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Drone given first beyond-line-of-sight approval in SA

The South African Civil Aviation Authority has granted a drone company permission to conduct long-range commercial flights with vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

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The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has granted the first “Beyond-visual-line-of-sight” (BVLOS) flight approval for a drone.

United Drone Holdings (UDH) has been granted BVLOS flight approval to conduct long-range commercial flights with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

The SACAA’s approval for the flight was granted based on the utilisation of the Iris Automation Casia onboard detect-and-avoid system. The system was demonstrated during live flight operations that included the Casia system making automated manoeuvres to avoid collisions with manned aircraft. The approval from the SACAA requires no visual observers or ground-based radars, enabling BVLOS flights with only two crew members.  

Iris Automation unlocks commercial drone operations by enabling Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to fly BVLOS. The Iris Automation Casia system is a plug-and-play turnkey solution that detects, tracks and classifies other aircraft and makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the drone. It then triggers automated manoeuvres to avoid collisions, and alerts the pilot on the ground in command of the mission. The industry-leading collision avoidance system helps drones see and react to the world in the same way pilots do. 

“I’m proud to see that our Casia system has been validated once again by gaining BVLOS approval from the regulator in South Africa, which comes in addition to the multiple permissions our technology has already received in the United States,” said Iris Automation CEO Alexander Harmsen. “Iris Automation currently has customers operating in a dozen countries around the world and we continue to work closely with global regulators both directly and through our customers.” 

UDH utilizes drones to conduct long-range infrastructure inspection, mapping and surveillance for customers throughout South Africa. The company also provides certified training, SACAA-approved operations, equipment supply and hosts one of Africa’s largest drone conferences.

“Iris Automation’s Casia detect-and-avoid system is a game-changer for this industry and enables countless commercial opportunities,” said United Drone Holdings CEO Sean Reitz. “I set out to find a solution that regulators trusted and that was also light and practical enough for everyday use. Being able to comply with the strict regulations put in place by the South African Civil Aviation Authority and unlocking BVLOS has allowed us to conduct daily missions.” 

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Alexa can now read all messages

For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving

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For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too. 

“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.” 

ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.

“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO. 

Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging. 

“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.” 

Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.

All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.

*For more information, visit www.pingloud.com

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Coronavirus to hit 5G

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Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”

Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)20192020
5G19199
Rest of Market13941165
Total14131364
 
Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)20192020
5G1%15%
Rest of Market99%85%
Total100%100%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/wep83gc.

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