Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Private 5G; cybersecurity M&A; Tencent jobs.


Internet of Things
What’s better than a 5G network? How about a local, private 5G network? The Industrial Internet of Things may drive the development of such networks. Of course, 5G cellular communications technology is still being worked out worldwide. BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen are looking ahead to the future; those automotive manufacturers notified Germany’s Federal Network Agency that they are interested in operating local 5G networks to enhance the cybersecurity of their facilities. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is developing 5G New Radio tech for private Industrial IoT networks. “We’re inventing new 5G technologies that will bring new capabilities and opportunities for private industrial networks, such as replacing wired industrial Ethernet for reconfigurable factories with our ultra-reliable, ultra-low-latency 5G NR link,” the chip company says on its website.

Gemalto this week debuted its Cinterion narrowband-IoT wireless module platform. The company has been using the product in China and touts how it could provide energy-efficient 5G connectivity to other markets. The platform has an integrated eSIM card to authenticate IoT devices, encrypt data, and make secure connections to cellular networks. The Gemalto Cinterion ENS22 NB-IoT wireless module is aimed at developers in the European and Asia/Pacific regions.

The U.S. midterm elections apparently went off without much of a hitch on Tuesday, although Facebook revealed on the eve of the election that it blocked 85 Instagram accounts in English and 30 Facebook accounts in French and Russian. The social network was tipped by U.S. law enforcement on Sunday night that the accounts may be the work of foreign actors. The accounts were later attributed by Facebook to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked company in Saint Petersburg, Russia, commonly known as a “troll farm,” spreading disinformation and propaganda for a variety of clients. Twitter deleted more than 10,000 automated accounts that purported to be from Democrats, circulating a false rumor that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would be at the polls to check the citizenship of voters. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that there were no signs that foreign adversaries had breached American voting systems as the midterms proceeded. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters, “At this time we have no indication of compromise to our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or distrust the ability to tally votes.”

It’s a good time to be in cybersecurity, given the hot-and-heavy mergers and acquisitions activity in the market. The big news of the week was that the Thoma Bravo private equity firm reportedly approached Symantec about a possible acquisition, according to Reuters. Their talks may not result in a transaction. Symantec in September added three representatives of the Starboard Value activist hedge fund to its board. Bain Capital and Silver Lake Partners are other investors in Symantec. Symantec has a market capitalization of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, Symantec acquired two companies, Appthority and Javelin Networks, to bolster its cybersecurity portfolio. Appthority was a Symantec Ventures portfolio company prior to the acquisition. Finally, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire the Veracode application security testing subsidiary of Broadcom for $950 million in cash; the transaction is expected to close before the end of the year. Veracode was part of CA Technologies, the software company that Broadcom acquired on Monday.

ForeScout Technologies purchased SecurityMatters for about $113 million in cash. SecurityMatters specializes in operational technology network protection.

Check Point Software Technologies reports a vulnerability in the website forum of SZ DJI Technology, the world’s largest supplier of consumer drones, enabled hackers to gain access to aerial video footage, flight paths, photos, and other data. The U.S. Army last year directed its soldiers and other personnel to stop using DJI-made drones and to uninstall all DJI-related software over security concerns. DJI offered a patch for the vulnerability identified by Check Point, which it deemed to be high risk but low in probability.

Canada’s Bell Mobility introduced a managed IoT security service for businesses, smart cities, and other IoT users. IDC estimates that 81% of Canadian medium and large-sized organizations are employing IoT applications.

Carbon Black says its Cb Predictive Security Cloud is now available in Japan. The company has also organized a Japanese users group. Carbon Black opened its Tokyo office 18 months ago.

Addison, Texas-based Securonix launched Securonix Threat Research Labs, which will share information on cyberthreats uncovered by the company’s security experts. STR Labs will work with the company’s data science team, content development team, and product team. The new unit’s reports are available here.

Cybersecurity Ventures and other experts predict 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will be available and unfilled by 2021. This analysis looks at how IBM and other companies are working with universities and community colleges to address the expected gap in hiring.

Automotive Tech
Reuters reports that Tencent Holdings is recruiting engineers in Silicon Valley for a self-driving car project. The Chinese company advertised job openings in such areas as machine learning, motion planning, sensor fusion, and vehicle intelligence on LinkedIn. “We are building a research team for our Auto-drive Team based in Palo Alto, CA,” the company said in its job postings.

Whatever happened to Brian Krzanich, who resigned as Intel’s CEO in June? Don’t worry about him. Krzanich this week was named the president and CEO of CDK Global, which develops software for auto dealerships. Krzanich succeeds Brian MacDonald in the CEO post. Intel has yet to select an executive who will serve as its CEO on a more permanent basis.

Ford Motor has agreed to acquire Skinny Labs, a San Francisco-based electric scooter startup doing business as Spin. The purchase price is said to be about $40 million, although some sources put the price tag closer to $100 million. The company was among those that dropped scooters around San Francisco earlier this year, without warning City Hall, which imposed a temporary moratorium on scooter deployment while it established a permit program. Spin was subsequently denied a city permit, a decision it is appealing.

Robyn Denholm, the chief financial officer of Telstra and an independent Tesla board member since 2014, was named chairman of the Tesla board, succeeding founder Elon Musk, who remains CEO of the electric car company.

Volkswagen Group this month will consider a proposal to convert its factories in Emden and Hannover, Germany, to production of electric vehicles, the Handelsblatt daily reports. VW declined to comment on the report. The Emden plant currently produces the Passat passenger car line. VW last week announced it will collaborate with Intel’s Mobileye subsidiary and Champion Motors to operate a mobility-as-a-service business in Israel using self-driving cars. The German group will provide the EVs, while Mobileye will supply the turnkey system for L4 driving capability, and Champion will be responsible for fleet logistics and infrastructure. Development begins early next year, and the service will be rolled out in phases through 2022.

Daimler and Bosch will develop a mostly autonomous taxi service in San Jose, Calif., using Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The trial program will begin during the second half of 2019. Each taxi will have two safety drivers to back up the autonomous driving system.

Nokia and China Unicom teamed to provide a private LTE network for the BMW Brilliance Automotive plant being constructed in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China. Nokia supplied its virtualized Multi-access Edge Computing offering, operating with China Unicom’s 4G LTE network, which will provide low-latency support for the plant’s smart manufacturing activities.

Advanced Micro Foundry’s new process design kit for AMF’s silicon photonics process is now available in the Synopsys OptoDesigner photonic IC layout software. Synopsys introduced Design Compiler NXT, the latest in the company’s line of RTL synthesis products. The company also brought out Fusion Compiler, for RTL-to-GDSII implementation. Lastly, the Infinera PDK is available now for the Synopsys OptSim Circuit tool, developed in conjunction with the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics.

Arm used the occasions of e-SIM Connect in London and the European Utility Week to announce that Workz is, well, working with Arm to provide machine-to-machine eSIM services through the Arm Kigen line, introduced earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Hologram, another IoT firm, is using Kigen to offer network coverage on its global platform. Iskraemeco and Elatec CSS Group are utilizing Kigen to add eSIM capabilities to smart meters. Lastly, the GSMA granted security accreditation for Subscription Management (SAS-SM) for Kigen remote server offerings.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, announced the Symphony Mixed-Signal Platform, pairing the company’s Analog FastSPICE circuit emulator with HDL simulators for verification of mixed-signal chips. Integrated Device Technology is a user of the new platform.

NXP Semiconductors will demonstrate next week at the electronica conference its artificial intelligence-derived anomaly detection for predicting and preventing failures of industrial systems, facial recognition for access control, local voice control commands, and object recognition for operator safety. The chip company also announced the establishment of its Industrial Competency Center for developing Industrial IoT hardware and software. NXP unveiled an automotive power control reference platform for an EV traction motor inverter, developed in conjunction with VEPCO Technologies. The traction motor inverter prototype in the platform controls a Fuji Electric 800-volt silicon IGBT power module. The Dutch chipmaker also debuted two battery cell controllers, the MC33771B and MC33772B, as part of a battery management reference platform for next-generation EVs.

ORBCOMM launched its CT 3000 series for remote monitoring and control of refrigerated containers in transit. The series is said to support built-in and external sensors, cellular connectivity, and wireless technologies to provide actionable data on asset location, cargo area temperature, performance, and status.

Sierra Wireless said its AirPrime EM7565 LTE-Advanced Pro Embedded Module is approved by the Federal Communications Commission to operate on Citizens Broadband Radio Service networks in the U.S. The product enables organizations to operate LTE networks in airports, arenas, college and corporate campuses, ports, and warehouses.

DISH Network selected Ericsson radio access and core network equipment for its NB-IoT network, which will be completed in early 2020. The first phase of the company’s 5G network will provide NB-IoT connectivity, according to Charlie Ergen, the chairman of DISH.

CommScope Holding has agreed to acquire Arris International for $31.75 a share, a deal worth $7.4 billion, including the assumption of Arris debt. Both companies are involved in the rollout of 5G technology, with CommScope making telecom equipment and Arris supplying set-top boxes. As part of the transaction, The Carlyle Group will invest $1 billion in CommScope, taking an equity stake of about 16%.

Altair Engineering signed a definitive merger agreement with Datawatch, offering $13.10 a share in cash, valuing the deal at around $176 million. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter. Datawatch specializes in data preparation, data prediction, and real-time high-volume data visualization technologies. Altair’s customers are primarily in manufacturing. It offers simulation, machine learning, and optimization for product lifecycles.

NCR acquired Cambridge, Mass.-based StopLift Checkout Vision Systems, a developer of intelligent computer vision systems to combat theft in the retail business. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

PrecisionHawk of Raleigh, N.C., is buying Chicago’s Uplift Data Partners, which provides drone-based inspection services for the construction and facilities management industry. PrecisionHawk, a drone startup, has made deals for five acquisitions this year, after completing a $75 million round of funding in January.

Motion Solutions of Aliso Viejo, Calif., has agreed to be acquired by Frontenac, a private equity firm headquartered in Chicago; financial terms weren’t revealed. Motion Solutions provides custom, application-specific engineering and manufacturing services to customers in the semiconductor, robotics, industrial automation, life sciences, and medical sectors.

The 2018 electronica Conferences are being held Tuesday through Friday, November 13-16, in Munich, Germany. The conferences are focused on automotive electronics, embedded platforms, medical electronics, and wireless technology. There is a trade fair at the conference site, with an emphasis on automotive and embedded technology.

The IDTechEx Show! USA is next Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 14-15, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. The show takes in 3D printing, electric vehicles, energy storage, graphene and 2D materials, IoT applications, printed electronics, sensors, and wearables.

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