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Vox, Sqwidnet, partner for IoT

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Vox has partnered with local network provider Sqwidnet, to provide individual consumers and enterprise customers with connectivity, data analytics and reporting for Internet of Things (IoT) applications in the near future

ICT and connectivity provider Vox has partnered with local network provider Sqwidnet to provide individual consumers and enterprise customers with connectivity, data analytics and reporting for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

An IoT network consists of three parts: the devices that collect information, the network that connects everything, and the data analytics capabilities that allow companies to turn the volumes of data into actionable business intelligence.

“One of the reasons we partnered with Sqwidnet is that they are the sole Sigfox operator in South Africa. As an international IoT network with a presence in over 30 countries, using Sigfox means that you can use compliant devices on their network across the country and beyond,” says Vox CEO, Jacques du Toit.

Sqwidnet plans to have nationwide IoT network coverage by 2018, allowing for millions of sensors and devices across the country to transmit data to a centralised location for analysis, immediate action, and record keeping.

Vox’s integration and consultancy subsidiary, Braintree, will be used to provide customers with analytical capabilities, reporting, and dashboards to monitor and manage their IoT networks.

While the simpler consumer model will enable individuals to purchase compliant devices and register them via Vox in order to get notifications, enterprise customers stand to benefit from custom built solutions with specialised notifications, reporting, dashboards, workflows, and other advanced features.

IoT market growth

Research by Africa Analysis shows that the IoT market is a growing segment in the local ICT industry, with the South African market being valued at $485-million – accounting for approximately 25% of total revenue in Africa – and projected to grow by 9% per annum by 2022.

One of the main contributors to this growth being a significant decline in the prices of the chips that power these IoT devices, with prices having fallen from over $9 in 2016 to an expected price of 20c by 2018. Usage of narrow-band communication over a low-power wide area network brings down energy consumption on connected devices, further bringing down costs and broadening access to IoT technology.

However, unlike developed countries where there has been a huge focus on smart home and smart city deployments, users in South Africa are looking for cost savings and adding value, and the increasing trend is to leverage IoT applications for agriculture, utilities and manufacturing and industrial processes.

Vox is in discussions with a wide variety of industry players over enterprise IoT applications, with examples including a smart geyser application for the insurance industry that enables remote monitoring and preventative maintenance.

“IoT is going to provide a huge area for growth in South Africa, especially in the area of integration. The network and devices are going to accrue for a small percentage of revenue generated from IoT; the value is in the integration and the analytics that we get out of all the data being collected – and that’s where Vox comes in,” says Du Toit.

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Apple buys Shazam, plans to make it ad-free

Apple has announced it has completed its acquisition of Shazam, one of the world’s most popular music apps, with hundreds of millions of users.

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Apple has announced it has completed its acquisition of Shazam, one of the world’s most popular music apps, with hundreds of millions of users.

“Apple and Shazam have a long history together. Shazam was one of the first apps available when we launched the App Store and has become a favorite app for music fans everywhere,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music. “With a shared love of music and innovation, we are thrilled to bring our teams together to provide users even more great ways to discover, experience and enjoy music.”

Shazam lets users identify songs simply by listening to the music playing around them. The app will soon offer its experience ad-free for all users so everyone can enjoy the best of Shazam without interruption.

Shazam has been downloaded over 1 billion times around the world, and users identify songs using the Shazam app over 20 million times each day. With pioneering innovation in music identification, Shazam helps people discover, interact with and share video, audio or printed content across devices and mediums — and allows music fans to follow their favorite artists and share in the thrill of discovery.

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Cars will run on Android

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Google have announced a technology partnership to embed the Android operating system in vehicles sold by the world’s leading automotive alliance, providing intelligent infotainment and customer focused-applications across multiple models and brands, scheduled to start in 2021. 

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Under the technology partnership, vehicles sold by the Alliance members in many markets will utilize Android, the world’s most popular operating system, and will provide turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps, access to a rich ecosystem of automotive apps on the Google Play Store and have the ability to answer calls and texts, control media, find information, and manage vehicle functions with voice using the built in Google Assistant.

The Alliance, whose member companies last year sold 10.6 million vehicles in 200 markets, will integrate Google applications and services into infotainment and cloud-based systems to enhance the experience for customers of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors brands. While a range of Alliance vehicles will share the Android platform, each brand will have flexibility to create a unique customer interface and specific features on top of the common Android platform.

The infotainment partnership forms part of Alliance moves to equip more vehicles with connectivity and cloud-based services as part of its Alliance 2022 mid-term plan. Today’s announcement, coinciding with the first anniversary of the mid-term plan, symbolizes the Alliance focus on next generation technology. Under the plan, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is targeting increased sales of more than 14 million units a year by the end of 2022.

The plan also involves the launch of 12 new zero-emission electric vehicles, new autonomous-driving technologies and the ongoing rollout of the Alliance Intelligent Cloud.

The Alliance Intelligent Cloud will provide next-generation infotainment systems with secure connectivity by offering a platform to integrate data management, infotainment systems and to facilitate over-the- air upgrades and remote diagnostics in Alliance member-company vehicles.

By combining the latest technologies from the Alliance and Google, the Alliance member companies’ vehicles will have one of the most intelligent infotainment systems in the market.

Drivers and passengers will be able to leverage Google and Android’s capabilities to access an ecosystem that includes thousands of existing applications and an ever-expanding array of new apps. This integration, combined with the broad knowledge and a vibrant community of developers, will enable easy in-vehicle access to popular applications. The system will also be compatible with devices running other operating systems, such as Apple iOS.

Hadi Zablit, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said, “Our partnership with Google will offer owners of our vehicles rich user experiences that are currently available only outside the vehicle or, to a limited extent, by connecting an Android device to supported vehicles. We are building powerful connected and seamless on-board / off-board experiences into our vehicles in addition to the features of Google applications and services that many users are accustomed to, including Google Maps, the Google Assistant and the Google Play Store.”

Kal Mos, Global Vice President of Alliance Connected Vehicles at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, added, “With the integration of the Android platform into our infotainment systems, we are adding a new level of intelligence to our connected vehicles. In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free. With Google Maps and the Google Assistant embedded in Alliance infotainment systems, our customers will have some of the most advanced AI based applications at their fingertips. And with invehicle access to the Google Play Store, our customers will enjoy an open and secure ecosystem of Android apps engineered for vehicles.”

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems at Google, said, “Google and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi share a common vision of delivering an intelligent, safe and seamless incar experience with apps and services that are familiar, upgradable and connected. We’re thrilled to partner with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to bring the Google Assistant, Google Maps, and other popular apps via the Play Store and Android to drivers and passengers around the world.”

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