Panasonic has used Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to introduce a suite of connected products for the first time in Europe.
The company’s IoT includes new connected technology for cars, public spaces and security, including the formal availability launch of the Panasonic Nubo, the industry’s first mobile connected 4G monitoring camera.
“Mobile World Congress brings together Panasonic’s consumer, automotive, business technology, industrial and eco solutions divisions,” said Tony O’Brien, Deputy Managing Director of Panasonic System Solutions Europe. “While we continue to have a very strong consumer electronics presence, increasingly revenue and growth is coming from our B2B sectors. Mobile World Congress gives us a chance to demonstrate how connected products are helping on that journey.”
In automotive, Ficosa, in which Panasonic took a 49% stake in 2015, introduced its Smart Connectivity Module. It integrates antennas, tuners and a local server to create a new generation of connected car, which allows multiple users to simultaneously browse the web, watch movies, listen to music, play online games and access GPS, from different mobile devices.
In addition, the company showcased the V2X Unit, a compact, cost effective module supporting car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications.
Panasonic Automotive also debuted OneConnect, the platform on which Panasonic’s Personal Radio by AUPEO! content service is built upon. It now features a preferred brand loyalty actions service that allows car companies and other brands to directly communicate with drivers and provide them with relevant content and contextual information. For example, notifications on software updates, service reminders and other messages can be seamlessly integrated into vehicle audio at convenient and unobtrusive times for the driver.
For public spaces, Panasonic Light ID links smartphones with digital signage, providing detailed information through blinking LEDs at a speed unrecognisable to the human eye. The system uses a dedicated mobile app to instantly share content between Light ID transmitters, such as displays and LED signboards, to smartphones.
In personal security, Panasonic announced the availability of Nubo, The world’s first 3G/4G Mobile Video Camera which allows users to monitor and treasure their valuables without the need for Wi-Fi.
Designed for both indoor and outdoor usage, Nubo is rain and wind resistant and offers sensor connectivity through an integrated wireless radio. Nubo also offers two-way audio which allows the user to communicate through the camera when an alert is triggered. It is now open for pre-order Europe-wide and will start shipping in Spring 2016.
Panasonic also introduced the world’s lightest fully rugged handheld tablets for business. Its smallest Toughpad device to date, the 4.7 inch FZ-F1 (Windows) and FZ-N1 (Android) handhelds are designed for postal and courier workers, warehouse, retail, manufacturing, field services and the emergency services.
The device has both voice and data capabilities and an HD capacitive multi-touch daylight readable display designed for use in bright sunlight, the rain and by those wearing gloves. The devices can also be used with the optional passive or active pen and are equipped with both 4G LTE / 3G data and voice communications.
To close the event, Panasonic showcased Green Tower, a comprehensive energy infrastructure management solution for increasing network reliability at reduced costs. Green Tower integrates Panasonic’s powerful Lithium-Ion battery and solar technology expertise with PowerOasis’ industry-leading management platform to provide network resiliency beyond grid availability with smart energy generation and storage, responsive control assets, and satellite connectivity for cellular communications and Wi-Fi cell sites.
Provided as a managed Energy as a Service, Green Tower allows mobile operators to avoid capital expenditure, reduce operational costs, increase energy efficiency, and enhance reliability through a paradigm shift from traditional static power to intelligent real-time, remotely managed systems.
Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh
In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.
When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.
This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy.
“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.
“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”
Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.
“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.
“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”
Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.
“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.
“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”
Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.
Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”
Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream
If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd
As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?
In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!
Nation-State Hacking & You
It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.
With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.
Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.
Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.
Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”
When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.”
Ignorance is not bliss
Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.
Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!