- Beethoven’s Open Repository of Research (RocketHub) — open repository funded in a Kickstarter-type way. First crowdfunding project I’ve given $$$ to.
- KeepOff (GitHub) — open source project built around hacking KeepOn Interactive Dancing Robots. (via Chris Spurgeon)
- Steve Jobs One-on-One (ComputerWorld) — interesting glimpse of the man himself in an oral history project recording made during the NeXT years. I don’t need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why. But you do need a person. You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they’re not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don’t need an assistant.
- Bluetooth Violin Bow — this is awesome in so many directions. Sensors EVERYWHERE! I wonder what hackable uses it has …
From Pluto flybys to open source in the enterprise to engineering the future, here are key highlights from OSCON 2015.
Experts and advocates from across the open source world assembled in Portland, Ore., this week for OSCON 2015. Below you’ll find a handful of keynotes and interviews from the event that we found particularly notable.
Cracking open the IoT
In an interview at OSCON, Alasdair Allan, director at Babilim Light Industries, talked about the data coming out of the New Horizons Pluto flyby, the future of “personal space programs,” and the significance of Bluetooth LE to the Internet of Things:
Now that all the smartphones have Bluetooth LE — or at least the modern ones, there is a very easy way to produce low-power devices (wearables, embedded sensors) that anyone can access with a smartphone. … It’s a real lever to drive the Internet of Things forward, and you’re seeing a lot of the progress in the Internet of Things, a lot of the innovation, is happening — especially in Kickstarter — around BLE devices.
How to get started with proximity sensors.
Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series looking at beacon technology and the burgeoning beacon ecosystem.
Apple galvanized the whole area of proximity-enabled applications and services when it launched iBeacon at WWDC in June 2013. When iOS7 launched later that year, it was the first time support for a variety of proximity use cases was both designed in — and available at scale in — a mobile platform.
Since then, hundreds of companies have become involved in different ways in the iBeacon ecosystem — what I call the “Beacosystem.” These companies are making beacon hardware, offering proximity/iBeacon software platforms, creating shopper marketing platforms, using beacons to deliver signals for location analytics and mobile marketing solutions, powering indoor location services, and more.
This post introduces proximity and iBeacon, covers some background on how it works, and explains why there is some excitement and hype around the uses of proximity in various verticals, including retail.
Range, power consumption, scalability, and bandwidth dominate technology decisions.
Three types of networking topologies are utilized in the Internet-of-Things: point-to-point, star, and mesh networking. To provide a way to explore the attributes and capabilities of each of these topologies, we defined a hypothetical (but realistic) application in the building monitoring and energy management space and methodically defined its networking requirements.
Let’s pull it all together to make a network selection for our building monitoring application. As described previously, the application will monitor, analyze, and optimize energy usage throughout the user’s properties. To accomplish this, monitoring and control points need to be deployed throughout each building, including occupancy and temperature sensors. Sensor data will be aggregated back to a central building automation panel located in each building. A continuous collection of data will provide a higher resolution of temperature and occupancy information, thus rendering better insight into HVAC performance and building utilization patterns. Comparison of energy utilization throughout the portfolio of properties allows lower performing buildings to be flagged.
Bluetooth networking within the Internet of Things
This article is part of a series exploring the role of networking in the Internet of Things.
Previously, we set out to choose the wireless technology standard that best fits the needs of our hypothetical building monitoring and energy application. Going forward, we will look at candidate technologies within all three networking topologies discussed earlier: point-to-point, star, and mesh. We’ll start with Bluetooth, the focus of this post.
Bluetooth is the most common wireless point-to-point networking standard, designed for exchanging data over short distances. It was developed to replace the cables connecting portable and/or fixed devices.
Today, Bluetooth is well suited for relatively simple applications where two devices need to connect with minimal configuration setup, like a button press, as in a cell phone headset. The technology is used to transfer information between two devices that are near each other in low-bandwidth situations such as with tablets, media players, robotics systems, handheld and console gaming equipment, and some high-definition headsets, modems, and watches.
When considering Bluetooth for use in our building application, we must consider the capabilities of the technology and compare these capabilities to the nine application attributes outlined in my previous post. Let’s take a closer look at Bluetooth across these eight key attributes.
Why the dearth of imagination — we need to get beyond different flavors of spyware.
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” as Jeff Hammerbacher said. And it’s not just data analysts: it’s creeping into every aspect of technology, including hardware.
One of the more exciting developments of the past year is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Unfortunately, the application that I’ve seen discussed most frequently is user tracking: devices in stores can use the BLE device in your cell phone to tell exactly where you’re standing, what you’re looking at, and target ads, offer you deals, send over salespeople, and so on.
Color me uninterested. I don’t really care about the spyware: if Needless Markup wants to know what I’m looking at, they can send someone out on the floor to look. But I am dismayed by the lack of imagination around what we can do with BLE. Read more…
Using technology to prevent rat outbreaks.
If the modern city is a symbol for randomness — even chaos — the city of the near future is shaping up along opposite metaphorical lines. The urban environment is evolving rapidly, and a model is emerging that is more efficient, more functional, more — connected, in a word.
This will affect how we work, commute, and spend our leisure time. It may well influence how we relate to one another, and how we think about the world. Certainly, our lives will be augmented: better public transportation systems, quicker responses from police and fire services, more efficient energy consumption. But there could also be dystopian impacts: dwindling privacy and imperiled personal data. We could even lose some of the ferment that makes large cities such compelling places to live; chaos is stressful, but it can also be stimulating.
It will come as no surprise that converging digital technologies are driving cities toward connectedness. When conjoined, ISM band transmitters, sensors, and smart phone apps form networks that can make cities pretty darn smart — and maybe more hygienic. This latter possibility, at least, is proposed by Samrat Saha, a consultant with the DCI Marketing Group in Milwaukee. Saha suggests “crowdsourcing” municipal trash pick-up via BLE modules, proximity sensors and custom mobile device apps.
Enable indoor location services with Bluetooth Low Energy alerts
In the last couple of months, iBeacon is making a lot of noise. iBeacons are small wireless sensors placed inside any physical space that transmit data to your phone using Bluetooth Low Energy (also known as Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Smart). Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), iBeacon opens up new opportunities by creating a beacon around regions so your app can be alerted when users enter them. Apple quietly rolled out the iBeacons framework as part of iOS 7, but lots of iBeacon manufacturers (Estimote, Roximity Beacons, Adomalay, Kontact etc.) are already emerging. It is going to play an important role in several areas.
Why Apple and others could choose Bluetooth over NFC, NFC is too slow for the Tube, and PayPal expands its point of sale.
An analyst says Bluetooth may be a better option than NFC for Apple, NFC isn't quite working for the London Tube, and PayPal gets more partners and a new payment app. (Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O'Reilly and PayPal.)
Science Repository, Dancing Robots, Retro Jobs, and Bluetooth Bow
Programmable Watch, Flying Cars, Shakespeare's Copywrongs, and Publishing Unified
- Programmable Bluetooth Watch — OLED display, bluetooth, vibration, button, timers, and two-way Bluetooth. I’m enchanted by the possibilities of our environment talking to us through such a device. (via Tom Coates on Twitter)
- Flying Cars (XKCD) — a reminder to appreciate the future we live in, and not grizzle too hard that the ones we dreamt of in the 60s haven’t eventuated yet. (Part of my optimism riff)
- Presumed Guilty (James Boyle) — setting to rights a bizarre op-ed by Scott Turow (head of the Authors Guild) which sought to make Shakespeare sound like an argument for copyright law. The argument is so strange it is hard to know where to begin. The problem is not simply that Shakespeare flourished without copyright protection for his work. It is that he made liberal use of the work of others in his own plays in ways that would today almost certainly generate a lawsuit.
- Context First: A Unified Theory of Publishing (Vimeo) — Brian O’Leary’s talk at TOC. (via Liza Daly on Twitter)