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Posts Tagged ‘ios’

Bolt IoT Platform Combines ESP8266, Mobile Apps, Cloud, and Machine Learning (Crowdfunding)

November 22nd, 2017 4 comments

There are plenty of hardware to implemented IoT projects now, but in many cases a full integration to get data from sensors to the cloud requires going though a long list of instructions. Bolt IoT, an Indian and US based startup, has taken up the task to simplify IoT projects with their IoT platform comprised of ESP8266 Bolt WiFi module, a cloud service with machine learning capabilities, and mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Bolt IoT module hardware specifications:

  • Wireless Module – A.I Thinker ESP12 module based on ESP8266 WiSoC
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi secured by WPA2
  • USB – 1x micro USB for power and programming
  • Expansion – 4-pin female header and 7-pin female header with 5 digital I/Os, 1x analog I/O, and UART
  • Misc – Cloud connection LED

The hardware is not the most interesting part of Bolt IoT, since it offers similar functionalities as other ESP8266 boards. But what may make the project worthwhile is built-in support for the company’s cloud service (lifetime access to backers) that simplifies node and data management, as well as Bolt IoT mobile app to control the board with your smartphone (Android or iOS)

Some other noticeable features of the Bolt IoT cloud platform include:

  • Remote configuration of the pins on Bolt WiFi module from the dashboard
  • Built-in code editor, and code deployment to all your Bolt based IoT devices with a single click.
  • Data Visualization
  • Machine learning for future data prediction and anomaly detection with just a few clicks.
  • Notifications over SMS and E-Mail.
  • Integration with systems like IFTTT and Zapier
  • Integration with smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home

The whole ecosystem supposedly allows developers to work 10 times faster, and use 80% less code than other methods.  The company will also provide an API that let you manage notifications, select third party visualization tools, and control devices from your own app.

The company launched their platform on Kickstarter at the beginning of November, and they’ve now surpassed their $10,000 funding target, having raised close to $30,000 from about 700 backers. Bolt IoT module with lifetime access to Bolt Cloud requires a $12 pledge, but they also have kits with Arduino baseboard and sensors starting with a $37 Starter Kit to the $650 Legendary kit with multiple Bolt board, and a very long list of modules. For some reasons that I may have missed all kits also include $10 credit with DigitalOcean VPS provider. Bolt Cloud will be free to all backers for life, but after the KS campaign Bolt IoT will charge a fee for commercial projects, and potentially for hobbyist projects too. Shipping adds $5 to $100 depending on the selected reward, and delivery is scheduled for February 2018.

Fingbox Helps You Monitor & Manage Devices on Your Network with Your iOS/Android Smartphone

November 19th, 2017 10 comments

Fing network scanner mobile app available for iOS and Android that allows you to discover which devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network, map devices, detect intruders, assess network security risks, troubleshoot network problems, and optimize wireless network performance.

But in order to go beyond network monitoring, the developers have designed Ubuntu Core based Fingbox hardware to add features such as access control (e.g. parental control), analyze the usage of bandwidth for each clients, find Wi-Fi sweet spots/ avoid black spots, verify your Internet speed, monitor devices in your network, and protects it with a digital fence that works against threats.

From a hardware perspective Fingbox is a round shaped Ethernet node with the following specifications:

  • Processor – ARMv7 processor
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet

The Linux (Ubuntu Core) device just needs to be connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, and powered by its adapter. You’d then run Fing app on Android or iOS, which will automatically detect the Fingbox, and allow you to easily monitor and control devices on your home network. The best way to clearly understand what the device brings to the table is to watch the demo embedded below.

Fingbox was launched through an Indiegogo campaign, that ended up very successfully with 20,000 backers, and over @1.6 millions raised, but now you can purchased it directly from Amazon for $129 with shipping to US, UK, EU, and Canada, or Fing website for other countries.

When I think about it, I’m wondering why we don’t get such functionality from the router directly, as surely that’s something vendors could implement in the firmware, except possibly on the cheapest models due to storage and/or memory limitations, with no added hardware cost. Feel free to comment if you can already use your smartphone to monitor and manage other devices via your router, or is Fingbox the only workable solution right now?

Google Releases Tensorflow Lite Developer Preview for Android & iOS

November 17th, 2017 No comments

Google mentioned TensorFlow Lite at Google I/O 2017 last may, an implementation of TensorFlow open source machine learning library specifically optimized for embedded use cases. The company said support was coming to Android Oreo, but it was not possible to evaluate the solution at the time.

The company has now released a developer preview of TensorFlow Lite for mobile and embedded devices with a lightweight cross-platform runtine that runs on Android and iOS for now.

TensorFlow Lite Architecture – Click to Enlarge

TensorFlow Lite supports the Android Neural Networks API to take advantage of Machine Learning accelerators when available, but falls back to  CPU execution otherwise.

The architecture diagram above shows three components for TensorFlow Lite:

  • TensorFlow Model – A trained TensorFlow model saved on disk.
  • TensorFlow Lite Converter – A program that converts the model to the TensorFlow Lite file format.
  • TensorFlow Lite Model File – A model file format based on FlatBuffers, that has been optimized for maximum speed and minimum size.

The model file is then within a Mobile App using a C++ or Java (Android only) API, and an interpreter optionally using the Neural Networks API.

TensorFlow Lite currently supports three models: MobileNet (A class of vision models to identify across 1000 different object classes),Inception v3 (An image recognition model with higher accuracy, larger size), and Smart Reply (An on-device conversational model for one-touch replies to chat messages).

The preview release is available on Github, where you’ll also find a demo app that can be tried with a pre-build binary, but it’s probably more fun/useful to instead build it from source in Android Studio and try to change the code to experiment and learn. You can also build the complete framework and demo app from source by cloning the repo. TensorFlow Lite may also be coming to Linux soon, as one of the comment in the announcement mentions that “it should be pretty easy to build TensorFlow Lite on Raspberry PI. We plan to make sure this path works seamlessly soon“. While most of the documentation can be found on Github, some more info may be available on TensorFlow Lite page.

Use your Smartphone as an IR Remote Control with ROCK USB Type C IR Remote Control Transmitter

October 27th, 2017 4 comments

A few years ago, I wrote about ZazaRemote transforming your smartphone into a universal IR remote control. ZazaRemote is a hardware and software solution that combines infrared dongles micro USB port or 3.5mm audio plug, and a mobile app that allows you to control all sort of devices (TV, aircon, etc…) from your smartphone.

Over three years later, more and more phones are now deprived from the audio jack, and micro USB ports have given way to USB type C ports, so that solution does not work anymore on newer phones. Some of the recent phones like Xiaomi Mi A1 integrate an IR transmitter, but for others, Zazaremote’s developer (Tiqiaa) has apparently not come up with a USB type C version, but just sells micro USB to USB type C adapters, not the most convenient. Upon further research, I eventually found a USB type C IR transmitter for smartphone sold for about $7 on FastTech.

The brand name is “ROCK”, but they don;t provide that many details about this “USB Type C IR Remote Control Transmitter” except the dimensions (37.5 x 14.5 x 7.1 mm) and weight (9 grams). The form factor is not the most convenient, as I prefer the lower profile USB OTG ZazaRemote dongle.

FastTech did not mention any information about the app to be used, and I could not find ROCK USB type C IR transmitter anywhere else, but noticed that ROCK IR audio jack was listed on Banggood, and linked to Zaza Remote Universal Remote app for Android and iOS. It’s highly likely the USB type C transmitter uses the same app.

Zaza Remote app Screenshots

Beside the USB type C IR transmitter, the company is also selling a Wi-Fi to IR USB dongle for $10 shipped. The advantage here is that you don’t need to add anything to your phone, but of course you’d need one per room where there are IR controllable appliances. Directionality may be an issue with this type of device, which explains why some others WiFi IR controllers – like Broadlink RM Mini 3 – use an array of IR transmitters to cover all directions.

AMBE+2 Vocoder Promises High Voice Quality at Low (2.0 to 9.6 Kbps) Data Rates

October 24th, 2017 4 comments

Opus 1.2 open source audio codec was release a few months ago with the ability to deliver low power low high-quality audio bitrate for speech with bitrates as low as  12 Kbps. Digital Voice Systems (DVSI) claims to have gone even lower thanks to their AMBE+2 vocoder (Advanced MultiBand Excitation) providing high-quality speech at data rates from 2.0 to 9.6 kilobytes per second.

AMBE+2 vocoder is said to outperform the company’s previous generation AMBE+ Vocoder as well as the G.729 and G.726 vocoders, while operating at only 4.0 Kbps. The vocoder is suitable for mobile radio, secure voice, satellite communication, computer telephony, digital voice and storage applications

AMBE+2 Vocoder Chips

The solution can be integrated into product either using software licensing, or through Vocoder chips, and the company lists the following key benefits:

  • Maintains speech intelligibility and speaker recognition at rates as low as 2.0 kbps
  • Resistant to background noise and channel bit errors
  • Customizable data from 2.0 to 9.6 kbps
  • Uses fewer computations than CELP (Code-excited linear prediction) as used in G.729
  • Does not require the use of a residual signal
  • Eliminates fixed data-rate and codebook problems
  • Low complexity reduces implementation costs

You can listen to male and female samples at different bitrate for your own evaluation. DVIC claims the technology is already used in digital mobile radio and satellite telephony solutions such as Inmarsat, Iridium, DMR Communication PBX, etc…

AMBE-4020 HDK

AMBE+2 voice compression algorithm is available for DSPs and CPUs from Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, ARM, MIPS, Intel, NXP, and others, and runtime environments are available for Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, VxWorks, uC/OS, and other operating systems on request. The company can also provide hardware development kits (HDK) based either on AMBE-3000 or AMBE-4020 AMBE+2 chip, USB based products from a single channel dongle to a the 12 full-duplex channel USB-3012 product, as well as Net-2000 VCUs (Voice Connect Unit) that bridge analog speech I/O to an Ethernet network for example for VoIP or voice-monitoring / recording products (for the CIA? :)).

More details can be found on DVSI’s AMBE+2 product page.

Google Clips is an A.I. Camera Powered by Movidius Myriad 2 VPU

October 5th, 2017 No comments

Most consumer cameras offers some ways for the photographer to check the framing of the picture, such as a viewfinder or LCD display, before pressing the button. The first time I saw a consumer camera without such features was with MeCam, a tiny snap-on camera that you can wear on your shirt, and just press a button to take a picture. Convenient, but no ideal as subjects were often out of frame with the camera pointing at the wrong angle.

That was in 2013. But today, those cameras can be improved with artificial intelligence, and Google Clips is a camera without viewfinder nor LCD display that can allegedly take good photos – or short clips – automatically, acting in some ways like a human photographer, so that every human in the room / the whole family can be on the shot.

Google Clips specifications:

  • Vision Processing Unit – Movidius Myriad 2 VPU as found in Intel Movidus Neural Compute Stick
  • Storage – 16 GB for photos
  • Camera
    • TBD?? megapixels; 1.55μm pixels;  130° field of view; auto focus; auto low lux/night mode.
    • Motion photos (JPEGs with embedded MP4s) @ 15 fps, MP4, GIF, JPEG. No audio.
  • Connectivity – WiFi direct and Bluetooth LE
  • USB – 1x USB type C port for charging
  • Battery – Good for 3 hours of smart capture
  • Dimensions – 49 x 49 x 20 mm
  • Weight – 42.2 grams without clip, 60.5 grams with clip

The camera works with Google Clips app for “compatible mobile devices” running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher, such as Google Pixel, or Galaxy S7/S8, or iOS devices starting from iPhone 6. Google Clips will ship with a clip stand, a USB-C to USB-A cable, a quick start guide, and a user guide.

Google Clips will sell for $249, and if you’re interested you can join the waiting list on the product page.

Google Adds Home Mini and Home Max to its Google Assistant Family

October 5th, 2017 No comments

As we’ve just discussed in our post about Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 smartphones, Google had a hardware day yesterday, where they made announcements about various devices with new smartphones, Pixel Buds earbuds optimized for Google Assistant, Pixelbook chromebook, and so on.

Google Home family has also been extended with two new models: Home Mini with a much smaller device and a lower price, as well as Home Max with premium speakers.

Left to Right – Home Mini, Home, Home Max

Google Home Mini

Specifications:

  • Speaker – 360 sound with 40mm driver
  • Microphones – “Far-field voice recognition supports hands-free use”
  • Audio formats – HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power
  • Misc – Play/Pause/Talk button, volume buttons, LEDs, microphone on/off switch
  • Power Supply – 5V/1.8A
  • Dimensions – 98 mm ∅ x 42 mm (h)
  • Weight – 173 grams (device only)

Home Mini is compatible with devices running Android 4.2 and higher, or iOS 9.1 and higher, and comes with built-in ChromeCast audio support. The new Home Mini appears to compete directly with Amazon Echo, as it is sold for $49.

Google Home Max

Specifications:

  • SoC – Quad core ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz (Could it be Amlogic A112 or A113 processor?)
  • Speakers
    • 2x 4.5″ (114 mm) high-excursion (+/- 11 mm) dual voice-coil woofers
    • 1x 0.7″ (18 mm) custom tweeters
  • Microphones – “Far-field voice recognition supports hands-free use”
  • Audio In – 3.5mm analog audio input jack
  • Audio formats – HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Sensors – Ambient light sensor,  orientation sensor
  • Misc – Play/Pause/Talk button, volume buttons, LEDs, microphone on/off switch
  • Power Supply – AC Power 100-240 V, 50/60 Hz
  • Dimensions – 336.6 x 190.0 x 154.4 mm
  • Weight – 5.3 kg

Home Max has the same Android and iOS requirements, and support for ChromeCast audio as the mini version, but it adds support for multi-room audio and wireless stereo pairing, meaning you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker too. Price is $399, but you’d have to join a waiting list before ordering it. You can do so, and find more details on the product page.

IkaScope WiFi Oscilloscope Probe Works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android and iOS

September 13th, 2017 11 comments

Last year, I wrote about Aeroscope, a portable Bluetooth oscilloscope that looks somewhat like a Stabilo Boss highlighter pen, and sends measurements over the air directly to your Android and iOS tablet or smartphone. It was introduced through a crowdfunding campaign which eventually failed, but Aeroscope can now be purchased for $199 on Amazon US or their own website. If you’d prefer WiFi over Bluetooth, and would like something that also works on Windows, Linux, and/or Mac OS X, IKALOGIC has just launched IkaScope WiFi oscilloscope probe compatible with all popular mobile and desktop operating systems.

IkaScope WS200 specifications:

  • Analog Bandwidth  – 30 MHz @ -3dB
  • Sample Rate – 200 MSps
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/e/i WiFi @ 2.4 GHz configurable as access point or station
  • Input Range – +/-40 V range CAT1
  • Offset Range – +/- 20V to +/- 40V offset
  • Input Impedance – 10MΩ || 14pF
  • Input Contact – ProbeClick intelligent probe tip that will only start measurements upon contact
  • Voltage Resolution – 100 mV/division to 10 V/division
  • Sample Resolution – 8-bit
  • Max Refresh Rate – 250 fps
  • Memory Depth – 4K points (4x 1000 points for burst buffers)
  • Protection Input Level – 253 VAC 1min
  • USB – Isolated micro USB port for charging only
  • Misc – Power/Charging and WiFi status LEDs
  • Battery – 420 mAh battery good for about 1 week battery life with daily regular use.
  • Dimensions – 161mm long

IkaScope specifications are slightly better than the ones of Aeroscope when it comes with analog bandwidth and sample rate for example, but the battery capacity is lower. However,  the latter is likely more than compensated by ProbeClick technology that will only measure when a contact is detected, hence saving power during idle times. One advantage of WiFi over Bluetooth is that it allows for a higher refresh rate up to 250 fps.

The probe ships with a ground clip and a USB charging cable. OS support will be brought step by step starting with Windows, but Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android will all be supported by November 9th if the schedule’s deadlines can be met, and all desktop OK will be supported by the end of September before shipping. More details about the software can be found in IkaScope knowledge base.

IKALOGIC has started taking pre-order for IkaScope for 299 Euros excluding VAT and shipping scheduled by the end of the year. “EARLYBIRD” coupon valid until the 20th of September will power the price by 10%.. Some more information, and the purchase link are available on the product page.