The Connected Effect

Ian Lee

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Best of the IoT Web - January 14th 2014

Posted by Ian Lee

Jan 14, 2014 2:47:00 PM

By Ian Lee

Following on from my last roundup, there is another whitepaper from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Internet of Thingssponsored by our partners at, they cite the number one reason companies are investing in connected products is not to boost sales, but to improve their customer engagement. Of the 1,300 executives who took part in this global survey, 55% say their number-one goal was better customer service, 51% said it was to provide a superior customer experience and 45% believed it was a competitive necessity.

The survey also said that over the next three years the percentage of companies using the cloud to connect products and services will almost double. Some 79% of those in our survey said cloud would be their go-to platform.

An article in Adweek last week, suggests that the 'Internet of Things' heralds the arrival of the Jetsons age. The article, prompted by the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), goes on to discuss the three technologies that will provide this intelligence to the IoT: sensors that can track temperature, movement or speed; systems that integrate the control of devices; and a shared syntax that allows them to talk to each other. And that we can reach the Jetson age because once these devices can talk to each other through the Internet, they will be able to anticipate what consumers want rather than having to push a button to make something happen.

Another of the many articles to come out from CES 2014, was FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen's remarks about the Internet of Things, and their view on this "next chapter" in consumer privacy and data security.  She talks of the FTC’s approach of doing policy R&D to get a good understanding of the technology, educating consumers and businesses about how to maximize its benefits and reduce its risks, and how as Commissioner for the FTC, she is able to encourage the agency to help facilitate the successful proliferation and adoption of these technologies.

An article in Bloomberg by Chris Strohm, continued to discuss the effect of the Internet of Things meeting the government, and how the two may be working at different paces. Strohm interviews several analysts for the article, and Robert Enderle of the Enderle Group says that “If we’re thinking this genie can be put back in the bottle we’re fooling ourselves.” The article discusses various agencies of the US Government from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the FTC and how they are dealing with the influx of connected devices in their jurisdictions.

Wearable Device using Intel ChipIntel’s CEO Brian Krzanich also spoke at CES 2014, where his company had a large presence. He shared news about Real-Sense 3-D technology, a souped-up earpiece named Jarvis, and a new circuit board for wearable computing products.  Most impressive?  Krzanich's pledge that all materials used in Intel microprocessors will be from "conflict free" mines in Africa.

Intel was certainly making the most of the media opportunity, as in a separate article, Matt Warman of The Telegraph, interviewed Intel President Renée James.  “The most interesting thing that’s going on at CES is this massive expansion of computing,” says James. “Think about the past three years versus the past decade – there’s the use of electronics in novel and previously unimaginable ways. All the crazy weird stuff is a cycle of invention out of which comes the next wave of computing.”

One of the best overview pieces from CES 2014 was by Tim Bajarin of Time Magazine, where he describes what he saw happening on the 2 million square feet of exhibit space, and how it was hard to find any products that were NOT displaying some form of connectivity. He talks of smart cars, smart beds, smart appliances, smart watches smart crock-pots…the list of smart devices goes on and on. In his summation, Bajarin goes on to say that although we have been talking about connected devices since the mid ’90s, this year was where the Internet of Everything (IoE) finally hit the mainstream. Well… as I noted in a blog last year, whether you call it IoE, IoT, M2M or the industrial Internet, it certainly feels like this industry is picking up steam.

Topics: M2M, IoT, Internet of Things, CES

Best of the IoT Web – December 2013

Posted by Ian Lee

Dec 23, 2013 4:55:00 PM

IOT Intro
Welcome to this new blog, where I endeavor to find some of the most interesting articles relating to IoT that I have come across in the past few weeks, and pull them together in an easily digestible form for you…

First up our friends and partners at ARM sponsored a global survey by the Economist's Intelligence Unit of 779 business executives from 19 different industries. The result of which is that “a mere 6% of business leaders believe that the idea of IoT is simply hype”, and that the Internet of Things (IoT) is an idea that has finally come, with the result that the business community is beginning to look seriously at the IoT.

Leading the charge in terms of industries according to the Economist’s IoT business index for internal operations and process is Manufacturing followed by Construction with external products and services being led by the IT and technology sector. 95% of respondents believe IoT will have a significant impact in the next three years, and 75% of businesses surveyed were already exploring the space.

Within the survey, they also include the top 5 actions companies are taking to increase IoT usage the top responses were:

•    Learning from the successes or failures of early movers
•    Seeking advice from third party experts/consultants
•    Training existing staff to work with the IoT
•    Hiring talent with IoT capabilities
•    Conducting or sponsoring research to establish market size/demand

To read the top 5 obstacles, you’re going to have to check out the report itself.

Next on my list for you to review is a paper from Harbor Research on the IoT Impact on Diversified Industrial Manufacturers. In this paper (called a storyboard) Alex Glaser of Harbor Research  many businesses that have moved to smart remote services programs utilize less than 10% of the data value that is being collected, and that the programs focus primarily on services delivery efficiencies. Alan goes on to say that as machine-to-machine systems and technologies evolve from the “simple” monitoring applications and related tracking/location of today that a lot of manufacturers are using today, future development will be focused on collaboration between devices, people and systems. Along with this, the opportunities that can be opened up to forward thinking product and service organizations are nearly infinite, and businesses can begin to explore many new possibilities for system solutions unthinkable just a few years ago.
Axeda Maturity Curve
All of that goes along nicely with Axeda’s own Connected Product Maturity Model whitepaper, where we explain how companies can leverage the data and intelligence from connected products to create smart business processes that will transform their businesses and drive improvements in efficiencies and effectiveness, and then move up the value chain to change the customer experience and to differentiate their offerings.

Third on the list worthy of review was a column in Fast Company. With the Internet of Things  changing the way companies built products, interact with customers, and run their business , four experts in the IoT space were asked to talk about how to have the best shot at bringing a successful product to market, with the answers to their questions providing a roadmap to ensuring your connected device will be well received.

Fourth to take a look at this week is a blog by Cisco executive Wim Elfrink. Wim is Cisco’s Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalization Officer, and he recently participated in two smart city forums, one in Hamburg, and one in Amsterdam, and while in those cities, he saw validation that IoT adoption is spreading to those mature cities as well as to new greenfield metropolises such as Songdo in South Korea.

HafenCity, Hamburg’s innovative, award-winning “city within a city” has 163 acres of newly intertwined residences, shops, restaurants, offices, parks and canals, which will evolve into an IoT showcase for the 21st century. In the centuries-old city of Amsterdam Wim tells us that there is already an installed IoT base to improve sustainable working/living, public spaces and mobility, they are exploring new LED-connected street lighting.

Finally for this post, I’d like to draw your attention to an article written by Christopher Mimms on Quartz which is the first in a series, where he tells us that 2014 will be the Year of the Internet of Things. You probably heard the same for 2012 and 2013 – but next year will be different. Why? Because devices are getting cheaper, and tech titans are focused on making the industry explode.

Topics: M2M, IoT, Internet of Things

Lead the Connected Revolution

Posted by Ian Lee

Dec 9, 2013 2:01:00 PM

By Ian Lee, Director of Product Marketing

Axeda Connexion 2014 is only 6 months away and we are challenging our community of users to “Lead the Connected Revolution.”  What does this mean?

We believe our customers and partners are in the best position to lead the charge when it comes to the Internet of Things. With a breadth of applications from hybrid vehicle recharging stations to power generators, and from MRI machines to ATMs, no one is better placed to tell the world the Return on Investment they have seen, and the business challenges that they have solved. 

Axeda Connexion 2013
 Watch the highlights from Connexion 2013.

So be a part of it, and come tell your story… we would love for our customers, partners, or anyone involved in Machine-to-Machine or IOT applications to submit their story and join us in May 2014 to show how you are leading the way.

In addition, for those of you who are going to pass up on a free ticket by coming to speak at the event, we of course have our early-bird special running until the end of December with $400 off the cost of attending.

Connexion 2014 will feature more than 30 content sessions focused on reinventing the product experience and optimizing enterprise-wide business processes with M2M data.  More news coming out shortly with the roster of industry all-stars that we have assembled, but if you missed last year’s event, and want to know what happens, you can take a look at our highlights reel from the 2013:

We also have provided you with the 10 reasons why you should be at the event, so you can better justify it to your boss ! So come along and hear from an M2M all-star speaker line-up, including customers, partners, industry analysts, and Axeda leadership, or better still, be a part of it and submit your story.  If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Topics: M2M, IoT, Connexion

M2M in the Wild – Part 5 – What’s in a name?

Posted by Ian Lee

Jul 16, 2013 10:00:00 AM

Internet of Things

There have been a few blog posts recently about what the name is of this area of technology we work in… whether they are blog posts in EE|Times, GE’s Industrial Internet, Wired’s Programmable World, or Cisco’s Internet of Everything, and even internally here at Axeda there have been some vigorous discussions about the use of “Machine” in regards to “Machine Cloud” and “M2M”.)

 The discussion here has been around what really constitutes a “machine” when you have “ant-sized” computers such as the KLO2 chip as reported in the MIT Technology review in May, or does an iPhone count as a machine? For sure the systems GE talks about in the industrial internet are machines…and big ones at that! According to Wikipedia (yes I know, not the greatest source available, but bear with me) the definition is: “A tool that consists of one or more parts, and uses energy to achieve a particular goal. Machines are usually powered by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or electrical means, and are frequently motorized.” And they go on to add: “Historically, a powered tool also required moving parts to classify as a machine; however, the advent of electronics technology has led to the development of powered tools without moving parts that are considered machines.”  So I guess if we don’t need moving parts, then our little ant-sized chip still does qualify as a machine, and I have to modify my prior position with some colleagues.
smart meterBut to me none of these terms are instantly grokable to anyone outside of the space, and maybe that’s ok. I don’t need to know the intricate and arcane terms for brewing, but I like a beer. So does Aunt Alice need to know that her smart meter sends data back to the utility company via some form of M2M connection so that they can monitor her usage, send her off-peak incentives, or allow her to use an app on her iPhone to see exactly what she is using? Probably not, to her, it’s all just magic.

So what are some examples of connected systems that can deliver up some magic for you, and allow you to explain what IoE, IoT, M2M etc. are to your friends and family:

By monitoring consumable levels in MRI machines, operations can resupply in advance to avoid downtime. Service, sales and marketing can observe consumption over time, and deliver the right service, at the right time to  avoid costly delays and patient/staff rescheduling.

Gauging the temperature of manufacturing assets warns the service team if there is a risk of overheating and lets finance know when warranty guidelines are not being upheld. (For one of our clients customers, their outsourced cleaners ran the machines out of parameter like this causing a $100,000 failure. By having the data showing when this was happening, the customer was able to pursue the cleaning company for restitution.)

Tracking wind turbine speed alerts operations when an asset is under producing, and helps research and development develop a more resilient blade.

Implementing a usage-based insurance strategy is revolutionizing the auto-insurance industry. Operations and finance teams can track speeds, idling time, parking location, distances traveled, hard stops and more, leading to decreased premiums for consumers.

So it probably doesn’t matter what you call it, but M2M allows you to fully harness the data that you can get from your machines as long as you have the innovative teams to see the possibility when they are developing the systems. A connected strategy can allow your company to make faster, smarter and more informed decisions across many departments and allow you to be more proactive with your customers.

If you have other examples that you use to describe the M2M space when you are having a cup of tea with your version of Aunt Alice, I’d love for you to post a comment below.

Topics: M2M, Internet of Things

M2M in the wild: Real World Examples – Part 4 – (The Ecosystem)

Posted by Ian Lee

Jul 12, 2013 2:41:00 PM

Putting together a connected product strategy is not as plug-and-play yet as maybe it should be, but I think there are some strides being taken towards making it a lot simpler for those who wish to build connected machines. For a manufacturer wishing to go it alone, and not rely on the emerging ecosystem of companies who are partnering to provide solutions can be a daunting task. Not only is complexity increasing with the choices you have for devices, the networks and protocols, and the security implications, but there can also be an increase in costs with more applications needed to be developed, more integrations to your ERP or CRM systems, or purely the amount of data that you may be pumping from the devices back to the databases.

hardware picSo why would you build this all by yourself and not take advantage of people who specialize in these areas, and can work together to get your products all chatting on the Internet of Things (or the Machine Cloud as we call it). I worked for a company a few years ago that had a legacy system to do inventory management, and due to rapid acquisition and growth, had to scale that system up. But it was running on older hardware and operating systems, as well as the actual development platform, and it mean that the company effectively had to become their own software house to support that vital product. Going off and building your own is effectively turning you into a software house when that may not be your core capability.


Some of the unique things you need to know about when building M2M apps over more traditional enterprise-type software are:

  • Do I need short-haul or long-haul drivers?
  • How do I create embedded agents, message translators of raw data to business information?
  • How do I efficiently organize my data in an M2M data model?
  • How do I cope with queuing, throttling and caching compression of a constant stream of real-time data?

After all, you should really be focused on your business and its future. Improving your product experience, increasing your agility and empowering not only your service and support staff, but as we saw in my last blog, your customers as well.

That’s where the Collaborative Ecosystem comes in. where the 5 main areas of an M2M deployment come together to get your products to market faster than you can do it by yourself. So whether you are building connected products for mHealth, for transportation, for Usage-Based-Insurance (UBI) or for utilities, partnering up with people who have the most knowledge in their area makes the most sense.. after all, would you build your own email system nowadays, do you have software engineers building a credit-card processing application?

The 5 areas are of course;

  • The Network and Connectivity Providers
  • The Hardware and Component Providers
  • The Application Service Providers
  • The Business Systems Providers
  • The Cloud Application and Platform Providers

At Axeda, that ecosystem looks something like this:M2M Partner Ecosystem

And that doesn’t even include all of the device manufacturers in the Axeda Ready Program that is a technical approval program for hardware and module manufacturers in the M2M industry to ensure device compatibility with the Axeda Platform. Programs like this speed time-to-market for multiple devices that can communicate with a platform, and ensures accurate and secure data communication, as well as setting technical support expectations based on their certification. And when those devices are used with an ecosystem network provider, and the applications are written by an ecosystem application provider, the whole process can go a lot faster than trying to do it yourself.

Recently at Axeda’s user conference, Connexion ’13, we had members from each area of this ecosystem, as well as analysts and customers; speak in keynote sessions giving their vision on where the market was going, and how the ecosystem was a strong driver to get there. So I put together a video with highlights from their presentations, to view it, click here:

Axeda Connexion Video

Some of the benefits, as I see it, to joining the ecosystem rather than going it alone are not only that you free up resources to drive innovation, but you also get:

  • Fast time-to-market with new solutions and initiatives
  • Approved security protocols
  • Efficient data communication and machine data processing
  • Built-In business and administration tools
  • Less code to write yourself
  • The flexibility to extend and customize
  • Benefits of input from multiple customers

But that’s just my view; and as I said in my first post, I’m a newbie at all this, so I’m sure some of you will have comments. So add them below and share them with the rest of us. And if in the meantime you want to see someone else's view, check out this recent post on VentureBeat talking about the very same dilemma.

Topics: Internet of Things, M2M Ecosystem

M2M in the wild: Real World Examples – Part 3 – (Beyond Service)

Posted by Ian Lee

Jun 26, 2013 11:03:00 AM

In Part 2 of M2M in the Wild I took a look at a few healthcare customers of Axeda that use the cloud-based platform to enhance their service offerings to provide not only remote service to provide a faster and more targeted response and resolution, as well as using the platform to provide analytics to help with preventative maintenance on their equipment. But as you can see from the graphic below, the service organization is only one area that can gain benefits from implementing a machine-to-machine program for their devices.

By including other departments such as finance, sales, engineering and operations in the discussions early on in your connected product  journey, you can ensure that you are providing a differentiated product offering that can provide you not only an early-mover advantage in your space, but a stronger brand, and customers for life. 

m2m enterprise

We have seen a few of our healthcare customers moving up the value curve to integrate their connected products with other systems and departments outside of service, so that they can unleash the machine data into their organizations and unlock the value of the data that they collect.

One such customer manufactures battery powered surgical devices such as saws and drills for use in the operating room. By having these devices connected, they are able to provide data not only to their technical support staff, but also to an application for mobile devices that allows the local field service rep, the sales rep and their biomedical staff to see the data in a graphical form. This allows them to see if, for example, the battery on a particular device is not charging to its full capacity, so the sales rep can offer a replacement battery on his next visit. Or maybe they can show the OR staff that one saw has a lot more cycle times than another and suggest that maybe they should rotate them equally.

m2m uiAnother use outside of the service department is that of asset tracking. One client who makes cardiovascular pumps that are designed to be mobile wanted to ensure they and the hospitals knew where the pumps were at any time, as they may be transported with a patient on a gurney out of the assigned operating room or possibly even out of the hospital.

The final example of a healthcare manufacturer offering a higher level of connected product than just a service offering is that of a large disinfection and sterilization equipment for use in hospitals and biopharmaceutical laboratories. They have created their own applications that not only allow them to monitor the equipment for service requirements, but also to provide in-facility dashboards, so that operators can see at a glance what cycle the machines are on, and if any problems are occurring.

describe the imageBefore using this connected system, operators had to stay with a machine while it was running, to ensure that someone was there if anything went wrong. Now they have a mobile app which alerts them of any issues, or when the sterilization cycle completes, so that they can be freed to do other tasks.

The other integration that this company has done is to show the levels available for the variable consumables such as detergents, so that operators can see at a glance on their mobile devices, whether or not a particular system is running low, and need to be replenished.

So, by Incorporating data into one central source this company has simplified the administration of their systems, and provided unprecedented access to data about the status and performance of their customers equipment allowing them to be empowered with their production planning, and also making the work routines easier and more predictable for the operators.

By thinking beyond just the benefits a connected product strategy can bring in the service organization, these companies are transforming themselves by fueling accelerated revenue growth, and providing true value-adds to their clients by providing great products that are easy to use and less likely to fail when you need them most, whether that’s on the operating table, or in the laboratory.

Topics: Axeda Customer

M2M in the Wild: Real World Examples – Part 2 (Healthcare costs and security)

Posted by Ian Lee

Jun 20, 2013 10:37:00 AM

As promised in last week’s blog, this week I am going to take a look at how Machine-to-Machine devices are used in the healthcare industry to help keep the systems keeping us alive, stay alive themselves! If you took a look at the customer section of our websitefor companies in the healthcare industry, you can see that we have a lot of companies listed that provide solutions to securely connect, manage, and innovate everything from MRI machines to blood analyzers.

These manufacturers turn to an M2M platform for many reasons, but top among them is improving the service offerings that they provide. One customer told me that a system being out of action for a single day can result in 35 patients being unable to receive treatment, so minimizing system downtime, and providing out-of-hours preventative maintenance is essential to ensuring that people receive treatment as and when they are scheduled.

Another customer provides devices to clinics to assist with IVF treatments by checking the viability of embryos.  The procedure can take a day or more to run for each patient, and so the company needed to find a way to ensure the success of each treatment not only for the clinic using the system, but for the patient who had invested not only a lot of money, but also a lot of emotion into the procedure as well. So, they needed to ensure that they could be preemptive in the availability of their systems by collecting and analyzing log files and consumables data so that they can proactively dispatch field service staff prior to the next treatment commencing.

medical m2mOne of the benefits of access to a medical device remotely is being able to calibrate a system without having to send an engineer to site. By being able to remotely and securely connect into a device, manufacturers can provide expert assistance to lab managers to ensure systems are running within acceptable parameters. One example of this is Leica Microsystems who are using Axeda in the Leica RemoteCare service offering for their tissue processors and confocal microscopes. By proactively monitoring these systems, Leica can detect parameter deviations before problems occur. For example, as soon as the temperature drifts out of range for a tissue sample, an alarm and email are sent to both Leica and to their customer in the lab, so that adjustments can be made before losing a specimen.

The ability to conduct remote support also saves the time and expense of sending field engineers to diagnose problems as well. For example, a research institution had been experiencing system crashes of its microscopes during long-term experiments, but by being able to remotely capture and analyze the saved error logs, the remote engineer could see that the memory sizes at the time of the crash fell below 500 MB. Instead of dispatching an engineer onsite to replace a defective detector board, a service representative remotely cleaned up the PC to resolve the issue. As a result, diagnosis and repair took one hour instead of three days and saved the unnecessary expense of replacing a perfectly fine piece of hardware.

The costs of field service for these incidents are not insignificant either; a customer who focuses on radiotherapy and x-ray imaging devices estimates that they save around $2,000 for each problem that they solve remotely, ant that they have also reduced their Mean-Time-To-Repair (MTTR) by 50% while saving four hours of travel time for each call.

You may wonder how remote access is securely achieved by companies such as Leica (take a look here for news last week on the latest U.S FDA recommendations for manufacturers of healthcare systems), well Axeda agents are “firewall friendly”, meaning that communications are always HTTPS initiated by the agent, so your customers never need to have IT open ports, change firewall rules, use modems or VPNs for communication, all of which can create security risks by potentially enabling intruders to gain access to sensitive patient data. 

I have a few more words to say on the healthcare subject next time, but if you would like to read more about what Leica is doing, we have a case study here that you can take a look at.

Topics: M2M, Axeda Customer, Healthcare

M2M in the Wild: Real World Examples - Part 1

Posted by Ian Lee

Jun 10, 2013 1:19:00 PM

A recent article in Wired magazine talking about the Internet of Things prompted me to think of some of the Axeda customers, and how they use connected devices. Machine-to-Machine or M2M is seen by some as new and emerging, but it has been around in some form or other for a long time, one of the earliest being during World War 2 as Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) sensors to identify aircraft, or other vehicles as friendly (or not) and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator.

But things have on a bit since the 1940’s, so what are people doing with M2M applications now? I’m fairly new to this whole industry, so you pundits and gurus who have been in the industry for many years (we have a lot of them here at Axeda!) may want to walk away now, and just get a cup of coffee instead… because I just want to step back for a minute before we get to a use-case, and discuss exactly what (I think) M2M means, and how it may impact your organization.

The first thing you need is of course… a thing… yep, the thing you actually want to talk to… as an example, I am going to borrow from Dr. John Barrett, Head of Academic Studies at the Nimbus Centre for Embedded Systems Research at Cork Institute of Technology, who gave a good example in a recent TED talk.

m2m chairSay we have a chair, and we want to know who has been sitting on that chair. We first need to give our chair a Unique Identifier, so that we know that we are dealing with that specific chair out of all the other chairs in our universe.  Then we need to connect it to the outside world, so we can add a wireless device to it, then we can add pressure sensors, so that we know when it has been sat in. And finally, we can embed some other circuitry to it, so that we are able to control it whether that is robotically controlling the seat height, or activate the wireless SIM card.

The basics hold true for any device,

  • Identify
  • Communicate
  • Sense
  • Control

But once you have this great device, already connected and managed, how are you going to innovate, what new and clever thing can you do with your device now you have remote access to it?  Well, you can monitor its environment, you can use it to populate search results when you are looking for your inventory (think fleet management, food shipments etc.) or you can come up with some very cool value add for your customers that you didn’t even consider before you had a connected device. And of course, a lot of customers are still just using connected devices to perform remote service or preventative maintenance on systems, providing cost savings and improved utilization of their field repair staff.

So in this blog series, I am going to highlight some of our customers, and the way in which they use connected products. And first one up is Diebold, Incorporated, who, over their 150 years have brought together a combination of innovation, expertise and quality service to become a global leader in providing integrated self-service solutions, security systems and services.

Diebold had the challenge of implementing a remote monitoring and diagnostic capability into a new line of ATMs, to enable them to reduce field service visits and minimize system downtimes. Because of the trend to a more software-driven self-service terminal, the company sought to remotely service its ATMs over the Internet, and of course given the sensitive nature of cash-dispensing ATMs, the solution need to be both proven and secure.

By embracing a connected solution, the ATMs are enabled to deliver high-quality remote services with built-in data-capture technology. This feature carefully stores pertinent information about a device’s performance for quick access. In addition, Diebold’s remote support operators are also directly alerted when an ATM problem occurs, and can begin resolving the problem immediately by viewing a mirror image of the module. This provides a level of information that allows for an in-depth analysis of ATM status messages before a technician arrives on site. And when the technician arrives, he then has a precise knowledge about that particular machine which in-turn increases the first-time-fix ratio.

If you want to read more about what Diebold is doing, you can read the case study here. And next time, I will delve into a customer or two in the medical device environment.

Topics: M2M, Internet of Things, Diebold, Axeda Customer

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