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Journey into the world of IoT: Reply laboratories

Within the International check automation middle, younger and sensible engineers chew up strains of code to further improve the procedures for automating the testing of platforms that deliver services.

We entered six Reply IoT Labs laboratories in Turin: we visited them, making us explain to researchers and managers the goals and actions underway in the Italian IoT

The small twenty euro flood sensor that alerts us if the washer is dropping water. The thermostat that we will turn on or off from the smartphone. The bulbs managed by voice. The electric motor in a big industrial machine that warns those responsible once they understand that something is improper and will break. The automotive that understands that it was stolen and calls an emergency quantity independently. Banking transactions managed by any cellular or fastened gadget. It's the Internet of issues, magnificence.

An abbreviation, IoT (or IIoT, in relation to the Web of industrial objects), now cleared by way of customs and well known to passers-by as long as they’re just technologized. A pleasant consolation, however at the similar time a supply of discontent when the mechanism jams. The financial institution could also be the greatest in the world, however will probably be thought-about dangerous by many users if it has a nasty app. A bit when the bank was modified as a result of the director of our branch didn't like us.

In the similar means, if the mysterious server scattered round the clouds has a shortness of breath and the bedside table lamp will take a couple of seconds to go out and it is going to be the Alexa, Siri and Google on obligation. All types of corporations provide related services linked to the Internet of issues, in a broad sense, with growing frequency and decision-making: entry to a financial institution or e-commerce website can also be linked to the IoT.

A definite technological and business advantage, but in addition a danger of boomerang effect when not the whole lot runs easily. Here then is increasingly investments in the improvement of well-oiled techniques and purposes from the first day of their business launch, but in addition the want for continuous monitoring of their right functioning over time and with each update. Complicated procedures, which have to be automated and nicely executed.

And it is right here that corporations like Reply, an Italian big with 7,800 staff and a turnover of over one billion euros, come into play.

Simply over a yr in the past, the company opened IoT Labs in Turin, a research middle dedicated to the Web of Issues, related products and self-driving automobiles. Ten laboratories the place purposes based mostly on machine studying and synthetic intelligence are used to design, engineer and check the sensible merchandise we have now at house and in hand, in business 4.0 machines and related automobiles.

Inside Reply IoT Labs

Maybe it isn’t but clear what Reply IoT Labs do precisely. After which we visited them, making us clarify to researchers and managers the aims and activities in progress. We’ve got entered six laboratories.

In some we had the authorization to take the pictures you see on this web page, whereas in others we couldn’t photograph something as a result of tables and instruments have been full of prototypes still removed from the market launch.

Luigi Cicchese, companion of one of the corporations in the group referred to as Concept Reply, guides us in the go to and focuses on the analysis, improvement and validation of progressive solutions in the IoT area and in Testing & Quality Assurance (we’ll see later what it’s). Idea Reply is a company based in 2009 following the acquisition by the Reply group of the Motorola research and improvement middle in Turin and from right here comes Luigi Cicchese.

«These laboratories – he says – are places the place research turns into improvement to push forward the IoT know-how, which has totally different verticalizations, including automotive, finance, telco & media. The automotive is one of the most fascinating related objects, because it incorporates many management models that work together with the inner sensors. The brand new frontiers concern the improvement of what we call VtX ».

The acronym cited by Cicchese stands for “Vehicle-to-everything”: communication techniques between a car and the infrastructure, another car, a pedestrian, any electronic gadget and so on. “Another very fascinating verticalization – the manager continues – is dedicated to the business, as a result of the related objects are produced in factories which in flip are more and more related. It is obviously not a query of industrial automation, applied for years, however of purposes involving synthetic intelligence, machine learning, predictive maintenance and so forth. One of our laboratory particularly dedicated to the Industrial IoT takes care of these ideas “.

If kind of artificial intelligence all know what it is, it is value saying that “machine learning” is achieved by creating complicated algorithms that permit computers to study independently, with out having been explicitly programmed. “In laboratories like this – concludes Cicchese – we innovate to make industrial efficiency extra efficient by decreasing costs. In others, resembling those dedicated to antennas and radio frequencies, we design and check related units. In others, like in the International check automation middle, we offer corporations with tools and providers that permit them to watch the maturity of a product or service throughout its complete life cycle, from the improvement part to the use part “.

Automated exams

The entrance door to the International check automation middle, because of which Reply offers corporations with tools and providers that permit them to watch the maturity of a product or service during its complete life cycle, from the improvement part to the use part.

And it’s exactly the International check automation middle that we go to first, the place dozens of young pc engineers cope with actions ranging from stress exams of the sites, to see if they’re able to stand up to sudden masses, to the steady monitoring of platforms of and -commerce or on-line banks using a technological setting developed by Concept Reply to facilitate the integration of the automation of checks in the business processes of corporations, simplifying their adoption. “Principally we help our clients – explains Fabrizio Mancini, Concept Reply companion – to make sure that their products or services arrive on the market without problems from a useful and performance point of view. In the IoT world it’s essential to have one of check automation options. We work for telecommunications, with providers that cover their complete ecosystem, from operators to manufacturers, to validate networks and supply indications to improve performance. In the automotive sector we take care of validating the providers in the laboratory and in the area earlier than the business launch to verify that every little thing is working properly. We validate the e-commerce portals and the providers that banks and insurance corporations provide to clients “.

In the International check automation middle we saw some purposes developed by Reply for monitoring the Intesa San Paolo Group's on-line banking providers and particularly the automated providers for website monitoring, performance evaluation and verification. of the right functioning of the portal.

Antennas and environment

Wireless communication units are more and more widespread and current in the environments by which we stay and work, from regular smartphones to surveillance cameras. To speak they use technologies corresponding to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and telephone networks. When creating one of these units, a central point for designers is the optimization of knowledge transmission and reception.

So here we come to Reply's laboratory referred to as RF / Antenna, which allows us to measure the performance of a transmitting and receiving system in a controlled setting. It’s potential to determine any problems and recommend the applicable actions to unravel them, permitting you to optimize performance.

Once we enter the laboratory, on the higher floors of a constructing that is now in Reply and formerly of Motorola, we see a technician who is checking the Bluetooth and 4G emissions of a small black box that, he says, is a device for the automotive related that’s creating.

The gadget, once accomplished, will permit the automotive to hook up with the driver by way of smartphone and, at the similar time, transmit knowledge to the network or to the operations middle (for instance in the case of automotive sharing providers). The technician inserted it in an anechoic chamber, a three-meter-per-side dice utterly remoted from external interference, and is subjecting it to a collection of exams to see its conduct.

It isn’t really related to a telephone network or Wi-Fi, however in the laboratory it could actually completely simulate any sort of connection. Later he will insert different objects in the anechoic chamber, akin to a automotive door, a crystal, a bit of dashboard, to see how these widespread objects in a automotive interact with the gadget. At the finish of the improvement cycle, subject checks will clearly even be carried out inside a real automotive.

In the laboratory dedicated to exams on radio frequency antennas, a related automotive gadget is positioned inside an anechoic chamber. A technician is checking his Bluetooth and 4G emissions.


Not far from this laboratory there’s the area dedicated to audio exams, also outfitted with an anechoic chamber to obtain the full isolation of the gadget to be tested from exterior interference, which on this case are unwanted noises.

Right here technicians cope with voice communication with digital units, which are more and more widespread in the residence, workplace and automotive. The laboratory permits all checks to be carried out to characterize the audio efficiency of a communication system, to evaluate the quality perceived by the consumer and to determine and clear up any problems. Inside the anechoic chamber, designed to get rid of unwanted reflections and reverberations, at the time of our visit there was Oscar and an Alexa gadget.

Oscar is a model who can “talk” and “listen” like a human being. Converse sentences recorded by skilled actors of totally different genres and ages, read with totally different emotional intonations and even with dialectal inflections. To simulate actual circumstances of use there’s then an enormous database of noises that can be inserted, from the normal rumor of an office setting to the fans of the air conditioner in the automotive. Additionally in this case the checks are automated and Oscar can go out now and again for area exams.

Inside another anechoic chamber, this time to isolate the content from external noise, Oscar stays. It could actually really feel like a human and reproduce voices of professional actors of totally different ages and genres that speak with a big quantity of intonations and dialectal inflections in the presence of numerous environmental noises, from the fan of a automotive conditioner to the buzz of an workplace. The checks concern the capability of a device with voice recognition to get along properly in all circumstances.

Related automobiles

We then move to the laboratory dedicated to testing units for related automobiles, which may be normal automobiles but in addition industrial automobiles corresponding to tractors or vans. Right here we can’t take pictures, as a result of virtually all the merchandise being tested are prototypes which might be far from being commercialized.

On the important table of the laboratory there are some “telematic boxes”, the units which have the activity of connecting to the car's electronics (Can Bus). They obtain, filter and manage all the messages that come from the numerous ECUs of the automotive and make them out there for transmission on the community. So far they have had limited intelligence, however the frontier on which Reply is working with its clients is to make them more powerful, integrating them with processing capabilities reserved for the cloud aspect of the system. Artificial intelligence and machine studying additionally in these “black boxes” subsequently.

On the work desk there’s some system developed to satisfy the eCall normal, an automated system that notices if a car has made an accident and calls an emergency quantity, which is being studied for the wants of the most important automotive manufacturers.

In the proper perspective

One of the gear present in the laboratory that deals with image sensors, which have to be optimized for each sort of use: from the use in self-driving automobiles to the normal house surveillance actions.

Many of the units we cope with each day have the capacity to take still or shifting pictures. Smartphones, tablets, computers, but in addition automobiles are outfitted with image sensors (cameras), whose performance have to be validated and optimized for its space of ​​use.

And this is the activity of the Optical laboratory, the next cease on our tour. The machines on this giant room, with the windows darkened, will let you measure the colorimetric, dynamic and determination efficiency of image sensors, to determine any problems and recommend the actions essential for optimization. A elementary activity, if we contemplate for instance that the cameras mounted on automobiles will more and more have the process of analyzing and reconstructing the journey scene, recognizing street signs and velocity limits.

Right here they only let us take a photograph of the part of the laboratory that permits us to verify the decision of the units, however in the laboratory we observed another gadget to test the sensors from a colorimetric point of view and a digital camera system mounted on a classy drone.

Family home equipment laboratory

Absolute prohibition as an alternative of filming in the laboratory in cost of creating and testing sensible home equipment, related to the network. Curious a totally useful fridge, however with out the body, with all the elements scattered around the table. We see a wine cellar being developed, with the capability to order wine bottles as they are drunk and a washer that, as soon as on sale, shall be outfitted with a not yet well-defined related intelligence.

In this laboratory the Hello Join system was developed, a platform developed by Reply to assist appliance producers diversify their traditional business model via mixed product and repair strategies. Hi Join presents an entire end-to-end IoT answer, which allows producers to regulate and update the functionality of the appliance over time, which may turn out to be a service supply platform, customizable in mild of knowledge analytics.

Industrial automation

Fault simulation in a lathe rotor, verified by an revolutionary fiber optic sensor.

Our journey ends in Reply's laboratory dedicated to IIoT, the Web of issues industrial. Inside at the time of our go to there was a miniaturized model designed to reproduce one of the rotary machines present in most Italian manufacturers in the type of a cutter, drill or lathe.

Reply has succeeded in creating a sensor based mostly on optical fiber that is ready to detect anomalies in the engine that governs it in actual time. An alternate answer to the normal powered sensors, which in some instances can’t be put in, and which permits the sensors to be managed remotely using the normal optical fiber for telecommunications that prices only six euros per kilometer.

Another mannequin reproduces an automated industrial line, outfitted with all the IoT units that may be imagined to be present in a related manufacturing unit. We go out in the open air with the impression of having touched the close to future.

Simulation of an industrial line in Reply's laboratory dedicated to the Industrial Internet of Things.