Source: This article was published techcrunch.com By Ron Miller - Contributed by Member: Jennifer Levin

If you have an essential Internet of Things device running Windows 10 IoT Core Service, you don’t want to be worried about security and OS patches over a period of years. Microsoft  wants to help customers running these kinds of devices with a new program that guarantees 10 years of updates.

The idea is that as third-party partners build applications on top of the Windows 10 IoT Core Services, these OEMs, who create the apps, can pay Microsoft to guarantee updates for these devices for a decade. This can help assure customers that they won’t be vulnerable to attack on these critical systems from unpatched applications.

The service does more than provide updates though. It also gives OEMs the ability to manage the updates and assess the device’s health.

“The Windows IoT Core service offering is enabling partners to commercialize secure IoT devices backed by industry-leading support. And so device makers will have the ability to manage updates for the OS, for the apps and for the settings for OEM-specific files,” Dinesh Narayanan, director of business development for emerging markets explained.

It gives OEMs creating Windows-powered applications on machines like healthcare devices or ATMs this ability to manage them over an extended period. That’s particularly important as these devices tend to have a more extended usage period than say a PC or tablet.”We want to extend support and commit to that support over the long haul for these devices that have a longer life cycle,” Narayanan said.

Beyond the longevity, the service also provides customers with access to the Device Update Center where they can control and customize how and when the devices get updated. It also includes another level of security called Device Health Attestation that allows the OEMs to evaluate the trustworthiness of the devices before they update them using a third party service.

All of this is designed to give Microsoft a foothold in the growing IoT space and to provide an operating system for these devices as they proliferate. While predictions vary dramatically, Gartner has predicted that at least 20 billion connected devices will be online in 2020.

While not all of these will be powered by Windows, or require advanced management capabilities, those that do can be assured if their vendor uses this program that they can manage the devices and keep them up-to-date. And when it comes to the Internet of Things, chances are that’s going to be critical.

Categorized in Internet of Things

Sales of Google Home smart speakers are considerably smaller.

Google said in a blog post this morning, “The [Google] Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.” When Google says “devices” it’s including Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones . . . and Google Home smart speakers.

What we don’t get from the post is how many Google Home, Mini and Max speakers were sold in 2017. Four hundred million is a massive number but it’s going to be mostly Android smartphones. If Google were really psyched about the Home figures it would have called them out specifically.

We can make a crude estimate of how many Google Home devices there are in US households. Based on a review of data from NPR, Strategy Analytics, and Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, it appears that Google Home has roughly a 25 percent share of the US smart speaker market. Specifically, Strategy Analytics estimated that Google’s share of Q4 smart speaker sales was 24 percent.

Walker Sands (“Future of Retail 2017“), in a survey of 1,622 US adults, found that about 23 percent of respondents owned a smart speaker. If the results can be generalized to the broader population, then something like 56 million assistant-powered speakers are in US homes today. The survey was conducted in late Q3 or early Q4, before Christmas.

The 56 million number, therefore, feels too large. But let’s assume, post-holiday, that there are now roughly 45 to 50 million smart speaker units in US households (Alexa + Google Assistant). Using the market share estimates above, it would potentially mean there are about 12.5 million Google Home devices in US households. That may be too low, but Google Home sales in the US probably don’t exceed 20 million to date.

Google was forced to price match with Amazon, which had aggressively discounted the Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Show for the holidays. Accordingly, Google Home was selling for $79 (vs. $129) for much of the pre-holiday shopping season to match the Echo’s price of $79.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Greg Sterling

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Cloud launched a new Internet of Things management service today called Google Cloud IoT Core that provides a way for companies to manage IoT devices and process data being generated by those devices.

A transportation or logistics firm, for example, could use this service to collect data from its vehicles and combine it with other information like weather, traffic and demand to place the right vehicles at the right place at the right time.

By making this into a service, Google is not only keeping up with AWS and Microsoft, which have similar services, it is tapping into a fast-growing market. In fact, a Google Cloud spokesperson said the genesis of this service wasn’t so much about keeping up with its competitors — although that’s clearly part of it — it was about providing a service its cloud customers were increasingly demanding.

That’s because more and more companies are dealing with tons of data coming from devices large and small, whether a car or truck or tiny sensors sitting on an MRI machine or a machine on a manufacturer’s shop floor. Just validating the devices, then collecting the data they are generating is a huge undertaking for companies.

Google Cloud IoT Core is supposed to help deal with all of that by removing a level of complexity associated with managing all of these devices and data. By packaging this as a service, Google is trying to do a lot of the heavy lifting for customers, providing them with the infrastructure and services they need to manage the data, using Google’s software services like Google Cloud Dataflow, Google BigQuery, and Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Customers can work with third-party partners like ARM, Intel and Sierra Wireless for their IoT hardware and Helium, Losant or Tellmeplus for building their applications.

Photo: Google Cloud

While the company bills itself as the more open alternative to competitors like AWS and Microsoft Azure, this IoT service is consistent with Google’s overall strategy to let customers use both its core cloud services and whatever other services they choose to bring to the process, whether they are from Google itself or from a third party.

 

The solution consists of two main pieces. First there is a device manager for registering each of the “things” from which you will be collecting data. This can be done manually through a console or programmatically to register the devices in a more automated fashion, which is more likely in scenarios involving thousands or even tens of thousands of devices.

As Google describes it, the device manager establishes the identity of a device and provides a mechanism for authenticating it as it connects to the cloud, while maintaining a configuration for each device that helps the Google Cloud service recognize it.

The second piece is a “protocol bridge,” which provides a way to communicate using standard protocols between the “things” and the Google Cloud service. It includes native support for secure connection over MQTT, an industry-standard IoT protocol, according to the company.

Once the device is registered and the data is moved across the protocol bridge, it can flow through processing and eventually visualization or use in an application.

Source: This article was published techcrunch.com By Ron Miller

Categorized in Search Engine

LOS GATOS, Cali. — As Netflix continues to produce billions of dollars’ worth of original content, it’s easy to forget that the company’s business model is firmly rooted in the delivery of digital content, served with as little friction as possible.

For Los Gatos, California-based Netflix Inc., frequent improvements to how all of its content is delivered — both original and licensed — is not just for subscriber convenience or benefit.

Retaining the company’s 94 million paid subscribers is crucial, but growth is the name of the game and — when reading between the lines of its latest technology improvements — the company has its sights set on emerging markets.

Netflix uploads multiple versions of shows or movies to its cloud servers, encoded in different file sizes. When a subscriber starts watching content, Netflix will know which file to serve, based on the device being used.

A big screen TV on fast home internet service will be served a higher bitrate — the number of bits transmitted per second — more information makes the picture quality better, while someone watching on a cellphone will get a lower bitrate to reduce the amount of bandwidth being used.

Netflix has been trying to refine the way they encode their videos to push significantly better quality video at a lower bitrate, so as more people move to mobile devices, the video they consume won’t take up as much of their bandwidth limits.

But, more importantly, it also means the company can grow its subscriber base in emerging markets where smartphones and data plans are more common than home Internet service. 

“I’m originally from the Philippines, where the main access to the Internet is actually people’s cell phones,” Anne Aaron, Netflix’s director of video algorithms, told a small group of journalists at the company’s headquarters. 

“Every bit counts. So the role of my team is to make sure every bit actually adds to the video quality of what people watch, and our main goal is to have a great viewing experience where you enjoy the TV show or movie at any bit rate.”

Part of the way this is achieved is through efficiency. Netflix’s encoding process was once done on a per-title basis, meaning its algorithms would look at scenes with the most action and use that as a basis for how much to compress the quality of the video.

But Aaron’s team has moved the encoder algorithms to a “per chunk” basis, which would look at one-to-three minute segments at a time, which means they can compress higher quality into smaller bitrate because action moments often aren’t as frequent and the threshold is lower. 

“But why stop there? Let’s go even further and optimize per shot of the video,” Aaron said, adding that Netflix has brought in experts from around the world, including two professors that specialize in encoding, to help make their algorithms even more efficient. 

So now video looks equally as good at half the bitrate — and in some cases, it’s even lower. That drives down the bandwidth costs for subscribers, and potential new users in emerging markets are more likely to be attracted to video that looks good on any device, even at slower speeds.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“Every bit counts”

Language accuracy

Quality video that doesn’t take up a lot of bandwidth is half the battle. Netflix is also innovating when it comes to localization — the subtitles and dubbing done in other languages.

“In 2012, we launched Lilyhammer… in seven languages and 96 language assets,” said Denny Sheehan, Netflix’s director of content localization and quality control. “Cut to (this year) where we’ve launched Iron Fist in 20 languages and we have 572 language assets. And by language assets, I mean subtitles, audio dubs and audio description.” 

For Netflix and Sheehan’s team, the way to nail localization is by focusing on context. In some cases, the company bypasses local companies that offer people for hire and hires translators directly, in case there are questions on things like cultural jokes, voice inflection and other contextual elements that might be missed in a straight translation.

Netflix also uses style guides and glossaries of terminologies or key phrases to make sure there is consistency across shows or movies as well as in the marketing materials and elsewhere in the company. All departments can access an internal Wiki with the up to date style guide.

“To achieve the highest quality we also have to have really high bar for quality control, and so for our originals this is a very through and rigorous approach,” said Sheehan.

“Every subtitle event is gone through by the same quality control evaluator that has done every episode of every season of a series, so the person working on House of Cards season five for Japanese also worked on season one and that way we know that nothing is going to be lost season-to-season.”

To expand into more languages and markets with a high level of accuracy, Netflix launched its own translator program in March called Hermes. Anyone can register and choose a language they speak, then take a quick test.

Those who score in the highest percentiles will be contacted by Netflix and interviewed to become a paid translator. If eventually accepted, they’ll get a unique ID in the system and their history (including accuracy) can be seen both by Netflix or exported to show other companies if someone is looking for a full-time position in the field. 

“Everybody in the process (including quality control) is measured,” said Chris Fetner, Netflix’s director of media engineering partnerships. “If we start to see a trend where we feel like that person is not performing we’ll either coach them up to a new level, up to the level that we expect or we’ll discontinue using them.”

With Netflix’s eyes on new markets to keep its subscriber base growing, these kinds of technological innovations and focus on localization will already be in place during expansion to help bring new countries on board.

“Even if you think about India and places in Latin American, there are places that either the fixed line bandwidth is quite constrained,” said Ken Florance, Netflix’s vice president of content delivery.

“In Africa, India, parts of Asia, parts of Latin America where there wasn’t this huge build out of fixed lines to people’s homes, in a lot of cases some cellular networks are substituting for the last mile. So any of the benefits from a 200 kilobits stream looking great on a cell network in New York City will also be seen and look fantastic on an old copper DSL in Bogota (Colombia).”

Author: Josh McConnell
Source: business.financialpost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

If you follow discussions about the Internet of Things, you’ve probably heard this stunning prediction at least once: The world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Ericsson’s former CEO Hans Vestburg was among the first to state it in a 2010 presentation to shareholders. The following year, Dave Evans, who worked for Cisco at the time, published the same prediction in a white paper.

Today, that figure has arguably done more than any other statistic to set sky-high expectations for potential IoT growth and profits. Remarkably, those projections weren’t even close to the highest of the time—in 2012, IBM forecasted 1 trillion connected devices by 2015. “The numbers were getting kind of crazy,” recalls Bill Morelli, a market research director for IHS Markit.

Now it’s 2016, and we’re nowhere near 1 trillion IoT devices, or even 50 billion for that matter. The current count is somewhere between Gartner’s estimate of 6.4 billion (which doesn’t include smartphones, tablets, and computers), International Data Corporation’s estimate of 9 billion (which also excludes those devices), and IHS’s estimate of 17.6 billion (with all such devices included).

Since they first made their projections, both Ericsson and Evans have lowered their expectations from 50 billion for 2020: Evans, who is now CTO of Stringify, says he expects to see 30 billion connected devices by then, while Ericsson figures on 28 billion by 2021. Other firms have adopted similar tones: IHS Markit projects 30.7 billion IoT devices for 2020, and Gartner expects 20.8 billion by that time (excluding smartphones, tablets, and computers). Lastly, IDC anticipates 28.1 billion (again, not counting those devices).

Meanwhile, the popular 50 billion figure continues to be widely cited. Even Evans is a bit surprised by its lasting power. “I think people do tend to latch onto numbers that seem really hard to fathom,” he says. “Fifty billion is pretty staggering.”

Forecasting the future is no easy task, and there’s nothing unusual or wrong about analysts and companies revising their projections. However, IoT forecasts are especially large with significant variability among firms and over time, skewing tens of billions of units in either direction.

At the same time, any market with such potential girth dazzles entrepreneurs and investors. For comparison, 18.6 billion microcontrollers were shipped in 2014, and 10.4 billion RFID tags will be shipped this year. Given the forecasts, IoT is expected to top them all. “I don't think we’ve seen this type of market size before, to be honest,” says Vernon Turner, a senior IoT analyst for IDC.

Peter Middleton, a research director at Gartner involved in the firm’s IoT forecasts, says future IoT projections are intended to create “market efficiency,” helping companies make smart choices about whether they should enter a new area and informing venture capitalists as they decide where to place their investments. Earlier this week, Intel executive Venkata Renduchintala emphasized the company’s enthusiasm for IoT in a keynote at its annual developers’ forum.

Still, it would seem the practical utility of IoT estimates is limited if they have the potential to be revised by many billions of units. Turner at IDC says such variation and fluidity of these numbers is typical of early estimates focused on nascent markets. The point, he suggests, is to think of the estimates as a general signal, rather than focus on the specific numbers.

There are many reasons why projections from different firms may change over time, or simply not match up in the first place. Each company starts with its own definition of IoT and refines its methods over time.

To begin, many collect annual sales data from manufacturers that produce connected devices, or components such as semiconductors, as well as from companies that sell and ship those products to customers. Then firms subtract a percentage of devices to account for those that will be replaced or thrown out each year. When added to estimates from past years, that leaves the firms with the “install base,” or approximate number of connected devices in use at a given time.

Some firms include other variables, such as the amount of money that companies spend annually on information technology. Evans factors in industry growth rates based in part on Moore’s Law, the longstanding prediction that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every year or two, and Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the utility of a network increases with each new device that connects to it.

Firms often have no real way to know how many devices that are sold and shipped actually wind up connected to the Internet, so some conduct consumer and business surveys to gauge how devices are used. Morelli at IHS Markit estimates 90 percent of communications devices (including smartphones) are switched on, but perhaps only 50 percent of cars and accessories are ever connected.  

Janna Anderson, an expert in emerging technologies at Elon University, says there is a degree of self-interest at play in projections, too. In 2013, she helped the Pew Internet Project survey more than 1,600 experts about what the IoT might look like in 2025. Not surprisingly, she found that “those who are marketing it and those whose bottom line is somehow impacted by enthusiastic predictions are more likely to make them.”

Middleton at Gartner, who publishes one of the most conservative IoT estimates available, also believes boosterism plays a role in some analyses. “It's human nature,” he says. “If you're a participant in the industry, and you’re launching new products, there’s a lot of enthusiasm that builds and a lot of hype.”

One of the puzzling things about IoT estimates is that they attempt to anticipate demand for devices that have largely not yet been invented or commercialized. At this point, even the strictest definitions of IoT remain fuzzy because companies are still working on the technologies and business cases. “Will connected pets be a thing of the future? No one knows,” Evans says.

 

 

In fact, IoT skeptics often point to Bluetooth-enabled toasters as an example of senseless connectivity that will only ever be used by a handful of early adopters. But Evans is confident that entrepreneurs will find many millions of practical ways to serve customers through the IoT in due time. “I think technology needs to solve real problems, and if it doesn't solve real problems in the real world, it's probably a gimmick and will die on the vine,” he says.  

Though past estimates haven’t exactly panned out, Bob Heile, standards director for the Wi-SUN Alliance and chair of IEEE 802.15 (a working group for wireless personal area networks), says the general trend that early IoT analysts predicted has proven true. There are more and more connected devices today than five or 10 years ago, even if they’re being connected at a slightly slower rate. “What I do know, because the trend is absolutely undeniable, is more and more things are getting the ability to communicate and connect to something else,” he says.

As the next 10 billion IoT devices come online, the industry will face some formidable challenges, such as ensuring the security of its devices, powering billions of sensors, and handling all the resulting e-waste. Despite those issues, Evans isn’t bashful about anticipating an even bigger future. “I could see trillions of connected things, ultimately,” he says.

Author: Amy Nordrum
Source: spectrum.ieee.org

Categorized in Internet of Things

A new study shows Americans really dig Internet of Things (IoT) technology, with nearly two-thirds owning at least one IoT devices, according to a recent research report commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The study found that 62% of U.S. consumers own at least one IoT gizmo.

The research was conducted by MARU/VCR&C which surveyed more than1,200 U.S. adults in the study.

The report found that the most commonly owned connected devices were smart TVs and streaming devices (47% of respondents), then health tracking devices (24%) and web-connected home control gadgets (17%).

Of those owning IoT devices, researchers determined the majority were most likely to be parents between 18-34 years old. These owners tended to have household incomes above the national average of $50,000 and have college educations.

Particularly heartening to IAB’s advertising constituents is the finding that 65% of those Americans polled said they would be willing to receive advertisements on IoT screens.

“Vigorous growth in familiarity and IoT usage is fueling interest among consumers—and brands need to pay attention,” said IAB Chief Operating Officer Patrick Dolan.

“To access the coveted IoT audience that is already open to receiving ads on their devices, advertisers need to consider ‘added incentives’ for their messages,” said Dolan. “As adoption continues and marketers learn to weave the Internet of Things into their strategies, tomorrow’s prospects for IoT as a marketing platform will be very bright.What are te most

What are the most popular IoT purchases?

The study found that the most popular IoT purchases U.S. consumers were considering include: connected/smart TVs and streaming devices (39% of those polled); connected cars (37%); health trackers (32%); and wired home control systems (31%).

Despite the popularity of certain IoT devices, a significant gloomy patch in the sector remains parts of the consumer wearables market, notably smartwatches.

recent study by International Data Corp. found that worldwide volumes of shipped smartwatches fell nearly 52% in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year.

Smartwatch makers have faced diminishing returns, leading to consolidation in the space as exemplified by Pebble’s recent acquisition by Fitbit.

Author : TAYLOR STEWART

Source : http://readwrite.com/2016/12/29/iot-connected-devices-link-nearly-two-thirds-americans-dl4/

Categorized in Internet of Things

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