Category Archives: Internet of Things

IoT World Forum 2017

What is The Internet of Things?

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else.

This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.

The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices… That’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion).

So basically, the IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

IoT World Forum 2017 – What it was like?

The conference title is bit of a misnomer.  IoT World Forum 2017.

With this title, there was an expectation of very high level presentations which would be informative of the trends and impact that this new technology is set to make.  Unfortunately, the overall impression fell short; whilst the session titles were indicative of the present issues, the presentations were underwhelming.

The content could have been easily gleaned from leading sites such as CrunchBase, The Register, Lifehacker, FossBytes, Ars Technica and even the BBC Technology web pages.

Speaker Presentations

Day One
 Internet of Things: Reality Check – Maciej Kranz, Vice President of Strategic Innovation, CISCO

Maciej Kranz identified that IoT has been developing in the background, quietly changing long-standing industrial processes – fundamentally reshaping the Internet.

The reason for this shift is three-fold:

  • The Internet has mostly been implemented in greenfield environments, while IoT deployments are generally in brownfield environments, requiring integration and migration of legacy and vendor-specific systems
  • The IoT-enabled Internet has created an extremely rich, heterogeneous array of business and consumer use cases, requirements and environments
  • With IoT, the Internet has been transformed into a real-time conduit of unimaginable amounts of data that can be analyzed to make better decisions, improve performance, and grow profits

These changes have profound implications on many of the core characteristics of the Internet:

  1. Market structure
  2. Connected devices
  3. Change enablement
  4. Technology concentration
  5. Cloud/analytics
  6. Security focus
  7. Standards

These elements add up to a profoundly different Internet environment, transformed by IoT. Companies and vendors are rethinking every aspect of their business strategies including development approaches, partnerships, go-to-market strategies, supply chain, security and more.

And that’s just the beginning. As the foundation for many other emerging technologies such as machine learning, fog computing (distributed cloud) and blockchain, IoT has put industry on the path to sweeping transformation.

Emerging IoT Business Opportunities -Patrice Slupowski, Vice President Digital, ORANGE

Mr Patrice Slupowski is an established speaker and aware of the emerging opportunities that IoT encompasses. He spoke mainly on Orange’s projects in IoT covering other related technologies that fundamentally are part of and enmeshed with their projects such as AI, API’s, mobile applications, Virtual Reality and personal data.  The focus was on Telco.

 IEEE Perspective on Global IoT Market – Lloyd Green, IEEE

Lloyd Green is Director of Engagement Marketing and Creative Community Services for the IEEE.  Mr Lloyd spoke about defining, delivering and evangelizing IEEE-SA digital and marketing services to drive growth, innovation, and brand recognition. His talk was focused on initiatives on a common adoption of an IoT global standard where the industry is failing due to many standards leading to issues in relation to data privacy and hacking.  His focus was on seeking to build consensus technical standards to advance adoption of the technology across multiple industry sectors.

 GE Digital: IoT and Digital Transformation – Vincent Champain, GM, GE Digital Foundry

This was an infomercial on how is helping to drive the digital transformation in all fields (not only IoT) by bringing together all the stakeholders in a collaborative effort between the private and public sectors.  They are essentially building an open platform, where 14,000 developers can collaborate with GE’s customers and partners to create new applications.

 Transforming BT with IoT – Chris Sims, MD for Marketing and IoT, BT

Start-ups and SMEs were offered a chance to submit new IoT solutions in time for BT’s launching of BT Infinity Lab Competition.  This gives the winning company to test its idea at scale and potentially bring it to market working with BT, Techhub and other partners.  The aim is to expand and develop the company’s IoT portfolio.  This was the process of how BT dealt with the competition and results were given.

The Future of Industrial IoT – Robin Hancock, Head of Mindsphere IoT Platform Ecosystem, Siemens

One of the best quotes from the conference came from Robin Hancock who stated: “90% of the projects out there are Proof of Concept (POC) and they are based on pretty narrow use cases.”  I initially thought that this was one of the most important presentations as he was focused on talking about how to work on creating an actual product.  But then he focused on Siemens’ Mindsphere offering a cost effective, scalable cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) in developing apps.

Monetising The IoT Ecosystems – Rami Avidan, CEO, TELE2 IoT

This was one of the better presentations where a very practical solution was given on how IoT as managed to be applied to an industrial “welding project”. Basically, ESAB is a global supplier of welding consumables and equipment.  They have developed a connected welding solution entitled Weldcloud, allowing enterprises and welding services companies to better monitor and optimise the performance of their welding equipment, increase quality and develop new customer services.  Tele2 IoT have created a IoT connectivity solution allowing ESAB an easy way to build connectivity

The Missing Context in IoT: Mark Osborn, Director Salesforce IoT EMEA, SALESFORCE

This presentation was focused on Salesforce along with Customer data can maximise ROI.  The talk was focused on identifying how forward thinking customers are taking advantage of real time tech to act proactively and use information about what their customers are doing right now to prevent problems before they occur.  The talk was on Salesforce’s IoT Cloud and how it can update and combine data from IoT devices with contextual Salesforce data (IoT Profiles).

With IoT Profiles, a connected sensor sends an alert to the IoT Cloud stating that it has a fault. This alert combines with the service agreement applied to the device and suggests a course of action. For example, the manufacturer could dispatch an immediate repair team or schedule maintenance.

Product Agility and Flexible Monetization for Industrial IoT Solutions – Matthew Dunkley, IoT Strategy Director Flexera

Flexera discussed the factors that lead to successful IoT monetisation.  They identified that manufacturers who know how to bring innovative products to market and monetise them effectively will be the winners of the 4th industrial revolution.

They defined the new IoT business model with its successful execution depending on whether all the prerequisites have been fulfilled.  This is where security and an effective licensing model play a critical role.

They also identified a successful software business model as being based on insights into how customers use products.

Unfortunately, this was not applicable on an industrial scale.

How to Scale an IoT Business with IoT Cloud – Bernd Gross, CEO, Cumulocity

This was a sales pitch on how great Cumulocity is.  In some ways, they deserve it as Machination as given them the status as a leading IoT Device Management Platform Vendor.  The following is a brief description of what the company does.

Cumulocity, a Düsseldorf-headquartered Nokia Siemens Networks spin-off, offers an IoT platform available for public cloud, private cloud and on-premises deployments. It provides functionality in key platform areas and integration with 3rd-party systems if built-in features do not satisfy all require­ments. It focuses its growth on indirect sales with systems integrators, car­riers and engineering software companies.

Cumulocity also focuses on OEM sales with a dedicated sales team and through partners. Cumulocity emphasizes its platform’s ease of deployment, open integration architecture and configurability.

Day 2
Enabling the path to IoT Scalability – Neal Forse, CEO, WND UK

WND UK is a SigFox Operator.  SIGFOX is the world’s leading provider of dedicated connectivity for the IoT.  This was a infomercial on how great WND is and what they can do for the customer.  One of the best factors that came out of this was that the product doesn’t not do IP and is therefore secure.  The presentation did not go into the dynamics of this but IT IS NOT SECURE.  It uses a VPN which can be hacked.

The role of Machine to Machine Sim in IoT Business – Emmanuel Routier, SVP, M2M, ORANGE GROUP

The presentation was on how Orange is tackling IoT and how it forms part of the company’s strategic plan.  Through this plan Orange is confirming its desire to become the trusted partner for companies in their digital transformation and the benchmark operator of the IoT.  He identified the company’s vision and commitment on the following basis;

  1. Facilitating open innovation.
  2. Accelerating the development of our regions.
  3. Providing operational solutions to guide businesses through their digital transformation plans.
  4. Offering anyone and everyone a constantly growing selection of connected objects to change their daily lives

Broadly speaking the presentation was focused on Orange’s goal to help companies tap into the full potential of Big Data and the Internet of Things.

IoT Ecosystems – Maria Hakansson, Vice President and Head of IoT, ERICSSON

This presentation was one of the most boring ones overall.  Maria spoke about how the agile approach puts one ahead of the competition regardless of the services launched, business models introduced or ecosystems partnered with.

Developing Successful IoT Business Models – Dr. Sebastian Wahle, BOSCHE (Bosche Software Innovations GmbH)

Bosch took the stage and spoke about real-life use of IoT from Oyster farming to scooter rental.

Tasmanian oyster farming start-up The Yield, in which Bosch is also an investor, wanted to use the IoT to monitor water quality. Because oysters are “filter animals,” they can absorb contaminants from their environment. If the water is polluted by runoff from a heavy storm, for example, the oysters can absorb germs or bacteria that will make people sick when they eat them.

Sebastian Wahle, digital strategist at Bosch Software Innovations, calls this “The Internet of Oysters.” Data is collected by sensors in the immediate vicinity of the oyster banks. Then algorithms record and analyze the data, making it available to the farmers to check on a smartphone to find out the ideal time to harvest.

Bosch is clearly steaming ahead with IoT; its AMRA (asset monitoring for railway applications) system is in use at Swiss rail freight company SBB Cargo. AMRA monitors connected rail car and freight locations to help smooth logistics issues; it also checks for vibration and temperature to see if there is any damage along the way.

Dynamic Security and Connectivity – Remy CRICCO, Chairman of the SIMalliance

Remy Cricco, Chairman of the SIMalliance Board, explained how the eSIM addresses challenges of today’s connected world – security, flexibility and programmability.

The presentation explored:

  • The key differences between a traditional SIM and an eSIM, and advantages the latter has over SIM cards, including several connectivity profiles embedded in one single SIM.
  • How the eSIM can be leveraged to secure IoT and M2M deployments.
  • The importance of the Secure Element industry, represented by SIMalliance members, and the value it brings to the eSIM ecosystem
  • Why the eSIM must be seen as a “versatile Secure Element”, which will help the cybersecurity industry to detect threats and attacks, secure data transmission between machines and end users, and ensure device integrity.
Managing he IoT Sprawl – John Candish, SAP’s IoT Connect 365 business

This presenter was reading from a document – he was so bored that his presentation was boring.  He basically spoke about SAP’s new product entitled SAP IoT Connect 365 of which the following is a summary;

SAP IoT Connect 365, enterprise service simplifies the complex connectivity, scalability, and management of the Internet of Things (IoT) through a single contract and connection to a fully managed, cloud-based solution with global reach, a secure infrastructure, and real-time control.

  • Simplify complex multicountry deployments through a single contract and connection
  • Achieve singular and secure IoT connectivity, scalability, and management
  • Manage connected objects and protect data and privacy across multiple networks and technologies
  • Streamline operations and optimise assets and relationships
  • Utilise direct connections, global reach, and interconnected mobile networks
  • Realise faster, more efficient device and services deployment with less impact
eSIM for IoT – Julian Hardy, CEO, ESEYE

This presentation covered the definition of an eSIM which is the following;

The term “eSIM” relates to a new standard being promoted by the GSMA – the association that represents network operators worldwide.

It will come in the form of an integrated SIM chip, one that cannot and need not be removed from a device – something that consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt for connected items around the house as part of the Internet of Things, and something that’s been used by some car manufacturers too.

The information on it will be compliant or rewritable by all operators, meaning a user can decide to change operator with a simple phone call. A new SIM will not be required, nor should there be any time delay in switching the eSIM to its new purpose. There will also be no physical swapping over required by the user.

That was the original premise of the eSIM, but one of the advantages it offers from a design point of view is that you make a smaller device because there’s no need to accommodate a SIM card or the tray that holds it, hence the use in devices like the Apple Watch 3.

The key idea that Julian covered was eUICC Compliance for this type of device.

IoT Technology and Development Support – Steve Beck, General Manager, Telecommunications R&D Group, SONY ELECTRONICS

This presentation was about Sony’s R&D Group Technology Office.  And the initiative and projects that they are working on in developing IoT products that can help enhance Sony offering both to retail customers and on an Industrial level.  The following is from their site;

In 2016, Sony launched a new research and development initiative called the “Future Lab Program.”

The Future Lab Program embraces an approach to technological research and development that emphasizes an open creative environment and direct lines of communication with society, through which it aims to co-create new lifestyles and user value in the future. As part of this approach, the program will share concept prototypes with users while still at the development stage, and look to them for inspiration, leveraging their feedback to refine and evolve its projects.

IoT Large Venue Security – Brittany Shaheen Vice President & Chief of Staff – ARMORED THINGS

This was one of the most controversial and shocking presentations in that it upset a few delegates – the latest terror attacks were mentioned without respect for the people sitting in the audience.  But it worked and was effective.  The following is from their website.

Armored Things is using Internet of Thing devices to keep large venues safe from hackers and terrorists.

Their slogan is “We help our customers save lives, time and money.”

Armored Things automates incident response by engaging devices that are already live in many venues, such as lights, cameras, locks, and sensors.  They aim to transform policy, dusty ‘3-ring binder’ emergency plans, and translate them into instant, technology-based response.

This would highlight anomalies and detect unusual behaviours before significant harm is done.

Creating New Services with IoT – Madeleine E Martinsen M.Sc, Head of R&D Service Hoist & Underground Mining, ABB

ABB’s mining division is looking at using IoT to help prevent fires in the  mines and in its control room. It is already using the IoT and virtual reality to help support its hoists remotely. Madeleine Martinsen, head of R&D Service Hoist and Underground Mining at ABB, advised the audience to “get a partner” to help speed them into the IoT.

Conclusion

I was impressed with the overall conference content as it covered what the major companies are doing in the IoT sector.  The challenges that they are facing; the collaborations that they are being built and the various business models that are being designed to tackle the uptake of this technology.

I have some reservations however as there was a lot of selling of one services and key issues were not tackled such as privacy and security.  Some of the speakers were not even “experts” in their field and only knew about IoT on a very basic level.  This came through quite strongly when there was a discussion on tackling the afore mentioned issues as well as the issue related to energy.

And some of the presentations were literally lifted from the content of the presenting company’s website.

There is a niche for this information and the delegates did get something out of it but as mentioned in my introduction 99% of the information could be researched using key words on Google.

There is not restriction in relation to how IoT is applicable to TOC – with some digging and research, an effective conference can be created focused on the Industrial Application of IoT.

David Whale – The Raspberry Pi Expert

I came across David Whale in Foyles in London 2 weeks ago whilst purchasing a copy of Practical Raspberry Pi by Brenda Horan. The main reason for the purchase was to look into the subject of cross compiling.  The initial question that I asked David was based on how accurate chapters and articles in books and magazines are referencing projects related to the Raspberry Pi.

We both agreed that articles written on any projects related to the Raspberry Pi in magazines contain a number of inaccuracies but he did go on to say that anything that is published in books goes through much more of a stringent control process than in magazines.

Now you may be wondering why I spoke to David? David runs a blog on some very exciting Raspberry Pi Projects one of which that stands out is the “Raspberry Pi Internet of Things Demonstrator”. Why? Because it aptly defines the concept of “The Internet of Things”.

The Demonstrator is basically two Raspberry Pi’s connected with each other in a controlled environment over a simple LAN. The aim of the project is to ask partipants to come up with ideas of what the two devices would be communicating.

Let me briefly mention what we mean by the Internet of Things – if a “thing” can be connected over the internet, it will be able to participate in the WWW network of sensors and output devices (referencing David’s blog). The concept can be applied to various ideas which include healthcare, crop management and security.

To use an recent commercial example. The Good Night Lamp is based on sharing presence and availability of people across the globe. The idea – once a Primary lamp is switched on in a location (any where in the world) then any lamps that are connected also switch on simultaneously.

For more interesting Raspberry Pi projects by David click here .

Internet of Things Summer Showcase

You would be fooled into thinking that The INTERNET OF THINGS SUMMER SHOWCASE on the 29th August which showed off 10 leading innovative projects was a collection of Electronic Projects for an “A” Level exam. But this is not the case.

The 10 innovative projects showcased how the internet of things is affecting our education, everyday products, scientific discoveries and the way we share information. The following is a brief synopsis of the individual projects and where you can find them on the net.

Air Quality Egg – this is a sensor system designed to allow anyone to collect data about particular pollutants with inexpensive DIY sensors – airqualityegg.com

WiNode – this is a low cost platform for developing smart wireless sensor applications. It is based on Arduino and uses the popular RFM12 wireless transceiver module – nanode.eu

IOTM – IOTM is the internet of things maker kit containing all you need to get started with buidling your own IOT project – iotm.org

WhereDial – this connects to your social media accounts via an online service and checks your current location, it then turns the dial to read “Home”, “Station” or wherever you are – wheredial.com

Bubblino – this is a twitter monitoring, bubble blowing Arduino-bot. The device watches twitter for a keyword and then blows a bubble – bubblino.com

Flexibility – this creates a network of wireless sensors for the home where each sensor is connected to the Internet through usual home wireless routers – flexibility.com

Multi-Channel Ambient Orb – The projects builds on the basic concept of an orb by adding the ability to communicate multiple channels at the same time – literally glowing more than one colour – knolleary.net/orb

Printer – this is a distributed open-source system, building a network of Internet-connected printers allowing to generate customised content for them. This can be shared with other Internet-connected printers – gofreerange.com/printer

Chirp – this is a new way to share one’s data using sound. Data in the form of photos, webpages and contacts can is sent from a smartphone to another via built-in speaker – chirp.io

The Open University – an Internet of Things module has been created by the Open University for the 1st year undergraduate computer science course – sense.open.ac.uk

The next Internet of Things Showcase is on the Tuesday, September 25, 2012.  To book a place click here

 

RFID, Alien Technology and the iPhone

Alien Technology has partnered with Turkey-based RFID company Teknopalas to develop a RFID reader network application designed for the Apple iPhone.

The I-Alien ALR9900+ is a free application that monitors and controls an arrangement of one or more Alien ALR-9900+ Enterprise Readers on the network via an iPhone as opposed to a computer.

I-Alien ALR9900+ automatically detects all readers on the network allowing users to remotely manage the network, connect to selected readers, adjust antenna settings, write/read tags, test performance and email results, among other actions. All actions and results are presented in a simple style familiar to iPhone users.

Users can also monitor the electronic product code (EPC) data of tags, the speed of tag reads, tag signal strength, total unique tags in the field and more. The application also provides users the ability to write data into the EPC field of the selected tag, update protect passwords and control or modify both the power and which designated antenna is used, among other features.

Additionally, the I-Alien reader application offers users the ability to manage reader network settings, including IP settings such as fixing a static IP address or switching to dynamic addressing; saving the settings to the ROM of the reader; and even rebooting the reader, if desired.

The application is available free of charge from both the US and European Apple App Store. Search for “ialien.”

Click here to read more..

Arizona (USA), RFID, The NEST and Identification of suspects

RFID in conjunction with “Social Media” is being used by The Nest, the largest haunted attraction in Arizona USA, to enhance fear for the Halloween season, allowing thrill seekers to experience the maximum fright possible.

The Nest is over 50,000 square feet, with nearly $1 million in animatronics, and special effects. ABC News and Good Morning America named it the “Spookiest Place in America” and broad-casted live from the Nest during its morning Halloween show.

The Halloween attraction has partnered with Brightline Interactive and with FISH Technology for the integration of RFID tracking technology system, which automatically follows guests through the haunt, personalizing the experience as they walk from room to room.

Integrating Facebook Connect with RFID-based technologies, guests who walk through The Nest will see and hear their name, view their photos, receive messages and a few more terrifying surprises.

Also in Arizona, the sheriff’s office in Pinal County, Arizona has adopted a mobile biometric identification system to help identify suspects in any location. This is being used through the MORIS identification system that incorporates biometric readings of irises, fingerprints and facial recognition through a mobile device that connects to a smart phone. The system can be used to identify suspects who have no identification and undocumented immigrants.

A database of biometric data points that the sheriff’s office started collecting in 2010 will be used to verify identification. The database contains information on about 10,000 individuals. The system is intended to be with the suspects consent or if there is probable cause to do so.

RFID technology used to “Enhance” Party Goers Experience at Music Festivals

RFID technology is being ustilised to “enhance” people’s experience of live music events and parties. During the London 2012 Games, Intellitix powered some of the most exclusive private after-show parties using its full suite of RFID technologies.

In addition to this an on-line audience of 2 million was generated by using a combination of Intellitix systems and ID&C RFID wristbands, when ticket holders linked their bands with Facebook to check in and post photos using custom-built units within the venue. The full suite of RFID technology deployed also included a secure access control system and a “cashless” bar with guests’ RFID wristbands

Samsung is also involved in the roll out of ticket-less RFID technology at live music events in the United Kingdom (UK). Working closely with Kilimanjaro Live abd Intellitix, the company will bring the new technology to festival goers in the form of special RFID wristbands. These wristbands will be read on arrival to validate visitors’ entry, promising secure access.

Festival goers will be able to personalize their wristband to check in on Facebook and share their experience with their friends online, to enter competitions associated with events, or upgrade to VIP simply by flashing their wristband.

The technology made its debut at the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ gig at Knebworth. This was followed by the music and wake boarding festival, Wakestock.

And finally SAG (Security Assembly Group) has released a disposable high frequency RFID wristband designed to meet short-time identification of attendees at such as special attractions, sports events, amusement parks, concerts, clubs, festivals and exhibitions and patients at hospitals. The SAG Disposable Wristband (Reel Format) is made of polypropylene (PP) and has a full length of 276 millimeters.

The new SAG Disposable Wristband (Reel Format) features the NXP MIFARE Ultralight chip with 384 bits of user memory. The cost-effective RFID wristband solution is also compliant with the ISO 14443 A standard.

The product is delivered in reel for easy printing and encoding at the point-of-use, and can be supplied with an optional fastening button for one-time closure in order to prevent unauthorized transfer during its usage, avoiding tampering attempts.

An Interview with Glenn Collinson Co-founder of Neul

The following interview was carried out with Glenn Collinson on July 9th 2012 at Neul’s office in Cambridge. 

Glenn Collinson – Board Member, Chairman of the Strategy Committee. Glenn Collinson is a co‐founder of CSR and helped to manage its growth from a start‐up in 1998 to its listing as a public company in 2004. He retired from the Board of CSR in 2007. Glenn was a non‐executive director of Sonaptic Ltd from April 2005 until its sale to Wolfson in July 2007. Glenn currently holds positions as a non‐executive director of DiBcom SA, Inside Contactless SA and Wolfson Microelectronics plc. Prior to co-founding CSR, Glenn held senior positions at Cambridge Consultants Ltd. (1996‐1998) and Marketing Manager at Texas Instruments (1989‐1996). He is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and holds a B.Sc. in Physics and an M.Sc. in Electronics from Durham University, as well as an MBA from Cranfield University.

What is Neul’s mission?

 Neul is a complement of two great ideas which makes for a really great company, the ideas being on the one hand the use of TV White Space spectrum and the second M2M (machine to machine) communications.  This encompasses our mission statement – The Internet of Everything.

Would you see the terminology of the Internet of Things being changed to the “Internet of Everything” ?

Possibly.  That would be a natural progression. The internet of Everything is all encompassing and Neul’s present focus is on M2M which we are very good at but the technology will also be used to connect people as well.

Could you expand on this when you say for connecting people, can you explain?

 Starting with the topic of white space, this is the biggest change in the field of wireless communications since 3G with over 100 MHz of prime spectrum now available in the band that would have been chosen for cellular telephony had it been available 30 years ago.  This is ideal spectrum for long range wireless communications and is now available for free today in the US. This availability will be closely followed by the UK in 2013 catalysed with Weightless’ seal of approval from Ofcom this year.

The train has essentially left the station, with the UK’s liberalisation which will be closely followed by the European Union in 2014.  TV white space is a homolgated band meaning that the majority of the worlds TV broadcasters operate in the same spectrum – 100MHz to 700MHz.  So once there is a proven business model and a technology demand, there will be a key driver to adopt the same regulatory approach (worldwide).

The use of TV white space is a gigantic subsidy (in the order of $10 billion) effectively to the technology industry compared to the costs of licensed spectrum. A case in point is the £21m auction for 3G spectrum as an example.

Neul has the only few fully functional radio TV white space units which can be used for the Internet of Everything.  The biggest trial so far for TV white space operation  in the world was conducted between June 2011 and April 2012 in the UK by a consortium of cross industry groups.  The industries represented include the Broadcast Industry with BSkyB and BBC, the Telecommunications Industry, with BT,  the Technology World with Samsung and Nokia and finally Microsoft which was a key sponsor from a publicity and organisational perspective.

So this large group of companies partnered with Neul to design a  trial effectively equipping the City of Cambridge in the UK with white space coverage utilising several base stations.  A number of extensive tests were carried out to determine that that the use of this spectrum did not interfere with the TV and wireless microphones which are prime users of this band.  Significant detailed analysis was carried out with TV detector vehicles driving around Cambridge looking for whether the use of this network caused any problems with TV signals.

The results of the analysis were conclusive in the that the technology is benign and does not interfere with the other prime users as long as the Geo Location methodology approach is adopted.  With this positive outcome legislation will be passing through parliament later this year making it fully legal to use TV white space for machine to machine applications.

For a rural trial a base station was installed at Melbourn, a rural community south of Cambridge, and linked to a household in Orwell.  Residents in the hamlet were able to achieve download speeds of up to  8Mbps over a distance of 5.5 kilometres.  The result was successful with no break in service which has led Neul for its first commercial take up of Fixed Broadband Service in the US which will be rolled out in the UK in 2013.

You mentioned about Geolocation database, could you explain what you mean about that?

 The use of TV white space has been the debated for quite along time.  People have been aware of the very inefficient use of this spectrum and the increase in demand for mobile data has brought this into sharp focus.

The initial idea was based on cognitive radio either smart radio which would sense what signals were out there and  adjust in real time to avoid interfering with the prime users.  This proved to be a too significant a technological challenge and an alternative method was adopted using a Geo Location database.  This in essence is a central repository or knowledge base of all the prime users for the TV band (its a record of all the TV transmitters recorded in one database, ie their location, polarisation and power levels).  The database also includes other users in particular wireless microphones.

Will M2M usage affect people directly?

It is true to say that a person will not be able to purchase a M2M unit from a retail store.  Neul’s core technology is first of all a radio that works well in white space but it is deeper than that. Neul is bringing to the values of short range communication (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC) to long range communications. Neul’s technology is characterised by lower cost, a dollar or so silicon on the radio, very low power, so that the batteries work for a very long time (up to ten years) and as a result of that can be deeply embedded into many, many devices.

We are bringing that “core ethos”  to the world of long range communications and the basic methodology to do that is to use a spread spectrum technique, that is spread the signal out in time such that the power levels at which  one needs to transmit are reduced significantly without compromising the long range capability.

 “In a nut shell, Neul’s radios will cost a couple of dollars, they will work for 10 years off a small primary battery that does not need to be recharged and yet they will still transmit up to 10 kilometres.”

 That dramatic statement is the logical value add that Neul is bringing to the table.  There has been a massive technological barrier that has held back the the world of M2M communications. Neul has now addressed that.

When you mean everything, does that mean that if I lose my car keys I will be able to find them again using Google?

 Absolutely.  Effectively you will never lose your car keys again and why stop at that.  Never lose anything again.  The size of the device would be in the order of a key fob in a couple of years time which includes the chip, external electronics and the battery.

You will need a location based capability as well in there but with the cost of GPS coming down it wont be a problem. And then with the final icing on the cake, we can build into the Weightless specification an Indoor Location capability.  It wont be very finely tuned but it it will be a complementary technology in that the Weightless technology can triangulate and get a fix on any terminal through a Weightless base station to within 100m or so.

How can commercial companies use this technology?

 The real low hanging fruit is logistics, that is asset tracking whilst in transit outdoor.  There is a trial that is being carried in Cambridge,  over the summer holidays in which we have fitted our terminals into a local company’s trucks to demonstrate that we can accurately monitor their location with Weightless base stations.

Can you explain further the statement of “Internet of Everything”?

 Internet of everything rules nothing out and this has started with Neul’s roll out of fixed broad band communication in the US, and the major paradigm change for people would be with M2M internet of things unlocked by this revolution in the core technology via the ability to fit these very low cost, long battery life devices into everything.

Alongside with asset tracking there are thousands of industries that can use this connectivity.  Smart Cities with a parking lot, smart traffic with a  real time view of traffic and smart pollution monitoring to get a real time view of  where there is a problem.

Another application would be in disaster monitoring where an immediate real time assessment is priority. Our sensors can be dropped from the air via helicopter and have them give an instantaneous, real time view of key factors such as, temperature, flooding water levels and radiation.

And finally, the ageing society in the West is a great theme.  Neul’s high quality communication devices can be easily and cheaply embedded into home medical devices to help monitor sick people in the safety of their homes.

Effectively what we do is to democratise the availability to communications.

What about competitors?  Would you see Microsoft as a direct competitor?

 There is no other company doing exactly the same thing as Neul and on that basis there are no direct competitors.  Microsoft is not a competitor but seen as an enabler particularly through their “Geo Location  database” applicability.

Microsoft do take to a longer term view of how standards evolve and will tend to back standards that are intrinsic to enabling more connectivity.  Therefore Microsoft would view white space as a core enabler for more communications and therefore more value added to whom they are selling to.

In conclusion 2G and 3G are not sustainable for the M2M arena. White space offers the platform for Neul and Weightless to succeed.

Smart City – A Dream Turning into Reality in the UK

There have been various futuristic authors that have highlighted the advent of the Internet of Things in a world where computers and sensors would be embedded in every thing, be able to “talk” to each other in self-adapting networks and do useful tasks without human intervention. But it seems now that this dream is becoming reality.

To facilitate this massive task there have been a number of initiatives in place. An example of such an initiative has been driven by The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), working on creating open standards for M2M communications in advance of the European Smart Metering Mandate M/441. This mandate requires the installation of millions of communicating meters for electricity, gas, water, and heat over the coming years, followed by the development of Smart Grid applications.

 In October 2012, ETSI’s M2M Technical Committee will be releasing an M2M software standard that can support multiple vertical M2M applications. And in the UK, the Technology Strategy Board announced a £5m Internet of Things initiative beginning with a series of workshops and the launch of a Special Interest Group this summer.

 This will be followed by investments in feasibility studies, research and development projects and pilots, coinciding with the release of the ETSI M2M standard. However these ongoing initiatives would be of little benefit if the practical applications are not secure, be power super efficient and not overwhelm the existing networks by constantly reporting their status.

But it seems that Neul, a Cambridge based company has ticked all the requirements for a practical rollout of M2M implementation using “White Space” digital TV spectrum. With Cambridge as its “Test City” it seems that Neul is well ahead of its competitors which in turn has prompted the UK government to urge local authorities to submit blueprints for turning their cities into “smart cities” by integrating transport, communications and other city infrastructure, for the chance to win £24 million of government investment.

.The Future Cities Demonstrator programme, run by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), aims to kickstart the market for integrated city systems, which is estimated to be worth £200 billion a year by 2030. The government has already lent its support to smart city schemes driven by Intel and Living PlanIT, but this is the first time it will offer financial support for such a project.

Local governments and local authorities are being invited to bid for one of twenty £50,000 grants to carry out a feasibility study to develop their demonstrator project proposal. The cities that complete the feasibility study will then be invited to submit a proposal for the large scale demonstrator, and one successful city will be awarded £24 million funding to implement their proposal

Cambridge (UK), Smart City and Neul

Introduction

In April this year Neul, the wireless pioneer  announced the deployment of the world’s first city-wide, fully functional wireless network in white space which would enable a whole host of smart city applications in Cambridge.

This was in collaboration with BGlobal in which they show cased the first ever smart electricity meter reading over a white space network. This was the initial step towards smart grids facilitating electricity supply to be more efficiently matched to real time demand.

Along side to this Neul’s network opens up a number of fascinating possibilities like smarter transport and traffic management, city lighting and other municipal services. The city of the future is being delivered through a new wireless standard called ‘Weightless’ specifically designed for embedding in electricity and gas meters, air quality sensors, recycling points, street lighting, parking spaces and traffic lights.

What is White Space?

What is White Space? White space is the unused and underused parts of the wireless spectrum which were originally used by TV channels and are left vacant in most locations. Neul’s technology opens up these channels and will also allow underused frequencies within other UHF licensed and unlicensed bands to be used efficiently for wireless communication.

Neul’s network is built on the successful completion of the first phase of the Cambridge White Space Consortium’s network. The consortium’s phase one network used Neul’s equipment and cloud interface, together with the Weightless communications standard, which has prove that its white space network co-exists perfectly with televisions and wireless microphones without causing interference or disruption. It is anticipated now that the full roll out scheduled of this technology is 2013 which would make Cambridge the first smart city in the world.

Glenn Collinson, co-founder and director at Neul, said: “In a world of smart phones and mobile broadband it is easy to imagine that wireless connectivity has now been solved.

It hasn’t. Mobile broadband is too expensive for ‘things’ in the smart city. Also mobile broadband means battery powered devices would need changing far too often. And all those sensors would load the cellular networks to such a level that there would be little network capacity left.

Mobile networks are great for people but terrible for machines. At Neul we have demonstrated that the smart city can happen now through Weightless.”

Backing of Ofcom

Ofcomm has backed the technological and regulatory push for mass white space implementation in the UK. It stated that;

What the industry requires now is a ‘kick start’ of rapid regulatory turnaround for the common good, rapid occupation of the spectrum, and deployment of machine-to-machine white space standards and technology to demonstrate use cases.”

Ofcom CEO, Ed Richards told a EU Policy debate in Brussels that white space was now a priority for Ofcom. He stressed the importance of moving regulation to a point where companies can occupy the spectrum as a means of demonstrating the worth of dynamic spectrum access, and of propelling the industry forwards.

Alongside this backing Weightless who is steering the machine to machine communication standard for the white space spectrum is signing up members and has the innovation that regulators are seeking to stimulate momentum in delivery of white space solutions. Weightless expects to see white space M2M standards and network infrastructure in place by 2013, if not the end of 2012.

Building an Internet of Things with 50 Billion Devices

Pervasive, ubiquitous computing is a trend that is catalysing technologists worldwide to realise this vision. In order for this vision to become to full fruition a number of underlying technologies need to work in harmony. Consider this quote:

The number of devices connected to and by the Internet is expected to range between 16 and 50 billion in 2020, depending on the definition of ‘device’ that is retained. Fleet and freight management, security/surveillance, transport and mobility, vending/payment terminals, smart metering and grids, industrial processes, etc. are all areas where connected devices will help to improve standards of living and provide new solutions for enabling the enterprise of tomorrow and for addressing global challenges.

Gérald Santucci, DG INFSO, Head of unit: Networked Enterprise and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Building the Internet of Things

As I mentioned in my last post, startup Neul is pushing ahead with M2M communications, enabling connectivity between devices over cellular or satellite networks with a new, open M2M communications standard entitled “Weightless” to harmonise connectivity of devices. M2M communication is essentially a subset of IoT, where active communication devices are set to transmit data over a network. The concept is now being leveraged to connect all devices, regardless if they are communication devices or not. The technologies used alongside M2M communications to push IoT forward include sensors, intelligent networks, RFID, and cloud computing, with the aim of reaching true ubiquity.

And with new technologies comes new business models; with the advent of Web 2.0 and relevant technologies, the pressure to expand the customer base is constantly increasing. Most companies providing Web-based services are looking at a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach, which would allow IoT to open up a new path for service providers to collate separate solutions and design a system that can reach a wider range of consumers.

With the development of IoT, countries and organisations will need to be environmentally aware in a world where energy consumption is one of the most important global concerns in today’s world. The consumption of natural resources needs to be kept in check to step closer to a greener future. IoT enables energy and resource conservation in many ways. With sensors to monitor each and every device in the world, a significant amount of detailed information on energy consumption in various applications can be collected. Necessary steps can be taken to regulate resource usage based on this information. Hence IoT is expected to work at a global level in reducing the depletion of natural energy resources. Of course, in order for this to be practical, sensing elements designed with smaller footprints is an essential requirement. With the advent of nano-technology this need is being fulfilled.

Key Challenges to a Pervasive Future

Alongside key industry drivers, there are a number of steep challenges facing IoT. As IoT evolves, the convergence of a wide variety of technologies from sensors to semantics, and from RFID to cloud computing, the resultant system becomes heterogeneous in nature. All these devices and technologies need to be managed effectively in order to ensure maximum performance and reliability is achieved. However the vastness of these connected devices makes IoT a complex architecture. Advanced network management technologies, such as distributed repositories, self healing networks and managed services are being researched in order to address this change.

It is also predicted that the number of devices connected over the Internet would be so large that the existing networking infrastructure may be inadequate to handle the load. Further, there would be issues in creating address spaces for all the devices that are connected. The huge amount of data that is expected to flow from these devices may also cause a strain on the current networking infrastructure. However, with advances in wireless technologies and cellular infrastructure, this challenge may be problematic in the long term (5-7 years).

With the mobility of the larger number of connected ‘things’, a significant number of security concerns arise. Although security issues in networking infrastructure have been largely addressed over the years, issues still remain in other technologies, such as cloud computing, where a large amount of data is collected and stored from billions of devices. The heterogeneity of the entire system further complicates security concerns, as certain devices may require a higher degree of encryption than others. Privacy needs to be maintained in human-device interaction and the confidentiality of shared organisational data must be protected. Technologies revolving around access control and restricted use of data are being utilised to solve this problem.

The idea of being ubiquitously connected through every device may sound appealing to a small group of people; however, the masses are still sceptical about the practicality of IoT. Socially it is still unacceptable to large groups of people that everything in their surrounding should be connected. Several educational approaches are being considered in order to publicise the benefits of IoT to society at large. This challenge is also linked to the technical challenge of privacy issues. Once the privacy and anonymity challenges are addressed the technical advances, such as access control and encryption, it may be easier to ensure wider social acceptance of IoT.