World’s busiest airport envisions ‘touchless’ travel post-COVID – Strategy – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

With COVID-19 ravaging the aviation industry, airlines and airports worldwide are reining in costs and halting new spending, except in one area: reassuring pandemic-wary passengers about travel.
“Whatever the new normal (…) it’s going to be more and more around self-service,” Sean Donohue, chief executive of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.
The airport is working with American Airlines – whose home base is DFW – to roll out a self-check-in for luggage, and all of its restrooms will be entirely touchless by the end of July with technology developed by Infax.
They will have hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers, which will be equipped with sensors to alert workers when supplies are low.
“One of the biggest complaints airports receive are restrooms,” Donohue said.
Dallas is piloting three technology options for luggage check-ins: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS.
DFW has become the world’s busiest airport, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium, thanks in part to a strategy by large global carrier American to concentrate much of its pandemic flying through its Texas hub.
Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding — where your face is your boarding pass — for international flights and is taking advantage of the lull in international traffic to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to use the VeriScan technology for arriving passengers too, he said.
Delta Air Lines opened the first US biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018, and some airports in Europe and Asia also use facial recognition technology.
It has spurred some concerns, however, with a US government study finding racial bias in the technology and the European Union earlier this year considered banning it in public places over privacy concerns.
The Dallas airport is also testing new technology around better sanitization, beginning with ultraviolet technology that can kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.
But it has also deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people who are going through the terminals physically sanitising high-touch areas.
“Technology is critical because it can be very efficient,” Donohue said, but customers “being able to visualize what’s happening is reassuring as well.”
DFW has invested millions of dollars above its cleaning and sanitation budget since the pandemic broke out, while suspending about US$100 million of capital programs and reducing its second-half operating costs by about 20 percent as it addresses COVID-19’s steep hit to the industry, which only months ago was preparing for growth.
Nearly 114,000 customers went through DFW on July 11, an improvement from a 10,000 per day trough in April, but still just about half of last year’s volumes.
The airport has also been testing touchless technology for employee temperature checks, but is not currently planning hotly-debated checks for passengers, barring a federal mandate for which there has yet to be any inclination by the US government.
Michael Davies, who runs the New Technology Ventures program at London Business School, said technology will be one of many changes to the airport experience going forward, with fewer overall travelers who will be seeking more space and spending less time dining and shopping.
“You put these things together and this feels in some interesting ways very much like back to the golden age of air travel,” said Davies.

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Apple expands independent repair shop program to Europe, Canada – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Apple is expanding a program to supply repair parts, tools and manuals for iPhones to independent repair shops in 32 countries in Europe as well as Canada.
Apple began the program last year in the United States after years of lobbying against state-level “right to repair” bills that would have compelled it to provide parts to independent shops.
Apple has long maintained a network of authorised service providers such as Best Buy to perform warranty work, but smaller shops had complained that the program was too costly to join because of high volume commitments, leaving them without access to genuine Apple parts or the software tools needed to perform some repairs.
Apple launched its program for those independent shops last August, making it free to join if technicians complete a training program.
Apple said Wednesday that 140 businesses with 700 locations have signed up for the program in the United States.
Some of the independent shops, such as uBreakiFix, have multiple locations, while some are sole proprietorships.
“When a customer needs a repair, we want them to have a range of options that not only suits their needs but also guarantees safety and quality so their iPhone can be used for as long as possible,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Under the program, independent shops get access to Apple parts and tools to perform out-of-warranty repairs.
They also get Apple parts at the same prices as authorized service centers and can still also use third-party after-market parts and set their own prices. The program only covers iPhones.
Independent shops must inform customers whether they are using genuine Apple parts and send any salvaged Apple parts back to the company, where they are either refurbished or recycled.
Apple said it is also creating an online tool to verify whether an independent shop participates in its program.

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Bega Cheese to deploy IoT sensors into dairy supply chain – Projects – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Bega Cheese is set to launch a new internet of things (IoT) service linking its farmer suppliers, milk transport and storage and processing facilities with real-time data.
The project with Germany’s Software AG and Swinburne University will involve developing a new, low-cost milk quality sensor along with the deployment of existing weather and transport-based IoT devices.
The ASX-listed dairy company is set to combine data from these devices on a ‘Dynamic Pick Scheduling and Monitoring’ tool based on Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform.
It will monitor for milk supply change events so that optimal pickup schedules are maintained.
It will also look at how capable suppliers and distributors are of adapting to the new ways of working.
Data from all of these sources will be used with long-term historical data to train a machine learning-based forecasting tool that attempts to predict milk quality and quantity – something that should also help reduce transport and distribution costs through better planning and resource management.
Bega Cheese’s supply chain general manager, Adel Salman, said the deal takes advantage of Swinburne’s experience with IoT and industrial partnerships, which has already helped the company receive IoT research funding through the government’s cooperative research centre projects.
“What we [at Bega] didn’t have was experience in setting up IoT projects, so we started looking around for a partner that could provide us with IoT expertise, resources, industry contacts and help with government backing,” Salman said.
“Swinburne University listened to what we needed to achieve and together with Software AG, developed an IoT strategy with a set of solutions that met our needs.
“We’re excited to see the benefits that IoT can bring to our company.
“By working with Swinburne University and Software AG, we hope to be able to increase our growth across higher-value premium products thus enhancing the competitiveness for both Bega and our suppliers.”
The project also complements what the company describes as an “extremely high level of automation and mechanisation” at its factory, which produces over 107 tonnes of consumables each year.
Fellow dairy producer Lion is also known to have an active IoT project it is using to address milk spoilage on farms.

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Zoom rolls out hardware subscription service – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Zoom Video Communications launched a hardware subscription service, seeking to make its teleconferencing app more accessible to users by allowing them to choose subscription options for phones and meeting rooms.
The plans for Zoom Phone have been priced between US$5.99 and US$60 per month, based on the device users opt for, while the cost for hardware services for Zoom Rooms is in the range of US$75 to US$200 per month, according to the company’s website.
Zoom has partnered with third-party hardware manufacturers such as DTEN, Neat, Poly, and Yealink for the phone and meeting room devices.
The company’s teleconferencing platform, which has seen a surge in users as the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions around the world to stay indoors, has faced backlash over privacy and security issues, prompting it to roll out major upgrades.
The launch comes nearly a week after Zoom said it has made significant progress in a transparency report that details information related to requests it receives for data, records, or content, adding that the report will be out later this year.
Zoom on Tuesday also joined a list of major US internet companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google, to have suspended processing of requests for user data from Hong Kong authorities while they study the new law.

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Liverpool City Council taps edge analytics for people and traffic movement – Strategy – Projects – Hardware – Networking – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council in Sydney’s west is analysing CCTV imagery with deep learning algorithms and edge computing in a bid to understand pedestrian and traffic movements.
The city in Sydney’s southwest has partnered with the Digital Living Lab (DLL) – part of the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility  – to deploy the lab’s Versatile Intelligent Video Analytics (VIVA) platform.
VIVA’s deep learning algorithms were developed by DLL using transfer learning – a form of machine learning that takes lessons from one subject matter and applies it to a related but separate field.
It was built on NVIDIA’s Metropolis platform for artificial intelligence and internet of things (IoT) sensors, along with NVIDIA’s TensorRT software on the company’s Jetson edge AI computers.
Johan Barthelemy, a lecturer at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, said the use of edge computing was designed to reduce bandwidth by crunching the data at its source.
“We designed VIVA to process video feeds as close as possible to the source, which is the camera,” he said.
“Once a frame has been analysed using a deep neural network, the outcome is transmitted and the current frame is discarded.”
The solution has the added benefit of complying with privacy regulations which had previously limited the way CCTV could be used – typically as an after-the-fact record of incidents rather than something that was proactively monitored.
Insights from the partnership are set to be used in a number of projects, such as understanding pedestrians’ preferred routes to ease congestion and to inform direct maintenance and lighting investments.
Similar work is being done for cyclists and motorists to understand the traffic and parking patterns of the 30,000 people who journey to Liverpool’s central business district each business day.
Barthelemy said that to monitor and analyse these disparate forms of mobility without VIVA would have required a fleet of specialised and costly fixed sensors.
But, using computer vision at the edge of the network allows VIVA to count the different types of traffic, capturing their trajectory and speed using infrastructure that was largely in place already.
Patterns of movements and points of congestion are identified and predicted to help improve street and footpath layout and connectivity, traffic management and guided pathways, all in real-time.
Experimenting with synthetic data
Using transfer learning and open databases such as OpenImage, COCO and Pascal VOC, DLL was able to use an in-house app to create synthetic data to allow the VIVA platform to learn from a number of scenarios that might not otherwise be present at any given time, such a rainstorm or influx of cyclists.
“This synthetic data generation allowed us to generate 35,000-plus images per scenario of interest under different weather, time of day and lighting conditions,” Barthelemy said.
“The synthetic data generation uses ray tracing to improve the realism of the generated images.”
Inferencing of the data is done with NVIDIA Jetson Nano, NVIDIA Jetson TX2 and NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX, depending on the use case and processing required.
Being able to effectively simulate novel scenarios is increasingly valuable to Liverpool Council as western Sydney experiences prolonged growth and development.
The city is already experiencing the knock-on effects of a new university campus nearby, and expects the completion of the Western Sydney Airport to further contribute to growth in the region.

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Data centre chip sales unlikely to cover for smartphone weakness – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

At Samsung Electronics, demand for its chips from data centres bulking up to meet a surge in work-from-home traffic was not likely enough to offset muted sales of its smartphones in the second quarter, analysts said.
The world’s biggest supplier of DRAM and NAND memory chips on Tuesday will announce preliminary April-June revenue as well as operating profit, which it previously expected to show a decline.
Profit likely fell 4.5 percent to 6.3 trillion won (A$7.54 billion) from the same period year earlier, according to Refinitiv SmartEstimate, which is weighted towards the more consistently accurate analysts.
Work-from-home orders and growth in online learning is underpinning chip demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting US DRAM supplier Micron Technology to forecast strong quarterly revenue last month.
Chips bring in roughly half of Samsung’s profit. The rest is mainly smartphones, of which the South Korean firm is the world’s largest maker.
“With improved demand, a spike in DRAM prices helped Samsung continue with a solid performance in the second quarter,” said analyst Park Sung-soon at Cape Investment & Securities.
Those price increases were likely driven by data centres stockpiling chips and so are unlikely to continue, analysts said.
Though DRAM prices jumped 14 percent in the quarter, they were flat in June versus May, showed data from DRAMeXchange.
“Until uncertainty stemming from the pandemic goes away, the sector’s outlook isn’t too positive,” said CW Chung, Nomura head of research in Korea.
In smartphones, Hyundai Motor Securities estimated Samsung’s operating profit fell 16% in April-June.
Gadget sales have fallen along with discretionary spending during the pandemic. Samsung’s smartphone shipments hit a low in April and is likely to take time to recover, analysts said.
Samsung’s display business – whose customers include Apple and Huawei Technologies – is likely to post a second consecutive quarter of loss, analysts said.
The firm will likely release detailed earnings figures later this month.

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EU regulators probe Google’s proposed Fitbit acquisition – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

EU regulators are checking whether Google’s purchase of Fitbit might allow it to drive rival makers of wearable devices, app developers and other online service providers out of the market, and boost its dominance in online advertising and search.
Healthcare providers are also being asked whether they would see Google as a rival if it is allowed to buy the fitness tracker company in a US$2.1 billion deal criticised by privacy and consumer groups, according to EU documents seen by Reuters.
The EU queries underscore the importance of Fitbit’s trove of health data generated from its devices, which are used to monitor users’ daily steps, calories burned and distance travelled, and how this could further extend Alphabet Inc-owned Google’s market power into a fast-growing area.
A 47-page questionnaire to potential rivals asks if the deal will reinforce Google’s dominance in general search and online advertising and how the smartwatches and fitness trackers market will develop if the Fitbit deal does, or doesn’t, go ahead.
“In your view, would the aggregation of Fitbit’s data to Google’s database strengthen Google’s position in the supply of online search advertising services?” regulators ask.
They want to know if users will have another option should the prices of Fitbit’s devices go up, and whether Google will provide its operating system for smartwatches at less favourable terms, or even stop providing them, to Fitbit’s rivals.
App developers for mobile payment services, digital service distribution, navigation, translation, virtual assistant and search are all being asked if the deal will result in lower prices and more choice, or the opposite.
Another 11-page questionnaire asks healthcare providers whether their customers would migrate to a new Google competing service in the event Google has access to Fitbit’s devices or data.
The European Commission is scheduled to decide on the deal by July 20.
Australia’s antitrust regulator has warned against the deal, while US and EU advocacy groups have also voiced criticism.

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Empty data centres multiply in China’s far-flung provinces – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Remote Chinese provinces are building more data centres in deserts and isolated valleys to house powerful computers and servers, but with users scarce, many risk becoming high-tech ghost towns and digital bridges to nowhere.
Beijing is set to spend more than US$400 billion this year on high-tech infrastructure, including data centres, as part of efforts to revive an economy hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.
But companies typically want to store and process data nearby – overwhelmingly in China’s developed east – to ensure the near-instantaneous retrieval vital to stock market transactions, online gaming and video streaming.
Although delays in the data, called latency, are only a fraction of a second, they add up if a process demands multiple rounds of data retrievals and computing.
The ideal location of a data centre is within 80 km of its core users, experts say.
In middle of the vast Gobi Desert, the government of Jinchang in northwestern Gansu province is installing thousands of servers.
With its mining resources exhausted, the former nickel capital of China is searching for cleaner industries to drive its economy.
Jinchang is planning up to 2 billion yuan (US$283 million) of data centre investment this year after an initial outlay of 1 billion yuan in 2017, Vice Mayor Gou Jun told Reuters.
But it has rented out just one-third of its 2500 server racks in the first phase of the project, which started operating early this year, Gou said in a recent interview.
Only half of the computing and storage capacity of China’s 74,000 data centres is utilised, analysts say.
But by region, data centres in bigger coastal cities are massively oversubscribed, according to a report by Guizhou-based Hua Chuang Securities.
Eastern data centres struggle to expand because of limits imposed by local governments leery of spikes in electricity consumption by energy-hungry computer servers.
By contrast, many provinces in underdeveloped areas, which account for 32 percent of China’s server racks, are running at 26% of capacity while enjoying abundant solar and wind power resources.
Yet western provinces like Qinghai and Yunnan plan to invest tens of billions more yuan in data centres in the next few years.
Tibet is planning a 11.8 billion yuan data centre. Xinjiang is eyeing mega data centre clusters with a total of 200,000 server racks by the end of this year.
Data centres could help drive local government revenues in China’s underdeveloped hinterlands. But underperforming assets could risk worsening weak credit profiles, already burdened by state-owned enterprise borrowing.
“There are many non-performing projects in lower-tier cities built on fake market demand in the last investment spree, and some local governments just use them as a way to access central government funding,” said Qu Haifeng of the China Data Centre Committee, an industry association.
The governments of Qinghai, Yunnan, Tibet and Xinjiang did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Geographical mismatch
Information technology infrastructure investment by data centre operators may reach 416.7 billion yuan (US$59 billion) this year, according to an estimate from CCID Consulting, a state-backed IT consultancy.
But analysts say local governments need to consider how they can make money on their data centres and not add more unused capacity.
“It’s not a smart investment for some localities,” said Yang Zhiyong, an analyst at CCID Consulting.
“Idled facilities mean little rental income for the government, amid high operational and maintenance costs.”
China’s industry ministry and the state economic planning agency did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Far-flung data centres also mean hassles in upgrading and maintaining hardware.
“People don’t want to come to our place due to unfavourable weather and inconvenient transportation,” Jinchang’s vice mayor said. “The lack of professionals is a big issue we face.”
CCID Consulting’s Yang said remote provinces could focus more on data centres that store “cold data”, such as archived images, and process less time-sensitive tasks, such as animation rendering, software testing and industrial simulation.
“If some local authorities invest on impulse without thinking carefully of how to make a profit, (the project) could be a snare,” Yang said.

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Apple not dominant in any market, senior executive says – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Apple, the target of EU antitrust investigations into key segments of its business, on Tuesday rejected accusations of market dominance, saying it competes with Google, Samsung and other rivals.
Earlier this month, the European Commission opened investigations into Apple’s App Store and mobile payment system Apple Pay, concerned about its role as a gatekeeper to its lucrative platform.
“We compete with a wide variety of companies, Google, Samsung, Huawei, Vivo, LG, Lenovo and many more,” Daniel Matray, head of Apple’s App Store and Apple Media Services, told a Forum Europe online event.
“In fact, Apple does not have a dominant position in any market, and we face strong competition in every category, in tablets, wearables, desktop and notebook computers, maps, music, payments, messaging, and more,” he said.
Matray defended Apple’s App Store, saying the same rules apply to all developers, large and small, with 85 percent of apps not required to pay a 30 percent fee to the company which is only valid for those which use its in-app payment service.
The EU is investigating whether this requirement and rules preventing developers from informing users of cheaper products elsewhere are anti-competitive.
It is also probing Apple’s terms and conditions on how its mobile payment service Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites, and also the company’s refusal to allow rivals access to the payment system.
The EU investigations were prompted by a complaint by Swedish music streaming service Spotify and an e-book rival.
Matray said the App Store has boosted competition, rather than harmed rivals.
“In the nearly 12 years since the App Store debuted, the best measure of its success is the dynamism it has unleashed and the state of the app economy today,” he said.

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AEC looks to ditch all paper lists on polling day – Strategy – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: Australian Electoral Commission

The days of polling officials using massive paper sheets to mark off names on election day in Australia could be numbered. 
The Australian Electoral Commission has begun investigating the possibility of operating its electronic certified list (ECL) system at “100 percent of polling places” in the future.
It has issued a request for information to understand the cost of a polling place management solution, including hardware, to “facilitate the potential expansion of the ECL device fleet”.
The ECL system, which has been developed in-house, has been deployed at 16 electoral events, including the last three elections, since 2013.
It allows polling officials to “efficiently” search and mark off the names of voters on an electronic copy of the electoral roll using a laptop before handing out a ballot paper on election day.
The digital equivalent on the paper list also enhances the integrity of the voting process by ensuring that individuals don’t game polling stations, and vote only once.
According to the agency’s latest annual report, more than 4500 ECLs and more than 2700 printers were deployed at the 2019 election – more than three times as many as in 2016.
But while ECL use has increased to around nine percent of all polling places, AEC has been reluctant to provide devices at every polling place until now due to the high cost of doing so.
“Due to the high cost of establishing an ECL fleet, ECL devices have only been used in priority polling places – pre-poll, mobile teams and select marquee static polling places,” it said.
The limited lead time for a federal election is also a barrier, with the agency often only given 100 days to prepare for polling day.
“In the current-state operating model only 10 percent of issuing points utilise ECL; as such the majority of voters have a fully paper-based voting experience,” documents state.
However, the AEC is now looking to find “innovative ideas and approaches to a deployment and device management solution of portable devices” at more than 7000 polling places.
It comes just weeks after it went looking for additional staff to join the agency’s next generation ECL project and election systems modernisation program teams.
The agency expects that any ECL solution covering 100 percent of polling locations would include 58,000 ECL device and polling place management device packs and 17,490 printers.
The successful provider would be required to source a “fit-for-purpose fleet” at “short notice” and store, repurpose or dispose of the equipment when it is no longer needed.
However, it would also be scalable, so that other electoral events that require less devices such as byelections can also be catered to.
“The variation in event types and fleet requirements makes it difficult to find a cost-effective way of acquiring, managing and disposing of devices and printers,” RFI documents state.
“Leasing and disposing of devices and printers after each event is expensive; storing devices and printers between events has logistical, cost, and technology challenges.”
Other deployment options being considered by the agency range from a minimum of 16,700 devices, including 14,850 ECL devices with a printer, to 37,800 devices.
It has not given a timeframe for when it expects the solution will be introduced, though it likely to be after the next election in 2021 or 2022.
The agency’s current footprint consists of 2750 ECL devices with a printer and 1850 ECL devices without a printer.
The solution provider would also need to “ensure all devices connect to AEC services via a secure network”. 
At the last election, devices connected “to a private APN mobile broadband network using individual SIM cards within each ECL device.”
Submission to the polling place management solution RFI will close on 27 July.

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