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RTC Magazine

RTC magazine spotlights trends and breakthroughs in the design, development and technology of embedded computers. The publication offers broad based technical, product and market-coverage of the embedded computer arena to industry decision makers. With strong market analysis and technical content, RTC is the magazine engineers and managers rely on for timely coverage of this developing and expanding industry. We offer FREE subscriptions for qualified subscribers.

Old Standards for Neural Networks Bring New Risks

Neural network accelerators are playing catch up with AI applications already leaving them behind

As artificial intelligence infiltrates an increasing number of fields, its usage is moving from non-real-time situations to latency-critical real-time applications, led by autonomous vehicles. However, as the growth of AI has happened so quickly, benchmarks have fallen behind. This means teams considering hardware acceleration for self-driving cars, robotics and other real-time applications are using the wrong tools for platform selection. This results in significant costs, power wastage, and systems that are simply not designed to handle tasks like real-time inference.

The team at AImotive has a background in developing benchmarks for high performance graphics. As a result, we understand hardware platforms extremely well. When developing aiDrive, our full-stack software suite for self-driving, we saw a substantial gap in appropriate hardware. That is why we created aiWare. In creating our IP we took the demands of real-time applications, such as aiDrive, into account, not only the benchmarks everyone else uses. As a result, we can achieve far higher performance and lower latency than others, at a fraction of the power-consumption.

The traditional approach to benchmarking neural network accelerators for computer vision is centered around a relatively simple task, handled by relatively simple neural networks: image classification. An image with a resolution of 224 by 224 pixels is uploaded to the network, and the algorithms must successfully identify what is in the picture. Runtime is measured, but latency is not truly an aspect. This is where problems begin, as large input files run through complex neural networks emphasize the inherent flaws of current embedded accelerators.

Benchmarking processes must adapt to accommodate new demanding use-cases, such as self-driving technology. Current accelerators are ill-equipped to handle streams of [...]
By |April 2nd, 2018|Articles, RTC Magazine|Comments Off on Old Standards for Neural Networks Bring New Risks|

Can Artificial Intelligence Forecast Bitcoin?

There has been quite a bit of concern over the years about artificial intelligence and its impact on investment markets. In a phrase, regular traders increasingly feel like they’re at a disadvantage as algorithmic programs that essentially amount to AI learn to make the right trades, and make them quickly. Then again, there are also some benefits for some casual investors. For instance, the popular mobile app Acorns has set itself up more or less as an automated mutual fund, investing people’s spare change on its own according to user preferences for a risky or conservative approach.

What isn’t discussed too much just yet is whether concerns about artificial intelligence in financial investing ought to extend to the burgeoning cryptocurrency market. It’s something that may in fact be worth talking about.



To this point, the biggest supposed link between AI and cryptocurrency has been something of an internet conspiracy theory. The theory is not, as one might expect, that AI programs are determining high volume cryptocurrency trades; rather, it’s that bitcoin might have been created by AI. This makes some intriguing sense on the surface because the creator of bitcoin (as well as the blockchain and by extension all other cryptocurrency concepts) is notoriously mysterious. We don’t have a full, confirmed identity for the figure, so some on the internet believe that there is no figure.

Given that the theory tends to go on to suggest that the AI that created bitcoin is attempting a slow takeover of the world, it’s fairly easily dismissed. It does at least get the conversation started about what role if [...]
By |March 19th, 2018|Articles, RTC Magazine|Comments Off on Can Artificial Intelligence Forecast Bitcoin?|

Designing the IoT into HVAC Products and Systems

Unless you’ve already designed, built, and marketed a connected IoT product, it’s almost impossible to imagine the intricacies that will arise. That’s because IoT interconnectedness—and the multilayered implications of that interconnectedness—affect even the most mundane-seeming product decisions.

by Vinay Malekal, Ayla Networks

HVAC product design has become a game of balance to determine how many new features can be squeezed into an existing product design without breaking it.

That approach won’t work for the Internet of Things (IoT). While HVAC architectures have always been composites of multiple, distributed elements, the distributed elements of IoT products operate less and less independently from the system as a whole.

Think About Interoperability

For IoT products to reach their full potential, they must connect and interoperate with the broadest possible range of other connected products, from a variety of manufacturers, as well as with services such as energy management, weather forecasting and environmental conditions. Your IoT products will also need to reach customers worldwide and support cloud-to-cloud connectivity with various IoT platform, manufacturer, and retailer clouds.

Interoperability is something that has to be designed in from the outset; it can’t be added on later.

Plan how your connected HVAC products will interoperate with other connected products—both your own and those from other manufacturers—as well as with various cloud infrastructures and third-party services. Also consider how your connected HVAC products will interoperate with other technologies, devices, and services that might emerge in the future.

The best way to achieve interoperability is through using open, native libraries and other standards-based solutions. Choose a cloud architecture that is schema-less and agnostic to any particular data types. That way, your connected HVAC products can interoperate with existing clouds and connectivity methods as well as future cloud and connectivity approaches.

Approach Security [...]

By |February 26th, 2018|Articles, RTC Magazine|Comments Off on Designing the IoT into HVAC Products and Systems|

Using Artificial Intelligence to Counter Cyber Threats

By Tim Crosby, Spohn Security Solutions

In a constantly evolving digital threat landscape where firewalls and antivirus programs are considered tools of antiquity, companies are looking to utilize more technologically advanced means of protecting crucial data. Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a global warrior against cyber threats as security technologies are incorporating AI programs that utilize deep learning to discover similarities and differences within a data set.

  “AI to enhance our response!” “AI, the future of threat intelligence is here!” “AI enabled threat solutions!” It all sounds great – science fiction for today. AI will make your life easier and eliminate all but the most sophisticated attacks by government-sponsored secret organizations that couldn’t possibly want to target you, right?  The reality is it still requires you, the human responsible for securing the network, to make decisions.   AI, in terms of today’s marketing or social media-driven definitions, is machine learning.  It is the combination of IPS, IDS, firewall, routers, switches, SNMP and logs all feeding data to a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management). The SIEM needs to be loaded with known threat analysis information (behavioral patterns, traits, and malicious software signatures from a subscription service and/or observed/logged behavior) which comes from humans that have identified these in responding to an attack or compromise.  Every attack is new or modified to get around known defenses and still requires people/teams to identify these new attacks.   The latest SIEM 2.0 from AlienVault’s commercial product is approaching 100K known behavioral patterns that are indicators of malicious activity.  As fantastic as this product is, it still requires human interaction. When an event is detected, it produces an alert or triggers positive action that ultimately requires a human to determine if it was an attack, a new [...]

OpenFog Security Requirements and Approaches

TECHNICAL CONSORTIUM PAPER – (This is not an RTC Exclusive) The emerging interconnection among mobile/IoT devices, Fog Nodes and Cloud servers are creating a multi-tier pervasive communication-computing in­frastructure that will one day embody billions of devices and span across elaborate hierarchies of administration and application domains. This novel infrastructure and its operation paradigms will give rise to new security challenges as well as new service opportunities. This paper provides an overview of the security landscape of OpenFog architecture as well as a survey of the functional requirements and the technical approaches currently being discussed in the OpenFog Security Workgroup. As a report of on-going work, this paper aims at stimulating further dialogue on Open­Fog Security and fostering future development of novel technologies and practices.  

                                                                                                                                                              I.  Introduction

With the deployment of Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMNs), Internet of Things (IoTs) and Edge/Fog/Cloud Computing, the world is undergoing the largest overhaul of our information service infrastructure ever. This will drastically change the ways we live, work, move around, produce goods, provide services, interact with one another and protect our planet… Naturally, along with the foreseeable benefits come the potential problems. Information security and service trustworthiness have long been identified as the pre­eminent issues of our heavy dependency on the global information infrastructure. The pervasive presence of the smart devices and their physical vulnerability heighten our concerns. The increasingly devastating cyber-attacks [1,2] seem to confirm our worst nightmares. The sluggish responses of the product and service vendors towards these vulnerabilities and attacks often leave us feeling helpless. In OpenFog Consortium [3], we firmly believe that by inserting pervasive, trusted, on-demand computing services between the information providers and consumers, we can mitigate security risks and ensure service availability and responsiveness. In [...]

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning Impact the Future

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning Impact the Future

An Interview of Dr. Maya Dillon, Head of Data Science, Global Centers of Expertise at Luxoft, a global technology consulting company focused on business transformation solutions for Fortune 500 companies.

By John W. Koon, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Dillon provides support for data science solutions across Luxoft’s Lines of Business. She helps clients make sense of large, disparate data sources to extract real actionable insight. As a result, she helps businesses deliver new, differentiated products, driving competitive advantage. Dillon is a member of the Tech London Advocates organization and a supporter of The Royal Astronomical Society. She received her Doctorate in Astrophysics from the University of Warwick.

1. Can you provide an overview of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning and how it will impact the future development of technologies? Please include an example or two.

There are two particular arenas of AI that are fascinating to me:

Healthcare: Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases:

AI is now capable of diagnosing diseases with greater accuracy than human doctors by taking into account a larger number of factors. The use of AI in subsequent treatment is also compelling, particularly in the case of cancer. AI now supports everything from the identification of tumors, to implementing therapy, to aiding the excision of masses. Such methods are vastly improving the efficacy of current treatment plans, and consequently improve the quality and longevity of patients’ lives.

Automotive: Self-Driving Vehicles:

The key to a successful self-driving vehicle is ensuring the AI controlling the vehicle is constantly aware of the events occurring around it, in order to recommend or enforce a course of action.

However, [...]

By |October 15th, 2017|Articles, Editors Report, MEDS, RTC Magazine, Special Feature, Technology In Context|Comments Off on How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning Impact the Future|

The Many Flavors of Low-power Wide Area Network (LPWAN or LPWA)

The Many Flavors of Low-power Wide Area Network (LPWAN or LPWA)

The impending shut down of 2G networks creates confusion for organizations with varied industrial connectivity needs and the movement has created a window of opportunity for unlicensed low-powered wide area networking (LPWA) solutions like LoRaWAN, SigFox and others. “The Many Flavors of LPWA” takes a closer look at these new LPWA options, addressing their varied features and benefits to help organizations in deciding which one best meets their unique and varied requirements.

By Derek Wallace, MultiTech

The options for industrial connectivity are broad and growing, including analog, Ethernet, cellular, satellite, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the up-and-coming Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies, which seek to address key limitations of the others in order to better enable the growing Internet of Things, specifically: range, cost and battery life. While cellular operators are voluntarily shutting down the earliest 2G networks and driving M2M/IoT customers to not only upgrade their physical devices, but also purchase bandwidth beyond what is generally needed for M2M and Industrial IoT applications – 75% of which use less than one megabyte per month of data, according to James Brehm & Associates. The global carrier community is looking to variants of LTE and even forward years to 5G to address this disconnect. Unfortunately, from a practical perspective, these alternatives (LTE Category M and Narrow Band IoT [5G]) are still on the horizon in terms of immediate adoptability. This timing disconnect has created a window of opportunity for unlicensed LPWA networking solutions like LoRaWAN, SigFox and others. These solutions can run for years on batteries and operate in locations other technologies simply don’t reach. Plus, because they operate on unlicensed spectrum, they deliver device connectivity at a fraction [...]

By |October 15th, 2017|Articles, RTC Magazine, System Development, Technology Connected, Technology focus, Technology In Context|Comments Off on The Many Flavors of Low-power Wide Area Network (LPWAN or LPWA)|

Engineered Success: The Engineer’s Contributions to FDA Medical Device Market Commercialization

The FDA process for medical device clearance is a frequently heard story … but not from the engineer’s perspective. When it comes to commercializing a medical device, the engineering team plays a key role in facilitating successful market entry.

When it comes to regulatory compliance and public safety, most medical device companies rely upon the skills of a professional engineer to ensure their product effectively fulfills its intended use. The contributions the technical team can make to facilitate the commercialization process are both critical and substantial. In fact, thinking of commercialization strategies that include engineering expertise from product concept through completion may help your product get to market faster, more easily and more affordably.

Preparing for and Anticipating the FDA Commercialization Process

One of the most common questions we hear from emerging medical device companies is, “When should we begin preparing for the FDA?” The answer is, “As soon as possible.” Emerging companies often devote their time, talent and treasure to product development. During the R&D phase, companies are typically driving toward the completion of their pre-clinical program or a final prototype. Because the focus is so intent on product development, and commercialization seems to be in the distant future, it can be easy for activities like documentation related to meeting FDA expectations to be pushed aside.

Documentation, however, is critical for an FDA submission. There are a number of activities the engineering team will be involved in supporting, such as the development of technical documentation that is part of a submission. At minimum, these activities include preparing documentation like completing risk assessments and performing validation activities. Engineers are vital for these [...]

By |September 15th, 2017|Articles, MEDS, RTC Magazine, Technology Deployed, Technology focus|Comments Off on Engineered Success: The Engineer’s Contributions to FDA Medical Device Market Commercialization|

Human Factors and Medical Device Development

Human Factors can truly be a win-win for manufacturers, engineers and consumers, but you must PLAN. Human Factors is NOT a “wait and see what happens” activity solely at the end of medical device development.

Virginia A. Lang, PhD

Medical Device Human Factors by HirLan, Inc part of HirLan Institute of Human Factors

You plan for weddings, graduations, holidays and other significant events. Why would you not plan for the successful market launch of a medical device that is going to impact the health and well-being of patients? You plan so that you have a clear picture of costs, timing, profit, etc. You bring in experts from different functions. But, are you including Human Factors/Usability experts at the early planning stages? It has been consistently shown that integrating Human Factors expertise and processes into the early phases of development decreases overall costs and time to market.

Be a Planner. Don’t “wait and see”.

The FDA requires human factors/usability testing of medical devices and in all their guidances they discuss the importance of early integration of human factors/usability. By the way, so do all the ISO/IEC standards for granting the CE mark. They do this because it is known that Human Factors/usability processes and testing is not only a win-win for medical device manufacturers, but also for end users.Human Factors: FDA and CE MarkHuman Factors Engineering is grounded in scientific research methodology, statistics, human physiology, and cognitive information processing. It is the intersection of engineering, human physiology, behavioral performance, [...]

By |September 15th, 2017|Articles, Industry Insider, MEDS, RTC Magazine|Comments Off on Human Factors and Medical Device Development|

Special Report: Connected Health Summit 2017

The healthcare business is a complex one because of its moving parts. Among them are hospitals’ involvement, government regulations (FCC and FDA compliance), insurance which plays a vital role in reimbursement, the device and technology companies that drive innovation and patients who are becoming more educated and influential. Recently, I attended the 4th Connected Health Summit 2017 held in San Diego to find out what is new.

By John W. Koon, Editor-in-Chief

Attendees came from various segments including health/drug, finance, consumer hardware, smart home, semiconductor and software to attend the summit and it was a good opportunity for me to network and learn. Panelists and presenters representing insurance, hospitals, device companies and solution providers and consultants gather here to share their knowledge and experiences. A great deal of materials has been presented over two-and-half days and the key learnings can be summarized as follow.

  • Outcome-based philosophy continues to drive the connected health industry and create new market opportunities.
  • There is a shift from device to data/cloud centric.
  • Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) start to impact the industry.Key LearningsOutcome-based philosophy continues to drive the connected health industry and create new market opportunities.
  • One of the most important factors in the connected health industry is reimbursement. Solution providers face the hurdle of developing good medical devices that people want but fail to “get paid”. Without insurance companies covering the costs of the devices, most users are hesitant to pay form their own pockets. To convince the insurance company that a potential healthcare solution or medical device would mitigate risk and help monitor compliance for a better outcome is easier said than [...]

    By |September 14th, 2017|Articles, Editorial, Medical Solutions, RTC Magazine|Comments Off on Special Report: Connected Health Summit 2017|