Tag: sensor networks

Securifi to release home-automation-capable routers


Touchscreen-enabled routers double as home automation hubs | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth


Almond routers

Product Page

My Comments

Previous, if you were to integrate home automations or the “Internet Of Everything” to your home network, you had to use a separate “bridge” device for sensor devices that worked with Zigbee or Z-Wave. Most of these devices worked as a control surface for these devices such as showing their current status or turning appliances on at certain times or in response to certain events.

Now Securifi have built up the latest iteration of their Almond series touch-controlled routers and integrated Zigbee in them and Z-Wave in the Almond+ premium version. Both these devices can be set up to work as wireless access points or range extenders as well as routers.

They have the ability to show the current state of nominated sensors or allow you to control the sensors from the router’s touchscreen. But they also have a time-switch functionality or triggered functionality so that an appliance can come on or off according to certain conditions. These use the application-based standards associated with Zigbee and Z-Wave which is on an open-frame basis.

As well, Securifi have been working on iOS and Android apps that provide the ability to manage the home-automation ability from your smartphone’s or tablet’s screen. This may mean that you can check whether that heater in your room was actually on using your iPhone’s display and turn it off remotely as you are getting in your car rather than run in to check that it is off as I have seen before. As well, you could avoid having to glance in that rear-view mirror as you drive out slowly from home to check if that garage door is closing properly.  Securifi could extend the Almond app to work with the iOS and Android in-car, wearable and voice-assistant functionalities in order to show the various status reports on your dashboard or smartwatch or allow you to ask Siri or Google Now the current status of various appliances.

Could this be a chance for router manufacturers to integrate the home-automation hub functionality in some of their products? Here, it could open up the path for more of the smart-home ideas to come across for most people and reduce the need for extra boxes to be part of your home network.

Bluetooth Smart technology to detect if Grandpa has the wanders


16 Year Old Develops Bluetooth Smart Solution to Keep Alzheimer’s Patients from Wandering | Bluetooth Blog

From the horse’s mouth

SafeWander (SensaRx)

Home Page


Overview (Click / Tap to play in YouTube)

NBC 4 New York News report (Click / Tap to play in YouTube)

My Comments

A 16-year-old had developed a device which alerts someone else if a person like an Alzheimer’s patient wanders out of bed. This boy, Kenneth Shinozuka, was inspired to develop this device because of an incident where he was out with his grandfather at age 4 and Grandpa wandered off and was lost. Here, this brought to his family’s attention that Grandpa had Alzheimer’s disease.

A situation that was very common for him and his family was that his aunt who was his Grandpa’s primary carer wasn’t sleeping properly because she worried that if she slept, he would climb out of bed and wander absent-mindedly.

Here, he designed the device to be attached to the patient’s sock, slipper or foot to sense foot pressure associated when they climb out of bed to start wandering. This device uses a Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Low Energy) link to a suitable smartphone that is equipped with an “alarm” app that audibly alerts the carer and shows up a timer to show how long they have been off the bed. There is the ability to set up a threshold and a “hold time” so as to allow for situations like the patient going to the bathroom at night to do what he has to do.

He developed this device through a few science fairs including the Google Science Fair where he got the respect and was given the Google Science Fair Global Finalist prize amongst a few other awards. Scientific American and Popular Mechanics, both respected science and technology magazines even gave him awards for this device. He was able to use the prototype with his Grandpa and his aunt in this situation and she was able to claim a lot more sleep each night because of not worrying if he was about to get the wanders overnight.

Kenneth saw this as being important for the “ageing at home” phenomenon where older people are staying at home in the care of family members and friends rather than going in to care at nursing homes or similar facilities. He is evolving the technology towards other aspects of this phenomenon like a bathroom floor that senses if someone is falling and a medicine box which alerts the older person to take their pills at the right time.

Up, Up And Away with Android Wear


Hacking the friendly skies: creating apps for wearables at 36,000 feet | Engadget

My Comments

There are some efforts taking place to make the wearable devices and sensors become relevant with air travel which is part of our business lives. This has been underscored by a recent “hackathon” programming contest sponsored by American Airlines to encourage the development of apps to bind wearables with the air travel experience.

The goal with this challenge was to make apps that are relevant to the passenger through the various phases of the experience i.e. checking in, passing through a security checkpoint, boarding the plane, flying using the newer inflight Wi-Fi system and having an Economy class seat as your workspace then arriving and collecting your luggage.

One application that won “first prize” in the challenge was a push-notification system that was able to let you and family / close friends know where you were in your air journey. Here, this could push messages to your phone or smartwatch or the device owned by your friend depending on where you are, and could show up electronic boarding passes as required. For your relative or friend, it would mean, for example, when to start driving out to the airport to pick you up. This application would be driven by GPS and iBeacon technology in order to get its bearings.

Another application that won the challenge was an “area social network” that applied to your flight. Here, this would tie in with Facebook and LinkedIn and the in-flight Wi-Fi to indicate whether you have “bumped in to” someone in your personal or business network by the fact that you are on the same plane. This could also work with groups that are likely to be “split up” due to travelling different classes on a long-haul jet or simply for solo travellers who are heading the same direction to do things like share cabs at the destination.

Someone even tendered a personalised proximity-signage setup which can show things like gate information for connecting flights or directions to a particular baggage carousel. I also see this application work with the hire-car scene by avoiding the need for drivers of these cars to show signboards relating to their pick-ups in the arrivals hall. This application assures privacy by deleting the information on the signs when you walk away from them.

Even the idea of travelling with your four-legged friend interstate or overseas by air on the same flight is catered for with a special collar that lets you know how they are. This could be augmented with a system that allows you to know how they are if you and the pet are on different transports once suitable technology is implemented as part of the “Internet of Things”.

This is a situation where innovation is taking place by encouraging situation-specific software development goals through programming challenges focusing on that situation.

UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks


UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks | EETasia

My Comments

The recent extension of the UPnP Device Architecture specifications, known as UPnP+ is being worked on at the moment by the UPnP Forum. This is to extend the reach of the UPnP Device Architecture specification sets to satisfy certain new realities.

One key reality is to make UPnP work properly with the “Internet Of Everything” concept. This is where devices are able to interlink with each other and share their information in a manner not dissimilar to the concept associated with the Internet.

It will be achieved with native support for IPv6 across IP networks. This takes advantage of the huge number of addresses this standard offers compared to the legacy IPv4 which most of the Internet works on at the moment.

As well, a SensorBridge Device Class will be defined. This caters for the “bridge” device that links sensors and similar devices that work on non-IP networks with IP-based networks. The article talked of the non-IP wireless-sensor networks as being Zigbee, Z-Wave and ANT which take advantage of low-power low-overhead operation suited for those fields. These devices could be represented by “black-box” devices that stand between an Ethernet or Wi-Fi-based home network and the sensors or controllers such as the Honeywell Evohome Mobile Access Kit, but could also be represented as software integrated in either a router that also has a Zigbee or Z-Wave interface or a smartphone, tablet or laptop with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart interface.

There will also be inherent support for cloud-based “hosted” services to be part of the UPnP ecosystem. Of course, I find that the term “cloud” alludes a lot to services hosted by other parties away from the main home network, typically to provide remote access from smartphones, tablets and other computers connected via the Internet. In the context of “Internet Of Everything”, it could extend to service providers like utilities or monitored-alarm companies using this data to participate in the “Smart home” concept.

I would see this come in to its own with home and other networks that are operating along the line of “Internet Of Everything” and this could be supported with newer devices that have newer UPnP+ firmware in place.

Bluetooth Smart Ready–Relevant to the tablet form factor?

During the recent media hype surrounding the release of the new Apple iPad, one feature that was mentioned but played second fiddle was the tablet’s support for Bluetooth 4.0 “Smart Ready” connectivity.

This technology, which I covered in a previous article, is where the Bluetooth infrastructure can implement sensor / control devices that work on low-power-drain requirements by reducing the need to transmit frequently. They are typically pitched at the health-care and fitness market in the form of heart-rate monitors, blood glucose meters, personnel scales and the like as well as “smart watches”; and would typically be expected to work with the “Bluetooth Smart-Ready” smartphones rather than a tablet device.

But I would still view the Bluetooth Smart Ready integration for the iPad as very relevant to its form factor. In the health context, the larger screen would benefit a “spot-measuring” device like a sphygmomanometer (blood-pressure meter), thermometer or scales when used with an app that keeps records of the measurements. Here, it could be feasible to see a table or chart  of previous measurements alongside the current measurement so you can make a comparative assessment against the previous observations.

The automotive application class would also benefit from Bluetooth 4.0 implemented on a tablet, especially in the context of people engaging in DIY car maintenance and tuning (read “petrolheads” / “gearheads” / “boy-racers”). Here, Bluetooth 4.0 could interlink devices like a tachometer / dwell meter to a tablet that acts as a large-screen display for these devices when you are tuning that car for performance.

It may also benefit the so-called “app-cessory” concept market where the tablets become control surfaces for appliances, but this would not really need to specifically use Bluetooth 4.0 if the appliance needs constant power to work, because of it benefiting from that constant power.

But there are some applications that need power to provide local needs on a spontaneous basis. These exist primarily in the security / safety product class and represent devices like electromechanical locks or safe locking systems. They can benefit from a Bluetooth 4.0 tablet being a service / programming terminal or even utilising the notification functions in the tablets to signal events and situations.

What really needs to happen is that the next Apple iPad with its Bluetooth 4.0 subsystem and the next generation of Bluetooth 4.0-equipped tablets be a chance to exploit the large screen of the tablets to take the abilities of Bluetooth Smart Devices further.

Similarly, if an idea does not justify the software existing in the iTunes App Store or similar app stores, I would support the ability to “sideload” the app This is where the software is delivered to the customer by physical media or the manufacturer’s own Website then the customer uploads it using a program like iTunes. There could be an authenticated-software measure to verify the authenticity of the code and protect against malware distribution, but this concept of “sideloading” under the developer’s and consumer’s control may not wash with Apple and their fanbois.

Bluetooth Smart–What does it mean for Bluetooth devices

Article – from the horse’s mouth

Bluetooth SIG – "Bluetooth Smart"

My Comments

Bluetooth 4.0 Low Power technology, formerly known as Wibree technology has been put on the market this year. This technology is pitched more for “sensor/controller” devices that primarily provide data to another device; and are required to run for a long time on two AA batteries or a “button-style” battery. Examples of these devices include watches, heart-rate monitors, shoe-attached pedometers, door-window security sensors and the like.

These devices are being marketed as Bluetooth Smart devices and Bluetooth terminals like smartphones and computers that can work with these devices are marketed as Bluetooth Smart Ready devices.

A Bluetooth Smart device like the heart-rate monitor or door security sensor has to be compliant to Bluetooth 4.0 Low Power as a single-mode device and support GATT functionality. These devices cannot work with legacy Bluetooth devices that don’t support this standard.

Bluetooth Smart Ready is used to describe a Bluetooth device, typically a “hub” device like a computer or smartphone that works with these Bluetooth Smart devices. The Bluetooth Smart Ready device must have Bluetooth 4.0 enablement with GATT support. It also has to have a dual-mode low-energy Bluetooth transceiver and updatable software. This would typically benefit regular and mobile/embedded computing devices that work to a “platform” like Windows, MacOS X, iOS or Android. These devices can connect to the Bluetooth Smart devices as well as regular Bluetooth devices.

At the moment Apple has the Smart Ready devices  in the form of the iPhone 4S and the latest iterations of the MacBook AIr and Mac Mini computers. But this technology will be rolled out in to newer computers and Bluetooth modules. The Bluetooth Smart technology will be a point of innovation as companies develop the sensor devices and software for this newer hardware platform.

I would also see this as an improvement for Bluetooth keyboards, mice and controllers due to the idea of having these devices run on a pair of AA batteries that assure reliable operation for a long time without needing to be charged frequently.

It will open up the Bluetooth universe to a larger collection of devices, services and applications that most of us wouldn’t have thought of.