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#To the satellites & back! LASTING Software is honored to take part in the Gala of Informal Education in Space Sciences and Technologies. Our company is co-organizer and co-initiator – together with the IT Banat Association – of the Gala.

We get to celebrate the love for science on a relevant day  – 14th February. This is meant to be the first edition of the Gala of Informal Education in Space Sciences and Technologies.

The Gala will reunite public and private, local and national organizations from the educational and business world. What brings us together is the fact that we appreciate the passion for science. The event supports the students/pupils who excel in the field of space sciences and technologies and telecommunications. It also celebrates their succes in national and global competitions.

On this occasion, LASTING Software will make an important announcement. For now, we’ll leave it to you to find out the details in the event description: https://bit.ly/2BvNPVp. Also, stay tuned for further details on our website and social channels.

About LASTING Software

LASTING Software specialized in Enterprise software solutions since 1996. The company began by implementing and building computer software systems for various clients across industries. Part of the LASTING Group, we became an independent business unit in 1999, and a standalone company since 2000.

With an innovative mindset, LASTING Software grew into a full consultancy and software development company. We keep in touch with the latest advances in technology. We gained experience via software development services and Quality Assurance to clients from automotive and mobile communications industry. Currently,we provide the following types of services: software consultancy, custom software development, software project implementation and Quality Assurance.

The LASTING Software main projects so far are in the areas of telecommunications, graphics, mobile & IoT & Cloud, analytics & Big Data and Agile Management.

Located in Timisoara, West Romania, we are a European company connected to a thriving hub of digital activities and software engineers, with customers in Western Europe, as well as over the ocean. We like challenges and we empower our people to explore innovation, while providing a robust environment that motivates hard work and fast thinking.

 

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The Forbes 2019 predictions focus on AI-related developments. The big picture clearly shows how the interviewed professionals expect specialized AI to infuse more and more business operations levels.

There is a promise of “less hype and more practical, precise, and narrow AI”. This should make various organizations feel enthusiastic about the next stage in business automation.

In what follows, see our highlights from the original article:

 

Self-Driving Finance, as a practical implementation of AI


“Financial institutions will require specialized forms of AI for each of their customer segments such as retail, small business, and wealth”.

Companies everywhere will develop internal means to manage their Big Data

“Organizations will come to realize that they need tools to easily create quality AI data internally”.

 

AI-based process discovery should take off

Process discovery is like a sensor embedded in the application that learns all of the user journeys, using AI to predict the optimal path for interacting with a system”.

 

3D printing would benefit from AI-enhanced HMI software that allows designers to test and experiment their ideas

“The designer will simply articulate the design goals and material parameters and the AI will do the rest—exploring nearly infinite design permutations based on existing design concepts”.

 

The new take on cloud and APIs should finally reveal AI’s role in effectiveness and efficiency at enterprise level

“In 2019 we’ll begin to see AI deliver meaningful value to the enterprise, (…) helping people at all levels of an organization do what they do more effectively and efficiently, while uncovering new opportunities and new ways to work”.

 

Personalized experiences beyond the first impression should meet the B2C-type of customer expectations


“As customer expectations increase, enterprises will need to keep pace by using machine learning and AI to offer a personalized experience beyond the first impression.”

We could witness the end of digital ownership, while the subscription model should replace it

“Today, we don’t own movies or music anymore—we subscribe to Netflix or Spotify. Tomorrow, we won’t own products anymore—we’ll subscribe to them. AI platforms are in the midst of turning every manufactured product on the planet into a connected ‘smart’ product”.

 

The AI hype will move forward into applied, practical AI

“We will see the focus shift from AI to ‘AI-driven’ results as companies look for real business impact from AI tools. The technology will be less important than the business insights it delivers”.

 

New concepts should refine and overwrite the latest technology as we know it

“A new wave is on the horizon—AI startups that generate proprietary data every time they’re used”.

 

AI should enter its friendly stage, functionality-wise, in order to win people over

“For people to feel a connection to AI-powered services and be willing to adopt them into every aspect of their lives, these services will have to become more and more anthropomorphized”.

 

To see more predictions and check out who said what, you may access the source article here.

Meanwhile, we are here for you, should you decide to turn requirements and ideas into smart software – just contact us!

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This week we focused on autonomous vehicles, inspired by this Innovation Enterprise post that targets the decisional factors inside organizations. All those concerned need to prepare in advance for the incoming changes that are set to affect industry after industry. Just to have an idea about the scale of the disruptions, their certainty and their character, let’s go through this topic, the way the mentioned publication approached it.

Autonomous vehicles will pervade the logistics and transportation fields, and the legal adjustments point to this

Firstly, we should notice that the article looks at the way autonomous vehicles progress in the US environment. Therefore the presented implications and legal changes are in relation with this geographical area, for now.

The Department of Transportation recently issued a new guidelines document of 70 pages. The officials stated that they changed the definition of “operator” and “driver”, to allow for AI-driven vehicles.

Based on this major change, those in charge of businesses in which such vehicles might play a role in the future should prepare in advance. Exactly how will autonomous vehicles impact such businesses? Advice for determining the future impact of the changes to come is included in the article.

Mapping out what companies will drive this type of change is yet another step in the process of getting ready for it. Autonomous vehicles come with AI (Artificial Intelligence). Companies such as Google, Tesla, or even Dominos Pizza made no secret out of their AI commitment.

Besides keeping an eye for the moves of such innovators/adopters, investing in stocks related to AI is a second option many will consider.

 

Going fully driverless means high technology and overcoming any security issues in autonomous vehicles

Analysts have estimated that going fully driverless is an option that could become real in transportation around 2030 or half 2040s. We are talking trucks and goods delivery, and the figures already point out considerable cost saving benefits and not only.

The road to this stage may seem long and surely it’s a winding one. However, the first official and regulatory step may well be the new definition of what a driver is.

On the other side, road safety and cyber security concerns show the need for high-performance, fault proof software and hardware. Those solutions that guarantee the safety of all those taking part in traffic are the only way to move forward.

Going fully driverless in transportation and delivery does not yet have consumer acceptance. Autonomous vehicles still have some way to go until convincing the majority of people they are in no way a risk on the road. In any case, they still have to prove not being a bigger risk than the vehicles with human drivers.

Autonomous trucks generally officially operate at what’s known as Level 2, an engineering standard that includes technologies such as automatic braking, acceleration, and some amount of steering. (Basic cruise control, by contrast, would amounts to Level 0, and certain features such as lane-assist or adaptive cruise control would be Level 1). However, autonomous trucks are often effectively operating at Level 4 – or “high automation,” with their safety drivers generally only taking over on local roads.
– Richard Bishop, an automated vehicles industry analyst, quoted by US News

Image credit: curbed.com

 

 

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Recently, our colleague Petrut Ionel Romeo, Technical Project Manager, Lasting Software held the presentation entitled Satellite Communication solution for Cellular backhaul, as part of Codecamp Timişoara, the autumn edition.

In what is actually a solid business case for satellite – based mobile communications, he outlined the importance of this technology and its 2 main current key purposes, in a way that would make it clear and palatable by non-specialists and technical people altogether.

We will briefly recap the main ideas, leaving aside the more technical content. Nevertheless, let your imagination add to this material the context of a busy, dynamic conference, and you will have the image of a great day…

 

Satellite – related facts

Satellites (communication and weather), are situated in the geostationary orbit. This is to make it easier for the Earth-based antennae to maintain continuous communication. A geostationary orbit allows for the position of the orbiting object to remain constant.  To a stationary observer from Earth, it seems motionless.

In time, the number of satellites placed in the geostationary orbit became high enough to justify the new ring system made by all these devices being called the Geostationary Satellite Belt.

Having to control and maintain sophisticated pieces of technology at such a remote distance is a huge task. There are specific challenges linked to the system of satellites surrounding the Earth. Although by developing the technology at an impressive rate, the previous reach, maneuver and management issues have been solved in ways that were not possible a while ago, the physical premises (and not only) make satellite technology a highly demanding field.

Satellites operate in extreme thermal conditions, risk being hit by space debris, face the hostility of radiation belts and so on. Perhaps the simplest challenge to understand of them all would be that satellites are remote devices, with a specific procedure in place in order to access, maintain and repair.

By taking a look at the distance-related communication challenges, we may consider how:

  • The Clarke belt (the part of space in the plane of the equator, designated implementation area for near-geostationary orbits) is about 36.000km above sea level;
  • When speaking of communication back and forth, we are dealing with 72000km
  • Taking into consideration the speed of light, the resulting delay in transmissions is of approximately 250-270ms

However, despite these challenges, communication satellites also have a few particular traits that put them above any other communication-enabling technology located on Earth.

The unmatchable advantages of the communication satellites

Satellites are extremely important because in certain locations and/or circumstances, the terrestrial communication infrastructure is inefficient or even completely out of range/function.

There are 2 major (and we may add critical) situations where only satellite-enabled communications can support the flow of necessary data and messages.

  1. Geographically-isolated or architecturally-isolated spots
  • Often in rural and remote areas fiber and microwave transmissions are unavailable, as there is no business interest
  • Satellite communications are also efficient in mountains, deserts, islands, in other areas difficult to reach due to the landforms and/or structure
  • This type of communications may be of use in order to relieve congested urban areas: stadiums, malls, markets, academic centers
  1. Situations that require a solid communication infrastructure for emergency response

Satellite can act as a trustworthy fiber backup, since fiber is not that reliable. Faced with earthquakes or other cataclysms, both landline and fiber systems are easily down, unlike satellite-enabled communications, which become crucial for keeping in touch, monitoring and intervening in such moments.

 

Communication Satellites Architecture Options

In accordance with their type and with the communication needs they have to meet, satellites usually feature one of the following main architectural types, when it comes to data transmissions:

  1. Point to point links
    • When there is a limited number of links
    • For nb interface, for example
    • For very high speed trunks: +300 mbps
  1. Hub and Star architecture
  • Multiplex on forward and return
  • Smaller remote equipment

 

Mobile backhaul: key considerations

Mobile backhaul (MBH) is the process of data and voice transportation from distributed network sites to the network core. It enables mobile users to access the main data centers that host the content and applications.

Terrestrial backhaul is the traditional method. For a long while mobile and satellites existed in parallel, due to the costs involved in satellite operations. Once the more recent advances in satellite technology reduced the bandwidth costs – for example High Throughput Satellites (HTS) managed to bring an up to 70 % saving – satellite backhaul became a viable, attractive solution which is about to gain traction.

What does the shift towards satellite backhaul involve, as far as the mobile communications are concerned?

  • Mobile networks: Quality of Service (QoS) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are key for Voice traffic, Data traffic, Signaling, Management
  • The mobile equipment: configured to accept higher satellite delay
  • Mobile traffic: needs to be optimized to lower the cost of satellite bandwidth

 

Mobile traffic optimization

As mentioned above, traffic needs optimization, in order to make the most efficient use of the satellite bandwidth. To that avail, here are a few possible methods for each of the following telecommunication infrastructure types:

  • 2G TDM: remove silence and idle channels
    • Optimization on Abis can bring up to 50% bandwidth gain
    • Gains on Ater, A link and nb interface as well
  • 2G IP, 3G, 4G: leverage compression for headers (small packets), and payload (data)
  • VoLTE: compression of internal stacks as well (within GTP tunnel)

 

*Additional feature: accelerating TCP in 4G

  • TCP traffic  – captured transparently within GTP tunnel, by using “protocol spoofing”
  • A mechanism that tries to send as much data as possible, as soon as possible
  • The protocol uses the alternative window size mechanism, with a larger window – to increase throughput (RFC 1323)
  • The protocol implements alternative acknowledgment mechanism, reducing number of ACKs.

 

The importance and requirements of the satellite solution

Mobile network operators considered satellite backhaul as an attractive option for a long time. This is due to it being the only option in extreme situations, either permanent (remote or congested spots), or temporary (cataclysms, catastrophes, major downtime incidents). While it used to be a cost-prohibitive solution, the advances in technology now open up this option.

The new opportunities come with their own specific traits and requirements:

  • Spectral efficiency is essential in reducing the cost of satellite bandwidth
  • Quality of Service (QoS) is the key to being able to fulfil the mobile operators’ tight requirements
  • Flexibility is important. It accommodates the multiple mobile technologies (2G, 3G, 4G), and the various network configurations (including the rural low power consumption phenomenon)
  • The technology allows for bandwidth sharing and dynamic adjustment to real-time traffic and weather conditions
  • Scalability, which is critical for:
    • Typical mobile backhaul network: 20 to 100 remote sites
    • Typical small cell network: 1000 sites
    • Increasingly, mobile operators also want other services to be hosted on the same satellite solution, e.g. enterprise service, thus resulting more remotes

 

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A couple of days ago, Microsoft launched a series of updates that benefit the developers. At their Ignite event (Orlando, FL), the company revealed the new and improved features in many of its product lines, in theme with their AI & ML focus for 2018.

We browsed TechCrunch’s report of the notable developer-centric updates.

 

For the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning services

The selection, testing and tweaking processes become mostly automated. This way the developers can save important time. They are also able to build, “without having to delve into the depths of TensorFlow, PyTorch or other AI frameworks.”

Also, more hardware-accelerated models for FPGAs will be available from now on.(*FPGAs – powerful field programmable gate arrays, used “for high-speed image classification and recognition scenarios on Azure”)

Microsoft decided to add a Python SDK to the mix, too, making Azure Machine Learning more accessible from a wider variety of devices. According to Microsoft, this SDK “integrates the Azure Machine Learning service with Python development environments including Visual Studio Code, PyCharm, Azure Databricks notebooks and Jupyter notebooks”. It also lights up a number of different features, such as “deep learning, which enables developers to build and train models faster with massive clusters of graphical processing units, or GPUs” and link into the FPGAs mentioned above.

 

For the Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services


The Microsoft speech service for speech recognition and translation also features an upgrade. The improvements are in terms of voice quality, as well as availability.

Apparently, now the voices generated by the Azure Cognitive Services’ deep learning-based speech synthesis are true to life.

 

For the Microsoft Bot Framework SDK

The company declared that now it’s much easier for any developer to build its first bot.

*However, TechCrunch’s comment for this reminds us that the bots hype is a thing of the past at the moment. Therefore, it remains to be seen how many developers will take advantage of the new features. Nevertheless, more natural human – computer interactions are now available on the Microsoft Bot Framework SDK.

 

The automated model selection and tuning of so-called hyperparameters that govern the performance of machine learning models that are part of automated machine learning will make AI development available to a broader set of Microsoft’s customer

– Eric Boyd, corporate vice president, AI Platform, Microsoft

Details here

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