AWS goes all-in on IoT at Reinvent in Las Vegas

AWS goes all-in on IoT in Las Vegas

AWS is placing serious bets on IoT, with a flurry of announcements at its Reinvent conference underway this week in Las Vegas.

When it comes to embracing industry trends, Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy prefers an evidence-based approach, it seems.

At the company’s Reinvent conference, taking place at The Venetian in Las Vegas this week, he pretty much told journalists not to expect any blockchain announcements from AWS, the cloud arm of the online retail giant.

IoT, however, is a different matter entirely. “Of all the buzzwords of choice that we’ve been working on at AWS, IoT might be delivering the fastest in terms of the actual number of companies doing realy work there,” Jassy told attendees in his keynote presentation. “We’re now just entering a world where the growth in number of [connected] devices is going to be exponential.”

Read more: AWS launches Greengrass for IoT edge computing

Flurry of announcements

In keeping with that, the company unleashed a flurry of IoT-related announcements at the event. Of particular interest to managers in charge of large fleets of connected devices within enterprises was the announcement of three new services in particular.

The first is AWS IoT Device Management. Available now, this provides a platform by which IT managers can onboard, organise, remotely manage and retire IoT devices scattered around the networks. In other words, it’s a tool to oversee the entire lifecycle of a connected device, from initial set-up to end-of-life procedures.

Once devices are in service, the service enables customers to “easily group and track devices, quickly find any device in near real-time, troubleshoot device functionality, remotely update device software, and remotely reboot, reset, patch, and restore devices to factory settings, reducing the cost and effort of managing large IoT device deployments,” said the company. 

The second service is AWS IoT Analytics. Currently in preview, this service helps bring data from edge devices into the cloud for analysis and insight. It’s a fully managed service that takes care of cleaning, processing, storing and analysing IoT data at scale. According to the company, getting started with this service is easy: “Customers simply identify the device data they wish to analyze, and they can optionally choose to enrich the data with IoT-specific metadata, such as device type and location, by using the AWS IoT Device Registry and other public data sources.”

The service also supports more sophisticated analytics, so customers can better understand device performance, predict failures and perform time-series analysis to dig down into what a device is telling them. When the service is combined with Amazon’s Quicksight data visualization tools, they can build dashboards and heat maps that display data in easy-to-understand ways.

The third IoT service in this trio is AWS IoT Device Defender. Scheduled for release in the first half of 2018, this service will continuously audit security policies associated with devices to keep them safe. THe service also monitors the activities of fleets of devices, identifying abnormal patterns that might indicate a security issue. For example, a customer can use the service “to define which ports should be open on a device, where the device should connect from and how much data it should send or receive.” said the company.

Amazon Web Services was also able to give examples of customers already using the first two products. Philips Healthcare, for example, said it is using AWS IoT Device Management for medical devices on which doctors and hospitals rely, while iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, is using AWS IoT Analytics to better understand “device performance and usage patterns”, according to Ben Kehoe, cloud robotics research scientist at the company.

Read more: Amazon woos Alexa developers with free AWS services

Other IoT news from Reinvent

Other IoT announcements at Reinvent included the unveiling of AWS IoT 1-Click. This is focused primarily on companies that want to build devices that perform simple functions, such as single-button devices used to call technical support, reorder supplies or track location assets. With this service, they can download a mobile app, register the device and associate it with an Lambda function (a simplified piece of code running in the cloud that triggers an event) – for example, locking a garage door once a car is safely put away inside. Customers also have the option to author and upload their own Lambda functions.

In addition, there was the introduction of Amazon FreeRTOS, which helps customers connect small, low-power devices that don’t contain much onboard computing power but just a microcontroller to connect to the cloud.

Finally, there was AWS Greengrass ML. This is a new feature for Greengrass, the company’s service that customers use to run AWS compute, messaging, data caching and sync capabilities on connected devices for edge computing. Greengrass ML adds to the mix by enabling application developers to add machine learning to connected devices, without requiring special machine learning skills.

Amazon Web Services is clearly very serious about IoT and sees the area as a potentially huge moneyspinner in the years ahead. As Jassy told Reinvent attendees: “When I think of net new opportunities, the conversation starts with being able to get data from assets in the field and to be able to do analytics on it.”

Read more: AWS makes Amazon Lex AI available to customers

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Internet of Business

Mini Strandbeest goes electric with Arduino

Strandbeests, as originally conceived, are gigantic PVC creatures that walk across the sand under wind power. While building one is certainly an enormous undertaking, smaller models are available that let you experience this strange kinetic motion in a more approachable size. These are also normally propelled by moving air, but maker “ArduinoDeXXX” decided to take things further with a pair of DC motors and an Arduino Nano.

The project came together over five distinct iterations, starting off with the normal wind-driven version, then adding uncontrolled motors. After that, the Arduino was included for automation, and this was upgraded with an IR remote. Finally, ArduinoDeXXX integrated simple gesture sensing using an array of IR LEDs.

You can see the mini Strandbeest in action below, along with a few “bonus” improvements at the end.

Arduino Blog

US Air Force goes Top Gun for IoT-based predictive maintenance

US Air Force goes Top Gun for IoT-based predictive maintenance

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is arming itself with new AI and IoT technologies to power predictive maintenance of aircraft and boost mission effectiveness.

Top Gun just got real. The US Air Force’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental division – also known as DIUx – has selected C3 IoT, a Redwood City, California-based specialist in big data analytics, to help provide it with IoT-powered, AI-based predictive maintenance software.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), it seems, is on a mission to increase asset availability and reduce maintenance expenditures and DIUx is central to those efforts, as a DoD organisation focused on accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies.

Read more: AT&T announces ‘smart base’ initiative with US Air Force

F-16 with IoT

After an evaluation process designed to test the maturity and scalability of the C3 IoT Platform, the DoD, via DIUx, has contracted C3 IoT for a multi-year agreement to deliver the C3 Predictive Maintenance software product for aircraft platforms.

The first two platforms will be for E-3 Sentry (AWACS) and F-16 aircraft and both are scheduled to go into production within the next six months.

The DoD hopes this will help it to integrate an enormous volume of disparate data, some of it structured (sensor reports, for example) and some of it unstructured (such as maintenance logs), in a unified, cloud-based format running on Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud (US).

From there, the intention is to apply AI and machine learning at scale, in near-real time, to predict impending failures at both component and system levels.

Read more: US Army awards IBM a $ 135 million cloud support contract


Sensitive information

AWS GovCloud (US) is an isolated AWS region that holds Provisional Authorizations for FedRAMP High and Moderate baselines. In theory at least, that allows the DoD to use it to host sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and all types of regulated workloads.

Proactive and targeted identification of opportunities to service and replace aircraft components will increase deployment certainty”. In other words, the Air Force will know when, where and how it can use specific aircraft. It will also reduce the frequency and duration of unscheduled maintenance repairs and enable necessary repairs to be scheduled more efficiently. Finally, it will make maintenance staff more productive.

“The combination of big data, elastic cloud computing, AI and IoT is becoming the most significant development of the information age and is driving the digital transformation of every industry – including aerospace, government services and defense,” said Ed Abbo, C3 IoT president and CTO.

“With DIUx, the Department of Defense is demonstrating leadership in moving quickly to integrate these leading-edge technologies into the U.S. military for strategic national security.”

Read more: New Zealand Air Force recruits Blip Systems for traffic management project

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Iridium Certus – Goes Live for On-Orbit Satellite Testing

Iridium Certus – Goes Live for On-Orbit Satellite Testing

Worldwide Service for Specialty L-Band Broadband Applications Preparing for Commercial Service Debut in 2Q 2018.

Iridium Communications Inc. today announced that it has begun live testing of the Iridium Certus service on operational Iridium NEXT satellites.

Iridium Certus will be Iridium’s new, truly global broadband service, offering safety and critical L-band communications connectivity through the Iridium® NEXT satellite constellation. Graduating from laboratory-based tests, Iridium Certus on-orbit testing is a major milestone along the path towards introducing commercial service, currently scheduled for early second quarter, 2018.

Beginning on September 25, 2017, the testing and validation process has involved uploading and activating software to the Iridium NEXT satellites already in orbit to enable Iridium Certus. As of October 4, 2017, several Iridium NEXT satellites in operation were already undergoing live on-orbit Iridium Certus testing. As each new additional Iridium NEXT satellite comes on-line in the coming months, Iridium Certus service will be activated through those satellites as well until all 66 operational satellites in the Iridium NEXT constellation are active, expected in 2018.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch, says:

“Iridium Certus is going to fundamentally change the status quo in satellite connectivity for aviation, maritime, land-mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and government users.”

“Achieving this major milestone continues our momentum for our mission to introduce world-changing broadband services and applications designed to help our partners provide critical connectivity solutions, both standalone and in support of other broadband technologies.”

Iridium Certus terminals are being built by Cobham, L3 Communications, Rockwell Collins and Thales USA, all of which are participants in the Iridium Global Value Added Manufacturer program. It is expected that live on-orbit tests will be conducted on the terminals as they are ready. Featuring small form factor, cost-effective terminals and antennas, Iridium Certus will ultimately offer the fastest L-band broadband solution available, supported by the world’s only truly global network.

Once all service classes are fully deployed, Iridium Certus will be capable of speeds up to 1.4 Mbps; however, it will feature a variety of service speeds, cost points, and antenna options. These include:

  • IoT-focused Iridium Certus 20 (22 Kbps) through small, battery powered and highly mobile devices capable of supporting applications such as asset tracking, remote monitoring, telemetry, the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) and global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS) applications;
  • Iridium Certus 100 (88 Kbps) in small form factors capable of supporting applications such as email, graphical weather (WX), photo transfer, internet/VPN and credit card validating;
  • Iridium Certus 200 (176 Kbps) capable of supporting applications such as electronic chart and display information system (ECDIS) updates, aeronautical charts and streaming audio;
  • Iridium Certus 350 (352 Kbps) capable of supporting applications such as flight data recorder streaming, VSAT redundancy and low-resolution video;
  • Iridium Certus 700 (704 Kbps) supporting applications such as video conferencing, standard definition video, multi-user internet/VPN and telemedicine; and
  • Iridium Certus 1400 (1.4 Mbps) capable of supporting applications such as high definition video, video conferencing, multi-user internet/VPN, telemedicine and additional applications.

Current on-orbit testing is focused on Iridium Certus 350, the initial service class to be introduced, which will deliver internet and voice services to compact terminals built specifically for maritime, aviation, and terrestrial/vehicular applications. These terminal products will be upgradable to Iridium Certus 700 with a firmware update once the service is available.

Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of inter-connected low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe – the largest commercial satellite constellation in space. The constellation’s unique architecture features interconnected satellites that form a web of coverage around the earth, enabling low-latency connectivity over the oceans, in the poles and other remote areas.

For a complete overview of Iridium Certus speeds and capabilities, please visit

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Nest goes after Ring and home security players with latest updates

Nest, the Alphabet-owned smart home automation provider, has issued a variety of roadmap and product updates around home security.

Among the products, as part of an overall home security solution, is a secure alarm system, an outdoor security camera, as well as a video doorbell system.

The move is the “next phase” of Nest’s strategy to “create the thoughtful home,” in the words of CEO Marwan Fawaz. “Today we’re disrupting yet another product industry: home security,” he said in a statement. “By building product experiences our customers love, Nest has experienced more than 60% growth on devices shipped in recent years and continues to expand to millions of homes around the world.”

The company cites a survey from Nationwide in 2013 which found 43% of people who own alarm systems never arm them, and according to Matt Rogers, Nest founder and chief product officer, this served as inspiration to change the market in the same way Nest has tried to change the smart thermostat market.

Nest Secure is therefore marketed as the ‘first alarm system that is actually enjoyable to live with’, as the company puts it. Through a variety of different products, from Detect, a sensor that detects both motion and open or close movement, to Tag, a fob that will allow users to arm and disarm Secure without a passcode, the product aims to relate to different routines various members of the home will have.

With Nest Hello on the other hand, the target in the company’s sights appears to be Ring, the Santa Monica-based company which provides security cameras, accessories, and – of course – video doorbells. Nest Hello can “detect a person, then send an alert and a snapshot, even if that person doesn’t ring the bell,” the company said.

Pricing for the Nest Secure starter pack, including Nest Guard, two Nest Detects and two Nest Tags, will be at the recommended retail price of $ 499. You can read the full announcements here.

Picture credit: Nest Latest from the homepage