Pour Reception turns water into radio controls

Using a capacitive sensing arrangement, artists Tore Knudsen, Simone Okholm Hansen, and Victor Permild have come up with a way to interact with music with two glasses of water.

One pours water into a glass to turn the radio on. Channels can then be changed by transferring water from one glass into the other, and fine-tuned by touching the outside of container. Volume can even be adjusted by poking a finger into the water itself.

An Arduino Leonardo is used to pick up capacitive signals, and data is then sent a computer where a program called Wekinator decodes user interactions.

Pour Reception is a playful radio that strives to challenge our cultural understanding of what an interface is and can be. By using capacitive sensing and machine learning, two glasses of water are turned into a digital material for the user to explore and appropriate.

The design materials that we have available when designing digital artifacts expands along with the technological development, and with the computational machinery it is possible to augment our physical world in ways that challenges our perceptions of the objects we interact with. In this project, we aim to change the users perception of what a glass is – both cultural and technical.

You can see it in action below, and read more about the project in its write-up here.

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Smart grid provider turns to CyanConnode Omni IoT technology to provide flexible, cost effective communications platform

HM Power, a system integrator based in Sweden, provides smart metering and smart grid solutions to virtually all Swedish utilities. The company has an established customer base of approximately 650,000 smart meters and now has approximately 30% of the Ring Main Unit and advanced fault indication equipment market in Sweden. Following a Parliamentary Bill mandating hourly energy metering, the company needed to upgrade its communications capability in its smart meters to enable and manage the increased functionality required.

In 2012, a Bill was passed in the Swedish Parliament enforcing hourly metering – which would not be possible to achieve without the functionality of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) smart metering solution.

Sweden was one of the first countries in the world to install smart meters and since 2009 customers have received monthly bills based on their actual consumption rather than an estimated annual bill. This early adoption strategy gave the country’s utilities the lead in delivering accurate customer billing and more information about actual consumption. Since the rollout, smart meters have enabled both financial benefits as well as improvements in service quality and customer satisfaction. However, in recent years Sweden’s infrastructure focus has switched to looking for next generation smart metering to support plans for smart grid technologies and IoT capabilities, leading to the requirement to upgrade its AMR infrastructure to AMI, to enable these facilities.

Omni IoT technology

HM Power selected CyanConnode’s Omni IoT technology because it is a robust, scalable and future-proof platform that offers flexibility as the Swedish market continues to evolve. CyanConnode’s communication platform enables machine-to-machine (M2M) communication from single applications, such as smart metering, to multi-application IoT networks. HM Power saw a major advantage in CyanConnode’s use of narrowband technology, as applications using narrowband consume considerably less power and are less spectrum-intensive than those using higher frequencies. In addition, narrowband RF networks enable significant growth in the number of connected devices which will allow HM Power’s customers to grow their networks economically and sustainably.

Based on IPv6, using licence-free, regulated narrowband technology CyanConnode provides HM Power with a flexible, cost effective communication platform that supports rapid innovation and integration with third party technology. The platform enabled by CyanConnode’s IPv6 LowPAN OmniMesh network is plug and play, self-configuring and self-healing and is designed to deliver a versatile solution with a low cost of ownership. Each device uses the most efficient route to its gateway every time, maximising the use of bandwidth whilst minimising power consumption and continually optimising and adapting the network.

In addition, CyanConnode’s partner ecosystem provides expertise for seamless integration of the end-to-end communication technology with HM Power’s preferred smart meter vendor and the utility’s Meter Data Management system, at every stage of the contractual implementation and milestones.

As the market evolves, HM Power is now well positioned to provide next generation smart meters and smart grid equipment in a comprehensive, end-to-end system. CyanConnode’s technology will support HM Power as its IoT network develops, enabling interoperability between any third-party device or technology, and alternative HM Power customer networks. HM Power will be able […]

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Russian government turns to Ethereum Foundation for blockchain plans


Last week VEB, a major state-owned Russian development bank, signed a partnership agreement with the Ethereum Foundation to develop and implement Blockchain-based government applications.

The Foundation’s founder Vitalik Buterin and VEB President Sergey Gorokov Chairman both took part in the signing ceremony, which was held during a Blockchain conference in Kazan, the capital of the innovation-friendly republic of Tatarstan.

See also: For future transactions, in blockchain we trust

The agreement includes a “long-term and effective partnership in the implementation of projects using a distributed registry technology and the Ethereum platform,” as well as the formation of an Ethereum expert community.

The partners will also launch joint educational and training programs within an upcoming VEB Blockchain competence center.

 The partnership agreement was signed personally by Ethereum Foundation founder Vitalik Buterin and VEB President Sergey Gorkov. Photo credit: VEB.

This competence center is designed to “unite the efforts of all interested parties and create an ecosystem of innovations,” said Gorkov. It is scheduled for opening in September at MISiS, a major Russian science and technology university.

“Cooperation between Ethereum and VEB gives a unique opportunity to engage in research and development on the use of blockchain technology for public administration and accelerating the adoption of this technology to government organizations in the Russian Federation,” Buterin stated.

Putin is watching

In June, the Russian government launched a working group to implement Blockchain technologies in state administrations, assigning a coordinating role to VEB, including the creation of the competence center.

That same month, during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Ethereum caught the attention of Vladimir Putin, which saw in it a potential tool for the country’s economic diversification. The Russian president personally met Buterin at the forum.

Just weeks ago, the Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology (Rosstandart) appointed a new technical committee to work on the standardization of software and hardware related to distributed register and Blockchain technologies, in coordination with the International Standardisation Organisation.

This story is published in partnership with East-West Digital News, an international news resource about innovation in Central and Eastern Europe.

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London Zoo turns to IoT to tackle global poaching menace

London Zoo turns to IoT to tackle global poaching menace

Non-profit tech organisation Digital Catapult has announced it is working with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), keepers of London Zoo, to develop next-generation, IoT-enabled anti-poaching technology.

Through Digital Catapult, ZSL has engaged with UK-based technology companies to develop new components with a view to building a sensor and satellite network that conservationists will use to monitor wildlife and deal with poachers both on land and at sea in some of the world’s most remote national parks.

As part of the project, Digital Catapult has installed an LPWAN [low-power, wide area network] base station at ZSL’s headquarters at ZSL London Zoo. Here, prototypes will tested and validated.

This base station extends the UK capital’s growing LPWAN network, Things Connected, which is available for the UK’s tech entrepreneurs and developers to test IoT innovations in the real world.

London Zoo penguins brush up on their IoT skills

London Zoo penguins brush up on their IoT skills

Animals at risk

Poaching is one of the most serious issues facing wildlife worldwide.  Up to 35,000 African elephants were killed by poachers last year, while black rhino and mountain gorilla populations continue to suffer, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

Digital Catapult and ZSL believe that IoT technologies have the potential to play a key role in beating the poachers, by enabling sensors to communicate with each other reliably over long distances, using very little power.

These connected sensors will be able to detect human activity close to wildlife populations, raising real-time alerts for conservationists monitoring the area.

“We’re devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, and this LPWAN network will add an additional technological edge to our work,” said Sophie Maxwell, conservation technology lead at ZSL. “The Internet of Things has exciting potential to make wildlife conservation more efficient than ever before and we’re pleased to see Digital Catapult provide the support to make this happen.”

Read more: IoT, drones could save rhinos from poaching in South Africa

Things Connected

Things Connected, meanwhile, aims to establish the UK as a pioneer of LPWAN technology, with the instalment of some 50 base stations across London. This network, claims Digital Catapult, will offer a free testbed to organizations developing IoT solutions, streamlining prototyping and enabling them to bring products and services to market faster.

“Connectivity is critical today – for tackling threats such as poaching, but also for developing next-generation solutions across sectors. The greater connectivity provided by this base station deployment will aid other organizations that want to bring IoT solutions to market, enabling the UK to further capitalize on a multi-billion-pound industry,” said Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult.

Read more: Ocean Alliance deploys drones to gather whale data

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Athens International Airport turns to IoT for environmental monitoring

Athens Airport turns to IoT for environmental monitoring

At Athens Airport, two IoT tech companies, Ex Machina and Libelium, have teamed up to help airport execs keep an eye on pollutant levels and the location of aircraft. 

Last year, the number of passengers travelling in and out of Athens International Airport (AIA) grew by more than 10 percent, surpassing 20 million for the first time.

More passengers, of course, means more planes taking off and landing – and the resulting environmental impact is something that AIA executives say they take very seriously. Earlier this year, the airport achieved ‘carbon neutral’ status in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme run by industry body, the Airports Council International (ACI). That makes it the first airport in Greece to win that accreditation, to add to the accolade of being its busiest.

Opportunity for innovation

AIA says its commitment to environmental protection goes hand in hand with innovation and, in particular, with IoT technologies. Last year, the airport partnered with Ex Machina (EXM), a Greek company specializing in IoT, in order to explore how it might be used to enrich environmental monitoring, analysis and reporting. As part of this project, technology from sensor specialist Libelium was also deployed, including the company’s Waspmote sensors and its Meshlium IoT gateways.

The aim of the project, meanwhile, was to tackle two specific challenges: first, the need to monitor air quality beyond the airport perimeter fence; and second, the need to pinpoint the location of aircraft on the airfield.

In both cases, Libelium’s Waspmote devices use LoRa communications for low-power, low-range, real-time sensor data transmission and device control/orchestration. Meanwhile, GPRS is used for secure device management, over the air (OTA) firmware upgrades, configuration of firmware parameters and the bulk upload of sensor data as back-up.

IoT set-up at Athens International Airport (Credit: Libelium)

Read more: Billund Airport invests in IoT system to improve passenger experience

Air quality monitoring

The first challenge involved the monitoring and analysis of concentrations of air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. Here, EXM focused on the need for an inexpensive, highly portable air pollution monitoring device, to complement AIA’s existing air quality monitoring network.

The solution is based on Libelium’s Waspmote Plug and Sense! Sensor Platform, and is comprised of standard hardware assembly with EXM’s custom firmware. Each sensor node is equipped with probes for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ozone and particulate matter.

Read more: Intel and Bosch team up to monitor air pollution

Aircraft location

The second challenge was to detect aircraft location during take off in a non-intrusive way. To address this challenge, Ex Machina decided to utilize acoustic localization techniques, in what might be the world’s first implementation of noise sensors for this particular purpose. The company deployed a range of sound/noise metering nodes of Libelium Plug and Sense! to monitor noise levels on the airfield in real time, thus achieving airplane acoustic localization based on real-time analytics of the data produced by the noise sensors.

This analysis takes place in the EXM IoT back end, where it is correlated with other information, such as that relating to aircraft types, flights and airlines. Through the combined analysis of the acquired data, the location of aircraft can be identified and reported to the airport’s environmental department for further statistical analysis.

Libelium noise sensors installed on the airfield at AIA (Credit: Libelium)

Read more: Tata Comms: Airlines on digital transformation journey as IoT takes flight

Pilot project

The project was led by Ex Machina CEO Manolis Nikiforakis, who explains the choice of Libelium as a partner: “Fast time to market with minimum hardware-related overhead was an important requirement,” he says. “As this is a pilot project and our focus is on the IoT back-end software analytics, we also required flexibility in order to assemble sensor hardware exactly as needed,” he adds.

Further to this successful pilot, Athens International Airport is now examining other possible use cases with Ex Machina as it evolves towards ‘Airport 3.0’. The already deployed IoT infrastructure, then, looks set to be extended and reused in other applications.

Read more: Birmingham Airport uses IoT to monitor queues and keep passengers happy

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