Nothing can stop proliferation of IoT – not fear, not security, not anything

9 Jun 2017

Image: Tommy Lee Walker/Shutterstock

Amid a whirlwind of new releases and regulation developments, it appears connected devices simply cannot be stopped. WannaCry and Mirai were mere inconveniences.

Apple is rarely away from the news, always aware that brand presence and constant product innovation are a must to keep its value at such spectacular heights.

It recently became the world’s most valuable publicly traded company by market cap, after a rise in shares lifted the company’s value above $800bn for the first time.

But resting on its laurels is hardly the Apple way, which is why, this week, the Tim Cook-led company made its boldest play to take on the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality and artificial intelligence worlds yet.

Apple’s HomePod was revealed, a direct competitor to Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo. The company is also introducing a new platform for developers to bring high-quality augmented reality experiences to the iPhone and iPad, combining the camera, processors and motion sensors to create interactive gaming, immersive shopping and industrial design.

Elsewhere, Wexford- and San Diego-based internet of things powerhouse Taoglas has invented a new kind of radio system for the next generation of connected cars. The new system, branded Axiom, is a reference design for a low-profile, compact, multi-antenna system.

Looking to the skies, drones can now cut down delivery times of life-saving equipment in remote African villages, or carry one-tonne packages from store to door.

Alphabet, the owner of Google, is even working on a drone-like air traffic control system.

But what else did you miss this week?

Nothing can stop the rise of the machines

IoT will spread rapidly between now and 2026, despite the growing threats – both real and imagined – that surround the security of societies growing more and more digital.

That’s according to a study from Pew Research Centre which, along with Elon University, canvassed hundreds of experts to assess where we’re headed.

The findings show further human and machine connectivity is inevitable, despite events such as the recent WannaCry ransomware disruption and Mirai botnet attack. Given the extreme disruption both caused, they left barely a bruise on our thirst for connectivity, it seems.

“Participants in this canvassing said a variety of forces will propel more connectivity over the next decade that manifests in things like cars, medical devices, public infrastructure and home ‘smart’ systems,” said Lee Rainie, co-author of the study.

“They argue that humans crave connection; that the IoT will bring advantages that are useful; that people’s desire for convenience will usually prevail over their concerns about risk, and these factors will make it difficult – if not impossible – for people to opt out of a highly connected life.

“At the same time, a small share of the experts predicted that significant numbers will withdraw to at least some degree from connected life due to possible risks that will arise as the IoT rolls out.”

UK going big on microelectronics

The UK government and industry stakeholders are turning their gaze towards microelectronics, which represents one of the fields of technology that finds it hardest to secure skilled workers.

According to TechVision, this niche field of innovaton will support “eco-friendliness, innovating to zero, smart and connected homes, cloud computing and miniaturisation trends, and influence the technological progress of a wide range of industries”.

Anything this disruptive should be on many peoples’ agendas. Though it isn’t all plain sailing. A couple of years ago, a report showed three-quarters of microelectronics employers in Ireland would expand their workforce if the highly skilled engineers required were available, but they’re not.

“One of the major selling points of microelectronics is its low power consumption,” said Brinda Manivannan, research analyst at TechVision, this week.

“Industries recognise that the technology’s rapid charging, smart antenna, wireless charging and organic light-emitting diodes make it extremely cost effective in the long term.

“Furthermore, a small footprint makes microelectronics relevant in an era that is experiencing the accelerated adoption of wearables and smart devices. Wireless communication technologies and display technologies will be significantly affected by this trend.”

Who are the most influential brands in IoT?

Market research firm Onalytica has trawled through social media to find who exactly are the biggest influencers in IoT.

This included individuals, companies and publications, with coming in 22nd place in its list.

However, when it comes to companies, the competition really hots up, with many of the major Silicon Valley firms aiming to be leading the conversation.

So, based on the report, it seems as if IBM is dominating this space, coming in first place with an influencer score of 100. Intel is in second place at 67.65.

But, even in third place, IBM continues its influence through IBM Watson with a score of 41.5.

Despite this, IBM’s brand awareness online lags quite a bit behind Amazon and Apple who account for 41pc and 22pc of the conversation, respectively.

Truly autonomous cars in France as early as next year

According to (via AP), French automotive electronic parts maker Delphi is to team up with the transport company Transdev to launch the first truly autonomous vehicles on roads as early as next year.

Current tests conducted by the likes of Google and Tesla still require a human in the car to prevent any major accidents.

However, the pair of French companies revealed they plan to use a fleet of autonomous taxis and a shuttle van that will travel on the country’s roadways.

Two of these Renault Zoe autonomous taxis will be deployed in the city of Rouen, while the bus will run between a rail station and campus in the university district of Paris-Saclay.

While the first tests will be conducted later this year with humans on board, the intention is to go fully autonomous next year with the vehicles not having any steering wheel or pedals. However, a human will be on board to communicate with passengers.

Transdev’s chief performance officer, Yann Leriche, said that the company has plans to have the taxis and buses eventually running throughout Paris.

With additional reporting from Colm Gorey.

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic