Archive for the ‘hardware’ Category

These Tiny Magnetometers Detect Fields Generated by Human Heart!

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

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How can i imagine this tiny and ‘poor’ little thing can help a human life? hmm… I’m still thinking.

At the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists have been working on microfabricated atomic magnetometers capable of detecting faint magnetic fields. The devices, about 1cm3 in size, were taken to the Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Berlin, Germany where supposedly resides the most magnetically isolated building in the world. Using the tiny magnetometers, investigators were able to detect the magnetic signature of human heartbeats, perhaps opening up the possibility for a new modality to complement ECG.

Courtesy of MedGadget.com

A brief about Smart Home

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Smart Home is an intelligent and easy-to-use home management system that offers a richer set of home services by allowing appliances to interact with each other seamlessly. Capabilities of appliances are used as “Lego Kits” that can be mixed and matched to provide different home services for security, well-being, energy management and entertainment.

  • Built upon open communication UPnP standards.
  • “Lego Kits” to provide services to the home user.
  • A single user interface to manage appliances and customize home services.

Brief Introduction
The Smart Home project’s objective is to develop a reference implementation of a smart home system. This implementation utilities the Uninersal Plug n Play (UPnP) standard that has been adopted by major consumer electronic (CE) manufacturers as the emerging standard for device interoperability.

UPnP is an open standard (www.upnp.org) and its adoption by the CE industry consortium such as the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) (www.dlna.org) augurs well for the end consumer. Home solutions (devices, system etc) will no longer be stovepipe (proprietary, single brand) in nature, as an open standard will ensure a common playing field and consumers will be free to choose amongst the various brand offerings.

Motivation
The following set of current problems/opportunities form the basis of the motivation underlying this project.

  • Devices are standalone in nature and typically do not communicate with other devices.
  • Due to the above (1), devices cannot cooperate/collaborate to jointly provide a richer set of services to the consumer.
  • Devices are difficult to setup and configure.
  • Even if (3) was made simple, it is difficult to pair devices and provision services.
  • Home networks are becoming more pervasive. Such networks are not just confined to ICT equipments (computers, printers, access point etc). Typical home devices/equipment such as lamps, stereo set, television etc will be part of the home network.

TeenyChron: A Linux-based GPS-synched NTP server

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

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The genesis of this clock stems from one of my other hobbies, Ham Radio. I wanted a reasonably accurate clock that would display both local and UTC time on a large LED display. Everything I could find missed the mark by at least one feature. So I set out to design a clock with the above features, and also with the additional feature of being a stratum one NTP time Server, that is synchronized to a GPS’s pulse per second (PPS) signal.

At the heart of the system I am using a small single board computer based upon an ARM processor running Linux. I actually purchased the board in 2006 for another undertaking that is still in my long list of projects. The TS-7400 Computer-on-Module is built and sold by Technologic Systems. In the configuration I bought the SBC I paid $155 for a single unit. Mine has 64MB of RAM, 32MB of Flash, a battery backed up real time clock (RTC), and runs a 200Mhz ARM processor. I’ve configured the board to boot and mount a file system from a 2Gig SD card. I love this board! It runs a full version of Debian Linux. To date, every standard software package I’ve loaded complies and runs without any trouble.

courtesy of TeenyChron

IBM research on network of earthquake detector and locator

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Computer servers in data centers could do more than respond to requests from millions of internet users. IBM researchers have patented a technique using vibration sensors inside server hard drives to analyze information about earthquakes and predict tsunamis.

“Almost all hard drives have an accelerometer built into them, and all of that data is network-accessible,” says Bob Friedlander, master inventor at IBM. “If we can reach in, grab the data, clean it, network it and analyze it, we can provide very fine-grained pictures of what’s happening in an earthquake.”

The aim is to accurately predict the location and timing of catastrophic events and improve the natural-disaster warning system. Seismographs that are widely used currently do not provide fine-grained data about where emergency response is needed, say the researchers. IBM’s research is not the first time scientists have tried to use the sensors in computers to detect earthquakes.

Seismologists at the University of California at Riverside and Stanford University created the Quake Catcher Network in 2008. The idea was to use the accelerometers in laptops to detect movement. But wading through mounds of data from laptops to accurately point to information that might indicate seismic activity is not easy. For instance, how do you tell if the vibrations in a laptop accelerometer are the result of seismic activity and not a big-rig truck rolling by? That’s why IBM researchers Friedlander and James Kraemer decided to focus on using rack-mounted servers.

“When you are looking at data from a rack that’s bolted to the floor, it’s not the same as what you get from a laptop,” says Kraemer. “Laptops produce too much data and it’s liable to have a lot of noise.”Servers in data centers can help researchers get detailed information because they know the machine’s orientation, its environmental conditions are much better controlled, and the noise generated by the device tends to be predictable. (more…)

Spray-on films turns any windows to Solar Panel

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

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Photo courtesy of Gizmag

Imagine if all the windows of a building, and perhaps even all its exterior walls, could be put to use as solar collectors. Soon, you may not have to imagine it, as the Norweigan solar power company EnSol has patented a thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed on to just such surfaces. Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, the film is composed of metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix, and operates on a different principle. EnSol is now developing the product with help from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“One of the key advantages is that it is a transparent thin film that can be coated onto window glass so that windows in buildings can also become power generators,” said Chris Binns, Professor of Nanotechnology at Leicester. “Obviously some light has to be absorbed in order to generate power but the windows would just have a slight tinting (though a transmission of only 8-10% is common place for windows in the ‘sun belt’ areas of the world). Conversely the structural material of the building can also be coated with a higher degree of absorption. This could be side panels of the building itself, or even in the form of ‘clip-together’ solar roof tiles.”

Research partners are developing prototype squares of the material, measuring 16 square centimeters each. Ultimately, EnSol hopes to achieve a cell efficiency of at least 20 percent, and have its product ready for the commercial market by 2016.

This development is reminiscent of Sphelar cells – solidified silicon drop-based solar cells recently developed by Kyosemi Corporation. Although the technology is different, they are also intended to be used in solar panels that double as windows.

Courtesy of Gizmag

iPort turns iPad and iPod touch into in-wall touchscreens

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

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Photos courtesy of The Unofficial Apple Weblog

With iPad, home automation would be much easier system to be installed and implemented – and the price would be more affordable.

iPort has introduced two new products in its Control Mount Series for the Apple iPad and iPod touch.  The CM2000 Control Mount for iPad and the iPort CM100 Control Mount for iPod touch both integrate the handheld Apple touchscreen products in an in-wall frame, transforming them into in-wall touchscreens for display of weather, news, stocks and many other preferred Apps.

The CM100 also transforms the iPod touch into an in-wall Internet radio source, and connects to any stereo or audio/video receiver.  Users can download their choice of any Internet radio apps available in the Apple App Store and play the audio back through any connected stereo system.
The CM2000 (US$499) and CM100 ($250) may be installed in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, depending on the functionality and design of the room.  When installed into the iPort, the iPad and iPod touch remain constantly charged.

Courtesy: The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Macsimum News

Arad Metering Technologies Conserves Water via Battery-Operated Drones

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

remote meter reader
Illustration by Chris Philpot

The word drone may sounds related to any contemporary sci-fi flicks, or images of attacks carried out remotely on hostile lands, or even your high-school biology teacher’s voice. We don’t expect a drone to help us save water, but that’s what Arad Metering Technologies intends to do. The Israeli company’s battery-operated drone is one of the novel tools it’s deploying to help consumers and companies conserve H2O — and to make money.

Such an idea would come out of Israel is no coincidence. The country is poor in water and rich in tech innovation, much of it born of constant military conflict. Israel pioneered the use of unmanned aerial vehicles after it lost many fighter jets in the 1973 war. But Arad’s drones don’t fight: They read data from the company’s patented water-meter system to detect leakage or, in irrigation systems, drought.

The World Bank estimates that water wastage costs utilities $14 billion a year worldwide; in developing countries, 200 million more people could be served by the water lost to leaks and theft. Arad CEO Dan Winter says this is largely a consequence of how the business works in places where water is cheap or untaxed: “You train people to abuse water because they pay very little.”

water-drone
Photos courtesy of Arad Technologies LTD

With this innovation, instead of meter reading – it can provide real time monitoring of water supply infrastructures. Its technology can find irregularities — a pipe failure, an unusually low flow rate, or a too-constant one that could indicate a leak — in a few hours, rather than every 60 days as with a typical meter reading.

Arad’s system is built around what looks like a standard meter. The difference is on the inside, where you’ll find 3G wireless technology, a microcontroller, and 20-year batteries. Every 11 to 30 seconds, the system transmits data, which can be picked up by a drone (best for quickly covering big distances in remote areas) or by a drive-by or fixed-base reader. The data are then analyzed by computer to gauge how much water has been consumed, how much was lost, and even where tampering may have taken place. As a result, companies can save both water and man hours.

The possibilities for Arad’s services go far beyond water should be covering abilities to monitor everything from municipal infrastructure, such as traffic lights, to security-camera networks — basically any complex system prone to localized failures and waste. Arad has its own way, to proof drones could be associated with saving, not destroying; life, not death.

Courtersy: Tree Hugger, Fast Company

Talking Tire Monitor detects traction & Tire Pressure

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

tire-pressure-monitoring

Some cars have tire pressure monitoring systems for a while now, but this new system from Schrader Electronics takes that useful concept into the future.

It’s not quite explained whether this wireless Talking Tire Monitoring System actually talks to you, but one way or another it notifies you when your tire pressure is low. But it’s a whole lot smarter than that, showing you how much tread is left on those tires, and even sensing slippery road conditions in real time, notifying you how much traction your tires are getting.

In other aspect, it also could help motorists significantly reduce their carbon tyreprint as vehicles with properly inflated tyres boast an improved fuel efficiency. In addition, underinflated tyres wear out quicker and need replacing more frequently.

Courtesy Guardian via  Dvice

Open source satellites

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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After three years of research and one year of experience as a satellite engineer, Song Hojun has found that it is possible to launch and operate a personal satellite at a fairly reasonable price. In addition, he has for the past five years been exploring ways to integrate the concept of a personal satellite project into cultural contexts and into his artistic practice.

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All the satellite-related systems (except for the rocket to launch it) are DIY programs — designed so that regular people may also have the chance of developing and eventually launching their own.

Song have presented this system and how it works at the Machine Project, Los Angeles on 2010, 25th April.

For the people who want to study or getting a clearer picture of the involving mechanisme, they can download Song’s book from Google Books here.

Courtesy: Open Source Satellite Initiative via Make

Build a 9-digit Pulse Counter for under $20

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

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Roughly, at $20 to build? This 9 digit pulse counter is an excellent example of home built tools. Josh, the builder found himself repairing a device and in need of a pulse counter. With the components cheaply available, he just built his own. He says that it has a few limitations, like display brightness, but overall it seems to do the job well. All the stuffs, steps and even PCB can be downloaded from his site at your own will.

Courtesy of Imsolidstate