If I say Sony, I’d bet the first subjects that come to your mind are not healthcare or logistics management. Yet these are two key areas that Sony’s Sweden-based Internet of Things (IoT) team focused on at the recent IoT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC18) in Barcelona, as Jeremy Cowan reports.
Talking to Lisa Lessing, senior manager, marketing & PR for IoT Business Group Europe, at Sony Mobile Communications, I must admit I wasn’t previously aware of Sony’s position in IoT. But Lessing and her colleague, senior business development manager, Anders Sandwang are quick to point to Sony’s first Bluetooth-enabled watch, produced in 2006.
Anders Sandwang shows Sony’s Mobile Asset Management solution
In 2015 the company’s competence in connectivity and 5G communications, plus a less well-publicised track record in Machine Learning and positioning algorithms, drove the Japan-based electronics giant into IoT research and development.
One of the results is Mobiam, Sony’s mobile asset management solution now in trial with Lund University in Sweden. Cold chain management (CCM) is not only important for businesses and the environment to minimise food waste, it is vital for avoiding the Blame Game that Sandwang says is all too common in the logistics chain when a product arrives in poor condition and no-one can prove where the fault lies.
“Cold chain logistics can involve many truck and van transfers,” says Sandwang, “so we built a prototype (solution) to follow the product, not the vehicle. We created boxes with a modem, GPS (global positioning system), accelerometer and temperature sensors. This is not just a cold chain problem, shippers need it for steel or paper, to know where it is and in what condition. Fleet management systems don’t show how the cargo is and signing a receipt means accepting the goods that may be damaged when opened and inspected.”
The system is now in trials, and Sony used the Barcelona event to show when a freight forwarder picks up the goods. This was a live connection to a real shipment of car parts from Copenhagen, Denmark to Manchester, UK via the ports of Gothenburg and Hull. Alarms are triggered for any cargoes that exceed programmed temperature and humidity ranges, or where boxes tilt, fall or are handled without due care.
For example, Sony also showed a shipment of paper being carried from Finland to Prague in the Czech Republic. If a cargo is diverted, say through the need for urgent truck repairs, Machine Learning (ML) enables the system to anticipate and alert the customer that delivery will be delayed. The customer is informed pro-actively.
There is a pressing need within the industry for secure data exchange in important and high value transactions. This, or course, includes transportation and vehicle movements (but applies just as much to IoT communications in Industry 4.0, smart cities, and finance). However, cybersecurity is only as good as the weakest link and some networks don’t enforce security between IoT devices and communication gateways. Sometimes data protection is applied at the gateway, only protecting communications between the gateway and the receiving endpoint.
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