Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Arm predictions; Marriott hack; Waymo truck.


Internet of Things
Arm made five 2019 predictions for the Internet of Things. They are: The intelligent home goes mainstream; personalized delivery options; improved health-care service; smart cities seek to improve revenue streams and citizen engagement; and smart buildings use more technology for efficiencies. The company also commissioned a worldwide survey of 2,000 consumers, conducted by Northstar Research Partners, for their perspectives on IoT, 5G, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Among other findings, two-thirds of respondents said technology became “more a part of my life” during 2018. Arm Treasure Data conducted an online survey of 600 American adults and found that only 15.1% of respondents had asked a company to delete their personal data, while 8.5% have considered such a request, meaning more than three-quarters of respondents have not considered or asked for the deletion of their data.

Deloitte outdid Arm, offering nine predictions for 2019. Among them: Smart speakers grow at discounted prices; AI goes from expert-only to everywhere; 5G networks arrive; 3D printing breaks through; and evaluating quantum computing. By the end of 2018, there will be more than 250 million smart speakers in homes, the firm estimates. Deloitte expects the sales of 164 million smart speakers at an average price of $43 in 2019. The smart speaker market will be worth more than $7 billion next year, increasing 63% from 2018’s $4.3 billion.

Apple overtook Fitbit as the world wearables leader during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to IDC. Apple retained that crown during the first half of 2018, only to be dethroned in the third quarter by Xiaomi. The Chinese manufacturer shipped 6.9 million units this year, a 91% increase from 2017, largely thanks to its $30 Mi Band 3 fitness tracker, while Apple shipped 4.2 million units, up 54%, IDC estimates. Fitbit, meanwhile, saw its shipments drop 3%, year-over-year, to 3.5 million units.

Juniper Research forecasts that 417 million “hearables” (fitness-focused devices, hearing augmentation aids, and purely audio-focused devices) will be in use by 2022. More than 271 million audio-focused multimedia hearables will be in use by 2022, compared with 62 million this year, it predicts. The firm has a free white paper, How Hearables Will Revolutionise the Personal Audio Market, available here. Juniper has a new report, Future Hearables: Strategies, Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2023, which can be found here.

General Electric plans to spin off a new Industrial IoT company from its GE Digital software teams, creating a company with about $1.2 billion in annual revenue. The new company will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of GE with a new brand and identity. GE Digital separately announced that it will sell a majority stake in ServiceMax to Silver Lake Partners. ServiceMax provides cloud-based software productivity tools for field service technicians. GE Digital acquired ServiceMax in 2016 and will retain an 10% equity ownership in the company.


The massive cyberattack on Marriott and Starwood hotel reservation systems was carried out by hackers working on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, The New York Times reports, citing unidentified American government officials. While a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing denied the report, the anonymous sources see the attack as part of a prolonged campaign by China to gain personal information about Americans and foreign visitors to the United States, especially travelers from China. Dmitri Alperovitch, the chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, said, “This data is all going back to a data lake that can be used for counterintelligence, recruiting new assets, anti-corruption campaigns or future targeting of individuals or organizations.”

The 2017 data breach at Equifax was “entirely preventable,” asserts a staff report released by Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The report blames the company’s lack of accountability and management structure, complex and outdated IT systems, and the failure to implement responsible security measures, which was compounded by Equifax being unprepared to support affected consumers. The report, which can be found here, makes specific recommendations on preventing future breaches.

The CrowdStrike Services Cyber Intrusion Casebook 2018 is now available from CrowdStrike Services. Among other findings, the casebook states that more organizations are able to detect data breaches on their own now.

Palo Alto Networks reports that 49% of corporate cloud databases aren’t encrypted, representing a serious lack of recommended cybersecurity precautions. The company’s Unit 42 threat research team looked at cloud security threats from May to September of this year. “There’s a lack of belief they’re necessarily going to be targeted or an unwillingness to make an investment,” says Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat intelligence at Unit 42. Corporate clouds fail to implement multifactor authentication and other basic security practices, she adds.

Super Micro Computer this week informed customers that an investigation by a third-party firm found “absolutely no evidence of malicious hardware on our motherboards.” The company added in a letter, “As we have stated repeatedly since these allegations were reported, no government agency has ever informed us that it has found malicious hardware on our products; no customer has ever informed us that it found malicious hardware on our products; and we have never seen any evidence of malicious hardware on our products.” Supermicro noted that Amazon Web Services and Apple, two of its customers, denied finding any suspicious chips or hardware on its motherboards, contradicting a recent report by Bloomberg News.

Symantec and Fortinet came to an agreement that will see Fortinet’s Next-Generation Firewall capabilities integrated into Symantec’s cloud-delivered Web Security Services. The deal also calls for Symantec’s endpoint protection software to be integrated into the Fortinet Security Fabric platform. The integration of Fortinet’s Cloud Firewall Service into WSS will be available during the first half of 2019.

BlackBerry will offer a Security Credential Management System service for use in smart cities and intelligent transportation systems. The SCMS service is based upon the company’s Certicom technology and will feature a reliable and secure hosted public key infrastructure.

Automotive Tech
Waymo is reportedly testing a self-driving semi-truck in Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale in particular. Waymo’s autonomous trucks could reduce the cost of freight services by eliminating the human drivers. Meanwhile, the police department in Chandler, Ariz., has received 21 reports of residents harassing self-driving Waymo vehicles and their human testers in the past two years, including one episode last summer where a man pointed a handgun at the test driver. The elderly gunman was arrested. More common are people throwing rocks at the autonomous test vehicles, and occasionally slashing their tires.

Substantial investment in 5G cellular communications infrastructure will be required to ensure the success of autonomous vehicle technology, Bestmile CEO Raphael Gindrat writes. “For AVs to be deployed, they’ll need both onboard sensors to make their way through the environment and 5G to talk to one another. But until there’s a greater commitment to the technology’s rollout, AVs will be developed without the benefits 5G could offer,” he writes, adding, “Today, onboard sensors can only estimate the speed and direction of nearby vehicles. Like lidar, 5G communication could help to enable 360-degree vision — letting vehicles ‘see’ and respond to other vehicles around blind turns and in poor visibility. But 5G will also provide precise information about other vehicles’ location, speed and intent.” Deloitte Consulting estimates the necessary fiber-based infrastructure investment will cost $130 billion to $150 billion.

Prosecutors in Japan indicted Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, and Nissan Motor itself, alleging that the executive and the automotive manufacturer violated financial laws regarding compensation. Under a court order, Ghosn remains in detention, at least until December 20, one month after he was arrested. Those prosecutors also indicted Greg Kelly, a former human resources manager at Nissan and a member of the carmaker’s board. Meanwhile, Nissan and Renault ponder what to do while Ghosn remains in custody.

Carmakers and utilities are working together to solve the issue of plugging in too many electric vehicles at one time, this analysis notes.

Volvo Cars and Google are collaborating on an Android-based infotainment system that will be first implemented in the Polestar 2 electric sedan. Polestar is a Volvo EV brand. The new system will then be integrated into Volvo’s battery-powered XC40 compact crossover/SUV. Google Assistant and Google Maps will be among the features in the new Android system.

LG Electronics is forming two divisions for autonomous vehicles and robotics. Its robotics efforts were previously operating in various groups. The Korean conglomerate is also establishing a North American R&D center for AI applications in Canada and the U.S.

STMicroelectronics is sampling an embedded phase-change memory (ePCM) device meant to work with its automotive microcontrollers, fabricated with a 28-nanometer fully depleted silicon-on-insulator process. The memory is aimed at use in advanced driver-assistance systems, powertrain systems, secure gateways, and vehicle electrification.

Engineer, entrepreneur, industrial designer, and inventor James Dyson, famous for his bagless vacuum cleaners and other products, discusses his company’s efforts for driverless cars in this interview. “I’ve been working on an electric car,” he says. “We bought an old World War II airfield, so we’ve got a place to do it. Tesla proved that people want electric cars, though I don’t think governments have realized it yet. People are trying to ignore pollution and the damage that pollution does. Apart from that, the electric car is a much nicer and easier car to own. You don’t have to go to gas stations, which aren’t very nice.”

Wave Computing selected the Veloce Strato emulation platform for functional verification and validation of their latest Dataflow Processor Unit chip designs, which will be used in the company’s next-generation AI system, according to Mentor, a Siemens Business.

Synopsys and imec together completed a comprehensive sub-3-nanometer parasitic variation modeling and delay sensitivity study of complementary FET architectures. CFETs are said to be a promising option in area scaling beyond the 3nm node.

Nvidia brought out the Jetson AGX Xavier module for use in drones, robotics, and video analytics systems. The module provides the performance of a workstation server in a palm-sized, power-efficient module, according to the company.

Marvell received the Global Semiconductor Alliance’s award for “Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company” for companies with annual sales of $1 billion to $5 billion.

Lyft and Uber Technologies last week filed confidential documents for an initial public offering, with the unusual accompaniment of releasing statements about those filings. Both companies plan to go public during 2019. Uber selected Morgan Stanley to lead its IPO, Bloomberg reports, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Vista Equity Partners has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO for Denver-based Ping Identity, a supplier of identity management software and a Vista portfolio company, Reuters reports. The offering may come in late 2019 or 2020. Ping could be valued at $3 billion or more in the offering.

An affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management agreed to acquire Sparton for $18.50 a share in cash, a transaction valued at $181 million. The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2019. Schaumburg, Ill.-based Sparton makes electromechanical devices for medical and biotechnology applications (including medical IoT devices), military and aerospace systems, and industrial and commercial applications.

Avnet agreed to acquire Softweb Solutions, an AI company that provides software for IoT applications and systems. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2018; financial terms were not disclosed. Softweb has about 500 employees in Dallas, Chicago, and Ahmedebad, India. Avnet and Softweb have previously worked together.

Arctic Wolf Networks acquired RootSecure, a specialist in advanced cybersecurity risk assessment, which will be incorporated into Arctic Wolf’s AWN CyberSOC security-operations-center-as-a-service. Arctic Wolf recently received $45 million in Series C funding and has raised more than $80 million in venture-capital funding.

ASG Technologies Group increased its acquisition offer for Mitek Systems from $10 a share to $11.50 a share, valuing Mitek as $437 million. ASG is a portfolio company of the Elliott Management hedge fund.

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