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Standards on way for IoT

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ITU members have established a new ITU-T Study Group to address the standardization requirements of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, with an initial focus on IoT applications in smart cities.

The new group is titled “ITU-T Study Group 20: IoT and its applications, including smart cities and communities”. It will be responsible for international standards to enable the coordinated development of IoT technologies, including machine-to-machine communications and ubiquitous sensor networks. The group will develop standards that leverage IoT technologies to address urban-development challenges. A key part of this study will be the standardization of end-to-end architectures for IoT and mechanisms for the interoperability of IoT applications and datasets employed by various vertically oriented industry sectors.

The deployment of IoT technologies is expected to connect an estimated 50 billion devices to the network by year 2020, impacting nearly every aspect of our daily lives. IoT is contributing to the convergence of industry sectors, with utilities, healthcare and transportation among the many sectors with a stake in the future of IoT technologies. The new ITU-T Study Group provides the specialized IoT standardization platform necessary for this convergence to rest on a cohesive set of international standards.

IoT technologies offer both developed and developing countries an opportunity to transform city infrastructure, benefiting from the efficiencies of intelligent buildings and transportation systems, and smart energy and water networks. ITU is well positioned to assist government and industry in capitalizing on this opportunity.

“Building smart sustainable cities will require efficient collaboration between the public and private sectors,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This new ITU-T Study Group will bring together a diverse selection of stakeholders, placing ITU’s technical expertise at the service of other industry sectors as well as the national and metropolitan administrations responsible for urban development.”

“The coming five years will be crucial in ensuring that IoT technologies meet their potential,” said Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “ITU-T is very active in IoT standardization, and we aim to assist cities around the world in creating the conditions necessary for IoT technologies to prove their worth in addressing urban-development challenges.”

In May, Dubai became the world’s first city to assess the efficiency and sustainability of its operations using the key performance indicators developed by the ITU-T Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities (FG-SSC). The two-year pilot project will evaluate the feasibility of the indicators with the aim of contributing to their international standardization.

“Networks of IoT technologies will improve our understanding of how cities function, introducing many opportunities for efficiency gains,” said Nasser Almarzouqi of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates, Chairman of the new Study Group. “With participants representing the many stakeholders in the field of information and communication technologies, this Study Group will be influential in promoting the development of the highly efficient ‘systems of systems’ that will help bridge the digital divide and enable a more connected world.”

Singapore has offered to host the inaugural meeting of the IoT Study Group.

ITU put forward a vision of IoT in the landmark “Internet of Things” report published in 2005 as part of a series of ITU reports on the Internet. The foundations of the new Study Group are provided by ITU-T’s experience in the development of IoT standards and the findings of FG-SSC, which recently concluded its activities with the release of 21 technical reports and specifications.

The decision to create a new ITU-T Study Group was made by the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) at its meeting at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, 2-5 June. TSAG has the authority to modify ITU-T’s structure and work programme between quadrennial World Telecommunication Standardization Assemblies, giving ITU-T the agility required to reflect the changing priorities of its membership.

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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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