Mobile World Congress 2017: My highlights

Barcelona was the scene of another festival of technology, as the world’s most influential companies, journalists and engineers travelled to Mobile World Congress (MWC). MWC tends to be associated with new handset launches, but this year’s show was about more than just devices. There were indeed notable mobile handset stories, with some iconic brands making […]

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How to Thrive — and Survive — in a World of AI Disruption

The pace of progress in AI and machine learning is accelerating rapidly. In the past month alone, these are just a few of the news items I’ve seen:

  • DeepMind Technologies Ltd. in London, U.K., has developed a system to scan 1 million images from eye scans and is training itself to spot early signs of degenerative eye conditions.
  • Rethink Robotics Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts, founded by former MIT AI Lab director, Rodney Brooks, made massive upgrades to its Sawyer robots to help nonexperts program routines that instruct the robot how to carry out complex tasks.
  • H&R Block’s tax preparers began using IBM’s Watson computer system to maximize customer deductions. Watson “knows” thousands of pages of federal tax code and will continually update changes as they occur.
  • NuTonomy Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a startup developing self-driving cars based on technology from MIT, has launched a small fleet of autonomous taxis in Boston.
  • Forward, a San Francisco, California, startup founded by Google’s former special projects director, is attempting to shift traditional health care away from immediate and reactive care procedures, to proactive care through the use of AI and wearable sensors.

Deep learning and neural networks have dramatically improved in effectiveness and impact, leading to human-level performance in many aspects of vision, conversational speech, and problem-solving. As a result, industries are in the midst of a major transformation and more is on the way.

But there’s also a backlash brewing. Median income in America is lower now than in the past 15 years, and wealth is concentrated at the highest levels. As seen in the recent U.S. elections, there is dissatisfaction with the uneven distribution of the benefits of technological progress. IDE research bears out the chasms many are feeling.

Rumblings about robots replacing more and more human work have been heating up — with legitimate concerns. In 2014 when I published The Second Machine Age with Andrew McAfee, we anticipated much of this progress, but the pace has accelerated beyond expectations. This isn’t the first time automation has transformed factories, of course, but with today’s robust AI technologies, automation is starting to creep into fields that require less repetitive manual labor and once seemed immune to this shift, such as law, education, and journalism. Today’s advances are augmenting human minds, not just muscles.

In the midst of all these wonders, it is important to remember that there’s no shortage of important work that can be done only by humans. And that will remain true for many years. The challenge we face today is not a “world without work” but a world with rapidly changing work. The response, then, isn’t simply replacing income for workers being displaced by technology, but preparing them to do new jobs that are desperately needed in education, health care, infrastructure, environmental cleanup, entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and many other areas.

How? Too many business and labor leaders, as well as politicians, have become complacent. They fear a future that will disrupt current models and economies. But the solution to disruption isn’t to protect the past from the future or to freeze the old ways of doing things. That’s guaranteed to fail. The best path forward is to adopt emerging tools and models that not only create goods and services but overall prosperity.

Developing AI products and services in a timely, competitive way, doesn’t have to conflict with deploying — and re-deploying — the workforce. Instead of thinking of AI as a zero-sum game, or a way to automate existing jobs and services, forward-thinking executives recognize that technology adds value by expanding jobs and boosting productivity. When technology complements human workers, makes them more productive, and also cuts costs, businesses and employees are better off.

Remember that historically, technology has both destroyed and created jobs. We need to shift today’s conversation more toward job-creation solutions where automation is more than just replacing current labor with capital investments.

Two examples from the IDE’s 2016 Inclusive Innovation Challenge illustrate how this might be done: At 99Degrees Custom Inc., based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, regional “speed factories” use robotics and lean and agile development tactics to help the young apparel company respond to demand, reduce inventory, and innovate ahead of competitors. At the same time, it trains a skilled, local workforce, pays better wages, and invests in the career advancement of its workers.

In a very different case, the giant German software company, SAP, launched Africa Code Week two years ago to empower young Africans with coding skills. Last year, more than 430,000 youth in 30 countries in Africa and four countries in the Middle East took part in Africa Code Week and Refugee Code Week. SAP says that in the long term, the effort will “help close the information and communication technology skills gap in the regions,” spurring economic growth and stability. It is also an integral part of SAP’s vision to help improve people’s lives.

There are many approaches to thriving in the evolving AI world, but all require determination and resourcefulness. Some efforts might focus on areas where humans still have the advantage over machines — intangible characteristics and interpersonal skills such as creativity, empathy, teamwork, planning, problem-solving, and leadership. Others might build sensor-based systems to help us reduce energy use through greater efficiency and lower cooling bills, or to enrich our cultural life. All are part of what 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.”

The emerging AI future will be a far cry from today’s business as usual — but it doesn’t have to be a time of panic. With a clear commitment to sharing the prosperity of the digital economy, and with confident investments in a rapidly emerging future, the next few decades will be the best in human history, for the many, not just the few.

MIT Sloan Management Review

Telit Unveils Bluetooth 5 Module at Mobile World Congress 2017

Telit Unveils Bluetooth 5 Module at Mobile World Congress 2017

Telit today introduced the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) BlueMod+S50 single mode module.

This marks the industry’s first introduction of a standalone and certified, Bluetooth® 5 compliant module with a compelling mix of future-proof features designed to extend product lifecycles. Building on the success of the Telit BlueMod family of Bluetooth modules and complete integrated set of IoT products and services, the BlueMod+S50 is key to bringing low power, “connectionless” IoT designs and services to market quickly.

The new BlueMod+S50 module from Telit marks an industry milestone. Now, developers can adopt this cutting-edge technology into use cases not possible with previous generations of Bluetooth, such as full in-building connections. The latest Bluetooth 5 specification offers significant updates with quadruple range and speeds that are twice as fast, while increasing the capacity of connectionless data broadcasts by 800%. Always a step ahead, Telit incorporated additional features such as secure, integrated NFC (Near Field Communication) capability and support for most GATT based Client and Server profiles.

“What makes the BlueMod+S50 so compelling is the combination of industry’s latest silicon with Telit’s state of the art engineering for an overall richer, more intelligent user experience,” said Felix Marchal, Executive Vice President of GNSS and Short Range Wireless. “We take it a step further with our ‘design once, use anywhere’ philosophy by including resources from the Telit IoT Know How program—assisting customers holistically with deployment of completion solutions from idea to market.”

“The new module is not only swappable with previous generations of our Bluetooth line, it includes enhancements that benefit verticals which depend on advanced, forward-thinking technology like smart home and healthcare.”

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Generic GATT Client and Server: Simplifies configuration
  • Terminal I/O: Enables fast and reliable transport of data/ protocols transparently over Bluetooth
  • NFC Handover: Eliminates manual interaction, delivering a nearly instant and most important—secure connection.
  • Reliable line-of-sight range: over 800* meters. (*250m with Android phone and iPhone).
  • Ultra-Low power: Proprietary UICP (UART Interface Control Protocol) further reduces power consumption of the module by 30-100 times compared to non UICP operations.

The BlueMod+S50 delivers industry-leading low power consumption and is well suited for many verticals including home automation, healthcare, telematics, asset management, routers and gateways, retail, and smart cities in addition to battery dependent devices with long product lifecycles. Designers can integrate the module without additional hardware via a robust choice of interfaces, including GPIO, ADC, UART, SPI, and others.

The new module is being fast tracked to address market demand for advanced, low-power wireless networking technology. It is the company’s latest addition to the Advanced Edge Technology portfolio that supports Bluetooth, Short range, GNSS, Wi-Fi, LoRa, and LPWA. As device makers are looking to develop IoT solutions that remain relevant for years to come, they are eager to adopt future-proof solutions. ABI Research forecasts Bluetooth-enabled device shipments over the next five years will increase by an average of half a billion per year through 2021, reaching more than five billion.

* Samples, evaluation and development kits available in the second half of 2017.

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Beecham Research Review of Mobile World Congress 2017

MWC 2017

Review by Saverio Romeo, Principal Analyst at Beecham Research.

‘The importance of being real’

MWCs gone by have been full of dreams with attendees flying from one hall to the other on a magic carpet of unbelievable things to see and use. But the shows have too often fallen short when describing how these marvellous things would actually happen and work. The importance was the hype.

Thankfully, in the last two years, the community has realised that a Utopia is nice to dream of, but if you want to make it a reality you need to have the right infrastructure, the right integration of systems, the right policy and regulatory conditions and skilled people for securely building that Utopia. This years’ MWC stuck to this.

There have been strong moments of nostalgia, using history to build for the future. The enormous attention on LPWAN and 5G brings back the momentum on connectivity and related services as an essential infrastructure block for any vision of a Utopia, whether it be the world of low data applications or the world of connected cars and VR/AR. The return of Nokia and Blackberry resuming their history through “vintage” devices is another moment of reflection.

Nostalgia, if not taken to the extreme, invites you to think about the past, appreciate and understand the limits of the present and build the future, hopefully, in a better way. In the case of the MWC community, that is a good approach, especially when reflecting on unsolved issues such as; IoT platforms, business models for IoT solutions, system integrations, understanding the specific features of verticals, building the new skill sets for the IoT, and making clear that regulatory conditions will be increasingly relevant because the IoT will influence directly people through the transformation of contexts and spaces. I have had conversations on all of these and I see organisations prepared to discuss their approach alongside those issues. I saw these also in the Hall of Dreamers (Hall 8.0), the best Hall of all. Dreamers (AR/VR, AI, Graphene among others) are dreaming, but they are real because they know they have to be for making their dreams our dreams.

I liked this MWC. I liked the practical view of the business and technological context we are living in. I liked not having magic carpets, but, having extraordinary ideas thought with care and with a critical mind.

Review by David Parker, Senior Analyst at Beecham Research.

‘IoT permeating all aspects of business’

It was interesting to see companies whose business is 100% IoT were grouped in Hall 8.0. These ‘pure’ IoT players included the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) providers of network technology and services, along with manufacturers of devices which connect to them. Until recently, cellular technology has been the dominant provider of M2M/IoT connectivity but for the cellular guys, the IoT is a relatively small part of their business, although their IoT offerings featured in all eight halls at the show.

Connecting things to the internet that are neither phones nor computers was a ubiquitous theme of MWC 2017, companies showing everything from grid level energy storage to the manufacturers of the new hybrid London taxi featured IoT technology as a key part of their offer. Monitoring temperatures, traffic flows, energy usage and knowing the location of assets are just some of the ways the IoT is permeating all aspects of business. IoT’s answer to the ‘glamour’ of the latest smart phone is to fly drones around. A personal summing up of MWC 2017 would be – ‘I have never seen so many drones’.

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Fully Autonomous Vehicles: Reinventing Driving for a Safer World

Looking ahead, one thing is clear: Rapidly evolving technology is critical to the future of fully autonomous driving. Recently, I wrote about what goes on under the hood of the latest automated vehicles. Others in my field have covered the incredible value automated driving will have on our society — on a global scale, it could save more than USD $ 5.6 trillion per year by preventing accidents, boosting productivity and reducing fuel costs.

But this change won’t happen on its own. To turn a vision into reality, our transportation ecosystem will need new levels of collaboration and a comprehensive set of technologies that span three critical areas: the car, connectivity and the cloud.


Car to Cloud: Compute Is the New Horsepower

A stock image tries to recreate the mood of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" by having a person touch a computer screen.

To start with, cars will need incredibly high computing power so they can quickly react to changes on the road. They’ll need to recognize objects, determine how fast and in which direction they’re moving and make split-second decisions about how to navigate around them. This requires a level of in-vehicle computing we haven’t seen before.

To give system designers exactly the level of compute they need, Intel delivers a portfolio that’s incredibly scalable, ranging from power-optimized Intel Atom to high-performance Intel Xeon processors. Rather than pursuing a single microarchitecture to handle everything, we’re designing products that will enable real-time decisions to be made across a variety of independent computing elements where the workload could run. With multiple domains of overlapping compute and sensor processing, workloads can be distributed with greater safety and security. Furthermore, our flexible architecture maximizes hardware and software reuse, so automakers and tier 1 suppliers can pursue countless design iterations that differentiate their brands and accommodate a wider range of market needs.

But even if we have the technology to build fully autonomous vehicles, consumers will not embrace them until self-driving cars earn their trust. An automated vehicle’s human-machine interface (HMI) is how the car and its passengers communicate with each other. Intel is making significant investments in primary and collaborative research to reveal insights on how automotive HMIs can facilitate and enhance trust interactions. Our research has led to key findings about the interactions that build trust. For example, cars should share what they “see” with passengers and give them multiple ways to provide instruction or request changes.


5G: Communication in Milliseconds

An image of vehicles of a freeway representing vehicle-to-vehicle communciation.

As mobile data traffic surges, connected vehicles will be among the billions of devices competing for network bandwidth. To confidently support vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications and other new experiences, transportation providers will need increasingly faster data transfer speeds and response times — not just in seconds, but in milliseconds.

The next generation of mobile networking, 5G, is expected to deliver one-millisecond, ultra-low latency with 99.999 percent reliability at 10 Gbps speeds. It will allow automakers to target several exciting new use cases, such as high-definition (HD) map downloads in real time, HD content for in-vehicle infotainment and over-the-air firmware and software updates. In addition, data from the vehicle’s sensors will be uploaded to the cloud to inform machine learning models.

The industry is already beginning to pave the path to 5G. At CES in January, Intel announced the world’s first 5G-ready development platform for autonomous driving as part of our new Intel GO portfolio. AT&T recently announced two test markets for its 5G network. Other global telecom leaders, including Ericsson, KT, LG Electronics, Nokia, SK Telecom and Verizon, are working on integrated 5G solutions that will provide advanced connectivity and transform the network.


A Powerhouse for a New Era of Data

A person uses tools to repair a hard drive.

Finally, transportation providers will need substantial cloud capabilities powered by an advanced data center. With each automated vehicle expected to generate about 4,000 GB of data per day, data centers will need to support unprecedented amounts of information. This data will allow the automotive ecosystem to act on new business opportunities, such as transportation-as-a-service (TaaS).

Even more important is the role data centers will play in artificial intelligence (AI) simulation and ongoing training. The work being done in this area will lead to driving models that will make vehicles truly automated. Because it is so memory intensive, AI simulation and training require scalable, high-performance and power-efficient infrastructure.


The Road Ahead

An image of traffic at night, using a slow shutter speed in order to blur the look of the vehicle's lights for artistic effect.

As the car moves to the center of the autonomous world, transportation providers must swiftly respond to — and grow with — market demands. Intel is leveraging our expertise in IoT to deliver the most flexible, scalable and secure solutions for automated driving. Our new Intel GO portfolio is accelerating the time it takes OEMs to bring automated driving solutions to market.

By collaborating with some of the world’s leading automotive brands, we are building solutions unlike anything seen before and helping transportation providers map a path forward. From vehicle dynamics to semiconductor physics, car to cloud, we are preparing the industry for the amazing future of transportation and truly automated vehicles.

To learn more about the road ahead for fully automated vehicles, visit For more on Intel IoT  developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit and Twitter.


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