Tag: internet of things

Smart meters might diddle users

Dutch boffins have tested ‘smart’ electrical meters and discovered that lots of them are giving out  false readings that in some cases can be 582 percent higher than actual energy consumption.

A study involved several tests conducted on nine different brands of “smart” meters, also referred to in the industry as “static energy meters”.

Researchers also used one electromechanical meter for reference… Experiments went on for six months, with individual tests lasting at least one week, and sometimes several weeks. Test results varied wildly, with some meters reporting errors way above their disclosed range, going from -32to +582 percent.

Researchers blamed all the issues on the design of some smart meters, and, ironically, electrical devices with energy-saving features. The latter devices, researchers say, introduced a large amount of noise in electrical current waveforms, which disrupt the smart meter sensors tasked with recording power consumption…

The researchers estimate that “potentially inaccurate meters” have been installed in the meter cabinets of at least 750,000 Dutch households and worldwide the figure is in the millions.

Some governments, especially in the EU, have pushed for smart meters to replace classic electromechanical (rotating disk) meters. We guess this is because they are helping their chums in the energy industry pad out their bottom lines.


Coppers might arrest your smart devices

copperCoppers today are looking to smart connected devices to grass up their users for crimes.

Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation they have asked Amazon to hand over any recordings made between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub. A bloke with a name like Bates must be the bloke wot dunnit and they are hoping his Amazon gear will say what happened.

While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device. While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.

Amazon stores all the voice recordings on its servers, in the hopes of using the data to improve its voice assistant services. While you can delete your personal voice data, there’s still no way to prevent any recordings from being saved on a server.

“It is believed that these records are retained by Amazon.com and that they are evidence related to the case under investigation,” police wrote in the search warrant.

Amazon has not sent any recordings to the officers but did provide Bates’ account information to authorities, according to court documents. The retailer giant said it doesn’t release customer information without a “valid and binding legal demand.”

“Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course,” the company said in a statement.

Coppers might be able to make the Echo crack. Officers believe they can tap into the hardware on the smart speakers, which could “potentially include time stamps, audio files or other data.”

The investigation has focused on other smart devices as well. Officers seized Bates’ phone but were unable to break through his password, which only served to delay the investigation.

Gear that coppers are hoping might reveal information include a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, wireless weather monitoring in the backyard and WeMo devices for lighting at the smart home crime scene.

The smart meter appeared to reveal that Bates used an “excessive amount of water” during the alleged drowning.


Microsoft creates Home Hub

1953-kitchenmaid-blue-kitchen-the-television-kitchen-cropped.0Software king of the world Microsoft has looked at the success of Amazon’s Echo and Google Home and decided “I want some of that.”

However, it is looking like Vole’s competitor to Amazon’s smart speaker Echo and Google Home is software and will be centred around the home PC.

Home Hub is a software update for Windows 10 that will make the Windows PC a bit more like a smart speaker.

Microsoft’s smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC’s screen is locked. The Home Hub would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists.

A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door.

Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub and could  control smart home devices, such as lights and locks.

It will turn any Windows 10 device into the centre of a smart home and third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub.

It is expected that Microsoft will release the Home Hub next year. The advantage will be that most people still have a PC somewhere in their house.

Whitman claims IoT will be a new world order

Meg WhitmanHPE supreme dalek Meg Whitman claims that the technology industry is witnessing the start of a new world led by the Internet of Things.

Speaking at HPE Discover 2016 in London, Whitman said we are heading to a world where  “everything computes” and that HPE’s vision is to be the leader in this hybrid IT market.

“We are living through the birth of a whole new world, where everything computes… From cars to stadiums, train tracks to windmills and solar panels, to much, much more. We are seeing a whole new world come into being, and it will change everything.”

Quoting Gartner, Whitman said that the number of intercommunicated devices will more than triple from 6.4 billion this year to nearly 21 billion in 2020. By 2021 there will be one billion new intercommunicated devices sold every hour.

“Harnessing this new world is what HPE is all about. Our vision is to be the leader of hybrid IT, built on secure next-generation software-defined infrastructure that will run datacentres today and bridge to multi-cloud platforms tomorrow.”

Whitman also added that HPE was not “getting out of software”.

“Earlier this year we made the decision to spin off and merge our non-core software assets with Micro Focus. We are not getting out of the software business. In fact, we are doubling down on software and infrastructure that is critical for businesses systems,” she said.

MIT comes up with deep learning for mobile

mybrainhurtsMIT researchers have emerged from their smoke filled labs with a new chip which can provide mobile gear deep learning properties.

At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to run mobile neural networks. The chip is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU and means mobile devices could run powerful AI algorithms locally.

Vivienne Sze, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at MIT whose group developed the new chip said that deep learning was useful for many mobile applications including object recognition, speech, face detection.

“Right now, the networks are pretty complex and are mostly run on high-power GPUs. You can imagine that if you can bring that functionality to your cell phone or embedded devices, you could still operate even if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection. You might also want to process locally for privacy reasons. Processing it on your phone also avoids any transmission latency, so that you can react much faster for certain applications.”

Dubbed Eyeriss, the new chip could be useful for the Internet of Stuff. AI armed networked devices could make important decisions locally, entrusting only their conclusions, rather than raw personal data, to the Internet. And, of course, onboard neural networks would be useful to battery-powered autonomous robots.

Sze and her colleagues used a chip with 168 cores, roughly as many as a mobile GPU has.


Eyeriss’s minimized the frequency with which cores need to exchange data with distant memory banks, an operation that consumes time and energy. The GPU cores share a single, large memory bank and each Eyeriss core has its own memory. The chip has a circuit that compresses data before sending it to individual cores.

Each core can communicate directly with its immediate neighbours, so that if they need to share data, they don’t have to route it through main memory.

The final key to the chip’s efficiency is special-purpose circuitry that allocates tasks across cores. In its local memory, a core needs to store not only the data manipulated by the nodes it’s simulating but data describing the nodes themselves. The allocation circuit can be reconfigured for different types of networks, automatically distributing both types of data across cores in a way that maximizes the amount of work that each of them can do before fetching more data from main memory.

At the conference, the MIT researchers used Eyeriss to implement a neural network that performs an image-recognition task, the first time that a state-of-the-art neural network has been demonstrated on a custom chip.

Punters lose interest in gadgets and gadget makers

GadgetIn the middle of the Christmas shopping, expensive electronic gadgets like GoPro and Apple watches were being ignored, despite discounting.

Five of the six consumer electronics shares in the Russell 3000, including camera maker GoPro, headphone maker Skullcandy and GPS maker Garmin were down.  Apple shares have also been suffering.

According to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ, the gadget makers are down on average by 21 percent.  In fact the only one doing well is an outfit called ZAGG which makes coatings to help people protect the screens of devices they already own. ZAGG shares are up 61 percent this year.

Investors expected bigger things from the gadget market. It seemed logical that everyone one wanted everything digital.  Apparently clothes sales were better.

Apple and Fitbit have been adding features to their products to keep up interest but it does not appear to have worked. Shares of Fitbit are essentially flat from their first day of trading following the June initial public offering and down 44 percent from its high this year. Apple, too, has snapped its winning streak for investors and is now down three percent at the end of the year.

GoPro fell 71 percent this year as just about everyone who wanted a camera to record their extreme sports escapades has one. The company’s revenue growth over the past 12 months is still a respectable 62 percent, but that’s well below the 263 percent growth in 2011. The future is the more troubling part. Analysts are now expecting GoPro’s revenue to gain just 11.6 percent in 2016.

Hon Hai joins internet of things bandwagon

Robby the Robot - Wikimedia CommonsGiant Asian manufacturer Hon Hai’s chairman has said that the company is to turn its gaze on the internet of things (IoT).

And he also told Chinese media that industrial robots are the key to the future.

The Taipei Times quotes Terry Gou as saying that Hon Hai will cooperate with Alibaba and Japanese company Softbank to offer “robotic services”.

Gou doesn’t think that these industrial robots will replace people any time real soon. Hon Hai is a major employer in mainland China, and makes Apple products and others.

It has already installed 48,000 industrial robotic arms in its factories.

Soft bank’s famous Pepper robot was made by Hon Hai and sold out in minutes when it was launched last June.

Munich to be the centre for IBM things

IBM logoBig Blue said that it has established an internet of things (iOt) centre in Munich.

The centre will be the HQ for its Watson iOt unit and is intended to bring 1,000 IBM developers, consultants researchers and designers to work on cognitive computing and the internet of things.

IBM said it is its biggest investment in Europe for over 20 years.

The company said the centre will offer Watson APIs and services on its iOt Cloud Platform.

The idea is that academics, customers, startups and silicon and device vendors to direct access its cloud based services. It expects automotive, electronics, healthcare, insurance and industrial manufacturers to take advantage of the centre.

IBM believes that although the internet of things will become the biggest data mountain on the planet, 90 percent of that data just hangs around, unused.

Internet of things to become a trillion dollar business

internet of thingsAsia Pacific will lead the drive to widespread adoption of the internet of things (IoT), with a report estimated that spending will hit $1.3 trillion in 2019.

IDC said that represents a CAGR of 17 percent, with worldwide spending accounting for a not insignificant $698.6 billion this year.

Over 40 percent of the spend comes from Asia Pacific, followed by North America and Western Europe.

Part of the reason Asia Pacific is so buoyant is because in some countries IT infrastructure isn’t fully developed, meaning it’s easier to implement IoT technology.

Manufacturing and transportation represented the biggest spenders of IoT tech, with totals of $165.6 billion and $78.7 billion respectively.

Other sectors rapidly implementing the tech are insurance, healthcare and domestic implements, IDC said.

Smart cities will drive the internet of things

internet of thingsA report from Gartner said around 1.7 billion things will be connected in 2016, an increase of 39 percent over this year.

Bettina Tratz-Ryan, a research VP at Garner, said: “Smart commercial buildings will be the highest user of internet of things (IoT) until 2017, after which smart homes will take the lead with just over one billion connected things in 2018.”

LED lighting will be 24 percent of the IoT market for smart cities.

The connected things, apart from buildings will be in healthcare, public services, transport systems, and utilities.

In the domestic sector, we’ll see more smart TVs, smart set top boxes, smart bilbs, smart thermostats, security systems and kitchen appliances.

Tratz-Ryan continued: “Devices and wireless standards will be embedded in more devices. Homes will move from being interconnected to information and smart enabled, and integrated services environment that will provide value to the home and individual ambience.”