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

Archive for June, 2013

Java and the Internet of Things

From Dr.Dobb’s Bloggers:

Technology continues to get smaller and faster, and we increasingly find new ways to integrate it into our lives. We’ve reached a point where intelligent devices and sensor networks can be put in place transparently to collect data without people even knowing it. As a result, a host of new benefits can be offered to consumers in terms of improved efficiency, convenience, and value. This level of integration and ubiquity of computing devices is called the Internet of Things (IoT). The flip side is an increased risk of loss in terms of privacy and security.

Benefits and Risks

To illustrate the benefits and risks related to the IoT, let’s examine a realistic yet hypothetical example. Imagine a potential telematics/user location tracking system that helps you when you embark on a long-distance road trip. The promise of the IoT in this space is about predictive analytics. A truly connected auto navigation system will be able to analyze your planned route combined with real-time data on your car’s fuel usage, road, and traffic conditions, and your driving behavior to predict fuel requirements more accurately. With this integration, the navigation system can prompt you to real-time fuel needs, and when integrated with live gas prices from local stations, direct you to the station with the best value. Knowing that you’re accompanied by your family, this value may go beyond just price-per-gallon, and may include other add-on services.

The value to you is convenience and savings: no longer needing to guess when it’s the best time to fill up. The value to gas retailers is a competitive advantage as their low prices are “advertised” in better context. The auto manufacturer that offers this level of integration in their cars will gain a competitive advantage over others that offer simple navigation without the integration and analytics. The risks are your driving habits can be used in unanticipated ways; i.e., to drive insurance rates, or unsolicited in-car advertising for restaurants along the way, and so on.

Security, Privacy, and Ethics

The IoT introduces new security issues that today’s enterprise security measures may not help with. I believe there are three basic forms of benefits and related security risks associated with the IoT:

  1. Quality of life versus individual privacy and anonymity
  2. Added value and convenience from common tasks versus unanticipated side effects
  3. New economic models versus personal security risks

Additionally, direct security risks exist such as:

  • The ability to tap a sensor network to steal data
  • Intercepting data in transit from remote locations (up bound and down bound)
  • Standards create new risks ask they replace proprietary technology

Privacy concerns are paramount in M2M and IoT, probably more so than security. For instance, location data, device data such as address book contacts, voice-to-text services (i.e., Siri and Google Now), text and call activity logs, building and home security data, telematics data, and other identifying data can be used and combined to create a frighteningly detailed picture of a person’s daily routines. In turn, costs and availability of services can be adjusted or even denied based on this data.

Potentially the largest risk to consumers in the IoT is ethics. Even after security and privacy measures as built-in, there’s a level of trust that users give outside entities. How this data is used may be secure, legal, and otherwise reasonable, but potentially unethical. For instance, Target was recently in the news regarding their advertising strategies. By analyzing the shopping habits of their customers combined with their online behavior (via purchased third-party data, social media, and so on), Target sends customized coupons and print ads to customers, predicting their buying needs with uncanny accuracy. In one recent example, based on the online behavior of a teenage girl, Target’s analytics systems predicted she was pregnant before her own father knew.

More info here.

Call for Papers: The Fifth Workshop on Real-World Wireless Sensor Networks

19-20 September 2013, Como Lake, Italy

We are excited to announce that the fifth Workshop on Real-World Wireless Sensor will be held at the Como Lake, Italy in September 2013.

The purpose of the fifth Workshop on Real-World Wireless Sensor Networks (REALWSN) is to bring together researchers and practitioners working in the area of sensor networks, with focus on real-world experiments or deployments of wireless sensor networks. Included are also new forms of sensing such as those that leverage smart phones, Internet of Things, RFIDs, and robots.

When working with real-world experiments or deployments, many new issues arise: the network environment may be composed of a variety of different technologies, leading to very heterogeneous network structures; software development for large scale networks poses new types of problems; prototype networks may differ significantly from the deployed system; actual sensor network deployments may need a complex combination of autonomous and manual configuration. Furthermore, results obtained through simulation are typically not directly applicable to operational networks and it is therefore imperative for the community to produce results from experimental research.

Authors are invited to submit papers (12 pages, Springer format, 9 or 10 point font size) for presentation at the workshop. Papers will be selected based on originality, technical merit, and relevance.

All topics pertaining to real-world wireless sensor networks are of interest, including but not limited to:
* Experiences with real-world deployments
* Mining real-world WSN data
* Sensor systems leveraging smart phones (crowd sensing)
* Sensors systems involving Internet of Things (IoT), RFIDs, robots
* Experimental validation/refutation of previous simulation
results obtained by others
* Real-world performance of self-organization and self-management
* Debugging, testing, validation, and management
* Deployment and configuration
* Applications in medicine, industry, science, environmental monitoring
* Security and trust
* Scalability in practice
* Development and prototyping platforms
* Operating systems, sensor network programming paradigms, and languages
* Middleware for heterogeneous networks
* Real-time and dependability issues
* Hardware support for real-world sensor networks
* Robustness at all levels: communication, software, hardware
* Energy efficient protocols
* Hardware and software methods for energy measurement and profiling

Important dates:
* Electronic submissions due: June 21, 2013Extended to June 28th AOE (firm deadline)
* Notification of acceptance: August 8, 2013
* Camera-ready copy due: August 30, 2013
* Workshop: 19-20 September 2013

We will organize a poster and demo session as well. The deadline will be August 15 2013, notification August 22 2013.

More info here.

Self-powered Contiki Power Sensor Wins IPSO 2013 Challenge

30Need to know how much power that flows through a specific power cord, and see the information directly on your smartphone? That’s exactly what the Contiki-based winner of the IPSO 2013 challenge does. Just clip on the sensor on cord and see the data from anywhere in the world – the sensor sends the measurements wirelessly and securely across the Internet. Best of all: no batteries need to be replaced, ever, as the sensor is completely self-powered.

The wireless power sensor, developed by Redwire Consulting, Boston, MA, won the IPSO 2013 Challenge last week. Aside the fame and recognition, winning the competition also included a $10000 USD check.

The sensor that is clipped-on to an power cord measures the current flowing through the wire and sends the data wirelessly to a cloud server, hosted at By using Contiki and its IPv6 stack, the sensor can send its readings directly to the cloud, without having any protocol translator boxes involved.

IPSO 2013 Challenge chairman Nick Ashworth said “The innovation, simplicity and end-to-end utilization of IP technology made this entry stand out to the judges.”

The Redwire system was not the only Contiki-based system to compete in the IPSO 2013 challenge. The full list of entries can be found here.

More info here.

Thingsquare Powers the Internet of Things: Thermostats and Light Bulbs

lifx-570Internet of Things software startup Thingsquare  unveiled two customer success stories from innovative companies: the tado° smart thermostat and the LIFX WiFi bulb. Both tado° and LIFX exemplify the emerging Internet of Things landscape, where smartphones are used to interact with physical things.

“By choosing Thingsquare, we were able to develop our product in a surprisingly short amount of time,” said Johannes Schwarz, tado° CTO and co-founder.

“Thingsquare’s technology provides the network stability needed for long-time deployments,” said LIFX co-founder and project lead Daniel May. “The low power consumption of the Thingsquare mesh is key to long-term energy savings for the user.”

The customer case reports can be downloaded from the Thingsquare website.


WigWag-App-640x471The Internet is changing from a medium that moves bits from computer to computer to an Internet of things. Ordinary devices like lights and sensors become Internet-enabled, environmentally aware, with the ability to interact with their surroundings.  Are you ready for the Internet of things? WigWag wants to help you be an early adopter of these Internet smart objects.

Some of these “things” are quickly approaching availability to the general public. For instance, intelligent home/environment devices from a company in Austin, TX called WigWag – funny name, cool device.  I first became aware of, and impressed with, the WigWag team during TechStars Patriot Bootcamp last summer in Washington, DC.

WigWag is a platform composed of cloud services and unique hardware that makes it simple for both average people and integrators to build powerful, distributed sensor networks and automated systems to provide information, gather analytics from the physical world, and create systems that learn from, adapt, and interact with the environment. WigWag is a powerful, yet simple environment that enables technology neophytes like me to create complex intelligent applications.  WigWag requires no programming, no pairing or complex setup – yet it is fully customizable by the end user.

With WigWag’s “Sensor Kit,” customers can immediately build dynamic environments using the WigWag Sensor block that has eight embedded environmental sensors (motion, accelerometer, ambient light, humidity, temperature, wireless trip wire, sound, contact switch) and four control modules (wired relay, IR blaster, analog and digital inputs).

The “Light Kit” allows a customer to control up to five meters of color-changing LEDs with the WigWag glowline.  Everything can be set up via WigWag’s smartphone app (iOS and Android) or through the WigWag web interface.

Set up these in your house, and then the magic happens – customers literally will have the coolest house in the neighborhood. Make lights change color to the beat of the music on your stereo, have lights turn on and off just by walking into a room, have the lights turned on and a text or notification sent if someone breaks a window, turn lights on and off from a smartphone when you’re away on vacation – it changes all aspects of how we feel and interact with our environment – from parties to security to making us better environmental stewards.

WigWag is offering developers early access to their technology via a Kickstarter campaign that kicked-off June 19th (check out the Kickstarter listing here).  First products are projected to ship November 2013.

More info here.

M2M Tackles Security

M2M technology is moving into more areas of business and personal life. With this larger presence comes an increased focus on security. As more end users become interested in the security of their systems, M2M providers are devoting more effort to ensuring the safety and resilience of their offerings.

In the business world, M2M security is especially vital when sensitive information may be communicated through M2M channels. A recent report from Frost & Sullivan,, suggests security must be a “core component” when an enterprise is using M2M.

Frost Senior Industry Analyst Yiru Zhong describes traditional M2M deployments as having security solutions embedded within the network. She says players in the M2M value chain, such as chip makers, SIM card vendors, and module makers, have embedded security solutions into their products. But in the future, Zhong says additional security measures may be necessary.

As more devices become connected and business solutions connect to other systems outside the enterprise, a complete risk analysis may be needed to ensure data is secure. Frost says in addition to industry players, standardization groups and international bodies are also working on the development of M2M security solutions.

Overall, network security is important for any system that connects to sensitive information. This is true of critical infrastructures such as energy and transportation, and a recent report says spending for cyber security will increase.

ABI Research,, says cyber security spending by nation states, non-governmental organizations, technical bodies, and private sector operators for critical infrastructure totaled $41.76 billion globally in 2012. The research firm also predicts increased spending during the next five years.

More info here.