Category Archives: Internet of Things

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

Blockchain SaaS

As the prevalence of SaaS continues to grow, so too does the cloud. You know this because you experience it hands-on everyday. By 2020, 92% of our work will be cloud-based. According to Cisco, 74% of that will involve SaaS in all its variations.

For the most part, the cloud works perfectly with SaaS. It’s a great meeting-point for both the service provider and the customer. The cloud’s potential in this respect seems limitless. If you can develop a software solution for any aspect of business, the cloud can host it. The customer, who could be anyone from an enterprise-level business all the way down to a solopreneur, benefits from the competitive atmosphere.

DDoS Attacks

On the flipside, the recent DDoS attack illustrated something disconcerting about centralized servers, the servers upon which the cloud relies. If and when hackers take control of internet-connected devices (the IoT), they can wreak havoc on the processing power of centralized infrastructure. The DDoS attack was unique and huge, and a taste of what may be coming. Hackers used millions of webcams and digital recorders to jam up Domain Name System server provider Dyn. The traffic jam rendered plenty of popular websites, as well as SaaS apps, temporarily inoperable.

IoT Authentication

paul-brody-blockchainAs the IoT continues to grow exponentially, the computational power we need for the cloud will also grow exponentially. The cost of running cloud servers, which identify and authenticate each IoT device, will also continue to rise. Paul Brody, VP of IBM Global Business Services, points out that some IoT devices don’t generate returns that justify their expense. These devices include smart lights, aircraft, and cars. He says, “Applying a centralized cloud-based business model to these devices will mean decades of expense without decades of associated revenue.”

The convergence of SaaS vendors will create a massive need for highly skilled experts in the field of big data science and management. This is not simply a matter of if, but when.

The requirement for Big data analysis via IoT devices utilizing the cloud equals a glut that will weigh on centralized servers. Security risks and practicality issues that will drive the cloud to the decentralized blockchain.

IBM has already harnessed Watson and blockchain together to create a private cloud. This is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), a type of cloud-product Cisco predicts will do 8% of data workloads by 2020.

The emergence of IBM’s private blockchain cloud could be a model for the public cloud and for SaaS hosting in the future. SaaS is becoming such a huge part of business that non-interference from the IoT and from hackers will be paramount to everyone who stands to gain from software. Which is pretty much everyone in the established business world. Blockchain looks to be a cure-all, in some respects, for the security ills associated with the centralization of data.

In the public eye, the primary access-point to blockchain is Bitcoin. The following graphic, courtesy of Northeastern University, illustrates some of the key talking points related to Bitcoin:

Blockchain SaaS

With Bitcoin, human “miners” on the blockchain verify transactions. With the IoT and blockchain, smart devices are responsible for their own identification and authentication. Devices are the miners. The mesh of devices becomes the cloud.

But plenty of SaaS vendors are happy with the cloud as is. Converting it over to the blockchain would require a whole new system of trust. That is, vendors will have to trust that each device in the cloud will not disrupt their service. All institutions involved will have to trust in blockchain’s viability. Devices can be physically compromised if they’re out there circulating in the world.

Monetary transactions will be the biggest issue. For global payroll company Cloudpay, SaaS on the cloud ensures payroll compliance: “SaaS helps to consolidate global data from multiple country payrolls into one single system, providing real-time information on both global and local compliance.” About 93% of businesses use the cloud ‘in some form or another’. Converting it to the blockchain, and making payments to global stakeholders, presents regulatory complications for the SEC:

  • Implementation: financial institutions are uncertain about adopting blockchain because people in general are uncertain about it
  • Standardization: a host of standards-making bodies, SaaS startups, and corporations will have to agree on set standards
  • Regulator integration: regulators are unlikely to want to disrupt the regulations they’ve established

Ultimately, once everyone is on board, blockchain looks to be the basis for the new cloud. If security breaches of the centralized system continue to be the norm, we could see this happen sooner than later.

By Daniel Matthews

Autonomous Vehicles – Are European Drivers Ready To Go Driverless?

Autonomous Vehicles – Are European Drivers Ready To Go Driverless?

Driverless Autonomous Vehicles

Technology is progressing so fast that we are able to now do things that were never thought possible. We can step inside of our cars and relax while the car drives itself. These are called autonomous vehicles (AV’s), and are certainly the future.

One of the biggest tire manufacturers on the planet, Goodyear, decided they wanted to know more about this emerging industry. They decided to collaborate with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on a study. They study would find out European’s attitudes towards driverless cars via an online survey in 11 different countries and a focus group in 4 countries.

The results of the study seem to be largely mixed. One on side, respondents believed that AV’s would likely be safer and that accidents would be lowered because most are caused by human error. However, a majority of respondents said they wouldn’t be comfortable being driven around and would want to maintain some kind of control and would worry about the car malfunctioning. Overall, it seems like people can see the benefits of driverless cars, but simply don’t know enough about them or how they would work to feel totally comfortable with relinquishing all control to the AVs.

To the General Director of the Goodyear Innovation Center, Carlos Cipollitti, the results were not too surprising:

AVs are coming. Understanding how drivers experience the road today and how they feel AVs should fit in is crucial. Goodyear is exploring some of the key areas that are shaping the future of mobility. We hope that the insights generated by this research will help all relevant stakeholders to work together towards a successful introduction of AVs.

This study was a part of the ThinkGoodMobility platform that Goodyear has. This platform is looking to the future and analyzing the relationship between cars and their drivers. It also aims to look at smart and sustainable mobility. However, the existence of AV’s is more than just a new technology, as Dr. Chris Tennant of the LSE explains:

AVs are not simply another new technology. They are emerging in an intensely social space with a wide range of factors influencing the public’s levels of openness towards them.”

Driverless Autonomous Vehicles

(Infographic Source: Goodyear/Marketwired)

The 11 countries that were included in the study were: Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Serbia, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Of these countries, those from the Netherlands and Italy seemed the least concerned about the possible drawbacks of AVs, while those from the Czech Republic were the most concerns. Nations such as Poland and France were on the fence as they showed some belief in the technology, but also some concern as well.

By Kale Havervold

STC Group Is Leading A Biometric Authentication Revolution

STC Group Is Leading A Biometric Authentication Revolution

Biometric Authentication

The explosion of online services that involve personal data, classified information, and the free flow of wealth around the globe has brought with it the need for innovative top-notch security systems. Sophisticated online fraudsters with access to massive resources are able to collect passwords and data, which enable them to cause massive disruptions to the way we do business today. Biometric data is increasingly viewed as the most secure method of protecting data and ensuring that the people who we are interacting with online are actually who they say they are.

Market Growth

There is no doubt that the market for speech recognition software is growing rapidly. The sector is projected to be worth just under US$10 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.87%, according to market research firm, Markets and Markets. The firm cites many factors as being behind the growth, including “the growing instances of fraud in several end-user industry segments such as enterprise, healthcare, and so on and the adoption of mobile banking by several national and international banks and e-commerce retailers.

social-data

While the primary market focus at the moment is on security applications of the technology, there is a widespread expectation that speech and voice recognition software will be seamlessly integrated into the emerging Internet of Things, to facilitate interactions with appliances such as refrigerators, thermostats and vehicles.

Major companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft are leveraging their large customer base and neural networks to process, understand, and take decisive actions based on real-time voice inputs from the user...”

Speech recognition’s share of the market is increasing due to growing popularity of using on voice recognition instead of a text-based interface. One of the largest drivers of growth, according to the research, is the fact that mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful and manufacturers are actively integrating speech and voice recognition technologies into them.

Fraud

One of the most intractable problems facing the industries in which the data safety comes as a top priority is the issue of fraud. Banking industry is a prime example of one. For instance, when a bank receives thousands of voice calls every day, it becomes a prime target for global fraudsters to try and access someone else’s account via the telephone. The standard security processes include asking for full Name, ID number, date of birth etc. However, that type of data can easily be hacked, stolen and used. In much the same way, the answering of secret questions is a widespread securitization method, but that too can be discovered and exploited by sophisticated algorithms.

Biometric data on the other hand is almost fool-proof. From fingerprints to eye scan to the growing field of voice recognition, biometrics are the next wave of security.

Biometric Authentication

A biometric system implemented in a bank speeds up verification process, thereby improving the quality of interaction with clients and provides world-class security in a seamless fashion. During any conversation, whether incoming or outgoing, the system starts the user check in the background as the call begins, and collects a sample of the voice data. Then it matches that data against a reference sample which it has in a database. This whole process takes only a few seconds before the results appear on the operator’s monitor, giving them the all clear to carry on with the process, or raising a red flag, which requires further investigation.

It is important to note that biometric systems mainly do not rely on language in any way, so it is still reliable if a client speaks from any device and in any language.

Ultimately, there is a very strong case for biometric software to replace the use of passwords and more traditional security methods. As the number of cases of malware or Trojans use increases, victims are targeted in ways that improve conversion rates to monetize corrupted accounts. Biometrics, and in particular voice and speech recognition, are far more secure than traditional passwords can ever be and they provide easier and simpler access for most users who struggle to remember multiple passwords over time.

The Banking Environment

Belorussian branch of Austrian group Raiffeisen represents one of the largest commercial banks in Belorussia and is one of the leading local financial institutions in terms of efficiency and profitability. Data analysis revealed that the number of voice calls the bank was receiving that required active identification was increasing every year. They took the decision to implement voice identification software that would dramatically cut the time needed to perform identification, provide excellent reliability and accuracy, and take place in the background so that clients were not even aware that they were being verified unless there was a problem.

money-big-data

Raiffeissen turned to the technology company STC to develop the software.

The CEO of the STC Group, Dmitry Dyrmovsky, explains: “A multimodal biometric authentication platform can be easily used for providing safe and secure user authentication, and at the same time decreasing the cost of remote services.”

STC’s platform called VoiceKey is at the heart of several solutions offered by the company. One of its key features is the ‘’liveness detection” technology, which makes it impossible to use photos or recordings to fake authentication. STC has also developed a programming interface for user application so that it can be integrated into various software applications for use in banking, hospitals, call centers as well as mobile applications. Anywhere that identification is key to an online process, VoiceKey can be adapted and integrated seamlessly.

One of the latest innovations developed by STC is OnePass – a multimodal biometric authentication solution based on both face and voice identification. As the service is cloud-based, it can easily be integrated into any mobile application, web service or corporate information system. High level of security, reliability and simplicity of verification process can help attract new customers, decrease the demand for offline customer services (therefore, costs), increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Company

STC Group is a global provider of innovative systems in high-quality recording, audio and video processing and analysis, speech synthesis and recognition and real-time, high-accuracy voice and facial biometrics solutions.

STC Group is extremely well positioned to ride this next wave of security technology, with a global footprint and solid experience that will see them at the forefront of biometrics, in both security and the internet of things, in the foreseeable future.

By Jeremy Daniel

IoT, Smart Cities and the Future

IoT, Smart Cities and the Future

Smarter IoT

When we use the term smart cities, a series of frames begin to run in front of our very eyes. The reason behind this is pretty simple; over the last few years, the definition of a ‘SMART CITY’ has changed drastically. However, amidst these series of definitions, two things have remained consistent: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Internet itself.

Here in this article, the latter is our primary point of discussion. As a tremendously growing urban population and various organizations have started to switch over to IoT, I presume that here that an important question arises:

What exactly is IoT in the first place?

Evolution-IoT

Internet of Things, popularly known as IoT, is essentially a networked connection between physical objects to create a dynamic, smarter approach to just about everything we do in our daily lives.

Let us take an example: today, we have abundant access to the internet through our smartphones, tablets, PCs, televisions, etc. and are personally connected with each other through prominent social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

While IoT is hard at work making our smart cities smarter, we can save a lot of time and effort, in converting an increasing amount of raw data into final useful information.

For some time now , it has been readily apparent that the use of IoT will not only help the private sector, but also the public sector.

In lieu of this paradigm shift, we have a couple of applications we will be rolling out to assist the cities in becoming smarter.

Mobile applications contributing to building IoT-powered smart cities

In this article, it was mentioned earlier that the IoT entails connectivity between anything and everything. There are certain mobile applications that have been introduced with the same ideas in mind, including:

Tado: An application that will help you control your home heating. The application calculates the distance you have to travel and the time you’ll take to reach home. With the collected data, this gadget will adjust your room heating accordingly. You can more accurately understand how this technology works via the following screen-shot.

  • Smart Lighting: This application allows you to control the lighting in your home or office directly through your smartphone. With this, you can have command over everything, starting from the brightness up to the color. Now, let your surroundings match your mood without any special effort on your part.
  • SIM Tools: SIM is basically known as Smart Identity Management Tools. This application will prevent you from carrying keys all the time with you by giving you a smarter lock system. This gadget will allow you to leave all your worries behind linked with theft or losing/misplacing your keys.
  • Bluesmart Suitcases: This piece of tech belongs to the same family as SIM tools, but this time it’s for your suitcase. With this application loaded in your mobile phone, you can lock and unlock your suitcase with the touch of a button.
  • Flower Power H2O: Imagine having a personalized guide to show you how much water your plants need—all at the right time and in a right manner, and automatically tracked and monitored via your smartphone. Sounds exciting, does it not?

These are just a few members of the IoT family. Mobile apps are indeed a better way to make our IoT-powered smart cities smarter. Here are three benefits of such mobile apps:

1- Ease of Use: This undoubtedly stands first in the list, as smartness is all about doing things in a better way with the least amount of time, resources and effort. And as we all know that these three benefits most important requirements to live a truly smart life.

2- Security: Second on our list is the security that these applications provide. You’ll soon have all the commands in your password-protected smartphone that sits right nearby in your pocket. Be it your home, your locker, or your suitcase—each is waiting for a touch on your smartphone.

3- No more Irregularity: With these IoT applications around, you’ll have better, more consistent knowledge about the things which are not only related to your individual needs, but also with everything around you. With most events happening in real-time and in the way they were meant to, you will barely have to lift a finger and to keep track of things. I don’t think anyone could wish for something better—or rather smarter—than a nice dose of peace and relaxation.

So friends, at this point I must sign out; I trust that the information presented here is of immediate value and use. I hope you will have a smarter life in the (near) future.

By Shahid Mansuri

Combining IoT Gizmo Kits With Your 3D Printer

Combining IoT Gizmo Kits With Your 3D Printer

IoT and 3D Printing

The 3D printer in my cubicle keeps printing name tags without my name and only cube number instead—should I be worried about this?

Imagine a future where an “organizational” 3D printer is stationed in every cube. You are working away on a project, when suddenly the printer comes to life. You remotely check it from time to time, just to see what it is printing. As the object begins to take shape, you recognize it to be a nameplate. Eventually, you see your cube number, but a different name has been printed on the nameplate. Am I unemployed? Am I moving to a new cube? These are just a few questions which may come to mind. Something like this situation could very well happen, and maybe sooner than you might think. I have been using 3D printers for more than four years now, and during that time, I have learned several lessons about 3D materials, printing and ultimately how to start getting up to speed on this amazing tech. First off, there are many 3D printers out there in the market right now.

You can purchase printers that sit in your home and print just about anything you can imagine. You can send a picture of yourself off, and get a 3D print of you. Alternatively, there are companies that offer print services where you send them what you want printed and they print it and send it back to you in a matter of days.

Why, then am I talking about this market and technology on a site that focuses primarily on Big data, Cloud and IoT, you may be asking? Well, that is a very interesting question. The first part of that question is simply that 3D printing is a very intriguing market. For small companies which either create or are considering creating new products, a 3D printer can help them move their dream quickly forward. Building architects can easily print out their designs in three dimensions. No more hours of model building; simply create the 3D file and print your building. Making massive changes to your fleet of planes? That’s ok, create the 3D file again and print away.

In the growing world of new and innovative IoT creations and objects, a 3D printer is a great starting point to launch your idea. You can print the object you are considering to help achieve proof of concept. Then, you can iterate the case, the boards and all of the component pieces. You can design precisely how everything fits together. And you can easily figure out how much will actually fit in your creation.

All of this and more helps innovators perform rapid prototyping and save a lot of time and energy in the process. It allows for the real-time changes in your innovation, which in turn helps it move to production faster (in theory, of course). You can also get printable material that conducts electricity; with the use of a 3D printer or pen, you can print in metal or flexible plastic, and with some of the 3D pens, you can even create a Henna-style tattoo on a person (there are pens that print cool – you cannot use a regular 3D pen on a human, for it would not only burn their skin, but isn’t designed to “stick” onto the skin in the first place).

cloudtweaks-comic-data-3d-printing

Now, the question is: Will a 3D printer be the centerpiece of the home of tomorrow? I’ve seen various future living spaces featuring 3D printers, and I am not convinced that in the majority of people will have one of these things in their living rooms. I do think a number of 3D printers will exist, however. For the most part , the price is far too high now for most people to invest and have one in their home. But in the next few years, we could see a drop in prices to help make 3D printers more of a mainstay in homes and small businesses.

Where I see this technology really making a huge impact—beyond increasing the velocity of innovation itself—is in schools and universities. There are IoT toolkits you can buy right now that include the “guts” of IoT connections, like Bluetooth, Raspberry PI, Wi-Fi and even cellular connections to cloud-based controls. Combine these IoT gizmo kits with a 3D printer, and you now have the capacity to create IoT devices that include custom forms.  Imagine a robot that resembles a Labrador Retriever or a tiny lamp that actually lights up on its own. These are just a few examples of creations that even younger students can dream up.

iot-lamp

So, while I believe there probably won’t be a 3D printer in every living room anytime soon, I do think there will be many 3D-printed objects we can use in our everyday lives. If you wander the various internet sites that offer you 3D objects you can print on demand, or the various companies that have created books to create 3D objects with 3D pens, you will find almost anything you could possibly want to print and use. For schools, inventors, building architects and people that simply dream in all three dimensions, the awesome reality of 3D printing is nearly here.

Now, if someone could direct me to the nearest body shop that can 3D print a fender for my newly dented car, I would be thrilled!

By Scott Andersen

The Dark Side of AI Part 3 – The Brighter Side

The Dark Side of AI Part 3 – The Brighter Side

The Dark Side of AI Part 3

For the final part in this series I wanted to get away from the doom and gloom of A.I. being the end of the world. Ultimately it is this sort of fear that could lead to secrecy and a dangerous lack of transparency emerging amongst potentially condemned scientists. So to counter the problems and dangers associated with AI, I wanted to explore the most abstract and intelligent applications of Artificial Intelligence that is already having an impact on our lives.

A.I. Lawyer

Ross, the first A.I. lawyer, has been designed and built atop IBM’s cognitive computer Watson to handle the Baker & Hostetler bankruptcy practice (which is currently made up of a team of 50 lawyers). It has been built to read and understand language, suggest hypotheses when asked a question, and research case law and precedent to back up its conclusions. Ross also incorporates deep learning, allowing it gain speed and knowledge the more you interact with it.

Rather than relying on researchers and experts to find obscure precedents and case law, Ross can read through the entire history to help you get the most accurate information quicker and more efficiently. Ross can even monitor ongoing cases and new court decisions that may affect the verdict of your case! As if we didn’t already have enough lawyers…

A.I. Personal DJ

SoundHound is a music and artificial intelligence company that is attempting to merge the two into a brand new speaker – the Hurricane Speaker. The speaker combines a voice controlled personal DJ/assistant, music recognition software (that allows you to sing a tune to it for recognition), and a vast music collection from which to draw from.

The speaker will be capable of selecting music based on a your mood, creating personalised playlists with its Predictive Analysis Library (PAL) algorithm, as well as providing updates on weather, sports, setting alarms, and generally helping to organise your life.

A.I. Doctor

ResApp Health is an Australian “digital healthcare solutions” company, who have been working on an app that can diagnose respiratory conditions using the microphone on a smartphone (acting like a stethoscope). The app applies deep learning algorithms to analyse cough sounds in an attempt to identify conditions such as pneumonia, asthma, bronchiolitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

But this is not an isolated use of machine learning in medicine. Enlitic is using Google’s deep learning open source tech to build an A.I. capable of diagnosing and suggesting treatment in order to help doctors solve medical issue much like a complex data problem. As a test they ran their algorithm with lung CT scans in an attempt to diagnose potentially cancerous growths, comparing it to results given by a panel of world’s top radiologists. Enlitic beat this panel comprehensively, successfully diagnosing every case of cancer when the panel missed 7%, whilst misdiagnosing 19% less cases than the human experts. Survival rates for cancer grow exponentially the earlier it is detected! For bonus points enclitic also helps doctors by showing them similar cases and helping to analyse trends that would be impossible for one doctor to see or consider.

A.I. Journalists Aid

With the associated press already using automation to cover minor league baseball games, it was only a matter of time before A.I. grew into a larger part of journalism. The next step in that growth comes via JUICE, a project funded by Google’s Digital News Initiative, and has been described as a tool to help journalists “discover and explore new creative angles on stories they write”. JUICE is being designed as an add-on to Google Docs, it uses AI systems to analyse what you have written and find creative and productive angles from which to approach the article or story. It is connected to around 470 news sites and automatically runs what they call “creative searches” to pull up relevant articles, cartoons, and multimedia that could be useful to the story. The project is aimed at improving the quality of journalism and helping writers find new ways of approaching their work. The system has had successful trials on journalism students and is expected to be more widely available at some point next year!

Although artificial intelligence can seem like an incredibly scary prospect, it is definitely a tool that has been and can continue to be used to improve many people’s lives and generally be a fantastic aid to the progression of society. However, there is a great deal of caution required in the pursuit of this technology. We cannot allow complacency of the same magnitude that we have allowed in nuclear power, climate change, and cyber security.

By Josh Hamilton

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