After reading an article about smart watches, I tried to come up with a spec of a smart watch I would buy:
- It needs to look like a normal watch (I wear a stainless steel analog one, about two thumbs wide with the strap being one thumb wide) and needs to be thin (or at least give the impression it is thin, even if it is not).
- It needs to be an extension to my smartphone, but being able to display date and time without it.
- It needs to have an open protocol, so that people can write smartphone apps which are able to display anything they want.
- It would be nice if the vendor-supplied app would display incoming calls/SMS and at least calendar notifications (additional notifications should be configurable, I do not want to see “you are roaming now” messages, but email messages could be nice when you are waiting for an important one) from the smartphone. I am not sure how many columns/rows for characters there need to be or if it shall be a pixel-display with a specific minimum amount of DPI.
- There needs to be at least one easy to use by intend but hard to use by mistake button which switches back to the date/time display (and/or switches between several default displays like weather, date/time, agenda… when connected to the smartphone — again, ideally this is configurable in the app). Bonus points for an additional context sensitive button (e.g. “snooze 5 minutes” or “dismiss” for calendar notifications, ideally this can be configured in the app).
- The battery needs to last long and be easy to replace (like with my current watch, so it needs to last years). While I would prefer a rechargeable way of handling this, the current technology is clumsy (standardized connectors like micro-USB to charge are too big… non-standard connectors are not an option) and does not last enough (I would be OK if one charge would last nearly a year).
- I do not need colors, but a good contrast even in full sunlight is mandatory.
- Medical or life-style sensors (compass, gyroscope, blood pressure, accelerometers, radiation, air quality, …) are not necessary, but as long as they come for free (read: do not make the watch much thicker), I would not mind.
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Tags: bonus points
, current technology
, default displays
, email messages
, incoming calls
, life style
, open protocol
In several previous posts I wrote about my quest for the right source format to stream video to my Sony BRAVIA TV (build in 2009). The last week-end I finally found something which satisfies me.
What I found was serviio, a free UPnP-AV (DLNA) server. It is written in java and runs on Windows, Linux and FreeBSD (it is not listed on the website, but we have an not-so-up-to-date version in the ports tree). If necessary it transcodes the input to an appropriate format for the DLNA renderer (in my case the TV).
I tested it with my slow Netbook, so that I was able to see with which input format it will just remux the input container to a MPEG transport stream, and which input format would be really re-encoded to a format the TV understands.
The bottom line of the tests is, that I just need to use a supported container (like MKV or MP4 or AVI) with H.264-encoded video (e.g. encoded by x264) and AC3 audio.
The TV is able to chose between several audio streams, but I have not tested if serviio is able to serve files with multiple audio streams (my wife has a different mother language than me, so it is interesting for us to have multiple audio streams for a movie), and I do not know if DLNA supports something like this.
Now I just have to replace minidlna (which only works good with my TV for MP3s and Pictures) with serviio on my FreeBSD file server and we can forget about the disk-juggling.
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Tags: audio streams
, dlna server
, input container
, input format
, mother language
, sony bravia tv
, source format
, transport stream
In Germany you need to install an intelligent electricity meter if you make larger changes to the electricity installation in your house (or if you build a new one). At first this sounds interesting. If you look closer, you need to decide if you want to laugh or to cry.
Such an intelligent electricity meter is able to display the current power consumption in a digital display (if the power consumption stays the same, you can test with this how much power a specific device needs). It is also able to attribute the power consumption to different times of the day. An optional feature (here in Germany) is the possibility to transfer captured data to the power company. It is not required that the home-owner is able to see all or even any data from an intelligent electricity meter.
The promises are, that with such a device people could pay less money by using the washing machine or the dish washer or similar devices during times when not much people want to use energy.
So far so good, but…
- My washing machine or dish washer are about 1 – 3 years old. We did not buy the cheapest ones, but they do not offer to start the washing upon input from an external signal or just by activating the power (if they lose power, the chosen washing program is reset to the default program). Am I supposed to buy a new one?
- The power consumption of all the necessary infrastructure (digital stuff in the electricity meter, network connection to the power company) is not zero, and it is the owner who has to pay for this.
- When everyone is washing when not much people want to use energy, a lot of people want to use energy in such moments. It may still help a bit the power companies because they do not have to generate power (and have expenses because of this) which is not used, but I doubt the consumer will get a big reduction then.
- The duration of such power-surplus times with a reduced price may not last during the complete time a washing machine needs. It may be even the case that a high-price time slot may get activated shortly after (if this is done by (malicious) intent or not is not even relevant, as the consumer can not do something about it as he is probably sleeping when this happens in the night).
- The power company may be able to get a detailed trace of what happens in a house (the owners are getting up at 11am, only take a shower every two weeks, have probably a big plasma TV which runs all the day, …).
- I doubt the device is free of security holes or protected enough against eavesdropping (with all the profiling implications, or possibilities to manipulate the data (positively or negatively) directly in the device before transmission to the power company).
- I do not think the most intelligent and consumer-friendly devices will come with enough statistics or access-possibilities to really satisfy the consumers.
More interesting would other things which could help cut costs. For example small low-power networked sensors which detect if a window/door is open, the temperature in a room, the outside temperature, the sunlight intensity and so on. Together with some actuators like for example to close the window, close the shutter, change the heating, turn off lamps and so on, it would provide much more immediate benefit. In a new building, the network could be wired, but in an old building the sensors need to be wireless and battery-powered.
A possible solution could be done via bluetooth v3 in a mesh network (yes, if it is not open source, I would also be sceptical if the company which produces this has enough knowledge to make it secure), polled by a central station which could put the sensors in silent standby to reduce the amount of radio pollution and increase battery lifetime. If some of the sensors and actuators are connected (e.g. room temperature and heating actuator plus a clock), you could even let it run in autonomous mode (time based heating to a specific temperature) and only need to connect to it if there is a specific need. Such a situation could be that the window sensor detects an open window, so the heating can be turned off. Or maybe the sunlight intensity sensor detects (or the base station estimates) an intensity-rise of the sunlight, so the heating could be reduced in advance.
Something like this would give immediate benefit (in comfort) to those who install it, and in a long-term view it would/could cut the costs down a bit.
I am aware of some wireless sensors/actuators, but they are relatively expensive, the radio pollution (and type) is unknown to me, and the protocol is not open, so I do not know if it is secure and how to improve things I do not like.
Anyone with enough hardware knowledge and open source/hardware spirit out there to produce a modular base for sensors/actuators (bluetooth + I/O for sensros/actuators/pc-connection + controler)?
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Tags: default program
, different times
, dish washer
, electricity meter
, electricity meters
, external signal
, necessary infrastructure
, optional feature
, power consumption
, washing machine
My wife used a hair dryer this morning. Normally this is nothing worth to blog about, but after a night with not so much sleep (my child is getting several new teeth at once and I took care about it this night) the sound of the hair dryer was a bit annoying, even if I was already preparing me to go to work too.
At this point I suddenly noticed, that I can not remember to have seen a commercial of a hair dryer where a low noise sound pressure level is one of the important features. I also can not remember that someone things that this shall be changed. This is strange.
There is a lot of movement to make cars more silent. There is a lot of movement to limit the sound pressure level of portable music players (those where the music is consumed the most with headphones). There are rules about the sound pressure level at work. There are commercials which focus on the lack of loud noise from the dishwasher or the washing machine, but I can not remember to have seen putting the noise level of a hair dryer, a mixer, a vacuum or something similar as a major feature against a competition into a commercial.
When we are a bit late to go to work, my wife is sometimes using the air conditioning of the car as a hair dryer (we drive together, so no danger on the road), and this is producing enough airflow to dry the hairs while still not being as loud as a hair dryer. Yes, the airflow generates some noise which you can not prevent, and the fans are more far away from the ear than it is the case with a hair dryer (and it is not a low-class car), but if I look at the noise level of quiet fans in a PC, I am sure that it is possible to cut the noise pressure level of a hair dryer. No high-frequent noise from the motor of the fan and a blade and case design which provides a good airflow while reducing airflow-noise is possible.
As a hair dryer is a device which is not far away from ears, I am surprised that there is not more interest (at least in various technical standards-compliance definitions and tests required by the government) in this. Specially kids seem to agree that it is too loud.
Similar for a vacuum.
And while we are at it, my mother is known to bake good cakes, she is baking at least one cake per week and if there is some festivity (family, friends, neighbors) she is even baking 5 – 6 cakes in a week. As such she is not using a cheap mixer, she is using a quality product with a stable stand. Still, this device is making a lot of noise. A part of the noise is generated by the motor (high frequency, depends upon the speed of the mixer) and if you really want to speak about something, you better go out of the kitchen.
I know, devices with a reduced noise level a more expensive to create and build, but I can not really believe that nobody would we willing to spend money for such a device. So, if you know a marketing person of a manufacturer of such devices, please have a talk about a nice “our product is better than the one of the competition because it is more silent”-campaign with him/her.
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, case design
, class car
, hair dryer
, loud noise
, music players
, noise level
, noise sound
, portable music
, quiet fans
Unfortunately you can not chose…
So, I am now on the sofa, covered a lot (a flu, I even have no voice anymore; before I left work a female coworker told that her husband would probably be happy if this would happen to her… ) and medication and water are not far away on the table.
The good thing with the current technology is, that you can still be a little bit productive (depending on the illness).
As you can read this, it means I have my netbook with me, so that I can take care about some simple things.
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Tags: current technology
, female coworker
, little bit