Archive for June 24th, 2009

Technology Companies Create Wireless Gigabit Alliance

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

More than 15 technology companies have become the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance, an organization formed to establish a unified specification for 60 Gigahertz (GHz) wireless technologies.

According to company officials, the WiGig specification will allow devices to communicate without wires at gigabit speeds within a typical room. The group’s vision is to create a global ecosystem of interoperable products based on this specification, which will unify the next generation of entertainment, computing and communications devices.

“Our member companies are leaders in the wireless, CE, PC and handheld markets. They have the technical acumen and business experience to make the 60 GHz wireless technology a reality for both the home and enterprise,” said Dr. Ali Sadri, President and Chairman of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. “To help bring this technology to market, we welcome new member companies to join our group.” “We’re now at the point where the last barrier to wireless being able to do everything that wire can has fallen,” said Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm, Farpoint Group. “In both the residence and the enterprise, more capacity and throughput are always desirable. WiGig Alliance is going to deliver technology that will have an enormous impact on connectivity and mobility, information technology, consumer electronics, and many other applications.” Among the companies that comprise the board of directors for the alliance are Atheros Communications, Broadcom Corp., Dell, Intel Corp., LG Electronics, Marvell International., MediaTek, Microsoft Corp., NEC Corp., Nokia Corp., Panasonic Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Wilocity.

The WiGig specification is expected to be available to member companies in Q4 of 2009.

WiGig Tempts With High-Speed Wireless Data Transfer

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


A new standard aims to offer gigabit-speed connectivity without the clutter of cables.

“What we are talking about here is the ability to download a 25 GB Blu-ray disc in under a minute,” says Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of the marketing workgroup at the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. “It’s not something you can do with Wi-Fi or any other standard right now.”

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, a consortium of electronics companies, has established a specification for 60 gigahertz wireless technology that can offer users data transfer speeds ranging from 1 Gigabits per second to 6 Gbps. To put it simply, WiGig could be at least ten times faster than today’s Wi-Fi and it could be available to consumers by the end of next year.

The need for fast wireless data transfer plays into two big trends: the proliferation of multimedia and the increasing cable clutter than users have to deal with.

Users are increasingly getting hooked on Hulu, browsing through Flickr and clicking on YouTube shorts. But for all their new streaming media players or cameras, consumers haven’t been able to cut the cord.

Take the set-top box in today’s home that has to be connected to the TV through an HDMI cable. “This is one of those technologies that almost 100 percent uses a wire because the speeds required to stream a high-def 1080p video is at least 3 Gbps,” says Grodzinsky, “and no wireless technology today can do that across multiple applications.”

That’s where WiGig could step in. The standard will allow for extremely fast file transfers, wireless displays, streaming media, and wireless connections for devices such as cameras, laptops and set-top boxes among other things, says the Alliance. It won’t have the same range as a Wi-Fi network but it is ideal for devices that want to communicate without wires at gigabit speeds within a room or adjacent rooms, says Grodzinksy.

“Today’s wireless networks will top out at a few hundred Mbps but what we are talking about here is multiple gigabits of data transfer speed,” says Craig Mathias, principal with research firm Farpoint Group. “That plays into the ever-increasing demand for throughput.”

WiGig joins a fray of wireless standards that are fighting to free consumers from being tethered to their devices.  In most homes, Wi-Fi has emerged as the standard technology for wireless access. But it is too slow to handle high-definition video or transfer pictures from the camera to the laptop.

Wireless Standards & Data Speeds

802.11g Wi-Fi: The basic and most widely used Wi-Fi connectivity offers speeds of up to 54 Mbps.

802.11n Wi-Fi: The faster W-Fi standard it offers data transfer at up to 300 Mbps.

Standard Bluetooth: Most widely used between cellphones and headsets, it offers top transfer rate of about 3 Mbps.

Bluetooth 3.0: The ‘high-speed’ successor to standard Bluetooth, its top transfer rate hover around 24 Mbps.

Wireless USB: It can offer speeds of up to 110 Mbps  at a range of 10 meters and 480 Mbps over a range of 3 meters.

Wireless HD: Aimed at HD video transfer it can offer speeds of up to 4 Gbps (for 10 meters). Theoretical speed can go up to 25 Gbps.

WiGig: The newest kid on the block tantalizes with promise of speeds ranging from 1 Gbps to 6 Gbps.

Zigbee: This low-power wireless standard is for applications that require low data transfer but quicker response time such as remote controls.

Meanwhile, other standards such as wireless HD and Zigbee have sprung up offering to solve these problems. But they just aren’t broad enough to be used across multiple applications. Take wireless HD. Despite its promises of high speed connectivity, it is largely seen as a vehicle for high-def video transfer.

WiGig has a bigger umbrella, says Grodzinsky. “We want to be more than simple cable replacement,” he says. “We want complete interoperability and be on a number of platforms from TVs to notebooks.”

WiGig also benefit from the use of the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum, says Mathias. The availability of greater bandwidth in that spectrum allows for faster transmission.

For now, the specification isn’t final. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance hopes to complete it by the end of the year.  From there it is up to companies to bring the technology to market.  WiGig will also have to battle other technologies to become the de facto standard.

“Ultimately, the question is how many different kind of radios do you really need?” says Mathias. “There’s not just competition from Wi-Fi and wireless HD but also cellular technologies such as 3G, LTE or WiMax.”

WiGig is likely to  bump up against IEEE’s attempts to introduce follow-ups to the 802.11g and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), a non-profit organization, has been working on proposals to introduce the extremely high throughput 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards. The 802.11ad standard will also be based on the 60GHz spectrum but is not expected to be available before 2012.

“There are competing technologies to WiGig that are looking for standardization,” says Mathias. “The WiGig Alliance hopes to get a head start now and they might submit their standard to the 802.11ad group to be included in the specification.”

Either way this battle of the standards plays out, it is clear for consumers truly high-speed wireless data transfer is zipping into their living room.

Architectural multi-touch application at cebit 2008

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

At cebit 2008 introduced instantware. it is a sub brand of instantreality a custom interaction device

The multi-touch table which features several scalable plans. Where multiple users can move and zoom these plans like you know it from other multi-touch applications.

But the key feature is the tile with a high quality 3d view of the building. Now implemented the multi-touch 3d camera gestures: you can grab a plan with the left hand by one finger of right hand moves the camera through the 3d model. the second finger defines the orientation of the camera. This enables incredible cinematic camera movements in 3d. when the second finger points on a certain object on the plan and the first fingermoves around it the 3d camera moves around that object while keeping it on focus.

More images from cebit 2008 at:

Security: SurveillanceShaker for iPhone released

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Finally . SurveillanceShaker is the iPhone version of SurveillanceSaver, which has been downloaded more than 50.000 times and covered by BoingBoing, TimesOnline, Financial Times, Wired, …


SurveillanceShaker brings more than 1000 CCTV cameras on the iPhone. It becomes an addictive live soap opera when watching places around the earth in real time and guessing what will happen next. You’ll see live images of streets and buildings but also surprising images of russian internet cafes, hotel lobbies, server rooms, barns with little pigs and many more. Just shake or double-tap your iPhone to switch to the next camera.


The iPhone App is based on our public-viewpoints project. public-viewpoints is a geo-webservice serving links to public CCTV cameras around the world. It allows queries for CCTV cameras via geo location (Lat / Long, Country, City) and returns GeoRSS, CSV or simply the link. public-viewpoints is a Google App Engine project written in Python.


Security: CCTV Cam Screensaver

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Surveillance Saver is software, not something to investigate. But it’s a functional product involving security cameras.

It’s a screensaver for Mac OS X which taps into the worldwide Axis security camera network. These cameras share their footage online and Surveillance Saver aggregates them on your desktop, allowing backseat snooping. Like any good software release these days, it’s still in alpha, and tends to flicker in and out on my MacBook, but the fascination of these real-time glimpses is undeniable.

Something for the future “must have” when the bugs are sorted out.

200711051216Images of axis network cameras can be simply found by searching for their unique url:

A short python script extracts the urls and checks if they are working or dead. the rest is done in Quartz Composer.

copy the file into your home folder’s “Library/Screen Savers” and activate it in “System Preferences/Desktop & Screen Saver”. please use it on your own risk: the screen saver is still alpha. SurveillanceSaver is under Creative Commons license..

Download SurveillanceSaver –


Windows version now available

Home automation: Philips’ $1,836 Remote Control

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


If you’re in the market for a remote control of greater size, weight, complexity and cost than a high-end video player, Philips has the model for you. Hell, it probably has a better LCD display than the average portable a/v player. At $1,836, however, that’s hardly a surprise.

The Pronto NX PowerLite can send instructions into the ether via IR or WiFi, and comes with all the scary enthusiast peripheral hookups that the stupidly rich could ever want. Got a rackmounted home automation system to deal with? It even has an integrated music server.

Home automation: Control Your Universe

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Clear some space on your coffee table because here comes another universal remote. The Logitech Harmony 1000, however, may actually fulfill the concept of “universal.” Yes, it’ll control your plasma TV, stereo and video game console. But thanks to Z-Wave, the wireless home automation standard that lets you control household appliances, the Harmony 1000 will also let you lock your doors, lower your window shades and dim your lights. It has codes for 150,000 different devices — all accessible through its 3.5-inch touchscreen — truly making you king of your castle. No word on pricing.

Pachube: Connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Pachube is a web service available at that enables you to connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world.

The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual. Apart from enabling direct connections between any two environments, it can also be used to facilitate many-to-many connections: just like a physical “patch bay” (or telephone switchboard) Pachube enables any participating project to “plug-in” to any other participating project in real time so that, for example, buildings, interactive installations or blogs can “talk” and “respond” to each other.

Pachube is a little like YouTube, except that, rather than sharing videos, Pachube enables people to monitor and share real time environmental data from sensors that are connected to the internet. Pachube acts between environments, able both to capture input data (from remote sensors) and serve output data (to remote actuators). Connections can be made between any two environments, facilitating even spontaneous or previously unplanned connections. Apart from being used in physical environments, it also enables people to embed this data in web-pages, in effect to “blog” sensor data.

Pachube makes use of Extended Environments Markup Language (EEML) and an EEML Processing library is available to connect directly to Pachube without needing to know or understand EEML. A basic API makes it possible to both serve and request data in CSV and EEML format. In addition, for those operating behind a firewall, or with non-static URLs, or who wish to update less frequently than usual, the API enables manual update by an HTTP PUT request.


There is a tutorial available for beginner/intermediate Arduino and Processing users to connect Arduino to Pachube (both as an input and as an output).


Relevant URLs: (the home of Pachube)… (interview with Pachube’s founder) (Extended Environments Markup Language) (EEML library for Processing)

The Future: Smart networking, LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


At Apple co-founder Mike Markulla’s Venetian Hotel-styled private theater in this posh Palo Alto suburb, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, makers of Java, and CEO of Duke Energy, makers of 36,000 megawatts of electricity in coal and nuclear plants, shared the stage.

The CEOs found common ground pushing a vision of the future where light switches are superfluous and any device that uses power is networked, easily automated, and far more energy efficient. Holding up a standard Sun identification card, Sun Chairman of the Board Scott McNealy noted that it was faster than an Apple II computer.

“We can connect anything that is more than a dollar in value,” he said.

But McNealy’s declaration that he was “over” the network was the real highlight of the hour-long event to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Markulla’s post-Apple endeavor, Echelon, which makes sensors and controls for all types of devices.

“I want my stuff to be on the network”   said McNealy.

Coming from the CEO of a company that once had the tagline, “The network is the computer,” the comment drew laughs from the small crowd. McNealy admitted that his statement probably was “not the best marketing thing.”


Beyond his glib distaste for social networking, McNealy and Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO, presented a serious case that the future of networking lies with your toaster, lights and curtains. By turning “dumb” devices into nodes on a smart network, the businessmen said that the entire economy could be restructured to use energy more efficiently.

“I believe the most energy efficient economy is going to be the one that provides the greatest standard of living for its people,” Rogers said.

Rogers also noted that utilities would have to redefine their businesses away from commodity power and start making money by helping their customers control, not just use, their electricity.

“I see embedded in every customer six to eight networks and on each network there’s three to five applications,” he said. “What if I create value by optimizing those networks and those applications?”

That’s a major change in thinking for utilities that previously considered their job finished when the electricity hit your meter.

Though they painted grand visions of what the future could hold, both executives said there were many challenges to be met in creating the network of things.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” McNealy said. “There’s a lot of work to take the complexity out of client devices and to take the cost out of client devices.”


Cost and complexity have slowed the adoption of home automation systems, but all three companies clearly see an opportunity to capitalize on the high cost of energy and increasing concern over carbon emissions.

McNealy even dropped Echelon’s protocol LonWorks into his solution for the future.

LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world where per capita energy usage can plummet as green becomes the new black”, he said “And I mean black in terms of making money.”

Rogers’ vision was equally amibitious and showed that the North Carolina-based CEO knew his big-thinking Silicon Valley audience.

“At the end of the day, what I’m gonna provide is universal access to energy efficiency the way we provided universal access to electricity in the last century.”

Images: Jim Merithew. Top: Scott McNealy speaks to the crowd. Middle: The crowd is bathed in green LED light during a demo of the room’s fancy lighting system. Bottom: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers lays out his plan for the future of a smarter electrical grid.

CEDIA 2008: Home Installers Love iPhone Apps

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


The iPhone 3G may be the new universal remote control real soon.

Custom installation companies are, offering custom applications for a variety of A/V systems. They include a Windows Media Center App, lighting fixture controls, and even a full security-monitoring app.

As a result, you’re now able to perform wondrous tricks, like leaving the house with the door unlocked, walk a block, then lock it through your iPhone. That will be perfect for childish shenanigans on Halloween.

Here are some of the new iPhone apps of the installers:

ILoveControl’s app works with Cestron systems and is available as a free download at the Apple App Store starting today. It controls up to 16 zones of A/V systems (like climate and shading), lighting and more. While you can’t customize your own system yet, Cestrom says it will add this feature to the iPhone app in the near future.


Check out more iPhone A/V apps after the jump.


Savant Systems – The control platform of the main Savant systems are based on Apple’s OS X Leopard and an iPhone app was only natural. Savant has created a colorful app that controls all of its main systems, and it is creating an ‘Excellence in AV’ program where Apple developers can use the guts of the systems and create new design applications.


kanos Consulting’s Go Gadgets – Use your iPhone to go through Windows Sideshows for presentations.

Using Kanos as an in-between hardware installer with the iPhone as a remote seems like a good idea. Especially when you realize that it can work with Outlook, if that’s what you’re into.


SmartLabs’ NetLinc Insteon Central Controller – Insteon gadgets manage everything from the lighting of the gymnasium to the security of a house, which is why many installers seemed very excited about the possibilities with the iPhone.

One thing people weren’t that excited about? The fact you still need a receiver for every electrical plug in order for it to be placed under the iPhone’s control. Also, the UI of the app is not that well designed, as you can see from the picture. Mainly, it’s too small, simple, and ugly too look at.


AirRemote – Uses a global cache adapter to control different A/V home systems, but apparently, is supposed to cost over $100 to manage from your iPhone. That doesn’t sounds like a great buy incentive.

At CEDIA, they announced an update to the App, taking into account the 36 card slots for customized A/V configurations of their new systems.


Command Fusion’s iViewer – This third-party app works with Control4 and Crestron devices, and just like a few others, you can control the lights, and the temperature of one or many rooms.

SpeakerCraft’s MODE Multiroom App – The company known for crazy kooky rock speakers will include their iPhone app along when an installer buys its full in-wall speaker system.


HAI WL3 – HAI Control Systems can already be manipulated by most other PDAs, since it’s built on top of WL3 software.

My House UI for Control4 A/V Systems (see lead photo)– My House UI controls multi-room music, and the home theater, though it’s only supposed to work on the same WiFi network at the same Control4 system, disallowing the openness the device is meant to offer.

RIOE and Philips Show Transparent OLED Prototypes at Tokyo Fair

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Philips Electronics and other companies researching future display technologies got together at the Big Sight lighting fair in Tokyo to unveil cool new OLED prototypes, including the latest builds of transparent displays.

Philips Research mainly used the event to show its recently announced OLED light display grid, the Lumiblade, a basic, super-bright lamp slab that had previous problems with ‘luminance variability.’ Apparently, that’s been worked out (the lamps light up evenly) and they should start being sold by the end of the year in Europe, most likely for businesses.

But Philips reps apparently had to start talking up its transparent screens (above), since The Research Institute for Organic Electronics (RIOE) stole the show with its own transparent screen window display. The screens, measured at 70-75% of transparency, provide owners with the ability to let light in during the day and then use them as image panels at night.


RIOE hasn’t officially revealed its secret sauce behind the transparency, but it should follow the process of its other OLED screens. Mainly, they place an organic EL device layer on a glass substrate and then use heat and ‘radiating functions,’ a voltage type, generating an energy reaction that lights the panels. RIOE also showed a bright OLED that consumes only 15 watts for hours at a time, perfect for saving some money and electricity.

Last year, Sony and the Max-Planck-Institute in Germany created some of the first transparent displays that rendered moving images, and they did it through the chemical process of photoexcitation. That reaction is caused when rapid-fire lasers excite photosensitive chemicals embedded in a polycarbonate transparent sheet.

As for Philips, they also haven’t revealed exactly how they’ve created their own transparent displays, though it’s obvious from the previous examples that an organic polymer layering process is likely used.

For now, none of these prototypes have a price and most (except the Lumiblade) won’t be available for another 3-5 years.

Check out the RIOE OLED layer process after the jump.

Lighting: Flat Glass Panels

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


The glass is the light.

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Don’t let the gorgeous design distract you – the light emitting glass known as Planilum created by French design firm Saazs and Saint-Gobain Innovations differs from any lighting you’ve seen before.

For one, the light seems to be both drawn on the glass and living within it.

For another, it’s expected to last for about 20 years since the electric cathode is not in contact with the light’s gasses as with a normal bulb.

Instead, electricity applied to the base of the glass runs through transparent conductive layers which excite the plasma gas trapped in layers of glass. Then phosphorus painted on the glass reacts to the plasma and creates a glowing and diffuse light.

While warm, the light is not hot to the touch.

That means a coffee table, shelf or wall can be a room’s light source, according to Saazs designer Tomas Erel, making Planilum a “new generation of lighting.”

“The little points of light we all know will vanish,” Erel said. “Surface light will take over.”

The Planilum lights turn on and off instantly and are currently a bit more efficient than neon – without using mercury or losing brightness over time, according to Erel.

Saazs’ One — the four-foot tall panel featuring rows of donut-like radiating light circles pictured above — costs €2,500 Euro, or about $3,600 U.S.

Lighting pollution: A New Push to Turn Off the Lights in 2009

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Astronomers are fed up. One fifth of the world’s population cannot see the Milky Way because street lamps and building lights are too bright. So scientists are mounting a new campaign, called Dark Skies Awareness, aiming to reduce light pollution as part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

“Reducing the number of lights on at night could help conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health,” astronomer Malcolm Smith of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile wrote in a commentary Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Smith points out that billions of dollars of light is needlessly shined into the sky each year. Beyond the waste of money and energy, this light is blocking people’s view of the heavens.

“Without a direct view of the stars, mankind is cut off from most of the universe, deprived of any direct sense of its huge scale and our tiny place within it,” Smith wrote.

Plus, lights confuse and harm wildlife. For example, millions of birds in North America die every year because their migration patterns are disrupted by errant light. And baby sea turtles hatched in the sand often mistakenly head toward cities, instead of the sea, because they are lured by artificial lights.

Preliminary research even suggests that light at night is harmful to human health, potentially reducing the normal production of melatonin in our bodies, which suppresses cell division in cancerous tissue.

There is cause for hope, though. Some cities have made improvements in laws and regulations governing light. For example, new lighting codes in New York require dimmers and lights that are activated by motion sensors in many buildings. And Toronto’s Fatal Light Awareness program encourages buildings to turn lights off during bird migration season. The 2009 Dark Skies Awareness project plans a range of programs and events to raise public awareness of the issue and argue to lawmakers about the impacts of light pollution.

Twitter: Software tools

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I am using Buzzom to manage my twitter account.

Twitter: Messaging service apps for home automation – Send a tweet to flip the switch by remote control

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Thanks to its open-ended design and a thriving user community, Twitter is fast outgrowing its roots as a simple, easy-to-use messaging service. Enterprising hackers are creating apps for sharing music and videos, to help you quit smoking and lose weight — spontaneously extending the text-based service into one of the web’s most fertile (and least likely) application platforms.

Hardware hackers have set up household appliances to send status alerts over Twitter, like a washing machine that tweets when the spin cycle is through, or a home security system that tweets whenever it senses movement inside the house. Others have incorporated Twitter into their DIY home automation systems. Forgot to turn off the lights? Send a tweet to flip the switch by remote control.

“It’s so simple and easy to access, people are thinking of more and more uses for the platform,” says Dan Wasyluk, creator of the Twitter-based Snipt service. Wasyluk launched Snipt last week as a way to let programmers share short snippets of code over Twitter.

Launched in 2007, Twitter quickly became a darling of the life- and mind-casting interneterati. But some saw boundless possibilities in the 140-character limit, and what was a slow trickle of innovation is now quickly elevating what is essentially a micro-blogging service into one of the internet’s most important technologies, along with instant messaging and e-mail.

Though its main use — sending and receiving short messages to your social network — is often dismissed as time-wasting trivia, Twitter’s potential as a broad internet platform is just beginning to be fully realized. Twitter has grown into a ubiquitous presence — you can send tweets from your phone, your desktop and your browser — that has potential to not only facilitate communication among humans, but even to make machines do our bidding.

Businesses are starting to be built around it. Botanicalls, for example, sells a Twitter-enabled hardware kit that lets your neglected house plants alert you when they’re thirsty.

The company has developed a tiny moisture sensor attached to a circuit board with an Ethernet port. You stick it in your plant’s soil, and when the moisture levels drop below a certain level, your plant sends you a tweet begging to be watered.

Using Twitter’s application programming interface (API), a programmer with even a modest amount of experience can create a web app that gathers public data from Twitter, or uses it to send links, commands or bursts of information.

“[Twitter’s] open API is a huge reason it has grown into such a platform,” says Wasyluk.

File sharers were the first to rush in. The photo-sharing service TwitPic, one of the oldest Twitter mashups, lets users send pictures to their followers by storing a photo on its servers, then passing the link around on Twitter. Now there are newer apps like Tweetcube and Twittershare, which let users share larger media like MP3s and videos.

Twitter’s limited format of short, text-based announcements are a natural match for sites like TrackThis, which you can use to get status updates on FedEx and UPS packages, and Tweetajob, which job seekers can use to get real-time updates about new job openings.

Anyone who needs help quitting smoking can use Qwitter to monitor their progress. Those looking to lose weight can turn to TweetWhatYouEat or TweetYourEats.

Hardware hackers have put a new spin on the Twitter mashup — as it turns out, just about anything that can be plugged into the internet is capable of talking to Twitter.

Programmer Ryan Rose rigged up his washing machine to send him a tweet when his clothes are done. He just follows his machine’s twitter account (it’s PiMPY3WASH) and he knows when to go downstairs and move his undies to the dryer.

Linux hacker Shantanu Goel set up a video camera and some motion-sensing software on a PC connected to the internet. If anyone breaks into his house or goes snooping through his room, the software detects the movement and sends out a tweet.

Tech-savvy environmentalists can install Tweet-a-Watt, a gadget that plugs into your wall socket and connects to your wi-fi network. Once a day, the pocket-sized device broadcasts stats of your daily energy usage to Twitter.

Whether that sort of transparency results in embarrassment or bragging rights can be determined by a system like the one created by Justin Wickett. The Duke University student wired up his home so he could turn his lights on and off remotely, just by sending a text message to Twitter from his mobile phone.

Home Tweet Home: Energy-Savvy House Broadcasts on Twitter

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

We’ve had the connected home available for sometime now. With home automation connected to the internet, and able to report and control devices on site and remotely from any internet enabled device (PC or cell/mobile device). But this the first report of a house connected to the social network; Twitter.

Read on……

Home improvement is gaining a new connected visual dimension.

One house twitters about its energy usage, another posts every item in its refrigerator and dozens more provide live data on how much electricity their solar panels are generating.

An increasing number of homeowners are installing monitors on their houses that broadcast information on the Internet about the physical environment in and around where the houses sit.

This revolution is being led by infotech guys like the Google engineer we wrote about, or the creator of the Twitter system, Andy Stanford-Clark, who works for IBM’s Pervasive and Advanced Messaging Technologies team. And as Katie Fehrenbacher noted over at Earth2Tech, the creators of Flash are now hard at work on an energy monitoring and automation system called Greenbox.

MOTO Labs Shows Large Screen Multi-touch Prototype

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

San Francisco based MOTO Development Group has helped design some interesting gadgets including the LiveScribe Smart Pen and Flip camera.  Now the company’s labs are showing a demo of a large multi-touch screen that can potentially scale up to 50-inches.The prototype display from MOTO Labs has the thickness of an LCD display. It does not use cameras or bulky projection technology,  explain the Labs in this video.

“When this technology is available at the right price it will shift the paradigm for computer use away from individual interaction towards multiple users working on multi-touch surfaces together,” says Daniell Hebert, MOTO Development Group CEO in statement. “It will be all over the workplace.”

Though MOTO Labs claims its touchscreen tech is such that “no other system currently delivers” that may be a bit of a stretch. Israeli company N-Trig says it can make multi-touch displays in almost any size that users want. N-Trig has also launched a touchscreen digitizer kit to make it easy for software developers to create multi-touch based applications.

Touchscreen technology – Touch Anywhere Interface – Touch creates an glass acoustic signature unique to the location

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Two-finger touch or multi-touch? Users don’t have to choose. It can be touch anywhere says French start-up Sensitive Object, which offers a touchscreen technology that goes beyond the traditional display area.

The company’s ‘Anywhere MultiTouch’ platform is based on the recognition of sound waves propagated in an object when the user touches it.

A user’s touch on a glass surface produces a pattern of sound waves that creates an acoustic signature unique to the location of the touch, says Sensitive Object. The company, which was created in 2003, says it has found a way to associate this acoustic signature to the user’s every action.  A glass panel equipped with two piezoelectric sensors, similar to what is used in some new flat speakers technology, is used to detect the sound waves and determine their acoustic signature.

The Anywhere MultiTouch platform can be used on various materials such as glass, aluminium and plastics says Sensitive Object.

The company hasn’t disclosed how much its new technology will cost. For now it says this will be available at a “very competitive price.” The platform is Windows 7 compliant and offers handwriting recognition.

Sensitive Object hopes to bring its technology to cellphones, netbooks, laptops, PCs and portable games terminals. For app developers, the technology can be handy to expand how users interact with their devices, it says. For instance in case of a cellphone, a game app can require touch on any part of the phone instead of just the screen.

“Sensitive Object’s products are now used in various markets such as home automation, interactive point of sale or information desks and gaming,” says Bruno Thuillier, CTO of Sensitive Object in a statement. “We’re now addressing the handheld and consumer markets.”

“Black Box” Technology Comes to Cars

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


A company that provides communications systems to law enforcement agencies around the world has developed a black box similar to those used in aircraft to record crash data in cars.

The Smart Black Box by KCI Communications sticks to your windshield and uses a built-in camera, GPS unit and G-force shock sensor to document accidents. The info could come in handy when trying to determine fault or explain to your insurance company just what happened when you crunched your car.

“It’s the cheapest, most reliable thing yet for recording the events leading up to and after an accident,” Chris Pflanz, the company’s director of sales, told “We’re currently just trying to get the word out about this product, but we would eventually like to see insurance companies offer users of it a discount on their monthly premiums.”

The Smart Black Box costs about $300 and constantly records video footage on a loop as you drive. Should the shock sensor detect an accident, the device saves the 15 seconds prior to impact and the 5 seconds afterward. The footage is saved to a SD Card, like that found in your digital camera, making it accessible on a home computer.

KCI says the GPS unit will record the time and location of an accident and document your speed and direction of travel. The company says that could be useful when trying to prove that red light you ran was actually yellow or in cases where you dispute the reading on a cop’s radar.

“It’s the perfect way to fight back,” said Pflanz. “The authorities always have surveillance cameras on you. Why not put a camera on them for a change?”

KCI Communications is of course not the first company to put a camera in your car. But it couples the camera with GPS documentation and a built-in G-shock sensor, which is capable of tracing the point of impact during an accident on a three line X, Y, Z graph. Unlike other car camera providers, Pflanz said KCI Communications also doesn’t charge a monthly fee or aggregate the recorded data through a main-frame server.

“What you record is yours,” he said. “So, if you happen to be at fault in an accident, nobody else has to see it if you don’t want.”

Photos: KCI Communications