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CES 2016: Samsung, YouTube, Fitbit take stage

Keynotes from the top executives at FitBit, NBCUniversal, Samsung and YouTube, along with tech policy sessions and top product awards rounded out Day Two and Three of CES 2016 last week.

Thursday morning kicked off with a keynote address from WP Hong, president of Solution Business Unit, Samsung SDS. During his address, Hong stated that the Internet of Things (IoT) is already here, but many companies need to collaborate to make it work. Samsung is laboring to ensure all of the devices the company produces connect to the Internet. The company is building IoT innovation that is in-sync with people’s daily lives by offering a new category of IoT home appliances that connect families and make life easier. Samsung showed its home appliance connected line including the Family Hub Refrigerator and the FlexDuo stove with Wi-Fi. “The age of the Internet of Things has begun,” Hong said. “It will be a success, but only if we get the fundamentals right: openness, interoperability and close industry collaborations.”

At Thursday’s C Space Keynote, presented by MediaLink, Stephen B. Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, discussed disruptive innovation and its impact on the television industry. Burke noted that television is still making money, but in different ways as revenue streams such as international syndication and subscription video on demand (SVOD) services evolve. “There’s more competition now than ever, which makes it harder to break through and have a TV show that’s a hit. But people watch as much TV today as they ever have. And the vast majority is watched on broadcast or cable.”

Next, a panel of leading media and marketing leaders took the stage to discuss the future of advertising in a mobile era. While television is still important for many brands, it’s only one piece of the marketing mix, according to Allison Lewis, global chief marketing officer for Johnson & Johnson. Mobile advertising platforms offer greater reach and precision, she said, adding that 50 percent of Johnson & Johnson’s web traffic comes from mobile. Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JP Morgan Chase added, “We want the ability to target and more ways to authentically integrate into programming – to get more creative in advertising.”

At Thursday afternoon’s keynote, Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, YouTube, noted that the last time he spoke on the CES keynote stage four years ago, he predicted that 90 percent of all Internet traffic would be video traffic by the year 2020. Cisco data now predicts that video will reach 90 percent of global Internet traffic by 2019, a full year ahead of schedule.

Kyncl discussed the top reasons video will ultimately win the decade, including the quality of video – data speeds are faster, sound is better and screens are bigger – and the increased diversity of content. Kyncl announced that YouTube’s premium subscription service, RED, will begin producing original content to follow suit with Netflix and Amazon. He added that new shows and movies will be available, as well as a music service. Kyncl also announced a partnership with GoPro to create the first commercial 3D/360 camera called Odyssey. Odyssey uses 16 GoPro cameras to capture VR video.

The annual Leaders in Technology (LIT) Dinner took place Thursday evening, honoring the policymakers and technologists that are instrumental in furthering tech innovation. Honored guests and speakers included Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Emmanuel Macron, who noted that France brought a delegation of 190 entrepreneurs and 127 startups to CES 2016, calling them “the face of France.”

Fitbit CEO and Co-Founder James Park delivered the evening’s keynote address as a discussion with CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. Now a global brand providing fitness solutions to consumers around the world, Park noted how far Fitbit and fitness tech have come. “We essentially had to create the health and fitness category in 2009,” said Park. “I remember talking to Best Buy, and they didn’t even have a section to display it.” Fitbit unveiled its Fitbit Blaze at CES Press Day on Tuesday. The smart fitness watch creates a digital health platform – hardware and software – to help people reach their health goals. “People really want to work for a company that is mission-oriented,” Park noted. “And they want to work for a company that has profound benefits in society.”

In addition to powerful keynotes, Day Two and Three of CES 2016 featured compelling SuperSessions, tech policy discussions focused on furthering the next-generation of innovation and awards honoring the hottest products at the show.

During Thursday’s SuperSession: IoT Business Strategies: Partnerships for the Sharing Economy , leading industry service providers and manufacturers stressed the importance of strategic partnerships to accelerate the development of IoT. As an example of a successful partnership between IoT and the sharing economy ecosystem, the panelists pointed to   August Home’s integration with Airbnb, where Airbnb hosts can link their account with a keyless lock. This revolution has driven companies to move toward open source and standards to provide faster and better solutions to consumers.

Thursday’s C Space Storyteller series kicked off with Margo Georgiadis, president, Americas, Google leading an engaged discussion between Time Warner’s CMO Kristen O’Hara and Best Buy’s CMO Greg Revelle where they shared key insights, advising brands on the best ways to win over consumers. Following the “new rules” of marketing in today’s technology-driven, multi-device environment means that brands need to focus on the critical moments when consumers are actually receptive to them. In the following session, Yahoo’s Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Utzschneider led a talk with leading marketing minds from Subaru of America to analyze the intersection of data, content and technology and what that means for today’s consumer.

At the Forecasting the Future of Entrepreneurship SuperSession, Rebecca Jarvis, chief business and economics correspondent for ABC News led a discussion with disruptive innovators, Nick Woodman, founder and CEO, GoPro; Steve Case, chairman and CEO, Revolution and Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder, Slack. The group emphasized the importance of risk taking, strategic partnerships and picking a project you are truly passionate about. When asked about the future of entrepreneurship, they named major sectors such as food, healthcare and real estate, as well as consumer-generated content.

A mix of the world’s top movers and shakers in transportation solutions participated in the panel, Beyond Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Mobility, featuring Dr. Volkmar Denner CEO and CTO, Bosch; Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Department of Transportation; Stephen Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm and Amnon Shashua, co-founder, CTO and chairman, Mobileye. Kent Larson, director, MIT Media Lab Changing Places Group moderated the discussion . With 90 percent of global population growth expected to take place in cities, panelists discussed how shared mobility, big data, practical business models and spectrum will be embedded in the smart cities of the future.

Business leaders and policy operators weighed in on the digital economy during Thursday’s Global Innovation SuperSession , featuring panelists Neelie Kroes, special envoy, StartupDelta; Emmanuel Macron, Minister, French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs; Jeannine Sargent, president, Innovation & New Ventures, Flex and U.S. Senator Mark Warner. Alan Murray, editor, Fortune Magazine, moderated the session, asking panelists a series of questions, including what innovation-friendly environments are needed for businesses to succeed today; what single policies they are most focused on and where they see hope for creative policy making. Sargent noted that entrepreneurs and business people have a responsibility to help their government officials understand and be smart about making policy. For Kroes, she said it’s very important to have a government that doesn’t avoid risk.

It was a packed house for the always popular Last Gadget Standing, presented by Living in Digital Times. Founder of Yahoo Tech David Pogue kicked off the event, which featured 11 companies competing for the top crowd-pleasing gadget. The top two winners were chosen by a live applause meter and selected through an online audience. View the results here.

The Stars of CES Awards, presented by What Hi-Fi?, named the top ten hottest audio products of CES 2016, chosen by Simon Lucas, editor of What Hi-Fi magazine, and Joe Cox, editor of What Hi-Fi.com. The top prizes were awarded to these 10 products.

Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue led an audience through a Friday afternoon of friendly app competition during the Mobile Apps Showdown, presented by Living in Digital Times and sponsored by Lenovo.  More than 100,000 apps were submitted for consideration, with ten finalists selected for the main event and the winner selected by audience applause levels. The apps were designed to improve individual wellness, promote environmental sustainability, support small businesses and care for our pets. Results are available on the Mobile Apps Showdown website.

Friday afternoon’s Extreme Tech Challenge Semi-Finals consisted of 10 semi-finalists, picked by VC judges from a field of over 1,000 companies, pitched to a panel of judges – including CTA’s Shapiro – for a chance to pitch in the final round to Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island. View the results here.

The third day of CES 2016 concluded with Engadget’s presentation of the Best of CES Awards 2016. Pepper the robot co-hosted and introduced the different categories. Winners included:

Best Startup: Owlet

Best Digital Health & Fitness: OhMiBod LovelifeKrush

Best Wearable Technology: Recon Empire EVS

Best Automotive Technology: Chevy Bolt

Best Home Theater Product: Philips’ Fidelio E6

Best Connected Home Product: Cassia Hub

Best Innovation (disruptive tech): VW Budd-e fast charging technology

Best Mobile Device: Huawei Mate 8

Best TV Product: LG Oleg G6

Best Gaming Product: HTC’s Vive Chaperone

Best Offbeat Product: Ehang 184

Best Maker-Friendly Technology: LEGO Education Wedo 2.0

Best PC: Razer Blade Stealth

Best Robots or Drones: Typhoon H

Best of the Best Award : The Chevy Bolt

People’s Choice Award: The Razer Blade Stealth

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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