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

Archive for August, 2012

Facebook’s Updated iPhone App Aids Internet of Things

Buried in the details of last week’s update to Facebook’s now-native iOS app was a small bit of technology that could have potentially big impact on the future of the Internet of Things.

The technology is called Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), an IBM-developed protocol for real-time messaging over networks with low power and bandwidth. MQTT is now under the hood within Facebook’s iOS app’s messaging features, part of Facebook’s efforts to pull in the features from its native Messenger app.

“We use MQTT to update notifications, messages, and bookmarks. At application startup, we walk the dependency graph and ensure that our MQTT service has started before we start listening for new notifications. Even as we add new features, our modular system ensures that our application setup happens in the right place, at the right time,” wrote Facebook engineer Jonathan Dann on the company’s engineering blog last week.

More info here.

The ‘surround computing’ era is just around the corner

The ‘surround computing’ era is coming soon, according to Mark Papermaster, the chief technology officer of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices.

In a talk at the Hot Chips semiconductor design conference in Cupertino, Calif., Papermaster said that the enormous growth of sensors and mobile computing devices will produce a huge explosion of data that will overwhelm traditional data centers. We’ll be surrounded by computing everywhere, which explains why Papermaster calls the time ahead the surround computing era.

To deal with this surge of data, Papermaster said chip designers will have to create server chips with “heterogenouus” capabilities, acting as both microprocessor or graphics processor from one moment to the next. Sometimes you need a single processor (microprocessor computing) to work on a chunky piece of data, and sometimes you need a lot of processors working in parallel (graphics computing). AMD specializes in microprocessor-graphics combo chips dubbed accelerating processing units, or APUs.

“Of course, there is change in the industry and you can integrate more things together on a chip,” said Papermaster in an interview with VentureBeat before his talk. “But how you integrate things together matters. We’re going to have a data overload and an interface overload.”

Surround computing will put a lot of pressure on existing infrastructure. Unstrutured data such as video is expected to grow from 245 exabytes of data in 2010 to 1,000 exabytes by 2015, according to Cisco. Some 10 million new servers will likely be needed in data centers to deal with the change.

The technologies making the demands include natural user interface gesture recognition, fingerprint,or face recognition, augmented reality, content accessible anywhere, video game experiences, and audio-visual content management, he said. All of that computing will be done not at the point where the sensors are but in the mobile device clients and the centralized data centers, Papermaster said. Both clients and servers have to be smarter and far more power efficient.

More info here.

LAPKA Sensor Blocks

The Lapka system is a series of really pretty-looking white and wooden blocks that let you measure certain invisible aspects of your environment and visualize them through a mobile app by plugging them in to the headphone jack of an iPhone. By December they plan to offer the blocks for sale as individual pieces, or as a set, giving people the ability to measure four key aspects of the environment.

According to their website the blocks will detect:

Radiation– “it will reveal highly accurate information about radioactivity near you and explain in detail if and how it might be affecting you”

Organic– “designed to look for significant quantities of nitrates in raw foods and drinking water in order to detect residues of synthetic fertilizers”

EMF– “detects electromagnetic fields which can be caused by electronic hardware, telecommunication transmitters, or power lines around”

Humidity– “combines both the temperature and the humidity level of your environment to help you find the perfect comfort level”

It will be interesting to see how the app interface slices and presents the data to provide meaningful information. We also wonder if visualizing and quantifying invisible environmental factors like EMF and radioactivity will make people more concerned about changes in their surroundings or more involved in environmental activism. Lapka coupled with a service like If This Then That could also allow for interesting sets of triggers (public twitter alerts, targeted emails or even appliance controls) based on changes in measured data.

More info here.

Advanced Sensor Networks Developed for Heathrow Airport

Modelling of air pollution around busy urban areas such as airports is a complex task. Ground stations for monitoring air quality and compliance reporting are usually limited in number, because of cost, to a few strategic locations. More recently given the advances in sensors, electronics and communication technologies it is now possible to design and build networked sensor nodes at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems. These breakthroughs in technology make it possible to implement large-scale sensor networks in city environments. A team led by Professor Rod Jones at the University of Cambridge, funded by NERC, is now doing just that for Heathrow Airport to better understand and develop sophisticated computer models for air quality in the vicinity of this busy international airport. Supporting the University of Cambridge are experts in sensors, electronics and computing at Imperial College, the Universities of Hertfordshire and Manchester, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultant and the National Physical Laboratory. An important collaborator in the project is the sensor manufacturer Alphasense Ltd.

The sensor nodes currently being installed around Heathrow include a wide array of sensors for measuring gases such as NO, NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, O3, VOCs and particle sizes of emissions. Sensor nodes in addition measure temperature, humidity and wind speed/direction and incorporate positioning (GPS) and communication electronics (GPRS). These networked sensor nodes are small enough form factor to enable them to be located easily on existing structures around the airport.

The network of nearly 50 sensor nodes will transmit environmental data in real-time via GPRS to a central database. Computer models will then combine on the ground sensor measurements with meteorological information as well as aircraft and road traffic data to predict air quality around the Heathrow Airport vicinity. A critical element of this proposal is the ability to detect the chemical signatures of individual aircraft movements.

More info here.

Seeing bad smell – New Odor sensor available

AirBase Systems, an environmental monitoring technology start-up, launches low-cost, easy-to-use air quality sensor devices now capable of monitoring odor.

The product, CanarIT, combines nanotechnology sensors with Internet connectivity, via Wi-Fi or GSM, to deliver air quality data to the AirBase data cloud. The data is made available on the Internet and via a future aubscription alert service to mobile phones.

The company’s devices measures Ozone (O3), NO2, Total VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), Particulate Matter (Total Suspended Particles), Relative Humidity, Temperature, Noise and now – Odor. The newest feature, the odor sensor, provides continuous real time measurement of odor in ambient air. Odor is an important indicator of a variety of environmental hazards and the CanarIT can now help you detect it.

The odor module is calibrated against the European Odor Unit (OUE) concentration scale, which is based on the response to 40 ppb of n-butanol as defined in EN 13725.

The monitoring devices are designed for municipalities, community groups, citizen scientists and individuals from all over the world who would like to monitor the air they breathe. CanarIT is designed to be used as part of a network of environmental sensors (in Smart City projects, for example). Devices can be purchased directly from the company web site ( or from an AirBase Certified Partner.

The product is a technology breakthrough for the environmental industry. Current technology, used by cities around the world, is extremely expensive, unreliable and much less sensitive compared to the new AirBase product. CanarIT, at $900 per device, will dramatically change the cost and accessibility of pollution monitoring systems.

Says Liad Ortar, Co-Founder and VP Marketing of AirBase Systems, “Up till today, when citizens complained about bad smell in their neighborhoods, the authorities had to send over specially trained personnel (sniffers) and they would verify the complaint. With the incorporation of the new Nano-tech odor sensor in our CanarIT unit, people and authorities can receive real time information through the web and be alerted just as things happen.”

For more information, please contact Liad Ortar, VP Marketing at .

Program Bluetooth LE Devices from the iPhone or iPad to Control the Internet of Things

The Byte Works Inc. released techBASIC 2.3 today with full Bluetooth Low Energy support, enabling users to write programs to control the Internet of Things right from the iPhone or iPad. With the addition of Bluetooth LE students, hobbyists and scientists can now connect wirelessly to BLE devices for sports and fitness, heath care, electronics, security and home entertainment.

The Byte Works Inc. released techBASIC 2.3 today with full Bluetooth Low Energy support, enabling users to write programs to control the Internet of Things right from the iPhone or iPad. With the addition of Bluetooth LE students, hobbyists and scientists can now connect wirelessly to BLE devices for sports and fitness, heath care, electronics, security and home entertainment.

The Bluetooth LE support is the latest addition to techBASIC’s technical computing environment designed for collecting, analyzing and displaying sensor data on iOS. It is the only platform on the iPhone and iPad which allows programming for outside sensor connectivity without having to use a Macintosh and Objective C.

“techBASIC 2.3 lets users communicate wirelessly with all kinds of hardware, like BLE equipped shoes, heart rate monitors, thermometers, and laboratory sensors, to name just a few,” said Mike Westerfield, president of Byte Works, Inc. “A complete working program, with source code, is provided on the Byte Works’ website and serves as a great example of how easy it is to connect to the Internet of Things using techBASIC 2.3.”

Bluetooth LE Requirements: iPhone 4s, iPad 3 or later

techBASIC Requirements: iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5 or later

Pricing and Availability techBASIC is $14.99 (USD) and is available worldwide in the App Store Utilities category.

The Byte Works has been creating quality “apps for people who think™” since 1982. Current directions include apps for scientific programming, calculators and astronomy programs for iOS. Past efforts include developing Apple Programmers Workshop and the award winning ORCA line of compilers for the Apple IIGS, the HyperLogo™ scripting language for HyperStudio™, and MediaBlender™, a multimedia authoring tool for education.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:


First IEEE Workshop on the Internet of Things: Smart Objects and Services

Want to go to San Francisco? There is a new call for papers on a corresponding IoT conference. Topics of interest include:

  • System architectures for the IoT/M2M
  • Communication protocols for the IoT/M2M
  • Service platforms for the IoT/M2M
  • Enabling technologies and standards for the IoT/M2M
  • Mobility management
  • Context awareness
  • Sustainable design
  • Location-based services and geographic information systems
  • Experimental prototypes and large-scale testbed infrastructures
  • Performance evaluation of IoT/M2M solutions
  • Convergence with the Internet of Services
  • Applications, including: eHealth/mHealth; Smart Grid/Smart Metering; connected consumer; fleet management; surveillance; Intelligent Transportation Systems; Smart House/Neighborhood/City
  • Business development and processes
  • Industrial use cases showing gaps to be filled by future research

Manuscripts Due:           February 17, 2012.
Acceptance Notification:      April  6, 2012.
Camera-ready Submission: 2nd half April 2012.

Wireless Power for the Price of a Penny

A new device known as a rectenna could lead to large-scale adoption of near-field communication (NFC) technology at low cost.

Researchers at Sunchon National University and the Paru Printed Electronics Research Institute have found a way to produce rectennas that cost one cent per unit via newspaper-style printing. The researchers printed the rectenna onto plastic foils in large batches using a roll-to-roll process.

A rectenna is a combination of an antenna and a rectifier, a device that converts alternating current into direct current, and it can harness power directly from radio waves given off by a mobile phone. The device would be placed onto everyday objects such as price tags, logos, and signage so that consumers could read product information by swiping their smartphones.

“What is great about this technique is that we can also print the digital information onto the rectenna, meaning that everything you need for wireless communication is in one place,” says researcher Gyoujin Cho. “Our advantage over current technology is lower cost, since we can produce a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner.”

More info here.

BuildSys 2012

The world is increasingly experiencing a strong need for energy consumption reduction and for efficient use of scarce natural resources. Official studies report that buildings account for the largest portion of World’s energy expenditure and have the fastest growth rate. Information technology such as cyber-physical systems, wireless sensor networks, embedded control, computational modelling, machine learning, and simulation tools play a key role in enabling energy-saving measures for buildings, its surrounding spaces, and other networks such as smart grid and smart water networks that they connect to. We are interested in a life-cycle perspective across design, construction, and operation of buildings, and in energy consumption in both direct (electricity, gas etc.) and indirect (embedded energy in water) forms.

Challenges and Visions Awards

In order to encourage researchers to present truly visionary concepts on the interface between information technology and sustainability, BuildSys 2012 in cooperation with the Computing Community Consortium is offering awards to three regular papers that will be presented in a special Challenges and Visions session: first prize $1000, second prize $750, and third prize $500, to be awarded as honorary prizes.

The workshop will be held on Nov. 6th, collocated with SenSys 2012, in Toronto, Canada.

For more information, specific topics of interest and submission details, please visit BuildSys Website

Important Dates

Paper/Poster submission deadline: Monday, July 30, 2012
Demo submission deadline: Monday, September 3, 2012
Notification of acceptance: Friday, September 14, 2012
Camera Ready Due: Monday, October 1, 2012
Workshop and Demo Session date: November 6, 2012