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Caterpillar is an IIoT Hipster — they’ve been into it since the 90s

How the heavy equipment manufacturer unlocks 45% increases in efficiency for customers with the Internet of Things

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J&B Excavating owner Brenen Newman was facing a labour shortage. To avoid a slowdown in the business, he needed to get his 19-year-old son working on excavating operating equipment fast.

Problem was his son had little experience. But thanks to advances in digital and IoT tech, Brennan’s son had no trouble getting up to speed.

“He picked it up the first day,” Newman said. “The second day he dug a basement by himself without a grade checker. I don’t know that a guy with 20 years of experience could do that.”

Unlock decades of experience

The machine Newman’s son was working on was a Cat 300 series excavator that includes Caterpillar’s IoT technology and services toolkit called Cat Connect. The tech allows for services to increase efficiency and improve performance, like Grade with Assist. Grade with Assist allows operators to reach grade quickly and accurately, by offering guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade.

Related: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

Both Newman and his son appreciated the simplicity of the tech. “This machine is a trainer,” Newman says. “You can put an inexperienced operator in it, and the machine will train that operator how to dig flat and how to hold grade.”

Caterpillar says this Cat Connect feature and others — such as Cat GPS, Cat Link, Cat Payload and others — increase operating efficiency by up to 45 percent.

For example, another construction company, Hemphill Construction, has been able to cut down on surveying, reduce project cost per hour and, working with their Cat dealer, perform predictive maintenance and protect the value of their assets.

Cat’s been into IIoT since the 90s

Caterpillar launched its vision to leverage the internet for service in the 1990s. Now, the company has 186 dealers and about 500,000 connected assets worldwide.

Tom Bucklar, Caterpillar’s director of IoT and channel solutions, says their digital strategy is “customer-centric.” It’s not just focused on giving insights for Cat equipment, but all the equipment a customer may have in a “mixed fleet.”

“We started in the mid-90s connecting equipment, we now have one of the largest install bases of connected equipment, which gives us a lot of rich data to build customer solutions,” says Bucklar. “When we start to talk about our digital strategy, we really look at digital as an enabler. At the end of the day, we’re not trying to build a digital business. We’re trying to make our customers more profitable.”

[Download]: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

Earlier this year, Caterpillar started using AT&T’s IoT services for the connectivity and management of their fleet of heavy machines in 155+ countries, which will bring 4G to Cat Connect services. “[It] will deliver near real-time information to Caterpillar, its dealers and customers about their equipment’s performance on a job site,” according to reports.

Well Positioned for the Future

In the next 3 years, Caterpillar is planning on “using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for sales, operations and service applications,” says Terri Lewis, digital and technology director at Caterpillar in this Automation World article. Possibilities include virtual rendering of products for sales conversations or machine performance data displayed via an AR overlay on a physical product via on a mobile device.

Bucklar says that all the data collected from Cat’s IoT devices means companies and consumers are able to access insights and analytics en masse.

[Download]: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

“What IoT does is bringing all that data from connected machines into one place,” he says. “You can start to get massive amounts of insights, and with analytics can really start to build some rich solutions and customer value.”

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Technology

Lenovo develops new AR headset called ThinkReality

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Chinese technology firm Lenovo is making a serious pitch for a big slice of the augmented reality headset market through the launch of its ThinkReality A6 glasses.

The new headset, the latest under the company’s ThinkReality brand, has been called “small but mighty” by Lenovo, with the headset weighing around 380g (0.83lbs). The weight has been reduced by having the battery worn separately to the main unit.

The headset comes with a 40-degree diagonal field of view with 1080p resolution per eye in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The visuals are powered by an onboard Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SOC. The device has two fisheye cameras on the front, as well as depth sensors and a 13-megapixel RGB sensor, plus an in-built microphone. One of the important features is that the headset can detect where the user is gazing to optimize resolution or navigation. The headset works over Wi-Fi but not 4G or 5G.

The device has an ecosystem that is capable of integrating with existing enterprise systems. Lenovo have said the ThinkReality A6 is compatible with existing augmented reality content, and it offers highly functional device management software. In terms of the operating system, this is Snapdragon 845 CPU running an Android-based platform, plus an Intel Movidius chipset with wave guide optics from Lumus.

Part of Lenovo’s strategy is to capture the growing business interest in augmented reality. This includes providing services for remote working. Lenovo’s strategy, according to Computer Business Review, includes developing hardware, software and services aimed at the 2.7 billion deskless workers globally,

The cost of the new headset has yet to be confirmed, although aim is for the price to be competitive and to be able to compete with rival products, like Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, which retails around $3,500.

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Financial Services

Unskilled staff threaten banks’ ability to digitally transform

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Only four percent of bank business and IT executives believe that the impact of technology on the pace of banking change has stayed the same over the past three years, while 96 percent said it has either significantly accelerated or accelerated, according to a new report from Accenture.

This technological disruption has a large effect on how banks operate, and it seems unlikely that the pace of change will decelerate anytime soon.

Here’s what it means: Some technologies will have a bigger impact than others, but it will require substantial work from banks to stay on top of them.

AI is the most promising technology to transform the banking space. Forty-seven percent of respondents said AI will have the biggest impact, followed by just 19 percent saying the same for quantum computing and 17 percent for distributed ledgers and blockchain. The disappointing outcome for blockchain appears to be in line with recent announcements from banks: Citi has abandoned its plans to launch a crypto and Bank of America’s tech and operations chief has expressed skepticism on the benefits of blockchain.

Banks’ workforces appear to be at different stages in terms of tech savviness.Seventy-four percent of banking respondents either agree or strongly agree that their employees are more digitally mature than their organization, resulting in a workforce waiting for their organization to catch up. However, 17 percent of respondents said that over 80 percent of their workforce will have to move into new roles requiring substantial reskilling in the next three years, compared with only 5 percent saying the same for the last three years.

Additionally, banks don’t know as much about third-party partners as they perhaps should. Over one in 10 banking respondents believe that their partners’ security posture is extremely or very important, as well as that their consumers trust their ecosystem partners. However, only 31 percent of respondents say they know that their ecosystem partners work as diligently as they do, while 57 percent of them simply trust their partners and 10 percent hope that they are diligent.

The bigger picture: Banks need to prepare for a future that will require them to put in a lot of resources, and some might struggle.

To make the most of AI opportunities in banking, incumbents need to upskill their workforces. While AI is the most promising technology to transform the banking space, this promise can only be realized if banks have the necessary talent in-house to adopt new AI solutions. As such, they should make it a priority to upskill their staff to make AI transformation a success — which may be difficult for those players that have to upskill a majority of their workforce.

And banks need to up their security efforts since open banking is becoming a global trend.Open banking makes working with third parties more frequent. This will force banks to double down on their security efforts, as a security breach with their partners could affect customer trust in a bank’s overall services. If employees aren’t up to date with new technologies — including application programming interfaces used for open banking, and AI — they can’t keep a bank’s network secure.

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2019.

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Healthcare

Artificial intelligence assesses PSTD by analysing voice patterns

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Artificial intelligence can be used to assess whether a person is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder through an analysis of the subject’s voice patterns, noting and processing any variations to predict the medical diagnosis.

The research is not only useful at close quarters, it also offers a potential telemedical approach to use applied to the assessment of patients located in remote areas and away from specialist medical facilities.

The study comes from the NYU Langone Health and NYU School of Medicine, where the researchers used a specially designed computer program to assess the stress levels of veterans by analyzing their voices. The key findings have been presented to the conference of the International Speech Communication Association.

Conventionally post-traumatic stress disorder by clinical interviews or self-assessment. This can prove to be a lengthy and variable process, which was partly the reason for training artificial intelligence as well as the remote medical reasons.

To develop the technology, the scientists used a statistical and machine learning tool termed ‘random forest’. This form of artificial intelligence has the ability to “learn” how to classify individuals based in learnt examples and using decision-making rules together with mathematical models.

The first step with the development of the technology involved recording standard long-term diagnostic interviews (which are classed as PTSD Scales under Clinician’s Checks) with 53 U.S. veterans from campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, who has been assessed as suffering from different forms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These were compared with interviews with 78 non-ill veterans.

Each of the recordings was added into the voice software and this produced a total of 40,526 short speech voices. These were used to train the artificial intelligence. Once trained, the technology was then tested with a new set of subjects, who were known to the researchers and some of who had been assessed as having post-traumatic stress disorder. The next aim is to introduce the artificial intelligence into the clinical setting.

Commenting on the study, lead scientist Dr. Charles R. Marmar notes: “Our findings suggest that speech characteristics can be used to diagnose this disease, and with further training and confirmation, they can be used in the clinic in the near future.”

The output from the study has been published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, with the research study titled “Speech‐based markers for posttraumatic stress disorder in US veterans.”

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