Getting my groceries without leaving the house

The weekly visit to the supermarket is really not one of my hobbies. Frankly I find it a waste of time. So it’s time for a new way of getting groceries from a supermarket to my house. And why not according to the following scenario…

At home I choose my groceries through the supermarket’s website and I pay online, nothing new here. But, here it comes… my personal quadcopter flies off to the supermarket to pick up the goods I ordered. The supermarket is a bit special, a supermarket++ so to speak. This supermarket has landing strips on the roof where quadcopters can pick up stuff.

The supermarkt++ , groceries are picked by a robotic system, this can look something like in this…

Or like this :-)…

You get the picture right ;-). In the end the groceries are placed on some kind of pallet or plaform on the roof of the supermarket to be picked up by the quadcopter. Through a RFID tag or QR tag on the delivery, the quadcopter knows which goods are mine. The quadcopters from and to the shop, it will look like a beehive.

Of course there are always people who don’t have a personal quadcopter (yes, it happens). In this case, the goods will be brought home by the supermarket’s swarm of quadcopters (of course against extra costs ;-).

The distance-to-supermarket is never really large in the Netherlands, a GIS calculation reveals this (see below). This is a good thing as a quadcopter has a limited flying range.

As the quadcopter is small, it can bring maybe about 1kg per flight, so the warehouse has to provide stuff in small quantities (like coke in seperate cans instead of in a sixpack glued together). Further the goods should be put in some standardized box so that the quadcopter can easily pick them up with a grabber and brings them home.

The quadcopter will have to make several trips but hey who cares, it can work the whole day while I’m in the office, and at the end of the day the job will be done I’m sure (unless you have a big party planned, but then all the quadcopters of the supermarket come to rescue :-).

If the quadcopter breaks down completely in flight and the stuff is still there waiting at the end of the day, the warehouse system will send me an SMS or email that my quadcopter has died and that I have to pick up the goods myself (bugger).

At home the quadcopter flies through an internet connected cat flap kind of system or some airlock configuration somewhere in the wall or on top of the house (depending on the type of house). The door recognizes the quadcopter and opens automatically when the quadcopter approaches (quadcopter sends position and identification code to cat flap when close to home). Sometimes the quadcopter will fly to it’s docking station for a few minutes to recharge batteries and then will continue with the next flight(s).

Inside the house, with a bit of tweaking we can make some cold place (box) in which the quadcopter can easily drop the stuff that has to stay cold or frozen. The other stuff it can place on a shelf somewhere in the kitchen. When I come home the only thing I have to do is putting the stuff in the drewers (happy to do that).

A bit further in the future even that last step isn’t necessary anymore. The quadcopter just drops stuff on the kitchen worktop and a household robot will do the rest… I take the green one I think ;-).

If we can make this use case possible I’m a happy man!

 

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in News, Use Cases | Leave a comment

Intelligent kitchen

A classical scene is the “did you check if the stove is turned off” scenario. Everybody has experienced this some time, or maybe even many times. Of course this also happens to me once in a while (I am human you know), especially when I’m thinking about IoT ;-). Then on my way to the station and I think damn, did I turn off the stove? And then I have to walk back and check it out. Of course because of this I miss my train, really annoying. Even worse is when I think about it in the train, while leaving the station…

Of course for every problem there is a solution. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could check the status of my stove with a smartphone app? I see  2 options here (1) an intelligent valve which I place on the gas pipe which leads to the stove or (2) the stove itself is intelligent and has a built-in smart valves and sensors.

The first option is a way to connect a traditional stove to the internet.

The smart valve contains a CH4 (methane) sensor like this one.

And a smoke sensor like this one.

So when the CH4 sensor detects gas, the valve automatically closes and the gas flow stops.  It also sends a twitter message @erikvanderzee or SMS to me. The message is “He dumbo, you forgot to turn off your stove again! But don’t worry, your intelligent valve has stopped the gas from flowing”.

If the fire is still burning then the next problem is that if pans are on the stove, the food in the pan starts to smoke first and then catch fire. Hopefully the smoke detector detects the smoke and gives a signal to the intelligent valve, which stops the gas flow. Another option is to make intelligent pans, that can give a warning to the stove to turn off when e.g. a pan cooks dry or starts to produce smoke (burning food).

A better alternative is an intelligent stove. This has intelligent knobs, so that I can ask the stove the position of the knobs (“off” or “on-xx%”) with the stove app on my smartphone. If the fire is still burning  (which happened to me a few times), I can switch the knobs to “off” position through the app! Of course this stove also has the intelligent valve, so that if somehow gas is flowing into the room, the valve automatically closes.

We can even combine this with location based services (LBS). If I make a geofence around my house, my stove will send me an alert (tweet or sms) that I left the house without turning off stove knobs 2 and 3 when I’m walking out of the geofence. Or even better, it automatically puts the knobs in the “off” position when I’m more than 100m from my house. The LBS scenario works really good in cases when the fire is still burning (no gas detected), and there are no pans on the fire which can catch fire.

So with these smart things and measures in place, I’ll never miss my train anymore and I can dream about IoT without my house burning down ;-).

 

 

 

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in News, Use Cases | Leave a comment

Ingredients for your thing: The Jeenode

The Jeenode is an ingredient that I’m using extensively in my ongoing projects. It is a small breakout board roughly based on the arduino design. It is obviously not compatible with arduino shields but it does work with the arduino IDE which makes it easy to program on whatever development computer you like to use. The Jeenode has two features that make it incredibly useful for IoT projects. 1) It carries an on-board RF module (Hope’s RF12B) capably of on-off keying based communication at 868 and 433 MHZ. At 868 MHZ the range is just enough to connect everything around the house. The other feature, 2) is that it is optimized for low power operation with only limited power it can run for a long time. The jeenode is the perfect data acquisition node that just sits there waiting for some IO line to change and to signal that to its companion nodes.

The JeeNode coms in a few flavors. There is the JeeNode which needs an adapter board to be programmed. There is the Jeelink which is designed to live in your USB port (as a gateway to other nodes). There is the JeeNode-USB which has the FTDI chip integrated on  board. Recently there is a new design (which is not sold through Jeelabs.com) based on the Atmega Tiny MCU. It is even smaller en uses even less power than its bigger brother. You need to find a way to get one produced for you however.

Another nice thing is that Jean-Claude Wippler and the people at jeelabs.net are friendly folk willing to help and interact on projects. Just browsing Jeelabs.org you’ll learn a lot about physical and low power computing.

I’m using the jeenode and jeelink to control my Klik-Aan-Klik-Uit (KAKU) devices around the house. I’m still working on the software that takes care of decoding  KAKU messages and relaying them to a central node. It is mainly the learning curve of how data is processed on the Atmega controller and passed around to and by the RF12B unit.

I really like the JeeNode for its economy and the careful design and care that went into this device.

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in Hardware, News | Leave a comment

Willem van Doesburg

Hi, My name is Willem van Doesburg. I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I was fascinated by computers and programming them. The concept that an idea can be expressed into code and that the code makes a device do what you want it to is still amazing to me.

With todays interconnectedness of almost everything, this concept is only gaining in scope and depth.

In daily life i’m chin-deep in the software business. Besides that, I have a wife and two little -ones to keep me busy. If I happen to stumble on some spare-time I like to spend it on building, writing and thinking about the Internet of Things.

I have a background in Artificial Intelligence, software, systems design, sensor networks and human factors research. Current IoT projects I’m working on are focused on connecting things around the house (that are supposed to make my life easier but are mostly and excuse to work on this stuff). I’m building a smart security cam that knows when to go on and off and to use (i.e. control) the hall light to brighten the scene in front of the camera when needed. To me connecting things to the web is not that difficult, to get them act in a coordinated goal oriented fasion in a flexible and adaptable way is the real challenge.

I hope you find some useful information on this blog or else some inspiration. Feel free to contact Erik or me with any of your ideas or questions.

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in Makers | Leave a comment

Collecting Garbage

Really good business cases for IoT are those situations where we have to do things we don’t like; time for automation! Think for example about vacuum cleaning. If a thing can do the job it would make us (me at least 😉 really happy. Luckily enough we find things like robot vacuum cleaners already on the market. They drive through the house and suck up all that dust, just great!

Would be nice if one day you could share a robot (vacuum) cleaner with a group of people (e.g. people in a Google circle or a facebook group) so that it will clean all the houses of the people in your circle. Like a cleaning person it will travel to different houses and will clean those places.

A particular nice vacuum cleaning robot is the Kaercher (see movie). At 1:38 we see why: “der Accu wird geladen, der Smutz in die Station abgegeben“. So it dumps the dust in the docking station, isn’t this great?! Basically, we don’t have to vacuum clean anymore… I say, buy a vacuum robot!

The next annoying thing that people still have to do is bringing their garbage bin (Kliko) to the street. So why not building self steering Klikos that drive to side of the street or to a central garbage collector by themselves when they are full. They can use GPS and other sensors similar to the vacuum cleaner to find their way.

In the a central garbage collector scenario the Klikos drive to this central garbage container somewhere in the street and then empty themselves (like the Kaercher). The central container can be burried underground so that the Kliko can position itself above it, the bottom flaps open and the Kliko is emptied.

When the central garbage container is full it sends an alert to the city garbage collecting service, which will then send a (robotic) truck to empty the large bin. It will also send a message to all Kliko’s in the neighbourhood that it is full. As soon the central container is empty it will send a signal to all Kliko’s that it can receive new garbage.

In an alternative scenario, all kliko’s just drive to a specific place (somewhere along the street) at exactly the right time. The collecting time is send to the Kliko’s by the city garbage collecting planning system. So when the garbage collector car drives into the street they will all be waiting to be emptied.

When a Kliko is tumbled over or dragged away from the normal route, the Kliko’s GPS and Gyroscope sensors detect this and immediately informs the owner of the Kliko that someone is haressing it.

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in News, Use Cases | 1 Comment

Haptic shoes

So there are this haptic shoes invented by the Indian Anirudh Sharma. The shoes have pressure actuators on left, right, front and back side. By activating the actuators, a blind person can feel with his feet where to go. The shoes receive directions from an Android smartphone routeplanner application. The smartphone uses its GPS to detect the current position of the person and sends signals through bluetooth or other wireless protocol to the shoes (left, right, back, forth) when a turn has to be made. In this way a blind person can easily navigate through a city. Basically, the principle can be used in all situations with bad visibility (e.g. mountain walkers in a fog or snowstorm or or soldiers in a dark night who have to walk a route and cannot switch on a light to check a map).

I can see this shoe in combination with the catching robbers using swarms use case. Imagine a police officer wearing these shoes while tracing a suspect. A swarm indicates where the suspect is, the shortest route from the police officer to the suspect is calculated and corrected in realtime depending on the movement of the suspect (for this, the routeplanner has to be smart in the sence that it is optimized for interception). The optimal route (and realtime route updates) is sent to the shoes of the police officer, who can feel in which direction he has to run without having to check a map on a smartphone. When nearing the suspect, the shoe’s actuators can start to vibrate more intense to warn the policemen that the suspect is near and that he has to take care.

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in News, Use Cases | Leave a comment

Haptic Shoes

Le Chal Haptic Shoes

Rating: 41

Haptic shoes invented by Indian Anirudh Sharma, an IT Engineer from Rajasthan Technical University. The system is called Le Chal, which is Hindi for "Take Me There." It is intended primarily to assist blind people in finding their way to specific geographical locations, although it also helps them avoid walking into things on their way there.

On http://www.technologyreview.in/computing/38306/ and http://www.technologyreview.in/article/38509/ and http://www.medianama.com/2011/11/223-le-chal-android-powered-shoes-for-visually-impaired/ more details about the Le Chal DIY kit

Ingredients

  • 1 Smart phone with compass enabled GPS to pull location data from satellites
  • 2 Shoes with soles of the defined dimensions to house the components
  • 1 Bluetooth Arduino Lilypad to sync devices
  • 4 Mini vibrational motors to inform the user about the directions
  • 1 Proximity sensor

Instructions

  1. No detailed instructions available yet. Here http://www.technologyreview.in/computing/38306/ we read that Sharma is planning to release the code of Le Chal Android application and schematics to public through Arduino community channel. He is also planning to create a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guide through an editable Wikipedia where users can participate and help him create better version of the technology.
http://www.iot-maker.nl/?p=241

  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
Posted in News, Healthcare | Leave a comment