Posted on

How To Use IoT For Smart Parking Solution Development

Illustration: © IoT For All

Smart parking is a practical IoT application that can dramatically improve everyone’s life.

Imagine, you arrive at your destination twenty minutes early for a very important meeting. You have plenty of time as long as you can find a place to park.

The parking lot for the building is full. You drive around desperately looking for a space on the street but do not find one. You try the underground parking lot of the building across the street. Driving in, you suddenly have to stop. There is plenty of traffic ahead of you trying to do the same thing. You attempt to call the meeting to say you will be late and there is no cell phone signal in the underground parking garage.

It takes a half-hour to find a space. When you finally arrive at the office for the meeting, you are sweating profusely and out of breath. The receptionist tells you that everybody already left. Your meeting was canceled and you have to deal with serious losses.

You are not alone. An average driver in the US wastes $345 per year, that results in over $70 billion annually nationwide.

Moreover, 40% of drivers surveyed said that they choose not to visit brick-n-mortar shops due to the hassle of finding a parking space.

Recent research is predicting that up to 68% of the people in the world will live in major metropolitan cities by 2050. This could have a direct impact on how car owners park in cities.

So, what can be done to improve parking in cities?

How IoT Smart Parking Works

Innovative smart parking technology combined with IoT connectivity helps solve this problem. Installed IoT sensors determine where empty parking spaces are located. This IoT data is transmitted over a wireless connection to a cloud server. All the data from the parking lot is collected and analyzed in real-time to produce a map of available spaces made available to those looking for a space.

Drivers looking for a parking space can refer to the real-time smart parking map and be guided to the nearest vacant space. Advanced systems can reserve these spaces and take electronic payments from the drivers.

In the case study for IoT smart parking solution development, the technical components include an ultrasonic sensor HC-SR04 that measures physical distances using ultrasonic waves, and a ESP8266 microcontroller. Both are installed at every parking space.

The IoT device sends a periodic update by wireless signal using the MQTT protocol to a cloud server running AWS IoT services. The cloud server assembles data about all parking slots. This shows users via a web or mobile application the available parking spots to let them choose one.

How IoT Sensors Detect Free Parking Space

IoT sensors use an ultrasonic wave to detect the distance to something. Each sensor is embedded in the parking space surface and detects the distance to the undercarriage of a vehicle if the parking space is occupied.

3 Possible Detection Conditions

  1. Space is Occupied: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is in the range of 10 to 50 centimeters (about four to 20 inches).
  2. Space is Free: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is more than 50 centimeters (about 20 inches).
  3. Space is Dirty: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is less than 10 centimeters (about four inches).

If the condition is “dirty” the sensor may be covered by something or blocked and the device needs to be checked.

The application runs on AWS IoT and AWS Lambda and shows a driver free spaces in green, occupied spaces in red, and sensor malfunctions as yellow.

IoT Based Smart Parking System Configuration

The amount of parking spaces in a parking lot determines the software and hardware requirements for IoT configuration and system architecture. For large parking lots, it’s better to use gateway and the LPWAN protocol for the sensors.

LoRaWAN standard adoption is one of the current IoT trends and the way to increase the operating hours of an autonomous system by reducing power usage. According to the specifications of the LoRa Alliance, this reduces the need to replace the batteries. Battery life is extended up to five years before needing replacement.

Sensors for IoT Based Smart Parking

Smart parking sensor types include ultrasonic, electromagnetic field detection, and infrared.

  • Ultrasonic: The accuracy of the sensing is improved by using ultrasound for measurement detection. The disadvantage of this type of sensor is a potential blockage by dirt.
  • Electromagnetic Field Detection: This sensor detects small changes in the magnetic field when metal things come close to the sensor.
  • Infrared: This type of sensor measures changes in the surrounding temperature and detects motion.

Parking 4.0: Future and Opportunities in Smart Cities

Deployment of smart parking systems is expected to continue to increase because the technology is extremely useful and makes helpful improvements in daily life. The following advanced features can be added to the system to turn it into a highly multi-functional management tool.

  • Parking demand management and space optimization
  • Personalized parking guidance
  • Parking reservation systems
  • Dynamic parking prices and policy optimization
  • Detection of parking zones, fees, and overstay violations.

For large-scale parking lots, augmented reality technology may create a mapping function overlay on top of real images captured by a smartphone. These AR-based outdoor and indoor navigation systems can guide drivers with a virtual path to their parked cars.

Another innovation uses visual image processing to capture the license number of a vehicle to recognize it with the help of Optical Character Recognition technology. Then, it automatically opens the gate to the parking lot and the system guides the driver to a suitable parking space.

The future seems to be quite promising for smart parking systems. Technologies lying behind this solution are IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality–the same ones that are driving digital transformation for businesses under the “Industry 4.0” term. Leveraging these innovations, Parking 4.0 will increase parking systems efficiency by solving urbanization challenges.

Written by Viktor Gubochkin, IoT Lead Solution Architect at MobiDev.

Read More

Posted on

Even Elon Musk’s Tesla Is Struggling With Rent

“The rapid world pandemic that is now affecting our country has led Tesla to make strategic decisions to ensure the company’s long term success and growth,” the letter read. “As a result of the increasing restrictions on our ability to conduct business, we would like to inform you that we will be reducing our monthly rent obligations effective immediately.”

Tesla’s letter suggests the company, like countless companies around the world, is feeling the bite of what could be a protracted coronavirus effect. Last week, the company furloughed some employees and cut salaries on others to help it weather the storm. A reduce in rent obligations is another step in that direction, but whether the company has the ability to unilaterally reduce its rent is another story entirely.

Depending on the nature of Tesla’s lease agreements, the company may or may not be able to reduce its rent in certain diastrous events. It’s also possible that Tesla, realizing that landlords have lost leverage, may just want to pay less in rent when it knows it can.

Indeed, the letter said that Tesla will hold discussions with landlords to determine whether they “can continue to partner and work together to ensure a continued and mutually beneficial relationship.” In other words, Tesla wants to get more favorable terms. And landlords, who desperately need to collect rent to maintain their own bank obligations, may be more willing right now to negotiate.

Indeed, with landlords banned from evictions in several states, there’s little recourse on tenants who don’t pay rent or want to renegotiate their rent obligations. Landlords who need to pay mortgages are left with the very real possibility of changing terms just to keep cash flow coming in.

For Tesla, the move also suggests that the company is at least expecting a protracted struggle. What it may mean in the long term, as Tesla works to further cement its position in the car business, is something to watch.

Published on: Apr 14, 2020

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Read More

Posted on

Zoom Passwords Are For Sale on the Dark Web

The accounts, which included a variety of accounts from major corporations, were on sale for $0.0020, according to the report. With the purchase, buyers could get a person’s e-mail address, password, personal meeting link, and the host key users can employ to host a meeting on the service.

The revelation is just the latest in a string of security and privacy problems at Zoom. From reports of “Zoombombing,” in which people gain unauthorized access to a meeting and shout obscenities at attendees, to concerns that corporate secrets could be stolen by snooping outsiders, Zoom has run into a host of problems since becoming the go-to video conference platform during shelter in place.

For its part, and perhaps to its credit, Zoom has acknowledged its problems and pledged to fix them. It has also patched its software to address some of the bigger issues.

But the work is clearly far from over. And more importantly, it appears hackers aren’t slowing their efforts anytime soon. Indeed, with all of Zoom’s problems, the numbers of hackers who may target the company might still be sizable.

So, where does that leave the users and companies that are still relying on Zoom? The fact is, credentials for a variety of services are always readily available on the Dark Web. And as concerning as it might be, there’s a good chance that your company’s other credentials are already out there.

That said, the leak is still concerning, since many users employ the same log-in credentials for multiple applications. For a price of less than one cent, a hacker can access at least one username and password and see if they can be used elsewhere. It’s a common hacking technique and in far too many cases, it works.

So, if you’re still using Zoom at your company and are concerned by the implications of your data being stolen, tell employees to use passwords they don’t typically use for mission-critical applications. At the very least, that could get you a bit closer to protecting your data. After all, that’s what many hackers want most.

Published on: Apr 14, 2020

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Read More

Posted on

How Has IoT Completely Changed How We Sell Things?

IoT changes the game every day with innovations. Sales and marketing are part of that equation, integrating technology like never before.

IoT is a complicated thing to define, as you may know. It serves as a network that interconnects all things tech through the Internet. The devices involved can then send and receive data.

This transmission of information has the potential to become a significant part of business, meaning endless possibilities for integrations into everyday products.

Here are some ways that IoT has changed sales and marketing.

Product Integration

Today, any analog object can become technological. When a product can send or receive data, it’s part of IoT. For example, quick response (QR) codes build upon the idea of a barcode and take it a step further.

You may have noticed QR codes appearing more frequently, as they help companies improve consumer engagement and experience.

In one instance, Chili’s provided QR codes on their tables during a live soccer game. When customers scanned the code, they were able to play in their own augmented reality (AR) soccer game from their phones. A development like this could change the way restaurants advertise during events, how the AR industry promotes their abilities or how the events themselves sell merchandise. Businesses will start advertising these capabilities more as they become an attraction for customers.

Automation

Automation is already a standard for workplaces across the world, taking care of mindless, low-priority tasks and responsibilities. While already part of IoT, it can go a step further. As IoT continues to influence businesses, more will benefit from how automation can conduct processes that typically required staff. Automation can already monitor and send analytics for the company to use and learn from. IoT can then add new tech, like sensors, that track every detail and transmit information instantly.

For instance, a car with the latest IoT technology could monitor its functions and send data to the company regarding potential issues. This feature would cut down on dangers that occur while driving. Plus, this example can apply to other innovations as well. An IoT car, or any other product with the tech, will likely influence how companies market and sell it.

Data and Analytics

Similarly to automation, the data and analytics process can use IoT for improvements. Tracking data in real-time will help companies know which products they need to market and when. It can show them trends as they’re happening and how they can profit. Metrics forecast what’s to come and provide insight, and IoT technology can improve the way businesses use the information.

These real-time analytics include showing companies what existing customers need from current sales or services and what to expect in upcoming quarters. This data can help them decide what and how to advertise. It can also show which way the trends are moving, allowing them to bring in new customers on top of existing ones. This technology can improve upon things like call times in the sales department. Since IoT is taking over cold calling, employees can increase productivity as they focus on other tasks.

Consumer Targeting 

Depending on your marketing strategy, a personalized approach might be best for your business. With a tactic called geofencing, IoT technology can use the GPS in a smartphone to find nearby consumers. From there, it can send out personalized messages, coupons and more to those within close proximity.

Burger King successfully executed this geofencing technique. It launched a campaign called “Whopper for a Penny,” where they offered their famous Whopper for one cent from the app. The location element came into play with a discount popping up on consumers’ phones when they got within 600 feet of a McDonald’s. This example shows that IoT can drive companies to become more competitive and bring in sales.

How Sales Have Changed Through IoT

Sales have traditionally consisted of door-to-door marketing or cold calling, but IoT is changing it all. Through the examples above, the technology provides new methods and platforms for advertising and marketing, proving to be more effective than traditional means. The Internet of Things will soon become a feature that companies will advertise. As technology progresses at lightning speeds, everything will change for the better.

Read More

Posted on

Industry Opposes Bill Allowing Only One Provider of Internet TV Content 

Russia’s Association of Computer and Information Technology (APKiT) has appealed to the authorities to suspend work on a bill to have a single provider of TV content on the internet, Kommersant reports.

In a letter to the head of the State Duma’s Committee on Information Policy and the deputy Prime Minister, Nikolai Komlev, the executive director of APKiT, said that if the bill is passed without discussion before the coronavirus pandemic is over, all pay-TV operators will have to install new software to distribute TV channels. Currently, they have no opportunity to spend additional resources, Komlev said

Kommersant wrote that the bill was submitted to the State Duma last July and involves the creation of a single content provider, from which online platforms will be able to stream 20 TV channels.

However, there already is such a provider, as last December broadcasters told TV operators that as of this February they can only distribute online versions of channels through the Vitrina TV player.

The latter is owned by National Media Group (NMG), CTC Media, Channel One and VGTRK, with Gazprom-Media also expected to become a founder in the near future.

The deadline was later extended to May.

Read More

Posted on

Apple and Google’s Covid-19 Tracker Is a Game-Changer

Last week, Apple and Google announced an interesting partnership. Both companies will build technology into their mobile operating systems that will allow for large scale contact tracing. It’s a pretty big deal for two reasons: The first is that the two companies are fierce rivals, but are working together to solve a problem that affects all of us. Second, it might actually work since the two companies power almost all mobile devices worldwide.

People understandably start to get nervous when they start to hear that their mobile phones could be used for any kind of tracing, especially if you’re not sure what that means. The basic concept is that you would be able to download an app that would ping off other mobile phones that you come into proximity with. 

If you were to later test positive for Covid-19, you could indicate as much on the app, which would then notify the owners of the other devices you came in contact with that they were potentially exposed.

Most experts agree that contact-tracing is one of the most important factors to “re-opening” society. That’s because it will allow new cases to be isolated while pinpointing others who might have been exposed early enough that the spread can be limited. 

But contact tracing during the height of a pandemic is almost impossible because it’s such a manual process. What Apple and Google are building is a way to do it at scale in an automated manner.

And no, the companies aren’t uploading your information to some government server to identify who has the virus. That’s the other reason it’s so important that Apple and Google are both involved. 

Apple has a reputation for protecting user privacy in a way that not many other companies can claim. It doesn’t monetize your personal information by showing you ads based on your activities, unlike Google or Facebook, for example. 

Here’s the thing, the Bluetooth technology that Apple and Google are working on isn’t that different than what Apple already is using for its Find My service. That service uses Bluetooth to send out signals, even when your device has no service, or isn’t connected to the internet. 

Those signals are relayed by other close-by devices, which then forward them to Apple’s servers. Since the entire system is end-to-end encrypted, not only can’t bad guys get access to your location or personal information, not even Apple could identify your device location. Only your Find My account. 

The technology behind contact-tracing works in a similar way. While devices communicate with each other in order to exchange a “key,” that information can only be used to later notify individuals who may have been exposed, and who should be tested. No personal information is exchanged, and no, the government isn’t tracking your information (at least not with this technology).

Published on: Apr 13, 2020

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Read More

Posted on

How Will the Emergence of 5G Affect Federated Learning?

Illustration: © IoT For All

As development teams race to build out AI tools, it is becoming increasingly common to train algorithms on edge devices. Federated learning, a subset of distributed machine learning, is a relatively new approach that allows companies to improve their AI tools without explicitly accessing raw user data.

Conceived by Google in 2017, federated learning is a decentralized learning model through which algorithms are trained on edge devices. In regard to Google’s “on-device machine learning” approach, the search giant pushed their predictive text algorithm to Android devices, aggregated the data and sent a summary of the new knowledge back to a central server. To protect the integrity of the user data, this data was either delivered via homomorphic encryption or differential privacy, which is the practice of adding noise to the data in order to obfuscate the results.

Generally speaking, with federated learning, the AI algorithm is trained without ever recognizing any individual user’s specific data; in fact, the raw data never leaves the device itself. Only aggregated model updates are sent back. These model updates are then decrypted upon delivery to the central server. Test versions of the updated model are then sent back to select devices, and after this process is repeated thousands of times, the AI algorithm is significantly improved—all while never jeopardizing user privacy.

This technology is expected to make waves in the healthcare sector. For example, federated learning is currently being explored by medical start-up Owkin. Seeking to leverage patient data from several healthcare organizations, Owkin uses federated learning to build AI algorithms with data from various hospitals. This can have far-reaching effects, especially as it’s invaluable that hospitals are able to share disease progression data with each other while preserving the integrity of patient data and adhering to HIPAA regulations. By no means is healthcare the only sector employing this technology; federated learning will be increasingly used by autonomous car companies, smart cities, drones, and fintech organizations. Several other federated learning start-ups are coming to market, including Snips, S20.ai, and Xnor.ai, which was recently acquired by Apple.

Potential concerns

Man-In-The-Middle Attacks

Seeing as these AI algorithms are worth a great deal of money, it’s expected that these models will be a lucrative target for hackers. Nefarious actors will attempt to perform man-in-the-middle attacks. However, as mentioned earlier, by adding noise and aggregating data from various devices and then encrypting this aggregate data, companies can make things difficult for hackers.

Model Poisoning

Perhaps more concerning are attacks that poison the model itself. A hacker could conceivably compromise the model through his or her own device, or by taking over another user’s device on the network. Ironically, because federated learning aggregates the data from different devices and sends the encrypted summaries back to the central server, hackers who enter via a backdoor are given a degree of cover. Because of this, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify where anomalies are located.

Bandwidth and Processing Limitations

Although on-device machine learning effectively trains algorithms without exposing raw user data, it does require a ton of local power and memory. Companies attempt to circumvent this by only training their AI algorithms on the edge when devices are idle, charging, or connected to Wi-Fi; however, this is a perpetual challenge.

The Impact of 5G

As 5G expands across the globe, edge devices will no longer be limited by bandwidth and processing speed constraints. According to a recent Nokia report, 4G base stations can support 100,000 devices per square kilometer; whereas, the forthcoming 5G stations will support up to 1 million devices in the same area. With enhanced mobile broadband and low latency, 5G will provide energy efficiency, while facilitating device-to-device communication (D2D). In fact, it is predicted that 5G will usher in a 10-100x increase in bandwidth and a 5-10x decrease in latency.

When 5G becomes more prevalent, we’ll experience faster networks, more endpoints, and a larger attack surface, which may attract an influx of DDoS attacks. Also, 5G comes with a slicing feature, which allows slices (virtual networks) to be easily created, modified, and deleted based on the needs of users. According to a research manuscript on the disruptive force of 5G, it remains to be seen whether this network slicing component will allay security concerns or bring a host of new problems.

To summarize, there are new concerns from both a privacy and a security perspective; however, the fact remains: 5G is ultimately a boon for federated learning.

Read More

Posted on

McDonald’s Bet Big On This Smart Idea. Now It’s Saving Lives

But it’s true, for at least two reasons — both of which have to do with Covid-19, and ultimately saving lives.

  • First, the only way that restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and other fast-food franchises can stay open many places now, is to shift to an all-drive-through and all-delivery model. It’s not ideal, but it keeps part of our retail food system working while maximizing social distancing, and keeps employees on payrolls.
  • Second, the drive-through model that fast-food franchises like McDonald’s pioneered is now a critical part of our medical system. The rise of drive-through Covid-19 testing locations enable medical tests, while limiting exposure of people with symptoms to other patients and medical personnel.

A smart business model

In fact, going to a drive-through-only model in fast food isn’t quite the sacrifice for restaurants like McDonald’s that you might imagine, at least according to a 2018 study by QSR magazine (and cited in a recent history of the drive-through business model, by Adam Chandler of Serious Eats.)

Even before the pandemic, drive-through sales accounted for about 70 percent of fast food sales. 

And while McDonald’s didn’t invent the drive-through, it helped make it ubiquitous and recently tripled down on it as a business model.

Last year, in fact, McDonald’s spent $300 million to acquire Dynamic Yield, a technology company that it planned to use to revolutionize the drive through: with menus that could quickly adjust based on things like current trends and inventory, purchase history, and even the weather.

Suddenly, that McDonald’s business model bet seems like a really smart idea. As Chandler put it in his retrospective:

Today, the often-maligned restaurant drive-thru window is being recast as both a critical amenity and a basic comfort as states across the country impose new, crucial rules in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Adapted to health care

It’s not just about fast food, though. Since widespread testing is one of the keys to getting the spread of Covid-19 under control, drive-through testing — a sort of medical McDonald’s model, if you will — has emerged as a key tactic.

USA Today described the process at once such testing location in Virginia recently:

  1. Patients get a doctor’s order for testing, and make an appointment at one of the drive-up locations.
  2. Upon arrival, they’re reminded to keep their windows up at all times, and show their ID and doctor’s note (and insurance card, if they have one), through the glass.
  3. They drive into a tent where a technician instructs them simply to crack the window a little bit, then “tilt their head back and the back of their throat is swabbed.”

They drive off, after the bare minimum of contact with anyone, and in theory get the test results within five to seven days.

Smart lessons

I think the key lessons here, if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur (and even if you’re in an industry far afield from McDonald’s), are clear:

First, think hard about business models in other industries that you might adapt to your own–especially in these dynamic times.

If I were still practicing law right now, for example, I might think about doing drive-through wills and simple estate planning. (My own lawyer told me requests for these are through the roof.)

Or, at least offering McDonald’s-style, drive-through notary public services.

And second, judge a business model by the data, not by the jokes.

Because in this case, the quip that feels most apt is one attributed to Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.” 

The drive-through model may be “often-maligned,” as Chandler writes, but especially now, it also seems to be the model preferred by a large number of customers at McDonald’s and other fast-food chains.

People vote with their feet; or in this case, their wheels.

Published on: Apr 12, 2020

Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Read More

Posted on

NASA, Russia Send New Crew to International Space Station

Russia launched on Thursday a manned spacecraft with three astronauts onboard which were to dock to the International Space Station (ISS) later in the day, CNet reports.

The Soyuz MS-16 spaceship blasted off at 11:05 Moscow time (0805 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said.

The crew includes Roscosmos astronauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and their NASA colleague Christopher Cassidy, it said in a statement.

Docking of the spacecraft with the ISS is scheduled to take place at 17:15 Moscow time (1415 GMT).

The arrivals will join Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir on the ISS, who is scheduled to return to Earth on April 16.

The mission of the new crew is expected to last 196 days, during which astronauts will maintain the station’s operability, work on its re-equipping, conduct experiments, and unload manned and cargo ships, Roscosmos said.

Read More