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IoT in 2020: It’s all Coming Together

Technology commentators are predicting that 2020 is going to see an acceleration of new tech entering the market including 5G wireless connectivity, blockchain technology (beyond cryptocurrency) and AI/ML. While each of these technologies has its own applications, what’s more, interesting is how they can work together, especially with IoT already moving out of the hype cycle and entering a phase of rapid growth. Here is IoT in 2020 and how it’s all coming together.

How are the new technologies going to impact on the IoT? We may not have a crystal clear picture yet but we are in a position where we can start making some confident sketches.

From acquisition to analytics: the role of the IoT platform.

One of the issues that have undoubtedly held back the evolution of the IoT has been the siloed development of its component parts. With different vendors working on sensor devices, operating systems, and analytics processing, it has been like trying to make a recognizable picture by fitting together several different jigsaw puzzles.

The puzzle is now changing due to the foresight of companies that are developing full-stack IoT platforms. These platforms can integrate with multiple different vendors, perform data analysis and then output to the cloud or wherever backend processes are to be applied. The technology is bringing into reality the edge computing concept that will be vital for self-driving cars and smart surveillance systems which need to perform real-time data processing near to the source.

With WiFi 6 and 5G technology set to land in 2020, massively improving connectivity, another piece of the puzzle fits into place. IoT platforms will also drastically reduce time to market as IoT developers won’t be reinventing the wheel every time they have an innovative concept. They can just plug into a platform and start testing and iterating.

Does this mean that IoTaaS is an imminent possibility whereby businesses could run an entire IoT deployment through an IT services provider? After all, as Daniel Newman, writing in Forbes says, there is a clear trend towards an ‘everything-as-a-service’ model. He may be right but with 2020 almost upon us, there are still complex challenges in offering end-to-end ITaaS deployments as managed IT services.

As Karen Ravindranath, Director of Zoho’s WebNMS division said in a recent interview, “IoTaaS adoption is still slow due to the inherent challenges in connecting the hitherto unconnected and the diverse set of devices and varied requirements.”

Having said that, Ravindranath also revealed that ITaaS would be possible in some verticals where the entire supply chain was managed by an OEM, for example in the automotive industry.

AI, RPA and the Internet of evolving things.

The IoT is exciting enough given its ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data from a network of integrated sensors but it is what the systems are going to start doing with that data that makes things even more fascinating. After all, an IoT that can only tell you where something is and what state it’s in is not very useful unless it can do something about it.

I am talking, of course, about AI and ML, technologies which are also now maturing as we hit the almost prophetic 2020. We have recently seen how AI can learn how to use sophisticated strategies to win a game of hiding and seek. Just think what it could do when given access to the various sources of disparate data collected from, say, a smart city. The potential is not just that AI will implement the solutions we would choose had we the ability to process big data. It is that AI could come up with solutions humans would never have thought of in the first place.

And the evolving, AI-powered IoS is not just limited to cyber-cerebral processing. In certain areas, robotic process automation could be used to automatically run digital and even physical processes without human intervention. After decades of following pre-coded instructions in the assembly rooms of car manufacturers, RPA is set to get a reboot as the executive arm of a rapidly evolving AI.

To take the analogy of a human body, if the IoT is the eyes and ears and AI is the mind, then RPA is the arms and legs. Only this human wouldn’t need to sleep, could make calculations and decisions at lightning speed and act with tireless efficiency. The sum is a lot bigger than the parts.

Adding value with AR and VR.

So we’ve looked at the power of combining the IoT with AI and RPA but where might AR and VR fit into the picture.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are all about creating experiences and adding rich sensory information to computer processes. One example of its application is EDGE, Kroger’s smart shelf product. EDGE uses IoT sensors on the shelves which interact with an app on a shopper’s cell phone. When the shopper scans items on the shelf, they receive an AR overlay of information on their device screen.

The application might include nutritional information, cross-sell suggestions and availability information. The benefit to both customers and marketers is clear to see and with AI entering the picture, consumer apps could hyper-personalized offerings based on past patterns of shopping behavior.

With its ability to link and exchange information between sensors.

You could have a situation where your printer runs out of ink and sends an alert to your app. The app in turn interfaces with in-store IoT sensors and informs you that there is ink in stock and directs you, via an AR overlay, to the relevant shelf. Another IoT and AR use case is with HUDs in cars. Cameras and sensors mounted to the vehicle pick up and analyze data from the surroundings; these are then processed to generate driver info which can be projected on to a transparent HUD overlaying the windshield.

As the concept of the smart city becomes a reality, this information is likely to be supplemented by data from the external environment. In a hypothetical scenario, gas station billboards could alert drivers to make a pit stop when their gas is running low.

The blockchain returns.

Blockchain technology is most strongly connected with cryptocurrencies, in particular, BitCoin, but the technology has long been recognized as having far wider applications. In fact, blockchains could revolutionize how we do business and some commentators claim it will be bigger than the internet itself.

Blockchain’s strength is its ability to store a record of transactions – of any kind – on a decentralized ledger that can be queried at any time. Once an entry has been made, whether that is a payment, an exchange of contracts in a real estate transaction, an insurance contract or something else, it become impossible to alter that information without altering the entire blockchain.

The integration of blockchain technology with the IoT in supply chains could dramatically decrease fraud while at the same time protecting consumer rights. As a distributed technology itself, IoT sensors could be mapped on to the blockchain. Now take a damaged goods claim. By checking the ledger, an investigator could pinpoint precisely what was damaged and at what stage in the process it happened. With everything from payment details and SLAs also recorded on the blockchain, it would take seconds for the relevant checks to be made and the claim either upheld or denied.

In addition, the root cause analysis of any issue would be much simpler leading to an immediate change in process (or supplier) if needed.

IBM has been working on integrating the IoT with AI and blockchain for several years already so these kinds of solutions are probably not too far off being enterprise-ready.

Are you ready for the challenge?

From a purely technological angle, these developments are fascinating but they can also be a source of concern for business owners. How will they be able to adapt to the changes ahead? Will they be able to afford the technologies they need? Can they keep their customers’ private data secure? Will they have to lay off staff because robots are more efficient?

The best advice for businesses, whatever their size, is to remain alert to what is happening in their industry and to be ready to adapt to the inevitable changes. Companies with entrenched legacy hardware should seriously consider migrating to the cloud or at least setting up a hybrid network because whatever changes are afoot are likely to be partly or wholly resident in the cloud.

As preparation for that, a full data audit will be necessary so that all data into, through and out of the company is tracked.

Rather than thinking about laying off staff, a better strategy might be to train IT engineers in these emergent technologies and in cutting edge processes such as agile development and DevOps.

The worst thing a business owner can do is to assume that the changes won’t have anything to do with them and go back to business as usual because, as CEO of Los Angeles IT consulting firm DCG Inc. Brent Whitfield put it in a recent blog article, ‘The buzz around what has been dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is not merely hype.’”

Brent Whitfield


Brent is the CEO of DCG Technical Solutions Inc. DCG provides the specialist advice and IT Consulting Los Angeles area businesses need to remain competitive and productive, while being sensitive to limited IT budgets.
Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business. He also leads SMBTN – Los Angeles, a MSP peer group that focuses on continuing education for MSP’s and IT professionals. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP mentor.

Source: ReadWrite
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CES2020: The Rise of AI and Personalized Wellness

CES, the largest tech event of the year, is no stranger to the extremely cool, strange, repetitive or revolutionary when it comes to technology. Although the show boasts thousands of different types of technologies and products, certain themes and trends are pervasive throughout the week. 

After putting in about 18.5 miles in less than 3 days, I reflected on the few days of sensory overload and everything I had experienced. Many of the conversations I had during the conference revolved around personalized health, connected vehicle ecosystems, smart cities and artificial intelligence (AI). While there were more than a few companies exhibiting at the show attempting to be the next Peloton or claiming their ear pods rival Apple’s Air Pods, I was grateful to not have to endure too many of those conversations. 

Smart City Concepts

With 5G rolling out and the IoT industry maturing, smart cities are the inevitable next move to take advantage of all IoT has to offer. At CES, there was no shortage of smart city concepts to experience. From miniature models that included autonomous cars and helicopters to vehicles that deliver groceries, companies have invested a lot of time and money into building the next generation of automation for our every day lives. The one concept that CES really drove home was that the future of tech is all connected. Smart cities don’t exist without AI or without connected “things” and autonomous vehicles. 

As our infrastructure ages, it becomes all too important for tech companies and their partners to understand how to build, secure and launch a connected future. Smart cities will rely on IoT sensors to understand water and energy consumption, traffic patterns and more. How we understand, control and initiate change based on the data collected in these smart cities will have a direct reflection on whether or not smart cities can be both a sustainable and practical way of life. 

Toyota brought to life their proposed prototype “Woven City” at the conference this year. The concept Toyota used for their booth was inspiring. With a circular fabric set up to display live-action examples of how the city of the future will work, Toyota immersed visitors in their Woven City through sound, video and a 360-degree experience. 

The city will be built as a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan by 2021. This smart city is being hailed as a “living laboratory” where residents and researchers will utilize the from-scratch infrastructure to test and develop numerous technologies including robotics, smart homes and autonomy. Toyota is only one of several companies taking a techno-utopian approach to their plans for the city of the future. 

According to the Danish architect behind the city, Bjarke Ingels, “…connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life. With the breadth of technologies and industries that we have been able to access and collaborate with from the Toyota ecosystem of companies, we believe we have a unique opportunity to explore new forms of urbanity with the Woven City that could pave new paths for other cities to explore.”

As Toyota takes a step into the future, so too do other tech companies. Sprint, for example, will be utilizing their True Mobile 5G and Curiosity™ IoT in areas across the United States, including Greeneville, SC and Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.

The combination of Sprint Curiosity™ IoT with advanced network deployment has set the stage for building a truly smart city. Sprint and their partners are developing and deploying connected vehicles, autonomous services/machines and other smart technologies in conditions that reflect what future smart cities will look like. This allows researchers and developers to operate, navigate and react in real-time with real-world scenarios – preparing us for the city of the future. 

The Next Step in Mobility and Autonomous Vehicles

One of, if not the biggest, draw of CES is the automotive section. Everything from flying taxis to augmented reality cars and the latest models are on display at the event. I had the great pleasure of speaking with several experts in the autonomous industry including Blackberry and RTI.

During CES, Blackberry announced two partnerships including the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and an autonomous vehicle platform that will integrate BlackBerry QNX’s real-time operating system with Renovo’s intelligent automotive data platform. Renovo and QNX are jointly developing safety-critical data management tools for connected and autonomous vehicles with the plan to scale safety systems in new cars. Currently, Blackberry’s QNX is already in 150 million cars on the road today. 

I spoke with Kaivan Karimi, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions about the importance of native and secure technology and data collection in our connected and autonomous vehicles. With technology now embedded in cars before they hit the lots, Karimi expressed how vehicles are becoming a vital component of the infrastructure of smart cities.

As we put the groundwork in now for how cities will look in the future, he also noted the importance of building infrastructure based on the data that these vehicles are collecting from Renovo’s data management system and AI pipeline. Blackberry’s focus on safe and secure technology combined with Renovo’s data capabilities is only one example of how partnerships between private companies, the government, public entities and citizens of the world are necessary for being able to manage connected car data in a safe, secure and private way. 

In addition to Blackberry, Real-Time Innovations (RTI), an IIoT connectivity company, is working on the future of autonomous driving. 

Bob Leigh, Senior Market Development Director, Autonomous Systems at RTI shared with me that RTI believes “that the advancement of autonomous driving will be transformative to industry and society. Right now, automotive and tech companies are grappling with the complexity of the new technology, how to bring it to market, and what business models will ultimately be successful. At CES this year, we saw [that the industry] is much more specific in how they are tackling the challenge; differentiating their technology between advanced ADAS, Level 2+ and Level 4 Autonomy levels. We think this is a sign of the maturing market and the industry as a whole becoming more confident in how they will deliver their first commercial products. At CES 2020 it was clear the exact future of autonomous cars may still be unclear, but there was much more confidence in the path to making this technology real.” 

Personalized Wellness

Human behavior is a peculiar thing. Whether it’s a daily skincare routine, morning yoga or meditation, we are creatures of habit. Technology is advancing the way we personalize our health in those habits. Any marketer will tell you that human connection is the number one way to convince users to buy. If you can find a way to meet consumers where they are and solve their pain points, buyers will be more likely to choose your product. A company’s ethos as well as how it approaches customer satisfaction is of utmost importance as we saturate the market with new solutions, cool tech and products. 

Neutrogena relaunched its NEUTROGENA Skin360™ app this year to democratize skin health information. I spoke with the team, including Global Communications Lead of Beauty and Baby at Johnson & Johnson, Michelle Dionne, who explained and walked me through the app. Skin360™ utilizes advanced skin imaging, behavior coaching and artificial intelligence to empower consumers with actionable, personalized steps to help achieve their skin health goals. 

The original app that launched in 2018 required a skin scanning tool. So why did they relaunch in 2019? The team at Neutrogena put their customers first. They took into consideration valuable insight from consumers who sought personalized recommendations, science-backed information, expert opinions, skincare product tracking and how routine care affects our facial skin health over time. 

The team also added the Neutrogena AI Assistant (NAIA). NAIA is a personal skincare coach that builds a relationship with each user through in-app and text messaging. NAIA uses AI and behavior change techniques to determine each individual’s skincare personality, what their current approach to care is and their current routine. Once you’ve added your information to the app and complete a 180-degree selfie analysis, the app will give you a score for wrinkles, fine lines, dark under-eye circles, dark spots and smoothness.

NAIA then helps users identify and build a personal 8-week skincare goal and routine based on the skin scores and a self-assessment of sleep, exercise, stress levels, external factors, etc. that is monitored and supported through coaching. This allows users to personalize their routine and place importance on various skin attributes such as moisture and tone.

In addition to continuing to accept user feedback and iterate on their app and AI technology, Neutrogena is combining their 360 app with MaskiD, a micro 3D printed facemask that is custom to face shape and structure, formulated with concern-specific ingredients on different areas of your face. Although they won’t be available until later this year, be on the lookout for these masks as they will be both personalized and affordable. Side note: I’ve used the app several times already since being introduced to it last week.

This year at CES, Panasonic also took into consideration how consumers are placing increased attention on their physical and mental health states with the launch of their ‘Human Insight Technology’. 

With Panasonic’s human insight technology, users are provided with data to make recommendations to improve an individual’s experience in the home.

Human insight technology uses non-invasive sensors and imaging to capture and interpret data based on human habits and behaviors. Panasonic demonstrated this technology through an interactive yoga studio. Through analysis of physical stress data, Pansonic was able to design products and environments optimized for typical human movements and physiology. At CES, participants can see human insight technology in action through an interactive yoga studio using the Yoga Synchro Visualizer.

Your face and body are scanned, and the technology prompts you to follow commands. The cameras and sensors recognize human motion and provide users with multiple scores including a pose, fatigue, stability, flow and stress. The best part? You’re able to see the physical representation of the changes taking place in your body while performing your yoga routine. 

AI Home Ecosystems

Among the flooded convention center floors and wave of beautiful displays, you’re more likely than not to have run into companies that are incorporating AI assistants and technology into their products in some way. The smart home industry, in particular, is embedding AI into their ecosystems. 

For example, Sharp has a vision of People-Oriented IoT according to Executive Vice President and Head of AIoT Business Strategy Office, Bob Ishida. With over 150 products in 10 categories, Sharp is rolling out products that meet lifestyle and culture needs. Sharp is only one of many companies that showcased AIoT and 8K solutions that “will explore new possibilities for computers to offer innovative experiences to both business users and individual consumers around the world.”

LG is another example of a company using AI to improve the home ecosystem. Revealed in 2019, LGThinQ artificial intelligence was on full display. LG’s slogan for AI: “anywhere is home”. From kitchen appliances to washing machines and personal wardrobes, all of LG’s appliances are using AI as a consumer experience. Washers are learning how users like certain types of clothing washed and air conditioners are adjusting automatically to your comfortability settings. 

IoT Takeover

As I walked the convention floor with little spare time, I was curious about the prevalence of IoT at CES. Although I had to explain more than a handful of times what IoT is and how it works (simple explanation of IoT), even those that didn’t know it by name were utilizing some element or elements tied deeply to the IoT industry. 

From sensors to AI, 5G and the future of mobility, CES 2020 made a few things clear: partnerships are necessary for how we will build a connected future; personalized wellness is becoming a need to have instead of a nice to have and AI is becoming less of a buzzword and more of an actuality. 

Source: IoT For All
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Assessing and Addressing the Industrial Skills Gap

As technological innovation gains momentum, digital skills gaps may widen. Eventually, if not addressed, digital skills gaps could stunt growth and slow innovation. Intel recently released a study that delves into manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and hurdles to future-proofing a business, including skills gaps or skills shortages.

Skills that are critical today may be different than those that are critical in the future. For instance, basic programming and software engineering, communication skills, traditional IT skills, and the ability to innovate (brainstorm, etc.) are valuable today, but, according to Intel, future critical skills will be more along the lines of deep programming and software engineering, digital dexterity, data science, connectivity, and cybersecurity.

Intel’s “Accelerate Industrial” study included interviews with more than 400 manufacturers and ecosystem technologists that support them. The research uncovered a skills gap that Intel says too many training programs and government investment initiatives are currently failing to address. In 2018, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute released a report on the skills gap and the future of work. The research report predicted the skills gap in manufacturing would lead to 2.4 million unfilled positions between 2018 and 2028. It’s not just open jobs either; it’s a lack of skilled workers to step into those roles that make the situation even more difficult for industrial companies.

The Deloitte/Manufacturing Institute report projected the problem will get worse in the next several years, as many participating companies said they expect it to be three times as difficult to fill highly skilled positions at their companies in the next three years. Such roles include digital talent, skilled production, and operational managers. Economically, the study suggests by 2028, the talent shortage/skills gap in manufacturing could put more than $450 billion at risk if qualified workers don’ step up to fill these jobs.

While the IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) is becoming more accessible than ever before, the Accelerate Industrial study says two of three companies piloting digital manufacturing solutions fail to move into large-scale rollout. One in every three respondents (36%) cites “technical skill gaps” that prevent them from benefiting from their investment as a top challenge. A quarter of respondents (27%) cite “data sensitivity” from increasing concerns over data and IP privacy, ownership, and management as a challenge, while 23% say a lack of interoperability between protocols, components, products, and systems is an issue. Another 22% cite security threats as a top challenge, and 18% say scalability in terms of handling data growth and making sense of this data is a hurdle.

To bridge the technical skills gap that represents the top-rated perceived hurdle in the next several years, Intel suggests companies create programs that support life-long learning among the existing workforce, offer instruction in digital tools and skills that combine lecture and hands-on opportunities to practice, emphasize problem assessment and solving before solution implementation to prompt discussion and learning, and balance hiring external experts and internal staffing to grow the company’s digital dexterity. These suggestions are solid and could go a long way in helping manufacturers and other industrial companies address the pressing skills gap—a challenge most predict will get worse before it gets better.

Source: Connected World
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Retail and the Benefits of MEC

The benefits of MEC (multi-access edge computing) sound promising indeed. But what exactly is MEC, and how can it benefit industries like retail? According to Juniper Networks, the benefits include new services and revenue streams, real-time analytics with lower latency, reduced cloud data storage and transport costs, improved availability of applications and IT assets, the ability to conserve network bandwidth and reduce network congestion, and increased security and compliance.

AT&T Business calls MEC the “short road to ultra-low latency operations.” It moves the computing of traffic and services to the network edge. Because MEC isn’t sending traffic and services up the cloud to process it before sending it back, there’s less latency, which can open doors for more near real-time performance, even for high-bandwidth applications. In manufacturing, such applications include using video to detect errors and defects, even on the smallest scale, immediately. This technology then allows manufacturers to address issues before they turn into large-scale problems. For more on MEC in manufacturing and the connection between 5G and MEC, read Multi-access Edge Computing Essential to 5G.

Multi-access edge computing use cases also frequently include applications that require location tracking and AR (augmented reality) in industries like retail. One common painpoint for retailers is their reliance on Wi-Fi infrastructure, which can become overloaded when supporting POS (point-of-sale) devices, smart printers, digital signage, employee handheld devices for in-store use, and more. As Intel points out in its The Business Case for MEC in Retail: A TCO Analysis and its Implications in the 5G Era, the result is sluggish customer service during heavy traffic times, which tend to correlate with times of peak foot traffic. In other words, the times retailers need good service the most they often don’t have it.

What’s more, if retailers can barely handle the demand on their networks now, they’re probably not as keen to look forward at what applications they can bring in to improve the customer experience through connectivity. For instance, AR solutions that show customers how a product can be used, what reviews there are on a particular item, or even what other products would complement an item they’re considering can all engage customers in the brick-and-mortar sales experience. A MEC environment in retail could preserve existing wiring for a store, while offering the benefits of LTE (long-term evolution) coverage and edge computing.

Intel suggests an MEC solution could potentially generate up to a 55.9% cost savings for retailers over the course of three years, while significantly reducing WAN traffic during peak times. By leveraging MEC and edge computing in general, retailers are also putting themselves in a better position to compete with the likes of Amazon and other online retailers. Physical shopping will never live up to the convenience of online shopping, especially for Generation Z, but it offers other benefits. The key is to preserve a unique and fulfilling buying experience in physical stores by leveraging cutting-edge IoT (Internet of Things) technologies. Behind the scenes, retailers will need to be gathering data and, in some cases, processing and analyzing it in near real-time. Operations need to be fluid and efficient, and edge computing can make a huge difference there. From improving store security and surveillance to understanding consumer trends and providing engaging in-store experiences that drive sales and encourage brand loyalty, the low latency associated with edge computing is worth a close look by retailers.

Source: Connected World
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Multi-access Edge Computing Essential to 5G

The IoT (Internet of Things) is driving new compute-intensive applications, and networks must be able to keep up. In sectors like manufacturing, 5G is a gateway to new possibilities—faster speeds and lower latencies, the ability to collect more data and leverage it better, and, as it is also a platform for companies’ own innovation, the list can be as long as an innovator’s imagination.

According to Allied Market Research, the market for 5G technology will reach $5.54 billion in 2020, and, from there, it will explode. The research firm predicts a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 122.3% between 2020 and 2026, with the market value projection at almost $668 billion by 2026. Industries like manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and transportation will benefit from the coming of 5G.

AT&T Business says the forthcoming 5G revolution will bring ultra-low latency, enhanced capacity and ultra-high speeds, massive device connectivity, and data-driven insights. In manufacturing in particular, 5G will support intelligent infrastructure, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), metrology (the technology behind quality-assurance processes) and non-contact metrology, digital twin technology, cost savings, and global integration.

This all sounds great, but organizations may not be ready for 5G. Is there an option to address latency in the meantime even without 5G? Businesses may want to consider MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing). Juniper Networks describes MEC as moving the computing of traffic and services from a centralized cloud to the edge of the network and, therefore, closer to the customer. This can reduce latency and deliver on the promise of near “realtime” performance, especially for high-bandwidth applications. In fact, Research and Markets says in cellular networks, edge computing via MEC is “virtually essential” for 5G, because MEC facilitates optimization of 5G network resources.

Consider a real-life example in manufacturing. Today’s manufacturers want to leverage video technology to detect errors and defects automatically and in near real-time. Latency must be at very low to achieve maximum value from this technology, but standard network architecture often struggles to handle this type of high-resolution video. A MEC solution can help. Video is one of the key drivers of edge computing via MEC, along with location tracking services and AR, which are increasingly being used in a range of verticals. In another use-case scenario, connected vehicles that rely on near real-time situational-awareness types of information and the ability to provide feedback to the driver to help guide decisions and reactions benefits from edge computing and the low latency it delivers.

ETSI, a standards organization, supports a MEC initiative—an ISG (Industry Specification Group) that aims to create a standardized, open environment to enable integration across multiple vendors and MEC platforms. To help fuel this emerging ecosystem, ETSI is calling for players in the value chain to participate in the ISG, to share their best practices, and to demonstrate MEC use cases and proofs of concepts.

Source: Connected World
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Stacy Schwartz – FirstNet: Safety And First Responders

Peggy and Stacy Schwartz, vice president, public safety and FirstNet sales, AT&T, discuss the importance of FirstNet, and how it is designed to improve communications across the U.S. public safety community and the milestones it has already achieved. They examine the importance of having a dedicated, highly secure communications platform for first responder traffic, and what’s to come in 2020.

Below is an excerpt from the interview. To hear the entire interview on The Peggy Smedley Show, log onto, and select 12/19/19 from the archives.

Peggy Smedley:
So Stacy, I have to start the show off by congratulating you and the FirstNet team for reaching more than a million connections. Pretty impressive.

Stacy Schwartz:
Thank you.

There are some people who might not know what FirstNet is, tell us all about that.

Sure. Let’s start with the basics. FirstNet came out of a communications need that was discovered after 9/11. First it is the nation’s only wireless communications platform that’s dedicated to America’s first responders and all of those that support our first responders.

It’s a dedicated network and it is purposely built exclusively for public safety. The genesis of the network and how it came to fruition was really by eliciting what the requirements and the needs were of first responders around the country.

So the network is specifically designed with public safety in mind, what public safety asked for, and it continues to provide new capabilities pretty much every day, which is how we have evolved to get to the milestone you mentioned earlier.

When we think about public safety, for most of us, that’s the most important thing. We just want to know that the first responders are always there, right? That there’s something that sends a message and they’re there when we need them, right?

Yes, absolutely. So when you think about our police, fire, emergency medical services, so the ambulances that come to get folks when they’re in distress, as well as our 911 services are our public safety access points, all of the individuals that support those mission critical services that support us and the community, just like you mentioned, would avail themselves of this network. Those are the first responders that FirstNet was really dedicated to.

Speed is one of the clear advantages here. Can you talk more about that, why that’s so important?

Yes, so we look at FirstNet at AT&T as a completely different network, right? And it’s not just a very fast or the fastest network. It is a distinct, unique network. It is a separate network. We have a dedicated, I’ll call it a brain, if you will, or a core to that network, which distinguishes it from our other commercial network.

It uses all of the LTE bands that we have access to on AT&T as well as a unique bit of spectrum that the federal government is enabling us to use for FirstNet, called Band 14 and it’s almost like it’s a dedicated highway for first responders.

It’s high quality spectrum that’s specifically for FirstNet. So it would provide public safety for the folks we just mentioned, a dedicated lane, if you will, of connectivity when they need it.

And that Band 14 that I just referenced is being deployed. In fact, it’s in over 675 markets or communities across the country today. Everywhere from rural and tribal communities to some of our nation’s biggest cities.

There’s got to be lots of other benefits behind having that Band 14, that highway that you just described.

Right. So I think, just to start at the basics, so it’s the fact that we have this unique highway that’s dedicated for public safety and all of the community that supports it. But the other aspect of it is the fact that it’s always on, right?

So you don’t have to do anything when you’re on FirstNet to activate that capability, which prioritizes your traffic. It’s always on. There’s an identifier in the service that says “It’s Stacy, is a first responder.” I have that capability, unlike other services where you might be asked to actually do something and initiate a code, etc.

I mentioned to you earlier that it is a separate network and it’s dedicated entirely to the first responders. That in and of itself is unique, but there are other aspects, as you mentioned, that are benefits to the first responders.

So by virtue of the fact that we’ve created a unique brain, as I call it, or a core, we’ve created a highly secure environment for that traffic. So all the traffic going and traversing that core is encrypted, which, for our first responders, is something that we feel is absolutely critical. As did that community, they asked for highly secure, more prioritized secure traffic.

First, FirstNet always has a security operation center to support all the users, 24/7, so a dedicated security operation center that is there to support our customers.

Same thing with our customer service. There’s a dedicated group of individuals that understand the mission of first responders, 24/7 as well. And then in addition again, still staying on the theme of always on and always present, we know that there are certain unique instances, whether it’s after a disaster or if critical infrastructure based on a disaster or some unique incident occurs. We know we have to keep that connectivity up.

So part of what we’re doing is, as a part of our FirstNet program, is we have added additional what we’ll call “deployable assets” that allow for connectivity even in remote locations where, whether it’s devastated by fire or hurricane, we have portable cell sites, if you will, that are FirstNet dedicated that we will bring to an area that has been struck by disaster.

These assets are available 24/7. There is a unique system by which we deploy them across the country, making sure that they get to their intended destinations as quickly as possible. And these assets would provide the same capabilities or connectivity as a cell tower. So again, something that’s above and beyond our normal network capabilities, these are dedicated to the FirstNet network.

And then if you go beyond just the basic foundation of network, we have the entire device manufacturing industry that has created devices that are FirstNet ready. Based on the spectrum and the capability of the devices, there are over a hundred devices today that are what we call “FirstNet ready.” Whether It’s a ruggedized device or a wearable device, these are all capable of taking advantage of the unique networking capabilities of FirstNet.

And then if you leap one step above that, the whole point beyond connectivity is creating situational awareness for the community of interest we’ve been discussing. We’ve created unique applications with the oversight of the federal government or the FirstNet authority that reside on the FirstNet platform that will enhance the ability of first responders to do their job both for their own safety and for the community safety.

So, you asked just to sum up what other benefits are there beyond the networking infrastructure and the uniqueness of the network and speed? We believe all of the attributes I just mentioned make this a very unique, discreet platform for our nation’s first responders.

And I think when you talk about that and some of these benefits, you’re working with many people. So you have to have routers and lots of things that are working simultaneously, right? All these mobile solutions that you’re describing that being able to get to first responders to be able to do that and it’s not an easy task.

And one of the reasons I say that is because when you have a natural disaster, there’s lots of things happening, so you have to know this thing is up all the time. In an earthquake, things are happening that you have to know that this is up all the time to be able to respond. Correct?

Yes. Yes. So a couple of things I would say to you is, in addition to, and this is something that we are very proud of, the fact that the network prides itself on always being there, always on for first responders and we know things will happen.

You mentioned an earthquake. Whether it’s a fire, an earthquake, a hurricane, floods, it could be a law enforcement incident. We need to make sure that the network is working as it is positioned to be.

The thing that I would tell you about that as well as I mentioned those deployables, those are available for our first responders. But one other thing I did not mention to you is the people that support this network.

These are folks that have come from a career, potentially in this business, supporting public safety, maybe an industry. Quite a few of them have come actually from public safety, so they understand the challenges in responding to an emergency and part of what we do when we deploy these assets is, with the collaboration and participation of the local response teams, we embed some of our staff into the emergency operation centers and these are folks that really understand what the dynamics to your point, lots of stuff is going on.

We want to make sure we have the right people who understand all that and are used to and adaptive to an environment where there is lots of stuff going on and things need to be triaged and safety is first. So beyond just the basic communication capabilities that FirstNet has distinguished itself with, we have people that understand the uniqueness of that situation you just referenced.

One of the things I found really interesting that you all recently did and I was looking at the pictures, was the blimp FirstNet, FirstNet One, and I found that so intriguing because we have so many. I don’t know if now we are aware of them because of social media, or it just seems like we just know so much is happening in the world around us when natural disasters occur and where all can see it first up close and personal.

But it just seemed that you made that announcement and you’re able to look at what’s happening in cases of a natural disaster. Talk about that., because I think it, in some ways it’s really interesting what you’re doing there.

Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah, we’re really proud of the FirstNet One capability, one of its kind, public safety solution. We’re always looking to innovate. We continue to work with the public safety community and you know, our own innovators within AT&T to see what could we do better. How can we continue to improve upon the capabilities we bring in an emergency?

You know, both from our own operational efficiency, but also creating greater capabilities given. We’ve just had some really extensive disaster, so FirstNet One, as you call it, more commonly the blimp, is a 55 foot aerostat.

So obviously, it goes up in the air like a blimp and we believe it’s the next addition to our deployable network, just like those trucks, those cell on wheels. But this is obviously in the air.

It can fly up to a thousand feet and provide a much broader coverage area, at two times the coverage area of some of the other solutions I referenced as part of the deployables, like cell on wheels and the flying cell on wheels.

In addition, we know we may be entering inclement weather areas. It can remain operational with wind speeds up to 50 miles an hour and withstand winds even up to 70 miles per hour. So while that’s not ideal conditions, we know we’re deploying in areas that may have just had bad weather or maybe in a rough area where there are spires and there’s high winds.

The other really cool thing or unique thing about FirstNet One is it can stay up in the air for about two weeks before needing any additional helium. So that provides connectivity over an extended period.

So it’s not just right after the disaster or during, it could be over an extended period of time. As we know, we’ve had recovery situations that go at least that long and it’s tethered to a trailer to provide satellite or wire line connectivity.

And it also keeps the aerostat in place over the area we’re looking to connect. And it gives all the benefits of FirstNet that I previously mentioned. So we’re really excited about it and we just launched it and we always make sure that before we bring something forward, it’s tested and we believe it merits and is capable of being deployed to support our first responders. So certainly, I’m happy to talk about it. We think it’s one of the coolest innovations to add our FirstNet fleet.

Talk a little bit about other examples of what you guys have done so far. Because I know that you do this and you’re out there every day. You’re in the trenches with this and you’ve given us some great examples of the benefits, but talk about what you’ve seen so far that you’ve said, “Look, this is really done an amazing thing and this is why we’re so proud of it.”

Sure. I think I’ve been a little stuck on natural disasters, right? So we’ve seen devastating fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, all just broad devastation.

But FirstNet has been used in search and rescue missions, whether it’s a training exercise to prepare for search and rescue or we did have a couple of incidents over the past year, both in Colorado and several other places where based on the fact that those individuals looking for the lost person, were using FirstNet in remote areas.

They were able to remain connected where they otherwise would not have been able to. And in both situations we were able to locate the individual that was lost. So that’s, certainly an instance that I would mention to you as well. And, we have supported during earthquakes. You mentioned earthquakes earlier. We had an earthquake in Anchorage that was a seven on the Richter scale.

The police chief in Anchorage actually noted that others around him had trouble connecting on their devices, when they were trying to connect to first responders. FirstNet gave an uninterrupted connectivity during that earthquake time period that the other networks couldn’t.

So there’s examples like those that I think are just truly, from my standpoint, so rewarding to hear about that the platform you’re creating is certainly for communications, but the real life benefit to individuals, human beings out in the community, and what that communication capability was able to do for our community is just unequaled.

Talk a little bit about some of the other industries beyond public safety and first responders. I’m sure there’s a whole lot more.

Sure. I’ve referenced it as the communities that support first responders, we call them extended primary users or they could be the second line of responders. But in some instances, that community of interest may even be on the front line.

So if you think about storms we referenced, think about a tree removal service., that you certainly can’t pass an impassable road to get to a community that might have been devastated if the road is impassable.

So a tree removal service is not something that I would have thought of initially, but all of these emergency platforms. Certainly utility companies, when utility lines are down and we’re trying to make sure people can remain safe and healthy after a disaster, we need the utility companies to be able to communicate with that same priority that our first responders do as well.

And then transportation would be another community. Certainly that needs to remain viable and able to communicate at all times, especially when there is a disaster of any kind.

So those are just some examples that work and coordinate. But one of the bigger ones that I think is maybe a little bit more intuitive and obvious is healthcare. So when the emergency medical service is in operation and an ambulance is taking a patient to a hospital, we need the hospital personnel to be able to communicate as well.

So we’ve seen a great deal of interest within the healthcare community in FirstNet as well. I can give you an interesting example. We are working with a company that provides renal support for those folks that are on dialysis that need support for their kidneys.

If that company cannot operate in a disaster, if you think about the life connection to kidney patients and how they need to make sure that they are on dialysis, we need to make sure they’re connected as well. So there’s lots of unique aspects within the healthcare universe as well that absolutely need communication as their lifeblood and FirstNet is there to provide that.

It’s interesting hearing you talk about this. I know the government’s going to announce some more open spectrum and I wonder if all of this will be able to allow more of this.

I imagine that you could do all kinds of things going in the future if you’re allowed to do that. It just sounds like there’s such great opportunities to really cater to such vertical industries with all this great opportunity that we never thought of before.

Yeah, I think it happens, I’m sure in your world you see this as well, but as soon as the opportunity and the platform is created, it’s been amazing to see through our reach of our team, how this help person that’s being applied to help serve the mission of safety and security in the community.

So everything from wearable devices that may provide that capability,we just mentioned the blimp, we’re innovating around that, and then industries that have just some very unique aspects of the protection that they provide, like I mentioned to you, have come forward to say “we’ve heard about FirstNet” and they really would like to be able to take advantage of FirstNet. They obviously would have to qualify to be on the network.

But that capability is endless when you think about all of the things that are being done in our community to protect citizens and protect first responders. So, I think you referenced, there’s endless capabilities that we’re excited to continue to grow.

That’s where the safety and security of all of this comes in. People have to qualify. And that’s where the IoT and the things that you’ve done with FirstNet offerings and solutions. That’s a key point to this, right?

Yes. So another aspect of what is unique about FirstNet is there is no other network or capability like FirstNet in the United States. And that is the FirstNet authority is part of the federal government.

So while we are a commercial company that has been tasked with, and awarded the contract to build FirstNet and to operate FirstNet, we are closely accountable to the federal government.

So we can’t just put anyone on the network, we have guidelines and that’s what makes this network so unique and special. And then there are all the attributes of the network. We work very close in collaboration with FirstNet authority to make sure that the service and the applications that we’re putting forward, we’re all feeling the accountability to FirstNet authorities.

So we do have an objective third party that we are contractually accountable to and we must comply with the contract to make sure we’re supporting the right users all the time. So another unique attribute of FirstNet that makes it that much better, if you will.

Your guys are developing push-to-talk and that’s coming up now here.

Yes. So you know, yet again we are looking at this, making public safety’s mission the first priority. So push-to-talk. So for those folks that don’t really understand what that is, that’s the capability to really use your device to push-to-talk much like you would with a radio.

And so public safety has long relied on land, mobile radio, but our LTE devices, FirstNet devices, can actually inter operate with those radios. And to take it to what we consider public safety’s mission critical service, we have been working on the requirements, the standards testing to launch mission critical push-to-talk, which we will do in the beginning of the year.

And we believe this, again, is an unequal differentiated service that will allow public safety to be able to use communication tools differently than they ever have before. And so we’re really proud for that to be entering into our service catalog early in the early part of 2020.

What’s coming for FirstNet in 2020, beyond push-to-talk?

So in addition, we’ll continue to grow our coverage and then more interesting devices that will be able to do things like connect infrastructure with lighting, other critical infrastructure as well.

So from an IOT perspective, more certification there, and then new devices that you’ll see that are actually bridging the divide between more of an everyday device and ruggedized devices and then more applications as well. So, all of that in 2020.

Source: Connected World
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What the MEC?

One of the topics that I’ve spent a considerable amount a time investigating lately is MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing). I’m learning as much as I can about it, and we’re writing about it here on I think it’s a really important topic for my readers and podcast listeners, too, because I talk to a lot of people who are looking to reduce the latency of their IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled solutions. I’ve talked and written about all the promise of 5G, and I believe that 5G will eventually solve a lot of issues that enterprises are facing today in terms of increasing network speeds and reducing latency;  but MEC can help now even without 5G when it comes to latency.

At a recent AT&T Business Summit, I stopped by the AT&T booth and got to talk with the staff there and was able to see, in some cases, firsthand, how MEC solutions can help drive business and digital transformations for manufacturers. So let’s discuss what your options are right now.

We all know that manufacturing—and most industries, really—are facing a deluge of data, and businesses need to find ways to manage it. Say they’ve found ways to generate data, well, now they need to harness it. A lot of a manufacturers’ success in harnessing data is going to rely on network connectivity. When you have robots, mobile devices, and cameras—lots of cameras for various applications like security and detecting defects—you’re going to start running into bandwidth issues. Video applications in particular are just data hogs no matter which way you slice it.

A decade ago, everybody’s answer for IoT was the cloud. The cloud is great, but with the processing applications manufacturers need today, latency is an issue. Manufacturers need to be asking themselves: How latency sensitive are these applications? How business-critical are they? With MEC, you don’t need to hairpin traffic up to the cloud and back down.

With MEC, servers are acting like traffic cops. It does a sort of data slicing for you; it takes the wireless traffic that you’ve deemed business critical or latency sensitive, and it keeps that data within the four walls of the factory. That way, the data you’re producing and consuming within that factory stays right there, reducing the latency. And then beyond latency, there’s also the privacy and security benefits of MEC. When your data stays within your four walls, it’s not on   the public internet. There’s value in that too.

A MEC solution I’ve seen in practice can produce near real-time alerts to help manufacturers improve safety and enforce rules. If you have a hard-hat zone, you can have a camera that’s going to identify anyone in that zone without a hard hat and send an alert to a technician and also set off a warning light. An AT&T Business customer is using this type of application in another context for clean rooms where employees must wear special “clean gear” to keep the manufacturing process uncontaminated. I guess some employees were trying to just run in and run out if a problem was a quick-fix, but with a system like this, the alert is sent so fast that you can’t cheat the system. If you’re in a clean room without the proper gear, you’re going to set off an alert.

Another video-related application in manufacturing is using cameras to monitor older equipment. So maybe you’re mid-upgrade across your plants and all of your machines aren’t upgraded yet. Traditionally, manufacturers have employees walking the factory floor to monitor and look for issues, but with the lower latency of MEC, you can mount a camera and have near real-time video intelligence that MEC enabled apps process for near real-time actionable feedback.

MEC with today’s 4G is a stepping-stone on the road to 5G. 5G will add more speed, reduce latency even more, and it’ll support the number of devices, sensors, and applications that are getting connected on an exponential scale. And then, MEC together with 5G will provide even greater value. So tell me, are you deploying MEC? Why or why not?

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #M2M #IoT #AI #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #bigdata #digitaltransformation #5G #cloud #edge #MEC #retail #AR #MEC #edge #edgecomputing #manufacturing #ATTManufacturing @ATTBusiness

Source: Connected World
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4 High-Potential Sectors for AI and ML Startup Success

Today, the explosion of development in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology has created a market for which it appears there’s no limit. No matter the industry, if you name a reasonably-sized (or larger) company, there’s a good chance that they’re investing in AI and ML technology as a cornerstone of their strategic plans. With each passing day, it’s even becoming part of the small business equation, too. Here are four high-potential sectors for AI and ML startup success.

The takeaway is that there are as many ways for businesses to use machine learning as there are businesses. It’s the kind of burgeoning market that is perfect for fueling startup growth, and entrepreneurs have started to take notice. That’s why there’s been such a recent boom of startup activity in the sector – creating what many analysts are referring to as a 21st-century gold rush.

The problem is, like in the original gold rush in the late 1800s, there’s going to be a point where the majority of those rushing to stake their claims will see their odds of success dry up. That’s why it’s more critical than ever for entrepreneurs to understand which parts of the AI and ML space still have plenty of room for startup innovation, so they can mine the right vein and strike it rich.

Here’s a look at four of the parts of the market that show tremendous potential, to use as a guidepost.

Educational AI Systems

As AI and ML technology started their march into the business world, much of the attention paid to AI with respect to the education sector centered on producing the skilled worker’s businesses would need to operate their new technological platforms. Very little initial movement or investment went toward developing AI or ML solutions for the education sector.

In recent months, however, that has started to change. Education-focused platforms have been starting to roll out AI-powered tools and are increasingly viewing the technology as a game-changer for the industry. An analysis of spending by the education sector on AI and ML technology predicts that it will be the industry with the biggest spending growth by percentage through 2022. For an education-focused AI or ML startup, that’s a very encouraging sign.

Human Resources AI Technology

Another industry that’s been somewhat slow to adopt AI and ML technology is human resources (HR). The one exception has been in the adoption of applicant tracking systems (ATS) that use ML techniques to perform application screening for potential hires. That alone has spawned a cottage industry of AI-enhanced services meant to improve applicants’ chances of passing muster, as these machine-created resume examples should attest.

The thing is, the surge in ATS use is expected to be just a prelude to much wider adoption of AI and ML technologies in the realm of HR, with industry experts expecting adoption rates of the technologies to pick up significant steam in the coming years. That means it’s a great time to launch an HR-focused AI or ML startup now, to capitalize on the all-but-certain growth in the space.

AI-Powered Marketing Tools

hologram user interface
Futuristic infographics, online trading, e-commerce, hologram, user interface, internet.                Photo: lidiia/Adobe Stock

As the world edges closer and closer to an always-on internet-connected reality with the emergence of IoT technology, businesses everywhere are coming to grips with the fact that there are more marketing channels to manage than ever before. The only feasible solution is to turn the bulk of the work over to AI-powered marketing systems, using ML to adapt and evolve marketing efforts over time.

Already, such tools are cropping up in all phases of the marketing industry, from social media management to content marketing and all points in between. That, however, is just the beginning. Businesses that have already seen how AI-influenced marketing decisionmaking can help them grow are now looking for ways to turn more of their marketing efforts over to AI-powered solutions. A startup that focuses on delivering an AI solution to enable real-time marketing automation at scale could find itself well-positioned for long term success.

Financial AI Solutions

When startups are seeking an AI or ML market with solid growth prospects, their best bet is to go where the money is – which in this case means to the financial sector itself. AI and ML technology adoption in the world of finance has been so swift and complete that it spawned the whole new business category of fintech. In particular, asset managers are already going all-in on the technology as are hedge funds, financial advisors, and the entire banking sector.

It’s also an industry that has almost inexhaustible resources to pour into worthwhile AI and ML technology, which bodes well for any startup that looks to build solutions for the industry. The size and scope of the sector mean that there’s a near-limitless number of opportunities to be had in the space – and they’re all there for the taking for any savvy entrepreneur who finds an innovative way to capitalize on them.

Fools Rush In

The bottom line here is that there’s no shortage of opportunities to be had for AI and ML startups, as long as they choose their markets carefully. It’s not a coincidence that analysts are starting to call this the AI gold rush – they’re doing it because the stampede of development will eventually lead to an oversaturated market that can’t sustain the number of startups that it is spawning.

When that happens, only the entrepreneurs that made it a point to work within sectors that have long-term growth prospects will see their startups survive. When the bubble bursts, it won’t be because interest in the technologies has waned, it will be due to two factors – a systemic need to cull underperforming members of the startup herd, and a round of consolidations that will see the best of the bunch scooped up by larger entities.

Startups in the above four sectors will stand a good chance of being part of the latter group. As for those in the former group, I suggest they do some research into the end of the last gold rush for some insight into their ultimate fate.

Andrej Kovacevic

Andrej is a dedicated writer and digital evangelist. He is pursuing an ongoing mission to share the benefits of his years of hard-won expertise with business leaders and marketing professionals everywhere. He is a contributor to a wide range of technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing everything from neural networks and natural language processing to the latest in smart home IoT devices. If there’s a new and exciting technology, there’s a good chance Andrej is writing about it somewhere out there.

Source: ReadWrite
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4 Trends that are Transforming the Future of Healthcare

From drinking one’s own urine as a cure for broken bones to blood-letting to sending electrical shocks through a person’s body as a cure for mental illness — healthcare has a somewhat jaded past. Fortunately, as technology has improved our ability to study human physiology, medical professionals have become increasingly adept at diagnosing and curing many different illnesses. Here are four trends that are transforming the future of healthcare.

Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement to be made. Almost 20% of Americans can’t afford healthcare, according to ABC News. And millions of people die from diseases like cancer and diabetes every single year. We might not ever reach immortality, but some trends can radically transform the future of healthcare in some promising ways.

Artificial Intelligence

In almost every industry, imaginable – from gaming to every-day transportation – artificial intelligence is making a big splash. And it didn’t skip healthcare. One example of artificial intelligence’s impact on the healthcare industry is OWKIN Socrates, an AI-based technology platform created for medical professionals and their businesses.

The bot can monitor symptoms, diagnose disease, recommend treatments, and even predict outcomes, all much faster than a human can.  We’re probably far from being wholly dependent on artificial intelligence for medical services, but who knows what the bots will be doing next – performing surgeries? Will bots be managing pharmacies? How many bots does it take to run a test? How long before bots are diagnosing disease?

One thing’s for sure: AI is going to play a significant role in the future of healthcare – the size and scope of that role are yet to be determined.

Virtual Reality

Perhaps virtual reality is having a more significant impact on healthcare than any other technological advancement. If that’s the case, it would seem to be for a good reason: it’s working. Already, medical students are using virtual technology to learn and perform mock-surgeries. It’s also being used in physical therapy to help people recover from injury or trauma. VISUALIZE reports on research that shows “VR immersion for those undergoing physical therapy. VR has been used for physical therapy has also been shown to be effective in speeding up recovery time.”

Overall, virtual reality is being used to calm patients, relieve pain, and adjust a patient’s awareness of bodily signals. The effectiveness of this tech on healthcare will likely improve as medical professionals have more time to explore its applications.

Immediate At-Home Assistance

If you’re disabled, a senior with low mobility, or at home alone in serious physical pain, what are you supposed to do? You can’t easily drive yourself to the hospital, and calling an ambulance might be unnecessary for the symptoms you’re experiencing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of older adults fall every year, and 20% of those falls are severe.

Companies like Heal let people schedule an appointment with a licensed and certified doctor at their place of residence. Not to mention the advancements of assistive technology – some of which can detect falls and automatically request immediate assistance for seniors who may have been injured due to a fall. And why not? That feels like a natural and necessary progression of the healthcare process. Some unwell people can’t easily leave their home, and they shouldn’t have to.

Laser Printed Human Organs

It might sound overly ambitious, but Prellis Biologics is a company that’s dedicated to “solving the shortage of human organs and tissues for transplantation.” And they’ve got at least one thing right: there is undoubtedly a shortage of organs and human tissue for transplantation. Every single day, about 20 people die waiting for a life-saving transplant that never happened. This information is according to the American Transplant Foundation.

Using laser printing technology, Prellis Biologics has managed to mimic the human cell and replicate human organs. This technology is still partly experimental, but who knows how far it will come if given a few more years or even a decade. Professionals might be able to print a new human organ as easily as prescribing medication.

All of these innovations are exciting trends — but ones that still need more time to develop fully.

Yoav Vilner

Yoav Vilner

“Marketer to Watch” (Forbes). “Industry leader” (SAP). “Top 100 FinTech Influencer” . Tech blogger with exposure to millions. Advising startups across Europe, NYC, and Tel Aviv.

Source: ReadWrite
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Can the Usage of Article Generators Nullify Content Writers?

Have you ever thought of a world where one doesn’t need to look up for cheap freelance writers to get their content written? A time where one doesn’t have to depend on the humanistic quality of “getting tired” and “not being able to write more than 3000 or 5000 words in a day?”

What if AI was designed to be such resources for us rather than humans – that would be an ideal solution, right? All those know-it-all Grammar Nazis and English Literature graduates will not have such a high pedestal to stand on, then, would they?

Congratulations, your prayers were heard quite a time ago now. Many major business empires have used AI article generators, for years now.

Major AI Article Generators

1.      Heliograf

  • Used by The Washington Post since 2016
  • Was developed by the Washington Post itself to cover the 2016 Olympics in Rio
  • It generated short reports of the Olympics to keep the readers updated. From medals to outcomes of various sports – it covered them all
  • As per the publisher, it was created to give human writers time to work on essential and quality articles rather than replacing them
  • The article generator created around 850 pieces in 2017 for the same publishing house and since then has been their own individual AI writer
  • Won an award in the ‘Excellence in Use of Bots’ category at the ‘2018 GLOBAL BIGGIES AWARDS’
  • The bot is not available to the public for usage, however.

2.      Quill

  • Created by Narrative Science
  • As per the company, Quill is an “I. that automatically communicates relevant information at scale”
  • Its most valuable of features or skill is that it can generate high quality, focused as well as insightful narratives with the help of any human or machine compiled information
  • Kriss Hammond, the founder of Narrative Sciences, said that it could quickly adapt to a (sports) writer’s style and yet write 1000x more articles than the human writer himself
  • The pricing for using this software is dependent on the types of stories one wants. One example can cost you $70,000 per annum producing around 100,000 stories or so.

3.      Wordsmith

  • The Associated Press, one of the world’s largest news firms, uses Wordsmith by Automated Insights for their thousands of articles
  • They started using it for financial reports. However, they moved on to using Wordsmith for college as well as minor league baseball coverage as well
  • The software, although, requires a detailed set of instructions from humans to write the content in the correct tone and style
  • The process is as follows;
  • Raw Data -> Collected and; Compiled -> Humans create templates and samples for the software -> Wordsmith writes an article
  • Wordsmith can generate a report in seconds that a human might take days to finish.
  • You can request the company for a personal demo to see if it fits your business requirements. You can formulate a Digital Marketing Strategy using AI.

Cheap Article Generators:

Here is a list of cheap article generators online, in case you don’t have as much money to blow on the ones mentioned above. For these article generators, all you need is a good internet connection.

  1. Free Automatic Online Content Creation Tool
  2. Free Online Content Creation Tool
  3. Free Unique Content Generator Online
  4. SEO Article Generator | Content Maker | Post Generator Creator
  5. Online Article Generator Tool
  6. Free Article Content Creation Tool
  7. The Online Article Creation Tool
  8. Online Article Creator Tool
  9. Free Article Creator
  10. Article Generator Tool

Now you can fire those writers and shift to these AI writers to cut down the cost. Although all of this is having a software-obsessed tech industry that is self-sabotage.

Human writers versus AI writers

Now, since we know, the AI writers exist, and they might just take over the world while we are sitting across each other separated by a screen … let us consider as to why they can never be as good as a human writer.

i. Original Creativity

While AI writers or ‘robots’ can write 100x more stories than humans – they lack a sense of creativity. They follow a set of rules to write the ‘perfect’ piece of content and get on with the rest of their work. Even to write something creative, they would need a creative ‘human’ tweaking their algorithm with the slightest change in news.

One would need to change the set of rules a hundred times for 100 stories based on different genres. Writing about sports is easy if one is just giving out the highlights and scoreboard but a robot cannot write anything more than that – for now, at least.

ii. Opinionated

Humans form their own opinions outside the lines of black and white. They understand the existence of a whole lot of grey matter – but can robots write like that? Do robots have their own opinions or do they need to be fed?

Humans 2 | Robots 0

iii. Emotional Triggers

Humanistic writing is full of emotional triggers to demand and grasp the attention of the readers. A piece of writing by an AI writer cannot have the same influence on the reader. Robots can make one feel sad, happy, or anything at all with their writing. A robot might feel something while reading a piece from an AI writer, but a human sure as hell can’t.

iv. Inexpensive yet touching

Yes, there are cheap article generators that exist for those who can’t opt for the expensive ones. In the world of AI, you get what you pay. Humans might work harder than their wages to prove themselves – robots have no such desire, however.

For instance, Julia McCoy, founder of Express Writers, gave Articoolo a try. Articoolo is a cheap AI writer that only cost $1.90 for an article. Here’s the first line of the article she got;

“Content promotion is a subject in the promotion universe relating to publishing important messaging to a specific audience. White papers will be an example of this.”

If you want such articles, sure – go ahead only to ruin your brand’s quality or invest a lot of money in the major AI writers to get what you want.

v. Relatable for the readers

Robotic writing is NOT relatable. It’s boring and too formal.

“The sundown was at 6:55 pm, and the moon was at its full crest that evening.”

“The sunset was a bit early for me that particular evening of March. However, the beauty of the moon subsided the gloominess I held within me.”

Which one do you like more? I wrote both, yes, but the first one is more formal and has no touch of emotions whatsoever. A robot might give you detailed versions, but it surely cannot be relatable for humans. The artificial intelligence for this is also a threat to cybersecurity.


The chances of having to work with robots as our co-workers exist, yes. However, the chances of robots nullifying us completely aren’t in at least 100 more years unless they learn the art of consciousness before that.

Robots are great as subordinates working on mundane tasks and detailed statistics but that’s about it. If humans didn’t like reading their fellow humans – novels would never have been a thing.

Sijdah Hussain

Digital Marketer

After completing her English Literature degree in 2017, Sijdah, set out for a professional career as a Content Marketer so she could feed all 7 of her cats and work towards her ambition of opening an animal shelter one day.
She works as a social worker as well as a cat whisperer in her free time – contributing to spreading awareness about child and animal abuse.
She also aspires to be an author/ poet like Sylvia Plath and Charlotte Bronte.

Source: ReadWrite
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