New IoT device could greatly improve active learning, study finds

17 Aug 2018

The OBSY being used in the classroom. Image: Pruet Putjon/University of Kent

This week in the internet of things, researchers test the benefits of IoT in education, and fears grow over the future of autonomous cars.

Anyone working in the internet of things (IoT) space this week would have been pleased to hear of the launch of a new EU programme called EnABLES.

Coordinated by the Tyndall National Institute based in University College Cork (UCC), the project offers free access to equipment, tools and expertise for everything to do with powering IoT.

The vision of EnABLES is to eliminate the need for battery replacement by developing energy harvesting solutions or by finding ways to reduce the power consumption of devices.

New device shows promise for using IoT to boost active learning

A team from the University of Kent working with children in Thailand has developed a specialised IoT device that aims to improve both active learning engagement and outcomes, with some promising early results.

Called the Observation Learning System (OBSY), the device featured several components, such as a light reader and temperate monitor. These could then send data wirelessly to tablet computers provided by the Thai government.

Designed to be as child-friendly as possible, the device was used as a key part in a number of experiments, which included studying the growth of mould in different conditions.

Students using the OBSY tool were able to use its camera to take photos or videos and compare samples, monitoring changes in temperature in the objects being studied or measuring the amount of light passing through an object.

“The experiment with OBSY proves the potential for [internet of educational things] devices across a wide variety of age ranges and could help with other deployments of similar systems in schools to help with the educational development of young children,” said lead researcher Pruet Putjorn.

Survey shows dramatic drop in support for autonomous cars

In the wake of the deadly Uber autonomous car crash earlier this year, a new survey shows that while awareness of the technology has reached new heights, trust is at an all-time low.

The study conducted by Cox Automotive among 1,250 people in the US showed that almost half (49pc) said they would now not buy an autonomous car.

The last time a similar survey was taken back in 2016, the figure was at 30pc.

Speaking of this finding, Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive’s Kelley Blue Book information service, said: “Now, they’ve got a reason to be aware because people have actually been killed by the process of testing it.

“Adoption of new technology is always tricky. Remember that airbags were supposed to save everybody from death inside the car when there’s an accident. Then we had people killed by them.”

Alibaba ups its IoT game once again with new deal

Just a few weeks after Alibaba signed a deal with German company Infineon Technologies, the company has followed up with another deal with the country’s major electronics firm and household name, Siemens.

In an announcement, Siemens and Alibaba Cloud confirmed the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the presence of German chancellor Angela Merkel to partner within the industrial IoT (IIoT) space.

Its aim is to build a unique IoT solution to support China’s manufacturing upgrade and transformation, and other industrial internet initiatives.

Siemens’ cloud-based open IoT operating system, MindSphere, is expected to be implemented with Alibaba Cloud’s services.

“This cooperation is a landmark deal for bringing industry 4.0 solutions to China as the world’s powerhouse of manufacturing,” said Siemens president and CEO Joe Kaeser.

“Our customers will be able to unlock the potential of IIoT with MindSphere, now also on the leading Chinese cloud platform. Today, we further strengthen our global leadership in automating and digitalising the industrial world.”

IoT vulnerabilities continue to dominate latest malware

Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point is reporting that three major IoT vulnerabilities have made its Global Threat Index for July of this year.

These attacks, linked to the propagation of IoT malware such as Mirai, IoTroop/Reaper and VPNFilter have more than doubled since May.

The three latest vulnerabilities include MVPower DVR router remote code execution, the D-Link DSL-2750B router remote command execution and the Dasan GPON router authentication bypass.

“IoT vulnerabilities in particular are often the path of least resistance as once one device is compromised, it can be straightforward to infiltrate further connected devices,” said Maya Horowitz, threat intelligence group manager at Check Point.

“As such, it is vital that organisations apply patches to known vulnerabilities as and when they are made available to ensure that networks remain secure.”

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