Memorial Day, a day that seemed unlikely to ever come during the long and cold winter just past, is upon us. This means that news will slow down as people head to the beach and fire up their barbeques.
That’s as it should be, of course. It doesn’t mean, however, that the days leading up to the unofficial beginning of summer don’t deliver some important news and insightful commentary. They do. Here are some highlights from the week just ended.
On the Road to Self-Driving Cars
CNET, in a story about an “automotive vision chip” that Neusoft, Green Hills Software and Freescale are partnering on, makes the point that the development of self-driving cars is a gradual process.
At this point, and well into the future, computers will aid, not replace, drivers. The chip, which will arrive next year and be upgraded in 2016 and 2017, will provide important input to the human driver, who retains control:
The partnerships will produce an automotive vision chip that can be used to help cars understand the environment around them. That includes things like detecting pedestrians, traffic lights, collisions, drowsy drivers, and road lane markings.
The chip will help analyze the images from vehicles’ image sensors to create big-picture images that will help drivers stay out of trouble.
Kansas City: Smart and Getting Smarter
Folks tend to look at various news stories through a single prism. However, often many important elements overlap and actually touch on several important themes.
The deal between Cisco and Kansas City, Missouri, to bring smart services to the city is one such story: It combines the overall topic of smart city infrastructure with telecom competition. Kansas City was the first Google Fiber city and Time Warner Cable offers 11,000 hotspots. The story also touches on the Internet of Things (IoT), an important building block of smart cities, and the debate over the responsibility of the community and the service providers they retain to provide a level of telecommunications to residents.
Cisco will connect city services and information with residents and visitors and invite third-party developers to create apps for public use. Cisco will employ its Smart+Connected Communities design to work with Kansas City and the Think Big Partners consultancy to create a “living lab” technology incubator.
The Lines Fade Further
WirelessWeek reports that AT&T’s Wireless Home Phone & Internet service is available nationwide. Customers with a Mobile Share plan with more than 10 GB or more per month can add the service for $30 monthly. The service uses the Home Base wireless router to connect as many as 10 devices, including home phones, to the carrier’s LTE network. The story outlines other details of the plan.
The significance of the service, and one that is being trialed by Sprint and Dish in Texas and a similar Dish/nTelos service, is that it is a step toward ushering out the wired network upon which home telephone service has always relied.
Many subscribers, particularly younger people, simply use their smartphones, even in their homes. Offerings that look like traditional wired approaches, but are not, are another step toward a future that is heavily wireless.
IPv4 Addresses Finally Running Out
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said this week that it is giving out the remaining blocks of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).
This is a big deal:
This move signals that the global supply of IPv4 addresses is reaching a critical level. As more and more devices come online, the demand for IP addresses rises, and IPv4 is incapable of supplying enough addresses to facilitate this expansion. ICANN encourages network operators around the globe to adopt IPv6, which allows for the rapid growth of the Internet.
The exhaustion of IPv4 is a managed process that is triggered incrementally as the available number of IPv4 addresses dips below certain points. As this process has unfolded, officials have told carriers, businesses and other stake holders that IPv4 addresses eventually will run and that it is prudent to ready their networks for IPv6.
At a certain point, those who ignore the warnings will be unable to offer new services and the ones they do offer may not work as designed. The ICANN statement suggests that the point at which this happens may nearly be at hand.
The Internet of (Advertising on All) Things
And, finally, comes a story that confirms the obvious – and unwanted. Extreme Tech reports on a Security and Exchange Commission filing by Google that acknowledges that a time will come when advertisements will appear on just about everything. The filing noted that ads could end up “on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”
Sebastian Anthony writes what many of us certainly are thinking:
It starts to make terrifying sense if you think about it, though: Your car dashboard might flash up an ad for a special offer as you approach a service station, or your home’s thermostat might tell you about a cheap holiday to Florida when it detects a cold spell.
He points out that Google is under tremendous pressure to find new growth markets, and flashing an ad for a coffee shop when your alarm clock goes off almost certainly is one of those.