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Things in IoT You Need to Know This Week: April 10 to 14

A presidential push for infrastructure spending has focused mostly on roads and bridges, but there is growing bi-partisan support for the inclusion of broadband on the list of vital infrastructure.

Given the reliance of education, commerce and communication on access to the internet (not to mention the myriad IoT devices across the economy) ensuring equal access to broadband services will be crucial for the country’s growth. And in other news: hackers using Mirai infected devices have developed a new way to monetize the malware, ride-sharing really could be the future of the auto industry, a new ad targets Google Home users, and wearables are a point of contention in professional sports.

Broadband Important for 21st Century Infrastructure

Massive infrastructure spending has been one of the few legislative priorities expressed by the Trump administration over the last several months. While there’s no indication that an infrastructure bill currently exists as such, much of the administration’s rhetoric has focused on roads, bridges, etc. Despite the lack of airtime, there is also bi-partisan support at all levels of government for inclusion of broadband services in any infrastructure legislation that is passed. After all, reliable internet access is vital to American success in the 21st century. Per the Washington Post, previous efforts at deploying broadband infrastructure as part of the 2009 Recovery Act were only partly successful, and the success of future broadband infrastructure projects will rely on learning from past mistakes to address the digital divide.

Mirai Botnet Able to Mine Bitcoin, Says IBM

Six months after the largest-of-its-kind botnet attack on Internet infrastructure provider Dyn, the Mirai virus is still causing concern in the tech industry. This week, IBM researchers discovered a new variant of the malware that they believe can use the computing power of infected devices to mine Bitcoin, which hackers could use to make money. However, IBM reported that they were only able to confirm that the Bitcoin mining capability exists, but not if the group or individual that designed the variant had used it. According to Newsweek, experts estimate the number of Mirai infected devices is greater than 2.5 million at this point.

Ride-sharing Might Be the Future of the Auto Industry

At this stage, the idea that transportation is poised to undergo a major paradigm shift in the coming decades is a forgone conclusion. When and how the shift will occur is less certain, depending both on how soon the tech is available and how soon regulations and infrastructure make widespread adoption feasible. This week, a newly released study from the Boston Consulting Group projects that 25 percent of all travel on U.S. roads will be driverless and/or electric by 2030. The study also predicted that much of the change would come as automakers shift away from selling cars to running ride-sharing services—forgoing a large, one-time payment in favor of smaller payments over time.

Short-lived Burger King Ad Deputizes Google Home

In an era of big data and targeted marketing, most Internet users have, at one time or another, experienced a feeling of intrusion when ads are just a little too targeted. Well, Burger King took intrusive advertising to a whole new level this week with an ad that directed Google Home devices to search for and read the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper (the fast food chain’s signature burger). Google was able to disable the command within hours (likely by including the audio from the commercial into a bank of blocked phrases). Given the speed with which Google thwarted Burger King’s novel advertising strategy it's not likely that this approach will become widespread, however it does hint at the potential for advertising that comes as more and more devices in our homes become internet connected and able to gather data about user habits.

Professional Athletes Suspicious of Biometric Tracking

Wearable fitness trackers have obvious applications for the world of professional sports—data on player heart rate, body temperature, movement, and sleep are used to inform strategy on sports teams around the world. When it comes to American sports, and specifically the NBA, however, adoption of biometrics has been much slower as eager coaches, managers, and league executives face resistance from players unions that see little benefit to sharing biometric data that could adversely affect salaries. Teams have argued that biometrics would allow them to use their players most effectively and potentially help players avoid fatigue and injury, on the other hand, players and their representatives see big data collection as a threat to privacy. Via the Atlantic, these concerns are not confined to professional basketball, or even sports, as employers have access to more tools that allow monitoring of employees, who see high risk and little reward.

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