IoT News Roundup

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Salesforce floats new IoT service; Fujitsu launching IIC testbed; IBM, others unveil automotive security products; STMicro announces accelerometer for connected, implantable devices.

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Salesforce to Boost Sales Tools With IoT Cloud
At its Dreamforce annual user conference, customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Salesforce announced plans to release a new product called IoT Cloud, which will connect sensor data with Salesforce’s customers, as well as all the discrete Salesforce apps they use, via an interface designed to enable them to turn that information into better service for their customers, and ultimately into sales tools.

The Salesforce event-processing and analytics engine, known as Thunder, feeds data to the IoT Cloud. The collected data will originate in things as diverse as wind turbines, mobile phones, thermostats and websites. For example, Emerson, which says it will soon begin a pilot project to test the Salesforce IoT Cloud, could use the product to monitor Internet-connected home thermostat usage and trigger alerts to sales teams when analysis of usage and weather data indicates that a home’s heating system could benefit from maintenance.

Fujitsu Ltd. Launching Industrial Internet Consortium Testbed
Fujitsu Ltd. has announced that the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has approved its proposal for an industrial Internet testbed project called the Factory Operations Visibility and Intelligence Testbed (FOVI). Fujitsu says FOVI, which it developed through experiences at its own production facilities, provides a model for simulating a factory environment in the interest of optimizing workflows.

The IIC launches testbeds in order to accelerate the deployment of IoT technologies in the industrial sector. FOVI is one of seven IIC testbeds launched to date. Others focus on track and trace, microgrid energy control systems, and improving asset efficiency or other processes.

The FOVI model uses a cloud-based data-integration platform that captures information from sensors attached to production equipment, and processes this along with operational data. The goal is to provide visibility into production operations, by marrying data culled from a wide range of sources, and then suggest means for improving operational efficiency across a plant, in everything from assembly processes to repair and maintenance systems.

Fujitsu designed this testbed so that multiple stakeholders could access it and provide their expertise and services, including sensor network management and data analytics capabilities. Fujitsu demonstrated the testbed architecture at the IoT Solutions World Congress, held in in Barcelona on Sept. 16-18, 2015. Working in collaboration with Intel and Cisco, Fujitsu is operating the testbed at two of its production plants in Japan.

Connected Car Security Products from Giesecke & Devrient and IBM; Gemalto
In an effort to make it more difficult for hackers to compromise the wireless communication channels that automakers are increasingly using to enable connected-car applications, Giesecke & Devrient, a German firm that develops secure platforms for electronic transactions, has teamed up with IBM to create a connected-vehicle security solution.

Through the collaboration, the companies have created what they call a Secure Gateway ECU (electronic control unit) that uses a cryptographic chip and electronic key system to protect data communication within a vehicle and between that vehicle and cloud-based control systems. The offering also includes a subscription-management service so that vehicles can be individually configured for security settings when delivered in different markets and connected to service operators without the subscriber identity module (SIM) having to be changed to simplify the logistics. The companies, which are currently demonstrating the technology at the IAA International Automobile Fair in Frankfurt, say they plan to form partnerships with carmakers to introduce their solution and potentially combine it with other security elements that such companies are already using or developing.

The Secure Gateway ECU complies with automotive industry standards, including ISO/TS 16949, according to Giesecke & Devrient.

In related news, Gemalto, a manufacturer of sensor-control modules for machine-to-machine applications, is adding a tamper-resistant, ruggedized hardware component, which it calls a Secure Element, to its Cinterion series of communication and positioning modules for the automotive industry. The component will add what Gemalto calls “smart card level digital security” to the modules, by storing data securely and granting only authorized applications access to the information in order to guard against hackers.

STMicro Releases Accelerometer for Implantables
Semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics, which makes micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors for industrial and consumer applications, has announced a low-power three-axis accelerometer specifically designed for medical applications, including implantable devices classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Class III.

The accelerometer, known as the MIS2DH, could be incorporated in implantable devices geared toward controlling high blood pressure, epilepsy and tremor-related conditions. but which, according to STMicroelectronics, need to measure a patient’s activity and posture in order to manage the stimulus delivered by the implantable device to ensure the treatment’s effectiveness and that person’s safety.

The MIS2DH comes packaged with an integrated electronic circuit and has a small footprint, at 2 millimeters by 2 millimeters by 1 millimeter (0.08 inch by 0.08 inch by 0.04 inch). In low-power mode, it consumes as little as 2 microamperes and can be used in 8-, 10- and 12-bit operating modes.

STMicroelectronics says it will provide collateral materials that the FDA requires for Class III device certifications, which include specific manufacturing checks and screenings.