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

Archive for March, 2012

CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher

More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them.

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy” and prompt a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.” All of which is true — if convenient for a CIA director.

More info here.

Digi Launches Europe’s First Multi-Channel Wireless Module to Automatically Change Channels if Interference is Detected

Digi International released the XBee 868LP, Europe’s first multi-channel 868 MHz wireless module with Listen Before Talk (LBT) and Adaptive Frequency Agility (AFA) technology allowing it to automatically change channels if interference is detected. The low cost, low-power module is based on Analog Device’s ADF7023 transceiver and is ideal for energy management, sensor deployments and other wireless networking applications.

“When numerous 868 MHz devices are running simultaneously, increased risk of radio interference exists,” said Larry Kraft, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Digi International. “With the XBee 868LP, you don’t have to wait for someone to change channels when interference is detected. The XBee 868LP automatically finds the best channel to improve network performance.”

“Digi is a leading developer of wireless modules, and we are excited to work with Digi in bringing this solution to market,” said John Greichen, product line director, RF Group, Analog Devices. “Our ADF7023 RF transceiver provides best-in-class interference blocking, sensitivity performance and low current consumption to ensure a strong connection and reliable data transfer.”

The XBee 868 LP features 30 channels for additional interference immunity. It operates in the 863 – 870 MHz range and offers low power consumption drawing less than 2uA in sleep mode. The module offers up to four kilometres line-of-sight range and is easy to configure with Digi’s free utility, X-CTU, which reduces development time from months to weeks. The module also supports over the air (OTA) firmware updates, minimizing deployment risks.

Sharing a common hardware footprint, the popular XBee product line offers developers tremendous flexibility and is extremely easy to use. Pin-compatible and interchangeable multi-channel XBee’s are available for global deployments, including a 2.4GHz version for the U.S. and Australia and an 865 MHz module for India. A 900 MHz version will be available in Q3 2012.

The XBee 868LP module is available now for less than $15 in 10,000 quantities. Development kits are available starting at $199 per kit. For more information, visit

Arm targets ‘Internet of Things’ with new low-power chip

British chip maker Arm Holdings, has taken the wraps off a new energy-efficient microprocessor, which the company claims could pave the way for the “Internet of Things”.

The 32-bit Cortex-M0+ processor, code-named Flycatcher, uses just a third of the energy of legacy 8- and 16-bit architectures, while delivering significantly higher performance, according to ARM.

British chip maker Arm Holdings, has taken the wraps off a new energy-efficient microprocessor, which the company claims could pave the way for the “Internet of Things”.

The 32-bit Cortex-M0+ processor, code-named Flycatcher, uses just a third of the energy of legacy 8- and 16-bit architectures, while delivering significantly higher performance, according to ARM.

More info here.

Immediate availability of IBM Mote Runner beta 8 for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

Mote Runner, IBM’s infrastructure platform for wireless sensor networks (WSN), consists of two parts: a run time for mote-class hardware such as MEMSIC Iris motes, and a development environment for WSN applications.

The Mote Runner on-mote run-time platform is based on a virtual machine tailored from scratch for resource-constraint hardware environments.

For this, it introduces a new byte-code language that, besides being compact and efficient, provides native support for reactive programming by means of delegates. Together with the run-time library built on top, Mote Runner provides a purely event-driven and thread-free programming model.

Blue ZThe development environment of Mote Runner consists a complete tool chain (i.e., converter, assembler, optimizer, shell) to develop mote applications in high-level object-oriented languages such as Java. It comes with its own IDE based on Eclipse as well as a mote and network simulation environment to ease application development and testing. A web-based deployment and monitoring framework in concert with an edge server finally allows the integration and visualization of Mote Runner sensor networks.

WoT 2012

(submission deadline extended)

The third international workshop on the Web of Things (WoT 2012) will be held in conjunction with the tenth international conference on pervasive computing (Pervasive 2012) in Newcastle, UK, June 18-22, 2012.

Continuing the successful Web of Things workshop series, this workshop aims at further exploring the use of technologies and principles at the core of the Web to provide methods for a seamless integration of physical devices. In particular, our goal is to foster discussion on systems towards a real-time Web of Things and the discovery, search, and composition of services provided by Web-enabled things. The “Web of Things” workshop solicits contributions in all areas related to the Web of Things, and we invite application designers to think beyond sensor networks and Web applications, and to imagine, design, build, evaluate and share their thoughts and visions on what the future of the Web and networked devices will be.

Important Dates

Paper submission deadline: March 16, 2012
Notification of acceptance: April 2, 2012
Camera-ready papers due: April 20, 2012
Workshop date: June 19, 2012

More on the workshop website

Remembering the Japanese Earthquake: We Need to Build More Resilient Societies « A Smarter Planet Blog

From A Smarter Planet blog:

On the afternoon of Friday March 11, 2011, I happened to be waiting at Tokyo’s Narita Airport to return to New York and so directly experienced the largest earthquake ever to strike Japan. Although the terminal buildings were bouncing around like an airplane in severe turbulence, there was no major damage. Japanese earthquake engineering is truly world class.

However Narita was some 300 km away from the epicenter and in northern Japan the earthquake was far more violent. Damage from the quake and tsunami in monetary terms was estimated by the World Bank at over $200 billion. But above all there was immense cost of lives with some 16,000 deaths and over 3,000 people still unaccounted for.

A year has now passed and many events are commemorating the Great East Japan Earthquake. As we ponder those losses, we should realize that restoring a society is always painful. But this occasion also provides an opportunity to overcome an unrecoverable past and move on to a new, more sustainable future. The incidence of natural disasters of all kinds – earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, mud-slides, volcanic eruptions, and so forth – has shown an astonishing increase in the last fifty years. At the same time, societies are becoming increasingly urbanized, and vulnerability is increasing. So, now more than ever, it’s important for societies to make themselves more resilient.

IBM researchers at several labs worldwide are working on projects aimed at using science and technology to help make societies better prepared for disasters and better able to recover from them. A team in Yorktown Heights, NY, for instance, is focusing on information technology systems. It’s helping public and private organizations to deal with a spectrum of operational disruptions ranging from rare but massive events such as earthquakes to the daily but less challenging impacts such as road congestion, fog-closed airports and routiine ‘flu epidemics. My Research colleagues, Hideo Watanabe in Tokyo, Chung-sheng Li in New York, and I are now developing this vision into a research and development program.

Remembering the Japanese Earthquake: We Need to Build More Resilient Societies « A Smarter Planet Blog.

CSIRO in European cloud push

CSIRO ICT has signed up for a four year European project to design an open platform that will help the masses of sensor networks forming around the world to communicate through the internet and eventually be sold as services.

Called the Open Internet of Things, the project is being run in conjunction with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, as well as Ireland’s Deri Galway University, and Switzerland’s EPFL under the EU’s Framework research funding scheme.

Other participants in the 4.2 million euro ($5.23m) project which got underway two weeks ago are Greece’s Research and Education Laboratory and software outfit P. Dimitropoulos and Britain’s IT Association.

The idea, according to CSIRO ICT deputy director Darrell Williamson, is to build a platform that will allow sensor networks — everything from radio-frequency identification chips to soil moisture sensors — to communicate through the cloud (internet).

“Everything in the cloud is virtual and you don’t care where things are located, but when you have real things like sensors and you are trying to do real experiments you have challenges.

“You don’t want the platform to be proprietary,” Mr Williamson said at CeBIT Hannover.

“Any core infrastructure should be open source. You build commercial solutions on top, around water, power or whatever, but you want the railroad tracks to be open source.”

The project will develop an open source middleware stack for internet connected objects.

More info here.

Easy cross platform configurator for XBee modules

Italian company “moltosenso” has released a free, cross-platform software that allows you to configure all the parameters of your XBee modules.

From the website:

moltosenso Network Manager™ IRON is the cross-platform answer for the users of Digi International® X-CTU™.
The same functionalities are now available on Microsoft Windows®, Linux® and Mac OS X™ operating systems.
Thanks to a snappy and totally free GUI, moltosenso Network Manager™ IRON is able to grant:

  • get/set of the parameters of Digi International® modules plugged to the PC, both in API and AT mode;
  • get/set of the parameters of Digi International® modules remotely addressable;
  • an effective graphic test for RSSI parameter, especially tailored for XBEE™ modules;
  • firmware upload (local and – where available – remote) for many supported Digi International® modules.

Download it and enjoy it!

Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor Gives Your Plant a Voice | SYS-CON MEDIA

Building on the success of its popular interactive plant care assistant available as an iPhone App and Web App, Koubachi launches a complementary Wi-Fi Plant Sensor that seamlessly integrates into the Koubachi system. The sensor literally gives your plant a voice.

The Wi-Fi Plant Sensor measures soil moisture, light intensity and temperature. Using the built-in Wi-Fi module, the data is sent to the Koubachi cloud, where it is analzyed by the Koubachi Plant Care Engine based on scientific plant care models developed in cooperation with biologists. The plant owner is provided with detailed care instructions regarding watering, fertilizing, misting, temperature and light through push notifications or email.

“The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor is the first device ever that enables real-time monitoring of the plant’s vitality” says Philipp Bolliger, CEO of Koubachi and adds: “We are very proud to launch this revolutionary innovation at CeBIT 2012. It’s a truly unique product in the field of “Internet of Things” and bringing state-of-the-art technology to plant care.”

“While the new Wi-Fi plant sensor will provide the user with the most accurate diagnosis of the plant’s vitality, including temperature and light instructions, it’s still possible to use the Koubachi iPhone App without a sensor,” explains David Kurmann, the Head of Marketing and Sales”. as before, the user then just needs to calibrate his plant once.”

The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor runs with two standard AA batteries and has a battery lifetime of over 1 year. It’s compatible with the common Wi-Fi protocols (Wi-Fi / 802.11). It retails for EUR 109.- and can be purchased with start of the CeBIT on the homepage of Koubachi.

More info here.

Introducing GainSpan’s SDK-Builder: Low Cost Tool to Create Custom Wi-Fi Solutions for the Internet of Things



GainSpan® Corporation, a leader in low power Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi connectivity for the Internet of Things, today introduced SDK-Builder, a web-based tool that enables developers to select Wi-Fi features and build custom binary for their embedded devices, with no IDE tool chain. SDK-Builder, the first such tool for the embedded Wi-Fi market, reduces development cost for companies designing connected devices based on GainSpan’s Wi-Fi modules.

SDK-Builder eliminates the need to use pre-built firmware binary images, but rather allows users to create custom firmware binary images on-demand tailored to their applications. This new tool provides a baseline default configuration (essential wireless stack features, WPA/WPA-2 personal security and networking services) and then lets developers choose the additional software features and functionalities by selecting them on a menu. Features include host interfaces, security, provisioning methods, application layer protocols, and over-the-air firmware upgrade, using external flash and other test modes.

In addition, SDK-Builder provides developers with built-in intelligence to eliminate invalid code combinations, a real time binary file size indicator to show total memory usage, and error alerts when memory limits are exceeded.

“With our growing customer base, there was increasing interest from customers with no expertise or no special customization needs, to get a low cost tool to customize the binary image for a given device without code development,” said Bernard Aboussouan, vice president of marketing at GainSpan. “SDK-Builder is the perfect tool for them.”

SDK-Builder can be used with GainSpan’s family of certified Wi-Fi modules: the GS1500M is a leading-edge 802.11b/g/n solution, while the GS1011M is an ultra-low power 802.11b solution which is ideal for battery operated devices.

The new SDK-Builder is available immediately by purchasing an annual subscription license. The tool is accessible here.