Internet of Things (IoT) Tech Digest - December 2016

Chinese machine-tool manufacturer sets up industry 4.0 production line

Chinese machine-tool manufacturer QCMT&T has converted a previously manual production line into an intelligent line using the concept of Industry 4.0 as a guide, with help from Bosch Rexroth, to connect people, equipment and processes. 
QCMT&T’s Industry 4.0 makeover apparently went to plan. Employees work, now guided by digital assistants, constructing gears. Each workstation is connected via transfer systems; the transfer systems read RFID tags on the gears and record progress on an IT system; a display shows the worker what nuts need tightening, the machine then tightens the nut setting the torque wirelessly to ensure sufficient tightness. Information about an employee’s activities is logged and monitored by Activecockpit (an interactive communication platform which collects production data and prepares it in real time). Diagnostic and telematic data is provided in real-time to people, such as line managers not on the factory floor, via smartphone or tablet apps. 

Holo-check

NFC technology vendor Thinfilm has partnered with brand-protection and document security company Holoptica. The goal of the partnership is to provide printed nanotech anti-counterfeiting solutions to a range of government markets. Using a type of tag known as a SpeedTap/hologram tag which use high security holography and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the companies say they can create high levels of protection and authentication functionality that can be used for authentication of government-issued documents such as visas, passports and other ID documents. The result of blending Thinfilm’s NFC tags and Holoptica’s holographic technology, they claim, is that documents become unforgeable and in the case of loss or theft can be rendered inactive. The NFC chip also means that each document can be linked to a ‘digital double’ allowing instant verification with a smartphone. 

5G car demonstrated by SK Telecoms

On 15th November 2016, Korean operator SK Telecom announced that it had demonstrated the world’s first 5G-based connected car, called ‘T5’. At the BMW driving centre on Yeongjong Island, Incheon, South Korea, SK Telecom and Ericson have set up a 5G trial network that covers a 240,000 square metre track, and which can deliver download speeds of more than 20Gbps and sub-millisecond latency. The audience was able to watch the progress of the car in ultra-high definition video taken by cameras inside and outside the vehicle and streamed in real-time using the 5G network. 

Autonomous boats

12,000 bicycles a year are discarded into the 60 miles (100 kilometres) of canals in Amsterdam. Cleaning up these bikes, and other waste, is one of the potential uses for the new fleet of ‘roboats’ – autonomous boats – which are being trialled in Amsterdam. The collaboration of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) has a budget of Euro25 million to conduct the first large scale research programme on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas. Each ‘roboat’ module can be attached to or detached from others enabling their potential use as versatile transportation vehicles, but also as on-demand bridges and stages. The trial will start in 2017. 

Big Brother is getting cleverer by the day

Shenzhen, China. Start-up Intellifusion has developed a system which allows security cameras to recognize and identify people based on their gait or even just a picture of their back. In addition, using deep learning, the system will be able to hone its skills over time. The company sees it being used to get information on shoppers, catching and preventing criminals and criminal behaviour, and to monitor people’s movements. The system has been given Yuan40 million in investment from Shenzhen government, and is currently being trialled in Longgang district in Shenzhen city. The aim is to equip every camera in Shenzhen with this capability by 2018. When someone enters a camera’s field of view, the system is expected to be able to identify that individual from a database of 300 million records in a matter of seconds. 
Another company using a similar concept is Blippar whose smartphone application allows users to point their camera at anything (called blipping) and receive information back (blipps) about what they are looking at, including links to relevant companies and Wikipedia entries, win prizes and receive exclusive content and deals. Blippar has a plan to introduce human face recognition onto the app. Those who agree to be included could, in the future, have Blippar equipped mobiles pointed at them and their hobbies and interests, favourite food, as well as other data would be displayed on screen. Currently, only celebrities are blippable, via video or static images.

Connecting drones to users

IFS, an enterprise applications company, has shown a proof of concept solution that links the Internet of Things (IoT) to drones. The proof of concept enables live integration between the drone and IFS applications for detection of needed maintenance work. For example, a drone would, using computer image analysis, notice a break in a powerline, send this information to IFS Applications via the IFS IoT Business connector. Using the software provided by IFS the end user can analyse the information provided by the drone and take appropriate action. 

GE Digital and SAP SE agree to collaborate

In November 2016 SAP and GE Digital (both leading members of the IIC (Industrial Internet Consortium) announced a plan to collaborate on Industrial IoT (IIoT) projects. Both companies believe in the potential of IIoT to improve efficiency, savings and utilization in industry. The first stage would be to enhance the integration of GE’s Predix operating system – which connects, monitors and analyses machine data to enable improved performance and asset management – and the SAP HANA cloud platform provided by SAP SE. 
The companies then plan to work together on asset management, with a focus on the oil and gas industries. 

Certified safe: Canary products are 1st IoT devices to get security certificates from Verizon

ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon, has devised an ‘Internet of Things Security Testing Framework’ which measures devices hoping to gain security certification against several criteria: cryptography; communications; authentication; physical security; platform security; and alert/logging. Through satisfying this blend of criteria ICSA Labs believes that the device will be more secure. 
The first devices to have received the award are produced by home security company, Canary. They can now carry ICSA Labs’ IoT mark of approval on their HD cameras, sirens and air monitors; dependent on their ability to continue to satisfy the security criteria during periodic re-tests.

Tencent’s new HQ takes vertical industry to a whole new level

Tencent, the company behind some of China’s – and the world’s – biggest apps and websites, (e.g., instant messaging software, music and video streaming brand QQ; social media, e-wallet, payment service, IM app WeChat; and news service Tencent News) is building its new HQ in Shenzhen, and it will be full of IoT connectivity. 
The company is spending USD599 million to build a pair of 50-story smart skyscrapers connected by a walkway. When they are completed in 2017 workers and visitors will have the chance to be shown round by holographic tour guides and attend meetings in conference rooms that adjust temperature based on occupancy. If you can’t find your colleague you will be able to use an app which will tell you where in the buildings they are; or it will be able to tell you the quickest path to get somewhere in the HQ – perhaps it will take you via the 300-metre running track. 

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