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How biometrics changed the Volvo Ocean Race

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Biometric data is transforming the way we do things and the world of international yacht racing is only the next step, says TIANA CLINE.

As a digital innovation system, SAP Leonardo has shown its proficiency in a number of sectors. From retail to farming, sports and manufacturing, Leonardo’s ability to integrate and combine relatively new technologies – such as machine learning, analytics, blockchain technology, the Internet of Things – on the SAP Cloud Platform is unmatched.

More recently, team AkzoNobel – a brand-new Dutch ocean racing team backed by a leading global paints and coatings company of the same name – teamed up with SAP Leonardo to take advantage of these future-forward technologies for this year’s Volvo Ocean Race, a gruelling and exhilarating eight-month global sporting event like no other.

Physical and mental exhaustion can become the biggest threats to an (otherwise very capable) crew. With the assistance of SAP Leonardo, team AkzoNobel will be benefitting from far more than weather updates and route suggestions – Leonardo delivers on improving team performance, bringing both biometrics and data science into the equation.

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In the broader context of digital innovation, it has quickly become clear that technologies like IoT, analytics and data science need to work together. For the first time in professional sailing – and fully approved by the race organisers as no data is allowed to go to or leave a yacht during the race – team AkzoNobel use SAP Leonardo IoT Dynamic Edge technology on-boat and SAP Cloud Platform off-shore. The research project enables team AkzoNobel to track the sailors’ fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing… and it’s available to all competing teams.

“This is a particularly exciting implementation of IoT,” explains Dr Adriana Marais, head of innovation at SAP Africa. “Here, the devices are the wrist wearables and the technology is the Edge device… this project truly shows how data acquired by connected sensors, coupled with machine learning and predictive analytics, can enable even the largely analogue world of international yacht racing to run digital.”

SAP has equipped all nine crew members of team AkzoNobel with sensors to capture biometric data which can be collected and analysed by the crew on board during the race to give team AkzoNobel insight into the crew’s fitness and recovery data. The output is presented in a specifically designed user interface for the skipper.

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Ryan West, who looks after the technology on board, says that it’s a work in progress:

“Every bit of it that essentially is taking information from the wearable transmit box that’s on board and inside the Raspberry Pi. There’s software on it and it can do calculations, but there’s no connectivity – we want to be 100% compliant.”

Essentially, it’s about the data.

“There’s a little bit of processing and then it sends out information so the AzkoNobel sails can see and make decisions for themselves. The biggest thing is that we’re trying to provide them with information which will make it easier,” he adds.

The biometric edge solution helps to interpret the biometric measurement data. And once the boats arrive at each of the 12 stopovers, predictive and machine learning analytics are run on SAP Cloud Platform using SAP Leonardo IoT Foundation.

The data processing software was tested from Lisbon to Cape Town – the team analysed the data, made changes and now they’re looking to build upon the steps they’ve already taken.

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“We’re very much building as we go but we’re getting good clean data and from there we’re just continuing to build on it. Our main thing is making whatever we do useful,” he adds.

SAP Leonardo delivers new capabilities in future-forward technologies, which add tremendous value pushing the boundaries of racing as a professional sport. Dr Marais points out that this kind of technology will also have relevant applications in Africa, from remote healthcare services to telemedicine.

“This is a new application of the technology in a harsh environment. We are excited about collecting the data, and analysing it, to hopefully increase performance.”

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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