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MWC: Simplified applications with SAP Cloud

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SAP has unveiled a new consumption-based commercial model for customers to easily acquire and engage the SAP Cloud Platform, the company’s platform as a service (PaaS) at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

Additional updates include the next-generation SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS, which allows customers to easily extend enterprise apps and processes to mobile devices.

SAP Cloud Platform is the foundation of SAP Leonardo, SAP’s digital innovation system. Together they enable rapid innovation and empower customers to become “intelligent enterprises,” ready for the 21st century.

“The new consumption-based commercial model for SAP Cloud Platform makes it even easier for our customers and partners to build and extend innovative solutions utilizing our increasing portfolio of platform and business services,” said Björn Goerke, SAP Cloud Platform president and chief technology officer. “Innovations in mobile delivery with consumer-grade experiences via our new SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS give organizations more freedom and agility to create and reinvent their businesses.”

SAP Cloud Platform: The Foundation for the Intelligent Enterprise
The new consumption-based commercial model for SAP Cloud Platform provides a simpler, low-touch customer experience for configuring and using SAP Cloud Platform services. Cloud credits are easily acquired, and available SAP Cloud Platform services can be quickly activated using a single provisioning cockpit. This allows customers to innovate on their terms and at their own pace. In addition, the new commercial model provides transparency into the usage of each service consumed through regular metering, reporting and detailed accounting analytics on the customer’s cloud credit consumption and balance. This makes it easier for customers to identify, procure and monitor needed services for their applications on a timely basis.

Customers can visit the newly designed web experience cloudplatform.sap.com to explore, test, price and estimate SAP Cloud Platform usage for any innovation project, all within a single site. This new model makes innovating with SAP Cloud Platform even simpler, while offering greater agility and flexibility for enterprises of all sizes. For more details read the blog by Bertram Schulte, chief digital officer at SAP.

The enhanced SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS provides an engaging consumer-grade mobile work experience with new controls and tighter integration with the Xcode integrated development environment, as well as integration with other capabilities within SAP Cloud Platform for delivering powerful enterprise mobile apps. It also supports consumption of SAP Leonardo services, such as image recognition from a mobile app. Customers can now access application programming interfaces from SAP API Business Hub within the apps, as well as easily translate apps using SAP Translation Hub. In addition, new analytic controls enable real-time data analytics and visualizations within mobile apps from SAP S/4HANA®, SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services and the SAP HANA® business data platform. Additional updates make it easy to use iOS device capabilities in end-to-end processes for administrative tasks, such as onboarding.

Compañía Española de Petróleos, S.A.U. (CEPSA), a Spanish multinational oil and gas company, uses SAP Cloud Platform to meet the emerging needs of oil and gas energy users.

“We needed an innovative platform for app development, and SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS was a natural choice,” CEPSA Chief Information Officer Joaquín Reyes said. “By integrating our SAP back-end applications and developing iOS apps for order fulfillment and payment processing, we were able to streamline our business processes throughout our entire value chain. As a result, our employees, partners and service-station managers are now able to improve the overall customer experience.”

SAP introduced two new iOS mobile apps: SAP Insurance Sales Assistant enables the insurance agent to effectively manage all sales activities by providing comprehensive customer insights through a 360-degree customer view and an overview of performance KPIs. SAP Asset Manager leverages the digital core with SAP S/4HANA as well as SAP Cloud Platform as the Internet of Things platform for managing work orders, notifications, condition monitoring, material consumption, time management and failure analysis.

Cars

Motor Racing meets Machine Learning

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The car of tomorrow, most of us imagine, is being built by the great automobile manufacturers of the world. More and more, however, we are seeing information technology companies joining the race to power the autonomous vehicle future.

Last year, chip-maker Intel paid $15.3-billion to acquire Israeli company Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology. Google’s autonomous taxi division, Waymo, has been valued at $45-billion.

Now there’s a new name to add to the roster of technology giants driving the future.

DeepRacer on the inside

Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest cloud computing service and a subsidiary of Amazon.com,  last month unveiled a scale model autonomous racing car for developers to build new artificial intelligence applications. Almost in the same breath, at its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, it showcased the work being done with machine learning in Formula 1 racing.

AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale fully autonomous race car, designed to incorporate the features and behaviour of a full-sized vehicle. It boasts all-wheel drive, monster truck tires, an HD video camera, and on-board computing power. In short, everything a kid would want of a self-driving toy car.

But then, it also adds everything a developer would need to make the car autonomous in ways that, for now, can only be imagined. It uses a new form of machine learning (ML), the technology that allows computer systems to improve their functions progressively as they receive feedback from their activities. ML is at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI), and will be core to autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

AWS has taken ML a step further, with an approach called reinforcement learning. This allows for quicker development of ML models and applications, and DeepRacer is designed to allow developers to experiment with and hone their skill in this area. It is built on top of another AWS platform, called Amazon SageMaker, which enables developers and data scientists to build, train, and deploy machine learning quickly and easily.

Along with DeepRacer, AWS also announced the DeepRacer League, the world’s first global autonomous racing league, open to anyone who orders the scale model from AWS.

DeepRacer on the outside

As if to prove that DeepRacer is not just a quirky entry into the world of motor racing, AWS also showcased the work it is doing with the Formula One Group. Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of Motor Sports, joined AWS CEO Andy Jassy during the keynote address at the re:Invent conference, to demonstrate how motor racing meets machine learning.

“More than a million data points a second are transmitted between car and team during a Formula 1 race,” he said. “From this data, we can make predictions about what we expect to happen in a wheel-to-wheel situation, overtaking advantage, and pit stop advantage. ML can help us apply a proper analysis of a situation, and also bring it to fans.

“Formula 1 is a complete team contest. If you look at a video of tyre-changing in a pit stop – it takes 1.6 seconds to change four wheels and tyres – blink and you will miss it. Imagine the training that goes into it? It’s also a contest of innovative minds.”

AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveils DeepRacer

Formula 1 racing has more than 500 million global fans and generated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2017. As a result, there are massive demands on performance, analysis and information. 

During a race, up to 120 sensors on each car generate up to 3GB of data and 1 500 data points – every second. It is impossible to analyse this data on the fly without an ML platform like Amazon SageMaker. It has a further advantage: the data scientists are able to incorporate 65 years of historical race data to compare performance, make predictions, and provide insights into the teams’ and drivers’ split-second decisions and strategies.

This means Formula 1 can pinpoint how a driver is performing and whether or not drivers have pushed themselves over the limit.

“By leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS’s machine-learning services, we are able to deliver these powerful insights and predictions to fans in real time,” said Pete Samara, director of innovation and digital technology at Formula 1.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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LG rethinks portable speakers

LG adds three sizes to its XBoom Go portable speaker line in a portable revision, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Portable Bluetooth speakers are fairly commonplace at a pool party because they’re battery-powered. The only issue is that louder speakers usually distort the music or break the bank. The LG XBoom aims to change this.

LG has partnered with Meridian Audio to produce great sounding speakers that can go loud without distorting the audio. Meridian Audio is an expert in high-performance, high-fidelity audio experiences. The company is best known for producing the industry’s first audiophile-quality compact disc player and provide audio equipment to McLaren and Jaguar Land Rover.

The Bluetooth software in the XBoom Go is Qualcomm aptX HD compatible, meaning that 24bit vinyl-quality audio can be played through this speaker over Bluetooth instead of standard-fidelity audio.

The major phone assistants feature on these speakers, with tethered Google Assistant or Apple Siri functionality from one’s smartphone. This makes it very convenient to use the voice assistant button to skip tracks and change music when one’s hands are wet.

Three models of the XBoom Go series – the PK3, PK5 and PK7 – offer different audio functions depending on the audio needs of the user. Best fits for these speakers are:

  • PK3 – The Pool Friendly Speaker: The PK3 is IPX7 water resistant, up to 1 metre for 30 minutes, making this speaker accident proof at pool parties. Boasting up to 12 hours of playback from its built-in battery, this speaker will last as long as the party.

  • PK5 – The Party Friendly Speaker: Even if the lunch braai turns into a midnight feast, this speaker will play throughout as its battery lasts up to 18 hours. Clear Vocal technology is added to the PK5, which reduces audio imperfections from the music for a sharper sound. It is also water and splash resistant and has a handle, allowing for it to be easily carried. Built-in LED lights which pulse with the beat of the music on this speaker provide a light show for any song.

  • PK7 –  The Audiophile’s Speaker: With a battery life that lasts for up to 22 hours, the PK7 also contains an LED light to the rhythm of the sound. The speaker integrates a convenient handle grip that allows for it to be transported securely. The powerful PK7 Bluetooth speaker also distributes its high frequencies across two separate tweeters for more precise sonic detail.

Overall, LG’s XBoom PK portable speakers are a phenomenal set of high-quality wireless speakers.

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