Team AkzoNobel has partnered with SAP aimed at helping the sailors to optimize their performance using IoT provided by the SAP Leonardo IoT Edge technology to track their fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing.
How do you gain a competitive advantage in one of the world’s toughest ocean races when every team uses the same race yacht? While information relating to weather and other conditions is useful, for most teams the advantage stems from improving team performance.
Team AkzoNobel has partnered with SAP as part of an innovation project aimed at helping the sailors to optimize their performance. Using the edge computing for the Internet of Things (IoT) provided by the SAP Leonardo IoT Edge technology, the research project enables team AkzoNobel to track the sailors’ fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing. Fully approved by the race organizers and available to all competing teams, the innovative system is being used for the first time in professional sailing.
“So far, aspects like the weather and the ideal route used to be the main focus areas. The technology provided by SAP gives us a tool that helps us to get the best performance from the crew,” said Simeon Tienpont, team AkzoNobel’s skipper. “These technological innovations will help push the boundaries of our sport and can finally make the difference.”
As physical and mental exhaustion pose the biggest threats to crews during the eight-month race, SAP has equipped all nine crew members of team AkzoNobel with sensors to capture biometric data. Worn at all times during the race, the data collected by the sensors provides valuable insights into aspects like fatigue, exhaustion, reaction to weather conditions, and stress levels. In addition, the biometric edge solution – which has access to the same information that the navigator has on board the Volvo Ocean 65 race boat – helps to interpret the biometric measurement data.
Biometric data can be collected and analysed by the crew on board during the entire race to give team AkzoNobel unprecedented insight into the crew’s fitness and recovery data. The output is presented in a specifically designed user interface for the skipper.
A part of the SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, SAP Leonardo IoT Edge is being used to capture the biometric data of the crew at sea. IoT-edge computing describes the capability of processing, storing and analysing sensor data without an Internet or other data connection. 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. Based on the data collected at sea, the predictive analytics results provided to the crew supports team AkzoNobel’s skipper’s preparation for the next leg of the race.
According to Adriana Marais, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa, exponential technologies such as IoT and predictive analytics can add value to nearly every industry when integrated with the cloud-based digital innovation system SAP Leonardo. “Biometric data is transforming the way we do things, from the world of international yacht racing, to the remote delivery of healthcare services in rural areas, to monitoring the health of astronauts in the International Space Station. This project 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. At SAP we are passionate about making people’s lives better, and our technology enables improved insights from the acquisition and analytics of data that can enhance performance, or even boost longevity.”
Smart home arrives in SA
The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.
The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.
The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.
The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.
The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.
My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.
Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.
Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?
These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.
Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.
Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.
Matrics must prepare for AI
By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.
Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.
With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.
Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.
Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist.
So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?
For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.
In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.
This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.
In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.
As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.
This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.
The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.