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Could this smart defibrillator idea save more lives?

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:41pm

What if those defibrillators you see on walls everywhere didn’t just help you help someone sick, they could also call 911 and tell you how far away an ambulance is?

The winning concept at a recent “IoT for Cities” smart cities hackathon, held earlier this month in Santa Clara, California, could do all of those things for you.

The team from Ukraine-based Ciklum brought together engineers in Europe and the U.S. to create a smart automated external defibrillator (AED). As soon as someone would begin charging the AED, the device calls 911 and tracks the closest ambulance to your location.

See also: Are smart citizens getting lost in the rush to build smart cities?

“As easily as you can track an Uber, you can track an ambulance,” Team Ciklum explained during their demonstration of the concept.

This smart re-design of this common device is actually makes us slap our foreheads and ask why it hasn’t been done yet.

For anyone who’s ever had first aid training in a corporate setting – where the basics of AED operation are drilled into your head – you’ll remember the first thing you’re told to do, as you minister to the sick person, is delegate someone to call 911.

That assumes people only have heart attacks during work hours with lots of people around. But what if you’re alone working late, and come across an unconscious person in a hallway in your office?

Ciklum’s device will call 911 for you as soon as it’s activated, as well as walk you through the steps to use the device and even incorporate diagnostics to tell you if shocking the person’s heart is the right course of action.

“(This) was an incredible opportunity for Ciklum to work with the industry’s leading-edge technology to build what we value most: real-world solutions that make a difference,” said Ciklum’s CTO Christian Aaen about the event.

Over 600 developers applied for the event

The point of these hackathons is typically to solve a challenge using whatever technology is at hand – or more specifically, a sponsor’s technology at hand. Ciklum’s solution was the only one to use all four technology platforms at the event – GE’s Predix platform, Cisco’s Spark API, Amazon’s Alexa, and Pitney Bowes location-based API.

Over 600 developers applied to attend the event in person or virtually, and 220 of them were hand-picked to try their hand at a solution.

“This hackathon proved the countless innovative applications that digital infrastructure…can unlock,” said John Gordon, Chief Digital Officer of GE’s Current. “The developer community is a critical enabler to driving smart city outcomes that propel economic growth and accelerate opportunities for cities and residents alike.”

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Categories: Technology

I’ll be baaack: Self-healing wearable tech extends their lifespan

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 5:45pm

Wearables require an extra layer of flexibility and durability to last for more than a few years. A new self-healing electronic material, created by researchers at Penn State University, could be that extra layer.

The new material is able to fix bends and major incisions, and unlike previous tries, the researchers have been able to heal all of the insulator properties, meaning this is more than a quick fix.

See Also: Wearable makers see huge potential in the Chinese market

“Wearable and bendable electronics are subject to mechanical deformation over time, which could destroy or break them,” said Penn State University’s professor, Qing Wang. “We wanted to find an electronic material that would repair itself to restore all of its functionality, and do so after multiple breaks.”

In the video below, the team shows how two boron nitride nanosheets re-connect through hydrogen bonding groups. When the bond is restored, the two nanosheets are essentially stitched back together, with a red marker showing where self-healing has taken place.

Lifepsan of devices not only improvement

The new material could be extremely valuable to wearables and other bendable devices. It could improve the lifespan of devices and also lower the amount of complaints about the device’s build quality.

“This is the first time that a self-healable material has been created that can restore multiple properties over multiple breaks, and we see this being useful across many applications,” said Wang.

Now we just have to wait for Penn State and other researchers involved to license the material to a wearable company, if they’re confident that the new material will work in an uncontrolled environment.

Wearables are definitely one of the biggest emerging technology markets, with a 67-percent increase in sales in the past year. We are bound to see more innovative ideas come from researchers as the market becomes more valuable, to explore how to fix certain problems current wearables face.

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Categories: Technology

Calm, cruel and connected: May’s best and worst of IoT

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 4:00pm

It seems that every day a new IoT device or means to connect existing devices is revealed. With so much energy in being devoted to tell us how, when, where, what we can connect to each other, the “why” may be getting a little blurry. So we want to take a step back every now and take a critical look at the connected devices that actually go out and buy, right now.

(Ed note: We also do a round-up of crowdfunding ideas you can’t quite get yet…or possibly should never be able to get.) Here’s what caught our eye, for all the right – or wrong – reasons:

Smiirl’s social media counter

Some people need regular validation. They stare in the mirror and think “But do people really like me?” If such people started a business, this would be the product for them, a visual counter by Smiirl displaying their company’s number of Twitter, Facebook or Instagram likes. As the company explains:

“Place it in your window to attract new customers, hang it on a wall to convince them to join your community, or even in your offices to motivate your teams!”

It’ll put you back $300 per counter and you’ll need one for each social media platform. Sit and watch your popularity drop. Verdict: Miss.

The Smart Zabuton

For cafe staff too busy staring at the social media counter to notice that their customers have moved from their seats, there is the Smart Zabuton, a cushion with that emits a signal when sat on (no, not like a whoopie cushion). This allows cafe staff to use the corresponding app to check how many seats are free in a cafe or restaurant. I guess it could come in handy if you are managing an event like a public awards ceremony that requires seat fillers. It could also be used at work by a controlling boss to see how long you spend sitting at your desk. Verdict: Miss.


Did you know someone has made a smart tampon? You seem shocked. Anyway, the my.flow notifies the wearer when it needs to be changed. It works via a long tampon string that reaches out of your underwear and attaches to a snap-on bluetooth sensor. This bluetooth sensor can then be clipped on to your waistband.This sensor then sends data to an app on your phone, analyzing how saturated the tampon has become and alerting the wearer when they need to swap out their tampon for a new one. While it’s commendable that the makers are aiming to solve the serious problem of toxic shock syndrome and blood leakages onto clothing, I’m not convinced that this is the way.

The company is currently seeking funding with the intention to sell the sensor for a one-time price of $49. I’m genuinely amazed how many prizes this product has won, especially when more technology is addressing the problem in innovative ways like high tech absorbent underwear. It’s also reminiscent of the Pro-pregnancy tracker in being a rather redundant means to solve an issue. Verdict: Miss.


Mobile phones are not conducive to the kitchen environment. I’m a keen cook and often find myself unable to answer the phone due to fingers encased with dough. I’ve also had the unpleasant experience of dropping a mobile in a sink full of water from an apron product while teaching a class. The Triby by Invoxia comes to my rescue.

Triby is a digital assistant, Internet radio, connected speaker, hands-free speakerphone, and connected message board all rolled into one. Amongst other things, people can send messages, emoji and hand drawn doodles to Triby ’s E-Ink display via its dedicated app. In April it was the first non-Amazon product to be Alexa-enabled which means that users customers have hands-free voice control for information from Wikipedia and the web, weather, timers and alarms, news, shopping/to-do lists, sports updates and scores, smart home features, calendar entries, IFTTT, and much more—with new skills being added every week. It retails at $199 and I suspect it won’t be long before cheaper versions hit the market but with less sensitivity. Verdict: Hit.


As a person who loses keys more often than I’d like to admit, this product is very appealing. I also live in Berlin, where bike thefts are a huge problem – thieves literally go around with cutters and steal enough bikes to fill a truck.  BitLock is made of reinforced and heat-treated steel combined with a high-security disc locking mechanism. The lock is not only keyless but it’s corresponding app enables users to transfer pin number access to friends or visitors. The battery lasts five years and a GPS connection to your mobile ensures that you don’t lose your bike after one too many beers. And if your phone is dead, you can open BitLock by punching in a four-digit secret code with a sequence of button presses. It costs $129 which is considerably more than a key lock but would be a good investment. Verdict: Hit.

BMW Motorcycles’ Emergency Call

In a serious motor vehicle accident, it’s vital to get help as soon as possible. BMW is introducing the intelligent eCall system, which is either automatically or manually triggered and sends out the position data – the coordinates of the motorcycle accident site – to a qualified BMW Call Center to initiate the rescue chain. In the “intelligent emergency call” option, the connection is established via the permanently installed mobile communication unit. Sensors on the motorcycle detect which event occurred whether a collision with another vehicle or crashing into an obstruction. A banking angle sensor detects which position the motorcycle is in.

The intelligent emergency call takes three scenarios into account: Automatic triggering in the case of a bad fall / collision; automatic triggering in the case of a minor fall or collision (which the rider has the option to cancel the call by pressing a button); and manual triggering by pressing the SOS button for other road users in need. A message is sent to the BMW Call Center and a voice connection is established. A voice connection is mandatory if the eCall was triggered manually before further measures are initiated. Here, too, the accident victim/rider is also given the opportunity to cancel the emergency call at the press of a button or by turning off the ignition.

I’m curious about the “intelligent emergency call system” how the rider can communicate with the BMW Call Center in his native language. Presumably in the future the call could go directly to emergency services? It would be great to see this kind of technology embedded in all kinds vehicles, including farm machinery like tractors.

The post Calm, cruel and connected: May’s best and worst of IoT appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

LA making massive smart city dataset available at high-speed

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 3:00pm

The city of Los Angeles is opening up the data floodgates by giving researchers unprecedented high-speed access to its smart city data, a move that could spark a raft of new data-driven discoveries.

City leaders announced it will link its databases and computers to a 100 Gbps system called California Research and Education Network (CalREN). The deal will allow member institutes, researchers, educators and students free access to one of the biggest storehouses of smart city data ever amassed.

The city struck the agreement with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). Proponents of the deal say that allowing high-speed access to such a deep data pool could drive the region’s leadership position on future smart city practices and technology.

“This peering partnership between CENIC and the City of Los Angeles represents a unique opportunity to pair the sophisticated research and analysis being done at California’s great universities with the massive data being generated one of our country’s most progressive Smart Cities, Los Angeles,” said CENIC chair William Clebsch. “This will lead to advances in urban living that have not been possible before.”

Data already available but speed is key

Los Angeles currently publishes more than 1,000 datasets on its two open data portals. The new data-sharing agreement will allow researchers access to that data 1,000 times faster than the general public. Some of the information that researchers will likely want to sink their teeth into are the Clean Streets Index, information on economic assets, public safety and transportation data, as well as details on sustainability measures.

Presently, LA citizens are increasingly accessing city data and services through the web, reporting urban issues through MyLA311 or using Google’s Waze to dodge construction in their commutes.

“This agreement means that young people, students of all ages, some of the world’s leading thinkers and educators can now access the City’s digital resources up to 1,000 times faster,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “When we open our data to the public, and commit ourselves to making it more easily available, we create limitless potential for innovation, discovery, and new understanding.”

The post LA making massive smart city dataset available at high-speed appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

Energy group calls for slashing autonomous car regs in US

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 1:00pm

An energy group comprised of retired U.S. military officials and business executives has come out in favor of removing regulatory barriers for autonomous cars at the federal level.

Currently, all autonomous cars on public roads must have a driver able to take over at any time, but federal approval of Level 4 autonomy would allow cars on the road without a human inside.

See Also: Will autonomous cars lead to even more congestion?

The group, called the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), claims that on top of lowering accidents on the road, autonomous cars may reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports.

92 percent of cars run on oil at the current time, but ESLC believes government intervention to help the rise of hybrid or fully electric cars could reduce that to 50 percent by 2040.

“Ultimately, we should allow Level 4 cars on roads as soon as they are as safe as today’s vehicles,” said Robbie Diamond, CEO of Secure America’s Future Energy (SAFE), of which ESLC is a division.

Driverless safer than “driverful?”

There is some evidence to suggest that autonomous cars are already safer than humans in cars, if we take the number of accidents per miles that Google has reported and compare it to human drivers.

States currently have different laws in regards to autonomous cars, some let Google, Tesla, and Uber test on public roads, but others continue to block access. ESLC’s call on Washington to change autonomy at the federal level would alleviate those issues, and allow cross-country tests.

The proposal from ESLC comes a few weeks before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) draft guidelines for deployment of autonomous cars. It is the first draft that could legalize autonomous cars on highways, similar to the UK’s recent legislative decision, announced during the Queen’s Speech.

Other lobbying groups in D.C. have pushed for relaxed regulations on autonomous cars, including groups backed by Uber, Ford, and Google. Millions have been invested, but so far we haven’t seen much progress.

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Categories: Technology

Can this new wearable detect depression?

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 11:30am

A health wearable in development at Michigan State University with collaboration from Bell Labs could provide doctors with a complete and impartial picture of patients suffering from obesity, diabetes or asthma.

The wearable, which is called HeadScan, sticks to the patient’s shoulders and bounces radio waves off their head. The radio waves can capture all sorts of things, like eating, drinking, coughing, and speaking, which can be valuable information for a doctor to analyse.

See Also: Energous hearing aid charging tech keeps you listening

“HeadScan uses wireless radio signals to sense the targeted activities and provides a nonintrusive and privacy-preserving solution that overcomes the drawbacks of current wearable technologies,” said Mi Zhang, an assistant professor and head of the project, to MSU Today.

Doctors would be able to find out if a patient suffering from obesity is sticking to a diet plan and can even figure out if the patient is suffering from depression, by analysing the way they converse with others.

“Dietary monitoring is important. However, humans are not good at tracking these sorts of things. Fortunately computers are,” said Zhang.

Monitoring in the past has been challenging

Health monitoring equipment in the past has been either far too cumbersome or far too intrusive. HeadScan is already a major improvement on weight and size, and Zhang believes it improves on the privacy too:

“Existing technology often uses cameras and microphones to measure this, which can track your voice as well as others around you. This offers a lot more privacy.”

Wearables were cited as one of the most substantially beneficial emerging technologies for medical trials, so we should expect to see wearables like HeadScan adopted by more doctors in the near future. The question, for medical professionals, is how to balance the influx of available information with user privacy and consent, a balance the technology industry has struggled to manage.

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Categories: Technology