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IoT needs fine planning

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IoT is heading for mainstream adoption, but CIOs must plan carefully as it moves to the edge of the network, and stay committed to mitigating privacy and security threats.

More and more companies are deploying Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to bridge the physical and digital worlds and create new growth opportunities. However, as recent breaches have shown, leaders must stay up to date with this constantly changing environment. Forrester’s latest study, Predictions 2018: IoT Moves from Experimentation to Business Scale,  lays out the C-level priorities for the year ahead.

According to the study, IoT will move beyond proof of concept and into mainstream adoption in 2018. Forrester predicts that 10% of marketers at B2C brands will scale initiatives beyond pilots to build more intimate customer relationships and experiences.

“To achieve optimum impact, CMOs should rely more on the insights of complex data sets from devices,” says Michele Pelino, Forrester principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals.

“Smartphones will also play a key role in enabling these new connected customer experiences and marketers should extend their mobile-moment strategies to include new interfaces with smart home speakers or smartwatches.”

Despite the growing concern around the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Forrester says that a 2018 European data economy directive will promote the exchange of data and insights. Early innovators will set the tone in the market and increased competition between EU and US companies will drive adoption.

In addition, voice-based services, which have until now, been dominated by smaller companies, we will see an increased adoption from larger enterprises. Pelino says that a combination of consumer adoption; advances in artificial intelligence, such as natural language understanding (NLU); AI chips in hardware; faster processors and wireless networks; and cheaper components is making high-quality voice control of devices a reality.

Taking the action to the edge

A key trend will be IoT infrastructure shifting towards the edge. The study notes that edge IoT devices are able to act locally, based on data they generate, as well as take advantage of the cloud for secure, scalable configuration, deployment, and management.

The importance of IoT platforms will also continue to grow this year as clients look for: low adoption costs; quick deployment for prototyping; global reach; and easy integration with low maintenance – all of which are making cloud-based options attractive.

Forrester predicts that,  as data volumes grow, developers will push processing and analysis of data to the edge of the network and onto gateways and devices in order to cut data ingestion costs and reduce network latency.

Security And Privacy Still Critical

Forrester says most firms still haven’t shown the required commitment to mitigating IoT-specific threats.

The firm believes many IoT devices and ecosystems are still vulnerable to attacks that could take systems offline, and cause “minor to significant disruptions (and potential loss of life) and/or data exfiltration”. The report goes further to say that,  in 2018, we’ll see more IoT-related attacks, both on devices and on the cloud backplane, as hackers look to breach systems and extract sensitive data.

Forrester warns organisations to have security professionals critically assess their systems, including default passwords, weak encryption implementations, and inadequate patching/remediation capabilities. The report also urges a thorough assessment of GDPR and other data protection compliance.

Blockchain will also begin impacting the performance of IoT technology as it gains traction. In fact, Forrester expects that the percentage of IoT cases using blockchain technologies will rise to over 5% among all IoT initiatives this year.

Pelino says that, while blockchain isn’t yet ready for large-scale deployments requiring reliability, stability, and seamless integration with existing technology infrastructure, companies should begin experimentation with the technology now in order to evaluate vendors against their firm’s IoT business scenarios.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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