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Dell unveils IoT strategy

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Dell Technologies has unveiled its Internet of Things (IoT) vision and strategy, a new IoT division as well as new IoT specific products, labs, partner program and consumption models.

The company says the announcement underscores Dell Technologies’ commitment to helping customers realise their digital future by safely navigating the complex and often fragmented IoT landscape.

Dell Technologies provided the following information:

As more and more customers look to digitally transform their business, a new model of computing is emerging. For the last 15 years the IT industry has seen the rise of Cloud Computing, a highly centralised model for delivering IT services.  But in an age where every type of device, from phones to cars to light bulbs to thermostats to heart monitors are alive and intelligent, there is a requirement for distributed, real time, processing of information. These devices simply cannot wait for a response from centralised cloud infrastructure that may be ‘seconds’ away.

“IoT is fundamentally changing how we live, how organisations operate and how the world works” said Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Technologies. “Dell Technologies is leading the way for our customers with a new distributed computing architecture that brings IoT and artificial intelligence together in one, interdependent ecosystem from the edge to the core to the cloud. The implications for our global society will be nothing short of profound.”

Customers have expressed a growing need for one company to pull together complete IoT solutions that can be deployed within their organisations. Dell Technologies’ comprehensive approach to IoT is based on market leading technology and services and a carefully curated partner ecosystem designed to realise value for customers today and prepare them for the future.

New Dell Technologies IoT Division

The company’s new IoT Division will be led by VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell, and is chartered with orchestrating the development of IoT products and services across the Dell Technologies family. The IoT Solutions Division will combine internally developed technologies with offerings from the vast Dell Technologies ecosystem to deliver complete solutions for the customer.

“Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market” explained Ray O’Farrell, VMware EVP & CTO, and general manager for Dell Technologies IoT division.. “

“Our new IoT Division will leverage the strength across all of Dell Technologies family of businesses to ensure we deliver the right solution – in combination with our vast partner ecosystem – to meet customer needs and help them deploy integrated IoT systems with greater ease.”

Organic Investments in our IoT Future – Products, Labs, Partner Program

Over the next three years, Dell Technologies is investing $1B in new IoT products, solutions, labs, partner program and ecosystem.

Today Dell Technologies already provides Edge Gateways, which can be secured and managed by VMware IoT Control Center.  Dell EMC PowerEdge C-Series servers have been enhanced for batch training and machine learning as a part of the distributed core. Dell EMC Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage provide file and object storage for massive amounts of data and enable analytics through HDFS. Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) and Pivotal Container Service (PKS) provide an ideal platform for developing new cloud-based analytics applications.  Virtustream’s PCF Service provides a managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry Service simplifying the deployment and operation of mission-critical cloud architected workloads in Virtustream Enterprise Cloud, while Virtustream Storage Cloud is available for off-premises cloud object storage. Finally, Dell Boomi rapidly connects relevant data to enhance cloud-based analytics and deep learning.

New product development initiatives include:

  • Dell EMC ‘Project Nautilus’: Software that enables the ingestion and querying of data streams from IoT gateways in real time.  Data can subsequently be archived to file or object storage for deeper advanced analytics;
  • ‘Project Fire’: a hyper converged platform part of the VMware Pulse family of IoT solutions that includes simplified management, local compute, storage and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. ‘Project Fire’ enables businesses to roll-out IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud;
  • RSA ‘Project IRIS’: Currently under development in RSA Labs, Iris extends the Security Analytics capability to provide threat visibility and monitoring right out to the edge;
  • Disruptive technologies like processor accelerators will increase the velocity of analytics closer to the edge. Collaboration with industry leaders like VMware, Intel and NVIDIA and the Dell Technologies Capital investment in Graphcore reflect opportunities to optimise servers for AI, machine learning and deep learning performance.

Customers can also now visit one of the newly designed Dell Technologies IoT Labs.

New IoT services initiatives include:

  • Advisory services including strategic consulting to set business goals, direction and strategy, infrastructure design, deployment and support services.
  • Implementation of ‘Worldwide Herd’, consulting services for performing analytics on geographically dispersed data – increasingly important to enable deep learning on datasets that cannot be moved for reasons of size, privacy and regulatory concern.

In addition, with the core focus on technology and services, Dell Technologies’ strategy is to grow the IoT footprint via a strong partner program and ecosystem.

  • Dell’s award-winning IoT Solutions Partner Program is a carefully curated, multi-tiered program comprising more than 90 partners from enterprises like Intel, Microsoft and SAP to start-ups like Action Point, IMS Evolve, FogHorn and Zingbox.
  • The program will now support partners across all Dell Technologies businesses, allowing for easier collaboration and implementation of blueprints.
  • An example of the partner ecosystem at work is the recent announcement that VMware and SAP are collaborating to create an integrated solution for IoT analytics and vertical applications. The solution utilises VMware Pulse IoT Center, SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo and is designed to help customers roll out IoT use cases faster and scale more easily.

Dell Technologies continues the commitment to openness and standardisation in IoT by participation in efforts such as EdgeX Foundry, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium. Seeded by Dell source code, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing. Since launching in April 2017, EdgeX Foundry has grown to more than 60 member organisations. Recently the project announced its first major milestone with the ‘Barcelona’ code release, as well as an alliance with the IIC to collaborate on testbeds.

IoT is creating new revenue models for customers and, in turn, new financing options. Dell Technologies provides customers with cloud-like payment flexibility through Dell Financial Services flexible consumption models. These payment solutions are available across the Dell Technologies family of business and allow customers flexibility in technology acquisition and consumption.

Investments in IoT Future through Dell Technologies Capital

Dell Technologies Capital, the venture arm of Dell Technologies, is partnering closely with the new IoT division, providing industry insight and relationships to support its strategic agenda. Through its investments in promising startups and founders, Dell Technologies Capital provides a valuable link to the external innovation ecosystem, effectively accelerating the development and deployment of new IoT, AI and ML technologies and solutions. Dell Technologies Capital will be showcasing some of these startups and investments at the company’s New York IQT event, including:

  • Edico Genome, creator of world’s first processor designed to analyse next-generation sequencing data
  • FogHorn Systems, a leading developer of edge-device intelligence software for IoT solutions
  • Graphcore, a developer of next-generation processors optimised to accelerate AI-solutions
  • Moogsoft, a market leader in applying Artificial Intelligence to IT Ops (AIOps)
  • Zingbox, a developer of IoT security solutions to enable the Internet of Trusted Things

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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