Archive for December, 2008

HomePlug earns baseline IEEE approval

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

HomePlug has an alliance with Zigbee to develop a common application layer so the two protocols can communicate…

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance today announced that its technology proposal was accepted by the IEEE P1901 Working Group as the baseline for an IEEE powerline communications standard. The voting took place last week in Kyoto, Japan, where other proposals for Access and Coexistence standards for powerline technology also were approved.

“That’s exciting for us,” said Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. “It’s important for us to have specs inside the alliance, but we think it is important to have greater spread and scope, and IEEE brings that.”

An IEEE standard will enable HomePlug Powerline technology to be more rapidly and widely deployed to more consumers, Ranck said. The Coexistence standard was also significant. “It shows the IEEE understands there are multiple powerline technologies and having a platform for coexistence is important, because right now there are conflicting standards.

Source: TelephonyOnline

AlertMe v2.0 to Bring Energy Monitoring plus CCTV

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

AlertMe – the innovative UK based smart home security system based on Zigbee technology – is taking another step forward with the details of v2.0 of their software.  Read on for the summary and link to the demo system.

Our next release is on its way, and will be jam-packed full of exciting new features, including functionality to enable you to use the new SmartPlugs.

Source: Automated Home

Sensor-Equipped Footballs to Make Refs More Accurate

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

arush_cmu_footballtech-300x195.jpgAs everyone who’s had a ref make a bad call at their team’s expense knows, NFL refs aren’t perfect. But footballs and gloves with built-in sensors? Those might just make coach’s challenges history.

Dr. Priya Narasimhan of Carnegie Mellon University has developed the football and gloves, loading them up with wireless sensors that can precisely determine whether or not a ball hit the ground before being caught or whether or not someone had control of the ball before fumbling. It could also, using GPS, determine whether or not the ball cross the goal line. But the applications don’t stop there.

Eventually, the same kind of sensors used in the gloves could be adapted to shoes, to measure stride and running patterns, or even shoulder pads, to calculate blocking positions and force.The current version of the glove has 15 touch sensors on the fingers and palm, running to a wireless module on the back of the arm, said Adam Goldhammer of Richboro, Bucks County, a master’s student in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

Source: Gizmodo.com

WAP controlled home automation

Friday, December 26th, 2008

[Josh] sent in a home automation project he did a little while ago. It has a total of eight switched outlets. The main focus of the project was WAP access for remote control from any cellphone. The control box is based on a design by [Ashley Roll] for controlling eight servos using a PIC microcontroller. A listener app written in Java monitors the control web page and sends signals to the board via serial port. He used opto-isolated 240V solid state relays for each of the outlets. All the pieces are available on the site and he might even do a custom control board design if there is enough interest.

Source: Hackaday

DataNet Wireless Data Acquisition System

Friday, December 26th, 2008




The DataNet is a professional wireless data acquisition system using the Zigbee wireless protocol. Consisting of a USB base station, DataNet acquisition units, repeater units and the DataNet PC Suite logging software. The acquisition units have 4 inputs for direct measurement of PT-100, thermocouple, voltage 4-20mA, frequency and pulse. There is also a version with the addition of built-in temperature and humidity sensors.

Source: Audon Electronics

Home Automation: Controlling Your House with Computers

Friday, December 26th, 2008

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We’ve looked at what you can do with home automation and what sort of methods exist for installing automated functionality, and now it’s time to take a look at some of the popular software applications out there for controlling your home automation system.

I haven’t included any software that ships with various systems in this list; you’ll find out about those when you’re looking at individual systems and deciding on one. What’s listed here are some well-respected and popular choices that enthusiasts around the world are using.

Source: Lifehack.org

Nation’s First ‘Underwater Wind Turbine’ Installed in Old Man River

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

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The nation’s first commercial hydrokinetic turbine, which harnesses the power from moving water without the construction of a dam, has splashed into the waters of the Mississippi River near Hastings, Minnesota.

The 35-kilowatt turbine is positioned downstream from an existing hydroelectric-plant dam and — together with another turbine to be installed soon — will increase the capacity of the plant by more than 5 percent. The numbers aren’t big, but the rig’s installation could be the start of an important trend in green energy.

And that could mean more of these “wind turbines for the water” will be generating clean energy soon. (more…)

HOW-TO – Connecting the Nokia 770 to Arduino

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

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IDEO labs shows you how to connect the Arduino to the Nokia 770

In the vein of Arduino-controlled espresso machines and Lego bots, we’ve been playing around with Flash and the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. With its flexible Linux-based OS, the Nokia 770 is great for rapid prototyping. Plus, you can snag one on the cheap ($65-170 on eBay).

Hardware aside, Flash is a great language for quick prototyping. It’s an environment that many designers are already familiar with, and it enables the user to create a graphic interface in minutes. For prototyping on small screens, Flash Lite can be used, but Flash Lite cannot communicate to other devices outside of the device it’s running on (aside from calling other phones). The Nokia Internet tablets are interesting because they are essentially tiny Linux computers and run full-fledged Flash. We got one of these tablets to run Flash and talk to an Arduino board. This enables any kind of sensor to communicate with the Flash application and allows the app to control things like lights and motors.

Detailed instructions for setting this up can be found in our Google Code wiki (here and here)…

Source: Make Mag

How Gadgets Helped Mumbai Attackers

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

The Mumbai terrorists used an array of commercial technologies — from Blackberries to GPS navigators to anonymous e-mail accounts — to pull off their heinous attacks.

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For years, terrorists and insurgents around the world have used off-the-shelf hardware and software to stay ahead of bigger, better-funded authorities. In 2007, former U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid complained that, with their Radio Shack stockpile of communications gear, “this enemy is better networked than we are.” The strikes that killed at least 174 appears to be another example of how wired today’s “global guerrillas” can be.

As they approached Mumbai by boat, the terrorists “steered the vessel using GPS equipment,” according to the Daily Mail. A satellite phone was later found aboard.

Once the coordinated attacks began, the terrorists were on their cell phones constantly. They used BlackBerries “to monitor international reaction to the atrocities, and to check on the police response via the internet,” the Courier Mail reports.

The gunmen were able to trawl the internet for information after cable television feeds to the two luxury hotels and office block were cut by the authorities.

The men looked beyond the instant updates of the Indian media to find worldwide reaction to the events in Mumbai, and to keep abreast of the movements of the soldiers sent to stop them.

Outside of Leopold’s Cafe, “one of the gunmen seemed to be talking on a mobile phone even as he used his other hand to fire off rounds,” an eyewitness told The New York Times.

The terror group then took credit for the bloodshed with a series of e-mails to local media. They used a “remailer” service to mask their identities; earlier attacks were claimed from cyber cafes.

[Photo: AP; plugged in: CA, Giz]