Microsoft invests $5 billion in new IoT strategy

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microsoft announce $ 5 billion iot investment over next four years

Microsoft has outlined plans to make a substantial investment in IoT technology, setting aside $ 5 billion to grow its partner ecosystem, develop a more intelligent edge environment, and build on existing products and services.

In a move similar to Dell’s in New York last October, Microsoft will be revamping its IoT strategy over the next four years. Although the software giant has been invested in the space for years, booming adoption and exponential growth – long predicted by analysts – means that, in its own words, Microsoft is “just getting started.”

In a company blog post outlining the move, Julia White, CVP of Microsoft Azure, set out how fresh investment and R&D will make Microsoft ideally positioned to work with customers of all sizes and industries. “Our goal is to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions,” she wrote.

Read more: VMware partners with Axis, Wipro on new IoT edge range

Investing at the edge

The $ 5 billion investment will be spread across IoT security, building tools and services for the IoT and the edge computing environment, and in continued growth within Microsoft’s partner ecosystem.

“Today, we’re planning to dedicate even more resources to research and innovation in IoT and what is ultimately evolving to be the new intelligent edge,” wrote White.

“With our IoT platform spanning cloud, OS, and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey, so any customer – regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry, or other factors – can create trusted, connected solutions that improve business and customer experiences, as well as the daily lives of people all over the world.”

Read more: An inside view of start-up factory Dell Technologies Capital

Developing a partner ecosystem

Like Dell, Microsoft acknowledges the importance of a partner ecosystem in delivering products and support to clients with differing needs.

“We’re also getting a look into how both customers and partners overcome the specific challenges of building an IoT solution that harnesses massive amounts of data. Whether they’re building products that transform the home, office, or factory floor, one thing remains clear: IoT is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort that spans cloud development, machine learning, AI, security, and privacy.”

Microsoft’s Azure IoT suite allows companies to develop their own use cases and experiment with connected technologies. The platform was bolstered by the launch of Azure IoT Edge last year.

Microsoft’s partner network already includes technology specialists Cisco and Hitachi and management consultants PwC and EY. It’s likely that the company’s VC arm, Microsoft Ventures, will also make further investments in the IoT space as part of the new strategy – a further echo of Dell’s recent moves.

“Today’s announcement is big – for us and for the future of IoT and the intelligent edge,” concluded White. “It positions us to support customers as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions, which few could have imagined just a few years ago. We can’t wait to see what comes from our customers and partners next, and we’ll have more to share throughout the year.”

Read more: HCL opens Microsoft Cortana AI Lab for Azure development

Internet of Business says

When Dell EMC launched its own IoT strategy last October in New York, it stressed a number of things: the critical role of the intelligent edge and the distributed core, the boom in connected-device uptake, and the need for investment in both the partner landscape and innovative startups. Less than six months later, Microsoft has announced a similar move – but with five times greater investment.

Alongside the growth of AI – which Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Apple are all pouring resources into – we can see that IoT systems are moving into the core to the new enterprise computing landscape, on both the software and hardware side of the industry.

The post Microsoft invests $ 5 billion in new IoT strategy appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Rumors keep mounting as Apple invests more into next-gen MicroLED screen technology

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Apple Watch updates 2018: MicroLED screen

Switching to OLED displays on the iPhone X was a huge change for Apple. The company has been famously prissy about the screens in its devices, and it took Apple years longer than the rest of the industry to make the leap from LCD to OLED for its flagship smartphone’s screen. But although Apple still has some work to do integrating OLED into the rest of its iPhone lineup, new rumors out of Taiwan suggest the company is already looking to the future.

According to Digitimes, Apple is in “preliminary talks” with Taiwanese firm PlayNitride over “cooperation in the micro LED segment.” PlayNitride has just had an application approved to invest $ 17.1 million in a production facility for MicroLED displays, and it seems as though Apple is particularly interested in what the company has to offer.

The report says that “PlayNitride will produce micro LEDs, display modules and panels [at the facility]. Micro LEDs feature low power consumption, high brightness, ultra-high resolution and color saturation, quick response time and long service life. Micro LED displays can be used in smartphones, smartwatches, VR devices and large-size TVs.”

Given the current high cost of MicroLED displays, there are only two applications that Apple is rumored to be looking into right now, and neither of them involve smartphones. The first, and likeliest to happen in the near future, is a next-generation Apple Watch with a MicroLED display, which could make the device last longer and possibly be thinner.

The second, and far juicier, is the possibility of a MicroLED display-powered augmented reality headset. Apple has long stated its interest in AR, and if the company is projecting a two or three year delay until launch of AR glasses, that’s enough time to get MicroLED production going.

This new report lines up with one we saw earlier this week, which said that Apple has already partnered with longtime manufacturing partner TSMC to produce MicroLED displays for future AR glasses. Apple’s interest in PlayNitride’s facility could simply be a matter of hedging its bets, or it could be an indication that Apple will need to ramp up production in the near future.

Apple – BGR

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Micromax invests in AI-based start-up ‘One Labs’, will pre-load inOne all-in-one app on its devices

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Micromax today announced that it is investing consumer technology and AI-based start-up ‘One Labs’ with an aim to bring users closer to smarter app user experiences. ‘InOne’ is a platform with access to apps across multiple platforms including food, shopping, travel, cabs, news, recharge, games and more from within a single app. One Labs also has an AI-enabled voice/chatbot solution called One Assistant that provides virtual assistance to users. The company said that ‘inOne’ will be pre-loaded in its devices and will further enhance the features available to users on its ‘Around You’ platform. The inOne platform currently hosts around 50+ apps, and some of the apps accessible on the inOne platform include Zomato, Ola, Uber, Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Housejoy, Nearbuy, Urban Clap, ixigo, and BookMyShow. This will also bring features like price comparison across categories including offline and online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm. The company says the In One will help users save space, background activity, performance, and battery life as well. One Labs says that the company will use the funding for further development and bring around 200+ apps on the platform within the next 12 months by opening inOne to third-party developers and making it an instant app platform. Vikas Jain, Co-Founder, Micromax Informatics said: At …
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Apple reportedly invests in its own MicroLED screens

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Apple quietly acquired a company called LuxVue in 2014 that was working on low-power MicroLED display technology. A report by Bloomberg indicates that development has continued and that Apple is making a "significant investment" in the new technology…
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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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SoCalGas invests in fiber optic technology for detecting gas leaks

SoCalGas invests in fiber optic technology for detecting gas leaks

Early warning sensors will help prevent pipeline damage from unauthorized construction work and detect leaks at Californian utility SoCalGas.

Fiber optic technologies are playing an increasingly important role in communicating the condition and performance of smart grids, enabling utilities companies to provide safe and reliable energy to homes and businesses.

With those goals in mind, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has just announced it has broken ground on a fiber optic cable installation that will enable it to monitor the condition of high-pressure transmission pipelines in real time.

The fiber optic technology is being installed along a new, seven-mile section of natural gas pipeline in Bakersfield, California and will serve as an early-warning system to detect unauthorized construction work that could damage the pipeline as well as changes in pressure that could indicate a leak in the line.

It’s an important step forward in SoCalGas’s mission to modernize its infrastructure, enhance safety and reduce its carbon footprint, according to Deanna Haines, director of gas engineer at the company. “This technology provides our engineers with a critical early warning system that can prevent damage to our lines and help us mitigate leaks more quickly.”

Read more: Utilities and manufacturing lead IoT adoption

Changes to light signals raise the alert

The technology uses fiber optic cables that run alongside a pipeline and transmit data across long distances. The system operates on the principle that, when a fiber optic cable is subject to vibration, stress or an abnormal change in temperature, the light signals that pass along it will change – indicating a possible gas leak or an impact to the line. The fiber optic system can pinpoint to within 20 feet where a problem may be developing.

When a threat is detected, information is sent along the fiber cable to a remote monitoring station within seconds, where operators can interpret the signal changes to determine the nature of the problem. It could be the unauthorized use of heavy equipment near the pipeline, for example, an unexpected earth movement or other physical impacts, like structural stress from broken water mains.

The operators can also let first responders know about the unfolding situation. In the case of this installation, for example, “Firefighters will be able to respond quickly to an emergency and work with SoCal Gas to stop the problem from escalating,” said Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall.

Read more: Smart meter provider creates app store for utilities using IoT edge devices

Leaks must be stopped

Natural gas is often considered an environmentally friendly fuel for generating electricity, since it emits around half as much carbon dioxide when burning, as compared to burning coal. However, it has a major downside, in that it is prone to leaking. Plus, it comprises about 95 percent methane – a greenhouse gas that traps 86 times as much heat as does carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. So natural gas leakages need to be tackled for the sake of the planet. 

SoCalGas claims to be one of the first natural gas utilities in the country to use fiber optic technology in natural gas transmission and high-pressure pipeline system operations. The company plans to install fiber optic cable along all new and replacement pipeline segments 12 inches and greater in diameter and in excess of one mile long.

But another local utility has also shown its willingness to try new smart grid technologies recently. In December 2016, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) said that it was piloting a laser methane detection system developed by San Francisco start-up Acutect at one of its natural gas storage facilities in northern California. This uses sensors and cloud technologies to identify the presence of escaped methane along pipelines.

Read more: Life of PI for OSIsoft as smart grids start to roar

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Apple invests $390 million in US manufacturer Finisar, maker of iPhone X TrueDepth Camera lasers

Apple today announced that it has $ 390 million in Finisar, a leading manufacturer of optical communications components. This investment is from its $ 1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of  its commitment to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers. Finisar produces vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) that powers iPhone X TrueDepth camera, as well as the … Continue reading “Apple invests $ 390 million in US manufacturer Finisar, maker of iPhone X TrueDepth Camera lasers”
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Apple Invests $390 Million in U.S. TrueDepth VCSEL Manufacturer

As part of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, Apple has pledged to invest $ 390 million into technology manufacturing company Finisar.

The $ 1 billion fund, which Apple unveiled in May, is aimed at accelerating the growth of advanced manufacturing in the US and showing that the firm is creating US jobs.

Finisar is the second major investment from the fund. Earlier this year, the tech giant made ploughed £200 million into Gorilla Glass maker Corning.

As CNBC reports, Apple will help Finisar transform its Texas-based 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant. The company is working on plans to begin developing VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) chips.

These chips are integral in depth and proximity sensing. And with the launch of Face ID, Animoji and ARKit this year, Apple clearly has significant interest in the area.

Apple’s iPhone X uses three VCSELs, and they’re also included in the Airpods. As a result of this investment, Apple will have a stake in the development of the chips.

Set to open in the second half of 2018, the multi-million-dollar facility will generate over 500 jobs for the local economy. The company will invest in engineers, technicians and maintenance specialists.

Launched in 1988, Finisar has built much of its business on transceivers and transponders. The latter are used in wireless, storage, networking and cable solutions.

Headquartered in California, the company currently employs 14,000 people and works with tech giants such as Cisco, Huawei, IBM, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in addition to Apple.

Jeff Williams, chief operating officer of Apple, said the investment will transform its manufacturing capabilities for devices such as the iPhone X.

“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” he said in a statement.

Jerry Rawls, chief executive officer of Finisar, praised the investment and said working with Apple will enable it to develop new technologies and solutions.

“When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we’re confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibility exciting features.” he said.

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Boeing Invests in Near Earth Autonomy to Accelerate Development of Autonomous Aircraft

Boeing Embraces Autonomous Technology

Earlier this month, Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, demonstrating the company’s commitment to incorporating autonomous technology into aircraft designs. Now, the aviation company’s HorizonX Ventures division has announced its investment in Near Earth Autonomy — a company that focuses on technologies that enable reliable autonomous flight — further solidifying its support for these burgeoning technologies.

The move marks the first investment HorizonX Ventures has made since its creation last year, but the relationship between Boeing and Near Earth doesn’t end there. In addition to this investment, the companies are partnering to work on future applications for autonomous tech in sectors like urban mobility with vehicles like flying taxis.

“This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight,” said Boeing HorizonX Vice President Steve Nordlund in a statement. “We are excited to begin this partnership with a company with such a depth of experience in autonomy so we can leverage the scale of Boeing to innovate for our customers.”

Near Earth Autonomy’s Pedigree

Near Earth Autonomy is led by Sanjiv Singh, the company’s acting CEO. He co-founded the company alongside Marcel Bergerman, Lyle Chamberlain and Sebastian Scherer. Combined, they have over 30 years of experience with autonomous systems designed for land and air vehicles. Two of their most notable achievements include partnering with the U.S. Army in 2010 to develop full-scale autonomous helicopter flights and working with the Office of Naval Research to design an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the U.S. Marines.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Near Earth,” said Singh. “The Boeing HorizonX investment will accelerate the development of robust products and enable access to a broader portfolio of applications for aerial autonomy.”

Flying taxis are becoming increasingly popular in the aerospace industry and many expect that they will change how people get around cities and traffic. At the forefront, we have Dubai, which tested its autonomous flying taxi earlier this year and plans to launch a taxi service before year’s end. Meanwhile, Airbus is aiming to test its electric taxi next year, with German company Lilium hoping to have a series of commercial aircraft released by 2025.

It’s an exciting time for the future of transportation, and it’s possible that soon, the concept of manually driving a car will be a thing of the past.

The post Boeing Invests in Near Earth Autonomy to Accelerate Development of Autonomous Aircraft appeared first on Futurism.

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Ford invests in Autonomic to make open-source mobility service platform

Ford has taken a stake in Silicon Valley’s Autonomic to be the basis for the automaker’s future mobility efforts.

In its investors report last week, Ford said it had made an investment in Palo Alto-based Autonomic Inc. to build a basis for future iterations of mobility services that will use Ford vehicles, such as its Chariot service that employs Transit vans, as part of the company’s plan to move people through cities in every way, according to CEO Jim Hackett.

“The platform would allow us to build services, as well as others, because the platform would be open to cities and other services,” Ford Smart Mobility communications manager Alan Hall told The Verge. “The layer that Autonomic provides is non-differentiated services.”

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