By: Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

IOTThe world is full of connected devices – and more are coming. In 2017, there were an estimated 8.4 billion internet-enabled thermostats, cameras, streetlights and other electronics. By 2020 that number could exceed 20 billion, and by 2030 there could be 500 billion or more. Because they’ll all be online all the time, each of those devices – whether a voice-recognition personal assistant or a pay-by-phone parking meter or a temperature sensor deep in an industrial robot – will be vulnerable to a cyberattack and could even be part of one.

Today, many “smart” internet-connected devices are made by large companies with well-known brand names, like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, which have both the technological systems and the marketing incentive to fix any security problems quickly. But that’s not the case in the increasingly crowded world of smaller internet-enabled devices, like light bulbs, doorbells and even packages shipped by UPS. Those devices – and their digital “brains” – are typically made by unknown companies, many in developing countries, without the funds or ability – or the brand-recognition need – to incorporate strong security features.


Researchers have created a small, thin, biodegradable sensor that could monitor the temperature of food in transit.

Microsensors are already used in many different applications today, such as the detection of poisonous gases. They are also part of miniaturized transmitter/receiver systems, such as the ubiquitous RFID chips.

As the sensors often contain precious metals that are harmful to both the environment and human health, however, they are not suitable for medical applications involving direct contact with the human body or for inclusion in food products. There is therefore a high level of interest, both in research and industry, in developing microsensors made from non-toxic materials that are also biodegradable.


BatteryThe consumer demand for seamless, integrated technology is on the rise, and with it grows the Internet of Things, which is expected to grow to a multitrillion-dollar market by 2020. But in order to develop a fully integrated electronic network, flexible, lightweight, rechargeable power sources will be required.

A team of researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology is looking to address that issue, developing inkjet-printed batteries that can be modified to fit devices of any shape and size. The team reports that the newly developed inks can be printed onto paper to create a new class of printed supercapacitors.

(READ: Rise of Cyber Attacks: Security in the Digital Age)

This from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology:

The process involves using a conventional inkjet printer to print a preparatory coating—a ‘wood cellulose-based nanomat’—onto a normal piece of A4 paper. Next, an ink of activated carbon and single-walled nanotubes is printed onto the nanomat, followed by an ink made of silver nanowires in water. These two inks form the electrodes. Finally, an electrolyte ink—formed of an ionic liquid mixed with a polymer that changes its properties when exposed to ultraviolet light—is printed on top of the electrodes. The inks are exposed at various stages to ultraviolet irradiation and finally the whole assembly is sealed onto the piece of paper with an adhesive film.


Tiny Sensor Powered by Radio Waves

With smart technology on the rise, researchers are looking for ways to develop smaller sensors that can help building the landscape of the internet of things. However, this could potentially demand huge sums of power in an era where people are working hard to conserve energy. A research team from Eindhoven University of Technology may have found a solution to this problem with the development of their new extra-small, wireless sensors that are powered by radio waves that make up its wireless network.

With a router nearby, the tiny sensors can pull the necessary energy to give them functionality. The sensor is just 2 millimeters and can communicate temperatures.

This from Gizmodo:

Aboard the chip, a small antenna captures energy from the signals transmitted by the router. Once it’s charged, the sensor quickly switches on, measures the temperature, and then transmits a small signal for the router to detect. The frequency of the transmitted signal relates to the measured temperature.

Read the full article.

The researchers predict that the primary use for this sensor will be embedding the device within buildings to monitor conditions. Currently priced at 20 cents per sensor, researchers hope that with continued research, its potential could increase to detecting movement, light, and humidity.

The major issue right now lies in the fact that the sensor can only transmit its signal 2.5 centimeters. While the device is currently not practical, the team believes that its reach can grow to 16 feet with more research.

[Image: Eindhoven University of Technology]

Sensors Meet Sports: The ‘Smart’ Helmet

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid to player safety by using sensor technology.Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid in player safety by using sensor technology.
Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are not just interested in improving technology and creating innovative design, but rather they are determined to make us rethink the way the physical and digital world interact.

These students have spent months in the University’s Internet of Things Lab, where they work to measure, monitor and control the physical world by heightening its interaction with the Internet.

The main innovation that the lab has developed is a football helmet that can detect injuries.

Cross-disciplinary teams of students have come together to develop a high-tech football helmet that has brain wave probes and a device that measures acceleration forces, which gives the ability to detect concussions on the field and directly communicate the information to medical staff.