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Riot 251: Around The Web Roundup

// M&A, Strategies, Alliances //

  • Acquicore has bought Entic, a subsidiary of Blackstone that was focused on analytics for facilities management optimization using IoT technologies. No price has been given, but the joint company claims to be used in 250mn square-feet of US footprint.

// Laws, Regulation, and Lawsuits //

  • US attempts to enact some form of IoT regulation appear to be ramping up, with a new bill introduced that would mandate NIST creating a list of best standards and practices, which the US Office of Management and Budget could then use to bludgeon government bodies with.

// Hardware //

  • Intel is ditching its Compute Card family, which were launched in 2017 and billed as a way to provide modular upgrades to devices, including PCs but also smart home devices such as hubs, which might need a boost in compute performance in their operational life time. Intel has a history of this sort of thing.
  • Atmosic has announced a new win, claiming to have developed a photovoltaic-powered Bluetooth system that can run on just ambient light, aimed at IoT sensors and devices.
  • Ossia has announced what could be a huge win, for the wireless charging specialist. It says it has struck a deal with a top global battery maker, an ‘iconic brand,’ to create batteries that use the Cota technology to top-up their charge. These will be branded as the ‘Forever Battery,’ it seems.

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// Networks, Protocols, & Wireless //

  • Tata Communications and China Telecom are partnering, with Tata looking to launch IoT services in the Chinese market, based on its Move platform.
  • Ericsson, Telia, and Volvo have partnered, deploying the first Swedish (and likely one of the first globally) 5G networks to test autonomous industrial vehicles.
  • Semtech has found a new use for LoRa, in partnership with Sonova, developing a new radio system that uses LoRa’s modulation to provide 2.4GHz connections for hearing aids.
  • Panasonic says its HD-PLC Broadband over Powerline (BPL) technology has now been adopted as the IEEE 1901a standard, following approval in Germany. The standard is aimed at IoT applications, as well as gigabit broadband speeds. Panasonic will be licensing it, as well as collaborating with the HD-PLC Alliance.
  • TEPCO, KDDI, SoftBank, and Rakuten are collaborating on a small cell and 5G project in Japan that would see the network infrastructure mounted on TEPCO’s electricity supply poles. Trials are underway, but this could give TEPCO a way into extending its smart grid projects too.
  • The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) says that 149 MNOs in 69 countries are investing in one or both of Cat-M and Cat-NB. So far, 102 MNOs in 52 countries have launched at least one, with 20 MNOs in 19 countries having both. Cat-NB seems more popular.
  • Vodafone UK has joined the National Beyond Visual Line of Sight Experimentation Corridor (NBEC) consortium, looking to see how 4G and 5G can be used to control drones operating at long ranges.

// Smart Homes and Buildings //

  • China smart speaker shipments are growing very fast, but data from Canalys suggests that Chinese consumers use the devices far less than most markets. This could be indicative of poorer integrations with third-party services in the Chinese market, although it is not clear.
  • Vivint has expanded its Smart Home platform to add an OBD-II dongle to monitor a user’s car. Called Vivint Car Guard, the sensor provides tracking, telematics, and theft detection services, as well as geo-fenced interactions with the home.
  • Comcast is taking a thin-client approach to its smart home platform, launching the Xfinity Flex streaming dongle that will allow it to provide smart home device control services to customers that are internet-only, and don’t have its Xfinity set top boxes.
  • Apple’s new push into services could be the reason why it has stalled so hard with HomeKit. If the desire to push Apple TV boxes, which can serve as HomeKit hubs, into homes was always front and center, then delays in the new TV+ project could explain the delays.
  • Spire has picked IoTium to provide the commercial real estate services firm with IoTium’s Orchestrator, a tool that connects end-devices to cloud applications with additional security and connectivity features. IoTium has racked up wins with IntelligentBuildings, CBRE, Rexnord, Kilroy, and Sunbelt Controls.
  • Wyze has expanded into security, launching a new $20 sensor offering that includes motion and two door/window sensors. This is still a very impressive price point, and looks to remain very popular in the DIY smart home market.
  • GE Appliances (Haier) has partnered with Cirrent (part of Cypress Semi), in a project to make onlining GE appliances easier with WiFi, without the new owner needing to enter WiFi network credentials, using Cirrent software.
  • Schneider Electric has picked Planon, a Netherlands real estate and facilities management software specialist, to integrate Planon’s Universe platform with Schneider’s EcoStruxure Building Advisor management system.

// Industrial & Manufacturing //

  • Alfanar and Huawei have signed an MoU, to explore how Huawei’s IoT and 5G technologies could be used in Alfanar’s electrical products. Alfanar is the Middle East’s leading such manufacturer, with Alfanar agreeing to adopt Huawei’s cloud platform too.
  • AWS has won the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud deal, and will power VW’s automated manufacturing and logistics processes – integrating more than 30,000 facilities and 1,500 suppliers, apparently. VW will be using a suite of AWS IoT services, including Core, Analytics, SiteWise, and Greengrass.
  • PCL has picked AltaML to provide it with IoT-based analytics that can be used in construction projects, to reduce delays and costs overruns. The two Canadian firms are co-developing AI and ML applications for the construction industry.

// Automotive //

  • Microsoft’s Connect Vehicle Platform is getting its first live deployments, powering the new Renault Clio and Nissan Leaf, after the Renault-Nissan Alliance announced it would use Microsoft’s platform back in 2016.
  • The Car2MEC project has wrapped up, testing Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technologies on German roads. The project was aiming to reduce the latency between vehicles on the road that were edge-compute nodes, but missed its 20ms target – only reaching 30ms. The partners included Continental, Deutsche Telekom, Fraunhofer, Nokia, and MHP.
  • Intel’s Mobileye has, unsurprisingly, fired back at Nvidia’s new SFF safety model, which aims to use algorithms to avoid crashes. Mobileye says that ‘innovation requires originality,’ and that ‘despite uncanny similarities, Nvidia’s SFF fails to match Mobileye’s RSS, which is the leading AV safety model.’
  • KeepTruckin has announced a new Smart Dashcam that uses machine-learning techniques to expand its fleet management capabilities. These focus on safety, coaching, and sensor telemetry, with the firm reporting sharp reductions in hard braking and 70% reductions in heavy acceleration.

// Security //

  • GlobalPlatform has published what it says is the first step towards the standardization of integrated secure elements, by publishing the first open specification for this task. The two new documents are the Open Firmware Loader (OFL), and the Virtual Primary Platform (VPP). If adopted, this could help broaden adoption of hardware-based security in chips.

// Smart Cities //

  • Telia has launched a new service aimed at cities that are looking to better understand how people move through urban environments. The MNO’s new tool is called City Vitality Insights, and is being aimed at the Nordics, using data pulled from Telia’s mobile network infrastructure.
  • Telensa has been picked by Darwin, Australia, to connect 10,000 LED streetlights, using Telensa’s PLANet platform and Central Management System (CMS). Australia’s Northern Territory Government has an initiative to transfer control of streetlights to councils, so there could be more such deals in the near future. Telensa also signed a 5,000-light deal with Palmerston, Australia.

// Smart Grid & Utility //

  • Shell Energy will begin trading this week, after the rebranding following its acquisition of First Utility in the UK last year. With 700,000 customers, it is promising to supply them with completely renewable energy. Shell Energy is now the 7th largest utility in the UK, still somewhat outside the ‘big six.’
  • ABB has developed a drone-based system for detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines, at a range of 100-meters. It uses ABB’s Ability platform, designed for IIoT applications.
  • FERC reports that nearly half of active meters in the US are ‘advanced meters,’ but it seems that installation rates are slowing, with some utilities questioning their worth, and facing backlash from consumers.
  • Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance report has found that the long-term cost of supplying electricity to the grid from lithium-ion batteries has fallen very quickly, to levels that make it cost-competitive with natural gas plants in a number of key energy markets. This is very good news for renewables.
  • EDMI has picked Arm as its cloud partner, combining its smart meters with Arm’s Pelion IoT platform and opting to use Mbed OS on devices too.

// Health //

  • Microsoft is getting involved in a pilot project in the UK’s NHS, which will use wearables and connected healthcare equipment to monitor patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which affects 1.2mn people in the UK.
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