Will.i.am is really into IoT: First the entertainer’s investment firm bought the Wink smart home hub and now his company i.am+ raised $117 million to build Omega, an enterprise voice platform. The startup’s first customer is Deutsche Telekom, which is using the Omega platform to offer customer support via an online chatbot. It appears that Will.i.am is comparing Omega to Siri or Amazon’s Alexa in press reports, but he also says that Omega will add a voice platform soon. So I’m not sure if this is really more like an Alexa effort or more like the dozens of startups building old-school interactive voice response software. (Fortune)
Logitech backtracks after bricking boxes: This week Logitech sent an email to customers telling them that on March 16, 2018 buyers of the Logitech Link box would see their devices stop working. It offered no explanation but it did provide a 35% discount on a newer Logitech hub. Customers were incensed and Logitech has since backtracked, telling the affected buyers that they will get a replacement Harmony hub instead. Logitech explained that it was going to brick the device because of an expiring security certificate. Bad PR aside, this sort of thing is going to continue happening and manufacturers would be wise to create some type of expiration date or service support agreement for buyers of connected products. (The Verge, Ars Technica)
Google wants to patent unique chimes: Google has filed for a patent on a series of unique notification noises for people, zones and events that could signal when events or actions have taken place. This sounds perfect for the Google Home so I can tell the difference between needing to head out the door earlier because of traffic and a notice for my daughter telling her that her egg timer is done. (The Spoon)
Fancy a fat report on business transformation? I love my OECD reports on various topics and this deep dive into the effects of technology, rising labor rates and demographic changes on global supply chains is worth checking out. Yes, it offers a take on how IoT will impact manufacturing, but it’s also an admission that between tech and some structural changes in labor costs, the future of manufacturing is murky at best. (OECD)
Let’s encrypt data in memory! When discussing security for connected devices we’ve come a long way. Most firms know they need to encrypt data during transport across a network and “at rest” when it’s stored in the cloud. But every time the data needs to be used it has to be decrypted. That decryption happens in memory on a computer, and the idea of secure elements made popular on mobile phones and some connected devices is now moving to the cloud. Fortanix is a startup that has built software to take advantage of the secure enclave on Intel’s SGX chip to ensure that bad actors can’t get into the data during the encryption stage. (Data Center Knowledge)
There’s an easier way to program robots: I’m obsessed with figuring out how to redesign programming to make it easier and less glitch prone. It’s too abstract at the moment to trust our most complicated environments to and too difficult to do well, making it hard to find new programmers. That’s why this startup training robots by showing them physical movements in VR caught my eye. It’s such an obvious way to program a robot to do something humans currently do. (MIT Technology Review)
Do we want virtual testing? Last week SAP held an industry conference for its IoT business in the U.S. At the event, customers shared how they were implementing machine learning, using 3D printing and touted their business transformation stories. But at the event, an SAP executive sat down with a reporter to discuss the factory of the future. She discussed the ability to remotely monitor production so closely that remote inspections and virtual testing might be possible. I am not sure if a digital twin should be the only testing a product gets, but I was relieved to hear something outside of predictive maintenance. (Network World)
A setback for self-driving cars: No, it’s not the minor traffic accident that the autonomous Las Vegas bus got into on its first day. This article discusses the Trump administration’s decision to set aside the requirement for vehicle-to-vehicle communications in cars. The first stage of the V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology was supposed to get into cars this year. The idea was to use cellular or Wi-Fi signals to let cars exchange information on the road and with the roads to improve safety and traffic. The car industry blames the tech firms who are worried about the issue of valuable spectrum as the reason for the refusal to implement the technology. Now, it’s unclear what will happen and when. (USA Today)
Should Amazon buy IFTTT? My colleague Kevin Tofel thinks so. Go read it and give him your thoughts over at StaceyonIoT.
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