Combining MRI scans and a learning algorithm, researchers are measuring and translating brain activity.
Despite the (so far) mostly unknowable mechanics of the brain’s inner workings, we know that thoughts do have a physical counterpart. They aren’t just abstractions fluttering through our minds like wisps of smoke on the wind. There is electrical activity, connectivity between varying portions of the brain; some physical communication is happening, which results in what we perceive as thought.
Since at least 2005, neuroscientists have been working to unravel the physical brain activity associated with thought. That’s when Yukiyasu Kamitani and Frank Tong published a study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, which showed that simple brain activity could be collected and interpreted using functional MRI readings.
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IoT For All at CES: John Deere Saves Farmers with IoT-Enabled Solutions
Virtual CES 2021 ended yesterday, but we’re not done bringing you news and updates yet. Today, we’ve got Ryan Chacon digging into John Deere’s work throughout the pandemic to help farmers leverage IoT-enabled solutions to stay afloat in these trying times. And then Ken Briodagh is in the back 40 plowing through the interesting, unusual, and exciting products that came out this week and bringing you his rich harvest. That’s probably enough with the farming metaphors, so let’s make some hay while the sun shines. (We couldn’t help it.)
John Deere Combines Smart and Farming
We started covering John Deere two years ago at CES when the company brought a massive combine into the convention center and had a self-driving tractor experience in the parking lot. Needless to say, we were amazed at the advancements in technology and the role IoT is playing in leading the agriculture technology revolution. And this year, even during the pandemic, John Deere outdid itself with an immersive VR experience sent directly into our homes.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Deanna Kovar, the Vice President of Production and Precision Ag Production Systems at John Deere, who walked me through the VR experience of being on the farm and seeing the machines up close. Then she virtually placed me under the soil so I could watch the tractor drive over me and see the inner workings of the precision planter in action. It’s no wonder John Deere was honored again this year by CES for its innovation.
“At the heart, farmers are the ultimate stewards of the land, and they are battling things like variability, the uncertainty of weather and markets, pests and weeds,” said Kovar. “Technologies like computer vision, machine learning, connectivity, GPS, robotics are all helping today for them to battle all of that uncertainty, make better decisions to have a sustainable business, and also create a sustainable food supply.”
This year the John Deere X Series combines were honored in the Robotics category of the 2021 CES Innovation Awards, which recognizes outstanding product design and engineering in consumer technology products.
When it comes to IoT and agriculture, Deere has been paving the way for innovative technology to revolutionize farming. Its X Series combine is equipped with proprietary ActiveVision camera technology that helps farmers see inside the combine’s grain tank and observe the planting (or “tailing”) so that they can monitor the condition of harvested grain, right down to the individual kernels.
Why is this important? Well, did you know that two identical seeds can produce very different results, if not planted exactly the same? The consistency of depth and spacing across the entire field is a crucial part of a high yield. And with farmers’ livelihoods often relying on this output, they need to do everything they can to maximize it.
Behind the scenes, John Deere has filled the X Series with AI, computer vision, in-field m2m communication, integrated sensors, and self-driving capabilities. All of these capabilities are designed to help farmers ensure proper and uniform spacing to increase accuracy in planting, which when multiplied billions of times over, helps increase harvesting yields.
Now, let’s take a look at some of Ken’s picks.
Founded by parents, Cradlewise is an AI-driven smart crib with a built-in IoT-enabled baby monitor. This intelligent baby crib reportedly uses AI to learn the baby’s sleep patterns, spot the first signs of wakeup, and automatically starts bouncing along with music to soothe the baby to sleep. In fact, Cradlewise won the TIME 100 Best Inventions of 2020 in the “Parenting” category.
“We designed a crib that we wanted as parents. Modern baby monitors just inform you that the baby has woken up,” says Radhika Patil, co-founder CEO at Cradlewise. “Cradlewise acts on early wakeup signs and automatically soothes the baby back to sleep.”
According to a Kohler announcement this week from CES, the company has made several IoT-enabled additions to its smart home portfolio, focused on personal wellbeing. Among them, we were most interested in the Stillness Bath.
The company said that this uber-fancy bathtub draws its inspiration from Japanese forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku and offers what KOHLER calls a sanctuary for self-care and wellbeing.
It starts with water filling from the bottom of the bath, overflowing into the Hinoki wood mote to create a soothing sound. Full-spectrum lighting surrounds the bath, setting the mood, and creating a chromatherapy experience. Fog then envelopes the surface of the Stillness Bath, immersing the bather in a feeling of deep relaxation. I’m relaxing already.
GardenStuff is an Italian GreenTech startup that presented this week at CES with what it called the evolution of intelligent indoor gardening. IoT-enabled gardening sounds cool and scientific, but this company makes it sound like more of an art. The company said that it wants to bring the pleasant sensations of the outdoors inside through integrating plants and buildings with ELIoT, its AI multi-sensor, vertical mobile garden.
The sensor analyzes its environment for temperature, humidity, pH, and light, and proposes the best care for the plants in their current surroundings. This might finally be the thing that makes plants survive my brown thumb.
The news from CES this week also moved up from smarter and lovelier homes to the Smart City, with a new IoT-enabled platform for data and public services from French company Publidata. It is designed, the company said, to help public servants to work more efficiently and credibly to share important public information when needed. The SaaS solution can send data to segmented audiences and through multi-channel distribution, according to the release, and is only being offered to local, state, and federal agencies to facilitate the broadcasting of vital public information about public services like waste management, economic development, education, and, most pertinently, public health. It is already deployed in Europe, Publidata said.
Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI)
In IoT, there are few technologies as sought after as improved batteries. In a key announcement from CES this week, ITRI introduced and demonstrated AI and robotics technologies, including the Self-Learning Battery Management System (SL-BMS). This system reportedly uses self-learning algorithms to monitor, regulate, and accurately calculate the energy consumption and remaining capacity of electric vehicle batteries in real-time, making predictions about range much more accurate. ITRI said that SL-BMS extends battery life by more than 20 percent and increases battery use efficiency by 50 percent.
Buzr, a startup from two recent Cornell grads, debuted its new Buzr Pro, an IoT-enabled doorbell device that can integrate into buildings’ existing intercom systems and connect to users’ phones. According to the announcement, tenants can remotely grant access to their apartment building via the mobile app and provide virtual keys to trusted parties.
To implement the next-gen doorman, the user just has to replace the wall unit in the apartment or condo with the Buzr smart device, the company said. The building’s main intercom does not have to be upgraded.
“Buzr is meeting the needs of city dwellers who live in buildings with outdated intercom systems and are consistently frustrated with undelivered packages, missed guests, or simply wanting a touchless entryway system in this COVID world that we live in today,” said Tony Liebel, Co-founder of Buzr. “As a company who will be showcasing its prototype and taking preorders, we are proud to be launching at CES to show residents, landlords, and companies frustrated by outdated building entry systems, like Amazon, FedEx, and FreshDirect, how we can make their lives easier.”
Well, as we reach the end of today’s coverage, I know I’m a bit parched. Luckily for me, BEERMKR Home Brewing System poured one out for all of us at CES with its IoT-enabled home brewing system.
BEERMKR was designed for brewing novices and pros, the company said and brew newbies can even use an MKRKIT, with all the ingredients needed to help ensure consistent brewskis. On the other hand, experienced home brewers are reportedly able to customize recipes or start from scratch with their own ingredients anytime.
To take us to the end, we do only what the wise advise and offer you a puppy. Petpuls is a CES Innovation Award Honoree and has created an AI-powered dog collar that gives your dog an IoT-enabled way to express its emotions more clearly, according to the release.
Reportedly, the company’s voice recognition technology detects, tracks, and analyzes five different emotional states in your pup: happy, anxious, angry, sad, or relaxed. The database was built from more than 10,000 bark samples from 50 breeds of dogs in four different sizes and is still learning from active users.
It’s not quite as good as the collar from “Up” but it’s on the right track.
Reduce IoT Security Risk with These Steps
The field of IoT continues to proliferate at a mass scale across both consumer and commercial use. With endless IoT device applications, the industry has been relaunched into an era of automated toasters, remotely controllable washing machines, simplified retrofit of centralized systems in property management, manufacturing, and even in finance. According to Securitytoday.com, In 2018, there were approximately 7 billion devices; as of 2019, there were well over 25 billion. This advancement and simplification, however, comes at a steep cost.
Companies quick to move may not have appropriate security controls implemented. Hackers have their sights set on new vulnerabilities with an ease of breach that hasn’t been seen in years. As the surge in attacks continues to grow, you should implement these four steps to safeguard your business.
Step 1: Discovery––Know What’s Connected
Identify all devices connected to your network. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for someone to connect an IoT device to your network and compromise your business. Frequent scans should be performed to not only identify but review the devices connected to your network. Start with a basic network/device diagram then ensure each device is supposed to be connected.
Your IT security provider should be able to assist in scanning and profiling devices. The worst mistake companies can make is believing once they have completed an assessment that they are secure. Implement a continuous process to review and assess your cybersecurity and ensure IoT is included in the review.
Step 2: Patching and Maintenance
What’s the Best Before Date?
An unpatched or out of maintenance computer, network device, or even website poses a serious security risk for businesses. IoT devices generally make use of all three of these. The software or hardware that controls the IoT, the operating system or PLC that runs the IoT device, or the web interface used to configure these devices all need to be patched, updated, and maintained.
Even something as simple as a smartwatch can compromise your network. Review the devices you have, assess the latest firmware/patches, and ensure your devices are updated often. A common recommendation is to monitor vendor and security related news to mitigate known security flaws and vulnerabilities. Out of maintenance products aren’t frequently patched or upgraded and can weaken your security.
Don’t let being on the latest firmware or patch lead you into a false sense of security. Review the patches, including what they resolve, what they break, and when they came out. When selecting IoT devices, review the product life cycle to ensure you choose a product that has frequent improvements and ensure the product has a strong return rate.
Step 3: Design and Deployment
Are Your Computer and IoT Devices on the Same Network?
Use the discovery from Step 1 to ensure you segregate your network and devices to minimize the impact of any breach. This will help with troubleshooting and performance and provide for a robust and scalable implementation. Connected networks should have VLANs implemented if physical separation is not possible. Minimize points of failure and entry points for hackers. It isn’t feasible to replace your network and consider a top gap in implementing intelligent routers to convert between VLANs. Ensure your network implements Access Control Lists, lockdowns, firewall rules, and policies that restrict and contain traffic and devices. These solutions don’t need to be expensive, just well planned.
Step 4: Active Monitoring––Protect Your Business
Implement an ongoing monitoring process and consider active alerting to notify you of unauthorized devices. Active monitoring can also be implemented to ensure your devices are patched and maintained. IoT devices are just like computers. They need constant and proactive scanning, malware protection, and a multi-layered approach to security.
With the ease of procurement and implementation, businesses are trading off their privacy and their security. For many, unfortunately, their businesses, as hackers and other malicious threats, target IoT devices and the networks they reside on.
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