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Showing a new side of Vodafone Business at CES 2019

Kit Haines-Bornheimer

Kit Haines-Bornheimer

Head of Marketing, Vodafone Americas

For me, CES is always a great way to start the year. It gets me excited for the year ahead every time – I get to see what’s coming to the market, understand what the big trends will be and of course, catch up with friends in the industry.

This year was no different, so I wanted to share some of my highlights with those who were unable to make it – and those who want to re-live it!

Transport is connecting places, IoT is connecting transport

We were pleased to be able to demonstrate a huge range our IoT applications at CES. However, transport was a clear theme for us as we introduced several connected solutions specifically designed to help solve the greatest challenges facing the mobility industry today.

Vodafone Giga Bike was the first of these. Conceived to redefine the boundaries of design and technology, it embodies the vision of the future of mobility: more secure, safer and more interactive. Although it is currently in concept form, visitors to the stand were able to explore the Giga App which makes use of several smart sensors to improve rider experience and give them total control of elements such as the power of the electric motor.
 

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Complementing the Giga Bike was our smart parking demo. Car parking is a major challenge for any populated area, and it’s especially difficult in a busy city like London, Milan – or Las Vegas. Our Narrow-Band IoT Parking Sensor offers an innovative, narrow band, low-cost solution to predict parking spot occupancy in cities, so that drivers looking for a space can be directed to the right area – resulting in less congested roads, and less frustrated road users.

 

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The IoT Parking Sensor is a stand-alone device with a combination of technology based on ultrasound and the Narrow-Band IoT technology to connect sensors to a back-end. Once the sensor detects if a parking spot is occupied or available, data can be sent to different interfaces, such as vehicle sat-navs, which can then point the driver towards a free space.

Drone detection in action

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), promise to open up a new world of possibilities for the digital age. Demand for drones is growing: it’s estimated that there will be 29 million drones by 2021.

Last year, Vodafone Cloud & Security took part in ‘Operation Zenith,’ a live drone display at Manchester Airport showcasing a range scenarios which demonstrated how drones and traditional aircraft can safely share the same airspace. This event was a collaboration of NATS, Altitude Angel and long standing Vodafone customer Manchester Airport Group, with a critical part played by Vodafone and our partner Dedrone.

One of the scenarios we looked at focused on safeguarding protected airspace against unregistered drones, using our Drone Detection Service. As recent events at UK airports have shown, a drone can be a great asset, but it can also be a great threat.

Vodafone’s Drone Detection Service uses RF (radio frequency) sensors, CCTV and a video analytics server to establish a Drone Detection Zone around the sensitive area. This can detect and classify uncooperative drones with pinpoint precision. The sensors and cameras used in the detection service are all connected to Vodafone’s global network, with all data hosted in the cloud as a service.

These successful trials highlight the important role that policymakers play in vertical sectors, like automotive and aviation, when it comes to advancing an agenda that realises the benefits of cellular technology. It was great to see this message getting across from our demonstration of the Drone Detection Service.

Your assets are precious – so we help you look after them

One of the other solutions we were proud to bring to CES was the Vodafone Asset Tracking system.

This helps organisations manage their supply chain or distribution network, allowing you to easily monitor fleets, shipping containers or other assets.

In an increasingly globalised world, most businesses have an international supply chain. The Asset Tracking system is invaluable in this circumstance.

But it can only work if policy makers allow for a truly global Internet of Things. In particular, there should be free movement of IoT data, and policies should not restrict the movement of IoT data beyond national borders. This point was excellently made by Vodafone’s head of Enterprise Public Policy, Robert MacDougall in his keynote speech at CES.

Smart farming gets even smarter with the advent of 5G

Finally, at Vodafone’s booth in the IoT Pavilion and in our executive meeting suites, we had the opportunity to talk about how 5G technologies are going to help us manage network traffic more efficiently with lower latency, connecting more devices, and truly changing the way we live and work.

Take agribusiness for example. The Farm Guru demo we brought to CES uses sensors to measure soil hydration, wind velocity, average hours of sunlight, and other agricultural markers. By using this data along with other Vodafone IoT technologies that monitor livestock, remotely operate machinery, track vehicles and conduct remote diagnostics, we can promote precision agriculture and increase productivity in commercial farming operations worldwide.

Kick-starting 2019 with CES

CES 2019 was a massive achievement for the Vodafone Business team.

On the global stage for innovation, we proved that we are ‘more than mobile:’ we have products and solutions across the telecommunications ecosystem, and the knowledge and expertise to help our customers navigate their most pressing business challenges.

We’re committed to the idea that the future is exciting. At CES, we met many others who shared our vision.

All in all, it was an incredible event - and a fantastic way to start the New Year!

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