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IoT news of the week for January 31, 2020

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Hitachi Vantara to buy Waterline Data: Hitachi’s IoT-focused organization, Vantara, has agreed to buy Waterline Data, which makes software to organize data inside companies. Waterline’s software analyzes metadata to understand what types of data are stored and how to catalog it. From there, organizations can use the catalogs to sort their data or comply with regulations such as GDPR. Hitachi’s decision to buy Waterline comes as companies that are trying to undergo digital transformations attempt to make sense of their data and build automatic ways of handling it. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Hitachi expects to complete the deal before the end of March. (Hitachi)

A good profile on a company using IoT for worker safety: I spend a lot of time talking to industrial companies about the internet of things, and one of the biggest opportunities is around worker safety. Even something as simple as a consumer vision system that can detect when a worker is in a restricted area can be a great investment. So I enjoyed this profile about a company called Triax, which provides wearables to construction workers designed to help keep them safe. The company sets up a mesh network at a site and then gives managers access to an app that lets them see where workers are and where machinery is, and to control a wall-mounted evacuation alarm. Not only can the wearables detect falls and track where workers are, but in doing so, they can also help optimize performance by making sure workers are where they need to be and doing what needs to be done. (Tech Republic)

Good take on why Apple wanted XNOR: If Apple can take XNOR’s software-based computer vision capabilities, it can perform computer vision on your phone or a connected device. Then Apple can offer services similar to those provided by Google or Amazon, but do so in a privacy-protecting manner. As a bonus, local image processing will also save on bandwidth, which still matters in the era of GB-limited data plans. (Forrester)

The IoT needs more storage: This is an article penned by a marketing person at Western Digital (which makes storage), but it’s also a good primer that forces you to think about electronic storage for industrial IoT devices in ways that most people don’t. People tend to focus a lot on processors and even radio technologies. But when it comes to storage on a device, we mostly focus on quantity, asking questions such as, how much do we need to run our software, and how much will it cost? This article proposes better questions, such as figuring out how many times a device might need to write over data, or how many times a person might need to access the on-device storage. It’s not sexy, but it will have an effect on how well the device performs over time. (Electronic Design)

This isn’t quite IoT healthcare, but one day it could be: This story about Amazon’s new health care plan for employees is billed as IoT in action, but it’s really just telemedicine delivered via a smartphone app. Someone who is ill logs into the app, selects an option to chat with a doctor, and then engages in a video chat with the provider. If need be, the doctor can physically travel to the ill person’s home for a more complete evaluation. Notably absent, however, is the use of connected devices to measure temperature, blood pressure, or other vitals. Those devices exist in medically approved forms and could help prevent a physical visit. This model seems far too reliant on physical visits from doctors, and I’m not sure that sitting in traffic on the way to visit a patient is the best use of a doctor’s time. Additionally, this service is an extension of the Amazon health insurance, so it’s unclear how the insurance side of the business might influence the doctors and use the data from such visits for pricing or other non-medical services. (IoT for All)

The IoT can solve traffic jams with a few simple standards: I loved this story! Partly because I moved from Austin, Texas to Seattle, two cities that have some of the worst traffic in the nation, and partly because the solution to traffic jams can apparently be found in math (according to mathematicians). Instead of building more roads, they suggest getting everyone on the road on the same traffic-mapping platform (I choose Waze), implementing smart parking systems that direct drivers to available spaces, and using digital twins to map roads in real time. I don’t know if this will work, but we are so close to having the tools available to try it out. We will have to think about how to get tech laggards or those who can’t afford high-end smartphones on the system, but that’s what government is for! (Fast Company)

Robot pickers are getting better, and we definitely need that: Robots are still very much the future when it comes to many tasks, even relatively simple ones for humans, such as picking up unique objects. It’s easy for a person to look at an object, assess the best way to pick it up, and then make the minute adjustments needed to handle it without crushing or dropping it. That’s still too much to ask for most robots, however. But this profile of a startup called Covariant gives me hope that robots are getting better. The story does an excellent job of explaining why we need robots with this skillset and detailing the challenges associated with building them. If we want a truly automated factory, warehouse, or even a robotic arm in our kitchen, then robots that can grip are an essential part of the solution. (The Verge)

Cisco builds a security portfolio for the industrial internet of things: Networking giant Cisco has created a few security products that handle risks for both the operational technology world and the information technology world. Cisco Cyber Vision tracks industrial sensors and devices on a network and then brings that information into existing Cisco security products so IT security experts can manage those devices as part of their traditional IT security roles. Cisco isn’t the first to try to bring the OT devices into the IT network. In December, Pulse Security and Nozomi Networks teamed up to do something similar. (Cisco blog)

Starbucks is launching more of its IoT coffee machines: In a conference call this week, Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer said the coffee chain will add 4,000 of its sensor-packed Mastrena II coffee machines to stores this year. The new machines will join 1,900 of these AI-enabled machines already in service. The Mastrena II machines are designed to collect data on what’s selling in stores in addition to the health of the machines themselves. They are also faster than the older coffee machines, so help reduce wait times. No word yet on how much these machines have saved, but if the internet of things can get me better coffee, faster, I’m here for it. (Yahoo Finance)

The post IoT news of the week for January 31, 2020 appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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