Category Archives: Smart Technologies

ZTE’s new Firefox smartphone will only be sold on eBay

ZTE

Mobile manufacturers ZTE are to become the first company to sell a smartphone running the new Firefox operating system in the UK and the US markets. The handset, priced at £59.99, will be available exclusively on e-commerce site eBay.

The ZTE Open runs applications written in the web-based HTML5 language rather than a unique company-owned platform. Mozilla, the creators of the Firefox web browser, says the phone will inspire a “new wave of innovation”.

A spokesman for the Chinese manufacturers ZTE said the handset was aimed at first-time smartphone users. The phone is already on sale in Spain, Colombia and Venezuela, via telecommunications company Telefonica, and ZTE says the Open will be available “soon” on eBay in the UK and the US. It will be not be locked to a specific mobile network operator.

The ZTE Open is one of the first smartphones to rely completely on HTML5 based applications

ARM to showcase Internet of Things at HQ

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ARM says work is underway to transform its Fulbourn Road HQ into a hub for Internet of Things technologies. The chip giant and its partners have won £800k from the government’s Technology Strategy Board to deploy network technology and 600 connected sensors across its premises.

These are to be driven by ARM-based chips and will be used to control car park lights, meeting rooms, heating and water management systems, all with the aim of saving energy and demonstrating how the Internet of Things – or machine-to-machine communication – can achieve this. The whole system will be open for inspection.

Partners include: AlertMe, IntelliSense.io, Enlight, 1248, Red Ninja, Neul and Badger Pass.

Lee Omar, CEO of Red Ninja said: “We are delighted to be working with Internet of Things  thought leaders ARM, Alert me and Enlight to create apps that create real value from Internet of Things assets.  Our experience is creating value from large and diverse data sets, we are looking forward to mashing up this data to create innovative apps.”

ARM says: “This collaboration between some of the UK’s most advanced technology companies will also provide the technology industry with key lessons on how a new generation of intelligent, connected products and services can be fully implemented, with the potential for worldwide adoption.”

Cambridge-based AlertMe is extending its remit by providing ARM staff with kits to monitor their own homes for energy efficiency. EnLight is upgrading outdoor lighting, and Intellisense will measure pressure and flow in ARM’s heating and ventilation

Oracle hitches Java to ‘Internet of things’

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The company hopes that Java can supplant C in embedded-device development projects.

With an upgrade to the embedded version of Java announced Tuesday, Oracle wants to extend the platform to a new generation of connected devices, aka the Internet of things. Oracle also hopes that Java can supplant the C language in some embedded development projects.

The company is releasing Oracle Java ME (Micro Edition) Embedded 3.3 and Oracle Java ME Software Development Kit 3.3, providing a client Java runtime and toolkit for microcontrollers and resource-constrained devices. Version 3.3 is geared to low-powered devices and systems without screens or user interfaces. It also supports the ARMv5 through ARMv7 chip architectures and enables greater connectivity between edge devices and network peripherals and systems.

Oracle anticipates that Java developers can leverage their skills building applications for very small devices to begin developing solutions for the Internet of things, which includes devices ranging from street lights to home automation and security systems. Oracle appear to be making strides in addressing segments of the marketplace that historically have not been large users of Java.

The Java ME 3.3 Embedded rollout features improved device APIs to increase the number of external peripherals that can be integrated, runtime monitoring, and logging enhancements are featured. Supported developer boards include Raspberry Pi and Keil STM32 F200 Evaluation Board. Java ME SDK 3.3 backs Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit systems in addition to Windows XP 32-bit, and it has plug-ins for the NetBeans IDE and Eclipse.

Oracle also is looking to provide partners with the ability to customize Java ME embedded products for different device types and market segments with its Oracle Java Platform Integrator program, which provides support, patches, and updates. Downloads of Oracle’s embedded Java technologies are available at Oracle’s website.

 

Human motion will Power the Internet of Things, say energy harvesting engineers

Most people generate enough power to continuously transmit data at a rate of 1 Kb/s, say researchers who have audited the harvestable energy from human motion.

The 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.

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.

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.

That’s caught the interest of Maria Gorlatova and team at Columbia University in New York who have measured the inertial energy available from the activity of 40 individuals over periods up to 9 days. To do this they attached to each person inertial energy harvesting devices, essentially a mass attached to a spring, that recorded their motion.

“To the best of our knowledge, the dataset that we analyze is the first publicly available acceleration dataset collected for a large number of participants,” they say.

They also measured the power available from the movement of objects such as doors, drawers and pencils to see how much might be harvested here.

The results are often surprising and sometimes counter-intuitive. Here’s a list of their main findings:

  • Periodic motion is energy rich. So writing with a pencil generates more power (10-15 microwatts) than the acceleration associated with a 3-hour flight flight including take off, landing and turbulence, which never generated more than 5 microwatts.
  • Humans are passive most of the time. About 95 per cent of the total harvestable energy they produce is generated during less than 7 per cent of the day.
  • Walking generates the same amount of power as indoor lighting (about 150 microwatts). Running generates around 800 microwatts.
  • Purposeful shaking generates up to 3,500 microwatts, 30 times more than walking.
  • Even though it requires less exertion, walking downstairs generates more power than going upstairs because of the higher accelerations involved.
  • Taller people generate about 20 per cent more power than shorter people.
  • The difference between people’s power output depends largely on the amount of walking they do. Sensor placement on the body makes little difference.
  • Most people generate enough power to continuously transmit data at the rate of about 1 Kb/s (more than 5 microwatts).

That’s an interesting set of results. Engineers are already designing algorithms to manage the way energy is harvested, stored and then used. Gorlatova and co say this kind of work will help to make these as efficient as possible.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1307.0044: Movers and Shakers: Kinetic Energy Harvesting for the Internet of Things

Mobile Asia Expo 2013

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Even though part of the Connected Liverpool team is still out there in Shanghai, it is time to have a quick look at some of the highlights of the Mobile Asia Expo 2013 conference which took place last week (26-28 June).

The GSMA reported that 20,500 people from 77 countries visited the 3-day conference  which was held in Shanghai….MASSIVE! The conference offered executives from the industry’s largest mobile operators, device manufacturers, equipment providers, software companies, internet companies and government delegations.

In total the conference hosted nearly 200 exhibition stands and occupied 25,000 gross square metres of both exhibition and business meeting space. Well you get the point, this must have been an impressive gathering.

The conference showcased various leading companies across the mobile ecosystem such as Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, Amazon China, AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, Dell, Facebook, Huawei, Lenovo, Mozilla, NEC, Oracle, Samsung, Sharp, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Telecom Italia Sparkle, The Coca-Cola Company, Toshiba, Ubuntu, Visa and ZTE, among others. Putting these kind of companies under one roof must be interesting (if not mind blowing) to say the least. Lets explore some of the offerings…..

We have been told that the Connected City ‘stand’ was at the Heart of Mobile Asia Expo.
Across 1,600 square metres, the Connected City showcased a range of mobile connected products and services, providing Mobile Asia Expo attendees the opportunity to experience the “Connected Life” first-hand. Connected City partners included China Mobile, Cisco, Ford Motor Company, Huawei, KT and SAP.

As with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, also this conference offered a NFC experience. The attendees with a NFC-enabled phone were able to use it at several locations throughout the exhibition. China Mobile was the NFC Experience Official Operator Partner next to its Supporting Partners including Samsung, Huawei, China UnionPay, Sandpay, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Shanghai COS Software Co., Ltd.

It also offered a Public Policy Forum. Given the importance of a supportive government policy to the mobile ecosystem and the impact the Asia Pacific has on a global scale, the GSMA held a Public Policy Forum at Mobile Asia Expo, bringing together more than 70 key stakeholders from governments, regulators, international organisations, mobile operators and industry manufacturers across the region. The forum mainly examined the regulatory environment that will help to deliver services, create growth and improve lives in the Asia Pacific and beyond.

Additionally, The Connected Liverpool team in Shanghai happily informed their colleagues back in Liverpool about some amazing projects like a robot for educational purposes and a camera that cannot only recognise your face with human recognition technology but also your age and gender….. As you can imagine, us being tech geeks are awaiting our colleagues and their amazing stories with a lot of (im)patience…

For now, good night!