Tag Archives: IoT

Is blockchain an answer for Smart Home and IoT security?

by Chris Petersen, IMS

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you keep hearing about the concept and new technology of “blockchain”. Typically blockchain is associated with the trending topic of “bitcoin” and digital currency.   A lot of people have been talking about blockchain, but exactly what is it?   Why is it revolutionary?

More importantly what does blockchain offer in terms of security that might address the vulnerability of Smart Home and the billions of IoT devices that will permeate our lives?   Confused? You are certainly not alone.   Blockchain is more than a buzzword for millennials and something that we need to better understand at least a basic level. Continue reading

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Filed under IoT, Security, Uncategorized

WannaCry Ransomware Outbreak Drives Surge in Security Software Sales

It’s that time again when hundreds of exhibitors showcase the most relevant IT security solutions and discuss the issues that keep businesses awake at night at this week’s Infosecurity Europe show in London. Ransomware, IoT, Business Email Compromise, these are just some of the hot topics being discussed at the annual event.

It’s been over three weeks since WannaCry caused widespread chaos as it wormed its way through servers and PCs across the planet. The threat itself has at this stage largely been contained, but now the dust has settled on one of the highest profile malware campaigns in recent memory, we thought it would be useful to examine whether there’s been any impact on channel sales.

The 4000% year over year increase in Week 20 security sales is a strong indicator that organisations have indeed been prompted by the ransomware outbreak to invest in cybersecurity tools.

A global incident
Cyber attack campaigns don’t come much bigger than WannaCry. The exact scale of the incident is still not fully known, but after less than two days the ransomware had infected over 200,000 users and organisations across 150 countries, according to Europol. In fact, the total number of infections could now be in the millions, according to reports. It featured two NSA exploits, dubbed DoublePulsar and EternalBlue, which had been published online by a group known as the Shadow Brokers. It’s widely believed that another group then took these and repackaged them so that, once on a target network, the malware searched worm-like for other machines to infect, both inside that network and externally.

The speed and scale with which WannaCry spread raises some interesting questions about the state of security in many organisations. For one thing, it exploited a known Windows vulnerability, patched weeks earlier by Microsoft after the NSA informed the company. That tells us many organisations and consumers fail to follow best practice security by keeping their systems up-to-date at all times.

It also highlighted the catastrophic real-world impact that malicious code can have. Scores of NHS organisations were affected and had to shut down key IT systems, causing the cancellation of operations, chemotherapy sessions and other patient appointments. For companies, a similar outcome will have led to lost productivity and service outages, impacting the bottom line and brand reputation.

Prioritising security
It’s perhaps not surprising, therefore, that CONTEXT data tells us the WannaCry outbreak generated a significant rise in cybersecurity channel sales. We tracked license sales for two categories: Security Suites and Mail Security. The combined figures reveal that sales increased by 4,090 times from week 20 in 2016 to week 20 in 2017. More telling still is the fact that 1.2 million units were sold in the weeks post-WannaCry, compared to a normal run-rate of 20-50,000 units per week.

Cybersecurity specialists need to tread a fine line when engaging with prospective customers, between educating the market and straying into the territory of over-hyping threats to sell products. Yet the uptick in sales following WannaCry shows us that such incidents can certainly focus the minds of IT buyers, and move certain purchases up the priority list.

by MK

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Filed under Enterprise IT, Security, Uncategorized

SH&BA – Convergence of the transformation of our digital lifestyle

The SH&BA – Smart Home and Builders’ Association – Retailer & Manufacturer Panel met this past week in London. The attendees were truly a reflection of the convergence of the devices and technology in our homes and lifestyle. Participants represented a variety of industries and sectors including: manufacturing, vendors, retailers, associations, government agencies as well as academia and industry experts. What does such a diverse group of attendees gather to discuss?

Panorama

Smart Home – The hub of a digital lifestyle
IoT (internet of Things) devices have been in existence for a couple of decades. They enable connecting a variety of devices to the internet to send and receive data. That capability is not very exciting for most customers. But the ability to use IoT to monitor household utility connections to save money becomes a much more compelling reason for consumers to consider a “smart” home.

Many of the examples discussed in the SH&BA forum were about the increasing ease of use for consumers, and the value the smart devices play in making life convenient. Steve Moore from Dixons Carphone illustrated how their Honey Bee becomes a hub to connect many devices in the home. And even more importantly, it becomes the homeowners’ support centre where they can get answers to questions about devices they own. Steve Moore perhaps best summarised the key to Smart Home expansion by saying that we are at the stage where our “Goal is to take the friction out of life”.

Maybe we shouldn’t be calling it “Smart”
Rick Hartwig from the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) made the interesting point that we shouldn’t be using the term “Smart” home. Smart implies futuristic … a long way off. Mr. Hartwig argued that in many ways aspects of the digital “smart” home are already here. Most customers who are online already have at least one device beyond a PC connected to an internet. In the near future, energy and power consumption will be prime drivers for the home owner to adopt “smart” connected technology which adapts its settings to hours of the day in order to save energy.

The Power of Voice is rapidly accelerating adoption
One of the most exciting buzz factors in the smart home arena is the power of voice control. Initially propelled by Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple and Microsoft are all rushing ahead with voice control speakers which become more humanised “hubs” for a variety of smart devices throughout the home.

Keynote speaker Theunis Scheepers brought some cutting edge examples from the evolution of the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. The speaker is the “human portal”, but the real genius is the Alexa cloud platform. The Alexa cloud is essentially an API system that enables partners to connect their devices to Alexa for voice control. In reality the Echo device is an array microphone and speaker – the “smart” is in the cloud that enables the customer to interact in a very natural way of using their voice to direct their digital lifestyle.

Theunis Scheepers

The Future of Smart Home
Adam Simon, from CONTEXT and Chair of the SH&BA Association, updated the group on the latest CONTEXT Smart Home Survey. The trends are clear, and consistently upward.   More consumers are aware of “smart home” and more plan to purchase a device for their home, but the patterns vary significantly by country.

From a consumer perspective, smart home adoption is still a “mid-term” play with purchases planned on 3 to 5 year horizon.   The exception is in the builder market where whole house adoption is accelerating because it is “built in” as the backbone of the home and constitutes a relatively small part of the overall home market.

IMG_0192

If there was one clear consensus and predictor for Smart Home it is that the power of voice will rapidly accelerate adoption. Amazon reported that Echo is now selling at 9X the holiday rate, and the Echo Dot is being bundled as a 6 pack so consumers can cover every room of their house. With the speaker hub and API cloud system we have now reached a stage similar to that of the smartphone with apps that make a connected life possible and convenient.

The next Retailer & Manufacturer Panel will be on 14th November, 2017.

For more information about SH&BA or if you are interested to attend the SH&BA panel please email marketing@shaba.eu

Guest blog by Chris Petersen, IMS

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Filed under Connectivity, Home automation, Mobile technology, Retail, Smart Home, Smart Technology

CeBIT 2017 Points the Way to VR and Smart Device Growth

With 200,000 participants flocking to Hanover this year, the week-long CeBIT show can be an intimidating prospect. Over 3,000 exhibitors set up shop at the world’s biggest technology expo. And while this is not a show for big name product launches, it still provides a very useful snapshot of what’s hot in the tech industry from one year to the next.

This year, as we predicted, there was plenty of buzz around smart devices, the Internet of Things and Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR). These, after all, will be the technologies that in years to come delight consumers and power the next generation of European businesses.

VR/AR catches the eye
CeBIT 2017 had a bigger focus on VR/AR than ever before, highlighting the growing maturity of this burgeoning technology. If you were in any doubt of the scale of interest in this space, half of Hall 17 – one of the show’s aircraft hangar-sized expo spaces – was devoted entirely to firms exhibiting VR-related tech. As we predicted at the end of 2016, gaming will continue to drive forward interest in VR on the consumer side. But, as evidenced by its exposure at the business-centric CeBIT show, more and more companies are exploring corporate applications.

Examples included the “Virtofy” VR presentation system, which offers companies an opportunity to demo products and showcase projects to prospective clients/customers. Another interesting use case developed by engineers at the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences incorporates integrated data goggles into the helmets worn by steel workers – designed to flash up safety warnings and the like.

In Hall 2 Intel, in cooperation with Microsoft, presented the dataflow the companies expect in the near future. Based on the BMW i8, Intel presented with the Microsoft AR Hololens how cameras and sensors scan the environment of a future car in order to drive autonomously. Intel predicts that approximately 4000 GB of data will be tracked, processed and uploaded from cars in the future, which creates brand new business scenarios in this market.

IoT everywhere
As we mentioned in December, the Smart Home market is really heating up, with Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft set to battle it out for hearts and minds in 2017 and beyond. True to form, the Internet of Things formed a major part of CeBIT 2017, with over 270 exhibitors from 29 countries participating. The IoT also had its own spin-off summit at the conference – a first for the organisers and again illustrative of the growing interest in smart products.

The IoT, of course, extends far beyond the smart home. In fact, attendees were treated to demos of everything from smart shirts and dog collars from Telefonica Deutschland, to Toshiba’s industrial applications for the energy sector.

Drones are taking off
The smart device revolution also increasingly extends up into the sky. As evidenced by the buzz at CeBIT, drones are fast carving out an IoT niche of their own. A large outdoor area sponsored by Intel drew many of the crowds, with much attention drawn to the bright orange H520 hexacopter from Chinese firm Yuneec. When combined with an on-board camera and Intel RealSense tech, it’s able to detect movements and distances like the human eye – enabling it to avoid obstacles in flight.

The Drone Park even drew the interest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

by AD

 

 

 

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Filed under Connectivity, gaming, Home automation, IoT, Mobile technology, Retail, Smart Home, Smart Technology, virtual reality, Wearables

Chester Gould was Right

It wasn’t until I was loaned Apple’s new Watch Series II that I put one on. When the Watch was launched I decided it would not be something I’d wear, much less buy. But I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised to get it, and welcomed the chance to give my 26-year old Rado a rest while I tried the Watch out.

I’m not going to get into the technicalities because a watch is for wearing, it’s personal, apart from saying what an amazing piece of kit the Watch is: beautifully crafted, fabulous screen, snappy performance, even GPS, and so easy to set up and incorporate into living alongside an iPhone.

But when I first put it on, it took a while to get used to the sheer bulk of the 42mm screen, and the gold colour with a beige woven nylon strap was to my taste a bit bling. It took a few days to get used to having it on my wrist, and get through the inevitable mixed reactions from staff, family and friends.

Then I started using it, responding every time the haptic tap alerted me to a message, meeting, or exhortation to stand up, or breathe. I discovered Siri on the Watch – and started leaving text messages everywhere to try out, in the style of Chester Gould’s comic book detective Dick Tracy, the experience of talking to your wristwatch. It worked very, very well. I got hooked on Activity monitor, and was thrilled the day I completed 230% of my daily exercise requirement.

Interestingly, Apple seemed to have learned from the Series I that their Watch will never make it as a desirable piece of luxury jewellery along the lines of a Rolex or Cartier, despite sales – according to the company – ranking the Watch as number two in the world in terms of value. Instead, sensibly, the Watch is now pitched at the health, leisure and up market lifestyle sector and in that vein, especially with the GPS, I reckon it fits very well indeed.

As I said at the beginning, a watch is a personal thing. I wonder if everyone who has a Watch goes through the same stages I did: first, fascination for and playing with the technology. Second, using every alert and app available so that the taps on your wrist begin to run your life. And third, settling down to a modus operandi where only the important things that complement the Macbook/iPhone partnership are allowed through.

I was sitting on a plane writing this blog, and as the steward leaned over dispensing snacks, I could see a silver colored Apple Watch – with metallic strap – sitting on his wrist.
“Aha,” I said, “an Apple Watch. Is that a Series I?”
The steward saw my Watch. “Is that the new one?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m trying it out,” I replied. “What do you think of yours?”
“Actually, I never wanted one,” he said. “I was given this as a present.”
“Do you like it?” I asked.
The steward glanced at his Watch, paused for a second, and replied, “It’s growing on me.”
Which just about sums it up. Apple’s Watch – it’s growing on me.

by JD

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Filed under Connectivity, IoT, Mobile technology, Smart Technology

The Smart Home Market in France has potential if retailers take the jump

Last week we held an event in Paris to present the results of our latest survey on the Smart Home. Journalists, key retailers and vendors were present to hear about the current outlook of the Smart Home market, which featured speakers such as Stéphane Bohbot, President of Innov8 and founder of Lick stores, Benoît Van Den Bulcke, Administrator of the Fédération Française de Domotique – the French Smart Home association, Vincent Gufflet, Director of Services at Darty and Adam Simon, Global Managing Director of Retail Development at CONTEXT. Each shared their vision of the market and key concerns the industry should be addressing to ensure the market takes off.

According to our latest survey, 11% of respondents expressed their intention to buy smart home. When trying to assess what the main barriers to the development of the Smart Home market in France were, “a lack of understanding” by consumers (50%) was highlighted as a key factor.

There seemed to be a clear message from consumers to retailers to improve their approach to this product segment and focus on educating, explaining and demonstrating the use of Smart Home products to help the public feel comfortable with this concept in order to increase adoption.

In addition to the ‘’evangelisation’’ of the public, the way products were currently being displayed in stores should be re-addressed, according to Stephane Bohbot, and this is something Lick stores had decided to do this year by paying special attention to active demonstration and presentation of the products.

The Smart Home Survey clearly showed that a number of products in this category met key requirements by consumers. Amongst these was ‘security while away from home’ (80%) and ‘security whilst at home’ (39%).

This is where retailers have a central role to play in educating consumers about the benefits of smart home product purchases.

It is important to remember that smart home product purchases are not necessarily one-off purchases, but consumers have the potential of becoming ongoing subscribers, with opportunities such as SHaaS – SmartHome as a Service. The Smart Home category is beyond product selling and an open door to selling services. 74% of French respondents already stated that they would be ready to pay 15 euros per month for specific subscriptions.

However, in order reap the potential of this market, there is still some way to go. As Yehia Oweiss, VP Sales & Marketing at Hauppauge Digital, said: American retailers have succeeded in making this market take off, there is no reason why Europe cannot do the same too. Retailers need to invest and trust in this market and consumers will follow – just as they did on the other side of the Atlantic.

by SA

 

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Filed under Home automation, Mobile technology, Security, Smart Home, Smart Technology

A look at Canon in the future

Canon EXPOs have been held every five years since 2000 in New York, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai (although the fourth Shanghai event is scheduled for 2016). Each event has a different theme, but all have the same purpose: to introduce and define Canon’s five-year vision and strategy.

I had the chance to attend the Canon EXPO Paris last year and have to admit that the event was an impressive exposition of existing and future imaging products, technologies, services and solutions. Some of the prototypes showcased – such as MREAL and the Rich Collaboration System – made me feel like I had travelled ‘back to the future’.

In his keynote speech, Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon Inc., reviewed current economic challenges and explained his vision for the future of Canon. Currently, most of Canon’s products are manufactured in Japan but he said this is to change in the near future. Canon is to broaden its operations and collaborate more globally: products for healthcare business are to be produced in the US while in Europe Canon will focus on printing and network solutions. Canon sees the EMEA region as ‘the brightest spot for growth’ and will be seeking partners across all regions to innovate and to change the ways in which people interact in the future.

Canon believes that the Internet of Things will depend on ‘Imaging of Things’ and this is where it sees vast opportunities for growth. The company wants to be involved in every stage of the process, and believes that every image will be connected via smart devices that can capture, record, store, edit, share and print. Canon plans to build an ecosystem of products and services by adding solutions for every part of the imaging experience in B2C (digital consumer services) and B2B.

Rokus van Iperen, president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa, stated that Canon will continue to focus on its core businesses while expanding globally, and also emphasized the importance of the rapidly growing markets that Canon will target in years to come: 3D printing, graphical arts and network visual solutions (NVS) to respond to the demand from security and retail markets.

Like many other vendors, Canon has explained and introduced new services and solutions for the B2B market in order to help businesses improve productivity and efficiency and enhance end-users’ experiences using one face to the customer approach. The company builds tailored solutions for vertical markets that have specific needs, such as finance, insurance, manufacturing and health. At the moment, such solutions account for one fifth of Canon’s total revenue in Europe – a figure which it expects to double in the next few years by increasing the number of partners with direct and indirect IT competences.

Value-added solutions go well with services (outsourcing, data and document management, workflow automation and marketing communication management, etc.), therefore, Canon continues to focus on these areas and simultaneously invest in its capability to build services by integrating and adapting their added value, and also creating partnerships that will help it to collaborate and remain competitive in the rapidly changing world of technology. Canon strives not only to digitize customers’ business processes but – in common with other vendors – to automate workflows. The next few years will show how well Canon manages to compete in this highly competitive space.

by ZB

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Filed under Imaging, IoT, Uncategorized