Category Archives: Mobile

Low Power Computers/Devices are closer!

Intel has demonstrated an experimental (not commercial) low-powered microprocessor, based on Near Threshold Voltage (NTV) Processor technology (circuits operate at 400-500mV), that can be powered by a small solar cell (same size as a postage stamp). Code named Claremont, it consumes < 10mW when workload is light, and combined with the Hybrid Memory Cube was capable of running a PC using the Linux OS (the design was based on the Pentium, but much more energy efficient).

The Hybrid Memory Cube, is a concept DRAM developed by Micron in collaboration with Intel, delivering a 7-fold improvement in energy-efficiency over today’s DDR3. Hybrid Memory Cube uses a stacked memory chip configuration, forming a compact “cube,” and uses a new, highly efficient memory interface which sets the bar for energy consumed per bit transferred. Those new technologies raise the prospect of greener computing, allowing longer battery life for mobile devices and powerful, energy-efficient, extreme power saving processors for other scenarios such as extreme scale computing. One goal of the NTV research is in fact to enable architectures where power consumption is so low that entire devices could be powered not only by solar energy, but also by vibrations, thermoelectricity or ambient surrounding wireless signals.
I remember that this scenario was already proposed by Gunter Pauli in his “Blue Economy” book and in many lectures/posts, but now it’s more clear that our future mobile and embedded (IoT) devices will be less dependent from batteries (reducing also pollution due to e-waste) and that the future datacenters needed for the cloud will not keep on wasting so much power using “heat-sink free” CPU.
Intel has in fact a company-wide goal of delivering 300-fold improvement in energy efficiency in high-performance computing over the next 10 years. Meanwhile Intel has announced in march 2011 that it will deliver in 2012 four new processors for the category that span 45 watt high performance to sub-10 watt, all with advanced server features such as 64-bit, Virtualization Technology and Error-Correcting Code. More recently Intel has stated that they are working on a new class of platform power management for Ultrabooks™ that will aid in the delivery of always-on-always-connected computing. Both Google and Microsoft are working with Intel and will leverage Ultrabooks in their Android and Windows 8 platforms.

Senseable lab: from the Copenhagen wheel to PURBA

Most of you should remember of the Green Wheel, by MIT Mobile Experience Lab and Smart Cities Group, a smart mobility system in a wheel, that collects energy while riding the bicycle and releases it when needed.  Additionally it provides remote monitoring. The Copenhagen wheel (presented at COP15 Copenhagen) is a further evolution, developed by the peer MIT SENSEable Lab in cooperation with Ducati. It transforms ordinary bicycles into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. In fact it can map pollution levels (carbon monoxide, NOx), noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity, traffic congestion, and document road conditions in real-time. Controlled through a smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel it allows to lock the bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you, capture your effort level and those of your surroundings if you agree to share those information with your friend community, or city administration, that will get granular data in real life traffic condition.

New applications keep on being developed by the Senseable Lab, directed by Carlo Ratti, in order to build a real-time city: “ The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built  environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure.” The lab has produced: 200+ scientific papers, 35+ real-world projects, 25+ exhibitions, 100+ conference keynote addresses, numerous awards and representation in the global media.

The Senseable Lab is defined by the anthropologist Luca Simone as a “transdisciplinary” research group that “studies the interface between cities, people and technologies and investigates how the ubiquity of digital devices and the telecommunications networks that augment our cities are impacting urban living”.

Recently the MIT Senseable Lab organized  the First Workshop on Pervasive Urban Applications (PURBA) that took  place in conjunction with the 9th International Conference on Pervasive Computing in San Francisco, CA, USA on June 12-15, 2011, bringing  together researchers and practitioners to discuss and explore the research challenges and opportunities in applying the pervasive computing paradigm to urban spaces. It promoted “multi-disciplinary contributions that reveal interesting aspects about urban life and exploit the digital traces to create novel urban applications that benefit citizens, urban planners, and policy makers”. In my understanding the proposed scenario was the following:

  • Digital networks and operations has produced an unprecedented wealth of information about URBAN LIFE.
  • Handheld electronics, location devices, telecommunications networks, and a wide assortment of tags and sensors are constantly producing a rich stream of data reflecting various aspects of urban life.
  • For urban planners and designers, these accumulations of digital traces are valuable sources of data in capturing the pulse of the city in an astonishing degree of temporal and spatial detail.
  • We move toward achieving an augmented, fine-grained understanding of how the city functions – socially, economically and yes, even psychologically (“the city as a social archipelago”).

Many Papers were submitted to the PURBA best student paper award, the following ones were elected for final selection:

Mobile Green 2.0 Application

Mobile devices offer many opportunities to help in reducing the usage of paper and ink, fuel when driving that’s may be good for saving resources. Other apps goes further in order to measure your GHG contribution from travelling or choosing greener product.

For example Houdah Software released ACTPrinter for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. With ACTPrinter 1.8 all your documents (electronic tickets, boarding passes, bar codes) can travel with you on your iPad or iPhone saving the need to print them.  It serves as a printer for “virtual paper” stored on iPhone or iPod touch. Documents finally become mobile. Electronic tickets attain ultimate convenience. Bar codes may be scanned right off the display of your iPhone or iPod touch. ACTPrinter acts also as PDF viewer to other applications. Unfortunately it’s only designed for Mac.

Other great example of iPhone Green Apps are:

GreenCard: lets users share contact information without the paper trail and cuts the cost of business cards, by letting users create digital business cards which they can share with contacts in their iPhone. Plus, if you modify the card to reflect new info, the app will automatically send contacts the update.

Fuel Saver: uses the phone’s accelerometer to sense when drivers are speeding, accelerating too hard or braking harshly, all behaviors that use excessive amounts of fuel. By sounding a series of beeps when it detects bad driving behavior, the app teaches drivers to cruise in a more fuel-efficient manner.

Obviously other mobile phones maker are providing good tools, for example Green Charging is a Nokia application that will assist you in saving power and hence, assists in curbing Global Warming. This unique application will be useful when the user will charge his/ her phone. The application will notify the user (with sound effects) when the battery is fully charged.

Nokia has also launched a new web-based service and a Web Runtime widget, entitled Green Explorer, “to provide sustainable tips and advice on how to live green and travel clean. You can share your experiences and ideas and help make a world of difference. The service is designed to help you decide where to go, how to get there and what to do when you’re there. The idea pushes the environmental aspect by trying to provide small solutions and actions which when combined have a greater impact on the environment.”

In the Android Market for example you can find Ecorio. It is a download and forget type of app. In the setup, you set your primary transportation type. Once set, Ecorio periodically checks, using GPS, your location. If you have moved from your initial location, it will calculate the approximate amount of CO2 generated by your primary mode of transportation (i.e. bicycle, public transportation, or one of a wide range of car makes and models). It is easy to go back in to the day’s trips and re-define the mode of transportation. Although the carbon dioxide emissions are only an estimate, they are a fairly close estimate. Ecorio has a couple of very useful features for trip planning. For short trips, it links to Google Maps to find the best public transportation route. In some towns it also ties in to ZimRide, a carpooling community. Ecorio is also a social geo networking site. If you want to offset your carbon emissions, Ecorio offers a number of certified carbon offset projects, including the Chicago Climate Exchange. Offsets can be purchased from your phone. The cost of the offset will depend on the project currently being supported by Ecorio.

For an i-phone similar app look at Commute Greener, accessible through your mobile phone and the web to:  set your target for reducing your personal CO2 footprint, see the progress against your personal CO2 reduction targets, share experiences in a trusted, online community

But my favorite (also reported by Daniel Goleman in his book “Ecological Intelligence”) free app is GoodGuide iPhone App (a text messaging version for other phones is available). It helps you find safe, healthy, and sustainable products while you shop. Simply scan the barcode of the product and immediately see detailed ratings for health, environment and social responsibility for more than 50,000 products and companies. GoodGuide provides this information about personal care, household chemical, toy and food products and is adding thousands of products every month. By making information about consumer products transparent, GoodGuide’s goal is to help people shop smarter and motivate companies to offer even better products.

Best Regards

Donato