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

Archive for December, 2011

ITU approves new worldwide smart grid standards

New ITU standards for smart grid have achieved final approval and are now available for download. Recommendations ITU-T G.9955and G.9956 define three international next generation narrowband powerline communications (NB-PLC) standards. The approved family of standards will enable cost-effective smart grid applications such as distribution automation, diagnostic and fault location, smart metering, demand response, energy management, smart appliances, grid-to-home communications and advanced recharging systems for electric vehicles.

The next-generation NB-PLC transceivers defined in the ITU standards family are optimized for the various topologies and characteristics of power grids around the world. Standardized transceivers will provide a ‘smart’ link between electricity and communications networks through their support of the use of power lines as a communications medium. PLC exploits electricity networks’ existing wired infrastructure, greatly reducing the cost of deploying a dedicated communications channel.

Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU: “The approved ITU NB-PLC family of international standards will be a fundamental building block for realizing a robust smart grid anywhere in the world, and will allow utilities to start immediate deployment of NB-PLC on a worldwide basis.”

More info here.

Towards a sensor commons

The Internet of Things, a term being bandied to the point of almost meaninglessness now it’s hit the mainstream of the NYT and the BBC. Yet, while the mainstay of the media struggles to describe how and why smart sensor arrays are going to mean you spend less time in traffic, ultimately pay more for your electricity but make sure your fruit is always fresh, there is a quiet revolution taking place.

The action taking place is the creation of what I call the Sensor Commons. Why is this a revolution? Because as a population we are deciding that governments and civic planners no longer have the ability to provide meaningful information at a local level.

Two posts summarise this activity and its implications beautifully for me.

The first, by Ed Bordern from Pachube, is on the creation of a community driven Air Quality Sensor Network. His passionate call to arms highlights that we have no realtime system for measuring air quality. Further, what data does exist and has been released by governments is transient due to the sampling method (ie that the sensor is moved from location to location over time). Summarising a workshop on the topic, he discusses how a community oriented sensor network can be created, funded and deployed.

The implications of this quiet revolution are discussed by Jauvan Moradi in his post onhow open sensor networks will affect journalism. Jauvan discusses how citizen data will re-establish the localised roots of journalism by reporting on issues that matter locally and with accurate, real time data to help drive the story. Obviously Jauvan has an interest in media so he’s taking that slant yet this is but one of the many implications of the Sensor Commons.

We don’t know what we’re going to get when we arrive at a point where there is hyperlocalised data available on any conceivable measure – sound levels, temperature, rain levels, water quality, air quality, the number of cars passing a location in real time. The needs are going to be driven purely by local communities – by bottom-up interest groups that have access to cheap technologies to enable the sensor creation as well as a local need or concern that drives action.

I gave a talk at Web Directions in October this year on the Web of Things. The last third touched on the notion of community created and led data – citing the nascent Don’t Flush Me project in New York and the spontaneous self-organisation of radiation data in the wake of the Fukushima Disaster.

Through observation of many of these projects, as they mature one of the issues I have is that many of these endeavours require deeply technical knowledge in order to be effective. For the true Sensor Commons, as I see it, we need to have deep engagement with the population as a whole, regardless of technical ability or knowledge.

Original post by ajfisher  here.

Linear Technology acquires Dust Networks

Linear Technology has acquired Dust Networks a provider of low-power wireless sensor network (WSN) technology.

While terms of the transaction were not disclosed and there will be some transaction-related costs, Dust’s ongoing results are not expected to be material in the short term to Linear’s financial statements, according to Linear.

Dust Networks’ low-power radio and software technology complements Linear’s strengths in industrial instrumentation, power management and energy harvesting technology.

Combined with Linear’s precision low-power sensor interface products and battery-free energy harvesting technology, we can now offer the industry’s highest performance remote monitoring solutions,” Erik Soule, Vice President of Signal Conditioning and High Frequency products for Linear Technology, in a statement.

Low-power wireless sensing is an emerging solution for industrial process control, building automation and data center energy management. It plays a growing importance of machine-to-machine communications to enable remote data acquisition.

“Smart Dust” was first conceived as a simple way to deploy intelligent wireless sensors by Kris Pister, founder and chief technologist of Dust Networks. The company then pioneered SmartMesh networks that comprise a self-forming mesh of nodes, or “motes,” which collect and relay data, and a network manager that monitors and manages network performance and sends data to the host application.

All motes in a SmartMesh network—even the routing nodes—are designed to run on batteries for years, allowing the ultimate flexibility in placing sensors exactly where they need to go with low cost “peel and stick” installations.

The hallmark of Dust Networks’ technology is that it combines low power, standards-based radio technology, time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, scalability, wire-free power source flexibility, and ease-of-use, according to the company.

More info here.

Landslide alert sensors to check dam breakage

Technology may be only at an arm’s length for the state government looking to deploy digital sensors in the Mullaperiyar dam to monitor warnings of dam breakage as part of the disaster management system in Idukki district.

“In landslide warnings, we monitor both water and soil pressure. The sensors used are wireless and can be set up in hilly as well as lower regions,” said Maneesha Sudheer, director, Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks and Applications.

Located in the foothills of Munnar is a digital sensor system deployed to alert locals on landslides, a perennial feature that gives them sleepless nights during the monsoon season when heavy rains trigger the ‘fall of mountains’.

The Wireless Sensor Network for real-time landslide monitoring & detection, which has been functioning in Munnar since 2008, proved its capability when it issued a real-time landslide warning in July 2009.

“About 150 geophysical sensors connected to 20 wireless sensor nodes have been deployed at one landslide-prone site at Anthoniar Colony in Munnar. We had put a few extra ones because we did not want to trigger false alarms,” said Maneesha. These sensors measure various environmental parameters such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, and hydrological and soil parameters, including moisture content, soil pore water pressure and soil movements.

Maneesha says that based on the possibility of a disaster, an appropriate warning is automatically issued to the local population, administration, etc depending on the scale of the readings.

“We can issue warnings as early as 24 hours before a potential landslide. Now the locals are happy. Earlier, people used to move to safer areas before heavy rains and return only after the monsoon ended. Now with this warning system in place, they continue to live their lives normally and move out only when there is a warning of direct threat of a landslide taking place,” she said.

The system has got a boost with the Government of India expressing interest in deploying it in other landslide-prone areas, including the rest of Kerala, Himalayan region and Maharashtra. In fact, R Chidambaram, principal scientific advisor to Government of India, visited the deployment site at Munnar with the intention of replicating the system in Uttarkashi area.

“Munnar’s was a Rs 5 cr project because we could not get the sensors in India. But now we are making our own sensors, so the system is more economical,” she said.

More info here.


Sensors to be used across India

The wireless sensor network (WSN), an early warning system for landslides, installed in Idukki district could now be used in other parts of India like Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh as well to help save lives and contain the severity of devastation caused. Principal scientific advisor to the government of India, R.Chidambaram said on Monday that the system designed, developed and deployed by Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks and Applications (ACWNA) could help people living in landslide prone areas prepare for them and contain the effects. Mr Chidambaram visited the network site hoping to replicate it in the Uttakashi area. The wireless sensor network for landslide detection in Munnar , operational since 2008, collects data and issues real-time warnings when necessary. “It proved its capability by issuing a real-time landslide warning in July 2009,” observed ACWNA director Dr.Maneesha V Ramesh, the brain behind the project. About 150 geophysical sensors connected to 20 wireless sensor nodes measure various environmental parameters like rainfall, temperature, humidity, which help predict landslides, according to her.
More info here.

Adperc and IntelliSAW Bring Next Generation Wireless Sensor Technology to Brazil`s Smart Grid Market

IntelliSAW, a leading provider of next generation wireless sensor systems for smart grid applications has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Adperc of Brazil. Adperc will provide distribution, system integration and marketing services for IntelliSAW’s innovative wireless/passive temperature monitoring system throughout Brazil in electric power transmission and distribution systems.

Adperc is a supplier of critical test, control, and monitoring equipment for the electric power industry, with offices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Founded in 1985, Adperc has established relationships with key players within the Brazilian power generation and distribution markets.

Access to IntelliSAW’s unique electrical switchgear temperature monitoring system will allow Adperc to expand its portfolio of services into the Smart Grid arena where IntelliSAW’s technology provides real-time, continuous monitoring of mission-critical electric power substation switchgear.

IntelliSAW’s proprietary solution is wireless and does not require any power to the sensors affording ease of installation and system commissioning while avoiding introducing any arcing or flashover concerns. Moreover the IntelliSAW system outputs data directly onto existing communication networks using standard protocols allowing for instantaneous monitoring and control.

Adalberto Pereira Junior, Commercial Director of Adperc, commented “We are excited to add the new state-of-the art IntelliSAW electrical monitoring system to our range of solutions in the Smart Grid space. The robust, flexible and highly-scalable architecture of the IntelliSAW system lends itself ideally to the inhospitable environments encountered in switchgear installations, as there is no longer any requirement to access the sensors after installation; reducing on-going maintenance costs, improving safety for service personnel and maximising system uptime.”

Tom Cunneen, CEO of IntelliSAW, commented, “IntelliSAW is delighted to have secured Adperc as its exclusive distributor to the Brazilian market. Brazil is a huge growth area for Smart Grid technology and Adperc’s significant presence in this market provides IntelliSAW with a strong partner in the region. Our next generation sensor system provides significant cost and safety advantages over legacy switchgear monitoring products and we believe can play a vital role in enabling Brazil’s power generation market to scale up to meet the ever-increasing demands of its booming economy.”

More info here.


openPICUS: new website, IDE 2.1 and a programmer guide

openPICUS, which connects the embedded world to the internet providing modular hardware and free software, is ready to announce that the new website is online. We have a dedicated section exclusively to the Community which is part of the new Forum.
We have the new IDE 2.1! The main updates are:
– Energy saving functions: you can turn off the Flyport or just the Wi-Fi transceiver (Hibernation)
– Improved IOInit() function to easily remap all the peripheral pins
– Simplified management of the external interrupts with a simple instruction
– From Wizard it is now possible to modify the number of serial ports and their buffers size
– From Wizard it is also possible to select the number of UDP sockets and related buffers size
– Pushbuttons debounce function improved
– On code editor improved Autocomplete and Tooltips added for each function
– Added a timestamp at the end of compiling process
– Visualization of Ram status at the end of compiling.
– It is possible to add HTML documentation to each project
– Framework global performance improved
– Full compatibility with each C30 version >3.24
– Various minor bugs fixed
Download the new IDE 2.1 here.
And the last but not the least: the programming guide which explains the software embedded inside the Flyport and how it works. More than 60 pages with explanations and examples. Download the Programmer Guide here.