T-Mobile deploys mid-band LTE upgrades to hundreds of cell sites

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Days after T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray confirmed that T-Mo has recently rollout out low-band LTE network upgrades across the country, he has announced that more upgrades have gone live. Ray just revealed that T-Mobile has upgraded hundreds of cell sites with more mid-band capacity in the last two weeks. T-Mo has confirmed to me that these are PCS and AWS upgrades. 100s of sites were upgraded with more midband capacity in just the last two … [read full article]

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University deploys satellites, IoT to fight North Sea plastic pollution

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Researchers at the University of Oldenburg in Germany are using satellite communications to combat the growing problem of plastic pollution in the North Sea.

A report in Science magazine estimates that there are 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste on the planet, with waste increasingly polluting our oceans, damaging marine life, and entering the food chain. An estimated eight million tonnes enters the oceans every year, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

Mobile satellite voice and data services provider Globalstar has provided its SPOT Trace and communications technologies to help the team study the movement of floating plastic in the North Sea. In particular, researchers from the University’s Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment are trying to get a clear picture of the waste’s drift patterns.


The team has embedded low-cost satellite trackers in floating buoys, which provide a wealth of information on the plastic’s movements on the surface.

Each of the buoys is fitted with a 7×5 cm SPOT Trace device, which includes an integrated GPS receiver, simplex transponder, and motion sensor. This Internet of Things (IoT) solution allows researchers to track drift movements using the Globalstar LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) satellite constellation.

Modelling tools

The University’s 3D computer simulations and modelling tools use the SPOT Trace data to help the team both understand and predict surface drift behaviour, as well as how debris travels in the water column and on the sea floor.

Researchers said that one of the most revealing discoveries has been the huge effect of wind, with some buoys beaching after as little as one month, having travelled up to 700 miles.

“It is clear that the influence of the power of the wind on the movement of floating particles in the North Sea is greater than we anticipated,” said PhD student Jens Meyerjürgens.

“Seventy-five percent of the debris that washes ashore on our islands is plastic, mostly from fishing activity,” added Mathias Heckroth, managing director of Mellumrat eV. The NGO is dedicated to conservation and scientific research on the uninhabited island of Mellum, one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea being studied by the University of Oldenburg team.

Mellum is situated in the intertidal Wadden Sea region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, where up to 12 million migrating birds spend time each year.

“The study is playing an important role in helping to identify the source of the plastic litter. It is also showing unexpected drift movement; we usually have a west-to-east drift, but sometimes tracking the buoys reveals a drift in the opposite direction, and we are studying why,” added Heckroth.

The research team is also helping authorities to establish new rules and regulations to both people and businesses to pollute less. “A key role of the University’s research is to help bring all stakeholders together, to give them compelling evidence, and to raise awareness of this huge problem,” said Heckroth.

Just as important, this new ability to predict the movement of pollutants as they drift and wash ashore can help clean-up operations to be more targeted and efficient.

“We very much hope this study inspires others and that our methodology can become a template for use by fellow research institutions elsewhere in the world,” said the University’s Meyerjürgens.

Internet of Business says

This inspiring project reveals how sensors, IoT technology, satellite communications, and analytics can gather and investigate large amounts of data about environmental problems, and not only provide useful information, but also help predict where solutions can best be applied.

Similar systems are being deployed in the air, as well as at sea, to help monitor extreme weather conditions, or clouds of pollution. For example, the MAVIS project, developed by the UK’s Southampton University, releases disposable paper drones at high altitude in order to track the movement of storms.

Read more: Oil spill detection enhanced by Norwegian IoT partnership


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Shop Direct deploys AI to improve cybersecurity

Shop Direct, the UK’s second largest pure-play digital retailer, has selected software company Vectra’s Cognito AI platform to protect its e-commerce sites and enterprise operations from cyber attacks.

Cognito uses AI to detect hidden threats that can be found in virtual workloads in data centres and the cloud, as well as in Internet of Things (IoT) and user devices.

Shop Direct has a lot to protect across its multichannel estate. The retailer has annual sales revenues of £1.93 billion from its own customer-facing brands, such as Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com. Its sites sell more than 1,800 brands and receive over 1.3 million clicks day from a claimed four million customers, to whom it delivers 49 million products a year.

With such weight and significance placed on its e-commerce platform, the company needed to find a new threat detection and response platform to counter the growing threat of cyber attacks.

“Every organisation at some point is subject to a breach, incident, or cyber event,” said Liam Fu, head of information security at Shop Direct. “The ability to quickly and accurately detect and respond to threats is paramount, and Vectra is helping us to reduce business risk.”

The recent Cyber Readiness Report produced by Forrester Research for insurance company Hiscox found that nearly half of its 4,100 respondents (45 percent) had suffered a cyber breach in the past year – in 42 percent of cases due to an external hack.

Of the organisations targeted, more than two-thirds (67 percent) suffered two or more attacks, while 21 per cent suffered four or more. A small number were hit more than ten times last year, said Forrester.

Full details of that report here.

Hiscox adviser Robert Hannigan, the former GCHQ director who set up the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, said that the IoT is worsening the security problem: “The rapid growth of the Internet of Things will amplify insecurities by adding millions of new devices with minimal built-in security. For those trying to protect against attack, the shortage of cyber skills will continue to be chronic.”

Vectra says that its Cognito AI platform prioritises the highest risks, so that Shop Direct systems can act quickly to stop in-progress attacks. The security company claims that threat analysis that might normally take hours or days can be completed in minutes with Cognito.

“AI and machine learning are transforming cybersecurity and enabling enterprises to better defend themselves,” said Hitesh Sheth, president and CEO of Vectra. “Organisations like Shop Direct are augmenting their security teams with AI to protect the success of their business.”

Read more: Prevent malicious use of AI, say Oxford, Cambridge, Yale

Read more: Retail IoT: Why Vodafone’s digital fitting rooms are a good fit for Mango

Internet of Business says

As the cyber threat landscape expands – partly on the back of insecure IoT devices and applications – all organisations need to consider the security of their IT systems and customer-facing services in new ways. With GDPR coming into force in a matter of weeks, the need to do so could not be clearer.




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Internet of Business

Apple Deploys 24 New Self-Driving Lexus SUVs

Apple has expanded its number of self-driving cars in California in an effort to catch up to its competition, according to a new report.

The Cupertino tech giant’s fleet has gone from just three vehicles last April, to 27 as of early 2018, according to DMV records cited in a Bloomberg report on Thursday. That means, from July 2017 to January 2018, Apple has registered 24 new Lexus RX450h SUVs as part of its autonomous vehicle efforts.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is “accelerating” its efforts in the self-driving vehicle sphere in order to catch up to one of its primary competitors: Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet. Notably, Waymo is currently one of the leaders in the self-driving car field.

Reports of the so-called “Apple Car” stretch back as far as early 2015, when reports of the company’s car initiative — codenamed Project Titan — first came to light. But it hasn’t been the smoothest journey for Project Titan, and a handful of bumps in the road led to the company to shift its focus to developing the underlying autonomous systems rather than a fully fledged Apple car.

Despite the media coverage, the Apple car initiative has been one of the company’s most secretive ventures. Apple never publicly acknowledged the project until last summer, when CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the company is “focusing on autonomous systems.”

Apple received permission from the DMV to start testing its autonomous vehicles on California roads in April of last year. Since then, reports related to the Apple car have periodically leaked — and in at least one case, Apple published research on its self-driving systems.

But despite its increased efforts, Apple may have quite a bit of catching up to do. Waymo’s self-driving car tests have now expanded into six states, and the company is said to be fielding a fleet of over 600 self-driving minivans in Phoenix, Arizona alone. The company also partnered with Lyft to begin tentatively building out an autonomous ride-hailing service.

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Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA’s Winter Olympics uniform

Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA's Winter Olympics uniform

Fashion giant Ralph Lauren and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have unveiled athlete uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The jacket includes adaptable heat technology that can be controlled using a smartphone app. 

Even as temperatures in PyeongChang plunge to an expected 15 degrees Fahrenheit next month, Team USA’s athletes will manage to stay warm and look good while doing so.

The team’s opening and closing ceremony uniforms have been put together by Ralph Lauren to harness wearable technology, all while paying homage to some of American fashion’s most iconic symbols.

Beyond the jeans, mountain boots and brown suede gloves is a parka that contains in its lining heat-conducting ink, meaning it can warm up, on demand, just like an electric blanket.

Read more: British Athletics deploys digital pacemakers for Rio Olympics

Conductive inks to keep athletes warm

“Ralph Lauren is excited by the convergence of fashion and function, and we are committed to supporting Team USA athletes by outfitting them with the latest innovative technology. We’re proud that we’ve worked so closely with the athletes, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, to keep evolving and improving,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren.

“The uniform celebrates the American spirit, with iconic pieces updated with modern details and technical fabrications.”

Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA's Winter Olympics uniform
(Credit: Ralph Lauren)

Because the temperature conditions on the ground could change by the hour and athletes will be moving between indoor and outdoor environments during both ceremonies, the Ralph Lauren design team needed to avoid a temperature-specific jacket.

Instead, the heating system is made from electronic printed conductive inks – handily made into the shape of the American flag – that are sewn into the interior of the jackets. These conductive inks are flexible, stretchable and connect to a power pack with three thermal settings.

Each jacket offers 11 hours of heating time at full charge. Athletes can adjust the heat setting through an accompanying smartphone app.

Read more: US government to fund research into smart clothing for emergency staff

Ralph Lauren looks to technology once again

Despite being a fashion brand associated with the importance of tradition, this isn’t the first time Ralph Lauren has used technology to take its sports clothing to the next level.

In the past, the company has unveiled solar-powered backpacks and base layers with biometric tracking for ball boys and girls at the US Open. For the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Ralph Lauren upped Michael Phelp’s blazer game with illuminated panels spelling out ‘USA’.

This won’t be the last time that, as USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird says, “Ralph Lauren effortlessly weaves style and functionality into the opening ceremony uniform.” After all, one team’s fashion is another’s marginal gains.

Read more: IoT gets tops scores from sports teams worldwide

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Internet of Business

Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics takes over cutting work from human colleagues at Harrison Manufacturing in Mississippi.

Harrison Manufacturing, a US-based custom plastics injection molding manufacturer, has taken a step forwards in automating its assembly line.

At its Jackson, Mississippi facility, the company recently deployed the Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics in a bid to boost the efficiency of its production processes, with a knock-on bonus for product quality.

Company founder and president Scott Harrison said that the family-owned business has already seen a range of benefits, including reduced labor costs and increased throughput, and adds that the robot only took a few hours to set up.

Read more: IIoT and the rise of the cobots

Sawyer gets to work

With Sawyer, Harrison Manufacturing has also been able to improve the consistency and quality of its products, mostly plastic components for use in the automotive industry (including parts that go into interior trim, safety belts and car seats) and consumer products.

Sawyer works on ‘degating’ plastic parts, a job that involves removing excess plastic from a finished part once it emerges from injection molding. This cutting work is repetitive, said Harrison, and can lead to human error, wrist strain and even injury in staff.

“We’ve been seeking an automation solution for this task for some time, but traditional methods weren’t affordable or effective for our situation,” he said. The company simply does not have the floor space to accommodate a bulky traditional robot, nor would it want to foot the costs involved.

Sawyer has provided an answer. The one-armed robot with a compact footprint was launched by Rethink Robotics in 2015 at prices starting at around $ 29,000. Its main selling point is the ease with which non-techies can program the robot to perform simple tasks on manufacturing lines without having to first learn in-depth programming skills.

“Sawyer allowed us to use our employees in less strenuous tasks, while increasing throughput with extended shifts, so we can better meet growing customer demands,” said Harrison.

He now has plans to install a second robot. “I have another Sawyer in the box,” he confirmed. “After our experience of quick deployment with the first robot, I expect it to be up and running just as smoothly as before.”

Read more: Could hackers force industrial cobots to go rogue?

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Internet of Business

Standard Chartered deploys Kasisto chatbots to help customers

Standard Chartered deploys Kasisto chatbots to assist customers

Standard Chartered banking customers will soon be getting assistance from Kasisto chatbots on a range of money management matters.

The chatbots deployed by Standard Chartered are capable of natural language conversations and, if regulatory approval is forthcoming, the service will initially roll out next year in Hong Kong before being implemented more widely.

The system that’s been chosen by Standard Chartered, meanwhile, is Kasisto’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform, KAI Banking. This is capable of holding contextual and personalised conversations and taking actions as directed by customers. The chatbots can fulfill requests, solve problems, and predict needs, according to the company, as well as help companies support and market their products and services.

Read more: Nuance aims to tackle consumer chatbot concerns

Getting a head start

The system has been built for banking, so it has a head start on being trained to understand Standard Chartered’s products and services. In the specific context of Standard Chartered, the new chatbot service will be able to act as a virtual personal assistant, helping clients manage money, make payments and analyze their spending in a split-second.

Part of the lure of the Kasisto system is its ability to conduct ‘human-like’ conversations. In addition it can function across multiple platforms, including a bank’s mobile apps, web site, Facebook Messenger, and IoT devices like Amazon, Alexa and Google Home.

Importantly, the system it knows when it’s reached the limits of its abilities and will call in a human to take over.

Deniz Güven, global head of design and client experience at Standard Chartered, said: “We are taking disruptive technology and using it to design a client experience that is not just convenient and personal – it’s a whole new banking experience. Looking at how quickly our clients are embracing digital, I expect our chatbot will become a popular way to connect with us anytime, anywhere.”

Standard Chartered joins a list of Kasisto customers that also includes DBS Bank, Mastercard, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Read more: Data scientists developing doctor chatbots for ‘self-treatable’ conditions

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Internet of Business

Alphabet’s Project Loon deploys LTE balloons in Puerto Rico

Alphabet’s Project Loon has officially deployed its LTE balloons to Puerto Rico, the team announced this afternoon. In a blog penned by Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth, the company says it’s working with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and other cellular spectrum and aviation authorities to bring connectivity to parts of the island still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Loon’s official LTE partner for the initiative is AT&T, which is helping Loon use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons to bring functions like text messaging and minor web browsing access to Puerto Rico residents who have LTE-equipped smartphones.

“We’ve never deployed Project Loon connectivity from…

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Second ‘Battlefield 1’ DLC deploys on September 19th

At Gamescom last week, EA showed off a timeline of future expansions headed to Battlefield 1, including the next to come, In The Name of the Tsar. The game's second DLC just got a global release date on September 19th, but players who bought the Prem…
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Apple deploys third public beta releases of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, iOS 11, tvOS 11

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Registered members of Apple’s public beta testing program now have a third pre-release build of iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra available to download, arriving just a day after the fourth developer beta.
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