Archive for the ‘Tracking Technologies’ Category

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…)

Public bus transportation notifier

Friday, April 16th, 2010

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Knuckles904 at Random Hacks of Boredom was tired of waiting for the bus. His town had installed GPS units on the buses so that riders could track their locations via the Internet so he knew there should be a way to avoid the wait while also never missing the bus. He developed a sketch for an Arduino to check the bus location and notify him when it was on its way.

This method saves him from leaving his computer running. It parses the text data from the public transportation website and updates both an LED display, as well as a Twitter feed. Now he can monitor several different bus lines via the hardware at home, or though a cell phone if he’s on the go.

This guy have done a useful tricks and provides some sources to make this project works. Well done!

Open Source Lion-Tracking Collars In the Works

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

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Want to help save some lions in Kenya? Well, help these guys make some open source lion-tracking collars, complete with GPS and GSM on board.

Lions are not doing too well in Kenya, with only 2,000 or so left. Two groups called Lion Guardians and Living with Lions are dedicated to studying and saving the diminished lion population. In order to help them out, Justin Downs of Brooklyn’s GRND Lab built them a solar-powered treehouse last year. Now, he’s working on some of the aforementioned collars to help them track the lions.

He’s looking for donations on Kickstarter for the project now, so if your passions create a Venn diagram between open-source hardware and lions, well, here you go.

Source Kickstarter via Clay Shirky

More functional GPS in minutes

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

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Sparky with his hack to allow interaction with the core of an Aldi GO Cruise 4300 GPS Windows CE OS. All that’s required is a few programs and registry edits to the GPS, which anyone can accomplish within a few minutes. But, suggested you go slow and double-check your work, anyway; nobody wants a bricked system. After you’re done you can run such great programs like the one Sparky suggest for 4WD enthusiasts,Ozi Explorer.

via Hack a Day

Arduino balloon tracking

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Ferret is a high-altitude balloon tracking hardware package. Created by [Adam Greig] and [Jon Sowman], it uses an Arduino to gather NMEA data from a GPS unit, format the data into a string, and transmit that string on narrow-band FM. The project, built in one afternoon, is a tribute to the prototyping simplicity the Arduino provides.

The unit was powered by four AA batteries, using the Arduino’s on board voltage regulator. This provided a bit of heat which helps in the frigid reaches of the upper atmosphere. The bundle above was put in a project box and attached to the outside of the balloon’s payload, then covered with foam for warmth and moisture resistance. This tracking is a lot less complicated than some of the photography setups we’ve seen for balloons. It’s also more versatile because it broadcasts the GPS data so that many people can track it, rather than just logging its location.

Courtesy: Hackaday

Python IR tracking for the handicapped

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

[Techb] had a friend who was paralyzed after an accident and could no long use a computer. He rigged up an amazingly simple mouse interface using python to implement infrared tracking. The controller was built from an old hat by adding an IR LED and wireless mouse modified so that the button could be clicked by the user’s mouth. A webcam with exposed film used as a filter can track the IR LED and take input from the wireless mouse buttons.

This setup, which draws inspiration from Wii Remote white boards,  is much simpler than the Eyewriter (and doesn’t shine an IR LED into your eye). Although [Techb] wants to add facial recognition to the system, there’s something to be said for such a simple implementation.

courtesy hackaday

RFID tracking system

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

This is a working tracking system using RFID tags built by Nicholas Skinner. The system’s tags operate in the 2.4 GHz band and are used to track either people or assets. The readers are on a mesh network and can triangulate the location of any tag for display on a map. His system is even set up to show the travel history of each tag. [Nicholas] shared every detail in his writeup including some background about available hardware options and how he made his final decisions on what devices to use for the job. His conglomeration of software that ties the whole project together is also available for download.

http://hackadaycom.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/rfid-tracking-system.jpg?w=470&h=344

courtesy: ns-tech

British police want UAVs to watch civilians during the 2012 Olympics

Friday, January 29th, 2010

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In what’s sure to be a popular idea, Britain’s Kent Police Department wants to use unmanned aerial vehicles to keep tabs on the massive crowds during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Now, before you start thinking that Ministries and doublethink are soon to follow, Olympic games mean a large influx of people to keep track of, and that means spreading security pretty thin.

Evidently UAV monitoring already has a precedent in Britain through the South Coast Partnership, which uses UAVs to patrol the country’s southern coast. UAVs aren’t yet cleared to fly the skies over London with other manned aircraft, however.

From Pop Sci:

So far, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Britain’s equivalent of the FAA, has not cleared UAVs to fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft. However, the Kent police department has petitioned the CAA to expedite the licensing processes so the police operated UAVs can take to the sky by the time the Olympics starts.

If it goes through, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s only a temporary measure for the Olympics, or if that level of surveillance remains in place in a city already dominated by CCTV security cameras.

The Guardian, via Futurismic, via Popular Science

NASA Uses UAVs to Spy on Climate Patterns

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

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Cloud Physics Lidar: A laser-based system that creates detailed images of clouds and mist.

Laser Hygrometer: Bounces a 1.3- micron infrared beam between two mirrors to measure water vapor in the atmosphere.

Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species: Uses an electron-capture detector to analyze air samples for harmful gases.

Micrometeorological Measurement System: A battery of sensors that record temperature, wind speed, and pressure.

Airborne Compact Atmospheric Mapper: A Nikon 8800 digicam that tracks cloud patterns by snapping images every 20 seconds, and two spectrographs that measure gases like the pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

image: nasa source: wired.com

AIDA the dashboard bot

Sunday, November 1st, 2009


In an attempt to create more interaction with our vehicles, researchers have created AIDA. AIDA is basically a car computer and GPS that has some well designed personification. That cute little face will learn your daily habits and schedules and make recommendations to keep you out of traffic. We really like the idea, and the little bit we see of AIDA already has us falling in love, but won’t the placement be a distraction? We already know some people who give their car a name and treat it like a person, we don’t want to imagine what would happen if their car actually had some interactive personality. AIDA’s motion and emotive display are worthy of the crabfu challenge for sure, but do we want AIDA on our dashboard? Yes, most emphatically. She can sit right by the little hula girl.

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