Hot Data

In 2015, flights produced 781 million tons of CO2 worldwide. This is barely 2 percent of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. Globally, humans produced over 36 billion tons of CO2. And here’s a really fun fact: data centers emit more CO2 than the global airline industry. Overheated Data Centers Every laptop owner (especially those who also own cats) knows that computers produce a lot of excess heat. Data centers, comprising tens of thousands of servers, waste massive amounts of energy and money trying to keep them cool. Throughout time, various strategies were tested, including moving facilities near the Arctic Circle (Facebook) or submerging servers underwater (Microsoft). While Facebook’s decision to build its first data center outside of the US in northern Sweden uses the -4F outside air to keep temperatures constant, a Dutch company took the reverse method: it uses the heat generated by servers to heat people’s homes. Repurposing Heat from the Cloud Back in 2015, Nerdalize worked with Eneco, a Dutch utility company, to test a heating system that feeds on residual heat of computer servers. Watch a video about the test. Their year-long pilot ran in five households. Each home had a server installed on the premise, powering a standalone wall heater. The heaters were slow, took about one hour to warm up and were also weak, able to provide sufficient heat only for a small room. But the fact that they worked encouraged them to explore the idea further. And an interesting idea it is—instead of paying for high-energy usage to cool the servers, they save households around $336 a year on their heating bills, while also cutting back on CO2 emissions. Per a company press release, each installation takes three tons of CO2 away from a household’s carbon footprint....

Game of Hacks

On Monday, HBO confirmed hackers breached the company’s servers and stole an unconfirmed amount of the company’s data including scripts, unreleased television episodes and much more. The incident is already being compared to the 2014 Sony hack, when approximately 26 gigabytes of data, including inflammatory emails and employee data, were released online. Though some of the network’s content has been leaked in the past – two years ago, stolen DVDs containing the four first episodes of Game of Thrones season five were leaked online – this is the first time HBO has experienced a cyber-attack of this scope. “HBO recently experienced a cyber-incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information,” the company said in a statement. “We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cyber security firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take our responsibility seriously to protect the data we hold.” While the total size of the data stolen has not yet been confirmed, the hackers claim they’ve accessed up to 1.5 terabytes of data. Experts believe the stolen information could include sensitive financial information and even employee records. Already leaks of some HBO content are appearing online, including upcoming episodes of Ballers and Room 104, as well as the alleged script for the fourth episode of Game of Thrones. In an email sent to reporters on Sunday night, the hacker group confirmed they planned to leak more of the information in the coming days, writing: “Hi to all mankind. The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. It’s HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!! You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and download the leak. Enjoy it & spread...

IoT Phone Home

As the Internet of Things expands exponentially, astronomers and tech companies are fighting it out in the newly crowded radio spectrum. In the high desert of northern Chile, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) scans the night sky, its 66 high-precision antennas seeking out the faintest radio waves. Unfortunately, the frequencies ALMA depends on to gather valuable scientific data exist on a previously unallocated radio spectrum suddenly crowded by competing interests, including all those smart devices scattered throughout our homes. “There are no spectrum bottlenecks for dedicated Internet of Things systems yet,” Kevin Ashton, co-founder and former executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center, told Bloomberg BNA, “but we are seeing Wi-Fi services get maxed out, as there are only so many channels you can cram into the available spectrum.” “The extent to which the Internet of Things will be a threat to radio astronomy will depend upon whether the regulatory standards can be upheld in the face of the massive onslaught of lawyers funded by the private sector,” Carla Beaudet, RF Test & Measurement Engineer at National Radio Astronomy Observatory explains to Discover Magazine. “If the regulatory standards are upheld rather than modified every time somebody needs more spectrum, there will still be small windows of spectrum in which astronomers can observe.” Smart Spectrum Every smart device, from temperature savvy toasters to programmable thermostats, communicates via radio waves. Unfortunately, as the number of wired gadgets and intelligent contraptions multiplies, previously unobstructed frequencies are jammed with the chatter of clever toothbrushes and talkative televisions. While some bands are protected by the FCC – 1400 megahertz for hydrogen, for example – the rest of the spectrum gets shared by 29 services ranging from mobile phones to radio stations to military drones. As each...

Senior Living Security...

Hackers never sleep. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), data breaches increased by 40 percent last year, and the healthcare and business industries were amongst those hardest hit. Much of this increase can be attributed to the fact that Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including patient data and healthcare records present an alluring target to hackers. As Jay Shobe, Vice President, Technology at Yardi, explains: “Any centralized database is at risk of a breach. Because the cyber security continually evolves, it’s important to maintain constant network security that’s able to evolve as the threat evolves.” Yardi Takes Security Seriously. For healthcare providers and senior living communities, advances in software and data collection are helping keep costs, increasing operational efficiency and improving resident care. Unfortunately, advances in cloud-based productivity and convenience open the door to vulnerability. In Yardi’s latest whitepaper, Senior Living Data Security, senior living providers will get the latest information on the most common database and network vulnerabilities and discover how to protect their organization’s sensitive data with the industry’s most trusted cloud provider. Senior Living Data Security provides insight on the evolution and forecasts how data breaches will dominate the healthcare industry for years to come. Along with recommendations on how to develop robust security data protocols to safeguard sensitive information the whitepaper also provides suggestions on how to address network vulnerabilities and establish effective security protocols. Download Senior Living Data Security today, and see how multiple layers of security can help you stay proactive and hacker...

Laptop Ban Update

The Department of Homeland Security releases new air travel security regulations, but there’s no need to leave your laptop at home…yet. Responding to pressure from US airlines fearing adverse economic impacts as a result of a widened ban on in-flight electronics, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided not to extend its laptop ban beyond airports already included in the electronics prohibition.  European airlines were especially vocal about their opposition. Alexandre de Juniac, director general, and chief executive of the group, which represents 265 airlines, wrote in a letter to Kelly and Violeta Bulc, the E.U.’s top transportation official that expanding the ban could cost $1.1 billion a year in lost productivity, travel time and “passenger well-being.” While those fears have been put to rest, for now, foreign and domestic airports and airlines will nevertheless face stricter security requirements moving forward as part of the DHS plan to anticipate threats before they become a reality. “The United States and the global aviation community face an adaptive and agile enemy,” DHS said in a statement. “Terrorist groups continue to target passenger aircraft, and we have seen a ‘spider web’ of threats to commercial aviation as terrorist pursue new attack methods.” Stay of Execution Currently, flights originating from eight countries – Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates – must relegate any electronic bigger than a cell phone to the cargo hold. Airlines affected by the electronics restriction saw passenger numbers drop dramatically, prompting airlines from other countries to vigorously lobby against extending the ban. Ultimately, the DHS dodged the issue, preferring instead to focus on upgrading security on the ground. While European airlines greeted the DHS announcement with studied relief, de Juniac remained cautious about the financial ramifications of the new safety...

Floating Panels

Floating solar panel technology has been around for just over a decade. The water cools down the solar panels, making them run more efficiently, while the panels themselves don’t take up valuable space on land. Europe’s largest floating solar array was a 6.3MW plant located in the UK. That was overshadowed by a plant in China becoming the world’s biggest floating solar power plant. Over the past few years, Chinese companies have built up wind, hydro and solar plants around the country, despite China’s reputation for heavily polluted skies and thick clouds of smog. China has over 100 cities with population of more than 1 million, in comparison with the U.S. which has only 10. The country has been investing more and more into clean, renewable energy. Located in China’s eastern Anhui province in the coal city of Huainan, the solar farm floats above a flooded area which was once used for mining coal. Thanks to its placement offshore, it doesn’t take up any “space,” and it uses less energy than most solar farms as the seawater acts as a natural coolant. The panels help to conserve precious freshwater supplies by lowering the amount of evaporation into the surrounding atmosphere. In return, the water keeps ambient temperatures around the solar panels lower, which helps boost their efficiency and limit long-term heat-induced degradation. Built by the company Sungrow Power Supply, the 40-megawatt solar power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes. While the company has not revealed the exact size of the operation, it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which is located in the same area and was launched by the company Xinyi Solar in 2016. “Our response to climate change bears on the future...

Apple WWDC 17

This year’s Apple WWDC event, hosted by chief executives Craig Federighi, Phil Chiller and Tim Cook, included updates to the company’s iOS, tvOS, watchOS and macOS. There were also a range of hardware updates, including a new iPad Pro, updates to the entire Mac laptop line, a new iMac Pro and the new Siri-enabled speaker dubbed HomePod. iOS 11 The new version of the iPhone’s and iPad’s operating system, coming this fall, is packed with new possibilities, culminating with the usage of augmented reality in games and apps. The new OS will reveal a system-wide design revamp, tilting towards bolder fonts, borderless buttons, new animations and other small visual tweaks. The Control Center has been compressed to fit on one page, and aside from its new look, offers new customization options. The Lock Screen and Notification Center have been combined under one entity, thus pulling down access to Notification Center will also bring up the Lock Screen. The App Store has been redesigned for the first time. It now organizes and separates games and apps into their own sections, while offering a dynamic Today view, populated daily with the newest content. A much-awaited change is the new Files app. It mimics the Finder on macOS (no surprise there), including the drag and drop feature that allows to reorganize files, links and more between apps. There is also a difference: on the iPhone, drag and drop can be used within apps, while on the iPad it can be used across the entire OS. Then there’s the new Dock, Mac users are familiar with it, but for iPad users is a foundational change. Easy to customize with apps, the Dock changes as you work—the suggested apps, such as the recently opened apps and the last one...

Whole Wide World

Imagine standing on top of a mountain, looking at a seemingly endless horizon in every direction, full of mountains and valleys. Imagine never seeing anything like that. Breathe deeply at the sight, then use your virtual reality wand and spin the Earth along its normal rotational axis, until you set the horizon on fire with a sunset. You can now walk the streets of the most iconic cities in the world, dive through the canyons like a hawk and float around in space, starring at the pale blue dot from the abyss. Google Earth Virtual Reality can enable you to have some pretty incredible experiences. While interactivity is limited to viewing, the app is perfect for those who just want to take it easy. Anyone who has used Google Earth mapping apps before will be familiar with the VR app — as you have to do is grab the globe and zoom in and out anywhere. After flying high above our planet, you can move around using one controller to zoom closer, while another one allows you to “grab” the planet and reorient it. With a few more taps, you can lean closer, until you are on ground level at “average adult height.” It gets even cooler than that. You can even get into some famous places, such as Seattle’s football stadium. It feels extremely real. Some buildings’ interior geometry had been rendered precisely and that really sells the “I’m here” feeling that one might expect. However, the app still needs improvements as many areas are just flat maps with rough topography, not fully constructed locations and natural features like trees are blocky masses. How good it looks depends on how much data Google has collected- 94 percent of the world’s population and 54...

Marble

Marble, for the purposes of this article, is not the metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals commonly used from sculpture and as a building material. Rather, it is a new robot delivery service that is ready to deliver food to our doorsteps. San Francisco-based startup Marble is redefining getting your food to go. The new robot delivery service is a result of a partnership between Yelp and the small startup Marble, founded in 2015 by three former Carnegie Mellon University students. Initially, the robots will be accompanied by a person walking alongside in case something goes wrong, though the rovers will be driving autonomously. Additionally, Marble robots are being observed via monitors back at company headquarters. Residents of San Francisco’s Mission and Potrero Hill neighborhoods who order food from the Yelp East 24 food delivery service will have the option of having a robot shuttle them dinner. Marble’s robots are powered by NVIDIA Jetson TX1 AI supercomputers to navigate their route while sharing busy sidewalks. Using AI and computer vision, they can detect people, cars, pets and other objects along the way as they safely cruise to their destinations. Marble’s robots map the city’s sidewalks to determine the best travel routes and improve food delivery times. According to Matt Delaney, CEO and cofounder of the San Francisco startup: “We’re starting with meals, but think our robots will be useful for everything from groceries, to pharmacy and parcel delivery in the long run.” Marble’s robots are designed to be “courteous in an urban setting.” Marble has a team that includes former employees from Google and Apple. With only 5 restaurants participating in Yelp’s Eat24 robot delivery program at the moment, Delaney expects that more will sign up in the future. The company has raised...

Space Race 2.0

It seems when the country’s most successful entrepreneurs have finished disrupting industries on Earth, they invariably look to do the same in space. The world is witnessing a new era of space exploration that’s being headlined by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, owned by tech billionaire CEOs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos respectively. The companies are a part of a private sector boom that has reestablished the United States as leaders of aerospace technology and exploration. SpaceX moves forward Leader of the pack, SpaceX is revolutionizing space travel in astronomical ways. CEO Elon Musk has always maintained that the fundamental breakthrough needed to transform access to space is figuring out how to reuse rockets just like airplanes, in order to lower the cost. Since 2015 SpaceX has been actively working towards that goal, recovering eight of twelve rockets launched. On March 30th the company took things one step further with the first successful launch and landing of the Falcon 9, a recycled rocket. The Falcon 9 previously had the distinction of being the first rocket to successfully land on a droneship. But even that isn’t enough for the company, as they continue to reach for the stars with their next goal to reuse the rocket within 24 hours. “We’re looking for true operational reusability, like an aircraft, an aircraft lands, goes to the gate, passengers come off, passengers go on, you refuel, and then you fly again. What we’re looking to do is exactly that..land and relaunch on the same day,” says SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. The company’s most recent milestone was on April 30th, when SpaceX launched a government spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office. This marked the first time the Department of Defense used SpaceX for a mission, where...

Automated Parking

In our lifetimes to date, the exercise of parking in a public or private multi-vehicle garage has gone something like this: drive into the garage, circle up and down ramps between stories to find an open spot, squeeze your way in and cross your fingers that you’ll remember where you parked when it’s time to leave. Engineering firms have struggled to combat the growing problem of parking shortages by efficiently using robotic car parking systems in areas where congestion, zoning or crime are problems or where land is scarce and expensive. And thanks to the miracles of modern machinery, they’ve come up with some cool solutions. To take advantage, all you have to do is follow a green arrow into a wide space on the ground floor, lock the car and simply walk away. Robotic machinery lifts, stack and packs the parked vehicles inside the garage. The cars can be squeezed into narrow spaces, as there is no longer a need for room to open doors, or for other cars to pass. Without the need for ramps and less space required for parking, the garage takes up less square feet than a non-automated garage of the same capacity. As cars no longer have to circle the lot in search for a parking spaces, CO2 emissions have also decreased significantly. The state-of-the-art, high-density system maximizes parking spaces while minimizing environmental impact, by utilizing an array of horizontal and vertical conveyance devices and software designed to enable automated and efficient storage and retrieval of cars. Additionally, the garage will keep the vehicle safe and clean, as it is completely sealed off from weather conditions, animals and even other people. The driver is the last person to touch the vehicle before the robotic system places it into...

A Smarter Vacation?

A lot of work goes into planning a vacation these days. From airline and bus tickets to hotel reservations, you’re making a lot of plans and getting a lot of emails. It can be hard to find what you need when you’re in a hurry on the road. The Google Trips App is a travel guide and a smart vacation planner that was launched last year. Recently upgraded, it helps travelers experience more and organize less. Available both on Android and iOS, the free app compiles all your essential info in one place and makes it available even offline. How it works Once you download it, you need to login using your Gmail account. In just a few minutes, it scans your email, pulling up all trip-related information from your inbox—hotel receipts, car reservations, maps, flight confirmations etc. The best part of the app is that it also works offline. Once you’ve downloaded everything onto your phone, you have access to all the necessary info no matter where you are so you don’t have to use an expensive international data plan. After signing in, the app will show you a list of upcoming and already completed trips. Tap into a future trip and discover a colorful grid with these options: Reservations This feature organizes your flights, hotel information and any rental car reservations you may have made. It puts all your reservations in one place. If you click on an upcoming flight, for example, it gives you the times plus the terminal and gate as available. For hotels and hostels, Trips also shows a map. Things to do This section is the heart of the app. It compiles user data and reviews to offer you a list of things to see in a city...

Virtual Veterans

With the help of virtual reality, aging veterans unable to travel can get up close and personal with far-flung war memorials. As the clock strikes 11:11am on Veterans Day, the sun aligns perfectly with the Anthem Veterans Memorial in Anthem Arizona. At the appointed hour, beams of light are funneled through the monument, casting a solar spotlight over The Great Seal of the United States. Surrounded by bricks inscribed with the names of over 750 servicemen, for that one moment the seal glows on the ground, gleaming up from the shadows cast by the shrine’s five marble pillars. While thousands of visitors make the trek each year to watch the transformation live, for many aging veterans the trip is not an option. Failing health and lack of finances make travel prohibitive for many seniors. Thankfully, advances in virtual reality can now help housebound adults explore the world from the comfort of their armchair. “They can be feet away from them again, in full glory, and feel like they’re there with them,” says Sarah Hill, the co-founder of Honor Everywhere, a nonprofit organization to helping veterans see the memorials erected in their honor – either in person or via virtual reality. Losing History The average age of US soldiers during the Vietnam War was 22, and so many of that war’s former combatants are currently nearing retirement age. In addition, in the last 14 years, Vietnam veterans are dying at a rate of 390 per year. For World War II era veterans the numbers are even more staggering: 500 deaths a day and with the US Department of Veterans Affairs estimating that only 620,000 of the 16 million servicemen and women were still alive in 2016.  With an average age of 92, most of the...

Colorful Surface

Microsoft’s Surface lineup welcomed its newest computer, the Surface Laptop, the company’s direct answer to the MacBook. The new flagship device for Windows 10 S was designed with college students in mind. It will sell starting at $999 (upgraded versions will costs as much as $2,199) and will begin shipping on June 15. The new device doesn’t hold any records—it’s not the thinnest nor lightest out there, but its 0.6-inch thickness and 2.74-pound weight make it an easy burden to carry around. The Surface laptop doesn’t bring any novelties either, it’s a Microsoft PC with the Surface branding. The overall design makes you think more about a MacBook-style notebook rather than a Microsoft’s Surface Book—the screen is not detachable and the hinges are not supposed to be seen. In fact, the Surface Laptop feels to be geared toward Apple customers more than anyone else. It will be available in four colors—burgundy, graphite gold, platinum and cobalt blue—the burgundy and blue versions are special in a way that will immediately stand out. Out stands the cloth-like Alcantara fabric, brought from Italy and is laser cut to coat the palm rests and the space between the keys. Even though it’s not more luxurious than metal, its softness and warmth look appealing. How well will it stand the test of time? Remains to be seen. Tech-specs wise, one of the first things that catches your eye is its lack of ports (which seems to have turned into a trend lately): the headphone jack is still there, next to an USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort. But that’s it, Microsoft decided that the USB-C doesn’t have a place there, nor does Thunderbolt 3. One cool thing is that it doesn’t have any visible speaker grilles or holes,...

Ransomware Rundown

Though some experts predicted the final payoff would hit one billion dollars, Friday’s ransomware attack – believed to be one of the largest ever perpetrated – ended with a fizzle over the weekend with the hackers barely pulling in $26,000 before being  temporarily stopped in their tracks by an anonymous cyber security expert. Summarizing the situation Monday morning, Jan Op Gen Oorth, senior spokesman for Europol, told the AFP, “The number of victims appears not to have gone up and so far the situation seems stable in Europe, which is a success.” “It seems that a lot of internet security guys over the weekend did their homework and ran the security software updates.” A Simple Fix According to Gizmodo the damage was mitigated, in part, due to the quick action of an “anonymous 26-year-old security researcher” named MalwareTech, who managed to temporarily slow the spread of the ransomware attack late Friday. After discovering the domain name associated with the ransomware, iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwe- a.com was available for purchase for just $10.69, MalwareTech bought the domain and halted the attack. “Initially someone had reported the wrong way round that we had caused the infection by registering the domain, so I had a mini freak out until I realized it was actually the other way around and we had stopped it,” MalwareTech told The Guardian. According to Matthieu Suiche, founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, MaltechWare’s registration of the domain stopped the malware from spreading throughout the US. “The kill switch is why the U.S. hasn’t been touched so far,” he told the New York Times on Saturday. “But it’s only temporary. All the attackers would have to do is create a variant of the hack with a different domain name. I would expect them to do that.” A Global Attack The flurry of ransomware attacks shut down several...

Smarter Buildings

Energy management software not only reduces waste and electricity costs, it can also provide responsive, optimized energy solutions for smarter, more efficient buildings. For owners and operators of smart buildings, energy management data can be an embarrassment of riches. The latest technologies allow for tracking of even the smallest detail, from occupancy averages to temperature adjustments of less than one degree. It’s what Matt Eggers describes as “savings by shavings,” and while the level of control can result in significantly smaller utility bills, information overload and lack of consistency can undermine even the most committed energy efficiency strategy. “You can’t expect humans to be sitting at a computer constantly responding to 10th of a degree temperature adjustments and other minutia,” Eggers declared during a recent Realcomm Webinar on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, “but energy management software can handle the task.” “Buildings are complicated, but in the future intelligent software systems will allow for really dramatic savings by optimizing building information for best performance.” Data Captured Equals Dollars Saved Many building owners and operators fail to take full advantage of the phenomenal amount of performance data available in relation to energy use and overall operations. The latest energy management software aims to make all those facts and figures easily digestible to enable the creation of individualized and effective energy efficiency benchmarks and strategies. The panelists agree we are headed into a new era of comprehensive energy data collection and management. All that information has already resulted in real, quantifiable savings, with some buildings reducing energy costs by tens of thousands of dollars. “This [energy information] results in real dollars saved,” said Rob Hamon Director, Energy and Sustainability, Boxer Property during the Realcomm webinar. “Efficiency gains accumulate as we see connections amongst the data.” “This isn’t...

Self-Driving Taxis

Once found only in science fiction, self-driving cars are about to show up on a street near you. Goldman Sachs estimates that the market for advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicles is expected to grow from roughly $3 billion in 2015 to $96 billion in 2025 and balloon to $290 billion in 2035. When two giants meet and start planning together, the world expects great things. One such collaboration, between Daimler — the world’s largest maker of premium cars, and Bosch — the world’s largest automotive supplier, is poised to bring a major change to the auto industry. The two companies are teaming up to develop self-driving cars and speed up the normalization of “robo-taxis.” The fully automated vehicle is planned to be ready for use in urban markets in the early 2020s, the companies say. The autonomous driving system will be designed for city driving. The expectation is that self-driving taxis will improve traffic flows in cities and road safety. The development alliance is on a mission to create a system for fully automated Level 4 and driverless Level 5 vehicles. The Society of Automotive Engineers has defined five levels of driving automation: Level 4 means the car assumes all of the driving in many conditions — it could drive fully autonomously in specific geographic locations, such as a certain route in a city center, or in certain weather conditions. Level 5 is reached when the vehicle can operate in all conditions, without requiring any human intervention at any time. Daimler, through its passenger car brand Mercedes-Benz, has been working on autonomous vehicles for years. At the same time, the company keeps a close eye on the growing group of people who would rather use public transportation and car-sharing than own a car....

Bright Ideas

Energy efficiency remains a largely untapped resource for commercial buildings.  The challenges involved in finding, interpreting and benefiting from data about energy consumption, which represents one of a building manager’s biggest budget items, were the focus of a recent webinar hosted by Realcomm. The instructors for “Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Technology Helping to Set New Benchmarks,” including Yardi Energy’s Matt Eggers, addressed the complexities of determining how much heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) a building needs at any given moment, taking into account occupancy levels, tenant comfort, weather and other factors.  Manually attempting to monitor and react to thousands of constantly changing HVAC data points isn’t feasible for even the best building engineers, according to Eggers, vice president of energy management for Yardi. Additional hurdles to devising a viable building (or portfolio) energy consumption strategy, the instructors noted, include high expectations from tenants and stakeholders; extreme, often unmanageable volumes of data; specialized skills needed for energy management; and diminishing returns after the easy fixes have been made. That’s where dedicated HVAC software platforms come in.  Intelligent optimization systems continuously monitor HVAC performance in real time to allow temperature adjustments—sometimes by a tenth of a degree—that optimize energy performance without compromising building occupants’ comfort, Eggers noted.  This strategy employs “more power tools, not hand tools,” he said, which means automating monitoring and adjustments, a vastly more efficient approach than manually tracking rooms and office space occupancy, water leaks and other malfunctions—not to mention determining the proper fraction of a degree adjustment. Platforms from expert software providers also eliminate the need for specialized maintenance and programming skills.  The ultimate outcome of intelligent HVAC control, he said, is to “continuously optimize energy to keep comfort where you want it.” Building owners and operators who traditionally value...

Grid-Sized Storage

Late last month, Southern California Edison switched on its newest substations, an 80MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility that will manage peak demand and improve grid reliability. Just off Interstate 15, nestled in the heart of California’s Riverside County, one of the world’s biggest energy storage projects recently roared to life. Part of a collaboration between Tesla and Southern California Edison (SCE), the installation at the Mira Loma substation will be used to manage peak energy demand and stabilize the grid. “Upon completion, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world,” declares a Tesla blog post announcing the project. “When fully charged, this system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles.” Managing Peak Energy The Mira Loma project is one of the first to use Tesla’s new Powerpack 2 for utility-scale energy storage. With an 80 MWh capacity, the 400 Powerpacks will allow SCE to manage energy use during peak hours. The Powerpacks will be charged with electricity generated during off-peak hours and then supplement demand during periods of peak demand. This process will not only save energy; it will allow SCE to maintain grid reliability, deliver better power quality to customers and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. “The system will charge using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of Southern California Edison’s electrical infrastructure which feeds more than 15 million residents,” explains the Tesla statement. “By doing so, the Tesla Powerpack system will reduce the need for electricity generated by natural gas and further the advancement of a resilient and modern grid.” Future Expansion Larger utility-scale energy storage projects are already in the works...

Smart Tattoos

Everyday technology  devices have now become so small that that can be embedded into fabrics, worn as accessories or be attached directly to the user’s body on skin. Your next tattoo could be also functional besides aesthetic. Such “epidermal electronics” are promising, they expand the sensing modalities of current mobile and wearable devices by sitting directly on skin, which facilitates direct access to users’ biomedical signals. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices through touch. The team, together with Microsoft Research, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like the gold and silver flash tattoos that are popular mostly at music festivals. DuoSkin is made from gold metal leaf, which is a conductive material that can interact with an electronic circuit that respond to touch. Pretty cool, right? Researches devised three different ways in which the DuoSkin can be used, including as input devices that can turn your skin into a trackpad, or a capacitive virtual control knob for adjusting volume on your connected device. First, they used it as an input device, specifically as a controller for a music player. They created design stencils of traditional use interfaces like buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. They also tried it as an input display that changes pigments, which change to one of its two states when heated beyond body temperature. Another function of these smart accessories is the interface as a wireless communication device that uses near field communication (NFC) tags, which means data can be sent from the tattoo to mobile phones with NFC capabilities. The team from MIT’s Media Lab, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao together with Microsoft Research also made them possible to be worn as jewelries and tried embedding LED...