Archive for May, 2008

Wibree vs Zigbee

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Some overview of Wibree vs Zigbee features:

  • Wibree is a PAN (Personal Area Networking) technology
  • Zigbee is a mesh networking technology
  • Wibree is more power efficient
  • Zigbee has got more range
  • Wibree’s data transfer rate is 1 Mbps
  • Zigbees Data transfer rate is 250 Kbps
  • Wibree has got a star topology
  • Zigbee has got a mesh topology
  • Wibree uses bluetooth radio and can co-exist with bluetooth
  • Zigbee needs its own special radio and has got no relationship with bluetooth

GreenPeak Technologies and ZigBee: Harvesting Power In the Wireless Greenhouse of the Future

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

green house

The idea of growing crops or plants in an environmentally controlled area has existed since Roman times. Some of the early attempts required enormous amounts of work to exclude the elements – and even more work to provide adequate heat and security. Today, greenhouses are high technology production facilities growing crops managed by computer controlled systems. These systems provide screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting and harvesting management systems. Despite dramatic improvements, challenges still face today’s greenhouse owners: maximizing production efficiency, product quality, post-harvest operations and even reducing environmental footprint. To address these challenges, automation, robotics, precision agriculture, sensors and other advanced technologies are being planted today in the most modern greenhouses. (more…)

ZigBee vs. Bluetooth

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

ZigBee is broadly categorized as a low rate WPAN, and its closest technology is Bluetooth. A good bit of energy has been spent in analyzing whether ZigBee and Bluetooth are complementary or competing technologies, but after a quick look at the two, it can be seen that they fall a lot farther down the complementary side of the spectrum. They are two different technologies with very different areas of application and different means of designing for those applications. While ZigBee is focused on control and automation, Bluetooth is focused on connectivity between laptops, PDA’s, and the like, as well as more general cable replacement. ZigBee uses low data rate, low power consumption, and works with small packet devices; Bluetooth uses a higher data rate, higher power consumption, and works with large packet devices. ZigBee networks can support a larger number of devices and a longer range between devices than Bluetooth. Because of these differences, the technologies are not only geared toward different applications, they don’t have the capability to extend out to other applications. As an example, for its applications, Bluetooth must rely on fairly frequent battery recharging, while the whole goal of ZigBee is for a user to be able to put a couple of batteries in the devices and forget about them for months to years. In timing critical applications, ZigBee is designed to respond quickly, while Bluetooth takes much longer and could be detrimental to the application. Thus, a user could easily use both technologies as a wireless solution in a PAN to suit all types of applications within that network.


+ lower production costs
+ less battery usage
+ larger node capability 255 vs 8
+ less system resources

– but less data speed ‘only’ 250 Kbps (vs 1 Mbps for bluetooth)
– Not (a lot) available
– Uses 900 Mhz frequentie (vs 2.5 Ghz for bluetooth)
– Less companys that support it
– 30 meter range (vs 10-100 meter for bluetooth)

And the biggest difference is the purpose of both technologie, bluetooth is made to replace datacables, while Zigbee is made to control and monitor activities, like temperature, light, …

Toyota building $192M green-car battery plant

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

toyota amblem TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is building a $192 million plant in Japan to produce batteries for gas-electric hybrid vehicles, as it seeks to keep its lead in an intensifying race for green cars among the world’s automakers.

Toyota’s joint venture with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, is building the plant in Shizuoka prefecture, in central Japan, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said Friday. He declined to give more details.

The plant will produce nickel-metal hydride batteries, now in the company’s hit Prius hybrid.

The Nikkei, Japan’s top business daily, reported Friday that Toyota was building another plant in Japan to make lithium-ion batteries, set to be running by 2010, for future ecological cars. Nolasco said no decision has been made on such a plant.

Japan’s top automaker, which leads the industry in gas-electric hybrids with its hit Prius, has said it will rev up hybrid sales to 1 million a year sometime after 2010.

Hybrids reduce pollution and emissions that are linked to global warming by switching between a gas engine and an electric motor to deliver better mileage than comparable standard cars. But they are still a niche market.

The Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade, recently reached cumulative sales of 1 million vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries. Toyota has said the lithium-ion batteries may be used in plug-in hybrids, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet.

Rebecca Lindland, an industry research director at Global Insight, said hybrids are increasingly attractive in the U.S., which had in the past favored pickups and other gas guzzlers, as fuel prices surge, environmental concerns grow and tougher emission standards kick in.

“Hybrids are starting to make a lot more economic sense,” she said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo, noting that the payback for a hybrid’s higher price comes a lot faster these days.

Lindland said the Prius owed its success to being “very well-badged” as an unmistakable hybrid to consumers.

The world’s other major automakers are also working on environmentally-friendly cars, and the race is on to produce the best batteries to power them.

Earlier this week, Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-biggest automaker, said it will boost hybrid sales to 500,000 a year by sometime after 2010. Honda said it will introduce a new model sold solely as a hybrid next year, so the Tokyo-based company will have four hybrids in its lineup.

Nissan Motor Co., which still hasn’t developed its own hybrid system for commercial sale, said it will have its original hybrid by 2010. Nissan is focusing more on electric vehicles, promising them for the U.S. and Japanese markets by 2010.

Nissan said this week its joint venture with electronics maker NEC Corp. will start mass-producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 at a plant in Japan.

Source: wired

Airbus Betting Pond Scum Will Replace Petroleum

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Engine by LiemnAirbus is jumping onto the alt fuel bandwagon, working alongside Honeywell, International Aero Engines, UOP and JetBlue Airways to develop technology for turning algae and vegetable oil into fuel. Airbus is betting pond scum and veggies could provide 30 percent of all jet fuel by 2030.With the air industry under increasing pressure to rein in emissions and airlines taking it on the chin from rising fuel prices, the incentive to find an alternative to kerosene has never been higher. Although modern commercial jets are more efficient – and cleaner- than ever,  many in the industry agree they’ve still got a long way to go.

“Over the last 40 years, aviation has reduced fuel burn – and therefore carbon dioxide emissions – by 70 percent, but more needs to be done,” says Sebastien Remy, head of alt fuels research at Airbus. “Millions of barrels of kerosene are used each day for aircraft fuel, and worldwide demand is growing.”

Airbus and its partners are a little late to the alt fuel party. Boeing and Virgin Atlantic made the first bio fuel-powered flight in February, and Chevron is working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to figure out the best way to make fuel from algae. But Airbus and its partners are well-positions to catch up quickly.

Airbus is one of the world’s largest commercial jet makers, so its involvement lends credence – and a sense of urgency – to the project. UOP, a gas and chemical processing company, has already developed technology for converting natural gases and oils to military jet fuel under a project bankrolled by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). UOP says the technology could be applied to commercial jets.

International Aero Engines builds the engines used on many of Airbus’ planes, and Honeywell is providing its engine technology expertise. JetBlue will test potential fuels in its planes. Beyond the environmental benefits, Airbus and its partners say biofuel makes good business sense because it has the potential to  increase aircraft payloads and range,  reduce fuel consumption and  extend engine life.

There’s no denying that any effort to sink time and money into new fuel development is a good thing, but some environmentalists see the recent Virgin biofuel test flight as nothing more than a big publicity stunt designed to make the airline look good. They note that any benefits associated with using biofuels would be offset by just one year’s growth in the airline industry. These kinds of announcements give the industry a chance to regurgitate some eco-friendly sound bites like this:

“This has the potential to benefit every world citizen beyond those involved in our business,” Russ Chew, president and CEO of JetBlue, said in a statement. “Each of our companies has the social responsibility to work toward developing a cleaner way to do business.”

That’s a big promise. You guys better get on it.

Image © Systematic Design

Source: Wired

Considering RFID to track children

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

kidThe yet unsolved kidnapping of kids have brought much fear to parents with young kids in the country. Despite the intense police and public search nationwide and on-going media coverage, the six-year-old is still nowhere to be found.

As long as the culprits are still at large, the chances of other kids being kidnapped remain high. For the time being, maybe it’s time the authority starts thinking of the possible unconventional measures that can be taken to prevent this heinous crime.

One thing or rather technology that may sound possible to be implemented is radio frequency identification, or commonly known as RFID.

Although its usage currently is very much concentrated on information tracking functions, including inventory management, movement of shipping containers, library books, credit cards, etc, there is a possibility that this technology can be used for tracking humans.

For those who are not familiar with RFID, it’s a tiny rice-sized chip that has an antenna. When the chip hears a specific radio signal, it responds with information, usually a long identification number to allow it to be tracked.

Over the past couple of years, trials have been done in countries such as the US, UK and Mexico on its potential to prevent kidnapping. These include planting the RFID device in children’s clothing or injecting it beneath the skin. The idea is viable because RFID chip does not use battery, and since it is small enough, it can be attached to practically anything.

The issue today is that people don’t like the idea of having something attached to them for the purpose of tracking. The idea of planting the chip in one’s body is still unacceptable to many as it’s a kind of privacy intrusion. But using it on clothing or school bags does seem to make more sense.

Applying this to school kids aged 12 and below may be acceptable because these kids are still not mature enough to protect themselves.

The whole idea of having a trackable device is to make it possible to track a missing child in the first few critical hours of the kidnapping incident, and with the RFID chip transmitting the much-needed data, it may make the search of the missing child easier and faster.

Initiatives like these would need all parties to be involved, especially the Government with the help of telecommunications companies and the relevant technology vendors.

If this technology can be implemented in the near future, as the technology mature and becomes cheaper, the chances of tracking a kidnapped child are probably higher.

Things You Probably Wish You Don’t Know

Monday, May 19th, 2008

power lines

Historically, “sensitive” networks have traditionally enjoyed a sense of security due to their total, and complete separation from publicly accessible networks.

In fact, most of us old-school “security wonks” have always joked about the fact that the “…only real security is a pair of wire cutters…” to humorously illustrate the fact that nothing is really secure that is exposed to uncertainty, or untrusted access.

This has always been true in my personal background, having worked in U.S. Military COMSEC disciplines over many years. And given the fact that I have also worked in the Internet security arena for almost 20 years, I figure this gives me some unique insight into some of these issues.

The same security postures which can be applied to COMSEC can, and should, be true of SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems.

When you think “SCADA”, think power, water, etc. The systems that allow civilization to function.

First and foremost, these systems should never — never — be connected in any way, shape, or form to the public Internet. Not even as VPNs, or overlay networks. This is simply wrong-headed.

Unfortunately, some business decisions over the course of the past 15 years have allowed the “public” and “private” networks to become dangerously close in proximity, due to “cost savings” and “operational efficiency” business decisions — by companies that control the very systems which deliver these life-sustaining services to the world’s population.

It’s one thing to steal passwords, perpetrate fraud, and other financial theft-based cyber crimes — but it is ominously more dangerous to shut down the electricity to a complete region of a power grid.

If there is anyone out there who thinks that this is only the storyline of blockbuster movies, think again.

There are certainly forces “out there” who wish to wreak havoc, cause damage, and claim victory.

And they are using the exact same methods to infiltrate SCADA infrastructure that they are using to steal unwitting victim’s checking account information.


Change the default PostgreSQL data directory on Windows

Monday, May 19th, 2008

pgsql logoOur database which is storing every minute telemetry data is now getting bigger and need to be relocated to another newly mounted drive. So, I need to relocate the old data to a new disk. Actually, I don’t need to do this if my drive is a dynamic drive.

As we already know, PostgresSQL for Windows installs the PGDATA directory by default into “C:\Program Files\PostgreSQL\8.3\data”. This mini-HOWTO explains how to change the default PGDATA directory to another location. Note that 8.3 is the version number of my current PostgreSQL installation. It could be varied based on your installed version. (more…)

ShotSpotter’s Gunshot Location & Detection System

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Ahha, no more gang-land activities will taken place since this system installed on your hometown-cities. ShotSpotter is the world leader in gunshot location and detection systems for the public safety and military markets. The company has been delivering patented, state-of-the-art gunshot location and detection solutions for more than a decade.  Every day, officials in more than a dozen cities rely on ShotSpotter systems, with each and every customer a willing reference to our capabilities and results.

A ShotSpotter network includes 12 to 20 sensors per square mile. Roughly the size of a medium pizza, the devices are hidden on rooftops, utility poles, and in other inconspicuous places. Here are the components of a typical unit:

Microphone An internal microphone array gives the sensor 360-degree coverage and makes it possible to determine the direction a sound came from. Microphone
GPS Receiver Global positioning satellites give the location of each sensor. GPS also serves as a central clock, making it possible to triangulate an incident’s location based on the speed of sound. GPS Receiver
Thermometer Air temperature determines the speed of sound — crucial to calculating a shot’s location. The server at the station checks the Net for other atmospheric conditions that affect sound waves. Thermometer
Network Connection Each sensor is in constant contact with the server. Some are connected by a telephone line. Others have a digital link managed by a microprocessor. Network Connection
Memory In sensor units with a processor, if communication is interrupted or bandwidth becomes clogged, the memory stores the sounds until they can be uploaded. Memory

Wired Reviews: Shot Spotter, Ears on the Street, Spotting the Shot

Website: Shotspooter

InduSoft Announces InduSoft Web Studio Driver for Cylon Controls Building Energy Management Systems

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Indusoft provides HMI/SCADA for one of Europe’s largest BEMS supplier

buildingAUSTIN, TEXAS — InduSoft announces the release of a new Cylon Controls driver for their HMI/SCADA software, InduSoft Web Studio. Cylon Controls is
one of the largest independent Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) equipment manufacturers in Europe.

This new driver eliminates the need for an OPC Server. As a result, installation and system engineering costs of the Cylon solution will be less costly, easier to configure, and will potentially realize healthy performance gains. The driver also ensures the ability to support Windows CE, which—in some cases—can be a complex task when OPC server implementations are required. InduSoft Web Studio makes it possible to provide an HMI that monitors and integrates not only the building HVAC system, but also the pumping systems, energy, gas and water measurements, lighting control, shutter control, alarm reporting, security and video surveillance, and many other functions as well.

The driver enables seamless integration with numerous devices, such as HVAC Direct Digital Controllers, that Cylon uses in their BEMS solutions. In fact, the new driver has become a key element of Cylon solutions on a number of successful projects.

The first project to benefit from the driver is the Aquapura Hotel—a five-star hotel located in Douro Valley, Portugal. The hotel was outfitted with a Cylon BEMS solution boasting more than 6,000 I/O points. The project was so successful it was named the Cylon Portuguese Project of the year 2007, and the award was delivered by the Irish Ambassador to Portugal on April 4, 2008.

José Mota, CEO of Dosapac S.A., the systems integrator in Portugal that installed the system at the Aquapura Hotel, says “The reliability of every project is important to us. Without InduSoft Web Studio, the sheer number of I/O points would have swamped most systems—but InduSoft, coupled with their new driver held up surprisingly well. We couldn’t be happier with the result.”