscope that

harnesses the power of electrons to

produce ultra-bright light, allowing

it to be used to study anything from

fossils to jet engines, to viruses and

vaccines – and perhaps fossilized papyrus

rolls, too.

“With the ultra-bright light, we will

be able to see the internal structure

of the scrolls in more definition than

has ever been possible,” Seales believes.

The machine-learning tool he

and his colleagues are developing will

amplify the “ink” parts of the signal by

training a computer algorithm to recognize

them pixel-by-pixel, from photographs

of fragments of the damaged

scrolls that still show clear traces

of writing. This data is then compared

with the corresponding tomographic

data (slice images) of the same fragments

gathered by the synchrotron

using multi-voxel pattern analysis.

A voxel is a 3D image produced by

combining the 2D slices. This offshoot

of MRI imaging used in medical

examinations produces by far

source ©: University of Kentucky / College of Engineering


Smart People Behind the scenes


keting but they really didn’t have

the technology that gives you the

visibility about what’s going on in

those networks. Industrial networks,

in those days, were really a black box.

Often, nobody really knew who was

taking care of security; sometimes

it was the automation engineers

themselves, sometimes the IT department.

That’s where I saw my opportunity

so, in 2014, I left Siemens

and teamed up with two guys from

Israel who were at the cutting edge

of technology. They were working

for Unit 8200, which is sort of the

equivalent of the NSA [the US National

Security Agency].

Being Available

Galina Antova cut her teeth in IT working

for IBM and then at Siemens but

she is now making her mark as a successful

entrepreneur in the operational

technology (OT) space. Smart Industry’s

editor Tim Cole caught up with

her in the restaurant at the top of Munich’s

600-foot TV tower to talk about

how the company she cofounded

four years ago, Claroty, can help protect

critical IoT infrastructures.

You bill yourself as an expert in

OT security. How does that tie into


I had the privilege to work in the

wonderful world of industrial automation

services at Siemens where

I discovered that the whole world

runs on industrial automation – lit-

Lots of companies

are involved

in critical


– whether they

know it or not.

Galina Antova

CEO, Claroty

Who are your clients?

There are a number of large vendors

in the OT area like Siemens, Schneiphoto

©: Helmut Weissenbach

erally everything! About this time,

Stuxnet became public – the worm

virus that targets industrial control

systems affecting critical infrastructure

systems like electrical grids,

water supply, telecommunications,

and so on. Suddenly, OT security was

on everybody’s minds – protecting

operational technology, namely the

hardware and software that monitors

and controls physical devices.

Companies started talking more

openly about it and budgets were

starting to be created.

Traditionally, that sounds more

like the responsibility of the IT security


At this point I realized that IT security

companies weren’t doing much

when it comes to industrial cybersecurity.

Maybe they did some mar-

What do you do differently from

other security companies?

We wanted to create technology

that fits right into the world of industrial

automation. That means it

should not interfere with the processes’

uptimes. Availability is the

number one thing we need to protect.

That meant we had to spend

a lot of time studying the different

components of networks and understanding

how they communicate

with each other. We had to find

a way to passively listen to what’s

going on in those networks and

extract information without disrupting

the process itself. By analyzing

that data, we can monitor security

in real-time, machine-to-machine

communication, which is the nature

of industrial automation.

How long did that take you?

We were in stealth mode for almost

two years. When you go to a really

big customer like these, they have

pretty much everything under the

sun, so providing comprehensive security

means you have to understand

all the different devices and protocols.

We have a pretty sophisticated

research team that is separate from

our development team whose job is

just blind analysis of the protocols.


der, Rockwell, and GE who provide

the basic equipment for big national

and international infrastructure systems.

We are currently about 150

people around the world. Our R&D

is based in Israel but our headquarters

is in New York. We started officially

selling in 2016. Today, we have

customers in 15 vertical markets,

everything from mining to oil and

gas, all kinds of manufacturing from

automotive to petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals,

food & beverage – all of

them large companies all over the


How do you plan to expand your


The nice thing about our market is

that lots of companies are involved

in critical infrastructure – whether

they know it or not. Even if they’re

not an industrial company, they

all have an office, and offices have

building management systems; they

have elevators, they have lights, and

they’re all operated by OT networks.

So, we were able to start expanding

to data centers, commercial real estate,

and many other industries. Recently,

we branched out to include

IoT devices that may not be so visible

but are still critical, things like

security cameras or your Apple TV

or your printers. It doesn’t matter if

we’re dealing with an industrial network

or an enterprise IoT network,

if you don’t know how they’re communicating,

they are potential attack

vectors. Our business proposition is:

“We cover all the invisible devices in

your network.”

Are companies today in the process

of repeating the same mistakes

they made 25 years ago in IT

security, namely let’s build it and

if security issues crop up we’ll fix

them later?

You’re right, we’re going through the

same cycle. The difference is that we

simply don’t have 25 years to evolve

the defenses. In IT, it happened very

gradually and naturally, first anti-virus,

then firewalls, then IPS; attackers

and vendors sort of played a game

of catch-up. The reality today is that

operational technology and IoT

are everywhere and they’re all connected

to other networks, and both

pretty much lack any kind of security


How do you close the gap?

One way Claroty is different is that

we don’t build products, we built a

platform. Each one of the features

that we offer, in IT security they’re

a separate product category. For

example, we do asset management

and there are a bunch of companies

on the IT side that do that. The

same for vulnerability management,

for virtual segmentation – think

VMware for OT networks. We build

all kinds of different products into

a consolidated platform including

secure remote access. That makes

it easy to gain visibility and monitor

threats within OT and IoT networks.

Doesn’t that create rivalries or

even conflicts of interest between

old-school IT security departments

and OT?

[laughs] People are always the problem,

aren’t they? A major reason companies

aren’t adjusting faster lies in

their organizational structures. There

are geographical differences. The

US, for instance, appears to be moving

faster than Europe in terms of

governance structures. What we see

with the great majority of companies

is that once awareness reaches the

board level things really start moving.

Top brass starts asking, “Who’s

responsible for OT and IoT cybersecurity?”

and the answer is nobody,

because engineering does engineering,

and IT security does IT security,

they don’t do OT security. So typically,

the chief information security officer

gets the responsibility and starts reshuffling

priorities. The question becomes,

“Where do I spend my next

dollar? Do I spend it on the third or

fourth end-point security protection

products, or do I spend it on a technology

that lets me see the true state

of my critical infrastructure components

for the very first time?”

source ©: University of Kentucky, College of Engineering

Super Scanner

Using the machinelearning

tool, the team

hopes to amplify the

“ink” parts of the signal

by training a computer

algorithm to recognize

them pixel-by-pixel,

from photographs of

fragments of the

damaged scrolls that

still show clear traces

of writing. This data is

then compared with

the corresponding

tomographic data (slice

images) of the same

fragments gathered by

the synchrotron using

multi-voxel pattern


the best resolution of any scanning

technology. By applying that same

logic to the still-rolled scrolls, it’s

hoped that ink that is otherwise invisible

to the naked eye will be revealed.

“The first thing we are hoping to do

is to perfect the technology so that

we can simply repeat it on all 900

scrolls that remain [unwrapped],” says

Seales. So far, his team has tested the

method on two intact scrolls and four

smaller fragmented ones from the Institut

de France.

“We ... shine very intense light

through (the scroll) and then detect

on the other side a number of twodimensional

images. From that we

reconstruct a three-dimensional volume

of the object ... to actually read

the text in a nondestructive manner,”

Seales explains. The goal is to

train the system to pick out and learn

subtle differences between inked and

blank areas in the X-ray scans, such as

differences in the structure of the papyrus

fibers. Once trained on the fragments,

it is hoped the system can be

used with data from the intact scrolls

to reveal the text within.

Many of the writings of the formative

thinkers of the classical age have

been lost. For instance, only one third

of the writings of Aristotle survive.

The founders of Western drama were

the brilliant playwrights. Aeschylus

and Euripides wrote around 90 plays

each but only seven and 19 remain

respectively. Historians would love to

lay their hands on other lost gems like

the missing texts of Livy’s History of

Rome. After 2,000 years, their dream

may be coming true – who knows

what the scrolls may reveal?


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies


Smart Companies

AI Means


Around the world, artificial intelligence (AI) is almost everywhere. In just a

few years, it has spread beyond something only technology nerds

get excited about, to permeate every realm of business, from supply chains

to hiring, manufacturing to marketing, and customer services to medicine.

Established companies are spending big to acquire the technology

and pundits are not only offering impressive growth predictions

but also deployment models for those aiming to seize upon

the potential of AI.

n By Alan Earls

Applications for artificial

intelligence (AI) are popping

up all over the place.

For example, French home

improvement retailer Leroy Merlin

is running algorithms against historic

sales data and other information,

such as weather forecasts, to

help drive what appears on shelves,

and in what quantities, allowing the

company to cut inventory costs and

improve sales in the process.

Or take Merantix, an AI research

organization in Germany, which

has spun out a company called MX

Healthcare that can analyze mammograms

and find indications of

cancer with startling accuracy.

“People are sometimes skeptical

about the growth of AI just because

not all AI is exotic deep learning or

extremely complex, a lot of it involves

familiar but very useful things,

like bots and virtual assistants,” says

Greg Schulz, senior advisory analyst

at StorageIO. Clearly, there are also

plenty of examples of much more

advanced deployments, he adds,

such as autonomous road vehicles

and automated drone delivery undergoing

testing around the world.

Alex Bekker, head of the data analytics

department at ScienceSoft, an

IT consulting company, comments,

“Nowadays, companies from different

business spheres can make use

of different types of AI.” He notes the

case of a manufacturer which could

have robots on its assembly lines

with automated visual inspection

systems ensuring quality control. The

company could also employ deep

neural networks to assess the risks

associated with their Tier 1 and Tier

2 suppliers – in other words, a mix of

functional, visual, and analytic AI.

But that’s only the beginning, he


In Europe alone, researchers from

Ernst & Young, working on behalf

of Microsoft, identify hundreds of

major companies benefiting from

AI (see “Microsoft Study Looks at

AI Adoption in Europe”). Likewise,

industries, including telecommunications

service providers, are

poised for transformation and likely

to spend more than $11bn on AI by

2025, according to analyst firm Tractica

in its report, Artificial Intel-


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

source ©: YouTube

ligence for Telecommunications Applications.

The authors outline likely

use cases such as network operations

monitoring and management,

predictive maintenance, fraud

mitigation, cybersecurity, customer

service, and virtual digital assistants

(VDAs) for marketing.

According to the Global Artificial

Intelligence (AI) Market Report 2019–

2024: Trends, Forecast and Competitive

Analysis from market insight firm

Lucintel and recently made available

through the Research and Markets

store, the worldwide AI market is

expected to be worth around $71bn

by 2024 with a compound annual

growth rate (CAGR) of 26 percent

from 2019 to 2024. The researchers

predict that machine-learning

technology will remain the largest

A lot of AI

involves familiar

but very useful

things like bots

and virtual


Greg Schulz

Senior Advisory Analyst,


segment and likely to see the greatest

growth but the impact of this

spending on the global economy as

a whole is truly eye-popping.

An earlier report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers,

Sizing the Prize:

What’s the Real Value of AI for Your

Business and How Can You Capitalize?,

global gross domestic product

(GDP) could rise by up to 14 percent

in 2030 as a result of AI investments,

or some $15.7tn in net gain. China

alone could see a boost of up to 26

percent in GDP, while North America

would likely grow at the global

rate of 14 percent, it said.

The Nature of AI

AI is a very broad phenomenon,

says Anne-Laure Thieullent, AI and

analytics group offer leader at consulting

firm Capgemini. “We see

three big building blocks of AI technologies

with great traction at the

moment,” she says.

First, and probably the most recent

in terms of use cases and uptake,

is computer vision which, coupled

with deep-learning techniques, can

enable features like image classification,

object detection, facial recognition,

or even emotion recognition.

“This has great applications in manufacturing

but also, interestingly,

in entertainment to get real-time

feedback about content from an audience,”

she adds.

Second, natural language processing

is now getting more widespread

adoption, Thieullent notes,

with cognitive document processing

and intelligent content recognition,

semantic search for enterprise

knowledge, summarization solutions,

and even intelligent agents

for conversational interfaces.

Third is automatic speech recognition

(ASR) solutions based on deep

learning. These are also ramping up

for a variety of applications around

sentiment detection, tonal analysis

from voice data, keyword identification,

text-to-speech, and translation.

“All of these can have great

applications in customer service

centers,” she believes.

Expert Assessment

Despite encouraging beginnings in

Europe, illustrated by Leroy Merlin

and MX Healthcare, some say the

region has been too slow in launching,

and too limited in sustaining,

its AI initiatives. A 2019 report from

the McKinsey Global Institute, Notes

from the AI Frontier: Tackling Europe’s

Gap in Digital and Artificial Intelligence,

says that early digital companies

have been the first to develop

strong positions in AI, yet only two

European companies are in the

worldwide digital top 30. Encouragingly,

though, Europe has about 25

percent of all AI start-ups.

Intelligent Leak Detection

Plugging the HOLES

Water leaks, even small

ones, can add up to

large volumes of wasted

clean water and

increased costs for property owners.

And, of course, leaks can sometimes

have disastrous consequences like

flooding, equipment damage, and ruined

walls and floors. Wasteful water

use practices also hit the bottom line.

Fantastic Tools

AI has proven to be

invaluable in enabling

Aqualytics to understand

water flows with

fewer false positives,

chief product officer

Yaron Dycian claims.

source ©: Ctoforum

To tackle this challenge, UK-based

Aqualytics offers an AI-powered

water conservation and leak detection

system called Flowless that integrates

with plumbing systems. It

can lead to double-digit water use

reductions – some clients say they

are using almost one third less.

In one instance, a new unoccupied

structure had a catastrophic leak

on an empty floor. Fortunately, the

Aqualytics system detected the abnormal

event and shut off the water

before serious damage occurred –

and long before humans could have



source ©: MX Healthcare GmbH

If Europe scaled up its efforts, the

authors note, AI could potentially

add up to €2.7tn in GDP to the

€13.5tn European economy, dependent

on its current set of skills,

state of digitization, and other factors.

This would translate into a 1.4

percent compound annual growth

through 2030. However, the report

notes, realizing that potential will

depend on achieving a diffusion of

skills and knowledge.

According to Thieullent, organizations

in Europe are already ramping

up their investments and deployments

of AI technologies. “We see

various interesting use cases deployed

at scale in manufacturing,

where not only can machine learning

help detect failures in production

lines or optimize overall equipment

efficiency but also computer vision

is used to assist in quality defects

detection,” she says. For consumer

products, the focus is more about

using AI to support marketing efficiency,

by anticipating market trends

from other regions and allowing the

trends to modify product launches

to fit market specificities in a much

more proactive manner, she adds.

For retailers, she sees a great uptake

of using AI to improve sales-forecast

accuracy and decrease inventory

costs, as well as progressing on a

demand-driven supply chain. “That

also helps them with their sustainability

agenda,” she says.

Public sector and government agencies

in Europe are also strongly ramp-

Reducing the


Radiologists are

held back by an

increasing workload of

examinations without

any findings. So Merantix

Healthcare built Vara,

a platform powered by

machine learning which

reduces repetitive work

for radiologists and

enables them to focus

on cases which really


ing up their AI investments to improve

their services, says Thieullent.

Here, the goal is to optimize administrative

processes and offer a more

digital experience to people. On the

positive side of the ledger, Thieullent

says European business is “definitely

past the early-adopters phase.” However,

she warns, a good number of

organizations are now in the phase

she calls the “AI Death Valley.”

Thieullent explains that her phrase

stems from how AI has gone

through several “winters” in the last

decades, where storage and compute

power or advances in deeplearning

research were not yet adequate

to fulfill the promises implicit

in the mathematical theory behind

AI. The Death Valley situation

AI is a fantastic tool for analyzing

complex data such as water flow and

identifying specific anomalies and

characteristics, explains chief product

officer Yaron Dycian. “It has proven

invaluable in enabling us to effectively

understand water flows with

very low false positives and very high

detection rates,” he adds. And while

he cautions that AI is not a cure-all,

combined with other technologies

such as signal processing, pattern

recognition, and data-processing

tools, it can be highly effective.

“AI will continue to disrupt industries

while providing solutions to

problems that were never thought

possible,” says Dycian. And, he adds,

“there are probably not many areas

of business that will not be impacted.”

The Flowless system

uses machine learning

to understand how a

building uses water and

detects any changes.

source ©: Aqualytics


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

source ©: Connect-World

today is similar but not caused by

technical shortfalls. Some organizations,

she explains, are in a situation

where a lot of different pilots, proofs

of concept (POCs), and minimum

viable products (MVPs) have been

launched but often with neither a

clear business strategy nor a strong

operating model – something one

expert at the recent Industry of

Things Expo in Berlin referred to as

“proof-of-concept hell.”

Thieullent observes that many AI

deployments require cloud computing

from the very beginning but

many companies are still at the start

of their cloud journey. On the other

hand, many initiatives are currently

underway globally to boost AI.

For example, within the European

Union, the “France is AI” initiative is

When Failure Is Not an


Machine learning can

help to detect failures in

production lines and to

optimize overall equipment

efficiency. Already,

computer vision is being

used to assist in automated

quality control systems.

In Europe, a

good number

of organizations

are now in the

AI Death Valley


Anne-Laure Thieullent

AI and analytics group

offer leader, Capgemini

now gathering together many companies

and start-ups, and the AI4EU

collaborative platform got going

earlier this year.

One area where Europeans may be

ahead of the curve is in their focus

on the ethical aspects of AI (see

“Can AI Be Evil?” on page 16) – proactively

addressing potential biases

in data sets or algorithms, building

explainability and visibility into AI

solutions, and adopting a more

transparent approach about the finality

and intent of AI applications.

“Companies like Telia have published

clear ethical AI guidelines

to provide a framework for these

applications,” says Thieullent. With

greater sensitivity toward data privacy

as well as the trust and consent

of the general public, especially

after the Cambridge Analytica incident,

this may turn into a competitive

advantage in the long run for

European organizations that will

implement a human-centric approach

to AI – or an AI that makes

sense to humans, she says.

While conditions for AI adoption

and expansion may not be perfect,

companies and organizations

around the world are moving ahead.

Cogito, a young US company with

roots in the Massachusetts Institute

of Technology’s (MIT) Human

Dynamics Lab, trains machines to

detect and interpret the social signals

in human communication. The

company now offers in-call guidance

to call center agents for every

phone conversation.

AI Meets IoT

Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas

Container Line (OOCL) provides

shipping containers for the world

market and has been applying AI

extensively in its operations. The

company recently upgraded its

MyOOCLReefer (MOR) service for

refrigerated containers by combining

AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and

mobility to provide transparency,

visibility, and convenience to shippers

when monitoring their cargoes.

In Vietnam, agriculture is get-


Top Down

Why AI Initiatives Need

CIO Support

Use Cases for AI Application Categories

AI Strategy Framework With Examples

Build Your AI Business Case


Event lights




traffic flow

Organization of Individual Entities



Faster data



claims handling

Speedy order







Mobility as

a service





Reactor Categorizer Responder Learner Creator

source ©: Gartner

Low Individual Entity Intelligence High

According to a recent presentation

at a Gartner event

Source: Gartner

in Cape Town, South Africa,

vital new digital initiatives

such as AI will ultimately depend on

the CIO, in partnership with the chief

of human resources, to help lead the

cultural change that must accompany

technology evolutions.

Mindsets and practices shape culture,

and technology is only an

amplifier of that culture, according

to Daniel Sanchez Reina, a senior

research director at advisory firm

Gartner. In other words, technology

by itself rarely changes an organization.

However, technology

is now often the backbone of how

source ©: Amadeus

work gets done and reinforces the

company culture, which is why he

believes culture change is becoming

an increasing responsibility of IT.

The good news, according to a recent

Gartner CIO Agenda Survey, is

Technology is

now often the

backbone of

how work gets


Daniel Sanchez Reina

Senior research

director, Gartner

that artificial intelligence, while only

coming in sixth for new or increased

spending in 2019, was identified as

the number one game-changing

technology area by chief executives

around the globe. The report states

that EMEA CIOs are “setting the example”

when it comes to harvesting

the results of digital initiatives. Their

specific strength, Gartner believes,

is taking new initiatives to scale

more successfully than their counterparts

in North America, Latin

America, or the Asia/Pacific region.

They did so through better collaboration

with the business and by reducing

silos and internal complexity,

the survey concluded.


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

Biased Algorithms

Can AI be Evil?

While killer robots may

exist only in science

fiction, a growing

number of people

inside and outside the world of

technology are concerned that AI

can do harm through embedded

and latent prejudices. For example,

AI systems have produced embarrassing

mistakes related to facial

recognition based on inadvertent

training with a narrow input set and

may also embed bias in the hiring

decisions they help make.

The most famous example occurred

in 2015, when Google was forced to

apologize after its new photo app

labeled two black people as “gorillas.”

It turned out the algorithm was

trained using a database of facial


People are

only needed

to train AI –

and that’s the


Edna Kropp

Digital engagement

specialist, LivePerson

photos that only included whites.

Similar problems have occurred

with people (of all races) being

tagged as dogs, for similar reasons.

source ©: LivePerson

Racist tags have also been a problem

in Google Maps. For a while,

searches for “nigger house” globally

and searches for “nigger king”

in Washington DC turned up results

for the White House under former

US president Barack Obama.

It is not just Google that has run

across problems with biased algorithms.

Flickr’s auto-tagging system

came under scrutiny after it labelled

images of black people with

tags such as “ape” and “animal.” The

system also tagged pictures of concentration

camps with “sport” or

“jungle gym.”

“More and more companies are

using AI. The software can manage

large amounts of data and react

independently to inputs,” says

Edna Kropp, digital engagement

specialist at LivePerson, a provider

of conversational commerce solutions,

based in Berlin. People are

only necessary to train the AI, she

notes, and this is exactly where the

problem lies. Even though artificial

intelligence is an emotionless appliance,

it is only as unbiased as the

data provided by the trainer. In fact,

she says, “The machines are usually

programmed by white men.”

In response to this concern, the

EqualAI (Equal Artificial Intelligence)

initiative founded by LivePerson

CEO Robert LoCascio has been gathering

support. The organization is

pursuing a four-pronged program

to encourage more women and

people from a range of ethnicities

to learn to code. This would enable

them to pursue degrees in technology,

to work with companies in

eliminating bias in human and AIcentric

hiring and promotion, and to

identify and eliminate bias embedded

in new and existing AI systems.

Kropp says current estimates are

that around 80 percent of software

developers and programmers are

male. “The data with which these

people train artificial intelligence

represent their world,” she says.

For example, if a programmer has

mainly white friends, he will show

the AI photos of white people for

facial recognition. As a result, the AI

will only be able to fall back on less

diverse image material and will distinguish

faces of non-white people

less successfully.

The problems do not stop with racial

proclivities within the AI, notes

Kropp, by mirroring the world in

which the dominant white male

programmers live, many other

problems can arise.

AI Needs Better Data

“The solution to this problem is obvious:

AI needs better data, more

data, and, above all, more diverse

data,” says Kropp. This will only

happen when people from different

social and cultural contexts

program such machines. Unfortunately,

too few people with these

backgrounds have so far decided

on a career in software development.

“The EqualAI initiative is

working to ensure that more women

and people from minorities are

trained in the technology,” says


On a similar note, Stephane Rion,

senior deep-learning scientist for

Teradata in France, says that a key

aspect of AI implementations within

financial organizations is transparency:

“More and more banks and

financial institutions are focusing

their efforts not only on developing

the most performant predictive

models to catch fraud or agree on a

loan but also in understanding why

a model made a specific decision.”

In the area of deep learning, neural

networks can have a large number

of neurons or parameters that will

affect the final decision; being able

to understand this is vitally important

for a bank when it comes to

meeting regulations or even running

an audit, he explains.

AI allows

us to


the safety

and reliability

of our





Meghan Sharp

Managing Director,

BP Ventures

Pumping Data

Instead of Oil

Through its partnership

with Beyond

Limits, gas and oil

giant BP hopes to

improve the safety

and reliability of

its infrastructure

and production, as

well as changing

the way it locates

and refines crude.

By harnessing collective


BP believes it can

improve the speed

and quality of its


ting a boost through Sero’s crop

monitoring which uses AI to analyze

photographs and identify likely

diseases or infestations. The system

will have the ability to diagnose and

recommend treatments to farmers.

BP, the British multinational oil and

gas company, has invested $20m

in Beyond Limits, an AI company

with roots in NASA’s Jet Propulsion

Laboratory, to help it accelerate the

delivery of AI software that shows

promise of offering the energy sector

new levels of operational insight,

source ©: Beyond Limits Inc.

business optimization, and process


A hope of the partnership, according

to BP, is that it could enable a

change in the way it locates and

develops reservoirs, produces and

refines crude oil, and markets and

supplies refined products. Beyond

Limits’ software will help support

improvements in the speed and

quality of decision-making and

manage operational risks by harnessing

the collective knowledge

and experience of BP’s experts.

Beyond Oil and Gas

The company says it hopes the software

will also allow the oil company

to improve the safety and reliability

of its infrastructure and production

processes. Meghan Sharp, managing

director of BP Ventures, believes

the investment is an example of BP’s

ongoing support of entrepreneurs

and innovators that goes beyond

the traditional world of oil and gas.

Watson, IBM’s famous cognitive

supercomputer, has been applied

extensively in health-care management

both within the US and


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

source ©: Medium Corporation

globally. For example, it supports

a Care Manager function that can

sift through both structured and

unstructured data to help tailor care

programs in conjunction with human

medical professionals. Watson

has also been applied to the hunt

for new therapeutic drugs and in

optimizing cancer treatment and

care using historic data and patient

information to fine-tune regimens

to the needs of the individual.

Dreamstime is a European stock photography

company which has started

to use AI to improve the experience

of its website users, for instance during

the photo-vetting process. Horia

Beschea, an AI specialist working

with the company from Bucharest,

Romania, explains: “Before photos

are posted onto the website, AI is

used to sort through them. That allows

us to distribute content to our

users at a much faster rate than ever

before. Our AI models recognize hu-


Watching Out for

Subtle Signals

AI can be trained to

detect and interpret

the social signals in

human communication,

thus offering

in-call guidance to

call center agents

for every phone


AI is a huge

win for an

industry that

relies on



Oscar Macia


AI allows us

to distribute

content to our

users much

faster than ever


Horia Beschea

AI specialist,


Conversation Starters

LivePerson has access to data that

helps inform the brand–consumer

relationship and interaction, he explains.

This data can be leveraged to

reveal within each product category

and subcategory why people are

reaching out to customer care. The

system is built on 24 years of customer

call center data. According to

Fischaleck, more than 18,000 companies

currently use LivePerson.

Finally, Stephane Rion, senior deeplearning

scientist for Teradata in

France, says his company is delivering

AI customized solutions “built

from the ground up” and based

on the client’s requirements, using

a blend of the latest open-source

technologies and Teradata’s Vantage

analytics platform.

“We deliver fraud detection solutions

based on deep recurrent neural

networks, financial products recommendation

systems, and document

processing and automatic validation

for the back office,” Rion says.

Teradata is currently working with

Abanca and other major banks in

Spain on the implementation of a

solution to accelerate the loan acceptance

process for bank customers.

The product is up and running

and enables the validation of hundreds

of loan requests per day, Rion

claims. It processes and classifies

necessary client documents (proof

of address, pay slips, etc.) for a loan

request using natural language processing

techniques and machine

learning. It also extracts and validates

specific information such as

national insurance numbers and signatures

from the documents using

optical character recognition and

deep-learning models.

Beyond those adoption stories and

the range of views on AI’s progman

models in images, image type,

and content that should be filtered

[e.g. adult/health/violence] and run

on all new images at once.”

Applying AI allows Dreamstime to

get an automated understanding

of the image content and its potential

value as stock photography.

Freed from the onerous and timeconsuming

tasks of sorting images,

editors can focus on quality issues.

In Barcelona, ForceManager, which

specializes in mobile CRM, says it

is the first in Europe to incorporate

machine learning and conversational

AI technology (along the lines of Siri

and Alexa) to help field sales representatives

working away from the

office. The system delivers insights

on upcoming deals, recalls data from

previous visits, and even recommends

certain products or services

for promotion to specific customers.

“We’re seeing many of the consumer

AI trends carry over to business to cut

out menial tasks and drive efficiency,”

says ForceManager’s cofounder

and CEO Oscar Macia. One of the

company’s creations is a virtual, AIbased

sales assistant called Dana.

On average, according to Macia, field

sales reps spend 63 percent of their

time on non-selling activities. With

Dana’s help, they can use their commuting

time to report on a meeting

in real time and stay up to date on

their pipeline. “It’s a huge win for

an industry that relies on a heavy

reporting funnel to survive,” he says.

AI-enabled artificial assistants are in

many ways similar to what’s on of-

source ©: ForceManager

fer from LivePerson, a provider of

conversational commerce software

that can work semi-autonomously

or in concert with employees. “We

are changing the very nature of

brand–customer interaction,” says

Moritz Fischaleck, a product evangelist

at LivePerson in Berlin.

Strong Commitment to AI

Microsoft Study Looks

at AI Adoption in Europe


recently completed study

conducted by Ernst &

Young for Microsoft examined

the outlook for AI

in Europe for 2019 and beyond, as

well as current practices.

Of the 307 companies surveyed, 59

percent say they expect AI to have

a major impact on aspects of business

that are “entirely unknown

to the company today” – though

only about four percent indicated

that their own use of AI is currently

making a large contribution to operations

or could be considered to

be “advanced.”

More than a quarter of the respondents

say they have already put AI

to use and over 60 percent claim to

be in the planning stages.

Overall, the researchers found a

strong, and apparently permanent,

commitment to AI spending

and innovation and the report

concluded, “It is no understatement

to suggest that AI will be a

chief protagonist in the change

transcending all elements of business

in what has been labelled the

Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

source ©: Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft | Microsoft


Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

source ©: Teradata

ress, Thieullent at Capgemini sees

three big impediments to success.

The first is that the different AI initiatives

aren’t necessarily focused

on the right use cases or that these

use cases aren’t aligned to the organization’s

strategic objectives and

therefore cannot scale from a business


The second problem is that it is still

too difficult for IT departments to

put AI solutions into production, often

either because their data landscape

is not managed well enough

for the right data to be used in a

recurrent manner or because their

cloud strategy hasn’t been fully

implemented (see “Top Down: Why

AI Initiatives Need CIO Support” on

page 15).

AI solutions are sometimes doomed

to stay in proof-of-concept hell for

an unreasonable amount of time,

Thieullent explains, before making

it into production, where they are

fully integrated into the IT landscape

in a recurrent manner to

serve business users.

The third impediment, she says,

is that organizations still haven’t

completely figured out what the

right operating model is for AI to

“work” at scale for their teams. For

instance, she notes, they need to

think through how to programmanage

the initiatives, how to fund

them, and how to properly measure

and recognize tangible success and

business outcomes.

Implementors also need to think

about how to prioritize the next set


There needs

to be a single

point of truth to

avoid duplication,

stale data,

and silos.

Stephane Rion


Finding the Right


A clear AI strategy

roadmap defined by the

business stakeholders

and the data science

team is crucial for the

smooth deployment

of successful AI prototypes

into production.

“Don’t just jump into AI

for the sake of jumping

into AI,” says Teradata’s

Stephane Rion.








Sales Data

Scan Data





Display Space/


Fast Load

Many Data Types,





Product Portfolio










360 o Data





In Segments, Market to

Cross sell, Upsell, Replenish


In Profiled Stores, Segments,

Markets, Campaigns



Pinpoint investments




Improved Rank

to #1 in Sales







data types

and sources





Best Practice



Channels, etc.



A ty



Package Size/








Micro target











$ Saved








source ©: 2018 Teradata Corporation

of use cases, how to build the right

skills, and how to harness the necessary

transformation of the workforce.

Solving these three big aspects

of scale – business adoption,

production-grade technology, and

operating model for AI at scale –

will be conditional for AI to become

fully mainstream in the next 12 to 18

months; and organizations that will

succeed in this will become clear

winners in their market, Thieullent


A Single Point of Truth

Rion at Teradata warns that, as a

practical matter, a strong data foundation

is vital to take advantage

of AI. “This means the data needs

to be in the right format so that it

can be exploitable by the data science

or other analytics team. There

needs to be a single point of truth

to avoid data duplication, stale data,

and silos, and there also needs to be

enough of it. Volume and variety of

data is crucial to build performant

machine-learning-based solutions,”

he says.

In addition to this, a clear AI strategy

roadmap defining some simple use

cases to start with is vital. “These

should quickly provide returns on

investment and are typically defined

by the business stakeholders

and the data science team through

workshops and discussions,” he

maintains. Finally, a robust methodology

designed by data architects

and the development team to

ensure the smooth deployment of

successful AI prototypes into production

is also key to avoid delays

or even potential failure, Rion adds.

Above all: “Don’t just jump into AI

for the sake of jumping into AI. First

consider where it could have a real

impact in your organization,” Schulz

of StorageIO advises. “Look at some

of the easier entry points. The leading

cloud providers such as Azure

and AWS [Amazon Web Services] offer

many powerful cognitive AI and

machine-learning tools that can give

an organization a good start without

making a huge investment,” he concludes.

Accelerating Industry 4.0

Scalable Industrial and Healthcare IoT Platforms

Across Edge and Cloud

Smart Business Title Story: Smart Companies

In AI We Trust

When and How Should AI

explain ITS Decisions?

As artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly makes decisions, there are growing

concerns around AI decision-making, and how it reaches its answers.

n By Sam Genway

AI can be complex. Unlike

traditional algorithms, AI

does not follow a set of

predefined rules. Instead,

they learn to recognize patterns

– such as when a component of a

machine will fail or whether a transaction

is fraudulent – by building

their own rules from training data.

Once an AI model is shown to give

the right answers, it is set loose in

the real world.

However, getting the right answer

does not necessarily mean it was

reached in the right way. An AI model

could be successfully trained to recognize,

for instance, the difference

between wolves and huskies. However,

it might later transpire that the

AI model really learned to tell the dif-


Right now,



decisions is

considered a

step too far.

Sam Genway


ference based on whether there was

snow in the background.

This approach will work most the

time, but as soon as it needs to spot a

source ©: Russell Publishing Limited

husky anywhere outside of its natural

habitat, it will presumably fail. If we

rely on AI (or indeed humans) being

right for the wrong reasons, it limits

where they can work effectively.

We may instinctively feel that any machine

decision must be understandable,

but that’s not necessarily the case.

We must distinguish between trust

(whether we are confident that our AI

gets the right answer) and explainability

(how it reached that answer). We

always need to have a level of trust

demonstrated when using an AI system,

but only sometimes do we need

to understand how it got there.

Take an AI model that decides whether

a machine needs maintenance to

avoid a failure. If we can show that the

AI is consistently right, we don’t even

Says Who?

As AI turns to solving

problems further from

human experience, the

utility of explanations

will surely be called

into question. Concerns

around how explainable

these decisions are

bound to grow.

stand how the AI model functions in

its entirety. For example, users of an

AI model which classifies animals in a

zoo may want to drill down into how a

tiger is classified. This can tell them the

information that it uses to say what is

a tiger (perhaps the stripes, face, etc.),

but not how it classifies other animals,

or how it works generally. This allows

you to use a complex AI model, but focus

down into local models that drive

specific outputs where needed.

need to know what features in the

data it used to reach that decision. Of

course, not all decisions will be correct,

and that holds whether it’s a human

or a machine making the decision.

If AI gets 80% of calls on machine

maintenance right, compared to 60%

for human judgement, then it’s likely

a benefit worth having, even if the

decision-making isn’t perfect, or fully


On the other hand, there are many

situations where we do need to know

how the decision was made. There

may be legal or business requirements

to explain why a decision was taken,

such as why a loan was rejected. Banks

need to be able to see what specific

features in their data, or which combination

of features, led to the final decision,

for instance to grant a loan.

How Do We Know When

AI Decisions Are Right?

In other cases, it is important to know

why the decision is the right one; we

wouldn’t want a cancer diagnosis tool

to have the same flawed reasoning

as the husky AI. Medicine in particular

presents ethical gray areas. Let’s

imagine an AI model is shown to recommend

the right life-saving medical

treatment more often than doctors

do. Should we go with the AI even if

we don’t understand how it reached

the decision? Right now, completely

automating decisions like this is considered

a step too far.

And explainability is not just about

how AI reaches the right answer.

There may be times when we know

an AI model is wrong, for example if it

develops a bias against women, without

knowing why. Explaining how

the AI system has exploited inherent

biases in the data could give us the

understanding we need to improve

the model and remove the bias, rather

than throwing the whole thing out.

As with anything in AI, there are few

easy answers, but asking how explainable

you need your AI to be is a good

starting point.

If complete model transparency is vital,

then a white-box (as opposed to

a black-box) approach is important.

Transparent models which follow

simple sets of rules allow us to explain

which factors were used to make any

decision, and how they were used.

But there are trade-offs. Limiting AI

to simple rules also limits complexity,

which limits its ability to solve

complex problems, such as beating

world champions at complex games.

Where complexity brings greater accuracy,

there is a balance to be struck

between the best possible result and

understanding that result.

A compromise may be the ability to

get some understanding of particular

decisions, without needing to under-

As AI turns to




further from

human experience,

there will

still have to be

human experts

who can help

qualify the


Who Should AI Be

Explainable To?

There is also the question of “explainable

to whom?” Explanations about

an animal classifier can be understood

by anyone: most people could appreciate

that if a husky is being classified

as a husky because there is snow in

the background, the AI is right for the

wrong reasons. But an AI which classifies,

say, cancerous tissue would need

to be assessed by an expert pathologist.

For many AI challenges, such as

automating human processes, there

will have to be human experts who

can help qualify the explanations.

However, as AI turns to increasingly

challenging problems further from

human experience, the utility of explanations

will surely come into question.

In the early days of mainstream AI,

many were satisfied with a black box

which gave answers. As AI is used

more and more for applications

where decisions need to be explainable,

the ability to look under the

hood of the AI model and understand

how those decisions are reached will

become more important.

There is no single definition of explainability:

it can be provided at

many different levels depending on

need and problem complexity. Organizations

need to consider issues

such as ethics, regulations, and customer

demand alongside the need

for optimization – in relation to the

business problem they are trying to

solve – before deciding whether and

how their AI decisions should be explainable.

Only then can they make

informed decisions about the role of

explainability when developing their

AI systems.


Smart Business Business Forecasting


Business Forecasting

Rethinking Risk

Forecasting, as every manager knows, is essentially a guessing game but,

now, in the age of IoT and AI, the ancient art of predicting the future

based on past experience is being replaced by forward-looking strategies

and scenarios. The magic phrase is “risk thinking.”

n By Gordon Feller

Every decision we take today

affects our future. Yet,

whether we are a bank, corporation,

or an individual,

our decision-making is primarily

guided by our attempts to forecast

our future. This is the case despite

the fact that we know most forecasts

do not actually come true.

This predicament spans nearly every

commercial and noncommercial

sector from finance, insurance,

energy, and transportation to local

and federal municipalities. We

know that we cannot predict the future

based on past experience and

until now scenario generation was a

guessing game.

There is a need to replace forecasting

with risk thinking and to

compare risk under alternative forward-looking

strategies and across

institutions, stress-testing decisions

under a well-defined and consistent

set of scenarios. This will save money,

time, resources, and potentially

lives. This is especially relevant in

today’s highly volatile world.

This idea is not new, but it certainly

was when Ron Dembo started Algorithmics

(now owned by IBM) 30

years ago with a vision that a bank

should be able to measure and

manage its risk at an enterprise level.

Stress-testing was not in the dictionary

then and no banks had an

enterprise risk function. He pushed

for stress-testing at a system-wide

level even then.

Looking Ahead

Today, it has been widely accepted

that stress-testing is necessary to

determine the systemic health of

banks. Many regulators have adopted

it in a form similar to the Federal

Reserve CCAR stress tests that are

carried out annually today. Unfor-

AI is particularly

suited to


where there

is significant


Looking Ahead

Regulators, including

the U.S. Federal Reserve,

have adopted

stress-testing to

replace conventional

forecasting methodologies.

Ron Dembo


source ©: Federal Reserve

tunately, this has not filtered down

to corporations. Just witness how

this could have helped GE (as well as

their investors) had they tested their

financing strategy.

It is also accepted by the Financial

Stability Board of the G20 which has

initiated a very successful initiative,

the Task Force on Climate-related

Financial Disclosures (TCFD), to

get companies, banks, sovereign

funds, fund managers, and others

to measure their financial risk due to

climate change. Theirs is a perfect

case for stress-testing because of

the complexity of measuring exposure

in a setting where past data is

very sparse and potentially not useful,

the horizons are far out, and the

impacts profound.

Royal Dutch Shell was using scenario

analysis in the 1980s to help form

and test their strategies and many

companies tried to emulate it.

source ©: Flickr


Smart Business Business Forecasting

However, there was one fatal problem

in their methodology, which

could explain the poor pickup from

others – the stress tests were designed

by individuals in the company,

with all their biases, and could

not be applied systematically across

industries. Without a systematic,

consistent algorithm for generating

scenarios, this meant it could not

spread easily.

Weather Report

AI is particularly suited

to situations where

there is significant

uncertainty, the data

is sparse, distributed

worldwide, and the outcomes

are potentially

huge – for example, as

encountered in weather

forecasting and predicting

climate change.

source ©: riskthinking.ai

moods of markets. Dembo’s algorithm

and risk-thinking methodology

captures sentiment using artificial

intelligence (AI). The amount

of data an AI can gather worldwide

and analyze using automatic, natural-language-processing


is staggering.

Dembo’s proposed methodology

aggregates this data from all available

sources and uses machinelearning

models to capture the sentiment

in voice recordings, video,

and scholarly articles from respected

institutions, in order to build a

picture of the risk factors that affect

a specific industry. This data is analyzed

and interpreted and is used

to construct the data required to

generate forward-looking risk scenarios.

This could not have been

done even a few years ago and is a

result of the tremendous progress

that has been made in developing

deep-learning models in AI.

AI is particularly suited to situations

where there is significant uncertainty,

the data is sparse, distributed

worldwide, and the outcomes are

potentially huge – for example, as

encountered in climate change and

cyber risk. There is every reason to

believe that these problems will

be exacerbated by a very volatile

climate and that risk systems will

undergo significant evolution in the

face of AI. Dembo says his company

aims to capitalize on this.

Spanning the Gap

That is where Ron Dembo has reappeared

today, with an algorithm

that can generate a “spanning set”

of scenarios, one that covers both

very good and bad events. He

claims to have solved the problem

of automated, consistent scenario

generation in an elegant way which

can be easily explained to boards

and nontechnical management in a

wide variety of institutions.

Dembo says his nascent company,

Riskthinking.ai, will soon be offering

a product that proves the concept.

The power of this is that it could

offer a way to compare companies

within industry sectors against each

other over a wide variety of consistent

stress tests without any single

company exposing its proprietary

business secrets.

The Mood of the Market

The key missing ingredient in risk

management and stress-testing

is the need for an effective way to

capture market sentiment, which is

often a precursor to a risky event.

Essentially, it’s about judging the

Far Horizons,

Big Impact

The G20’s Financial

Stability Board has

initiated a Task Force

on Climate-related

Financial Disclosures

(TCFD) which provides

a perfect case

for stress-testing of

the complexity of the

financial risk due to

climate change.

source ©: TCFD


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Smart Business IoT in Mining

Europe built its Industrial

Revolution in the 19th and

20th centuries by converting

natural resources into valuable

new products like steel, chemicals,

and fertilizers. Now, as some

pundits see a looming Industry 4.0

powered by the insights offered

through connected IoT devices,

one of the continent’s fundamental

industries is beginning to adapt to

changing technology.

Mines operate in almost every European

country, extracting coal, iron

ore, bauxite, kaolin clay, gravel, and

Soon, most

mines are going

to have Wi-Fi

mesh networks

with very good


Daniel Palmer

COO, Datacloud

source ©: Datacloud

many other valuable commodities.

The industry has adopted significant

mechanization over the last 50

years but, until recently, was slower

moving in its adoption of IT. The

rise of IoT in other industries has

spurred new thinking about the

role of technology for enhancing

efficiency, safety, and compliance

with environmental regulations.

Digging a Hole

Although it has the potential to be

applied to mine safety to detect

dangerous gas or indications of


IoT in Mining

Deep connectivity

Almost a mile below ground in an iron mine in northern Sweden,

human operators control what is going on and plan their attack on valuable

seams of iron ore. But unlike the hands-on extraction of decades past,

these mining professionals are sitting in an office a thousand

kilometers away, relying on IoT sensors, cameras, underground Long-Term

Evolution (LTE) networks, and a powerful private cloud to guide

their blasting and tunneling in real time.

n By Eamon Earls

source ©: Boliden

The company deploys sensors

on drill strings to gather data and

combine it with preexisting measurements

to inform blasting plans.

Datacloud works closely with European

mining companies, chiefly

those headquartered in London,

that often have the most technologically

sophisticated operations

in very large mines in Canada or

Australia. In addition to sensors on

drill strings, vehicle and equipment

manufacturers are at the head of

the pack, with heavy-haul trucks

and excavators being increasa

potential tunnel collapse, IoT is

mainly being used to help mines

plan and become more efficient.

“Basically, companies drill hundreds

of thousands of holes in the ground,

fill them with explosive, blow it up,

and then dig the fragmented rock

pile. Globally, mining companies

are responsible for $400bn a year

in operational spending [much of

it on basic extraction],” says Daniel

Palmer, chief operating officer of

Datacloud, an IoT services company

focused on improving the characterization

of the geology of mines.

Drilling for Data

Sensors on drill

strings gather data

and combine it with

existing measurement

systems to

improve blasting

plans. GPS tracking

also makes for better

machine health.

source ©: Datacloud


Smart Business IoT in Mining

source ©: Ericsson

ingly equipped with GPS tracking

and machine-health tracking.

Whether for fleet management or

characterizing an area’s geology, IoT

is also starting to make its way deep

below ground following its initial

adoption in near-surface, open-pit

mines. “Most mines are going to

have a Wi-Fi mesh network, with

connectivity being pushed into every

corner in the mine. We assume

most mines are already going to

have pretty good connectivity in

the pit [with GPS, Wi-Fi, and LTE connectivity],”

says Palmer.

Smart Bolt

Rock bolts stabilize mining

tunnels by distributing stress

evenly. For Ericsson, a

team at Luleå University of

Technology developed a bolt

containing sensors and electronics

that senses stress

changes and vibrations and

can warn of future failures.

Digging Deeper

As current seams are mined

out, mining companies

need to dig deeper. LKAB is

teaming up with ABB, Epiroc,

Combitech, and Volvo Group

to set a new world standard

for sustainable mining at

great depths.

Reaching New Depths

Sweden and Norway may be the European

hubs of IoT in mining, with

deep, advanced iron mines above

the Arctic Circle. Swedish equipment

makers like Sandvik and Epiroc

are rigging their machines with

IoT devices while a telecom team

at Luleå University of Technology,

working with Ericsson, produced

sensor-equipped “smart” rock

bolts. Swedish state-owned iron

mining and processing giant LKAB

(Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB) has

put the technology into practice.

Founded in the 1890s, LKAB operates

mines that stretch more than

a kilometer below ground in Kiruna

and Malmberget, as well as owning

ports and mineral processing facilities.

“[IoT] isn’t some fluffy buzzword

from the industry like Industry 4.0 or

digitization. To us, it’s a very tangible,

practical thing we use on a daily

basis on our way to fully automated

underground mines, which is where

we’re headed,” said Tim Peco, development

engineer at LKAB Wassara,

who helps to lead the company’s

future drilling system initiative. The

goal of the project is to create an advanced

drill rig capable of more efficient

curved and steered drill holes

with sensors and connectivity.

“We are 1,000 kilometers south of

the rig [which is almost a kilometer

below ground and controlled from

Stockholm]. For the moment the

IoT deployed on this rig is simply a

two-way link with surveying and

communication systems. There is

a steering and real-time surveying

system,” Peco explained.

LKAB was early to adopt Wi-Fi deep

below ground and now has LTE as

well. Although the rig is run from

Stockholm, eventually the command

center for such machines will

be in Kune closer to the mine site.

Data from surveying computers

gets uploaded by Wi-Fi to a locally

hosted database and eventually

passed off to a cloud service within

LKAB’s intranet for processing in an

Aspen Tech data analytics system.

LKAB isn’t alone in the Swedish

mining sector as a user of IoT. Boliden,

another major iron mining

firm, is using Aqua Ductus’ IoT water

monitoring equipment to track

potential mine runoff into streams

and Sandvik is operating an IoT test

mine in Tampere, Finland, using the

underground-capable Nokia Digital

Automation Platform.

Gaining Experience

IoT in European mines isn’t restricted

to Scandinavia. In 2014, Canadian

company Dundee Precious Metals

managed to achieve a self-reported

400 percent production increase in

its Chelopech gold mine in Bulgaria

by adding sensors to conveyor belts

source ©: LKAB


Business Applications






and safety



Digital Value Platforms
















High Performance Networking

Dedicated deep connectivity



network fabric

and lighting, and RFID tags to workers’

helmets for better asset tracking.

Dundee reportedly gained valuable

experience during the implementation,

such as resolving radio-signal

scatter caused by large deposits of

quartz in the mine shafts, which it

subsequently applied to its mine

in Armenia. Back in 2008, the European

Commission created the Raw

Materials Initiative with 26 corporate

and university participants focused

on improving raw material

efficiency and achieved a 17 percent

increase in some deep deposit


Mining Magazine and Mining Journal

(both published by Aspermont Print

Publications) are slated to co-host a

Future of Mining EMEA conference

in London, during June 2020, with

planned sessions on IoT, automation,

and analytics.

Going Underground

IoT is gaining a seat at the table in

European mining circles but still has

significant room for growth. “One

issue that underground mines face

when monitoring critical processes

is that the specific asset being

monitored is located underground.

This can make sensor installation

difficult. For example, attaching

condition-monitoring sensors on

a conveyor that is deep underground

requires sending an engineer

underground, which can be

expensive,” says Jeffrey den Outer,

business development manager at

Semiotic Labs, a Dutch producer of

motor-monitoring equipment.

“The mining industry in general

can be quite conservative when it

comes to adopting new technology.

This means it is important to

focus on results and ROI as quickly

as possible after installation, therefore

helping to quickly build trust in

the product,” he adds.

“[IoT] is invaluable to us … Planners

sitting many miles away can

send plans to execute. Someone

sitting in an office with three rigsteering

systems can operate three

machines. This will only get more

Mining the Future

Future X architecture

for mining by Nokia Bell

Labs aims at creating

an intelligent network to

help mining companies

adapt to demand, control

operational costs, and

boost worker safety.

Meeting of Minds

Heads of mine operations,

tech companies,

and service start-ups

meet up regularly at the

About the Future of Mining

Conference, held last

year in London.

necessary to have the deeper we

go and the more environmental

restrictions and norms we have to

abide by,” LKAB’s Peco says.

“Probably the highest value place

for IoT is nuclear reactors or space

exploration where you can’t send

people – but mining is a close second.

Commercial or retail work can

be done by a person cost-effectively

but with a location in the middle

of Siberia where you need to fly

people in and out, or potentially

hazardous air and temperatures

thousands of meters underground,

IoT is absolutely worth the investment,”

says Palmer at Datacloud.

source ©: EMEA source ©: Nokia


Smart Business Blockchain Smart Contracts

Blockchain Smart Contracts


Reinforcing Power

Two young technologies are poised to remake business processes around the globe.

Ubiquitous data access and control technologies (IoT) are now being combined

with the “guarantee” of distributed ledger (aka blockchain)

to produce startling new business opportunities.

n By Alan Earls



Smart Business Blockchain Smart Contracts


Blockchain, also known as

distributed ledger technology

(DLT), and the Internet

of Things entered the popular

lexicon at roughly the same time,

and they have both been advancing

rapidly from bleeding-edge, experimental

concepts to broad, mainstream


Insurance organizations, for instance,

have found in blockchain a

basis for an entirely new approach

to their business and risk model. And

organizations ranging from consumer

goods retailers to large industrial

concerns have found IoT devices can

provide real-time intelligence that

has never before been available.

The combination of IoT and blockchain,

by comparison, is still in its

infancy but pioneers across the

continent and beyond have been

changing all that. For example, in

Paris, public infrastructure is tracked

and managed using embedded IoT

sensors while blockchain makes

possible a transmission network

that keeps the data “honest” and


For IoT technology to work, it demands

access to a substantial

amount of data. “Managing that

data via a blockchain system makes

for not only more secure processing,

but also faster, more efficient,

and more accurate recall of data,”

says Monica Eaton-Cardone, cofounder

and chief operating officer

No technology

is perfect.

The goal is to

find tools that

address one

another’s shortcomings.

Monica Eaton-Cardon

COO, Chargebacks911

Disappearing Benches

Park benches which were

designed back in 1850

are a fixture of Parisian

life and are often stolen.

Today, they are being

equipped with data

beacons and Bluetooth

to keep track of their


source ©: WWD / Penske Media Corporation

of the global fraud prevention and

chargeback mitigation company

Chargebacks911, based in London.

“The fact of the matter is that no

technology is perfect; there will always

be certain vulnerabilities,” she

adds. The goal is to find tools that

are complementary, and which address

one another’s shortcomings,

and blockchain technology and IoT

fit this description.

According to Eaton-Cardone, the

two concepts are complementary

in two ways: blockchain secures

data, while IoT technologies enable

smooth, seamless connection

between data points. For instance,

you can store customer information,

tracking data, and order histories

using a blockchain system. This

data can then be recallable using an

IoT-enabled system to facilitate improved

and less error-prone tracking

of items from one point in the

process to the next.

Smart Benches

In the case of Paris, the approach is

even more leading edge, with something

very old and very new. The

old part is the historic Parisian park

bench which was first introduced in

1850. The design has long been a

fixture of Parisian life, nearly as iconic

as the red telephone booths that

served the UK for so long. Today, IoT

and networking company Nodle

and manufacturer Groupe Saint

Léonard are building on the iconic

design with data-transmitting beacons

that will effectively assist city

managers in tracking these historic

assets. The result of their efforts was

designs for “smart” benches and

other urban elements for public

use, each equipped with Bluetooth

Low Energy technology to allow

transmission of real-time data to

city officials about bench locations

and possible movement of benches

between parks over time. Nodle

has worked to deploy 3,000 of the

smart benches and other public infrastructure

in parks as well as in 68

Métro stations.

What is particularly unusual about

the whole project is how blockchain

takes Low Power Bluetooth and

gives it range. The secret is Nodle’s

Citizen Network – the willing provision

of data collection and transmission

services by mobile device owners

who join in voluntarily. How does

that work? Self-interest. According

to company founder Micha Benoliel,

who got his start in France but is now

based in Silicon Valley, the secret is

the company’s Nodl coins, built on

distributed ledger technology, that

pay participants a nominal sum for

participating, eventually earning

the right to modest but worthwhile

rewards. He explains that with this

simple concept the Nodle network

is able to dramatically reduce the

costs of providing IoT device communications.

Present in some 50 countries, the

company has built a network for


Putting IoT and DLT “On the Road”

source ©: blog.iota.org

■ Cross-Border Tracking

The Iota Foundation is currently investing efforts and resources in collaboration

with international organizations to test how its new IoT and

DLT-enabled approaches to global trading can improve cross-border

management, track consignments, and manage trade certifications

between governments and customs points. More immediately, the organization

has set up a program with Jaguar Land Rover through which

drivers will be able to earn cryptocurrency and make payments on the

move using innovative connected car services and by using its Smart

Wallet. According to Michele Nati, a technology analyst with Iota, owners

can earn credits by enabling their cars to report useful road condition

data and then redeem the rewards for payment of tolls, electric car

charging, or other goods. The technology has been undergoing trials at

the Jaguar Land Rover software engineering base in Shannon, Republic

of Ireland.

connecting and collecting data via

hundreds of thousands of devices

and smartphones collaborating to

provide Internet access. The same

NODL coin mechanism also provides

an incentive for app developers to

monetize their work via the Nodle

Software Development Kit (SDK)

and earn NODL coins as a reward for

helping the network to grow.

source ©: IOTA Foundation

Reinventing Commerce

Beyond Paris and the current technology

deployed by Nodle, blockchain/DLTs

and the Internet of

Things are highly intertwined, says

Michele Nati, a lead technology analyst

with the Iota Foundation, which

is developing an open-source distributed

ledger for IOT. He believes

that DLT and IoT can work together

to deliver a new form of commerce.

Blockchain can already address

some of the problems that are currently

affecting IoT, in particular in

the consumer market, he says. Convenience

for IoT devices, especially

in smart home and other consumer

sectors, often comes at the price of

security risks and privacy threats,

says Nati. Denial-of-service attacks

initiated by IoT devices are on the


for IoT devices

often comes

at the price of

security risks.

Michele Nati

Iota Foundation

rise. Nati claims that most of them

are the result of those “unaware

and uneducated to cybersecurity

best practices,” noting that most of

the consumer devices are used with

their default password and do not

receive regular firmware updates.

Blockchain should limit the risk

of poorly maintained IoT devices

becoming security and privacy

threats, he maintains. Further down

the road, building IoT devices with

decentralized identity linked to

their owners’ identities will allow

IoT devices to transact on behalf of

their users, he adds.

The recently demonstrated Iota and

Jaguar Land Rover partnership has

proved how IoT-enabled devices

can become much more powerful

when enabled with a verified digital

identity, thus enabling them to generate

money on behalf of their owners

and users, he says (see sidebar).


Smart Business Blockchain Smart Contracts

Blockchain in

supply chains

can increase


source ©: OpenBay

Marc Fleury

CEO, OpenBay

The broader implications of

blockchain and IoT may also become

quite profound in regard

to the operation of supply chains,

according to Paris-based JBoss

creator Marc Fleury. Fleury is an

advisor to Michael Yuan, CEO of

OpenBay, a decentralized global

marketplace. He is also an investor

in Second State, which developed

the middleware for smart

contracts used to operate Open-

Bay. “Blockchain in supply chain

management can increase transparency

and verify authentication,

which can limit fraud [such

as counterfeit goods],” he says.

Enhancing Capabilities

Online marketplaces, the primary

type of multichannel e-commerce

systems, are ripe for streamlining,

he believes. In addition to enhancing

capabilities like ordering and

auctioning, blockchain technology

can better enable customer

transactions to be processed by

the marketplace operator or administrator

and then be delivered

and fulfilled by the participating

retailers or wholesalers, he says.

“Given that mobile and IoT devices

are now ubiquitous, the future of

e-commerce depends on safe,

robust, and fast mobile applications,”

says Fleury. Moreover, by

linking IoT data and blockchain

technology, it can add value to

businesses through legal contracts,

with blockchain providing



Countering the

Chargeback Threat

Credit card chargebacks

represent a real and growing

financial threat to merchants,

costing them both

merchandise and revenue.

Using a blockchain system,

Chargebacks911 stores customer

information, tracking

data, and order histories and

uses an IoT-enabled system

to facilitate improved and

less error-prone tracking of

items from one point in the

process to the next.

Food companies

can identify


goods and

thus reduce


Ruslan Gavrilyuk

CEO, TeqAtlas

Furthermore, notes Ruslan Gavrilyuk,

cofounder and president of

TeqAtlas, based in Zug, Switzerland,

using IoT devices, paired with

Blockchain for supply chain, can

also help businesses to track and

report the conditions of goods.

Companies operating within the

source ©: TeqAtlas

food industry, for example, can

benefit from reduced wastage

since they can identify perished

goods or those on the verge of

rotting. Smart sensors that provide

real-time visibility of resources

and products across the entire

supply journey reduce the need

for buffer stock, Gavrilyuk says.

Proving Your Case

Product condition and other metrics

can then be visible in real

time to all vested parties. “By incorporating

blockchain into the

process, proving and paying out

claims and refunds is simplified,”

says Gavrilyuk.

In short, the IoT–blockchain combination

means fraud claims can

be eliminated and accountability

ensured through data record

time-stamping and unique hashing,

he adds.

source ©: Chargebacks911 and Kount / The State of Chargebacks 2018













Currently, there are around 15 billion devices in the IoT,

with 5.5 million new ones connecting each day. And the

insights gleaned from the data provided by all those

connections is rapidly reshaping the world we live in.

From self-monitoring restrooms to self-adjusting HVAC

systems, the IoT is empowering new capabilities and

opening up new possibilities.

Whether you’re looking to cost-effectively automate an

existing structure, or build a smart new one from the

ground up, the IoT empowers you to monitor, manage,

and maintain all aspects of your building that impact

operations, energy, and comfort.


Smart Business Interview: Professor Dieter Kempf

Interview with Professor Dieter Kempf

“Germany is


SI talked with Professor Dieter Kempf, the president of the

German Industrial Association (BDI), about small to

medium-sized businesses (Mittelstand) and the race to lead in IIoT.

Germans talk a lot about “Industry

4.0,” whereas Anglo-Saxons usually

prefer “Industrial IoT” and believe

we are still stuck in the Third Industrial

Revolution. Do Germans count


There is a whole bunch of idioms that

are used internationally to characterize

what we are experiencing today,

from “Industrial IoT” to “Industrie du

futur” and, yes, “Industry 4.0.” They all

describe the transformation caused by

the networking of industrial production.

No matter how you count, this is

a true revolution; one that is leading to

a unique degree of flexibility in manufacturing

as well as empowering a

whole new range of services. German

industry needs to unlock the resulting

value-creation potential if it wants

to maintain its position as one of the

world’s leading industrial economies.

A recent study commissioned by

Deutsche Telekom concludes that

many German SMEs are going about

IoT transformation “with the handbrake

on.” The main reasons seem

to be security and privacy concerns

and, above all, their own employees,

who they believe lack motivation and

the necessary skills and know-how.

In fact, digitization is way up there

on the list of priorities amongst the

Implementation of IoT Projects in German Industry

Discrete Manufacturing

Process-oriented production

Industry of Things

German companies

focus less on new

business opportunities

and more on

securing their

market position and

optimizing internal

processes, a recent

IDC study suggests.








German Mittelstand. I know tons of

examples of small and medium-sized

businesses that are putting Industry

4.0 into practice as we speak and are

poised to take a leading role in connected

manufacturing. This is not

to say there aren’t serious problems

that SMEs need to overcome. Unlike

large enterprises, some of which are

founding separate companies to handle

their digitization activities, SMEs

have limited resources with which to

achieve digital transformation. That

means they face a whole set of challenges

and they require specific advisory

services tailored to their special

needs. Policy makers need to focus

on supporting the Mittelstand in their

efforts to transition to Industry 4.0. If

not, small and medium-sized players


will struggle to reach the next level of

technology and, as for their employees,

I personally feel they are both able

and willing to play their part.

One participant is quoted in the

study as complaining that “manpower

is hard to get.” He is not alone.

Do you have a solution?

Talent shortage is one of the big barriers

to implementation of Industry

4.0 in many fields. Enterprises are well

advised to invest more heavily in training

and advancement of their own

people. The German Federal Ministry

of Economics and Technology, for instance,

has set out viable pathways for

companies to follow in preparing their

workforce for the new job requirements

in a brochure entitled “Shaping

source ©: IDC 2019


photo ©: Jörg Carstensen | dpa

Digital Transformation in Business.” In

addition, our education system needs

to keep pace with changes in the work

environment in the wake of digitization.

The aim must be to develop digital

job skills in a targeted way.

Some 60 percent of German SMEs

say they already use IoT technologies

to remotely monitor and control machines,

vehicles, and plants. Some experts

jokingly call this “IoT 1.0.” However,

more complex IoT solution such

as apps and digital assistants, predictive

maintenance, augmented and

virtual reality (AR and VR), or energy

management are still rare. Do German

entrepreneurs lack vision – or guts?

Many companies prefer to invest initially

in digitizing their existing processes

to make sure they will remain

competitive in their established markets.

A foresighted strategy also requires

being open to new ideas and

business models. German companies

are increasingly investing in digital

services, and that makes me optimistic.

Having said that: yes, a little more

risk appetite and willingness to innovate

would stand business culture in

Germany in good stead.

According to the German Federal

Statistical Office, Germany ranks

only fifth in the world with 4,195

patent applications. That compares

to China with 41,845 and the US at

37,595. Even Australia – not exactly

known as an innovation powerhouse

– has more, with 4,321. Is Germany

falling behind in IoT?

The study you’re quoting doesn’t distinguish

between consumer products

and IoT patents in business applications

– and that really makes a crucial

difference in judging Germany’s ability

to compete in the area of IoT. As everyone

knows, US and Asian companies

have their forte in the B2C sector.

In B2B, German companies are among

the biggest innovation drivers. German

industry is well-positioned in the

race to create the Industrial Internet of

Things (IIoT).

The KfW Entrepreneurship Monitor

claims that German founding activity

“remains low-level.” Does that

worry you?

Fortunately, the labor market is running

smoother than it has for a long

time, which means there are lots of

socially protected jobs available. The

downside is that in times of low unemployment

many prefer a safe job

rather than setting out on their own

– with all the risks that involves. But

economic success calls for far-sighted

Policy makers

need to focus

on supporting

the Mittelstand

in their efforts

to transition to

Industry 4.0.

Professor Dieter Kemp


German Industrial

Association (BDI)

innovators, be they start-ups or people

working in the R&D departments

of established players. We need more

founders in research and technology

in this country. We should work

on our start-up culture. That means

we also need to improve the framework

conditions for founders – less

red tape, more seed capital and, especially,

more social appreciation of

outstanding entrepreneurial achievements.

It’s not all bad news. In 2018, more

than 216,000 women founded companies

in Germany. That’s a plus of

four percent – a glimmer of hope?

The fact that more and more women

are taking the plunge and becoming

founders is a great development. We

should give them all the help we can

by creating more counseling services

for them. In addition, and this is something

I take very seriously, we need to

find ways to interest more young girls

in considering a career in the scientific

and technical professions. My organization

actively supports the Girls’

Day movement, which gives young

women and girls a chance to check

out the many career opportunities

and degree programs on offer in IT, in

technical trades, as well as in science

and technology.


Smart Communications Next-Gen GNSS

Next-Gen GNSS

Eyes in the Sky

For years, different navigation satellite systems, primarily the

United States’ GPS and Russia’s Glonass, have allowed people and

organizations to detect their devices and compute locations accurately

and securely. However, the more that 5G, automated driving, and

smart cities become mainstream, it’s becoming clear that a broader

range of location-based applications will need to be supported

to meet specific market and individual needs.

n By Steve Feeko *


*Steve Feeko is an analyst for Telit, a specialist in IoT enablement

The Internet of Things (IoT) is

steadily becoming the “Internet

of Everything” as every

possible object – from

buildings, utilities, and cars to baby

bottles, forks, and medication –

can be connected to networks that

capture a steady stream of information

about their use. However,

none of this growth is possible

without location awareness provided

by global navigation satellite

systems (GNSS).

Viewed as a utility often taken

for granted, GNSS enables real-

time and accurate product tracking,

telematics, timing, and other

positioning-enabled, machine-tomachine

communication. As the

IoT market continues to expand,

so will the demands and expectations

placed on these satellite


Getting IoT off the Ground

Now that connectivity and mobile

devices are natural aspects of everyday

life, more people are expecting

to stay connected. Whether they, or

their possessions, are located in a

remote forest, mountainous environment,

or the middle of a city lined

with blocks of skyscrapers, no one

wants their services disrupted whenever

a receiver’s line of sight to the

navigation satellites is blocked.

The European Union (EU) hoped its

Galileo satellite navigation system is

a step toward satisfying evolving IoT

need and enabling manufacturers

and developers to create new devices

and applications that leverage

stronger GNSS signals. It now looks

like the EU was right as the chipset

market is already producing


Smart Communications Next-Gen GNSS

How Secure Are Satellites?

Cybercrime in Space

Unlike their military

counterparts, civilian

GNSS systems are

vulnerable to jamming

and spoofing.

This must change.

Although there is a deepening

reliance on using a

global navigation satellite

system (GNSS) to give position

and time data, these systems

are increasingly vulnerable to signal

disruption. Nation states and some

non-state actors have developed

or acquired sophisticated highpower

jammers, with signal emissions

frequently registered in Syria,

Weapons still

receive the

lion’s share

of money for

research and


Miriam Pemberton

Institute for Policy Studies

Eastern Ukraine, and North Korea.

In April 2013, navigation systems of

South Korean aircraft and mobile

telephone networks in the South

Korean capital Seoul were severely

disrupted by a 50-watt jamming

source ©: The Solutions Journal

system apparently transmitting

from North Korea.

Due to their orbits at over 2,000 kilometers

above the Earth, navigation

satellites are particularly vulnerable

to jamming. Signals are relatively

weak compared to most other commercial

radio signals, which usually

travel only tens or sometimes a few

hundred kilometers. Cheap and

simple jammers that can interfere

with commercial applications are

widely available.

Even more sinister are spoofing devices

that compromise true GNSS

data and can manipulate the positional

and timing information sent

to receivers. While jamming simply

blocks navigation devices from receiving

any signal at all, spoofers

have the potential to sway decisionmaking

and actions by generat-



• Assets connected within a network:

With a geofencing capability,

companies can manage and

track their assets remotely in real

time and be alerted when that asset

moves. The latest low-power

and energy-efficient technologies

provide longer battery life. With

the latest advancements in cloudbased

computing, the amount of

assets tracked and managed has

multiplied greatly.

• Intelligent vehicle and highway

systems: With the increasing interest

and innovation of autonomous

driving, IoT can provide

critical, real-time information, not

only to aid the GNSS receiver for

navigation in harsh environing

false positioning and timing.

GPS anomalies around Russia’s

president Vladimir Putin have led

researchers to believe that Russian

authorities use spoofing to disguise

where he is located.

While military-grade GNSS systems

such as the encrypted version of

P (Precise) code, known as P(Y), in

GPS are immune to such attacks

(or so the generals and fleet admirals

believe), most civilian applications

rely on weak encryption – or

lack any kind at all. Galileo’s Open

GNSS and its Commercial Services

are more or less unprotected, but

its Public Regulated Service (PRS) is

an encrypted navigation service for

government-authorized users and

sensitive applications that require

high continuity, similar to the military

version of GPS.

US authorities are even worried

about the use of rapid-transit railway

rolling stock built in China and

equipped with their GNSS systems.

In an article published by the Washington

Post, an unnamed official

warned that the passenger cars

could be full of software back doors

or be programmed by the manufacturers

to send pictures back to

China from on-board surveillance

cameras. At the same time, they

worry that hackers could access the

software and take control of the

trains themselves, causing crashes

Well-Funded and Protected

While military-grade GNSS are immune

to attack, civilian systems rely on weak

encryption – or lack any kind at all.

or huge delays during rush hours.

The railcar dilemma is exacerbated

by the fact that manufacturing of

rolling stock in North America has

been in decline for decades, and

operators are increasingly dependent

on countries like China and

India to fulfil demand.

Lack of Coherent Policy

In a memorandum for the Institute

for Policy Studies, a Washingtonbased

think tank, research fellow

Miriam Pemberton claims that the

decline is due to the lack of a coherent

industrial policy in the United

States. For the past 80 years industrial

production has focused on

the needs of the armed forces, she

maintains. “Military production is

the realm of the arms industry and

almost completely financed by the

government. This means that weapons

receive the lion’s share of money

for research and development.”

Part of the concern about Chinese

manufacturers is the alleged

Huawei threat, which has already

caused the United States, Australia,

and New Zealand to exclude the

Chinese developer and chip manufacturer

from bidding on the nextgen

mobile phone standard 5G in

those countries without offering

any proof of wrongdoing. US spy

agencies have also warned against

using products from Huawei’s competitor

ZTE and the use of the popular

camera drones made by DJI (Da-

Jiang Innovations), another Chinese


Tim Cole

source ©: United States Air Force / Airman 1st Class Mike Meares

The Sky’s the Limit!

Europe’s Galileo GNSS

is just the beginning of

an era of spectacular

technology that will

increase the functionality

of location-based

devices, especially in

IoT applications.

and offering Galileo-ready devices,

such as smartphones and in-vehicle

navigation systems, even though

the system is only a little more than

halfway deployed and will not be

fully operational until late this year.

What Next-Gen GNSS

Means for Your Business

Galileo undoubtedly offers an excellent

opportunity to provide that

added layer of GNSS support that

GPS and Glonass provide. However,

businesses will still need to embed

specific software into their current

IoT systems to benefit from the latest

features. Galileo has been designed

to provide something more

than simple positioning: it will provide

an extension to the Cospas-

Sarsat search and rescue (SAR) beacon

constellation, which requires

additional decoding capabilities,

and adds acknowledgement (ACK)

signaling so those in distress know

their message has been registered

and help is on its way.

There are five aspects of Galileo

that businesses should take into


Smart Communications Next-Gen GNSS

ments but also to assist the driver

with forecasting information.

Along with the fusion of multiple

sensors, GNSS combined with IoT

will be a necessary part of this

new technology.

•Health and safety: From medical

alerts to the tracking of patients,

transplant organs, and valuable

equipment, the combination of

GNSS and IoT can not only save

lives with critical real-time health

information tagged to a location

but also increase the efficiency of

monitoring vital symptoms.

•Clock and time synchronization:

Applications related to clock and

time synchronization are increasing

rapidly. Telecom networks,

electrical grids, and even the

world of finance rely on accurate,

coordinated time. The synchronization

and transfer of Coordinated

Universal Time (UTC) can easily be

accomplished with accurate timing

provided by a GNSS receiver

and IoT.

• Security: With the improvements

in anti-jamming and anti-spoof-

Galileo’s Brexit Blunder

■ Britain Loses Out

One of the many unintended (and unexpected)

consequences of Britain’s attempt to leave the

European Union became apparent long before the

Brexit deadline. Initially, the UK was deeply involved

in building the European Galileo GNSS system, with

British firms winning a contract in 2010 to provide the

backup monitoring center for the satellite navigation

system, which was launched in 2016.

However, once results of the Brexit referendum were

in, the EU hastily canceled the contract

and awarded it instead to Spain, which is building

the new facility in San Martin de la Vague, near

Madrid. The investment reportedly lost the UK €1.4bn

and more than 100 jobs. In January 2018, an EU

spokesperson said; “The committee [of the member

states] voted in favor, by a large majority, of our Commission

proposal to relocate the center to Spain.” The

reason given was legal concerns over the security of

Galileo through key components of the system being

controlled by a non-EU country.

source ©: European GNSS Agency (GSA)

New Business Opportunities

Europe Chips in

source ©: Wikipedia

The Third Way

Reluctant to rely on

America’s GPS or

Russia’s Glonass, the

EU has created Galileo

as an alternative.

It offers European

players unique opportunities

for innovation

to emerge and

chipset technologies

to evolve.

Businesses are jockeying for position in

the race to supply the components for Galileo.

With the declaration of

its Initial Services, Galileo

is moving from a

global satellite navigation

system in testing to a live, operational


For the first time, European satellites

are providing users with global

positioning, navigation, and timing

information. In the lead-up to Initial

Services many forward-looking

companies created Galileo-enabled

receivers, chipsets, and modules –

many of which are already available

on the market.

Today, more than 30 companies produce

Galileo-ready chips and, in the

smartphone market, there are more

than 20 manufacturers that have

already started to produce Galileoenabled

models. These companies

include key chipset manufacturers


source ©: Meinberg Funkuhren GmbH & Co KG

The Long March of GNSS

■ China’s Baidu System

China has reluctantly relied on the US GNSS system,

known as GPS, for decades, but that dependency is

rapidly eroding. In 2011, the People’s Republic began

launching a series of satellites, initially to provide

navigation services regionally. By the end of this

year, the Baidu system is scheduled to have 35 satellites

in operation and to provide full global coverage.

Experts recommend that Western companies planning

to do business in China consider adding Baidu

capability to their systems and products in addition

to GPS. In fact, Qualcomm, the giant chip manufacturer

based in California, already offers Baidu-ready

semiconductors for smartphones, as do Samsung,

Huawei, and Xiaomi. The German car manufacturer

Volkswagen was one of the first to announce it was

joining Baidu’s Apollo platform alliance, which provides

self-driving guidance for autonomous vehicles.

Baidu itself is not only deploying Apollo in Asia but

also in the San Francisco Bay Area and other regions

of the United States.

It is widely expected that China will mandate that

airplanes flying over Chinese airspace must be

equipped with Baidu-compatible navigation capability

at some time in the near future.

As yet, neither Airbus nor Boeing have publicly

committed to adopting the Chinese system in their


ing protection for civilian users,

the latest in GNSS technology will

provide more robust and secure

alarm notification. This additional

line of defense will help ensure

that devices and the systems connected

to them won’t fall victim

to hackers looking to misreport


Galileo is just the beginning of an era

of spectacular technology that will

increase the functionality of location-based

devices. Very soon, easy

access to information on the position

of people and services will become

the standard for mainstream,

as well as niche, use cases for IoT.

As opportunities for innovation

emerge and chipset technologies

evolve, businesses will be able to

leverage new ways to answer the

fast-changing requirements of

the marketplace. For this reason,

IoT solutions should employ GNSS

chipsets that already offer users the

leading-edge technology necessary

to take advantage of today’s sophisticated

satellite systems and the flexibility

to seize future opportunities.

like U-blox, Broadcom, Mediatek,

and Intel.

STMicroelectronics, a leading European

chipset manufacturer in the

automotive sector, has also started

releasing its Teseo Galileo-ready

range for vehicle telematics and

navigation systems.

Most notably, Qualcomm, a market

leader for smartphone chips, such

as its Snapdragon, has already built

Galileo into its devices, meaning

that many smartphones are inherently


In the consumer market, over 140

smartphone models from manufacturers

including Apple, Asus, Black-

Berry, BQ, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi,

LG, Samsung, and Sony have Galileo

compatibility. As of March 2018,

Galileo has been included in every

new type-approved vehicle sold in

Europe, thereby enabling the eCall

emergency response system.

source ©: STMicroelectronics / European GNSS Agency (GSA) / U-Blox

Cashing In

Leading European

chipset manufacturers

are already turning

out Galileo-ready

products for vehicle

telemetrics and navigation



Smart Communications IoT Agencies

IoT Agencies

How to Jump-Start


Many companies face the challenge of realizing their IoT projects, and agencies

can help. Their services range from the examination of the idea

to developing the operational prototype. We explain how IoT agencies differ

and what to look for in the selection and cooperation.

n By Oliver Schonschek



Microsoft report, IoT Signals,

stated in 2019 that

the promise of IoT will be

unlocked by addressing

skills shortages, complexity, and

security. Nearly 85 percent of companies

surveyed are in the adoption

phase, it adds, and 88 percent

see IoT as critical to business success.

Despite this, almost half say

there are not enough available

skilled workers and 38 percent of

adopters cite the complexity and

technical challenges of using IoT as

a barrier to furthering adoption.

As projects become more complex

with the rise of artificial intelligence

(AI), 5G, and edge capabilities, how

can companies create a digital

strategy to transform their business

with IoT successfully? One answer

can be to cooperate

with one of the specialized


Agencies offer a wide

range of services in order to

evaluate an IoT idea. They use

methods such as rapid prototyping

instead of hanging around in

long discussions and internal presentations.

Many digital technologies

are part of their services, from

3D printing to developing intelligent

sensors and implementing AI.

Fit for Purpose

There are different kinds of agencies,

with special strengths and

focuses, so companies looking

for someone to help jump-start a

project should check what help is

needed the most, depending on

the phase their

project has


Having such a diversity

of IoT agencies

in the market,

as shown by these examples,

it is important to find

the right one. An agency should

have real IoT experience, be the

right size for the partnership, have

the right spirit for the company,

possess the competences missing

in the target company, and be able

to produce proven references in

the relevant markets.

The right fit will help to start and

fulfill the IoT project in a comparatively

short time, enabling the new

idea to be brought to the right market

more efficiently.


The Prototypers

“We support customers in developing smart

products and services: fast, hands-on, and with

passion,” says Robert Jänisch, CEO of IOX, an

innovation and development partner for IoT

products, based in Düsseldorf, Germany. “Our

motto ‘Make Things, Not Slides!’ underlines

our approach: we’d rather get started developing

an actual prototype instead of spending

massive amounts of time in the concept phase

of a project which, in the end, might not even

be realized. Rapid prototyping has been an

integral part of that process.”

The company offers sensors, trackers, and

platforms-as-a-service for enterprise or product

applications. In the IOX Lab, it supports customers

in the realization of their IoT projects

and leads them from the idea to the operational

prototype within 30 days, he claims.


source ©: IOX

Rapid prototyping in particular

offers the advantage that ideas

can be implemented quickly

and tested accordingly. This

approach also allows companies

to build minimum viable products

as early as the planning phase,

enabling them to identify and

eliminate errors or weaknesses

at an early stage before

the products go into mass


Robert Jänisch



Smart Communications IoT Agencies

We are very flexible, intuitive.

Fresh and young blood is our

strength, devoted to solving

complex problems. Passion is our

driver. We are a young agency

and proud of what we have developed

in the last three years.

Ćuković Miloš


photo ©: Dotlab


The Solution Providers

“We create state-of-the-art smart solutions for

our customers,” explains Ćuković Miloš, COO of

DotLab, in Subotica, Serbia. “DotLab provides

IoT services for smart building projects (hotels,

office buildings, residential homes) and in agriculture.

We developed those two systems, but

we will not stop there. Both systems are modular

and can be expanded with various sensors,

third-party systems, and modules.”

DotLab does in-house development of both

software and hardware, user interfaces, web

services, graphics, and user-centered design

solutions. “We have all we need in-house to

develop great products and experiences.

Everything we do is first tested in our gardens

and offices extensively, then it goes to production

with extendable maintenance support,”

says Miloš.



The Milestoners

“Our agency provides a wide array of services

depending on each client’s needs toward their

IoT project but, usually, all our projects start with

the ideation phase and end with the industrial

certification phase,” says Matthieu Boussemart,

CEO and cofounder of Netnow in Paris, France. “If

our client’s idea is very mature, we focus on the

production part of the project. Either that or the

idea isn’t mature and we begin with the concept

and its associated specifications.”

Netnow started business in February 2018 and

has worked with several partners in various fields

such as smart logistics, Health 2.0, and smart

cities. Recently, Netnow signed with Tankyou,

a start-up aiming at the disruption of the gas

station market, using connected devices. The

system links to their fuel trucks, which are always

on the move, to direct them to individuals and

companies that have run out of gas and need a

refill. It also prevents theft through live-tracking

of its fuel-carrying vans and tankers.


photo ©: Netnow

During our partnership, since we

view our clients as partners, we

work on three main milestones:

the hardware production, the

software development and the

intelligent system.

Matthieu Boussemart



We work with entrepreneurs

to solve the world’s biggest

problems by leveraging the

latest IoT developments.

Szabolcs Erki

Hard Code

photo ©: Hard Code

Hard Code

The Designers

“Hard Code is a design house in the IoT field,” says

Szabolcs Erki, general manager of Hard Code,

in Budapest, Hungary. “The Internet of Things is

currently the top priority for most companies,

but it’s a big challenge as it requires specific skills

and methods. Hard Code provides engineering

services so our customers can focus on their business


Services provided are: strategic consulting to

ensure customer success, identifying the product

strategy, developing a product roadmap, costing,

then rapid prototyping and product development

like designing custom PCBs, developing

firmware, ensuring cloud and app connectivity,

and managing volume manufacturing to help

launch unique products.



The Software Developers

“We specialize in the software associated with IoT

projects,” explains Matt Gibson, COO and CFO at

Sauce, in Hull, UK. “We take an idea from its initial

concept to delivery. Whether the client requires

its hardware to be based on mobile, tablet,

or desktop, or if they require a cloud solution,

middleware, API integration, we write the code.

We work with some of the largest companies in

the world and for some disruptive start-ups. We

have worked across industries such as fintech,

green energy, logistics, education, home energy,

and many more. Our focus is to help these businesses

apply digital to their industries,” he adds.


photo ©: SAUCE

In three years we have grown

from three cofounders into an

award-winning IoT agency currently

with a team of 30.

Matt Gibson



Smart Communications IoT Agencies

We are the IoT agency at

Sigfox 0G, the network provider,

and know all major projects in

this area. Even though the specification

is now an open standard,

OEMs have to certify their products

and they need a unique ID.

Stéphane Pâris

IoT Agency projects director for DACH, Sigfox

photo ©: Sigfox


The Partner Managers

“If you are struggling to find the partner you

desire for Sigfox 0G, speak with the Sigfox IoT

Agency,” explains Stéphane Pâris, IoT Agency

projects director for DACH at Sigfox, in Grasbrunn,

Germany. “We have the expertise and

experience in handling IoT projects from business

assessment up to industrialization and mass production.

We can provide you with access to many

new potential partners thanks to the breadth of

the Sigfox partner ecosystem.”

In IoT project management it is very difficult to

identify the right partner for the project when

there is no experience of working with any of the

potential partners before. “This ‘leap in the dark’

is all the more likely on an Internet of Things project.

Because IoT projects usually involve many

new technologies and developments, they can

often require a whole new partner network. We

help customers to bring all partners together,”

he adds.


Next Big Thing

The Company Builders

“Next Big Thing (NBT) supports companies

on their quest to explore business innovation

options with IoT and blockchain. As a companybuilder,

start-up studio, and think tank, NBT is

a successful co-innovator and cofounder,” says

Falco Schuett, director of marketing and partnerships

at NBT, in Berlin, Germany. “Medium-sized

companies and corporations alike work with NBT

to validate revolutionary tech ideas. In combination,

the corporate domain experts and NBT’s

technical and implementation expertise create

the foundation for accelerated development of

joint ventures. This is a prerequisite for the realization

of low-risk innovations in high-complexity

technology. In their role as cofounder, the team

at NBT continuously develops new business

models, checks the market fit, and accelerates the

best business ideas.”

Falco Schuett also has some advice for companies

starting an IoT project: “Most corporates face

challenges like a lack of IoT expertise, a shortage

photo ©: NBT

of software-related labor in hardware, firmware,

and software execution capabilities, or limited

agility and flexibility. Determine whether your

idea is best suited as a short-term project, a

product, or potentially a completely new revenue



NBT acts at the nexus of a continually

growing ecosystem of

corporates, founders, technologists,

entrepreneurs, investors,

and politicians.

Falco Schuett

Director of marketing & partnerships, Next Big Thing







Meet the


Our new dual-core flagship SoC



Smart Communications LoRaWAN


A Network

for Everybody

source ©: Senet

The ecosystem of connectivity solutions is very competitive

in these still-early days of IoT. Senet has rolled out their

own LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) solutions

for the low-power, broad-network needs of IoT, providing

coverage and connectivity readiness in over 80 countries

and 225 cities across the U.S. We sat down with Senet’s

president and CEO, Bruce Chatterley, to talk about

where he sees LoRa as a connectivity option

of preference, where growth will happen, and

how he sees this new network infrastructure

growing out.

What types of vertical applications

are you seeing the most demand

for when rolling out your networks?

We’ve been experiencing rapid

growth and increasing demand

across several vertical markets, driven

in part by an approach to delivering

network connectivity which

has moved away from prospective

“network rollouts” to a model of ondemand

network expansion based

on the unique geographical and application-specific

connectivity needs

of customers and partners.



scaled connected


volume will

come from ordinary


activities but

yield revolutionary


Bruce Chatterley

CEO, Senet

So where do you see the greatest

opportunities for growth in IoT?

Water metering and management

applications are an area of explosive

growth. Opportunity in this segment

includes proposed network

designs for over 60 cities across the

United States, representing over 2

million potential water meters. Other

vertical segments where we are

seeing notable demand include tank

monitoring for residential and commercial

propane, agriculture and retail

applications, Smart City applications,

including indoor and outdoor

asset tracking, waste bin monitoring,

pest control and smart parking, agriculture

and environmental applicasource

©: Senet

tions, including soil monitoring, irrigation,

precipitation water level and

environmental monitoring for flood

conditions, cold chain applications,

for example in hospitals to monitor

the storage temperature of medicines,

as well as industrial and Smart

Building applications like leak detection,

steam trap monitoring, and

backflow and valve monitoring for a

variety of industrial applications.

What are the key barriers to scale

that you see?

The only way to achieve the scale

predicted for the Internet of Things

is to have network and device management

solutions available that

can drive and support rapid growth.

For example, the process of activating

new IoT devices needs automation,

or zero-touch deployment. You

need to be able to automate registering

the device to the network (by

simply pressing a button), check that

it is transmitting data, and then leave

it for ten years.

What are some of the more interesting

use cases you’re seeing

right now?

Massively scaled connected device

volume will come from applications

that instrument ordinary or mundane

business activities but yield

revolutionary results. Examples include

things like tank monitoring,

steam trap monitoring, and rodent

control, which on their face may not

seem “interesting,” but when automated

with IoT technologies can

deliver significant productivity enhancements,

cost savings, and business


We also believe IoT technology is

driving global change, creating new

opportunities for innovation, the environment,

and society and enabling

businesses and citizens to make the

world a better place. We are seeing

applications in agriculture, water

conservation, air quality monitoring,

traffic management, and public safety

experiencing interesting growth


tions of its LoRa network. Since then,

the increasing demand for a wide

variety of Low Power Wide Area IoT

applications has driven LoRa to become

the de facto industry standard

for LPWA IoT networks.

Who will ultimately be the infrastructure


One of the most interesting aspects

of the LoRaWAN protocol and open

ecosystem of the LoRa Alliance is the

advent of the non-traditional network

operator. In the cellular world,

operators require massive funds to

bear the capital requirements to

deploy the network and purchase

the licensed spectrum on which to

operate it. In the world of LoRaWAN,

anyone can be a network operator

by approaching any aspect of the

technology stack and compete on

their merits.

Senet is a founding member of the

LoRa Alliance. What was your motivation

for creating the Alliance and

being a part of it?

We believe that open standards and

broad ecosystem participation create

a larger market opportunity than

proprietary closed technologies

and systems. The openness of both

the LoRaWAN specification and the

LoRa Alliance has nurtured an evergrowing

ecosystem of technology

and solution providers, which has

brought a building momentum to

IoT deployments around the globe.

We see this ecosystem, the open

Active deployments

Senet-ready coming

Soon LoRa Alliance


Version: 20190822v1

JS map by am Charts

Stretching Out

Senet is the first firm

to get FCC certification

for LoRaWAN

sensors and gateways

and is finding

growing traction for

an array of applications.

Its network

now extends across

North America,

South America, and

Australia while

covering the majority

of nations spread

across Eurasia.

Why LoRa over other technologies?

Senet was founded in 2009 (then

known as EnerTrac) and originally

addressed a very specific IoT use

case – automated monitoring of

propane tanks in the residential

environment. Our solution comprised

a combination of network,

sensors, and an application for fuel

delivery companies. We realized

that LoRa was the best technology

to address our tank monitoring application

requirements, supporting

cost-effective wide-area coverage,

low-cost hardware, long battery life

for sensors and end devices, strong

propagation characteristics, and secure

communications. We grew that

business dramatically over a number

of years and that formed the

foundation of our knowledge base.

By 2014, the company had built out

an expansive LoRaWAN network for

its tank monitoring business and

formed Senet to expand the applicaspecification,

and the resulting competitive

market as key drivers to the

success of both the technology and

our own go-to-market strategy. We

continue to participate and collaborate

with the LoRa Alliance, with strategic

voices in the key committees

and working groups.

What type of LoRaWAN networks

do you see being the most popular

in the short and long terms – private,

hybrid, or public?

The IoT market is being driven by

customers with unique geographical

and application-specific connectivity

needs. These varying requirements

demand flexibility in how

networks are deployed and managed.

To support the broadest set

of customers and IoT applications,

Senet offers a suite of cloud-based

network connectivity platforms and

services to support both public and

public/private hybrid networks. We

believe truly private IoT networks

can be more limiting than beneficial

and strongly urge enterprises and

organizations considering private

networks to engage in discovery

about the scale, security, and business

advantages of public and public/private

hybrid network models,

especially as related to LoRaWAN

technology. In both the short and

long term, we believe demand for

flexibility in IoT network architectures

will result in the equal opportunity

for growth across multiple

deployment scenarios.

source ©: Senet


Smart Communications Urban Robots

Urban Robots




Technologists and business titans are all pushing the limits of

technology in a breathtaking sprint to bring robots

to our streets. Their vision for using robots in our cities

seems to be limitless. We ask how far, and how fast, is this

progressing, and to what ends?

n By Gordon Feller

Robots in cities are the stuff

of science fiction or, at least,

that’s how it used to be.

Today in cities around the

globe, robots are making their presence

felt, even when they operate

behind the scenes.

Just for a moment, consider the

Amazon or Flipkart delivery systems

in India (Flipkart is the company

now owned by Amazon’s archrival,

Walmart). Their warehouses are

filled with small, medium, and large

robots, which is one major reason

your timeframe – from click-andpurchase

to delivery – is getting

faster every day. Amazon is said to

be the world’s largest user of such

robots, and the company made this

apparent in 2019 when it spent a

princely sum to acquire Colorado

(USA) start-up Canvas Technology,

a firm that specializes in warehouse


Down the Rabbit Hole

Indian start-up Flipkart

(below) has invested heavily

in warehouse automation to

compete with Amazon and

domestic rival Snapdeal.

The company, which was recently

acquired by Walmart,

has deployed a swarm of

100-odd automated guided

vehicles (AGVs) to pick products

from a conveyor belt,

scan them, and then drop

them down a chute that’s

assigned to a particular pin

code. The robots work in

a tight grid, using collision

avoidance technology to

ensure free movement.

Bringing the technologies from

Canvas into Amazon followed on

from a long string of other Amazon

moves that took the corporate giant

much deeper into the world of

robots. It all started, at least from

the public’s viewpoint, with the announcement

that Amazon was buying

Kiva Systems for $775m in March

2012. Kiva has been renamed Amazon

Robotics and its mission has

expanded from robots focused on

finding, sorting, and moving smaller

items or boxes in warehouses. In

fact, earlier in 2019 Amazon entered

into a seven-year agreement with

Balyo, a French company that sells

autonomous forklifts.

This year is proving to be the year

that indoor robots, previously confined

to warehouses, are making a

big move into the outdoors. In the

non-military domain, drones are

sending images to the cloud

source ©: Inc42


Smart Communications Urban Robots

and to ground-based servers where

machines powered by software sift

through the data to reveal small

details, tasks that would otherwise

be like finding needles in haystacks.

These software “robots” inside machines

work hard, work fast, and

work cheap, in ways that make it

much more economical and accurate

than using human labor to

sort through photos to find answers

to questions. Some of these questions

are mundane and noncritical:

“Where are the parking spaces all

filled at this peak hour of the day

and where can new parking spaces

be established, whether temporary

or permanent?” Other questions are

more critical, often aimed at helping

to safeguard the lives of people:

“During this flood, where is the water

rising so fast that we need to

deploy a boat or helicopter to effect


Analysts at IDC report that, as of

2019, the universe of urban solutions

reached a vast scale, with such

size and heft that it constituted a

multi-trillion-dollar industry. The

reasons are numerous but the primary

one boils down to simple

mathematics: more than half of all

human beings on this planet are

found inside cities. Many of the largest

concentrations are located in

the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin

America, and the Caribbean), and


Amazon is considered the

heaviest robot user in the

world. It recently acquired

Canvas Technology, whose

autonomous warehouse

carts use 3D images to

navigate within tight environments.

Lots of Problems

Warehouse robots are

increasingly moving

out of doors to find

solutions to questions

such as “why are

parking spaces always

full at peak hours and

where can we establish

new ones?”

these are growing fast. Demographers

at the United Nations Human

Settlements Programme (UN Habitat)

report that the growth rates for

these larger cities will not be slowing

any time soon, and this also applies

to medium-sized cities.

Disrupted Pipelines

Amid what sounds like bad news

about cities, there’s also some good

news: the urban solutions industry

is wide open and aching for disruption.

One example should suffice to

make the point clearly: potable and

non-potable urban water systems.

Why bother with inspection robots

in water pipes? A robot’s

capacity to deliver live data in

any pipeline makes it safer than

manned inspections. Robots are

ideal for wastewater applications,

especially where health and safety

regulations are keeping people out

of pipelines. Capable robots are

already available just for this purpose

– and they’ve been specially

designed for water, wastewater,

power, and industrial applications.

In turbid environments, or in wastewater

conditions, the robot’s tracks

can crawl over sand and solids with


Who’s developed robotic urban

solutions? PureRobotics is a

multi-sensor pipeline inspection

source ©: lafi.github.io/LPN/ source ©: Amazon Robotics


platform that helps utilities screen

their network for problem areas

and gain a better understanding

on the condition of their assets.

The robotic crawler is designed to

easily transport sensors and tools

vast distances through drained

pipes or while submerged in water

or wastewater.

The PureRobotics standard system

features high-density, digital

closed-circuit television for live

video streams. The robot can be

equipped with a variety of tools,

including an inertial measurement

unit, 3D lidar scanning tools, or

pull-condition assessment tools

such as 2D laser technology that

can precisely measure a pipeline’s

size, shape, and level of corrosion.

The latest generation produces detailed,

real-time, internal-condition

data in about half the time of the

previous generation. This reduces

inspection time and correspondingly

reduces facility downtime.

The system features a robotic

crawler that can travel vast distances

carrying an array of tools and

sensors that provide detailed, realtime

internal condition data about

the integrity of pipelines. It integrates

easily into a pipeline management

strategy to help pipeline

owners make more informed decisions.

What differentiates this robot is

its capacity to quickly travel vast

distances through difficult pipe

conditions (a huge benefit during

time-critical shutdowns) and it is

safer than manned inspections. The

robot’s design also allows it to be

adapted to inspect a broad variety

of pipeline sizes and types.

Where is this being done? The city

of Saint John in New Brunswick,

Canada, owns and operates more

than 900 kilometers of water and

wastewater piping for its residents

and customers. It also pumps more

than 78 million liters of raw water

daily for industrial customers, which

includes the Irving Pulp & Paper

Mill, which produces high-quality

kraft pulp used in a wide range of

premium tissues and paper applications.

The operation of the mill relies

on water delivered via a raw-water

transmission main for its processes,

so managing its integrity is critical

to maintaining continued operation

and production.

Sensitive to issues of sustainability

and the environment, the city

Taking the Waters

Saint John in New Brunswick,

Canada, pumps

more than 78 million

liters of raw water daily

to households as well as

huge industrial clients

such as the Irving Pulp &

Paper Mill, where water

quality is crucial. Robot

crawlers equipped with

high-definition CCTV cameras

deliver a live video

stream from inside the

pipe system to monitor

conditions in the main.

A Closer Look

PureRobotics’ multisensor

pipeline inspection

platform features a

robotic crawler that can

travel vast distances carrying

an array of tools and

sensors that provide detailed,

real-time internal

condition data about the

integrity of pipelines.

chose to start proactively assessing

the condition of the transmission

main’s 1.5 m and 1.35 m diameter

prestressed concrete cylinder pipe

(PCCP) that delivers raw industrial

water from Spruce Lake to the mill.

Since 2012, critical infrastructure

specialist Pure Technologies has

been involved in the condition assessment

of the main, whose ownership

is shared by the city (7.3 km

long / 4.5 m diameter) and Irving (1

km / 0.6 m). The most recent condition

assessment data was gathered

successfully in the spring of 2017

within the time constraints of a

scheduled mill shutdown.

Pure Technologies’ PureRobotics

crawler is equipped with electromagnetic

inspection technology

and a high-definition CCTV camera

that delivers and records a

live video stream from inside the

pipe. Inspection can be completed

with manned, robotic, and freeswimming

platforms. In this case,

the robotic platform was selected

because the profile of the line is

such that it is difficult to empty.

PureRobotics can travel a total of

2.9 kilometers from a single point

of access and the latest generation

of robot is twice as fast as its predecessor,

traveling at 25 meters per

minute, a huge benefit during timecritical


source ©: Pure Robotics / Xylem Inc.

Driving the Revolution

Things are moving fast in the selfdriving

automotive world and all

the old and familiar manufacturers

– which includes companies like

Ford (through Argo.ai), GM (through

Cruise), Daimler, Volvo, and Toyota –

are busy with designs for robotic


Smart Communications Urban Robots

Getting Around

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, May Mobility

is already successfully running robo

shuttles, enabling the company to develop

a slew of innovative city services.

source ©: CleanTechnica

source ©: May Mobility

source ©: Ann Arbor Spark

fleets that will navigate seamlessly

around our streets to automate “last

mile” delivery services. These giants

are being joined by new names:

Uber, Lyft, Nutonomy, Waymo,

Baidu, and dozens of others. Altogether

their autonomous vehicles

have driven millions of miles in tests

and are now close to wide adoption.

Leading the pack is Waymo, a spinoff

from Google under its parent

company Alphabet. Waymo’s CEO

John Krafcik recently announced

the expansion of the company’s

Waymo Driver technology to Class

8 trucks, which include the gigantic

semi vehicles. “We’re working

closely with the ecosystem – shippers,

truck makers, and tier-one

suppliers – to ensure a successful

deployment,” he said last September

during his keynote remarks at


May Mobility

offers a glimpse

into the urban


Paul Krutko

Ann Arbor Spark

Taking the Lead

Google’s Waymo

subsidiary is leading

the pack by expanding

its driverless

technology from cars

to Class 8 trucks and

giant semi vehicles.

the International Automobile Exhibition

in Frankfurt, Germany.

In Michigan (USA), Paul Krutko is

president and CEO of Ann Arbor

Spark, a public–private partnership

that brings together many players,

including start-ups, the University

of Michigan, and older, established

companies. He says he sees early indicators

of a different urban future,

one where new kinds of services are

powered by data and robots.

One of the successful robot-focused

start-ups that Spark has nurtured in

Ann Arbor is May Mobility, which is

already providing proprietary autonomous

vehicles that run shuttle

services in a number of cities. In his

role as the elected president on the

board of the International Association

of Science Parks, Krutko visits

more than a dozen countries each

year. He says his travels have given

him a glimpse of an urban future

which is powered by advanced

math, science, and technology, and

source ©: Waymo

by the engineering that harnesses

all of these insights to deliver new

city services.

All Play and No Work

Increasingly, non-mobility functions

are being moved into the

realm of machine-to-machine,

disconnecting humans from daily

workloads. There are clearly some

potential conflicts here, where the

added material benefits are not

always in sync with new socioeconomic

gains. As these conflicts pile

up, even some robo advocates are

hesitating – as they should. As we

move toward a world where robots

are running our cities, how should

we feel about this coming tsunami

of innovative service robots?

What does it mean for city-based

workers? In July 2018, Nick Wingfield

wrote an article for The New

York Times entitled “As Amazon

Pushes Forward with Robots, Work-

ers Find New Roles,” an especially

optimistic assessment of the labor

market’s ability to adapt to fastchanging

technological innovations.

The bottom line is that the future

of employment may well mean

a lot less paid work.

What does it mean for ordinary

city-based residents? The advantages

of added convenience

and comfort are plentiful. Consider

the simple goods package,

moved through the air by drones,

decongesting streets currently

clogged with ground-based delivery

vehicles. Amazon has already

invested large sums into perfecting

their urban drone delivery service,

with successful tests conducted in

both the UK and US. Google’s sister

company Wing Aviation has also

launched a drone delivery service

in partnership with Walgreens, the

US-based retail giant.

Flying drones are not the only new

city residents. San Francisco residents

have become accustomed to

the city’s role as a testbed for startups

and inventors of every stripe.

One such venture-capital-financed

enterprise, Postmates, said in August

2019 that it expects to use the

first-ever permit to test sidewalk

delivery robots in the city. In the UK,

Starship Technologies launched the

first delivery robot system in October

2018 for a modest monthly subscription

of £7.99 (€8.97).

The downside of all of this will undoubtedly

be the loss of some of the

source ©: The Truth About Cars source ©: Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon/Harvard University

civil liberties and everyday freedoms

which we now take for granted.

What does it mean for the growing

gap between rich and poor? One

scenario being discussed would

have the masses of us, without great

wealth, dependent upon the rich

few who own and control the robots.

Jobs would only be available

to humans whenever and wherever

the robots were not yet useful or efficient.

The key word here is “yet.”

In 2014, The Wall Street Journal newspaper’s

online readers woke up to

a scary video: “Harvard Unleashes

Swarm of Robots.” As reported in

more depth by IEEE Spectrum Magazine,

it appears that a swarm of

one thousand Harvard RoboBees

(robotic bees) was just the starting

point. NASA pushed forward,

in 2018, with a swarm of MarsBees

designed, ultimately, to explore

the Martian landscape. Whether

it’s flying robots, terrestrial robots,

or swimming robots, their uses inside

cities are numerous – utilizing

The Bee’s Knees

Harvard researchers

have figured out a

way for thousands of

robots to coordinate

their actions so that

they can mimic

biological processes.

RoboBees will be

able to cooperate, for

instance to achieve


cleanup or respond

quickly to disasters.

Waymo is


closely with

the ecosystem.

John Krafcik


the RoboBee’s distributed sensing,

fault tolerance, and other abilities

to move through and assess a sewer

system, for example.

Some scientists, and their investors,

are now talking about robots taking

over from real bee swarms that

have been suffering from a specialized

kind of global eco-devastation

called colony collapse. By expertly

mimicking their biological cousins,

RoboBees are being developed

that can infiltrate and influence a

colony’s behavior in ways that their

designers believe will aid humanity.

For more than two centuries, science

fiction authors and futurists

have been preoccupied with just

these kinds of possibilities. These

“cultural imagineers” have helped

us with earlier mega-transitions, so

we ask them to step up this time

with some answers to the question

of what we might expect for humanity’s

prospects inside cities over

the coming years. Some futurists

assume that this process, where robots

run our cities, is simply inexorable.

Their assessments have taken

on new weight since artificial intelligence

and machine learning advance

to such a degree that robots

are now building and programming

more robots – and each new version

has better and sharper skills

than the last generation.

The celebrated science-fiction

writer William Gibson once said

that “the future is already here – it’s

just not evenly distributed.” The

smarter observers will be looking

around with sharp focus, examining

the small indicators of big changes

coming fast to their city.


Smart Communications Li-Fi


IoT at the

Speed of Light

The future demand for wireless communication networks within buildings

and outside will further increase. The optical light communication

called Light Fidelity (Li-Fi), using LED-based light sources as data transmitters,

offers an alternative to existing technologies such as Wi-Fi and LTE.

n By Gerhard Kafka



Communication by light, in

the form of beacons, has

already been used since

800 BC, reaching its climax

in 280 BC with the legendary

Alexandria lighthouse. Around 400

BC Greeks used polished shields,

so-called heliographs, to transmit

signals during armed conflicts. Over

2,000 years later, in 1880, Alexander

Graham Bell and Charles Sumner

Tainter developed the Photophone,

a telephone that used light to transmit

speech. In 2005, research into

optical wireless communication

(OWC) began at the University of

Paris-Saclay and is reaching market

readiness today. The annual growth

of the Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) market is

estimated to be 80 percent up to

2023 and the sales volume, worth

$0.5bn in 2016, could explode to

$75bn in 2023.

The term Li-Fi was coined by Professor

Harald Haas, a German researcher

at the universities of Bremen and

Edinburgh, during a presentation at

the 2011 TEDGlobal Talk conference

and stands for visible light communication

(VLC). Li-Fi can deliver

speeds up to 200 times faster than

Wi-Fi – theoretically more than 200

Gbps. The advantages can be summarized

as follows:

•Faster than traditional network


•No electromagnetic interference

• Very precise GPS capabilities

• Eco-friendly

Improved indoor connectivity

(medical, aeronautical, defense)

•Increased security

•No health risks

Very economical (no license)

• Works well in places where radio

frequencies are not permitted or

may cause interference with other

machines (schools, hospitals, aircraft,

industrial plants)

EU Consortium ELIoT

In July 2019, the start of a three-year

project called Enhancing Lighting

for the Internet of Things (ELIoT)

was announced. The aim of the

project is the development of mass

market IoT applications based on Li-

Fi. As a project partner, Fraunhofer

Fokus will ensure the integration

of Li-Fi into 5G networks. ELIoT

originates from the EU innovation

program Horizon 2020 and receives

€6m in funding from the public–

private partnership Photonics21.

In addition to Fraunhofer Fokus, its

Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) plus

of Sight

Heliographs (from

the Greek helios for

“sun” and graphein

for “write”) is a wireless

telegraph that

signals by flashes of

sunlight reflected on

a mirror. Invented in

the early 19th century,

they were still in

use by the British and

Australian armies as

late as the 1960s.

Li-Fi networks

can deliver

speeds 200

times faster

than Wi-Fi.

Professor Harald Haas

University of Bremen, who

coined the term “Li-Fi”

Signify (formerly Philips Lighting),

Nokia, MaxLinear, Deutsche Telekom,

KPN, Weidmüller, LightBee,

the University of Oxford, and Eindhoven

University of Technology are

also participating in ELIoT.

The main objectives of the project

are to provide an open reference

architecture for the support of the

Internet of Things and to contribute

to the standardization of applications

based on communication by

light. For this purpose, Li-Fi must

meet the ever-increasing demands

on existing communication networks

in terms of data rates, stability,

and latency.

“With ELIoT, we have established a

powerful consortium of companies

and organizations from the European

lighting and communications

industries. ELIoT forms a closed

value chain with partners representing

the components, chipsets,

systems, and applications sectors

and research institutes, working together

on the commercialization of

Li-Fi for the future IoT,” says Volker

Jungnickel, head of the Metro, Access,

and In-house Systems Group

at Fraunhofer HHI, who serves as

project coordinator for ELIoT.

Professor Jean-Paul Linnartz, co-initiator

of ELIoT and also leader of Signify’s

research in Li-Fi, confirms the


photo ©: Business Wire

Smart Communications LiFi

photo ©: Eindhoven University of Technology

potential of ELIoT: “Li-Fi can deliver

high-speed communication, interference-free

with high reliability.

The available spectrum can be fully

reused in every room. The lighting

infrastructure is in an excellent position

to provide wireless connectivity

for the rapidly increasing number

of wireless devices in every room.”

Lighting systems

could be able to

provide wireless

connectivity in

every room.


Jean-Paul Linnartz


No Interference

Internet by light can

help avoid disturbing

electromagnetic signals

in airplanes and other

sensitive areas.

Li-Fi in Aircraft

Li-Fi addresses a large variety of

applications in the fields of live

streaming, hospitals, workplaces,

manufacturing facilities, schools, retail,

and many more. If, for example,

it is employed in aerospace, Li-Fi

has the potential to transform both

the overall passenger experience

and enhance in-flight connectivity.

Transmitting data through illumination

is attracting the interest

of a number of airline companies.

Faster and less expensive than Wi-

Fi, it could transform the whole

passenger experience. At the June

2019 International Paris Air Show

in Le Bourget, Air France, Latécoère

Group, and Ubisoft demonstrated

Li-Fi technology in an in-flight video

game tournament showcasing this


According to experts, the use of Li-

Fi on board would save the equivalent

of ten to 20 people in weight

per aircraft. “Optical fibers are a

thousand times lighter than copper,”

said Serge Berenger, senior

VP of innovation at Latécoère. “Li-

Fi will allow airline companies to

do away with data communication

boxes beneath seats, each of which

weigh a kilogram.”

Li-Fi connection speeds are more

than 200 times faster than those of

Wi-Fi and could mean quicker bank

transactions on board planes. “At

the moment, airlines have to wait

until a plane lands before in-flight

transactions can be approved,” explains

Micheline Perrufel, an engineer

with mobile telecoms company

Orange, “but, in the future, flight

attendants will be able to approve

in-flight payments immediately

thanks to the installation of Li-Fi in

the cabin.”

As well as offering new applications

for passengers, Li-Fi will also

bring benefits for pilots because

it is safer than Wi-Fi and does not

pose any risk of electromagnetic

interference. Airbus is considering

the possibility of installing Li-Fi

in its airplane cockpits with a view

to connecting the pilot’s controls

and equipment in a way that is simpler

and safer. Li-Fi has the potential

to give the future passenger experience

a boost.

Introducing Li-Fi to the cockpit reduces

the number of cables and removes

a great deal of deadweight.

While Wi-Fi could solve this problem,

it cannot be implemented

without careful consideration of its

vulnerability to external interfer-


photo ©: Airbus

ence and hacking. Li-Fi, on the other

hand, is safer as it cannot be transmitted

through hulls and windows

like Wi-Fi and is therefore impossible

to tap from outside. This would

make it much easier to prevent data

streams in the cockpit from being

hacked from inside the passenger

cabin than if Wi-Fi was used.

Today, we are surfing wirelessly but

tomorrow we may all share a brighter

future using light.

The Way to Go

Transmitting data and voice

through illumination systems

offers potential benefits for both

passengers and crew.


Li-Fi-enabled lighting will facilitate

secure, wireless connectivity at all

times and locations without any

electromagnetic interference with

sensitive radio equipment.


Cabin reading

lights will transport

data to passengers'

laptops, smartphones

and tablets.

Cabin Crew

The aircraft cabin general

illumination system will

provide connectivity to

cabin crew members

anywhere in the cabin.

source ©: XAirbus


■ Making a Market

VLC (visible light communication) is well on its

way to becoming a world standard. With the IEEE

and ITU-T standards bodies. The first standard, IEEE

802.15.7, was approved in November 2011 and

the Li-Fi activities have been continued in the IEEE

802.15.13 Multi-Gigabit/s Optical Wireless Communications

Task Group. The standard is capable

of delivering data rates up to 10 Gbps at distances

up to 200 meters’ unrestricted line of sight. It is

designed for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint

communications in both non-coordinated and

coordinated topologies.

IEEE is also working on a corresponding change

to the IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standard. The main

objective is to amend the IEEE 802.11bb standard

serving mass-market requirements for light communication

relating to low-cost and low-energy


The new ITU G.9991 standard is the first to enable

very-high-speed VLC. “This market-making

ITU standard is already considered a de facto

standard,” says Marcos Martinez, system engineer

at MaxLinear, and associate rapporteur for ITU’s

“broadband in-premises networking” standardization.

“We are seeing vendors of proprietary VLC

solutions moving toward this ITU standard – it is

already being implemented before final approval.”

The standard details the system architecture,

physical layer, and data-link layer specification

for high-speed indoor VLC transceivers, the VLC

access points within lightbulbs. “VLC is a valuable

complement to Wi-Fi,” says Martinez. “VLC and

Wi-Fi have different strengths and VLC’s strengths

provide a strong complement where Wi-Fi faces


In addition, VLC, modulated with ITU’s Gigabit

Home Networking (G.hn) technology, is set to be

the next major innovation in realizing the full potential

of both the smart home and the smart city,

according to industry alliance group HomeGrid

Forum. This approach continues to demonstrate

the tremendous flexibility of G.hn technology to

run over any medium as wireless joins the ranks of

powerline, co-ax, twisted pair, and polymer optical

fiber (POF) as a G.hn medium.

“VLC has great potential for IoT and smart homes

with high-density connectivity needs, especially

where sensitive data is transmitted between

connected devices in one room. The light spectrum

provides low latency and avoids the usual

interruption of radio-frequency spectrum during

congestion time,” says Livia Rosu, marketing chair

of HomeGrid Forum.

Li-Fi Provides Highly

Secure Communications

because signals stay within

a room and cannot leak out

through the walls.


photo ©: Signify

Smart Lifestyle Hybrid Design


Hybrid Design

The Future of


Designers and manufacturers of men’s and women’s apparel are exploring

ways to predict trends faster and more accurately than ever before.

They are helped by researchers who are looking for ways to utilize artificial intelligence.

Smart Industry went to Cornell University in New York to talk to two bright young

scholars who are teaching computers everything about garments, fabrics, colors,

and patterns and how style is manufactured.

n By Jürgen Kalwa *


few years ago, when

Mengyun Shi entered

the fashion industry and

moved from China to take

various posts in well-known arbiters

of taste like Dolce & Gabbana and

Giorgio Armani in Italy, he learnt a

valuable lesson right away. While it

was intriguing to give things a personal

touch, he struggled mightily

with some of the basics. It took him

30 minutes, for instance, to flush out

a decent sketch of one of his product

ideas but in order to develop

things worth manufacturing he had

to come up with many versions and


He thought that technology, at least

some time down the road, might

be able to shorten the elaborate

process of creating mass-market

products with flair to successfully

target fickle, trend-conscious consumers.

In order to achieve such a

lofty goal, he decided to leave Italy

and the industry to enter the realm

of American academia to make the

right connections.

*Jürgen Kalwa is a German journalist living and working in New York

source ©: Linkedin

He moved to Ithaca, a small town

on the banks of Cayuga Lake in

upstate New York and the home

of Cornell, one of the lesser known

of the prestigious Ivy League

universities. In 2014, he began

his master’s studies there and, in

2016, entered a PhD program in

the Department of Fiber Science

and Apparel Design, a division of

the university’s College of Human


AI can reduce

the design

process to just

a few minutes.

The value of

design work will

be diminished.

Mengyun Shi

Cornell University

His ultimate goal sounds straightforward,

even if it will take time to

put all the puzzle pieces together.

Mengyun wants to apply artificial

intelligence to fashion forecasting

and help the industry and its experts

become more efficient. “It’s

scary,” he admits. “The AI model can

reduce the process of creating design

sketches to just a few minutes

and produce hundreds of sketches

in a short time period. The value of

design work will be diminished.”

This mirrors what has happened

everywhere when computers, with

their enormous power to handle

tons of data and trillions of permutations,

start getting going. Even

when they first need to learn all the

difficult patterns of something as

sensitive and personal as fashion

items, something style-conscious

people wear as their second skin in

order to express personality, temperament,

and status.

“Success of this project will open a

door to highly reliable trend forecasting

and help the fashion indus-


Smart Lifestyle Hybrid Design

try respond to changes in consumers’

need and fashion taste quickly,”

says Huiju Park, associate professor

of fiber science and apparel design.

Park is an advisor on the project together

with computer science faculty

members Serge Belongie and

Kavita Bala.

The project will in all likelihood

open more than a door – it has the

potential to bulldoze and flatten a

whole mountain between the people

with ideas and the hundreds of

millions of fashion-conscious consumers.

Right now it takes a year

and a lot of capital, plus risk-taking

acumen, to produce a fashion line

to be runway-ready and set to be

shipped in bulk to interested retail

outlets. Applied AI could shorten

that period considerably.

Currently, the industry relies heavily

on forecasting techniques to

minimize risks. The overview of

the people in charge has become

more sophisticated over time and

there is no need for fortune tellers

or astrologists to predict the future.

Although the methodology is rational,

common forecasting can look

like a mixture of alchemy, psychology,

and a con man’s gambit. Often,

it only succeeds because of massive

marketing efforts powerful enough

to convince middlemen, media, celebrities,

retailers, and the general


AI can help the

fashion insider,

designers, and

buyers, but it

can also help


Menglin Jia

Cornell University

Intelligent Design

Nestled in the picturesque

Finger Lakes

District in upstate

New York, Cornell

University’s Department

of Fiber Science and Apparel

Design, a division

of the university’s College

of Human Ecology,

is leading research into

the transformation of

haute couture through

Artificial Intelligence (AI).

public to believe in what is coming

down the pike.

Any prognosis worth its money

needs to anticipate many different

things correctly, including colors,

fabrics, textures, print patterns,

graphics plus accessories and footwear.

Since the arrival of social

media, predictions are now often

based on analyzing social media

trends from sites such as Instagram

or Pinterest.

So much of this guessing game

could eventually be reduced as

soon as artificial intelligence gets to

do its magic. Nobody expects computer

programs to be able to push

aside legendary versions of highcaliber

designers like Coco Chanel,

Christian Dior, or Yves St Laurent

source ©: Linkedin

source ©: Cornell University

and their successors. Their work, socalled

haute couture, is considered

as valuable as fine art and it caters

for a pretty-rich clientele, with expensive

taste, who wouldn’t want to

be caught shopping at H&M – but

it’s here that artificial intelligence

might well be right on the money in

the ready-to-wear and mass-market

segments of the industry where

cost is king.

“In our vision, AI can facilitate people’s

work and help the fashion

insider, designers, and buyers, but

it can also help customers,” says

Menglin Jia, research partner of

her countryman Mengyun Shi. “We

want to create something that helps

all sides to make efficient and wellinformed


Jia was born in mainland China and

studied in Hong Kong, where she

joined German lingerie manufacturer

Triumph in its headquarters

for the Asian market. Among other

things, she designed a line of bras

and panties featuring monkey motifs

that were sold at the beginning

of the Chinese Year of the Monkey

(2016). After that she applied to Cornell

to study for her master’s degree

and decided to add a doctorate to

dig deeper by combining her interest

in fashion and AI. Recently she

added an internship in the Facebook

AI department to her résumé.

The research is still in an early phase.

Machines will need to learn many

things they have not mastered yet.

“The goal is to advance fine-grained

recognition in computer vision,”

says Jia. The software needs to understand:

“That’s a blue-striped

shirt. That’s a button-down. What

kind of fabric that is, what kind of

color that is,” she explained. The

honest answer to the question of

how close they are to accomplishing

that: “We are not there yet.”

But the two scholars are pushing

hard to get there. One of the little

steps needed happened in 2018,

when Cornell announced a partnership

with Bloomsbury Publishing.

This came with the opportunity to

draw on a large archive of images

and metadata from the company’s

fashion photography archive. The

two PhD candidates used this to

build on something they call a

“Fashionpedia,” a methodology to

annotate images with a tree-like

classification criterion using finegrained

attributes in particular.

One important element is to train

and benchmark the next generation

of computer-based models for

the comprehensive understanding

of fashion. This will be helped

through the latest partnership with

the American magazine publisher

Hearst, which puts out flagship

publications such as Harper’s Bazaar,

Equipe, Elle, and Marie-Claire.

Cornell is not the only place where

people are reshaping the fashion

design process. Amazon, the largest

online retailer in the world, is developing

machine-learning systems

that, according to a recent report

in the online edition of MIT Technology

Review, could “provide an edge

when it comes to spotting, reacting

to, and perhaps even shaping the

latest fashion trends.” The work is

innovative because computers usually

require extensive labeling in order

to learn from visual information.

The same dynamic seems to be

taking hold outside academia. The

fashion industry clearly has not

stopped thinking about how to integrate

forward-looking concepts.

One product of ongoing innovation

efforts is the “hybrid design

algorithm,” which is used to help

customers to build a wardrobe collection

based on actual garments,

using guidance provided by the algorithm’s


Start-ups like the subscription service

Stitch Fix, an online personal

styling service founded in 2011,

have come up with systems to mix

and match wants and needs of its

millions of customers. Users complete

a style profile but are also assigned

a personal stylist who will

then send a box with a curated selection

of clothes, accessories, and

shoes – also referred to as a “fix” –

that fit within a person’s taste and

budget. Using each client’s constant

additional feedback, the stylist,

assisted by the algorithm, aims

to develop a better understanding

of the particular sensitivities of the

customer in question.

This is what companies like Trunk

Club (owned by Nordstrom) or cosmetics

specialist Birchbox (owned

by Walgreens) are also trying to do.

They have the potential to upscale

the business of high-end American

department stores in upmarket

malls, such as Neiman Marcus or

Nordstrom, or specialty retailers

like J Crew, which are all feeling the

pinch of losing business to e-commerce


In Mountain View, California, the

Google Brain team is working on

finding ways to enable computers to

analyze visuals and create data sets

that can be applied to the style of

clothing. Other teams are exploring

ideas that could end up profiting the

consumer. A group from the University

of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

has developed an algorithm for

identifying fashion-focused socialnetwork

accounts. According to MIT

Technology Review, Tim Oates, a professor

at the University of Maryland

Hybrid Design

For upmarket stores

such as Nordstrom,

which are feeling the

pinch of losing business

to e-commerce retailers,

algorithms that help

them better understand

their customers could

prove to be crucial.

A jacket or a

pair of pants

that will adapt

to your style.

Tim Oates

University of Maryland

in Baltimore, is working on a system

that makes the transfer of styles

from one garment to another feasible.

He envisions algorithms that

have been trained “on your closet,

and then you could say here’s a

jacket or a pair of pants, and I’d like

to adapt it to my style.”

Thanks to computers and their artificial

understanding of your interest

in being part of the in-crowd, the

future of fashion could simply mean

that your individual fashion sense

might finally prevail.

source ©: Centre for Education and Youth


Smart Lifestyle Wearables



Smart buds

When it comes to valuable real estate on the human body, the ear is the new wrist.

n By Greg Langley


few years back, devices

that sat on your wrist and

were capable of collecting

data, including audio and

video, on your driving, eating, and

exercising habits were seen as the

next big thing. Then, after investing

much time and resources, companies

like Adidas, Nike, and Under

Armour followed Intel and Microsoft

in an exodus from a market

that once seemed like the Promised


The problem was that “hardware

is hard and software even harder”

and this market proved more limited

than previously imagined. While

athletes welcomed fitness trackers

because they could monitor their

heart rate, movement, and training

regime, the general public was not

convinced. This dashed the hope

of sectors such as insurance, for

example, that envisaged a range

of new products that could use

the data to nudge customers into

undertaking a change in lifestyle

through the enticement of lower


The launch of the Apple Watch in

2015 gave wearables a fashionable

fillip. CCS Insight, a market-research

company, estimates that 85 million

smartwatches were sold worldwide

in 2019, increasing to 137 million in

2022 when the market will be worth

over $27bn. However, such growth

would mask the sliding sales of fitness

trackers, which are expected

to drop from 43 million to 39 million

over the same period.

Today, the market for wearable devices

extends beyond the wrist with

source ©: GIANT Health

the emergence of a new category,

known as “hearables.” These “smart

buds” are technically advanced

devices that sit in the ear and augment

human intelligence.

source ©: Bragi

Wearable tech

will provide an

alternative to

the wrist, but

it will do so by

enhancing an

existing experience.

Nick Hunn

CTO, WiFore

A Touch and a Nod

The Dash Pro, built

by Bragi, a German

start-up, is a combination

of smart earphone

and personal

assistant. It can be

controlled by touch or

by head gesture.

Hearables – the New


Nick Hunn, wireless evangelist,

product designer, and CTO at Wi-

Fore, is credited with coining the

word “hearables” in a blog back in

2014. In it, he explains that infatuation

with the wrist began when

watch sales plummeted after

younger generations began using

mobile phones to tell the time.

With ABI Research reporting at that

time only 47 percent of people

regularly used a watch, the wrist

was seen as vacant real estate going


That appealed to a tech industry

looking for the next high-volume

consumer product and kicked off

a frenzy that everything was going

to be wearable. The problem was

that concepts to replace traditional

watches invariably involved devices

that connected with smartphones.

That, says Hunn, meant manufacturers

were desperately pushing

technology onto consumers instead

of adapting from known behavior

and preferences.

“That seemed a strategy likely to

fail as wearable technology is more,

rather than less personal,” he explains.

“Instead, I felt a new generation

of technology would revolu-


Smart Lifestyle Wearables

tionize the way we listen to music,

as well as provide an alternative

to the wrist for vital signs and fitness

sensors, but it would do so by

enhancing an existing experience.

That’s a powerful combination to

create a successful market.”

They were prescient observations.

Wearables – which include fitness

wristbands, heart-rate straps, and

even Google Glass – are noveltybased

products and require consumers

to put something new on

their body. After a few uses, many

are left forgotten in closet draws.

Earphones were already ubiquitous,

so they had the potential to make

a lasting impact in the wearable


Smart, connected headphones

already existed in 2014 but, soon,

reductions in the power required

by Bluetooth headsets meant that

both voice and stereo music could

be streamed to headphones or earbuds

running on small batteries.

Bragi, a start-up based in Munich,

Germany, was arguably one of

the first to cut the cord when it

released The Dash in 2015. The

Dash was certainly the first smart,

Bluetooth stereo earbud pair,

controlled by head gestures and

touch, with a simple personal assistant

capability. It also featured 2GB



Race For the Ears

Galaxy Buds are

giving Apple’s

AirPods a run for

their money. Both are

true in-ear, wireless

headphones, but

Samsung offers more

features and greater

customization at

a cheaper price,

testers say.

All-new design in

one new model

will boost demand

and attract

new users.

Ming-Chi Kuo

TF International Securities

Voices in Your Head

They are also an exceptionally good

place, physiologically, to measure

many vital signs because, unlike the

wrist, the ear doesn’t move about.

This makes them more reliable for

taking measurements. The Dash, for

example, had an accelerometer and

pulse oximeter sensors – and that

was all, in addition to playing your

favorite tunes.

In his original blog, Hunn estimated

that the hearables market would be

worth over $5bn by 2018. In a report

last year, MarketResearch estimated

that it had already exploded to be

worth $14bn in 2017.

“That is almost entirely down to the

success of the AirPod, which certainly

has taken Apple by surprise,”

Hunn says. “They felt it was a product

they had to develop once they

took the jack socket out of iPhones,

but have been overwhelmed by the


Apple launched two new AirPod

models at the end of 2019 with an

all-new form factor. Ming-Chi Kuo,

an analyst at TF International Securities,

is “positive” on the demand

for AirPods and Apple’s wireless

headphones market share but he

believes the “all-new design” of one

of the new models could boost the

replacement demand and attract

new users. He estimates AirPod

shipments will reach 52 million

units in 2019 and 75 million to 85

million units in 2020.

By some projections, the hearables

market could be worth as much as

$23.24bn by 2023, but to do so the

industry needs to overcome significant

challenges. The first is price.

While it is difficult to take a tenminute

walk in a major city without

seeing at least one person sportsource

©: Digitmes

of memory for uploaded music,

while a heart-rate sensor and step

counter provided feedback for athletes,

removing the need for them

to carry multiple devices. Apple

AirPods, Galaxy Buds, and other

competitors followed and Bragi

was swamped in the market to the

point that this year it announced it

was pivoting out of the hardware

business to concentrate on software

for hearables.

The Dash was a breakthrough because

it offered convenience, lightweight

comfort, and flexibility that

competing Bluetooth earbuds and

headphones couldn’t match. There

was no “spaghetti” cord tangle between

the buds and ears, so it provided

a full range of motion that

wired headsets couldn’t match.

What makes the ears such valuable

“property” is their location and

function. Their position near the

mouth makes them better at understanding

utterances than smart

speakers, like Alexa or Siri, found

halfway across the room.

ing an AirPod or cheaper knockoff,

hearables are not yet as ubiquitous

as might be expected.

One problem to their becoming

mainstream is price point, says

Kow Ping, executive director and

cofounder of Hong Kong start-up

Well Being Digital (WBD101), which

supplies highly accurate sensing

semiconductors to manufacturers

of hearables. He believes the retail

sales price will need to fall to below

$100 for mass pickup. “If you have

something super-duper accurate

and good for them [consumers] but

priced out of the reach of the majority,

then it will not get traction,” he


Hunn explains that earlier developers

overloaded the technology and

had trouble getting product out.

“It is expensive and challenging to

condense all that technology down

to two earbuds that include microphones.

Many companies struggled

to get the audio engineering right,

rather than having a tinny sound,”

he says. “Then they struggled to

have a product with batteries that

lasted more than an hour or two.”

Apple’s success comes because they

worked out what technology was

essential, including an antenna at










Smart Watches

the jaw level to transmit a signal and

ensure the two ear buds are synchronized.

They then wrapped it in a

cool package – and ditched the rest.

Product defects and pricing in the

wider industry are identified as

points holding hearables back, in

addition to health and safety regulations

that address such issues as

hearing loss. The World Health Organization

estimates that by 2050,

over 900 million people worldwide

will have disabling hearing loss.

Retail prices

need to fall

below $100 for

mass pickup

and traction.

Kow Ping

Well Being Digital

Budding Prospects

From around $600 million

in 2013, the market

for smart wearable

devices is expected to

reach over $30 billion

in 2020; almost half

of that will come from

new players in today’s

consumer electronics


Global Revenue from Smart Wearables

Hearing the Future

In the United States, for example, by

2020, there will be close to 45 million

people suffering mild to moderate

hearing loss with 20 million of them

aged between 20 and 69, according

to the Journal of the American Medical

Association (JAMA). Traditional

hearing aids have low penetration

within this demographic.

In the US in 2017, an Over-the-

Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act was

passed that instructed the Food

and Drug Administration to create a

class of OTC hearing aids for people

with mild to moderate hearing loss.

While such developments can have

an impact on the hearables industry,

it also indicates a potential convergence

between hearables and

traditional hearing aids that may

give the industry an extra boost.

Beyond that, a new set of Bluetooth

specs will be available in about a

year that will make voice control

much easier and enable hearables

to be much more flexible, such as in

sharing music with friends.

“I think the next generation of hearable

products will be about incorporating

more sensors and then drawing

back data,” says Hunn. “In terms

of the generation after that, well AI

assistance is definitely coming and

that will enable many new opportunities

for revenues and players.”

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

Augmented Reality Fashion Kids & Pets Medical Hearables Sports & Fitness


source ©: WiFore source ©: Linkedin

Smart Lifestyle BCI


Brainy Connections

Computers can do many things a

lot better than the human brain but

there are still tasks we do easily that

are impossible for computers to

accomplish. What if the two systems

could cooperate seamlessly?

Smart Industry takes a look at

some of the amazing developments

in brain–computer interfaces.

n By Rainer Claassen

century and it can detect the status

of the whole brain as well as activities

in different regions of it. EEG enables

scientists to find out which regions of

the brain are active during different

kinds of activities – resulting in maps

with detailed information about the

functions of different regions of the


Over time, the technology is becoming

more accessible. In Cambridge,

Massachusetts, for example,

Neurable has developed an EEG that

is relatively simple to use. It takes

more than an hour to apply a standard

“wet electrode” EEG to a human

skull, using gels to optimize the

electrode contact, but Neurable’s dry

system is attached to a virtual reality

headset and can be fitted within

minutes. The company claims its DK1

system is noninvasive, quick to set

up, and easy to use. The headset uses

six dry EEG sensors, which has more

than 90 percent correlation with wet

systems, and includes continuous impedance

and signal quality monitoring.

The company claims it is know-how

in pattern recognition and machine

learning that allows the DK1 to return

stunning results from this rather

Since the transmission in the

human brain is done by electricity,

it is possible to measure

the related activities using

technologies such as functional

magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

– which requires very expensive and

large machines. As there are no signs

this technology will become more accessible

in the near future, neuroscientists

are exploring alternatives.

One existing alternative is to apply

sensors to the skull. This method,

called electroencephalography (EEG),

has been known since the late 19th

Look, No Hands!

Neurable’s DKI

system uses six dry

EEG sensors and can

be fitted in minutes,

allowing human

users to move within

VR worlds by thought

control alone.

source ©: Neurable


simple system. In a demonstration at

Augmented World Expo 2019 in Munich,

Germany, Neurable showcased

a person interacting with virtual

items displayed through the VR headset

by thought alone. He was even

able to move within the VR setting

without using handheld controllers.

Neurable’s clients include architects

and interior designers who find it

especially interesting that the headset

can receive direct feedback from

the user’s brain. Without the need for

written surveys, they can detect how

each user feels about their virtual

surroundings, which helps to create

places in which people will feel good

and do better work.

Neurable’s software tools enable

integration with Unity, C++, and C#

development environments, and

the company also offers data export

capabilities and a web portal for 3D

data visualization and post-session


Another example of this technology

entering the mass market is a meditation

headset produced by Muse.

The company claims that the device,

available from about €170, can

translate brainwaves into sounds. It

aids meditation by giving audible

feedback when rising brain activity

is detected. This can help users to get

into a state of deep relaxation as they

learn how to control the sound.

Let There Be Light

Increases in the brain’s oxygen levels

can also reveal neuron activity,

a method that is currently being investigated

at the Facebook Reality

Labs (FRL). Near-infrared light can be

used to measure blood oxygenation

in the brain from outside in a noninvasive

way. Neurons consume far

more oxygen from the blood when

they are active. Shifts in oxygen levels

within the brain can be measured by

a device that works in a similar way to

a pulse oximeter – the clip-like sensor

attached to a patient’s finger to

measure blood oxygen levels. Nearinfrared

light can pass through the

skull and back, allowing blood oxygenation

in the brain to be measured

from outside of the body in a nonin-

source ©: Quora

source ©: Openwater

vasive way – thus giving hints on current

brain activity. At Facebook’s lab

they are experimenting with a portable,

wearable device made from

consumer-grade parts with an eye on

mass production.

Facebook’s researchers have an ambitious

goal: to convert thought into

text and achieve a real-time decoding

speed of 100 words per minute with

a 1,000-word vocabulary and word

error rate of less than 17 percent. To

make progress by comparative results,

the researchers are currently

engaging with a lab at the University

of California, San Francisco, that

is using invasive technology – a small

patch of tiny recording electrodes

temporarily placed on the surface of

seizure patients’ brains, to map back

to the origins of their attacks in preparation

for neurosurgery.

First results are promising, and brain

activity recorded while people spoke

has been converted to text on a computer

screen. A small set of spoken

words and phrases was decoded in

real time, a first in the field of brain–

computer interface (BCI) research,

and the ongoing work aims to translate

much larger vocabularies with

dramatically lower error rates.

Window to the Brain

Openwater’s new

headset resembles a

beany hat, but contains

near-infrared light emitters

that measure blood

flow in the brain. Originally

intended to help

diagnose brain damage,

it could one day enable

thought reading.

Sooner or

later, we will

be able to

read your


Mary Lou Jepsen


There is still a lot of progress needed

within the algorithms and hardware

before this will lead to Facebook’s

aim of producing an affordable headset

that will allow people to dictate

with the force of thought alone.

Facebook is not the only company exploring

this technology. Silicon Valley

hardware engineer Mary Lou Jepsen

recently founded Openwater. The

company plans to build a headset

that resembles a beany hat to house

the near-infrared light emitters for

measuring blood flow. Openwater

is actually focusing on diagnosing

brain injuries or neurodegenerative

diseases but Jepsen believes that the

technology could be used to read

thoughts – sooner or later.

Jepsen’s assumption is supported by

experiments performed by Professor

Jack Gallant at the University of California,

Berkeley, eight years ago. With

the help of fMRI, he scanned the brain

activity of people as they watched

video clips. After analyzing the patterns

that occurred during watching

different footage, a computer was

able to process the activity patterns

in the brain to generate images that

bore a stunning resemblance to the

original videos.

Come Inside

Brain experts often compare noninvasive

methods of investigating

brain activities to listening to the

noise of a crowd from outside a stadium.

You may be able to determine

when goals are scored and maybe

deduce which team is winning from

the loudness of the reactions – but

you can hardly discern any other details

of the game.

To find out about these it is necessary

to go inside the stadium – and to

place many microphones in there in

different places. In regard to the brain


Smart Lifestyle BCI

source ©: Synchron

source ©: Neuropace

this means getting sensors inside the

skull. But measuring the activities of

single neurons is quite difficult even

when working with the larger cells

of primitive animals in a laboratory

– and extremely complicated when

dealing with the brains of living humans.

Very small sensors have to be

placed very precisely and they need

to stay in place in conditions that can

be compared to a jungle by the sea:

hot, humid, and salty. A tough environment

for technology.

These conditions don’t deter some

organizations and Synchron, partnering

with Australia’s University of

Melbourne, is working on a stent-like

device studded with electrodes. Inserted

via a small incision in the neck,

this “Stentrode” is guided through

blood vessels that overlie the brain.

Working from Within

Once in the right location, it expands

from the size of a matchstick to fit the

vessel and tissue grows into its mesh,

keeping it in place. The device is designed

to record from multiple locations

through the numerous sensors

positioned along and around it.

The company claims that human trials

of the Stentrode are due to start

this year. It does not get in direct

contact with single neurons but can

get more detailed information than

systems that work from outside the

brain. The signals it detects are transmitted

wirelessly to an output device

carried in the subject’s pocket.

Implant specialist Neuropace is currently

using a responsive neurostimulation

(RNS) system on seizure

patients. It consists of a neurostimulator

that is implanted on the inner

surface of the skull with tiny wires

connecting it up to two seizure-onset

areas. It monitors brainwaves, detecting

signal patterns that are typical for

Inside Out

Synchron has

developed so-called

“Stentrodes” that are

implanted in the blood

vessels of the brain and

can gather detailed

information that can

then be transmitted

wirelessly to an output


We are slowly

beginning to


what a thought

really is.

Edward Boyden

MIT Department of

Biological Engineering

the onset of a stroke, and responds in

real time by sending brief pulses that

prevent the seizure from developing

further. A data collector can wirelessly

acquire data from the stimulator,

which helps medics understand the

causes of the seizures and improve

health care.

More sophisticated solutions could

soon lead to the possibility of “inserting”

thoughts into brains – by stimulating

different regions of the brain,

scientists have been able to activate

certain images and thoughts.

Optical Signals

Researchers at the Massachusetts

Institute of Technology (MIT) have

developed a completely different approach

to measuring electrical activity

in the brain. They have embedded

light-sensitive proteins into neuron

membranes. The proteins emit a

fluorescent signal that indicates how

much voltage a particular cell is currently


This could allow scientists to study

how neurons behave, millisecond by

millisecond, as the brain performs

specific functions.

Edward Boyden, an associate professor

of biological engineering and

source ©: Pinterest

brain and cognitive sciences at MIT

explains: “If you put an electrode in

the brain, it’s like trying to understand

a phone conversation by hearing

only one person talk. Now we can

record the neural activity of many

cells in a neural circuit and hear them

as they talk to each other.”

MIT is now trying to measure brain

activity in mice as they perform various

tasks. Boyden hopes that this will

result in maps of neural circuits and

to help understand how they manifest

specific behaviors. “We will be

able to watch a neural computation

happen,” he says. “Over the next five

years or so we’re going to try to solve

some small brain circuits completely.

Such results might mean a big step

forward to understanding what a

thought or a feeling really is.”

Big Promises

Since the topic leaves room for much

futuristic fantasy and great opportunities,

it is no surprise that Elon Musk

is involved too. In July 2019, he outlined

plans to connect human brains

directly to computers through his

company Neuralink. He described a

campaign to create “symbiosis with

artificial intelligence,” announcing a

first prototype would be implanted

in a human by the end of 2020. It involves

microfibers that could record

and stimulate the activities of up to

1,000 neurons.

As Musk is personally afraid that artificial

intelligence may eventually consider

humans to be no longer necessary,

he hopes to enable people to

“merge” with AI – and he expects that

a high-bandwidth brain interface will

lead to options to achieve this.

The California-based entrepreneur is

even on record saying that the infrastructure

in Neuralink’s system could

become so simple it wouldn’t need


expensive neuroscientists to implant

and maintain it – thus making the implantation

of the interface relatively

cheap. “I really think you will one day

be able to repay the loan for such a

procedure with superhuman intelligence.

I think that’s a safe bet,” he


Some scientists are less optimistic,

doubting that the great announcements

will lead to real-life outcomes

any time soon. To most BCI experts,

neuroscience is a work in progress,

with many different disciplines involved:

materials science, neuroscience,

machine learning, engineering,

design, and many more. They don’t

see any shortcuts to evading clinical

trials and regulatory approval.

Should We Do This?

Although it looks like there is still a

long way to go until these technologies

will actually allow direct access

to secret thoughts, possible consequences

have to be considered early

on. As people get more and more

concerned about all the data some

firms are collecting without asking,

many worry that BCIs may one day

lead to even greater exploitation of

personal information.

Many questions remain unanswered,

for instance: Do we really want companies

to know more about ourselves

than we do? Who will be held

responsible if a wrong thought leads

to fatal consequences when mindcontrolling

a machine? Will a random

thought like “I turned my phone off.

I must remember to turn it on” get

truncated to “Turn it on” and the industrial

machine obeys?

The current state of developments in

brain–computer interfaces is a long

way behind science-fiction fantasy.

Although the fourth part of the Matrix

movie franchise is currently in the

making and its hero Neo is set to reenter

the computer-generated world

cabled into his brain, in today’s world

even a simple interface to the brain

for direct input and output has yet to

be developed.

Indeed, many scientists remain

doubtful that it will ever be possible

to actually transmit complex

How Do Brains Work?

Neural Networks

thoughts – let alone to upload human

consciousness to a computer.

So far, BCI technologies look as

though they will have their strongest

impact in medical use cases – but

they are starting to seed into industry.

Lots of companies are doing research

in many different directions

and many scientific breakthroughs

in the past have been achieved by

chance when many players became

involved in a specific theme. This

could well happen in this field, too.

The path may still be full of obstacles,

but the outlook for BCIs is starting

to confound the doubters and look

more than promising.

source ©: YouTube

Worlds Apart

Scenes like those from

the movie franchise

Matrix are predicted to

soon become reality.

But some scientists

remain unconvinced.

source ©: Onlinezeitung24

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said that

the human brain is the most complex object

in the known universe, and many scientists

agree. Science has already found out a lot

about the way it works – but is still far from

actually understanding it.

Weighing less than three pounds, the brain

has some impressive figures. Contributing

only two percent to the weight of an adult, it

consumes about 20 percent of the energy a

person needs. Almost a hundred billion neurons

are working in it and each of these cells

may be connected to up to 10,000 other cells.

This adds up to as many as a thousand trillion

synaptic connections through which signals

are transferred.

Each neuron has many tentacle-like projections:

numerous dendrites and a single axon

– a long, slender nerve fiber which transmits

information to different neurons, muscles, and

glands. The rather short dendrites, usually less

than a millimeter, receive electric signals that

are transmitted from neighboring neurons

via their axons, which can be up to a meter in

length. In addition to the trillions of connections

within the brain, there are many more

connecting to the sensory cells within the


Although the way brains work is quite different

from computers, some comparisons can

be made. The memory capacity of a brain

is estimated to be between one and 1,000

terabytes, with a computing capability equal

to a computer with a one trillion bit per

second processor. Compare that to Hewlett

Packard’s recently announced singlememory

computing system of 160 terabytes

– currently the world’s largest – and you see

that computers still have a way to go before

they can catch up.

The same goes for raw computing power.

The fastest supercomputer in the world,

the Tianhe-2 in Guangzhou, China, has

a maximum processing speed of 54.902

petaFLOPS. A petaFLOP is a quadrillion (one

thousand trillion) floating point calculations

per second. That’s a huge amount of calculations,

and yet that doesn’t even come close

to the processing speed of the human brain.

Although it is impossible to precisely calculate,

it is postulated that the human brain

operates at 1 exaFLOP, which is equivalent to

a billion billion calculations per second.

source ©: YouTube


Smart Solutions Logistics



the Last 50 Feet

source ©: Ford Motor Company

The last mile of the logistics chain is a huge challenge but the closer you approach

your destination, the more complex and expensive it gets. Not coincidentally,

the “last 50 feet” is considered by experts to be the true bottleneck for

e-commerce growth – and that’s where a large part of the future of retail is being

decided. Start-ups and online retailers alike are working hard to close that final gap.

n By Marcel Weiss

Everybody’s doing it these

days – namely buying stuff

online. E-commerce has been

growing for decades with no

end in sight but the actual delivery

of purchases is still handled by an

infrastructure designed and built for

the mail-order age. The final burden

is born by the postal systems and

delivery vans which have to tour


Cool Delivery

Designed to safely get

packages to customers

using autonomous delivery

devices, the Amazon

Scout is about the size

of a small cooler and

rolls along sidewalks at

a walking pace, carefully

avoiding pedestrians and

other obstacles.

neighborhoods and laboriously deliver

each package to the customers’


This is the biggest bottleneck constricting

e-commerce growth, the

so-called “last mile,” which accounts

for between 25 percent and 50 percent

of the total shipping costs. The

expense incurred means there is a

huge market opportunity for innosource

©: Amazon

source ©: Pop-Up City

the REV-1 is larger than the Scout or

Starship robots to make it easily visible

to drivers but it’s still far smaller

than a traditional delivery van and

able to qualify under e-bike regulations

in the US, the company says.

Even bigger is the Robomart van,

which is taking a slightly different

route by offering a kind of mobile

vending machine. The customer requests

a visit and can choose from a

range of goods carried by this minimart

on wheels.

Other start-ups bidding for ownership

of the last mile include Hellovation

– and a lot of companies are

joining the sprint to win a share of

the last mile.

One obvious route is to develop autonomous

robotic carts to deliver

goods from the local fulfillment center.

Amazon is testing its “Scout” robot,

which looks like a six-wheeled

cooler box. The prototype models

are currently accompanied by human

“minders,” a bit like the early days

when cars were preceded by a man

with a red flag, but Starship Technologies,

an Estonian start-up run by

two former founders of Skype and

headquartered in California, is a step

ahead. Starship’s carts are already

making autonomous deliveries in selected,

well-defined areas such as the

campus of George Mason University,

Virginia, and the UK town of Milton

Keynes. The company has recently reported

more than 100,000 successful

commercial deliveries to date.

Google and Starship are by no means

alone. Refraction AI is working on

a delivery robot called REV-1 which

uses the side of roads, bike lanes, as

well as sidewalks. For safety reasons,

Side by Side

To maximize flexibility

and safety,

Refraction’s REV-1

is lightweight and

low-power enough

to qualify under e-

bike regulations, but

is fast and nimble

enough to operate

in traditional car

lanes without

impeding traffic.

Store on Wheels

California-based start-up

Robomart has introduced

a driverless vehicle that will

sell you small groceries at

your curbside. An array of

cameras monitors what

people take, then the bot

calculates what to charge

them, before puttering off to

the next customer.

World Robotics from Singapore, Eliport

in Spain, and US firm Nuro.

All of this doesn’t mean the longestablished

logistics companies are

standing still. FedEx, for example,

is partnering with Walmart, Target,

and Walgreens to launch a program

based on its SameDay Bot.

Clearing the Way

The sidewalk or road versus local bylaws

argument hints at the struggle

that will dominate any progress in

the last mile. Robots on crammed

sidewalks or in busy bike lanes don’t

sound like something the populace,

and therefore regulators, will accept

once this mode of delivery gains any

significant traction.

Looking upwards, drones could provide

an answer but the same red

tape problems are holding things

back – and rightly so. Amazon’s

Prime Air is the company’s development

project based in the US, the

UK, Austria, France, and Israel but,

although the first test was in 2016, it

still hasn’t taken off as a commercial

proposition. Airspace use in densely

source ©: Refraction AI

Coming Down!

Chinese online

consumer electronics

retailer JD.com is

experimenting in

Indonesia with a dronebased

delivery system

that can help service

out-of-reach areas and

generally expedite its


source ©: TechCrunch / Verizon Communications Inc.


Smart Solutions Logistics

Two Legs Good

Ford is using

robotics to explore

a new frontier in the

world of autonomy.

Teaming up with

Agility Robotics,

the automaker has

introduced Digit, a

two-legged robot

capable of lifting

packages that weigh

up to 40 pounds.

source ©: The Spoon

populated areas needs to be carefully

regulated to avoid accidents and,

at the moment, delivery drones can

only be classed as unindemnified flying


This doesn’t mean drones are out of

the picture altogether. The last mile

can sometimes translate into 50 kilometers

or more in countries with

large rural areas. Jingdong (JD.com),

China’s largest online retailer, has

been pouring billions of yuan into

its logistics infrastructure. As part

of this, the company is working on

drones in a big way. The JD robots

will be capable of carrying loads

weighing up to one ton to and from

remote rural areas and villages.

Sharing Resources

JD.com plus the likes of Amazon and

the UK-based online supermarket

Ocado are also spearheading another

important trend in e-commerce

logistics. As these large online retailers

build their state-of-the-art logistics

infrastructures, they can offer to

share these new resources, and their

accumulated expertise, to others.

Amazon uses logistics to make things

better for its marketplace partners,

and JD is increasingly offering

cutting-edge logistics automation

at more points across the logistics

chain. The Ocado Group is offering

turnkey solutions to grocery retailers

and struck its first three-year US deal

Welcome to the Hive

British online supermarket

Ocado has filled a

warehouse in Andover,

a small town in southern

England, with what

seems to be a huge

chessboard, populated

entirely by robots. The

so-called hive-gridmachine

can process

3.5 million items or

around 65,000 orders

per week.

in October 2018 to build 20 warehouses

for the Kroger supermarket

chain. These will use automation

technology based on the decadeslong

expertise of Ocado.

Online retail has been pushing logistics

to new heights for many years

and the large, established online

retailers have learnt how modern

delivery processes should operate.

Until now, retail has been the carrier’s

customer but now it is stepping up to

take control of the delivery channel.

Successful automation of the last

mile needs a more holistic approach

than just robots on the sidewalk. For

starters, as Mark Godwin, cofounder

of Boxbot (yet another start-up developing

delivery robots) recently

told Wired magazine, the hardest

part of the last mile itself is the last

50 feet. Getting to a customer’s

front door and delivering the package

may involve opening a gate or

moving around a flower bed, which

is why autonomous delivery usually

means the customer has to come to

the sidewalk to pick up their package

– or the robot is accompanied by a

human to do that, he adds.

For the time being, automation will

augment delivery fulfilled by people

in vans and the last few feet will have

to be covered by a human. But the

overall process can hugely benefit

from the increased efficiency automation

offers. To be really effective,

the whole delivery operation must

be rebuilt to eliminate these and other

obstacles. Carmaker Ford is driving

a project using bipedal, humanoid

robots in autonomous delivery vans.

It’s still in the early stages of development

but if it goes ahead, the last

few feet could be navigated without

causing damage and stairs or other

obstacles would not be a problem to

prevent delivery to the door.

Amazon is taking a different approach.

The company accounts for

about 40 percent of all e-commerce

in the US, according to research firm

Rakuten Intelligence, with its own logistics

system handling around half

of its deliveries. For the last 50 feet,

Amazon has devised Key, a smart

door-lock system that allows the delivery

person to enter the customer’s

house or garage, watched through

a remote camera, when no one is

home. It is a very secure system

which only allows access for a specific

delivery at a fixed time slot, but for

some customers it is proving to be a

step too far and a potential invasion

of privacy.

Somewhat less controversial are

Amazon’s Locker and Hub initiatives.

Locker is an extension of Amazon’s

delivery to a store participating in

its Counter delivery scheme, and the

customer has to visit the store to collect

their purchase. Counter has the

disadvantage that it can only be accessed

when the store is open. Locker

is an improvement because it uses

source ©: Ford Motor Company


Anytime You Want

Amazon Hub Lockers

allow customers

to pick up packages

whenever it’s

convenient for them.

Currently, Amazon

operates over 3,000

such repositories.

source ©: Amazon

source ©: GBS German Bionic Systems GmbH

smart cabinets in secure areas that

are available anytime.

Locker is a development of this and

makes delivery to an apartment

block easier. The Key system allows

a delivery person to enter the building

to access a rack of smart lockers,

similar to the Locker system’s cabinets,

in the foyer. This allows goods

to be delivered to a secure place to

await collection when the customer

gets home.

In both cases, the size of the lockers

means that larger purchases cannot

be handled and will still rely on the

customer, or a friend, being available

at the time of delivery. It also means

that the current range of Scout robots

cannot be used. The problem

is not insurmountable and one day

Scout robots’ future iterations may

be able to enter apartment buildings

using Amazon Key and dock to Amazon

Hubs. But devising a fully automated

delivery system could prove

more expensive than the current

van-and-man (or woman) systems.

The Final Step

Owning the logistics chain end-toend

will allow Amazon to go deeper

into automation and the company

is increasing the number of small

Prime fulfillment centers as close to

city centers as possible to reduce the

“last mile” as much as possible, so

that this final step can be covered in

as little time as possible. Automation

also allows for centralized, detailed,

algorithmically optimized synchronization

of delivery processes as

each part of the system becomes

more flexible. Intelligent software

platforms are becoming increasingly

important and indispensable as delivery


Facilitating the last-mile solutions

means changes have to be made at

the warehouse end of the business.

A more efficient use of cubic meters

at automated warehouses allows for

smaller, sustainable warehouses to

proliferate. Because of the increased

number, each one can be more specialized

and become a crucial part in

the robotic delivery chain.

Even today, fulfillment centers are

being automated and augmented

with technology at every level to

increase efficiency and adaptability

to enable the anticipated increased

volume of deliveries. Where robots

lack the intelligence required for a

task, exoskeletons for employees are

Humans with


will do everything


can’t handle


Gerald Müller

DB Schenker


Little Helper

German robotics

specialist Bionic

demonstrated the

first fully networked

exoskeleton at Hanover

Fair. Designed

specially for the

Industrial Internet of

Things (IIoT), it boasts

self-learning capabilities

and artificial


now starting to help. Gerald Mueller,

head of process and efficiency management

at logistics firm DB Schenker,

says that first tests at its logistics

hub with German Bionic’s Cray X

exoskeletons have been met with

positive reactions from the employees

and has proved to make manual

work healthier and more efficient.

This hints at larger augmentation

coming to logistics as robots take

on more jobs and humans with exoskeletons

keep up the pace, doing

everything the robots can’t handle


The process of automating delivery

is gathering momentum and we can

expect more, but smaller, provisioning

centers and greater differentiation

in last-mile delivery methods

as the new value-chain structure

emerges. Online retail giants expect

to play a crucial role in tomorrow’s

logistics world because they feel

they know best what’s missing today.

As they build up their logistics businesses,

by providing or commissioning

the missing parts for a modern

infrastructure, solving the last-mile

challenges, and especially the last 50

feet, will play a major part in fulfilling

this aspiration.

source ©: logistik aktuell / Schenker Deutschland AG


Smart Solutions Home Threats

Home Threats

About Security

and Things

Do you know where your data sets go to? More specifically, do you know

who knows? Strong authentication and identity management will play

an increasingly crucial role as companies and organizations move

toward the goal of a totally connected world.

n By Bengt Sahlin *

An increasing number of

Things are being connected

today and we are heading

toward a world where

everything that benefits from being

connected will be connected. The Internet

of Things (IoT) makes big promises

in what new services and applications

it can offer us. New use cases will

happen over time when Things get

connected and we realize all the benefits

we can get out of them.

At the same time, we also need to see

technical advances in order to reach

the full potential of IoT. Connecting

Things means that we want them to

communicate but, for this to happen,

the Things need mechanisms to exchange

data and they should understand

each other – they should have

some kind of common language. The

technical term used is semantic interoperability.


Identity management


an important

aspect of IoT.

Bengt Sahlin


source ©: LinkedIn

Semantic interoperability is getting

increased attention today, and there

are ongoing efforts to enable it. As

an example, a workshop was recently

arranged by the Internet Architecture

Board (IAB) to discuss semantic

interoperability in the harmonization

of information and data models


Individual Things have very different

natures and, hence, also have different

characteristics, such as computational

capabilities and power

restrictions. All these different characteristics

need to be taken into account

when designing the mechanisms

for building communication

networks of the future.

Basic Mechanisms

Not surprisingly, many standardization

organizations are working on

improving the technology needed

for IoT. For example, the Internet

Engineering Task Force (IETF) has

specified basic mechanisms for use

on the Internet and it is working on

improving these procedures and on

specifying new ones to meet future

communication demands. For IoT,

*Bengt Sahlin is research lead for networking security at NomadicLab, Ericsson Research.

for example, the hypertext transfer

protocol (HTTP) can be used for communication

but, for Things with more

restricted resources, another lightweight

alternative has been specified,

the constrained application protocol


In the 3rd Generation Partnership

Project (3GPP), there are radio technologies

being developed and enhanced

called Extended Coverage

GSM (EC-GSM), Narrowband Internet

of Things (NB-IoT), and Long-term

Evolution Machine Type Communication

(LTE-M). A couple of main characteristics

of these new systems are

improved, extended coverage and

energy efficiency.

To enable the full potential of IoT, it

should go without saying that security

and privacy also need to be

handled well. Identity management

is an important aspect of IoT. Every

Thing needs an identity so that it can

be recognized and ensure that communication

is running between the

correct devices.

There are many good security systems

available to protect the integrity

and confidentiality of communications

and to enforce and handle

identity management. For the HTTP

and CoAP protocols, Transport Layer

Security (TLS) and Datagram TLS

(DTLS) can be used to protect the

communication. New protocols for

application layer security, such as Object

Security of CoAP (OSCoAP) and

Ephemeral Diffie-Hellman Over COSE

(EDHOC) are being developed, to

support end-to-end security as well

as the application of CoAP in new IoT

settings. These protocols are based

on the Concise Binary Object Representation

(CBOR) encoded message

syntax, which is expected to become

an important standard for compact

secure messages.

There is also a need for access control,

to make sure that the Things are only

performing actions requested by authorized

entities. For example, any

given Thing in a house should only

be accessed by devices or systems

appointed by the homeowners, not

the neighbors or any unsanctioned


A lightweight, open authorization

framework suitable for IoT is being

built as an offshoot from the widely

deployed web framework OAuth

2.0. Acknowledging the wide variety

of IoT deployments, this framework

allows the definition of profiles

adapted to different communications

standards, such as HTTP, CoAP,

and Bluetooth, and security specifications,

such as TLS, DTLS, and OSCoAP.

3GPP has defined its own security

mechanisms for protecting its radio

communications. Technical details

of these systems can be found under

Technical Specifications 43.020,

33.102, and 33.401, which can be

found in the list maintained by 3GPP’s

SA3 security working group.

Automated Setup

Another important aspect to consider

is how to set up the security when

a Thing is connected to a network. As

many Things are expected to be connected,

it is desirable that the setup

should be automated as much as

possible and, if human intervention is

needed, ought to be as easy as possible.

One example of automated setup is

Ericsson NomadicLab’s work on digital

signage. Printed advertising signs

are giving way to electronic displays,

wirelessly fed by cloud-based services.

The display screens need to be

correctly configured and authorized

before the HTML5 advertising content

can be shown. The Nomadic-

Lab researchers are working on how



Ericsson’s DevOps

framework for efficient


and operations

of NFV-based

services enables

elastic router


to dynamically

expand or reduce

its capacity.

making these connections can be

deskilled through the use of mobilephone

cameras and QR codes. In addition

to providing communication

system security, it is also important to

secure the devices themselves. Many

of the Things that are getting connected

were not originally designed

for IoT use and it is important to ensure

that connecting any device will

not increase the risk of malicious access.

IoT manufacturers may also lack

experience and expertise in the area

of data communication.

One of the early successes for consumer

IoT implementation is the

connected home concept, especially

for lighting control. Even though

these were engineered to connect

to a smartphone app over Wi-Fi,

there are numerous accounts by security

experts of vulnerabilities being

exploited. In 2014, David Bryan

and Daniel Crowley, security researchers

at Trustwave, documented

how lights in a house in Oregon

could be switched on and off by a

stranger in San Francisco. Hacks like

this have awakened the connected

home suppliers to security issues

but, even today, these still happen

far too often.

The security industry needs to continue

helping the IoT community by

raising awareness of the need for

robust security and by providing the

security frameworks that will be a

cornerstone in the success of building

an Internet of Things capable of

safely connecting billions of devices.

source ©: Ericsson


Column Bernd Schöne

Engineering Data

IoT Is Not for Free


data is one

thing – making

sense of it all is

something else


Bernd Schöne

is a veteran

German Internet


and an expert on

data analysis.

We want to build the best machines

in the world, but for that

we need data.” That’s what I heard

over and over again at Bauma in Munich,

the largest trade fair for the construction industry

and, in fact, the largest trade fair in the world. It’s

where companies like Caterpillar, Liebherr, or Komatsu

show off their gigantic excavators and dozers,

and the feeling was that the industry is under huge


Heavy equipment like this makes lots of noise and

guzzles dozens of gallons of diesel every minute. Yes,

the machines are controlled by complicated electronics,

but what about IoT? Every exhibitor had something

to say on this subject, but few had anything to show. It

seems almost as though the engineers have yet to hear

about the Industrial Internet, which is curious.

The reason for the apparent disregard, exhibitors told

me, is lack of data. Not that these behemoths don’t

generate tons of data, it’s the fact that nobody really

knows who owns it all: the manufacturer, the customer,

the contractor, or the rental company. “Each of them

keeps their data under lock and key,” one frustrated developer

told me.

Which is too bad because data, as everyone knows, will

be the crude oil of the 21st century.

Of course, gathering data is one thing; making sense of

it all is something else indeed! A car engine consists of

more than a thousand parts, the whole car can run to

10,000 parts or more, but an airplane has over a million

of them. Every time it takes off, a plane generates more

data than a supercomputer: each of the twin engines on

a Boeing 787 produces 60 terabytes per hour. Analyzing

such a tsunami of bits and bytes requires a deep understanding

of what they represent – and that

costs money. IoT does not come for free.

Smart sensors are more expensive than dumb

ones; maybe only a couple of cents but it all adds

up. The increasing number of connected devices uses

up electricity at an ever-growing rate: power demand

from IT is growing faster than in any other industry already.

The International Energy Agency estimates the

Internet of Things will be consuming more than 1,000

terawatt hours by 2025 and that 400 of those terawatts

will be wasted.

Being able to demonstrate sustainability is becoming

a compelling sales argument for any product, but IoT

must also show a profit if it is to succeed. Industries all

over the world need to cut down on wear and tear and

increase fuel efficiency if they want to stay in business.

One of the best examples of this is how Formula One

racing cars are developed; their manufacturers were

among the first to bet heavily on data. Every mile one

of these speedsters moves is minutely chronicled, the

data is put through sophisticated simulators, and the

results meticulously evaluated by trained technicians

who are able to modify almost every characteristic of

the car, often in real time. Engine performance and

wear can be altered during the heat of a race via remote

systems, ensuring that the racer makes it to the finish

line with enough gas for a victory lap left in its tank.

Careful data analysis in racing cars leads to incremental

improvements; a few hundredths of a second here, a

few there. In the end, data will play a large part in who

takes home the prize and who gets left in the dust.

That’s why it makes more business sense to have an

analysis bottom line that reads: “Give the data to the

engineers, not the bean counters.”






• Drones

• Robotics

• Cash Registers / POS

• Factory Automation

• IoT Gateways

• Digital Signage

• Multi-functional Printers

• Transportation

• Surveillance

e.MMC embedded

flash drive





Contact Us: OEMProducts@wdc.com

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All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

© 2019 Western Digital Corporation or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Smart Solutions Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

Making a MES

Augmented Reality (AR) is very much part of the digital revolution in manufacturing.

By simply donning a hands-free headset, workers can add a virtual layer of contextual

information on top of what they see before them along with detailed information

about a machine or process. Today, AR is mainly used in maintenance but, once

you realize that the application of AR is only limited by the imagination,

that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

n By Chris Parsons*

Putting operational


into context

and making it

available across

enterprise and


systems is what

MES does best.

Chris Parsons

Critical Manufacturing

Augmented Reality (AR) is part

of what is becoming known

as the manufacturing execution

system (MES), a whole

new world of opportunities for increased

plant efficiency and performance.

With complete access to all

the real-time data from the MES, AR

can go much deeper into the shop

floor. By providing an interactive window

into all data contained within

a modern MES, operators, workers,

technicians, process engineers,

and managers can see exactly what

is happening, or what needs to be

done, in real time and be intuitively

guided through operations. They can

access any information from the MES

anytime and anywhere using smartphones,

tablets or, for the ultimate in

hands-free efficiency, AR glasses.

A modern MES designed for futureready

manufacturing, based on the

Industry 4.0 (I4.0) model, can provide

real-time, contextualized data from

every part of the connected supply

chain. Data about equipment, products,

processes, and schedules can

not only be retrieved but also analyzed

to reveal key performance indicators

(KPIs), such as overall equipment

efficiency (OEE), in-process lots,

yield, cycle time, mean time to repair

(MTTR), and mean time between failures

(MTBF). Product specifications,

order details, customer details, quality

metrics, and batch records can all

be accessed instantly to help keep

operations running smoothly and

meet delivery schedules.

The evolution of the Internet of

Things and I4.0 manufacturing concepts

have opened new possibilities

in how real-time data can be used

to control and optimize production

better. Add AR into the mix and the

workforce is instantly armed with

every piece of information it needs.

AR vastly improves worker guidance

and productivity, helping to enhance

quality and yield. It works to prevent

errors in setup and maintenance processes

as well as adding to efficiency.

Furthermore, the real-time and drilldown

information enhance process


source ©: MedTech Intelligence / Innovative Publishing Co. LLC

By bringing the shop floor to life with

the wealth of information within the

MES, operators can perform even the

most complex tasks with confidence

and efficiency. Detailed process

steps, work instructions, schematics,

materials, and tool selection can all

be clearly displayed to ensure that

tasks are completed correctly, the

first time, every time – eliminating

costly errors and documentation

mistakes that hurt product quality.

New workers can enjoy this immersive

experience with clear guidance

to help them learn tasks more quickly

or even to guide them to where they

need to be.

Immediate Action

AR is completely interactive. Operators

can clearly see where any problem

areas are, or might occur, and

take immediate action from their current

location. Indeed, the whole concept

of AR with mobile interfaces reduces

wasted movement and further

enhances operator efficiency.

To expand the benefit and reach of

AR requires a modern, I4.0-ready

MES, or “augmented MES.” As the

speed and complexity of production

has increased over the years, a modern

MES needs to adapt to handle

these needs. The system must offer

a fully integrated digital twin of the

shop floor to make AR a reality – in


*Chris Parsons is vice president of global marketing at augmented MES specialist Critical Manufacturing

many ways, the original MES solutions

were the first form of digital

twin. With IoT and smart technology,

however, they must now take

data from any smart device on the

shop floor or even from a network of

global facilities. Context must then

be added to this data to present it

back in a clear and intuitive form that

meets the needs of an individual carrying

out a particular operation.

A Virtual View

Putting operational data into context

and making it available across enterprise

and automation systems is what

MES does best. By using RFID tags

and scanners, the execution system

can also be fully aware of where materials,

products, tools, and even employees

are at any point in time. With

augmented MES, these locations can

be shown in the virtual view of the

plant. Add to this the capability of

realistic 3D modelling and locationbased

services that use dynamic positioning,

rather than just static, and

the whole plant comes to life in the

virtual model.

This gives the execution system

complete visibility of all shop-floor

activity. Now, add in AR technology

via headset, tablet, or smartphone

and native AR within the execution

system takes plant monitoring, control,

guidance, and optimization to

whole new levels. Anything that is

accessible via the MES can be incorporated

into the AR display. By simply

pointing a mobile device’s camera at

products or equipment that bear an

identifier, such as a barcode or quick

response (QR) matrix, data is instantly

correlated with the AR identifier and

superimposed on the screen. This

means the operator is instantly presented

with information relevant to

their task or role and does not have

to switch between screens. The contextual

detail enhances accuracy and

efficiency of operations, and the display

is completely configurable and

can include tools, such as calendars,

charts, or widgets, making the display

as pertinent as possible for the

person, task, or situation.

With digital twin I4.0 concepts and








New Model Factory

Combining new Industry

4.0 technologies such

as digital twins and

augmented reality (AR)

with up-to-date versions

of proven software

systems, particularly

manufacturing execution

systems (MES), creates

ways to ensure

these digital and virtual

systems reflect and

fully support a company’s

physical and real



& Digital Twin

Full model of

Process, plant


modern MES technology, AR can now

become ubiquitous, but that does

not mean that every application will

make good business sense – but it

does mean that information can flow

freely and readily to workers when

and where they need it. The use of this

technology will also accelerate moves

to I4.0 production models and the

huge gains in efficiency and quality

this offers.

As for the future, our acceptance of

mobile technology combined with

the increased efficiency AR offers to

manufacturing operations may well

mean that AR becomes the only way

to interact with shop-floor systems.

Add in speech recognition and bots

and we may find standard, fixed, user

interfaces for equipment may well

cease to exist altogether.






source ©: Critical Manufacturing


Smart Solutions Protectionism & IT

Protectionism & IT

The Monsters are Back

Since mid-2019, IT has been facing one of the greatest challenges of its history.

Perceived threats from rogue states taint the products from their companies.

The result is the return of protectionism, which could mean a long delay

in delivering 5G networks – and major problems for IoT.

n By Bernd Schoene

Information technology has had

a remarkable run over the past

40 years. No other transformation

has changed our blue

planet so radically; none has created

such wealth in terms of stock

market valuation. On the other

hand, no sector is more reliant on

globalization, where IT suppliers are

linked together through an intricate

network of dependencies. Giant

corporations exchange knowledge

and patents across the globe, all

governed – at least until now – by

the laws of the market and of supply

and demand.

Just how sensitive this system has

been is demonstrated time and

again. The Kobe earthquake of 1995

led to a worldwide shortage of cast

Foreign adversaries




in information

and communications


U.S. Government

Executive order, May 2019

resin, a crucial element in semiconductor

manufacturing, because the

world market leader’s factory was

destroyed. When Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull

volcano erupted in 2010,

thousands of flights were canceled,

among them shipments of computer

chips to automakers in Europe

who were forced to shut down car

and truck production for days on

end. In 2011, flooding in Thailand cut

computer manufacturers off from

their biggest supplier of hard disk


Flood levels tend to fall after a couple

of days and volcanoes don’t spew

smoke and ash forever. The effects

of political decision-making, however,

can be much longer lasting. The

monsters of protectionism, which

many thought banished for good, are

back and IT is feeling the tension.

In May 2019, the US administration

declared a national emergency in

order to subject the Chinese telecommunications

company Huawei

to strict export controls. The official

explanation is that hardware made

in China puts the US at risk of espionage.

The executive order states that

“foreign adversaries are increasingly

creating and exploiting vulnerabilities

in information and communications

technology and services,” and

the “unrestricted acquisition or use”

of hardware made by foreign adversaries

makes those vulnerabilities


Any US company that continues to

do business with the Chinese now


faces stinging fines and their top executives

could, at least theoretically,

go to jail. Google was one of the first

companies to comply, canceling billions

of dollars’ worth of contracts

with Huawei and, in the process,

demonstrating just how globally interdependent

the tech industry has


Huawei is one of only a handful of

suppliers for 5G technology in the

world but, not only that, the company

is also a leading manufacturer of

smartphones using Google’s Android

operating system. Due to the ban,

the Chinese will not be able to supply

their customers around the world

with updated software versions and

new-model phones will no longer be

equipped with Google apps such as

Maps or Gmail. Access to the Google

Play Store will also be denied.

Only One of Nine

Software is only part of the problem.

Huawei’s 5G network hardware is

crucially dependent on US technology

from companies such as Qualcomm,

Xilinx, Intel, and Broadcomm

– all of which have confirmed they

will no longer deal with Huawei. The

problem is that Huawei is one of only

nine companies globally that sell

5G radio hardware and 5G systems

for carriers. The others are Altiostar,

Cisco Systems, Datang Telecom, Ericsson,

Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung,

and ZTE. Datang and ZTE are also

Chinese companies but have not

been banned under the software


Operators like Deutsche Telekom,

Vodafone, and Telefónica rely heavily

on Huawei systems for their new 5G

networks, some of which are already

running or are planned to go online

over the next year or two. The decision

by US policy makers could throw

a monkey wrench into the worldwide

launch of 5G services to millions of

customers in scores of countries. The

US is also applying pressure on its allies

to cancel all orders with Huawei.

Australia and New Zealand have already

announced their compliance

but, so far, Great Britain and Germany

have refused.

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom has

continued to roll out systems using

microcontrollers and circuitry based

on Huawei technology, as has Infineon

(formerly Siemens), arguing that

these components are not manufactured

in the United States and do not

fall under US jurisdiction. Infineon is

especially proud of its Trusted Platform

Module (TPM) products, which

it sells in large numbers to Huawei as

well as to US players like VeriSign.

Huawei also has an ongoing partnership

with ARM, a British semiconductor

maker, which operates factories in

the US. That means it will be unable

to sell technology developed by its

subsidiaries to Huawei. Already, US

banks have started circulating lists of

companies and individuals who are

forbidden to trade with the Chinese.

As a result, bank accounts have been

frozen and executives face arrest if

they enter the United States.

Huawei has said it will defend itself

through a variety of measures. The

company has already announced its

HarmonyOS smartphone platform will

replace Android in domestic and foreign

markets. The company’s billionaire

founder Ren Zhengfei has also set

out a three to five-year plan to build an

“invincible iron army” that will protect

it from ongoing US sanctions while

defending its lead in next-generation

wireless. The consumer business, Ren

wrote in a blog post, faces a “painful

long march” – a reference to the Communist

Party’s historic cross-country

trek during the civil war.

Huawei hasn’t been clear about how

US administration curbs would impact

its 190,000 employees worldwide,

but the company has begun to

lay off US-based staff, the Wall Street

Journal reported.

So far, China seems unwilling to back

down. The hawkish new commerce

minister Zhong Shan told the South

China Morning Post that China must

uphold “the spirit of struggle” in defending

national interests. For the

global IT industry, this martial chestbeating

signals troubled times ahead.

Companies and managers will need

to devise a new set of rules governing

the world IT markets and their

A Step Back

decisions about where and how to

do business. Suppliers and programmers

will need to consider who to accept

as customers – and who not to.

If China masters the obstacles put in

its way by the US sanctions, the nation

could emerge as a new IT superpower.

In the meantime, 5G operators

will need to find solutions fast or

face potentially debilitating losses as

deadlines for the introduction of 5G

are missed. Whatever happens: the

global IT markets will never be the

same again.

■ Economic History

The monsters of protectionism are rearing their ugly heads

once more. Nothing new there: 300 years ago, European rulers

struggled to achieve dominance over their neighbors by introducing

and enforcing strict tariffs and closing their borders. Under the

term “mercantilism,” a popular economic philosophy in the 17th

and 18th centuries, governments sought to ensure that exports

exceeded imports and to accumulate wealth in the form of bullion,

mostly gold and silver.

In the 20th century, communist regimes in the Soviet Union and

the Eastern Bloc opted for central control of the economy through

its politburo. Investment, production, and the allocation of capital

goods took place according to economy-wide production plans.

In the end, kings, queens, and communists were all thwarted. The

People’s Republic of China only managed a turnaround by introducing

so-called special economic zones (SEZs) with free-marketoriented

economic policies and flexible governmental measures,

creating an economic management system that is more attractive

for foreign and domestic firms to do business. As a result, China

went from third-world country to one that ranks as the second

largest in the world, by nominal GDP and the largest in the world

by purchasing power parity, in less than 30 years. Markets, not

Mao, were the key to China’s success.


Column Marco Giegerich

Avnet Connected Ecosystem

Cooking up

Next-Level IoT

What keeps decision makers

awake at night? Easy: missing

the next big wave and

winding up in some backwater.

Again and again, big players, market leaders in

their field, struggle and go under virtually overnight.

All it takes is one missed stroke, one opportunity lost.

Why is it more difficult than ever to define a roadmap of

products and services that will enable them to achieve

sustainable results and healthy growth?

The biggest challenge is finding the right recipe. If technologies

were foodstuffs, the question would be what to

cook and how to cook it so that your guests will want to

come back to the table time and time again. You might

ask members of your family for a good entrée; how did

mom make that favorite dessert for you years ago? Or

you might even seek the help of professional chefs to

find recipes or search through cooking websites.

Just repeating the same old recipe won’t make regulars

out of the occasional drop-in guest. Sometimes,

you may have to ask them to try something new. Other

times, your kitchen staff may complain about the new

spices and sauces you are asking them to use when you

try to create a completely new taste experience.

The easiest way is to start with proven recipes when entering

into new fields of business. Thanks to AI and having

everything connected to everything else, with data

available everywhere, the possibilities seem limitless.

On the other hand, security requirements are growing.

Just take the new EU Cybersecurity Act.

Think of Avnet Silica as a big kitchen where artisanal

turnkey solutions are prepared for its customers by

Setting up

a proof of

concept for IoT

can be easy.

Marco Giegerich

is director for vertical

markets and third-party

management EMEA at


combining different technologies, hardware,

and software, including “special

sauce” artificial intelligence algorithms. At

our series of AI Discovery Days events, for instance,

Avnet developers showcased more than

20 state-of-the-art system solutions, giving decision

makers an insight into future trends, available technologies,

and real AI/machine learning (ML) implementations

to address their specific needs. For attendees, this was

the perfect environment to discuss new, thought-leading

ideas in fields like semiconductors, embedded software,

cloud computing, and AI.

It seems setting up a proof of concept can be easy, allowing

customers to start field-testing and fine-tuning

their solutions; the aim being to move to “proof of value”

with the least possible investment in time and resources.

The Avnet Connected Ecosystem for IoT is growing rapidly.

Through the recent acquisition of Witekio, we have

been able to add even more expertise not only in embedded

software but also in cloud computing and security.

Softweb, which has also become part of the Avnet

family, has made the IoTConnect platform available to

our customers, along with AI in the cloud, data science,

and digital development services. Through our strategic

alliance with security specialist Trusted Objects, we have

been able to extend our capabilities to support and design

secure IoT products.

All this means that it is easier than ever to take a proven

solution to the next level of innovation, while at the

same time reducing complexity and cutting costs. In

turn, that means no more sleepless nights for those in

charge of making the right business decisions.


For all who aim high.


As European semiconductor specialist we are dedicated to innovation, acting as the smart connection between

customers and suppliers. We simplify complexity by providing creative solutions, technology and logistics support. Avnet

Silica is a long-time partner of leading semiconductor manufacturers and innovative solution providers to guide today’s

ideas into tomorrow’s technology. With a team of more than 200 application engineers and technical specialists, we

support projects all the way from idea to product, from product to market, and every step in between.

Avnet Silica will guide the way so you can reach further.

Contact our local team for more information or visit avnet-silica.com.

Smart Lifestyle Smart Companies



source ©: ROKiT Williams Racing Content Pool

Acronis AG

Data is Driving Motorsports

Racing drivers and their teams obviously

have no time to lose. That goes

for laps and laptops: A typical Formula

One race car can generate up

to three terabytes of data over the

course of a racing weekend – data

that needs to be stored and sent back

home to the team of developers who

will use them to shave fractions of

seconds off the car’s fastest round.

When Serguei Beloussov, a serial entrepreneur

and globetrotter, founded

a company he called Acronis back

in 2003, race cars were far from his

mind. Data, on the other hand, were

something he cared for passionately.

Born in the USSR, where “being in

business was considered a crime

punishable by jail,” he studied phys-

By Tim Cole*

ics and electronics before completing

his PhD in computer science and

moving to Singapore. “Your data are

your life,” he sums up, so protecting

them is, in his eyes, a fundamental

human right. At Acronis, he focused

on developing on-premises and

cloud software for cyber protection,

including backup, disaster recovery,

and secure file sync and share as well

as data access. Its solution, Acronis

Cyber Cloud, enables service providers

to deliver cyber protection to

their customers.

But a backup is only as good as the

time it takes to restore a compromised

system. And nowhere is speed

more essential than in racing. “Motorsports

is driven by data,” Beloussov

believes. Besides, there is glamour

attached to anything and anyone

involved in the world of racing. So, in

2016, Acronis signed its first deal with

Torro Rosso, one of two teams owned

by Dietrich Mateschitz, who gave the

world the Red Bull energy drink.

Since then, Acronis has become the

leading cyber protection company

for motorsport teams across Formula

One, including Williams Racing and

Racing Point, as well as the NIO333,

Venturi, DS Techeetah Formula E

teams, Prema Racing in F2, Roush

Fenway Racing, in NASCAR, Australian

Supercars, and recently has

branched out into English Premier

League soccer, with giants like Manchester

City, Arsenal, and Liverpool

relying on Acronis systems.

Data is truly at the heart of modernday

motorsports. Long before the

starting flag is waved designers and

engineers will have spent endless

hours analyzing data collected in

previous races and practice rounds,

turning those details into a plan of

action for improving the car. Teams

are known to announce different

upgrades prior to racing weekends

– some changes are visible while others

are hidden under the car shell. But

until the car goes around the track

and brings results, these changes

remain theoretical, based purely on

(and driven by) data.

Much of this is legacy data. “We had

three safes full of tapes holding hundreds

of terabytes of data,” Graeme

Hackland, CIO at Williams Martini

Racing said in a recent interview with

motorsport.tech. As the data piled

up, backups began taking longer and

longer to complete, he recalled. It got

to the point where the team could

no longer handle the amount of data


*Tim Cole is editor-in-chief of Smart Industry

that needed to be protected at the

Williams’ factory. New backup jobs

would fail to start because the previous

backups were still running. The

backup window had grown too long.

Data recovery also presented a challenge,

said Hackland. Thanks to Acronis,

he maintained, Williams was

able to reduce its backup window

from days to minutes, accessing and

restoring any file, from any point of

time, literally at racing speed.

Even more importantly, the old backup

system was unable to protect the

team’s cloud workloads. “We needed

a data protection partner to help us

be more aggressive with our cloud

and make sure we always have a

spare copy of all our data,” Hackland

said. Not least because of compliance

issues: each team’s data must

be protected from cyberattacks and

archived in accordance with the regulations

of FIA, the governing body of

formula racing. The FIA may request

historical data at any time in the future

to verify the team’s actions, and

the team needs to hand over the data

within a specified time limit.

Beloussov now holds Singaporean

citizenship, the country where Acronis

was originally founded in 2003.

Most of his 1,500 people are scattered

around the world, many of them working

from home, and the Swiss headquarters

has only 25 present there

on a daily basis with others working

remotely. The number is scheduled to

grow considerably, though, following

the establishment of the Schaffhausen

Institute of Technology (SIT), an

international research-led institution

engaging in basic research in the fields

of artificial intelligence, quantum technologies,

and digital health, supported

by Acronis. “Students, academics,

and industry need a new model of

education for the challenges in today’s

hyper-connected, data-driven world.

SIT bridges the gap between education,

research and applications for industry,”

he says.

The race, it seems, isn’t just to the

swiftest, but also to the smartest.

Acronis Foundation

15 Years, 15 Schools

As a student, Serguei Beloussov

earned some extra cash giving lessons

in physics, so teaching has always

been part of his DNA. That is how he

explains why, to celebrate the 15th

anniversary of Acronis, he decided to

establish a foundation with the goal

of building 15 schools for children

in underserved communities in developing

countries from Tanzania to


The latest, the Dong Na Kham School

in Southern Laos, was opened in late

2019, bringing the number to eight.

Two more in Nepal and Nicaragua are

scheduled to open this year.

Besides building schools, the Acronis

Cyber Foundation has put together

an “IT Skills Programme” aimed at increasing

the employability of former

felons by providing them with the job

skills they need to rebuild their lives.

Your data are

your life!

Serguei Beloussov

Founder and CEO,

Acronis AG

In addition, the foundation publishes

educational books for children, for instance

Acronis and the Quantum Computer,

a children’s guide to the nature

and behavior of matter and energy

on the atomic and subatomic level –

something most grown-ups still fail to


source ©: Francesco Breck Brembati


Smart Lifestyle Smart Products




New Bedroom Companion

The latest addition to Lenovo’s smart living

product line is the Lenovo Smart Clock with the

Google Assistant. The clock is designed to help

its owners to unwind in the evening, kickstart

their day, control their smart home, and listen

to music with multi-room audio grouping.

The Smart Clock supports voice and touch

controls on a four-inch, in-plane switching

(IPS) screen to perform tasks that are regularly

carried out before and after sleep. It’s small

enough to be placed on nightstands and has

been designed to fit in with bedroom decors –

with a full fabric soft-touch cover. The Google

Assistant element displays calendar events

and allows sleep routines to be set up such

as dimming the lights. And, with just a single

command, it will play some relaxing music or a

guided meditation session. Waking-up routines

can also be defined, like setting lights to progressively

brighten while the alarm gradually

increases in volume, starting 30 minutes before

the scheduled wake time. The smart clock sells

for $79.99



A Versatile Smart Vehicle for Modern Cities

In narrow roads, scooters are often the fastest means of moving – but driving on a main

street, they become obstacles due to their low maximum speed. This new vehicle from Poland

called Triggo combines the best of both worlds: the fully electric two-seater is comfortable

and stable like a car and at the same time agile and easy to park like a bike. The variable

chassis geometry with adjustable front wheels allows users to switch the Triggo’s width

between 86 and 148 cm – and while in maneuvering mode the maximum speed is limited

to 25 km/h, in cruise mode the electric vehicle can go up to 90 km/h. A drive-by-wire digital

control system makes Triggo the first Polish “autonomy-ready” vehicle – it is designed to

adapt quickly to different automatic driving systems. Thanks to a Battery Rapid Change

System (BRC), instead of waiting for a recharge, you can simply change to a freshly loaded

battery pack, which weighs 130 kg. The weight of the whole car (including the pack) is 530

kg and its two 10 kW engines allow a driving range of 100 km.




A Minimalistic

Mobile Phone

There are many people

looking for ways to

reduce their onlinetime

– “digital detox”

has become a buzzword

lately. The new mobile

phone Mudita Pure

may be the most stylish

solution for anybody

who really wants to

change their habits: the

premium feature phone

was designed with

inspiration from Japanese

and Scandinavian

design traditions – the

simple and comfortable

form brings to mind the

shape of a stone. An E Ink

display with a resolution of 600×480 and PPI of 270 and support of 16-grayscale

and a customized front light make reading more natural and less straining for the

eyes. Uniform screen lighting makes the screen with its paper-like feel visible both

in direct sunlight and in the dark. A slider on the side allows users to easily change

between three customizable modes. A custom antenna was designed to massively

reduce SAR (specific absorption rate), without compromising on the signal

strength. The phone itself can (in addition to phone calls) play music and audiobooks,

send and receive text messages, and be used as a meditation timer. But

you can not add any additional apps. The GSM module covers Europe, North and

South America, Australia, Africa, and Asia and all currently used generations (2G,

3G, and LTE standards) at the same time. And if you still feel the need to go online

now and then, the Pure can be used as a data modem for a computer and can be

connected via USB-C. The phone can be preordered on Indiegogo for $295.



A Smartwatch Powered

by Body Heat

Normal smartwatches will run out of power eventually – but not

this one, claims its maker Matrix Industries, a leading developer

of high-efficiency thermoelectric components. The PowerWatch

2 uses the wearer’s body temperature to keep running. It is

equipped with GPS positioning, heart-rate monitoring, gesture

recognition, and a color LCD display. The watch is controlled by

four buttons located around the bezel whose functions can be

customized through a dedicated app.

PowerWatch 2 is billed as being rugged enough to sustain intense

activity and survive its fair share of drops. It’s also water-resistant

so you can take laps in the pool or shower with it on, though

Matrix doesn’t recommend any kind of deep diving beyond 200

meters. The watch is available in three versions – standard, premium,

and de luxe – with prices ranging from $499 to $699.



The Smallest Universal Laptop Charger

The manufacturer claims this stylish universal charger to be the smallest all-in-one

power source in the world. Eggtronic’s pocket-sized Sirius Universal Charger uses

power conversion GaN technology to allow compatibility with many different

devices, including laptops, smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth, and many more. The

intelligent power charger responds to USB-C devices with the advanced USB PD

(Power Delivery) output that ensures universal compatibility by automatic smart

detection of different voltages (from 5V to 20V) and current (from 0.1A to 3.25A).

While conventional laptop power adapters are bulky and heavy, this universal

laptop charger has been engineered to minimum size and weight – folding plugs

make it even more compact and easy to carry in a pocket or a purse. The device is

available for $99.



Smart Lifestyle Smart Products


Make Curtains Smart in Less Than a Minute

Remember the first time you went to the movies? You were most probably astonished

by the curtains that opened up automatically before the show began. Now you can get

the same magic into your home, and have the curtains opened and closed by this small

wireless device. It takes only about 30 seconds to install the SwitchBot Curtain. It can be

mounted to the rod or the rail of a curtain. Users can then control and schedule their

curtains to open and close with an app on their phone or by voice control – the system

supports Google/Alexa/Siri and IFTTT with the SwitchBot Hub. A built-in light sensor allows

the curtains to open automatically when the sun rises. A wide variety of track and rod types

with different diameters are supported. The app allows users to set schedules for their curtains

to open or close – adding safety when homeowners are on holiday. The rechargeable

battery lasts up to eight months, depending on the usage. SwitchBot is currently available

at Kickstarter for $69 – delivery is expected in April 2020.




The LSM6DSOX is a system-in-package featuring a 3D digital accelerometer and a 3D

digital gyroscope boosting performance at 0.55 mA in high-performance mode and

enabling always-on low-power features for an optimal motion experience for the consumer.

The LSM6DSOX supports main OS requirements, offering real, virtual, and batch

sensors with 9 kbytes for dynamic data batching. ST’s family of MEMS sensor modules

leverages the robust and mature manufacturing processes already used for the

production of micromachined accelerometers and gyroscopes. The various sensing

elements are manufactured using specialized micromachining processes, while the IC

interfaces are developed using CMOS technology that allows the design of a dedicated

circuit which is trimmed to better match the characteristics of the sensing element.

The LSM6DSOX has a full-scale acceleration range of ±2/±4/±8/±16 g and an angular

rate range of ±125/±250/±500/±1,000/±2,000 dps. The LSM6DSOX fully supports EIS

and OIS applications as the module

includes a dedicated configurable

signal processing path for OIS and

auxiliary SPI, configurable for both

the gyroscope and accelerometer.

High robustness to mechanical shock

makes the LSM6DSOX the preferred

choice of many system designers for

the creation and manufacturing of

reliable products. The LSM6DSOX is

available in a plastic land grid array

(LGA) package.



These Shoes Are Made for

Walking in Virtual Reality

Interacting with your virtual surroundings can be tricky. German

start-up Cybershoes claims it has created a “high-end

locomotion solution for home use that makes you feel like

you’re in an arcade.” It consists of a pair of high-tech sandals

which are strapped on a player’s feet while they use the VR

system seated on a swiveling stool. The manufacturer says

that Cybershoes are compatible with any VR game and most

brands of headsets, such as SteamVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift,

or Windows Mixed Reality. Movement is controlled with the

feet while seated. The range of applications goes beyond

gaming since Cybershoes can be used in training scenarios,

such as industrial production processes or rehab programs

for the elderly.




World’s First

Subscription-Only Car

Why buy a car when you can get one on subscription instead? Los Angelesbased

company Canoo has unveiled its first electric vehicle (EV), which boasts

an unconventional design with a much roomier interior than most existing automobile

designs. The developers claim that transportation is becoming increasingly electric, shared, and

autonomous, and believe it’s time to rethink what a car should look like. As a result, all unused space

inside the vehicle has been utilized. By eliminating compartmentalization, the Canoo is like an urban loft

on wheels – having the interior space of a large SUV, with room for up to seven people, but housed within

the exterior footprint of a compact car. Underneath the plastic body panels is a steel framework that was

designed for ease of construction in addition to crash safety. Mounted on this structure is what the manufacturer

calls a “skateboard” floor which houses the motors, brakes, suspension, and battery pack. This proprietary

architecture houses the batteries and electric drivetrain. All future vehicles of the company will share the same

skateboard construction so that different cabins, or “top hats,” can be married to create different vehicles.

The Canoo lacks a mechanical steering column, the driving yoke being entirely steer-by-wire, which allows

the developers a great deal of freedom in determining the overall interior layout. Canoo was founded in

December 2017 by an experienced group of auto industry veterans from companies like BMW, Icon

Aircraft, and Uber. Their idea was to build a safe and affordable EV that could be sold in a way

that embraced convenience and a growing sharing economy. The company plans to offer a

no-hassle and commitment-free EV subscription for a “monthly, affordable price” and

with no fixed end date. The subscription may include services such as registration,

maintenance, insurance management, and power charging – all

done from an app. Launch of the first product is scheduled

for 2021.



A Leap in e-Mobility

Every car that rolls off the production line contains

more than 50 semiconductors, and things like electric

energy consumption and heat generation are adding

up. Bosch, one of the world’s leading manufacturers

of semiconductors, is working on reducing this

and has announced a new generation of microchips

made from silicon carbide (SiC) that promises to

bring better electrical conductivity, enabling higher

switching frequencies and dissipating much less heat

than standard silicon chips. Silicon carbide contains

additional carbon atoms and the chemical bond it

creates ensures 50 percent lower energy loss, increasing

the distance traveled by up to six percent per

battery charge. Alternatively, car manufacturers can

use smaller batteries without loss of range. Since the

battery is the biggest cost factor in an electric car, the

new-generation operating system SiC chips could potentially

reduce a vehicle’s overall price. bosch.com


Technology for the Balance of Being

Panasonic has teamed up with British design agency Layer to present a series of intelligent

products, entitled Balance of Being. The collection showcases six concept ideas that combine

emerging technology with experience design and explores how people can have more meaningful

engagement with products that take care of them. Within the range is a smart cooking

and food-maturing appliance, called Lift, that uses advanced heat and pressure technology and

sensors to quickly “lift” food to its most optimal nutritional state. Another product, Tone, is a

fashion-led device that is hung around a person’s neck to improve the complexion and health of

their skin and décolletage using steam and LED light treatments. Related to Tone is Grow, which

provides LED light treatment for hair and hair follicles to promote healthy growth. Panasonic

and Layer have approached the collection with a focus on changing behaviors and exploring

new materials such as glazed ceramic, refined timber, and constructed textiles, in a pale

tonal palette, allowing these tech products to feel natural in the home. Takehiro Ikeda, creative

director at Panasonic Design, said, “Balance aims to close this gap between technology and our

lifestyles, focusing more on human interaction, comfort, enhancing our lifestyles, and providing

truly meaningful experiences with technology, allowing us to bond with one another instead

of our devices.” The companies did not make any announcements on when the products will

actually appear on the market.

layerdesign.com and panasonic.com


Smart Lifestyle Smart Products

Boston Dynamics

Man’s New Best Friend – the Robo-Dog

Boston Dynamics, a specialist in life-like robots, has announced a robo-dog.

SpotMini, which is scheduled to be available in early 2020, is a 66-pound

canine robot that can operate for about 90 minutes on a single battery charge.

The nimble robot can climb stairs and traverse rough terrain. It uses stereo

cameras to avoid obstacles and people as it moves through a home or dynamic

work site. However, SpotMini is not destined to become your next cuddly pet

as it is primarily trained to autonomously accomplish industrial sensing and remote

operation needs and is built to be a rugged and customizable platform.

A price has not yet been announced.



Talking About Heat

Ecobee, a Canadian manufacturer of

smart-home gadgets, has introduced

the Ecobee4 SmartThermostat, with

Amazon Alexa voice control, which

it says can reduce energy consumption,

save money, and enhance the

way people experience comfort and

convenience. Ecobee’s control device

comes with a vivid color display and

enhanced touchscreen sensitivity.

Inside is a quad-core processor which

enables advanced machine learning

and AI for natural language processing

and speech detection. It supports

2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi connections

and battery life has been extended

to around five years. Also included

within the product is a high-intensity

speaker which allows users to listen


Delivery to Your Fridge

What if you’re not home when the delivery

van pulls up? In the US, Walmart has

introduced a way to solve the problem

called InHome. It allows foodstuffs to

be delivered directly to your fridge. The

store installs its smart Level Lock to an

existing deadbolt, allowing delivery

to podcasts, playlists, or news directly

from their SmartThermostat or via

a Bluetooth speaker. The Ecobee

SmartThermostat is compatible with

Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora,

TuneIn, and now offers Spotify

through Spotify Connect.


staff to enter the kitchen or access a garage

fridge. The smart lock only allows

the delivery person to open the house

or garage door once during the delivery

window allotted to a specific order.

When the door has been relocked, they

can’t open it again until the next delivery.

Each InHome courier is required to

wear a bodycam that records a video of

each delivery and live-streams it to the

customer’s phone. If the camera isn’t

recording, the door won’t open. The

service was initially launched last fall for

more than a million customers across

three cities: Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh,

Pennsylvania; and Vero Beach,

Florida. inhome.walmart.com


A Drone Smarter Than the Rest

Manufacturer Skydio wants to produce drones that are

useful because they are smart. The US-based company has

introduced the Skydio 2 line which combines artificial intelligence

with a 4K camera that can shoot up to 60 frames

per second. It has a wireless range of 3.5 kilometers and 23

minutes of flight time – and is small enough to be carried

in a small backpack. The drone uses artificial intelligence

for control, opening up its use to new audiences. The

Skydio Autonomy Engine can make observations simultaneously

in every direction thanks to six 4K cameras, and

it can make intelligent decisions to fly smoothly around

obstacles while capturing videos and photos. The mobile

app is designed to look more like a camera app than a

cockpit, allowing the company to claim that a person who

can use a camera on their phone can also fly Skydio 2. An

optional controller delivers a flying experience by combining

the precision of joysticks with 360-degree, high-speed,

trustworthy obstacle avoidance that enables users to fly

the drone through narrow gaps – forwards, backwards,

or sideways – or skim a surface. The Skydio Beacon allows

the drone to track objects or people through augmenting

visual tracking via GPS. The company has announced a

starting price of $999.




Large board meeting.

Important handout.

Giant printer fail.

Deal is off. The end.

Prevent IoT dramas. Go for Microsoft Azure Sphere – Go for Maximum IoT Security.

Now available at Avnet Silica. All info at msembedded.biz/azuresphere

Column Gerd Leonhard


Many of the world’s greatest innovations

were born decades, sometimes

centuries, before they

eventually swept through society.

They often occurred in a relatively

sequential manner, each following and

building on the previous ones. In contrast,

megashifts may also grow slowly but

many were born simultaneously and they

have now started sweeping through society

at a much faster pace.

A paradigm change is to thinking and philosophy

what a megashift is to society – a huge evolutionary

step. One that may seem gradual at first but

then has a very sudden impact.

These megashifts are:

Digitization: everything that can be converted will

become digital. Digitization means much lower costs

for consumers but can also push providers into a mad

scramble for new business models because distribution

or access has become easier and is no longer an issue.

Mobilization: Everything is becoming mobile and

could soon become wearable or “hearable.” Computing

is becoming invisible, omnipresent – and utterly indispensable.

Screenification: Everything that used to be physical (or

printed) is now available on screens; what used to be

interpersonal (such as conversations in foreign languages)

can be done via a screen using free translation apps

such as SayHi, Google Translate, or Waverly Labs’ Pilot.

Disintermediation: Middlemen are suffering because

technology increasingly makes it feasible to go direct.

Examples include record labels (musicians now launch

their careers via YouTube), and consumer banking,

where millennials increasingly use mobile platforms

and apps to make payments and organize their finances.

Datafication: Much of what used to happen face to face

is now being turned into data, for example electronic

medical record updates instead of talking to the doctor,

or the grocery delivery service that tracks all its products.

Intelligization or cognification (as Kevin Kelly, the

founding executive editor of Wired, terms it): Everything

that used to be dumb is now becoming connected and

intelligent, such as gas pipelines, farms, cars, shipping

containers, and traffic lights. This flood of data will create

a vastly different way of reading, seeing, and directing

the world.

Automation: The result of smart machines will be widespread

technological unemployment. Everything that

The most


megashift of

all might

be rehumanization.

Gerd Leonhard

is the founder of

The Futures Agency (TFA)

and author

of the bestseller

Technology vs Humanity.

He is based in Zurich.

can be automated will be. I believe this is a

huge opportunity but we are currently illprepared

for it.

Virtualization: We no longer rely only

on physical things in a room but on an

instance in the cloud, for example software-defined

networking instead of local

routers, and virtual friends such as Hello


Augmentation: Humans can increasingly

use technology to augment themselves.

Examples include smartwatches, augmented

and virtual reality, intelligent digital assistants, and

(sooner or later) brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) and


Anticipation: Artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence

augmentation (IA) software can now anticipate and predict

our behavior, changing the way maps, email, and

online collaboration work.

Robotization: Robots are entering our daily lives and

homes. Even many white-collar jobs will soon be done

by robots.

These megashifts present immediate and complex challenges

and differ in nature to the forces that have swept

through society and business in the past. Any organization

looking to understand exponential thinking and

to achieve future-readiness must have a clear picture

of what these shifts mean and what opportunities or

threats may arise from them.

Regardless of societal challenges, the rapid digitization,

automation, and virtualization of our world is probably

inevitable. In practice, the rate may sometimes be constrained

by fundamental laws of physics, such as the

hitherto unmet energy needs of supercomputers or the

minimum viable size of a computer chip – often cited as

the reason why Moore’s Law will not prevail forever. This

assumption of the continued and pervasive penetration

of technology points toward a future where what cannot

be either digitized, automated, or both could become

extremely valuable. These “androrithms” capture

essential human qualities such as emotions, compassion,

ethics, happiness, and creativity.

While algorithms, software, and AI will increasingly “eat

the world,” as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen likes

to say, we must place the same value on androrithms

– those things which make us uniquely human. So, the

most important megashift of all might soon be rehumanization.

This might very well turn out to be the real

driving force to benefit people and society.


High tech e-car.

Low tech charger.

Giant repair bill.

The end.

Prevent IoT dramas. Go for Microsoft Azure Sphere – Go for Maximum IoT Security.

Now available at Avnet Silica. All info at msembedded.biz/azuresphere

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