Startup Profile: Better Bluetooth from InfiniteKey

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Bluetooth is being pushed to the max as more devices require low-power connectivity. The wireless standard is inside everything from door locks to headphones, and companies like Apple or hub-maker Cassia are trying to make it even better.

InfiniteKey hopes to join their ranks with a technology that determines exactly where a Bluetooth device is. High levels of accuracy, plus some understanding of other devices in the vicinity, can ensure that Bluetooth becomes so accurate it could be used to unlock your car or exactly pinpoint a person in a building.

Kevin Virta, CEO of InfiniteKey, says the company formed two and half years ago hoping to find a way to let car makers take advantage of Bluetooth in people’s phones to unlock their car doors. However, the technology isn’t secure enough on its own.

Thus, InfiniteKey puts additional sensors around each vehicle to help create unique signatures keyed to special software running on someone’s handset. The result is a virtual key that is so refined it can determine if the person holding the phone is inside or outside the car.

This comes in handy because no one would really want their car to auto unlock when they are inside the vehicle. Or even more pressing, if they were inside their house and checking to see who was outside the door.

Virta says the company is talking to lock manufacturers about better Bluetooth locks, auto makers about using phones as a key fob (even when connectivity is absent) and even with office furniture makers about using Bluetooth to authenticate people in workplaces.

The company spun out of SpinDance (which is a sponsor of the newsletter and podcast) and is now looking for $ 4 million in seed funding that it hopes to close this May.

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Amazon refuses to hand over data from IoT speaker Echo in murder case

Amazon is refusing to hand over voice recordings from its Echo speaker to prosecutors hoping to use the IoT data as evidence against the suspect in a murder case.

Many IoT devices collect sensor data about the environment around them and even the smallest details could be used to build a picture of present or past events. As more IoT devices enter consumer homes, that data can be used to understand what led to events such as the tragic murder of Victor Collins.

Mr. Collins was found dead in a friend’s hot tub back in November 2015. His friend, James Andrew Bates, reported finding the body and is the primary suspect but has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course

Detectives learned that music was streamed into the back garden and believe it was controlled by the Alexa digital assistant on an Amazon Echo speaker. Prosecutors, therefore, are calling on Amazon to hand over any voice recordings made by the device to help understand what happened and use the data as evidence in proceedings.

According to court records, one of Mr. Collins’ eyes and his lips appeared to be swollen and suspected blood spots were found around the rim of the hot tub.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Amazon filed a motion last week asking for the judge to refuse the requests for data to be released from the Echo: “Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials,” its court filings read.

Echo is only supposed to record audio when its wake command is heard to protect the privacy of consumers, but sometimes the device is activated when audio is misheard. This audio is then sent to Amazon’s servers where the data gets interpreted and decides how the device should respond to requests.

“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course,” the company said in a statement.

The suspect, Mr. Bates, claims to be asleep during the alleged murder. Even direct voice commands made to Echo could identify whether he was awake or if anyone else was present in the household during the early hours of the morning when the murder is expected to have taken place.

Update 07/03: Amazon has agreed to hand over Echo data.

Do you think IoT data should be accessible to prosecutors? Let us know in the comments.

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From reactive to proactive quality management with IoT

In 9 ways the IoT is Redefining Manufacturing, Brian Buntz succinctly enumerates examples of companies who are implementing or benefiting from IoT capabilities. Each example shows how IoT is reshaping or redefining industry practices. One example of particular interest is Proactive Quality Assurance, enabled by placement of sensing and measuring devices in critical areas throughout the supply chain and production process.

The promise of significant cost reduction

With IoT, the ability to monitor and analyze process and product quality at critical points in the supply chain and production processes, and detect when sub-standard materials are introduced or product attributes deviate from specifications promises significant cost reductions.

Consider examples where improved monitoring of supplies, manufacturing processes, and even products in usage by customers can contribute to improved product and process quality. First, IBM has long been a practitioner of proactive quality management, developing the Quality Early Warning System (QEWS) algorithms for earlier, more definitive detection of problems throughout its own supply chain. The QEWS algorithms have been incorporated into the IBM Prescriptive Quality on Cloud offering to help manufacturers detect problems in supplier materials as well as in production processes.

The added assurance of detecting quality problems at source

Through instrumentation and monitoring of production equipment manufacturers can detect when equipment calibration is drifting beyond the required settings which could result in assemblies, components or products that do not meet specifications. For example, a gradual change in actuator speed could result in component misalignment. Concurrently, products can be tested or measured after key manufacturing steps to determine if attributes are within specifications. The ability to monitor both equipment settings and results of a completed manufacturing step gives manufacturers added assurance of detecting quality problems at the source.

Beyond monitoring, many manufactures are beginning to employ robotics as a means to improve process quality. The ability for robots to execute processes more accurately and efficiently and apply cognitive to continually learn to improve, or automatically adapt to variations in manufacturing requirements, will significantly enhance quality and throughput. IBM’s new report How the Emergence of Adaptive Robotics and IoT Transforms Businesses cites the role of robots in improving quality control and customization, and provides numerous use-case examples of the impact of robotics across industries.

Beyond the factory, with an increasing number of products imbued with sensors, intelligence and connectivity, the ability to monitor usage “in the field” can provide accurate and detailed perspective regarding product performance, potentially alerting customer service, warranty management, and even product design to shortcomings in product performance or unusual or unanticipated usage. Early detection of impending trends enables companies to proactively address and remedy problems before they become unmanageable and potentially ruin corporate reputation.

An earlier, more definitive detection of problems

A key benefit of the QEWS algorithm employed in IBM Prescriptive Quality on Cloud is the earlier, more definitive detection of  problems, often using fewer data points and avoiding false alarms associated with traditional statistical process control methods. Additionally, considering the volume of data generated by applying IoT capabilities to process and product quality, the solution prioritizes alerts to enable lines of business to address those problems needing immediate attention while making it easy to quickly evaluate status of all activities being monitored.

With capabilities made available via the IoT to capture and analyze data throughout the supply chain and manufacturing processes, there’s never been a better time to adopt a proactive quality management strategy.

The post From reactive to proactive quality management with IoT appeared first on Internet of Things blog.

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Cisco Jasper’s empire goes from strength to strength

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Cisco today announced at MWC that Cisco Jasper has completed live trials of NB-IoT on its Control Center connectivity management platform, making it one of the first IoT platforms to support NB-IoT. NB-IoT (Narrow Band-IoT) is a 3GPP-standard for LPWAN that is expected to drive growth of IoT at a massive scale, increasing the number of connected devices in excess of 3 billion by 2023.

Supported by the GSMA, NB-IoT delivers a reliable, cost-effective IoT connectivity solution for low-cost devices. This is achieved by leveraging existing LTE infrastructure to enable lower power consumption while maintaining excellent coverage. Examples of industries where NB-IoT is expected to transform business models include smart meters, smart cities, smart parking, building automation, asset tracking, and remote agriculture.

Cisco Jasper post-acquisition

I spoke to Macario Namie, Vice President Strategy at Cisco Jasper to learn more about the growth of Cisco Jasper. I was particularly interested to learn how the company has fared since its 2016 acquisition. According to Namie:

“When we were acquired in 2016, our reach encompassed about 3000 enterprises which had about 17 million devices that were connected and utilizing the platform and those enterprises are now working with us via service providers or the network operators else which we had 35 partners at that time. Flash forward to today’s numbers. Really it’s been really fantastic. We’re now at over 9000 enterprises over 40 million devices growing at a rate of over a million and a half per month and have now reached a nice milestone that we have partnerships with over server 50 service providers.”

Namie expanded on their growth:

“This growth is a reflection of really two things. One is just you’re starting to see the maturity in the market and more specifically the cellular market where companies you know are starting to really trust their deployments and are starting to scale that up. And the second is we have maintained a very maniacal focus on our business and servicing our customers even while we became part of Cisco and very much credit Cisco for allowing us to do that and not get distracted with things that sometimes happen when you become part of a larger organization.”

Namie also elaborated on their partnership with KT (Korea Telecom) which enables KT customers in Korea can manage their IoT services on a global scale from a single IoT platform thanks to Cisco Jasper’s partnerships with more than 50 service providers, which manage IoT devices across more than 550 mobile operator networks worldwide:

“We’re now announcing the fact that we’re live we’re available for launch and so we’re really excited about some of the work there I think the Korean market has been arguably one of the most sophisticated and advanced markets in telecommunications KT has long been deeply interested in and investing in IoT and has been a presence in IoT events or things like mobile world congress. So to be able to pair us with some of the work that they’re doing I think is a fantastic result and will yield and open up the Korean market to international players who are coming in and making it just that much easier. So we’re we’re really excited about the relationship that we have with these guys and that puts us now at covering yet another market around the world. Every major market is now is now covered which is which is fantastic. I remember it didn’t seem that long ago that we had one and two but since then we made some big strides.”

 Cisco Jasper expands its reach in connected cars

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Also announced at MWC, was a new partnership with Honda and Bright Box, a connected car platform for European Honda owners in Europe that provides services such as finding open parking spots based on GPS coordinates, and transmitting maintenance information to Honda. Cisco Jasper also revealed a collaboration with Jupl to provide a wearable mobile Personal Emergency Response System (mPERS) that promotes safety and wellness. The wearable device leverages the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch and purpose-built software from Jupl to provide a personal emergency response device without the need for a smartphone.

It’s easy to envisage a small company being gradually melded into the larger organization upon acquisition with a resultant loss of identity. Cisco Jasper was able to avoid this from the get go as Namie detailed:

“One of the things that was part of the discussion was that we would remain our own business. And so you know we’re we’re not simply Cisco we’re Cisco Jasper and the entire team is intact,  the entire management team that joined Cisco in March. We haven’t lost a single senior leader and the charter remains the same. The vision remains the same and the mission remains the same.  everything just feels like you know we now have basically a financial sponsor and a helper and for the most part is business has fundamentally not changed dramatically. And so that help us right that helps us remain focused and make sure we stay committed to what we set out to achieve.”

IoT is still in its infancy

It’s easy to forget that as a sector of technology, IoT hasn’t been around all that long as a commercial entity compared to its contemporaries. Namie agrees:”For technology as a whole, IoT is still very much emerging and very dynamic. And so you know if you’re if you’re in a small business or you get acquired by a large organization you’re there for a reason, you’re there because you have a skill set or an expertise that may not necessarily be present yet in the organization of the successful partnerships they’re going to be the ones for they respect their expertise and Cisco very much respects our expertise and our skills. And so it’s been a very, very positive experience.”

The post Cisco Jasper’s empire goes from strength to strength appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Lessons Learned from a Smart Building Project

Experience is the best teacher, which is what we discovered as the lead for an Intel smart building project. Even though the lessons we learned may seem simple or obvious, they can be difficult to carry out or easily glossed over due to the hectic pace of a construction project. This was a Greenfield building; however, most of the following learnings also apply to Brownfield projects.

 

Background

We outfitted a 10-story, 630,000 sq. ft. office building in Bangalore, India with approximately 9,000 sensors used to track and optimize temperature, lighting, energy consumption, and occupancy in the building. The implementation was based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions designed to collect, analyze, and secure data from building systems, and increase the capabilities of the building management system (BMS).

Our office building is forecasted to use 40 percent less energy due to the implementation of smart features, according to our project lead Srini Khandavilli, IoT/Smart Building Program Director, Intel India.

 

A picture of a building.

 

Business goals

Organizations just starting a smart building project have many considerations, so it’s critical to establish clear goals. Even better is to identify the key challenges upfront. These were the main goals of our project.

  • Reduce resource usage. Improve the control of energy and water-related systems by adding features that are typically lacking in a static BMS.
  • Improve operational efficiency. Move to a mobile cubicle model to accommodate more employees in the building.
  • Increase occupant comfort. Eliminate oscillating temperatures in the building so employees aren’t too hot or too cold during the day.

Metrics

At the beginning of the project, it’s important to clearly articulate what “success looks like” through measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). The metrics can help avoid mission creep by indicating when the project has met its business goals.

 

Use cases

When starting the project, we soon realized there‘s no single definition for a “smart” building, so we had to figure out which use cases to implement ourselves. We studied different ones and decided which best achieved our business goals:

  • Resource usage decreased when we added building analytics to control our energy sources: diesel generation, solar, fuel cells, and the grid. The solution also decreased our utility rates by enabling automated demand response.
  • Operational efficiency improved by installing occupant sensors in cubicles and tying them to a mobile cubicle booking application that helps employees find vacant cubicles, thereby increasing their utilization rates.
  • Employee comfort increased thanks to a machine learning algorithm that maintains a constant temperature in all building zones by taking more environmental factors into account.

 

Data points and API’s

We knew the reference architecture we were building would evolve and be the basis for multiple other implementations. We factored in data collection from a wide range of smart building touchpoints in order to maximize our ability to implement various building management applications, such as:

  • Energy monitoring and analytics
  • Smart grid demand response and demand-side management HVAC and lighting control
  • Remote asset monitoring
  • Operations and portfolio oversight

We also started insisting vendors expose their data over REST API’s. This enabled us to invoke and access these building subsystems from the cloud. The ideal state would be when all vendors embrace Open API’s, thereby enabling the extensibility of the underlying building subsystems.

 

IT partnership

It’s important to create a partnership with the IT department early in the project to ensure the smart building solutions are properly designed and interoperate with the company’s IT infrastructure.

 

Our results

The building analytics we added to reduce energy and water usage is forecasted to save $ 645,000 per year with a return on investment (ROI) payback period of less than four years. The mobile cubicle booking application increased the building’s employee capacity by approximately 30 percent. The machine learning algorithm that improves the building’s temperature control could improve worker satisfaction through increased thermal comfort by as much as 83 percent.1

 

Smart building opportunities

Today, the typical Intel office building uses a static BMS that may have limited capabilities to intelligently control energy and water-related systems. Making modifications can be very expensive due to the closed and proprietary nature of current BMS systems, which also is an impediment to incorporating the latest technologies and reaping the benefits of smart buildings.

At Intel, we’re moving to a BMS as a “Service” model that gives IT and facilities teams the flexibility to pick the vendors they deem best for specific functions. This approach also makes it easier to collect similar data from all buildings in the portfolio, enabling more intelligent decisions to be made at the portfolio level.

To learn more about the implementation of our smart building project, download the case study.

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