Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Watson Poised To Co-Pilot BMW’s New Driving Experience

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Cars are rapidly becoming one of the biggest components of the IoT. With their vast array of sensors and electronics, and inclusion of 4G data connectivity, they have become rolling data platforms.

Data can be sourced from a car’s mechanical components, such as brakes, transmission and engine, and also from the driver: seat position, mirror adjustments, steering wheel tilt, and so on. If analyzed, this data could lead to vast improvements in safety, comfort and performance.

That’s where IBM’s Watson comes in. “The driving experience will change more over the next decade than at any other time of the automobile’s existence,” said Harriet Green, Global Head of IBM’s Watson IoT business.

Thanks to the company’s new Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, IBM is now partnering with companies across all industries to explore how its cognitive platform can become the brains of the IoT. The first of these collaborations is with BMW. Four i8 Hybrid sports cars will serve as prototypes, enabling conversations in natural language between drivers and Watson on topics such as the weather, road conditions or even advice based on the car owner’s manual, which Watson has already memorized.

To learn more, click here.

How a Raspberry Pi Can Boost Digital and Home Security

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Since emerging in 2012 as an inexpensive platform for teaching students about code and the machines that run it, the Raspberry Pi has become something of a digital Swiss Army knife: a tiny, highly adaptable tool that can be programmed to do everything from emulating classic video games to controlling airborne drones.

Thanks to its low price (some versions start as low as $5), customizable operating system and wide support in the open source community, there are now hundreds of DIY projects for the Raspberry Pi.

A few headline-grabbing Pi projects demonstrate the dark potential of a computer that’s smaller than a credit card, running specialized code to hack laptops and other devices via USB port. But the use of the Raspberry Pi as a security enforcer is taking the limelight away from hackers, particularly in the Internet of Things. For example, the Sweet Security project by Travis Smith uses the Raspberry Pi to defend connected devices. Building on 20-year-old open source code that can monitor for network intrusions, Sweet Security shows that it’s possible to add strong security to IoT rollouts, on a very cost-effective basis.

There’s also a growing movement among hobbyists to turn the Raspberry Pi into a full-fledged alternative to pricey home-security systems. With the ability to connect peripherals like motion sensors, video cameras and water sensors, these tiny computers can track and notify homeowners about almost any aspect of their home, from energy usage to identifying when non-family members are present.

The legion of Raspberry Pi fans point to the fact that unlike home security solutions marketed by big companies, all the data you and your family generate in a Pi-reliant system stays under your control, shared only if you choose.

Even in the age of online sharing, makers and information-creators are increasingly interested in controlling and safeguarding their valuable intellectual property. The Raspberry Pi is an unexpected, useful addition to the future of security.

Enterprise Does Big Things with the Tiny Raspberry Pi

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

When the ultra-affordable, credit-card sized Raspberry Pi chip first became available in 2012, its potential quickly became clear. Not just an educational tool or a neat toy for hackers to tinker with, this little computer had a big future: five years (and five versions) later, its potential has been realized.

The Raspberry Pi has now become the basis for a series of impressive and well-funded ventures in a variety of sectors. Here’s a rundown of some of the fresh-baked enterprises vying for a piece of that pie.

Company: WaterScope

Economic sector: Environmental science

Funding story: After initial grants from Cambridge University, the company has since raised over £15,000 ($18,500 USD) in funding.

What they do: A simple, lightweight, low-cost water testing kit for developing communities. With a 3D-printed microscope hooked up to a Raspberry Pi chip, the WaterScope can quickly and effectively tell you if your water’s safe to drink—something that’s still of severe concern for hundreds of millions of people each day.

Company: NEC Display Solutions

Economic sector: Electronic displays

Funding story: NEC has been a leader in large-format displays for years. The company recently announced that it will launch a line of Raspberry Pi-enhanced displays (up to 98 inches) in 2017.

What they do: A range of smart, IoT-connected displays for business, that are customizable, potentially upgradable, and thanks to the presence of the Raspberry Pi, relatively inexpensive.

Company: Piper

Economic sector: Education

Funding story: After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Piper secured a funding round of $2.1 million from a handful of investors, including Princeton University and the cofounder of Skype.

What they do: DIY computer kits for kids. Students can assemble their own working computer and build up to a special treat: a custom edition of Minecraft that lets them solve engineering puzzles. Playing video games in class has rarely been this rewarding.

Company: Western Digital

Economic sector: Hard drives

Funding story: WD is already one of the largest data storage companies in the world, and they’re targeting a large group of users with their new line of PiDrive Foundation Edition drives.

What they do: Designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi, these ultrathin, low-cost drives give tinkerers a lot more storage to play with, as well as the ability to quickly switch between operating systems. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts point out that the combination could make these drives an ideal setup for dedicated Bitcoin nodes.

The Way Forward: Tech and Developer Stories That Defined 2016 and Will Shape 2017

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

2016 was a banner year in tech and dev, and 2017 promises to be even more exciting.

At TechPORTFOLIO, we thrive on the stories and milestones that drive tech and dev progress and show us the path ahead. Here’s a roundup of the 2016 stories and 2017 predictions that matter most in this amazing industry.

From fake-news-fighting AI to a new era of cloud development, 2016 showed us the range of concurrent revolutions in tech:

Top 5 Tech Stories of 2016

These trends that gathered steam in 2016 tech will take off in 2017:

5 Reasons 2017 Will Be A Transformative Year For Tech

Combating IoT security woes in the big data environment played a major role in dev life in 2016:

5 Leading Developer Stories of 2016

In 2017, old dev skills become new again in the job market, and the blockchain changes the game:

How The Dev World Will Change In 2017: Top 5 Predictions

Take a look at our gallery of most-read TechPORTFOLIO features from last year, and follow our tech and dev insights the year ahead:



How The Dev World Will Change In 2017: Top 5 Predictions

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

It’s hard to think of an industry that changes faster than IT, and it looks like 2017 will be no exception to this rule. Developers will be asked to wrap their heads around new technologies, new platforms, and new methodologies. Here are the five forces experts think will shape the dev landscape in the coming year.

Move Over Native Apps

If you’ve never considered web apps, now’s the time. Gartner says that mobile apps aren’t delivering the ROI that brands had hoped for, with many of them struggling just to acquire downloads. “By 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps,” the firm says.

Goodbye Bimodal

“In early 2016, many CIOs fell for the false promise of a bimodal strategy,” says Forrester Research, and it expects this will reverse itself in 2017. The idea that IT could be split in half and run at two different speeds, with two fundamentally different approaches, has proven unmanageable for most organizations.

Older Skills Remain Crucial

Despite the massive trends of IoT, AI, VR, and cloud, Robert Half Technology says that the skills most likely to earn devs a boost in salary are the ones that have been in demand for years. Specifically: ASP, C#, Java, and .NET, which could deliver a seven percent salary increase this year.

Can’t Stop The Blockchain

The buzz around blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, started to grow in 2016 and will become louder still in 2017. With applications in the financial sector being the obvious starting point, the technology will also find a home in the IoT as it provides a secure and trusted way to share transactional data between devices and companies. “By 2022 a blockchain based business will exist with a value of $10 billion,” according to Gartner.

The Future Is Open

Open source’s allure will strengthen this year, thanks to OpenStack. With its open tools, technologies and broad, vibrant developer communities, Forrester predicts that “In 2017, we will see the vast majority of development organizations embrace open source/OpenStack.”

5 Leading Developer Stories of 2016

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

The biggest developer trends of 2016 tell the story of the constantly-changing tech industry and the innovative developers at its core. Here’s a look at 5 leading stories that defined the dev world in 2016:

Open-Source Fallout Breaks the Internet

The interdependence of the open-source community and the websites, apps and services that depend on shared code became very clear after a big-time communication breakdown in March.

When Azer Koçulu deleted all of his code packages from the open-source JavaScript resource npm, developers and major websites around the world faced serious ERR! messages. Koçulu’s brief feud with Kik had led him to delete a piece of code that turned out to be crucial to multiple widely-used packages. npm, facing a tough decision, undeleted the 11 lines of code in question, prioritizing the needs of the community over the wishes of the individual author.

Big Data’s Big Numbers Became Impossible to Ignore

The big data market hit a valuation of $28.65 billion in 2016, with a forecast of $66.79 billion by 2021. How did this affect developers? Big-time demand for skills relating to big data development, of course. The need for sophisticated analytics software is poised to become a huge growth element in this new industry subsection.

IoT Security Woes Became World Headlines

Remember that big IoT hack in October? Twitter, Spotify and Amazon sure do: they were among the many websites that were rendered inaccessible to many users, as a result of a DDoS attack on internet traffic-and-routing service Dyn. The assault was carried out through IoT devices.

While much of the non-dev world was annoyed enough to be locked out of Netflix for a few hours, security-minded developers saw the October outage as a sign of things to come. The forecast isn’t doom and gloom, but what lies ahead is a large-scale refocusing on making the IoT not just convenient, innovative and exciting, but also secure.

Linux Turned 25

Linux, the hobby project that evolved to become part of the DNA of the web and countless smart devices, had a milestone anniversary in August. As a testament to what the curiosity and collaboration of passionate developers can build, the Linux success story is one close to this community’s heart.

Education Finally Caught Up To Reality

While there’s still some debate about the future of coding, educators, toymakers and governments finally embraced software development as an important part of a complete education. With tech being a ubiquitous part of our environment, understanding a developer’s skillset has become as relevant as learning math and languages.

Top 5 Tech Stories of 2016

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

2016 was a year that saw both steady progress and revolutionary leaps in the tech sector. The Internet of Things came into its own, augmented reality changed the visual landscape of cities, and cognitive computing became a force that is impossible to ignore.

Here are our picks for the top 5 tech stories of 2016:


Companies such as Uber began capitalizing on the connected “things” of the Internet of Things in a major way: as a “service enabler,” Uber used connectivity to create profits out of pre-existing products and needs.

Connecting drivers and passengers (and, very soon, driverless cars) has also created a data gold mine that app developer partners are eager to access.


The visibility of the blockchain skyrocketed, and its transformative impact on the economy became clear.

By decentralizing records of exchanges of value, the blockchain has forced traditional banking institutions to take fintech seriously, and has created enormous opportunity for startups.


College students created an open-source AI in a day and a half to combat fake news on Facebook. Not only did this elevate the visibility of cognitive and artificial intelligence, it was a direct example of how technology can be applied to pressing social needs.


Development began to migrate to the cloud, signalling the inevitable democratization of development. Defying the previous expectation that cloud-based development limits flexibility in favour of shareability and scalability, developers began to turn to established services such as GitHub, Docker, and Atlassian JIRA, which have already made collective coding a practical reality.

5) AR

How could we do a 2016 tech roundup without mentioning Pokémon GO? Proving that the line between games and serious technological evolution is a blurry one, the hit AR app showed enterprise, industry, and developers that people are ready to embrace augmented reality.

The Practical Age of Monetized Data Has Finally Arrived

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Major companies like Uber and Under Armour are putting data to work, and the emerging partnerships and new app developments are having a bottom-line impact. Uber recently invited developers to use its driver data to create money-and- advantage-spinning apps:

Uber Turns Passive Data Into Active Earnings

Under Armour is bundling data-collecting fitness hardware and software into a package that athletes at all levels are finding irresistible:

🚴🏂🏊 #Data insights and #fitness are getting more deeply linked every day. What started with Fitbit and other wearable tech is getting more sophisticated by the day, and #UnderArmour's partnership with #IBMWatson is the next level-up. Tapping into the fitness communities @Endomondo, @MapMyFitness, and #MyFitness has given UA access to data from 165 million users. The #Healthbox fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and connected scale function as a fitness-data superhub, and UA Record inputs it all into Watson, which uses the nutrition, training, and sleep information to factor into its cognitive coaching. Under Armour is turning #data into real fitness feedback: And that means #Healthbox is garnering major interest from athletes and fitness fans. Click on our bio link for the full story.

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And for startups and developers keen to enter this era of monetized data, we assembled tutorials that show developers how they can harness data for practical uses, with a compelling example or two along the way:

As we move into 2017, keep tracking the data monetization conversation here at TechPORTFOLIO.

This 3D Mirror Sees And Scans Faces

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

The retail sphere continues to be one of the most agile adopters of technology: a recent partnership between a 3D-scanning company and eyewear tech developer Sfered is the latest example.

In 0.1 seconds, the smart mirror designed by Fuel3D can capture all the data it needs to create an accurate 3D model of your face. This technology is about to make shopping for glasses easier, and widen consumer options exponentially.

As Luke Dormehl writes in Digital Trends, customers who walk into an optical store featuring Fuel3D’s mirror won’t be limited to choosing from the glasses on the shelves. The latest eyewear catalogs will be constantly uploaded into the smart mirror, allowing shoppers to find the perfect fit.

“We [chose to incorporate] the design into a mirror because when people look into a mirror, they focus much more naturally than if they are looking into a camera,” says Phil Newman, Fuel 3D’s CMO.  

It’s becoming increasingly common for end users to first encounter the latest technology while they’re shopping for something completely different. In the near future, you can look forward to seeing and being seen by smart mirrors at optical stores, and beyond.

Uber Turns Passive Data Into Active Earnings

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Rumblings about monetizing passive data have been part of the tech sector conversation for years.

Until recently, however, it hasn’t been easy to point to concrete examples of companies making their passive data work for their bottom line. That’s now changed, and one front-running example is Uber’s Driver API.

With over 1.5 million Uber drivers on the road, logging trip, financial, rating and profile information, there is an obvious market for developers building driver-experience-enhancing apps: a direct, practical step toward monetizing passive data.

This applied data isn’t only boosting Uber’s profile: It’s creating opportunities for enterprise, giving established players and up-and-coming developers a huge market to tap into, and a chance to partner with a massive startup success.

As TechCrunch reports, Uber has already reached out to developers interested in creating tools. Drivers can access a CV-building tool, track their tax owings, or connect to an auto repair rewards system.

Uber’s step into monetizing data won’t just endear them to developers eager to enter a new market. This is a partnership-building tool, and a vanguard example to other companies looking to transform data into new business opportunities.