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

Archive for September, 2010

RTAS'11 Track on WSN

The IEEE Real-Time and Embedded Technology and Applications Symposium (RTAS) is a highly selective forum for presentation and discussion of original research papers, covering all aspects of real-time and embedded computing theory and practice. RTAS’11, the seventeenth in a series of annual conferences sponsored by IEEE, will be held in Chicago, IL, USA, as part of the Cyber-Physical Systems Week (CPS Week), April 11-14, 2011.

CPS Week 2011 will bring together five leading conferences, namely the International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN’11), the International Conference on Hybrid Systems (HSCC’11), the International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems (ICCPS’11), the Conference on Languages, Compilers, and Tools for Embedded Systems (LCTES’11), and RTAS’11. RTAS 2011 invites papers describing original contributions both to the state of art and the state of practice in the broad field of embedded and open real-time systems and computing.

The scope of RTAS 2011 will consist of the traditional core area of real-time and embedded systems infrastructure and theory, as well as two additional areas of special emphasis (specialized tracks): Hardware/Software Integration and Co-design, Wireless Sensor Networks.

IMPORTANT DATES

Submission Deadline: October 8, 2010, 23:59 PST
(HARD deadline)

Acceptance Decisions: December 17, 2010
Camera-Ready Paper Due: January 21, 2011

More info is available at the RTAS’11 Web site.

Cars as traffic sensors

Data about road and traffic conditions can come from radio stations’ helicopters, the Department of Transportation’s roadside sensors, or even, these days, updates from ordinary people with cell phones. But all of these approaches have limitations: Helicopters are costly to deploy and can observe only so many roads at once, and it could take a while for the effects of congestion to spread far enough that a road sensor will detect them.

MIT’s CarTel project is investigating how cars themselves could be used as ubiquitous, highly reliable mobile sensors. At the Association for Computing Machinery’s sixth annual Workshop on Foundations of Mobile Computing on Sept. 16, members of the CarTel team presented a new algorithm that would optimize the dissemination of data through a network of cars with wireless connections. Researchers at Ford are already testing the new algorithm for possible inclusion in future versions of Sync, the in-car communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft.

For the last four years, CarTel, which is led by computer-science professor Hari Balakrishnan and associate professor Sam Madden, has been collecting data about the driving patterns of Boston-area taxicabs equipped with GPS receivers. On the basis of those data, the CarTel researchers have been developing algorithms for the collection and dissemination of information about the roadways. Once the algorithms have been evaluated and refined, the CarTel researchers plan to test them in an additional, real-world experiment involving networked vehicles. The new algorithm is among those that the group expects to test.

More info here.

Free Book: Sensors Everywhere (Wireless Network Technologies and solutions)

i2CAT Fundation, in collaboration with Fundacion Vodafone, publishes the book Sensors Everywhere (Wireless Network Technologies and solutions). In this book, you can find information about the evolution of the sensor networks, its architectures and technologies, security information, interoperability between them, the future in this and more useful information about the sensor networks.
You could download a pdf version of the book for free here.

Cisco Clearing Path to the "Internet of Things"

The Internet of Things is a tantalizingly ambitious concept for the next iteration of the Information Age in which almost any object or environmental condition can be monitored, possibly controlled and tied into the digital universe. By some estimates, the Internet of Things will be able to connect at least as many objects as there are atoms on the surface of the Earth.

Unfortunately, there have been almost as many opinions about how this new era should take shape.

Since the idea for the Internet of Things was coined more than a decade ago, researchers and technology companies have struggled to make it a reality. Most significantly, a myriad of approaches for building this new kind of network have divided the market, fragmenting the Internet of Things into hundreds of islands of information separated by their own communications systems.

During the past five years, however, Cisco Systems has tackled the task of bringing at least some consensus to this matter. At stake is nothing short of a computing revolution that promises to radically improve upon the profound safety, efficiency and quality-of-life benefits already offered by today’s Internet.

More info here.

Sensor-laden SensoGlove helps you make smarter decisions than Tiger Woods

From Engadget:

You scoff, but it’s true. Do you honestly think Tiger Woods has the luxury of looking down as his golf glove while on the Masters’ greens and seeing if his grip is too tight? Indeed he doesn’t, nor will he ever if we understand anything about PGA regulations. Germany’s own Sensosolutions has just revealed what it’s calling the planet’s first “digital golf glove,” with the $89 SensoGlove boasting a handful of sensors that “continuously read the user’s grip pressure.” In real-time, users are shown that data on the sweat-proof 1.2-inch LED monitor, and it’s even capable of outputting information via aural commands. Put simply, it can give you a warning if you’re exceeding your target grip pressure level, and it can even show you exactly which fingers are squeezing too tightly. What it can’t show you, however, is just how closely your wife is monitoring your extracurricular phone activities — but hey, there’s always version 2.0, right?

More info here.

Open-ZB website to Reach 100k Visits

The open-ZB website provides open source tools for IEEE 802.15.4 and ZigBee, the most widespread technologies for Wireless Sensor Networks. Notably, it has reached over 100 000 visits and 6000 downloads of the toolset from around the world. This represents 4-5 downloads in average per day, almost 4 years after the first release (November 2006).

Since early 2009, the open-ZB research team has triggered the creation of the TinyOS 15.4 and ZigBee Working Groups. The aim is to provide 15.4 and ZigBee implementations that build on top of the WSN research community efforts and empower users to learn, modify and reuse the code at free will.Further improvements include QoS add-ons, traffic differentiation and communication reliability among others. The work have been mainly supported by the CONET Network of Excellence, within the COTS4QoS research cluster.

For more details please refer here

Sensors Use Building's Electrical Wiring as Antenna

Wireless sensors scattered throughout a building can monitor everything from humidity and temperature to air quality and light levels. This seems like a good idea–until you consider the hassle and cost of replacing the sensors’ batteries every couple of years. The problem is that most wireless sensors transmit data in a way that drains battery power.

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a way to reduce the amount of power a sensor uses to transmit data by leveraging the electrical wiring in a building’s walls as an antenna that propagates the signal. The approach extends a wireless sensor’s range, and it means that its battery can last up to five times longer than existing sensors, say the researchers.

The technology, called Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure (SNUPI), sends a small trickle of data wirelessly at a frequency that resonates with the copper wiring in a building’s walls, says Shwetak Patel, professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Washington. The copper wiring, which can be up to 15 feet away from the sensors, picks up the signal and acts as a giant receiving antenna, transmitting the data at 27 megahertz to a base station plugged into an electrical outlet somewhere in the building.

“The powerline has an amplification effect,” says Patel. While many low-power sensors only have a range of a few feet, he says, his prototype sensors can cover most of a 3,000-square-foot home. In most wireless sensor schemes, Patel says, walls impede transmission of sensor data, but with SNUPI, “the more walls in the home, the better our system works.” A paper describing the work will be presented at the Ubiquitous Computing conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in September.

“Most academic research on in-building sensor nodes has looked at building infrastructure as a problem,” says Matt Reynolds, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. Patel’s work is interesting because it “turns the problem on its head,” he says. “The building’s wiring is part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

Using powerlines to transmit data is not a new idea. Broadband over powerlines, or BPL, uses the power grid to provide Internet connectivity. But using powerlines to extend the range of ambient sensors, and reduce their power consumption, is novel.

The researchers’ prototype uses less than one milliwatt of power when transmitting data to the powerline antenna, and less than 10 percent of that power is used for communication. Future versions, says Patel, will reduce the amount of power the sensor uses for computation, and will also include a receiving antenna for two-way communication between the sensors and the base station. This could enable the sensor to accept confirmation that all of the data has been received properly.

Patel, who founded an in-home energy-monitoring startup called Zenzi that was sold to Belkin earlier this year, has launched another company to commercialize SNUPI. He suspects that the approach can be used for more than monitoring air quality in homes–it could also be used to collect data from wearable sensors or implanted medical devices. In fact, Patel says, preliminary studies have shown that the popular pedometer called FitBit, which sends data to a base station wirelessly, could last for a year on a single charge, rather than its current duration of 14 days, using the SNUPI scheme.

More info here.

Will the Internet of Things Be Open or Closed?

From Wired:

At some point in the future, many more everyday objects will have tiny embedded chips that can communicate with networks. But just as we’re debating net neutrality and the value of the open web vs closed client applications, we will have to decide who will control the internet of things, too. Lines are already beginning to be drawn. Ashlee Vance, writing for the New York Times’ Bits blog, profiles chipmaker ARM’s efforts to bring the internet of things to the masses with its mbed project.

Now, at Adafruit Industries’ blog, DIY-engineering all-star Limor Fried counters the Times’ warm enthusiasm for ARM’s approach with some ice-water skepticism: “mbed requires an online compiler, so that you are dependent on them forever. You cannot do anything without using their online site, ever.”

Fried adds: “We like the hardware in the mbed, the cortex series is great (it’s why we carry an ARM Cortex M3 board now) – but the ARM compiler used with mbed costs about $5,000 so maybe it will never be anywhere but online.” Adafruit notes that similar ARM boards are available with entirely open-source libraries.

Free and open-source vs. ready-for-anyone-to-use out-of-the-box: we’ve been down this road many times before. I doubt this argument will have a clear winner and loser, but it’s important that it’s clearly framed and articulated now, before any one approach gets locked-in as the default option.

Read more here.

Join the mbed challenge!

The challenge is to publish a project and the building blocks that make it up that is inspiring, inventive, useful or just plain cool. The great thing when you publish something like this is you are helping your fellow developers prototype even faster by building on your work, but you can also enter it in the design challenge and win some of the prize money that is up for grabs :)

They’re going to use the tag mbedchallenge to mark things related to this challenge, so if you post anything on mbed (notebook, cookbook, forum) or on flickr, youtube etc, make sure you tag it with mbedchallenge!

For all the details of how to enter and the prizes up for grabs, see the video and visit this webpage .

You Too Can Join the Internet Of Things

For many years now, Silicon Valley has hyped a concept known as the Internet of Things.

The thinking goes that just about everything, be it a shirt, toy, wall or milk jug, will have a chip or some kind of sensor in it that transmits information. People talk about refrigerators that can discern what’s inside of them and recommend recipes or order more milk for delivery just as that gallon jug begins to run out. Or maybe a restaurant gleans some kind of information about its wait staff based on the movement of plates.

A lot of the stuff sounds hokey and adds complexity to situations where the current order of things works just fine. But advocates of the Internet of Things argue that it’s tough for us to really grasp what useful creations people will build with the sensors in these early days with the technology.

ARM Holdings, the British chip designer, has created a program meant to spur those creations by unleashing people’s imaginations. (I wrote a profile of ARMin Monday’s paper, detailing its likely prominent role in the Internet of Things.)

Called mbed, the research effort puts a kit for a microcontroller – sort of a basic, low-power computer on a chip – in the hands of engineers and hobbyists for about $59. Then, ARM provides a set of software tools for bringing that microcontroller to life and linking it with other interesting itemslike accelerometers, gyroscopes, cameras, displays and thermometers.

Simon Ford, the ARM researcher leading mbed, said that the package of hardware and software he had created should open microcontrollers up to a new audience by removing some of the technical headaches associated with programming the chips.

The mbed device can plug straight into a U.S.B. port on a computer, appearing as a flash drive to the PC. People can then create programs or download existing modules from the mbed Web site and get off and running in a matter of minutes.

More info here and here.

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