Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

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

Mass vehicle surveillance: the wrong way and the less-wrong way

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Roger Clarke has a paper titled The Covert Implementation of Mass Vehicle Surveillance in Australia which looks at Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which he finds being done two different ways:

This paper outlines two alternative architectures for ANPR, referred to as the ‘mass surveillance’ and ‘blacklist-in-camera’ approaches. They reflect vastly different approaches to the balance between surveillance and civil liberties.

Basically it sounds like the wrong way is to collect all vehicle data in a centralized location regardless of whether the vehicle is suspected, and the less-wrong way is to have a list in the camera of numbers being looked for. About the latter:

Further key requirements of the ‘Blacklist in Camera’ design include: certified non-accessibility and non-recording of any personal data other than that arising under the above circumstances

This requirement is the kind of thing that Open Source Sensing advocates: note the word “certified”.

Apparently something somewhat similar to the latter method is done in Canada, but Australia is headed in the wrong direction, according to the author. —Chris Peterson

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

ACme: open source energy sensing from UC Berkeley

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Reuters reports:

A team of UC Berkeley students have built a wireless sensor network energy management tool called ACme, and the group has released all of its hardware design and software information, including the sourcecode and API, on its web site…

While the set-up is similar to what’s involved with products from other companies, like Tendril, the team points out in a paper on their web site that most of the systems out there are largely proprietary. Tendril has released an API, but it isn’t showing all the details like the ACme creators are.

So this is a good thing.  Energy use sensors are soon likely to be all over the place inside our homes and workplaces; these will be great for saving energy, but could also be used for keeping an eye on what people are up to.  Let’s try to establish the principle right up front that we want to know what these devices are sensing and how the data will be used.

ACme stands for AC meter. Here’s the project website.

—Chris Peterson