New products, Conferences, Books, Papers, Internet of Things

Archive for December, 2008

Smart vibration sensor to check rail accidents

A SMART vibration sensor with wireless communication for recording and analysing train vibration has been developed in the country.
Alka Dubey and Ashish Verma of Sagar University brought this innovation to light, while presenting their paper at the fourth international Wireless Communication Sensor Networks concluded at Indian Institute of Information Technology-Allahabad (IIIT-A) on Monday (Dec 29).
Dubey said that high speed trains are one of the most impressive developments of the recent years having brought a new degree of comfort for travelers. These trains posed serious accidents because of the high level of vibration, which are generated. Therefore to make the train speed smoother, a smart vibration sensor is developed. It is a self sensation device equipped with recording and wireless communication interface.
More info here.

SOS Perished

As of Nov 2008, SOS is no longer under active development. Their website displays a notice saying:

“Please note that SOS is no longer under active development, and with the graduation of the core developers we are also unable to actively support it. The source code remains publicly downloadable, but we would recommend that instead of SOS you consider one of the more actively supported alternatives.”

Check out the notice here.

Sensing the World with Mobile Devices: Nokia's vision


Nokia’s latest white paper paints a picture of a connected global network based around the world’s most distributed and pervasive sensing instrument – the mobile phone. Thanks to an increasing number of built-in sensors – ambient light, orientation, acoustical, video, velocity, GPS – each device can capture, classify, and transmit many types of data with exceptional granularity. The perfect platform for sensing the world is already in our hands. If you only read one article today, this should be it.

Until now, sensor-based networks relied primarily on the ubiquitous placement of tiny fixed nodes to report on the physical world. These automatic systems required specially designed hardware, making them expensive and ultimately inflexible. Nokia has shifted the thinking about observational systems by promoting the mobile phone as a vastly more flexible—and broadly available—sensing method.

This device-centric approach quickly leads to a people-centric vision of sensor systems. By putting mobile phones in the hands of human participants, we can take advantage of users as creators, custodians, actuators, and publishers of the data they collect.

The white paper is available here.

No more than 10% for the next 10 years?

IDTechEx has released a new report “Wireless Sensor Networks 2009-2019”. While WSN can assist with many of the big issues of this century including security, safety, protecting the environment, animal and plant conservation, healthcare and efficient food production, among many others, 99% of sensors installed in the world nowadays are still wired. Over the next ten years, they argue, WSN will constitute no more than ten percent of the wireless sensors that are sold, mainly because of technical challenges.

There is much to go for, though. WSN already beats the wired alternative with 90% reduction in cost, even at current prices, and often WSN enables things to be done that are otherwise impossible. Little wonder that hundreds of research centers are pursuing the subject and there are already well over 100 suppliers of this or that part of the jigsaw puzzle. An early objective for most schemes is wireless replacing all or almost all wiring, not just power and not just control.

More of the insights from the report can be read on this article.

No boring bits as animals' wild life tracked

A network of solar powered mini-computers that ”talk” to each other is tracking the return of rare frogs to Australia’s rainforests and will record the antics of Santa’s reindeer at a zoo in Lappland.

The world’s biggest outdoor wireless sensor network, developed by CSIRO, will be installed by Ume University at Sweden’s northernmost zoo at Lycksele.

”It’s not just a webcam in a tree. This is a complex system of cameras and microphones that monitor the animals’ behaviour, and save energy and time by filtering out the boring bits,” CSIRO wireless sensor research leader, Dr Michael Bruenig said.

The remote sensing system, developed to track cattle in Queensland’s outback rangelands, is revolutionising the way environmental scientists are gathering data.

At Lycksele, the network (called a Fleck system) will analyse video and audio data collected by 100 solar-powered sensor nodes which typically contain a mini-computer, radio transceiver, tiny camera and light and temperature sensors.

More info here.

CFP: Software and Information Processing in Body Sensor Networks 2009

Body Sensor Networks (BSNs) have already shown potential to enable a broad variety of applications in the assisted living and health care domains, e.g. for rehabilitation, sports medicine, elderly care, gait analysis, fitness. BSNs allow to measure human body parameters through wearable sensors and often include signal processing techniques to interpret and fuse the sensor data in real-time. The design of BSN applications is challenging also due to the limited resources for computation, communication and storage that are allowed by the tight size and battery life requirements on the nodes. While in recent years there have been significant efforts to build sensors and hardware platforms, more research is needed to address the open challenges in the design of software components that implement efficiently signal processing algorithms across BSN nodes. In particular application developers need design frameworks and methodologies based on proper abstractions supporting interoperability and fast evaluation of implementation tradeoffs. This workshop solicits high quality technical contributions that address issues related to the design of the software architecture and the distributed implementation of signal processing techniques for sensor data interpretation and fusion.

The workshop aims to bridge the signal processing and the embedded software community to address issues related to efficient implementation of information processing in BSN.

More info here.

Find a Parking Space Online


This fall, San Francisco will implement the largest mesh network for monitoring parking to date. Around 6,000 wireless sensors from the San Francisco company Streetline will be fixed alongside as many parking spots, monitoring both parking availability and the volume and speed of passing traffic. The city hopes that displaying information from the sensors on Web maps, smart phones, and signs on the street will reduce the traffic and pollution caused by circling cars.

A mesh network differs from a typical wireless network in that there’s no central transmitter: every node can transmit to every other node. Mesh networks have generally been used for environmental monitoring, or to grant wireless devices Internet access.

More info here.

TinyOS Technology Exchange comes to Europe


The First European TinyOS Technology Exchange ETTX 2009 will take place in Cork, Ireland, on February 10, 2009, collocated with EWSN 2009, the largest European based sensor networks conference. Clearly, with the aim to foster a broader European user community.

The TinyOS Alliance encourages anyone who is interested in, using, exploring or advancing TinyOS-based technologies to attend.

More info here

Sensor-Equipped Footballs to Make Refs More Accurate

As everyone who’s had a ref make a bad call at their team’s expense knows, NFL refs aren’t perfect. But footballs and gloves with built-in sensors? Those might just make coach’s challenges history.

Dr. Priya Narasimhan of Carnegie Mellon University has developed the football and gloves, loading them up with wireless sensors that can precisely determine whether or not a ball hit the ground before being caught or whether or not someone had control of the ball before fumbling. It could also, using GPS, determine whether or not the ball cross the goal line. But the applications don’t stop there.

Eventually, the same kind of sensors used in the gloves could be adapted to shoes, to measure stride and running patterns, or even shoulder pads, to calculate blocking positions and force.The current version of the glove has 15 touch sensors on the fingers and palm, running to a wireless module on the back of the arm, said Adam Goldhammer of Richboro, Bucks County, a master’s student in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

More info here.

A sense of things to come – smart sensors and the environment

Monitoring threats to the reef – the need for smart sensors

How do you manage a unique natural resource like the Great Barrier Reef when it’s threatened on so many fronts? Coral bleaching caused by rising water temperatures due to climate change, is possibly the biggest and most immediate threat.

Coral bleaching – one of many threats to the reef
(image: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)

But then there’s also coral disease; sediment, fertiliser and pesticide pollution from mainland run-off; and the growing spectre of acidification. The reef ecosystem is already susceptible to the effects of climate change; pollution only makes the problem worse. Each of these threats comes from a different source, operates at a different scale and interacts in a variety of ways.

More information here