Saturday, 20 June 2009

New Text Message: "Feed me, I am Thirsty"

Technology that lets plants send text alerts when they're running dry may someday reduce overwatering, says a Discovery Channel report. A chip about the size of a clip-on earring can be attached to a plant leaf and linked to regular cell-phone networks, sending a text message when it's time to irrigate. Watering only when necessary could save water and energy, especially in the arid West. A company called AgriHouse is marketing the chip, which is based on technology developed by NASA for long space trips.

Water in the open spaces of the west is valuable, but it's virtually worth its weight in gold in outer space. The original cell phone for plants was developed years ago by scientists working with NASA on future manned missions to the moon and Mars.

"You need plants on future space missions," said Hans-Dieter Seelig, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who worked on the original NASA project.

"They take out waste carbon dioxide, produce breathable oxygen, and the astronauts can use them as food," said Seelig.

During their research, the NASA scientists concluded that astronauts wouldn't be able to take anywhere near enough food and supplies for an estimated two-year mission to Mars. The pilots and Ph.D.'s selected for the trip would have to spend most of their time as celestial subsistence farmers.

To reduce the amount of time and supplies necessary to grow crops, scientists clipped sensors, wired to a central computer, to plants so astronauts would know exactly when and how much water to give them.

During the initial NASA tests the scientists were able to reduce the amount of water necessary to grow plants by 10 percent to 40 percent.

You can see a Video on AgriHouse website here.

A similar approach was also demonstrated earlier this year.

Interactive telecommunications researchers designed a soil-moisture sensor device that can allow a house plant to communicate with its owner. The device can send short messages to a mobile phone or, by using a service called Twitter, it can send short messages to the Internet. The messages can range from reminders to water the plant, a thank you or a warning that you over- or under-watered it. To communicate, probes in the soil emit electric waves. A voltage level based on the moisture content is sent through two wires to a circuit board that compares the optimum moisture level with the current one. A local network receives this data and allows the plant to send a message through the device.

All this is possible through a new system called Botanicalls, which is developed by Interactive Communications researchers. This system allows your plants to send text messages to your cell phone or even on internet. The plants will know when they need water and they will let you know, or, if they have been watered, they will just thank you. More, they will tell you if you put enough water or they need more.

So how Botanicalls works?

Some sensors are placed in the soil with the plant, and they measure the level of moisture. These sensors send a signal to a microcontroller to determine if the moisture is low or high, or if water has been added or not. Based on that, the sensors can send a wireless signal to an internet connected computer than can send a prerecorded message to the plant owner. Messages include “thank you” when the plants are watered, or warnings if the water is too much, or the plants haven’t been watered and they need water.

You can see their video here.

Friday, 19 June 2009

LTE/SAE Trial Updates from LSTI, May 2009

The LTE/SAE Trial Initiative trial results from May 2009 are available here.

More about LSTI Cross-Vendor Interoperability testing for LTE/SAE here.

More information on LTE/SAE is available here.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

LTE QCI and End-to-end bearer QoS in EPC

Gary Leonard, Director Mobile Solutions, IP Division, Alcatel-Lucent in a presentation at the LTE World Summit

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

SMS: Information, MisInformation, Emergency and Spam

The other day someone pointed out that the number of SMS send per day globally is 2 Trillion. I said, surely this cant be true. The population of the world is somewhere around 7 Billion mark. If we assume that everyone uses the phone and sends 1 message per day than that is still 7 Billion messages, 2 Trillion cant possibly be true.

According to a post earlier, 1 Trillion messages were sent in 2008, compared to 363 Billion in 2007. Thats between 3 and 3.5 Billion per day. We may have to wait probably just couple of years before we see 1 Trillion messages per day (assuming the Networks can cope with this amount of SMS's). The reason for sharp rise in the number would be due to various factors.

The first reason being Spam. China is already facing SMS Spam problems. Its becoming such a nuisance that the operators are considering limiting the number of SMS to a max. of 200 messages per hour and 1000 per day. On holidays, 500 and 2000 respectively. I am not sure if Spammers use phones, rather there are many websites allowing bulk messaging facilities. Many companies are also offering power texting facilities that allows big bundles for minimal pricing. The average price being 1 cent per SMS or even cheaper.

Another reason that we should not forget is the introduction of many QWERTY phones that is making life of texters easier. There is some debate as to whether its having good or bad impact on the teens but I think its the health problems we should be worried about more than anything else. Its just matter of time when you get a new phone, there will be a caution note saying: "Caution: Text messaging can seriously harm your health. It can cause sore thumbs, cause sleeping disorders, anxiety and in some cases depression. Please click on I Accept if you would like to use it at your own risk" :)

Deciphering teen text messages is an art in itself. I blogged about it earlier but things change faster than you can anticipate. LG have launched a DTXTR service that can help you decipher your teen text messages. I tried few codes and it failed miserably. I suppose for these kinds of services, one more thing you need is to know the location of the users. Same code word can mean different thing in different countries/states. Webopedia has a very detailed list of these abbreviations.

Finally, I have always wondered why emergency services dont allow SMS. If I am in a bank being robbed, its safer to send a text rather than call and speak to an operator. Good news is that, its already being tested in the US. This should complement the eCall feature in future.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Dictionary of LTE Acronyms

A comprehensive dictionary of LTE acronyms has just been released, providing a useful aid to understanding the LTE specification documents.

A companion to the highly-acclaimed book on LTE, “LTE – The UMTS Long Term Evolution: From Theory to Practice”, the new dictionary provides not just the expansion of each acronym, but significantly also a concise explanation. The dictionary will enable engineers and researchers to find their way through the often bewildering array of acronyms and to understand the LTE specifications with renewed ease.

Written by the editors of the companion book, Stefania Sesia, Issam Toufik and Matthew Baker, from the major telecommunications companies ST-Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, the dictionary is available to download free-of-charge from the website of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons:

Download the dictionary from

SMS good or bad for the teens?

When SMS was invented it was though that it’s an ideal way of communicating with somebody in short and that too cheaper than the actual call. What really picked up in the field of SMA was an easy way of communicating with somebody whilst busy doing something else. SMS specially has become a big hit the teens of today and they love every bit of it.

Teenagers worldwide, these days are sending thousands of text messages per month. While one might be tempted to imagine that it is not a problem due to the availability of unlimited text messaging plans, the issue here is hardly a financial one.

Teenagers have taken the texting to a different level where they depict a brilliant example of multitasking. Albeit concerns are growing over issues such as how excessive text messaging threatens proper sleep, as many teenagers text message late into the night. Or as I can imagine, probably even waking up in the middle of the night to check and reply to new text messages.

In the last five years itself text messaging has gained significant momentum with the teenagers worldwide and the pertinent question here is whether such use of mobile devices will create a generation of adults addicted to perpetually buzzing or beeping mobile gadgets. This could produce a generation that has trouble sitting still and focusing on the task at hand.

There is no doubt it’s easy to find a way of getting distracted especially when you are teen. Imagine you are busy doing something important and you phone beeps thus indicating of the arrival of a new message. In this scenario 99% of the teens including some adults as well will definitely be paying attention to the new SMS and mostly replying for it as well.

In my opinion SMS is like any other things to play for the teen which basically keep them interested and involved. Any fun which is easily and readily available to the teens will definitely attract them no matter which generation they belong to. So what can be a boon for some can be bane for others. What is your opinion on text messaging?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Free Sim, Free Calls forever and no Topup needed - Welcome to '3'

Free Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messaging, free Windows Live messenger and free voice mail in the UK. Welcome to a new contract called SIM Zero from '3' UK.

A minimum contract period of 30 days and the ability to make free Skype calls, all for the princely amount of £0 per month is not bad at all. For the occasional one off calls or texts, 3 will charge users 20p per minute regardless of the networks and the time of call while texts will cost users 10p each. Furthermore, each MB of data will be charged at 30p which is fairly reasonable.

If you are likely to make more than 45 minutes worth of calls per month AND you'd like to stick to 3, then they've got a £9 price plan that gives you 100 anytime, any network minutes or texts, or any mix of the two plus free 300 minutes of 3-to-3 calls and a free mobile phone.

Users will not be coerced into topping up their mobile account regularly; 3 recommends using either theh INQ1 or the Skypephone S2 which are both available for £70 for the contract. Nevertheless, you should be able to plug any 3G phone to get the service.

Via: IT Portal

Nokia developing self-recharging phone

Standby mode is often accused of being the scourge of the planet, insidiously draining resources while offering little benefit other than a small red light and extra convenience for couch potatos. But now Nokia reckons a mobile phone that is always left in standby mode could be just what the environment needs.

A new prototype charging system from the company is able to power itself on nothing more than ambient radiowaves – the weak TV, radio and mobile phone signals that permanently surround us. The power harvested is small but it is almost enough to power a mobile in standby mode indefinitely without ever needing to plug it into the mains, according to Markku Rouvala, one of the researchers who developed the device at the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, UK.

This may sound too good to be true but Oyster cards used by London commuters perform a similar trick, powering themselves from radiowaves emitted by the reader devices as they are swiped. And similarly old crystal radio sets and more recently modern radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, increasingly used in shipping and as antitheft devices, are powered purely by radiowaves.

The difference with Nokia's prototype is that instead of harvesting tiny amounts of power (a few microwatts) from dedicated transmitters, Nokia claims it is able to scavenge relatively large amounts of power — around a thousand times as much — from signals coming from miles away. Individually the energy available in each of these signals is miniscule. But by harvesting radiowaves across a wide range of frequencies it all adds up, said Rouvala.

Such wireless transfer of energy was first demonstrated by Nikola Tesla in 1893, who was so taken with the idea he attempted to build an intercontinental transmission tower to send power wirelessly across the Atlantic. Nokia's device is somewhat less ambitious and is made possible thanks to a wide-band antenna and two very simple circuits. The antenna and the receiver circuit are designed to pick up a wide range of frequencies — from 500 megahertz to 10 gigahertz — and convert the electromagnetic waves into an electrical current, while the second circuit is designed to feed this current to the battery to recharge it.

The trick here is to ensure that these circuits use less power than is being received, said Rouvala. So far they have been able to harvest up to 5 milliwatts. Their short-term goal is to get in excess of 20 milliwatts, enough power to keep a phone in standby mode indefinitely without having to recharge it. But this would not be enough to actually use the phone to make or receive a call, he says. So ultimately the hope is to be able to get as much as 50 milliwatts which would be sufficient to slowly recharge the battery.
would be a remarkable achievement. . "Radio frequency power falls off exponentially with distance," he says. Earlier this year researchers at Intel and the University of Washington, in Seattle, showed that they could power a small sensor using a TV signal 4.1 kilometres away.

Wireless charging is not intended as a sole energy source, but rather to be used in conjunction with other energy harvesting technologies, such as handset casings embedded with solar cell materials. According to Technology Review magazine, the phone could be on the market in three to five years.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Verizon's bold step towards IPv6

Verizon is taking bold step of mandating the devices that connect to its LTE Network support IPv6. The following is from Telecom Asia via Network World:

According to device requirements Verizon released earlier this year, any device that hooks onto the LTE network currently being built on the 700MHz band "shall support IPv6" and further states that "the device shall be assigned an IPv6 address whenever it attaches to the LTE network." The requirements make support for IPv4 optional and state that any device supporting IPv4 "shall be able to support simultaneous IPv6 and IPv4 sessions."

IPv6 is a long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is known as IPv4.

As CircleID blogger and Pennsylvania State University senior systems programmer Derek Morr notes, the adoption of IPv6 is going to be particularly important for wireless carriers that are expecting a surge in mobile data traffic in the next few years, as they will need a fresh batch of Internet addresses to handle the multitude of wireless devices that will hook onto their networks.
"The problem, of course, is that we're running out of IPv4 addresses," Morr writes. "The IANA pool will most likely be depleted by the end of 2010. This has led many people to wonder if LTE deployments will require IPv6. Now we have an answer: Yes."

Verizon is planning to launch its LTE services commercially in 25 to 30 U.S. markets in 2010. The network will be the first mobile broadband network in the United States to be based on the LTE standard, which is the latest variation of Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology that is used for 3G High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) networks. AT&T and T-Mobile have also announced plans to commercially launch LTE networks after 2010, while Sprint has already commercially launched its high-speed mobile WiMAX network.

One of the biggest drivers for carriers upgrading their mobile data networks to 4G technologies is the expected explosion in demand for mobile video services. A recent Cisco study on Internet traffic trends projects that 64% of mobile data traffic will be for video by 2013, vs. 19% for data services, 10% for peer-to-peer and 7% for audio. The study also says that the projected video traffic will increase four-fold between now and 2012

You may also want to read my post on the case for early LTE in USA.