Smartphones with fingerprint scanners under screen to hit market this year

Smartphones with fingerprint scanners under screen to hit market this year

The majority of fingerprint scanners can be found either on the back of a smartphone or on the front, embedded in the home button. But it looks like that status quo is soon about to change. According to a report from The Investor, CrucialTec, a manufacturer of fingerprint modules based in South Korea, will launch its on-screen fingerprint scanning solution that allows you to unlock your device by placing a finger on the screen sometime this year.

This means that we can expect to see the first smartphones featuring the new fingerprint technology hit the market in 2017. Unfortunately, CrucialTec did not reveal an exact time frame or the smartphone manufacturers it is currently working with.

The new technology is called Display Fingerprint Solution (DFS) and has apparently been getting positive reviews from clients that are testing it out, especially from those that are based in China. The module can be embedded under the smartphone screen and is capable of detecting touches as light as a single hair. It can extract high-resolution fingerprints at 500 dots per inch.

DFS is also a lot safer than current fingerprint scanners that are available, as it can recognize multiple fingerprints at once. But this is just the beginning. CrucialTec said that it is also working on an upgraded solution that will hit the market next year. What makes next year’s version better is that you’ll be able to place your finger on any part of the screen to unlock the device, and not just on a specific area.

Fingerprint sensors that sit under the display just might be the next big thing and would make smartphones a lot cleaner and nicer to look at. The technology is also coming at the right time: we expect to see a lot of devices with small bezels around the screen in the near future,

like the soon to be announced  LG G6

lg-g6

and Samsung Galaxy S8.                                                        Samsung-S8

Small bezels below the screen mean that smartphone makers have to place the fingerprint scanner on the back, as there’s just not enough room below the screen anymore. But not everyone is a fan of rear-mounted scanners. This new technology will change that, so smartphone makers will still be able to choose where to place their fingerprint module.

No more Clicking – Silent Mechanical Keyboards are here

No more Clicking – Silent Mechanical Keyboards are here

Completely silent mechanical keyboard switches created by Cherry and Corsair

If you currently own a noisy mechanical keyboard, then you may be glad to know that Cherry Americas is now making silent mechanical keyboards.

36204_silent-mechanical-keyboards-01

Cherry Americas of Wisconsin, just announced their new Cherry MX Silent and Cherry MX Silent RGB switches for mechanical keyboards on December 21st. These new switches are completely noiseless, and yet provide the same perceptible feedback as currently used Cherry MX switches. These switches will be sold to mechanical keyboard makers in Red and Black models.

Mechanical switch keyboards are great, but they’re also loud and expensive. At least one of those issues may have been solved by Corsair and switch maker Cherry. The pair have announced the new RGB Silent switch, which is apparently completely silent and has support for LED backlighting. This switch will be used in Corsair’s Strafe RGB Silent mechanical keyboard, which will retail for $160.The new Strafe keyboard will launch with the new silent switches, but there will also be a version with standard switches that’s $10 less. That one will come with MX Red or MX Brown switches. The Browns are a little louder, but have a tactile click when pressed. Corsair hasn’t confirmed if the RBG Silent switches will be used in other products in the future, but it seems inevitable.

cherrymx-01cherrymxblack-01

Photo Source: Cherry Americas

“The popular Cherry Silent Red Keyswitch, with its light linear feel and no pressure point, and the linear Silent Black both carry the unique and unequalled Gold Crosspoint technology the world has come to expect from Cherry,” the company said. “Gold Crosspoint contacts are self-cleaning, resistant to dust and dirt, and they ensure the reliability of the keyswitch in a keyboard layout.”

Current mechanical keyboards are significantly louder than other keyboards.  This may be keyboarding music for some people, but a turnoff for others. The clicking noise comes from physical keyswitches called Cherry switches. Cherry switches sit underneath the keys and indicate when the user has pressed a key. Pressing a key pushes the underlying Cherry switch down. When the switch is pressed down, the keyboard sends a signal to the PC telling it that you pressed that key.

mechanicalkeyboardswithes-01

The noise range you get depends on the type of switch your keyboard has and your typing style. So, we know mechanical keyboards are noisy, so why get one?  Proponents say that mechanical keyboards could help you type more accurately and will last longer than your standard issue keyboard

6 personal things any website knows about you

6 personal things any website knows about you

Here are just a few ways your information is being exposed through normal, everyday browsing.

 

1.Where you are

at
Google’s Geolocation API can be used by websites to get a pretty good idea of where you are. Depending on your location, this could be as vague as your current city or as accurate as your street address.
You’re actually a little bit more clandestine in this regard if you’re browsing on a mobile network. The error rate on mobile can be up to 50km, but websites can tell which direction your phone is oriented through the accelerometer. This can let them determine whether you’re holding your device or using it on a flat surface. Which brings us to the next thing websites know.

 

2.Your hardware

hardware

Pretty much all of it. What CPU you’re running, the exact make and model of your GPU, the resolution of your display. Everything. Websites even know what percent your battery is at and whether or not you are currently charging.
That last detail is particularly disconcerting for some, as it’s possible to use battery charge percentages to create a kind of fingerprint of a user that can be used to track their movements.

 

3.Your software

software

Most people know that when they visit a site, their browser lets the site know what operating system and browser they’re running. This actually helps content producers get a better feel for their audience and cater to them more specifically.
However, websites all see what plugins you have installed and whether you’re currently logged into accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

 

4.Your network

network

Head on over to whatsmyip.org and you’ll see what every website knows about you: your public IP address. However, websites are also privy to your local IP address, identifying which computer or mobile device you’re using on a given network.
Sites also know what service provider you’re using and approximately what kind of internet service you’re paying for, since they can calculate your download speed.

 

5.Where you’ve been

search

In addition to knowing whether you’re logged into your social media accounts, websites also get a glimpse into your browsing history. They know what site you visited just prior to arriving to theirs. If you’ve been snooping around some of the less reputable parts of the internet, then this might be of some concern to you. Especially since websites can also find out.

 

6.Exactly who you are

facebook

Clickjacking is a malicious technique by which websites can manipulate your behavior to do things that you may not have intended. You may click a perfectly legitimate looking link but, if you’re logged into Facebook, that hyperlink can cause you to unintentionally like a Facebook page without your knowledge or consent.
This can be used to determine your exact personal identity. Anything you’ve supplied Facebook: your name, your pictures, your occupation, your family members, your interests… everything is potentially at a malicious website’s fingertips.

How to protect yourself

Really, at this date, if you’re a serious internet user and you don’t have a virtual private network in place, you’re just asking for trouble. VPNs free you from the shackles of tracking and regional restrictions and let you protect your private information from Internet Service Providers and websites.
A quality VPN will have a large number of servers across the world as well as plenty of IPs to anonymize your browsing. However, this kind of infrastructure can be expensive, so good VPNs require monthly subscriptions.
If you’ve never used a VPN before, there’s a good opportunity right now to try one out for free. Or, if you are a VPN user and you’re not satisfied with what you’re paying for, this could be a better option.

The well-reviewed service VyprVPN is running a winter special that gives you the first 3 months free on any of their annual accounts. VyprVPN works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS with over 70 global servers and 200,000 IPs. Their service has proven particularly popular in China, where restrictive laws prevent free internet surfing.

Stop letting the internet browse you!

Source-: AAPicks team

700 million Android phones have spying firmware preinstalled

700 million Android phones have spying firmware preinstalled

ZTE USA has issued an official statement assuring customers that no devices in the USA have ever had Adups software installed on them, and never will in the future. So there’s no risk of ZTE customers in the US witnessing the same type of data theft that happened to BLU handset owners. Here’s the statement:

“We confirm that no ZTE devices in the U.S. have ever had the Adups software cited in recent news reports installed on them, and will not. ZTE always makes security and privacy a top priority for our customers. We will continue to ensure customer privacy and information remain protected.”

To reiterate, the research only suggests that ZTE handsets in China have ever had Adups’ OTA software installed on them, and the same goes for other manufacturers on the list unless otherwise specified. We’ll keep you informed if any other manufacturers release statements on the matter.

Original:

A few weeks ago, local US smartphone manufacturer BLU was caught out unintentionally sending sensitive user data to Adups, a data farming company in China. Unfortunately, it appears that this might not be a one off event, as some larger global manufacturers have been spotted using the same unsecure software. According to research conducted by mobile security firm Trustlook, a range of other manufacturers, including notable brands Lenovo, Gionee, and ZTE, have been using software from the same company and their own consumers may be affected.

For a refresher, Adups software is used to provide over-the-air firmware updates for hundreds of companies and also acts as a data collector to build a database for spam text prevention. Some smartphone OEMs choose to pick Adups instead of the OTA alternative for Android provided by Google, which isn’t bad in and of itself. However, the software package was caught out collecting and transmitting sensitive user data without consent, including contact, call, and SMS data, every 72 hours after receiving a modified OTA update. This was initially discovered by Kryotowire researchers monitoring data sent by BLU R1 HD smartphones in the US. BLU never intended to collect this data from consumers and swiftly removed Adups from its phones, but at the time it was also speculated that other manufacturers could also be running the same software with the same risks to consumer data.

Since then, Trustlook has conducted additional research into a wider range of manufacturers and discovered that 43 OEMs have utilized Adups’ Firmware-Over-The-Air (FOTA) technology within the past year. Its research confirms that Adups collects IMEI, IMSI, MAC address, Android version number, and operator information, in addition to the user’s SMS text messages, call log data and contact phone numbers. The researchers have also discovered the identifier (MD5) of 91 additional affected versions of com.adups.fota and com.adups.fota.sysoper applications, which can be used to detect whether a device is affected.

While many of the complicit manufacturers were discovered in China, where Adups is based, the FOTA software has been spotted on All Win Tech smartphones in Taiwan, Archos devices in France, DEXP in Russia, and Prestigio hardware in the Czech Republic. The situation also potentially further affect US consumers, as Lenovo also makes the list accompanying BLU in the US, after Adups software was detected in North Carolina. While BLU is only a small manufacturer, Lenovo is a global Android manufacturer selling devices in every major region, and also owns the Motorola brand which is particularly popular in the US and Europe. Chip manufacturer MediaTek, which is based in Taiwan, is also on the list, and could mean that a larger number of devices are affected. It’s possible that this detection is just the tip of the iceberg.

This revelation contradicts an earlier statement from Adups, which claimed that the surveillance features of its FOTA software were specifically developed for the Chinese market, and that it was unintentionally sent as an update to BLU devices in the US. Even more worryingly, the software has already been shown to execute remote commands with escalated system privileges, and can therefore reprogram devices with OTA updates, as is what happened with BLU. This suggests that the company could switch on data collection for any affected handsets by these manufacturers at any time, if it hasn’t done so already, even without an OEM’s knowledge.

Trustlook’s list of manufacturers who have devices running Adups can be found below.

[table]
Manufacturer,Manufacturer,Manufacturer,Manufacturer
Aaron Electronics,Aeon Mobile,All Win Tech,Amoi Technology
Archos,AUX,Bird,BLU
Cellon,Coship Mobile,DEWAV Communication,DEXP Digital Experience
Eastaeon Technology,Electronic Technology,Gionee,GOSO
Hisense,Hongyu,Huaqin,Huiye
Inventec Corporation,Konka Group,Lenovo,Logicom
Longcheer,Malata Mobile,Mediatek Helio,Prestigio
Ragentek,RDA Micro,Reallytek,RUIO
Sanmu,Sprocomm,Tinno,Uniscope
VSUN,Water World Technology,Wind Communication,WingTech
Yifang Digital,Zhuhai Quanzhi,ZTE
[/table]

ADUPS agent was capable of:
[table]
Capability,Capability
SMS Recording,SMS Transmission
IMEI Exfilration,IMSI (Transmission)
Call Log Transmission,Call Contact Information Transmission
Location Collection and Transmission,Command Injection
Remote User Application Update,Remote User Application Install
Transmit List of Installed Applications,Transmit order of application execution
Programmatic Firmware Update,Remote Execution and Privilege Escalation (without user notification or request)
IP Address (Transmission),Name (*for contacts)
[/table]

Unfortunately this research doesn’t explicitly tell us if these manufacturers are using versions of Adups that are currently transmitting sensitive user data, nor which smartphones are potentially affected. So we don’t know for sure how many of these manufacturers are actually complicit, intentionally or otherwise, in sending what should be confidential user data to Adups.

What also muddies the situation is that although BLU wasn’t aware of the situation on its device, other manufacturers may well be. It’s previously been suggested that shady terms and conditions accepted when setting up a new phone could allow for manufacturers to transfer this type of information with the user’s “consent”. If you are really concerned about the possibility of Adups spying on your messages and other data, it may be wise to steer clear of all of these manufacturers until they clarify the situation.

If you currently own a device from one of the manufacturers on the list, Trustlook has incorporated a test for Adups into its AntiVirus software. Clever marketing, I know. You can download it for free from the Google Play Store. Although there are in-app purchases, annoying notifications, and it’s own privacy policy states that the app will collect app and other data which can be transferred to affiliated companies around the world, including advertisers, sponsors and other partners. That’s all quite typical for free antivirus software these day, but you’re not alone if you think this sounds a bit hypocritical given the circumstances.

Given that BLU was able to quickly remove the offending software from its devices, it will be telling to see how swift and willing other companies act to remove Adups from their phones, if at all. Currently no other manufacturers have admitted to being involved in this data collection fiasco.

Bluetooth 5(The Future): What it’s all about

Bluetooth 5(The Future): What it’s all about

With the launch of Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth® technology continues to evolve to meet the needs of the industry as the global wireless standard for simple, secure connectivity. With 4x range, 2x speed and 8x broadcasting message capacity, the enhancements of Bluetooth 5 focus on increasing the functionality of Bluetooth for the IoT. These features, along with improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies, continue to advance the IoT experience by enabling simple and effortless interactions across the vast range of connected devices.

snapcrab_noname_2016-12-16_14-17-45_no-00

Bluetooth 5 is setting the stage for the future

Of smart home. Of audio. Of the IoT.

Bluetooth is revolutionizing how people experience the IoT. Bluetooth 5 continues to drive this revolution by delivering reliable IoT connections and mobilizing the adoption of beacons, which in turn will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience. Bluetooth 5 offers the flexibility to build IoT  snapcrab_noname_2016-12-16_14-18-29_no-00

solutions based on feature need- range, speed and security can be adjusted for a variety of environments and end products. The increased speed of Bluetooth 5 lays the groundwork for the next generation of Bluetooth audio, and the increased range will deliver snapcrab_noname_2016-12-16_14-18-47_no-00reliable IoT connections that make full-home, building, and outdoor use cases a reality.

Bluetooth 5 is doing more with Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5 continues to power the IoT but with additional features that better enable industrial automation and whole home coverage by addressing challenges like range and download speeds. Bluetooth 5 is driving the beacon revolution, with improved location awareness and smarter technology that collects data to provide personalized experiences for the end user. Higher speed enables more responsive, high-performance devices. Increased broadcast message size increases the data sent for improved and more context relevant solutions.

snapcrab_noname_2016-12-16_14-48-42_no-00

The global wireless standard for simple, secure connectivity.

Bluetooth 5 continues to drive the revolution of how people experience the IoT, with the simple, secure connectivity you expect.

 

Security

Bluetooth adheres to U.S. federal security regulations, ensuring that all Bluetooth devices are capable of meeting and exceeding strict government security standards.

Low Energy

The power-efficiency of Bluetooth with low energy functionality makes it perfect for devices that run for long periods on power sources, such as coin cell batteries or energy-harvesting devices. Bluetooth 5 offers the option of increased range or speed, and it’s always low energy.

Coexists with other technologies

Bluetooth 5 also includes updates that help reduce potential interference with other wireless technologies to ensure Bluetooth devices can coexist within the increasingly complex global IoT environment.

Bluetooth SIG Members

The wait is over! Time to download the spec and get to work.

With Bluetooth 5 you get amazing features you can customize based on product needs, plus any Bluetooth 5 qualified design will have all the interoperability and simple “it just works” connectivity fixes we’ve developed over the last two years.

Start building your products with Bluetooth 5 today to ensure that your product is interoperable and competitive in the future market.  We can’t wait to see what you’ll build next!

The Team Behind Bluetooth 5

Bluetooth 5 wouldn’t be possible without all the hard work from the Bluetooth Core Specification Working Group. This team of 47 members from 22 companies worldwide have dedicated their time and brainpower to produce a specification that is sure to change the future of wireless technology. Want to help shape the future too?

    • Amre El-Hoiydi
      Phonak Communications AG

===================

    • Angel Polo
      Broadcom

===================

    • Anthony Viscardi
      Texas Instruments

===================

    • Bjarne Klemmensen
      Oticon A/S

===================

    • Brian A. Redding
      Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

    • Burch Seymour
      Continental Automotive

===================

    • Chris Deck
      ON Semiconductor

===================

    • Clive D.W. Feather
      Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

===================

    • David Engelien-Lopes
      Nordic Semiconductor ASA

===================

    • Dishant Srivastava
      CSR

===================

    • Edward Harrison
      Anritsu

===================

    • Eivind Sjøgren Olsen
      Nordic Semiconductor ASA

===================

    • Florian Lefeuvre
      Texas Instruments

===================

    • Harish Balasubramaniam
      Intel

===================

    • Huanchun Ye
      Broadcom

===================

    • James Wang
      MediaTek

===================

    • Jean-Philippe Lambert
      RivieraWaves

===================

    • Jeff Solum
      Starkey Hearing Technologies

===================

    • Joel Linsky
      Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

    • Johan Hedberg
      Intel

===================

    • Jonathan Tanner
      Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

  • Josselin de la Broise
    Marvell

===================

  • KC Chou
    MediaTek

===================

  • Knut Odman
    Broadcom

===================

  • L.C. Ko
    MediaTek

===================

  • Laurence Richardson
    Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

  • Marcel Holtmann
    Intel

===================

  • Mayank Batra
    Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

  • Michael Knudsen
    Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

===================

  • Michael Ungstrup
    Widex A/S

===================

  • Niclas Granqvist
    Polar

===================

  • Phil Corbishley
    Nordic Semiconductor ASA

===================

  • Phil Hough
    Anritsu

===================

  • Raja Banerjea
    CSR

===================

  • Rasmus Abildgren
    Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

===================

  • RaviKiran Gopalan
    Qualcomm Atheros

===================

  • Robert Hulvey
    Broadcom

===================

  • Robin Heydon
    Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

===================

  • Sam Geeraerts
    NXP

===================

  • Sandipan Kundu
    CSR

===================

  • Shawn Ding
    Broadcom

===================

  • Steven Hall
    Broadcom

===================

  • Thomas Varghese
    Mindtree

===================

  • Till Schmalmack
    Phonak Communications AG

===================

  • Tim Wei
    IVT Wireless

===================

  • Tomás Motos López
    Texas Instruments

===================

  • Yi-Ling Chao
    Marvell

===================

Live 360-degree videos are coming to Facebook

Live 360-degree videos are coming to Facebook

In its never-ending quest to become the main destination to watch online video, Facebook has announced it’ll launch live 360-degree videos.

The new video format is simply called “Live 360” and launches on Tuesday. For its debut, Facebook’s teaming up with National Geographic for a special live 360-degree experience from the Mars Desert Research facility in Utah.

The Live 360 video broadcast will let viewers watch eight scientists emerge from pods that they’ve been living in for the past 80 days. The experiment was created to simulate life on Mars and give scientists insight on the tolls of being isolated from humans for an extended period of time.

According to a Facebook blog post, the Live 360 will also provide an immersive look into their living quarters, what it’s like for the scientists to put on their space suits and a ride on a rover.

There will also be a Q&A with “science experts, writers and thinkers” who will be fielding questions from the comments.

The introduction of Live 360 videos is a step toward furthering Facebook’s virtual reality vision, but the feature will be limited at first.

Facebook says more pages will get the feature through the Live API in the coming months, but a broader rollout for all pages and personal profiles won’t happen until next year.

Facebook Live 360 seems like the natural next step for the social network’s video ambitions, seeing as the company already is a power player when it comes to 360-degree and live videos.

 

‘Pokémon Go’ is officially launching in India tomorrow

‘Pokémon Go’ is officially launching in India tomorrow

Indians can finally join the rest of the world in chasing Pokémons with their smartphones.

Sleeper hit title Pokémon Go is finally coming to India, Reliance Jio announced today. The 4G LTE-only carrier has partnered with Niantic, publisher and developer of Pokémon GO. The game will be available to download in the country starting Wednesday.

The partnership between the two companies means that thousands of Reliance Digital Stores and select other partner premises will turn into ‘PokèStops’ or ‘Gyms’, places where you’re likely to find most Pokèmon characters.

Users will find exclusive Pokèmon Go Channel in Reliance Jio’s social messaging app, JioChat. This will enabled them to socialize with other players and level-up faster, Reliance Jio said.

“We are delighted to partner with Jio to launch Pokémon GO in India,” said John Hanke, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Niantic in a press statement.

“It’s exciting to see Pokémon fans in India step out and explore their neighbourhoods in search of Pokémon and Jio’s disruptive high speed 4G LTE Network will be an excellent way to experience the game,” he added. Reliance Jio’s offering is also exciting as it is offering a bulk of 4G LTE data to more than 50 million subscribers for free.

First unveiled in July this year, Pokémon Go has become a global sensation with over 500 million downloads. The game disrupted lives of many, pushing some to exercise more, or to go out more often. However, at the same time, so much was its craze that many people put their and others’ lives to risk in their quest of catching virtual monsters.

Though Pokémon Go wasn’t officially launched in India, many people had force-installed the game and sightings of people running looking at phones in public places became a common thing in India too.

So much so, that a Gujarat-based resident went to the court alleging that the augmented-reality game was hurting the sentiment of people by showing eggs in religious places such as temples.

 

Google’s new “Android Things” OS hopes to solve awful IoT security

Google’s new “Android Things” OS hopes to solve awful IoT security

Today Google is announcing a developer preview and rebrand of Project Brillo, Google’s Android-based Internet of Things initiative. The new name highlights the project’s Android base—it’s called “Android Things.”

“Android Things” joins the Android family alongside Android TV, Android Auto, and Android Wear. At its heart, Android Things is a stripped-down version of Android aimed at cheap, ultra-low-end IoT hardware. Today Google’s developer preview is offering “turnkey” support for the Intel Edison, NXP Pico, and the Raspberry Pi 3. If you remember the Raspberry Pi 3 showing up in Google’s AOSP repository earlier this year, now we know why.

Google has also partnered with these companies to create a smooth upgrade path from development hardware to a large-scale production run.

Android Things allows developers to build a smart device using Android APIs and Google Services. This takes the usual Android development stack—Android Studio, the official SDK, and Google Play Services—and applies it to the IoT. Developers will be able to use the Google Weave protocol to communicate between devices along with Google Cloud services like Google Cloud Vision.

Of course updates are always a problem with Android phones, but Google is trying to solve that here with “updates direct from Google.” The post says that “in the coming months” newer developer previews will support some kind of “infrastructure” so developers can push out images and OTA updates on their own schedule. This sounds way better than most of the IoT market, which has an almost nonexistent approach to security. A platform with regular updates would go a long way to fix that.

Google is also releasing a public device SDK for the Weave communication protocol, along with a management console and access to the Google Assistant. At the moment, the Weave Device SDK supports schemas for light bulbs, smart plugs and switches, and thermostats, with more device types coming soon. Google is also working to rectify the current (crazy) situation where “Google Weave” and “Nest Weave” are two different things. The blog post says the company is working toward merging the two while giving devices on both platforms an upgrade path going forward. Google says that SmartThings and Hue are already using Weave to connect to the Google Assistant and says that “Belkin WeMo, LiFX, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, First Alert, and more” are working on adopting Weave, too.

With today’s announcement, Brillo/Android Things is also finally coming out of its closed “invite” program and will soon have a public source code release. We’ll finally be able to stop talking about Brillo/Android Things in vague generalities and see what Google is actually offering, which sounds exciting.

The Internet of Everything –the need to manage external things

The Internet of Everything –the need to manage external things

Research commissioned by Quocirca in July 2016, as background to its Reference Architecture for the IoE (Internet of Everything), shows that most businesses in the UK and Germany believe the Internet of Things (IoT) is already having a major impact (43%) or expect that it will do so soon (44%). The remaining 13% are more sceptical, down from 18% in another survey, with a similar demographic, conducted by Quocirca in 2015 (The many guises of the IoT, sponsored by Neustar, a supplier of market intelligence,  web performance and internet security services).

Mostly initiatives are restricted to specific projects slide6rather than being organisation wide, although in manufacturing the split is 50:50. The average organisation has eight IoT-related projects underway, even the sceptics admit to a couple. Most expect these projects will have need for at least some external device interaction, just 13% said it would be internal only, whilst 24% said it be all external, the remaining 63% said it would be mixed (see figure).

For a manufacturer, external connectivity may be with devices purchased by business customers or consumers (the latter often connected via home routers). A transport company may have ticketing machines in third party locations, whilst a retailer may communicate with apps on shoppers’ smartphones. All such initiatives have the promise of making business processes more efficient and improving customer engagement. However, there are also challenges to be overcome; dealing with large numbers of devices, huge data volumes and security headaches.

Quocirca’s Reference Architecture for the IoE proposes a way of addressing these problems in a practical, affordable and scalable fashion. It involves the use of aggregators which are essentially hubs or gateways that connect with and manage groups of devices. Aggregators may be purpose built for specific applications or be generic network devices that takes on the role (for example home routers).

Aggregators overcome the need for every device to have a unique IP address. Each device can have an IP address the aggregator understands and the aggregator can use network address translation (NAT), a long-established technology, to broker communications between a given device and the rest of the world.

The aggregator can also filter incoming requests and content to ensure it is secure. This precludes the need for on-device security, which in many cases, which can be expensive or impractical if the device has limited processing power, as may be the case with low cost and/or legacy things (a further blog post will discuss this in more detail).

Finally, aggregators can analyse and filter the data generated by the devices they manage. Each aggregator can be intelligent enough to recognise exceptions in a data flow that an individual device cannot. For example, a surveillance camera can record all it sees and stream data to an aggregator which can analyse the flow for unusual activity and, when necessary, alert security staff. Unexceptional data can be discarded, after a period of time, without ever moving beyond the aggregator.  An aggregator in a supermarket aisle can send information cached locally to shoppers scanning QR-codes without the need to constantly refer to a central database and only do so when a more customised response is needed.

There are already quite a few aggregator-like offerings on the market. First, there are smart hardware gateways from companies like MultiTech, Eurotech, Advantech and Dell. Red Hat, an open source software distributor, says its middleware is often being adapted to work as IoT gateways and the necessary capabilities are being built into IoT cloud platforms such as Microsoft’s Azure IoT suite, AWS IoT and GE’s Predix. Some security vendors with a focus on the IoT, such as ForeScout, which sponsored another 2016 Quocirca report, are also adapting their technology to act as IoT gateways (see European Perceptions, Preparedness and Strategies for IoT Security).

Much of the value of the IoT will come from the way it improves a given organisation’s ability to interact with the outside world. However, that will only be practical if a scalable, intelligent approach to IoT projects is taken from the outset.