Category Archives: Liverpool

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!





Counting the Internet of things in real time

For extreme numbers people who might want to track things as they connect to the Internet, Cisco has created the Internet of Everything Connections Counter.

Cisco loves the Internet of things. After all, the company is in the business of selling software and hardware to help enable what it says will be 50 billion things connected to the Internet by 2020.

Things include billions of sensor-packed mobile devices, coffeemakers, cardiac monitors, cars, roads, parking meters, supermarket shelves, cattle, thermostats, and skin, just to name a few. By Cisco’s count, 50 billion things are just 2.7% of all the things that will be on the planet in 2020.

According to Cisco’s latest revelations, 80 things per second are connecting to the Internet, and by 2020, 250 things will connect each second. For people who want to keep track of the number in “real time,” the company created the Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Connections Counter.



Cutting edge telecoms sat launches


London-based Inmarsat, which provides mobile satellite telecommunications, has launched its latest spacecraft.

Alphasat I-XL rode an Ariane 5 to orbit, lifting clear of the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana at 16:54 local time (19:54 GMT) on Thursday.

The satellite is the product of a major public-private partnership involving Inmarsat and the European Space Agency. The 6.6-tonne Alphasat incorporates a host of new technologies that should benefit both parties.The Ariane flight lasted just over half and represents the first test of a new heavyweight class of chassis, or bus, that will allow European manufacturers to make telecoms spacecraft that weigh up to 8.8 tonnes with a power output of 22kW. This has led some to refer to the Alphasat design as the “A380 of space”.

For Inmarsat, the most important aspect of the new satellite is the inclusion of an advanced digital signal processor made in Portsmouth in southern England. This processor, allied to the platform’s smart 11m X 13m antenna system, can channel significant bandwidth and power on to specific locations on the ground.

In addition to its commercial duties, Alphasat has a number of experimental payloads to test. The most noteworthy of these is a laser-based communications system.

Developed in Germany, this technology will form the basis of Europe’s forthcoming orbital data relay system, which will permit gigabit connections between Earth observation satellites and the ground.

Alphasat will validate the laser terminal by downlinking pictures from the EU’s Sentinel-1a radar spacecraft when it launches next year.

City sensors: the internet of things is taking over our cities


The internet of things is taking over our cities. Here are five examples of how its shaping the urban environment:

Express parking
Los Angeles introduced a smart parking system, LA Express PARK, last May. Wireless sensors embedded in parking spots detect if they’re available and let drivers know via a smartphone app or digital sign. It is also able to measure demand, so prices can be adjusted accordingly.

Gunfire locator
ShotSpotter systems implemented in cities including Washington DC use acoustic sensors to detect and locate gunfire, so police officers can respond more effectively. The sensors narrow down the location of the gunshots by combining when each picked up the sound.

Smart grid
Intelligent systems in the electrical grid have been tested in cities in Italy, Canada and the US. Smart meters monitor consumption in real time, so households and providers can track energy use more accurately, and reduce bills or create structured pricing plans.

Pothole reporter
The Street Bump app was developed by the mayor’s office in Boston to help drivers alert authorities to potholes. The free app uses the accelerometer and GPS in a smartphone to detect bumps in the road. The data is aggregated to highlight streets in need of repair.

Air-pollution sensor
In 2011, A network of air-quality sensors was installed in Salamanca, Spain, as part of an EU-funded project to create sustainable traffic management systems. The data is used to measure how traffic regulation can affect pollution levels.