Brains, Gains and Automobiles

Publisher's Outlook

Brains, Gains and Automobiles

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC  |  February 04, 2013

The article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. edition of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Ford recently announced plans to update the software on some of its vehicles to fix a coolant problem that can cause fires. The 2013 Ford Escape SE and SEL models, with the 1.6-liter engine and 2013 Ford Fusion SE and SEL models with the 1.6-liter engine, are part of the voluntary recall which will modify the code that manages coolant pressure under certain overheating conditions – making it less likely that vehicles catch fire under the specified scenario.

Stuxnet taught the world that cybercriminals and regimes could not only affect computers, but real-world devices like centrifuges.

In a more interconnected world, it seems only a matter of time before automotive operating system software is updated over the Internet the way just about everything else is.

And so the excitement begins. Imagine if a criminal group or hostile nation figures out how to update the software governing coolant systems in cars of a specific manufacturer. They could target said vehicles and modify the algorithms for cooling, throttle response or anything else, which could wreak havoc. If you think traffic on the Long Island Expressway or 405 near Los Angeles is bad today, just wait till a rogue group starts making the vehicles around you start to catch fire.

This brings us back to the importance of protecting M2M from infiltration. Software security is now physical security and software controls not only the obvious things like power grids and other infrastructure-related areas of an economy but automobiles and subsequently transit systems. For more on M2M, look both in future issues of INTERNET TELEPHONY and to a new TMC (News - Alert) magazine launching this month, called M2M Evolution.

The new publication will provide readers with information and analysis on new technologies, case studies and discussions with M2M innovators.

Speaking of innovators, Michael Robertson (News - Alert) is one of the most interesting people in the tech world, having burst onto the scene during the dotcom days with the launch of MP3.com, which allowed users to store their CD collection in the cloud. Now a commonplace concept, at the time the record labels weren’t sure what to do about the company, so they defaulted to what they do well, suing the startup into oblivion. Of course it didn’t help that Napster was popular during the same time and brought major attention to how new technologies were robbing record labels and artists.

Talk about being a visionary.

He had a string of other startups as well, such as SIPphone, which was later purchased by Google (News - Alert), and another music-related company, MP3Tunes, which filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I had a chance to meet him a few times as he was producing SIPphone – another novel business which showed how creative he could be.

More recently, he has launched a novel service called Dar.fm, which allows you to record radio for later listening. Robertson has done it again. He has started a new business which makes you think, “Hey, why didn’t I think of that?” and then after a few more moments you say to yourself, “Probably because I don’t feel like dealing with lawyers for the next few years.” 

I wanted to use this space to touch on one other item.

About eight years ago, I held up DiamondWare (News - Alert) as a shining example of what communications should be – HD, stereo and 3-D. Nortel later purchased DiamondWare and integrated it into its Project Chainsaw initiative, which allowed avatar-based communications. Then these assets were sold to Avaya (News - Alert) as part of the Nortel bankruptcy.

But people, it seems, weren’t yet ready for avatar-based communications or stereo conferencing, so you can’t blame Avaya for not pushing this technology.

Now there is an app that works on Android and iOS which enables much of what DiamondWare did, and it’s called Voxeet. They need to work out the kinks, but to me this is how communications is meant to be – the way we naturally hear it, with both our ears and the ability to clearly discern where voices are coming. On a busy conference call, the capability to drag participants to the left or right and front and rear could make the difference between understanding what is said and getting confused.

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