IoT round-up: Dell, tablet advances and smart security cameras

12 May 2017

Image: By nullplus/Shutterstock

Infrastructural investments dominated the IoT environment in recent days, with some clever inventions also emerging.

The car industry is forever in turmoil. Sales numbers fly up and down, complementary costs push consumers out of the market, governmental support across numerous countries ensues.

But when will the car industry, in its current form, finally fail for good? Maybe as soon as 2030, according to a new bombastic report published by think tank RethinkX.

Analysts believe that the major turning point will be in 2021 when transport-as-a-service providers such as Uber and Lyft will presumably become so affordable that people will move away from private car ownership in their droves.

Autonomous vehicles, despite still being but a dream, will then signal the end of the industry’s current phase, apparently.

In other internet of things (IoT) news, Microsoft is developing a wearable called the Emma Watch, which could help people with Parkinson’s disease.

Viewers of the BBC show The Big Life Fix might remember Emma Lawton, who suffers from tremors brought about by Parkinson’s. As a graphic designer, this restricted her from much of the work she loved to do, so Microsoft designer Haiyan Zhang decided to find a solution.

Now the company is working on getting that product to market, though it could take a number of years.

Elsewhere, the Irish science community – particularly those based at Dublin City University – this week celebrated the official start to a relationship with a world-leading research organisation, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (the Fraunhofer Society).

But what else did you miss?

Lighthouse smart camera

Billed as an interactive assistant, and therefore a challenger for the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo, Lighthouse revealed its hand this week with its new smart-home device.

“Simply tell Lighthouse the things you care about, and it tells you when those things happen,” said the company.

What it essentially does, though, is act as a household security camera. It uses 3D-sensing technology to enjoy an “unprecedented level of awareness within the home”.

This means it can distinguish between adults, children, pets and objects. Better yet, it can recognise faces, determining who exactly is in the house.

“The Lighthouse interactive assistant provides insight to three core things: what has happened, what is happening and what is happening that shouldn’t be happening.”

Size matters in tablets

This week, Panasonic launched what it claims is a world first: a tablet using real-time kinematic (RTK) global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology.

Partnering with U-blox on the project, Toughpad is specifically designed for precision agriculture, machine control and robotic guidance applications in harsh environments and conditions.

This is achieved through an NEO‑M8 GNSS receiver module, created by U-blox, which delivers high integrity and precision in demanding applications worldwide.

The tablet was tested in a project to collect snow in Japan, with Panasonic’s own satellite-positioning technology combining a satellite radio receiver module, wireless WAN and a single-band RTK-GNSS receiver, connected to an external antenna.

The companies claim this system enables high-precision positioning down to “centimetre level in open-sky conditions”.

“We needed a high-quality, reliable and robust GNSS module for this tablet designed to be used in rugged environments,” said Panasonic’s Tetsuya Sakamoto. “The NEO-M8 from U-blox was, therefore, the right choice.”

Dell’s new suite

Banking on Gartner’s prediction of 20.4bn connected devices by 2020, Dell revealed a new line of IoT products and services.

The new VMware Pulse IoT Center is aimed at helping customers to more efficiently manage, operate, scale and protect their IoT projects from the edge to the cloud. Meanwhile, IoT Advisory Services is a consulting body hoping to improve the likelihood of successful IoT data leverage.

Elsewhere, Dell EMC and VMware – founding members of new EdgeX Foundry Linux Foundation project – joined 50 other companies to build an open framework for edge computing.

Italian job

Italian telecoms company Prysmian Group signed a $300m supply agreement with Verizon to support the latter’s US network expansion.

With Verizon and its rivals hastily spreading their reach in anticipation of 5G in the coming years, this three-year deal will supply more than 17m fibre kilometres of ribbon and loose tube cables.

Philippe Vanhille, SVP of telecom at Prysmian Group, said: “As the world goes wireless, wireless is drawn to fibre. Economic growth and consumer demand depend largely on super-fast, gigabit broadband connectivity that is always available. Our pronouncement is that this is best delivered over a fixed optical network.”

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic