Less than 25% of firms have evaluated cost of cloud outage

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Less than a quarter of UK organisations (23 percent) report that they have calculated the real potential cost of a cloud outage.

That’s according to a new report by cloud data management company Veritas Technologies, which suggests that businesses are ill-prepared to deal with the impact of service outages.

The report, The Truth in Cloud, was commissioned by Veritas with research conducted by Vanson Bourne. It surveyed 1,200 global business and IT decision-makers and reveals that almost all (96 percent) of those organisations will have moved systems to the cloud by 2020, if they have not already done so.

With that in mind, businesses should evaluate the potential cost of outages – not just their bottom-line impact, but also associated costs, such as downtime, poor perception, and lost productivity, for example.

So how serious is the problem?

A fog of responsibility

More than one-third of respondents (38 per cent) expect less than 15 minutes of downtime a month, while the average monthly downtime is 16 minutes, according to Veritas. That may seem insignificant over the course of 30 days, but it could still be costly to many organisations.

More worrying is the finding that two-thirds of respondents believe that dealing with service interruptions is the primary responsibility of the cloud service provider. Meanwhile, 76 percent of organisations believe their cloud service provider is responsible for ensuring that their workloads and data are protected.

However, while the cloud service provider will have service level agreements in place, these are typically restricted to the infrastructure layer, meaning that they’re mainly responsible for restoring that in the event of an outage.

The cost of bouncing back

There are other key considerations for enterprises. One is bringing applications back online once the service has been reinstated. Depending on the complexity of the application and/or any data loss, this could take significantly longer than the infrastructure recovery.

Disaster recovery alternatives, such as failing over applications to an on-premise data centre, or to another cloud, could work. But again, this rests in the hands of the organisation, not those of the cloud provider.

“Organisations are clearly lacking in understanding the anatomy of a cloud outage, and that recovery is a joint responsibility between the cloud service provider and the business,” said Mike Palmer, executive VP and chief product officer at Veritas.

“Immediate recovery from a cloud outage is absolutely within an organisation’s control and responsibility to perform if they take a proactive stance to application uptime in the cloud. Getting this right means less downtime, financial impact, loss of customers’ trust, and damage to brand reputation.”

Internet of Business says

While on-demand computing services, ‘as a service’ applications, and cloud infrastructures or platforms have become critical to most enterprise users in recent years – whether in private, public, hybrid, or community clouds – there is still a fog of misconceptions about the technology.

Cloud provides many opex, agility, scalability, accessibility, and other advantages, as everyone knows. But it is not – and has never been – the borderless mist of code in the sky that the term suggests.

Internet of Business suggests that IT decision-makers should train themselves to look beyind the marketing terminology and consider the reality. In most cases, cloud services are really about racks of hardware, built on land, under the data processing, privacy, and transfer laws of the country where they are based.

Instead of saying “My data is in the cloud”, try saying, “My data is on a rack of servers in an industrial park in California” – or it may be Warsaw, Washington, or Warwickshire. “So what are the implications of that?”

Then, common sense should follow.

Read more: Internet of Energy | SAP’s Henry Bailey on the Cloud for Energy

Read more: Philips expands healthtech portfolio with IoT, AI, cloud solutions

Read more: AT&T launches cloud IOT dashboard, new partnerships


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Dublin City University, Talent Garden team up for IoT campus

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Dublin City University and Talent Garden team up for new IoT innovation campus

NEWSBYTE: Dublin City University (DCU) and co-working and learning space provider Talent Garden are to launch a new hub for digital innovation this autumn, which will focus on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Talent Garden was founded six years ago and now claims to be the largest European co-working and digital innovation network. It hosts hundreds of start-up companies and works with enterprises such as BMW, Google, and Electrolux in 23 campuses across eight European countries.

The latest hub will be based in DCU’s Alpha Innovation campus, and will provide a workspace for freelancers, tech start-ups, and corporate innovation labs, with capacity for 350 people.

The building will also feature Talent Garden’s Innovation School, a digital skills bootcamp education platform, which will work in partnership with DCU Business School to upskill entrepreneurs and assist corporates on digital transformation projects.

Topics covered in the bootcamp include digital transformation, artificial intelligence, growth hacking, augmented reality/virtual reality, coding, and blockchain. In the future, Talent Garden will host more formal, accredited training, delivered in partnership with the university.

Members of Talent Garden Dublin will also be able to make use of the platform anywhere in the Talent Garden network of facilities across 18 European cities.

DCU and Talent Garden hope that the space will appeal to early-stage startups and larger corporate innovation labs, as well as the existing community of digital and IoT companies based in DCU Alpha.

Epicentres of innovation

Professor Brian MacCraith, president of DCU, said that the partnership placed the university at the “epicentre of the technological transformation” taking place across Ireland and Europe.

“The worlds of work and learning are rapidly blending together, and Talent Garden Dublin offers a unique combination of innovation and education, which will help startups, SMEs and multinationals, navigate the opportunities created by the burgeoning IoT sector in particular,” he said.

“Through this unique partnership, Talent Garden Dublin goes way beyond coworking as it is currently understood in Ireland, and into the fields of accredited digital skills training, corporate digital transformation, as well as creating international connectivity for Irish startups looking to scale up in other markets.”

“In DCU, we have found a University partner with the same entrepreneurial DNA and ambition as Talent Garden, which made the selection process easy,” added Talent Garden founder and CEO, Davide Dattoli.

“The existing DCU Alpha community of digital and IoT innovators is the perfect home for us, while the university partnership will help us to scale our Innovation School offering globally.”

Internet of Business says

The recent success of a similar venture, Liverpool’s Sensor City – which brings together technology expertise, university partnership, a community focus, and a nurturing environment for startups – reveals how well this model works. For example, it was announced this week that Sensor City has received new funding from the British government to explore 5G opportunities.

We wish the new Dublin hub every success – particularly as it may gain the funding from Europe that British initiatives risk losing, post Brexit.

Read more: Sensor City awarded £3.5m to explore 5G community Wi-Fi

Read more: Sensors for all! Exclusive Q&A with Alison Mitchell of Sensor City


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Oil spill detection enhanced by Norwegian IoT partnership

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ocean visuals and miros are joining forces and combining iot technology to detect oil spills

Two Norweigan companies, Miros and Ocean Visuals, have formed a partnership to combine their oil spill detection technologies.

The deal will see the two companies deploy IoT sensors and data analysis techniques to help prevent future oil spills from becoming environmental disasters.

So what’s behind the move?

When an oil spill happens at sea, detecting the event and investigating its seriousness can be as challenging as the cleanup. Adverse weather conditions, and even the time of day, can complicate the process. As a result, automated systems using remote sensors have come to the fore in recent years.

Read more: Maersk and Ericsson collaborate for IIoT success story

Avoiding another Deepwater Horizon

The disaster at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 was the largest marine oil spill in history, spewing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil leak was discovered two days after the initial explosion on the afternoon of April 22nd and flowed for a total of 87 days.

Tracking the movement of the oil and identifying its concentration were two challenges immediately faced by the cleanup operation. In those scenarios, situational awareness is key to damage mitigation.

Which is where the IoT comes in today.

Read more: FindMy IoT saves Nordic reindeer from train collisions

Miros and Ocean Visuals join forces

Miros’ Oil Spill Detection (OSD) system combines radar and infrared sensors to provide an early warning for spills and allow recovery operations to take place in total darkness.

The Miros system can be used by ship owners, port authorities, and offshore rigs to form a network of sensors that provide round-the-clock surveillance and automated alarms. Satellite and airborne systems can cover huge areas, but fail to provide that level of continuous, localised monitoring.

On the other hand, Ocean Visuals‘ technology relies on Hyperspectral Laser Induced Fluorescence (HLIF) based Lidar. This empowers recovery workers by providing more information than simply where the oil is heading.

Hyperspectral imaging picks up the light that oil emits in the blue-green spectral range. As well as making the oil easy to spot in difficult conditions, Ocean Visuals can effectively ‘fingerprint’ each oil sample, giving first responders all the information they need to identify the category, concentration, and type of oil in real time.

That information can then be used to make informed decisions on the best way to handle the leak and disperse the oil.

Both companies’ technologies will be combined in the new partnership, which will provide industrial customers with a set of complementary sensors that can handle the surveillance, detection, and verification of oil spills.

Andreas Brekke, CEO at Miros AS, believes that the move will help clients adapt to the dynamic threats presented by oil spills. “The real novelty of this cooperation is being able to solve a wider range of our customers’ operational challenges,” he said.

“We can now offer detection capabilities at all relevant distances and across a wider range of operating scenarios, with unprecedented automated verification capabilities.”

Ocean Visuals CEO Christian Testman, said this industry-first partnership will benefit clients immediately. “We are excited to cooperate with Miros and supporting their large client base in this space. This is an important first step towards true sensor fusion in oil spill detection”.

Read more: Rotterdam and IBM plan to create world’s smartest port with IoT

Internet of Business says

This exciting partnership is an inspiring example of how the IoT isn’t just about connecting smart devices, but also about adding new technologies to data analysis.

Multispectral sensors – often attached to drones – are becoming increasingly important across many applications of IoT technology, such as farming, critical infrastructure maintenance, and other forms of disaster recovery, such as radiation leaks or power station fires.

Meanwhile, projects like Southampton University’s MAVIS project, are releasing ultra-low-cost printable drones into extreme weather systems to help track the paths of storms and hurricanes.

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Lyft and Magna partner in self-driving car push

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lyft and magna partner for self-driving car development

Ride sharing platform Lyft and automotive supplier Magna have announced a multi-year partnership.

The goal is to fund, develop, and manufacture self-driving vehicles. As well as providing hardware expertise, Magna will invest $ 200 million in Lyft as part of the deal.

Following in the tyre tracks of ride-sharing giant Uber, Lyft made public its autonomous car ambitions back in May 2016 after receiving a $ 500 million investment from GM.

In July 2017 Lyft opened Level 5, a department dedicated to developing driverless cars. Since then, the company has announced plans to test self-driving vehicles at an ex-military base in California.

The Magna partnership can be viewed as another step towards catching up with competitors that include Uber, Waymo, Ford, and several other automotive giants, which all have established technologies in the autonomous vehicle space.

Read more: Waymo turns the ignition on self-driving trucks

Lyft and Magna aim to be market-ready

The partnership will see Lyft continue its operations at its self-driving engineering centre in Palo Alto. Magna will take control of manufacturing and aid Lyft’s development team onsite.

Magna’s main expertise lies in manufacturing, vehicle systems knowledge, safety, and advanced driver assistance systems. All will help Lyft take its fleet of self-driving cars to market in the next few years, according to a joint statement from the two companies.

Lyft will provide test data along with its current fleet of vehicles to aid development. Intellectual property resulting from the agreement will be shared between the two companies.

Read more: Analysis: Why Uber and Waymo parked their self-drive dispute

Democratising access

“Together with Magna, we will accelerate the introduction of self-driving vehicles by sharing our technology with automotive OEMs worldwide,” said Lyft CEO Logan Green. “This is an entirely new approach that will democratise access to this transformative technology.”

Magna CTO Swamy Kotagiri said that collaboration is the most effective way for any company to get ahead in an emerging space filled with so many complex elements. “There is a new mobility landscape emerging and partnerships like this put us at the forefront of this change,” he said.

“Lyft’s leadership in ridesharing and Magna’s automotive expertise makes this strategic partnership ideal to effect a positive change as a new transportation ecosystem unfolds.”

Alphabet/Google subsidiary Waymo has already started tests with help from Fiat Chrysler, while Uber has deals in place with carmakers Volvo and Toyota, as well as chipmaker Nvidia.

Read more: Hyundai tests first autonomous fuel cell cars

Internet of Business says

2018 is certainly shaping up to be the year of the connected car, and the year in which driverless – and pilotless – vehicles began to make their way into the world in large numbers.

As ever, partnerships are critical to making it all work – indeed, they can help companies navigate through complex business and development challenges, just as sensors help their cars to navigate in the physical world.

But more importantly, this new deal reveals the hidden truth about ride-sharing apps, such as Lyft and Uber. In the long run, these ventures will have little to do with creating work for drivers in the gig economy. They are really about building out the infrastructure to support an autonomous, driverless future.

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IoT in Agtech: Australia invests millions in robots, digital farming

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Farmers in the Australian state of Victoria have been promised a $ 15 million financial and technological boost that is expected to be “a game-changer” for the agricultural sector.

The funding is intended to help farmers deploy robotics, wireless networks, sensors, and analytics solutions to capitalise on the enormous potential of connected technologies to make agriculture smarter and more efficient.

Read more: Brexit: Robots could fill gaps in UK farm labour market

With rising labour costs, and with utilities and supplies bills soaring, farmers are increasingly looking at how emerging technologies can help sustain their businesses. However, many come with heavy upfront costs: networks need to be installed and expensive hardware needs to be purchased.

From harvesting robots to drone-assisted aerial surveys and field sensors, the vision of the connected farm is an appealing one. But getting to that stage can require a joint effort, often between one farm and another, but also between the state and agricultural communities.

The Victoria government has announced $ 15 million of IoT-focused funding, and trials will begin in the regions of Maffra, Birchip, Serpentine, and Tatura in July. The state previously made a $ 12 million investment into IoT and agtech as part of a demonstration trial in 2016-17.

Connecting Victoria’s farms

According to a statement from the Victoria government, the funding will be put towards a range of digital innovations. These include robotics, and the development of IoT networks, wireless technology, biotechnology, and virtual fencing.

Read more: Agtech start-up Arable to measure crops and weather with IoT

Sensors and IoT networks will be installed for both farmer and public access. These will provide insights on weather and soil conditions, creating benefits across the dairy, grain, sheep, and horticulture sectors.

Farms right across the state will install sensors and connected devices as part of the project. The data generated will be uploaded to a central system for analysis, and be accessible via a software platform that will enable farmers throughout the region to make more informed decisions.

Read more: Italian start-up Evja launches smart agriculture platform for salad growers

Victoria’s minister for agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said: “Victoria is the agtech hub of Australia, and with this investment, we are looking at being a world leader. Our farmers deserve the very best tools to get the job done and digital innovation is at the heart of this. We’re proud to play our part in making this a reality.”

Jaala Pulford, Victoria’s agriculture minister

“This Internet of Things Demonstration Trial is an important step in maximising technology to help provide Victorian agriculture with a competitive advantage on a global scale,” she added.

Read more: Harvesting robot to save big slice of farming market

Internet of Business says

Despite being one of the oldest industries, farming is at the forefront of IoT, robotics, and big data applications. The reasons are manifold, and include the challenges of seasonal labour, soaring costs, climate change, unpredictable weather, changing consumer demands, and international competition.

The IoT’s mix of smart hardware, AI, sensors, and data analytics mean that farmers can gain real insights into how efficiently and sustainably their farms are operating, gather data over time – and in real time – and ensure that crops and livestock are developing in ideal conditions and are being properly fed and watered.

For example, drones can offer multispectral imaging from the air, and direct autonomous farm machinery to areas that need irrigation and fertilisation. Meanwhile, sensor networks in the ground can monitor crop and climate conditions and, via AI, machine learning, and analytics, help farmers to build up a comprehensive and predictive picture of how well the land is performing.

Meanwhile, the same technologies are helping farms move into cities, closer to the mouths that need feeding. High-tech startups such as Aerofarms are using sensors and big data technologies to grow crops indoors, using smart lighting and chemical engineering to create the ideal conditions for crops to flourish.

Read more: Dell takes a fresh look at IoT with Aerofarms

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Intel: “Smart cities give every person back 125 hours a year”

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New research sponsored by Intel and published by Juniper Research suggests that smart cities can “give back” 125 hours a year to every resident.

This equates to an entire working week (five 24-hour days), or nearly 16 eight-hour working days.

The report ranks Singapore, London, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago as the world’s smartest cities, with several in China rising up through the top 20 chart as China automates faster than any other nation.

Read more: South Korea most automated nation on earth, says report. The UK? Going nowhere

So how do the figures stack up? There are big plusses for mobility, health, and public safety, according to the research.

Mobility: +60 hours a year

Gridlocks in cities causes drivers to lose up to 70 hours a year, according to Juniper Research.

The study shows that an integrated, IoT-enabled infrastructure of intelligent traffic systems, safer roads, directed parking, and frictionless toll and parking payments could give back up to 60 of those hours a year to drivers who would otherwise be stuck in their cars.

Read  more: Pirelli smart tyres underpin its Cyber Car strategy

Read more: TomTom brings connected car services to Kia and Hyundai

Health: +10 hours a year

Smart cities with connected digital health services can help save people up to 10 hours a year, says the research.

Some of the numerous examples include: wearables and apps that monitor high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and other medical conditions. These help people manage their health better without hospitalisation, and over time may reduce the need to see doctors.

Meanwhile, telemedicine allows contagious disease sufferers to avoid doctors’ surgeries via high-speed video links in the comfort of their own homes. This not only saves the patient time and effort, but also minimises the risk of contagion.

However, it must be said that these initiatives aren’t limited to urban areas, although they will lead to a greater concentration of useful data within them.

Read more: Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

Read more: Fitbit and Apple Watch can help predict diabetes, says report

Public Safety: 35 hours a year

Improvements in public safety can help citizens regain a lot of hours, says Juniper Research.

For instance, in Portland, Oregon, (No 12 in the Juniper Smart Cities Index, see below) and San Diego (No 14), Intel has joined forces with GE and AT&T to deploy city-wide smart infrastructures with Current, powered by GE’s CityIQ technology.

Via these city-wide programmes, common street furniture such as street lights can be turned into connected infrastructure beacons that help monitor the pulse of city life, cut costs, design better services, and enable communities to be safer, cleaner, and more sustainable.

Read more: Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

Read more: MWC 2018: World’s first streetlight powered smart cell lights up

The world’s smartest cities

The research ranks the top 20 smart cities worldwide across four key areas: mobility, healthcare, public safety, and productivity.

Singapore emerges as the overall leader, with London not far behind. New York, San Francisco, and Chicago make up the rest of the top five.

Read more: EHANG passenger drone boasts successful manned test flights in Singapore

The report says that these cities stand out because of their efforts to connect city municipalities, businesses, and citizens to improve what it calls “livability”.

San Francisco and Singapore do well in mobility; Chicago, New York, and Singapore all score highly in public safety; while London and Singapore are the leading lights in connected healthcare, says the report.

Finally, Chicago, London, and Singapore all do well in productivity terms – which must be music to the ears of Whitehall, where the British government has been struggling with flatlining productivity growth for years.

The top 20 smart cities

The full list of the top 20 smart cities identified in the report is:

1. Singapore
2. London
3. New York
4. San Francisco
5. Chicago
6. Seoul
7. Berlin
8. Tokyo
9. Barcelona
10. Melbourne
11. Dubai
12. Portland
13. Nice
14. San Diego
15. Rio de Janeiro
16. Mexico City
17. Wuxi
18. Yinchuan
19. Bhubaneswar
20. Hangzhou

See the report in full Smart Cities – What’s in it for Citizens?

Internet of Business says

As the report suggests, smart cities aren’t just about making life better for individual citizens – although Gartner has recently published a report saying that citizen benefit is the be-all and end-all of smart-city programmes. That’s good advice.

Smart cities are also data conurbations: locations where millions of people may gather and go about their data lives, creating a mass of real-time data that can be used to redesign services and create a more sustainable future in terms of resources, energy, and more.

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Sensor City awarded £3.5m to explore 5G community Wi-Fi

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sensor city receive grant to explore 5G for community health and social care projects

Liverpool’s technical innovation centre and University Enterprise Zone, Sensor City, has been awarded £3.5 million in government funding to explore the potential applications of 5G community Wi-Fi in health and social care.

In a wide-ranging interview with Internet of Business earlier this month, Sensor City’s executive director Alison Mitchell set out her vision for how the centre will be an expanding showcase of the IoT’s ability to help regenerate cities and businesses.

Now, after Sensor City’s early successes with startups such as Aqua Running, Chanua Health, and CNC Robotics, among others, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has awarded the centre one of only six grants as part of the 5G Testbeds and Trials programme.

The aim of the nationwide initiative is to make the UK a world leader in 5G technology. Sensor City‘s role in this will be to investigate potential uses for 5G community Wi-Fi in the realms of health and social care.

A consortium made up of public sector health suppliers, the NHS, university researchers, local SMEs, and a UK 5G technology vendor will use the funding to deploy technologies such as low-cost 5G networks, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) across deprived communities in Liverpool.

Sensor City, Liverpool

Addressing the digital divide

Sensor City and its fellow stakeholders hope to apply these technologies to reduce the digital divide in health and social care.

Patient monitoring and support, loneliness in older adults, and independent living aids are all areas that are expected to be targeted with the funding, fostering a better relationship between healthcare providers and the communities they serve.

The University of Liverpool’s academic lead for Sensor City, Professor Joe Spencer, hopes that technology trialled in Liverpool could eventually be rolled out across the UK.

“A successful demonstration of a 5G testbed in health and social care will see the development of new, innovative, and disruptive technologies that will help to bridge the digital divide in the UK, especially in deprived communities,” he said.

“5G Wi-Fi will not only enable the development of new cost-effective products and services to address real needs and demand, but also bring huge social and economic benefits for the most vulnerable in society, while reducing the demand on hospital-based services.”

Alison Mitchell (pictured above), executive director at Sensor City, reiterated her belief that the consortium could have a transformative impact on lives in Liverpool and beyond. “Sensor City is proud to lead on what is set to be a truly groundbreaking project with a consortium of like-minded partners,” she said.

“The government’s 5G strategy for the UK presents a fantastic opportunity to transform the lives of many, especially through health and social care. So I think I speak for all partners when I say we’re excited to see this work unfold over the next five years.”

Internet of Business says

As we said in our recent in-depth profile of Alison Mitchell, Sensor City, and the startups the facility has supported, the centre’s work speaks for itself. We again commend it for developing and sustaining innovation, skills, and partnerships across industry, universities, and schools – and congratulate it for this latest success.

Read more: Hancock’s half hour at Hermes: good, but not good enough

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Harman announces partnership with Samsung SmartThings

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NEWSBYTE: One year on from its acquisition by electronics giant Samsung, connected technologies company Harman International has announced an engineering partnership with Samsung SmartThings.

The partnership is part of a strategy to embed Harman’s offerings into Samsung’s long-term IoT strategy.

As well as assisting with the rollout of the SmartThings app, the Harman Connected Services team will help develop features for the SmartThings Cloud.

Harman will also integrate third-party sensors into the existing ecosystem of devices, and develop a roadmap for future features for hub, core, and embedded components.

Taking IoT innovation to market

Robert Parker, CTO of Samsung SmartThings, sees the collaboration as a way to ensure that Samsung keeps its finger on the pulse of IoT development. “It’s more important than ever to be at the cutting edge of digital transformation and connected devices,” he said.

“By partnering with Harman Connected Services, for SmartThings application and device development, we’re able to bring the latest smart device innovations directly to consumers.”

Sandeep Kalra, senior VP and general manager at Harman Connected Services said, “We’re thrilled to be an engineering partner for Samsung SmartThings and to help grow the SmartThings ecosystem.”

“Harman Connected Services strives to deliver experiences at the intersection of design, data, and devices. Together with Samsung, we’re doing just that and bringing about next-generation IoT and cloud-based solutions for our customers.”

Read more: NEWSBYTE: Google hires former Samsung CTO as IoT lead

Read more: Samsung unveils IoT tech for pop-up retail spaces 

Read more: Samsung unveils new SmartThings IoT strategy

Internet of Business says

Partnership and integration are what the IoT is all about. And with Harman’s design excellence and brand reputation, and Samsung’s electronics expertise and industry clout, this new partnership could play an important role.

But there is something else at play here that other vendors could learn from: the clarity and ambition of Samsung’s strategy, with its pledge to make all products IoT ready by 2020.

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Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

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Research appears to show that AliveCor's KardiaBand is capable of detecting hyperkalemia through a simple EKG, a feat that would previously have required an invasive blood test. 

Research appears to show that AliveCor’s KardiaBand technology is capable of detecting hyperkalemia – excess potassium in the blood – through a simple ECG, a feat that would previously have required an invasive blood test.

KardiaBand is a smart watch strap that provides electrocardiographic monitoring (measures electrical activity in the heart). Algorithms can then be applied to assess heart rate, stress levels, fatigue, heart age, and other health warning signs.

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

KardiaBand includes a sensor that’s compatible with the Apple Watch. Last year the company received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry out electrocardiograms using the sensor.

The test is simple: users simply place their thumb on the KardiaBand and are treated to a medical-grade ECG in 30 seconds. The band is able to detect atrial fibrillation (AF) and normal sinus rhythm.

Potential beyond ECG

However, in a presentation at the American College of Cardiology conference in Florida, AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra unveiled new research carried out with the Mayo Clinic. The results appear to show that the same technology has potential that goes far beyond simple heart rate monitoring.

According to the research, the KardiaBand is capable of predicting dangerous levels of potassium in the blood with 90 to 94 percent accuracy. The condition, hyperkalemia, interferes with the electrical activity of cells, including those of the heart. It’s that irregular activity that the KardiaBand can pick up.

According to the research, a specific ECG pattern indicates the presence of too much potassium in the blood. Working alongside the Mayo Clinic, AliveCor used the KardiaBand to develop an algorithm that analyses users’ ECG data to spot this characteristic pattern.

Hyperkalemia doesn’t tend to cause obvious symptoms, but left untreated it can lead to kidney and heart failure. Previously, the only way to confirm its presence would have been an invasive blood test.

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare

Six million data-point training

To create an algorithm capable of spotting what the human eye cannot, the AI was trained using more than 23 years’ worth of medical data: two million ECGs linked to four million potassium values.

AliveCor’s FDA-cleared personal ECG technology was largely responsible for the company being named the number one Most Innovative Company in Artificial Intelligence by Fast Company last month.

“This recognition of AliveCor as the leader in artificial intelligence validates our leadership in the collection and analysis of patient-generated data, to help patients and providers assess and manage heart conditions, more conveniently, more quickly and less expensively than ever before,” said CEO Vic Gundotra.

Internet of Business says

Although not yet approved for this usage by the FDA, the KardiaBand’s ability to spot high potassium levels looks set to offer yet another compelling use case at the intersection of healthcare and consumer technology.

As a result, wearable and connected devices are increasingly able to provide both a graphical representation and data analysis point for whatever is going on inside the human body. This means that early detection, health management, and disease prevention are increasingly under the user’s control, via a variety of smart apps, which can also improve health and diet, and encourage exercise.

En masse and anonymised, this kind of data can also help societies design better, smarter, and more cost effective healthcare, if systems can be put in place to manage privacy and consent, and give something back to the data subject beyond simple advertising noise.

The development comes in a year that has already seen wearables become able to detect a variety of different medical conditions, and the development of e-skin and flexible sensor technologies.

Read more: Fitbit and Apple Watch can help predict diabetes, says report

Read more: Self-healing electronic skin brings cyborgs closer to reality

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Reuters’ Lynx Insight AI heralds the “cybernetic newsroom”

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Reuters lynx insight is a step towards automated journalism

Repetitive manual tasks have long been earmarked for automation. But a new AI programme underway at Reuters suggests that those in the creative industries should be looking over their shoulders, too.    

Reuter’s latest move towards what it calls the “Cybernetic Newsroom” is Lynx Insight. The AI tool has been designed by the news organisation to – in the words of Reg Chua, Reuters’ executive editor of data and innovation – “analyse and sift through data tirelessly, at speed, and on demand.”

Read more: Reuters’ AR & VR visions revealed

The machine newsroom

Before Reuters’ Cybernetic Newsroom has journalists the world over considering a career change, it’s important to recognise that, while a significant step, Lynx Insight is by no means a replacement for authoring original content.

“Humans are good are asking the right questions,” writes Chua, “bringing news judgement to bear, and understanding context. Or to put it the opposite way – and very generally – machines write bad stories and journalists struggle with mounds of data.”

The main aim of Lynx Insight is to analyse data with more speed and efficiency than a human can. Based on that analysis, Reuters says the AI system can then suggest stories and even write key sentences.

Reuters suggests that the tool will be “marrying the best of machine capability and human judgement to drive better journalism, rather than asking one to be a second-rate version of the other.”

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A slippery slope?

Given that Lynx Insight can analyse data, pitch stories, and even write aspects of them to an extent, its introduction could be viewed as a slippery slope towards machine-dominated newsrooms.

However, Reuters insists that instead of seeking to replace journalists, it is “placing a bet that the future of automation in the newsroom is less around using machines to write stories, than in using machines to mine data, find insights, and present them to journalists.”

The system will start by offering editors simple insights related to the organisation’s coverage of financial markets. The tool will scour structured financial data for newsworthy items, analysing patterns in the data to spot trends in a fraction of the time that it might take a human to do the same.

It’ll then be up to editors and journalists to apply that data in a way that improves Reuters’ output.

“This leverages the smarts of our newsroom, both in asking the right questions of the machines and in evaluating the answers that come back, to drive even better journalism, and much more quickly,” writes Chua.

“It’s an exciting future that increasingly calls on the undisputed power of robots, but never loses sight of the importance of human judgement and journalism.”

Internet of Business says

“Leveraging smarts” aside (a phrase many human editors would rewrite) Reuters is far from alone in using AI in the production of news. Most of the major news agencies are pursuing automation strategies of one sort or another.

The Financial Times has long applied AI algorithms to push readers towards related content and learn their preferences, as have many other publications.

Meanwhile, News UK – parent company of The Sun and The Times – is automating its subs (sub editors) desk, bringing AI closer and closer to the news itself. The company revealed this in a conversation with Internet of Business editor, Chris Middleton last year.

Elsewhere, some organisations have been trialling the automation of news stories from press releases, while PR agencies have been experimenting with generating automated press releases.

With the increased application of SEO tools to online content also in the mix, a very real risk emerges if automation is pushed too far in journalism and the media: machine-generated stories designed to be parsed by other machines, in order to boost Google rankings. In such a world, human beings become almost irrelevant.

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