Smart Building

IoT Technology Scores Big in Smart Stadium Designs

Create: 12/06/2016 - 12:00

Stadiums are stepping up their game for fans by adding in-stadium audio and video, digital signage, mobile apps for transportation and concessions, and loads of network bandwidth. San Francisco 49er fans don’t have nearly as much to brag about this season as their fans across the bay in Raider Nation do. But they do have one bright spot that outshines every team in the NFL: the most high-tech sports venue in the world, Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

Named Venue of Year by the Stadium Business Awards in Barcelona, Spain, Levi’s Stadium is a prime example of a booming smart stadium trend. According to a new forecast from ASD Reports, the smart stadium market will grow from $4.62 billion in 2016 to $17.32 billion by 2021. ASD estimates the smart stadium market to have a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30.2 percent, attributing that high growth to increased frequencies of national and international sports events and an escalating number of government initiatives for smart building projects.

Another driver of growth is the focus from teams and event sponsors on increasing fan engagement, especially at big-ticket events such as NFL football and international soccer matches. The report notes that smart stadiums want to offer an “unforgettable customer experience,” which demands the deployment of smart technologies. That typically includes high-bandwidth networks, mobile apps with replay and integrated payment systems for souvenirs and food, location and crowd-mapping sensors and software, and transportation and parking solutions.

Content Management for an MVP

Service providers with digital signage skills will be happy to hear this news: ASD analysts estimate that digital content management will be the fastest-growing software segment in smart stadiums. That includes audio and video management, digital signage and mobile and Web content management. The report states that “the factors driving this sector include opportunities for audience segmentation and monetization, improvement in workflow and automation tools for buyers and sellers, and increased focus on Big Data analysis that can be used to enhance the customer experience.”

The report lists a handful of technology vendors that will be the major players in smart stadium development. The shortlist includes Cisco, Fujitsu, GP Smart Stadium, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (China), IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls, NEC Corp, Tech Mahindra Ltd. (India) and Volteo.

High-speed Bandwidth FTW

For Levi’s Stadium, one of the goals of adding layers of technology was to create a personalized fan experience that was richer and more entertaining than ever before. In an article in Time, the President of the San Francisco 49ers, Al Guido, notes that the amount of action that takes place in an average NFL football game is only about 15 minutes. The 49ers wanted to count on the stadium technology to deliver a connected experience at the game that turns downtime into screen time, giving fans access to stats, replays, concessions, team gear and other media, including promotions.

To do that, Levi’s Stadium built a showcase of network technology to support its own video devices and fans’ mobile devices. Costing $1.2 billion, Levi’s Stadium has 1.85 million square feet, seats approximately 68,500 and features 165 luxury suites and 8,500 club seats. It has 400 miles of cabling, 70 miles of which are dedicated to connecting the 1,200 distributed antenna systems that serve the Wi-Fi routers, strategically placed to serve every 100 seats throughout the stadium.

The technology roster for the stadium includes Aruba Networks (an HPE company), Brocade, Comcast (backbone bandwidth supplier), Intel and SAP.  DAS Group Professionals built the distributed antenna system (DAS) that brings advanced cellular connectivity inside the gates. Sony’s technology is at the center of the control room, which manages the video for the 2,000 Sony TVs in the venue, as well as the larger 70-inch 4K TVs in the suites and the two giant LED displays in each end zone.

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Photo credit: GeekWire.com, Sports Tech

Levi’s Stadium has a 40 Gbps backbone, easily scalable to accommodate event attendance, which is 40 times more Internet bandwidth capacity than any other U.S. stadium, and four times greater than the standard for NFL stadiums mandated by the league. According to supplier Aruba Networks (an HPE company), on an average NFL game day, the Wi-Fi network moves more than 2.3 TB of traffic, and serves up thousands of video replays while continuously exceeding 1Gbps of traffic for more than two hours. 

The stadium also has 1,700 high-tech beacons for Bluetooth connectivity. They are used to give fans pinpoint directions to their seats as well as to any other place in the stadium. They are also used to enhance the fan experience, sending alerts about specials from concessions and other in-stadium promotions.

Food, Gear, Parking, and Tickets via the Stadium App

The Levi’s® Stadium app, which works on smartphones and tablets, is integral to the fan experience at the smart stadium. Developed by VenueNext, the app features mobile tickets and parking passes, mobile ordering of food and beverages (with delivery to a fan’s seat or express line pickup), wayfinding to help fans navigate around the stadium, and a game center for high-definition video replays.

Levi's Stadium smart app

Photo credit: Levi’s® Stadium app, Apple App Store, developed by VenueNext

Fans can also enter the parking lot and stadium using their mobile device, which links to the Levi’s® Stadium Account Manager. The developers added one other important feature: It can guide fans to the closest bathroom with the shortest lines.

Live Action Energy Infrastructure

The stadium design also includes smart energy features. One of the most unique energy-generating features of the facility is the green roof atop the suite tower on the west side of the stadium. The three solar bridges, connecting the main parking area to the stadium, include hundreds of solar panels. The stadium self-consumes PV-electricity generated from its three NRG Energy solar-paneled pedestrian bridges and its one solar-paneled roof deck—the NRG Solar Terrace.

And if Colin Kaepernick isn’t providing enough action for fans, they can post up to the energy dashboard and monitor a real-time, play-by-play of the smart stadium infrastructure. Stadium guests can view a live display near the 49ers Team Store that features current energy measurements, water and air monitors, and other dynamic features of the building operations. 

Learn more about the stadium at www.levisstadium.com/about-levis-stadium/ or on Twitter at @LevisStadium.

The ASD Smart Stadium market report is available for purchase at https://www.asdreports.com/market-research-report-310947/smart-stadium-market-global-forecast.

Intel and GE Smart LEDs Are Newest Bright Spot in IoT Market

Create: 11/20/2016 - 12:00
LED lights for smart city, iQ by Intel

(Photo Credit: iQ by Intel)

 

 

Robots, drones, VR headsets and other innovative devices often steal the IoT headlines. But sometimes it’s the most common piece of hardware where embedded IoT sensors can be the most useful—and have the largest market opportunity. GE and Intel have identified that hot spot for development: the smart light bulb.

An estimated 2.5 billion light bulbs are sold each year, according to Statisticbrain.com. While many bulbs are three-trick ponies that users can only turn on, off or dim, the newest generation of bulbs are about to get many watts smarter, according to GE.

“Light bulbs are destined to become an essential fixture in the IoT revolution,” says Tony Neal-Graves, Vice President of the Intel Industry IoT Group, in an interview with GE Reports.

Intelligent Networked Lighting

The current generation of LED bulbs uses a solid state semiconductor chip that glows when electrical current runs through it. Compared to incandescent bulbs, they use 80 percent less energy and can last 15 times longer, according to GE. Now IoT engineers are making smart LED lights that have on-board sensors, computing and communications capabilities.

These smart bulbs will play a role in better, more efficient lighting solutions that are brighter and use less energy. The real impact will be their usage in intelligent street lamps that can make cities, parking garages, office buildings and factories smarter and connected.

John Gordon, Chief Digital Officer at GE’s Current energy division, explained at the Intel Developer Forum how GE partnered with Intel to create street light solutions targeted for smart cities that want to use their street lamps for more than just light, but also for collecting data. The intelligent street lamps have sensors to measure humidity and temperature, along with a microphone for monitoring noise levels and a camera.

The intelligent lighting can deliver metadata, including the number of people that pass by and their speed and direction. Cities can use this data for pedestrian flow management and safety. The real-time data collected from the smart lampposts can also help people find parking, assist with traffic control management and help the city monitor environmental concerns, such as pollution and overall air quality.

Shedding Light on Air Quality

Smart streetlamps that can measure air quality are important in cities such as San Diego, where monitoring air quality is top of mind. The busy Port of San Diego has to meet California’s ambitious environmental mandates and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

When researching ways to meet the goals of the Port’s Climate Action Plan, the city met with Cleantech San Diego. That group brought together several IoT contactors and service providers to develop a system of sensors and data analytics that could track air quality and energy consumption across the port.

Monitoring Occupancy

An added benefit of smart lighting is its usage in office buildings to monitor occupancy. By doing so, the lights can be programmed to send alerts that can regulate room temperature, so businesses won’t waste energy heating or cooling empty spaces.

More importantly, the smart lighting can send data that can be used to help people find the nearest available meeting room. An employee could pull up an app or go online and see open meeting rooms, rather than roaming the halls looking for empty spaces.

Intel’s Santa Clara, CA, headquarters has a pilot program to test this functionality and is equipped with thousands of controllable LED lights, including many with the ability to sense occupancy. This pilot could extend to other Intel facilities, according to the company. By early 2017, Intel and GE expect to sell their lighting-based sensors for use in factories and offices.

Digital Signage Channel: Brimming with Opportunity

Create: 11/07/2016 - 12:00

 

 

 

Photo credit: Intel & Ingram Micro Digital Signage How to Sell Solutions Guide

A solution provider looking for new opportunities in IoT needs to search no further than the digital sign market. The technology is now proven, and new levels of interactivity are creating ways to put signs to work in any market, including retail, hospitality, entertainment, banking, education and healthcare.

Emerging standards make it easier to mix and match components, supporting solutions that are more cost-effective to implement and manage. With end-to-end bundles now available, a solution provider with limited technical expertise can enter the digital signage market and sell a fully supported, turnkey solution to a customer and amplify margins by providing ongoing management services.

This perfect storm in digital signage technology has created a booming marketplace that is primed and ready for solution providers to close the deals. Ingram Micro notes that the size of the digital sign market is estimated to be $35 billion in North America, with 40 percent of that revenue coming from services. Sales in display technology have skyrocketed, with upwards of 27 million displays shipped out this year among the leading brands, such as Samsung and LG, according to Ingram Micro. This figure represents double-digit annual growth.

Dropping Acquisition Costs

The allure of using digital signage solutions for businesses is fueled by a very important factor: acquisition costs have dropped, making smart signs an option for not only large businesses, but SMBs, who already represent as much as half of the total digital sign market.

According to estimates compiled by Intel and Ingram Micro, the average cost for a single sign in a 100-sign network is now just over $3,500. This includes a 40-inch screen, media player hardware/software, mounting brackets, installation, management and maintenance for three years. This represents a remarkable 58 percent drop in costs in less than 10 years.

For solution providers intending to move quickly into the market, Intel and Ingram Micro have built a Digital Signage Bundle that pays the solution provider a lease option incentive of $2,000 up front, while the customer pays an affordable $199 per month. And the signs themselves can provide recurring revenue streams. The Intel® software management technologies deliver ongoing cloud-based services for digital signs, allowing the business to push customized ads or other promotions directly to consumers.

The Money is in Mangement

The financial uptick for solutions providers comes in the form of digital sign management. The tools make it easier and less expensive than ever before to create and manage content. Any business can take advantage of off-the-shelf tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Paint. And content management systems such as the Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM), preloaded on the Intel® Next Unit of Computing (NUC) kit in the Ingram Digital Signage Bundle are specifically designed for SMB customers.

Margins for solution providers on the front-end hardware for digital sign bundles are typically between 4 to 8 percent, with other parts of the solution much higher, says Alex Khalil, Business Development Executive, Advanced Solutions at Ingram Micro. “Media players and content management can yield 30 to 40 percent margins, depending on how intensive the installation is.”

Finally, form factor has virtually disappeared as an obstacle to closing a sale. You can get a screen in any size, and they are thin and light. They can fit neatly into a small elevator, waiting room or other convenient location, with no super-sized wall necessary. Media players are also shrinking, and they are now small enough to snap into the back of a display. For example, the Intel® NUC kit measures less than five inches square.

To learn more, get the Intel/Ingram Micro Digital Signage How to Sell Solutions Guide.

For product listings and specs for the Intel and Ingram Micro Digital Signage Promo bundle, download the Digital Signage Solution Brief.

IoT Security Requirements for OT

Create: 10/24/2016 - 13:00

 The recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that took down a number of well-known websites was another in a string of wake up calls that are becoming more and more alarming. The October 21 attack was a follow up to a September attack, and both took advantage of vulnerabilities in home-connected IoT devices.

These attacks are making home users and operational technology (OT) users fearful as IoT devices become more prevalent on all types of networks. According to a security panel at a KMC conference in early October, the code written for these attacks is not advanced, but it does pose a threat due to its widespread availability. The hackers released the malware code online for the public, so anyone with bad intentions has a fast start to launching their own DDoS attack.

Home networks and OT networks share some attributes that make them easy targets for hackers, especially around security. Typically, the general attitude is that what happens on these networks is so mundane that no one would put resources into launching an attack. That cavalier thinking poses a real threat.

“The malware community is waiting for unprotected devices and openings,” says Jennifer Gilburg, director of strategy at Intel’s IOT Security Group. “Applying a few best practices from IT is a good start toward preventing these types of attacks.”

Adding Layers of Protection for IoT

Smart DVD players, Internet-enabled cameras and IP security systems are among the home devices that are easy prey for hackers. When home owners add this equipment to their networks they rarely change the manufacturers’ default password, or they choose a password that is much too easy to guess, such as their address, last name or 1234.

Home owners aren’t the only ones ignoring password-protection best practices. BMW took the easy path for security in its connected car and regretted it. The automaker assigned the vehicle identity number as its identification code, making it vulnerable to hacks during session management. 

“Simply changing the password can push the security posture up 90 percent,” said Gilburg.

As more devices join the OT network, managers can learn from what’s happening to home owners and make their networks safer with these extra precautions.

  • Change passwords (using a combination of a phrase, upper case and lower case letters, numbers and symbols is more secure than a word)
  • Schedule port scans
  • Create staging environments
  • Conduct reliability and remote PIN testing
  • Close all open ports
  • Allow hot code patching
  • Threat model every device
  • Create an access governance strategy
  • Consider PKI for authentication

Security Is a Safe IoT Entry Point for Solution Providers

This list is far from comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start. For longtime IT personnel, these practices are well known and common starting points when testing new network infrastructure. They are much less known within OT. Among OT providers at the conference, the gap between IT and OT is achingly wide. Many expressed the difficulty of finding someone in IT to help them with their IoT projects and a lack of understanding about IT security requirements.

Intel has developed an IoT reference architecture to bring intelligence to endpoint things by enabling edge analytics, standards compliance, and direct-connect cloud control. The vertical security layer (right) secures all layers, which is critical for satisfying the security tenet.

Intel Security architecture

Photo credit: Intel® IoT Platform Reference Architecture white paper

OT expects that manufacturers will build the necessary security into their solutions. But the OT manager often doesn’t have the expertise to test every integrated solution and may miss some security requirements that IT expects. The risk for managers—and the business—is real, as IoT projects are in danger of becoming delayed or possibly shut down if IoT devices do not meet IT security requirements. 

Solution providers who understand IT security can find a strong foothold in IoT deployments for industrial, smart building, manufacturing and other operational environments. Security is awash with acronyms and technologies that are unfamiliar to the managers leading these projects. Resources, such as the guidelines currently in development from the Department of Homeland Security, the Industrial Internet Consortium, OpenFog Consortium and others can help organizations begin to understand the layered approach that IT expects from IoT devices, architectures and deployments.

Reviewing IoT devices, designing secure IoT architectures, testing device security and educating the OT team on security are premium, high-margin services for solution providers in IoT deployments. In most cases, the decision makers (building and facility managers, line managers, quality control managers and operations managers) have no IT or security expertise and are looking for support, so they can move their IoT projects forward.        

Learn more about security on the Intel® IoT platform.

 

Connect the Dots: Intel’s BMP Brings Building Management to the Masses

Create: 10/20/2016 - 13:00

I initially wanted to use this space to talk more about why you need to cozy up to your nearest engineer, but that’ll have to wait. The debut of the Building Management Platform (BMP) by Intel earlier this month is just too important.

Many building management systems (BMSs) or building automation systems (BASs) are on the market, from the likes of Honeywell and Johnson Controls, but they’re generally reserved for large buildings where the cost of purchase and installation can be absorbed. Larger buildings also have higher energy costs, so the savings attributable to a properly configured BMS are significant, making energy management a chief driver of BMS installations.

Then there are the connectivity and security issues. Each device or system in a building can have its own interface bus, whether it be Ethernet, BACnet, x10, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or even older powerline communications technologies. Each interface has its own security management, but bringing them all together in a BMS adds a high level of risk. If compromised, the BMS becomes a hacker’s fast lane to everything in the building.

The cost and security concerns have kept smaller buildings from taking advantage of the IoT, but the Intel® Building Management Platform (Intel® BMP) is an attempt to change that by driving down the costs, simplifying installation and shoring up security.

Intel BMP solution

CANDI PowerTools plays a key role in the Intel® BMP as it provides technology agnostic protocol translation so any device can connect to the platform. (Source: Intel)

Demonstrated in June at IBCON, and announced formally on October 6, the Intel® BMP connects to the various building devices and systems, or “things” in a building, performs protocol translation, and sends their data to local servers or cloud-based services and applications. These then return business intelligence, analytics dashboards and other functions.

Five features set the platform apart, the first of which is CANDI PowerTools. This provides discovery tools and a drag-and-drop interface for installers – including IoT solution providers – to quickly find, provision and control devices, and start collecting their data.

CANDI’s very reason for being was to solve the interoperability challenge, and to do so it developed a technology-agnostic, open software translation layer that automatically coordinates data communications between the various devices. CANDI is continually updating its protocol list, along with those mentioned above, also handles X-Bee, UPnP, serial and Modbus.

Security and over-the-air updates

The other four features to take note of are:

  • Over-the-air updates
  • Security using McAfee Embedded Control
  • A trusted OS platform (Intel’s words)
  • Flexibility and choice

The trusted OS support comes courtesy of embedded Linux from Wind River, while the flexibility and choice comes through an Intel® BMP ecosystem that already has Microsoft (Azure IoT Hub) and Advantech (Advantech for Intel® IoT Gateways) as contributors, along with CANDI.

It’s hard to separate out the package and pick any one item as special, but the ability to handle over-the-air updates and its McAfee Embedded Control cyber security protection certainly stand out at a time of constant change and hacker concerns. For the updates, the platform communicates with a cloud service that remotely provisions, manages and maintains the software over-the-air with updates for protocol drivers, security patches and new features.

The new Intel® BMP is exciting because it gives even greater granularity to the data-gathering requirement for any building, large or small, so finer-grained control and monitoring is attainable. It also opens up a whole new market for IoT solution providers looking to expand into new areas. And who isn’t?

How IoT-Supercharged RFID is Helping Revolutionize Retail

Create: 10/02/2016 - 13:00

There’s no two ways about it, IoT is changing the way shoppers shop and retail merchants sell, and it’s achieving a lot of this by leveraging an older, tried and true technology—RFID.

Whether it’s more accurately tracking inventory, increasing location visibility or bringing virtual and physical shopping experiences together, IoT-powered RFID is playing a big role in revolutionizing the retail market. While near-field communication (NFC) may be gaining ground, it’s oldie-but-goodie RFID that is reliably delivering big value. 

As an IoT solution provider, you already know that the IoT market is growing—quickly. According to Gartner, IoT is one of the fastest growing technology trends, with estimates that the number of Internet connected objects will reach 20.8 billion by the year 2020. One of the leading adopters—and beneficiaries—of IoT, is retailers. Gartner predicts that of the 20.8 billion connected “things,” a full 13.5 billion will be coming from the consumer sector.

Retailers are already realizing significant benefits from the deployment of IoT technologies, with a meaningful portion of those benefits coming from leveraging IoT-powered RFID solutions.

Improving the Supply Chain

While ensuring accurate inventory seems like a pretty standard objective, when you consider the problems inaccurate inventory causes, it becomes clear that inventory rightfully warrants a lot of attention. According to a Computerworld report, inventory problems cost the retail industry more than $1 trillion annually. Insufficient visibility into inventory creates a multitude of problems. RFID has been shown to increase inventory accuracy by over 30 percent, from an average of 63 percent to 95 to 99 percent, according to the RFID Lab at Auburn University.

IoT-powered RFID solutions not only provide companies with more granular control over their inventories, they allow retailers to tap into rich analytics that can enable brick and mortar locations to better serve customers. Solutions like the Intel® Retail Sensor Platform (Intel® RSP) and the SAP Dynamic Edge Processing platform can take in the RFID derived data, analyze it and deliver actionable insights to sales associates’ devices. Which means that a customer who comes in asking for a certain product, that had been listed as in-stock online, can be helped by an employee who no longer has to waste precious time finding the desired item—or worse yet, failing to find it at all. According to the RFID Lab, item-level RFID improves inventory labor productivity by 96 percent.

Better Together: Marrying Physical and Virtual

Item-level IoT-powered RFID is also helping retailers achieve channel integration.  Internet connectivity in-store makes it possible for much more data to be shared, both between things, and between people and things.  

One recent example of leveraging item-level IoT-powered RFID to learn more about customers shopping habits could be seen in Levi’s flagship store in San Francisco. With the help of Intel RFID tags and tools and services from its Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP), Levi’s transformed the physical storefront into an information-gathering superstore. The company attached RFID tags onto every article of clothing on the shop’s floor, through which the Intel® devices fed data to the TAP cloud-based analytics engines.

Intel and Levi’s showed how, by leveraging IoT-enabled RFID, retailers can track everything from inventory status to item popularity to purchase data. Even a shopper’s physical movements could be tracked, enabling the ability to measure the time between the product being taken off the shelf to the time of purchase. They could also record the customer’s dwell time on specific products, giving them insight into future promotional opportunities.

The best time to get a customer to purchase goods is when they’re in the store. The more information stores can glean from customer actions, the more retailers can tailor their shopping experience to ensure the sale. In some cases it could be as simple as sending an associate to a patron who is spending an inordinate amount of time at a particular end cap—a human touch delivered at a crucial moment, thanks to IoT-enabled RFID data.

IoT-powered RFID = A “Smart” Investment

Seeing all the benefits retailers are reaping simply by using Internet connectivity to better leverage this familiar technology, it makes sense that so many merchants are getting on the IoT train. According to a recent Retail Systems Research (RSR) report, 72 percent of retailers surveyed reported they currently had IoT-related projects underway.

With all the evidence illustrating the advantages of IoT, RFID related and otherwise, the implications are clear—it’s adopt, or be left behind. IoT is a big opportunity for retailers that they can’t afford to miss. 

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