19 May 2015
As the dust settled after the General Election and a Conservative-led government emerged victorious from the fray, everyone clamoured to air their views on the result.
Political correspondents fired perspectives into newspapers and across the airwaves, while keyboard warriors leaped to social media to chew over the impact that the Tories will have in the next five years.
TechUK, an organisation that offers the viewpoint of some 850 UK-based technology companies, is in a prime position to give an overview of the tech industry's reaction to what many consider a surprise result.
Anthony Walker (pictured), deputy chief executive at TechUK, told V3 that the industry is pleased to see the Tories back in government, particularly with a majority that allows them to shake off the shackles of compromise imposed by sharing power with the Lib Dems.
"Talking to companies across the sector a day after the election, I think there was a sense of positivity about the fact there had been a clear election result," he said.
"We have a government with a majority in place. Also we have a government that clearly understands how business is the driver of growth in the economy, so I think the starting point is definitely a positive one.
"I think we're also seeing a lot of ambition to address some of the issues that the government couldn't address under the coalition government."
These problems include having a clear and unified approach to the data communications bill and an overall broad approach to the way technology is applied in counterterrorism operations.
Consistency was also touted by Walker as one of the positives of having the Tories back in power, as it gives the party the time and scope to deliver on initiatives such as government-as-a-platform introduced with the Lib Dems earlier this year.
"I think the most important thing for the sector is continuity, and I think that from 8 May there been a sense of: ‘Well, OK we're continuing to go forward.' I think there's a sense that if there had been a different result there might have been time for reflection and a different course," he said.
"The government will seek to continue the reforms they put into place. We've seen a lot of continuity which again I think is good. You've got ministers in place who understand their portfolios very well and how technology plays into those portfolios."
The Tories may be seen in a positive light by the technology industry, but with no Lib Dems to hold them back the government has already revived the controversial Snoopers' Charter, which could leave paranoid British citizens feeling a little queasy.
Animation is usually associated with pens, paper, iMacs and hipsters, not cloud computing and desktop virtualisation specialists.
But a tie-up between Citrix and animation technology company Nimble Collective has seen the firms work together to develop a platform that enables the animation community to create and distribute cartoons and animated videos through a cloud service.
Nimble Collective co-founder Jason Schleifer said the cloud platform has been designed to make access to animation technology available to small firms and individuals who don't have the resources of large animation houses.
"It actually takes about 500 artists an entire year to create one hour of animated content, which is amazing. It's incredible that studios can get all those people to work together to create this. It takes extreme collaboration and a lot of infrastructure," he explained.
"But what about the hundred thousand animation students that graduate every year? What about the small teams of people that want to create something and get it out in the world but don't have the resources, money or infrastructure to make that happen?"
Rex Grignon, president of Nimble Collective, outlined the company's ambitions: "We're here to help the small guy, to help independent artists get their film made. That's our mission."
Using Citrix technology, including the firm's WorkspacePod, the Nimble Collective cloud platform allows animators to tap into high-power graphics tools through a web browser rather than having expensive and extensive IT systems located in their workspace.
By using a cloud platform, multiple animators can work together on an film or project without needing to be in the same office or even the same continent.
Once an animation project is compete, it can be easily spread across the world through social networks such as YouTube and Facebook, allowing animators to showcase their work without needing the support of a major film studio.
At Citrix's Synergy 2015 conference in Orlando, Nimble Collective took to the stage during the opening keynote speech and demonstrated how the software works in real time, and presented a short animation based on unusual animal facts, which can be seen in below.
Nimble Collective might be using Citrix technology to create a cloud platform, but less tech-focused companies have also tapped into the virtualisation giant's products. Aer Lingus used Citrix desktop and app virtualisation to help the airline's planes create paperless cabins.
Corporate social responsibility often involves the creation of foundations and channelling funds into charity organisations, rather than cloud computing and in memory-database platforms.
But technology is being increasingly deployed to find ways to combat crises, such as the use of NASA tech to find victims of the recent Nepal earthquake.
At SAP's Sapphire Now event in Orlando, V3 spoke to Rick Costanzo, SAP's general manager for its global mobility solutions division, who explained how the company's HANA Cloud Platform is used to aid doctors diagnosing and treating Ebola in remote regions of the world.
Costanzo did not name the organisation SAP has been working with but, said that the company provided its HANA Cloud Platform Mobile Services to support the Ebola app.
He explained that Mobile Services allows for the rapid creation of mobile apps on SAP's HANA Cloud Platform, allowing enterprise-grade apps on mobile devices to pull and push data to and from the cloud.
On its own, this capability is useful for doctors working out in the field and recording data on Ebola outbreaks, but the clever part comes from Mobile Services' ‘deep offline' feature.
Deep offline enables a lightweight database to be kept on a mobile device, meaning the app can still fully function without a wireless broadband connection to the cloud, thereby allowing its use in areas where mobile coverage is poor at best.
"When you think about having hundreds of doctors spread across geographically diverse locations and coverage isn't necessarily the greatest thing in all those areas, a mobile platform service like deep offline matters in those types of place," said Costanzo.
He highlighted that this capability means the Ebola app can collect data from patients and then send it to the HANA Cloud Platform when a mobile connection is established, after which the harvested data can then be analysed in real time against other information within the cloud platform.
Costanzo explained that this approach allows for real-time analysis, yielding results that take a fraction of the time it would take if such a system of record was paper-based.
With the app and analysis, doctors can gain better insights into the disease and predict areas at risk of an Ebola outbreak.
SAP is not alone using cloud-based technology to support medical organisations in fighting infectious diseases.
IBM recently unveiled its Watson Health Cloud, which uses cloud-powered cognitive computing to crunch medical data to improve the delivery of patient care and aid new medical discoveries.
V3 is seeking a technology reporter to work on its fast-paced, industry leading website. V3 is a UK site covering business technology news, analysis, video and reviews for IT professionals, so a passion for IT and the tech scene are crucial for this role.
The role is a paid editorial internship based on a rolling temporary contract. We're looking for someone who can work full-time based in our central London office, so you'll get plenty of opportunity to gain experience and hone your skills across all areas of digital journalism, covering content, social and SEO, while working as part of the established V3 team.
As technology reporter, you will write news, analysis, features and blogs, and attend events in London, the UK and across the world. You'll also be working towards taking responsibility for our community and social media presence, and supporting our SEO efforts.
While we don't expect you to already be an SEO expert, having a broad understanding of the discipline and how it can be applied to an online technology news site will be an advantage. You'll be able to pick up tips and tricks on the job, but you'll need to be a quick learner and have excellent organisational skills.
This is a great opportunity for someone looking to take on their first full-time role in journalism, with plenty of scope for growth, development, training and fun too.
An ability to write clean, accurate, crisp copy
A keen interest in the technology market or a general love of technology products
Social media experience
A basic understanding of SEO
An ability to work under pressure to tight deadlines
The flexibility to take on new projects and tasks at short notice
Please make sure you have researched V3.co.uk before applying, and include a covering letter explaining why you are perfect for this specific technology journalist role. Email your covering letter, along with your CV and salary expectation, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date for applications is 15 May.
Think of Facebook and in your mind's eye you will see a billion-strong social network full of posts about feelings, relationships, hangovers and lunch.
Unbeknown to many of its users, however, Facebook is evolving beyond its social network roots with a mobile app platform focus.
This became evident when V3 visited Facebook's London headquarters for a debrief about the announcements made at the firm's F8 developer conference.
The expansion of Facebook's Messenger service to enable developers to integrate it with mobile and web apps was a prominent indication of Facebook's intention to become more of a platform provider that a mere social network site.
Building apps on Facebook is nothing new, but the firm's push into the smartphone software market has accelerated its ambitions to become the platform of choice for mobile developers.
Julien Codorniou, director of platform partnerships at Facebook, said the company is looking to position itself as a platform provider that facilitates app development across multiple web and mobile platforms, rather than having to concentrate on one area or choose between Android and iOS.
"We want to fuel the growth of the next generation of apps," he said, explaining how Facebook has already helped many well-known apps, like Farmville and Shazam, to find success on smartphones and the web.
Providing platforms for app developers to tap into Facebook's users, and the 600 million people who uses its Messenger service, is an obvious move for the company.
Users get access to more apps and better targeted content, while Facebook benefits from more advertising revenue being funnelled through a healthy app ecosystem.
But perhaps less expected was Facebook's foray into the Internet of Things (IoT). So far, the IoT is a fragmented mess of startups, specialist software companies and technology giants like Microsoft, ARM and IBM with the resources and experience to pour into IoT development. It is not traditionally a field for social network firms.
Yet Facebook is making a play for a slice of the IoT market with its Parse developer, web and mobile platform.
By adding new software development kits to Parse, Facebook has tweaked the platform to be used for developing mobile apps that integrate data sucked from networked devices.
This will enable the development of multi-platform apps that can control internet-connected devices. For example, garage doors could be opened via a mobile app based on Parse.
Other technology companies offer such development platforms, but Facebook has targeted Parse as a tool to take care of the fiddly back-end integration of external data with an app's functions. This allows developers to concentrate on crafting an app's user interface and experience instead.
Facebook was keen to highlight that a good user experience is a crucial part of creating a successful app, 400,000 of which have been built with Parse. Facebook clearly learned this through the creation and development of its social network.
Much of Facebook's F8 announcements were logical evolutions of its services, but combined they represent a clear statement of its intention to grow into a major technology company and platform provider.
And if the number of apps and users on Facebook's platforms are to be believed, the company has a clear shot at achieving its ambitions.
More often than not automation raises concerns around people being replaced by machines and forced out of the workplace by tireless robots.
But the accelerating development of driverless cars and other autonomous automotive systems may just reverse those concerns.
Research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in conjunction with KPMG, revealed that autonomous and connected cars will create 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030. So much for the rise of the machines.
The report, titled Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The UK Economic Opportunity, highlighted that the development of tech-stuffed cars will boost Britain's automotive industry, famed for Jaguar, Land Rover, Roll Royce and Aston Martin, among others.
This expansion will in turn create job opportunities in an industry that currently employs 770,000 people. Around 25,000 of the new jobs will be created in automotive manufacturing alone, an area that had ironically been crushed by robotic systems.
But the healthy outlook does not stop there. The report predicts that connected cars will usher in a new era for the UK's automotive industry, and forecasts that the nation will be a global leader in the production of next-generation cars.
Autonomous cars will save 2,500 lives by preventing 25,000 car crashes over the next 15 years, if the report it to be believed.
Furthermore, the intelligent vehicles could contribute around £51bn in overall social and economic benefits by 2030. However, it is unlikely that the UK's automotive industry will be able to do this alone.
Mike Hawes, chief executive at the SMMT, concluded his introduction to the report by saying: "With continued and increased support from government, alongside collaboration with adjacent sectors, the UK can stay ahead in the race for the driverless cars of the future. We must not let this opportunity pass us by."
While the report painted a positive future for connected cars, it did highlight that driverless car challenges must be overcome before the UK's automotive industry Nirvana is realised.
Given that driverless cars rely on internet connectivity, cyber security was touted as needing attention, particularly as the government has approved driverless car tests on UK roads.
20 Mar 2015
Back in December 2013 when Amazon announced it was going to start trailing the use of drones to provide rapid delivery of certain items a few eyebrows were raised.
Not only was the idea somewhat fanciful but the fact it was announced in the run-up to Christmas and so would gain Amazon plenty of digital column inches was also notable.
However, it appears Amazon wasn't just out to grab headlines and has now secured permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly such devices.
Specifically it received an “experimental airworthiness“ for “unmanned aircraft (UAS)” certificate, with some provisos.
“All flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions. The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.”
Amazon must also provide monthly data to the FAA on topics including the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links.
“The FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates,” it added.
Amazon is not the only tech company to take to the skies, with Google and Facebook both donning their flying jackets to test the use of hot air balloons and gliders to deliver the internet to far-flung regions of the globe.
In the UK the rise of drones is causing some concerns among the powers that be, with a House of Lords report suggesting a full database of users and flights should be created to help track their use.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be big. According to Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella, IoT will generate 44 zettabytes of data in the future. That's a lot of 1s and 0s.
Nadella made the claim during his keynote speech at Convergence 2015 in Atlanta, as part of Microsoft's push around IoT on its Azure cloud platform. This is a collection of cloud-powered tools designed for companies looking to build software that exploits data collected from a myriad of sources.
It is data that is underpinning Microsoft's approach to IoT, with Nadella stating it will drive the direction of the company. "Devices will come and go," he said. "The most interesting thing is the data that's being collected."
Nadella said Microsoft has a prevailing objective to find ways that seek out the value in data harvested from IoT devices.
The majority of the products announced during Convergence 2015 all had data use at their core. Nadella explained how Microsoft wants to empower people and businesses to use the insightful information that can be gleaned from diverse datasets.
Nadella even went so far as to showcase his own use of data, revealing to thousands of onlookers his fitness and wellness data recorded by the Microsoft Band he wears.
V3 was interested to see that the chief executive of one of the largest companies in the world still manages to find time to exercise and get over seven hours sleep.
Nadella also introduced Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson on stage to discuss how data can be used to monitor players' performances and vital signs.
Given Microsoft's investment into what it calls a ‘hyper scale' multi-purpose cloud, it likely has the capability to handle 44 zettabytes of IoT data. But the Redmond company will be entering an area that is rapidly filling up with other technology giants, such as Intel, ARM and IBM.