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Archive for April, 2013

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.