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How biometrics changed the Volvo Ocean Race

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Biometric data is transforming the way we do things and the world of international yacht racing is only the next step, says TIANA CLINE.

As a digital innovation system, SAP Leonardo has shown its proficiency in a number of sectors. From retail to farming, sports and manufacturing, Leonardo’s ability to integrate and combine relatively new technologies – such as machine learning, analytics, blockchain technology, the Internet of Things – on the SAP Cloud Platform is unmatched.

More recently, team AkzoNobel – a brand-new Dutch ocean racing team backed by a leading global paints and coatings company of the same name – teamed up with SAP Leonardo to take advantage of these future-forward technologies for this year’s Volvo Ocean Race, a gruelling and exhilarating eight-month global sporting event like no other.

Physical and mental exhaustion can become the biggest threats to an (otherwise very capable) crew. With the assistance of SAP Leonardo, team AkzoNobel will be benefitting from far more than weather updates and route suggestions – Leonardo delivers on improving team performance, bringing both biometrics and data science into the equation.

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In the broader context of digital innovation, it has quickly become clear that technologies like IoT, analytics and data science need to work together. For the first time in professional sailing – and fully approved by the race organisers as no data is allowed to go to or leave a yacht during the race – team AkzoNobel use SAP Leonardo IoT Dynamic Edge technology on-boat and SAP Cloud Platform off-shore. The research project enables team AkzoNobel to track the sailors’ fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing… and it’s available to all competing teams.

“This is a particularly exciting implementation of IoT,” explains Dr Adriana Marais, head of innovation at SAP Africa. “Here, the devices are the wrist wearables and the technology is the Edge device… this project truly shows how data acquired by connected sensors, coupled with machine learning and predictive analytics, can enable even the largely analogue world of international yacht racing to run digital.”

SAP has equipped all nine crew members of team AkzoNobel with sensors to capture biometric data which can be collected and analysed by the crew on board during the race to give team AkzoNobel insight into the crew’s fitness and recovery data. The output is presented in a specifically designed user interface for the skipper.

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Ryan West, who looks after the technology on board, says that it’s a work in progress:

“Every bit of it that essentially is taking information from the wearable transmit box that’s on board and inside the Raspberry Pi. There’s software on it and it can do calculations, but there’s no connectivity – we want to be 100% compliant.”

Essentially, it’s about the data.

“There’s a little bit of processing and then it sends out information so the AzkoNobel sails can see and make decisions for themselves. The biggest thing is that we’re trying to provide them with information which will make it easier,” he adds.

The biometric edge solution helps to interpret the biometric measurement data. And once the boats arrive at each of the 12 stopovers, predictive and machine learning analytics are run on SAP Cloud Platform using SAP Leonardo IoT Foundation.

The data processing software was tested from Lisbon to Cape Town – the team analysed the data, made changes and now they’re looking to build upon the steps they’ve already taken.

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“We’re very much building as we go but we’re getting good clean data and from there we’re just continuing to build on it. Our main thing is making whatever we do useful,” he adds.

SAP Leonardo delivers new capabilities in future-forward technologies, which add tremendous value pushing the boundaries of racing as a professional sport. Dr Marais points out that this kind of technology will also have relevant applications in Africa, from remote healthcare services to telemedicine.

“This is a new application of the technology in a harsh environment. We are excited about collecting the data, and analysing it, to hopefully increase performance.”

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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