Archive for April, 2008

Remote Data Analysis in Motorsports

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Telemetry has been a key factor in modern motor racing. Engineers are able to interpret the vast amount of data collected during a test or race, and use that to properly tune the car for optimum performance. Systems used in some series, namely Formula One, have become advanced to the point where the potential lap time of the car can be calculated and this is what the driver is expected to meet. Some examples of useful measurements on a race car include accelerations (G forces) in 3 axes, temperature readings, wheel speed, and the displacement of the suspension. In Formula 1, the driver inputs are also recorded so that the team can assess driver performance and, in the case of an accident, the FIA can determine or rule out driver error as a possible cause.

motorsport telemetry windows application

In addition, there exist some series where “two way” telemetry is allowed. Two way telemetry suggests that engineers have the ability to update calibrations on the car in real time, possibly while it is out on the track. In Formula 1, two-way telemetry surfaced in the early nineties from TAG electronics, and consisted of a message display on the dashboard which the team could update. Its development continued until May 2001, at which point it was first allowed on the cars. By 2002 the teams were able to change engine mapping and deactivate particular engine sensors from the pits while the car was on track. For the 2003 season, the FIA banned two-way telemetry from Formula 1, however the technology still exists and could eventually find its way into other forms of racing or road cars.

In addition to that telemetry has also been applied to the use of Yacht racing. The technology was applied to the Oracle’s USA-76.

The hijack-proof truck

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Two entrepreneurs have hit anti-terrorism pay dirt with a tiny black box that shuts down vehicles at the first sign of trouble.

You can’t go far wrong in a truck equipped with an Astrata box. The device, half the size of a cigarette pack, can be wired into anything that moves – truck, car, shipping container – to head off nearly every conceivable type of disaster.

It can be programmed to stop a drunk or unauthorized driver from starting a vehicle, for example, or detect and shut down a truck that has been hijacked, locking the thief inside and alerting its owners.

truck chart

The Astrata-GLP (global location platform) is part Big Brother, part James Bond – except that it already exists, and corporations and governments are paying close attention.

Powered by GPS tracking, wireless communication, and a Linux-based operating system, Astrata is the brainchild of Martin Euler and Tony Harrison, a British accountant and an Irish technology executive, respectively, who bet that the need for tracking and security devices would grow exponentially after 9/11.

Their client list now includes Shell Oil (Charts), Nestlé, and the government of Singapore.

Course correction

Astrata can detect a gasoline tanker that veers one block off its route, thwarting attempts to use it as a bomb. Security giant Group 4 Securicor puts it in armored cars in Indonesia.

Driver ID system

Astrata can be programmed to start only after the driver passes a breathalyzer test and presses a thumb for identification. A video camera can record the driver’s activities. Singapore’s Civil Defense Force is using the camera and thumb ID system in its hazmat trucks.

Speed tracker

Once Astrata detects a stolen (or speeding) vehicle, it can slow it to 5 mph or stop it completely. One commercial client uses the device to monitor how fast its truck drivers are going and how aggressively they drive. The box also tracks when the trucks are moving, so drivers can’t pad overtime claims or moonlight with company property.

Instant holding cell

Doors and windows can be locked remotely, trapping would-be terrorists, thieves, or reckless drivers inside. The device can also be programmed to flash hazard lights, blare the horn, notify headquarters, and summon police.

Source: Business 2.0

What on Earth is NRW?

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Trust me, I never heard any kind of phrase such of that. NRW is stand for Non-revenue water, generally can be applied in water works industries. I was akin of knowing this when my client is NRW department of A Malaysian company, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Berhad (SYABAS). I was a bit ashamed when I found out that I don’t really know what is NRW means. That means, I don’t know my client. LOL.

Non revenue water (NRW) is water that has been produced and is “lost” before it reaches the customer. Losses can be real losses (through leaks, sometimes also referred to as physical losses) or apparent losses (for example through theft or metering inaccuracies). High levels of NRW are detrimental to the financial viability of water utilities, as well to the quality of water itself. NRW is typically measured as the volume of water “lost” as a share of net water produced. However, it is sometimes also expressed as the volume of water “lost” per km of water distribution network per day.

Practical applications of vehicle telematics

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

When used in a commercial environment vehicle telematics can potentially be a powerful and valuable tool to improve the efficiency of an organisation. Some practical applications of vehicle telematics include;

Vehicle tracking

Vehicle tracking is a way of monitoring the location, movements, status and behaviour of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles. This is achieved through a combination of a GPS(GNSS) receiver and an electronic device (usually comprising a GSM GPRS modem or SMS sender) installed in each vehicle, communicating with the user (dispatching, emergency or co-ordinating unit) and PC- or web-based software. The data are turned into information by management reporting tools in conjunction with a visual display on computerised mapping software. Advanced vehicle localisation system for public transport may employ odometry instead of GPS/GNSS.

Trailer tracking

Trailer tracking is the technology of tracking the movements and position of an articulated vehicle’s trailer unit, through the use of a location unit fitted to the trailer and a method of returning the position data via mobile communication network or geostationary satellite communications, for use through either PC- or web-based software.

Cold store freight logistics

Cold store freight trailers that are used to deliver fresh or frozen foods are increasingly incorporating telematics to gather time-series data on the temperature inside the cargo container, both to trigger alarms and record an audit trail for business purposes. An increasingly sophisticated array of sensors, many incorporating RFID technology, are being used to ensure that temperature throughout the cargo remains within food-safety parameters.

Fleet management

Fleet management is the management of a company’s vehicle fleet. Fleet management includes the management of ships and or motor vehicles such as cars, vans and trucks. Fleet (vehicle) Management can include a range of Fleet Management functions, such as vehicle financing, vehicle maintenance, vehicle telematics (tracking and diagnostics), driver management, fuel management and health & safety management. Fleet Management is a function which allows companies which rely on transportation in their business to remove or minimize the risks associated with vehicle investment, improving efficiency, productivity and reducing their overall transportation costs, providing 100% compliancy with government legislation and Duty of Care obligations. These functions can either be dealt with by and in-house Fleet Management department or an outsourced Fleet Management provider.

Satellite navigation

Satellite navigation in the context of vehicle telematics is the technology of using a GPS and electronic mapping tool to enable the driver of a vehicle to locate a position, then route plan and navigate a journey.

Mobile data and mobile television

Mobile data is use of wireless data communications using radio waves to send and receive real time computer data to, from and between devices used by field based personnel. These devices can be fitted solely for use while in the vehicle (Fixed Data Terminal) or for use in and out of the vehicle (Mobile Data Terminal).

Mobile data can be used to receive TV channels and programs, in a similar way to mobile phones, but using LCD TV devices.

Wireless vehicle safety communications

Wireless vehicle safety communications telematics aid in car safety and road safety. It is an electronic sub-system in a car or other vehicle for the purpose of exchanging safety information, about such things as road hazards and the locations and speeds of vehicles, over short range radio links. This may involve temporary ad hoc wireless local area networks.

Wireless units will be installed in vehicles and probably also in fixed locations such as near traffic signals and emergency call boxes along the road. Sensors in the cars and at the fixed locations, as well as possible connections to wider networks, will provide the information, which will be displayed to the drivers in some way. The range of the radio links can be extended by forwarding messages along multi-hop paths. Even without fixed units, information about fixed hazards can be maintained by moving vehicles by passing it backwards. It also seems possible for traffic lights, which one can expect to become smarter, to use this information to reduce the chance of collisions.

Farther in the future, it may connect directly to the adaptive cruise control or other vehicle control aids. Cars and trucks with the wireless system connected to their brakes may move in convoys, to save fuel and space on the roads. When any column member slows down, all those behind it will automatically slow also. There are also possibilities that need less engineering effort. A radio beacon could be connected to the brake light, for example.

Emergency warning system for vehicles

Telematics technologies are self-orientating open network architecture structure of variable programmable intelligent beacons developed for application in the development of intelligent vehicles — with target intent to accord (blend, or mesh) warning information with surrounding vehicles in the vicinity of travel, intra-vehicle, and infrastructure. Emergency warning system for vehicles telematics particularly developed for international harmonisation and standardisation of vehicle-to-vehicle — infrastructure-to-vehicle — and vehicle-to-infrastructure real-time Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) systems.

Telematics most commonly relate to computerised systems that update information at the same rate as they receive data, enabling them to direct or control a process such as an instantaneous autonomous warning notification in a remote machine or group of machines. By use of telematics as applied to intelligent vehicle technologies, instantaneous direction travel cognizance of a vehicle may be transmitted in real-time to surrounding vehicles traveling in the local area of vehicles equipped (with EWSV) to receive said warning signals of danger.

Intelligent vehicle technologies

Telematics comprise electronic, electromechanical, and electromagnetic devices — usually silicon micromachined components operating in conjunction with computer controlled devices and radio transceivers to provide precision repeatability functions (such as in robotics artificial intelligence systems) emergency warning validation performance reconstruction.

Intelligent vehicle technologies commonly apply to car safety systems and self-contained autonomous electromechanical sensors generating warnings that can be transmitted within a specified targeted area of interest, say within 100 meters of the emergency warning system for vehicles transceiver. In ground applications, intelligent vehicle technologies are utilized for safety and commercial communications between vehicles or between a vehicle and a sensor along the road.

Car clubs

Telematics technology has allowed car clubs to emerge, such as City Car Club in the UK. Telematics-enabled computers allow organisers to track members usage and bill them on a pay-as-you-drive basis.

Auto insurance

The basic idea of telematic auto insurance is that a driver’s behavior is monitored directly while the person drives and this information is transmitted to an insurance company. The insurance company then assesses the risk of that driver having an accident and charges insurance premiums accordingly. A driver who drives long distance at high speed, for example, will be charged a higher rate than a driver who drives short distances at slower speeds.

Telematic auto insurance was independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance U.S. Patent 5,797,134 and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (European Patent EP0700009B1). The Progressive patents cover the use of a cell phone and GPS to track movements of a car. The Perez patents cover monitoring the car’s engine control computer to determine distance driven, speed, time of day, braking force, etc. Ironically, Progressive is developing the Perez technology in the US and European auto insurer Norwich Union is developing the Progressive technology for Europe.

Trials conducted by Norwich Union in 2005 have found that young drivers (18 to 23 year olds) signing up for telematic auto insurance have had a 20% lower accident rate than average.

Recent theoretical economic research on the social welfare effects of Progressive’s telematics technology business process patents have questioned whether the business process patents are pareto efficient for society. Preliminary results suggest that it is not, but more work is needed.

Switch to any network settings with NetSetMan

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I keep on changing it… in the office, then when I come to data center I need to change it once again. It keep on changing. So, when I found this software. I slowly adapt it as one of my precious tools. Oh god! it really is.

netsetman configurations interfaces.

NetSetMan descriptions:

NetSetMan is a network settings manager which can easily switch between 6 different, visually structured profiles including:

* IP Address
* Subnet Mask
* Default Gateway
* DNS Server
* Computer Name
* Workgroup
* DNS Domain
* WINS Server
* Default Printer
* Network Drives
* Scripts (BAT, VS, JS, …)


Anti RFID Campaign

Monday, April 21st, 2008


Logo of the anti-RFID campaign by German privacy group FoeBuD

How would you like it if, for instance, one day you realized your underwear was reporting on your whereabouts? — California State Senator Debra Bowen, at a 2003 hearing.

The use of RFID technology has engendered considerable controversy and even product boycotts by consumer privacy advocates such as Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre of CASPIAN who refer to RFID tags as “spychips”. The two main privacy concerns regarding RFID are:

  • Since the owner of an item will not necessarily be aware of the presence of an RFID tag and the tag can be read at a distance without the knowledge of the individual, it becomes possible to gather sensitive data about an individual without consent.
  • If a tagged item is paid for by credit card or in conjunction with use of a loyalty card, then it would be possible to indirectly deduce the identity of the purchaser by reading the globally unique ID of that item (contained in the RFID tag).

Most concerns revolve around the fact that RFID tags affixed to products remain functional even after the products have been purchased and taken home and thus can be used for surveillance and other purposes unrelated to their supply chain inventory functions.

Biofuel From Wastewater

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

A researcher of the Technological Top Institute for Water Technology-Wetsus (TTIW-Wetsus) discovered that wastewater high in organic material is better for hydrogen production than pure water. The process known as ‘biocatalysed electrolysis’, which involves the release of electrons induced by the application of special bacteria to the surface of an anode, produces hydrogen from the organic material. A key advantage is the reduced energy consumption compared to traditional production using clean water.

hidrogen extraction asparatus

Thanks to this discovery, the production of one cubic metre of hydrogen requires only one kWh, compared to electrolysis involving pure water, which requires four times as much. The new technology facilitates the cost-effective, large-scale hydrogen production using wastewater. According to the researcher,this could in theory be applied to large-scale wastewater treatment plants. However,hydrogen must be produced near to where it is used. For this reason, the initial pilot will be implemented at a company, which requires hydrogen as part of its manufacturing process.

5 Ways to Save Our Planet

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I watched a 1-hour documentary entitled ‘Five Ways to Save the World’ last night through Discovery Channel. It features five specialized viewpoints on how we might cool the world through human management of the ecosystem. It would be interesting to get your thoughts on this topic.

Watching through the whole 59 minutes. It is really amazing. Some of the ideas looks pretty amazing too.

Climate change is being felt the world over and if global warming continues to increase the effects could be catastrophic. Some scientists and engineers are proposing radical, large-scale ideas that could save us from disaster.
The first three proposed ideas featured in the film, look at reducing the power of the sun – thereby cooling the planet.
Professor Roger Angel from Arizona – the designer of the world’s largest telescope – is proposing to put a giant glass sunshade in space. Professor Angel’s sunshade will deflect a small percentage of the sun’s rays back into space.
Dutch Professor Paul Crutzen won the Nobel Prize for chemistry when he discovered the causes of the hole in the ozone layer. His plan is to fire hundreds of rockets loaded with tons of sulphur into the stratosphere creating a vast, but very thin sunscreen of sulphur around the earth.
British atmospheric physicist Professor John Latham and engineer Stephen Salter have designed a fleet of remote-controlled yachts. These will pump fine particles of sea water into the clouds, increasing the thickness of the clouds and reflecting the suns rays.

Carbon dioxide debate

The other two men want to tackle the problem of excess carbon dioxide – the cause of global warming. Sydney engineer Professor Ian Jones proposes to feed plankton with gallons of fertilizer. This will make the plankton grow and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. And New York-based Professor Klaus Lackner has designed a carbon dioxide capturing machine and his plan is to locate more of them across the globe. They would suck in carbon dioxide, turn it into a powder and he would bury it deep under the ocean in disused oil or gas fields.
Most of the scientists are reluctant advocates of these ideas, and all believe we should be cutting down on our use of fossil fuels to heat our homes and drive our cars.
But is time running out for planet earth?

Although these ideas might have unknown side effects, some scientists believe we may soon have no choice but to put these radical and controversial plans into action.