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Fitbit feels Alta’s pulse

Fitbit has launched the Alta HR, claimed to be the world’s slimmest fitness wristband. It features a continual heart rate monitor, step counter and sleep monitor with silent alarm.

Fitbit has introduced Fitbit Alta HR and new advances in sleep tracking, which it says will provide users with insights and guidance in the Fitbit app to make more informed decisions about their health and stay motivated to reach their wellness goals in style.

“Alta HR and these powerful new sleep features demonstrate our continued focus on evolving our innovative technology to deliver deeper, more actionable insights to help our users improve their health,” says James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “The miniaturisation of our PurePulse heart rate technology opens up exciting opportunities for future generations of devices and new form factors. Our advances in sleep will provide millions of users around the globe accessibility to invaluable insights that previously could be obtained only through expensive lab tests.”

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Fitbit provided the following information:

  • Fitbit Alta HR is the world’s slimmest wrist-based, continuous heart rate tracking device combining the benefits of PurePulse heart rate technology, automatic exercise recognition, sleep tracking, battery life of up to seven days and smart notifications in a slim, versatile design that is easily customized to fit your style. Alta HR is available in retail from April 2017.
  • Sleep Stages utilizes heart rate variability to estimate the amount of time you spend in light, deep and REM sleep, as well as time awake each night, to better understand your sleep quality.
  • Sleep Insights uses the whole of your Fitbit data to provide personalized guidance on how to improve your sleep for better overall health.

Heart Rate and Style in a Sleek Design

Fitbit was able to bring PurePulse, the feature requested most by Fitbit Alta users, to Alta HR by developing a one-of-a-kind chip that reduced the size and number of components needed, achieving a 25% slimmer design than Fitbit Charge 2. The result is a stylish device that offers all-day, continuous heart rate tracking, making it easier for you to make more informed decisions about your health:

  • Better measure calorie burn all day, including during non-step based exercise like yoga and spinning, to help you stay on track toward your health and weight goals by tracking calories in versus burned.
  • See real-time heart zones on your wrist and exercise summaries in the Fitbit app to work out at the right intensity for your health and fitness goals.
  • View resting heart rate on-device and trends in the Fitbit app, and compare it to your activity to see how consistent exercise can improve your heart health over time. A decrease in resting heart rate is a key indicator of cardiovascular health; changes up or down may indicate illness or other issues.

Sleep Better

Fitbit is also introducing two dynamic sleep tools – Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights – that provide deeper insight into your sleep quality and guidance on how to improve, building on its popular sleep features that have empowered millions of people to track their sleep since 2012. Along with diet and exercise, sleep is a key factor in overall health, but most people have very little insight into it. Good sleep plays a critical role in your health and overall wellbeing, from protecting against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, to boosting neurocognitive functions, mental health and longevity.[iii]

Sleep Stages, powered by PurePulse, uses accelerometer data and heart rate variability (the changes in time between beats), plus Fitbit’s proven algorithms to more accurately estimate how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep stages, as well as time awake, each night:

  • Light Sleep (including sleep stages N1 and N2) occurs throughout the night and is important for memory, learning and letting your body recover from the day; for most people that’s 50-60% of your night.
  • Deep Sleep (sleep stage N3) promotes a healthy immune system and muscle growth and repair; for most people that’s 10-25% of your night (depending on your age).
  • REM Sleep is when most dreaming occurs and is important for mental recovery and memory formation; for most people that’s 20-25% of your night.[vi] Most REM sleep comes at the end of the night, and is often the stage to be cut short when your sleep duration decreases.
  • Awake periods (between 10-30 times) are a normal part of your sleep cycle each night.

Everyone’s sleep cycle is different, but by better knowing your sleep quality and patterns, and realizing the impact they have on your day, you can make lifestyle changes that can help improve your sleep over time – such as diet, exercise, winding down before bed and keeping a consistent sleep schedule. For example, if you wake up feeling exhausted each morning, despite seemingly getting enough sleep, you may not be getting sufficient deep sleep.

Tracking sleep patterns could also help identify variations that can be indicative of other issues. For example, it has been shown that irregularities in sleep patterns could be a sign of a sleep condition that should be discussed with a doctor.

“From helping maintain a healthy immune system, to preserving your cognitive functions and managing a healthy weight, your sleep – or lack of – plays a critical role,” said Dr. Allison Siebern, Stanford University and Fitbit Advisory Panel Sleep Expert. “Fitbit’s new sleep features use a scientific-based approach to show your sleep patterns over time, and provide you with validated, actionable guidance to help you make changes in your daily routine to achieve greater quality sleep – and in turn improve your overall health. Given the comfort and accessibility of this product, it’s one of the most valuable and useful sleep tracking solutions available to consumers outside of a sleep lab.”

Developed with Fitbit’s panel of sleep experts over the last two years, Sleep Stages makes information previously only accessible through a sleep lab accessible to millions of consumers, while Sleep Insights offers personalized guidance to help improve your sleep. The panel brings a wealth of academic expertise across a variety of sleep-related areas, including health, chronic disease and insomnia:

  • Dr. Michael Grandner, director, Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona;
  • Dr. Allison Siebern, consulting assistant professor, Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center, and director, Sleep Health Integrative Program at Fayetteville VA Medical Center; and
  • Dr. Michael T. Smith, Jr., professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Fitbit conducted rigorous testing of the ability of its devices, including Alta HR, to estimate sleep stages in adults. These results validating Fitbit’s new Sleep Stages feature have been accepted for presentation at SLEEP 2017, the leading meeting for sleep scientists and clinicians.

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Sleep Insights – using Fitbit data gained from over 3 billion nights of logged sleep, which is equivalent to 2.5 million years, Fitbit is uniquely positioned to deliver powerful sleep insights that provide actionable guidance and coaching to help you improve the quality of your sleep and, in turn, your overall health. Some examples include:

  • Understand the connections between your sleep, exercise, diet, weight and heart rate:
    • “There seems to be a strong correlation between your sleep and your runs. The last 10 weeknight logs show that you had 20 mins more restful sleep on days you ran vs. days you didn’t.”
    • “A lack of sleep can increase your hunger hormones. So if you’re looking to lose weight, make sure you’re logging enough ZZZs.”
  • Receive personalized guidance and insights based on your Fitbit data to help you stick to an ideal schedule and get the best sleep quality:
    • “You slept an average of 9hrs 30min this weekend, which is substantially higher than your weekday sleep duration of 5hrs 40min. That swing may be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep during the week.”
    • “Great job going to bed at a consistent time during the week. Being consistent means going to bed within a 30-minute time window every day of the week. People with a consistent bedtime like yourself get up to 40 minutes more sleep per night than those with low sleep consistency.”

Stay Motivated

In addition to the advanced health and fitness tracking experience PurePulse brings to Alta HR, popular features and notifications keep you connected and motivated to reach your goals:

  • All day, automatic tracking of your most important stats (heart rate, steps, distance, calorie burn, active minutes) day and night, powered by battery life of up to seven days.[xi]
  • SmartTrack™ automatic exercise tracking records activities like walking, running, cycling, elliptical, sports and aerobic workouts in the Fitbit app, giving you credit toward your weekly exercise goals.
  • Reminders to Move help you stay active throughout the day, and reducing sedentary time can play a significant role in the prevention of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.[xii]
  • Call, text and calendar notifications keep you connected so you can focus on your day.[xiii]
  • Connect with one of the largest social fitness networks in the world through the new Community tab in the Fitbit app to find support and inspiration on your path to better health and fitness.

Availability 

Alta HR will be available early April 2017

Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights will be available globally in April 2017:

  • Sleep Stages will work with Alta HR, Blaze and Charge 2 devices via the Fitbit app on Android, iOS and Windows, and on Fitbit.com in the online dashboard.
  • Sleep Insights will be available with all Fitbit devices that track sleep via the Fitbit app.

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Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture

Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production

IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land [1]. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.” 

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 [2]. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

[1] The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”

[2] Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10


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What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?

By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing

Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.

At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.

If Amazon did factories

If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.

Manufacturing with knowledge

Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.

In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.

As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.

Knowledge for manufacturing

For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.

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