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Archive for April, 2013

Air Quality Study

How healthy is your air? How much volatile organic compounds (VOCs) does it has?

If you are curious about it now you could find out. A study conducted in Los Angeles, California, area using the Valarm App and the Yocto-VOC sensor show interesting results. You can follow these steps and do the same thing in your neighborhood or area of interest.

For some people the Los Angeles area is notorious for pollution, but LA covers a lot of area so which parts of town are more dangerous for your health? Air quality can be observed to vary dramatically from the west end of the city (where the ocean is) to the east end, where mountains seem to trap pollutants. There’s also variability from the north to south in air quality (and other health factors).

Full story available here.

FTC Seeks Input on Privacy and Security Implications of the Internet of Things

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission is interested in the consumer privacy and security issues posed by the growing connectivity of consumer devices, such as cars, appliances, and medical devices, and invites comments on these issues in advance of a public workshop to be held on November 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people is becoming more prevalent and often is referred to as “The Internet of Things.”  Consumers already are able to use their mobile phones to open their car doors, turn off their home lights, adjust their thermostats, and have their vital signs, such as blood pressure, EKG, and blood sugar levels, remotely monitored by their physicians. In the not too distant future, consumers approaching a grocery store might receive messages from their refrigerator reminding them that they are running out of milk.

Connected devices can communicate with consumers, transmit data back to companies, and compile data for third parties such as researchers, health care providers, or even other consumers, who can measure how their product usage compares with that of their neighbors.  The devices can provide important benefits to consumers:  they can handle tasks on a consumer’s behalf, improve efficiency, and enable consumers to control elements of their home or work environment from a distance. At the same time, the data collection and sharing that smart devices and greater connectivity enable pose privacy and security risks.

FTC staff seeks input on the privacy and security implications of these developments.  For example:

  • What are the significant developments in services and products that make use of this connectivity (including prevalence and predictions)?
  • What are the various technologies that enable this connectivity (e.g., RFID, barcodes, wired and wireless connections)?
  • What types of companies make up the smart ecosystem?
  • What are the current and future uses of smart technology?
  • How can consumers benefit from the technology?
  • What are the unique privacy and security concerns associated with smart technology and its data?  For example, how can companies implement security patching for smart devices?  What steps can be taken to prevent smart devices from becoming targets of or vectors for malware or adware?
  • How should privacy risks be weighed against potential societal benefits, such as the ability to generate better data to improve health-care decisionmaking or to promote energy efficiency? Can and should de-identified data from smart devices be used for these purposes, and if so, under what circumstances?

FTC staff will accept submissions through June 1, 2013, electronically through or in written form.  Paper submissions should be mailed or delivered to:  600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Room H-113 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580.  The FTC requests that any paper submissions be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

More info here.

A Giant Step Forward for the IoT and Big Data

Andy Stanford-Clark, an IBM Master Inventor who lives in the United Kingdom, jokes that his goal was “world domination” in 1999 when he and Arlen Nipper of Eurotech invented a protocol aimed at greatly improving machine-to-machine communications. This was at the time when another British technology pioneer, Kevin Ashton, coined the term “Internet of Things” to describe how the Internet could be connected to the physical world via a vast network of sensors. Sanford-Clark believed that his protocol, now called MQ Telemetry Transport, or MQTT for short, would enable organizations to quickly and affordably gather, integrate and make use of all of that sensor data. It would be an essential underlying technology for the Internet of Things.

Fast forward to today. OASIS, one of the leading technology standards bodies governing the evolution of the Internet, has just announced that it will accept MQTT as an industry standard protocol. This move paves the way for the technology to be used widely for applications ranging from power distribution and public safety to retailing, smart phones and auto communication systems. MQTT now has the potential to have the same kind of impact on the world as HTTP, which is a key part of every Internet address for computers and Web sites. Proponents of the Internet of Things believe there could be up to 50 billion sensors hooked up by the year 2020–turning the promise of Big Data into a reality. “The vision of billions and trillions of connected devices can now come true,” says Stanford-Clark. “The implications are huge. We can solve the energy crisis and improve agriculture, transportation and healthcare. It will make getting things done easier, cheaper and more efficient.”

More info here.

Why the Internet of Things Needs IPv6

The transition to IPv6 is important not only because the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses are running out, but also because the proliferation of Internet-connected devices is creating a new environment of information. “The Internet of Things is very much upon on us,” said Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist, at the Rocky Mountain IPv6 Summit on Thursday, April 18, in Denver.

Every device that connects to the Internet requires an IP address, and it has been predicted that by 2020 there will be 50 billion Internet-enabled devices in the world. To put that number in perspective, that equates to more than six connected devices per person, based on an expected global population of 7.6 billion people. “With the explosion of mobile devices — especially as asset intelligence and machine-to-machine embed connectivity in literally everything — unique IP addresses are becoming a scarce resource,” according to Deloitte.

Thus the move to IPv6 is necessary as it provides an almost unimaginable number of IP addresses — 18 quintillion blocks of 18 quintillion possible addresses.

In a prerecorded video speech, Cerf said the proliferation of Internet connections will include automobiles. While not as high-tech as Google’s self-driving car, Cerf said in the future, vehicles will report their condition and other information in order to aid maintenance. In addition, medical and scientific instruments will automatically record and report their status as well as the data they collect. “So all of you working on IPv6 are in fact working on a much larger and much more challenging scope and that is this avalanche of content and information,” Cerf said.

In addition to allowing for an increasingly connected world, IPv6 will also benefit public safety communications. Latif Ladid, president of the Global IPv6 Forum, said IPv6-enabled devices, such as iPhones, provide better communication interoperability than first responders currently have. Upgrading to the new protocol will allow public safety workers to use LTE directly, enabling the sharing of not only voice communications, but also photos and videos. However, proprietary solutions and legacy systems can halt progress. “We have found that this is an important area that is going to take more decision-making than just the technology itself,” Ladid said.

More info here.

8th Summer School on Applications of IoT and Wireless Sensor Networks senZations’13

Design and deploy your own IoT solutions in the beautiful environment of Palic Lake, run experiments on the SmartSantander framework and learn how to use WSN in environments like Donana natural reserve! Learn about the latest achievements in the field of IoT from the experts coming from the EU FP7 projects SmartSantander, Planet, IoT6 and SocIoTal! Join us, have fun, meet peers and experienced researchers, expand your network of contacts.

The senZations summer school has become an annual event on the agenda of young researchers in Europe. Covering a range of novel topics from wireless sensor networks to M2M to Internet of Things and their applications with support of excellent lecturers and senior researchers from academy and industry, the senZations have attracted more than 350 students during the past seven events.
The aim of the summer school is to:
* Provide access to the latest results, trends, activities and applications in the IoT domain
* Run experiments on the SmartSantander facility or build your own live testbed deployment at Palic
* Identify novel research opportunities, important challenges and research directions
* Demonstrate existing prototypes and demos – and implement new ones!
* Interact with experienced researchers and establish new contacts
* Have fun and enjoy the beauty of the Serbian mountains while acquiring new skills and expertise
The summer school will last for 5 days and will feature a number of different activities:
Lectures: Each day will feature lectures with subsequent discussions around important IoT and WSN research themes and technology areas:
* IoT architecture: an overview of the proposals and approaches towards defining an overall architectural framework for IoT
* SmartSantander – how to run experiments on a large-scale IoT testbed or build your own testbed instance
* Semantic sensor networks and Linked Open Data
* Deployment, operation and maintenance of large-scale/complex systems of heterogeneous networked cooperating objects, including wireless sensor and actuator networks and mobile objects
* Smart cities and intelligent buildings
* Social impacts of IoT, role and potential of IPv6 in IoT
* Latest standards developments in IETF and ETSI, FI-PPP and IERC.

New 3G Sensors stream photo and video to the Cloud for new Security and Military applications

video_camera_wasp2-400pxThe new Video Camera Sensor board in conjunction with the 3G module for Waspmote allows to take photos and record videos and send them to the Cloud by using high speed 3G, WCDMA and HSPA cellular networks in the same way as Smartphones do. This makes possible sensor nodes send not only discrete sensor information such as temperature or humidity (which can be encoded using just a single number) but also complex streams of information such as photos and videos. This new feature allows developers the creation of new Security, Surveillance and Military applications.

Read more here.


Wireless sensor network to help prevent power cuts

Researchers are developing a wireless sensor network (WSN) designed to spot faults in electricity sub-stations that can lead to power cuts. The EPSRC-funded team will develop a WSN capable of sensing partial discharge (PD) in electricity sub-stations, a situation that occurs when the insulation of cables and other power equipment becomes old or damaged. Left unchecked, partial discharge can lead to dangerous and destructive faults including explosions and power cuts. Designed to be monitored centrally, the new WSN will allow operators to replace planned maintenance with condition-based maintenance.

Ian Glover, the new Professor of Radio Science and Wireless Systems Engineering at Huddersfield University told The Engineer via email that the traditional approach to PD detection using free-standing radio receivers has been to measure the difference in time-of-flight from the PD source to a set of spatially separated receivers.

‘The difference in the times-of-flight are found by cross-correlating the noise-like time waveforms arriving at the different receivers with each other,’ he said. ‘The difference in the times-of-flight for a pair of receivers defines a locus of points on which the source of PD could lie. Multiple loci, resulting from multiple pairs of receivers, intersect which gives the location of the source.’ The 4.5 year project, which has received £670,000 in funding, aims to develop a system that relies principally on measurement of PD signal amplitude and does not rely on time measurements. One challenge, said Prof Glover, will be to make the sensors sensitive enough to detect PD at a useful range without requiring sophisticated signal processing, such as the cross-correlation used in the time-of-flight approach. He said, ‘Such signal processing is power hungry and these sensors will probably need to be powered using energy harvesting technologies – solar cells, vibration, stray electric and magnetic fields, for example – if they are not to require expensive maintenance.’

Another challenge, he said, is that the attenuation [loss] of the PD signal in propagating from source to receiver may vary significantly, even for paths of the same length due to the complex propagation environment of the substation.

‘This means that the location of the PD source is almost certainly not possible by simply inverting a path loss law since the path loss law will be unknown,’ said Prof Glover. ‘It may be that we have to ‘calibrate’ our sensors using an emulated PD signal. This itself will require power and may further challenge the energy harvesting solution to maintenance avoidance.’

More info here.

Oyster Sensor Network

The SenseT (Sensing Tasmania) project is a collaboration between the Tasmanian and Australian government, local universities (UTAS and University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society), and businesses including IBM to deploy networks of environmental sensors across the entire state of Tasmania. Connected via a new broadband network the $42 million project combines historical, and real-time sensor data and makes this information available for public usa via API’s and an app-store.

One of the latest projects from SenseT is OysTag, a Aquaculture Biosensors project that aims to help optimize the health and production of oysters in the region.

Large sensor devices are deployed in the farms to measure general environmental conditions like temperature, and salinity levels of the water. Small Biotags are also being attached to individual oysters to detect the current depth of the creature, its movement, how much ambient light it is receiving and even the heart rate of the animal.

This data can be aggregated and used to predict the growth rate, feeding behavior and details on how to optimize conditions for healthier animals and deliver safer and more productive crops for individual farms and across the industry as a whole.

More info here.

Valarm offers an affordable remote sensor and monitoring solution for Android devices

valarm-1Los Angeles-based startup Valarm has packed powerful data collection capabilities into its Android app in order to help consumers and commercial users create custom remote monitoring solutions for less.

The app’s not exactly something you’d buy on a whim, though, as the standard app costs $9.98 on Google Play. A classic version of the app that works on older Android devices (before version 3.1) is available for $2.98, but it lacks support for external USB sensors.

The idea behind Valarm is that you can go out and buy a cheap Android smartphone, or use an extra one you have lying around the house, to create a monitoring rig that matches your needs. The project actually got its start because co-founder Lorenzo Gonzalez had his motorcycle stolen and he wanted to build a cheap anti-theft and tracking device for his replacement bike.

Gonzalez and his brother, Edward Pultar, then decided to take the resulting app and turn it into Valarm. They began working on the project in February 2012 and released the app late last year.

Valarm is already plenty useful as a standalone app because of the built-in sensors on today’s smartphones. You could, for instance, use it to monitor an object’s location and then have it take a photo and email it to you when its position changes.

While these kinds of use cases will appeal to plenty of tinkerers, Valarm’s real potential lies in its commercial prospects. The app supports external USB sensors plugged into Android devices to add highly-specialized monitoring capabilities. Possible measurements include: CO2Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), switches, temperature, lumens, barometric pressure, humidity and on-board diagnostics (including engine RPMs, throttle position and coolant temperature).

More info here.