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IoT news of the week for Feb. 2, 2017

  • Posted by admin on February 3, 2018

Will the new FTC be less into privacy? The new members of the Federal Trade Commission are more experienced with antitrust than with privacy enforcement, which is making attorneys who monitor the agency concerned that those members will be less focused on enforcing privacy regulations. This is somewhat dismaying, considering that the FTC back in 2013 saw the deluge of freely available consumer data from connected devices and proposed in 2015 that Congress write new laws about it. It has also been proactive in enforcing some basic IoT security practices, suing companies that advertised secure devices even if they did not follow basic practices like forcing a password change after a user has set up the product. As more connected devices come online and suck up consumer data, a less vigilant FTC would be a shame. (Law360)

Do we need our own digital twin? The digital twin concept comes from NASA’s space program in which the idea was to create a digital simulacrum of the shuttle for testing purposes. Other industries, from Formula One racing to industrial manufacturing, have followed suit, building digital models of their highly specialized and sensitive equipment. But does that mean we should — or could — build a digital twin of our own human bodies? This article asks if we could use it to show the effects of our life choices or diagnose illness. My contention is that while the idea is interesting, we’re only discovering the complexities associated with our bodies. For example, it’s becoming clear that any medically useful version would need to account for our highly individual, complex, and changing microbiomes. So maybe the question isn’t yet should we create a digital twin, but can we create a digital twin? (IoT for All)

Four industrial sensors to consider: This is pretty nerdy, but I’m obsessed with sensors because when applied in new ways they can open up new experiences or insights. These four range from a high-temperature accelerometer to an ultrasonic sensor that can be used to measure liquids and powders. When they become interesting is when you take them out of their industrial context and apply them in a home. For example, an ultrasonic sensor might be put into a plastic container to sense how much flour or liquid is left inside. As it gets closer to empty, maybe it’s time to signal for a restock. (Embedded Computing Design)

Microsoft Azure boosted earnings! Amazon’s Web Services is still the cloud of choice for startups and many IoT platform companies, but you can’t ignore the pull of Microsoft Azure when it comes to attracting big enterprise clients. Among the enterprise and industrial IoT companies I talk to, most have their operations and data on Microsoft Azure. With the company’s second quarter financials (for fiscal 2018) reported this week, that becomes very clear; Microsoft saw a 98% leap in its cloud revenue from Azure from the previous quarter. How much is that, exactly, in hard dollars? We don’t know, because Microsoft doesn’t break out its Azure sales. However, it’s clearly doing something right. CEO Satya Nadella even gave a shout-out to the intelligent edge in the company’s earnings call. (MarketWatch)

More IoT for the construction business: At CES, Nate Williams, an EIR at Kleiner, told me he was interested in how the IoT can improve the construction sector. Well, here’s a cool startup that uses LIDAR and robots to monitor progress at a construction site each day and makes sure things are built to spec. Doxel monitors sites to ensure the humans building the project are following the plan and sticking to the timeline. As someone who has personally dealt with delays on home construction, I can only imagine how behind things can get on larger projects. Doxel will scan the site each day and let you know when, for example, someone just installed a beam in the wrong place to support the cantilevered deck you planned to add later. Finding out sooner is better than later. (IEEE Spectrum)

Should we worry about Satori? After the Mirai botnet exposed the dangers of having hard-coded passwords and a zombie horde of connected Linux-based boxes that could be harnessed to take down websites with denial-of-service attacks, security researchers have been down on IoT devices. But in most cases, IoT devices don’t have enough processing power to interest botnet creators because they aren’t that smart, or have limited access to the internet. So when I read about Satori, a botnet that’s attacked ARC-based devices that can include thermostats, I wondered if this was really the second coming of Mirai. It looks like its ability to infect set-top boxes and other devices that have more processing power might make it troublesome, although it is still only at about 40,000 devices. It takes advantage of devices still using default passwords, so change yours today. (MIT Technology Review)

Connect at your own risk: How often do you link your phone to your rental car while traveling? If you do, then you’re at risk for the maps data you request, your phone’s identity, and other elements to become part of the car’s stored record of user data. That’s because most rental agencies don’t have a way to clear previous drivers’ records from their cars. This may seem small, but think about all the times you put in your Netflix credentials at an AirBnB or any number of other times you make bits of your digital persona available. (Privacy International)

Suvie stores and then cooks your food on demand: I have a soft spot for kitchen gadgets and this one has me intrigued. The Suvie, which will go live next week on Kickstarter, offers a steam oven, broiler, sous vide functionality, and pasta/rice cooker. It can also keep food cool until it’s time to start cooking. It’s the food itself that gives me pause. The Suvie comes with meals that are optimized for the device, which means it’s closer to the Tovala oven than my beloved June oven. (The Spoon)

We can’t automate without people (and compassion): This story does a deep dive into what happened after Australia let an AI spot fraud and waste in its benefits program. The goal was to claw back misspent money, and the government threw algorithms at the problem of discovering waste and fraud. It then sent those who were flagged into an automated system with too few humans, making life a misery for folks already down on their luck. Bureaucracy is already tough to navigate. Adding an AI black box to the mix isn’t going to help.  (Logic)

Are you using your smartphone less? Over at our web site, Kevin writes about how he’s using his smartphone less because he’s using his watch and voice more. Plus, he detailed a fun project that he built using a LIFX bulb to track the ups and downs of his favorite cryptocurrency. (StaceyonIoT)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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