Wednesday, October 29. 2014
Engineers at Stanford University have developed a tiny radio that’s about as big as an ant and that’s cheap and small enough that it could help realize the “Internet of things”—the world of everyday objects that send and receive data via the Internet.
The radio is built on a piece of silicon that measures just a few millimeters on each side. Several tens of them can fit on the top of a U.S. penny and the radio itself is expected to cost only a few pennies to manufacture in mass quantities.
Part of the secret to the radio’s size is its lack of a battery. Its power requirements are sufficiently frugal that it can harvest the energy it needs from nearby radio fields, such as those from a reader device when it’s brought nearby.
RFID tags and contactless smartcards can get their power the same way, drawing energy from a radio source, but Stanford’s radio has more processing power than those simpler devices, a university representative said. That means it could query a sensor for its data, for instance, and transmit it when required.
The device operates in the 24GHz and 60GHz bands, suitable for communications over a few tens of centimeters.
Engineers envisage a day when trillions of objects are connected via tiny radios to the Internet. Data from the devices is expected to help realize smarter and more energy-efficient homes, although quite how it will all work is yet to be figured out. Radios like the one from Stanford should help greatly expand the number of devices that can collect and share data.
The radio was demonstrated by Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and one of the developers of the device, at the recent VLSI Technology and Circuits Symposium in Hawaii.
Tuesday, September 09. 2014
Via Tech Crunch
Mimosa Networks is finally ready to help make gigabit wireless technology a reality. The company, which recently came out of stealth, is launching a series of products that it hopes to sell to a new generation of wireless ISPs.
Its wireless Internet products include its new B5 Backhaul radio hardware and its Mimosa Cloud Services planning and analytics offering. By using the two in combination, new ISPs can build high-capacity wireless networks at a fraction of the cost it would take to lay a fiber network.
The B5 backhaul radio is a piece of hardware that uses multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology to provide up to 16 streams and 4 Gbps of output when multiple radios are using the same channel.
With a single B5 radio, customers can provide a gigabit of throughput for up to eight or nine miles, according to co-founder and chief product officer Jaime Fink. The longer the distance, the less bandwidth is available, of course. But Fink said the company is running one link of about 60 miles that still gets a several hundred megabits of throughput along the California coast.
Not only does the product offer high data speeds on 5 GHz wireless spectrum, but it also makes that spectrum more efficient. It uses spectrum analysis and load balancing to optimize bandwidth, frequency, and power use based on historical and real-time data to adapt to wireless interference and other issues.
In addition to the hardware, Mimosa’s cloud services will help customers plan and deploy networks with analytics tools to determine how powerful and efficiently their existing equipment is running. That will enable new ISPs to more effectively determine where to place new hardware to link up with other base stations.
The product also is designed to support networks as they grow, and it makes sure that ISPs can spot problems as they happen. The Cloud Services product is available now, but the backhaul radio will be available for about $900 later this fall.
Mimosa is launching these first products after raising $38 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates and Oak Investment Partners. That includes a $20 million Series C round led by return investor NEA that was recently closed.
The company was founded by Brian Hinman, who had previously co-founded PictureTel, Polycom, and 2Wire, along with Fink, who previously served as CTO of 2Wire and SVP of technology for Pace after it acquired the home networking equipment company. Now they’re hoping to make wireless gigabit speeds available for new ISPs.
Friday, September 05. 2014
The Internet of Things is still too hard. Even some of its biggest backers say so.
For all the long-term optimism at the M2M Evolution conference this week in Las Vegas, many vendors and analysts are starkly realistic about how far the vaunted set of technologies for connected objects still has to go. IoT is already saving money for some enterprises and boosting revenue for others, but it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. That’s partly because it’s too complicated to deploy, some say.
For now, implementations, market growth and standards are mostly concentrated in specific sectors, according to several participants at the conference who would love to see IoT span the world.
Cisco Systems has estimated IoT will generate $14.4 trillion in economic value between last year and 2022. But Kevin Shatzkamer, a distinguished systems architect at Cisco, called IoT a misnomer, for now.
“I think we’re pretty far from envisioning this as an Internet,” Shatzkamer said. “Today, what we have is lots of sets of intranets.” Within enterprises, it’s mostly individual business units deploying IoT, in a pattern that echoes the adoption of cloud computing, he said.
In the past, most of the networked machines in factories, energy grids and other settings have been linked using custom-built, often local networks based on proprietary technologies. IoT links those connected machines to the Internet and lets organizations combine those data streams with others. It’s also expected to foster an industry that’s more like the Internet, with horizontal layers of technology and multivendor ecosystems of products.
What’s holding back the Internet of Things
The good news is that cities, utilities, and companies are getting more familiar with IoT and looking to use it. The less good news is that they’re talking about limited IoT rollouts for specific purposes.
“You can’t sell a platform, because a platform doesn’t solve a problem. A vertical solution solves a problem,” Shatzkamer said. “We’re stuck at this impasse of working toward the horizontal while building the vertical.”
“We’re no longer able to just go in and sort of bluff our way through a technology discussion of what’s possible,” said Rick Lisa, Intel’s group sales director for Global M2M. “They want to know what you can do for me today that solves a problem.”
One of the most cited examples of IoT’s potential is the so-called connected city, where myriad sensors and cameras will track the movement of people and resources and generate data to make everything run more efficiently and openly. But now, the key is to get one municipal project up and running to prove it can be done, Lisa said.
The conference drew stories of many successful projects: A system for tracking construction gear has caught numerous workers on camera walking off with equipment and led to prosecutions. Sensors in taxis detect unsafe driving maneuvers and alert the driver with a tone and a seat vibration, then report it to the taxi company. Major League Baseball is collecting gigabytes of data about every moment in a game, providing more information for fans and teams.
But for the mass market of small and medium-size enterprises that don’t have the resources to do a lot of custom development, even targeted IoT rollouts are too daunting, said analyst James Brehm, founder of James Brehm & Associates.
There are software platforms that pave over some of the complexity of making various devices and applications talk to each other, such as the Omega DevCloud, which RacoWireless introduced on Tuesday. The DevCloud lets developers write applications in the language they know and make those apps work on almost any type of device in the field, RacoWireless said. Thingworx, Xively and Gemalto also offer software platforms that do some of the work for users. But the various platforms on offer from IoT specialist companies are still too fragmented for most customers, Brehm said. There are too many types of platforms—for device activation, device management, application development, and more. “The solutions are too complex.”
He thinks that’s holding back the industry’s growth. Though the past few years have seen rapid adoption in certain industries in certain countries, sometimes promoted by governments—energy in the U.K., transportation in Brazil, security cameras in China—the IoT industry as a whole is only growing by about 35 percent per year, Brehm estimates. That’s a healthy pace, but not the steep “hockey stick” growth that has made other Internet-driven technologies ubiquitous, he said.
What lies ahead
Brehm thinks IoT is in a period where customers are waiting for more complete toolkits to implement it—essentially off-the-shelf products—and the industry hasn’t consolidated enough to deliver them. More companies have to merge, and it’s not clear when that will happen, he said.
“I thought we’d be out of it by now,” Brehm said. What’s hard about consolidation is partly what’s hard about adoption, in that IoT is a complex set of technologies, he said.
And don’t count on industry standards to simplify everything. IoT’s scope is so broad that there’s no way one standard could define any part of it, analysts said. The industry is evolving too quickly for traditional standards processes, which are often mired in industry politics, to keep up, according to Andy Castonguay, an analyst at IoT research firm Machina.
Instead, individual industries will set their own standards while software platforms such as Omega DevCloud help to solve the broader fragmentation, Castonguay believes. Even the Industrial Internet Consortium, formed earlier this year to bring some coherence to IoT for conservative industries such as energy and aviation, plans to work with existing standards from specific industries rather than write its own.
Ryan Martin, an analyst at 451 Research, compared IoT standards to human languages.
“I’d be hard pressed to say we are going to have one universal language that everyone in the world can speak,” and even if there were one, most people would also speak a more local language, Martin said.
Via The Register
Google is attempting to shunt users away from old browsers by intentionally serving up a stale version of the ad giant's search homepage to those holdouts.
The tactic appears to be falling in line with Mountain View's policy on its other Google properties, such as Gmail, which the company declines to fully support on aged browsers.
However, it was claimed on Friday in a Google discussion thread that the multinational had unceremoniously dumped a past its sell-by-date version of the Larry Page-run firm's search homepage on those users who have declined to upgrade their Opera and Safari browsers.
A user with the moniker DJSigma wrote on the forum:
In a later post, DJSigma added that there seemed to be a glitch on Google search.
The Opera user then said that the problem appeared to be "intermittent". Others flagged up similar issues on the Google forum and said they hoped it was just a bug.
While someone going by the name MadFranko008 added:
Some Safari 5.1.x and Opera 12.x netizens were able to fudge the system by customising their browser's user agent. But others continued to complain about Google's "clunky", old search homepage.
A Google employee, meanwhile, said that the tactic was deliberate in a move to flush out stick-in-the-mud types who insisted on using older versions of browsers.
"Thanks for the reports. I want to assure you this isn't a bug, it's working as intended," said a Google worker going by the name nealem. She added:
In a separate thread, as spotted by a Reg reader who brought this sorry affair to our attention, user MadFranko008 was able to show that even modern browsers - including the current version of Chrome - were apparently spitting out glitches on Apple Mac computers.
Google then appeared to have resolved the search "bug" spotted in Chrome.
Wednesday, July 16. 2014
Tuesday, July 08. 2014
Ever since covering Fliike, a beautifully-designed physical ‘Like’ counter for local businesses, I’ve been thinking about how the idea could be extended, with a fully-programmable, but simple, ticker-style Internet-connected display.
A few products along those lines do already exist, but I’ve yet to find anything that quite matches what I had in mind. That is, until recently, when I was introduced to LaMetric, a smart ticker being developed by UK/Ukraine Internet of Things (IoT) startup Smart Atoms.
Launching its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign today, the LaMetric is aimed at both consumers and businesses. The idea is you may want to display alerts, notifications and other information from your online “life” via an elegant desktop or wall-mountable and glance-able display. Likewise, businesses that want an Internet-connected ticker, displaying various business information, either publicly for customers or in an office, are also a target market.
The device itself has a retro, 8-bit style desktop clock feel to it, thanks to its ‘blocky’ LED light powered display, which is part of its charm. The display can output one icon and seven numbers, and is scrollable.
But, best of all, the LaMetric is fully programmable via the accompanying app (or “hackable”) and comes with a bunch of off-the-shelf widgets, along with support for RSS and services like IFTTT, Smart Things, Wig Wag, Ninja Blocks, so you can get it talking to other smart devices or web services. Seriously, this thing goes way beyond what I had in mind — try the simulator for yourself — and, for an IoT junkie like me, is just damn cool.
Examples of the kind of things you can track with the device include time, weather, subject and time left till your next meeting, number of new emails and their subject lines, CrossFit timings and fitness goals, number of to-dos for today, stock quotes, and social network notifications.
Or for businesses, this might include Facebook Likes, website visitors, conversions and other metrics, app store rankings, downloads, and revenue.
In addition to the display, the device has back and forward buttons so you can rotate widgets (though these can be set to automatically rotate), as well as an enter key for programmed responses, such as accepting a calendar invitation.
There’s also a loudspeaker for audio alerts. The LaMetric is powered by micro-USB and also comes as an optional and more expensive battery-powered version.Early-bird backers on Kickstarter can pick up the LaMetric for as little as $89 (plus shipping) for the battery-less version, with countless other options and perks, increasing in price.
Thursday, July 03. 2014
Published on Jun 10, 2014The beauty of hackers, says cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari, is that they force us to evolve and improve. Yes, some hackers are bad guys, but many are working to fight government corruption and advocate for our rights. By exposing vulnerabilities, they push the Internet to become stronger and healthier, wielding their power to create a better world.
Wednesday, July 02. 2014
Via Tech Crunch
Online artists’ community deviantART is hoping to become responsible for the new .art web domains, and it recently sent a letter to ICANN (the organization responsible for managing top level domains) laying out its perspective on the stakes in the decision.
The letter also presents deviantART’s case for why it deserves a “community designation” in the application process, saying:
“We are on the cusp of an extraordinary opportunity with the simple use of a single word: a virtual place within the Internet for the arts and a virtual palace to the arts built site-by-site by millions of artists and art institutions each with an individualized artistic contribution gathered around the simple namespace of ‘.ART.’”
The letter adds that if the domain is exploited commercially, “it will only occasionally and haphazardly designate the arts themselves. It will not be a welcomed location for the arts.”
That may seem like an unusual argument coming from a for-profit business, but deviantART has created a new subsidiary called Dadotart (apparently that’s standard procedure when applying to manage a new top level domain), and it says it would create a policy board of “artists and art institutions” that would establish the standards for when the .art designation can be used.
deviantART says ICANN is currently deciding whether it deserves the community designation, which would give it priority in the application process. The initial signs may have not been entirely positive, as the letter states: “We believe preservation of the arts is at risk based upon the results of the initial community evaluations made by ICANN that clearly disfavor their approval with a resulting and evident bias towards commercialization.”
If you aren’t familiar with deviantART, the site showcases digital art, traditional art, photography — sometimes original and sometimes inspired by existing media properties — and it says it has 31 million registered users. (Software company Autodesk became an investor last year.)
e-flux, a network of art professionals, is also applying for a community designation, and although the applications can’t be combined, deviantART says the two groups support each other’s applications and would be involved in policy issues if either gets awarded the domain.
Tuesday, June 24. 2014
ComputedBy - The idea to share a WiFi access point is far to be a new one (it is obviously as old as the technology of the WiFi access point itself), but previous solutions were not addressing many issues (including the legal ones) that this proposal seems finally to consider seriously. This may really succeed in transforming a ridiculously endless utopia in something tangible!
Now, Internet providers (including mobile networks) may have a word to say about that. Just by changing their terms of service they can just make this practice illegal... as business does not rhyme with effectiveness (yes, I know, that is strange!!...) neither with objectivity. It took some time but geographical boundaries were raised up over the Internet (which is somehow a as impressive as ridiculous achievement when you think about it), so I'm pretty sure 'they' can find a work around to make this idea not possible or put their hands over it.
Via ars technica
We’ve often heard security folks explain their belief that one of the best ways to protect Web privacy and security on one's home turf is to lock down one's private Wi-Fi network with a strong password. But a coalition of advocacy organizations is calling such conventional wisdom into question.
Members of the “Open Wireless Movement,” including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Press, Mozilla, and Fight for the Future are advocating that we open up our Wi-Fi private networks (or at least a small slice of our available bandwidth) to strangers. They claim that such a random act of kindness can actually make us safer online while simultaneously facilitating a better allocation of finite broadband resources.
The OpenWireless.org website explains the group’s initiative. “We are aiming to build technologies that would make it easy for Internet subscribers to portion off their wireless networks for guests and the public while maintaining security, protecting privacy, and preserving quality of access," its mission statement reads. "And we are working to debunk myths (and confront truths) about open wireless while creating technologies and legal precedent to ensure it is safe, private, and legal to open your network.”
One such technology, which EFF plans to unveil at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE X) conference next month, is open-sourced router firmware called Open Wireless Router. This firmware would enable individuals to share a portion of their Wi-Fi networks with anyone nearby, password-free, as Adi Kamdar, an EFF activist, told Ars on Friday.
Home network sharing tools are not new, and the EFF has been touting the benefits of open-sourcing Web connections for years, but Kamdar believes this new tool marks the second phase in the open wireless initiative. Unlike previous tools, he claims, EFF’s software will be free for all, will not require any sort of registration, and will actually make surfing the Web safer and more efficient.
Open Wi-Fi initiative members have argued that the act of providing wireless networks to others is a form of “basic politeness… like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea” to a neighbor, as security expert Bruce Schneier described it.
Kamdar said that the new firmware utilizes smart technologies that prioritize the network owner's traffic over others', so good samaritans won't have to wait for Netflix to load because of strangers using their home networks. What's more, he said, "every connection is walled off from all other connections," so as to decrease the risk of unwanted snooping.
Additionally, EFF hopes that opening one’s Wi-Fi network will, in the long run, make it more difficult to tie an IP address to an individual.
“From a legal perspective, we have been trying to tackle this idea that law enforcement and certain bad plaintiffs have been pushing, that your IP address is tied to your identity. Your identity is not your IP address. You shouldn't be targeted by a copyright troll just because they know your IP address," said Kamdar.
This isn’t an abstract problem, either. Consider the case of the Californian who, after allowing a friend access to his home Wi-Fi network, found his home turned inside-out by police officers asking tough questions about child pornography. The man later learned that his houseguest had downloaded illicit materials, thus subjecting the homeowner to police interrogation. Should a critical mass begin to open private networks to strangers, the practice of correlating individuals with IP addresses would prove increasingly difficult and therefore might be reduced.
While the EFF firmware will initially be compatible with only one specific router, the organization would like to eventually make it compatible with other routers and even, perhaps, develop its own router. “We noticed that router software, in general, is pretty insecure and inefficient," Kamdar said. “There are a few major players in the router space. Even though various flaws have been exposed, there have not been many fixes.”
Friday, June 20. 2014
Not very often do you read something online that gives you the chills. Today, I read two such things.
This broke my heart. In 2008, two Internets ago, Metafilter was my favorite site. It was where I went to find out what the next Star Wars Kid would be, or to find precious baby animal videos to show my cool boyfriend or even more intellectual fare. And now it’s as endangered as the sneezing pandas I first discovered there.
National Internet treasures like Metafilter (or TechCrunch for that matter) should never die. There should be some Internet Preservation Society filled with individuals like Herrman or Marc Andreessen or Mark Zuckerberg or Andy Baio whose sole purpose is to keep them alive.
But there isn’t. Herrman makes a very good point; Useful places to find information, that aren’t some strange Pavlovian manipulation of the human desire to click or identify, just aren’t good business these days.
And Herrman should know, he’s worked in every new media outlet under the web, including the one that AP staffers are now so desperate to join that they make mistakes like this.
The fourth Internet is scary like Darwinism, brutal enough to remind me of high school. It’s a game of identity where you either make people feel like members of some exclusive club, like The Information does with a pricy subscription model or all niche tech sites do with their relatively high CPM, or you straight up play up to reader narcissism like Buzzfeed does, slicing and dicing user identity until you end up with “21 Problems Only People With Baby Faces Will Understand.”
Which brings me to the thing I read today which truly scared the shit out of me. Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti, though his LinkedIn is completely bereft of it in favor of MIT, was apparently an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz in the late 90s.
Right after graduation in 1996, he wrote a paper about identity and capitalism in post-modern times, which tl:dr postulated that neo-capitalism needs to get someone to identify with its ideals before it could sell its wares.
(Aside: If you think you are immune to capitalistic entreaties, because you read Adbusters and are a Culture Jammer, you’re not. Think of it this way: What is actually wrong with being chubby? But how hard do modern ads try to tell you that this — which is arguably the Western norm — is somehow not okay.)
The thesis Peretti put forth in his paper is basically the blueprint for Buzzfeed, which increasingly has made itself All About You. Whether you’re an Armenian immigrant, or an Iggy Azaelia fan or a person born in the 2000s, 1990s or 80s, you will identify with Buzzfeed, because its business model (and the entire fourth Internet’s ) depends on it.
As Dylan Matthews writes:
More than anything else in the pantheon of modern writing or as the kids call it, content creation, Buzzfeed aims to be hyper-relatable, through visuals! It hopes it can define your exact identity, because only then will you share its URL on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr as some sort of badge of your own uniqueness, immortality.
If the first Internet was “Getting information online,” the second was “Getting the information organized” and the third was “Getting everyone connected” the fourth is definitely “Get mine.” Which is a trap.
Which Cog In The Digital Capitalist Machine Are You?
(Page 1 of 8, totaling 77 entries) » next page
Show tagged entries