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Archive for January, 2012

Can China crack the Internet of Things?

It’s heralded as TNBT (the next big thing), high on any self respecting futurist’s to do list for 2012. Yet industry insidersremain sceptical that the Internet of Things (IoT) will reach fruition, this year, at least. They cite costs, technical prowess, planning and government support as some of the hurdles which need to be negotiated before we can get on the road to technological nirvana (or anti privacy hell, as some would have it) and our environment, buildings, vehicles, clothing and devices are all  sensing, communicating, networking and producing masses of beautiful data.

However, in China, costs, technical prowess, planning and government support would not appear to be a problem. The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology implied last month, in its 12th Five-year Development Plan of the Internet of Things, that it will actually be bringing forwards development goals and roadmaps for IoT, together with further measures to support and promote the development of the industry.

This month Beijing invested in a laser writing scheme for pork products. The capital city consumes 30,000 pigs a day over the New Year period and it’s the national favourite meat. However, eating pork can be dangerous: 4 million pounds of it had to be recalled by the government last year after pigs from central provinces were found to have been injected with a fat-reducing drug. Even if the meat is safe, many Chinese complain of water being injected into the meat to increase its weight.

More info here.

Printed Sensors Could Help Save You From Spoiled Food

From Wired:

Whenever I pick up a package of frozen raw meat from the grocery store, I wonder, “Has this been frozen the whole time? How many times did it thaw and re-freeze?” It’s a disquieting thought, especially because there’s currently no easy way to tell.

But it looks like the ambiguity is about to end. In partnership with PST Sensor, Thinfilm, which produces printed re-writable memory, will begin making the first fully printed temperature sensor systems to monitor perishable items like food and pharmaceuticals.

“It’s a smart object that’s entirely self-contained,” Jennifer Ernst, Thinfilm’s North American VP told Wired.

That may sound familiar. It’s a key element of a concept called “The Internet of Things,” which basically refers to an imagined future where nearly every object will include embedded chips that can store data and interact with networks.

Thinfilm’s first-gen sensors will be able to cache data about the object itself, on the item itself. In this case, the sensors will record data concerning the object’s temperature history, tracking precise time, temperature and exposure information, and also displaying it in a low-power readout. The data within can be accessed as needed, insomuch it doesn’t need to be retrieved from the cloud, or require a constant wireless connection.

In the past, we’ve seen thin food sensors that change color as food begins to spoil. But this type of technology doesn’t retain data, and thus doesn’t provide information about the history of a product as it shipped.

More info here.

NXP and Belkin Bring 6LoWPAN Connectivity to the Home

What if every device in your home had its own Internet IP address? At the 2012 International CES, NXP Semiconductors  and Belkin International, Inc. will demonstrate a “smart home” network that allows you to control light bulbs — each with its own IPv6 address — using a smartphone or tablet. The network features a WeMo device from Belkin that enables mobile devices using Wi-Fi to interact securely with smart home appliances using JenNet-IP — NXP’s ultra-low-power wireless connectivity software based on 6LoWPAN and IEEE 802.15.4. The WeMo Home Automation demo will be featured in the NXP booth (CP8) and Belkin booth (South Hall #30651) at CES, and a preview is available here.

“We’ve released a series of tremendously popular smart lighting and smart home control videos on YouTube featuring JenNet-IP, and are often asked, ‘Where can I get the router?'” said Sean McGrath, general manager, smart home and energy product line, NXP Semiconductors. “At CES, you’ll see a number of solutions, including an easy-to-use WeMo device from Belkin you can attach to your home router, enabling it to serve as a secure gateway between your smartphone and the Internet-enabled appliances in your network using JenNet-IP. We’re very excited that Belkin, a world-class provider of connectivity solutions, is bringing JenNet-IP into its new WeMo Home Automation ecosystem.”

“Our WeMo Home Automation platform makes it easy for Belkin partners to develop appliances for the Intelligent Home. Wi-Fi is everywhere and will play an important role, but at the same time, we need low-power networking options to connect smart appliances and smart meters monitoring energy usage. Using only one-tenth of the power required by Wi-Fi, JenNet-IP offers robust, ultra-low-power connectivity which can support dozens or even hundreds of devices in a smart home network,” said Kevin Ashton, general manager of Belkin’s Conserve Business Unit.

More info here.

Research Positions at CISTER

Two research positions in the fields of Cooperating Objects, Cyber-Physical Systems & Sensor Networks are available at the Research Centre on Real-Time Computing Systems (CISTER). The Centre is currently looking to strengthen its research team in the CONET NoE research clusters and SENODs project on all levels: Senior Scientists, Invited Scientists and Post-Docs.

The candidates should have a PhD in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering or related fields. Particular expertise in Cyber-Physical Systems is a plus. She/he should also have an international publication record and ability to do independent research. Fluency in written and spoken English is required.

Detailed info about the respective calls can be found here and here.

NetLED WiFi-enabled, app-controllable, LED light tubes come to Japan

From Engadget:

Because deep down, all you’ve ever really wanted are smartphone adjustable WiFi-LED light tubes controlled by a remote server out in the ether. Snarkiness aside, that’s exactly what Japan’s Net LED Technology Corporation has done with a lighting system it lovingly calls NetLED. The setup isn’t for frugal types as, before even purchasing lights, you’ll need to plunk down 60,000 yen (around $780) for a netLED router that serves as an intermediary between those fixtures and the company’s remote server. The addition of that hardware enables the 19,800 yen (around $260) WiFi-equipped 40W LED arrays to be monitored and adjusted remotely via a web browser or an iPhone app. And, if WiFi tubes are too rich for your blood, each WiFi-toting fixture can be paired with up to three cheaper WiFi-less slaves that cost 14,000 yen (around $182). It’s complex and pricey stuff, yet the company estimates you’ll cut energy consumption by half after you amass 200 units. Those brave enough to find out, can take the plunge February 20th when it all goes on sale — just let us know how you fare, cool? In the meantime, get up close and personal with a shot of the light emitters themselves after the break.

More info here.

China pilots wildfire detection sensor network

China has developed a sensor work that will shorten the fire detection lead time to less than five minutes. A test run of the system was successfully conducted recently in the forest area in Qingyuan prefecture, Guangdong province.
While forests play an important role in global climate and environment, wildfire is common occurrence in China, especially in dry winter, challenges the environmental balance and causes losses in lives and property. According to data release by China’s State Forestry Administration, around 2 per cent of the country’s forest area, or 28 times the landmass of Hong Kong, is destroyed by wildfire every year.

As compete prevention of wildfire is not possible, the best way to protect forests from such fire is early detection and response. Currently the country relies on manned lookout towers and reports from forest visitors to detect fire. Satellite imagery system was also deployed but they are only able to detect large scale fire, rather than occurrences in their early stages; in addition, analysing infrared images is a difficult task, sometimes taking the operators more than one hour to locate the exact fire scene.

More info here.

SESENA 2012

The 3rd International Workshop on Software Engineering for Sensor Network Applications (SESENA) will be held in Zurich, Switzerland, 2 June 2012. Collocated with ACM/IEEE Intl. Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE).

SESENA12 aims to attract researchers belonging to both the SE and WSN communities, not only to exchange recent research results on the topic, but
also to stimulate discussion about the core open problems and to define a shared research agenda. The workshop welcomes both research contributions and position statements. The former will foster in depth technical discussions of novel results with an audience composed of both SE and WSN researchers. The latter will provide the opportunity for presenting open problems, provocative views, or previously unexplored ideas in an informal fashion. SESENA12 will also host two special sessions: (i) a “speakers’ corner” composed of impromptu presentations where attendees (including those without accepted papers) will have the opportunity to present their own views in very short segments (e.g., 2-4 minutes), and (ii) a session dedicated to the VISION project, an FP7 ERC Starting Grant focusing on developing an innovative infrastructure for real-time sensing services. In the latter session, the intermediate project results will be presented with the dual goal of sharing the uniqueness of the ERC-style grants and discussing technical elements to identify possible future collaborations.

For information, topics of interest and submission details see the workshop website

Important Dates
Paper submission: 17 February 2012
Author notification: 19 March 2012
Camera-ready copy: 29 March 2012

 

 

ST to launch GreenNet Wireless Sensor Networking platform

Semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics will unveil an application for mobiles or set-top boxes, taking utility of an open platform for buildings. The GreenNet Wireless Sensor Networking technology platform comprises self-powered nodes that can be positioned around the home for tasks such as temperature, CO (carbon monoxide) or movement sensing, relaying data wirelessly to a GreenNet dongle installed in a PC or set-top box. The data could then be communicated to a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet via a wireless router to enable monitoring and control. The building block of this GreenNet Wireless Sensor Networking platform is the GreenNet node, which utilises core ST technologies in energy management, silicon-based sensors and embedded wireless to create the network node free of wires or any need to change batteries. The node combines a rechargeable battery and solar cell with an on-chip sensor and STM32W 32-bit wireless microcontroller in a compact 3D system-in-package that consumes minimal power and can operate autonomously powered only by ambient light energy. By using open standards, such as IPv6 1, the platform allows independent developers to create downloadable applications for tasks such as home monitoring, security or fire safety. The GreenNet wireless node utilises an industry-standard IEEE 802.15.4 radio operating in the license-free 2.4GHz frequency band. ST is demonstrating the system using a sample node that features an on-chip temperature sensor, a USB dongle, and a service platform including sample application store. It can relay one temperature measurement every five minutes. It can still operate autonomously for up to six weeks in the dark. Samples for customers are available.

More info here.

Scholarships to attend EWSN 2012 in Trento, Italy

The 9th European Conference on Wireless Sensor Networks (EWSN 2012, http://ewsn12.disi.unitn.it), with generous donations from the conference sponsors, offers scholarships to support students and researchers to attend the conference.

WHO SHOULD APPLY

Funding is available to graduate and doctoral students from any educational institution in the world. Applications from postdocs and researchers from
developing countries are also encouraged.

We expect to award a minimum of 6 scholarships. Of these, a minimum of 3 scholarships are expressly reserved for students (graduate and doctoral) from institutions belonging to the EIT ICT Labs (http://eit.ictlabs.eu) thanks to a specific sponsorship from TrentoRISE (http://www.trentorise.eu).

WHAT IS PROVIDED

Each scholarship covers the EWSN 2012 full conference registration plus one registration to a tutorial, and up to 700 EUR in support for accommodation and travel. The amount of support awarded is based on the cost estimate, submitted with the scholarship application; reimbursements are based on the actual travel and accommodation expenses, which will be arranged through the conference organization.

HOW TO APPLY

To apply, please send the following information via e-mail to ewsn12-chairs[aT]disi.unitn.it, either as part of the email or as a PDF attachment:

1. Name, email, mailing address, visa requirements
2. Name of the school or research center and whether affiliated with EIT
3. Current position (student, postdoc, faculty/researcher)
For students only:
a. Degree type (Master’s, PhD, …) pursued and field
b. Expected graduation date
c. Name and email of advisor
4. Expected expenses:
a. Specify type of travel (air, train, car) and cost
b. Specify number of nights in hotel and overall cost
5. Statement about why attending EWSN 2012 would benefit you (max. 1000
characters)

IMPORTANT DATES

Applications due: January 25, 2012 (midnight CET)
Notifications: January 27, 2012

Note: the correct email address is:  ewsn12-chairs@disi.unitn.it

ARM exec: standards are needed for the 'internet of things'

The increase in the number of internet-connected devices is creating a wealth of possibilities for the future of technology, particularly in the context of the internet of things — also known as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

However, standards need to be firmly established before new services can truly flourish, according to Simon Segars, vice president of the ARM physical IP division.

“The biggest limitation is around standardisation of how these technologies are going to work together. All the building blocks are there, and it’s about putting them together. So, you need low power, small, low cost micro-controllers,” Segars told ZDNet UK at CES 2012. “We can do that, and it will get better over time,”he added.

Segars said that the challenge now is one of how each piece of technology is used, rather than needing advances in the technology itself.

“There’s an implementation challenge, all the technologies are different and how you mix-and-match those are hard problems that we’re trying to solve,” Segars said. “We’re looking at evolving those technologies, but really it’s all there today and people have got to start putting them together and working out those higher level services that are going to run on top of them.”

Smart meters, for example, already combine a range of technologies that need to be able to communicate with each other, Segars said.

“It has a controller in it, it has a communication link — how are all these things going to communicate [with other technologies], there are standards needed behind that,” Segars added. “What’s the security behind that? How’s all that going to work?”

More info here.

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