Food and drink festival uses smartphone scanner tech for crowd safety

The organisers of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival have used technology from Innotech Concepts and Libelium to keep attendees moving freely and safely around the event.

Held annually in the Greater Manchester town, the Bolton Food and Drink Festival gives attendees the chance to taste cuisine from all over the world. Last summer, over the August Bank Holiday, it broke all previous records, attracting 267,000 visitors. But pulling in such numbers comes with its own challenges in terms of keeping attendees moving around, freely and safely. 

Looking for a better way to understand and manage the crowds, the festival organisers enlisted the support of Innotech Concepts on a project focused on visitor data monitoring. The Castleford, West Yorkshire-based start-up specialises in data collection for the transport and events sectors, with an emphasis on areas including connectivity, public safety and evacuation. 

Innotech provided the event’s management team with sensor specialist Libelium’s Meshlium IoT platform, to study the behaviour and activities of visitors in real time, based on detection of smartphones via the Meshlium Scanner. 

Food and drink festival uses smartphone scanner tech for crowd safety

(Credit: Libelium)

Read more: Italian start-up Evja launches smart agriculture platform for salad growers

Data to the rescue

Two connected scanners were installed at the main entrance of the event venue and a third was deployed in the car park, as a means of monitoring the location, length of stay and individual journey routes of visitors. These scanned for smartphones every 15 minutes via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

To protect customers’ identifies, all information was kept anonymous and sent over a secure 4G network to Innotech’s proprietary analysis platform, Innotech Insights Crowded. Here, data can be transformed into visual charts to convey key data more easily, but the platform also offers a raw data download option, enabling users to slice and dice data in the ways that most interest them. 

From this, the event’s organiser were able to establish a number of metrics: duration of stay; visitor volume per location; visitor volume per day; most popular locations; most popular individual and group routes; total visitors.

Read more: Athens International Airport turns to IoT for environmental monitoring

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Turn a flatbed scanner into a PCB UV exposure device

If you want to create your own custom PCBs, you could design it and wait for a fab house to send it back, dealing with any errors, or you could do it yourself. Hacker Andras Kabai decided to go for the second option, and made his own UV exposure tool to help him with the process using an old flatbed scanner as the base.

Rather than line the entire underside of the bed with LEDs, he cleverly repurposed the single-axis gantry that would normally hold the scanning unit to instead contain a row of LEDs to expose the PCB on top.

The project was prototyped with an Arduino Pro Mini, but was eventually supplanted by a Mega when the smaller board’s limits were reached.

Plenty of DIY PCB UV exposure tool building posts are available on the internet with total different approaches. I also designed my own, to fulfill my needs: it should be relative small and portable and the hacking/modding should be fun. ? Flat bed scanners were found as possibly good target. Compared to most of the other scanner mods, which use LED arrays or fluorescent tubes across the whole scanner bed area, my plan was to use the scanner carriage with only few LEDs and control its movement (and brightness) under the given PCB.

You can check out the device’s development in the videos below, which show off its interface and the gantry in motion.

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Kaspersky Lab launches IoT scanner for home networks

Kaspersky Lab launches IoT scanner for home networks

Security company Kaspersky has released a beta version of Kaspersky IoT Scanner, an application for Android that scans the home Wi-Fi network.

Due to the proliferation of IoT, particularly in the home, Kaspersky has launched this product in order to help householders better manage the security of their networks. Recent highly publicized DDoS and ransomware cases, such as those using the Mirai Botnet and WannaCry, have highlighted to consumers the potential dangers of connected devices.

Kaspersky is hoping to allay some of those fears, by helping them to tackle threats proactively. The company’s device supposedly scans the home network and flags up every device it finds, as well as its level of security.

Appliance audit

Kaspersky claims that it will automatically identify smart devices such as Wi-Fi routers, IP cameras, Smart TVs, Wi-Fi printers, NAS network storage devices, media servers and game consoles, as well as computers, tablets or smartphones, connected to the home network.

It will then “memorise” them and notifies the home owner when any new or familiar device is connected to, or disconnects from, the network. This is to ensure that the owner is always are of who is using their network.

The main benefit, however, is that the scanner will detect any anomalies or vulnerabilities much quicker than a human, particularly a home owner who is unlikely to be regularly monitoring his or her network. For example, if their connection ports are open, Kaspersky IoT Scanner informs the user about it and advises them to immediately close them. It will also identify any password vulnerabilities among Wi-Fi routers, Telnet or SSH, to ensure hackers cannot exploit password weaknesses.

Read more: Cyber-savvy consumers support IoT security by design

Kaspersky’s grand mission

Somewhat grandly, Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab, suggested that the product was launched because “Kaspersky Lab’s mission is to save the world from cyberthreats.

“Our “arsenal” contains many free solutions for a variety of tasks and platforms, and Kaspersky IoT Scanner is yet another solution that allows a significant portion of netizens – namely, users of “smart” devices – to stay protected”, Mochola added.

Kaspersky Lab is not the first to launch a smart home security product of this kind. Earlier this year, BullGuard launched its own product known as Dojo, with BullGuard CEO, Paul Lipman, suggesting that “A smart home can quickly become a fool’s paradise when IoT devices are not properly secured.”

The Kaspersky IoT Scanner is available for beta testing on Google Play. It’s available in Russian and English in a limited number of countries. Users can download Kaspersky IoT Scanner, using this link.

Read more: IoT device makers: Tackle security or face legal action

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Building an Arduino-controlled single-pixel scanner

If you’ve seen color sensors such as the TCS34725,  you may have considered them for projects that can pick out one colored object over another. On the other hand, if you were to take one of these sensors, mount them to an Arduino-driven plotter, and then take readings in an X/Y plane, you’d have all the elements needed for a simple single-pixel scanner.

In the video seen below, Kerry D. Wong does just this using his hacked HP 7044A plotter to scan a picture, recording RGB color values in a 128 x 128 grid. As the device scans, the Arduino Due used for control passes these values to a computer, which assembles them together into a low-resolution image.

You can find more details on the project, including its code, in Wong’s blog post here.

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