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CES: Honda intros augmented driving

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At CES in Las Vegas next week, Honda will feature global debuts of concepts that integrate connected, autonomous, shared, and electric (CASE) technologies into new mobility products and services. The exhibit will highlight the company’s continued evolution of Safe Swarm, the V2X connected safety system currently testing on U.S. Route 33 in Ohio. 

Honda will feature the following technology concepts and prototypes at CES 2020.

 Augmented Driving Concept
Honda will introduce its Augmented Driving Concept to address the cultural transition to autonomous vehicles. In the autonomous future, Honda believes that customers will be able to enjoy mobility in new ways when freed from the responsibility of driving. At the same time, customers may still want to experience the emotion and thrill of driving.

Honda’s Augmented Driving Concept features a seamless transition from autonomous to semi-autonomous driving operation. To respond quickly to the user’s curiosity, the autonomous driving system is constantly on standby, ready to intervene and control the vehicle when needed. The driving system changes between automatic and manual mode with a switch, and features more than eight modes between fully autonomous and semi-autonomous operation. Various sensors in the vehicle continuously read the user’s intention to smoothly shift between these modes, creating an instinctive driving experience. 

With its reinvented steering wheel, Honda’s Augmented Driving Concept offers new types of driving experiences. By patting the steering wheel twice, the vehicle will start. Pull the steering wheel and the vehicle will slow down; push the steering wheel and the vehicle will accelerate. CES attendees can experience a simulated demonstration of the Augmented Driving Concept.

Future Honda Mobility VR Experience
Honda will preview a mobility ecosystem forecast for the year 2035 and beyond with fully autonomous vehicles, shared autonomous mobility, and an aerial mobility infrastructure. In the Future Honda Mobility VR demonstration, CES attendees can experience a journey through the urban future with a V2X system safely navigating the drive, encounter an Autonomous Shared Mobility Pod, and take flight in a personal vertical takeoff & landing (VTOL) vehicle. 

Honda Xcelerator Collaborations
Honda Xcelerator, a global open innovation program from Honda Innovations, will debut collaborations at CES 2020 with startups focused on augmenting human capabilities and devices that enhance workplace ergonomics for the manufacturing environment. Honda Xcelerator also will showcase soon-to-be commercialized technologies based on successful collaborations with Drivemode, a startup that develops and operates smartphone-based connected services, and SoundHound Inc., the leading innovator in voice-enabled AI and conversational intelligence technologies.

Industrial Innovation Pavilion
Exploring new areas beyond the traditional themes of CES, Honda Xcelerator will feature four startup partners that seek to transform the manufacturing environment. In collaboration with startups Monolith AI, noonee, Skelex, and UVeye, Honda Xcelerator’s Industrial Innovation Pavilion will offer demos ranging from ergonomic devices designed to reduce risk of repetitive strain injuries on an assembly line to an AI-powered inspection technology that will dramatically change how the auto industry approaches quality-control. 

“Smartphone as Brain” with Drivemode
Honda and Drivemode jointly developed “Smartphone as Brain” technology, which provides a safe and convenient way for drivers or motorcycle riders to integrate their smartphones into the driving and riding experience while minimizing distraction. For instance, riders can connect their smartphone and motorcycle by Bluetooth, enabling them to control their smartphone either using switches on the steering handles or voice recognition. Honda acquired Drivemode in October 2019, and will demonstrate Smartphone as Brain technology at CES. 

Honda Personal Assistant Technology with SoundHound Inc.
Honda and SoundHound Inc. have developed a voice-enabled AI conversational assistant – Honda Personal Assistant – to support drivers and enable a comfortable mobility experience. SoundHound Inc.’s Houndify voice AI platform includes patented Speech-to-Meaning™ and Deep Meaning Understanding™ technologies to deliver unprecedented speed and accuracy in voice recognition and responses, and an ability to understand context, such as the user’s location or previous queries, to support natural interactions. Using the custom wake word “OK Honda,” Honda Personal Assistant connects people with their mobility products and realizes a seamless world where various functions are controlled by voice only.

Progress Toward Real-world Applications
Honda will show advancements in the following technology prototypes as the company works toward real-world applications and commercialization. 

Honda Energy Management Concept
Honda is creating convenient renewable energy solutions that will be on display in its Energy

Management Concept. The exhibit demonstrates Honda’s vision for when people have 24/7 access to renewable energy that can be used anytime and anywhere with complete confidence. 

The company has been developing the Honda Mobile Power Pack, a portable, swappable, rechargeable battery that has an output of 1kWh or more. When multiple Honda Mobile Power Packs are used simultaneously, they can power electric motorcycles, small-sized electric mobility products, and even become a stable supply of electricity in people’s homes. 

The Honda Energy Management Concept also will feature the U.S. debut of Honda’s EV personal mobility concept named ESMO (Electric Smart Mobility).

SAFE SWARM™ and “Smart Intersection”
Honda has been preparing infrastructure for the connected autonomous future and will show the progress of its Honda SAFE SWARM™ and “Smart Intersection” prototype safety system. Using V2X technology, Honda SAFE SWARM™ allows vehicles to communicate with surrounding vehicles and share key information such as location and speed. With this information, along with the sensor suite on the vehicle, the driver or automated vehicle systems can determine the safest course of action to prevent collisions and reduce traffic congestion. Over the past year, Honda has been evaluating SAFE SWARM™ in a real-world environment on the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor near the Honda R&D centre in Ohio, and will show its progress in developing merge assist and lane optimization technologies. 

Additionally, Honda will show a red light runner detection scenario of its “Smart Intersection” technology, which is currently being tested in a real-world environment in Marysville, Ohio. Traffic collisions at roadway intersections account for roughly 40 percent of all collisions and 20 percent of the nearly 35,000 traffic-related deaths in the U.S. each year. The “Smart Intersection” technology utilizes Honda’s proprietary object recognition software in conjunction with intersection-mounted cameras and V2X communications. This enables cars to virtually see through and around buildings and walls in nearly all weather conditions to help identify and alert drivers to otherwise hidden hazards.

CES attendees can experience demonstrations and simulations of technology concepts at Honda’s booth #7900 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center from 7 to 10 January 2020.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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