Closing the Digital Divide

By Alyssa
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Research-ClosingDigital

According to a recent study by the World Bank, only 19.2% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa and 16.6% of residents of South Asia have internet access, compared with nearly 80% of those in Europe. This dramatic gap is often referred to as the “Digital Divide,” putting developing countries at a distinct disadvantage for economic growth, social mobility and citizen engagement.

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Now, however, thanks to advances in technology and the efforts of entrepreneurial risk takers, a number of firms are racing to launch advanced satellite systems that promise to bring broadband internet access – even multichannel video streaming – to parts of the world that still lack such basics as around-the-clock electricity and landline telephones.

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A article in the most recent issue of Compass magazine explores several different projects that aim to bridge the digital divide.  These include including OneWeb which plans to ring the Earth with a chain of 648 small satellites that can transmit to simple terminals anywhere on the planet and CMMB Vision, which aims to provide audio, video and internet services at little or no cost in China, India and the Southeast Asia countries.  It also covers Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative and Google’s Project Loon.  What will such projects mean for citizens, business and government if Internet access becomes more widespread? Come discover more about these innovative projects that aim to provide digital access to every corner of the world.

How drones are helping Japan overcome a labor shortage

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

The “i-Constructioninitiative was unveiled last December by Keiichi Ishii, Japan’s minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism. Its goal is a 50% increase in construction workers’ productivity. Japan’s labor force is projected to decline to 56.8 million in 2030 due to a shrinking population, down 14% from 2010, and automation is seen as a strong solution.

The program mostly involves developing standards for integrating information and communications technology (ICT) with the construction industry. The new technology is being developed by the private sector.

Komatsu Ltd., a large Japanese construction company, is leading the charge. With experienced bulldozer pilots in scarce supply, Komatsu three years ago started looking for ways to make the job easier.

“Bulldozers move earth to get the foundation ready,” explains Christian Sanz, founder and chief executive of Skycatch Inc., a San Francisco company that uses its own specialized drones to create extremely accurate land surveys, which is working with Komatsu. “To do that, you need a really skilled pilot to cut the earth.”

With real-time, digitized 3D data about the volume and shape of the dirt, the bulldozers can be highly automated.

What is removed from the equation is how experienced the pilot has to be,” Mr. Sanz says.

Completely robotic trucks and equipment already are at work in Australian mines, but for safety reasons, the Komatsu bulldozers continue to have a person in the cabin. Automation allows less-experienced pilots to execute complex maneuvers and experienced pilots to do them even faster, vastly improving productivity.

Skycatch drones work in two ways. First, drones gather data to generate surveys of the site. A traditional survey done by humans takes about two weeks to complete on a typical construction site. Skycatch can do the same work in four to six hours, and the resulting data can be communicated to automate bulldozers.

In addition, objects, such as trees or construction equipment, on the job site have to be removed before human surveys—a labor-intensive process that can take another week. Software can remove such objects for digitized surveys.

The survey process usually is done twice, once before work starts and then a refresh after the machines have started cutting the earth. That means the drones can speed up work by over a month.

Skycatch’s drones and technology can deliver surveys that are accurate to between one and three centimeters. “You need accuracy within centimeters in order to automate,” Mr. Sanz says. “Our margin of error is almost zero. Human surveys are extremely accurate and reliable, but they take two weeks on average.”

Surveyors can map a few hundred points per day, whereas Skycatch drones can survey a few million points in about 15 minutes.

While Skycatch makes its own surveying drones, it also can use its software to enable other drones that have the ability to collect imagery with GPS and create survey images, but at accuracies of 10 centimeters to 15 centimeters.

Komatsu compares the digital surveys with engineers’ completion drawings, which also have been converted to 3D, in order to calculate the precise area and volume of earth to be moved. Then, the data is used to run simulations of each stage of work.

Komatsu also uses fleets of Skycatch drones to gather information during digging, in order to guide the bulldozers, in what Komatsu calls Smart Construction. Conventional bulldozer pilots follow small wooden stakes planted in the ground, but Smart Construction bulldozers don’t need stakes.

The future of drones in construction isn’t in building, but in gathering data to give machines eyes, Mr. Sanz says. “Drones will never pick up something as heavy as a boulder and move it somewhere,” he says. “The visibility and accuracy of automated machines moving things is what drones will be able to create.”

The construction industry tends to be conservative, he says. “People are married to the old way of doing things. But having i-Construction become the standard in Japan is going to force every company to move in that direction.”

Japan’s i-Construction initiative is a good model for other countries, he says, by differentiating regulation of drones for commercial use—such as construction—from consumer use. The regulations will set requirements for accuracy, cameras on drones, equipment validation and quality of data to ensure quality and safety.

As for the future of drones in construction, the sky’s the limit. “Komatsu has a vision for 10 to 20 years that will blow people’s minds,” Mr. Sanz says.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

The Internet of Experience

By Olivier R.
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In an age where connectivity and the internet of things are enabling new business processes, Dassault Systèmes is looking to move a step further and help deliver compelling and connected experiences

Olivier Ribet Dassault Systemes

by Olivier Ribet, Vice President High Tech Industry

At Dassault Systèmes, we’re no longer talking about ‘internet of things’, but rather about the ‘internet of experiences’. Why? Because we believe that the business of every industry is rapidly transforming from ‘delivering compelling experiences’ – which defines the age of experience we have spoken of for three years – to ‘delivering compelling and connected experiences’, capable of enhancing people’s lives.

Although the objects or ‘things’ we own have ears (recording devices), eyes (cameras), voices (speakers), and some even have touch, this silicon nervous system does not send all of its information to a single brain, but rather to far too many brains: company platforms, city platforms, government platforms and individuals’ platforms, which in the end makes my experience cumbersome rather than enjoyable. Applications (both business and consumer-facing) that are single-device, single-purpose, and run on closed systems do not enhance our lives. They can even be gimmicky.

The real challenge will be to ‘connect’ those brains. This is why Dassault Systèmes is developing powerful solutions for the internet of experiences that permit manufacturers, communication providers and users to see, analyse, dashboard, program and optimise their ‘things’ from within one simple, visual environment. Our solutions enable companies to track and understand customers specific behaviours in order to offer meaningful and personalised experiences.

The internet of things, as it is being built today, is an internet of smart things that don’t always live up to their name. When companies that build the ‘things’ fail to meet customer experience demands, the internet of things is destined to stumble and fall. On the other hand, businesses that take an ‘experience thinking’ approach genuinely enhance people’s lives. They are reaping the rewards of the internet of experiences.

In the high tech industry, our customers work with us on enabling what we call High-Tech 3C Experiences: the ‘Connected’, ‘Contextual’ and ‘Continuous’ experiences:

  • Connected: it becomes common practice for companies to embed sensors, actuators and network connectivity in their products, thus realising the potential of connecting products, nature and life.
  • Contextual: as a result of this constant connectivity, the product can dynamically adapt its behaviour, the content it exposes, the services it offers, and realises the promise of an individualised and highly customisable experience.
  • Continuous: companies want to keep a constant contact with their customers to grow loyalty and repurchase, in order to deliver the promise of evergreen delightful experiences.

Beyond the Internet of Things

Ultimately, this is all about connecting, contextualising and continuously delivering the necessary software, applications, content and services that make the overall experience of the end user delightful and efficient. This covers everyone from designers, machine operators in manufacturing plants to individual consumers in their car or in their kitchen.

The internet of experience continuously enriches and improves an evergreen experience, in which products learn from its environment and from its usage and adapt accordingly. It enables the simple and seamless connection of smart objects – be it large industrial equipment or small smart medical devices – to other objects. This makes it possible to create a swarm of connected objects and to develop a true ecosystem in which the value of services delivered constantly improves.

Furthermore, the internet of experience is also enabling the rapid evolution of an economy in which people own products and objects to an economy where they use them, based on their needs, on-demand. It allows the development of new value added services, and a larger footprint for brands and companies who can then reach out to new audiences and markets, while also ensuring a very strong traceability of product usage. Companies can continuously learn, adapt, enrich and develop new content, services and a next generation of products. This is achieved by tapping into the intelligence gained from the large set of data coming from real time usages.

Working with our customers and partners, Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform truly bridges the world of ‘digital/virtual’ and the world of ‘physical/real’. It allows continuous experience value creation, leveraging the power of the model-based systems engineering capabilities. It is also the only multi-scale, internet of things-aware environment that enables the system modeling and the simulation of connected experiences concurrently and seamlessly.

A notable example is Miele, who are aiming to change the experience of owning a home appliance through connectivity. As part of the KogniHome project, Miele – in collaboration with universities and other companies – is investigating how intelligent applications can be of benefit in the kitchen. The aim is to create an ecosystem that helps create a greater level of comfort and spontaneity for consumers.

Dassault Systèmes’ uniqueness is to provide virtually-enriched experiences and reality-enriched design. On the one hand, we provide access to 3D data and bill of material in the context of product usage; on the other hand we allow better product design based on insights gained from real usage. With sharing one platform, companies can invent (virtually validate ‘internet of experience ready’ design), run (digitally augmented operations), learn (real time experience optimisation) and improve (accurate data enriched simulation).


To find out more, visit our High Tech website or read the Compass Mag article ‘Beyond the IoT‘.



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