IOT News Roundup

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Cisco drives connected car infrastructure forward; Snowden reveals major SIM security breach; FAA unveils proposed regulations for commercial drone use; Bosch to acquire IoT middleware company ProSyst; Sony opens pre-orders for its smart glasses.

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Cisco Announces Connected Roadways Product Suite
Cisco introduced a new suite of products and services last week called Connected Roadways. The suite is designed to serve as an integral part of a wireless communication platform that supports vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications for vehicle fleets, individual drivers or mass transit. Such a system can aid drivers and system operators in making informed decisions about routing, in order to find the fastest route, reduce traffic and avoid transit delays. A study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that in 2005, vehicles wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel while stuck in traffic, sent 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and created a $78 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy.

To implement Connected Roadways products and services, Cisco partners with a number of companies, including Cohda Wireless, a provider of wireless communication systems for automotive safety applications; the Econolite Group, which implements vehicle-detection systems for efficient traffic flow and adaptive traffic; and ASFiNAG GmbH, a German highway tolling system that uses its network of sensors and cameras to adjust speed limits to prevent traffic jams on highways.

The Cisco suite includes ruggedized, weather-resistant switches; the Cisco 819 Integrated Services Router, which enables vehicles to access a 3G wireless wide-area network (WAN) and connect to dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) radios; and Cisco’s Unified MPLS transport network, which provides a backhaul of data traffic between the roadside and the data center. These tools support vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, such as onboard DSRC radios in busses that interact with traffic-safety systems and transit signal priority systems, which help keep the vehicles moving efficiently and safely. Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems are used to relay information to field service technicians, mass-transit vehicles or emergency services, via two-way radio, text messaging or other forms of communication. Automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems track and securely dispatch vehicle locations via GPS. Cisco’s integration partners can alert drivers to upcoming traffic incidents via CAD or AVL.

Snowden Reveals Spy Agencies Broke SIM Encryption
Through leaked documents, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to investigative news site The Intercept that the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), managed to hack into Gemalto‘s computer network and access encryption keys to the company’s subscriber identity module (SIM) products, which are embedded in billions of smartphones. With these encryption keys, the agencies have the ability to secretly monitor voice and data communications between a targeted individual’s phone and his or her telecom provider’s network.

According to the article, Gemalto’s SIM encryption keys were accessed when “hackers working for GCHQ remotely penetrated the company’s computer network in order to steal the keys in bulk as they were en route to the wireless network providers.”

These revelations come less than two weeks before the Mobile World Congress 2015 event, and will likely send shock waves through the telecommunications industry. Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, told The Intercept, “Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption.”

We’ll be reporting on the implications that this breach could have on IoT applications deployed on cellular devices during the coming weeks.

FAA Unveils Planned Drone Regulations
The Federal Aviation Administration revealed its proposed regulations last week for the use of small (under 55 pounds) unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for commercial applications. The proposed rulemaking, which companies developing drone-based business applications have been anxiously awaiting, would allow the use of drones only during daylight hours, and only while the device was within visual line-of-sight. This would render some of the most hyped ideas, such as Amazon‘s interest in delivering purchases via drone, non-starters. But the rules would permit the use of drones on construction sites or in other industrial areas, providing the operator can keep the drone in view and operate it only during daylight.

The rules would not require drone operators to be trained as conventional aircraft pilots, a requirement that early drafts of the regulations were reported to contain. Instead, the proposed rules would require that operators pass an “aeronautical knowledge test,” be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration and receive a certificate.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed regulation in the Federal Register. The FAA says it will also hold public meetings to discuss a possible additional—and “more flexible”—framework for drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds.

Bosch to Acquire M2M Middleware Provider
Bosch Software Innovations GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group, has announced its plans to acquire ProSyst, which makes cloud-based middleware and gateway software designed to manage connected devices used in Internet of Things applications. ProSyst middleware has been deployed in a range of industries, including health care, transportation and smart buildings/energy management. Its existing customers include BMW, Eaton, Miele and Schneider Electric. Bosch did not disclose a purchase price.

Sony Taking Pre-Orders for Smart Glasses, Development Kit
Sony says it is now taking pre-orders for a developer version of its SmartEyeglasses product, which it will begin selling in the United States (for $840), the United Kingdom and Germany on Mar. 10. In each order, Sony will include the most recent version of its SmartEyeglasses software development kit, in the hopes that early adopters will create new applications for the device, which superimposes text, symbols and images onto the glasses when paired with a smartphone running the Android operating system (version 4.4 or newer).

Rival Google recently pulled its Google Glass smart glasses from the consumer sector, but is still actively developing the product for commercial applications. Sony also says it will sell the developer version of SmartEyeglasses to enterprise customers in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden (also starting on Mar. 10) in order to promote the development of apps geared toward industrial use.