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M2M and IoT can unlock innovation in Africa

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As more financial service providers adopt M2M solutions, it is becoming ever more apparent that these solutions are vital to economic inclusivity and innovation on the African continent.

This is according to Jeremy Potgieter, SADC regional head at Eseye, who notes that the financial sector has always been a front runner in technological advancements and is no stranger to the Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M.

“Already 95 percent of the African financial sector is engaged in IoT in some form or another. From ensuring POS transactions are timeously processed, to customer behaviour monitoring and data analysis, the financial sector is certainly geared to drive IoT uptake globally,” explains Potgieter. He adds that far from being behind the digital curve, the numerous pioneering initiatives being explored by African developers are prompting major financial institutions to sit up and take notice. “We see a large focus being placed on the underserved SMME where traditionally cash was the only means of transaction. Companies like eWater, M-Kopa, Yoco, Snapscan and iKhoka are making strides in bringing balance to the underserved, by providing payment solutions which meet their budgetary constraints.”

The benefits of M2M for financial services organisations are numerous, not least because the technology widens the net for more customers. “Financial services have an impact on every industry imaginable, and it’s because of this that the sector needs to be abreast of innovation and show that they are in touch with an ever-changing landscape,” Potgieter says. “M2M is the springboard to introduce mechanisms, which address the needs of the underserved to provide economic inclusivity while enabling growth for entrepreneurs and SMMEs, which we know are vital to the success of African economies,” he adds.

Much of the innovation already taking place on the continent has been spearheaded out of a very real necessity according to Potgieter. “Small businesses have provided a gap, which entrepreneurial developers have identified and grown sustainable businesses as a result. Take for example the introduction of payment pebble, Yoco, nomanini and Wongeta as solutions, all born and bred in Africa because of specific needs, which also cleverly subvert socio-economic challenges and lack of formal infrastructure.”

While financial service providers offering M2M solutions offer opportunities for higher efficiencies, the security of any and all solutions is of paramount importance and cannot be overstated enough. “The impact unsecured solutions have on the financial sector are far reaching and hard hitting,” Potgieter warns, “It is the difference between economic stability and a complete collapse of industry. Banks stand or fall on confidence, trust and sturdiness.” Thus the solutions Potgieter believes poised to be most successful will be those that not only provide higher efficiencies, but also ensure business continuity and allow for an ecosystem where dependency and trust will extrapolate opportunities and interconnected spinoffs.

He says that Eseye’s AnyNet Secure SIM is a great example. This cellular connectivity solution integrates fully with the AWS Cloud management console and other Cloud platforms. It allows secure, automated, remote provisioning of IoT devices to an IoT Management Console, other cloud providers or on-premises enterprise servers: “AnyNet Secure, identifies, catalogues and connects IoT devices to your AWS IoT cloud, while enabling rapid scaling and reducing costs and risks of IoT deployments. A technology that has already started to make a positive impact on the IoT space.”

M2M growth and innovation in Africa shows no sign of slowing, as the solutions being developed and perfected are not yet considerations in other parts of the globe. “We see innovations in cash management through drop safe mechanisms to lower the risk of theft and violent crimes. Then there are mobile payment applications linked to cellular accounts, which are now more prevalent as the preferred method of payment rather than the use of cash or even owning a bank account in numerous African territories. These are just a few examples and they are growing on a daily basis,” concludes Potgieter.

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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