Adding computer communication to otherwise dumb devices isn’t new. As far back as the 1990s, a whole list of Internet-enabled Coke machines around the world had varying functionality. The granddaddy of them all was the Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University, set up in the 1970s.
The power grid delivers electricity to charge iPads and run data centers. The power grid connect users with electricity producers through interconnected transmission and distribution networks. In these networks, system monitoring is necessary to ensure reliable power grid operation. The analysis of smart meter measurements and power systems are a routine part of system monitoring.
Help Net Security reports that most energy security professionals told nCircle they did not believe smart meters are secure enough. When asked, “Do smart meter installations have enough security controls to protect against false data injection?” 61% of the 104 energy security professionals said “no”. False data injection attacks introduce arbitrary errors into state variables while bypassing existing techniques for bad measurement detection to exploit the power grid.
Patrick Miller, the founder, CEO and president of EnergySec, noted, “Smart meters vary widely in capability and many older meters were not designed to adequately protect against false data injection. It doesn’t help that some communication protocols used by the smart meter infrastructure don’t offer much protection against false data injection either.”
“… we need to make sure that all systems that process usage data, especially those that make autonomous, self-correcting, self-healing decisions, assure data integrity,” Miller added.
Union Pacific (UNP), the nation’s largest railroad company, has deployed Internet of Things technology throughout its network. according to Dailywirless.org the IoT can predict certain kinds of derailments days or weeks before they are likely to occur. Theis will improve safety and avoid millions of dollars in damages.
According to the article, Union Pacific, which moves 900 trains a day, started using acoustic sensors 10 years ago to monitor noises from vibrations of ball bearings in train wheels. This allows the company to get trains off the track before a faulty bearing causes a derailment. More recently, the company started using visual sensors that can detect when wheels begin to flatten–another factor that can cause accidents on the rails.
Lynden Tennison, CIO at Union Pacific, told CIO Journal, that the company can now check 40 million patterns every day and can alert the train operators of any anomaly in a bearing within five minutes. “Our goal was to design a system that requires very little maintenance,” he said.
To do this, Union Pacific worked with Intel (INTC) which addressed some of the unique challenges of designing a wireless sensor network for a rail system (pdf). The blog states that to overcome the battery-life issues, Millennial Net paired its i-Bean wireless technology with “energy harvesting” technology from startup Ferro Solutions. An inductive vibration generates power to send [battery free] at 115 Kbps over a distance of 30 m,” said Tod Riedel, cofounder and vice president of business development at Millennial Net.
Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM asks “Are you ready for appliances that are smarter than you?” She points out that LG has introduced its first connected appliance, a Smart Thinq refrigerator that knows what’s inside it. The appliance can communicate with your phone. Your kitchen is about to get a similar level of connectivity as your living room.
The Smart Thinq refrigerator got a lot of press at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as smart appliances were all the rage. The Android-based OS that enabled the fridge to communicate with your smartphone and share information like the contents of the fridge excited the press. The idea, according to the author, was that when someone got home from the grocery store they could choose to tell the fridge what was inside using a touchscreen or they could scan a bar code on their receipt that would contain the information about their purchases.
In this ideal world, the fridge would then be able to suggest recipes for the family based on their weight goals, age, gender and whatnot. If the consumer selected a fridge-offered recipe the appliance could shoot the recipe to the Smart Thinq oven and it could preheat. All of the connectivity occurs via Wi-Fi, and controled by the phone and in the touchscreen.
The article explains that other features include such as calorie counting and notifications of expiration dates. And if grocery stores take part – then the fridge could show when certain items are out and order them for home delivery.
In MIT’s Technology Review article “Is Your Dishwasher Really Yearning for the Internet?” Glen Burchers Ube’s chief marketing officer says that more and more home gadgets will ship with microprocessors, enabling the automation and remote control of everything from your lights to your laundry. Until this is a widespread reality, he’d like to sell you a wall outlet.
The wall outlet includes an ARM processor, runs Google’s Android mobile operating system, and can connect to the Internet. This means anything you plug into it can be controlled via your smartphone, and it will also track how much power your devices are consuming.
According to TR, the startup plans to sell the outlet along with a “smart” dimmer switch and plug for $60 to $70 apiece. The Austin, TX firm also plans to offer a free smartphone app that can control these and other Internet-enabled devices.
The blog reports that the Ube app will access a Wi-Fi network to scan for nearby Internet-enabled devices it can manage and lets you know what it can control. Mr. Burchers says the app can control more than 200 devices, most of which are gaming systems, set-top boxes, and TVs.
Mr. Burchers believes that Ube’s first products are just the beginning. He told TR most new electronics will be able to connect to the Web, and home builders will offer smart dimmers to new home buyers as they do granite countertops.