The eCash Revolution Is Just Getting Going

Almost every day, new payment systems -- new “types” of money -- are being introduced to consumers, businesses, banks, financial institutions, and governments.

As a result of all these new “electronic” forms of money, handling cash has become increasingly expensive. Printing notes costs money; moving them around costs more money; and then keeping them secure, counting them, and finally destroying them even more money.

Trying to keep track of all that cash -- much of which is off the radar -- is also expensive. Cash is the most private and untraceable way to conduct any transaction, and the best way to store “money” without accountability....

Read the rest of the article on our sister site eWonga - The Future of Money

Chromebooks Offer High Graphics Performance

As previously announced by Google and VMware, the firms have been working to bring VMware BLAST support to Chromebooks, and nVidia also announced that they are the hardware launch partner for this project. nVidia's Tegra K1 is the first Chromebook SoC (system on a chip) to support BLAST, with nVidia leveraging K1's hardware video decoder to decode the BLAST video stream.

nVidia sees GPU virtualization becoming increasingly important for enterprises--just as CPU virtualization has over the last decade--and in the last two years has been working on executing a plan on break into the GPU virtualization market.

I had the opportunity to talk with VMWare's Erik Frieberg, VP of marketing, end-user computing, during the AirWatch Connect event in London. He shared with me the vision of VMware about Chromebooks, and the opportunity for corporations and power users to deploy these flexible machines for high demanding applications using virtualization and GPU power.

He told me:

Chromebooks are finding a niche in the marketplace. What we've seen on Chromebook is that getting access to the MS applications is a game changer. What we have just announced was not just the basic windows applications, but graphic intensive applications. We did a joint announced with Google and nVidia [where] we used Autodesk and few others.
We are supporting the new server side chipsets coming with vSpere 6 as the new processing capabilities available to Chromebooks. Now you are getting  into workloads that you might think: wow I can't never do this on a Chromebook, I can't never do movie editing, I could not do 3D design, but now it is totally available on a Chromebook.

This makes graphically demanding applications, such as Adobe Illustrator CC, Autodesk AutoCAD®, and productivity applications like Microsoft Office completely fluid. Acer's NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Chromebooks, already shipping, are among the first laptops to take advantage of this future technology.

For organizations that need to deploy a large number of workstations the new Chromebooks and Chromeboxes allow IT to quickly configure the devices. Users can access the same files from either their Chrome browser or a Horizon View desktop by using Google Drive.  In addition, the Horizon View virtual desktop can be configured with Google Cloud Print to securely print documents to the same printer that's being used by your Chromebook.

One advantage of Chromebooks is the Powerwash feature, which enables IT to quickly and easily clear all local user data stored in the device by resetting it to its original factory state. Using this feature, all data stored on the Chromebook such as downloaded files, photos, owner permissions, and saved networks, will be deleted for all accounts. After clearing this data, the IT professional is guided through the initial setup again. Resetting the device doesn't affect the accounts themselves, or any data synced to these accounts.

Acer's Chromebooks also include a trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 chip that encrypts data on the system to secure it, and ease recovery by IT pros in the case of device theft.

It is increasingly clear that Chromebooks will continue to gain both consumer and enterprise support. Their price, ease of setup and rollout, long battery life, security features, and now the possibility to run intensive graphics applications, make them an appealing mobile device for people that need a light, connected machine, with strong security, to work on the road.

Can Sub-1GHz WiFi Solve The IoT Connectivity Issues?

The new IEEE WiFi standard 802.11ah using the 900MHz band could be the solution for low-power wireless data at urban networks, large corporate campuses, hospitals, universities, and other large facilities that need ubiquitous WiFi connectivity for a large number of sensors, low-power communications, smart meters, and other connected devices.

802.11ah could solve many problems with deploying large-footprint WiFi networks by allowing a significant number of devices, providing power saving services and long distance to the access point (AP).

A typical 802.11ah access point could associate more than 8,000 devices through a hierarchical ID structure within a range of 1 km, making it ideal for areas with a high concentration of sensors and other small devices, such as street lamp controllers and smart parking meters. It can use the 900MHz band (license-exempt) with high reliability because of the limited use of the sub-1GHz band.

The 802.11ah standard also includes new PHY and MAC layers, grouping devices into traffic indication maps (TIMs) to accommodate small units (such as sensors) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The PHY layer will allow devices and APs to operate over different sub-1GHz ISM bands, depending on the country regulations: 863-868 MHz in Europe, 902-928 MHz in the US, and 916.5-927.5 MHz in Japan. China, South Korea, and Singapore also have specific channels.

The 900MHz band is currently used in Europe for GSM 2G cellular service (the US uses the 950MHz and 1,900MHz bands). Though most carriers have moved to the faster 1,800 MHz and 3G UMTS, many devices still are using 900 MHz. Unfortunately, that requires the segmentation of devices for different regions, but that is already the case for most M2M communications and small sensors.

The European Union is trying to define the upcoming 5G standard as a mix of old and new wireless technologies. It's no longer possible to rely only on some forms of cellular data (GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA, LTE) to communicate with the 50 billion connected devices expected by 2020. Solutions such as WiFi offload, WiMax, 6LoWPAN, Zigbee, or sub-1GHz proprietary protocols also will provide the connectivity needed.

That's why the European Commission is proposing to use the 700MHz band for low-power, long-range, wireless broadband. The famous "digital dividend," resulting from the move to digital TV, made available a large part of the 700MHz band to be used for wireless data.

The US decided to auction that part of the spectrum in 2008. It was mostly allocated to AT&T and Verizon to launch LTE services.

Since the digital dividend Block C (22 MHz bandwidth 746-757 and 776-787 MHz) is declared open access, it could also be used for low-power WiFi in a way similar to the 802.11ah standard.

Google has filed a patent for the utilization of a sub-1GHz transceiver, mostly using frequencies in the ranges of 6.765-6.795 MHz, 26.957-27.283 MHz, 40.66-40.70 MHz, 433.05-434.79 MHz, 868-870 MHz, and/or 902-928 MHz for data transmission. Obviously, Google is looking forward to exploit the sub-1GHz spectrum for massive adoption of IoT and M2M devices.

While many players are fighting to control the communications standard for the IoT, it's clear to me that many connectivity options will co-exist. The 50 billion connected devices expected by 2020 will need many options, depending on the location, speed, and amount of data they'll use. A single protocol won't suffice.

Article first published as Sub-1GHz Wireless: The Low-Power WiFi Solution on Network Computing