Archive for the ‘Products & services’ Category

Tracking the sensor revolution, for big bucks or for free

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Wireless Sensor Networks report cover

Tracking what’s happening with sensors today is an intimidating task. If you have US$2700 you can get a big report on Wireless Sensor Networks from Bharat Book Bureau, which appears to be based in India. If you don’t have this amount to spare, you can get a feel for what’s happening by just reading the long ad for the report, including the detailed table of contents. The summary has helpful orientation material:

Many now refer to traditional active RFID as First Generation. Examples of this include the device that opens your car from a distance and the device in your car windshield that uses a battery to incur and record non-stop tolling charges. Another example is the widespread tracking of military supplies and assets by electronically recording when they have been near an electronic device that reads the tag using radio waves. Real Time Location Systems RTLS, that continuously interrogate the tag from a distance, are called Second Generation active RFID and WSN is called Third Generation because it works in yet another completely different manner to provide its unique benefits…

Progress is now rapid and the much smaller size of the latest WSN tags is one indication of this. While the original concept was for billions or even trillions of tags the size of dust, the first ten years of development of USN has more often seen expensive tags, some the size of a videotape or, more recently, palm sized. However, further miniaturisation and cost reduction are now imminent.

The ToC lists many intriguing projects and companies worth a web search. There is a section on Impediments, which includes privacy concerns as the first listing. We can help with that! —Chris Peterson

Quick intro to Ubiquitous Sensor Networks

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

For a 25-minute slide-show-and-lecture intro to this topic from an industry perspective, check out Ubiquitous Sensor Networks: The benefits of smart dust and mesh technology by Joy Weiss of Dust Networks. Her presentation helps get across why these systems are arriving so fast.

Joy Weiss photo from ETC Conference

Sensor network is parasitic on living trees

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Following up on our “they really will be everywhere” theme, Laurie Sullivan of RFID Journal reports that sensor networks do not even need direct solar energy to operate now:

Forest-Monitoring Sensors Harvest Energy From Trees

The U.S. Forest Service is deploying a climate sensor network powered by energy harvested from living trees

July 2, 2009—The U.S. Forest Service has confirmed that it will purchase a climate sensor network this summer from Voltree Power that is powered by energy harvested from living trees. The system employs low-power radio transceivers, sensors and patented bioenergy-harvesting technology to predict and detect fires.

Using the word ‘parasitic’ here is more an attempt at humor than a complaint; the bioenergy-harvesting is a very clever technical achievement. Our point here is that soon there won’t be anywhere that sensors can’t operate… —Chris Peterson

ISO Sensor Network group drafts & Sensorpedia

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Sent by Kevin Keck, longtime Foresight member:

I just happened to have been reminded this week that ISO/IEC JTC1 currently has an active Study Group on Sensor Networks (SGSN). The comment period on the attached documents has closed, but they’ll be having their fourth meeting in Oslo, Norway, 29 June – 3 July 2009, and there’s mention in the second of an email discussion group that was to be resumed in March. These documents were distributed widely for comment, so you should be able to redistribute them further without any problem.

Also, have you heard of Sensorpedia?

Anyone wishing to see the documents, use the Contact form on this site to request them. And we had not seen Sensorpedia, a project of Oak Ridge National Lab, but it’s on the blog roll now. Thanks, Kevin! —Chris Peterson

OpenShaspa: for-profit open-source energy monitoring

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The news article cited in the previous post speculated that for a project to become a for-profit company, it may have to give up its open source nature. Perhaps not: see the Fast Company article on OpenShaspa, which has launched a home energy monitoring kit based on open source hardware and software:

Shaspa’s kit, which is constructed from open-source components, contains a system of wireless sensors that control home energy output…OpenShaspa can be linked to an open-source spin-off of Second Life called OpenSimulator.

The project seems to be aimed at getting people to share their data, which is fine if they’d like to do that. But if the technology is open source, the sharing can be up to the user. —Chris Peterson