IoT global round-up: Cloud teaching, Qualcomm and bears

3 Mar 2017

Image: Vitaliy Mateha/Shutterstock

Mobile World Congress finished this week amid an outpouring of IoT enthusiasm, but what else did you miss in recent days?

We learned this week that smartphones are yesterday’s news, with the real drama at Mobile World Congress about how mobile operators are refusing to miss out on revenues from 5G, internet of things (IoT) and VR.

For example, new data compiled by Viavi Solutions revealed that 25 mobile operators were lab-testing 5G.

Five operators have reached data speeds of 35Gbps or more in 5G trials. To date, Etisalat has demonstrated the highest data speed of 36Gbps, with Ooredoo conducting tests at 35.46Gbps.

Asavie has developed an Industrial IoT Accelerator Kit in collaboration with Dell and EpiSensor.

The kit comprises the Asavie PassBridge IoT Connectivity management platform, the Dell Edge Gateway and industrial sensors from Limerick tech firm EpiSensor.

Elsewhere in Europe, Irish company Druid has deployed a private 4G network in multiple use cases, including to save lives on Sweden’s roads, connect IoT devices in the Dutch North Sea, and automate the Port of Rotterdam.

But what else happened this week?

The Finnish line

The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) has developed a new IoT hub called Sm4rtLab, allowing students access to a combination of cloud services, virtual reality and augmented reality.

This is essentially giving students and teachers cloud access, while also taking a novel approach to industrial partnerships – universities and businesses co-purchase costly equipment as part of Sm4rtLab’s offering.

“Here at UEF, we will be using Sm4rtLab as a learning environment for our own students, but secondary schools could also benefit from it,” said Pasi Vahimaa, professor of photonics at the university.

“Pieces of real laboratory equipment can be very pricey but, by using Sm4rtLab, schools could save on costs and make their photonics teaching affordable and available to everyone. We are dealing with a completely new way of teaching,” said Vahimaa.

Qualcomm is prepared

Raj Talluri, senior vice-president of product management at Qualcomm, recently discussed his views on IoT, 5G and general connected devices. Talluri sees enthusiasm across a range of IoT areas, with connected cameras, drones, homes and cities all shaping the future.

However, the need for processor variability is prominent.

“IoT is an incredibly diverse ecosystem, with thousands of unique form factors and multiple vertical applications that will require a broad variety of processors, platforms and solutions, since the requirements of a smartwatch are very different from those of a connected camera, a smart meter or augmented reality glasses,” he said.

Talluri believes 5G, machine learning, computer vision and voice recognition will change devices into creations beyond what many of us have even imagined so far, though collaboration between companies is important.

“Interoperability across different brands is a key requirement for IoT to develop, and for compelling use cases to emerge that entice the consumer to invest in both smart connected devices and smart infrastructure,” he said.

Beware the watching teddy bears

Around 2.2m voice recordings were hacked through 820,000 CloudPets accounts in the latest in a long line of breaches surrounding kids’ toys.

As made obvious by their name, CloudPets store data on the cloud which, as we regularly find out, is rarely secure.

Investigating the stuffed bears, dogs, cats and rabbits, security expert Troy Hunt discovered that the products’ data – messages between parents and kids, email addresses, photos etc – was unsecured.

Unwitting parents were essentially storing very personal audio content in a MongoDB that was “in a publicly facing network segment without any authentication required and had been indexed by Shodan”.

Shodan is an index of connected devices, which can act as a search engine for unsecured connected devices.

“Lax security practices that expose the personal data of children and parents to data-jacking are just unconscionable,” said Zohar Alon, CEO and co-founder of Dome9 Security.

“Customers of public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have cutting-edge tools at their disposal to manage security in their environments, including identity and access management, network security and application firewalls.

“But the best tools can’t save customers from irresponsible behaviour. The agility and ease of use of the public cloud make it just as easy to build new apps that don’t take security into account.”

Gemalto booms

International digital security company Gemalto saw annual profits rise by 4pc in 2016, with the company’s latest figures showing its €3.13bn in sales boosted by a strong final quarter.

“Gemalto’s performance in 2016 demonstrates the strength of its business model and ability to adapt in a very adverse mobile environment,” said CEO Philippe Vallée.

“The payment activity grew slightly, M2M and enterprise posted double-digit growth rates, and government programmes recorded another strong performance.”

Gemalto remains the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM cards, this week releasing a new rapid prototyping tool that will speed up and simplify the creation of new IoT applications. 

Cinterion utilises the Arduino design environment, and features an intelligent modem chipset optimised for low-power IoT devices that can deliver extended battery life.

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic