New York Tech Journal
Tech news from the Big Apple

#Holograms, #VR, #Technology for Kids, #HomeSecurity

Posted on February 15th, 2017

#HardwiredNYC

02/15/2017 @ Wework Chelsea, 115 West 18th Street, NY, 4th floor

The speakers were

The first speaker, David @ PRSONAS  spoke about their product which is a hologram persona that can serve as a greeter at retail stores: provide product information, financial guidance, intake of medical symptoms, etc. The greeter is a flat holographic image of a person in what David called 2 ½-d display.

The software behind the hologram can provide appropriate hand gestures, show videos, instruct users to input data on a tablet, etc.

David talked about how they have customized the image to avoid falling into the uncanny valley (close to human-looking so feels creepy) by modeling the image as a non-human character.

++

Next, Sophia @ SVFR spoke about how her company is striving to become the common site for distribution of VR, #AR and #MR videos. She likened today for VR as the early 1990’s were for Yahoo, when distribution of web content was still in its infancy.

She talked about the barriers to widespread VR production. These include lack of universally available hardware to record VR, lack of editing tools, but most importantly, we don’t yet know how to tell a story taking advantage of the VR experience.

++

Next, Bethany @TechnologyWillSaveUs spoke about how her company is creating kits for students to experiment in creating their own technology. The kits contain sensors, motors, etc. and are linked to a programming language on their web portal which is an extension of Scratch.

As an example she demonstrated a programmable wrist band that can react to motion, etc.

Bethany then talked about their company strategy which emphasizes a range of products.

  1. Create a range of products: variety of prices, can create bundled products
  2. Product-market-fit: hardware is more difficult, so put development is on a tight production schedules with lots of feedback. Monitor ROI for various products.
  3. By having a range of product, there are activities for all parts of the company at any given time.

She talked about how the company strives to stay ahead of the competitions (Little Bits, Lego Mindstorms) by carefully target price points and creating a wide range of products for different age groups.

Finally, John @Canary talked about their stand-alone, in-home security system which is connected to an app on your phone.

He emphasized the importance of Product design = Relationship design

You need

  1. Quality time – the app needs to interactive. They made it easier to access the time line of videos taken by the system
  2. Crisis management – can contact the police if there is a notification – help the homeowner overcome a crisis: the assist the home-owner filing an insurance claim.
  3. Trust – connected-home customers are concerned about privacy. Use ICASlabs recently released device security protocols
  4. A little magic – surprise and delight. Good example is Netflix onboarding that asks for your movie preferences then starts recommending movies upon the first use.

John also mentioned that they store videos of arrivals and departures, temperature, air quality, how active are occupants. Videos are stored 24 hours or 1 month depending on the contract. They are partnering with insurance companies to get homeowner discounts for using Canary.

 

posted in:  applications, Hardwired NYC, Internet of Things, startup, VR    / leave comments:   No comments yet

#InternetOfThings, #Drones, #Robots, and #Music

Posted on November 16th, 2016

#HardwiredNYC

11/16/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, NY, 4th floor

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The speakers were

Charlie Key @Losant  talked about asset tracking.: fleet managment, shipment tracing, equipment tacking, heavy duty parenting. The package often consists of two parts: GPS tracking + communication (usually cellular). Hologram allows purchase of data by the byte with data sent every 5 minutes.

Use Google’sAPI to look up locations. Then check if inside a geofence.

David Lyman@BetterView captures and analyzes drone data. They have analyzed 4200 rooftops for insurance companies. Experts currently analyze the images. They are moving toward deep learning. The main drivers of the increased use of drones are Regulation, hardware, experience.

He sees a longer term opportunity: 5mm workers that should have a drone in their trucks – fence installers, HVAC maintenance.

Vaughn @Temboo: SAAS to connect actuators and sensors to the cloud, gave several examples of IoT in industry:

  1. Monginis Foods Ltd. – cakes and pastry in India, UK, EMEA: retrofit equipment and processes to implement IoT. Examples include
    1. retrofitting x-ray machines that scan every cake and pastry – automate alerts.
    2. Monitor freezers and refrigerators to reduce food spoilage.
    3. Place temperature sensors as oven monitors
    4. Integrate with payment and logistics systems to make everything more efficient.
  2. One customer monitors soil moisture, electrical conductivity, light – in agriculture
  3. Aircraft repair company – monitor parts storage and temperature and humidity of storage for audit. Tracks technical manuals.
  4. Manufacturer of lawn mowers includes sensors in motors

The usual configuration is Sensor monitoring – triggered notifications — actuator control. Vaughn gave the following advice to IoT startups:

  1. Start with a small but real, concrete problem
  2. Focus on saving time or money to create real value at the start
  3. Quick wins help build confidence and expertise
  4. Get internal backing based on having a a working system
  5. See how the data and functionality create additional uses
  6. See how existing application can be modified for other users
  7. Build new Iot capabilities on top of existing ones

Leif@Righthand robotics: Intelligent robotic order-picking systems, talked about opportunities he sees in the industrial robotics space.

Existing industrial ecosystem: build components + system integrators -> end application

Most of the cost is in integration, so he is looking for systems that  are configurable by end users (simpler integration) . Examples include: Universal robotics (UR5), ReThink robotics (Sawyer), Franka produce collaborative robotics that users can program.

He gave some examples of industrial robotic applications:

  1. Robots as a service – a machine that thins the small lettuce plants. Farmers can rent when they need it.
  2. Navii is used by Lowes to tell customers were to find items in inventory.

He sees the key is having machines learning to handle variation as manual labor is hard to scale.

Finally, Roli, demonstrated a music technology that increases the flexibility and capabilities of accomplished musicians while being easy enough for beginners to create their own music.

Their original device in 2012 replaced a keyboard with a continuous sensitive surface: The Seaboard. They are introducing a more general devices (the block) that has the flexibility to play the sounds of multiple instruments, but in a simple and elegant package.

posted in:  Drones, hardware, Hardwired NYC, Internet of Things, Internet of Things, startup    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Hardwired: product #design and delivering #magic

Posted on June 11th, 2016

#HardwiredNYC

06/07/2016 @ WeWork, 115 West 18rd Street, NY, 4th floor

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New Lab and Techstars talked briefly before the four speakers:

In the first presentation, Bob Coyne @Wordseye talked about his utility that takes a text description of a scene and creates an image matching that description. This allows users to create 3-d mages without complicated #3-d graphics programs.

They parse sentences to create a semantic map which can include commands to place items, change the lighting, reorient objects, etc. They see uses in education, gaming, and image search.

[Graphics are currently primitive and the manipulations are rough, but there are only 7 months old. Has promise for creating avatars and scenes for game prototypes. Text lack the subtly of gestures, so  text may need to be supplemented by gestures or other inputs.]

In the second presentation, Chris Allen @ iDevices – developers of connected home products and software – talked about the evolution of the company from an initial product in 2009 which was a connected grill.

Since then they have raised $20 million, were asked by Apple to develop products for HomeKit, currently market 7 HomeKit enabled products.

Experiences he communicated:

  1. Do you own research (don’t rely on conventional wisdom): despite being told that $99 was too high a price, they discovered that reducing the price to $75 did not increase sales.
  2. Resist pivoting away from your vision, especially when you have not intellectual property advantage: a waterproof case for phones failed.
  3. Create a great work environment and give your workers equity
  4. They build products that are compatible across platforms, but concentrate on just the three main platforms: Siri, Google, Amazon.

Next, Josh Clark @BigMedium talked about his vision of the future of interfaces: they will leap off the screen combining #speech and #gestures. They will be as magically as the devices in the world of Harry Potter. Unlike the Google glass, which was always an engineering project, we should be asking how can we make any object (even of a coffee cup) do more: design for the thing’s essential ‘thingness’.

Technology should be invisible, but magical:

  1. You can stand in front of a mirror memory and see how you look with a different color dress, or replay a video of what you look like when you turn around or do a side-by-side comparison with a previously worn dress.
  2. Asthmapolis site – when you have an asthma attack, you tap an app. Over time you can see across individuals their locations when they have an attack.
  3. A hackathon app using the Kinect in which one gestures to grab an image off a video so a still image from that moment appears on the phone.

It’s a challenge of imagination.

If the magic fails, we need to make sure the analogue device still works.

[In some cases, magic may not be enough. For instance, Asthmapolis pivoted away from ashma alone and now concentrates on a broader range of symptoms ]

In the last presentation, Martin Brioen@Pepsi talked about how his design team uses #prototyping to lead the development of new ideas.

Different groups within Pepsi have different perspectives and different priorities, so each views ideas differently, but to the get a consensus they all was to need to interact with the new product so they can see, touch, …

At each phase of development you use a different tools concentrated on the look of it, the feel of it, the functionality, etc. At each stage people need to interact with it to test it out. Don’t wait until you have a finished product. Don’t skip steps. Consider the full journey of the consumer;

Employ the least expensive way to try it out

They are not selling product, they are selling experiences: they create a test kitchen for the road.

posted in:  Apple, applications, hardware, Hardwired NYC, Internet of Things, psychology, startup    / leave comments:   No comments yet

#Wearable future – panel discussion

Posted on May 24th, 2016

#WearableTechNYC

05/24/2016 @Samsung Accelerator Chelsea, 30 W 26th, NY,  7th floor

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Panelists were:

Moderated by:

The discussion including the following points

  1. Successful wearable don’t ask people to adopt new behaviors
  2. Statement pieces are the exception. E.g. some handicapped people want to show off the technology (rather than hide it). In that case, the challenge is to design the wearable so it can be worn both as a normal as well as a statement piece.
  3. Battery technology is the limiting factor of wearables. Until batteries hold a charge for longer, advances in wearables will emphasize doing more with less power. E.g. meditation bracelet needs to be small since it needs to have high accuracy without being bulky. Also half of the weight of Ryan’s smart helmet is from batteries.
  4. Wearables, like other devices, need to be designed so the product line can be broadened over time. The smart helmet started as a motorcycle helmet, but that would have limited the ability to widen the product line.
  5. The mainstream fashion industry wants to get into tech, but does not want to be cheesy and don’t want to undercut their brand.
  6. For connected devices, Apple and Google Fit are often the best way to store data while preserving privacy. Eventually there may be specific cloud appliances to store data.
  7. The panelist were excited about other wearbles including
    1. Meta – “eyes up” display system – motorcycle helmet – AR display
    2. Military has invested in smart textiles – medical applications.
    3. Soles – 3d printing of soles for shoes which offers an apparel alternative to hand sewing and injection molding.
    4. Carbon3d- changing the way we 3d print.
    5. Exo-skeletons so workers can lift heavier loads.

posted in:  applications, Internet of Things, startup, Wearables    / leave comments:   No comments yet

#B2B #IoT

Posted on May 23rd, 2016

@IoTcentralNYC

05/23/2016 @Rise, 43 W 23rd St, NY

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A panel discussion was followed by a presentation by SIGFOX.

Panelist:

   Jenny Fielding, Managing Director, TechStars, Moderator

Haytham Elhawary, Co-founder & CEO, Kinetic

Mike Kochanik, CRO, Flowthings.com

Deepak Krishnamurthy, Chief Strategy Officer, SAP

   Ajay Kulkarni, Co-founder & CEO, iobeam

SIGFOX:

   Allen Proithis, President, Sigfox NA

Francois Oudot, Sigfox

The panel focused on B2B IoT making the following points

  1. The emphasis on the internet of things has shifted toward B2B from B2C. Much of this has occurred since B2B applications can have a measurable effect on profitability
  2. The challenge in industrial IoT is integrating changes into the current business flow. One needs to understand how a device is used and why workers or facilities would use or not use a device. There is no substitute for understanding the business or spending time in the facility. Competitive pressures also demand that the knowledge be provided quickly.
  3. Cyber security is an increasing important issue with encryption key management insufficient while other methods are still being developed.
  4. For a small company to compete, it needs to solve a real problem and provide ROI, but most importantly, it needs to sell a vision.

Following the panel, Allen Proithis and Francois Oudot @SIGFOX talked about an alternative connectivity solution that overcomes the factors now limiting networks of IoT devices

  1. Cost
  2. Battery Life
  3. Complexity

Instead of using convention networks, such as cellular or wi-fi, SIGFOX proposes a network that is

  1. Energy efficient – ultra narrow band, devices wake up to transit => low power consumption
  2. Simplicity – out-of-the-box no pairing required
  3. Low cost – license free ISM band, license-free standardized, low cost subscription model
  4. Ubiquitous connectivity – one cloud, world-wide.

Their network sacrifices bandwidth (12 byte messages) and quick response time (2 to 3 second latency) in exchange for low cost broad coverage (5 to 50 miles by one station). It is designed for devices that communicate very infrequently with the cloud and can communicate with short (12 byte) messages. Example applications are

  1. Preventative maintenance – washing machine failures
  2. Mail pick-up – button on mailbox requesting a pickup
  3. Leak prevention – water systems
  4. Livestock management
  5. Smart supply chain
  6. Forest fire prevention – smoke detection

Other notes

  1. Launched in Western Europe. Expanding to Germany, US,…
  2. Your phone does lots of network signally since it needs to tell the cell tower your location. Can save a lot of battery is you only signal when you have a message.
  3. Message is 26 bytes including device ID and authentication hash – payload is up to 12 bytes
  4. Communication is bi-directional.
  5. Compatible with most chips on the market

posted in:  Internet of Things, Internet of Things, startup, Tech Startups    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Industrial #Wearables & #IoT

Posted on May 17th, 2016

#SQLNYC

05/17/2016 @ Manhattan Ballroom, 29 W 36th Street, NY, 2nd floor

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Anupam Sengupta @GuardHat (industrial safety helmet fitted with sensors monitoring 42 conditions) spoke about the helmet and the data back end. The hat is fitted with camera and microphone along with sensor for biometrics, geolocation, toxic gas, etc. The helmet is not sold, but will be available as a B2B service by year end.

Over an 8 hour shift it transmits 20 Mbytes of data. A typical work site would have from 100 to 300 workers and up to 3 shifts per day.

There is local processing on the device and data are sent real time for aggregation. Time to detect an event is 2 seconds. At the aggregation point, external data are added: weather data, location data as the building site changes.

HPCC is the back end with Lambda architecture so the data can be processed both in real time and for historical analysis.

Design considerations include:

Lack of reliability in data channel; “event stop” – data volume exceeds plan (here several people are involved with the event); devices don’t send the data stream every time; schema varies over time with conditions; temporal sequence not guaranteed

Encryption AS 256 for data transmission and storage

Radiation shielding within the helmet

Tracking limitations as agreed upon by unions and companies to preserve privacy

posted in:  data, Internet of Things, startup    / leave comments:   No comments yet

#PostGresSQL conf 2016: #InternetOfThings in industry

Posted on April 19th, 2016

#PGConfus2016  #pgconfus  #postgresql

04/19/2016 @ New York Marriott Brooklyn Bridge
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Parag Goradia @GE talked about the transformation of industrial companies into software and analytics companies. He talked about three ingredients of this transformation

  1. Brilliant machines – reduce downtime, make more efficient = asset performance management
  2. Industrial big data
  3. People & work – the field force an service engineers

Unlike the non-industrial internet of things, sensors are already in place within machinery such as jet engines. However, until recently, only summary data when uploaded into the cloud. Industrial users are moving toward storing a much fuller data set. For instance, a single airline flight may yield 500gig of data.

The advantages of improved performance and maintenance are huge. He estimates over $ 1 trillion per year in savings. With this data collection goal, GE has created Predix, a cloud store using PostGres. Key features are

  1. Automated health care checks/backups
  2. 1 touch scalability
  3. No unscheduled downtime
  4. Protected data sets

Parag talked about selected applications of this technology

  1. Intelligent cities – using existing infrastructure such as street lights add sensors
  2. Health cloud advanced visualization – putting scans on the cloud for 3-d visualization and analytics

posted in:  Big data, databases, Internet of Things, Open source    / leave comments:   No comments yet

SQUID – automating the detection of #potholes in #NYC

Posted on March 28th, 2016

#NYsmartCityData

03/28/2016 @ UrbanFutureLab, 15 MetroTech, 19th fl, Brooklyn, NY

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Varun Adibhatla @Advanced Research in Government Operations (@ARGO) talked about their initiative to more quickly map the potholes in NYC’s 6000 miles of roads.

Monitoring is currently done by a dedicated group (Scout – street condition observation unit) that does “windshield surveillance” of all roads. Varun’s group is working an automated system which sends accelerometer data and pictures to the cloud. The accelerometer indicates street hot spots and the images can be scanned or serve as verification of the problem.

SQUID (street quality identification device) is run by a Raspberry Pi that is attached inside the trunk with a camera mounted next to the backup camera. Data are streamed to the cloud with one 15kb per image * one image per second. In their trials they drove 400+ miles in a week and collected 10 gig of data.

Next Varun showed an interactive map powered by Tableau that highlights the bumpy routes and allows one select images taken of the road.

Finally he talked about future initiatives including

  1. Anticipatory maintenance
  2. Using microphones to records street noise as a classifier for potholes
  3. A smartphone app that crowd sources street condition data to the cloud
  4. Adding air quality sensors to provide a more complete picture of the environment

He recommended the book ‘Smart Cities’ by Anthony Thompson as a consumer handbook for smart cities globally.

posted in:  Internet of Things, NYC smart city and energy data    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Hacking with the #RaspberryPi and #Windows 10 #IoT Core

Posted on March 24th, 2016

#MMADNJ

03/23/2016 @Microsoft, 101 Wood Ave South, Iselin, NJ

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Nick Landry showed how to use the Windows 10 operating system to control devices in the Internet of Things.

He first talked about IoT = things + connectivity + data + analytics. He demonstrated software running on the Raspberry Pi, but emphasized that Windows 10 IoT allows developers to create code that runs on platforms from ARM devices (IoT) to phones to tablets to laptops to desktops to large displays. Within the IoT space, Windows 10 runs on

  1. Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 – ARM processor – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,…
  2. Intel Atom E3800 processor x86 – (Tablet) – Ethernet,…
  3. Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 – (cell phone) – GPS, WiFi,…

W10 also has many levels of functionality to accommodate differences in interfaces (headed = screen interface, headless = no screen interface) and differences in hardware by using a single C# development core with difference SDKs to access the different capabilities of devices.

The Windows 10 stack has the W10 operating system on which Win32 sits as does UWP. The majority of UWP APIs are shared across devices including desktop, phones, ioT, etc.

Nick then walked through the steps to replace the Linux OS with Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi from the http://dev.windows.com/iot web site. He noted that the latest Raspberry Pi, the Pi 3, requires you to download the ‘Insider preview version’ to successfully flash the hardware.

The Raspberry Pi 3 includes wi-fi and Bluetooth, but the current version of Windows 10 does not currently handle those functionalities natively, but will eventually do so.

He next showed the Raspberry Pi and talked about how sensors and controls are connected through the GPIO pins and how the Windows 10 IoT extension SDK gives you access to those pins.

Programming the device using C# in Visual Studio uses different conventions than using Sketch in the Arduino IDE

  1. Instead of a ‘startup’ and ‘loop’, one needs to set up a timer with the timer interrupt route serves the same function as the ‘loop’ routine in Arduino
  2. Downloading the code requires one to select ‘ARM’ device and ‘Remote Machine’. The Arduino IDE only needs a COM port number.
  3. Event handling is done using the C# programming syntax
  4. Visual Studio has full access to services offered across a wide range of devices. Nick demonstrated how the text-to-speech routine can be called in the same way one would call text-to-speech when developing a smartphone app.
  5. Simple programs require more code, but that code can be used across devices.
  6. You can execute Arduino Sketches in Visual Studio and you can even combine Sketch and C# code in the same application.

Nick concluded by talking about The #FezHat (from ghielectronics). The Fez Hat is a development board which fits on the Raspberry Pi and includes: controls for DC and servo motors. Terminal blocks, light sensor, LEDs, temperature sensor, user buttons, etc. all for $35. It is analogous to Shield boards for the Arduino.

For further information, Nick suggested

http://themakershow.io

https://microsoft.hackster.io

If you’re having problems installing Windows 10 on a Raspbery Pi see.

posted in:  Internet of Things, Microsoft, MMAD, Programming    / leave comments:   1 comment

#AVR from scratch and how to program them

Posted on January 22nd, 2016

#HackManhattan

01/21/2016 @ Hack Manhattan, 137 West 14th St, NY

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Guan Yang spoke about AVR microcontrollers and how to program them. He talked about the large family of ATxmeg processors. The most powerful (such as the ATmeg328P) are used to power the #Arduino with the following adaptations:

  1. Translate usb to serial
  2. Bootloader
  3. “Operating system” – for timers
  4. IDE and compiler

But, there are others in the family that are less expensive with the following characteristics:

  1. Use debugWire – not an advantage
  2. More optimized code
  3. direct use of timers and other peripherals

but Guan noted that the Arduino is available for many chips include ATtiny85 and AVRs are expensive relative to performance.

He next talked about the ATtiny85A which is smaller and cheaper than processors on the Arduino board. It has a 10 bit ADC – 8 single-end channels; universal serial interface (USI) and only supports one protocol at a time. It receives power over pin 1 with ground on pin 14.

Fuses, which are 3 bytes of non-volatile memory, control things like the clock source and divider; brownout detection; bootloader parameters. Modern microcontrollers often don’t have fuses. http://www.embedded.com/ contains documentation on fuses.

There are several Atmel programming interfaces. Guan concentrated on SPI.

One needs to program in assembler or C with avr-gcc being the main compiler he uses. He shows a “hello world” program using the DDRA (data direction register) to turn on a bit for port A.

DDRA |= _BV(0)

He compiled the code using the Avrdude programmer.

Atmel studio is an IDE adapted for Visual Studio and he also uses CrossPack as a dev environment for Atmel’s AVRs.

Debugging is done using single wire protocol over the reset pin.

AvaRICE is a programs with interfaces with GNU debugger. The debugger allows you to set breakpoints and stop execution to view registers.

He recommended using one set of pins for programming and other for operations, but there are a limited number of pins and this may not be possible.

He noted that if you order from Digi-key, they will custom program your processor for a small fee.

He uses a Segger j-link to program AVRs. It also supports a variety of ARMs

He concluded, by again noting that AVRs are cheap, but the price of ARMs has dropped, so the price advantage of AVRs is evaporating, but they still might hold advantages in particular situations (#InternetOfThings).

posted in:  Hack Manhattan, hardware, Internet of Things, Programming    / leave comments:   No comments yet