Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Flexible Access; election security; Ford & VW.


Arm rolled out its Flexible Access program, which offers system-on-a-chip design teams the capability to try out the company’s semiconductor intellectual property, along with IP from Arm partners, before they commit to licensing IP and to pay only for what they use in production. The new engagement model is expected to prove useful for Internet of Things design projects and for other applications. Rene Haas, president of Arm’s Intellectual Property Group, said in a statement, “By converging unlimited design access with no up-front licensing commitment, we are empowering existing partners and new market players to address new growth opportunities in IoT, machine learning, self-driving cars, and 5G.” The program will take in IP from such partners as AlphaICs, Invecas, and Nordic Semiconductor. Dipti Vachani, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive & IoT, details Arm Flexible Access in this blog post.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency extended the contract for the Posh Open Source Hardware (POSH) program to continue work in analog/mixed-signal verification as part of the second phase of DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Synopsys reports. The next phase of ERI builds on the initiative’s existing goals to enforce electronics security and privacy and provide access to differentiated electronics design capabilities to benefit aerospace and defense interests, it was said.

Synopsys is teaming with Ixia, a Keysight Technologies business, for system validation of complex networking system-on-a-chip devices using emulation and a virtual tester. The electronic design automation vendor brought out the ZeBu Virtual Network Tester Solution, integrating the ZeBu emulation system with Ixia’s IxVerify virtual network tester.

Trend Micro says its cloud-based Deep Security as a Service is now available on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. The offering pairs security software-as-a-service with consolidated cloud billing and usage-based, metered pricing.

Since launching its narrowband IoT network in the U.S. last year, T-Mobile US is now providing asset tracking on the NB-IoT network. T-Mobile for Business collaborated with Roambee to offer the BeeAware asset tracking IoT product, priced at $10 per device per month and including portal access and NB-IoT data. Meanwhile, Slovakia-based Sensoneo is using T-Mobile’s nationwide NB-IoT LTE network and Twilio’s SIM cards to keep tabs on its dumpsters in California, Colorado, and Ohio with the placement of smart sensors in those bins.

Internet of Things
IoT Analytics named the top 10 IoT startups of 2019. They are, in alphabetical order: Arundo Analytics, Bright Machines, Dragos, Element Analytics, FogHorn Systems, Iguazio, IoTium, Preferred Networks, READY Robotics, and SparkCognition.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based FogHorn partnered with Porsche in Program 6 of Startup Autobahn, a European effort linking automotive manufacturers with promising startups. The program involved a 100-day challenge in developing a prototype of more secure means for drivers to access vehicles by real-time video recognition and multi-factor authentication. FogHorn and other Program 6 participants demonstrated their prototypes this week in Stuttgart, Germany.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Dartmouth College, and the University of Washington worked together on an AI system for a design that will help aerial drones fly more like fixed-wing aircraft and quadcopters. “Our method allows non-experts to design a model, wait a few hours to compute its controller, and walk away with a customized, ready-to-fly drone,” said MIT CSAIL grad student and leader author Jie Xu. “The hope is that a platform like this could make more these more versatile ‘hybrid drones’ much more accessible to everyone.” The research team will present a paper on its work at the Siggraph conference in Los Angeles, set for July 28 through August 1.

WiSig Networks, a developer of products for 5G wireless communications, selected Palma Ceia SemiDesign’s NB-IoT transceiver for an ecological monitoring and management system for use in agricultural applications. WiSig was incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.

Japan’s SoftBank Corp. validated the Monarch chip from Sequans Communications for use on its NB-IoT network.

Avnet will give away 20,000 Azure Sphere starter kits to IoT developers, helping them to design and deploy highly secure, end-to-end IoT offerings. The Avnet Azure Sphere MT3620 Starter Kit features the Avnet-developed Azure Sphere module based upon Microsoft’s secure Azure Sphere operating system and Azure Sphere Security Service hosted on MediaTek’s MT3620 secure microcontroller. Contest submissions can be made until September 30, 2019, on Avnet’s Hackster.io and element14 communities.

The Federal Election Commission is permitting Area 1 Security of Redwood City, Calif., to provide aid to 2020 presidential candidates, helping them fend off the kind of malicious email attacks Russian hackers employed during the 2016 campaign. FEC attorneys had opposed the proposal, saying it would violate federal campaign finance laws by allowing companies to offer cybersecurity services at a discount. The commission overruled the legal staff, while making its decision applying only to Area 1. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned in April that Russian groups are expected to pose a “significant counterintelligence threat” to the 2020 elections.

This week in Huawei – a United Kingdom parliamentary committee recommended that equipment from Huawei Technologies could be installed on the edges of the country’s 5G wireless networks. The Science and Technology Committee in the House of Commons noted that U.K. carriers already use networking systems from Chinese vendors. Meanwhile, bills were introduced this week in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would give Congress control over the Department of Commerce’s “entity list” of foreign companies that aren’t allowed to do business with American suppliers of microchips and other products. “American companies shouldn’t be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they’ll use to spy on Americans,” Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark. and one of the sponsors, said in a statement. The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that Huawei plans to lay off employees in the U.S. as a result of the company’s blacklisting by the Trump administration. Futurewei Technologies, the Chinese company’s U.S.-based research and development subsidiary, employs about 850 people in the U.S. Hundreds of those workers may be terminated, one source said. Vietnam is, for now, steering clear of Huawei equipment, partly due to the country’s thorny history with China. The ruling Communist Party is trying to steer a path between China and the United States, this analysis notes. Finally, Huawei is criticizing a movement by Italy’s government to have a greater role in the development of 5G cellular communications, which could keep Huawei and ZTE from supplying networking gear in Italy. Luigi De Vecchis, chairman of Huawei Italia, said the Italian government is discriminating against his company.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers has endorsed the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act of 2019, a bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The proposed bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002, encouraging collaboration among federal, state, and local governments on cybersecurity.

Lots of security software claims to incorporate AI technology. Is there actually AI in those packages, or is “AI-washing” going on? Larry Lunetta, vice president of marketing security solutions at HPE Aruba, is skeptical about such claims. “There’s a set of waves that the marketers ride, and AI is certainly one now. The interesting thing is as you go through those phases, the technologies get tougher and tougher to actually execute. And I think part of the disappointment that you alluded to from an AI results perspective, is the fact that you know, when you AI wash, you may have algorithms, you may have actually found some data to train some of the models, but it’s not sufficient to deliver a practical result,” he says in this interview.

The Department of Energy wants to know if blockchain technology could be useful in securing the national power grid. Xage Security last month received a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the DoE to create a blockchain-based security fabric in six months. What Xage comes up with will then be compared with other security offerings.

Symantec reports there is an exploit that can expose media files in Telegram and WhatsApp, which can then be manipulated by malicious actors. The company’s security researchers are calling this “Media File Jacking.” The cybersecurity company notified WhatsApp, now a Facebook subsidiary, and Telegram about the vulnerability.

LexisNexis issued its State of Patient Identity Management report, which includes the results of an online survey of more than 100 professionals in health care. Among the respondents, 58% said they believe the security of their patient portals are above average or superior to the patient portals of other organizations. There were 93% of respondents who say the authentication for their patient portals involves only a username and password. Nearly two-thirds said they have implemented multi-factor authentication.

RedSeal surveyed hundreds of senior IT and security professionals about the tenuous connection between CEOs and their information security teams. While 92% of respondents said their enterprises created specific plans to protect the CEO from cyberattacks and data breaches, 54% of the security personnel said their CEO is ignoring these plans.

As expected, Ford Motor and Volkswagen Group unveiled their plans for corporate cooperation in the development of electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle technology. VW is directly investing $1 billion in Argo.ai, Ford’s AV startup. The German company also will combine its self-driving car unit, valued at $1.6 billion, with Argo, and VW is paying another $500 million to purchase Argo shares from Ford, for a total investment of $3.1 billion. Argo is now valued at more than $7 billion. Ford is investing $1 billion in Argo over five years. Ford and VW will both hold minority equity stakes in the Pittsburgh-based startup. VW agreed to share its MEB EV architecture with Ford for vehicles to be made and sold in Europe, a deal that could yield up to $20 billion in revenue for VW.

A strategic realization is spreading over the automotive industry. The big automakers will have to decide whether to focus on EVs or AVs soon. Investors are placing higher evaluations on AV developers, while the market for EVs remains a niche in the industry. “Wall Street wants everyone to focus on AVs. The really expensive, nearer-term problem to solve is how to make EVs profitable. AVs don’t have to be solved in the next couple of quarters,” says Reilly Brennan, founding general partner at Trucks Venture Capital. AlixPartners, the consulting firm, estimates that $225 billion will be invested in electrification between now and 2023, while AVs have received $85 billion in funding. VW, for example, has committed €30 billion (about $33.7 billion) toward EVs through 2023, with plans for 22 million battery-powered vehicles by 2028. Arun Kumar of AlixPartners predicts it will be eight to 10 years before carmakers start getting a return on EV technology.

Yandex of Russia earlier this year struck a deal with Hyundai Motor to contribute self-driving car tech to Hyundai’s Mobis division. Yandex last week showed off an autonomous Hyundai 2020 Sonata with Yandex’s sensors and software. The new model will go on sale during the fall.

Renault is forming a joint venture with China’s Jiangling Motors, aiming for the EV market in China. The French company will take a 50% stake in the JV. Renault will invest about €128.5 million (more than $144 million) for the equity stake.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday that the Renault Nissan Alliance still has priority with the government of France. “The priority today is to develop an industrial strategy for the Renault-Nissan alliance,” Le Maire said in an interview, adding, “After that, we will have to look at how to consolidate this alliance and it is only on this basis that we will be able to explore future developments.” He denied reports that the French government put the kibosh on the recent merger negotiations between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Partially autonomous vehicles now roam the highways and streets of America. Realizing the dream of the fully autonomous vehicle may be a decade or so in the future, this analysis notes. While Waymo autonomous shuttles are conveying residents of a Phoenix suburb now, those vehicles never have to contend with blizzards that can obscure the roadway. “We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said at the Detroit Economic Club in April. “You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” says Argo.ai CEO Bryan Salesky. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.

Keysight Technologies is addressing automotive cybersecurity through a new program aimed at security professionals among the leading automotive manufacturers and their Tier 1 suppliers. “In today’s vehicles, heavy reliance on connectivity and software improves convenience but increases the potential attack surface for emerging and evolving cyber threats,” Siegfried Gross, vice president and general manager of Keysight Automotive and Energy Solutions, said in a statement. “This new program enables OEMs and Tier 1s to enhance vehicle safety by defining, implementing and deploying a consistent, company-wide approach to the testing of potential vulnerabilities.”

While automation in mobility and transportation will eliminate certain jobs, there will be opportunities for new positions, such as training AI systems for automated machinery, Sudha Jamthe writes for Axios. “As artificial intelligence is integrated into professions ranging from administrative work to customer support, people will need to be trained to work alongside machines — but also on non-technological skills, like customer service and decision making,” she notes.

While carmakers around the world are reducing workforces, Ford’s South Africa subsidiary is adding 1,200 jobs at an assembly plant, an increase of more than 25%, to add an extra shift and to increase production.

Broadcom and Symantec apparently broke off their acquisition negotiations on Monday. The companies were reportedly unable to agree on a price for Symantec shares. SYMC took a hit on the news, falling 10.7% that day to $22.84 a share. The stock has since gained back some of the loss, as investors try to gauge whether a new suitor will emerge, or if Broadcom will return to the negotiating table.

Motorola Solutions acquired WatchGuard; financial terms weren’t revealed. The Allen, Texas-based company provides in-car video systems, body-worn cameras, evidence management systems, and software for the law enforcement market.

MLU, a Russian ride-hailing joint venture of Uber Technologies and Yandex, acquired a competitor, Vezet, for about $204 million, including $71.5 million in cash. MLU is also investing $127 million over three years for driver training, loyalty incentives, and other business purposes.

Autokiniton, a portfolio company of KPS Capital Partners, agreed to acquire Tower International for $31 a share, approximately $900 million in cash. Based in Livonia, Mich., Tower makes automotive structural components and assemblies.

Bedford, Mass.-based Aspen Technology agreed to acquire Mnubo of Montreal, which supplies purpose-built AI and analytics infrastructure for the IoT. The purchase price is C$102 million (nearly $78.2 million). AspenTech last month purchased Sabisu of the U.K. Sabisu will complement Mnubo in providing flexible enterprise visualization and workflow tools for real-time decision support.

8×8 acquired Singapore-based Wavecell for about $125 million in cash and stock. Wavecell offers a worldwide communications platform-as-a-service.


Medallia announced the pricing of its initial public offering, selling 15.5 million shares at $21 per share. The company is selling 14.325 million shares, while selling stockholders are offering 1.175 million shares. In total, the IPO is raising $325.5 million, with just over $222 million going to Medallia, which will trade as MDLA on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock opened at $34 a share and closed its first day of trading at $37.05, up $16.05 and 76.4% for the day.

CloudMinds filed for a $500 million IPO, planning to trade as CMDS on the NYSE. The Chinese company provides an end-to-end cloud robotics system. Citigroup Global Markets is the lead underwriter. CloudMinds has raised more than $300 million in private funding; the SoftBank Vision Fund owns 34.6% of the company prior to the IPO, while Keytone Ventures holds 5.1%.

Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst set its IPO terms to 6 million shares at $20 to $23. At the midpoint pricing, the provider of health-care data warehousing and analytics would have a fully diluted value of $826 million. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq as HCAT.

Livongo Health of Mountain View, Calif., set its IPO terms to 10.7 million shares at $20 to $23 a share. At the midpoint of the pricing, it would have an initial market capitalization of $1.9 billion. The digital health startup plans to trade on the Nasdaq as LVGO. Morgan Stanley serves as the lead underwriter. Livongo has raised $237 million from General Catalyst (which owns 25.4% of the company), Kinnevik (12%), Kleiner Perkins (8.9%), Merck (7.6%), and 7WireVentures (7.1%). The company posted a net loss of $30 million on revenue of $71 million for the six months ending June 30, 2019.

S&P Global Market Intelligence reports Rambus shares gained 57% during the first six months of this year. Meanwhile, the company plans to relocate its headquarters from Sunnyvale, Calif., to North San Jose. Rambus said it signed a lease for 90,000 square feet at 4453 North First Street in the Alviso area of San Jose.

Marvell Technology Group appears to be at a breakout point for its MRVL stock, Bruce Kamich writes. “Traders and investors could go long here risking a close below $23 with targets of $30 and then $34,” he concludes. MRVL closed on Thursday at $26.39 a share.

Investors are eyeing the stock of Ciena following the proposed acquisition of Acacia Communications by Cisco Systems. The CIEN stock has been fluctuating in the low 40s for the past week.

WKHS, the shares of Workhorse Group, rose up to 18.7% on Monday. Workhorse is in the running for a U.S. Postal Service contract to supply 180,000 trucks over five to seven years. The company is partnering with VT Hackney to bid for that contract, which could be worth about $6.3 billion.

AT&T had a busy week, announcing cooperative agreements with IBM and Microsoft. AT&T Communications will work with IBM on modernizing internal software applications for AT&T Business Solutions, enabling migrations to the IBM Cloud. IBM will provide infrastructure to support AT&T Business applications, utilizing Red Hat’s open-source platform to manage applications and workloads. AT&T Business will become IBM’s primary provider of software-defined networking technology, helping to transform IBM’s network with 5G cellular communications, edge computing, and the IoT. Meanwhile, AT&T Communications and Microsoft will collaborate on using 5G, AI, and cloud-based services. Microsoft will be the preferred cloud provider for the carrier’s non-network applications. AT&T plans to migrate most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024. In turn, AT&T’s workforce will use the cloud-based Microsoft 365 productivity and collaboration tools. The multi-year agreement is worth more than $2 billion, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the matter.

A federal judge dismissed Oracle’s claim that the Department of Defense was favoring Amazon Web Services in awarding a cloud services contract that will be worth $10 billion. IBM and Oracle were eliminated from the contract competition, leaving Amazon and Microsoft as the two remaining contenders. The Pentagon is expected to award the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract within the next month.

Will wireless communications cause brain tumors with its powerful frequencies? A pseudoscientific theory about that alleged hazard has circulated for nearly two decades. The advent of 5G is giving rise to that belief, this analysis notes.

Market Research
Juniper Research forecasts insurers will increase their spending on robotic process automation software from $184 million this year to $634 million by 2024, a 245% increase over five years. Juniper has a new report, Robotic Process Automation in Telecoms & Insurance, which is available here. It has a free whitepaper, Can RPA Offer Better Customer Experience & Lower Costs?, which can be downloaded.

IDC predicts the Asia/Pacific region will lead the world in IoT expenditures this year, accounting for 35.7% of the global spend. China will spend $168.6 billion on IoT in 2019, followed by South Korea with $26.2 billion and India with $20.6 billion. The region’s spending does not include Japan. Discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, and utilities are the leading industries in IoT deployments, according to IDC.


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