For years, [Michael Davis] has been using a large lead-acid battery to power the electronic components of his custom Dobsonian telescope; but that doesn’t mean he particularly enjoyed it. The battery was heavy, and you always had to be mindful of the wires connecting it to the scope. Looking to improve on the situation somewhat, he decided to build an adapter for Ryobi cordless tool batteries.
[Michael] had already seen similar 3D printed adapters, but decided to make his the traditional way. Well, sort of. He used a CNC router to cut out the distinctive shape required to accept the 18 V lithium-ion battery pack, but the rest was assembled from hardware store parts.
Bent mending plates with nuts and bolts were used to create adjustable contacts, and a spring added to the top ensures that there’s always a bit of tension in the system so it makes a good electrical contact. This setup makes for a very robust connector, and as [Michael] points out, the bolts make a convenient place to attach your wires.
With the logistics of physically connecting to the Ryobi batteries sorted out, the next step was turning that into useful power for the telescope. A stable 12 V is produced by way of a compact DC-DC converter, and a toggle switch and fuse connect it to a pair of automotive-style power sockets. Everything is held inside of a wooden box that’s far smaller and lighter than the lead-acid monster it replaced, meaning it can get mounted directly to the telescope rather than laying on the ground.
If you want to build a similar adapter, the 3D printing route will potentially save you some time and effort. But we have to admit that the heavy-duty connection [Michael] has rigged up here looks quite stout. If you’ve got an application where the battery could be knocked around or vibrated lose, this may be the way to go.
The Lucrative IoT Opportunity for Communications Service Providers Post COVID-19
As we entered 2020, many Communications Service Providers (CSPs) were optimistic about finally fulfilling the early promise of IoT by harnessing the potential of 5G and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) to offer a rich source of future growth. Many CSPs understood that to realize this opportunity, they needed to change. Enterprises wanted fuller solutions that would drive their digital transformation faster and that were simple to buy, fast to implement, and simple to consume.
In a recent Analysys Mason study, 59% of enterprise customers would only buy MEC as part of a solution. Solutions require a much fuller set of capabilities that typically come from partners. So, are CSPs successfully managing to offer compelling solutions that accelerate digital transformation for their customers?
The answer: not entirely. Omdia’s quarterly 5G innovation tracker reveals that so far, 32% of enterprises have chosen DIY (to go it alone and build their own 5G solutions), 40% looked to others like systems integrators for solutions, whilst only 21% purchased directly from CSPs. Although it is early days, CSPs must drive this ratio above 50% to make sense of their 5G investments.
The ‘Positive’ Impact of Covid-19
Regardless of Covid-19, the fact that only one in five early enterprise 5G solution deals are CSP-led, proves that the way CSPs want to sell is deeply at odds with the way in which their enterprise and SMB customers want to buy. What’s more concerning is that some of these early large enterprise deals, such as the ones we see in automotive with VW and BMW, cut out CSPs entirely – even for connectivity. Businesses want to buy complete solutions that meet their needs and help them solve business problems, rather than connectivity and separate technology products they need to integrate. This is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity that requires CSPs to collaborate and better understand their customers’ needs, becoming ecosystem-enabled solution providers to satisfy them.
The global pandemic is causing many enterprises to hit the ‘fast-forward’ button on IoT/5G technology solutions. Indeed, 5G investment in China is already recovering because enterprises there recognize the importance of automating processes to guard against a second wave of the pandemic. We expect this trend to unfold globally as Covid-19 makes digitalizing physical assets, automating through industry 4.0, and securing supply chains more relevant than ever.
As Covid-19 resets how enterprises use technology, major verticals including automotive, manufacturing, and logistics will look to rebuild differently. Within this is an opportunity to test the mettle of solutions that harness IoT, 5G, and MEC with AI. In the U.S. for example, 67% of businesses believe that 5G use cases can deliver 11%+ cost reductions over the next three years. Nearly a quarter (23%), believe that 5G use cases could deliver revenue growth of 11% or more. Now is a very good time for CSPs to change their approach to selling 5G and non-5G driven IoT propositions. But are enterprises willing to buy from CSPs?
Enterprise IoT & 5G Market
CSPs are pushing at an ‘open door’: 98% of European, 92% of Asian, and 87% of North American businesses are willing to buy advanced solutions from CSPs. In particular, North American businesses are most positive about the role CSPs will play in 5G, with 96% believing they will do more than provide connectivity. Large North American enterprises say they want to work with CSPs as they can orchestrate ecosystems of partners, manage complex programs, and are perceived to be more flexible than other potential 5G solution providers.
Enterprises, more than CSPs, recognize that building effective IoT solutions is a team sport. They don’t expect one organization to have all of the answers. But they do expect industry players to collaborate to provide solutions to their business challenges. This is where the problem currently sits. Enterprises are looking to buy solutions, CSPs want to sell products – in effect, to organize themselves in a way that best suits how they want to structure their business internally rather than how best to meet customer needs.
Businesses want to find the ‘perfect’ solution to their problem, rather than invent one by integrating multiple products – which is too slow and costly. Instead, they want to buy complete IoT solutions ready to be consumed in a bite-sized way, with no upfront investment and/or risk. It’s not about buying a network slice or MEC product. For businesses, it’s about finding pre-integrated solutions and the best available technologies to quickly drive efficiencies for customers or help them grow revenue as part of their digital transformation. For CSP, it’s about retaining customer relationships and growing revenue.
Even the larger enterprises don’t have the knowledge or capabilities to deal with the integration of new standalone technologies. So, they look to partners that understand their challenges, orchestrate the right ecosystem of technologies and players to deliver solutions that perfectly solve their problems. Covid-19 will only accelerate this trend as it renews pressure to digitally transform faster.
Historically, CSPs have tended not to work in this way. Now, they really need to. One key step is to adopt a more open and collaborative mindset. This includes taking the lead in setting up and managing ecosystems with third-party partners.
Ecosystems are an effective way for CSPs to plug their knowledge and technology gaps, broaden their portfolio of services and solutions, and importantly encourage fresh ideas and new ways of thinking.
For CSPs to monetize IoT throughout the process of enterprise renewal during Covid-19, it will require having industry-specific solutions underpinned by an enabling technology layer that is massively scalable. Strong partner ecosystems will generate powerful network effects around a digital business platform that provides massive economies, frictionless process execution, and zero-touch operation for customers. These architectures and solutions need to be capable of being converted into technology wrappers and services.
IoT Innovation Requires Collaboration
Solving customer problems requires a broader set of perspectives and the exchange of customer insights and ideas for new products or services, as this rarely happens effectively and sustainably in silo. This is the concept behind an ecosystem-enabled solution provider. They bring together a broader set of capabilities around a digital business platform to prototype and test those new ideas with customers. In these new multi-sided business models, a partner ecosystem is key for generating new ideas, bringing new data sources, driving innovation, expanding offerings, and extending into the white space between old industry verticals and growing revenue.
The pandemic we’re experiencing is hastening change. There isn’t a single entity that hasn’t been affected by it. Our global economy is in a holding pattern and budgets are tightening. This laser focus on how to spend carefully will lead both enterprises and SMBs to accelerate investments in automation, remote business operation, and remote working in the short term. While this is process is in motion without a hard timeline, the CSPs that will prevail will be the ones that harness a powerful ecosystem to provide full solutions to problems and in so doing, build much strong and closer customer relationships.
CSPs are poised as ecosystem-enabled solution providers that can foster growth by combining 5G with technology – if they embrace platform-based business models and orchestrate partner ecosystems to satisfy the needs of their enterprise customers. This requires a change in mindset, experimenting with business models, accelerating innovation, and speed to test and monetize new offerings that are co-created with an ecosystem of partners and underpinned by the right IT platform to support these new ways of working.
Consumer Interest in IoT Devices Varies Among Gender, Need
🟥 We’ve all seen a horror movie where a killer finds a conveniently unlocked door, pushes open a window, or breaks a glass windowpane without alerting the unsuspecting residents. Bad news for Michael Myers: developments in smart home technology have made it a little harder for these intruders to break in — in fact, that’s the main draw of this technology for some people who buy them.
🚀 What if, upon hearing a suspicious noise outside, you could tell your phone to lock your doors? Or if you could call the police to your residence simply by shouting the command out loud?
It might make horror movies a little less interesting, but it also makes real people safer. 🔻
A survey conducted by home insurance company Hippo broke down what drives consumer interest in smart home devices, finding varied results among gender and purpose. The survey asked 1,000 smart tech users to share their opinions. ⤵
➤ Women look for safety first; men want convenience ⤵
👉 If life was a horror movie, women might have the upper hand. Survey data showed that women are most interested in purchasing home monitoring systems and technology that will keep them safe. The general consensus was that smart alarm systems are the way to go when shopping for smart home tech.
Men, on the other hand, are more interested in energy-saving technologies that will help lower their utility bills. They’re also looking for technologies that will make their lives easier. When it comes to protection, however, men tend to opt for camera systems.🔻
➤ Overall, convenience is key
More than just scaring away things that go bump in the night, smart home technology has opened up a world of possibilities for people looking to make their lives more convenient. You can unlock your front door with your cell phone, adjust the thermostat without leaving your seat, and ask Alexa for that final recipe step without having to wash off flour-covered hands.
🔺Among homeowners, this added convenience was the biggest driver of smart home excitement — 46% of them said this was why they decided to invest. Also driving smart home tech sales are home monitoring capabilities, 17%; added protection, 16%; and lower utility bills, 16%.👇
➤ Today’s smart homes ⤵
🚩 It’s more common than not for a home to have some sort of IoT device, whether it’s a Google Alexa device or a doorbell with a camera attached. Today’s smart homes have a variety of devices performing a variety of functions. The most common four are the following: 🔽
◆ Smart appliances: Appliances like laundry machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators can be hooked up to a smartphone to alert you when you’re out of milk or let you start preheating the oven before you leave work.
◆ Alarm systems: With a smart alarm system, your phone will let you know any time someone opens or closes a door, a window opens or smoke is detected in your home.
◆ Cameras: Smart cameras can send footage to your phone so you can monitor an outdoor pet’s activity, or make sure no one is snooping around your property.
◆ Smart thermostat: A smart thermostat lets you control the temperature from your smartphone and can let you set the temperature to automatically increase or decrease based on lifestyle patterns or weather.
If it sounds like we’re living in the world of tomorrow, it’s because we are. Smart devices have made life more convenient, safer, and more connected than ever — what once required time and effort can now be done seamlessly from your mobile device.
🔥🚀 With a smart camera that alerts you every time a door or window is opened, good luck to the slasher movie villains of yesteryear.
↘ Source: Emily is a content creator for Hippo. When she’s not typing away at a computer, you can find her hiking with her dog or doing a crossword.
Forecasting for Fall Uncertainties
By Scott Lundstrom, Analyst, Supply Chain Futures
Over the last several months, the supply chain planning community has been faced with the question of how to deal with increased uncertainty as we enter the fall. While we are adjusting to COVID-19, we are not overcoming it. Pandemic forces will continue to impact our business as we enter the fall and move into winter. Widespread vaccine availability is still 9 to 12 months away for most people. Environmental and climate disruption challenges continue unabated. Political instability and challenges still dominate the front page.
Our relatively stable world of global supply chains has been upended in ways we could never imagine. What is a supply chain executive to do? While it might sound obvious at this point, COVID has impressed upon us all the need for digital transformation to drive resiliency and agility into our operations. First and foremost, we need to adopt an outside-in view of the supply chain. Viewing the supply chain as a demand-driven business network is essential to avoid execution failures, excess inventories, and the inevitable bullwhip effects of the chaotic business environment. AI and advanced supply chain and data analytics can help, but only if we have the data and processes required to make use of intelligence in creating agility and resiliency.
Changes in philosophy and strategy – from efficiency to resiliency. This really has little to do with technology. Change management among senior leaders can be incredibly challenging but is an absolute necessity. Adopting a focus on outside-in thinking and customer experience can be difficult after many years of internal process optimization to reduce costs and minimize inventory. Analytics can play a role in gaining a better understanding of where we are experiencing difficulties, and disappointing customers
Changes in sourcing agreements to improve supply stability and demand forecasting – Supply chain is a team sport. It is only by working with our partner suppliers that we can improve resiliency. Moves toward more flexible agreements that allow a range of order actions across multiple categories based on demand and availability will help make supply chains less brittle and restrictive. Partner data about tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers can help us improve our planning models to incorporate uncertainty in geopolitical, climate, logistic, and pandemic dimensions. Utilizing better, more detailed data about suppliers may be one of the most important changes we can make in improving the resilience of our planning optimization models. This is also essential data if we hope to utilize machine learning and auto ML in our planning models.
Changes in logistics planning embracing flexibility and local supply – One of the biggest changes we will see in supply chains this fall is a desire to move toward more local sources of supply. Geographical complexities driven by lockdowns, limited global shipping capacity, and geopolitical instability are causing the pendulum to swing back toward more local sources of supply.
Changes in supply and demand data requirements and digital twins – Real improvements in supply chain performance require more real time data. Real time data from customers, suppliers, distributors and logistic suppliers needs to be integrated to provide a real time view of the end-to-end process of meeting customer needs. Increasingly, supply chain software providers are turning to digital twin and digital thread data models to help provide this visibility. Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms are ideally suited to identify and resolve issues when provided with this type of operating framework. Preparing for uncertainty and creating resilience should be a focus of every supply chain organization as we move into the next wave of pandemic uncertainty. Prepared organizations will experience much higher levels of customer satisfaction, and will experience better business outcomes and performance.
Scott Lundstrom is an analyst focused on the intersection of AI, IoT and Supply Chains. See his blog at Supply Chain Futures.
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