Smart city, smart technology, smart cars, smart homes – you name it; today every aspect of our lives is on to becoming smarter and connected. Technology companies are working overtime to bring us solutions that will help us get there faster. The cities across the world are chalking out overarching plans to become smart, and connected – a city where its every device, every bit of infrastructure can be handled from a single dashboard, which will never fail. It is visionary, and it is realistic as well. But before all this becomes a reality, city councils and technology advisors need to tone down, and take one bit at a time.
According to a report by Dell in Harvard Business Review, there is a need to take a bottom up approach when building a smart city. In fact there are three things that can be done today to inch towards the smart city plan.
Since we need to start small, one of the ways to get ‘Smarter’ is to have buildings that are connected through various IoT solutions. In fact, commercial buildings, and managed spaces can easily start becoming smarter by putting simple data analysis solutions to get insights into usage pattern and improve the resources based on that.
According to Vladi Shunturov, president and co-founder of Lucid, a company that is working with Clinton Global Initiative to develop smart cities, as soon as building operators start to centralise their performance data, analyse the insights, and use technology to improve facilities based on the insights, they get on the path to becoming a smart building. A Lucid report says that building managers can get significant energy savings purely from simple operational measures based on the insights provided by the data analysis. They can save as much as 17 percent on energy consumption by putting in simple systems without really overhauling the older infrastructure.
“As a first step, cities interested in implementing smart building programs can increase the frequency of utility data collection, which will reveal important usage patterns. For instance, instead of tallying utility bills monthly, cities can use smart meters to take readings every 15 minutes. This will help them identify usage patterns and plan effective energy usage based on equipment requirements and building occupancy,” to quote the Dell report in Harvard Business Review. This can be implemented not just in commercial properties but also in schools and large residential complexes and apartment buildings.
From smart buildings we move to homes, where more and more consumers are connecting their various devices to get a seamless experience and improve their lifestyle. Companies are working on technologies to create a home assistant or a hub that will connect and manage various devices, and appliances that modern homes have.
One such instance is the latest Smart Home Reference Platform that Qualcomm Technologies has recently introduced. The Platform based on the Qualcomm SnapDragon 212 Processor has been designed to provide computing, voice recognition, audio, display, camera, connectivity, and control capabilities for home control hubs and smart speakers, extending to home appliances and multimedia devices as usage patterns evolve. Talking about this new platform during CES 2016, Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, said “This Platform is another excellent example of how we tap into our rich portfolio to build flexible, integrated platforms that support the way people are interacting with their increasingly connected smart homes – both today and in the future.”
In fact the company has made this platform available to OEMs to start developing devices that will enable a smart home for the consumers. This prototype includes a full hardware design for the OEMs. This can be used to develop smart speakers, home control hubs, home appliances, multimedia devices like TVs and set-top boxes. “This Snapdragon 212 Smart Home Reference Platform gives our customers powerful capabilities that can help accelerate the use of high-end computing, voice recognition, audio, display and camera throughout the smart home ecosystem,” explained Talluri.
This platform has the capability to provide Hi-Fi Smart Audio for streaming music, audio feedback, keyword voice wakeup, sound position tracking to determine user location relative to the device, sound focus to capture voice from specific areas, position tracking, fast connectivity through different connectivity channels, and display interface in a QHD format that is ideal for cover art display, on device UI for settings/preferences, and always-on content options like weather, clock, alerts and emergency notifications.
The most popular mode of travel – our cars – are getting smarter also as they come integrated with artificial intelligence that can potentially prevent crashes and accidents, and make travelling by car a safe and peaceful affair.
In fact, car manufacturer Volvo has made autonomous technology as a key driver of its Volvo Vision 2020 initiative – its plan to develop safer cars. “Our vision is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020. This work has resulted in world-leading advancements in autonomous and semi-autonomous driving, and a new safety benchmark for the automotive industry,” said Marcus Rothoff, director of the Autonomous Driving Program at Volvo Cars.
To give shape to Volvo Vision 202, the car manufacturer is working with NVIDIA. It is using NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 – powerful engine to enable in-vehicle artificial intelligence. Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO, NVIDIA, added, “Modern artificial intelligence and GPU breakthroughs enable us to finally tackle the daunting challenges of self-driving cars.
The new platform will allow the Volvo cars to use artificial intelligence to tackle the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. “NVIDIA’s high-performance and responsive automotive platform is an important step towards our vision and perfect for our autonomous drive program and the Drive Me project. Volvo’s Drive Me autonomous pilot program will equip the luxury cars with the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 engine, which uses deep learning to navigate the complexities of driving,” added Rothoff.
With this technology in place, the Volvo cars will operate autonomously on roads around Gothenburg, Volvo’s hometown, and semi-autonomously elsewhere to begin with. So why NVIDIA DRVE PX2? It has deep learning capabilities that enables it to address the challenges of everyday driving, such as unexpected road debris, erratic drivers and construction zones. Deep learning also addresses numerous problem areas where traditional computer vision techniques are insufficient – such as poor weather conditions like rain, snow and fog, and difficult lighting conditions like sunrise, sunset and extreme darkness. “Volvo’s Drive Me project is the ideal application of our DRIVE PX 2 engine and deep learning and to help Volvo achieve its safety goals and move self-driving cars from Gothenburg to the rest of the globe,” said Rob Csongor, vice president and general manager of Automotive at NVIDIA.
And it’s not just Volvo, even manufacturers like Ford, Audi, BMW who are moving on to using deep learning and artificial intelligence in their cars to make travelling safer.
Priyanka is the Consulting Editor with HPC Asia. A prolific writer with around 18 years of journalistic experience in various fields of Information Technology. Started her career with Dataquest, one of the leading technology business magazines in India, and has covered every aspect of information technology industry. At HPC Asia Priyanka is your go-to person if you want latest applications or technology featured.