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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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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

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

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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