Smart Meter to use AT&T IoT network for remote patient monitoring

AT&T and Smart Meter are teaming to use the carrier’s Internet of Things (IoT) cellular network to connect the SmartRPM platform for remote patient monitoring. A demonstration of the technology shows how data can be uploaded to the SmartRPM cloud, where health care providers can securely access the information.
  • The SmartRPM platform supports iGlucose, iBloodPressure and iScale. A fourth product, iPulseOx, is being unveiled at CES this week in Las Vegas. End users insert the batteries — which are included — and press the start button to activate the service. The device’s IoT SIM card automatically sends data to the SmartRPM cloud, where it can be accessed by secure log-in by the healthcare provider.
  • AT&T cited Smart Meter data that found that 84% of diabetes patients and 88% of hypertension patients who are at high risk for disease complications “experienced significant improvements” when using iGlocuse and iBloodPressure, respectively. Studies show remote patient monitoring can help change this.
  • For example, 84% of diabetes and 88%1 of hypertension patients at highest risk for severe disease complications experienced significant improvements in their health when using the Smart Meter iGlucose and iBloodPressure as part of RPM programs.
  • Smart Meter’s cellular-enabled devices simplify RPM. They are an easy out-of-the-box solution; just insert the included batteries and press the start button. The monitoring devices contain IoT SIM cards, so they automatically send the patient’s data over the AT&T IoT network to the SmartRPM cloud. The healthcare provider then accesses the data there via secure log-in.

Source: AT&T

For patients, Smart Meter’s cellular RPM devices mean easy access to improved healthcare with the peace of mind that comes from frequent assurances and support. For health care providers, the benefits include ready access to more complete patient data and the ability to act on it in near real-time, while automatic record keeping meets requirements for reimbursement.

Because of these benefits, a growing number of doctors are embracing RPM. A recent survey found 43% of clinicians believe RPM adoption will be on par with in-patient monitoring in 5 years.


“The iGlucose solution proved to be an outstanding resource for my clinical team to enable greater insights into our patients’ results between visits. More than 70% of participants required some form of intervention prior to their next in-office visit, and as a result, there was a reduction in emergency room visits and need for hospitalizations, demonstrating better overall diabetes care.” – Dr. Gail L. Nunlee-Bland, MD, Howard University Diabetes Treatment Center

“Our collaboration with Smart Meter is another example of how our IoT connectivity is advancing connected healthcare. IoT-enabled devices ultimately provide a quicker and more convenient patient service with better outcomes for both the patient and the healthcare provider.” Joe Drygas, VP of AT&T Healthcare Industry Solutions

“As an early RPM innovator, Smart Meter has done extensive work to drive the best outcomes by improving patient engagement and adherence, and our cellular alliance with AT&T has been a large part of our success.” Casey Pittock, Smart Meter CEO


Last month, AT&T said that its FirstNet first responders’ network is supporting Qure4u, which is a “patient engagement and virtual care platform” that includes a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite and enhanced security.

C Spire also is offering an RPM service. The carrier said in August 2020 that it is teaming with the Delta Regional Medical Center in Mississippi. C Spire Remote Patient Monitoring will monitor “a broad array of chronic medical conditions.”


AT&T Taps IoT Network for Remote Patient Monitoring Partnership

AT&T FirstNet Supports Remote Patient Monitoring Platform

IBM says 5G killer app is connecting industrial robots: edge computing with private 5G

At 2021 MWC-LA, IBM CTO for networking and edge computing Rob High suggested that connecting maintenance robots (one named Spot is pictured below) as the so-called killer application for 5G.  citing wide potential benefits for industry.  In a keynote presentation made alongside robotics company Boston Dynamics, the IBM CTO (pictured left) highlighted the benefits of systems employing edge computing (more below) technology together with private 5G in industrial scenarios. The two companies highlighted Spot’s role to assess the performance of analog machinery still in use.

“For all my network operator friends in the audience who keep asking what’s the killer app for 5G? This is it,” High said. “It’s around production processes valuable to industries that are needed, and need 5G to accomplish their tasks to maintain operational readiness and efficiencies,” he added.

“That’s where 5G is going to have its biggest benefit,” he added, noting although the maintenance robot did a lot of local processing it needed to be on a communications network as it was programmed to raise urgent issues.  However, High did not state what benefits/features 5G has that makes robot connectivity the killer app.  In particular, ultra high reliability is required but neither ITU-R M.2150 or 3GPP Release 16 supports that in the 5G RIT/RAN.

Boston Dynamics’ chief sales officer Mike Pollitt (pictured right) highlighted Spot’s ability to assess machinery and other assets across industrial sites in difficult-to-reach areas and those dangerous for humans.  Potential applications include taking readings from analog machines, proactive maintenance and general site investigation.

High added with a long asset life on much industrial machinery, these types of technological solutions could fill the “data gap” by assessing sites without the need to retrofit connectivity hardware into every piece of equipment.

The robotics company has been working with IBM on industrial deployments with Spot relying on the latter’s application management system.

IBM says that edge computing with 5G (requires 5G SA core network) creates tremendous opportunities in every industry. It brings computation and data storage closer to where data is generated, enabling better data control, reduced costs, faster insights and actions, and continuous operations. By 2025, 75% of enterprise data will be processed at the edge, compared to only 10% today.

IBM provides an autonomous management offering that addresses the scale, variability and rate of change in edge environments. IBM also offers solutions to help communications companies modernize their networks and deliver new services at the edge.



Exium Collaborates with IBM on Secure Edge Compute for AI and IoT Applications

Exium, a 5G security company [1.], today announced that it is collaborating with IBM to help clients adopt an edge computing strategy designed to enable them to run AI or IoT applications seamlessly across hybrid cloud environments, from private data centers to the edge. Exium offers clients an end-to-end AI deployment solution designed for high performance on the Edge that can extend to any cloud. This platform can help clients address vendor lock-in by providing flexibility to run their centralized Data/AI resources across any cloud or in private data centers.

Note 1.  Exium was founded in 2019 by wireless telecommunications entrepreneur Farooq Khan (ex-Phazr, ex-JMA Wireless).  The company believes that the current Cybersecurity Model is broken. Existing cybersecurity approaches and technologies simply no longer provide the levels of security and access control modern digital organizations need. These organizations demand immediate, uninterrupted secure access for their users, teams, and IoT/ OT devices, no matter where they are located.

Exium’s Intelligent Cybersecurity Mesh™ (see diagram below) provides secure access for a distributed workforce, IoT devices, and mission-critical Operational Technology (OT) infrastructure, protecting businesses from malware, ransomware, phishing, denial of service, and botnet infections in one easy to use cloud service.

CyberMesh consolidates three technologies, 5G, Secure Access Services Edge, or SASE, and Extended Detection and Response, or XDR in a single powerful cloud platform.

The Intelligent Cybersecurity Mesh is the first network security platform rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards and is a reflection of Exium’s commitment to an open, interoperable, and secure global internet for all.


Exium’s Secure Edge AI is designed to provide a secured, highly performant Edge for IoT data collection and AI execution that works with WiFi/Ethernet/4G today and will be able to assist enterprises to upgrade to 5G in the future.

Exium’s CyberMesh is designed to deliver Zero-Trust Edge Security, Intent-Driven Edge Network Performance, and connect Edge and Cloud locations to help provide scalability and resilience out of the box. Zero-Trust Edge Security addresses trust assumptions to help build the connection between users, devices, and edge applications. Intent-Driven Edge Network enables edge applications to influence the 5G network for traffic routing, steering and QoS control.


“With computing done in so many places—on public and private clouds and the edge–we believe the challenge that businesses face today is to securely connect all these different elements into a cohesive, end-to-end platform,” said Farooq Khan, Founder & CEO at Exium. “Through our collaboration, Exium plans to integrate with IBM Edge Application Manager to offer edge solutions at scale for our clients.”

“We look forward to collaborating with Exium to help clients deploy, operate and manage thousands of endpoints throughout their operations with IBM Edge Application Manager,” said Evaristus Mainsah, GM, IBM Hybrid Cloud and Edge Ecosystem. “Together, we can help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation by acting on insights closer to where their data is being created, at the edge.”

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value report, “Why organizations are betting on edge computing: Insights from the edge,” revealed that 91% of the 1,500 executives surveyed indicated that their organizations plan to implement edge computing strategies within five years. IBM Edge Application Manager, an autonomous management solution that runs on Red Hat OpenShift, enables the secured deployment, continuous operations and remote management of AI, analytics, and IoT enterprise workloads to deliver real-time analysis and insights at scale. The introduction of Intel® Secure Device Onboard (SDO) made available as open source through the Linux Foundation, provides zero-touch provisioning of edge nodes, and enables multi-tenant support for enterprises to manage up to 40,000 edge devices simultaneously per edge hub. IBM Edge Application Manager is the industry’s first solution powered by the open-source project, Linux Foundation Open Horizon.

Exium is part of IBM’s partner ecosystem, collaborating with more than 30 equipment manufacturers, networking, IT & software providers to implement open standards-based cloud-native solutions that can autonomously manage edge applications at scale. IBM’s partner ecosystem fuels hybrid cloud environments by helping clients manage and modernize workloads from bare-metal to multicloud and everything in between with Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform.

About Exium:

Exium is a U.S. full-stack cybersecurity and 5G clean networking pioneer helping organizations to connect and secure their teams, users, and mission-critical assets with ease, wherever they are.

To learn more about Exium, please visit

About Farooq Khan, PhD:

Before founding Exium, Farooq Khan was founder and CEO of PHAZR, a 5G Millimeter wave radio network solutions company that was sold to JMA Wireless . Before that he was the President and Head of Samsung Research America, Samsung’s U.S.-based R&D unit, where he led high impact collaborative research programs in mobile technology. He also held engineering positions at Bell Labs, Ericsson and Paktel.

Farooq earned a PhD in Computer Science from Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France.  He holds over 200 U.S. patents, has written over 50 research articles and a best-selling book.

Qualcomm unveils 5G and AI-Enabled Drone Platform

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. is showing off what is says is the world’s first drone platform and reference design to offer both 5G and AI-capabilities, the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform.

The company says the drone reference design helps accelerate development for commercial, enterprise, and industrial drones, and unleashes innovative possibilities for industries looking to adopt drone solutions and realize the benefits of the intelligent edge.   5G connectivity — including mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands — and WiFi 6. The chip-maker says the networking tech can help support drone-to-drone communications and drone swarms. Both use cases are being explored across industries, from delivering and transporting goods to aerial light displays to military warfare.

The drone model below is includes an embedded Qualcomm® QRB5165 processor and a Qualcomm Spectra 480 Image Signal Processor that can capture 200 megapixel photos and 8K video at 30 FPS. In addition, the drone can record in 4K at 120 FPS with support for HDR.

Image Credit: Qualcomm


The company says that the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform brings cutting-edge capabilities to the drone industry by condensing multiple complex technologies into one tightly integrated drone system to support evolving applications and new use cases in sectors including film and entertainment, security and emergency response, delivery, defense, inspection, and mapping.

At its core, the Flight RB5 5G platform uses the QRB5165 processor and Kryo 585 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU, based on the Snapdragon 865 CPU. The AI enhancements come by way of the Hexagon Tensor Accelerator in the Hexagon 698 DSP. Third-parties that use the platform will also get access to a trio of software development kits for neural processing, computer vision and multimedia applications.

The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform’s high-performance and heterogeneous computing at ultra-low power consumption provides power efficient inferencing at the edge for AI and Machine Learning (ML) enabling fully autonomous drones.  Breakthrough camera capabilities deliver premium image capabilities and performance. With 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, this platform enhances critical flying abilities beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) to support safer, more reliable flight. In addition, safety controls alone can no longer assure industrial and commercial drone safety, especially when scaling to Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform is equipped with a Qualcomm® Secure Processing Unit to support modern drone demands for cybersecurity protections as a key enabler of data-protection and safety requirements.

Qualcomm Technologies is working with Verizon to complete network testing of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform for the Verizon 5G network, and expects the platform, which is 5G mmWave capable, will be offered via the Verizon Thingspace Marketplace.

The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G drone reference design is available for pre-sale now through ModalAI. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G development kit is expected to be available in Q4 of 2021. For more information on the platform, including technical features, please visit the product details page here.


Qualcomm first got involved in drones in 2015, then ventured into robotics in 2019. Last year it combined the two technologies in its RB5 platform. Chad Sweet’s ModalAI, which in 2018 spun out of Qualcomm, will manufacture and distribute the drone platform, and says the first development kits will ship in the last three months of this year.

Qualcomm, which already commands a huge lead in the 4G/5G smartphone industry, is hoping its Snapdragon chipsets can be the silicon that pushes 5G into a wider range of other devices.  The company has made a series of drone platforms since its first, Qualcomm Flight, in 2018.


Global carriers and IoT ecosystem leaders showcase validation and support for Qualcomm Technologies latest drone solution:   

Asia Pacific Telecom

“As the leader in innovative telecom services in Taiwan, Asia Pacific Telecom Co., Ltd (APT) is excited to work with one of our most important strategic collaborators, Qualcomm Technologies on the support of 5G and AI-enabled drones. APT provides 5G and application integration services to advance the performance of robots and drones in different perspectives. We truly believe that 5G capabilities built into the platform will enable new autonomous drone experiences,” said Mr. Shang-Chen Kao, chief technology officer, network and technology center, Asia Pacific Telecom.


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, including delivery, inspections, and search and rescue, which will require a highly secure and reliable connection. We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies continue to innovate with their latest announcement on a platform for 5G drones,” said Kevin Hetrick, vice-president, access construction and engineering, AT&T.

China Unicom  

“The 5G-enabled digital era has brought wider boundaries for every industry and China Unicom is committed to pushing the boundaries of the traditional communications ecosystem and working together with the industrial chain to realize mutual complementarity. As one of our important collaborators, Qualcomm Technologies has been working with China Unicom to drive integration of 5G and IoT into vertical use cases and provide products such as 5G modules and 5G industrial gateways for automation and robotics use cases, with focused areas including industrial equipment, iron and steel manufacturing, transportation and port, mining and energy, and healthcare,” said Li Kai, chief product officer, IoT division, China Unicom Digital Technology Company Limited. “We believe the announcement of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform will benefit more use cases. China Unicom is looking forward to deepening collaborations with Qualcomm Technologies in IoT and jointly creating a new blueprint for 5G in the future.”

“Use of drones to capture imagery for construction site topographic mapping, construction progress tracking, security surveillance and equipment tracking in combination with IoT sensors that are deployed on construction sites are revolutionizing how construction projects are delivered! 5G enabled data from drones can be leveraged to unleash the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms yielding massive improvements in the safety, efficiency and productivity of construction projects,” said Sandeep Pandya, chief executive officer,


“By working with Qualcomm Technologies, we have seamlessly installed  the FlightOps onboard software on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, allowing for unparalleled performance, compute power, low energy footprint, high quality video processing and high speed 5G connectivity to achieve high levels of autonomy and mission scalability,” said Shay Levy, chief executive officer, FlightOps.


“Qualcomm Technologies has been a leader of breakthrough technologies for years and their announcement of the world’s first 5G, AI-enabled drone platform – the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform – is the latest example of their continued innovation. We at Juganu are excited to work with Qualcomm Technologies as they continue to push the boundaries of technology and look forward to using these technologies to innovate across our own smart technology quickly, safely and securely,” said chief strategy officer, Eran Efrati, Juganu.

KT Corporation

“KT is excited to see Qualcomm Technologies bringing cutting-edge 5G drone technology based on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform. We’re leveraging our deep expertise in translating diverse services and use cases into reality across vertical industries,” said Byungkyun Kim, head of device business unit, KT. “We expect Qualcomm Technologies will expand the 5G–based drone industry and pave a way to the development of the drones based on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform.”

LG Uplus

“Qualcomm Technologies’ launch of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform has great significance to the drone ecosystem as the integration of drones with 5G communication and AI technology can maximize drone usability and convenience,” said Youngseo Jeon, B2B service development director, LG Uplus. “We are expecting U+ smart drone service which contains telecommunication, control, and video will combine with the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and play a key role across diverse drone industry fields.”


“The reliability, availability, and low latency of 5G enable previously unavailable command and control of UAS, solving critical UAS safety considerations and enabling operation beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). With this connectivity and the added benefit of moving intelligence to the edge, we are now beginning to realize real solutions with significant impact on business and our everyday lives,” said Rakesh Kushwaha, managing director, MITRE Engenuity Open Generation. “The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform brings advanced intelligence to autonomous decisions, enabling detect and avoid (DAA) even beyond network connectivity. It is a game changer. We are looking forward to having Qualcomm Technologies participate in the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation.”


“ModalAI accelerates autonomy by providing innovators with robot and drone perception and communications systems. Since our founding, we have committed to enabling aerial and ground robot manufacturers with capabilities that can excel a broad set of industries. We are thrilled to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies to bring the first purpose-built 5G drone that opens cutting-edge computing to a broad set of integrators who can build their applications that take advantage of the coming aerial 5G wave,” said Chad Sweet, chief executive officer, co-founder, ModalAI.

Taiwan Mobile

“We are glad to see Qualcomm Technologies innovate on the 5G drone application continuously, including enterprise-related solutions. Taiwan Mobile offers “real 5G” services with safer and faster advantages to support creative development, and get together with Open Possible,” said Mr. C. H. Wu, vice president, chief enterprise business officer, Taiwan Mobile.


“TDK is extremely excited to join with Qualcomm Technologies on such a state-of-the-art drone platform,” said Peter Hartwell, chief technology officer, InvenSense, a TDK Group Company.  “TDK has a multi-technology focus on Robotics across a robust product portfolio – much of which can be found on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and TDK Mezzanine platforms.  Our decision to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies to utilize breakthrough sensor technology alongside the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, which I believe to be most innovative drone reference design in the world.”


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, including monitoring critical infrastructure, crowd management, and emergency response which includes detection, containment and extinguishing of wildfires, reporting on crop health, monitoring of livestock and irrigation systems at large acreage farms, and much more. The large majority of these use cases require a highly secure and reliable connection that can be more readily supported with 5G connections. We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies continuing to push the boundaries of innovation with their latest announcement on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and we at Veea are looking forward to using these technologies to innovate across our deployments of hybrid edge-cloud solutions such as at large farms, wildlife parks, stadiums, smart cities, large construction sites and similar projects,” said Allen Salmasi, chief executive officer, Veea.

Verizon Skyward

“The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform provides a robust hardware platform that can be certified for the Verizon 5G network, offering the ecosystem of drone developers a simple path to get connected. That means drones built with the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform can leverage the massive capacity of Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband to navigate the National Airspace System in safer and more productive ways than ever before,” said Eric T. Ringer, co-founder, chief of staff, Skyward, a Verizon company.


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, which provides a high bandwidth connection that is secure and reliable,” said Sanjay Govil, founder and chief executive officer, Zyter, Inc. “We are excited to begin leveraging and integrating the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform for 5G drones into our own SmartSpaces™ IoT solutions for smart campuses and cities, smart construction, and other applications.”

About Qualcomm (from the company):

Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch, and expansion of 5G. When we connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone. We bring the benefits of mobile to new industries, including automotive, the internet of things, and computing, and are leading the way to a world where everything and everyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes the company’s intellectual property licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of their patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of our products and services businesses, including the QCT semiconductor business.



IoT Disappoints: Security, Connectivity and Device Onboarding Cited as Top Challenges

After over a decade of hype, the Internet of Things (IoT) is failing to live up to expectations in the UK and in the US, according to a new report by IoT connectivity provider Eseye.

77% of companies who implemented at least one Internet of Things (IoT) project in the past 12 months said their project was at best only somewhat successful, according to a new survey commissioned. The survey was carried out among 500 IoT decision makers in the US and the UK by research firm Opinion Matters in April.

The Study was undertaken by independent research organisation, Opinion Matters, among 500 UK and USA-based senior decision makers and implementers of IoT strategy within five vertical markets. It explores the current state of IoT adoption; the challenges, opportunities and untapped potential of IoT; the impact of COVID-19 and how this has accelerated adoption; and the criticality of intelligent connectivity to fuel future growth.

Key IoT adoption findings:

  • 86% of respondents said IoT is a priority for their business.
  • 49% of respondents are planning further projects in the next two to three years.
  • 89% are planning budget increases for IoT initiatives, with just under half (44%) planning to boost spending by between 51 and 100%.
  • 98% said that COVID-19 has impacted their IoT plans; for 27% it has accelerated development of their IoT initiative and 31% said they had increased investment plans.
  • However, 77% of respondents said that their IoT project was at best only somewhat successful in meeting expectations and realizing benefits.
  • Security, connectivity and device onboarding were cited as top challenges; 39% said security was their biggest hurdle, while for 35% device onboarding, testing and certification, and cellular connectivity across multiple countries and regions had proved difficult.
  • Cellular IoT deployments have still not reached anywhere near critical mass, most survey respondents (88%) had deployed fewer than 10,000 devices.

IoT at a tipping point

The Study found the larger the project, the faster the acceleration as organizations embrace IoT. The more devices respondents have in the field, the more they are planning to deploy in the coming twelve months. This indicates a tipping point in IoT projects in terms of scale. However, of 500 respondents only 10% had deployed between 10,001 devices and 100,000 in the field and only 2% had deployed more than 100,000 devices.

Disrupting markets and business models

IoT projects are undertaken by innovative organisations to disrupt traditional business models and deliver tangible business benefits. When asked about the benefits their IoT initiative has or is predicted to deliver 35% of respondents said it enabled the business to enter new markets, 34% said it increased profit, and 32% of respondents said their initiative was aimed at delivering new lines of business.

Nick Earle, CEO, Eseye comments: “Is IoT finally coming of age? There have been a number of false starts with predictions a decade ago that were clearly overstated. Fast forward to 2021 and COVID-19 has accelerated IoT trends that were already underway as large enterprises move from experimenting to understanding how to deploy IoT; our research certainly found that the larger the project, the faster the acceleration as organisations embrace IoT.

“However, adoption is not without its challenges. We know security and connectivity have been an issue and uncertainty about both initial and lifetime device connectivity is a huge concern for businesses rolling out large-scale IoT projects. To this point, 39% of survey respondents said security was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome and over one third (35%) cited cellular connectivity as a main challenge. This validates Eseye’s device design services and connectivity strategy, and recently-announced partnerships with leading complementary technology vendors such as Armis.”

Technology drivers

Cloud and remote access were cited as the top technology drivers which, given the events of the past year, is not surprising, as many businesses look to accelerate their digital transformation plans with IoT initiatives. Interestingly, 42% stated Intelligent Edge as a top technology driver both now and in the future and 41% said LPWAN technologies which points to the shift in IoT processing moving increasingly to the edge. Not surprisingly to this author, 5G was rated fourth, with 38%.

Connectivity more of an issue in UK than USA

UK respondents indicated that their biggest challenge was cellular connectivity, with 41% stating this versus 29% in the USA. Device deployment and rollout was also more of an issue for UK respondents (36%) versus 28% in the USA. This is likely because UK respondents have more multi-region deployments than the USA, where projects tend to be national and focused on the domestic market.

Earle continues: “Organizations are clearly determined to overcome the challenges they’ve identified, with 89% planning to increase budget and more than eight out of ten stating that IoT is a priority for the business. At the start of 2021, we predicted that information mined from user interactions with ‘things’ rather than digital services would create a huge wealth of rich data, bigger and more detailed than online data ever was. This will enable new business models, the creation of new products and services and new levels of understanding, which has the potential to further disrupt models and markets in ways that we can’t even imagine today. It is an exciting market with the potential to create new revenue, new opportunities and real business value.”

Eseye’s State of IoT Adoption Report offers detailed analysis of the IoT challenges and trends affecting businesses both in the UK and USA, and examines the variation between vertical markets including: Smart Vending; Supply Chain and Logistics; EV Charging and Smart Grid; Manufacturing; and Healthcare and Medical Devices. It contains recommendations for actions and strategies that organisations should prioritise to improve business outcomes and the value derived from such initiatives.

89% of respondents said they plan to increase their IoT budget over the next two years, with most predicting growth of between 26% and 100% in that time. The EV charging and smart grid sector leads the way, with as many as 99% saying they will increase spending and 60% predicting a hike of more than 50%. In the manufacturing space, 93% expect budgets to increase.






Organisations Struggle to Reap the Rewards of IoT; Security, Connectivity and Device Onboarding Cited as Top Challenges

2021 State of IoT Adoption

IoT is failing to live up to its promise…or is it?


Posted in IoT

Qualcomm introduces 7 new chips to power IoT installations

Qualcomm has released a new range of cellular connectivity modules for IoT devices. The seven new products range from entry-level to premium tier to expand access to a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including transportation and logistics, warehousing, video collaboration, smart cameras, retail and healthcare.

Qualcomm’s senior director of product management Nagaraju Naik said that the new chips are a comprehensive offering from entry-level to high-end products that meet the needs of a broad range of IoT solutions.  Naik said that the high-end chips in particular will support video collaboration with support for high-resolution cameras and image signal processing for electronic pan, tilt and zoom actions.

“Within the Internet of Things ecosystem, there are a variety of segments going through digital transformation, whether its retail or warehouse management or the shipping industry.  Collaboration is yet another significant segment. These products that we’re introducing are going to enable a lot of those applications,” Naik said.

“Smart cart is actually bringing the point-of-sale experience or the checkout experience into the cart.  So, you have cameras that can detect what (merchandise) is being picked by the consumer, and then right on the cart you have point-of-sale ability.   Companies need highly capable cameras and AI compute capability and connectivity to provide these services,” Naik added.

The chips can support a variety of activities, according to the company, including:

  • Integrated connectivity
  • Sensor fusion
  • Person identification and detection
  • Object detection
  • Edge interaction
  • Activity analysis
  • Personalization

Naik said the chips also can support modern warehouse management from inventory management to package delivery to driver safety and productivity. In a warehouse environment, the entry-level chip can power the handheld device for managing inventory while the high-end chip can run the robot that pulls items.  “All of these scenarios can be supported with the family of products we are introducing today,” Naik said.

Qualcomm also has promised extended life hardware and software options for a minimum of eight years for the new products. All of the new chips are available now except the QCM 6490.

The Qualcomm QCS8250 is the premium-tier offering, optimized to enable maximum performance at the greatest power efficiency possible for intensive AI at the edge. It comes with support for Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, with the Qualcomm Kryo 585 CPU architecture, latest Qualcomm AI Engine and an image signal processor to support up to 7 concurrent cameras with 4K resolution at 120 frames per second. The new Neural Processing Unit supports AI and machine learning for products such as smart cameras, video collaboration, AI hubs, connected healthcare and smart retail.

The next tier is the Qualcomm QCS6490 and QCM6490, also with global 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6E, and available from the second half of this year. These come with the Kryo 670 CPU architecture targeting industrial and commercial IoT applications such as transportation, warehousing, connected healthcare, logistics management and POS kiosks. The models can support triple ISPs and advanced edge-AI based on the 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine.

The Qualcomm QCS4290 and QCM4290 are aimed at mid-tier devices, running the Kryo 260 CPU and 3rd generation Qualcomm AI Engine. This platform supports LTE Cat13 and is ready for upgrade to Wi-Fi 6.

For the entry-level market, the company has the Qualcomm QCS2290 and QCM2290 with LTE connectivity and memory support for low power consumption. Equipped with the Cortex A53 CPU architecture, this cost-effective solution is aimed at retail point-of-sale, industrial handheld, tracking and camera applications.

Customers supporting the new modules include Arrow Electronics, Zebra, Amtran, EInfoChips, Honeywell, Fibocom, Lanotronix and Quectel.


Connected Home IoT Technolgies and the EU TeamUp5G Project

by David Alejandro Urquiza Villalonga and Manuel José López Morales, researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid


The concept of the “connected home” has gained a lot of attention in the last decade as a means to improve various aspects of life.  Entertainment, security, energy and appliance control, and electronic health monitoring are just a few representative applications. Recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become increasingly important due to the COVID19 pandemic.  With most employees working from home, remote access tools are booming because they connect people with their machines and assets. They enable people to remotely communicate with machines and perform virtual inspections, remote diagnostics as well as remote support.  

Therefore, the development of a dynamic IoT environment that adapts to each individual’s needs is essential to provide an optimal productivity scenario.  In this article, we describe an intelligent platform which interconnects several sensors and actuators using an IoT approach to collect and process big volumes of data. The IoT system, combined with a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tool, learns the user’s behavior and offers improved new services according to their preferences [1] [2].

In this context, applications related to home security, remote health monitoring, climate control and lighting, entertainment, smart sleep, and intelligent shopping have been developed. 

Challenges in IoT development and deployment:

There are several challenges to support massive IoT deployments providing connectivity for both cellular and non-cellular devices. New technologies with higher energy and spectral efficiency are required to enable smart device-to-device (D2D) communications with reduced connectivity costs [3]. The technical requirements to fulfill include:

• The interconnection of several sensors in an intelligent management platform according to a massive machine-type-communications (mMTC) approach. In this sense, new spectrum access techniques and energy-efficient technologies to support the operation of a large number of devices are required.
• Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) communication to support video streaming for entertainment, remote working, and online teaching.
• Scalability: this will become an issue mainly in relations to generic consumers as the number of devices in operation rises.
• Dense and durable off-grid power sources: it would make a difference if power could be broadcasted wirelessly to smartphones and sensors from a distance.

Popular current smart home devices:

Some of the most popular smart home devices include the intelligent wireless speaker “Google Home” with a connected voice management system that interacts with the Google Assistant helping with music, calendar, news, traffic, etc. On the other hand, Amazon has developed its own intelligent devices, namely “Amazon Echo” (with Alexa) and “Amazon Echo Plus,” which includes a smart home Zigbee hub for easy setup and control of compatible smart home devices.

Far-field speech recognition is included in the  “Amazon Echo Spot,” which is designed with a smart alarm clock that can make video calls with a tiny 2.5-inch screen, or become a nursery camera. LifeSmart provides smart home solutions focusing on security, energy-saving, and bringing convenience to life with a complex network of automatic intercommunication devices that simplifies daily routines [4].

Renesas offers a wide variety of IoT solutions for security, comfiness, health, connectivity and others, for different sectors such as automotive, healthcare, industrial, and home appliances [5].

Supporting technologies for massive IoT deployment:

Nevertheless, many products offered by companies still provide IoT solutions that can be thought as of being in an infancy state. The underlying communication technologies have to increase their capabilities in order to overcome the challenging needs and provide an improvement to IoT solutions.

Therefore, new wireless communication technologies [including 5G (IMT 2020), WiFi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), Bluetooth 5, etc.] will be combined with classical short range wireless technologies [such as ZigBee, NFC and others] and installed in homes and small business offices.  Low Power Wide Area Network  (LPWAN) technologies from cellular carriers are LTE-Cat M1 , narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) and LoRa/LoRaWAN.

Several studies reveal that higher frequencies are expected to be able to operate as complementary bands for the deployment of 5G networks with higher capacity. It is expected that millimeter wave (mmWave) ultra-dense small-cells supported by massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) will be able to offer the capabilities to interconnect multiple devices and to provide high-speed services even in indoor scenarios. These small-cells may be interconnected with each other and with the core network by means of a fiber optic connection or with a mmWave backhaul.

Editor’s Note:  Some wireless communications professionals believe that a 5G fixed wireless network, using massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) systems at millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, will be able to offer high throughput and low latency to support many WiFi connected home devices.  Verizon’s 5G Home Internet is an example of this.

On the other hand, network densification is a promising technology to overcome many issues in mmWave systems such as blockage and short-range coverage that can significantly increase the capacity of the network. Therefore, Ultra-dense networks (UDN) compound by small cells (SCs) is also considered to have an important role in IoT connectivity.

In addition, a fundamental feature needed to support massive IoT is scalability on the device and the infrastructure sides which can be provided by 5G cellular networks. 5G systems will be able to offer connectivity to an extremely large number of low-cost, low-power, low-complexity devices, based on an evolution of the current LTE narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) [3].

New radio access technologies will also be required.  For example, cognitive radio (CR) to allocate bandwidth dynamically and to handle high interference levels. In addition, the big data processing capabilities for the AI learning and prediction process is supported only by 5G networks.

TeamUp5G Project:

TeamUp5G [6] is a European Training Network (ETN) in the frame of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA ITN) of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 frameworkTeamUp5G’s EU funding adds up to 3.72 million Euros between 2019 and 2022.

TeamUp5G is currently working on the use cases, technical challenges, and solutions to facilitate the technical feasibility of ultra-dense small cell networks.

The research objectives of TeamUp5G are focused on solving three problems: (1) Interference Management, waveforms, and mMIMO, (2) Dynamic Spectrum Management and Optimisation, and (3) Energy Consumption Reduction. Among others, it can provide the technical solutions to make massive IoT Smart Home connectivity feasible. Some of their research results include [7] and [8].

Where in Europe is TeamUp5G:

What Is the TeamUp5G Project:

Image Credit:  TeamUp5G Project

In reference [7], the authors study a cognitive radio system with energy harvesting capabilities (CR-EH) to improve the spectral and energy efficiency according to the green communication paradigm. A novel optimal sensing policy to maximize detection performance of available spectrum and to protect primary users from interference is developed. The proposed scheme is based on the efficient use of harvested energy to implement spectrum sensing operations. Offline and online scheduling policies are derived with an optimal formulation based on convex optimization theory and Dynamic Programming (DP) algorithm, respectively. In addition, two heuristic solutions with low complexity are also proposed to dynamically manage the use of spectrum with high levels of energy efficiency which is essential for IoT deployment.

In reference [8], the authors demonstrated how scenarios with stringent conditions such as high mobility, high frequency selective, low SNR and short-packet communications can benefit from the use of non-coherent mMIMO. Non-coherent mMIMO avoids the need of channel state information (CSI) to extract the benefits of mMIMO. This avoids the waste of resources due to the overhead created by the orthogonal signals, which is more severe in scenarios with stringent conditions. These types of scenarios are very common in Home IoT, since low battery powered devices will be the most common, such as a variety of domestic sensors and actuators. Furthermore, in short-packet communications, the use of CSI is proportionally greater due to shorter useful data as also happens in Home IoT, in which many devices send short bursts of data from time to time, thus benefiting from the use of non-coherent communications.

Thus, it has been shown that new interference management techniques, energy harvesting, and non-coherent communications can overcome some of the technical challenges inherent in IoT networks for Smart Home applications.


In this article, we have covered some aspects considered in IoT Smart Home 5G. We have first made an introduction with the basics of the use of IoT in homes, aided by 5G technology and AI. Secondly, we have presented some already existing solutions from companies such as Google, Amazon, LifeSmart, and Renesas, which work over legacy networks and thus do not extract all the potential benefits of 5G IoT Smart Home. We have continued stating the main technical challenges in IoT deployment. We have defined some technologies that will support the use of IoT at homes, including massive multiple-input multiple-output, millimeter waves, ultra dense networks, small cells, and cognitive radio. We have talked about the TeamUp5G project which partly focuses on the research of new solutions that can make the massive deployment of IoT Smart Home feasible.

From the perspective of the authors, the following decade will see an increase in the appearance of products based on the referenced  technologies, which will bring the concept of IoT Smart Home based on 5G closer to reality.

[1] K. E. Skouby y P. Lynggaard, «Smart home and smart city solutions enabled by 5G, IoT, AAI and CoT services», en 2014 International Conference on Contemporary Computing and Informatics (IC3I), nov. 2014, pp. 874-878, doi: 10.1109/IC3I.2014.7019822.
[2] H. Uddin et al., «IoT for 5G/B5G Applications in Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Wearables and Connected Cars», en 2019 IEEE 24th International Workshop on Computer Aided Modeling and Design of Communication Links and Networks (CAMAD), sep. 2019, pp. 1-5, doi: 10.1109/CAMAD.2019.8858455.
[3] S. Ahmadi, 5G NR: Architecture, Technology, Implementation, and Operation of 3GPP New Radio Standards. Academic Press, 2019.
[7] D. A. Urquiza-Villalonga, J. Torres-Gómez, y M. J. Fernández-Getino-García, «Optimal Sensing Policy for Energy Harvesting Cognitive Radio Systems», IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 19, n.o 6, pp. 3826-3838, jun. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TWC.2020.2978818.
[8] M. J. Lopez-Morales, K. Chen-Hu and A. Garcia-Armada, “Differential Data-Aided Channel Estimation for Up-Link Massive SIMO-OFDM,” in IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, vol. 1, pp. 976-989, 2020, doi: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2020.3008634.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) forecasts huge growth for IoT and M2M; tepid growth for Mobile

According to Cisco’s newly renamed Annual Internet Report [1.], networked devices around the globe will total 29.3 billion in 2023, outnumbering humans by more than three to one.  The number of overall connected devices: 29.3 billion networked devices by 2023, compared to 18.4 billion in 2018.

The report also anticipates that the internet of things (IoT) will spread to 50% of all networked devices through machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and that the internet will reach 5.3 billion people, compared to 3.9 billion in 2018.

“There is a lot of growth that still can happen from a user perspective,” said Shruti Jain, senior analyst with Cisco.  “Machine-to-machine is going to grow phenomenally,” she added.

Note 1.  Cisco’s Annual Internet Report was formerly titled Visual Networking Index or VNI)

Global Internet user growth

Figure 1.  Global Internet user growth


Global device and connection growth

Figure 2.  Global device and connection growth

Cisco said that about 70% of the global population will have mobile-network-based connectivity by 2023, with the total number of mobile subscribers growing from 66% of the population in 2018 to 71% of the population (5.7 billion) by 2023. Of those, about 10% will be 5G connections by the end of the forecast period, with the number of global mobile devices rising from 8.8 billion in 2018 to 13.1 billion, with 1.4 billion of those being 5G-capable.

Global mobile subscriber growth

Figure 6.   Global Mobile subscriber growth

5G speeds are anticipated to be 13-times faster than the average mobile connection speed: 575 Mbps by 2023.   Ms. Jain noted that as mobile network speeds approach those of wireline networks, it opens up new possibilities for mobile applications.

“Soon, those speeds are going to get very close to WiFi and [wired] broadband speeds, and be able to support a lot of new applications and experiences,” she said.


Other key findings from the 2020 Cisco AIR:

-The number of devices per person will continue to rise, from 2.4 networked devices per-capita in 2018 to 3.6 devices by 2023.

-The number of public WiFi hot spots will increase fourfold by 2023, to nearly 628 million.

-Almost 300 million mobile applications will be downloaded by 2023, with the most popular ones being social media, gaming and business applications.

-Power users’ impact is dwindling. Cisco found that globally, the top 1% of mobile data users accounted for 5% of mobile data in 2019. That has dropped significantly since 2010, when the top 1% of mobile users accounted for 52% of mobile data usage.

Increasing video definition: By 2023, 66 percent of connected flat-panel TV sets will be 4K

Figure 3. Increasing video usage: By 2023, 66 percent of connected flat-panel TV sets will be 4K


Summary: Multi-domain innovation and integration redefines the Internet

Throughout the forecast period (2018 – 2023), network operators and IT teams will be focused on interconnecting all the different domains in their diverse infrastructures – access, campus/branch, IoT/OT, wide-area, data center, co-los, cloud providers, service providers, and security. By integrating these formerly distinct and siloed domains, IT can reduce complexity, increase agility, and improve security. The future of the Internet will establish new connectivity requirements and service assurance levels for users, personal devices and IoT nodes, all applications (consumer and business), via any network access type (fixed broadband, Wi-Fi, and cellular) with dynamic security. Through our research and analysis, we anticipate innovation and growth in the following strategic areas.

Applications: Across virtually every business sector, there is an increased demand for new or enhanced applications that improve customer experiences. The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and business analytics are changing how developers build smart applications to simplify customer transactions and deliver new business insights. Businesses and service organizations need to understand evolving demands and deliver exceptional customer experiences by leveraging technology.

Infrastructure transformation: The rapid growth of data and devices is outpacing many IT teams’ capabilities and manual approaches won’t allow them to keep up. Increased IT automation, centrally and remotely managed, is essential for businesses to keep pace in the digital world. Service providers and enterprises are exploring software-defined everything, as well as intent-driven and context-powered infrastructures that are designed to support future application needs and flexibility.

Security: Cybersecurity is a top priority for all who rely on the Internet for business and personal online activities. Protect every surface, detect fast and remediate confidently. Protecting digital assets and content encompasses an ever-expanding digital landscape. Organizations need the actionable insights and scalable solutions to secure employees’ devices, IoT connections, infrastructure and proprietary data.

Empowering employees and teams: To achieve business agility and prepare employees for the future, empowering global work forces with the right tools is a must. Automation, collaboration and mobility are essential for managing IT complexity and new customer expectations and demands. Business teams, partners and groups in all types of organizations need to collaborate seamlessly across all application mediums that are relevant to various roles and responsibilities. Employees and teams need accurate and actionable data to solve problems and create new growth strategies.


For more information:

Several interactive tools are available to help you create custom highlights and forecast charts by region, by country, by application, and by end-user segment (refer to the Cisco Annual Internet Report Highlights tool). Inquiries can be directed to [email protected].




NYC will build Power over Ethernet-based IoT system to track traffic & reboot as needed

New York City [1] officials will put Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches at 10,000 intersections in order to remotely repair dysfunctional stoplights.  City traffic engineers are working with vendor Transition Networks (Minneapolis, MN) to build PoE systems in which a single cable can power a number of device such as VoIP phones, IP cameras and wireless access points, the city said.

Note 1.  NYC is this author’s home town (he grew up in Manhattan). This seems to be a very real and useful IoT project!


PoE systems pass electric power and data on single cable to various devices, including wireless access points, IP cameras, and VoIP phones. The Managed Hardened Gigabit PoE+ Switch from Transition is designed for outdoor environments and can supply up to 30 watts per port on all eight ports simultaneously.

The switches power cameras and sensors at intersections. The cameras track traffic and pedestrian flows while the sensors count cars and support the city’s Connected Vehicle project. The data is transmitted to the city’s traffic monitoring center.


Transition Networks, a unit of Communications Systems, provides services and devices for security and surveillance, data center networking, business Ethernet, Fiber-to-the-Desk and wireless backhaul. Customers include enterprises, integrators, service providers, federal agencies, and the military.

According to a company press statement, “This application brings intelligent transportation infrastructure citywide and reinforces the relevance and timeliness of Transition Networks’ strategy of developing smart city Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Transition Networks is working with a major North American telecommunication services company on the deployment of the solution.”

Anita Kumar, a director of product management and software engineering at Transition Networks, said in a news release.”Installing smart devices across cities allows transit agencies to enact changes that improve safety and traffic flow.  Our solution provides the power and connection to make it all possible. Smart device installation will grow in importance as transit agencies look to improve service, create efficiencies and increase quality of life for growing cities.”

Transition Networks Switch Technology Powers Traffic Cameras

Photo courtesy of Transition Networks


The Connection Vehicle project will support Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries and reduce damage to vehicles and infrastructure. The NYC deployment uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and infrastructure-to-pedestrian (IVP) communications. V2V communications include blind spot and lane change warnings. V2I communications track cars that speed and run red lights. IVP alerts include warnings to cars when people are in a crosswalk and guidance to blind pedestrians via cell phones.

The new system includes a reboot feature. When there is a problem with a traffic signal, a technician goes out to check the device and reset it manually. Transportation officials will use this new system to reset the devices remotely, without having to close lanes and stop traffic.

Transition’s Device Management System (DMS) software also creates an interactive map of all connected devices, making it easier for city engineers to identify problems in the system.  (DMS) software creates an interactive map to see all connected devices, enabling the agency to pinpoint issues and quickly take action. DMS has been an important function for several smart city projects including an installation at New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge.

Transition Networks, “Currently, if a device stops working at an intersection, the agency must take multiple actions prior to deploying a repair technician. This includes scheduling a technician to evaluate the issue and deploying a bucket truck to reach the device. Once the technician is at the site, the lane closures cause significant stress and traffic delays for motorists. Many times the fix only requires a reboot of the device. Transition Networks’ Auto Power Reset (APR) feature provides the ability to remotely reboot or manage Transition Networks’ equipment fixing the issue within minutes and eliminating all of the lane closure requirements. This feature alone will save the agency significant costs and lessen traffic disruptions by reducing the need to send a technician to inspect equipment.”


New York City is counting on these new tools and data collection to improve safety, traffic management and transportation citywide.

New York needs all the help it can get with trafficUber and Lyft have increased traffic congestion and trucks deliver 1.5 million packages from Amazon to city residents every day. In Manhattan, the average speed is 7 mph, about 23% slower than 10 years ago.





Newsweek: We’re Surrounded by Billions of Internet-connected (IoT) Devices. Can We Trust Them?

by Adam Piore

In 2009, just as consumers had begun to buy wifi-enabled thermostats and front-door cams and other early devices that now make up the “Internet of Things,” computer scientist Ang Cui had gotten the idea to scan the Web for “trivially vulnerable” embedded devices.

By trivial, he meant those devices that still carried the usernames and pass codes programmed into them at the factory—obvious usernames like “name” and passcodes like “1234.” Many of these codes were published in manuals available freely on the internet and easily scanned automatically with computer programs, so there was no need even to guess.

When he did his scan, Cui found more than one million vulnerable, publicly accessible devices in 144 countries. From this sample, he estimated that about 13 percent of all devices connected to the internet were essentially unlocked doors, waiting for a hacker to walk through. Even more alarming, four months later 96 percent of those devices had the same security holes.

Cui’s warning was no less terrifying for its deadpan delivery: “Widely deployed and often mis-configured, embedded network devices constitute highly attractive targets for exploitation.”

In the decade since, the number of vulnerable devices connected to the internet has increased sevenfold. The explosion comes from growing demand, fueled by hype, for smart devices. Manufacturers are now tripping over themselves to embed just about every ordinary object, it seems, with tiny computers that happily communicate wirelessly with the world around them. In this “smart” revolution, virtually any device with an on/off switch or up/down button can be controlled remotely with a cellphone or voice sensor. Do you want to turn up the heat, dim the lights and run the dryer without getting up off the sofa—simply by uttering your desire to an Amazon Echo? Do you want your toaster to send a message to the television when the bagel has popped? Do you want your oven to inform you that the casserole has cooked for the prescribed 20 minutes at 350 degrees and is now cooling in the kitchen at 200? The Internet of Things can make all such things happen.

There’s a dark side to this wireless-driven revolution in convenience. The danger goes beyond hacking. Unlike the traditional “Internet of Computers,” which is confined to a circumscribed digital “virtual” world, the Internet of Things has a direct connection to the physical one. That opens up a disturbing set of questions: What might happen if the computers inside our new-fangled toaster ovens, security cameras or smart cities were turned against us? Can we really trust the Internet of Things? Most cybersecurity experts are unequivocal in their answer to that last question. “No,” says Ben Levine, senior director, product management, cryptography at Rambus, a Sunnyvale, CA-based technology company, specializing in the performance and protection of data. “My short answer, right now, is ‘no’.”

Unlike the “Internet of Computers,” which has been created largely by technicians with a background in information technology or computer science, many manufacturers making the devices now lack the expertise necessary to build airtight systems. Some don’t realize the importance of doing so. As a result, the possibilities for mischief seem endless—a fact Cui and other cybersecurity mavens have demonstrated on multiple occasions.

Is your vibrator cheating on you?

Some of the more creative of these exploits in recent months come from the lab of Alvaro Cardenas, who challenged his students at the University of Texas at Dallas last year to crack a wide array of IoT devices. Among other things, they managed to turn on and hijack a drone and demonstrate they could use it to attack an innocent victim, Kamikaze-style, or to stream video and audio of a neighbor. They hacked into a popular children’s toy—a small, talking dinosaur networked to the internet so it could receive updates. Then they demonstrated they could take over the toy and use it to insult the child, instigate inappropriate conversations (using the trusted voice of the toy) or tell the child what to do. They showed they could take control of internet-connected cameras to spy on households. They even identified the existence of “sensitive devices”—vibrators—sometimes used by overseas military personnel to have remote virtual relations with their partners. Not only were they able to obtain private usage information, they warned it was possible to impersonate a “trusted partner” and “commit remote sexual assault.”

Cardenas reported their findings to device manufacturers and the CERT Coordination Center, a federally funded non-profit R & D group that works with business and government to improve the security of the internet. Then he submitted a paper to IEEE, a professional association for electronic engineering and electrical engineering, which published their findings in a special issue this fall.

“These attacks show how IoT technologies are challenging our cultural assumptions about security and privacy and will hopefully motivate more emphasis on the security and privacy practices of IoT developers and designers,” they wrote. (After the paper was published, all the manufacturers responded and attempted to fix the vulnerabilities, except for the drone companies).

Force multiplier

By the end of 2018, more than 23 billion IoT devices had been installed globally. Many consumers buying these smart devices currently don’t bother to hook them up to their WiFi, which means they’re essentially offline and out of reach of hackers. But that may change as manufacturers continue to tout the benefits of connectivity. And the number of devices is expected to more than triple, to 75 billion, by 2025.

The sheer number of vulnerable devices gives hackers powerful leverage. The Mirai attack of 2016, which may have been inspired by Cui’s original paper, illustrates how dangerous the threat has grown. Paras Jha, a quiet, socially awkward college dropout from New Jersey, ran a lucrative business renting space on his own private computer server to fellow aficionados of the video-game Minecraft, so they could play privately with their friends. It sounds pleasant, but the business is cutthroat. A common tactic of Jha and his rivals was to hack into the home computers of unsuspecting people, hijack them with malware and instruct them to send torrents of unwanted messages and data to the machines of their rivals, overwhelming them and hopefully shutting them down—known as a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS). Unsuspecting customers, frustrated by the “unreliable” service, were then easy targets for poaching.

In 2016, Jha and two Minecraft friends he’d met online decided to do his rivals one better. They hacked not only desktop computers but also the myriad security cameras, wireless routers, digital video recorders, household appliances and other IoT devices. Like Cui before him, Jha and his friends wrote a program that scanned the internet to locate vulnerable devices. But unlike Cui, they actually planted malware on the machine and took control of them. Leveraged by the proliferation of smart devices, Jha’s zombie bot army grew faster than he could have imagined–by the end of the first day, he had appropriated 65,000 devices; by some estimates his zombie army reached 600,000.

The attack, nicknamed “Mirai” (“the future”) after a Japanese television series, was so powerful that Jha wasn’t content with taking down his small-fry Minecraft rivals. He also trained the new weapon on the huge French telecom provider OVH, which hosted a popular tool that his rivals relied on to defend themselves against his attacks. Eventually, the cops took notice. Jha was fined $8.6 million and 2,500 hours of community service working for the FBI.

Cui, now the 36-year-old founder and CEO of Red Balloon Security, often gives talks at hacker conferences wearing a tee-shirt, a bead necklace, and a man bun and makes a good living advising companies how to protect themselves in a hostile cyber-world. He continues to marvel at how little has been done to patch not just the vulnerability his paper identified but also many others that he believes could arguably cause even more damage. While the security firms serving large well-financed companies like those targeted in the Mirai attacks have come up with new ways to defend client servers against DDoS attacks, many manufacturers of IoT devices are doing little if anything to protect the rest of us from cyber mischief—not just zombie device conscription, but also spying, sabotage and exploits that security experts argue should raise profound privacy and safety concerns.

What accounts for the neglect, Cui believes, is a gold-rush mentality to grab market share in the burgeoning IoT device business. Over the last five years, the hype over IoT has become so hot that many VC-funded startups in the consumer-device field—and even some major manufacturers—are adding internet connectivity, rushing their products to market, and resolving to fix any security flaws later. Some haven’t even thought about security at all. “You have to put in the time and resources to care about security,” says Cui. “But there’s a lot of VC money, and they want to very quickly roll out a thing that has an IoT feature that they think the market might like.”

The money is primarily spent to develop new devices. “The problem at the moment is that there’s really no incentive for security,” Cardenas told Newsweek. “Security usually gets in the back burner of these products.” Most consumers aren’t aware of the dangers and aren’t demanding protection. And the device manufacturers are under no obligation to provide it.

In a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Manos Antonakakis, an associate professor in the school of electrical and computer engineering, and research scientist Omar Alrawi, have also been probing the gaping security vulnerabilities of the emerging IoT. Antonakakis notes that while there’s a class of well-known vendors that “at least try to get the security right in some cases,” even large manufacturers are under pressure to rush new IoT products onto the current market. “It takes a lot of quality assurance and testing, and penetration analysis and vulnerability analysis to get it right,” he says. But the rush to market “comes into violent disagreements with proven security practices.”

Many of the largest tech companies have invested heavily in tapping into the market for “smart home” devices, one of the fastest growing areas for IoT devices. Amazon is among those dominating the market for smart hubs, along with Google, which purchased the digital thermostat maker Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion. Google has since expanded it to become a digital hub that also includes smoke detectors and security systems like smart doorbells and locks. Samsung has the SmartThings hub, which it acquired in 2014 for $200 million, and now connects to air conditioners, washers and TVs. Apple has a home kit which can control any number of devices through voice commands delivered in range of its HomePod.

Gaping vulnerabilities

Once these systems are installed, devices from a growing number of companies can be added to the home network, including those made by well-known home appliance manufacturers like GE, Bosch and Honeywell. Belkin makes a line of connected appliances that includes a Crock-Pot WeMo Smart Slow Cooker, smart Mr. Coffee maker and a smart home humidifier. There’s a lot of money to be made. All told by the end of 2019, more than $490 billion in profits will have been earned on the nearly 2 billion consumer devices sold over the previous 12 months, according to the property management consulting firm iProperty Management.

To try to draw attention to the dangers—and the things consumers should be asking questions about when buying new IoT products—Antonakakis and Alrawi, in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have developed a rating system and begun evaluating the security of a wide array of IoT devices. And surprisingly they found gaping vulnerabilities in devices and systems produced by even some of the most tech-savvy companies.

The vulnerability of IoT devices goes well beyond holes in password protection, the vulnerability exposed by the Mirai attack, they argue. IoT devices can also be accessed and taken over directly through the home network they are connected to, and that home network is only as strong as its weakest link. That means that even if each device comes with a unique password and username, it’s not necessarily secure. Once hackers find a way onto the home network through one vulnerable device, the path is often wide open to the rest of the network.

To secure an IoT device, they argue, manufacturers need to patch vulnerabilities in four different areas : direct access to the device itself, the mobile app used to run it, the way it communicates with its home network and, in many cases, the cloud-based server that manufacturers use to push out updates, collect user data, or provide new services.

Getting all that right is not easy. For a vendor to secure all four parts, Alrawi notes, it needs a good mobile-app developing team “that knows secure development,” a “system team that does very good embedded system development and secure development” and cloud experts who can design a secure cloud “backend” that allows the device to be managed without exposing it to additional risk. Finally, the device manufacturers need somebody who has network knowledge on how to build efficient and secure internet protocols and what protocols to avoid.

“They have to balance all this with usability,” he says “So you can see that this is already getting really hard to manage just mentally. When a startup team that comes up with this great idea wants to push a product to market, they’re usually a small team that doesn’t have all this expertise. But even with big vendors, some of these problems are really hard to pin down and manage.”

Indeed, while Antonakakis, Alrawi and their team give relatively high marks for device security to the mainstream products like the Amazon Echo and the Belkin Netcam, they gave them Cs, Ds, and Fs for network security—a measure of how protected these devices are from intruders who manage to access the home wireless network through other vulnerable devices. And while a number of devices associated with Google‘s Nest smart home products (like thermostats, smoke detectors, smart locks and doorbells) receive As and Bs for device and network security, they got Cs and Ds for mobile and cloud protections—meaning a resourceful hacker intent on say, unlocking the front door, could still access a home.

The cloud category is the most worrisome. Since many of these services are cloud based and connected to central company servers, if a determined, well-financed hacker—say, China, North Korea or Russia—were to use the same kind of sophisticated exploits they have used to bypass security on the traditional internet of computers, there’s no telling what they might do.

“You’re talking about getting access to potentially millions of people’s homes, and when that happens, think about all of the microphones and cameras and actuators that you have around your house, and multiply that out by all the people who use these things,” Cui says.

“Many consumers don’t fully understand the risks associated with installing some of these devices in their homes,” adds Alrawi.

Until they do, the situation is unlikely to change. Many experts wonder how big a price we will have to pay before that happens. “It’s a mess,” says David Kennedy, a cybersecurity expert who designs security for a wide array of manufacturers and has testified before Congress on the IoT. “An absolute mess. We’re going into this very blind, without a lot of security discussions around what the impacts are going to be to our lives and to our safety.”

Kennedy, whose current title is CEO of the company TrustedSec, has hacked into his share of devices over the years to make a point, including smart TVs, thermostats, smart fridges, robotic house cleaners and controllers that are connected to the energy grid. But Kennedy’s biggest concern at the moment is in the area of automotive safety.

There have already been some cautionary tales. In 2015, Fiat Chrysler had to issue a safety recall affecting 1.4 million vehicles in the United States so it could patch software vulnerabilities, after two security researchers hacked into the internet-connected entertainment system of a Jeep Cherokee carrying a magazine reporter, took control of the vehicle, blasted the radio and AC, then brought traffic to a standstill in the middle of a freeway.

The problem, says Kennedy, is that most cars have scores of different pieces of technology in them, many of which are connected directly to the internet to allow them to transmit data needed for preventive maintenance. But the manufacture of these different IoT devices is often subcontracted out to scores of different contractors, which makes it logistically difficult to provide security updates and patches when new security vulnerabilities are discovered. (He pointed to Tesla as the major exception because, he argues, it is “a software manufacturer first and car manufacturer second,” and thus knows how to build secure systems.)

The idea of regularly pushing out preventive security updates to patch newly discovered vulnerabilities in IoT-networked cars—a standard practice for products like Microsoft windows and the Apple iPhone—is new and has not yet been incorporated into the automotive industry. “I can’t talk about which car manufacturers I’ve done assessment work for, but I can tell you that I’ve worked for a number of them, and security practices need a lot of work,” he says. “They’re not pushing patches out to the cars, which makes them extremely vulnerable to specific attacks—everything from eavesdropping in your car to driving them off the road.”

The nightmare scenario is a mass fleet takeover, where a bad actor hacks different cars across the world to cause mass mayhem. “That’s definitely something that’s possible now with these interconnected cars, no question about it,” Kennedy says. “Someone will lose their life and then eventually they’ll kind of knee jerk into fixing the whole industry. I think that’s what it will take to change the mentality of car manufacturers.”

Lawmakers in some jurisdictions are beginning to wade into the murky waters of IoT regulation. In January, California will become the first state to implement an IoT security law. The bill, passed in 2018 with a January 2020 deadline, will require companies that make connected devices to equip them with “reasonable security features,” explicitly requiring that each device come with either a unique passcode or require the user to generate one before using the IoT device for the first time—taking aim at patching the vulnerability exploited so successfully in the Mirai exploit and the copycat attacks that have followed. Beyond that, however, the law seems to have been written to be purposely vague, allowing room for further state guidance in the future.

Cybersecurity experts have called on the Federal government in the U.S. to step in to regulate the industry. The U.S. House of Representatives last March introduced a bill, for the third session in a row, that would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop recommended standards for IoT devices, and would assign the Office of Management and Budget (OMB ) the task of issuing guidance to agencies that aligns with NIST‘s requirements. The law would also require NIST to offer guidance on vulnerability disclosure and report on IoT cybersecurity threats.

Two and half years ago, NIST started a program to look at the issue and this past summer solicited public comment on a voluntary set of minimum “baseline” security functions that any internet capable device should offer, whether it is intended for consumers, businesses or federal agencies, says Katerina “Kat” Megas NIST program manager, Cybersecurity for Internet of Things.

Among them, every single device must have a unique number or identifier associated with it that shows up on the network, which would make it easy to locate quickly and unplug the source of any problems that arise—a feature that many IoT devices currently do not offer. Other features would manage access to each device through secure methods of user authentication; protect data by encrypting it; and provide secure updates and log cyber-events so investigators can track how problems develop.

Few experts have illusions these measures will solve the problem soon. The standards would be voluntary. And even if Congress were to enact laws mandating security standards, a profound security vulnerability would remain: users themselves.

“No matter how strong your system is, it’s only as strong as your weakest link—and the weakest link is always the human,” says Jason Glassberg, cofounder of Casaba Security, a leading cybersecurity firm. “The largest breaches, the largest attacks for the most part have not been because of some super significantly technical attack. It’s been because someone’s been fooled into giving up their credentials. They’ve been fooled into clicking on a link which installed malware or asked them to provide their password. And it certainly doesn’t change in the Internet of Things world.

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