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IoT news of the week for Oct. 15, 2021

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Want a Wi-Fi 6e router? That’ll be $ 1,500, please: The newest Netgear Orbi router mesh Wi-Fi system arrived this week and while it boasts faster wireless speeds, you’ll pay a pretty penny for them. The Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E System costs a whopping $ 1,500 for a router and two mesh access points. Each additional access point will hit your wallet for another $ 599. You likely won’t need that add-on, though, as the three-pack should cover up to 9,000 square feet. What’s the benefit, aside from having the highest-priced wireless network on the block? That 6 GHz band which adds Wi-Fi 6E support, although it won’t help you at all unless you have Wi-Fi 6E client devices that can use it. I am curious about the support for a separate “IoT network for smart home devices.” But I’m not paying $ 1,500 to find out more. (Netgear) — Kevin C. Tofel

TP-Link finally has a HomeKit smart plug: It was back in 2019 when TP-Link said it would be adding HomeKit support to its then-current smart plug. That never happened, although I have no idea why. But it’s a moot point now as the company has quietly released a new version of its smart plug, the HomeKit Smart Plug KP125. And by quietly, I mean it’s not on the company’s website or its Amazon storefront. That’s OK. You can hit up Best Buy or Target and pick up a two-pack of this HomeKit plug for $ 29.99. (HomeKit News) — Kevin C. Tofel

Your next cruise might come with a wearable device: Royal Caribbean is providing custom-built IoT wearables for its cruise passengers in an effort to improve the vacation experience. Built by TraceSafe, the wearable devices offer a range of features including COVID-19 contact tracing, wireless payments, location analytics, communications, and passenger room keys. While the devices will help passengers, I suspect Royal Caribbean will hugely benefit from the location analytics data to better understand what activities its customers take advantage of the most — or how often they fall asleep on the upper deck. (IoT News) — Kevin C. Tofel

Tiny satellites and radios made for tracking big animals: This article is really interesting and shows just how small but powerful tracking devices have become when it comes to keeping an eye on the animal population. For example, not too long ago a tracking device meant for specific sharks would cost $ 10,000. These days? Open source projects combined with low-cost radios drop the price to just over a tenth of that. These aren’t just for the biggest of the big, though. One researcher at Yale has attached small “backpacks” weighting just 3.5 grams to 55 American robins to follow their migration path and time. Aside from the decreased price of the radio technology, it’s impressive how this community is working together on a common problem. (Washington Post) — Kevin C. Tofel

Cool research for e-waste recycling: Researchers at Rice University have flash-heated electronics to release their metals in an energy-efficient form of recycling for e-waste. The researchers say the process can recover more than 60% of gold and more than 80% of silver, palladium, and rhodium from a sample. They say the process can also keep toxic heavy metals such as chromium, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, out of landfills. They used a technique called flash-joule heating that rapidly heats a ground-up circuit board to 3,127 °C (5,660 °F). That flash of heat turns the metals into a vapor that is piped into a cold trap where they recondense into solid metals that can be separated out for reuse. It’s like a recycling still! (New Atlas— Stacey Higginbotham

The lack of chips is hurting farmers: It’s not just automotive companies and holiday makers searching for rental cars that are suffering because of the chip shortage; apparently, farmers are struggling, too. It looks like GPS receivers are in short supply, which means the highly automated harvesters and combines that rely on precision GPS to figure out where to harvest and till won’t work. This means farmers may have to manually handle those tasks like they did in the old times. This sucks because paying close attention for 16 hours a day while steering these giant machines over narrow trenches of crops is hard. We’ll likely see lower yields and potentially higher prices. No relief is expected until 2022 at the earliest. (Hoosier Ag Today)  — Stacey Higginbotham
This is a fascinating story about versioning issues for AI models: One of the stated benefits of an AI model is that it can be further trained and ultimately get better at whatever process it’s optimized for. But, in the real world, having different versions of a model can break processes, and so far there’s not a lot of work related to compatibility between different versions of a model. This article explains the problem and talks about the research efforts to fix the issue. I’m hoping this falls into the class of problems that we can hopefully solve with better visibility into how algorithms and models are trained, adjusted, and deployed. (ZDNet)  — Stacey Higginbotham

Nordic and Nowi have provided an energy harvesting sensor kit for developers: The Nordic Thingy:91 is a popular prototyping platform for cellular IoT that’s jam-packed with sensors and connects using LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GPS. And now, thanks to a partnership with energy harvesting company Nowi (and a solar panel), it doesn’t need a battery. I’ve been following Nowi’s energy harvesting chip technology for a while, and am excited to see it getting picked up in the real world. I know this is still a dev kit and designed for prototyping, but I am eager to see more designers think about how to harvest their energy instead of relying on a battery. (Nowi)  — Stacey Higginbotham

A company building chips designed for AI at the edge gets $ 136M: There’s no shortage of funds for any chip firm building processors for AI. After a desert of chip funding in the mid-aughts, I’m grateful for it, but it’s an overwhelming amount of money. Hailo, an Israeli design company that is building specialty silicon for AI chips that will live on fairly robust computing devices at the edge (think gateways), has raised $ 136 million, bringing its total funding to $ 224 million. The chip’s architecture uses less power and flexibly allocates memory as needed to perform inference faster, which makes it a useful contender for edge computing situations. (VentureBeat— Stacey Higginbotham

Here’s a lovely report on digitization in the consumer packaged goods industry: We all love a good McKinsey report, and this one on digital manufacturing for consumer packaged goods provides some cleanly delivered insights that are familiar enough to feel true, and a few warnings about not thinking through digital transformation efforts fully and missing the forest for the trees. I wish it had case studies, especially some focused on using digitization to meet sustainability or waste reduction goals. (McKinsey— Stacey Higginbotham

The post IoT news of the week for Oct. 15, 2021 appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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