All posts by Connected Liverpool


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As every year, the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 (7-10 January, Las Vegas) is a hotspot where the world’s latest technological developments and discoveries are being showcased. This means: a lot of gadgets and innovations! Which is why we love it.

Without getting into too much depth, we would like to highlight one interesting gadget that received a lot of attention on day 1 of CES (yesterday) which is: Mother.

So what is Mother? Mother is a gadget that was developed by ‘Sense’ and is, as the company describes it, at the head of a family of small connected sensors that blend into your daily life to make it serene, healthy and pleasureable. Quite a promise I would say.

Mother is essentially an Internet of Things driven concept where you have one base station (called Mother – the white thing visualised above) which you connect to your home internet system, and which communicates wirelessly with sensors placed throughout your house (called cookies) which have the power to detect and understand the movements of objects and people. All of the data is gathered into an application which you can access through mobile devices and PC, and which sends you push notifications to keep you informed about your behaviour and that of your family.

So how can it help you? You could paste a cookie on your espresso machine and it will tell you how many espressos you had that day, you could paste one on your daughter’s toothbrush and it will tell you how often she brushes and for how long, or paste one on your door to track whenever it is opened (see images below).

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Similarly, the system can help you to find out whether your son took his medicine (put a cookie on his medicine box), whether you sleep well (put a cookie in your bedroom), and whether someone is home so you can lower the heating (put a cookie on your family members’ keyring). Like the image below shows, all data is collected and visualised in a clear way that help you to stay on top of yourself and your family!

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In other words, Mother will help you to transform your home into an interactive environment which empowers you to learn from people and objects in your home and which will help you to take care of yourself and the ones you care about. Price? $222 and available from upcoming spring!

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Wearable Electronics!

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Connected Liverpool is very much focused on driving and collaborating in projects that improve the health & wellbeing of our Liverpool City Region residents. We like to work with existing/adopted technology but also like to explore what is about to be ‘adopted’ as a result of innovative collaborations between engineers and professors all over the (increasingly connected) globe.

Today we like to explore a new type of wearable electronics that can stick to the skin like a “temporary tattoo” and is powerful enough to read brain signals. John A. Rogers, engineering professor at the University of Illinois, led the development of an ultra-thin device from silicon that can stick to the skin without the need for adhesive and without irritation. Usually, wearable electronics trade flexibility for computing power. But not in this case, as Rogers explains:

“Over the past several decades, most approaches to wearable electronics involved skinlike electronic platform creating points of contact, like electrodes, or focused on flexibility over computing capabilities. It throws away essentially all of the scientific knowledge and engineering know-how that’s already been built up around silicon”.

So he kept at it, taking silicon from a half-millimeter thick wafer to a nanomembrane. The new platform has silicon-based circuitry fabricated in a wavy structure that allows it to form a web of electronics. Those circuits are integrated into extremely thin rubber sheets that naturally stick to skin without the need for adhesive.

When placed on the forehead, the heart and the forearm, the device works as well as standard electrodes in measuring activity. On the throat it is sensitive enough to record throat muscle contractions during vocalisation, meaning it could help people with difficulty speaking.

The unobtrusive nature of the tattoo makes it an ideal device for the monitoring of people with sleep disorders without the need for uncomfortable electrodes and devices (brilliant!). Also, it has the power to stimulate (but not force) muscles giving it the potential to assist in physical rehabilitation.

The next step of the project will include the engineering and demonstrating of a fully-integrated wireless communication capability so the device can transmit information more easily.

The device is not perfect yet as Rogers explains that after about two weeks, naturally-occurring skin exfoliation would make it difficult for the electronics to stay in place. Anyhow, the arrival of a new device that tackles the issues of current comparable electronics that measure brain signals is a fact!





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


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

New curriculum: A crash course in the digital economy

Digital economy

Higher education has a well recognised crisis: the gap between what is taught in business schools and what is expected by managers in high growth industries of their incoming employees.

It is a chasm that leads to unemployment, underemployment, and disengagement for the Millennial workforce, and frustration for enterprises who cannot find and retain qualified employees for jobs unfilled.

Higher Education institutions tend to resist innovation. They are risk-averse, while being overly concerned with maintaining tradition. It is easier for departments and professors to keep doing what they have been doing in prescriptive, conventional methods rather than find new ways to deliver education as a service in innovative and effective ways.

The solution is to engage students in active learning by applying the latest business research and enterprise architecture models to real business challenges. As a result of incorporating the use of social business, big data, mobility and cloud computing into the curriculum students leave prepared with the skills they’ll immediately use to service customers and collaborate with colleagues and partners in today’s global and digital economy.

This is exactly what Hult International Business School and IBM have partnered to do.

In an effort to combat the growing skills gap, IBM and Hult International Business School have partnered to create a first-of-its-kind curriculum that is focused on the emergence of the digital service economy, dedicated to preparing today’s graduate student with the critical skills they’ll need to be competitive and successful in today’s increasingly social and digital business landscape.

IBM and Hult are working to educate and enable students with skills that best serve today’s global, mobile and social customer. This new academic program provides Hult students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in areas such as enterprise social networking, which has seen a significant uptake in adoption over the past five years and continues to grow and transform how organisations do business.

The new curriculum is part of Hult International Business School’s Corporate Partnership Elective program, and brings together MBA students with IBMers to help address the need for skills in areas like social business and analytics. Hult approaches the partnership with IBM as an opportunity for systematic innovation to improve its capability to bridge the gap between business education and the skills/competencies global hiring managers seek.