New Iris Technology Steps Up Smartphone Security

At the Mobile World Congress on February 28, 2017, private firm Eyelock said that iris scanners will become the norm in smartphone security within the next two years. Qualcomm and Eyelock have teamed up to bring this technology to market.

“In the next two years, every smartphone in the world is going to have a biometric on it. We believe it’s going to have a combination of fingerprint and iris, because they make a natural mesh, and they’re useful for different things—iris for the mathematical precision, fingerprint for the usability. So I think you’re going to see a preponderance of these things in every platform, from high end devices to very low, economical devices.” Jeff Carter, CTO at Eyelock

The scanner assesses 240 characteristics of a given eye, and can function at a distance of 60 centimeters (about two feet).

An infra-red sensor means it can work if the user is wearing sunglasses.

It is also able to distinguish between a live eye and one printed on paper.

New iris technology steps up smartphone security

Verizon Gets Approval For XO Communications and 5G Deployment

Verizon wants to maintain its lead on coming 5G technology by purchasing XO Communications’ fiber optic network. Fortune writes

The carrier has said it will likely go national with cable TV and Internet service offered via 5G, which can carry signals at speeds of two to five gigabits per second—20 to 50 times faster that common 4G networks.

The problem though is that Verizon will still have to build out 5G towers because 5G wireless cannot travel as far as 4G wireless. A carrier can have the fastest fiber optic network in the country, but until they build 5G towers that connect wireless customers to that fiber optic network, it’s useless for mobile smartphone users.

So why did Verizon just spend $1.8 billion of investors money on XO Communications? Verizon will use XO Communications’ nearly 26,000 miles of fiber optic cables to expand its consumer and business wired internet service offering. Verizon wants to grab market share from companies like Comcast in the home and business ISP market.

Verizon will no doubt have a significant role in the IoT industry as billions of more devices go online over the coming decade.

Verizon Stock Chart

The Twiggs Money Flow is rising nicely, but it is still below the 0 line. Nevertheless, I see the positive divergence on the money flow as a sign the bottom in Verizon stock is near. Verizon stock has sold off over the last five months giving an excellent valuation of P/E 14, and forward P/E of 12. The annual dividend yield on Verizon is a sweet 4.8%.

I see Verizon as a long-term hold on the growing IoT industry.

Disclosure: I do not hold any position in Verizon stock at the time of publishing this article.

How To Invest In The Coming Wave of VR

Investing in the virtual-reality (VR) space is hazardous at this time but I have a company to invest in that will minimize the downside risk of VR if it turns out to be a consumer dud. We don’t know if customers will be interested in spending their increasingly scarce dollars on VR, but I think we will soon find out.

I think VR is a more compelling value proposition for particular types of businesses than it is for consumers. For example, imagine a mechanic producing VR videos for sale that show how to work on different kinds of engines.

Source: http://monet.cs.columbia.edu/projects/armar/

Another interesting use is for military mechanics.

Source: http://monet.cs.columbia.edu/projects/armar/

Surgeons can also use VR for helpful overlays of a patient’s organs and where to cut and place clamps and so on.

Source: http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/umd-innovations-virtual-reality-boosted-new-nsf-grant

NFL and Google Team Up On VR

We will soon find out if there is public interest in VR when the NFL finishes a nine-part VR series exclusively for YouTube and Daydream, Google’s smartphone VR headset.

The series is produced by NFL Films, in partnership with Two Bit Circus VR. The series will debut on the NFL’s YouTube channel on Thanksgiving Day, and subsequent episodes will also be available on the NFL’s VR app for Daydream.

We will have to see if there is public interest in VR video.

The global VR video market is forecast to reach $8.2 billion in 2020 according to a study from Ovum. I think that’s a bit optimistic. A more reasonable number is about half that or $4 billion IMO. That’s what these industry insiders do with their “studies,” they promote emerging technologies and usually way overshoot their revenue projections.

An excellent way to play VR is by buying Google (GOOGL) stock. The partnership with the NFL should strengthen Google’s position as a hosting provider for VR video.

Google is working hard to position itself at the forefront of the IoT revolution as well as VR video. If VR turns out to be a consumer dud, the hit to Google’s stock price will be minimal as Google invests across a broad and diverse portfolio of emerging and established technologies.

Disclosure: I do not hold any Google stock at the time of publishing this article.

IoT Networking Watch The Thread Group

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly expanding. By the end of 2020, estimates are for more than 34 billion IoT devices connected worldwide, up from 6 billion by the end of 2016.

Networking is the backbone of the IoT revolution. Without the ability to network, billions of IoT devices are useless. There are many types of IoT networks like ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G/4G. There are too many IoT devices to run on a single networking standard. For example, sensors in a municipal water storage tank in a remote area require a mobile 3G/4G network as opposed to my Amazon dash buttons in my home that requires a Wi-Fi network connection.

Every type of network has its pros and cons. For example, Wi-Fi is perfect for lots of data, but it requires the device transmitting to have a good power source. Battery powered IoT devices like sensors consume too many batteries if they communicate via a Wi-Fi network.

A standard called mesh networks are emerging as the dominant solution in home IoTs. Mesh networks are designed to connect large numbers of IoT devices like home security sensors, or smart light bulbs, to each other, while maximizing battery usage. These networks require very little power to be used on the IoT device that transmits the data. Mesh networks include ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Thread.

When John sends a command from his smartphone to his smart light bulbs on a mesh network, the command will travel from his smartphone to his gateway (Wi-Fi router and modem) and then to a hub. The hub will translate that command for the mesh network and then send it to the appropriate device in John’s home.

IP-based mesh networks do not require the use of a hub if the smart devices connected to the network also have the hardware to connect with Wi-Fi and route messages between the Wi-Fi and the mesh network.

Devices connected via an IP-based mesh network can also download updates over the Internet. However, these devices that connect to the Internet need better security settings as the massive IoT attack in October of 2016 demonstrated.

IP-based mesh networks are expected to become increasingly popular over the coming years.

Thread

ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Thread support IP-based mesh networks, but Thread has the greatest potential IMO.

The Thread Group put together this video presentation on the IoT in the home.

Digi International Inc did a presentation on the benefits of Thread over ZigBee and Z-Wave:

On the Thread Groups website, there is a list of rapidly growing member corporations here.

How can we invest in Thread as the emerging standard for communications for the IoT revolution?

Google and its subsidiary Nest Labs founded the IP-based networking standard Thread. Just like Google revolutionized the way people communicate with smartphones via Android, so too is Google on the cutting edge of the way IoT devices communicate. Google is a solid play on the IoT revolution IMO.

Disclosure: I do not hold stock of Google at the time of publishing this article.

Beijing Says Apple iPhone Violates Its Patents LOL!

June 17, 2016: Reportedly Apple iPhones were found to have violated Chinese rival’s parent LOL. That’s rich folks. The king of patent rip-offs China, who allowed fake iPhones to be sold for years, is now accusing Apple of violating China patents. So much for big-cheese Tim Cook’s visit to China recently.

iPhone 6 and 6-plus models infringe on patent rights owned by Shenzhen Baili because of similarities to its 100c phone, the Beijing intellectual property office wrote in its decision.

Apple can appeal the ruling and could be allowed to continue selling its phones during the process.

Original source to Beijing intellectual property office filing (in Chinese): http://www.bjipo.gov.cn/zlzf/zfjggg/201605/P020160609372965002381.pdf

More Apple News

June 13, 2016: Apple Inc’s annual rate of iPhones sales said to decline for the first time in 2016. iPhone annual shipments to fall for first time since 2007 this year due to lukewarm demand for a new model with shipments seen between 210-220 million.

Reminder: At the beginning of the year, Nikkei reported that Apple could lower its production of iPhone 6 by more than expected in the Jan-Mar quarter. In mid-April, Nikkei reported Apple would sustain its lower rate of production in the April-June quarter. On May 11th, Nikkei reported that Taiwan tech suppliers expected significantly fewer orders from Apple in the second half of 2016.

May 22, 2016: Apple Inc rumored to have requested up to 78 million units of iPhone 7 production from suppliers according to the Taiwan press. This is the highest in 2 years.

Apple Inc Industry sources indicating that chip orders from Apple in Q2 have been disappointing on year over year basis according to a report in the DigiTimes. Report adding there is no sign of a substantial rise in chip orders in Q3 despite the expected launch of the new iPhone.

Apple CEO Cook has met with India PM Modi. The talks addressed cybersecurity and data encryption, along with Apple’s plans for possibilities of manufacturing in India. This was CEO Cook’s first trip to India.

May 16, 2016: Berkshire Hathaway discloses latest quarterly holdings; new stake in Apple of 9.8 million shares according to a new 13 F-HR filing. CNBC reports the Apple stake was not taken by Warren Buffet himself, but by one of his lieutenants.

May 12, 2016: Apple Inc to invest $1 billion in China’s Didi Chuxing (direct competitor of Uber). Didi Chuxing announced today important progress in its latest fundraising round. Among a group of prestigious Chinese and international institutions, Apple has invested USD$1 billion in DiDi, creating the single largest investment the Company has ever received. Through this investment, Apple becomes a strategic investor of DiDi, and joins Tencent, Alibaba and other key supporters to help further DiDi’s mission of building a data-driven rideshare platform to serve hundreds of millions of Chinese drivers and passengers. Building on its data mining and analysis capabilities, DiDi now completes over 11 million rides a day on its platform, serving close to 300 million users across over 400 Chinese cities with a diverse range of mobile technology-based transportation options. DiDi works with over 14 million Chinese car-owners and drivers, holding over 87% market share in private car-hailing and over 99% market share in taxi-hailing.

– Follow Up: Apple investment said to boost Didi fundraising to $3.0B – financial press

May 06, 2016: Apple CEO Tim Cook is planning a visit to China this month to meet with Senior Chinese government officials in Beijing. On April 26th Apple Q2 earnings had a -26% decline in Greater China (steepest drop among the five regions). Apple is expected to take its latest trademark dispute over the iPhone name to China’s Supreme Court. Currently Xintong is allowed to use iPhone mark on goods.

China is trying to copy popular products in the US by ripping off their trademarks and technology. This is why the story of China’s economic power is a joke. China is a copycat, a poser if you will and that means their economy is built on a deck of cards. Their communism form of government does not foster an environment that allows the people of China to be able to intellectually compete with people from the US. This is why I seldom, if ever, invest in China. China’s economy has gotten where it’s at today by intellectual property and technology theft. That, my friends, is a house of cards waiting to collapse.

CEO Tim Cook should tell China that if they don’t enforce international trademark and IP laws, Apple will no longer make iPhone parts in China which will put thousands of Chinese people out of work.

May 03, 2016: In an earnings conference call, Greenlight’s Einhorn says he continues to hold stake in Apple Inc. and sees great value in the Apple brand.

May 1, 2016: It’s a good time to take a position in Apple imo. With the earnings and revenue miss last week, the stock has overreacted to the downside.

Folks, Apple is a buy while there’s blood-in-the-streets play. Check out the recent carnage:

– Goldman Sachs removed Apple from its Conviction Buy list
– Carl Icahn dumped the stock
– Barclay’s cut its price target
– Morgan Stanley cut its price target
– Oppenheimer cuts Apple stock to a Perform rating, from Outperform
– Nomura cut its price target
– Drexel Hamilton cut its price target

What caused all this ruckus?

Last Tuesday, Aprill 26, 2016, Apple reported Q2 2016 EPS of $1.90 versus the $1.97 estimate. Revenue also missed coming in at $50.6 billion versus the $52.2 billion estimate. Apple also lowered its Q3 revenue guidance to $41 – $43 billion versus the previous guidance of $45.8 billion.

iPhone shipments came in at 51.2 million versus 61.2 million from the previous year. iPad shipments also fell, coming in at 10.3 million versus the 12.6 million from the previous year. Mac shipments fell to 4 million versus the 4.6 million from the previous year.

Not only do I think that traders overreacted to the earnings report, there are two catalysts in-play.

The first catalyst is Apple’s dividend payable on May 12, 2016 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 9, 2016. Why not capture that dividend if you can?

The second catalyst is the iPhone 7. Apple releases its new phone every year, in the second half of the year. Apple’s stock usually runs up in anticipation of the new release. We may have an opportunity to position early ahead of the seasonal new iPhone run up. There are also rumors that Apple will release more than one phone model this year which may help boost revenue.

Finally, as seen in the chart of Apple below, the stock is oversold and at horizontal support which could make for the last oversold RSI entry we will get before the seasonal iPhone 7 run-up. Just remember, don’t try and catch a falling knife. Look for a candle over candle entry.

Apple Inc. makes mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. The company also sells related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications.

It offers iPhone, a line of smartphones that comprise a phone, music player, and Internet device; iPad, a line of multi-purpose tablets; Mac, a line of desktop and portable personal computers; iPod, a line of portable digital music and media players, such as iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle; and Apple Watches, personal electronic devices that combine watch technology with an iOS-based user interface.

The company also provides iTunes app and the iTunes Store; Mac App Store that allows customers to discover, download, and install Mac applications; iCloud, a cloud service; Apple Pay for making mobile payments; Apple TV, a portfolio of consumer and professional software applications; iOS and OS X operating systems software; iLife, a consumer-oriented digital lifestyle software application suite; iWork, an integrated productivity suite designed to help users create, present, and publish documents, presentations, and spreadsheets; and other application software, including Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, and its FileMaker Pro database software.

In addition, Apple offers various Apple-branded and third-party Mac-compatible and iOS-compatible accessories, including headphones, cases, displays, storage devices, and various other connectivity and computing products and supplies. The company sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, and Mac App Store; and sells its products through its retail stores, online stores, and direct sales force, as well as through third-party cellular network carriers, wholesalers, retailers, and value-added resellers.