A lights-out construction site? One of the cited goals of better AI and connectivity is factories that can operate without people inside. Such “lights out” operations won’t need heating, cooling or — you guessed it — lights. But a Californian startup is also thinking about how to bring this more autonomous viewpoint to the construction industry using drones for mapping and AI for guiding vehicles around a site. The future of the construction industry is a fascinating concept, especially where the possibility of incorporating AI into processes such as plasma arc cutting and other metalwork and welding operations is concerned. Could it be that welding will become a more and more automated technique? Watch this space. (MIT Technology Review)
I wrote about the internet of things breaking Wi-Fi: As part of my monthly column in IEEE Spectrum, I wrote about the challenges facing Wi-Fi as people ask more of the technology. The article covers challenges with mesh systems and some of the recent efforts to make provisioning of devices easier — but also proprietary. (IEEE Spectrum)
Connected pest control: Comcast’s new LoRa network, called MachineQ, shared some of its customer wins this week and one in particular caught my eye. The customer was Victor, which makes rodent traps. The reason I paid attention is because this is the third example I’ve heard in the last few months of a connected mousetrap. This is actually a real business opportunity because it’s a product where knowing the status of the trap in the small window of time when you have caught a critter really matters. Instead of checking the trap every day or forgetting and waiting for your nose to tell you, when it’s full you get a notice so you can address the problem then and there. Imagine how useful this is in a spread-out warehouse or even a restaurant kitchen. Pests are a big problem and IoT might make them less onerous. Although this is great for businesses, and homes that may have an infestation of mice/rats, it will not work for things like cockroaches and spiders. An infestation of these critters needs intervention from a professional like https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/local/wisconsin/ to banish them from your home.
A deep dive on Windows IoT Core and more: Everyone interested in the big IoT dollars is building in hooks to get data from a device to the cloud easily. This week a smaller player, Resin.io, announced a board that lets you tie directly into its software, while a few months back Amazon brought in the creator of FreeRTOS with plans to let people get devices running the real-time operating system to easily connect to AWS. This article makes the case that Microsoft’s Windows IoT Core is an OS that offers a similar link between the device and the cloud. The article also covers the heavier Windows IoT Enterprise and sheds light on what Microsoft is doing in this area. Since Azure is the industrial IoT’s favorite cloud, I suggest paying attention. (Network World)
For the smart home, think automations, not routines: Over at my site, Kevin Tofel writes about the limits of voice control even as Amazon and Google improve their platforms with new routines. (StaceyonIoT)
Throwing good money after bad? Gartner expects worldwide spending on IoT security to reach $1.5 billion in 2018, up from $1.2 billion the year before. It said that helping drive this spending is the fact that one in five companies have reported an IoT security breach in the last three years. That number seems low to me, but maybe the rest of those having security troubles merely don’t know they’ve been pwned. (The Economic Times)
So much on Siri: Last week, The Information did an excellent teardown of how Apple’s Siri came to be and how fragmented it has become. This has hurt it in the smart home market, but ZDNet is making the case that Siri’s current flaws may not hurt Apple forever. It argues that Apple’s tight control could enable Siri to develop a truly conversational interface that will make efforts like Alexa seem artificial and forced. We’ll see. (The Information, ZDNet)
Walmart’s Handy partnership doesn’t go far enough for the smart home: I used to think that the limiting factor for most smart home devices was the challenge of installation, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the real issue is pulling everything together into something a consumer can understand and value. And for that, you need a pro or a service like Amazon’s experts or Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Handy offers basic installation, but it doesn’t go quite far enough. That said, if you just want a new video doorbell then being able to buy it at Walmart and sign up at the store for an install does work. (Walmart)
The internet of things continues to connect businesses with people who they need but who can not always be on site. IT professionals being one such example, it is now possible to have them manage a business’s IT department remotely as is done by Denver IT Support.
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