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Why Can Sydney Emerge As The ‘Startup Capital Of The World’?

 

Sydney is the land for startups

 

Earlier this year, the Startup Genome Report confirmed the status of Sydney as the biggest hub for startup businesses in Australia (and indeed, one of the best places in the world for setting up a new business). Close to 65% of all the startups in the country are located in Sydney, with Melbourne and Brisbane taking up the (distant) second and third spots. Young, knowledgeable and enthusiastic entrepreneurs (average age –> 29.7 years) are driving the scene forward, and financial technology is the biggest startup sector in the country – with edtech and adtech startups also being fairly common. In fact, the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018 reported that Sydney is the best destination in the entire Asia-Pacific for startup owners to ‘get connected’ and ‘build their professional networks’.

By the first half of 2017, the total number of startups in Sydney had touched the 1600 mark. Every quarter, this figure continues to swell at impressive rates. What are the factors that make the ‘Harbour City’ so attractive…and so rewarding for startups? Let’s take a look:

  1. A strong, thriving economy

More than 27 years – that’s how long the Australian economy has managed to stay away from recession (the last recession in Australia happened in the early-nineties). That alone gives us a clear indication about the strength and sustainability of the domestic economy. In terms of per-capita income, Australia occupies the 9th slot (the list is, somewhat surprisingly, topped by Luxembourg) in the world. The robust growth rates of the job market is a key factor, with minimum wages hovering around the $15 mark. The healthcare facilities and public education infrastructure – two essential pillars in any economy – are also excellent here. For startups, the strong economic growth and stability in Sydney (in particular) and Australia (in general) works like a charm.

Note: USA and China have the two largest economies in the world. Australia comes in at the 13th spot.

 

      2. Sydney and tech startups: a match made in heaven

Really, there is no other way of putting it. On the national level, tech startups are expected to deliver a whopping $110+ billion to the Australian GNP by 2033 – and Sydney is fast emerging as the best city Down Under for these startups. The Tech Startups Action Plan, which was kickstarted in 2016, is molding the infrastructure and is playing a key role in the creation of a pro-startups ecosystem – making talent acquisition easier, providing easier & better investment opportunities, establishing stronger business connections, and giving a significant boost to entrepreneurship in general. Over the last decade or so, not only has the number of jobs in Sydney grown manifold – but there has also been a definite shift towards professional-level business and financial services. As such, startups belonging to these domains have rapidly come on to the scene. By 2030, Australian tech startups will generate >500,000 jobs.

Note:Springboard Enterprises Australia has been right at the heart of the growth of women entrepreneurship in the country.

 

       3. Excellent networking opportunities for startup founders

Some of the biggest business conferences in the world are hosted in Sydney every year. These high-profile corporate events serve as great platforms for the startup-owners to go out there, meet like-minded people, grow their professional networks, and (hopefully) strike up mutually beneficial strategic partnerships. In addition, there are also scopes to pitch businesses to highly targeted attendees – facilitating greater awareness levels among industry experts and getting startups off to a strong start. Sydney effectively busts the myth about business networking being only about making phone calls & sending emails – the city actually allows entrepreneurs to meet, interact, and UNDERSTAND each other’s businesses.To meet over a coffee’ is a buzzing catchphrase in the city – and lots of important business discussions take place at these meetups. The fact that Sydney’s coffee culture is top-notch also helps!

 

Note: As a result of the easy networking scopes available for entrepreneurs, the number of co-working spaces in Sydney is also rising rapidly.

 

      4. Strong venture capital fundings are helping

In 2018 Q1, the total venture capital (VC) investment in Australia was northwards of $130 million, with both national as well as overseas investors showing ever-increasing interest and commitment levels. From a not-so-strong position even 3-4 years back, the Australian economy – led by Sydney and Melbourne – have undergone a complete makeover, and have emerged as extremely ‘VC-worthy’ markets. Given that Australia is one of the wealthiest nations across the globe and the business environment over here is excellent, it’s hardly surprising to find that there is ample scopes for new startups to enter, and thrive, in practically all the sectors. What’s more, there is an increasing willingness among young Aussie entrepreneurs to take calculated risks…to check out new, innovative lines of business. For a Sydney-based company, getting access to VC funding is definitely not a problem.

Note: Despite coming to Australia much later, Uber currently has a higher adoption percentage here than in the United States. Blackbird, AirTree and SquarePeg are classic examples of Australian businesses that raised big funds in 2017.

 

       5. It’s a question of perspectives & outlook, and Sydney’s winning

Sydney is one of those cities where you just know that you can ‘get things done’, so to speak. The telecom infrastructure in the city is great, IT systems and intelligence are cutting-edge, public transportation is smooth & hassle-free, and due importance is placed on the maintenance of law and order. The typical Australian way of life – mixing innovation and creativity with sheer hard work and dedication – is ideal for drawing in the best talents from all over the world to this country. With Sydney fast emerging as the ‘tech startup hub of the country’, it’s only natural that a large cross-section of this multicultural workforce end up working in this city. Add the attractions of the beautiful beaches, the nothing-short-of-awesome sights & scenery, and the clean & healthy environment, and it becomes evident why Sydney is held in such high regard by startup founders from all over. The city has a true global outlook – and it’s a great place to do business in.

Note: The Sydney timezone overlaps with those in several capital cities in Asia, as well as that in the West Coast of USA. This is particularly helpful for startups that have overseas offices.

 

    6. The government is helping in a big way

Sydney Angels, the biggest angel investment group Down Under, has invested in 50+ startups since 2008, according to a report last year (the total investment figure is $193 million). The government is doing its bit to bolster angel investments – a key element for the success and sustainability of startups – further. For starters, there are lucrative deductions from the annual tax bills of angel investors – and what’s more, these savings are outside the purview of capital gains tax (CGT). For startups actively involved in research activities, the hefty R&D tax credit system (amounting to more than 40% of the total research spendings) is a great incentive. It is not mandatory for a company to report profits, to be a beneficiary of R&D tax credit. As a result, it is easy to arrange the required funds for in-depth researches, and the hiring of skilled executives. Yet another factor that helps Australian startups is the expert advice and consultations provided by seasoned entrepreneurs. When a startup in Sydney applies for angel investment, it is likely to get much more than just the money.

Note: The government also offers a series of grants and aids – like funds for startup hubs, local and state-level aids, and of course, the research grants.

 

     7. Growth rates are encouraging

According to a Startup Muster 2017, nearly 20% of all Australian startups are located in Queensland – making the latter the 2nd most attractive place for startups. At the head of the pile is New South Wales, with Sydney right at the forefront of the startup scene. The state growth rates are uniformly high, the universities are playing a pivotal role in the generation of talented manpower, and there are openings for entrepreneurs to actually use the services and expertise of one another. The growth momentum of Sydney as a haven for startups has been continuing for several years now. Startup owners view this as a positive signal and gradually gravitate over here. It’s a classic case of ‘growth fueling further growth’.

Note: The friendly governmental regulations make the task of purchasing or renting properties in Australia relatively straightforward. As a direct result, the total number of properties in the country is steadily going up.

 

    8. Value for money is what you get in Sydney

Sydney is an upscale global city, and as such, boasts of a uniformly high standard of living. Things are not particularly cheap – and big investments are required if you wish to establish your company in the city’s Central Business District (CBD). Acquiring skilled manpower is not exactly cheap either, thanks to the relatively high minimum wages. The general prices (yep, including that of coffee!) might also seem to be just a tad on the higher side. However, it has to be understood that Sydney is a city where you get what you pay for – right from posh locations for your business and top-class business networking, to the best workforce and, of course, amazing coffee. Entrepreneurs over here have realised one thing – that good things often cost a bit more – and they are absolutely okay with it.

Note: The cost of living index in Sydney is 78.67. The CLI is ~190% higher than that of New Delhi, but almost 22% lower than the CLI of New York.

 

    9. Sydney – The land for innovators

Right from people with interesting, out-of-the-box ideas, to the necessary support infrastructure to get them implemented – Sydney in particular, and New South Wales in general, has just the ideal ecosystem for startups. It won’t be stretching things to refer to the city as being in a state of ‘constant transition’ – with newer, better innovations coming into the picture (the recent $80 million investment by the government shows that the authorities are also well and truly invested in this growth). Dynamic, forward-looking startups are dominating the business scene in the country – and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT are being harnessed for a wide range of purposes. Contrary to the popular misconception of the Australian business sector being mostly about mining and manufacturing, the high-tech startups are the ones that are generating the most value. The reports of senior tech entrepreneurs returning from US and European cities to start businesses in Australia bears testimony to that.

Note:Tonsley is the name of the very first ‘innovation district’ in Australia. It is primarily focused on 4 key domains – renewable energy, energy/mining, software development, and medical/healthcare services.

 

    10. Relatively lower competition and easy availability of resources (including labour)

As we have discussed earlier, venture capital is abundant, and rather easy to access, for startups in Sydney. However, the number of companies actually looking for funds at a given point of time is typically low – and that, in turn, keeps the overall competition levels manageable. Apart from increasing the probability of getting the investment, it is not particularly difficult to get coworking spaces and be a part of accelerator programs either. Another thing that has to be kept in mind while analysing the popularity of Sydney as a startup hub is the affordability of labor and other key resources (read: rent, capital). On average, these are considerably cheaper than the corresponding costs in, say, Melbourne or San Francisco. Sydney is not quite the ‘new Silicon Valley’ yet, but it’s getting there.

Note: A recent study revealed that 1 out of every 3 Australians wish to start their very own business.

 

      11. A change of mindset is driving things forward

Meet the new-age Aussie entrepreneur – a person who does not hanker after profits and money, but wishes to work for the ‘greater good of the society’. That is the picture painted by the recent ILO (International Labour Organisation) report – which revealed that an overwhelming 85% of startup owners in Australia are no longer driven by monetary incentives alone. More interestingly, it was found that around 38% of these entrepreneurs were solely interested in creating ‘great products’. Right through Sydney, and across most other parts of Australia, this new wave of thinking – balancing global transformation with personal profits – is taking over. More and more entrepreneurs who are like-minded are coming together, resulting in a proliferation of the startup scene in the country. Startups need to mean more than the revenues they generate, and the experts in Australia are already well-aware of that.

Note: In many major European cities, the level of governmental support for new enterprises is gradually going down. Sydney offers a welcome exception to that.

 

    12. Economic stability is making long-term planning easier

The startup picture is indeed rosy in Sydney at present, with the government pitching in, high-speed support infrastructure services being readily available, and a conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem already in place. However, the billion-dollar question (both literally and metaphorically!) revolves around the viability of this scenario in the long-run. There have been numerous cases of promising startups fizzling out within the first few years. In Australia though, there are no such risks in the foreseeable future – and the credit for facilitating a long-run mindset among entrepreneurs lies with the country’s stable economic and political system. At a time when both the United States and Europe are being affected by political/economic uncertainties, the stability of the Australian society comes across as a key factor for driving up the growth of startups over here. There are little or no chances of Sydney’s ‘startup revolution’ slowing down in the foreseeable future.

For all the factors going in favour of Australian startups, there are a couple of points to worry about as well. Traditionally, many Australian venture capitalists are extremely reluctant to take risks – and that mindset has to change, to give innovative startups a chance. The overall business culture – with the success of non-local companies not always looked very kindly upon – has to evolve as well. For a number of Aussie startups, the absence of suitable exit strategies is a common pain point. Fortunately, each of these hurdles are already getting resolved – and in the next half a decade or so, Sydney will consolidate its position as one of the world’s ‘startup capitals’ further.

[Guest Post] Top 3 VR Headsets for iPhone

(This post has been contributed by Davor Gasperavic, tech enthusiast and frequent writer on leading tech news sites)

Although the Apple AR Headset was recently disclosed as a future release for the company, it will not be arriving in the stores at least in a couple of years from now. However, while iOS users wait for the proper gadget to be released, they can get their hands on any of these three VR headsets, all compatible with iPhones, that will offer them a door into the virtual reality world.

Keep in mind that because these are not official Apple products, they might not turn out to be as wonderful as iPhone users would expect them to. Nevertheless, we have chosen three top headsets that perform great enough to immerse you into VR.

What’s best about these models, apart from the fact that they have super affordable prices compared to more serious headsets like the Oculus Rift, is that they support older models as well as newer ones meaning that it doesn’t matter whether you have an iPhone 5s in hand or just bought the recently released iPhone X: you will still get your load of fun.

Besides the listed headsets for iPhone, make sure you make an additional research before buying. You might want to read the specs closely as all the headsets bring different features and if you know exactly what you are looking for, that will prove quite useful.

1. Homido Virtual Reality Headset V2

This headset sold by Homido works perfectly fine for both Android and iOS all the way back to iPhone 5s. This model has custom made VR lenses that offer a 100-degree field of view to play games and live the virtual reality experience as any gamer should.

The headset has farsightedness and nearsightedness setting and can be worn by people who wear glasses as they have enough space to fit the specs inside the interchangeable seal made of faux leather.

The design is certainly slim and minimal, and you can upgrade the experience by buying extra accessories like the mini or big Bluetooth controllers, a 360-degree camera, and several other items that are sold separately but that can certainly make your gaming experience a unique one.

The foam that is in contact with the face is interchangeable and can be substituted if you think it needs a change. It works wirelessly and has optical settings such as IPD and immersion that can be adjusted according to your needs.

In case you are not into Head-Mounted Displays that much, Homido also sells VR glasses under the name Homido Mini which can be worn as normal specs. However, be sure that the VR effects will be reduced when not wearing the HMD.

The Homido VR Headset might not be among the cheapest models but certainly quality is always worth it and you would soon find out that you made a good investment after putting them on and going deep into VR games and 3D movies.

2. BlitzWolf BR-VR3

BlitzWold is a company that sells tech products and one of their latest is this virtual reality headset, which works well for any mobile phone that measures from 3.5 to 6.3 inches. It is certainly a high-quality item, especially for the price you pay.

This BlitzWolf VR model comes with a lens upgrade from its previous version and fits phones with bigger dimensions, which is why it’s perfect for the newest iPhone releases.

The lenses on the headset can be adjusted individually because BlitzWolf knows that our eyes work differently. It also has an adaptable rubber pad where the phone rests, secure and in place.

The company states that, in order to create the upgrade, they made a 130 times drop test, so you can rest assured that you have a headset that should last a long time. It comes with a 42mm Mitsubishi PMMA Aspherical Lens that offers a 108-degree field of view, slightly above the normal amount.

Likewise, the mount-heading system can be adjusted according to what brings you the most comfort while playing games or watching 3D movies. It has three different straps that you can regulate for it to fit perfectly on your head.

The artificial leather of the inside is hypoallergenic and quite breathable, and the pupil distance can also be adjusted leftward and rightward because everyone’s eyes are positioned uniquely and they just want you to have the perfect gaming experience.

This headset is definitely a good option as it encompasses both design and performance, and it’s quite comfortable too. Also, the extra 8-degrees of field of view might not sound like much but they do make a difference!

3. Zeiss VR One Plus

If this Carl Zeiss VR Headset is not a modern design, then who knows what is.

This model plays 3D videos on Netflix or Youtube, games and even augmented reality, but this is not what you want it for, at least at the moment. However, this does explain its elevated price, which is still affordable, especially for what it is.

The Zeiss VR One Plus is compatible with eyeglasses so if you wear specs, you can still have fun with this model. The head strap is removable, in case you want to hold it on your own, and it supports all iPhones and mobile phones that fit in the 4.7-5.5-inch tray.

It comes with ventilation ports already built inside the headset to prevent fogging and enhance the experience. Also, it has audio opening in the mobile tray that can let you hear perfectly what’s coming out of your phone.

It has a field of view of approximately 100-degrees and it supports a wide range of interpupillary distance (IPD) of 53-77 mm. In addition to that, the innovative optics make sure that you, as a user, don’t have to adjust the lens positions as the so-called eye-box is specially designed to cover most of the people’s eye distances.

The mobile tray has access to audio and charging ports as well, so if you are running low on battery, you can still keep playing with your Zeiss VR One Plus without a problem. The company also sells a lens cleaning swab and a magnet controller so you can obtain control over your actions when strapped into the headset.

This is definitely a high-quality model which is worth its price, and it performs great even for augmented reality. Positively a great investment.

Final Recommendations

  • Verify that you are buying the headset that is closer to what you are looking for. Confirm the field of view you want, and the lens adjustments as well.

  • Make sure headset will be able to play 3D movies on Youtube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

  • Double-check the mobile measurements that each headset can hold, as the latest iPhones are slightly big and might not fit into every model.

 

 

Author’s Bio

Davor is senior editor and writer contributing to several tech news sites. Besides his passion for writing, Davor enjoys playing PUBG, hiking and watching Game of Thrones series.

Dreamfactory Case Study – MAPT

Business Objective

To create an innovative, user-friendly mood and performance tracking application. The app would serve as a useful tool for every individual who aspire for personal and/or professional development – but are not quite certain about how to go about it.

Technical Challenge

The implementation of robust backend API solutions to deliver the requisite functionalities of the app. From maintaining the logbook and calculation/display of personal performance curves, to mood tracking and enhancement – everything required the integration of custom BaaS support. Fetching user-related data was a big challenge too, as were the tasks of user validations and token authorizations.

The Solution

Seamless integration of the Dreamfactory REST API platform with the MAPT mobile app. All the requisite API services were auto-generated and implemented. A full business logic architecture was built for the application.

 
Priority 1:

  1. Establishing a secure connection for the creation of multiple user sessions. There was an urgent need to do away with additional custom scripts for user login tokens and validations.
  2. Accessing and storing all relevant user-related information. Instead of working with a host of different methods, the HTTP operations had to be made much quicker and more accurate.
  3. Adding third-party services without having to modify the scripts.

Priority 2:

  1. Managing the shared user data with foreign tables.
  2. Ensuring smooth functionality and easy usability. The app had to be able to track and monitor every measurable element related to mood and performance – in the private AND the professional sphere.
  3. Secure digital storage of user-specific information, like membership cards. Establishing optimal security parameters was essential.

Understanding The Concept Of Mood and Performance Tool (MAPT)

MAPT is a one-of-its-kind mood and performance tracker tool for smartphone-users. With this application, users can identify the best ways to improve their overall performance levels – ushering in both personal and professional development. MAPT has a built-in sales calculator, which analyzes detailed statistics to come up with personalized solutions for each user. Teksmobile, a Stockholm-based mobile app agency, has created this application.

The sheer volume of information stored in the MAPT app necessitates the availability of powerful API services (for proper management, calculations and usage). It can be used to monitor moods and performance levels in a family as well as in a professional enterprise ecosystem. If there is any tangible, measurable metric that a user wishes to improve, MAPT can help him/her with it.

Elaborating on the rationale behind the development of MAPT, its owner says “self-help is probably the best type of help available out there. We have made an attempt to create a mobile assistant that will help people who wish to improve to do just that – by showing them the best strategies to get better…personally and professionally.”

Apart from being a mood and performance tracker, yet another key feature of the MAPT application is ‘Digicard’. In a nutshell, this feature allows users to digitally store different types of membership cards directly within the app (doing away with the need to carry them along separately). User identifications and membership benefits – everything can be done through MAPT.

Giving MAPT The DreamFactory Advantage

While fairly simple in theory, the Teksmobile team had to deal with a couple of tricky elements during the early stages of the app’s development cycle. For starters, user authorization and tokens required quite a lot of overhead scripts – which was a burden. Also, having to create separate methods for fetching user-data at any time, and the mandatory changes in scripts for incorporating the required third-party services were both cumbersome affairs. Thankfully, DreamFactory came to the rescue at the right time.

“MAPT is a feature-rich application that requires strong API support from the backend. The prospect of having to manually develop each API was daunting – both from the resources as well as the time perspective. DreamFactory completed tasks, that would have otherwise taken several weeks, in not much more than a couple of minutes.”

– Project developer, MAPT

The Teks team working on Eventify created an entity relationship diagram (ERD) database. Then, this structure was imported to the DreamFactory phpMyAdmin – and new API services (i.e., the requisite REST API endpoints) were seamlessly generated. The very nature of the app demanded that user-specific data had to be fetched – and since high volumes of data could be stored in DreamFactory, probable problems regarding this were avoided.

The ‘Default APIs’ feature of DreamFactory was used extensively for the development of the backend of MAPT. The fact that all the HTTP operations were readily available ensured that data can be accessed/fetched easily, as and when required. No longer was there any need to grapple with lots of different methods, and/or worry about manual coding errors. DreamFactory automated the backend of MAPT, and made the task of developing it an absolute breeze.

Integration Of Third-Party Services

For delivering optimal functionality, quite a few third-party services (e.g., Mailgun) had to be incorporated in the MAPT application. The ‘custom plugin’ feature of DreamFactory helped to add these as ‘normal services’. There were no additional changes in scripts required – making things more stable and adding an air of certainty.

“Managing multiple user sessions with completely secure connections was, arguably, the biggest challenge in MAPT. The built-in feature of DreamFactory enabled my team to get all the user validations and tokens promptly – and that too, without any extra custom scripting”, states the CEO of Teksmobile. The opportunity to add pre-script and post-script logic in APIs was another additional advantage.

DreamFactory also eased out the task of managing shared user data in the MAPT app. The developers could easily create a foreign table for the purpose. Most of the major features of the app were made more streamlined, friction-free and prompt – yielding a lot of time and resource savings.

Putting Mood and Performance Metrics To The Best Use

MAPT is a mobile app that takes a novel approach for effective self-help and self-improvement, with the help of day-to-day performance and mood tracking. Powerful backend automation is vital for the smooth operations/calculations/solutions generated by the app – and DreamFactory has played a big role in helping Teksmobile create MAPT just the way it was meant to be.

In MAPT, the DreamFactory platform has helped with storing/fetching user data, implementing the entire business logic, integrating select third-party services, and making the whole API system more secure. Documentation has been made easy with the help of Swagger. MAPT is an app with universal appeal – and it certainly has got all the features to grow rapidly popular.

MAPT

MAPT is a cool new self-improvement app that tracks and analyzes personal moods and performances of users. With the help of its sales calculator, the app helps people identify the ideal methods to bring about personal and professional development.

Meet SoccerMan – The Cool New Learning Game For Kids!

There are some cute, interactive children’s storybook apps, which are good. Then there are several fun gaming apps for kids, which are good too. And then, there is Soccerman – which offers an idyllic mix of both. It’s a learning app par excellence!

Soccerman app official logo

 

Meet The App

SoccerMan is a one-of-its kind kids’ app that offers a seamless mix of gaming fun and interactive learning benefits. It is primarily meant for children in the 2-5 age group. Kids who are fond of soccer would love this app…while those who aren’t that much into the sport (or are not old enough to understand it yet!) would enjoy it as well. SoccerMan is for everyone!

Soccerman has learning games

SoccerMan was first conceptualized way back in 2012, when its makers (the brothers Timpano, Matt and Jacob) identified the opportunity of coming up with a tool that would encourage kids to follow a healthy, active lifestyle (what better than getting familiar with the game of soccer for that?). The app was built from the ground up for letting the young ones boost their imaginative powers, learn up important stuff…and, of course, play along and have fun.

The SoccerMan app (available on iOS and Android) follows on from the fictional storybook of the same name, published by the Timpano brothers in 2014. This is one app that promises quality screen time for children – while motivating them to remain fit and active at all times.

Meet The Makers

SoccerMan is the brainchild of Matt and Jacob Timpano, who hail from Wollongong, NSW. The brothers first came up with the character in 2012, self-published the SoccerMan storybook in 2014, and have launched the app in 2017. They have believed in the inherent value of their concept, and have continued to refine the implementations. With the rapidly rising number of toddlers regularly using smartphones and tablets – creating the mobile app version of SoccerMan was a no-brainer.

The choice of soccer as the theme for this new mobile app for kids is not merely a matter of coincidence. Jacob Timpano has captained the Australian team at the youth level (he also played for Sydney FC as defender) – and is currently the Wollongong Wolves manager/head coach. The rich experience of the man about soccer has gone a long way in lending a realistic touch to the SoccerMan game. Matt Timpano, on the other hand, brings his decade-long experience in the childhood industry to the table. One of the brothers is a pro in soccer and youth sports, and the other is an expert about children – it’s not surprising that they have managed to join hands to create an app as innovative and engaging as SoccerMan!

WATCH: SoccerMan co-founder Jacob Timpano turning it on for Sydney FC and Australia

SoccerMan is also Jacob’s way of giving something back to the game that has given him considerable fame and adulation. Post-retirement, working on the idea of SoccerMan – fine-tuning the app concept and overseeing the development phase (the app/website was created by Teksmobile) – was what Jacob wanted to do the most. Going by the immense early appreciation of the app and the general familiarity of the SoccerMan character, it can be said that the hard work of the Timpano brothers is paying off.

Meet The Games

4 free games in SoccerMan app

The best bit about the SoccerMan is the cool, engaging manner in which it blends in learning benefits with sheer gaming fun. For kids, there are as many as 4 free games – ‘Paint Game’, ‘Count Game’, ‘Shapes Game’ and ‘SoccerMan Says’. Each of the games has its own educational elements – apart from being uniformly enjoyable. Parents also have the option of downloading two more games – ‘Colour Game’ and ‘Lunchbox Game’, via in-app purchase (IAP).

 

All the learning games in SoccerMan come with beautiful graphics and lovely illustrations. The cute little animations take up the fun-factor by a couple of notches. The controls are uniformly kid-friendly – ensuring that children can play along on their own. SoccerMan is FOR kids and ABOUT kids through and through.

Meet The Story

There’s the soccer-based gameplay, there are fascinating games (the makers have promised that new games will be released regularly), and there’s digital storytelling fun too. In the ‘Story Mode’ of the SoccerMan app, there is a fun-filled 11-page digital storybook – narrating the tale of Max, SoccerBoy and SoccerGirl, and the quest of SoccerBoy for becoming SoccerMan. The first six pages of the book are available for free reading, and the remainder (seventh page onwards) has to be bought through in-app purchase. The in-app purchase amount is AUD 1.99.

SoccerMan digital storybook

As a mobile storybook app for kids, SoccerMan offers dynamic options to users. Kids can either read the story on their own, or opt for the high-quality audio narration option (‘Read To Me’). More digital storybooks are in the pipeline for release in the SoccerMan app.

Meet The Additional Fun Elements

SoccerMan offers unadulterated fun and excellent learning advantages to young ones – just the way the Timpano brothers had envisaged. The overall attractions of the app are further enhanced by the range of cool gamification rewards on offer – from virtual medals to that elusive Soccerman trophy. Children can also create their very own customized avatars on the app. It’s all about delivering optimized, healthy fun – with a dash of educational benefits – to the li’l ones!

Medals and SoccerMan trophy to be won

Given the potential of SoccerMan app to become a fun companion of children globally, it has been made available with multi-language support. The introductory version of the app is available in English and Chinese, and more languages will be added over time.

Meet SoccerMan At The Stores

The iOS version of SoccerMan is available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soccerman/id1303457898. It is compatible with all devices powered by iOS 8 (or higher).

The Android version of SoccerMan can be downloaded from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.au.soccerman. The app is usable on devices running on Android v.4.0.3 (and later).

Note: SoccerMan can be downloaded and used on both smartphones and tablets. The perfect ‘game-on-the-go’ tool for kids!

Soccerman is also listed on Behance at https://www.behance.net/gallery/59301859/Soccerman. Check it out over there. On social media, the official Facebook page of the app is https://www.facebook.com/soccerman4kids, while on Instagram – www.instagram.com/soccerman_official is the place to head to.

Interactive learning games for kids

Meet The Contacts

The official website of SoccerMan app is http://soccerman.com.au/.

Contact Matt Timpano at – 0401 198 528/ mattytimpano@hotmail.com

Contact Jacob Timpano at – 0403 542 144/ jaketimpano@hotmail.com

To know more about Teksmobile (Australia|Sweden|United States|India|South Korea), visit teksmobile.com.au/teks.co.in/teksmobile.com/teksmobile.kr/teksmobile.se.

 

The Final Word

Soccerman - the best children's app

SoccerMan is, obviously, a kids’ app that is based on the game of soccer. It has intuitive games and fun reading material that offer great educational benefits. In essence, it’s:

 Soccer + Education = FUN!

iPhone X vs iPhone 8: Understanding The Differences

This year’s ‘September iPhone event‘ is done and dusted – and Apple has, for the first time in its history, announced two new iPhones – iPhone 8 and the uber-pricey iPhone X – at the same event (three, if you count the iPhone 8 Plus as well). Given the fact that more than 1.2 billion iPhones have been sold till date, and the amazing stat that nearly 400 iPhones are sold every minute – the excitement among users worldwide about the two new models has been, understandably, huge. The strong performance of iPhone 7 has also helped in getting people interested in the latest Apple smartphones. While there are broad similarities between the two models, we will here do a detailed iPhone X vs iPhone 8 comparison – highlighting the key differences between them:

  1. Dimensions and form-factor - iPhone X is the very first bezel-less smartphone launched by Apple. The handset is also remarkably compact, with dimensions of 5.65” x 2.79” x 0.30”. The only factor that seems to rather stick out is the ‘notch’ in the top-portion of the display (for Face ID) – which eats up some of the screen real estate. On the other hand, the ‘smaller’ iPhone 8 has dimensions of 5.45” x 2.65” x 0.29” – indicating that the phones have roughly similar dimensions (the iPhone X is marginally taller). The difference is more pronounced in terms of weight, with the iPhone 8 being around 17% lighter than the iPhone X (5.2oz vs 6.1oz). The lack of bezels in iPhone X enables the handset to offer a significantly larger display area, without expanding the form-factor appreciably. Even the weight-difference is not large enough to influence buying decisions.

Note: To put things in perspective, the iPhone 8 Plus weighs 6.6oz and has dimensions of 6.28” x 3.07” x 0.32”.

2. Screen resolution and display quality – When the Cupertino tech giant had introduced ‘Retina display’ (in iPhone 4), it had referred to the word ‘Retina’ as the maximum count of pixels detectable by the human eye. The company has gone a step further this year, by bringing in Super Retina Display on the iPhone X. What’s more, the device also has an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen – for brighter colours and crisper blacks (OLED helps in saving power too). The iPhone 8 continues with the traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) screen, and has Retina Display. In terms of screen resolution and contrast ratio, the iPhone X (2436×1125; 1000000:1) – rather expectedly – blows iPhone 8 (1334×750; 1400:1) out of the park. Both the phones support the True Tone technology, and HDR media content can be played on either of them. iPhone X also has the highest ever PPI (pixels-per-inch) figure for an iDevice, at 458 PPI. The iPhone 8 has a comparatively modest 326 PPI.

Note: As impressive as the screen specs of iPhone X might seem, the high-end Android devices (the Galaxy S8 or the soon-to-release Google Pixel 2 XL) already offer similar or higher resolutions.

3. Battery performance - While the functionalities of smartphones have improved beyond sight, question marks have lingered over their often-lousy battery lives. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (with 1960 mAh and 2900 mAh batteries) were only about average in this regard. However, the arrival of the A11 Bionic processor in iPhone 8 and iPhone X (it replaces the A10 processor) should give a much-needed boost to battery performance. In particular, the iPhone X is expected to deliver around 2 hours of more battery juice than iPhone 7 – while iPhone 8 would offer, on average, the same battery performance as last year’s model. Wireless talk time (21 hours vs 14 hours) and audio playback (60 hours vs 40 hours) are two points where the iPhone X has a big edge over iPhone 8. Both the phones have wireless charging (another first in the history of iPhones), compatible with Qi charging standards. Wired ‘quick charging’ (50% charge in half an hour) is also available in iPhone X and iPhone 8.

Note: AirPower – Apple’s very own wireless charging pad – is likely to be launched in early-2018.

4. Camera features - Another big point of difference between the two latest iPhone models. The iPhone 8 has an efficient 12 MP, f/1.8 back camera (with 5X digital zoom) – perfectly capable of capturing great shots anywhere, and at any time of the day. However, the iPhone X takes things to an altogether higher level – with two separate back cameras, a f/2.4 telephoto camera and a f/1.8 wide-angle camera (with 10X zoom). These cameras combine to create fascinating ‘portrait effects’ in snaps – something that the iPhone 8 misses out on. The latter’s FaceTime HD ‘selfie’ camera (7MP, with Retina Flash) also does not quite have the feel of the decidedly more powerful TrueDepth ‘selfie’ camera of iPhone X – which comes with ‘portrait lighting’ and ‘portrait mode’ (the camera can take selfies with clearer edges, on beautifully blurred backgrounds – creating a bokeh effect of sorts). Face ID on iPhone X is also made possible by this TrueDepth camera.

Note: The optical image stabilization (OIS) feature and the higher aperture speed should make the iPhone X dual camera better than that of iPhone 8 Plus.

5. Screen size - The bezel-less, edge-to-edge, futuristic 5.8” screen of iPhone X makes it look a lot like the Essential Phone (launched in May). As highlighted above, the display is OLED and Super Retina HD. The screen size of iPhone 8 has been kept static at 4.7”, with Retina Display and backlighting. However, many experts feel that the iPhone X screen ‘won’t feel as large as it should’ – due to the presence of the notch at the top, which would also render the areas on its side unusable. The infrared camera for Face ID is located in this notch, along with the device speaker. iPhone 8 and iPhone X both have glass bodies, to facilitate wireless charging. The chassis of the phones have Series 7000 aluminium, and the water-resistance (IP67) and dust-resistance features are identical.

Note: The notch on the iPhone X screen makes it somewhat similar (in terms of actual display area) to the 5.5” iPhone 8 Plus.

6. Touch ID vs Face ID – iPhone 8 continues to have the good ol’ ‘Home’ button, with users being able to use the fingerprint-based Touch ID to unlock their handsets. On the larger iPhone X though, the ‘Home’ button has disappeared – and the biometric identification happens with the help of a brand new technology called Face ID (similar to how the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 unlocks). The facial recognition technology of iPhone X is set up with the help of a light receiver, an ambient light sensor, a depth-sensing module and a proximity sensor – and according to Apple, it is a lot ‘safer’ than the traditional Touch ID (chances of hacks is ‘one in a million’) with Face ID. The image recognition software in the TrueDepth camera has been created by an advanced neural network – with machine learning (ML) enabling it to perform more than 600 billion operations in a second. Face ID can also ‘learn’ the changes in a user’s face (growing a beard, putting on a hat, etc.) – and can accurately identify users at night. For those who prefer familiarity, iPhone 8 with its fingerprint scanner and Home button would be the better choice – while iPhone X will be the new, exciting kid on the block, which will take some getting used to.

Note: The disappearance of the ‘Home’ button has also made the navigation scheme different in iPhone X, with upward swiping being the go-to action for returning to the previous screens. At the launch event, the Face ID demo hit a glitch, and a second backup device had to be used.

7. Device speed and storage - The new 64-bit A11 Bionic processor of the new iPhones (together with the M11 motion coprocessor) makes them significantly faster than the iPhone 7/7 Plus. While the CPU performance of iPhone X and iPhone 8 is likely to be around 25% faster than that of last year’s devices (and make no mistakes…the iPhone 7 was a mighty efficient device itself) – the real difference is going to be in the GPU performance, with the new flagships offering up to 30% faster performance than its predecessors. When it comes to multitasking too, there will be serious speed advantage of the new devices over older models (~70%). iPhone X is likely to have a slight advantage in terms of storage, with a 3GB RAM (as opposed to the 2GB RAM of iPhone 8). Loading relatively heavy apps and games will take lesser time – and this will be particularly discernible for those making an upgrade from iPhone 5/5S to iPhone 8/iPhone X. Device analysts, however, feel that the speed bump might not be big enough for a iPhone 7-user (or, for that matter, a iPhone 6S-user) to go for the new models.

Note: iOS 11, which will debut on iPhone 8 and iPhone X, will have backward compatibility till iPhone 5S. The update won’t be available for older models.

8. AnimojisAugmented reality (AR) is being closely studied by tech giants for some time now. The new Apple smartphones are billed as ‘optimized for AR’ – and the ARKit platform, in general, has been ramped up to enable third-party developers come up with more engaging AR applications. Once again, iPhone X has a feature – in the form of the cute ‘Animojis’ – that the iPhone 8 lacks, in this context. The depth-sensing camera of the former (working with the ‘dot projector’ and the ‘flood illuminator’), together with the infrared scanner, has the capability to ‘understand’ and mimic the facial expressions of users and reflect them in custom animated emojis. These ‘animojis’ will also be supported on popular apps like Snapchat – and they would add to the fun factor of using the latest iPhone (and a landmark model too!) considerably.

Note: The aspect ratio of the iPhone 8 is 16:9. In keeping with the higher-quality display of iPhone X, the latter’s aspect ratio is 19:9.

9. Colour options - The iPhone X will be available in two alternative colour options – silver and space grey. iPhone 8 will also be available in these two traditional iPhone colours, along with an attractive ‘blush gold’ option (remember the splash that the ‘rose gold’ iPhone 6S made?). There is the chance of both the models (at least one of them) being made available in red later on – just like the makeover iPhone 7/7Plus got in March this year. Both the new phones have glass bodies – which adds to the aesthetics, but does raise questions over the probably increased fragility of the devices. The phones will also have built-in near-field communications (NFC) support for Apple Pay.

Note: The new iPhones have finally ditched the 32GB model variants. Users will have to take their pick from the 64GB and the 256GB models of iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

10. The price factor - iPhone 8 is the new flagship Apple phone, and understandably, it is a rather pricey device. The cost of the 64GB model is $699, while that of the 256GB variant is $849 – making the handset significantly more expensive than the introductory prices of iPhone 7 models. However, if you think that these price tags are rather high – check this: for the 64GB iPhone X, buyers have to shell out $999, while the 256GB model has been priced at $1149. Apple is clearly positioning iPhone X as the ‘premium’ model (its price is $200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus) – and it remains to be seen whether the phone indeed turns out to be worth this exorbitant markup. Strangely enough, for stratospheric price levels such as these, the decision of not providing ‘fast chargers’ in the box is rather baffling (given that these chargers are not exactly cheap either). Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that $999 is a ‘value price’ for the iPhone X – a statement that seems slightly outlandish at present.

Note: Users have the option to buy the new iPhones with two-year contracts, effectively distributing the expenses over the time-span.

Pre-ordering for iPhone 8 started from 15 September, with shipments slated to start from tomorrow. On the other hand, we are still more than a month away from the start of iPhone X shipments (from 3 November). A more insightful comparison would be possible only after users have managed to lay their hands on the two devices.

The iPhone 8 is a more-than-adequate upgrade in the line of Apple smartphones, with several strong features and performance boosts. iPhone X, though, is more of a game-changer – right from the designs and the navigation (in the absence of ‘Home’ button), to the all-new Face ID , and of course, the unprecedented price tag. 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone – and it is easy to see that Apple’s celebratory iPhone X has quite a few things that are not available in iPhone 8. Will those be enough to justify the much higher price? Let’s wait and see!

nextPaper: An Overview Of The Cool New Digital Paper Tablet

(This post has been contributed by Joe Quiney, a resident of Sydney, Australia)

I love to read. As do my 6-year old twin daughters, Ellie and Lucita. We have this weekly thing of reading a nice ebook on Saturday nights (I do the reading, while they do the listening, of course) on my personal Amazon Kindle. Now, I am not much of a gadget expert – but I’ll say this…the Kindle is a pretty amazing ebook reader. It’s just that I might just have come across another device that is as good, or probably better.

I first came to know about the nextPaper digital paper tablet from the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The makers (Companion) were proudly proclaiming it to be the ‘most practical paper tablet in existence’. I have this inclination of trying to know more about new things – and this curiosity led me to the official website of the manufacturer. Impressed by what I saw, I got in touch with Companion and managed to get a prototype of nextPaper delivered to my address. I have been using it for over a week now…and let’s just say, this device lives up to its hype.

The best thing about nextPaper is that it is not limited to being an ebook reader only. Ellie, in particular, loves to draw – and she absolutely loves to make sketches and rough line drawings on the new paper tablet. Inspired by her, I have also tried my hand at writing a few words (well, okay, I tried writing my own name!) on the tablet, with the nextPen stylus. I found the screen to be very responsive, and there was hardly any input-lag time. Sketches can be easily erased too, and it is possible to ‘undo’ an action. I like my electronic gadgets to be nice and prompt, and nextPaper seems to be just that.

It would be something of a cliche to call my daughters thick as thieves, but Ellie and Lucita are truly a living example of that phrase. They are always doing things together – and it was Lucita who found that the sketches her sister was making on nextPaper can be shared/sent directly to our iMac computer. I had initially thought that the drawings will have to be scanned to make them viewable on other devices…but hey, the combination of Lucita and nextPaper proved me wrong! I only just finished editing Ellie’s new drawing (I am a graphic designer by profession, by the way) – created on nextPaper – on the Mac.

Ease of reading is one of the biggest reasons me and my two angels became big fans of the Kindle. Once again, I feel that nextPaper has the potential to do even more – and expand the range of reading options for users. No longer is our reading list limited to ebooks from a single online bookstore. I can now pick out books from practically any bookstore – and in any format (MS-Word, PDF, ePub, Mobi and more) – and read them on my nextPaper reader. With all due credits to the Kindle, I will stick my neck out and say this: the reading options on nextPaper are greater.

I happen to be a fan of Apple, a big one at that. I have an iPhone 6, have the iPad Pro, use a Mac (with a spare Windows PC) and a 5th-gen iPod Touch. The nextPaper is probably the very first Android-supported device (Android 4.0 and later versions) that I have ever used. I was delighted to find that all the ebook apps listed in Google Play Store can be accessed and used on this digital paper tablet. Earlier on, it was only about reading kids’ stories for my daughters…but now, I download and read stuff for myself as well – things ranging from blog posts, interesting items from reddit and HackerNews, and informative articles on designing, to textbooks and PDF docs. nextPaper has given me the leeway to read whatever I want (well, almost!)…a big thumbs-up for that!

The arrival of nextPaper in our household has also made my daughters (Ellie in particular, ‘coz Lucita is the slightly lazy one!) more interested in actually reading books on their own. I found out that this digital tablet has a cutting-edge e-ink screen (it works as an e-ink monitor) – and reading from it for extended periods does not cause any type of ‘eye fatigue’ – unlike traditional LCD display screens. The fact that nextPaper offers an ads-free reading experience is also great. I do not have to wonder about the suitability of the ads my kids might see while reading books online…on this tablet, there are no ads whatsoever. Just quick, easy reading.

(nextPaper has introduced me to the world of e-ink devices. I found out from Companion’s website that they were planning the create the world’s first exclusive e-ink app store. If they are successful, that would be great).

Now, I love my iPad – and I think it is a very nice device to get my daughters familiar with smart gadgets. This familiarity is important, given the rate at which the importance of education technology is rising (Ellie and Lucita already have computer classes at school). However, I don’t think that the iPad is a particularly great as a reading device only. Lucita earlier used to read rhymes from the iPad, and I have often found her getting distracted by the pre-installed games on it. The Kindle has no such distractions, and neither does nextPaper. As a smart education/reading companion, the latter would certainly rank above the iPad.

Books can be smoothly transferred from my Mac computer to the nextPaper tablet as well. Since the tablet is optimized for ebooks in all formats, reading them is a lot easier than doing the same on my computer or even the iPad. Oh, and I can also upload Ellie’s sketches from nextPaper to Dropbox and Google Drive quickly and seamlessly. I have intentionally left the tablet on my daughters’ bed a couple of times – and I have seen them operate it on their own. That’s how user-friendly the controls and basic operations of nextPaper are.

Speaking of ease of use, the nextPaper has got to be one of the very few devices I have been able to master on my own, without having to look around for a instruction manual or a tutorial. This is one ebook reader that anyone can use…and that includes children. My daughters would vouch for that.

While the features and capabilities of nextPaper are excellent, it is a very good-looking gadget as well. The beautiful pearl-coloured 9.7” display screen caught the attention of my daughters first, and I really like its neat form-factor. There is a definite air of efficiency about the nextPaper tablet. The display resolution is a terrific 1280×825 pixels, and the quality of the capacitive electromagnetic touchscreen has been, till now, top-notch. Ellie is particularly fond of checking out images in 1024×768 resolution on the tablet. It also has a 2.5 mm earphone jack.

Me and my daughters love to read, and we download a lot of ebooks – and for heavy users like us, the nextPaper is an ideal device. The built-in internal memory of the tablet is a cool 16GB – and I have also added a 32GB SD card on it. I can now download books on the device, without ever having to worry about running out of memory space. Ellie, Lucita and yours truly are working together to create our very own bookstore on nextPaper.

The usability of Companion’s breakthrough digital paper tablet is further enhanced by the reliable 3000mAh lithium polymer battery. The device easily runs for 2-3 days on single charge – doing away with the need to keep the microUSB charger within reach at all times. Lucita is in charge of charging the nextPaper on Friday evenings…and we get through a weekend of some heavy-duty reading without having to charge it again.

Impressed by the features and capabilities of the digital paper reader, I also searched whether a mobile app version was also available. In fact, I put this query to the manufacturers – and was told that nextPaper indeed had an Android app. It has been created by Teksmobile, the company who has also made Story Time For Kids – by far Lucita and Ellie’s favourite storytelling application.

I am, for most purposes, a fairly old-fashioned person. I like reading books in their physical format – but times are changing. Digital reading is here to stay, and with high-quality e-readers like nextPaper, it is pretty straightforward for people like me to read books/magazines in electronic format. For my daughters too, nextPaper has been a great sketching, writing and reading tool. What’s more, the e-ink technology and digital paper is environment-friendly – offering paper-like reading/writing experiences, without using actual paper. I really wish the makers (Companion) all the very best for this open-source crowdfunding project…after all, coming up with a digital paper tablet that rivals (or even betters!) the powers of the Kindle is not a matter of joke!

Okay, I need to be off now…it’s time to drop the twins off to school. Did I tell you that I typed out this entire thing on the nextPaper?

How Good Is NB-IoT As A LPWAN Technology?

 

NB-IoT: Good as a LPWAN standard?

 

This is going to be a breakthrough year as far as proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is concerned. According to Gartner, as many as 8.4 million smart gadgets will be in active use by the end of 2017 – and, for the first time ever, the number of ‘connected devices’ will exceed the global population. LPWAN (low-power wide area network) is set to play a key role in this rapid growth and adoption of IoT, with 1 out of every 4 smart devices likely to be connected by LPWAN technology by 2020 (there will be ~350 million connections in all). Narrowband IoT, or NB-IoT, the 3GPP radio technology standard, has been in the news for some time in this context. In what follows, we will analyze the merits of NB-IoT as a good, viable LPWAN technology:

  1. Support from the biggest telecom players -Also known as LTE-M2, NB-IoT is backed by the support of some of the top telecom companies in the world. The ball was set rolling back in 2014, when Huawei spent $25 million to acquire Neul (which was already working on LPWAN technologies, along with Sigfox and Ingenu; the LoRa Alliance was formed half a year later). Huawei also partnered with Ericsson to create the NB-IoT standard (which has a DSSS modulation, just like Weightless-W). Vodafone and Qualcomm have also joined in to pull their collective weights for refining this wireless radio technology. The industry support for NB-IoT is robust, and the technology has every chance of becoming more efficient in future.

Note: In 2016, the final specification of NB-IoT was frozen in 3GPP Release 13.

2. Bandwidth requirements - Compatibility with 2G, 3G and 4G (as well as the upcoming 5G generation of applications) is essential for any optimized LPWAN standard. The low bandwidth requirement of NB-IoT (200 KHz) enables it to seamlessly function in conjunction with the existing cellular networks. The 200 KHz bands that have been used for GSM connections previously can be easily used for NB-IoT modules. The technology, on average, ranks high on the reliability count – and can be considered ideal for low data throughputs (both short-range and long-range). NB-IoT can support approximately 200 Kbps of downlink and uplink traffic rates.

3. The cost factor – In comparison with full-fledged LTE-M1 resource gateways, NB-IoT components are much more reasonably priced. That, in turn, has shifted the attention of OEMs to chipsets that support only narrowband IoT (instead of being compatible with LTE standards as well). Silicon is being used by many of the manufacturers to create these NB-IoT chips. With increasing demand levels, 3GPP expects the unit cost of NB-IoT modules to fall to $5 or less – which will be a significant achievement. However, at the LPWA World Conference in May, it was announced that the average cost for NB-IoT currently hovers in the $11-$16 range, which is too high to be of any practical interest for enterprise customers. The technology is not expensive per se, but the cost figures need to come down further.

4. Excellent coverage – One of the most important attribute of any LPWAN standard is its overall coverage area, and NB-IoT comes up trumps in that regard. The average coverage of a properly functioning NB-IoT resource block is close to 22 kilometers, comfortably higher than both LoRa technology (14-15 kms) and Sigfox (16-17 kms). There is an added condition though – the connectivity has to be uninterrupted and strong enough, to allow NB-IoT reach remote, relatively difficult-to-reach locations. In an ideal environment, the 3GPP standard can deliver almost 20 dB more coverage than general GSM networks and can deliver top-notch penetration (e,g, through walls, metal surfaces, etc.). With advanced repetition and Power Spectrum Density (PSD) boosts, NB-IoT has the capability to be 10X more efficient in terms of coverage, than other comparable LPWAN technologies. Link budgets are also higher, while bitrates are better as well.

Note: Unlike LTE-M1 (also by 3GPP), the NB-IoT standard does not function within a LTE construct.

5.  Enhanced security – Both Sigfox and LoRa technology have been in existence for some time now, and have their own high points – but both of these technologies have one potentially serious drawback. They use unlicensed spectrums for data transfer and communications, which means that the security of the devices and the network remains rather suspect. In contrast, NB-IoT uses licensed spectrums. While there are additional costs involved for purchasing licensed bands – the greater security standards boost the viability of NB-IoT to global users (enterprise users in particular). Usage of licensed spectrums helps in pulling up the reliability of the technology as well.

6. Deployment modes – The NB-IoT standard can be deployed in three different ways, to establish a channel for low-power, infrequent data communication/transfer. In the standalone deployment scenario, new bandwidths are used – and support is extended to LTE/UMTS as well as GSM. The technology can be implemented in a Guard Band, where the existing bandwidths within the underlying LTE network are utilized. The final (and least popular) deployment mode for NB-IoT is in ‘In-Band’, in which the LTE carrier’s resource blocks are made use of. In terms of indoor coverage, standalone and guard band deployments are way more efficient than the In-Band application of NB-IoT.

7. Number of connections supported – The most important objective of LPWAN is to move towards the ‘Internet of Everything’ – with more and more connected devices being used in every household. That, in turn, makes it critical for any radio technology to support a large number of connections (in each cell). In an NB-IoT framework, more than 50000 devices can be connected per cell (the number, in select scenarios, can move northwards of 100,000), ensuring massive gains in terms of smart connectivity and better prospective use cases. In IoT applications that typically require low bandwidth (for instance, smart water meters), the enhanced connectivity of NB-IoT is a major advantage.

Note: The bi-directional data transfer via NB-IoT has less interference than most other LPWAN technologies. Global roaming features are available too.

8. Minimal power consumption – Just like LoRaWAN, NB-IoT also places very low power requirements on the system. Presence of the enhanced discontinuous reception, or eDRX, is an important factor – and power is shut off at all times except when data is being sent/received. Since NB-IoT has a simple, basic waveform, the power requirements are further lowered. All these factors, in turn, ensure that the battery life of NB-IoT can extend up to 10 years, on a single charge. On average, the deployment coverage of NB-IoT/LTE-M2 is significantly higher than that of LTE-M1 applications.

9. Use cases of NB-IoT – A full NB-IoT network will be rolled out in New Zealand in the first half of 2018 (as announced by Vodafone NZ earlier this week). One of the biggest advantages of this technology is its suitability in a wide range of industrial applications (anything that require low throughputs and works well with moderate latency (~10 seconds)) – ranging right from smart gas and water meters, smart waste disposal, and smart parking devices/sensors, to smart buildings and alarms (including predictive maintenance tools), pollution level tracking, and smart agriculture. On the consumer applications front, person tracking as well as goods tracking can be done with the help of NB-IoT. The technology easily overcomes the range limitations of most other LPWAN tools, and provided that the signal strength is fair enough, delivers high-quality data transfer services seamlessly.

Note:SARA-N2, by u-blox, is said to be the very first NB-IoT module. It was launched in June 2016 and it supports uplink and downlink rates of 21 Kbps and 227 Kbps respectively.

10. Availability of frequency bands – For effective indoor coverage and reliable penetration levels, low frequency bands are typically found to be more effective. In fact, that is one of the main reasons behind the widespread use of the 900 MHz band by telecom operators globally (mostly for GSM networks). Now, NB-IoT is mostly deployed in frequency bands like 800 MHz and 900 MHz (700 MHz bands are also used) – and that is an advantage, since there are no dearth of commercial networks (LTE) that already operate on these frequency bands (particularly 900 MHz). By 2015, there were as many as 14 such networks – and the number has only grown since then. These low frequency spectrums have solid ecosystems, and that works in favour of NB-IoT.

11. Device complexity – In terms of both cost as well as device complexity, NB-IoT ranks ahead of GPRS and GSM networks. As already mentioned above, the waveforms are simpler as well. Even so, there remains certain challenges on this front. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the non-availability of ubiquitous 200 KHz spectrums (required for NB-IoT) across countries. To tackle this issue, additional features and capabilities have to be built into the antennas and the system modems/routers/gateways.  There can be some IPR risks (intellectual property risk) involved as well, due to the licensing costs.

12. NB-IoT as a service – The LTE-M2 radio technology standard has all the capabilities to deliver carrier-grade communication solutions. It compares favourably with practically all other LPWAN platforms in terms of security, reliability, coverage, support for connected devices, integration of big data tools and applications, and even billing procedures. Cloud-based service provision standards and smooth network virtualization are among the most important IoT trends at present – and ‘NB-IoT as a Service’ offers complete support for both.

There can be some problems regarding deployability (since NB-IoT is not a part of LTE, thereby necessitating the use of side bands) – but on the whole, it has every potential to become a leader in the LPWAN domain in the next few years.

A Huawei five-year forecast put the estimated revenues from NB-IoT applications in Germany at a whopping $1.67 billion – with smart city applications and smart logistics/automotive systems right at the forefront. The US market, on the other hand, paints a contrast – since AT&T and Verizon are invested in LTE-M1, and the overall demand for NB-IoT is likely to remain low. The main reason for this is the fact that NB-IoT is not based on LTE.

From our analysis, it can be concluded that 3GPP’s NB-IoT is, arguably, the most powerful LPWAN tool – at least on a theoretical level. Practically though, there are a few points of concern, with Huawei and Ericsson reporting problems in the interoperability of their narrowband services. In several major European markets (Netherlands, Ireland), NB-IoT has missed its proposed rollout dates – opening up opportunities for competitors like Sigfox and LoRa. Vodafone’s plans to ‘crush’ LoRa and Sigfox with NB-IoT have been put to the back-burner for the time – and all eyes are now on how the lingering issues with the technology can be ironed out. It remains to be seen whether NB-IoT, an otherwise excellent LPWAN-tool, can indeed become as successful as was once expected.

 

 

 

 

 

Recap: Roundup Of The Biggest Announcements At Apple WWDC 2017

What would a world without apps look like? Apple offered a sneak peek at such a hypothetical (and fairly alarming!) scenario with a hilarious ‘Appocalypse’ video, to kickstart this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC; 5-9 June). The video was followed by the two-and-a-half hour long keynote, with a record 5300+ registered Apple developers in attendance. Several important announcements were made during the keynote, and we will take a look back at them here:

 

  1. Homepod - Apple was widely expected to showcase a new smart home speaker at this year’s WWDC, and the Cupertino tech giant did not disappoint in that regard. The sleek, Siri-enabled Homepod was announced – with the speaker having a wide range of smart functionalities. For starters, the ‘home entertainment speaker’ can customize audio playback depending on the area and type of room it is placed in. A four-inch woofer, together with a 7-beam tweeter array, offers excellent audio quality – while other essential features, like echo-cancellation (multi-channel) are also built-in. Powered by the Apple A8 processor, the Homepod also has the capability to answer questions (thanks to the ‘Hey Siri’ support), start timers, fetch news and schedule reminders. It can be paired with other Homepod(s) as well. The special ‘Musicologist’ feature helps in streaming audio from Apple Music, once a user has requested Siri to play something. Apple Homepod will be available in black and white body colors, and will start shipping from December 2017 (the price is $349). It combines the best features of Sonos and Amazon Echo – and should emerge as a worthy rival to both.
  2. watchOS 4 -Although tvOS 11 did not make an appearance at WWDC 2017 (more on that later), Apple did come out with an update for its smartwatch platform. The fourth iteration of watchOS has many new additions – with the interesting watch faces being worth a separate mention. Apart from the cool Toy Story character faces (Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jesse), there is also a ‘trippy effect’ kaleidoscopic face and the innovative Siri watch face. The latter can display personalized information, based on the precise location, time and preferences of users. As expected, more activities have been added in the built-in Activity app, while the Workout application has also received workouts (e.g., high-intensity interval training, enhanced swimming training). Third-party app developers have also been kept in mind, with watchOS 4 having lots of new APIs. The blinking light mode and the flashlight mode are also interesting additions. The Music app in Apple Watch has been redesigned, the new ‘Gymkit’ functionality has been included, and the platform will also allow people to make payments through Watch (person-to-person payments).

Note: The Siri watch face will bring in artificial intelligence (AI) to the watchOS platform.

3. iOS 11 – The newest version of the iOS platform was, of course, announced at the Apple annual conference – as is the custom every year. The final version of iOS 11 will be launched in September, and it will be present on this year’s iPhone 8 (or will it be iPhone 7S?). Several tweaks have been made in the latest iteration of iOS, with the redesigned Control Center – with toggles becoming 3D Touch-enabled and the entire set of controls becoming viewable on a single sheet. A new ‘Apple Pay Cash’ card will be made available, to facilitate person-to-person payments via Apple Pay. Syncing across multiple devices will become easier and faster than before, with iMessages being made a part of iCloud (with end-to-end encryption). Live images can be modified/edited, while images will be compressed in the HIEF format (which are visually at par with JPEG images, and require about 50% less space). The Notifications panel and the lock screen have been merged into a single display area in iOS 11, while there is also a special ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode for users – which will mute all notifications and send automated messages, when they are driving. Airplay 2 will make audio sharing and playback on paired devices an absolute breeze.

4. 10.5” iPad Pro - Last year’s 9.7” iPad Pro was a big attempt on the part of Apple to revive the flagging fortunes of the iPad. At this year’s WWDC, an upgraded version – the 10.5” iPad Pro (along with the 12.9” variant) – has been announced. The new model has a display screen with much narrower bezels, and can easily fit in a full on-screen keyboard (the company has been trying to create a ‘handheld computer’ experience with iPad Pro). The A10X Fusion processor (6-core) delivers optimal speed and performance. The 10.7” iPad Pro will also support HDR videos – a first in the history of iPads. The revolutionary ‘ProMotion technology’ will enhance the refresh rate of the screen to an amazing 120 Hz – making activities smoother, and significantly reducing the latency of Apple Pencil. The new iPad Pro model will have the same camera specifications as iPhone 7 (12MP rear camera with optical image stabilization…yay!). Shipments of the Apple tablet might have gone down over the last couple of quarters – but Apple is not going to give up on it anytime soon.

5. macOS High Sierra - We moved on from OS X to macOS in 2016 (the first version of the latter was called macOS Sierra) – and this year, we have got an upgraded version of the platform, in the form of macOS High Sierra. Apple is looking to make web browsing easier and faster than ever on Mac computers – with the Safari browser now having the capability to block autoplay videos (it also has an ‘intelligent tracking prevention’ feature. The in-built JavaScript engine has been billed to be close to 80% faster than Google Chrome – an impressive feat indeed. The 64-bit APFS (Apple File System) – which debuted on iOS 10.3 – is coming to the macOS platform as well. The Photos app has been revamped, while the split-screen functionality in the Mail app will add to the convenience factor. At the event, Craig Federighi also mentioned that both Metal VR and Metal 2 graphics engines will be coming to macOS High Sierra, along with the Steam VR SDK (much to the joy of the developers attending WWDC). What’s more, the platform will also support Unreal Engine and Unity.

6. More intelligent Siri - Siri on iOS has been getting consistently smarter – and its performance is set to climb a couple of notches higher on iOS 11. With the help of SiriKit, the mobile digital assistant will support more external apps than before. Contextual search will be boosted by proactive suggestions, while Siri will also be enabled to ‘read’ texts off the phone screen (thereby making the task of understanding difficult words easier). The recalibrated Siri has an enhanced natural voice, with ‘intelligence’ levels being buoyed by on-device learning. On devices running on iOS 11, Siri will also be able to translate user-commands and queries to different languages, like Spanish, English, Chinese, German, and many more. The assistant will also be able to pull up VR codes, and perform banking and task-management activities.

7. iMac Pro - Easily the biggest of the Mac-related updates announced at WWDC 2017. An all-new iMac Pro (for professionals) is set to be launched, with uber-powerful eight-core Xeon configuration (ten-core and eighteen-core options will be available). The size of the iMac Pro will be 27”, and it will have a vRAM of 16GB. The high-quality VR environment will be a big plus for this computer, which will have the breakthrough Radeon Vega GPUs. The 27” iMac Pro will be available in Space Grey, and will start to ship in December.

Note: Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to the iMac Pro as ‘pretty badass’. It is being touted as the most powerful computer the Cupertino company has ever made.

8. More about Macs - Prior to the conference, there was plenty of buzz about the Intel Kaby Lake processors (7th generation) coming to Mac computers. These processors have indeed been included in the refreshed lineup of Mac systems. The 21.5” iMac can be upgraded to have the Fusion Drive storage system (it is standard on the 27” model). The new models will also have higher memory and storage capacities – a maximum of 32GB and 64GB for the 21.5” and the 27” iMac computers respectively. The computers will have two new Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C ports, come with Radeon Pro GPU processors, and the Iris Plus graphics configuration. According to reports, the SSD of the revamped Mac systems function almost 50% faster than their predecessors. The 27” iMac will boast of 5.5 teraflops power for processing. New chips and drives were also announced for Macbook, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro – offering significant speed boosts.

9. Amazon Video app on Apple TV - Rather surprisingly, not much was announced by Apple regarding its smart TV platform (the much anticipated tvOS 11 was not showcased). However, there was big news – about Amazon Prime Video finally becoming available both on Apple TV and the TV app of the iOS platform. With Amazon and Apple burying their past differences and getting together, the content source of Apple TV will expand considerably – something that all Amazon Prime subscribers can rejoice about. ITV Hub and All 4 remain the other popular video apps that are not yet on the Apple TV roster.

10. Redesigned App Store - The App Store is being redesigned by Apple for the first time this year, to enhance its user-friendliness. The changes are being made as a component of the overall iOS 11 update. The UI of the App Store will become neater and more streamlined – with every app/game being presented in separate ‘product pages’, and greater visibility for in-app purchases. The overall layout resembles that of Apple Music, with the content-separating tab ensuring easier browsing. Information about all the new games (including gameplay tips and help) will be available – while there will be a new ‘App Of The Day’ tab feature, to highlight the specially recommended application on any day. There is something for iOS app developers too – with the ‘phased releases’ option making it simpler to release relatively large updates.

Note: It was also revealed that Mountain Valley 2 (by Ustwo Games) will be present in the restyled App Store.

11. ARKit - The war in the augmented reality (AR) space is hotting up. In April, Facebook launched its AR-focused ‘Camera Effects’ platform, while Microsoft has also launched its very own platform for AR developers. After several months of subtle hints, Apple finally announced at the recently-concluded WWDC that it is going to join the game – with the all-new ARKit suite. The platform will provide tools and resources to app developers for creating high-end AR applications (for iPhone and iPad). In a live demonstration at the conference, Apple showed how augmented reality can be used to enhance the real world, by placing virtual objects in it. The company, as Tim Cook has repeatedly said, is looking to make inroads in the AR market. After implementation, ARKit has the potential to help Apple surge ahead of its competitors.

12. iPad-specific updates - iOS updates do not often have specific new features for the iPad. An exception to this was iOS 9, which introduced split screen multitasking for the tablet. iOS 11 will also come with a fairly large number of ‘for iPad’ updates – ranging from a revamped Files application, innovative multi-app views and smooth document markup options (with Apple Pencil), to a redesigned app dock and built-in capability to ‘recognize’ handwritings in the Notes app. It remains to be seen whether the new iPad models (10.5” and 12.9”) can bring about a turnaround in the fortunes of the device.

At WWDC 2017, Tim Cook officially announced that the total number of devs registered in the Apple Developer Program now stands at 16 million. The keynote was one of the most interesting in recent years, with all the software and hardware announcements mentioned above. The CEO summed up things by saying ‘Apple is doing great’ – and this year indeed looks big for the company.

 

 

How To Ensure IoT Security?

iot security tips

Anything that can connect to the internet, will connect to the internet

That, in essence, is the spirit behind the exponential growth rate of Internet of Things (IoT) worldwide. Going by a recent BI Intelligence report, there will be close to 35 billion ‘connected devices’ in active use by the end of this decade – with business being the biggest sector to use this technology. However, in the rush to come up with new and innovative IoT tools, platforms and gateways – the importance of ensuring proper security standards is often relegated to the background. In 2016, the number of ransomware attacks increased by an alarming 36% (YoY) – with as many as 17 million samples of new malware being detected in the third quarter of the year alone. The time has obviously come to give more attention to the security aspect of IoT – since the consequences of the ‘wrong person having access to the wrong internet resources’ scenario can be serious indeed.

The importance of internet security in general, and the safety protocols of IoT in particular, is not lost on the present-generation business professionals. On average, 3 out of every 4 senior managers/decision makers feel that there will be further spikes in cybersecurity attacks in the next 18-24 months, while nearly 50% business owners list security as among the biggest potential problems in new applications. A large number of IT security experts also opine that the existing standards, policies and protocols are not adequate to cope with the ever-increasing cyber security threats. In here, we will offer some basic tips and pointers for ensuring the security of IoT applications:

  1. Maintaining an inventory of connected devices - By August 2016, an average North American household had 8-10 connected devices. That number will push towards 50 by 2020. The number of smart IoT business applications is also increasing at a rapid clip. In this scenario, it is vital to keep track of all the tools and gadgets with web-connectivity that are being used (apart from, of course, computers and smartphones). The list of IoT devices being used by any person/group/business should be regularly updated, and all types of media players and microphone/camera mounted gadgets should be included. In addition, the volume and type of data each IoT tool has access to should also be noted. Maintaining a systematic inventory report of IoT applications and their components makes it easier to identify probable sources of vulnerabilities.
  2. Using updated firmware - The IoT routers/gateways as well as all the connected devices in a network should have the latest security patches and updates. The onus is on the users to regularly check for these updates (from the makers’ websites, for instance) and install the same whenever they become available. If and when possible, this checking procedure can be automated too. New types of malware and hacks are being created practically every day – and unless you are using the latest firmware versions, your IoT network is at a risk.
  3. The importance of passwords - Passwords are probably the biggest security tool in the hands of the users. Plenty of people make the mistake of selecting the same password for all of their IoT devices – making the task that much easier for professional hackers (if the password of any one system is hacked, the other systems connected to it also become accessible). Hence, it is of immense importance to select separate passwords for each IoT tool. Also, the individual passwords need to be strong enough and not easily guessable. There are several advanced password manager apps currently available, where all the passwords can be stored. Users should never forget to change the factory-set passwords (‘12345’, ‘password’, etc.).

Note: Over 1 billion Yahoo! User accounts were hacked in 2013. The next year, a further 500 million accounts were breached.

4. Staying wary of DDoS attacks - A 2016 NexusGuard report found that, between the first and second quarters of the year – the number of distributed denial-of-service (or, DDoS) shot up by a whopping 83%. In 2016 Q4, reports of DDoS attacks came in from as many as 80 different countries (China had the lead with most attacks, with USA and South Korea taking up the second and third spots respectively). Any business that has a proper website (websites can also be a significant source of revenue) needs to be aware of a potential DDoS attack. The trick here lies in selecting an internet service provider (ISP) that offers robust security against such attacks. If funds are not a point of concern, a internet hosting firm with specialized DDoS mitigation plans can be opted for (their services are often relatively pricey). An attacker might target an entire ISP or any particular user – and your IoT environment should be powerful enough to repel such threats.

5. Encryption is key to security - The volume of confidential, personalized data – right from names and contact information, to bank account/card information and transaction details – being stored on the cloud is increasing with time. During data transmission, nearly 82% of all cloud service providers offer secure data encryption services. While that seems pretty good – a closer look reveals a much more worrisome stat: less than 10% of the stored information is encrypted during rest (i.e., when it is not being transmitted). Not surprisingly, this is the state which attackers tend to target – seriously compromising cloud security as a whole. Before uploading/storing any information on a IoT network, users need to ensure that it would be encrypted properly. It is not easy (at least, it ain’t a quick job!) to decrypt well-encrypted information – and that enhances the security assurances manifold.

6. Consider whether continuous internet-connectivity is required - It would be surprising to note how many IoT devices and gadgets can be disconnected from the network at different times – but users (from business and consumer sectors) do not take the trouble of doing so. Something like a smart thermostat, or a personal smartphone, might need to be connected at all times – but the scene is different (at least it should be) for automated coffee-makers, or smart lighting systems, or audio/video streaming devices (smart TVs, for instance). The longer an IoT device remains connected to the network – the greater is the time a hacker gets to plot an attack on it. Whenever a smart gadget is not being used, it is advisable to disconnect it from the network.

Note: Not all IoT devices need to be connected to the cloud. In any case, over-reliance on the cloud network can increase security risks.

7. Deactivating Universal Plug and Play - Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is, in theory, a very useful feature. It helps smart devices without any specific configuration settings to ‘discover’ other, similar tools in the network. However, this ‘universal discoverability’ comes with a serious corollary too – since it becomes easier for hackers to find and target IoT devices. Even if a user has no intention of making his/her device(s) visible to everyone, it can be done by certain customized search engines (which locate everything connected to the web). Given these vulnerabilities in the UPnP protocol, it is a good idea to turn the feature off – on the router as well as all connected smart devices.

8. Multiple networks and a ‘Guest Network’ - Instead of using a single router and hoping for the best, IoT security experts generally recommend having multiple routers – particularly when there are several IoT gadget/appliances to be connected. Having several routers automatically ensures segmentation of the network – and that, in turn, diversifies the potential security threats. Even if a network segment (and the devices within it) is compromised, the other parts remain secure. It is also important to create a separate ‘guest network’ with the help of wifi routers. There is no way to predicting which users will want to get on an IoT platform at any time – and to keep the main network safe, unknown visitors should be routed through this ‘guest network’.

Note: Different smart home devices, like printers and surveillance cameras, were used in last October’s Dyn cyber attack – the biggest internet attack of its type. Github, Spotify and Reddit were among the websites affected.

9. Being aware of the risks of BYOD - By the end of this year, 1 out of every 2 companies in North America will support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. Markets&Markets has estimated that that value of the global BYOD market will go beyond $180 billion this year. While bringing personal devices to office for work-related purposes definitely has its benefits (from lowering the stress on workplace devices to helping employees enjoying a more ‘involved feeling) – doing so is fraught with security risks. A personal smart device is not likely to have the requisite security features and encryption standards – and as such, it can put valuable business information at risk. An individual device with suspect security can be easily targeted to get unauthorized access to company databases. A scary thought, indeed!

Note: As the number of smart devices used for work (company-owned plus personal) increase, keeping track of them on a real-time basis becomes difficult. That is yet another reason to limit the BYOD practices within a business as much as possible.

10. Staying away from unknown wifi connections - Unsecure wifi networks (public wifi networks that are not password protected, for instance) are perfect tools for hackers to spread malware. While the attractions of logging on to such an ‘open network’ can be considerable (saving on mobile data…so, yay!) – such networks can be dangerous from the security perspective. Users should, as a rule of thumb, view all wifi networks without passwords as ‘vulnerable’, and refrain from using them on their handheld devices or any other smart gadgets. Use your own routers and networks – and have strong passwords for them.

11. The time factor - Implementing security parameters on IoT devices is not a ‘one-and-done’ job. Over time, the effectiveness of IoT security depreciates – and users have to continually keep track of the latest technologies and protocols and how they can be used to make the network ‘safer’. Tackling new threats with urgent software updates and patches is all very fine – but the focus should firmly be on following the latest manufacturing models for any smart device or IoT gateway. In other words, the IoT security considerations should follow a ‘bottom-up’ path, with manufacturers being responsible for incorporating updated security features in new tools and gadgets. In the fast moving domain of the World Wide Web, device-makers can no longer afford to just create a smart device and then provide security patches on an ‘as required’ basis.

Note: When a manufacturer exits the market, all the devices created by it stop receiving the necessary software updates. In such cases, it is prudent to replace the concerned devices (which are now unsecure).

12. Minimal personal data and code obfuscation - As the world is getting more and more connected, the amount of personal information out in the wild (often without the owner(s) being aware of it) is increasing. For instance, the GPS system of a smart car can give away its precise parking location details – and when that information falls in the hands of a hacker, car thefts become a very real possibility. The same goes for home automation systems and IoT business tools as well. Users should minimize ‘disclosing’ such information that can be traced back to them. Maintaining a certain level of obscurity on the internet platform is important.

Hack attacks, in most cases, involve reverse engineering of the underlying codes in IoT applications. An effective way to tackle this is via code obfuscation (i.e., the technique of over-elaborating and complicating machine codes to make reverse engineering difficult and way more time-consuming). Among the popular programming languages, while C/C++ are often used in the security-related sections of IoT apps – developers generally avoid using JavaScript.

Less than 38% of all organizations worldwide have a proper IoT strategy management policy in place (according to a PwC report). This clearly highlights the fact that there is plenty of catching-up to do for businesses – to minimize the security-threats and hack attacks. The task has to start from training individual users about the types of malware and threats they might face – and how they can work around them. Using VPNs (virtual private networks) to enhance the security of IoT devices is also a good idea. Websites and mobile apps that involve monetary transactions (for example, shopping portals) should have proper Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) support.

IoT will continue to evolve – and unfortunately, cybersecurity threats will grow with it too. It is up to the product manufacturers and end-users to work together and keep such threats at an arm’s length, at all times.