The IoT: Friend or Foe?

By Alyssa

wrist screenshot for 3DP

The internet of things (IoT) is transforming everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that is rapidly changing the way we live our lives. From refrigerators and cars, to parking spaces and houses, IoT is bringing more and more items into the digital fold every day. Our homes, to give one example, could soon be tracking everything we do on a daily basis – from locking and unlocking the front door, to automatically ordering the groceries when the fridge is empty.

Whether we want, or are indeed ready, for this new level of automation, is another matter. But it won’t be long before it is the norm and a new evolution in technology once again changes our lives as we thought we knew them.

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For Olivier Ribet, vice president of Dassault Systemes’ High Tech Industry, the key question is: “how do you determine when you allow [IOT] devices to take decisions on your behalf and when don’t you?”

So far, all of these objects have explicitly asked you ‘do you want me to do that for you?’ Now, more and more, you start to see people saying we shouldn’t even question [devices taking decisions our behalf],” Ribet says.

Projections are telling us that within the next decade the internet could connect as many as 200 billion things – and not just machines such as cars or household appliances, but anything that you can fit a chip or sensor into – including humans. While these IoT devices should make life simpler, even healthier, can we trust them to look after us?

This is the question at the core of a new series, What’s Next in the Internet of Things?  We invite you to check out the video, article and infographic that explore the impact IoT devices on humankind.  Can they really change how we interact with one another?  Will they truly keep us more safe – or do they open us to new privacy concerns?  How can testing via the 3DEXPERIENCE platform help companies who are creating these innovative devices better understand every possible and unprecedented scenario before we use the products in real life?

Catch the entire series here, and let us know in the comments below what you think!

 

NOTE: The video, infographic and article were first published as an Advertisement Feature on bbc.com and were created by the BBC Advertising Commercial Production team in partnership with Dassault Systèmes.

 

Sustainability Series blog post: Removing the “E” from E-waste

By Christina

Pile of mobile phone scrap

 
In 2015, if your smartphone is over 4.6 years old, consider it a dinosaur.That’s what a 2014 consumer survey revealed as the average perceived lifespan of a smartphone, the shortest of any consumer electronic. Given rapid innovations in size, weight, autonomy or other features, it’s not surprising that these devices have become, in essence, disposable when the next best thing comes along.

But have you ever wondered what happens to the smartphone or other consumer electronic you are replacing?  We’re not pointing any fingers, but electronic waste or “e-waste” is a growing global environmental problem.

E-waste might only represent a small fraction of total global waste, but it represents 70 percent of the toxic stuff.  Its hazardous heavy metal substances, when sitting in landfills or incinerated, contribute to pollution and health problems.

To counteract this frightening statistic, regulations now prohibit the sale of products with certain levels of toxic components, or require manufacturers to bear the cost of the entire product lifecycle, including disposal.  While these have helped improve the situation, they have not stemmed its growth.

Moreover, these sustainability efforts present a host of issues for manufacturers.  There is often little consistency in regulatory requirements from country to country:  existing products must be modified and tested for new compliance; suppliers must be targeted according to local requirements and also validated for compliance; and compliance must be readily accessible at every phase of the product lifecycle to avoid costly, late-stage design changes.

What to do?  Either consumers can stop buying products and manufacturers will stop making them (and we know that won’t happen) or we can enhance technology to help consumer electronics reach sustainability goals.  With innovative tools—software in particular—companies can design more sustainable products and packaging by considering energy efficient production, logistics, usage and component lifecycles.

Design and engineering decisions have a great impact on a product’s total environmental footprint. Software advances can help to ensure a high standard of consumer electronics product quality and appeal to consumers—while giving them the peace of mind about the environmental aspect of their purchase.

Considering this, one of the features of our “Smarter, Faster, Lighter” industry solution experience is end-to-end traceability, from requirements through qualification and validation of detailed hardware and software components.  It also allows a life-like visual mock-up that integrates these requirements and other features, before any physical product is even manufactured.

Megacities minus mega-traffic

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

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Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The number of megacities—i.e., those with more than 10 million inhabitants—is expected to rise to 41 by 2030, from 28 today, with most of the increase occurring in emerging economies.

Urbanization is particularly strong in China, where some 16 million rural Chinese migrate to cities every year. In addition, China also suffers from chronic air pollution, made worse by rising middle-class car ownership. With 154 million cars on the road in 2014, particulate-matter counts—a measure of air quality—regularly surpasses 500 micrograms per cubic meter, about 20 times the World Health Organization pollution guidelines.

China’s government is trying to improve the urban environment. Its six-year New Urbanization Plan includes plans for hundreds of new “eco-cities,” though existing eco-cities, such as Shenyang, Caofeidian, Nanning, Dongtan, Qingdao and Sino-Singapore Tianjin, have had mixed results.

“They’re making courageous attempts and are learning from success and failure,” says Victor Vergara, lead urban specialist at the World Bank. “If you have a situation where you have a greenfield and you have a lot of capital, you’re able to do things that otherwise couldn’t be done.”

But sometimes the cities don’t have the natural economic base to grow organically. You can’t invent a city. It has to emerge from a marketplace where people work and study and enjoy themselves.”

However, cities in emerging economies tend to grow haphazardly, with irregular settlements that don’t conform to (often unrealistic) zoning laws. Indeed, urban growth is so rapid that even cities with strong traditional institutions have a hard time keeping up, Mr. Vergara notes.

Despite these challenges, some cities are working to grow in ways that make them sustainable and pleasant places to live. That means rejecting the urban sprawl typical of U.S. and some Latin American cities, in favor of urban areas that are compact, walkable and well-served by public transport.

Such transit-oriented development prioritizes support for public transport over private cars. It aims to make the best use of land around transit nodes and stations, attracting more people and increasing land prices in the process. “It’s basically good urban planning, which puts long-term public interest before short-term private gain,” Mr. Vergara says.

One key to success is ensuring that schools, shops, health care, work, and other basic facilities are available locally. “The first thing is designing, or at least steering, their growth in ways that limit as much as possible the need for mobility,” Mr. Vergara says.

Cities have to be polycentric, with more than one area where services are available to citizens. They also have to have many neighborhood centers where people can walk to get their basic daily needs, like shopping.”

Walkable cities must also have good sidewalks and prioritize pedestrian safety, avoiding dangerous intersections and long waits when crossing broad avenues. And when longer journeys are necessary—for example, commuting across town for work—cities must ensure that good public transport is available, Mr. Vergara says.

In the past, you have had the whole thing upside down. You had roads that defined how cities grow, rather than cities that want to grow a certain way and have roads that enable that growth,” he adds.

As a result, some initiatives to limit car usage, such as car ownership quotas or odd- and even-license plates for driving on alternate days, have backfired. “In middle-income countries, people just buy a second car,” he says, and often one that’s older and pollutes more. A better way to discourage car use is by charging for driving on congested roads and through stricter parking policies.

Meanwhile, cities can make public transport more attractive: by subsidizing ticket prices; allowing single-ticket transfers between transport modes—such as from bus to metro—and reducing connection times; introducing more bus lanes to make bus journeys faster than by car; and by making buses and train cars more comfortable.

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And many cities are doing just that. Curitibia, in southern Brazil, first focused on rapid-transit bus services four decades ago, later upgrading with dedicated bus lanes, level boarding, free transfers and futuristic tube-like bus stops. Despite its high level of car ownership, 70% of the city’s commuters use the bus system.

In East Africa, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are adopting rapid-transit bus systems to improve service while shifting commuters away from unregulated, high-polluting minibuses.

“There are new ways of living that people have to understand to make large cities viable,” Mr. Vergara says. “Cities need to be both efficient and equitable in order to ensure shared prosperity and poverty reduction.”

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

 

Photos courtesy of iStock



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