1,000 Norwegian sheep recruited for world’s largest NB-IoT pilot

14 Jul 2017

Wandering sheep on a Norwegian road. Image: Coralie Mathieu/Shutterstock

This week in the world of IoT, a smart home device unexpectedly became a witness and reporter of domestic abuse, while sheep became the leaders of an NB-IoT future.

When it comes to internet of things (IoT) devices proving themselves as potential game-changers to those considered at a disadvantage in society, few examples surpass the new glove developed by a team from University of California, San Diego.

For the cost of less than $100, the team has managed to build a prototype device that can translate American Sign Language (ASL) into text and then transmit it to an electronic device.

Future Human

The researchers found that the glove was able to determine all 26 letters of the ASL alphabet accurately and, based on fatigue studies of the sensors, the system will continue to translate the letters correctly, even after the knuckles are moved to their maximum of 1,000 times.

Google meanwhile revealed that within the field of artificial intelligence (AI), it plans to fund and mentor early-stage AI start-ups in the years to come through Gradient Ventures.

Gradient will invest in 10 to 15 deals this year and will commit between $1m and $8m to each deal.

As well as the funding, Gradient will focus on providing technical mentorship for the start-ups, facilitated by seasoned Google engineers eager to work with young companies.

Waymo trains self-driving cars about emergency vehicles

Speaking of Google, its self-driving car venture Waymo is back in the headlines again after it posted a Medium update detailing its AI’s new ability to detect approaching emergency vehicles on the road.

Equipped with sensors, Waymo’s test vehicle   observed police cars, motorcycles, ambulances, fire tenders and even a few undercover vehicles as they passed by, during a number of exercises.

This was to allow the sensors to pick up a variety of different sounds from various angles in order to help its AI learn what is and isn’t an emergency vehicle.

In practice, this would enable it to pick up the sound and attempt to safely pull over or yield at a crossroads when it hears one coming.

“By teaching our cars this advanced capability, we’re moving closer to bringing truly self-driving technology into the world,” Waymo said.

Smart home assistant reports domestic abuse to police

Sticking with the subject of law enforcement, an unspecified smart home device has involved itself in a domestic abuse case with its owners after reporting an incident to local police.

According to ABC News, a couple in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico were involved in a physical domestic abuse incident, whereby the man – holding a firearm – threatened his wife and asked her: “Did you call the sheriff?”

Picking up on the voice of its owner and hearing the phrase, the device proceeded to call 911, and police were able to respond to the scene.

“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life,” said county sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.

“This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation.”

World’s largest NB-IoT project will involve 1,000 Norwegian sheep

High up in the mountains of Norway this summer, one of the country’s biggest mobile operators, Telia, in conjunction with a start-up called Nortrace, is about to launch the world’s largest narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) project.

According to ZDNet, 1,000 sheep are to be recruited and tracked as they roam across the open, rural land during the summer months, without any fencing.

Norwegian farmers tend to return to the area to gather up their flock, but this has typically been a lengthy process, with an average 10pc of the flock likely to go rogue.

Using NB-IoT, however, these farmers will be able to track the sheep across a large area from a variety of devices.

Telia’s head of enterprise, Jon Christian Hillestad, said: “This is a great example of how new technology and IoT can help meet real needs.

“Using NB-IoT for tracking purposes is one of the most important areas of IoT and 5G in the future. It can be used pretty much on everything that is mobile: animals, ships, containers and other means of transportation.”

Unlike more expensive IoT models, NB‑IoT applications focus on low-speed, robust data transfer and will be extremely reliable and cheaper to install in the years to come.

Brazil lays out its future IoT priorities

Brazil is looking to put together a national IoT plan that will shape its future in terms of smart cities, agriculture and healthcare.

ZDNet reported that the Brazilian government has completed the second phase of a technical study detailing these priorities, taking in international IoT research and surveys focusing on its possible demand and supply in society.

It also aims to see how it would best go about financing such a nationwide roll-out, along with all of the regulatory requirements that would come with it.

Following the publishing of these guidelines, the government said it considers IoT “as an instrument of sustainable development of Brazilian society, increasing the competitiveness of the economy, strengthening national productivity and promoting the improvement of quality of life”.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic