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Intel to Map Plans for $200 Million, 10,000 Seniors Health Study

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 14, 2011

Intel Corp. will help fund work on a proposal for a $200 million study of technology used to provide in-home care for seniors, Eric Dishman, an Intel fellow and director of health innovation, said in an interview.

The study will examine use of technology by 10,000 seniors, Dishman said. Intel is looking for partners that can put up funding for the proposal and the study, and will complete a proposal outlining the study this year, he said.

As part of a five- to 10-year endeavor, researchers plan to use sensors, Web-connected computers and other devices to capture data about seniors' daily activities, such as when they take medicine and how quickly they move about the house. The purpose is to prove that the technology can track cognitive and physical decline and to understand how technology can help providers better care for seniors in home settings, rather than hospitals and other facilities where care costs have skyrocketed in recent years. The market for so-called aging-in-place technology is expected to surge. Global revenues from home monitoring of patients with diseases like diabetes and cardiac arrhythmia should rise to $16.6 billion in 2015, from $11 billion last year, according to Swedish consultant Berg Insight.

"There are likely to be more older people who'll need assistance living at home," Andre Malm, senior analyst at Berg, said in an interview. "It's a way to improve quality of living for patients who want to live at home. What's needed is good, independent research" to prove that at-home technologies work. The number of Americans aged 65 or older will rise to 72.1 million by 2030, up from 39.6 million in 2009, according to Administration on Aging.

One goal is to prove that at-home technologies can be useful in early detection of diseases, and alerting caregivers to emergencies such as falls, Dishman said. "I am sure we'll figure out ways to increase fall prevention and reduce depression," he said. Computers might remind consumers with Alzheimer's, for instance, what they discussed during a previous conversation. A door sensor may notify a caregiver that a senior hasn't gone outside for four days.

"You can address a problem sooner, before it becomes clinical," Paul Crawford, director of health product research for Intel Labs, said in an interview. "Intel is trying to bring independent living into the digital age. It's in analog age now." Crawford and Jeff Kaye, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University, are leading the work on the proposal. The study is expected to be administered by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

The study may begin as early as 2012, if additional funds are secured, Dishman said. His SILvR (Senior Independent Living Research) Initiative study could cost $200 million over 10 years, and would eventually track some 10,000 households with seniors, he said. The exact cost of the study will be determined this year.

Potential backers of the proposal work include The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Science Foundation, Dishman said. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which provides funding for public health projects, is "intrigued by the idea," Paul Tarini, senior program officer at the foundation, said in an interview. The organization has talked with Intel about the study and is now awaiting a funding proposal.

Intel makes chips and software used in at-home care. The company and GE Corp. formed a joint venture focused on telehealth and independent living technologies in August.

Intel has invested in senior healthcare technologies for 12 years, funding more than 100 university grants, Dishman said.

Once the proposal is completed by year-end, Intel will push U.S. and European Union authorities to fund the study, Dishman said. Intel has also talked with White House officials, including Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and is pushing for the study to become a presidential election issue in 2012, he said.

"It's too expensive even for Intel to single-handedly produce the clinical and financial evidence that these technologies detect diseases and lower costs," Dishman said. "Even competitors need to come together and co-invest."

AT&T; Mobility's Network Fares Better Than Rivals in 14 Markets

Posted by: Olga Kharif on November 10, 2010

AT&T;'s wireless network performs better than systems maintained by other top carriers including Verizon Wireless in many markets, according to new data from start-up RootMetrics, a mobile network performance service.

The carrier's network outperforms those of Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA in 14 of 23 markets, according to the data, due to be released on Nov. 11. In markets such as Washington, D.C., Seattle and Philadelphia, AT&T; earned a higher RootScore, based on the company's proprietary algorithm that weighs the carrier's voice and data quality. AT&T; is also one of two best performers in six additional markets.

The RootMetrics data underscored the difficulty AT&T; has encountered in other markets, including San Francisco. There, AT&T;'s gear didn't perform as well as Sprint's and Verizon's. AT&T;'s RootScore in the market is on par with T-Mobile's. AT&T; spokesman Mark Siegel didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Venture capital-funded Root collects data independently as well as with help from several thousand consumers, who've downloaded its special app on their Android device, BlackBerry or the iPhone. The app periodically checks the network's performance and tracks dropped calls. From February of 2009 to October of 2010, Root checked network quality in 40 million locations around the country, says CEO Paul Griff.

Network quality has emerged as a point of competition between carriers in the U.S. in the past year, when iPhone users in markets such as San Francisco and New York began complaining of AT&T;'s network congestion. The carrier has worked hard to improve its coverage. Its rivals, such as Verizon Wireless and T- Mobile, have also been beefing up their network. Sprint has been buying network capacity from carrier Clearwire, in which it's an investor.

Wi-Fi Direct to Threaten Bluetooth

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 25, 2010

You may soon be able to transfer content between Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your home or office without having to set up a Wi-Fi router. On Oct. 25, industry association Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying consumer electronic gadgets that can connect directly to other Wi-Fi devices ( The technology is, in effect, an alternative to Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

Devices marked with the new Wi-Fi Direct label can connect to older Wi-Fi devices. Mobile phones, cameras, printers, PCs and gaming devices can now connect to each other directly to transfer content and share applications. Devices can make a one-to-one connection, or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously. How this might work: Your Wi-Fi Direct device will signal to other devices in the area that it can make a connection. You can view available devices and ask them to connect, or you might receive an invitation to connect to another Wi-Fi Direct device.

Chipmakers including Intel, Broadcom and Atheros have already announced Wi-Fi Direct products. If Wi-Fi Direct takes off, Bluetooth's future may be murky.

Cisco CSO John Stewart on Fending Off Cyber Attacks

Posted by: Rachael King on October 14, 2010

Thumbnail image for Cisco_JohnStewart.jpgCisco Systems, like nearly every large company, must continually fend off cyber attacks. Cisco Chief Security Officer John N. Stewart recently spoke to me about threats such as the computer worm Stuxnet and what it's like to protect a corporate network from incessant attacks.

Rachael King: What makes Stuxnet different from other worms and is it potentially more dangerous?

John Stewart: What makes it different is how much news coverage it's getting. This is the first one, though, that is part of the discussion about whether or not it is actually targeting the way a system is supposed to work rather than trying to exploit a problem that's already in it. Secondarily, there's the fear-factor, over who designed it, how it was designed, and its ultimate origin and purpose. This one can disrupt an operation and, in some cases, very critical operations.

RK: This worm was specifically designed to attack so-called SCADA systems, so what does that mean?

JS: SCADA systems were designed many years before the traditional Internet. The purpose of SCADA systems is that they're small, micro-controlling systems that affect anything from water control valves to oil and gas industry pipelines to street lights or stop lights. There are portions of SCADA systems in almost every critical infrastructure, definitely including the power grid as well. The idea that it can affect critical systems in countries' infrastructures is one of the fears.

RK: One of the issues in the spread of Stuxnet was employees picking up USB drives and using them when they were just lying around. Do you have policies at Cisco to try and prevent that?

JS: We don't. Partly the reason we don't is because people are people. Let's take the example you just described with USB devices. You've got a USB picture-storage device, you've got a USB thumb drive, you've got a USB keyboard, you've got a USB-based iPod, all of which are storage devices of some material type. And you've got content that could be stored on them, including the fact that Stuxnet could be sitting on top of it. I would rather design with the idea that the format and delivery under which it would come is not one that I would take down to a hardware device level and instead design an environment that detects if something goes wrong [during data] transfer.

RK: You've compared defending Cisco's corporate network to defending a home's front door against all kinds of projectiles. Can you describe that?

JS: All kinds of attacks come at you and you don't necessarily know one from the next. The first could be a simple, silly virus that I would liken to someone egging your house and the next one could be something like Stuxnet and you don't know who wrote it but it seems sophisticated and it feels like either a very surgical attack from a sniper or a very large artillery shell.

Either way, because there is so much activity on the Internet of this type what you've got to do is go repair the front door and fix and clean your windows and harden up and then you'd start all over again tomorrow because the attacks are going to keep on coming.

This is where I think the industry as a whole is getting a little bit weary of this consistent ability for attacks to be launched without the downsides high enough to prevent it. Corporations and governments and law enforcement communities both locally and internationally are working together more diligently in a much more aggressive path because this is just not acceptable.

RK: From Cisco's perspective, you're sitting there and you're defending your home but you don't have the ability to fight back on your own?

JS: I don't know that I necessarily want to go to the idea that I would fight back. But we're getting to the norms and behaviors discussion, which is, what is acceptable behavior on the Internet? I think as a society we're beginning to discover that things like stealing from my house from a foreign country is probably not acceptable when it comes to a normative behavior. You can defend or you could eliminate the threat and I think both are a relevant strategy. The eliminate part is all around law enforcement and government and the defend side is our obligation.

RK: I think many people may not be aware of the volume and extent that attacks happen, not only on Cisco but on every other company, every day of the week. Can you give me an idea of what we're talking about?

JS: The categorizations of the attacks are the hardest part; is it egging or is it an artillery shell? It's safe to say 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, attacks are happening against companies and in many cases attacks are happening against people who are connected to the Internet.

RK: What's your advice for companies using cloud computing?

JS: Make sure you're talking to your cloud-services providers about how they protect your data. Don't just trust anybody. There's beginning to be an awareness that says when I buy a cloud-storage service using my credit card, that doesn't necessarily mean I should be storing corporate information that's very sensitive in that provider. Start creating normative ways, which say these are the cloud services providers that we, at a company level, should use. Then involve end users in the decisions because they've probably got some pretty good ideas.

And last but not least, you have to think through where your data is stored. When talking to your cloud-service providers, literally ask them where they're going to put your data. The number one way most companies and most people protect themselves is the law -- it's not a technology conversation, it's a legal one.

INQ Says Is Working With Spotify on Phones

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 7, 2010

British cell-phone maker INQ is developing phones that make it easy for owners to use Spotify, an online music service that's amassed millions of users in Europe, said INQ CEO
Frank Meehan.
INQ's goal is to deeply integrate Spotify's services into its upcoming phones, Meehan said in an interview. He didn't provide any additional details.
INQ's phones are currently available in seven countries. Two of INQ's planned smartphones will become available through AT&T; in the U.S. mid-next year, three people told Bloomberg in September. The phones, which will land on store shelves in Europe next spring, will make it easier to access services from social network Facebook, as well as several other Web sites, one of the people said.
Meehan declined to comment on whether INQ is working on new phones that would include Facebook services.
Spotify has long been working to enter the U.S. market. The music service can already be accessed as an application for phones that run Microsoft's Windows Phone, Apple's iOS, Google's Android and the Symbian operating system which runs on many Nokia handsets.
INQ may be able to make Spotify even easier to use, by making it unnecessary for consumers to launch an application. INQ's existing three handsets provide access to Facebook, Twitter and Skype features right from the phone's home screen: Whenever a Facebook friend posts a new photo, it appears on your home screen, for example. INQ phones with Spotify and Facebook on them will likely feature similar capabilities. If these phones are successful, they could spur growth for both Spotify and INQ worldwide.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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