Tag Archives: connected

‘CallStranger’ vulnerability affects billions of UPNP devices

A newly disclosed vulnerability named “CallStranger” affects billions of connected devices and can be exploited to steal data or initiate large-scale DDoS attacks.

CallStranger was disclosed Monday by Yunus Çadırcı, senior cybersecurity manager at EY Turkey. The vulnerability affects the Universal Plug and Play (UPNP) protocol, which is widely used by a variety for devices, from enterprise routers and IoT devices to video game consoles and smart TVs.

“The vulnerability — CallStranger — is caused by Callback header value in UPnP SUBSCRIBE function can be controlled by an attacker and enables an SSRF [server-side request forgery]-like vulnerability, which affects millions of Internet facing and billions of LAN devices,” Çadırcı wrote on the research site.

The vulnerability, CVE-2020-12695, can allow unauthorized users to bypass security products such DLP and exfiltrate data or abuse connected devices for DDoS attacks that use TCP amplification.

Çadırcı said data exfiltration is the “biggest risk” for enterprises and advised organizations to check their logs for suspicious activity around UPNP. The threat to consumer devices, he said, is lower but those devices could be compromised and used for DDoS attacks against larger organizations. ” Because it also can be used for DDoS, we expect botnets will start implementing this new technique by consuming end user devices,” he wrote.

The UPNP protocol was started in 1999 by an industry initiative known as the UPnP Forum; the protocol was designed to simplify network connections for homes and corporate environments. The Open Connectivity Foundation, which assumed control of protocol in 2016, updated its UPNP 2.0 specification in April to address the vulnerability.

However, patches have not yet been released for CallStranger.

“Because this is a protocol vulnerability, it may take a long time for vendors to provide patches,” Çadırcı wrote.

Many connected devices will need firmware updates to resolve CallStranger, and IoT devices have historically been difficult to patch because some products are shipped without the ability to receive and install such updates.

In a post on CallStranger, vulnerability management vendor Tenable said it expects more vulnerable devices to be identified and patched as time goes on.

“[M]anufacturers of affected devices are in the process of determining its impact,” Tenable wrote in the blog post. “As a result, we anticipate newly affected devices will be reported and patches will be released over time for devices still receiving product support.”

In the meantime, Çadırcı advised enterprises to “take their own actions” by blocking UPNP ports for connected devices that don’t need the functionality and blocking all SUBSCRIBE and NOTIFY HTTP packets in ingress and egress traffic to security products. In addition, he recommended ISPs block access to widely used UPnP control and eventing ports that are accessible on the public internet.

Çadırcı first discovered the vulnerability late last year and reported it to the Open Connectivity Foundation on Dec. 12. Public disclosure of CallStranger was pushed back several times beyond the traditional 90-day deadline because several vendors and ISPs requested more time.

The CallStranger research site lists a number of vulnerable products from leading vendors such as Microsoft, Cisco, Broadcom and Samsung, as well as a list of additional devices that could be affected but have yet to be confirmed by the vendors.

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Data silos hinder IoT in healthcare; tech giants could help

The Internet of Things in healthcare may not be a new idea, but it’s the key to creating a more connected world within healthcare, according to one analyst.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the connection of a group of digitized objects that can collect, send and receive data. Digital medical device use was born out of clinical need, often circumventing IT for approval or advice, said Gartner analyst Gregg Pessin. Now healthcare organizations are dealing with silos of IoT devices and data.

Gregg PessinGregg Pessin

“In the past, the CIO or the IT department has had little input into what happens in that acquisition process, so you end up with IoT solutions, many of them from many different companies, that all work in their own little world inside that clinical environment,” Pessin said.

That is changing. Healthcare organizations are beginning to see value in breaking down silos and bringing IoT data together to create a single view of a patient. Tech giants like AWS are pushing into the healthcare market providing platforms to gather and analyze IoT data while making it more accessible.

CIO’s perspective on IoT in healthcare

IoT data silos and the lack of interoperability in healthcare are major challenges, according to Craig Richardville, CIO of SCL Health, based in Broomfield, Colo. They must be overcome for a healthcare organization to make better use of the IoT data it’s collecting.

Craig RichardvilleCraig Richardville

In healthcare, integrating vast amounts of IoT data into provider workflows is a complex, uphill battle, Richardville said. But as the healthcare industry matures, he said, there is growing opportunity to standardize and integrate IoT data back into provider workflows to create a more complete view of a patient.

“That’s really the ecosystem we all want to create,” he said. “The end game is [a system] that is fully connected all the way through, safely and securely, that allows us to consume or digest that information and get that back into someone’s professional workflow so they can take advantage of the information. The outcome of that is we make better decisions.” 

Richardville believes IoT is the future of healthcare, further enabling a healthcare organization’s connection to patients in their homes. IoT in healthcare can grow an organization’s capabilities when it comes to remote patient monitoring, social determinants of health and other areas of healthcare. IoT data can help providers and healthcare leaders “make more precise and intelligent decisions,” he said. 

Richardville said IoT could provide greater connection to patients but that privacy and security should remain top of mind for healthcare CIOs as that connection to patients and data collection grows. It’s also important that a healthcare system has the capability to analyze the data coming from connected devices — an area where tech giants could play a significant role.

Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which continue to push into healthcare, could provide healthcare organizations with IoT data gathering and analytics capabilities, Richardville said. SCL Health has a “strong relationship” with Google, which he sees as an “accelerator” to the digital healthcare work the organization is doing.  

“When you look at the companies, whether it’s Amazon or Google or Microsoft, all getting into this space … it actually allows us to be able to lift our game,” Richardville said. 

When it comes to IoT, Gartner’s Pessin said there is strong motivation in healthcare to move toward platform products, which offer tools to gather and analyze IoT data.  

Tech giants further enable IoT in healthcare

Healthcare organizations are buying more patient data-collecting and IoT-enabled devices, which is creating a “tidal wave of data” healthcare CIOs have to deal with, Pessin said.

The amount of computing and storage power required to process that much data is likely more than an on-premises data center can handle. That’s where external, third-party players like tech giants come in, according to Pessin.

“What are they great at? They’re great at scaling resources and they’re adding all of these great, specific kinds of platform solutions like IoT services that they can sell on the platform,” Pessin said.

AWS, for example, has AWS IoT services that health IT and medical device manufacturer Philips Healthcare is using. Philips created a customer-facing HealthSuite digital platform to provide customers with the capability to “connect devices, collect electronic health data, aggregate and store data securely, analyze data and create solutions on the cloud,” according to the Philips HealthSuite digital platform website.

Dale Wiggins, general manager of the HealthSuite digital platform, said Philips chose AWS to be its cloud provider to store large amounts of data and large X-ray and MRI image files from Philips medical devices. The next step for the Philips HealthSuite platform is to use AWS IoT services for remote support management of Philips devices, Wiggins said.

AWS IoT provides Philips with a more cost-effective way to offer remote support capabilities on Philips devices to healthcare customers, he said.

“We’re looking at using IoT to solve a lot of legacy issues with our existing remote support capabilities with new, cutting-edge, always on, always available services that AWS really supports through what they provide with IoT,” he said.

AWS IoT offers device software, control services and data services, depending on customer needs, according to Dirk Didascalou, vice president of AWS IoT. AWS provides the infrastructure for IoT services and is HIPAA-compliant, but it does not have access to customer data through AWS IoT, Didascalou said.

Partnerships with tech giants and healthcare organizations, medical device manufacturers and even EHRs are becoming the norm, according to Pessin. Healthcare organizations create the data and tech giants can provide tools to collect, analyze and store that data. Pessin said healthcare CIOs have to be ready to develop partnerships between the two.

“The advances in digital care delivery that are coming are going to require massive resources, and it’s those large digital giants that have that available,” Pessin said. 

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Unlocking opportunities in the next frontier of IoT

We live in an increasingly connected world. I commute to work in a connected car, one that gets over-the-air updates with new experiences. I’m connected to my work and personal life in real time with my smartphone and laptop. And I work in a connected office, one that knows how to automatically save energy and ensure security. From the moment I woke up today, I was immersed in an IoT world.

And so were you.

We are surrounded by connected devices, all of them collecting and transmitting vast amounts of information. That makes a seamless, smart and secure Internet of Things (IoT) important to us all.

This week at IoT Solutions World Congress we are announcing new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues, such as:

  • Predicting and preventing equipment failures
  • Optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management
  • Improving patient outcomes and worker safety
  • Tracking assets across a supply chain that is constantly being optimized

IDC expects that 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025[1].

At Microsoft, we are committed to providing a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart and secure solutions regardless of where they are in their IoT journey.

Making IoT seamless: Delivering new IoT innovations from cloud to edge

In 2018, we  announced our commitment to invest $5 billion in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity for transformation across industries. Since then, we have launched more than 100 new services and features in our IoT platform designed to make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, make our platform more open and create opportunities in new market areas.

Azure IoT Central, our IoT app platform, reduces the burden and costs associated with developing, managing and maintaining enterprise-grade IoT solutions. With IoT Central you can provision an IoT application in 15 seconds, customize it in an hour and go to production the same day.

And today, we are excited to announce a set of breakthrough features to help solution builders accelerate time-to-value:

  • 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, health care, government and energy
  • API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modeling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying
  • IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments
  • IoT plug-and-play support for rapid device development and connectivity
  • The ability to save and load applications to enable application repeatability
  • More data export options for continually exporting data to other Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) services
  • Multitenancy support to build and manage a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles
  • Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system
  • A new pricing model for early 2020 to provide customers and partners with predictable pricing as usage scales

A variety of partners are already using IoT Central to transform their industries. For example, C.H. Robinson, a Fortune 500 provider of multimodal transportation services and third-party logistics, is using Intel intelligent gateways and IoT tags managed by IoT Central, allowing it to quickly integrate IoT data and insights into its industry-leading Navisphere Vision product. Key retailers are using Navisphere, including Microsoft’s own supply-chain teams who are optimizing logistics and costs as we prepare to deliver Surface and Xbox products for the holidays.

Read more on our IoT Central blog about how partners are leveraging IoT Central to transform their businesses and their industries.

Making IoT smarter

Azure IoT Hub is the core of our Azure IoT platform services. It is used by IoT Central and acts as a powerful cloud gateway, enabling bidirectional communication with millions of IoT devices. We are excited to announce new features that will make IoT solutions using IoT Hub even smarter:

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, is using IoT Hub to move over 12 million containers a year all over the globe. “With Azure IoT Hub, we have seamless two-way communication between our IoT platform and devices,” says Siddhartha Kulkarni, digital solutions enabler, A.P. Moller – Maersk. “The ability to send commands from within Azure IoT Hub makes it a command and control system and not just a data ingestion system. Being able to set up Azure IoT Hub globally in different locations and regionalize data ingestion opens up many future options for us.” Read the Maersk customer story here.

And Danfoss, a Danish company that creates products and provides services used to cool food, heat and air condition buildings and more, is using Azure IoT Hub to build IoT solutions with reliable and secure communications between its IoT devices for refrigerators and an Azure-hosted solution backend.

Azure Maps inherits the goodness of Azure — including global scalability, robust security and data sovereignty — and provides location intelligence to IoT applications with mapping and geospatial services to drive insights and action.

For 12 consecutive years, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a leader in analytics and business intelligence. With integration into Power BI, Azure Maps now enables Power BI users to easily perform Geospatial Analytics, enabling customers to build out Azure Maps solutions that don’t require developer resources. And to provide world-class security, protection and compliance to government customers, Azure Maps is now available on Government Cloud.

And now, in partnership with AccuWeather, Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable weather-based scenarios, such as routing, targeted marketing and operations optimization. “This is a game changer,” says Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. “AccuWeather’s partnership with Microsoft gives all Azure Maps customers the ability to easily integrate authentic and highly accurate weather-based location intelligence and routing into their applications. This opens up new opportunities for organizations large and small to benefit from our superior weather data based on their unique needs.”

Azure Time Series Insights provides a turnkey, end-to-end IoT analytics solution with rich semantic modeling for contextualization of time series data, asset-based insights, and a best-in-class user experience for discovery, trending, anomaly detection and operational intelligence. It is purpose-built for IoT scale data, allowing customers to focus on their businesses without having to worry about manageability of their infrastructure, regional availability or disaster recovery. We are excited to announce the new capabilities, releasing soon:

  • Multilayered storage that provides the best of both worlds: lightning-fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”)
  • Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in the customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving them complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning, and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter
  • Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience supported interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis
  • Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model
  • Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass

Through our Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS (real-time operating system) continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top MCU (MicroController Unit) manufacturer who shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’s products including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out-of-box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package).

Making IoT more secure, from cloud to edge

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control.

Azure Sphere is quickly becoming the solution of choice for customers across industries — including Starbucks, Gojo and Leoni — as they look to securely connect existing mission-critical equipment and develop net-new devices and equipment with security built in. Today we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020. Read more about the upcoming Azure Sphere general availability on the Microsoft Security blog.

Our mission is to set a new standard for IoT security that makes it easier to securely connect existing equipment and create new devices with built-in security. In April 2018, we introduced Azure Sphere as an end-to-end solution that includes an Azure Sphere-certified chip, the Azure Sphere Operating System and the Azure Sphere Security Service. The solution is designed to make it easy for manufacturers to create innately secure devices and keep those devices up-to-date over time with over a decade of security and OS updates delivered directly to each device by Microsoft.

Since we first introduced Azure Sphere, we’ve made tremendous progress delivering on our ambitious product vision, investing in partnerships and capabilities that help us serve customers wherever they are in their IoT journey. This includes our partnerships with silicon leaders to enable heterogeneity at the edge; our longstanding partnership with MediaTek, and our recent partnership announcements with NXP and Qualcomm, which will introduce the first cellular-enabled Azure Sphere-certified chip.

Discover how to unlock your own IoT opportunities

We have a number of ways to learn more, no matter what your goals are and where you are on your IoT journey.

  • Come see us at IoT Solutions World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Oct. 29–31, 2019. We will be bringing IoT solutions to life in our booth (#D411), across various industries and scenarios:
    • IoT at Home, featuring ABB & EnOcean
    • IoT on My Commute, featuring Dover Oil & Accenture
    • IoT in the Office, featuring Bosch & Edge
    • IoT in Store, featuring Codit & Cognizant
    • IoT for a Drink, featuring Celli Group
    • IoT in the Factory, featuring Softing & PTC
  • You can also catch my keynote on Tuesday, Oct. 29, Unlocking the Next Frontier of the Internet of Things.

IoT has already revolutionized our lives by transforming everyday devices into an incredible connected universe. The question now is, are you ready for what’s next?

[1] Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019

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Announcing AI Business School for Education for leaders, BDMs and students | | Microsoft EDU

We live in an ever more digital, connected world. With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, the opportunity we have to provide truly personalized, accessible learning and experiences to all students around the world is now upon us. Leaders in education have the opportunity to dramatically impact outcomes more than ever, from changing the way in which they engage with students throughout the student journey, to providing truly personalized learning, to improving operational efficiencies across the institution. At Microsoft, our mission in education is to empower every student on the planet to achieve more. Through that lens, we believe education leaders should consider opportunities to introduce new technologies like AI into the design of learning and technological blueprint to expand the horizon for driving better outcomes and efficiencies for every student and institution around the world.

That’s why I’m excited to share that Microsoft’s AI Business School now offers a learning path for education. Designed for education leaders, decision-makers and even students, the Microsoft AI Business School for Education helps learners understand how AI can enhance the learning environment for all students—from innovations in the way we teach and assess, to supporting accessibility and inclusion for all students, to institutional effectiveness and efficiency with the use of AI tools. The course is designed to empower learners to gain specific, practical knowledge to define and implement an AI strategy. Industry experts share insights on how to foster an AI-ready culture and teach them how to use AI responsibly and with confidence. The learning path is available on Microsoft Learn, a free platform to support learners of all ages and experience levels via interactive, online, self-paced learning.

The Microsoft AI Business School for Education includes a number of modules across sales, marketing, technology and culture, but most importantly, it calls upon the expert insights from education leaders including:

  • Professor Peter Zemsky uses INSEAD’s Value Creation Framework to show the advantages AI presents for educational institutions and how an organization can determine the right approach that works with their strategy and goals.
  • Michelle Zimmerman, author of “Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning,” shares her experience as an educator and why she sees believes AI can transform how students learn.
  • David Kellerman of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) shares his perspective on what’s unique about AI in higher education and how using AI can transform the way institutions collaborate and encourage students to be lifelong learners. As a key research institution in Australia, the University of New South Wales (UNSW)is focused on being a learning institution that collaborates across academic and operational departments as it uses AI to create a personalized learning journey for students. Dr. Kellerman shares his perspective on what’s unique about AI in higher education and how using AI to transform the way institutions collaborate can create students that are lifelong learners.

The Microsoft AI Business School for Education joins a larger collection of industry-specific courses including financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and government. With this holistic portfolio, the AI Business School can also help students learn about AI application across a number of industries and roles. We’ve already seen several universities and vocational colleges incorporate this curriculum into their courses across business, finance, economics and health-related degrees as a means of providing real-world examples of AI opportunity and impact.

New research has highlighted the importance of adopting AI to transform the learning experience for students. Last week at the Asian Summit on Education and Skills (ASES) in India, Microsoft and IDC unveiled the latest findings from the study “Future-Ready Skills: Assessing the use of AI within the Education sector in Asia Pacific.” The study found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help double the rate of innovation improvements for higher education institutions across the region. Despite 3 in 4 education leaders agreeing that AI is instrumental to an institute’s competitiveness, 68% of education institutions in the region today have actually yet to embark on their AI journey. Those who have started integrating AI have seen improvements in student engagement, efficiency and competitiveness, as well as increased funding and accelerated innovation.

Microsoft is proud to be working with schools and institutions around the world to improve understanding of Artificial Intelligence and support leaders, educators and students to get ready for the future, like the recent collaboration in India with CBSE to train up over 1000 educators.

Click here for free STEM resourcesExplore tools for student-centered learning

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For Sale – Retina Macbook Pro 13 inch Late 2013

Yes you can update it yourself easily, it doesnt need to be connected to iCloud. I have started downloading Mac OS High Sierra, and will install that.

Everything works perfectly. On closer inspection there are two dead pixels (one I had not noticed before now!). They are tiny, and only noticeable on a pure white background, and if you are really close to the screen. Under normal use, you will not notice them. I tried to take a few photos to show it as bad as possible.

If you look on the attached file, the first one is under the U and I in “restart required” and the second one is under the e in “software”.

No box, but it comes with a charger. I will also chuck in a case for it, its not an expensive one (£15 or so) but its ok, and it protects it well for transit too.

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For Sale – Retina Macbook Pro 13 inch Late 2013

Yes you can update it yourself easily, it doesnt need to be connected to iCloud. I have started downloading Mac OS High Sierra, and will install that.

Everything works perfectly. On closer inspection there are two dead pixels (one I had not noticed before now!). They are tiny, and only noticeable on a pure white background, and if you are really close to the screen. Under normal use, you will not notice them. I tried to take a few photos to show it as bad as possible.

If you look on the attached file, the first one is under the U and I in “restart required” and the second one is under the e in “software”.

No box, but it comes with a charger. I will also chuck in a case for it, its not an expensive one (£15 or so) but its ok, and it protects it well for transit too.

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Microsoft’s connected vehicle platform presence at IAA, the Frankfurt Auto Show

This post was co-authored by the extended Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) team. 

A connected vehicle solution must enable a fleet of potentially millions of vehicles, distributed around the world, to deliver intuitive experiences including infotainment, entertainment, productivity, driver safety, driver assistance. In addition to these services in the vehicle, a connected vehicle solution is critical for fleet solutions like ride and car sharing as well as phone apps that incorporate the context of the user and the journey.

Imagine you are driving to your vacation destination and you start your conference call from home while you are packing. When you transition to the shared vehicle, the route planning takes into account the best route for connectivity and easy driving and adjusts the microphone sensitivity during the call in the back seat. These experiences today are constrained to either the center-stack screen, known as the in-vehicle infotainment device (IVI), or other specific hardware and software that is determined when the car is being built. Instead, these experiences should evolve over the lifetime of ridership. The opportunity is for new, modern experiences in vehicles that span the entire interior and systems of a vehicle, plus experiences outside the vehicle, to create deeper and longer-lasting relationships between car makers and their customers throughout the transportation journey.

To realize this opportunity, car manufacturers and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) providers need a connected vehicle platform to complete the digital feedback loop by incorporating the seamless deployment of new functionality that is composed from multiple independently updatable services that reflect new understanding, at scale, and with dependable and consistent management of data and these services from Azure to and from three different edges: the vehicle, the phone, and the many enterprise applications that support the journey.

The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) is the digital chassis upon which automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can deliver value-add services to their customers. These services areas include:

  • In-vehicle experiences
  • Autonomous driving
  • Advanced navigation
  • Customer engagement and insights
  • Telematics and prediction services
  • Connectivity and over the air updates (OTA)

MCVP is a platform composed from about 40 different Azure services and tailored for automotive scenarios. To ensure continuous over-the-air (OTA) updates of new functionality, MCVP also includes different Azure edge technologies such as Automotive IoT Edge that runs in the vehicle, and Azure Maps for intelligent location services.

With MCVP, and an ecosystem of partners across the industry, Microsoft offers a consistent platform across all digital services. This includes vehicle provisioning, two-way network connectivity, continuous over-the-air updates of containerized functionality, support for command-and-control, hot, warm, or cold path for telematics, and extension hooks for customer or third-party differentiation. Being built on Azure, MCVP includes the hyperscale, global availability, and regulatory compliance that comes as part of the Azure cloud. OEMs and fleet operators leverage MCVP as a way to “move up the stack” and focus on their customers rather than spend resources on non-differentiating infrastructure.

Automotive OEMs already taking advantage of MCVP, along with many of our ecosystem partners, including the Volkswagen Group, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and Iconiq.

In this blog post, we are delighted to recap many of the MCVP ecosystem partners that accelerate our common customers’ ability to develop and deploy completed connected vehicle solutions.

An image showing the aspects of the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

Focus areas and supporting partnerships

Microsoft’s ecosystem of partners include independent software vendors (ISVs), automotive suppliers, and systems integrators (SIs) to complete the overall value proposition of MCVP. We have pursued partnerships in these areas:

In-vehicle experiences

Cheaply available screens, increasingly autonomous vehicles, the emergence of pervasive voice assistants, and users’ increased expectation of the connectedness of their things have all combined to create an opportunity for OEMs to differentiate through the digital experiences they offer to the occupants, both the driver and the passengers, of their vehicles.

LG Electronics’ webOS Autoplatform offers an in-vehicle, container-capable OS that brings the third party application ecosystem created for premium TVs to In-vehicle experiences. webOSAuto supports the container-based runtime environment of MCVP and can be an important part of modern experiences in the vehicle.

Faurecia leverages MCVP to create disruptive, connected, and personalized services inside the Cockpit of the Future to reinvent the on-board experience for all occupants.

Autonomous driving

The continuous development of autonomous driving systems requires input from both test fleets and production vehicles that are integrated by a common connected vehicle platform. This is because the underlying machine learning (ML) models that either drive the car or provide assistance to the driver will be updated over time as they are improved based on feedback across those fleets, and those updates will be deployed over the air in incremental rings of deployment by way of their connection to the cloud.

Teraki creates and deploys containerized functionality to vehicles to efficiently extract and manage selected sensor data such as telemetry, video, and 3D information. Teraki’s product continuously trains and updates the sensor data to extract relevant, condensed information that enables customers’ models to achieve highest accuracy rates, both in the vehicle (edge) as well in Azure (cloud.)

TomTom is integrating their navigation intelligence services such as HD Maps and Traffic as containerized services for use in MCVP so that other services in the vehicles, including autonomous driving, can take advantage of the additional location context.

Advanced navigation

TomTom’s navigation application has been integrated with the MCVP in-vehicle compute architecture to enable navigation usage and diagnostics data to be sent from vehicles to the Azure cloud where the data can be used by automakers to generate data-driven insights to deliver tailored services, and to make better informed design and engineering decisions. The benefit of this integration includes the immediate insights created from comparing the intended route with the actual route with road metadata. If you are attending IAA, be sure to check out the demo at the Microsoft booth.

Telenav is a leading provider of connected car and location-based services and is working with Microsoft to integrate its intelligent connected-car solution suite, including infotainment, in-car commerce, and navigation, with MCVP.

Customer engagement and insights

Otonomo securely ingests automotive data from OEMs, fleet operators, etc., then reshapes and enriches the data so application and service providers can use it to develop a host of new and innovative offerings that deliver value to drivers. The data services platform has built it privacy by design solutions for both personal and aggregate use cases. Through the collaboration with Microsoft, car manufacturers adopting the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform can easily plug their connected car data into Otonomo’s existing ecosystem to quickly roll out new connected car services to drivers.

Telematics and prediction services

DSA is a leading software and solutions provider for quality assurance, diagnostics, and maintenance of the entire vehicle electrics and electronics in the automotive industry. Together, DSA and Microsoft target to close the digital feedback loops between automotive production facilities and field cars by providing an advanced Vehicle Lifecycle Management, based on the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

WirelessCar is a leading managed service provider within the connected vehicle eco-system and empowers car makers to provide mobility services with Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform that supports and accelerates their customers’ high market ambitions in a world of rapid changing business models.

Connectivity and OTA

Cubic Telecom is a leading connectivity management software provider to the automotive and IoT industries globally. They are one of the first partners to bring seamless connectivity as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. The deep integration with MCVP allows for a single data lake and an integrated services monitoring path. In addition, Cubic Telecom provides connected car capabilities that let drivers use infotainment apps in real-time, connect their devices to the Wi-Fi hotspot, and top-up on data plans to access high-speed LTE connectivity, optionally on a separate APN.

Excelfore is an innovator in automotive over-the-air (OTA) updating and data aggregation technologies. They provide a full implementation of the eSync bi-directional data pipeline, which has been ported to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and integrated as the first solution for MCVP OTA updating.

Tata Communications is a leading global digital infrastructure provider. We are working with them to help speed the development of new innovative connected car applications. By combining the IoT connectivity capabilities of Tata Communications MOVE™ with MCVP, the two companies will enable automotive manufacturers to offer consumers worldwide more seamless and secure driving experiences.

Microsoft is incredibly excited to be a part of the connected vehicle space. With the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, our ecosystem partners, and our partnerships with leading automotive players – both vehicle OEMs and automotive technology suppliers – we believe we have a uniquely capable offering enabling at global scale the next wave of innovation in the automotive industry as well as related verticals such as smart cities, smart infrastructure, insurance, transportation, and beyond.

Explore the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform today and visit us at IAA.

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Tara Prakriya | Microsoft Story Labs

Mark Mobleywritten by

Mark Mobley

Microsoft’s connected car platform delivers a mobile datacenter to your driveway

The connected car revolution isn’t coming — it’s here. Going to a meeting, and have a conference call on the way? Your ride’s digital assistant will help you plan a route blessedly free of tunnels and drops in connectivity that could interfere. And while you drive, the car will help you stay in your lane.

Dr. Herbert Diess, Volkswagen AG chairman, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Tara Prakriya, and Christian Senger, Volkswagen board member & head of digital car & services, at the Volkswagen AG Digital Lab in Berlin.

Leading this effort on the engineering front at Microsoft is Tara Prakriya, General Manager for Azure IoT Mobility and Connected Vehicles. This team of dozens is working with the two largest industry players, Volkswagen Group and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, to create cars featuring unprecedented levels of interactivity.

“What our connected vehicle platform gives our clients is truly a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers,” Prakriya said. “Our customers are navigating a digital transformation of the industry and this digital chassis helps them absorb and fully take advantage of the new opportunities available in the market in a global way, including China.”

“What our customers look for in the partnership from Microsoft is not just a technology vendor, but a strategic partnership to help the full digital transformation, cultural transformation and market transformation that need to work in lock step. It’s a tall order, which is why we work with our customers to figure out what this is going to look like.”

Our connected vehicle platform gives our clients a digital chassis to achieve scale and efficiency in developing and delivering value to their customers.

“Pretty much everybody that’s on the team is really excited about this space,” said Larry Sullivan, co-head of the team with Prakriya and a veteran Microsoft engineer. “I think Tara brings a lot of that energy and the team gives that energy back as well. We’re not a huge team, but we’re really motivated, and we’re really fired up about helping our customers do business in a really positive way.”

Microsoft’s automotive initiatives engage such corporate partners as TomTom, Cubic Telecom, Moovit, DSA and Faurecia. They also leverage Microsoft’s work on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the company’s Azure cloud computing service. Prakriya believes it’s helpful to think of IoT as the information of things.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Tara Prakriya and Larry Sullivan consider themselves “two in a box” as collaborators on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“The digital feedback loop is the term that we use at Microsoft,” Prakriya said. “IoT in many ways represents the digital feedback loop of physical things, physical spaces, physical environment and what products actually do in the marketplace. There are lots of decisions that our business customers need to make that IoT information can make a significant contribution to.

“And, once those decisions are made, there is new information, and that needs to be communicated as a feedback loop back to those physical environments, physical products, physical consumers and physical employees. The opportunity in connected vehicles, and mobility as a whole, is to be on the edge of getting the data so that we can do amazing things and then deliver it back to the edge again. What then connects the stationary things, like smart buildings, with smart transportation and mobility is Azure Maps.”

A car, Prakriya said, has plenty in common with other consumer electronics products: “You want experiences to become easy. You want the cars and the system to anticipate what your needs are. There is a lot of ease of use and delight that can be had for the consumers — both the drivers and the passengers. The cool challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine. Having a single connected vehicle and maps platform that underpins consumer experiences in the vehicle and on their phones, providing driving assistance and mobility as a service, goes a long way towards this goal.”

Connected car illustration.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each customer create a differentiated set of integrated services while taking advantage of a consistent, robust, flexible, global and secure digital chassis for scale. “They have different brand promises to their consumers,” Prakriya said, “and so as a result, the features that they are really thinking about and the digital value that they are trying to deliver to their customers are different. We are taking care of the boring stuff so that they can really think about what their brand promise is and deliver it.”

She points out that automakers are making these promises and creating these systems in the face of not one, not two, but four simultaneous upheavals in the industry. The first is basic digital connectivity, followed closely by the use of artificial intelligence — for example, in fighting driver distraction, among other applications. Then there are shared-vehicle services, and the gradual electrification of cars and trucks as manufacturers move away from fossil fuels, which will have impacts across the supply chain and all through the vehicle life cycle.

“It is an enormous amount of change that we know our customers are thinking about constantly,” Prakriya said, “so this is a lot of the reason why we created the set of platforms for IoT Mobility. We are very engaged with our customers because it’s so exciting to watch them navigate this. And if we can play any part in that navigation, it’s pretty wonderful.”

The challenge with delivering a connected vehicle platform is simplifying the complexities of what is really a mobile datacenter on wheels so that these experiences are easier to create, deploy and refine.

To further complicate matters, all of the team’s major customers are also working on driverless vehicles. “Azure’s storage and compute teams, along with the AI teams, and the devops teams, together have an excellent story for building your own autonomous driving models,” she said. “Azure has a pretty great end-to-end template and methodology that helps customers, from getting their big data onto Azure all the way through to working with ecosystem partners to be on Azure for things like simulation as well as collecting data from production vehicles to assist in validation.

“We work with a number of large customers on building their own autonomous driving models on Azure. Fully autonomous vehicles are, of course, more than just a technical problem. There are legal and regulatory considerations. In the meantime, assisted driving models are rapidly improving, and we are excited to work with our customers to deploy these models to vehicles using our connected vehicle platform and create a digital feedback loop.”

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

Larry Sullivan is an engineering manager who works on Microsoft’s connected car platform.

“Today, this data informs cutting-edge driver-assisted features like automatic braking, advanced cruise control and lane assist. Tomorrow, the information will be the backbone of autonomy. The leader in that space, bar none, is Microsoft,” wrote analyst Jon Markman in a recent Forbes article.

There is also an increasing focus on Azure Maps to keep up with the demands of multi-modal routing, HD Maps and fresh updates that connect ride share partners with map making partners. In addition, Azure Maps is an important pillar in geo-spatial analytics to help create new value for customers.

Prakriya “really understands the tech and the business and how those things come together,” co-head of the team, Sullivan said. “She is fantastic as a counterpart.”

Both Prakriya and Sullivan say they consider themselves “two in a box” as managers — even though he’s Texan and she’s not, he’s kind of a car guy and she drives a non-connected minivan that’s the same age as her 14-year-old son. They’re both fast talkers who laugh easily.

“We have a great time,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of fun. This is an exciting industry. It’s really going through a bunch of changes and we feel well positioned to help, but like anything, it’s got a degree of insanity, and we have a lot of fun with just, ‘All right, what’s the craziness of the day?'”

Yet Prakriya’s scientific approach — she holds nine patents — persists even after she leaves the office. It extends to life with her son and husband, who works in the Microsoft Business and Applications Group.

“I am a crock pot maven,” she said. “There is almost nothing I cannot cook in a crock pot. It is the only way our family survives. A lot of Indian cooking works really well in the crock pot, baking as well — it is amazingly easy to bake in a crock pot.

Microsoft’s work in the automotive space is about helping each corporate customer create a differentiated set of services.

Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond campus.Prakriya and Sullivan walk along a woodsy trail on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus.

“I joke that my aim is to bend the space-time continuum of figuring out how we eat as a family, and with the slow cooker, we have the option of stretching out the interval between when I cook and when the meal needs to be ready. I also like the whole end-to-end supply chain of food. It’s also about optimizing the shopping list, strategic use of the freezer, and considering the whole process all the way down to the dishes. It’s kind of fun.”

Both at home and at work, she pursues a hobby: knitting. She’s a contributor to Knit-A-Square, a South African charity that collects knitted squares and assembles them into blankets for vulnerable and orphaned children, many of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS. She said that knitting is the perfect accompaniment to a conference call.

“We do a lot of them because our customers are in Europe,” she said, “and they are kind of all in different places, right? Knitting keeps me away from the keyboard because it’s easy to get distracted. It is a way to keep my fingers active so I can focus.”

And for Prakriya, Sullivan and the team, focus is key — because there’s always another question to answer from another angle.

“Just connecting things does not solve the big challenges,” Prakriya said. “There is definitely a lot of work to do. We are trying to provide the platforms to make that work easier. We have great support from our management chain. We are aligned all the way up and down with our wickedly smart compatriots in business development — shout out to [Executive Vice President of Business Development] Peggy Johnson’s team — as well as marketing, teams in the field, as well as PR. And our close relationship with our partners and customers makes the work exciting and fun.

“What Larry and I and the extended IoT Mobility team are doing is a shining example of everything about the fantastic Microsoft culture at work. It’s about solving the right problems the right way, in an aligned manner, so that the best people who understand the problem from different dimensions can come together and achieve something really great, and help our customers achieve something that is frankly even greater.”

Originally published on 9/12/2019 / Photos by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

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Author: Microsoft News Center