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

Archive for July, 2012

Tinkering Around With TinkerForge

From Wired:

While I have a great fondness for developing and prototyping my electroncis projects on the Arduino platform, and I always will love the Arduino and Atmel microcontrollers, there is new favorite in my toolkit now as well. The TinkerForge system.

The TinkerForge system is a set of pre-built electronics boards that are built in such a way that you can stack the boards (known as bricks), attach accessories (known as bricklets), and have your prototype and and running quickly. Unlike systems, such as the Arduino or Launchpad, the TinkerForge has to be attached to a computer and the computer does all of the work. With an easy set of application programming interfaces (APIs) available in C/C++, C#, Java, PHP, and Ruby, the system is easy to interface and program over USB in a snap. I am usually a C/C++ programmer as a preference but I decided to take the time to learn something new with the TinkerForge so I have been working on rapid prototyping in Python. TinkerForge won the 2012 CHIP award for Product of the Yearwhere the two years prior had been won by Panasonic and Lufthansa.

The heart of the TinkerForge system is the Master Brick. The Master Brick runs on an Atmel ATSAM3S4C microcontroller so I am sticking with my love of Atmel controllers — they’re everywhere! The Master Brick provides the USB interface and main communications portal between the computer and the stack. In addition to USB, you can also utilize Master Extensions that provide alternate communications interfaces. There is an RS485 interface available and, when I got my kit, a sub 1GHz radio interface known as a Chibi Extension. For various reasons, the TinkerForge team has informed me that they have stopped producing this extension but are working on an 802.11 interface in its place. The really neat thing about the way they have implemented the Master Extensions is that they are seamless to the user. Once they are configured it doesn’t matter if your stack is separated across the interface or all on the same physical stack, talking to all of the components on the stack works with the same code interface.

Additional bricks provide more functionality. Three of the additional bricks provide interfaces to motors and servos. One is a pure DC motor driving brick that provides up 25 V and 5 A. One provides the ability to drive a stepper motor up to 38 V and 2.5 A per stepper phase. Finally, there is a Servo Brick capable of driving up to seven servos up to a maximum of 3 A. For all of these devices, there is an independent DC power input should you need to use the power ranges above the standard USB 5V and (generally) less than an Amp power supplied over USB. There is also a debugging module that allows you to pull JTAG and serial console debugging information.

More info here.

Forbes: Will You Be Ready For The M2M World?

From Forbes:

The Internet of Things, the Connected World, the Smart Planet… All these terms indicate that the number of devices connected to, communicating through, and building relationships on the Internet has exceeded the number of humans using the Internet. But what does this really mean? Is it about the number of devices, and what devices? Is it about the data, so much data, so fast, so disparate, that will make current big data look like teeny-weeny data?

I think that it’s about change: the way we live our lives, the way we conduct business, the way we walk down a street, drive a car, or think about relationships. All will change over the next decade:

  1. Sensors are everywhere. The camera at the traffic light and overseeing the freeway; those are sensors. That new bump in the parking space and new box on the street lamp; those are sensors. From listening for gun shots to monitoring a chicken coop, sensors are cropping up in every area of your life.
  2. Machine to Machine [M2M] relationships will generate connected data that will affect every aspect of your life. Connected Data will be used to fine-tune predictives that will prevent crimes, anticipate your next purchase and take over control of your car to avoid traffic jams. The nascent form of this is already happening: Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police are using PredPol to predict & prevent crimes, location aware ads popping up in your favorite smartphone apps, and Nevada and California are giving driver licenses to robotic cars.
  3. Sustainability isn’t about saving the planet, it’s about saving money. Saving the planet, reducing dependence on polluting energy sources and reducing waste in landfills are all good things, but they aren’t part of the fiduciary responsibilities of most executives. However, Smart Buildings, recycling & composting, and Green IT all increase a company’s bottom line and that does fall under every executive’s fiduciary goals.

More info here.


As the field of wireless sensor networks matures, new design concepts, experimental
and theoretical findings, and applications have continued to emerge at a rapid pace. 
Being one of the leading international conferences in this area, the European 
Conference on Wireless Sensor Networks (EWSN) has played a prominent role in the 
dissemination of innovative ideas from researchers all over the globe. 

For EWSN 2013, the tenth meeting in this series, we invite papers describing 
original, previously unpublished research results pertaining to wireless sensor 
networks, broadly conceived. 

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
* Communication and Network Protocols
* Operating Systems
* Sensor middleware
* Security and Fault-Tolerance
* Programming Abstractions and Tools
* Information and Signal Processing
* Sensor network applications and novel uses of sensor data
* Internet of Things and Cooperating Objects
* Cognitive sensor networks
* Hardware Design and Implementation
* Prototypes, Testbeds, Field Experiments


Full paper submission:         September 1, 2012
Author notification:         November  15, 2012
Camera ready paper due:     November  22, 2012

XBee Internet Gateway Released for Macintosh, Windows and Linux!

From Rob Faludi’s blog:

Connecting your XBee to the Internet just got simple. The new XBee Internet Gateway v1.5 runs directly on Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers! All you need is a single XBee with USB adaptor to put entire XBee networks online. With the XIG, you can turn any XBee into an Internet sensor module, create web-controlled motors , online indicator lights, and stream online data to and from any Arduino. Both 802.15.4 (Series 1) and ZigBee (Series 2) XBees are supported. You could create giant sensor networks, analyze and control distant equipment, scrape gossip from Facebook or simply flip switches in your own home!

The XBee Internet Gateway is a free, open-source project written in Python. It was initiated by Rob Faludi and extended by Jordan HusneyTed HayesTom CollinsMichael Sutherland and other generous contributors.

More info here.

IoT Challenge

The “IoT Challenge” offers a platform to graduate students, PhD students, researchers and developers working in all areas of Internet of Things to share and showcase their recent highly innovative research and practical solutions to real-world problems.The solutions should be highly novel, exiting, and show a complete and working system, addressing a relevant application area for IoT, including, but not limited to: supply chain and logistics, healthcare, M2M, security, environmental monitoring,intelligent transport systems,smart homes, industrial manufacturing, and critical infrastructures.
The topics of interest include, but are definitely not limited to:

 – smart Dust technologies: highly miniaturized integrated microelectronic or MEMS based solutions, addressing aspects as energy harvesting, wireless communication, and efficient processing.

 – opportunistic networking and participatory sensing: solutions showing the potential impact of the use of smartphones, and the integration and sharing of different sensor systems for IoT

 – wearable computing and smart textiles: showing integrated solutions for body area networking, their interaction with people and environment.

 – real Time Localization Systems: should demonstrate efficient, scalable, and easy to deploy localization technologies.

 – Internet integration: showing end-to-end internet based IoT solutions offering scalable and efficient services.

Contestants are free to choose their topic beyond the ones mentioned above as long as it is related to the Internet of Things concept, and it clearly shows a significant progress beyond the State of the Art. Both individual and group participations are welcome.
More info here.

Intel’s Sensors Will Warn You About Running Outside When The Air Is Polluted

Imagine a network of air quality monitors that kept you constantly up to date about big gusts of bad air. It’s on its way, and it might be partly powered by your own phone.

Imagine: you’re gearing up to take a jog along your regular route when an app on your smartphone pushes out a message: air pollution levels are high in the park where you like to run, so maybe you should try a recommended route that’s cleaner today. It doesn’t sound incredibly far-fetched; many cities already have pollution and weather sensors. But they’re usually located on top of buildings, far from human activity.

Intel has developed sensors that can be placed closer to the ground–on lamp posts and traffic lights, for example–to create what Intel senior principal engineer Terry O’Shea calls “a community-based approach to sensing.”

Intel is piloting a deployment of its pollution and weather sensors within a month in Dublin, Ireland. The goal: to put the sensors on both main roads and smaller streets to see if the company can create a real-time picture of health in the city. The weather sensors can track temperature, humidity, wind direction, and wind speed, while the pollution sensors track oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

There are a number of use cases for the technology–asthma sufferers will obviously benefit greatly, for example. According to O’Shea, a canal effect causes wind blowing along major thoroughfares to peel off into side streets and alleyways, where air contaminants end up as a result. So in big cities, “when it’s too hot and you want to open the windows, you want to know if you’ll get a bunch of pollution because there’s a big baseball game happened that day,” he says.

Eventually, Intel anticipates that sensors already in smartphones will also contribute to weather and pollution data aggregation. “Data coming from people on the streets can be aggregated back to city management dashboards,” explains Intel Labs researcher Jessica McCarthy.

Intel won’t reveal how much the sensors cost–they’re still in the prototype phase, anyway–but O’Shea says that they are ” two orders of magnitude below the cost level” of current sensors.

More info here.

Why we need a standard for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is supposed to connect every aspect of our lives from our homes and cars to the objects we wear and the goods we consume. It’s even connecting ice machines. But one thing the Internet of Things lacks is a unifying standard.

Devices will be connected by different radio technologies: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and a host of 2G and mobile broadband cellular technologies. There’s really no way of assuring your ‘thing’ will connect to the network or networks available at any given time.

The mobile industry is trying to rectify the problem at least as it pertains to cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies. The bigger issue of fragmentation between bands and technologies isn’t going to get worked out anytime soon — you’re not going to connect a GSM wristwatch to a CDMA or Wi-Fi network. But often you can’t connect that GSM wristwatch to a GSM network either. Roaming between networks that use the same technology requires not only a business arrangement with each carrier, but a common protocol.

A group of global wireless standards bodies are trying to tackle that problem. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) in the U.S. are working with their counterparts in Japan, Korea and China to develop a common “service layer” which can be embedded in every M2M device, making them compatible with M2M application servers hosted by any global operator.

Read the complete article here.

JenNet-IP Evaluation Kits Now Available From NXP

NXP Semiconductors today announced the availability of evaluation kits featuring JenNet-IP(TM) wireless network layer software for the Internet of Things. The JenNet-IP-EK040 evaluation kit provides all the components needed to create applications for IPv6-based networks for lighting and home automation, based on NXP’s JN514x series of ultra-low-power single-chip wireless microcontrollers. In addition, NXP is launching a certification program for JenNet-IP. The certification program will make provision for testing end products to ensure performance and interoperability between all devices bearing the JenNet-IP name and logo.

The JenNet-IP evaluation kit includes 4 wireless sensor nodes; 4 plug-in “shields”; 2 high-power modules; 2 high-power USB dongles; a router; a remote control; and a software development kit. Based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, JenNet-IP software comprises the self-healing JenNet tree networking stack; the IETF 6LoWPAN IP layer; and JIP, a powerful and flexible application layer enabling interoperability between devices.

With JenNet-IP, up to 500 devices in the home can each have their own unique IPv6 address, turning the home into an extension of the Internet at a very low cost. Lights and other home appliances can be easily connected, monitored and controlled over the Internet. For example, GreenWave Reality’s Connected Lighting solution using JenNet-IP allows for the intelligent management and control of lighting without touching any wiring or switches in the home. The GreenWave Reality solution enables consumers to dim and turn lights on or off with their hand-held remote or through the use of smart controls, such as “Night,” to turn off all the lights from your smart phone. Internet-enabled smart lighting alone could reduce power consumption by 30 percent, by dimming and turning off lights when they aren’t required.

JenNet-IP evaluation kits are available for US $1,400 at selected distributors, and a “first look” at the new eval kit is available here.


The 7th International Workshop on Middleware Tools, Services and Run-time Support for Sensor Networks (MidSens’12)

Co-Located with 13th International Conference on Middleware.

December 3-7, 2012, Montreal, Quebec, Canada



– Proceedings published by ACM and indexed in DBLP.

– Best paper invited for extended submission to the Springer Journal of Internet Services and Applications

– Other accepted papers invited for extended submission to the Hindawi International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks

– Full information at:



The aim of MidSens is to stimulate novel research in middleware for sensor networks. The particular focus of MidSens’12 is the realization of multi-user, multi-purpose and federated sensing platforms that are capable of supporting next-generation application scenarios such as smart cities. Along with the core topic of middleware architectures, services and tool support, MidSens’12 will also seek papers describing novel programming languages, run-time support and experience reports.

The MidSens series has built a strong reputation for friendly and vibrant discussion and, through its affiliation with the world’s most influential middleware conference, enjoys attendance from some of the leading figures in international middleware research.


–Available at:



–Submitted papers must be original work in English.

–Submissions must not exceed 6 pages and must strictly follow the ACM conference proceedings format.

–Full information on submission at:


–Paper Submission deadline: August 15, 2012

–Acceptance notification: September 21, 2012

–Author registration deadline: October 5, 2012

–Camera-ready version due: October 5, 2012

–Workshop: December 3-7, 2012

A new beginning for Contiki!

From contiki-developers mailing list:

Hi all,

big things are about to happen. Change is coming to Contiki.

As some of you already know, I have together with Fredrik Österlind and
Roger Bergdahl founded a company called Thingsquare (
to build a business around Contiki and its ecosystem by developing a set of
Contiki-based software products for the emerging marked of connected
devices. We are now working full time on this.

For Contiki, this means changes.

* Contiki will remain open source and thriving. This will not change.

* Contiki has been decaying for some time now. Releases have been far and
few between. Patches have been difficult to get through. It is time for
change: we plan to (finally!) establish a development model for Contiki.
The new model will allow contributions to Contiki to be reviewed, merged,
tested, and committed to the Contiki code at a completely new scale. So
hold your patches for now! A development system is coming.

* Contiki releases have been ad hoc. Wouldn't it be great with a structured
release cycle? We aim to fix this.

* While the technology behind Contiki has been great, marketing has not. We
on this list all know about Contiki, but what about all the others? They
need to know about it too! It is time to ramp up how we communicate Contiki.

Changes are coming - stay tuned!

Best regards,


PS: we just added a newsletter to the Thingsquare website! Sign up for all
the latest news: