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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Promising products and interesting innovations

- Courtesy Scott Adams

Today’s Top Tech:

  • Electricity-free fridge fights food spoilage
  • Laser-lit magnetic detector
  • Liquid-metal printed flexible circuits

Laser-lit magnetic detector


A new magnetic-field detector developed at MIT is 1,000 times moreenergy-efficient than its predecessors.
Kurzweill AI reportsit could lead to miniature devices for brain-wave sensing, medical, and materials imaging, contraband detection, and geological exploration.
How’s it work? Laser light bounces around inside a synthetic diamond, excites “nitrogen vacancies,” which can measure magnetic fields.

Electricity-free fridge fights food spoilage


A student at MIT created a mobile cooler device that operates on sunshine and water.
The “Evaptainer” was inspired by the consequences of food spoilage in developing nations: In parts of Africa, 40 percent of produce spoils before it reaches the consumer.
The container uses an evaporative cooling process that extracts heat out of the interior using aluminum plates and special fabric. It requires six liters of water to work and keeps food cold and fresh for 12 hours,CNN reports here.

Liquid-metal printed flexible circuits


New inkjet-printing technology produces flexible electronics made of liquid-metal alloys.
The result could be wearable circuits, and “soft robots,” Purdue University says, that can be mass produced.
“Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes, the university adds. “However, new manufacturing techniques must be developed before soft machines become commercially feasible. We want to create stretchable electronics that might be compatible with soft machines, such as robots that need to squeeze through small spaces, or wearable technologies that aren’t restrictive of motion. Conductors made from liquid metal can stretch and deform without breaking.”
The new potential manufacturing approach focuses on harnessing inkjet printing to create devices made of liquid alloys. The process allows printing “flexible and stretchable conductors onto anything, including elastic materials and fabrics.”
Because liquid metal in its native form is not inkjet-able, the researchers created “liquid metal nanoparticles that are small enough to pass through an inkjet nozzle. Sonicating liquid metal in a carrier solvent, such as ethanol, both creates the nanoparticles and disperses them in the solvent. Then we can print the ink onto any substrate. The ethanol evaporates away so we are just left with liquid metal nanoparticles on a surface.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bouygues Telecom to launch LoRa network dedicated to IoT

French operator Bouygues Telecom has announced it will roll out one of the first implementations of LoRa low-power WAN technology, which is designed specifically to support IoT connectivity.

The LoRa alliance was first announced at CES at the start of this year and then formally unveiled at MWC 2015. The underlying technology was developed by French company Cycleo, which was acquired by US semiconductor company Semtech in 2012. The alliance is a bid to get a bunch of IoT players, including operators, to cooperate in order to implement the technology in the field.

The purpose of an IoT-specific wireless networking technology is primarily to be as low-power as possible. Many IoT implementations will be industrial, embedded use-cases where replacing power sources is expensive and impractical. LoRa claims this technology enables IoT device autonomy of up to ten years on a normal battery.

Bouygues has been trialling LoRa in Grenoble since 2013 and is ready for a nationwide rollout this summer, and expects 500 towns and cities to be covered by the end of the year. KPN, Swisscom, Belgacom and Fastnet are apparently all also in the process of deploying LoRa networks or carrying out large-scale trials.

“The Internet of Things is going to transform entire areas of our economy, said Olivier Roussat, Chairman and CEO of Bouygues Telecom. “Thanks to the expertise and the infrastructures of Bouygues Telecom, we will be able to quickly offer nationwide coverage with a high quality service.”

“The pilot scheme carried out with Bouygues Telecom is a world first that has enabled us to improve LoRa protocols further,” said Alain Dantec, SVP and GM of Semtech. “Its long-standing involvement in the development of our technology and its ceaseless work to improve it within the LoRa Alliance has made Bouygues Telecom one of the world’s leading experts in IoT technology.”

Here’s a list of IoT implementations LoRa reckons its technology is good for:

  • Smart Cities (smart parking, building surveillance, sound monitoring, people detection, traffic management, street lighting management, domestic waste management, billboard displays, etc.)
  • Smart Environment (fire detection, air pollution, snowfall measurement, avalanche prevention, flood and drought monitoring, earthquake detection, etc.)
  • Smart Water (drinking water monitoring, chemical contamination detection, swimming pool monitoring, seawater pollution measurement, leak detection, tide monitoring, etc.)
  • Smart metering/smart Grid (smart electricity/water/gas meters, measurement of liquid levels, monitoring of photovoltaic installations, water flow, calculation of stock in silos, etc.)
  • Tracking (vehicles, bicycles, objects of value, animals, people)
  • Safety and Rescue services (analysis of presence in dangerous/forbidden zones, presence of dangerous liquids, radiation levels, detection of explosive substances, etc.)
  • Commerce (supply chain control, mobile payments, smart shopping, shelf stock rotation)
  • Logistics (monitoring of transport conditions, parcel localisation; detection of stock incompatibility, fleet traceability, etc.)
  • Industrial monitoring (monitoring of machines/state of equipment, indoor air quality, temperature control, ozone level detection, localisation of equipment/products indoors, vehicle servicing, etc.)
  • Smart Agriculture (monitoring of greenhouses and vineyards, golf course irrigation management, weather stations, compost, animal tracking, etc.)
  • Smart Livestock Care (traceability of pasture feeding, monitoring of toxic gas levels, animal progress monitoring, hydroponic farming, etc.)
  • Smart Buildings & Homes (water and electricity consumption, remote control, intruder detection, smoke detection, surveillance of valuables, etc.)
  • eHealth (fall detection, medicine storage, sporting performance monitoring, patient monitoring, ultraviolet radiation, etc.)

Cisco enhances NFV offering with Embrane acquisition

Networking giant Cisco announced its intent to acquire network function virtualisation (NFV) and Cisco tech specialist Embrane for an undisclosed sum this week, a move intended to bolster the company’s networking automation capabilities, reports Business Cloud News.

“With agility and automation as persistent drivers for IT teams, the need to simplify application deployment and build the cloud is crucial for the datacentre,” explained Cisco’s corporate development lead Hilton Romanski.

“As we continue to drive virtualization and automation, the unique skillset and talent of the Embrane team will allow us to move more quickly to meet customer demands. Together with Cisco’s engineering expertise, the Embrane team will help to expand ouenhances NFVr strategy of offering freedom of choice to our customers through the Nexus product portfolio and enhance the capabilities of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI),” he said, adding that the purchase also builds on previous commitments to open standards, open APIs, and playing nicely in multi-vendor environments.

Beyond complimenting Cisco’s ACI efforts, Dante Malagrin√≤, one of the founders of Embrane and its chief product officer said the move will help further the company’s goal of driving software-hardware integration in the networking space, and offer Embrane an attractive level of scale few vendors playing in this space have.

“Joining Cisco gives us the opportunity to continue our journey and participate in one of the most significant shifts in the history of networking:  leading the industry to better serve application needs through integrated software-hardware models,” he explained.

“The networking DNA of Cisco and Embrane together drives our common vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure.  We both believe that innovation must be evolutionary and enable IT organizations to transition to their future state on their own terms – and with their own timelines.  It’s about coexistence of hardware with software and of new with legacy in a way that streamlines and simplifies operations.”

Cisco is quickly working to consolidate its NFV offerings, and more recently its OpenStack services, as the vendor continues to target cloud service providers and telcos looking to revamp their datacentres. In March it was revealed Cisco struck a big deal with T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom’s enterprise-focused subsidiary, that will see the German incumbent roll out Cisco’s OpenStack-based infrastructure in datacentre in Biere, near Magdeburg, as well as a virtual hotspot service for SMEs.

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