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UAV’s working beyond the line of sight will be at the forefront of aerial inspections.

UAVUsing unmanned UAV’s to provide Beyond Visual Line Of Sight, or BVLOS inspections, allows for customers to access safe and reliable data about many industrial assets.
Having the option to use BVLOS to complete inspections and surveys make the whole process far cheaper and more efficient than traditional survey methods.

In areas that are hard to access, the choice is either invest heavily in construction of roads and buildings to allow for a ground team to complete the survey. But with the onset of UAV technology like that being developed by Lockheed Martin, this can be prevented, saving time and money.

There are also environmental consideration that must be accounted for. For example, if a corporation needs to survey some portion of the Alaskan wilderness for an oil pipeline, they must invest heavily in infrastructure designed for a cold climate, such as winter roads.

Construction work of this magnitude can be immensely damaging to the surrounding wildlife. With a BVLOS survey, this can be avoided easily. Another issue is that traditional survey methods, such as a ground team or low flying helicopters can scare away wildlife, which is often counterproductive given that many wildlife surveys are carried out in remote, inaccessible areas.

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How companies may be forced to put “back doors” in their encryption software

Tech companies are coming under increasing pressure to create “back doors” in their encrypted messenger software, so that, with a warrant, the police and intelligence service can view previously private conversations of suspects. End to end encryption involves scrambling messages in transit, and then, if the recipient has the right key, unscrambling them. The system is what WhatsApp use by default to protect the privacy of the messages sent on their app.

Analysing the metadata can give clues as to what was in the sent messages, including when they were sent, how many people received it, and the location of the sender and recipient at the time the message was dispatched. But crucially, the metadata cannot tell one the specific content of the messages.

This kind of encryption can be used to protect all kinds of data, in many data acquisition environments, for perfectly valid and acceptable reasons, but is also means that it can hide criminal activity, including financial information, from the authorities.

But many companies say that there is no way to install a back door in their encryption that only the police and security services can use. It means opening up private information to all, the good and the bad. The companies say that overall, encryption keeps us safer than we would be in back doors were installed, despite the potential for users to abuse the privacy it provides.

Any back door, into an encryption software, is surely open for abuse, but in this case, does the end justify the means?

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New buoys could save lives by providing real time storm data acquisition

Typhoons are an ever-present danger to nearly 1 billion people on coastal and inland regions of the north western Pacific Ocean. They can cause billions of dollars of damage, and cause thousands of deaths. Given this, early warning detection systems are vital. To that end, a research group in Taiwan is attempting to develop a network of high tech data acquisition buoys, that can gather real time data, in high resolution and relay it to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.

Data can be sent every 12 minutes, which means that these buoys, if a network of them can be successfully implemented, could save lives. These new systems accommodate more meteorological and oceanic sensors than traditional moorings.

These buoys have also been specifically designed to record data about such storms on the open ocean. Lithium batteries can support the buoy with power for around 18 months before it needs recharging. The data acquisition system and electric power scheme are all designed to save power, and a specially designed cutter has been installed so as to prevent the buoy becoming entangled by fishing lines.

The problem with setting up such a network is not just that the buoys are expensive to make, but they require a number of precise instruments to calibrate, as well as support form ships and satellite communications.

So why aren’t satellites sufficient? They are very useful, but their sensors don’t penetrate far under the water. Therefore, using them in conjunction with a network of high tech buoys provides the most effective system to pre-empt, study, limit the effect of, typhoons.

Now, this is a world away from the data acquisition challenges that most people confront. Not only is the data itself complex and hard to analyse, the acquisition environment presents issues which are difficult to overcome. But if the system can be made to work it could provide an essential early warning, and save lives.

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Sweating Data Acquisition

The popularity of wearable health technology has sparked something of a fitness revolution in recent years, and is now set to take the medical sector by storm. Researchers are looking to develop wearable electronics that enable continuous monitoring of health conditions and make real-time, non-invasive data acquisitions possible – and human sweat appears to be is the secret ingredient for ongoing data acquisition.

Sweat analysis has long been  a tried and tested means of data acquisition within the medical field. Perspiration biomarkers help to identify human health conditions, sweat analysis is used for sports doping tests, and a sweat chloride test is the standard for diagnosing cystic fibrosis.

Being the most easily accessible body fluid, it provides accurate and insightful physiological information for analysis – but current methods of data acquisition involve collecting the patient’s perspiration in a cup and sending it off to the lab for analysis, which is both laborious and time-consuming. At the 2016 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in July 2016, a team from the University of California offered an intelligent software solution to this problem.

The “Wearable Sweat Bio-Sensor” – made from ultra-low power, flexible, printable electronics – measures the detailed sweat profiles of a wide spectrum of analytes including metabolites, electrolytes and heavy metals during various indoor and outdoor physical activities, enabling accurate, real-time data acquisition and analysis. Sensors are attached to the body like patches and monitor the patient’s condition at a molecular level, allowing health professionals to detect each and every change. This technology has life-saving potential.

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Three Data Acquisition and Tech Trends for Businesses in 2017

1)    Augmented Reality will become Enterprise Reality.

As technology powers forward, businesses should be experimenting with a wide range of interactive media – including augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies. AR offers companies exciting opportunities to engage closely with customers, and also enables them to train their staff in a virtual environment, maximising productivity and limiting risks. As an estimated 100 million people will be shopping in augmented reality settings by 2020, it’s essential that companies start to think about how the software can be used within their organisation. The data acquisition opportunities that sit within AR are significant, as are the ethical issues associated with its collection and use.

2)    The Future of Innovation is Technology that Augments the Human Experience.

With the general population becoming increasingly tech-savvy, companies will have to think carefully about access and design to give them the edge over their competitors. Design thinking – an approach visualising the end experience first, and compounds people, processes and technologies to achieve that vision – will become imperative for maintaining a competitive advantage. In 2017, user experiences will undergo a shift; typing will give way to more immersive methods of digital interaction like gestures, haptics, voice, gaze etc., offering seamless engagements between users and machines.

3)    From Data Acquisition to Data Intelligence.

Today’s workforce comprises a mixture of humans, intelligent systems and devices, which naturally brings its own complex set of guidelines regarding data acquisition and protection. In a recent survey, the majority of mid-level executives were grappling with ethical issues stemming from the use of smart technologies in the workplace. For example, some car insurers are using special telematics devices to monitor consumer driving habits, but whilst this may seem like a good idea for rewarding careful drivers with a premium discount, are consumers truly aware of who owns the data being produced by the car? And would they be comfortable knowing that insurers use the telematics device as a trigger to call 999 in the event of an accident? As technology advances further and further, there is a greater need for education surrounding the ethics of digital technologies – and it must fall to organisations to provide this education for their employees.

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Privacy and Data Acquisition

What does privacy actually mean in an age when everything we do is being watched? When data acquisition is a part of our everyday life. Our personal data is constantly at risk of being shared over the internet? As the World Wide Web’s 25th birthday approaches, it seems appropriate to review the progression of digital privacy protection in a bid to foresee what the future has in store for us.

As far as privacy protection is concerned, the internet still has much to learn. Sometimes it feels as though businesses are experimenting with our personal data, either for personalised promotion, targeted advertising, or sketching down a potential new customer profile.

It’s true that consumers benefit from a user experience tailored to their individual needs that also enables new sources of value creation, however, recent findings have shown that internet users often feel as though they have no control over how their personal information is stored and used by third parties. Julia Angwin, a privacy activist who led a ‘Wall Street Journal’ investigation into the software used by companies to target customers, has steadfastly attempted to protect her digital privacy. This, however, requires a commitment most consumers are reluctant to make, not least because it requires them to forego using popular internet services. Even the most privacy-conscious internet users, who are no strangers to secure browsers and burner phones, lack an impregnable privacy solution that encompasses their complete digital footprint. Existing measures, like apps or management solutions like Silent Circle, only protect users’ communications through their smartphone, which is grossly ignorant of today’ s multiscreen digital experience. Companies can use cross-device tracking techniques to access profiling data from multiple sources, further compromising a user’s ability to remain anonymous. Recent advances in deep learning and natural language processing will also make it harder for consumers to protect their conversations from prying ears.

Unfortunately, legislative changes geared towards safeguarding personal data online is likely to take time, owing to a laxity with personal information that would never be acceptable in the offline world, a general lack of awareness surrounding the ways in which it is being used, slow moving regulators, and a tendency amongst consumers to overlook T&Cs protecting malicious developers. Administrations should be forced to publish simplified versions of their T&Cs via apps, just as it is mandatory for medicines to be dispensed with information about side effects, and telecom adverts are obliged to disclose associated fees.

In the wake of several high-profile security breaches of recent years, consumers have awoken to the devastating consequences of sharing their information online. However, it’s not all bad – increased awareness of the ways in which data can be shared and exploited helps to pave the way for a brighter future. Activism amongst consumers for regulations that protect their personal information is more important than ever. As a society, it is our responsibility to shift the focus away from business innovation, and on to consumer rights.


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Data Acquisition Sequence and Interpretation

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) plays an important role in the business insight and strategies of modern corporations. An interconnected network of things, people, machines, devices, and environments make up the IoT, and supply businesses with the necessary data to inform the development of their strategies going forward.

The sequence of the acquisition and interpretation of IoT data is dubbed ‘The Three As’, which represent:

  • Data Acquisition. This stage can often be overlooked by IT communities because they automatically receive the data pre-digitised in 1s and 0s. IoT data is predominantly collected in an analog format, and converted to digital using sensors and specialist software.
  • Data Analysis. This involves interpreting the data collected, and using these findings to inform further action. Analysis falls under three subheadings:-
    • Business Insight. This includes asking questions like, where will a particular demographic go on holiday this summer? Or, is the check-out line too long?
    • Engineering Insight. This involves knowing when things may need maintenance checks, or overseeing if products on a manufacturing line are being built and controlled properly.
    • Scientific Insight incorporates medical data analysis – for example, learning if a tumour is benign, or if new weather patterns will affect crop growth.
  • Action. This could be either physical or executive, i.e., operating a robotic arm, or knowing when to move inventory to increase sales.

Data acquisition is imperative to the long-term strategy of contemporary businesses; it helps to identify areas for growth and expansion, boosts revenue, and assists in tailoring services to customer needs

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In the 21st Century, everything in our lives is becoming wireless – including Data Acquistion

It’s time to sever ties with the retrograde technology of yesterday’s workplaces, and embrace exciting new possibilities for wireless data acquisition. This technology has infiltrated our everyday lives: from headphones to PCs and automobiles, wireless connectivity is everywhere.

Such technology is now encroaching on the world of data acquisition and analysis.

Case studies have shown that non-wireless technologies are ill-suited to harsh industrial environments, being expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to install in high-risk workplaces. They also pose significant health and safety risks to workers with the trailing wires required to connect and power monitoring systems.

Wireless data acquisition technologies are currently being trialled in Europe, with hopes to eradicate the widespread usage of wired data acquisition systems in industrial workplaces.

Using innovative sensor technology, the newly-developed wireless software can acquire data effectively over long distances, has sophisticated vibratory signal processing software, and is adapted for use in dangerous or high-risk environments. The software is safe and cost-effective, meeting both ACOEM and ATEX specifications.

Benefits of using wireless methods of data acquisition include:

  • Systems are portable and easily accessible
  • Wireless communications are robust, and don’t interfere with other wireless networks including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Reliable diagnostics
  • Data collection is continuous and relevant, enabling more sophisticated methods of data analysis
  • Systems are durable and hardwearing
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Data Acquisition and the Internet of things

With the birth of the internet, ordinary people were granted access to a vast cyberspace of new and exciting possibilities. Data acquisition has reached enormous and almost all-encompassing proportions.

For the first time in history, we can order (and receive) our weekly shop without having to leave our desks, and can connect instantly with people on the other side of the world. We can connect our phones to our cars and our laptops, and can even use them to control our central heating systems whilst out and about.

Virtually everyone in the twenty-first century has an online data footprint — but in reality, how safe are we?

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is the name given to the ‘conversation’ between devices connected to one’s personal network. Whilst internet technologies appear to make our lives easier, there are risks inherent in storing personal information within such a pregnable network. One of the major concerns with IoT is the fact that networks can be accessed through any connected device, with domestic appliances like boilers, thermostats, and refrigerators posing the most significant risks. Whilst smartphones and computers tend to be closely guarded against cyber-attack, domestic appliances are not designed with security in mind, and therefore represent a ‘weak point’ in the system.

As data acquisition devices evolve and the technology develops, we need to be cognisant of the security implications. Since hackers have been proven to be able to hack into a car and control not only the radio, but the brakes and steering, there are evidently vulnerabilities that unscrupulous individuals will always be able to take advantage of.

We may be able to collect data securely, but without measures to ensure the careful storage and analysis of that data, this practice is redundant. Secure business information on product development is particularly attractive to hackers.
Newspapers are periodically filled with cases of high-profile data security breaches. One example occurred in 2014, when internet hackers used unauthorised information from heating and ventilation contractors to gain access to 100 million ‘Target’ customers’ personal data. The vulnerabilities weren’t in their systems, but in the system of their heating and ventilation suppliers. There is also potential for physical damage when such networks are infiltrated: tampering with the thermostat in food or pharmaceutical warehouses can result in the spoilage of perishable goods; power grids can be taken down. Politically motivated attackers may manipulate IoT networks to launch systemic attacks on the economy of the country or region they’re targeting.

By 2020, it is estimated that up to 20% of annual security budgets will go into addressing compromises in IoT security. Going forward, the biggest concern for companies is ensuring that their online systems are carefully protected to safeguard their users’ personal information. Slip ups are extremely costly, both financially and in terms of brand reputation, and can result in lawsuits or fines for the violation of privacy laws.