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Archive for February, 2013

‘Internet of Things’ Can Cut Emissions 19%, Report Finds

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies could help reduce global GHG emissions by 9.1 billion metric tons by 2020, equivalent to 18.6 percent of global GHG emissions in 2011, according to a report by AT&T and the Carbon War Room.

“M2M” refers to technologies that facilitate connectivity of physical infrastructure and devices — the so-called industrial internet, or internet of things. This will reduce the amount of energy and fuel required to perform tasks, thus lowering GHG emissions without restricting production or economic growth, the report explains.

Machine-to-Machine Technologies: Unlocking the Potential of a $1 Trillion Industry says global M2M device adoption will skyrocket between now and 2020, from 1.3 billion to 12.5 billion devices, and says larger enterprises are adopting M2M at a greater rate than small and medium businesses (see chart).

These technologies will also make society more efficient, which the report says is a “money-making endeavor.” The report predicts connected machines will generate cost savings and new revenues that could add $10-$15 trillion to global GDP.

By 2020, M2M applications look most promising and profitable in four sectors, according to the report. These are:

  • Energy: M2M such as smart-grid technologies could save more than 2 billion metric tons of CO2e in the energy sector. M2M can also facilitate the switch to renewable energy, thus further reducing emissions.
  • Transportation: M2M could save about 1.9 billion metric tons of CO2e by making planes, trains, trucks and ships more efficient.
  • The built environment: This sector could use M2M to save 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2e, by increasing energy efficiency of heating, cooling and ventilation, lighting, electronics, appliances and security systems.
  • Agriculture: M2M could save 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2e by reducing deforestation, and increasing efficiency of planting, seeding, harvesting, fertilizer use and water use.

More info here.

Freescale’s Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body

KL0PA-keyboard-20-LR-3-660x440Chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor has created the world’s smallest ARM-powered chip, designed to push the world of connected devices into surprising places.

Announced today, the Kinetis KL02 measures just 1.9 by 2 millimeters. It’s a full microcontroller unit (MCU), meaning the chip sports a processor, RAM, ROM, clock and I/O control unit — everything a body needs to be a basic tiny computer.

The KL02 has 32k of flash memory, 4k of RAM, a 32 bit processor, and peripherals like a 12-bit analog to digital converter and a low-power UART built into the chip. By including these extra parts, device makers can shrink down their designs, resulting in tiny boards in tiny devices.

How tiny? One application that Freescale says the chips could be used for is swallowable computers. Yes, you read that right. “We are working with our customers and partners on providing technology for their products that can be swallowed but we can’t really comment on unannounced products,” says Steve Tateosian, global product marketing manager.

The KL02 is part of Freescale’s push to make chips tailored to the Internet of Things. Between the onboard peripherals and a power-management system tuned to the chemistry of current generation batteries, the KL02 is intended to be at the heart of a network of connected objects, moving from shoes that wirelessly report your steps (a natural evolution of Nike+) to pipes that warn you when they are leaking.

There are some clues we can glean about how this chip might end up inside our digestive tracts. Freescale already works with a variety of health and wellness customers. Both the Fitbit and OmniPod insulin pump use Freescale chips. It’s not hard to imagine a new generation of devices designed to monitor your internal health or release drugs and medicine from within your body. Such tiny implements, however, also creates the possibility that discarded micro-devices could soon collect in sewers and waste treatment plants.

Though Moore’s law has become largely uninteresting at the scale of desktop and laptop computers (when all you’re doing is watching videos, writing, and surfing the web, you don’t need that much power), there is still plenty of room at the bottom.

More info here.


tonguesensorplacementWe know the human tongue is extremely sensitive. Go ahead: touch something with your tongue. There isn’t a naked surface on your body that’s better equipped for sheer sensation. There’s nothing more plastic, built to adapt and optimize itself for new experiences. Not only is your tongue fully equipped with a sense-optimized surface, but anything you experience on your tongue gets mainlined directly into your brain. So if we’re serious about hacking the body to provide new kinds of sense experiences, forget about the fingertips. Forget anything on the outside of the skull. The answer is obvious: trick out your tongue.

The Tongueduino is the brainchild of MIT Media Lab’s Gershon Dublon. It’s a three by three electrode pad that rests on your tongue, runs through an Arduino controller, and connects to one of several environmental sensors. Each sensor might register electromagnetic fields, visual data, sound, ambient movement — anything that can be converted into an electronic signal. In principle, this could allow blind or deaf users to “see” or “hear” with their tongues, or augment the body with extrahuman senses.

Dublon, an electric engineer by training, studies how “sensor networks might become extensions of our nervous systems — networks of remote, distributed sensing prosthetics.” He has been experimenting with his Tongueduino himself for the past year and is now beginning training with a group of twelve volunteers. “Through Tongueduino, we hope to bring electro-tactile sensory substitution beyond the discourse of vision replacement, towards open-ended sensory augmentation that anyone can access,” he writes.

More info here.

Choosing Your Messaging Protocol: AMQP, MQTT, or STOMP

MQTT_HeaderOne of the most common questions I’m asked to cover when I discuss software architecture topics is the difference between the various application messaging protocols that exist today—issues like how and why the protocols came about, and which one should be used in a particular application.

Their question is valid.

Today, application architects need to use a messaging broker to speed and scale their applications, particularly in the cloud. Even once you select your messaging middleware application, application developers need to then select the protocol. Understanding the subtle differences between them can be difficult.

Today, we will consider three of the most common and popular TCP/IP-based messaging protocols, and provide a quick summary on the advantages of each: AMQPMQTT and STOMP. Before we go on, I should also point out that all three of these protocols are supported in RabbitMQ version 3.0—something we will use as an example and come back to later.

More info here.

Work begins to standardize ‘internet-of-things’ protocol

OASIS has announced a new technical committee is being formed to formalize a standard protocol for machine-to-device-to-sensor-to-refrigerator-to-other-machine-somewhere-else-on-the-network interactions, otherwise known as the “internet of things.’

The protocol, “MQ [Messaging Queue] Telemetry Transport,” or MQTT, is described on the site as a “machine-to-machine (M2M)/Internet of Things connectivity protocol.” The protocol, designed as an “extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport,” is intended to facilitate “connections with remote locations where a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is at a premium.” Examples include “sensors communicating to a broker via satellite link, over occasional dial-up connections with healthcare providers, and in a range of home automation and small device scenarios.”

MQTT is also well-suited for mobile applications, proponents say, due to “its small size, low power usage, minimized data packets, and efficient distribution of information to one or many receivers.”

Having a universally accepted and adopted M2M protocol will help get new devices and systems to market faster, since they often are built using many variations of hardware and software platforms, device types, and networks, OASIS notes.

MQTT was invented by Dr Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM, and Arlen Nipper of Arcom (now Eurotech), back in 1999. It also has been called the “SCADA protocol,” the “MQ Integrator SCADA Device Protocol” (MQIsdp), the “WebSphere MQTT” (WMQTT).

OASIS’ MQTT Technical Committee will work with MQTT as its base document to “define an open publish/subscribe protocol for telemetry messaging designed to be open, simple, lightweight, and suited for use in constrained networks and multi-platform environments.”  OASIS has scheduled the first, in-person  meeting to be held in Boston on Monday, 25 March 2013, to be hosted by IBM.  A working specification will be completed by March 2014, OASIS says.

The MQTT TC is intended to complement previous work by the OASIS AMQP Technical Committee, which released a specification that provides for transaction and publish & subscribe messaging between autonomous businesses, departments and applications using an open protocol for enterprise middleware. The MQTT specification adds a means “by which sensors, control systems, embedded systems and mobile devices can publish and subscribe low-level, technically-orientated data,” OASIS says. “There is natural affinity to bridge MQTT with AMQP, so as to connect telemetry with enterprise applications.”

More info here.

2015 target for basic ‘Internet of Things’ structure

f04da2db1122128d08320eChina aims to build a basic industrial structure for the Internet by 2015 to promote technicalupgrading and public service levels, according to a government document.

The structure will center on the “Internet of Things”, regarded as the third round of theinformation technology revolution after the emergence of mobile phones and the Internet. Itrefers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-likestructure.

The country will “launch fiscal and tax policies in favor of investment and financing (in thesector), so as to promote an orderly and healthy development of the Internet of Things”,according to a guidelines document on the central government website on Sunday.

Equipping objects with identifying devices could transform daily life. For instance, businessesmay no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would knowwhich products are required and consumed.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, said the country will achieve “applications of the Internet ofThings in key areas by 2015, as well as breakthroughs in core technologies”.

China will “develop a number of backbone enterprises, cultivate a group of innovative smallbusinesses, and form a number of distinctive industrial clusters,” the guidelines stated.

According to a development plan for Internet of Things industries compiled by the Ministry ofIndustry and Information Technology, China’s IOT market was close to 200 billion yuan ($32billion) in 2010.

Analysts expect the market expanded to 365 billion yuan by the end of 2012, and will grow tomore than 1 trillion yuan over the next four years.

Stocks related to the IOT concept rallied on Monday, led by BDStar Navigation and InvengoInformation Technology Co, both of which rose around 5 percent. The entire slate was up 1.66percent at the close.

Hu Yujie, an industrial analyst with Cinda Securities Co, said cities such as Wuxi, Shanghai,Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Ningbo and Suzhou have all launched their “smart city”programs, which will be included in the IOT development program.

More info here.

Weightless Specification Silicon for M2M launches

The Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced the release of the world’s first transceiver chip using the Weightless Specification and operating over white space spectrum.

Capable of tuning across the entire UHF TV white space spectrum (470 – 790MHz), the single chip solution draws very little power while delivering reliable, secure, long range wireless connectivity for next generation M2M applications using the Weightless Standard.

Developed by Weightless SIG Promoter Group Member, Neul, and dubbed ‘Iceni’, samples are available today to select partners to begin testing and development of new white space-enabled solutions. More details of the silicon can be found on the company’s website.

“This is a seminal moment in the evolution of Weightless technology” commented Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless Special Interest Group, adding “for the first time designers around the world can begin developing next generation M2M solutions using Weightless technology with silicon designed explicitly to be compatible with the Standard”.

Developed by the team behind the world’s first single-chip Bluetooth device, Iceni operates within white space spectrum to access the high quality and license free UHF spectrum. Iceni and Weightless together dramatically reduce the costs and increase battery life in machines connected to the network opening up applications that are not technically or commercially feasible using alternative technologies.

James Collier, CEO of Neul commented “Weightless is a major opportunity for silicon vendors. With a forecasted 5-10 billion devices to be shipped per year, this is a market that is bigger than cellular, and one that will support as many as a dozen major silicon vendors. The Weightless SIG already has silicon companies as members, and we expect a number of them to develop their own silicon.”

Bob Lockhart, Senior Research Analyst at Pike Research – a part of Navigant, said “The anticipated exponential growth in machine-to-machine communications, as ever more ‘smart’ devices find their way into homes and industry such as electricity grids, argues for innovative, low-cost approaches to M2M communication. Without low-cost communications between devices, the so-called Internet of Things is likely to remain only wishful thinking.”

The machine to machine or Internet of Things market is widely forecasted to be worth over a trillion US dollars in value and to enable tens of billions of connected devices by 2020.

More information about Weightless silicon can be found here.