The KIT ─ Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 240 - 16 May 2019
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In This Issue
IoT in Apiculture
Autonomous Vehicles
Robotic Process Automation
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Claude Baudoin

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The last issue of the KIT, sent on May 1, had the correct number in e-mail subject (No. 239) but the header of the actual content still said "No. 238 -- 16 Apr 2019." Sorry about the mistake. This issue is No. 240, marking the end of 10 years of continuous existence, with no intention to stop for a while longer.
IoT in Bees-ness (or: What's All the Buzz About?)
From the Innovatech 2019 conference in Santiago, Chile, comes this fascinating example of an application of IoT in apiculture:

Beewaze delivers a 24/7 monitoring service that records the environmental conditions inside and outside the hives to ensure the survival of the bees, reduce the reaction time to threats, encourage prevention, increase the productivity of the hives in terms of derived products, and add value to the pollination services through strong and healthy hives.
The sensors record temperature and humidity to ensure the survival of the queen bee and worker bees, together with a weight sensor that allows the calculation of the number of bees that leave to forage and for how long each day.
All this information is displayed on a dashboard that updates every hour and sends alerts in case of changes in the variables of optimum equilibrium for the bees.

(Courtesy of Estanislao Ramírez of Beewaze, via Richard Soley of OMG.
Note that the Beewaze site is currently only in Spanish.)
Autonomous Vehicles -- State of the Industry
If you missed this webinar hosted by readwriteLABS, an industry catalyst dedicated to IoT, you can watch the replay here (it starts at the 00:01:20 mark).

In this hour-long talk, Marc Amblard presents the fourth version of readwriteLABS' "landscape" of the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry -- the leading and emerging suppliers of:
  • AV hardware (sensors, computing hardware, communications)
  • Software stacks
  • Localization applications
  • Development tools
  • Applications for fleet management, goods delivery, shuttles and robo-taxis
  • Analytics for human driver activity monitoring (mostly to improve safety)

The webinar continues with an insightful analysis of the business transformation that AVs is causing -- including some car manufacturers' vision of "selling miles instead of selling cars" in the future. And of course there is a new acronym for this: MaaS, or Mobility as a Service. 

Robotic Process Automation
Speakers on the rebirth of AI, especially machine learning, are increasingly talking about robotic process automation (RPA). The phrase is misleading -- there are no physical robots involved. RPA is about automating repetitive manual tasks, such as data manipulation. In "How to explain Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in plain English," author Kevin Casey explains typical applications of RPA and the criteria that make a process suitable for this technology. The article is long on definitions and short on concrete examples, but it is useful if you were confused about what RPA meant.

Still, this could be seen as an evolution of rule-based workflow management systems, which have been on the market for years (from vendors such as K2, among others). RPA adds several AI-based capabilities, such as natural language processing (for a natural human interface, including voice commands) and machine learning. This longer paper from provides a useful classification of the successive generations of RPA and a brief description of several leading vendors.
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