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Connected devices have become an expectation: whether at home, in the office, or moving through the city, people rely on smart, interconnected devices and sensors making their lives easier, more productive, and more efficient.

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Today, technical advances such as lower power chips, better connectivity, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are unlocking new Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. Applications in healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation are taking off.

A McKinsey report projects that, by 2030, IoT products and services will create between $5.5 trillion and $12.6 trillion in value. IoT solutions, however, come with complexities. These range from developing sensing devices that offer secure cloud connectivity to generating insights for the end user. The semiconductor shortage and supply-chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic continue to impact suppliers and manufacturers. Different ecosystems, IP, technologies, and standards have made today’s world of connected devices unfortunately fragmented and clunky. And simple, secure product development continues to be challenging.

To realize IoT’s future promise, industry leaders must agree on standards to align device makers and manufacturers. IoT product, software, hardware, and chip makers —whether they are partners or competitors—will need to collaborate to create new features, products, and innovations and bring them to market faster.

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Drivers of IoT growth

Industry, business, and consumer needs are steering IoT innovation: as technological advances open new use cases, certain key industries are driving the growth in connected devices. Factories and human health, for example, will account for 36% to 40% of the estimated unlocked value by 2030, according to McKinsey.

Innovations in the four enabling technologies of IoT—chips, connectivity, security, and artificial intelligence—are driving down costs and leading to better devices.

Smaller, more efficient processors and wireless components will allow connected devices to further penetrate key markets, such as consumer appliances, cars and transportation, manufacturing and industry, and human health. Improved networks lead to more reliable connectivity, opening opportunities for previously infeasible applications.

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As interconnected devices demonstrate their value, demand booms. Rob Conant, vice president of software ecosystems at Infineon, which provides semiconductor and software

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By: Jenn Webb
Title: The next generation of connected IoT
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/03/23/1069199/the-next-generation-of-connected-iot/
Published Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2023 17:48:39 +0000

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The Download: American’s hydrogen train experiment, and why we need boring robots

This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology

Hydrogen trains could revolutionize how Americans get around

Like a mirage speeding across the dusty desert outside Pueblo, Colorado, the first hydrogen-fuel-cell passenger train in the United States is getting warmed up on its test track. It will soon be shipped to Southern California, where it is slated to carry riders on San Bernardino County’s Arrow commuter rail service before the end of the year.

The best way to decarbonize railroads is the subject of growing debate among regulators, industry, and activists. The debate is partly technological, revolving around whether hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, or overhead electric wires offer the best performance for different railroad situations. But it’s also political: a question of the extent to which decarbonization can, or should, usher in a broader transformation of rail transportation.

In the insular world of railroading, this hydrogen-powered train is a Rorschach test. To some, it represents the future of rail transportation. To others, it looks like a big, shiny distraction. Read the full story.

—Benjamin Schneider

This story is for subscribers only, and is from the next magazine issue of MIT Technology Review, set to go live on April 24, on the theme of Build. If you don’t already, sign up now to get a copy when it lands.

Researchers taught robots to run. Now they’re teaching them to walk

We’ve all seen videos over the past few years demonstrating how agile humanoid robots have become, running and jumping with ease. We’re no longer surprised by this kind of agility—in fact, we’ve grown to expect it.

The problem is, these shiny demos lack real-world applications. When it comes to creating robots that are useful and safe around humans, the fundamentals of movement are more important.

As a result, researchers are using the same techniques to train humanoid robots to achieve much more modest goals. They believe it will lead to more robust, reliable two-legged machines capable of interacting with their surroundings more safely—as well as learning much more quickly. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

How to build a thermal battery

Thermal energy storage is a convenient way to stockpile energy for later. This could be crucial in connecting cheap but inconsistent renewable energy with industrial facilities, which often require a constant supply of heat. It’s so promising, MIT Technology Review’s readers chose it as an honorary 11th technology in our annual list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies.

Casey Crownhart, our climate reporter, wrote about why this technology is having a moment, and where it might wind up being used, in a story published earlier this week. Now, she’s dug into what it takes to make a thermal battery, and why there are so many different types.

Read the full story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly climate and energy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Amazon posed as a small retail business to snoop on its rivals
It used competitors’ payment and logistics data to inform its own operations. (WSJ $)+ The company insists its cashierless tech is powered by AI, not humans. (The Verge)

2 Landlords are asking prospective renters for 3D scans of their faces
And in many cases, if you don’t consent, you can’t tour the property alone. (The Markup)
The coming war on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty. (MIT Technology Review)

3 India’s elections will be a major test of AI literacy
AI-generated videos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are addressing voters by name. (NYT $)
Three technology trends shaping 2024’s elections. (MIT Technology Review)

4 The US National Guard will use Google’s AI to analyze disaster zones
Just in time for the summer wildfire season. (WP $)
The quest to build wildfire-resistant homes. (MIT Technology Review)

5 OpenAI’s GPT-4 outperformed junior doctors in analyzing eye conditions
But a lot more work would be needed before deploying it in a clinical setting. (FT $)
Artificial intelligence is infiltrating health care. We shouldn’t let it make all the decisions. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Digitizing the real world is a long, tedious process
Engines originally developed for video games are bridging the uncanny valley. (New Yorker $)

7 AI is unlikely to improve the welfare of factory-farmed livestock 
While AI tools could make farming more efficient, it probably won’t make it humane. (Undark Magazine)
How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: American’s hydrogen train experiment, and why we need boring robots
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/18/1091490/the-download-americans-hydrogen-train-experiment-and-why-we-need-boring-robots/
Published Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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The great commercial takeover of low Earth orbit

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Washington, DC, was hot and humid on June 23, 1993, but no one was sweating more than Daniel Goldin, the administrator of NASA. Standing outside the House chamber, he watched nervously as votes registered on the electronic tally board. The space station wasn’t going to make it. The United States had spent more than $11 billion on it by then, with thousands of pounds of paperwork to show for it—but zero pounds of flight hardware. Whether there would ever be a station came down, now, to a cancellation vote on the House floor.

Politically, the space station was something of a wayward orphan. It was a nine-year-old Reagan administration initiative, expanded by George H.W. Bush as the centerpiece of a would-be return to the moon and an attempt to reach Mars. When voters replaced Bush with Bill Clinton, Goldin persuaded the new president to keep the station by pitching it as a post-Soviet reconstruction effort. The Russians were great at building stations, which would save NASA a fortune in R&D. In turn, NASA’s funding would keep Russian rocket scientists employed—and less likely to freelance for hostile foreign powers. Still, dissatisfaction with NASA was a bipartisan affair: everyone seemed to agree that the agency was bloated and ossified. Representative Tim Roemer, a Democrat from Indiana, wanted to make some big changes, and he introduced an amendment to the NASA authorization bill to kill the station once and for all.

Goldin had made more than 100 phone calls in the day and a half before the vote, hoping to sway lawmakers to endorse the station, which he saw as critical for studying biomedicine, electronics, materials engineering, and the human body in a completely alien environment: microgravity. Things down to the molecular level behave profoundly differently in space, and flying experiments a week at a time on the shuttle wasn’t enough to learn much. Real research required a permanent presence in space, and that meant a space station.

Supporters of the space station had gone into the vote expecting to win. Not by much—20 votes, maybe. But the longer the vote went on, the closer it got. Each side began cheering as it pulled ahead. The 110 new members of Congress, none of whom had ever before cast a vote involving the station, revealed themselves to be less reliable than expected.

Finally, the tally reached 215–215, with one vote remaining: Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights legend. As Lewis walked down the hall toward the legislative chamber, Goldin’s legislative aide, Jeff Lawrence, told the administrator to say something—anything—to win him over. As Lewis walked by, Goldin had only one second, maybe two, and the best he could get out was a raw, honest, “Congressman Lewis, the future of the space program depends on you.” He added: “The nation is counting on you. How will you vote?”

Lewis smiled as he walked by. He said, “I ain’t telling you.”

The station, later named the International Space Station, survived by his single vote, 216–215. Five years later, Russia launched the first module from Kazakhstan, and since November 2000, not a single day has elapsed without a human being in space.

NASA designed the International Space Station to fly for 20 years. It has lasted six years longer than that, though it is showing its age, and NASA is currently studying how to safely destroy the space laboratory by around 2030. This will involve a “deorbit vehicle” docking with the ISS, which is the size of a football field (including end zones), and firing thrusters so that the station, which circles the Earth at five miles per second, slams down squarely in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, avoiding land, injury, and the loss of human life.

As the scorched remains of the station sink to the bottom of the sea, however, the story of America in low Earth orbit (LEO) will continue. The ISS never really became what some had hoped: a launching point for an expanding human presence in the solar system. But it did enable fundamental research on materials and medicine, and it helped us start to understand how space affects the human body. To build on that work, NASA has partnered with private companies to develop new, commercial space stations for research, manufacturing, and tourism. If they are successful, these companies will bring about a new era of space exploration: private rockets flying to private destinations. They will also demonstrate a new model in which NASA builds infrastructure and the private sector takes it from there, freeing the agency to explore deeper and deeper into space, where the process can be repeated. They’re already planning to do it around the moon. One day, Mars could follow.

From the dawn of the space age, space stations were envisioned as essential to leaving Earth.

In 1952, Wernher von Braun, the primary architect of the American space program, called them “as

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By: David W. Brown
Title: The great commercial takeover of low Earth orbit
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/17/1090856/international-space-station-axiom-low-earth-orbit/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +0000

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The Download: commercializing space, and China’s chip self-sufficiency efforts

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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology

The great commercial takeover of low-Earth orbit

NASA designed the International Space Station to fly for 20 years. It has lasted six years longer than that, though it is showing its age, and NASA is currently studying how to safely destroy the space laboratory by around 2030.

The ISS never really became what some had hoped: a launching point for an expanding human presence in the solar system. But it did enable fundamental research on materials and medicine, and it helped us start to understand how space affects the human body.

To build on that work, NASA has partnered with private companies to develop new, commercial space stations for research, manufacturing, and tourism. If they are successful, these companies will bring about a new era of space exploration: private rockets flying to private destinations. They’re already planning to do it around the moon. One day, Mars could follow. Read the full story.

— David W. Brown

This story is for subscribers only, and is from the next magazine issue of MIT Technology Review, set to go live on April 24, on the theme of Build. If you don’t already, sign up now to get a copy when it lands.

Why it’s so hard for China’s chip industry to become self-sufficient

Inside most laptop and data center chips today, there’s a tiny component called ABF. It’s a thin insulating layer around the wires that conduct electricity. And over 90% of the materials around the world used to make this insulator are produced by a single Japanese company named Ajinomoto.

As our AI reporter James O’Donnell explained in his story last week, Ajinomoto figured out in the 1990s that a chemical by-product from the production of the seasoning powder MSG can be used to make insulator films, which proved to be essential for high-performance chips. And in the 30 years since, the company has totally dominated ABF supply.

Within China, at least three companies are developing similar insulator products to rival Ajinomoto’s. For decades, the fact that the semiconductor supply chain was in a few companies’ hands was seen as a strength, not a problem. But now, both the US and Chinese governments increasingly see it as a problem to be fixed. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

This story is from China Report, our weekly newsletter covering tech and policy within China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Starlink is cracking down on internet thieves
Users have been connecting to its services from countries where it’s not licensed to operate. (WSJ $)
Antarctica’s history of isolation is ending—thanks to Starlink. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Microsoft has invested more than $1 billion into an Abu Dhabi AI firm 
The company, called G42, recently cut its links with its Chinese hardware supplier. (FT $)
Behind Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s push to get AI tools in developers’ hands. (MIT Technology Review)

3 How wartime British scientists worked how how to keep humans alive underwater
Their extraordinary findings played a key part in making D-Day a success. (Wired $)

4 The longevity movement is full of contradictory arguments
But who really wants to live forever anyway? (New Yorker $)
The quest to legitimize longevity medicine. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Audiobooks are a hit with Spotify subscribers
But they’re limited to 15 hours’ of listening per month. (Bloomberg $)

6 Farewell to Atlas the robot
🤖
Boston Dynamics’ dancing, backflipping humanoid robot is retiring after 11 years in the spotlight. (The Verge)
Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment? (MIT Technology Review)

7 Everything is so expensive these days
And covert personalized pricing systems are set to make things even pricier. (The Atlantic $)
It turns out Gen Z is a lot richer than their elders. (Economist $)

8 Amazon is a swamp of trashy ebooks
They were a problem before the AI boom, but generative AI has made the issue significantly worse. (Vox)

9 TikTok’s hottest product is industrial-grade glycine from China
The amino acids are feeding the platform’s insatiable appetite for ironic obsessions. (WP $)

10 Behold—the straw that won’t give you wrinkles
Unsurprisingly, it’s the kind of nonsense that will take off on social media. (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“People can giggle and say, ‘Oh, look, there’s Brutus plunging a knife into the back of Julius Caesar

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————

By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: commercializing space, and China’s chip self-sufficiency efforts
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/17/1091462/the-download-commercializing-space-and-chinas-chip-self-sufficiency-efforts/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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