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

Archive for September, 2012

Discounts in all Zolertia’s packs

From Zolertia:

We have been awfully quiet but we are pleased that the reason behind this were projects and challenges keeping us busy since early 2012, so after a ton load of work followed by well deserved vacations we can finally give you some updates about what’s going on and our latest additions to the Zolertia’s ecosystem, kicking it with a 5% off all our packs.

We are re-launching some of our well known packs, such as the Discovery Pack Silver AAA (3xZ1) and theProfessional Pack Bronze (10xZ1),
offering a juicy 5% off discount, and introducing our new top-sellers Pack Lithium and Titanium, at a discounted price too, featuring:

Professional Pack Titanium:

This pack was conceived by request of our clients, demanding a complete solution to immerse themselves into development and production in a faster and easier way, using a complete set of sensors and actuators ready to work outside-the-box, development tools fitted to ease on-field testing such as the Starter platform, and the recently updated Gateway to interconnect your Wireless Sensor Network projects to other networks such as Internet.

Professional Pack Lithium:

Our experience in real-world deployments allowed us to design this new pack, allowing researchers, developers and integrators more flexibility regarding on how to provide power to their projects, for example using solar panels, reducing the overhead of replacing batteries and having to mobilize to the deployment site to replace those.

The battery charger and the battery itself are fully integrated into the enclosure, suitable for testbeds, demonstrators and ready-to-deploy projects without having to worry about component placement.

A led charging indicator on the enclosure allows to inspect the status of the battery (charging, discharging, charged) more readily.

Visit our online shop for more products and information, for specific information and requirements please write to

Postdoc in Pervasive Computing (CSIRO, Australia)

For anyone looking for a postdoc position:

Three-year postdoc position in pervasive computing (CSIRO, Australia)

We are seeking a talented and dedicated recent PhD graduate to be part of the rapidly growing research program being undertaken by the CSIRO ICT Centre in Pervasive Computing.

Essential Criteria:
1. A strong background in context/situation modelling, pattern recognition and/or machine learning.

2. Analytical skills and ability to solve complex conceptual problems through the application of scientific and engineering principles.

3. Evidence of strong oral and written communication skills, including the ability to publish the results of scientific research in leading scientific journals and present research at international conferences.

4. Demonstrated ability to program in C or C++, experience with MATLAB (or similar) for data analysis.

5. Ability to foster positive working relationships and contribute effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team as well as sound judgment and the ability to act independently.

Desirable Criteria:

1. Demonstrated experience in pervasive healthcare applications and/or with application development on smart phones.

2. Demonstrated experience with multimedia signal processing or data mining in spatio-temporal data sets.

Location: Brisbane, Australia

Salary: AU$78K – $85K per annum plus up to 15.4% Superannuation (Pension Fund), ref: Q12/03217. Exchange rate: 1 AU$ = ~1.05 US$ (17/10/2012)

More information on this position is available here


TinyDuino Microcontroller Is Smaller Than a Quarter

Arduino is probably the world’s most popular open source physical computing platform. The little microcontrollers show up in everything from wild art projects to serious home automation efforts. It’s great and all, but couldn’t it be … smaller? Electrical engineer Ken Burns thought so, and got to work on the TinyDuino.

TinyDuino is a fully Arduino-compatible hardware platform, complete with expansion shields (add-on boards that have specific sensors or lights, for you non-robot designers). But where an Arduino Uno is around the size of a credit card, the TinyDuino is smaller than a quarter, and its sibling the TinyLily is the size of a dime. The TinyDuino line is designed around three core elements: size, affordability, and expandability. The idea, says Burns, is to open up Arduino to a whole host of applications that simply aren’t possible with the larger board.

The seeds of TinyDuino were planted when Burns was working on creating smart sensors. The goal was sensors that would be plug and play, with on-board intelligence that allowed them to handle all the hard stuff, like reading data, calibration, and formatting the output. “For a typical hobbyist, this would mean you could just plug in any sensor, whether it’s temperature, pressure, light–whatever, and your system would read it out and know what it was and the units it was in.”

Burns says that Arduino was a natural fit as a basis for the work. When he shared his progress with friends and members of the SYN/HAK hackerspace, “it became pretty apparent that there were others that were very interested in having very tiny Arduino compatible processor modules,” Burns says. Focus switched over to designing a family around this core concept.

The TinyDuino is an exercise in design extremes. When you start cutting a hardware board down to the size of pocket change, it forces you to make a lot of serious decisions about what features are needed. In order to cut the TinyDuino down to size, Burns says, they moved a lot of the default affordances of the Arduino hardware, like the USB connector, on to TinyShields. (A similarly-shrunken Arduino project, the Digispark, has the USB plug built in, similar to a small thumbdrive ). TinyShields are an intensification of the shield paradigm that is already an important part of Arduino hardware.

“If you look at the board itself,” says Burns, “it’s really just a core processor that brings out signals to pins.” Ordinarily, those pins need to be attached (often through soldering) to electronics that can process the signals and turn them into motion, light, sound, WiFi, etc.

More info here and here.

A Decade of TinyOS Development

OSDI 2012 has an interesting paper on the evolution of TinyOS over the past 10+ years. It looks at both technical and social decisions that contributed to the success of TinyOS. The paper also looks back and evaluates what worked, what didn’t, and why. It’s rare to see papers at technical conferences talking about the non-technical aspects of large software development projects, so should be an interesting read. You can find the paper here.

Thingsquare Announces Software to Simplify the Internet of Things

Thingsquare, a pioneering provider of open-source software for the Internet of Things, today announced Thingsquare Mist, a standards-based mesh networking platform. Thingsquare Mist allows developers of smart lighting systems, smart cities, smart homes and smart buildings to quickly add Internet connectivity to their devices. A key feature of Thingsquare Mist is its ability to seamlessly connect Mist networks with existing networks based on the Internet Protocol (IP), without need for manual configuration.

“The Internet of Things market is growing quickly due to new low-cost hardware and manufacturing technology,” said Adam Dunkels, founder of Thingsquare and author of the Contiki operating system. “The Internet of Things needs open standards and straightforward software to move forward. Thingsquare Mist makes the Internet of Things dramatically easier to develop and deploy.” Thingsquare Mist uses open standards such as the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), IPv6 for low-power wireless networks (6lowpan), the Routing Protocol for Lossy networks (RPL), and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Thingsquare Mist is open-source software and runs the open-source Contiki operating system on the devices. Key innovations in network protocols, over-the-air software update mechanisms, and network maintenance tools, makes Thingsquare Mist systems easy to develop, deploy, and operate.

Thingsquare is working with several leading hardware manufacturers to bring Thingsquare Mist to a wide range of hardware platforms. Thingsquare Mist is currently in private beta with a set of selected customers and will be available by Q1 2013.

Thingsquare is the leading provider of open-source software for the Internet of Things. Founded in 2012 with the aim to simplify the Internet of Things, Thingsquare provides standards-based software to a wide range of customers developing applications for smart lighting, smart cities and smart buildings.

Netherlands: Wireless sensors useful in optimizing glashouse climate

During orientation research at tomato growers Gebr.Verbeek in Velden, the Netherlands (North Limburg province) it has become clear this spring that wireless sensors may well be used in optimizing the glasshouse climate. It is possible with this technology to use energy more efficiently. The research has been done by Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw together with AgriSensys and Climeco in the framework of the project Gezonde Kas.

In most glasshouse the climate is controlled by a measuring box and a climate computer. The traditional measuring box collects data about the relative humidity of the air and the temperature of each section of the glasshouse. This measuring is the establishment at a certain point and does nor show differences in climate in the glasshouse. When adjusting the temperature and the humidity the climate computer therefore applies a considerable safety margin. Often more heat is then produced than necessary.
Wireless network
Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw has developed a wireless sensor system, which in the meantime is available under trade name AgriSensys. The wireless sensor network consists of a number of measuring boxes and a basic station. The measuring boxes are in various spots in the glasshouse and the base station collects the information via a web-application and produces a graph.  The grower in this way knows the horizontal differences in climate and where and when there is a risk of wetness in the glasshouse.
This spring a test was carried out at Gebr.Verbeek. 25 sensors were positioned in the tomato glasshouse, which is equal to 10 sensors/HA. During the period February to May measurements of the measuring box were compared to those of the sensors.
During the test it became clear that based on the values of the measuring box it very often resulted in unnecessary heating of the glasshouse. Also the grower, because of the sensor network, became more aware of the critical points in the glasshouse.
Potplant test
From the research it is clear that a wireless sensor network is a good instrument to improve the climate in the glasshouse and to save energy. The research will be followed in the project Gezonde Kas at the testing station in Straelen. A test in a pot plant glasshouse will follow in September

The project Gezonde Kas is an INTERREG IV A program, in which border areas work on Europe. Research companies and business in the region Greenport Venlo and agro business region Nederrijn cooperate on practical solutions for glasshouse horticultural companies. More information here.

Measuring the inertial forces in two of the most savage roller coasters with wireless sensors

Libelium has tested his sensor platform Waspmote in two of the most savage roller coasters of the world in the Port Aventura theme park (Spain). Waspmote integrates a powerful and accurate accelerometer to measure inertial forces up to +-8g on 3 axis (X, Y, Z) with output data rates up to 1kHz. The tests include 8 complete inversions at a max speed of 135km/h. Data is recorded in the internal SD card and sent via Wifi to a SmartPhone using an Adhoc connection. Read more.

Big Data in Your Blood

Very soon, we will see inside ourselves like never before, with wearable, even internal , sensors that monitor even our most intimate biological processes. It is likely to happen even before we figure out the etiquette and laws around sharing this knowledge.

Already products like the Nike+ FuelBand and the Fitbit wireless monitor track our daily activity, taking note of our steps and calories burned. The idea is to help meet an exercise regimen, perhaps lose some weight. The real-world results are uneven. For sure, though, people are building up big individual databases about themselves over increasingly long periods of time. So are the companies that sell these products, which store that data.

That is barely the start. Later this year, a Boston-based company calledMC10 will offer the first of several “stretchable electronics” products that can be put on things like shirts and shoes, worn as temporary tattoos or installed in the body. These will be capable of measuring not just heart rate, the company says, but brain activity, body temperature and hydration levels. Another company, called Proteus, will begin a pilot program in Britain for a “Digital Health Feedback System” that combines both wearable technologies and microchips the size of a sand grain that ride a pill right through you. Powered by your stomach fluids, it emits a signal picked up by an external sensor, capturing vital data. Another firm, Sano Intelligence, is looking at micro needle sensors on skin patches as a way of deriving continuous information about the bloodstream.

More info here.

GreenPeak launches the GP710: the first dual-protocol ZigBee chip

The dual ZigBee network solution for Set-Top Box and Gateway combines ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee IP/ZigBee PRO for Smart Home Solutions

GreenPeak Technologies, a leading Smart Home RF-communication semiconductor company, today announced the launch of the new GP710, a dual-protocol ZigBee communications controller with simultaneous support for ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee IP/ZigBee PRO protocols.

The GP710 communication controller is targeted for set-top boxes, gateways and Smart Home controllers and designed for supporting simultaneously ZigBee RF4CE applications – such as remote controls – as well as ZigBee IP or ZigBee PRO Smart Home applications such as security, home care and energy management.

The benefits of this GreenPeak dual-protocol communication chip are much simpler product design, cost reduction of the total product bill-of-material (single silicon) and a less complex PCB and antenna that makes it simpler and faster for developers to integrate ZigBee into their set-top box or gateway designs.

“The GP710 provides a low cost solution that combines different ZigBee Network protocols into a single chip,” said Cees Links, Founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. “GreenPeak has developed special hardware features to enable multi-protocol support, minimizing the interrupt load on the set-top box processor, and allowing simultaneous RF4CE and other ZigBee protocol operations. This is a first for the industry! Because of GreenPeak’s superior range that covers the whole home and its ultra-low power consumption for long battery life, the GP710 is the best in class choice for integrated low cost Smart Home ZigBee applications.”

Cees Links continues: “Many large operators already support ZigBee RF4CE in the set-top box and remote controls and have an urgent need to broaden the service offering to their customers. GreenPeak’s GP710 communications controller will make new Smart Home service offerings less expensive because new residential applications can all be controlled from the set-top box or gateway using a single device.”

“This solution leverages the growing availability of ZigBee RF4CE in the market,” said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls & Energy, Parks Associates. “Adding ZigBee IP/ZigBee Pro to the ZigBee RF4CE silicon will make it easy for service providers already using ZigBee RF4CE remote controls to add home automation devices – now an area of significant focus by communications service providers.”

More info here.

Researchers take full control of cockroach’s movement, turn it into a wireless sensor

Built-in power supply? Check. Ability to survive anything? Check. Easy to control? Okay, anyone who’s had a cockroach as an uninvited houseguest knows that’s not the case. So, rather than re-inventing the biological wheel with a robotic version, North Carolina State university researchers have figured out a way to remotely control a real Madagascar hissing cockroach. They used an off-the-shelf microcontroller to tap in to the roach’s antennae and abdomen, then sent commands that fooled the insect into thinking danger was near, or that an object was blocking it. That let the scientists wirelessly prod the insect into action, then guide it precisely along a curved path, as shown in the video below the break. The addition of a sensor could allow the insects to one day perform tasks, liking searching for trapped disaster victims — something to think about the next time you put a shoe to one.

More info here.


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