IoT global round-up: Nokia, satellites and a security alliance

10 Feb 2017

Image: Mirexon/Shutterstock

More and more IoT networks are beginning to emerge, offering companies international access to their entire supply chain. Bulking up on cybersecurity is becoming more common, too.

Last week, hackers found a way into Austrian hotel rooms, infected Washington DC police cameras and created havoc internationally.

This week came the response. IoT alliances are emerging across multiple avenues of the industry, most notably dealing with cybersecurity. Better equipment is coming on stream, too.

new device developed in California is being billed as a major medtech breakthrough, as millimetre-wave signals point to a future of speedy recoveries.

The silicon microchip-based component emits millimetre-wave signals in the G band (110 to 300GHz). These can penetrate solid surfaces, read what’s on the other side and provide good resolution, perhaps allowing for a handheld scanner that can detect problems beneath the skin.

The researchers claim this radiator chip boasts the highest power and efficiency of any device in its class. Image: Steve Zylius / UCI

The researchers claim this radiator chip boasts the highest power and efficiency of any device in its class. Image: Steve Zylius/UCI

Meanwhile, a rechargeable battery called a flow cell, which can be recharged with a water-based solution containing dissolved CO2, could make a similar impact on IoT.

Sourced from fossil fuel power plants, the device works by taking advantage of the CO2 concentration difference between CO2 emissions and ambient air, which can ultimately be used to generate electricity.

Between these devices, and many others, the future of IoT looks solid. So what else might you have missed during the week?

Man the defences!

AT&T, IBM, Nokia, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Trustonic are collaborating on a security project to better defend against inevitable IoT challenges coming down the line.

AT&T appears to be leading the charge, noting a mammoth 3,198pc increase in attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices over the past three years.

The companies have four aims as part of this alliance:

  • Collaborate and research security challenges of IoT across areas such as connected cars, industrial, smart cities and healthcare.
  • Dissect and solve for IoT security problems at every critical layer of security. These include the endpoint, connectivity, cloud and data/application layers.
  • Make security easy to access across the ecosystem. Security needs to exist across the value chain.
  • Influence security standards and policies. Using each group member’s leadership and expertise will raise awareness of cybersecurity. It will engage regularly with policymakers and other organisations.

Nokia makes moves

Nokia has had a busy week. Today (10 February), it revealed its new worldwide IoT network grid, what it claims is a “one-stop-shop, full-service model”, providing international connectivity “to address the transport, health, utilities and safety markets”.

Called Wing, it essentially lets companies track products and assets as they travel from factory to shop, shop to home.

Wing will also provide device management, security, and analytics – while handling the provisioning of the eSIMs used by the connected objects – so customers will be able to use whichever mobile network is local to the country they’re currently in.

In the UK, Nokia is partnering with Three to deploy a fully integrated cloud native core network. This will enable massive scalability, with Three hoping it can rapidly respond to customers’ evolving needs, and provide a suitable preparation for 5G adoption.

The company is also buying Comptel for €347m, bulking up its software services business portfolio and attracting telcos in the process.

To the skies

Satellite communications company Inmarsat revealed its own LoRaWAN-based network, developed in partnership with Actility. Much like Nokia’s offering, this allows for asset tracking, highlighting agribusiness and energy industries as prime candidates for more efficient protocols, utilised through the network.

The three early applications of the project are:

  • Asset tracking: Tracking the location, movement, health and other key statistics of cattle on a remote ranch in Australia, replacing the manual process of sending an employee to look for cattle that have strayed. An alert is sent out to the ranch manager when an animal is at risk of being lost.
  • Agribusiness: Monitoring the water levels in reservoirs and soil moisture at the roots of plants across the breadth of a large, remote palm oil plantation in Malaysia, to deliver water to where it is most needed and achieve maximum crop yield.
  • Oil and gas: Remote monitoring of oil platform processes where cellular coverage is patchy or non-existent, to identify potential failure points so that they may be addressed and costly downtime can be avoided.

Last year, Inmarsat partnered with Vodafone in another interesting project. The latter can operate with international satellite and cellular roaming connectivity through the partnership.

Gartner sees IoT everywhere

Gartner predicts that 8.4bn connected things will be in use worldwide this year, a jump of almost one-third on 2016. By the end of the decade, more than 20bn devices will be connected, with the sector valued at $2trn this year alone.

China, North America and western Europe are the dominant regions in this regard, making up two-thirds of the overall IoT “installed base” by the end of 2017.

The growth will be themed, too, as industry metering – sensoring everything throughout supply chains – will be the early driver. From 2018 onwards, cross-industry devices, such as those targeted at smart buildings, will take the lead. This trend will continue, as these devices rise to such a degree that they overtake industrial elements by 2020.

“Services are dominated by the professional IoT-operational technology category in which providers assist businesses in designing, implementing and operating IoT systems,” said Denise Rueb, research director at Gartner.

“However, connectivity services and consumer services will grow at a faster pace. Consumer IoT services are newer and growing off a small base. Similarly, connectivity services are growing robustly as costs drop, and new applications emerge.”

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.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic