Global IoT round-up: Rapid shift to blockchain cannot be ignored

10 Mar 2017

Smart kitchen concept. Image: LDprod/Shutterstock

This week, the world of IoT has seen a trickle turn into a flood, as more and more major companies move towards connected networks based around blockchain.

It was hard not to focus on the negatives in the internet of things (IoT) sphere this week, in the wake of the revelations from WikiLeaks that the CIA was using malware to turn everyday gadgets into listening posts.

These included pretty much every smartphone using iOS or Android, and even Samsung’s smart TVs.

With the US government and its intelligence agencies baying for Julian Assange’s blood, WikiLeaks said that this release is less than 0.1pc of the total documents obtained, and that future security shocks are an inevitability.

But perhaps the most noticeable shift in policy within major corporations and their connected networks is the adoption of blockchain.

Earlier this week, shipping giant Maersk announced it had partnered with IBM to build a blockchain network to improve container shipping, a project that could save the entire industry billions of dollars every year.

Cisco, Foxconn and Bosch get into blockchain

Blockchain consortiums that see members working together to solve problems using the technology are increasing by the month, the latest of which includes famous names from banking, appliances and networks.

According to VentureBeat, this group – including Cisco, Foxconn and Bosch among others – will aim to create better standards that will allow more secure and efficient IoT devices in the home and industry.

“We are seeing tremendous potential for the application of blockchain in industrial use cases,” said Dirk Slama, chief alliance officer at Bosch Software Innovations.

“Being able to create a tamper-proof history of how products are manufactured, moved and maintained in complex value networks with many stakeholders is a critical capability.”

China creates world’s largest 5G testing environment

This year is supposed to be the year of 5G networks offering download speeds as high as 1Gbps, and now China is rolling out a new testing environment to speed this along.

According to China Daily, the country has created the world’s largest 5G testing grounds, with the aim of standardising its roll-out in the country of more than 1bn people.

Companies taking part include familiar names such as Huawei and ZTE, the latter of which recently revealed its first 5G-ready smartphone at Mobile World Congress in February.

The tests are due to run until 2018, and will include three stages of verification for the technology.

By 2020, China aims to have a fully commercial 5G mobile network in place.

Can we trust smart energy meters?

Energy suppliers have been trying to promote the idea of installing smart energy meters in people’s homes, in order to give them better understanding and control over how much energy they use.

However, research conducted in the Netherlands has shown that some newer, smarter energy meters are way off the mark in their ability to read energy levels.

According to Science Bulletin, a number of smart meters gave false readings as much as 582pc higher than the actual energy consumed.

The Dutch government has demanded that every household in the country have a smart meter installed by 2020, but these findings could raise serious questions about their current design.

Trying to get to the bottom of the inaccurate readings, the study found that the erratic consumption of smart bulbs confused the meters and the manufacturers haven’t taken this into account.

Volkswagen reveals Sedric autonomous vehicle

We have heard a lot about autonomous vehicles and companies such as Tesla aiming to turn drivers into passengers in the coming decade.

But few concept autonomous cars revealed in recent years could arguably compare to Volkswagen’s (VW) latest offering, Sedric.

Rather than being directly produced the company, this car is actually the creation of the VW Group, which develops some of the wackier and far-reaching future concepts.

The boxy, yet friendly-looking, car would be VW’s first fully autonomous vehicle and is geared towards ride-sharing as opposed to individual ownership, but does not rule out the latter.

While little is actually known about its specifications, it would be an all-electric offering, with wheels hidden beneath panels, much like you’d see in science fiction films.

Alas, there is no indication as to whether Sedric will ever see the light of day, if it is indeed the real deal.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic