Consumer report says Ford touch-screen system "stinks"

Reuters

An influential consumer magazine on Wednesday lambasted Ford Motor Co's touch-screen entertainment and navigation system, saying it is distracting, clumsy and overly complex.

"MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles," Consumer Reports said in a blog post. "And worse, it is influencing competitors."

PayPal deepens retail drive in Discover payments deal

Reuters

EBay Inc's PayPal (San Jose, USA) online payments service has gained access to millions of stores across the United States through an agreement with Discover Financial Services (Riverwoods, USA), extending its reach beyond the Web and into the physical world.

Under the deal unveiled on Wednesday, PayPal will issue payment cards to its more than 50 million active users in the United States next year, which they can use to buy from merchants that already use Discover Network, which links more than 7 million U.S. retail locations.

Porto Seguro launches M2M vehicle service in Brazil

Insurance company Porto Seguro (Sao Paolo, Brazil) has launched its first M2M offer in Brazil, providing a service that allows it to track and monitor the driving of its automotive customers.

The company began testing the service in February and started installing SIM cards in vehicles in June.

It is currently providing the M2M service to about 2,000 vehicles owned by insurance customers and aims to serve around 450,000 vehicles by 2014.

Landis+Gyr to help build smart grid on Guam

Smart meter specialist Landis+Gyr (Zug, Switzerland) has been chosen to help build a smart grid on the island of Guam.

The Guam Power Authority (GPA), which provides electric power across the US territory, plans to deploy more than 52,000 advanced meters over the next two years.

It plans to use Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream RF network as a backbone for possible communication with other grid devices and home area network applications in the future.

The meters themselves are to incorporate integrated service switch and ZigBee capabilities.

Telefonica and Arduino team up on M2M

Spanish telecoms operator Telefónica (Madrid, Spain) has teamed up with electronics specialist Arduino (London, UK) on the development of a new programmable electronic board with M2M capabilities.

Arduino boards are already used to connect sensors and control applications ranging from lighting to motors, but the new-look board developed with the Spanish operator incorporates remote monitoring capabilities, with a GPRS/GSM connection that links the hardware motherboard with Telefónica’s M2M service.

US Senator champions Vermont smart grid

US Senator Bernie Sanders has joined with utility and environmental groups at a news conference in Vermont to laud the benefits of the smart grid being rolled out in the state.

Vermont received some $69 million in federal stimulus funds as part of the $4 billion national investment in smart grid technology. Supporters claim the upgrade to the analog electric system has already paid dividends in Vermont, helping to cut the outage response time in half after Tropical Storm Irene struck the state a year ago.

Denmark picks Continua for telemedicine action plan

Denmark has revealed its intention to base its new national action plan for telemedicine on guidelines created by the Continua Health Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Oregon, USA that focuses on establishing industry standards for the interoperability of plug-and-play personal health devices.

Insight: Experts hope to shield cars from computer viruses

Reuters

A team of top hackers working for Intel Corp's security division toil away in a West Coast garage searching for electronic bugs that could make automobiles vulnerable to lethal computer viruses.

Intel's McAfee unit, which is best known for software that fights PC viruses, is one of a handful of firms that are looking to protect the dozens of tiny computers and electronic communications systems that are built into every modern car.

Elektrilevi selects Ericsson for smart metering in Estonia

Estonian electricity utility Elektrilevi has signed an eight-year contract with Ericsson under which the network manufacturer will supply, deploy, systems integrate and run a smart-metering network.

Estonia is one of a number of European countries that are installing smart meters to help meet the EU target of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. Elektrilevi has nearly half a million subscribers on its network.

AT&T refarming to have little impact on M2M growth: analyst

A leading analyst company has called into question the claims that AT&T’s shutdown of its 2G network could leave M2M customers stranded.

The US operator recently announced plans to gradually phase out its 2G network, shifting customers and spectrum over to 3G and 4G technologies, and that a full transition would be finalized by 2017.

The news was met with a chorus of criticism that M2M customers would be left out in the cold, forced to change providers or pay AT&T higher rates for 3G or 4G connections.

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