Five product trends to keep an eye for improvement of new or future iterations of products

You can always count on change as a constant in the Internet of Things (IoT). Here, David Grammer, PTC UK’s senior vice-president, describes five product trends we should keep an eye out for. The way that manufacturers manage information throughout the product lifecycle has changed significantly in the past few years.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has helped accelerate innovation in the design process, making it possible for manufacturers to receive information from products in the field that can be leveraged to improve new or future iterations of products. In order to succeed, organisations are going to need to embrace new technologies and capabilities available through enterprise system vendors.

Here are 5 trends in product design that engineers are going to be seeing and leveraging in the coming year:

Augmented Reality (AR) in design review

As teams become more globally distributed, it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone involved to review a product design in a timely manner, collect all the information needed for the review, and capture feedback for future action.

Using augmented reality (AR), team members are able to visualise, interact with, and provide feedback on product designs from anywhere in the world. AR makes it possible for stakeholders to interact with a 3D model of the product, such as walking around it and viewing different states of the model – including going inside the model itself. AR also enables users to get a third-party perspective from other teammates. This particularly comes in handy when deciphering notes from a colleague as it brings you to the point of view of the model they had when they made the comment.

IoT products transforming design practices

The market is clamoring for smart, connected products: whether it’s an Amazon Echo, a Nest Thermostat, or a Fitbit. In order to sufficiently meet the expectations of customers, manufacturers need to transform their product development process to understand and leverage data from products in the field. Noting product information on a CAD drawing is no longer going to cut it as products become more complex. Manufacturers will need to become more organised with their product development process.

Having a comprehensive PLM system provides a strong foundation to taking full advantage of IoT capabilities. By consolidating all product information into a single-view digital product definition, organisations can ensure that stakeholders are all accessing the most accurate, up-to-date product information. With a PLM system, all information is streamlined into a single easy-to-read Bill of Materials (BOM) list format.


Product data is an organisation’s most valuable asset. With products gathering data from the field, this data is becoming more valuable every day. However, many organisations continue to keep it locked away with engineering and manufacturing. Product data can be leveraged throughout the enterprise: whether it is how the marketing team promotes the product or how the sales team sells it.

By digitising the product development process, stakeholders throughout the organisation will be able to easily access product information. For example, if a manufacturer just merged with or acquired another company, digitising the product development process and making […]

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SPILaMM uses wearables to keep sheep farmers one step ahead

sheep wearables iot agriculture farming

Researchers at the University of Nottingham are working with agriculture industry leaders to address the challenge of lameness in sheep – and an IoT solution could provide the answer. 

Lameness in sheep is one of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture industry in the UK. The vast majority of lameness is caused by footrot, a painful disease that can lead affected livestock to lose weight rapidly.

More generally, lameness causes poor productive and reproductive performance, which in turn decreases the value of affected sheep for the farmer, processor, retailer and consumer.

It’s estimated that lameness costs UK farmers between £70M and £210M annually. The Sheep Performance Improvement through Lameness Monitoring and Management (SPILaMM project) has been funded by Innovate UK in an effort to bring together academics and industry professionals from the world of agriculture. These include the University of Nottingham, meat processor Dunbia and livestock management software company FarmWizard. 

Read more: Discovery Ag and NNNCo create rural IoT network for Australia’s farmers

Tagging and monitoring

The consortium is currently trialling IoT technology on 25 sheep farms in the UK. So far, they have developed a prototype tagging and monitoring system, combining edge processing technology from Intel and the FarmWizard platform.

The wearable device is worn on a sheep’s ear tag. From there it measures each animal’s movement and gait using an accelerometer and gyroscope. This information works in tandem with algorithms designed to alert farmers if something seems amiss.

According to research lead Dr Jasmeet Kaler, “So far they have provided high accuracy in predicting various behaviours of the sheep, including differentiating lameness.”

Because much of the processing takes place on the device rather than in the cloud, edge processing provides an advantage for battery life.

Read more: IoT on the farm: automated cow milking and more

First of its kind

Speaking to Internet of Business, Dr Jasmeet Kaler said, “To my knowledge, this technology is the first time in precision livestock where algorithms have been implemented on the device. In our work, we also explored various sampling rates to find an optimum for the behaviour classification in sheep but also what will be energy efficient.”

“The use of IoT is a growing area in agriculture, especially with livestock. We need to think of innovative solutions that combine our understanding of disease biology/animal behaviour with state of art technologies – while understanding the constraints of farm management systems.”

FarmWizard founder Terry Canning sees the advent of wearables in livestock farming as the next logical step. Speaking to Internet of Business, he said, “Livestock farmers need data to help them make the right decisions to maximise efficiencies, especially with Brexit around the corner.”

“For the past 14 years, FarmWizard have been focused on improving farmer to computer interfaces, utilising devices from text messaging to smartphones to make it easy for the non-deskbound farming community to record information on their livestock. This project really excited us as livestock wearable technology allows us to collect data on animals – in this case sheep – without any intervention from the farmer.”

The first research paper outlining the results and methodology of the SPILaMM project will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Read more: Farming IoT connections to hit 27m by 2021

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Put Health Data on Lockdown: How Hospitals Can Keep Patient Information Secure

Put Health Data on Lockdown: How Hospitals Can Keep Patient Information Secure

Put Health Data on Lockdown: How Hospitals Can Keep Patient Information Secure

Posted by Marc.

As we approach 2018, there are more things now than ever that are putting patients’ lives at risk. Not only are people distracted by their devices and causing injury to themselves and others, but the devices themselves can cause harm to an entire hospital. Cybercriminals are setting their sights on the medical field, stealing patient data in hopes of a large ransom payout. As a result, user confidence in the privacy of wearable, IoT devices remains low—especially potential consumers of the age-in-place market.

Without access to patients’ records, doctors and nurses can prescribe incorrect medications or perform procedures that can result in deadly consequences. That being said, there’s little medical professionals can do since there aren’t many rules and regulations related to handling situations like these. Although many smart home devices related to optimal health target the age-in-place market, IoT web developers need to keep an eye on data privacy and information security measures in order to be successful with baby boomers and older consumers, who tend to be suspicious of devices with GPS tracking and constant connectedness.

Does that mean hospitals are now forever doomed to be the personal piggybank of hackers everywhere? Hardly. As the healthcare profession utilizes the benefits of becoming more technologically advanced, there are things that can be done to keep patient data safe from potential data breaches.

It Starts with Employees

All it takes is one person to unintentionally allow hackers to access patient data. By holding security workshops and training sessions on HIPAA violations and password advice, it’ll make patient data that much safer.

Even with training, it’s important to limit the number of people who can access patient information to only the employees who need to access it. When restricting viewing privileges, authentication procedures should be put in place to increase data security. There more steps a person needs to take to validate their identity, the better.

Also, since employees will have probably have one or more personal devices on them, it’s best to institute a mobile device policy. Since hackers can gain access to important medical records through IoT such as mobile phones, it’s best to have rules and regulations on what can be downloaded and used on these devices.

Responsible Data Usage

Effective data management is paramount in this age of technology. There are many tools that can be used to further protect health data. By incorporating data controls, certain actions can be prevented from happening in the first place. Data sets can also be classified with different kinds of blocks depending on each set’s protection needs.

Having a login tracking tool is useful to see who is accessing information on which device, what location, and what date and time. This information becomes crucial if a hospital happens to suffer from a data breach in being able to pinpoint how it happened and what can be done to prevent cyberattacks in the future.

Although having a malicious stranger be in possession of important patient information isn’t good in anyone’s book, hospitals can negate some of the complications involved by having off-site data backups. Data can be protected even more by encrypting it so that if hackers were able to get their hands on it, they wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it, rendering it useless to them.

It’s even suggested to store physical medical records off-site as an extra safety precaution. However, hospitals should be wary of using cloud data services as their backup since fourth amendment rights can be removed. Once patient information is no longer needed, it is then suggested to regularly delete unnecessary data.

Make Network Security a Priority

Many hackers can find their way in through a shoddy network, which is why it’s important for healthcare professionals to make theirs as secure as possible. Having up-to-date firewalls and the latest antivirus software are must haves, but having safeguards in case of a breach is just as crucial. This includes using multiple networks so that if one gets compromised, a cybercriminal will not have access to all information.

With the use of wireless networks becoming more widespread, it’s integral that certain security steps are taken since these kinds of networks are more susceptible to cyberattacks. The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure the router that is being used is not outdated with security measures that cannot protect against advanced hacking methods. Additionally, networks shouldn’t be made available to other devices, and passwords should be changed on a regular basis.

When it comes to IoT usage in hospital settings, it’s best that they have their own network altogether. IoT devices are usually much easier for cybercriminals to hack, giving them a way to access valuable patient data. Prevent this by regularly monitoring the IoT network for any unusual activity, using authentication processes, and keeping up with each devices’ software updates. Also, we should keep track of policies and legislation advocating an IoT security standard, as was recently advocated on IoT Business News.

Although it may feel like there’s nothing hospitals can do when facing the possible threat of a data breach, the healthcare profession is not without defense against the onslaught of criminal cyber activity. By educating employees, monitoring data usage, and securing networks, medical professionals can focus more on taking care of patients instead of taking care of cyberattacks.

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Royal Dirkzwager keep eye on seas with satellite comms and big data

Royal Dirkzwager keep eye on seas with satellite comms and big data

Maritime tracking specialist Royal Dirkzwager has used technology from Software AG to help clients keep a closer eye on vessel movements.

For Netherlands-based Royal Dirkzwager and its clients, shipping information is a way to keep a close eye on conditions at sea and ensure a smooth passage for vessels. The company tracks almost 2 trillion ship locations a year on behalf of around 800 maritime organizations – but the world’s oceans are vast and remain tricky to monitor.

Early, ship-based transponders provided a partial solution, but these can only communicate data when a ship comes into port and don’t reach any further than around 40 kilometres offshore.

“Satellite tracking was the obvious solution,” says Royal Dirkzwager CIO Ton De Jong, but with 120,000 ships transmitting data every two seconds over satellite networks, he soon found that the flood of data swamped Royal Dirkzwager’s systems.

Read more: Dubai shipping company Topaz links ships to shore with Maritime Connect

Attention all shipping

Today, the company uses Software AG’s Apama Analytics & Decisions Platform and Webmethods Integration, as part of its wider deployment of the Software AG Digital Business Platform. This set-up enables satellite and IoT information from vessels to be collected and analyzed, aiding shipping movement forecasts and in-harbor logistics.

Royal Dirkzwager can now provide its clients with live and continuously updated ETAs (estimated times of arrival) for ships. This, in turn, means customers can coordinate better with port employees and the trucking companies that collect goods at docks and carry them on their onward journeys.

This is important, because when a ship comes into harbor, a complex choreography of services is initiated, from finding suitable tugboats and a berth, to refueling, unloading cargo and resupplying the vessel with fresh food and supplies for its crew. If the third parties providing these services aren’t ready, an unscheduled arrival can prove extremely costly.

Accurate ETAs, by contrast, come with a host of benefits, including lower costs, higher asset utilization and increased customer satisfaction.

Read more: Cargo shipping tech specialist MTI completes blockchain pilot

Customers embrace customization

Customization is another big win for Royal Dirkzwager, using the new platform. With Apama working in the background, the company’s clients can send their own alerts, customizing real-time messages by ship, route and tracking location. By automating this process, the company has improved its real-time message handling by 300 percent, it claims, from 500 messages per second to 1,500.

Clients subscribe to information about specific ships based on virtual zones drawn around any location. As soon as a monitored vessel enters (or exits) a zone, the subscriber receives details by email or text. An XML message can also be submitted to an operational system or invoke a Web service.

For Royal Dirkzwager’s customers, this helps control costs and improve safety. And for the company itself, it provides a foundation for new logistics services in the future.

Read more: Semtech LoRa geolocation helps Irish Port of Cork track shipping assets

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Drones help scientists keep tabs on food chain in Antarctica

drones and aerial technology used to gather data on seals in antarctica

Drones are being used to measure the length and weight of leopard seals in Antarctica.

The higher you go up the food chain, the more you can learn about the ecosystem as a whole. That thinking is behind a project that has seen marine researchers use drones to collect biological samples from whales, and it’s now underpinning similar efforts on land in Antarctica.

Scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center are using drones to gather data on the predator that best reflects the health of local fish stocks: leopard seals.

Read more: WeRobotics to use drones to curb mosquito populations

Using a drone to gather seal data

Working with drone company Aerial Imaging Solutions, the NOAA SFCC team have been able to accurately determine the weight and length of leopard seals solely through the use of aerial photography.

Using a drone to hover above the animals, the research team are able to ascertain length and weight measurements accurate to within 2 percent and 4 percent respectively.

As with many drone applications, the biggest factor is the time saved. Traditionally, research teams looking to gather the same information would face hours in the cold attempting to find, capture and immobilize the seals.

A crew of five could take over four hours to catch each of the 15 leopard seals selected for the study. But with the drone, a two-person team only needed 20 minutes to gather the same data. The new method is also a lot less stressful and invasive for the animals, which can only be a good thing.

Read more: Park rangers use IoT in mission to save endangered black rhinos

Getting more done in less time

“We continue to develop technologies to gather the data we need to manage fish and wildlife in a safer, less expensive way,” said Douglas Krause, lead author of the paper demonstrating the new research method, An accurate and adaptable photogrammetric approach for estimating the mass and body condition of pinnipeds using an unmanned aerial system.

“We’re certainly excited because we can get that much more work done, in less time, and at lower costs than ever before.”

“We can get measurements that are just as good, or better, without ever bothering the animals,” Krause said. “Catching a single seal can take hours, but the drone can photograph every seal on a beach in a few minutes.”

Read more: FindMy IoT saves Nordic reindeer from train collisions

drones in antarctica, leopard seals

Data gathered from drones on the local leopard seal population reflects the health of the Antarctic ecosystem. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Drones have important role to play in Antarctica

By making the collection of data faster, cheaper and more efficient, aerial technology can free up valuable resources for researchers enable them to make a positive difference. In Antarctica, keeping track of a dynamic eco-system is the only way to make informed policy decisions.

“We’re always looking for more efficient ways to collect data that informs decisions on how to manage these important resources,” said George Watters, director of the NOAA’s Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division (AERD).

“The better we understand the ecosystem, the better we can ensure it’s protected for the long term.”

Read more: Scottish wildlife experts save seals with IoT

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