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Broadcomm, Qualcomm Merger May Face Resistance In China

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The proposed mega-merger between chipmaker Broadcom Ltd and U.S. rival Qualcomm Inc is likely to face stern scrutiny from China, antitrust lawyers say, amid a strategic push by Beijing into semiconductors.

Broadcom made an unsolicited $103 billion bid for Qualcomm on Monday, aimed at creating a $200-billion-plus behemoth that could reshape the industry at the heart of mobile phone hardware.

But Chinese regulatory approval could be a hold-up. Beijing and Washington have sparred over technology deals, including in chips, with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) knocking back a number of takeovers involving Chinese firms this year.

The thorny topic is likely to come up when U.S. President Donald Trump visits China this week – with Qualcomm executives in tow.

The merger would face a lengthy review from the anti-monopoly unit of China’s commerce ministry, due to strategic concerns, the huge size of the deal and because Qualcomm has come under fire before in the country over competition concerns.

“This is a critical industry for China and Qualcomm has been fined by the Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) before so it’s on its radar,” said Wendy Yan, Shanghai-based partner at law firm Faegre Baker Daniels.

Qualcomm agreed to pay a record fine of $975 million in China in 2015 to end a probe into anti-competitive practices related to so-called “double dipping” by billing Chinese customers patent royalty fees in addition to charging for the chips.

China is making a major push to develop its own semiconductor industry under local champions such as Tsinghua Unigroup and Fujian Grand Chip Investment to help cut reliance on global operators including Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Intel Corp.

Can A Robot Manage People

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Up to a third of British Workers would be happy to report to a robot boss given the option but most thought that if it was the boss, it should pay tax.

The survey of 1,000 workers for accounting package Freeagent found that 31 per cent of those surveyed said they would be happy to work for a robot, with 10 per cent believing it would be “just the same as answering to a human boss”.

42 per cent said they would be “comfortable” taking orders from a robot. Men are more receptive than women, with 48 per cent of men saying yes, but just 36 per cent of women.

The most enthusiastic were the Welsh, where 38 per cent said they were down with a metallic master, whilst Northern Ireland was just behind with 37 per cent.

Bill Gates has said he believes that robot workers should pay tax like the rest of us (presumably subbed by pocket money from their masters – it’s a posh way of saying that there should be a robot levy to protect human workers). 57 per cent agree that “if they’re replacing the role of a person, the company owning the robot should be taxed the same”.

However, 43 per cent say that it would set a precedent for taxing technology, a view echoed by the EU in recent findings.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent said: “Although it might be many years before we see physical robots taking over the workforce, many workers are already anticipating the changes that automation will bring in the years ahead.”

“The shifting landscape of AI and new technology will have a major impact on people in employment, but I don’t think that this is a gloomy outlook for the workforce. Previous research we’ve carried out has suggested that many employed people are keen to quit their jobs and start their own businesses. So as automation takes a more prominent role in the workforce, it’s likely we could see a self-employment boom in the future.”

“Previous research we’ve carried out has suggested that many employed people are keen to quit their jobs and start their own businesses. So as automation takes a more prominent role in the workforce, it’s likely we could see a self-employment boom in the future.”

“In this scenario, automation will actually be a major benefit for these new businesses, as technological advances will make business admin and data management much easier to manage than ever before.”

Alternatively, it could just be bloody creepy and lead to mass unemployment. And then for others, they’ll probably never notice the ruddy difference. We’ll leave that for you to decide.

Courtesy-TheInq

Siemens Strengthen Automotive Push With Tass Acquisition

August 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

German industrial group Siemens said it will acquire Dutch self-driving software specialist Tass International for an undisclosed sum to strengthen its automotive business.

Tass makes software that can simulate complex traffic scenarios, validate autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance systems and replicate the impact of a car crash on a human body.

It has annual turnover of around 27 million euros ($32.3 million) and around 200 employees.

“Tass International is a proven leader in both integrated safety and autonomous driving, two fields of engineering that are increasingly important for the industry,” Siemens’ Digital Factory unit Chief Executive Jan Mrosik said in a statement.

Siemens said it would combine Tass’s software with its own advanced simulation products as well as electronic design capabilities from recently acquired Mentor Graphics.

Siemens bought Mentor Graphics for $4.5 billion earlier this year. It was its biggest industrial software acquisition.

Did The Dow Jones Cloud Server Leak Personal Data

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A security Company called Upguard has exposed a problem with a Dow Jones server that partially exposed the details of as many as 4 million people.

This is bad news for Dow Jones and its punters. UpGuard suggests that there was some oversight in the setting up of the weak point, which could have been avoided. If it has been avoided a lot of people might be the sole owners of their own email addresses and some of their credit card details unmolested.

The UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now report that a cloud-based file repository owned by financial publishing firm Dow Jones & Company, that had been configured to allow semi-public access exposed the sensitive personal and financial details of millions of the company’s customers,” said the firm.

“While Dow Jones has confirmed that at least 2.2 million customers were affected, UpGuard calculations put the number closer to 4 million accounts,” said UpGuard, adding that this is just the tip of the breach iceberg. 

The exposed data includes the names, addresses, account information, email addresses, and last four digits of credit card numbers of millions of subscribers to Dow Jones publications like The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. 

“Also exposed in the cloud leak were the details of 1.6 million entries in a suite of databases known as Dow Jones Risk and Compliance, a set of subscription-only corporate intelligence programs used largely by financial institutions for compliance with anti-money laundering regulations,” the security firm added.

Other security companies have cottoned on to what is happening and have naturally thrown their tin foil propeller hats into the comment ring. Christiaan Beek, lead scientist and principal engineer at McAfee, seemed to sympathise by saying that firms face a lot of threats, but wound up blaming human error and software.

“Companies today are battling an increasingly varied threat landscape while managing huge amounts of data. It can be a challenge to keep close track of where this data resides to ensure it is secure – and in this case, one small error in the cloud resulted in a large scale exposure,” he said.

“The reality is that as companies become more focused on preventing cyber crime, they may be unconsciously shooting themselves in the foot in their efforts to be completely secure. It is not unusual for businesses to have over 10 security tools that require constant monitoring in order to ensure everything is correct – meaning that unfortunately, human error becomes a key factor in monitoring and safeguarding data.”

We have asked Dow Jones to explain itself.

Courtesy-TheInq

IBM Teams With Swiss Engineering Firm ABB On Artificial Intelligence

April 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

ABB has inked a collaboration agreement with International Business Machines Corp, the Swiss engineering company said on Tuesday, the latest move to increase its presence in digital technology and the internet of things.

In a joint statement ABB said it would combine its digital offering, which gathers information from machinery, with IBM’s expertise in artificial intelligence featured in its Watson data analytics software. The two companies will jointly develop and sell new products.

“This powerful combination marks truly the next level of industrial technology, moving beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to industrial operations and machines that use data to sense, analyze, optimize and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers,” ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement.

For example, instead of manual machinery inspections, ABB and IBM intend to use Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time images collected by an ABB system, and then analyzed using IBM Watson.

ABB has identified digital technology – where machinery communicates with control centers to increase productivity and reduce downtime – as a driver of growth. It now gets around 55 percent of sales from products that are digitally enabled.

As part of the drive, the company last year signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp to roll out digital products for customers in the robotics, marine and ports, electric vehicles and renewable energy sectors.

To spearhead its strategy, it appointed former Cisco executive Guido Jouret as its first chief digital officer last year.

Teledyne Looks To Expand Product Line, Acquires E2V Tech

December 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

teledyne-logo-150x150British imaging sensor maker E2V Technologies Plc announced that it has agreed to an all-cash acquisition offer worth about 620 million pounds (around $780 million) from Teledyne Technologies Inc.

Teledyne is expected to expand its product basket, which include monitoring and control systems for industries such as oil and gas exploration and marine research, after the acquisition.

E2V, which makes sensors for cameras and radio frequency generators for various industries, said Teledyne has offered 275 pence each per E2V share, a premium of 48 percent to the U.K.-based company’s closing price on Friday.

 Shares of E2V were up 47 percent at 273 pence per share, just below the offer premium, implying the company’s shareholders were not expecting a higher bid.

E2V said Teledyne had received acceptances from about 45 percent of its shareholders, and said the company’s board supports the offer.

The acquisition comes at a time when engineering and technology companies are seeing increased demand for technologies that help in averting industrial and environmental disasters such as the BP Plc oil spill in 2010, a concern for governments worldwide.

In August, auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG said that it was seeking expansion opportunities in machine learning, semiconductors and sensor technologies as part of an aggressive push into autonomous driving and connected cars.

The Climate Corporation, a unit of Monsanto Co, said earlier this year that it was developing a network of in-field sensors to expand the scope of farming data flowing into its digital agriculture platform.

SAP Expands IoT Footprint With Plat.One Acquisition

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

sap-logo-150x150SAP has acquired IoT software developer Plat.One,taking the first step of a plan to invest $2 billion in the internet of things over the next five years.

Some of those billions will be spent on the creation of IoT development labs around the world, SAP said Wednesday. It already has plans for such labs in Berlin, Johannesburg, Munich, Palo Alto, Shanghai and São Leopoldo in Brazil.

The company is also rolling out a series of “jump-start” and “accelerator” IoT software packages for particular industries, to help them monitor and control equipment.

Another compoent of SAP’s IoT plan is to acquire new businesses, the latest of which is Plat.One. This company makes a platform that helps smart devices talk to one another and with a central database, translating between the different protocols they use to communicate. Plat.One says it manages 200,000 devices for 25 enterprise customers, including three telecommunications companies: BT, T-Systems and Telecom Italia.

Back in June SAP bought Fedem Technology, a Norwegian company specializing in the modeling of structures under load. By mapping sensor data from real structures onto these models, SAP intends to create digital avatars of buildings and industrial machines that can be inspected for wear or damage virtually, without the need for a site visit.

SAP is not alone in having designs on the industrial IoT market. Hewlett Packard Enterprise teamed up with GE to sell that company’s Predix IoT platform back in June, with GE naming HPE its preferred storage and infrastructure provider in return. The following month it was Microsoft’s turn, as it struck a deal to put GE’s Predix on the Azure cloud platform.

SAP’s plan for Plat.One is to link it with its HANA Cloud Platform, built around the company’s HANA in-memory database. One of the strengths Plat.One claims for its software is that it works well on the network edge, particularly in environments where connectivity to cloud platforms is intermittent. That could be useful for tracking machinery in industrial or mining environments with patchy network coverage.

Plat.One is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, but it was founded near Genoa in Italy, where its research team is still based.

 

Can Robots Become Criminals?

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Analyst have been shuffling their electronic tarot cards and reached the conclusion that by 2040 the people committing the most crimes will be robots.

Tracey Follows from The Future Laboratory, which helps businesses plan for the future through its research and consultancy experts, has been looking at the matter after more and more robots could be used in industries replacing humans on jobs.

Follows, chief strategy and innovation officer, said that Futurists have been forecasting a sharp rise in lone-wolf terror attacks for years.

“But once robots can be hacked to become suicide-bombing machines, lone-robot attacks could become rife too,” she warned.

Follows is not really a sci-fi writer. Her work in telecoms, technology, retail and media  has helped to shape the future strategies of brands such as T-Mobile, BT, O2, EasyJet and John Lewis.

She said that artificial intelligence and machine-learning could let robots  self-program criminal activity.

“My forecast would be that by 2040 more crime will be committed by machines than by humans,” she commented.

Experts have been warning that as more and more robots replace humans in jobs the future could see problems when their programs are hacked or they go rogue. Now it seems that even when you are being mugged, the robot could be the perpetrator.

Courtesy-Fud

GE Partners With Huawei Technologies To Develop Smart Machines

July 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

General Electric Co announced that it would partner with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd  to develop smart machines designed to boost productivity, part of a drive to promote its “industrial internet” business in China.

The U.S. industrial giant announced the partnership as it launched an $11 million digital space in Shanghai, where it plans to incubate start-ups and have developers work on new software applications to make machines more intelligent.

The move is part of GE’s ambitious plans to lead a productivity revolution in global industry by combining machinery with analytics, after selling off its financial assets and embarking on a major restructuring.

Chief Digital Officer Bill Ruh said the world’s biggest maker of jet engines and diesel locomotives had already made $500 million in productivity savings for itself this year by using smarter machines, and he expected this to grow to $1 billion in total by 2020.

“Once we got it right for ourselves we take it to our customers … We’re bringing this to China, we’re open for business in China today to be able to do this,” he said at a company event in Shanghai.

GE is investing $500 million annually in software as part of the digital drive, and Ruh said the company expected the products to bring in about $6 billion in revenue this year.

 

Allianz Launches New Cyber Insurance Product

July 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The burgeoning threat of hacking and the need to protect data more stringently will accelerate demand for cyber insurance in Europe, insurer Allianz said as it launched its first product aimed at Germany’s small-to-medium-sized manufacturers.

Cyber insurance has been slow to take off in Europe with fewer than one in 10 firms having taken out a policy, said Christopher Lohmann, head of the region Central and Eastern Europe at Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality (SGCS).

But he believes greater awareness among companies and new regulation, such as Germany’s I.T. security law which came into force last year and orders 2,000 providers of critical infrastructure to report serious breaches, will spur demand.

“There are many reasons to believe that cyber insurance will evolve into the fire insurance of the 21st century,” he said, adding a functioning IT system and secure data are critical to many businesses and their reputations.

Home to world champion manufacturers, Germany offers rich pickings for hackers, and attacks on industrial production sites are rising, according to the government’s latest IT Security Report.

Forty percent of German companies were affected by e-Crime over the past two years, according to a study by consultancy KPMG in 2015, an increase of 50 percent over 2013.

Germany’s small-to-medium-sized manufacturers, known as the Mittelstand and which form the backbone of its economy, are particularly vulnerable as they lack the big budgets for I.T spending.

The threat is growing as companies move to connect machinery to the Internet to enable it to collect and exchange data and make it easier to control remotely.

Despite this, cyber premiums in Germany were estimated to be worth only around $10 million last year. This compares with an estimated premium volume of $2.5 billion in the United States, according to Lohmann.

Peter Grass from the German Association of Insurers expects cyber insurance to become a matter of course for all companies whose business models depend on I.T.

“The development is relatively rapid – also because the public and politics are becoming ever more aware that this can be an economic problem,” he said.

The first cyber insurance policies were launched on the German market in 2011 and around 15 insurers are now active in the market. Other big players include Axa, Hiscox, Ergo (part of Munich Re) and Zurich Insurance.

 

 

 

GE, Microsoft Team Up On Cloud Services

July 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

GE and Microsoft have joined forces to bring the industrial giant’s Predix platform-as-a-service offering to the Azure cloud, the two companies announced Monday.

It’s a move that helps add to the portfolio of Internet of Things services available through Microsoft’s cloud platform, at a time when the company is pushing its service for IoT applications. The announcement came during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, where GE CEO Jeff Immelt talked with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on stage.

Predix is a platform-as-a-service offering that’s designed for building applications that have industrial uses. Predix services that developers can tap into include asset management and anomaly detection offerings, among others.

The cloud deal is one part of a larger partnership between the two companies. Looking forward, Microsoft and GE plan to better integrate Predix into a variety of products including Azure’s IoT Suite and Cortana Analytics Suite. Predix’s integrations are also slated to expand to encompass productivity tools like Dynamics 365, Office 365 and Power BI.

The announcement joins a number of other Microsoft partnerships in the cloud software space. The company is also working with a wide variety of other service providers including SAP and Red Hat.

In addition to announcing the partnership, Immelt offered some words of wisdom for businesses currently undergoing a digital transformation like the one GE faced, especially in the industrial sector. In his view, companies need to be more aggressive about digitizing their businesses or face getting left behind as the world transforms.

“My belief [is that] we’re in a line of demarcation for industrial companies,” Immelt said. “There’s a past, and there’s going to be a future. And the future is really going to be derived on who digitizes the fastest.”

 

 

 

Interest Grows In Collaborative Robots

June 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robots that work as assistants in unison with people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, according to industry experts.

Collaborative robots, or “cobots”, tend to be inexpensive, easy to use and safe to be around. They can easily be adapted to new tasks, making them well-suited to small-batch manufacturing and ever-shortening product cycles.

Cobots can typically lift loads of up 10 kilograms (22 lb) and can be small enough to put on top of a workbench. They can help with repetitive tasks like picking and placing, packaging or gluing and welding.

Some can repeat a task after being guided once through the process by a worker and recording it. The price of a cobot can be as little as $10,000, although typically they cost two to three times that.

The global cobot market is set to grow from $116 million last year to $11.5 billion by 2025, capital goods analysts at Barclays estimate. That would be roughly equal to the size of the entire industrial robotics market today.

“By 2020 it will be a game-changer,” said Stefan Lampa, head of robotics of Germany’s Kuka, during a panel discussion organized by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) at the Automatica trade fair in Munich.

Growth in industrial robot unit sales slowed to 12 percent last year from 29 percent in 2014, the IFR said on Wednesday, weighed by a sharp fall in top buyer China.

The world’s top industrial robot makers – Japan’s Fanuc and Yaskawa, Swiss ABB and Kuka – all have collaborative robots on the market, although sales are not yet significant for them.

But the market leader and pioneer is Denmark’s Universal Robots, a start-up that sold its first cobot in 2009 and was acquired by U.S. automatic test equipment maker Teradyne for $285 million last year.

 

 

UPS And SAP To Offer On-demand 3D Printing Service

May 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

UPS and SAP announced plans to offer a distributed, on-demand manufacturing network based on 3D printing that will be available through The UPS Store in more than 60 locations around the U.S.

3D printed goods will also be available through UPS’ Fast Radius on-demand production platform and its 3D printing factory in Louisville, KY.

“The integration into one additive manufacturing and logistics solution this summer will make 3D printing accessible to more potential users, enabling them to realize the convenience and cost-savings this technology offers,” UPS said in a statement.

Users can visit the Fast Radius website (formerly CloudDDM) to place 3D printing orders, which will be transferred to the closest 3D manufacturing or UPS Store location based on speed, geography and the product quality the customer requires.

Some orders can be completed and shipped the same day, UPS said. The service is not limited to U.S.-based customers; UPS will take orders globally.

The new service integrates SAP’s extended supply chain software with UPS’s 3D printing machines and logistics network, enabling “on-demand industrial manufacturing for companies of all sizes,” UPS said.

“SAP customers will be able to digitize and simplify the production part approval process through SAP and their orders can be seamlessly routed to UPS for production and delivery,” the company said.

Stan Deans, president, UPS Global Distribution & Logistics, said “additive manufacturing technology is still developing rapidly so manufacturing as a service is a smart approach for many companies.”

 

 

 

Toshiba To Shed Part Of Chip Business

January 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s Toshiba Corp plans to shed part of its chip business as it attempts to recover from a $1.3 billion accounting scandal.

The electronics conglomerate has started accepting bids, with early interest shown by the Development Bank of Japan Inc, said the sources, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

The state-owned bank has already invested in Seiko Holdings Corp’s semiconductor operations.

The sale would exclude Toshiba’s mainstay NAND flash memory operations, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter and one person familiar with the discussions.

On the block are businesses that handle system LSI and discrete chips, which are widely used in cars, home appliances and industrial machinery. The loss-making operations posted sales of 330 billion yen ($2.78 billion) in the year ended March 2015.

A Toshiba spokesman told Reuters the company hasn’t made a decision yet on the sale of its chip operations, while a spokeswoman at the Development Bank of Japan declined to comment.

Following the accounting scandal, Toshiba has been focusing on nuclear and other energy operations, as well as its storage business, which centers on NAND flash memory chips used in smart phones.

The Tokyo-based company, which is selling off non-core chip operations, plans to invest heavily in its flash memory production capacity in Japan to better compete with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

 

Cyber Attacks On Industrial Controls Systems Rising

January 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A U.S. government cyber security official warned that there has been an increase in attacks that penetrate industrial control system networks over the past year, and said they are vulnerable because they are exposed to the Internet.

Industrial control systems are computers that control operations of industrial processes, from energy plants and steel mills to cookie factories and breweries.

“We see more and more that are gaining access to that control system layer,” said Marty Edwards, who runs the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT.

ICS-CERT helps U.S. firms investigate suspected cyber attacks on industrial control systems as well as corporate networks.

Interest in critical infrastructure security has surged since late last month when Ukraine authorities blamed a power outage on a cyber attack from Russia, which would make it the first known power outage caused by a cyber attack.

Experts attending the S4 conference of some 300 critical infrastructure security specialists in Miami said the incident has caused U.S. firms to ask whether their systems are vulnerable to similar incidents.

Edwards said he believed the increase in attacks was mainly because more control systems are directly connected to the Internet.

“I am very dismayed at the accessibility of some of these networks… they are just hanging right off the tubes,” he said in an on-stage interview with conference organizer Dale Peterson.

Edwards did not say whether those attacks had caused any service disruptions or threatened public safety.

Sean McBride, a critical infrastructure analyst with iSight Partners who attended the talk, said the increase may reflect more publicity in recent years over risks over cyber attacks, which prompted operators to find more infections.

McBride said he could not say if the increase was troubling because he did not know the intent of the attackers.

Edwards and a DHS spokesman declined to elaborate on his comments.

 

 

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