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Archive for July, 2013

IoE Connections Counter

From Cisco blog:

Right now, in 2013, 80 “things” per second are connecting to the internet.  Next year that number will reach almost 100 per second, and by 2020, more than 250 things will connect each second.

Add all of these numbers up, and we believe that more than 50 billion things  will be connected to the internet by 2020.  Today we’re launching the Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Connections Counter so that we can watch in real time as everything comes online.

By the way, what are all of these “things”?  Mobile devices, parking meters, thermostats, cardiac monitors, tires, roads, cars, supermarket shelves, and yes, even cattle.   The list is endless, and it just keeps getting longer and more interesting.  Literally, by the second.

Even more exciting is when all of these things are combined with people, process and data via the network to deliver transformational value to the world by improving the way we make decisions, saving us time and money, and so much more.  That’s the Internet of Everything, and its value increases every time we connect the unconnected.

So we’re paying close attention.  The connections counter will help us keep track of exactly where we are in this journey, starting now and continuing through 2020.

We encourage you to keep track as well.  Cisco invites journalists, analysts and other interested parties to check out the IoE Connections Counter and to feature it in your own content.

Let the countdown to 2020 and 50 billion connections begin!

More info here.

Without API Management, the Internet of Things is Just a Big Thing

Just when you thought the Internet couldn’t get any bigger, here comes the Internet of Things (IoT). The GSM Association’s Connected Life predicts that by 2020, there will be 24 billion connected devices, while Cisco’s current Internet of Everything prediction is 37 billion “intelligent things,” such as cars, appliances, smartphones, tablets, monitoring sensors and more, connected to the Internet. By even the most pessimistically Malthusian calculus, human connections will be by far the exception to the rule.

Certainly the scale of the connected network will require lots of GSM cell phone towers and Cisco routers, but that’s not all. The rise of IoT depends on a whole host of enabling technologies like RFID, IPv6, Big Data, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Web APIs, or more specifically REST APIs, are key for connecting devices to the Internet. Initially driven by human-held mobile devices and modern dynamic web-user interfaces, lightweight and developer-friendly REST APIs are just what the doctor ordered.

But organizations looking for opportunity in IoT with REST APIs need to get very serious about API management. And it’s not just the massive scale that should be a concern. The nature of “things”, plus the nature of the human beings operating them, plus the importance of some of the things we will connect (satellites, weapons, vehicles) raise critical issues as well.

Addressing these issues and preparing for IoT requires solid API management.

API management is an umbrella under which are grouped a collection of solutions — such as gateways, security, and access management — each with its own potential disaster scenario if we get things wrong. Unlike desktop computers, for which Microsoft can address security flaws every Patch Tuesday, some intelligent things may not be as easy, or even possible, to update. And, they may remain in existence for a very long time. For example, think of the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems used to control public utility infrastructure, their design life cycles, andattendant concerns over security. Many intelligent things are not nearly as complex as Windows desktops or SCADA, but even simple topics like version management for things that can last a decaderequire planning and foresight.

API management also includes developer registration and API key control. We need to grant developers who enable the connecting of things to APIs the authority and associated keys to do so, while retaining the right to revoke that access when necessary. Similarly, the API may need to include device-level identifiers and management tools for handling them. For a working example, look at the API management infrastructure required to send notifications to Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices.

APIs are not only thing-facing. Part of what makes IoT so important is the ability to connect applications to devices, either singly or in aggregate. A connected car has an app that can unlock the doors. The Fitbit API might allow a sports drink vendor to send promotions to an athlete. Developers on the device and data sides of the equation are different entities, with different rights, different APIs, and different API management security requirements.

More info here.

Human Motion Will Power the Internet of Things, Say Energy Harvesting Engineers

HarvestingThe Internet of Things is the imagined network of data links that will emerge when everyday objects are fitted with tiny identifying devices.

The idea is that every parcel in a post office would transmit its position, origin and destination so that it can be tracked and routed more efficiently, that every product on a supermarket shelf would transmit its contents, price, shelf life and so on, that your smartphone would interrogate the contents of your fridge and cupboards every time you walk into the kitchen to warn you when the milk is running low. And so on.

Each of these things will enhance our businesses and lifestyles in a small way. But taken together, this Internet of Things will entirely transform the way we interact with the world around us. That’s the hope at least.

But there’s a problem: these tiny identifying devices require a power source. Batteries are expensive and impractical so computer scientists are hoping to harvest the necessary energy from the environment, in particular from lights and from human motion.

The question is how much energy is available in this way. That’s relatively straightforward to answer for indoor lights (about 50-100 microwatts per cm^2). But the energy available from human motion is much harder to assess.

More info here.

Cattle research with no strings (or wires) attached

CQUNIVERSITY is trying to combine new wireless sensor network technology with animal behaviour research to boost the reproductive efficiency of northern Australia’s beef cattle production.

Project leader Dr Dave Swain says there is a PhD student opportunity in this field, thanks to a new scholarship open for applications and underpinned by a partnership between Telstra and the university.

The Telstra-funded PhD student will work with Dr Swain to extend work that has been done to explore how remote, automated measures of social behaviour can be used as indicators of reproductive performance.

“The challenge for cattle producers is to be able to measure data that can be used improve cattle reproductive performance,” Dr Swain said.

“This PhD project will address a significant industry problem.”

CQUniversity spokeswoman Suzi Blair said Telstra had selected the university as a partner because it understood the enormous impact of research focused on specific regional problems, challenges and opportunities.

“Telstra is being visionary in backing our region through the provision of this scholarship, as research is a key to our future prosperity in CQ,” Ms Blair said.

“The establishment of the Telstra research scholarship represents a significant investment in the potential of the CQ region.

“It is great to see a major corporate backing our region in this way and providing financial support for the pursuit of new knowledge.”

Telstra representatives Lydia van Niekerk and John Llorente recently met CQUniversity deputy vice-chancellor Professor Hilary Winchester to hand over the first of three payments for the scholarship.

Prof Winchester thanked Telstra for the ongoing support and interest in CQUniversity.

“CQUniversity greatly values the deepening of our mutual relationship for the benefit of our region,” Prof Winchester said.

Anyone interested in applying for the PhD scholarship can contact Dr Swain at d.swain@cqu.edu.au.

$10 stickers can form inexpensive wireless sensor network

mems-sensor-sticker-590x330Japan’s NMEMS technology research association has revealed an amazing new sensor module. It’s just 1mm thick and measures 2cm by 5cm, but that’s more than enough space to cram in a wide array of monitoring abilities, power generation, and wireless communication capabilities.

These “stickers” will be capable of keeping tabs on a wide variety of environmental conditions, from dust, CO2, and VOC levels to ambient temperature and the strength of nearby electromagnetic fields. Situated on the bottom layer is a tiny solar setup that will generate and store the necessary power.

It doesn’t need much, either. NMEMES TRA says the sensors will require about 150μW. Currently the photoelectric layer can produce about 80% of that, so there’s some tweaking to do before the first prototypes can be delivered in 2014.
Once the necessary juice can be supplied, the sensors will be able to communicate wirelessly over a distance of about 100 meters. That works out to an area of about 31,000 square meters — impressively wide coverage when you consider that no outside power needs to be supplied.

These autonomous little stickers should be perfect for monitoring all kinds of indoor environments, like schools, malls, office buildings, factories, and hospitals.
They should make life a little easier for your local health authority, too, since data can be gathered wirelessly from more than a football field away. That’s a heck of a lot more convenient than distributing old fashioned detection devices and then gathering them all up later to analyze data.

With a sticker price of around $10, it won’t take long for these sensors to find their way into buildings all over the globe.

More info here.

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