NICE Alliance Aims to Get Smart Cameras to Play Well Together

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Sony Semiconductor Solutions, Nikon, Foxconn, Scenera and Wistron have formed an alliance to create standards that allow surveillance and IP cameras to play well with each other. The NICE Alliance, unveiled Monday, aims to create a new smart camera ecosystem, along the lines of the mobile ecosystems that have become so familiar. The “NICE” acronym stands for “Network of Intelligent Camera Ecosystem.” The idea is to create a shared set of standards that will allow cameras to communicate with each other and with services in the cloud.
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MulteFire Alliance to Showcase Technology Innovation at Mobile World Congress

The MulteFire Alliance, an independent, diverse and international member-driven consortium that is defining and promoting MulteFire, is showcasing growing momentum for MulteFire technology during its Open Day event at Mobile World Congress.

MulteFire, an LTE technology that operates standalone in unlicensed and shared spectrum, extends the LTE ecosystem to new and existing players, while supporting harmonious co-existence with other technologies in the same band.

Open to all MWC attendees, the MulteFire Open Day at MWC will take place Tuesday, February 27 from 2:00-5:00pm in Press Room 2 in the Fira Gran Via. The event will feature:

  • Keynote presentation by MulteFire Alliance Board Chair Stephan Litjens will cover MulteFire technology development including the forthcoming Release 1.1
  • Analyst presentation by Wireless 20/20 will present cost and revenue modeling for MulteFire deployments in Industrial IoT and Enterprise applications
  • Guest presentation by Huawei sharing results from a private LTE deployment in Shanghai shipping port
  • Panel discussion with panelists from Boingo Wireless, Industrial Internet Consortium, m3connect and Nokia Reception from 4:00-5:00pm to meet with MulteFire Alliance leadership

To register for the event, click here.

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New alliance wants to improve terrible in-flight internet

The frustrations of internet access aboard commercial aircraft may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the Seamless Air Alliance. Formed by Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint and Airtel, the group aims to improve the connectivity experience for passeng…
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Walmart and Rakuten take on Amazon with Kobo e-reader alliance

Walmart has struck a deal with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten that will see the US company become the exclusive mass retailer of Kobo e-readers. Co-branded Walmart and Kobo apps will be released for ebook and audiobook content, which will be available through Walmart’s website, and Walmart retail stores will also sell digital book cards.

Rakuten bought Canadian company Kobo in 2011 and released its e-readers in Japan before Amazon got into the market. The partnership with Walmart, however, will see two of the world’s biggest retailers team up to take on Amazon in the US. Amazon’s retail presence for the Kindle is still limited, and although the company dominates the ebook market after vanquishing Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the prominent…

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3 reasons Apple joined the Alliance for Open Media

As first reported by CNET, Apple unexpectedly popped up on the Alliance for Open Media website today as a Founding Member. It would appear Apple has suddenly become serious about the Alliance’s effort to create AV1, an open, royalty-free alternative to the HEVC/H.265 video codec that’s currently all but necessary in order to send 4K video over the internet.

While “Founding Member” suggests Apple has been there since the Alliance formed in September 2015, the group only uses the term to denote “the highest level” of importance within its ranks; Facebook received the same title after joining in November 2017. In other words, Apple’s participation is probably quite recent.

But why would Apple care about supporting AV1 now, given that it only officially added H.265 support to Macs, iOS devices, and Apple TVs in September? Here are three likely possible explanations.

1. Apple wants AV1 for its own devices

If Apple wants to offer video downloads or streams, it can now encode all of its files in HEVC format and stream them to Apple products running its latest OSes, which were released in final form last September after betas. What use would it have for a competing format with similar compression efficiency?

Apple might be looking to support third-party developers who want to stream AV1 videos to Apple devices. While Apple probably wouldn’t need to join the Alliance to do so — particularly at its highest levels — it could be planning to give app makers some flexibility or to transition its devices away from the reportedly expensive HEVC/H.265 standard whenever that makes sense.

If that sounds crazy, note that Apple very briefly included H.265 support in the iPhone 6, specifically for making FaceTime calls to other iPhone 6 devices, only to quietly yank H.265 and replace it with H.264. It wasn’t clear at the time whether HEVC licensing or an ongoing lawsuit over FaceTime was to blame, but there’s precedent for Apple drifting in and out of support for video formats.

2. Apple needs AV1 to stream videos to non-Apple devices

This is a more interesting possibility. Since the rollouts of iOS 11, macOS 10.13, and tvOS 11, Apple can now guarantee that its HEVC video streams are playable on its own devices, but it can’t guarantee that they’re playable on non-Apple devices — not every manufacturer is willing to pay HEVC licensing fees or deal with the sort of messy licensing issues Microsoft encountered when adding HEVC to Windows 10. If Apple wanted its videos to enjoy the bandwidth-saving benefits of HEVC on non-HEVC devices, AV1 may be the only viable alternative.

As a competitor to H.265, AV1 is backed by everyone from Amazon to Google and Microsoft and includes work from Cisco’s Thor Project, Google’s VP9 and VP10 codecs, and Mozilla’s Daala. Chipmakers including ARM, Intel, and Nvidia are on board, as are Cisco, Facebook, and IBM. Due to that roster, it’s easy to imagine broad support for AV1 streaming across pretty much every platform with capable hardware when it hits the market.

Among the types of videos Apple distributes are downloads, which are already playable by iTunes — including iTunes on Windows. The other type? Streams. AV1 could enable Apple to stream videos to Android devices, which aren’t currently supported by iTunes but which do have access to Apple Music. If Apple’s going to launch a video subscription service, it’s likely going to want to reach Android users like it does with its music service. AV1 might be the smartest way to do so.

3. Apple doesn’t care (much) about AV1, but it wants to help steer AV2

This third explanation is not impossible, but it doesn’t seem likely. After over two years of development, AV1 is reportedly very close to being finished and is expected to be feature-complete this month. According to a report from, that would place products with hardware AV1 decoding in the market by mid-to-late 2019. Encoding of AV1 is also apparently brutally processor-intensive, even compared with HEVC and VP9.

If Apple is truly only becoming involved with AV1 at this very late stage, it most likely isn’t doing so to steer AV1 development — though some technical contributions are possible. It may be looking ahead to helping an eventual AV2, which could be needed sooner rather than later to enable 8K video, 60Hz 4K video, and other bandwidth-demanding solutions that are now in the very foreseeable future.

What’s most likely?

My own belief is that Apple could be getting involved with the Alliance for Open Media for all three reasons. An Apple-branded Netflix-style video subscription service appears to be highly likely given the company’s recent content development deals, and its extended delay in adopting H.265 appeared to reflect a genuine lack of interest in paying HEVC licensing fees.

Getting on board with an open video codec makes sense both for 2019 products that could use the standard and for future products that will use its successors.

Apple – VentureBeat

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi launch Alliance Ventures, announce first investment

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi launch Alliance Ventures, announce first investment

New venture capital fund Alliance Ventures will aim to support and develop technologies for vehicle electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity and artificial intelligence.

Automotive alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi has this week announced the launch of a new venture capital fund, Alliance Ventures, that it claims will invest up to $ 1 billion into new technologies over the next five years.

In its first year, the fund expects to invest up to $ 200 million in start-ups and open innovation partnerships with technology entrepreneurs focused on what it calls ‘new mobility’. This includes technologies such as vehicle electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity and artificial intelligence.

The alliance claims its new fund is unique because it offers potential partners access to a big market. Between them, the three partners sold more than 10 million vehicles last year through 10 separate brands and will jointly fund Alliance Ventures, with Renault and Nissan each contributing a 40% share of the fund and Mitsubishi Motors making up the remaining 20%.

Alliance Ventures will be led by Francois Dossa, previously CEO of Nissan’s Brazilian operations and a former investment banker with Société Générale.

Read more: Microsoft joins the Renault-Nissan Alliance for the future of connected cars

First investment announced

Battery specialist Ionic Materials, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, is set to become the first recipient of funding from Alliance Ventures, for its work in developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials. The equity acquisition by the fund coincides with a joint-development agreement between Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Ionic.

Ionic is developing a solid-state electrolyte for creating higher performance more affordable batteries for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and utility grid storage.

Alliance Ventures will run alongside Alliance 2022, a five year strategic plan launched last year, which aims to strengthen cooperation between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. By the end of the plan, the Alliance hopes to have launched 12 pure electric vehicles built on common EV platforms and components, as well as bringing to market 40 vehicles with autonomous driving features. On top of that, it plans to develop robo-vehicle ride-hailing services.

“This investment initiative is designed to attract the world’s most promising automotive technology start-ups to the Alliance,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Read more: Autonomous driving will create $ 7 trillion “passenger economy”, says Intel

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Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA3 security protocol for Wi-Fi Protected Access

Wi-Fi Alliance has announced new enhancements and features for Wi-Fi Protected Access. it is introducing configuration, authentication, and encryption enhancements across its portfolio to ensure Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices continue to implement the security protections. The company said that it would deliver a suite of features to simplify Wi-Fi security configuration for users and service providers to better enhance the Wi-Fi network security protections. The WP3 will have four new capabilities for personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. Two of the new capabilities will offer robust protection to users who choose passwords that are not complex enough. It will also harden the individualized data encryption on open Wi-Fi networks as well. It will also include a simplified security management process for devices without screens and use 192-bit security suite aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) Suite. The first batch of WPA3-certified devices are expected to ship this year, while it is unlikely that routers or other devices will be able to start using WPA3 via firmware updates. Edgar Figueroa, president, and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance said: Security is a foundation of Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs, and we are excited to introduce new features to the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED family of security solutions. The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED designation means Wi-Fi devices …
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Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA3 security protocol for protecting wireless devices

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced additional measures to secure wireless devices, following revelations last year about an oversight in the WPA2 specification which left devices vulnerable.

Specific technical details are still scarce, though the benefits of WPA3 include hardened individualized data encryption on open Wi-Fi networks, security protections even when users choose passwords that are not sufficiently complex, and a simplified security management process for devices without screens (or screens large enough to be useful for a given task, imagine difficult to configure IoT gadgets), and the use of 192-bit security suite.

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Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA3 security protocol for protecting wireless devices was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Apple joins Alliance for Open Media, signaling support for AV1 video

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Perhaps looking to get around licensing issues with H.265/HEVC, Apple has silently become a founding member of the Alliance for Open Media, a group working on a new video compression format known as AV1.
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Beyond Scale: The Digital Impact Alliance Rolls Out Something New

The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) has just launched Beyond Scale: How to make your digital development program sustainable, a free online guide for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that details key challenges and potential solutions when scaling and sustaining digital development programs beyond the ‘valley of death’ – the problematic phase many digital development implementers face when the pilot is over and funding may be running out.

The Digital Impact Alliance partnered with BBC Media Action and Esoko, both implementers of long-term, large-scale digital development programs, to share their learning and experiences on what works – and just as importantly – what does not. DIAL also partnered with Vital Wave and Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative to source digital development emerging best practices from around the world.

Between 2009 and 2015, the number of public and private sector programs testing digital technology solutions for systemic development challenges in agriculture, education, financial services and health more than tripled. As investment in digital development has grown, so has the need to ensure cost effectiveness, scale and financial sustainability.

However, few digital solutions in global development have successfully sustained beyond the pilot stage to institutionalize impactful change. Many continue to face key barriers that impede growth in areas outside of digital technology expertise, such as sustainable business models and private or public-sector partnerships, regulatory and policy compliance, and the challenges of large-scale marketing, distribution and sales operations.

“As organizations around the globe work to take digital development programs beyond the pilot phase, a unique opportunity exists to draw on their experience, knowledge and key insights to provide pragmatic how-to guidance for maturing digital solutions and programs,” said Kate Wilson, CEO of the Digital Impact Alliance. “Through the extensive research and production process, we were able to source helpful best practices and guidance. We are excited to unveil a product that directly helps on-the-ground implementers in digital development organizations.”

To learn more about Beyond Scale, click here.

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