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Big Data

Big Data has been touted as the answer to many problems. Currently many organisations are collecting everything they can get their hands on in order to try and make sense of it, either now, or eventually. And then of course to leverage that for profit, advantage, protection, whatever…

But there is a massive flaw in one aspect of this. For instance, you can determine that there is a statistical correlation between 2 sets of numbers, but that doesn’t mean it is causative.

Tyler Vigen

Tyler Vigen

Tyler Vigen has written Spurious Correlations to demonstrate just this issue. Below are 2 examples.

Spurious Correlation #1

Spurious Correlation #1

So it looks like the US spending on science correlates with suicides. But does it cause it? Or is this merely a coincidence?

Spurious Correlation #2

Spurious Correlation #2

Same here. Would suggest spelling bees stick to short words only to limit the damage they could be doing.

And this is what we need to be careful of. Now this doesn’t mean our own thinking can’t be fooled. Rolf Dobelli in The Art of Thinking Clearly documents 99 more common cognitive biases we can suffer from. Think of these as bugs in our thinking algorithms. An example is Confirmation Bias. Most people believe they are above average. Nearly half of them are wrong. This is called Illusory Superiority.

So the danger is concluding there is a cause and effect relationship when there is not. Leading to decisions being made and outcomes not working out as expected. There are no simple answers here. The above examples are selected because it is easy to conclude there isn’t a direct relationship. It is harder to discern when the data is big and an auto-correlating algorithm is coming to it’s own conclusions.

The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly

And to round off, here is Rolf Dobelli talking about The Art of Thinking Clearly.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Artificial Intelligence

There has been hype about Artificial Intelligence, or AI, ever since we starting thinking about creating it. Moves to create truly independently thinking systems are still struggling but expert and self-learning systems have made a lot of progress.

So I was interested to get an email from Karthik Reddy of 16best.net  with a new blog post from them about how brands are using AI to enhance their marketing.

Here is a snippet. Click on it for a more readable version.

Artificial Intelligence Use Now

Artificial Intelligence Use Now

The projection that really interested me is “100% of IoT initiatives will be supported by AI by 2019″. That is a pretty substantial claim. And of course not all the support will be in field as the processing power to make a difference is usually in the back end systems. Given we do a lot of projects for devices that fit the Internet of Things category I’m fairly confident that this is likely to be true. I’m not convinced it will be 100% but it will be high. And this is because once you have devices in the field gathering data, you start making connections between the data and outcomes, and then it becomes valuable.

A good example of this is the arcHUB Smart Cities Sensor devices. Once you have the data, you can learn a lot from it. And then you can start making better decisions. And then you can actually measure the improvements.

You can see all the details in How Brands Use AI including detailed statistics from many well known companies on how they are using AI.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Self Driving Cars

Waymo, the Google spin out that is progressing their Self Driving Car technology, also know as the Autonomous Vehicle, has released a video showing how the current technology works and what being in a Self Driving Car looks like for a passenger.

Enjoy.


While this is still an emerging technology, it is also quite mature. And this is understandable given the consequences of failure. So far they have 5 million miles of self driving experience. So how is the safety progressing? To quote big think “Google’s self driving car is ridiculously safe” with the conversation moving in the direction where we might find manual driving outlawed. The feature some commentary from Brand Templeton which is well worth listening to.


So this is no longer an issue of if, but of when.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

 

 

C Programming Language

The C Programming Language was developed by Dennis Richie and Ken Thompson at Bell Laboratories between 1969 and and 1973. It was the successor to B and used to create Unix. The recent bad experience with the Multics time sharing operating system development had made Bell Laboratories sensitive to that sort of cost blowout so the project was not widely promoted until the first working version was complete.

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

So what did C bring to the table that made it such a valuable asset? Here is a list:

  • can be used to directly interface to and manipulate hardware and IO
  • so it allows you to get close to the hardware itself
  • was a procedural programming language supporting structured programming
  • can be used to write an operating system
  • or sits very close to the operating system
  • had flexible naming conventions
  • had flexible memory allocation (static, local, global and dynamic)
  • could be compiled to machine language with a relatively simple compiler
  • is portable (mostly)
  • compiles to very fast executing code
  • compiled program can run without an operating system and do not need a virtual machine or any other components

The disadvantage compared to more modern procedural programming languages is that you usually do more typing to achieve the same outcome, it isn’t object oriented by nature and the variable typing is flexible so you can create some spectacular program failures if you get the cast wrong or convert a void pointer (no type associated with it) to the wrong data type. And one big compatibility issue is Endianness where different computing architectures store multi-byte data with the high byte at the top or bottom of the word so you can’t just swap binary data and expect it to always work. So you surely you would think we would have moved on to something better?

Programming Language Usage Trends

A recent study of computer language trends over the past 10 years by Embedded Gurus shows that unlike the anticipated rise of the C++ Programming Language in embedded systems, the use of C is rising and C++ falling. You can read the full article at C: The Immortal Programming Language where we see that Assembly Language use is falling as expected, the use of  C Programming Language is actually rising.

Programming Language Use Trends

Programming Language Use Trends

Now to be clear, this is for Embedded Software Development. In Top Programming Languages 2017 we see that Python is the most used programming language in the world across all domains with the  C Programming Language coming in second overall. This is a very big jump for Python but also a jump for the C Programming Language.

Successful Endeavours Programming Languages

At Successful Endeavours the majority of our embedded systems code is written using the C Programming Language . Our Windows code is a mixture of C and C++. For website development it is PHP and Python. So that’s 4 of the top 10 programming languages listed in Top Programming Languages 2017 .

Top Programming Languages 2017

Top Programming Languages 2017

So I expect we will be continuing to program systems using C for quite some time to come. Especially smaller system that don’t have an Operating System. Now maybe someone should focus a but more attention on teaching C to the next generation of programmers.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Embedded Systems Safety

In The Internet of Insecure Things we got a glimpse into the source of some of those security issues. Today we benefit from another infographic reproduced courtesy of the Barr Group. This time it is a look at the underlying Software Security that is so important to improving the future and no making it even more vulnerable. So read through the list of areas you might not be paying enough attention to. I know there are a couple we are still working on.

The State Of Embedded Systems Safety

The State Of Embedded Systems Safety

Food for thought. Above I reproduced a low resolution version with their permission. You can get a full resolution version by registering at the Barr Group website.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Insecurity in Cyberspace

This is not one of those topics that makes you feel better initially. In IoT Security we looked at how the emerging IoT world needed to protect itself against attacks. This is a different problem to pure Software Security which has its own challenges.

It was with recent interest that I received a copy of the Barr Group 2018 Embedded Systems Safety & Security Survey . We contribute and so get access to a free copy. I recommend you do the same if this is an area of interest.

They have also put together an infographic that speaks to the The Internet of Insecure Things and I am reproducing a low resolution version here with their permission. You can get a full resolution version by registering at the Barr Group website.

The Internet Of Insecure Things

The Internet Of Insecure Things

It speaks to where the insecure aspects come from. As usual, better Embedded Software Development practice leads to better and more secure products.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Light L16 Wins CES Award

Yesterday I wrote an update on the Light L16 and how it was a good example of Disruptive Innovation in Photography

Light L16

Light L16

Today I learn that CES agrees and awarded it the CES 2018 Best of Innovation: Digital Imaging.

CES 2018 Best of Innovation

CES 2018 Best of Innovation

There are now several industry articles recognising the significance of the multi-camera technology. For additional details see:

The last link is a Wired review from mid 2017 and is a good reflection on both the promise and challenge of new technology as well as how much time it can take to overcome those challenges.

So congratulations again to the team at Light.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Disruptive Innovation

Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma showed us that the business drivers of our current customers blinds us to emerging but currently unsuitable technology that eventually takes over our market. This has led to a focus on Innovation that looks to be disruptive as its primary goal. And I have come to the conclusion that this has hampered our attempts at Innovation. We have set the bar too high. And this isn’t what Innovation was about. Just a way of looking at a specific type of Innovation.

OK, I wrote the above as part of my review of of Frank Connolly of Think Quick and his approach to Practical Innovation. So Google knows I’m plagiarising myself. But here is where the relevance kicks in.

Light - a new camera concept

Light – a new camera concept

In my article on Light Cameras I covered a new concept in camera’s developed by Dr Rajiv Laroia who co-founded Light. The Light L16 is a new camera concept using multiple lenses and cameras to fuse a composite image given focal ranges and exposure ranges not possible in conventional cameras. An excellent example of disrupting innovation. and also an excellent example of The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Announced in 2016 and expected to be ready that year it was not shipping until mid 2017. Why? Because it is hard to do and the ASIC development was late and the core idea of doing the fusion inside the camera in real time is proving harder than expected and data transfers are too slow (they are transferring 16 cameras worth of data for 1 picture) and focus isn’t good enough and low light performance also isn’t good enough and did I mention it is hard!

I’m still impressed with the idea. But like all true disruptions it isn’t good enough when it first launches. Look at the modern DSLR. It shows you the picture you will take, it is seconds from taking the picture to being able to look at it. Focus is multi zone and you can decide how sharp or soft you want it and where. Auto exposure can handle high backlight shots and a wide range of light conditions. Fantastic. And decade in the making. The Light L16 isn’t surpassing it yet but you can see the trajectory and the camera of the future shows its potential now in what they are doing.

I’m also impressed with the open approach they are taking with customers. In a recent article Dr Rajiv Laroia explained why the Light L16 was delayed, how they were supporting their customers and what the plan for addressing the issues is. An excellent example of Collaboration with their customers rather than bunkering down defensively.

This still looks like it will be a success. It will just take longer than any of us expected.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

IEEE

IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, is the largest professional engineering body in the world and has a world wide focus. I am a Senior Member and have always found it worthwhile. In the days before the Internet was as useful as it is now, they were the best source of regular and up to date news about technology advances and what was happening in the world of technology.

IEEE - Advancing Technology for Humanity

IEEE – Advancing Technology for Humanity

IEEE Collabratec

IEEE Collabratec

IEEE Collabratec

A great example of this is the IEEE Collabratec platform. This fosters Collaboration over a very wide range of topics including ethics. I’m a regular contributor and was very pleased to see the figures for the its use in 2017. Check out the graphic below. Click on it to get a larger version that will be easier to read.

IEEE Collabratec 2017

IEEE Collabratec 2017

So a very good year for Collaboration.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

CES 2018

The annual Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up in Las Vegas and a lot of exciting announcements were made. IEEE Spectrum CES2018 has put together a summary. Here are some that I found particularly interesting.

IEEE Spectrum

IEEE Spectrum

5G

5G is expected to launch ahead of schedule with phone manufacturers supporting it toward the end of 2018 and carriers in 2019. It will need a lot more base stations so one of the challenges is how much equipment will be needed for field deployments, and where the workforce to do it will come from.

As an interim measure, Gigabit LTE is already coming online.

Read more at 5G News and Nuggets.

Safe Water from Air

This class of product has been speculated about for a while. So it was great to see a viable example on show. It includes a solar panel to create the energy needed to extract the water. I found it a little odd that the target market for this is the US. The greatest need is in the developing world.

Zero Mass - Clean Water From Air

Zero Mass – Clean Water From Air

The breakthrough idea is using materials that absorb water then heating them to get the water released. Electronic approaches up to now have used cooling which require a lot more energy.

The business model idea is to decentralise water. Like all new technologies, there are a lot of ecosystem issues to be worked through. The great thing is this can be an emergency response option when disasters create a clean water crisis.

Read more at Zero Mass Clean Water From Air.

Gadgets

CES is definitely gadget central. Some are obviously great ideas. And some look a bit crazy at first, until you think about it a bit:

  • HushMe stops your phone conversation being overheard by others
  • Somnox is a robot that helps you sleep better
  • Gemini PDA – should work commercially but it does
  • Fordward CX-1 luggage that follows you around (Discworld anyone)
  • Hip’Air air bags for you hips which inflate if you are falling
  • FoldiMate folds clothes for you
  • DroneHunter is a drone that hunts drones. Being pestered? Get a DroneHunter.
  • Percept and Me.mum work out when a woman is fertile
  • M1 Fetus Camera lets you take your own ultrasounds once you are pregnant
  • Puffco and Oblend target the emerging legal cannabis market
  • Prosthesis is a full sized exoskeleton

The complete rundown is at CES2018 Best and Craziest Gadgets.

Cars

You would think self-driving cars would get the biggest wrap, but it was the first remote controlled car on public roads that got the attention. Phantom demoed driving from 500km away. The biggest issue here is still latency so this one probably con’t go mainstream until 5G rolls out.

Phantom Remote Controlled Car

Phantom Remote Controlled Car

This and lots more news about transportation options including new electric vehicles can be found at CES2018 Remote Controlled Car.

Robots

Were everywhere. Including serving hotel guests and doing deliveries. Delivery Robots are Full Time.

Blockchain

I’m including this one because there is a lot of hype and the computing power to use it make it unusable for many applications. But like AI, the increasing power of hand held computing devices like mobile phones means that we are approaching the point where this can be done in devices, or done in the cloud. For the latter, we need high speed data and low latency. Then the phone can offload the most difficult or memory hungry operations to a cloud service and get the results back. This will open up a lot of new opportunities.

That’s it for now. You can check it out in detail at IEEE Spectrum CES2018.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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