29 June 2015

Welcome to IoTA- Internet of Things Academy!

Internet of things is where everyday items became fitted with the ability to collect, send, and receive information.

Pre requisites

·        Any natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address. For example:  heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue
·        It must be provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.

Why the hype?

These “smart, connected products”- the term used by many nowadays- not only offer opportunities for new functionality, greater reliability and much higher product utilization, but also the capabilities that move far beyond conventional product boundaries. Meaning they will alter industry structure and expose them to an environment with not only competitive opportunities but threats too leading to the shaping up of entirely new industries. This sounds pretty much like a futuristic concept but its already on the move, happening all around you, for example:

·        Internet-based maps pulling anonymous data from motorists' cell phones to record real-life driving patterns to provide accurate travel time information.
·         Doctors using portable monitoring technology to keep track of their patients' health.
·         Homeowners controlling the thermostats, lights and other home appliances from their smart phones.

Working and purpose?

“Connectivity” enables wired or wireless connections with the product, it can take three forms:
·        One-to-one: An individual product connects to the user/manufacturer/ another product
·        One-to-many: A central system is connected to many products simultaneously.
·        Many-to-many: Multiple products connect to many other types of products and often also to external data sources.
To achieve high levels of functionality all three types of connectivity are necessary.
Connectivity serves two purposes:
1.     Allows interchange of information between the product and the environment it operates in, its maker, users and other product and systems.
2.     Allows some functions of the product to exist outside the physical device-known as the product cloud.

Where’s the problem?

1.     The worry is that powering all this extra hardware will require exponentially larger amounts of electricity—not to mention all the money and space spent on the hardware itself. Internet of Things devices may improve power efficiency in theory, Jason Mars says, but it’s unclear how well they will actually work—or whether we humans will use them as a effectively as we should. “I’m not going to hold my breath on how effective future products will be at reducing the power consumption of society to the point of being ‘net negative’ relative to data centers,” he says.
2.     Privacy/Security: One of the biggest concerns- Privacy. You wouldn’t want your friends to know your financial situation or your boss to know what medications you’re taking. The larger the amounts of IoT data being transmitted, the more is the risk of losing privacy. The transmission and storage of data, and how well it is encrypted is a big question and a big concern in context of privacy.
3.     Complexity: Due to the presence of all complex systems, in the Internet of Things, the opportunities of failure could skyrocket.
4.    Safety: Imagine if a notorious hacker changes your prescription. Or if a store automatically ships you an equivalent product that you are allergic to, or a flavor that you do not like, or a product that is already expired. As a result, safety is ultimately in the hands of the consumer to verify any and all automation.

The advantages of IoT- mainly the time and money saved by consumers and companies- outweigh the disadvantages, as a result IoT is garaunteed to become much more common in the years to come. We just have to look out for the disadvantages and steer clear of the issues mentioned above, and we’re good to go!

16 June 2015

“Loon for all”

This famous tagline from Google’s Project Loon is creating quite a buzz these days. Kudos to Google X for taking up a project that aims to bring "balloon-powered Internet" to isolated areas of the world, once again proving that Google is way more than just a search engine or a mobile device company.

“Balloon powered…what?”

The project aims at deploying balloons that float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather; carried around the earth by winds, they can be steered by rising or descending to an altitude with winds moving in the desired directions. By using special antennas attached to the buildings people will connect to the balloon network. The signal will bounce from balloon to balloon, then to the global internet back on the earth

Need for this project?

Google’s done an amazing job by summarizing the idea behind this project in this small video

Project Loon Pioneers

"Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world's population does not yet have Internet access," Google said. "Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters."
Project Loon began with a pilot test in June 2013, when thirty balloons were launched from New Zealand’s South Island and beamed Internet to a small group of pilot testers. The pilot test has since expanded to include a greater number of people over a wider area. Looking ahead, Project Loon will continue to expand the pilot, with the goal of establishing a ring of uninterrupted connectivity at latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, so that pilot testers in these latitudes can receive continuous service via balloon-powered Internet.

Charles, a Project Loon pilot tester, connects to balloon-powered Internet for the first time.

Obstacles to “Loon”

May be one of Google’s famed moon shots, project loon faces it’s biggest issues that are grounded here on the earth. Not just a major technical feat for Google but also a huge political undertaking; to be a success it’s going to have to take a deep dive into international relations, one which isn’t going to be so easy.
This is so because Loon is no ordinary network, Google aims at building a network that knows no borders. Not only aimed at implementing in every country with underserved internet population, but coasting from continent to continent basically making it a service provider above the clouds.

What's In It for Google?

"The company would need the cooperation of governments which control the airspace above their countries," Sterling said. "And given the recent NSA revelations, some countries might be suspicious that this would subject their citizens to U.S. surveillance. However, longer term that's probably not an issue."
Sterling noted that Project Loon is also an example of how Google, more than most of its corporate peers, aspires to solve big problems on a global scale. Of course, the more Internet access, the more people can access Google services.
"One question I would have is how to keep the balloons aloft at the requisite altitudes and avoid aircraft collisions," Sterling said, "but it appears they've solved that problem."

10 June 2015

The Human Engine: artificial hearts

For all those heart patients who’ve lost hope, ones with severe heart failure whose death is imminent, ‘artificial hearts’ come to your rescue. How scary is it to imagine the death of a loved one, who suffers from a heart condition? It could be your mother, brother, sister, father, spouse, child, anyone! Here is an article to give you the information that you might not be aware of. 

What exactly is this?

·        Firstly, don’t confuse it with a ventricular assist device which is designed to support a failing heart.
·        It is also distinct from a cardiopulmonary bypass machine which is an external device used to provide the functions of both the heart and lungs and are only used for a few hours at a time, most commonly during cardiac surgery. An artificial heart is a device that replaces the heart. Artificial hearts are typically used to bridge the time to heart transplantation, or to permanently replace the heart in case heart transplantation is impossible. 

Simple mathematics..

Problem: The demand for organs always greatly exceeds the supply
Solution: We invent what the mankind has been waiting for, a ray of hope, an artificial heart.
The AbioCor Implantable Replacement Heart is the first completely self-contained artificial heart and is expected to at least double the life expectancy of heart patients.

Artificial brings to life:

Patients with an implanted AbioCor heart will still have atria that beat at the same time, but the artificial heart, which replaces both ventricles, can only force blood out one ventricle at a time. So, it will alternately send blood to the lungs and then to the body, instead of both at the same time as a natural heart does. The AbioCor is able to pump more than 10 liters per minute, which is enough for everyday activities.
·        Hydraulic pump
·        Porting valve
·        Wireless energy transfer system- consists of two coils, one internal and one external, which transmit power via magnetic force from an external battery across the skin without piercing the surface. The internal coil receives the power and sends it to the internal battery and controller device. This is the most intriguing part of the device given that the device Is made of plastic and titanium.
·        Internal battery- A rechargeable battery is implanted inside the patient's abdomen. This gives a patient 30 to 40 minutes to perform certain activities, such as showering, while disconnected from the main battery pack.
·        External battery
·        Controller

Historic attempts

·        Pheonix-7
·        Jarvik-7
·        abioCor
·        AbioCor-II
·        Berlin Heart
·        MagScrew
·        SynCardia
·        Frazier-Cohn
·        CARMAT
·        POLVAD

Until now AbioCor-II is the only successful artificial heart that has been successful to increase life expectancy by a maximum of 5 years. Not only will this mark a very important phase in the evolution of technology, but also decrease the number of unnecessary deaths due to unavailability of organ to transplant. Let’s just hope we are able to develop artificial hearts that increase life expectancy by way more than 5 years.