Posted in Computers and Technology

E-Communication Mania

It’s approximately 2pm on a Sunday and I have probably sent 50 e-messages today. This includes social media messages, text messaging and email. In comparison to other people, that is more than likely a very low number. Yet, it made me think about the high percentage of communication that is conducted electronically.

Instant Response Gratification

If I need to connect with a friend my preferred method of contact is always text. Calling is such a bother and once you get into a conversation the entire process is prolonged. Who has time for that? Plus, I usually get an instant response. Perfect. Sounds cold but this is true for most people. We talk when we meet – hopefully. None of us want to be one of those people constantly consulting their phone when meeting with friends or worse clients!

For business, my first choice is always email. Less of an instant response but the percentage is high that a response will be provided quickly. This is a bit more stressful because instant response gratification has become somewhat of a norm.

Social media is another good resource for “instant response gratification”. A post from a personal account almost always gets an instant like from someone. A post from a business account is hit or miss but it is more of a supplementary communication tool so it’s forgivable.

Still Writing Letters, but Watch your Etiquette!

Okay so now that we have established that e-communication is hot, how do we apply that favorably in order to streamline our work but avoid becoming robotic and impersonal? Everyone likes to get immediate feedback. Customers and candidates do not want to wait for an answer. That is the plus to communicating electronically. Everyone always seems to be available. The drawback is that it can lead to some confusion and lack of clarity. The positive is that it can lead to less confusion and more clarity. Huh?

Let’s break this apart. With the steady stream of messages, especially emails, many messages are missed just because everyone is dealing with high volume or they read between the lines of what is sent. The other caveat is that you always have to be careful of what you put in writing.

Everyone is not especially talented in the written word and how you communicate is always an indication of your professionalism or lack of. Grammar, spelling, and content should always be checked for correctness. In this hurried world, which is why we are communicating in this way to begin with, some of the basic rules of written communication are often violated.

It’s interesting because in days of old everyone wrote letters. Today we are back to writing letters it is simply that the delivery is much quicker. That being said, written communication is nothing new. The rules have not changed.

Have you ever sent an email to someone that should not have been on the recipient list because you mis-keyed and accidentally included them? This has happened to most of us and it’s not something that we are proud of. Apologies are usually in order but once the “send” button is pressed there is not much that can be done.

It is the same story with attachments. How many times has this happened? You boast a litany of reasons why the recipients need to check out the document as soon as possible only to have someone send you that dreaded message, “No attachment”. Ughh. Painful every time! Always attach before writing your message to help avoid this issue.

The problem with all electronic communication is that you cannot take it back, just like that letter or card you popped into the mailbox. That is why it is very important that you do some planning with every message that you write. Yes, every message. Even your personal Facebook® posts can have an impact on your business life.

Rules for Social Posts

What are some simple rules for social posts? Never post something that you would not be okay with “everyone” seeing. That includes your mom, your boss, your work colleagues, customers, etc. Everything is open game today. You may even be connected with some of your customers on your personal social media platforms. Pretty much it never goes away and there is opportunity for anyone to view. BCWYP – Be Careful What You Post!

Also be careful of what you share on social media. Some people share posts without even reading them. Read what you are sharing before you post to make sure it represents you and your company well. You would not want to share something that is not part of your belief and passion, therefore reading everything first is essential.

Although every company should have a written document on social media posting and make it clear to employees what is okay to post, some companies are lacking in this area. If you are unaware of what the posting policy is for your company, do not post on behalf of your company. It is very important that you are informed on what your company allows you to post when you are representing your company on social media or otherwise.

Keep it Beneficial and Interesting!

It is very plausible and even necessary to text and email with customers and candidates regularly. If you are not doing this you are missing out on a huge relationship-building medium. Keeping in touch electronically to make customers and candidates aware of opportunities and information that could benefit them is crucial. It is important to allow them to “opt out” and if they do, you should not message them again without first receiving permission.

With e-communication, keep people informed about your company and your products, but don’t overkill with a bunch of boring messages that are saying the same thing. Also, remember your social media and email etiquette. Don’t hound people that connect with you with constant and intrusive sales messages unless you want to be disconnected.

HVAC marketing program

Posted in Computers and Technology

Internet of Things for Industry and Home Automation

As the Internet of Things continues to gain traction and several new devices come in market, home automation has taken the spotlight. The concept of smart home has been there since a long time but some social issues are now being considered too. Smart homes are much more than the simple ability to remotely lock and unlock your front door. Instead it is expected to use actionable situation intelligence in order to detect your entry inside a building, turn on the lights to your pre-set preferences, preheat your stove and put on your favorite music.

Developer working on the IoT projects focus on finding compatibility between home deployment tools and the verticals attachable with them. Home automation requires 5 components to function:
– Sensor: measures temperature, light or motion detection
– Interface: human to machine or/and machine to machine
– Controller: a general purpose computer
– Bus: wired or wireless for transmitting instructions
– Actuator: motorized valves, light switches and motors

These components can be assembled in any manner through a central hub. As developers build systems that manage devices and sensor data, the opportunities are open when mastering the connectivity based on temperature, lighting, video, security, appliances and entertainment.

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Many categories of device and services lie under the IoT umbrella. Devices have a certain selection criteria, based on the following characteristics:
– Customer Oriented: These devices are marketed and sent to end users who need not have any technical expertise in using them.
– Always on: Designed to remain on and connected to the Net permanently.
– Useful for real-world impact: It contains the capability to interact with the environment.

Mobile Application Interface

Direct communication between mobile applications and a device makes it easier for users to control events. Security measures need to be followed, like checking whether all sensitive data sent between device and mobile applications are encrypted. Without adequate protection, sensitive data can be monitored by attackers by observing local network traffic. Also, test whether mobile applications employ TSL/SSL certificates.

Security and Privacy Concerns

As Developers continue to build out amazing applications and hardware for homes, security and privacy measures need to be followed as well. Privacy and Security are always at the forefront of design. Few key recommendations while developing a device include:
– Build security into devices at the outset, rather than as an afterthought
– Train employees about the importance security
– Monitor connected devices throughout their expected life cycle, and where possible, provide security patches to cover known risks

The future

Developers obviously have the best vantage point on how the future will shape out since they are the creators of the application. Every new invention comes from imagination. Through a series of universal standards, every device would add value to a person’s persona. Developers need to realize that next generation platforms need to be able to abstract devices so that on boarding is made simpler.

Posted in Computers and Technology

LED Screens Have Constantly Defined The Success In The Cluttered Consumer Market

In today’s trend, the advertising industry has emerged as one of the most advanced and constantly evolving components in today’s cluttered digital platform.

It has in fact remained as the most beneficial stand-point for many companies who attempt to advertise their products and services through different methods. In this particular advertising arena, the LED based advertising has also significantly grown metamorphic ally.

The LED based advertising in the format of LED billboard has been predominantly used by more and more advertisers and a plethora of brand owners.

Technical view point of LED Screens

  • Pixel resolution

Pixel resolution has been considered the most important structural component of LED screens; the pixels have become the determinant factor for the following:Pixel resolution has been an important component for the optimum viewing of the content by the prospective audience. The optimum viewing and the readability of the content is completely governed by the pixel resolution. The pixel resolution to a great extent depends completely on the diodes which are present in the LED screen.

  • What are the parameters to choose the best pixel pitch size?

Like as mentioned above about pixel resolution, the pixel pitch can be considered as an important parameter for the effective viewing experience. The pixel pitch becomes the distance between each LED cluster that makes the pixel and the amount of pixel pitch becomes the ardent factor for the costing of the LED screen.One can say that if the pixel pitches are small it caters to the less audience and greater the pixel pitches, more the visibility to the vast audience. Furthermore, you can probably increase the pixel pitch depending upon the readability of the audience over the contents which is being fed onto it.

As a classic example, of a P10 pixel module, if there is a 10 mm gap between pixels, one can estimate that it uses 4 times as many LEDs as a P 20 pixel module and that is the reason how pixel pitch becomes a huge impact on the pricing.

  • The prominence of pixel pitch towards the resolution of the screen

Pixel pitch predominantly affects the resolution of the screen and the optimum viewing experience by the targeted audience. However, there are two main components in LED screens which make it an essential component viz. the SMD and DIP LEDs

  • The SMD LED also termed as the surface mount device light emitting diode, has been a type of LED module that significantly uses the surface-mount technology (SMT) which could mount the LED chips on to the printed circuit boards (PCB’s). The SMD LED’s have been the self-contained surface-mounted LED device that has a capacity to function on its own or get plugged to any compatible unit.
  • DIP or the Dual in-line package) LEDs, have been used as a traditional LED lights, the DIP LED have been principally using the chip which is encased in a hard plastic and generally used with 2 straight parallel connecting pins. The DIP chips have been still used today but have been deployed with lower efficiency than the upcoming new LED chips which are commercially used in the modern day applications.

The resolution in a LED is generally measured in lumens and one can typically understand that a LED DIP chip could produce around 4 lumens per LED which is significantly far less than the newer chips.Benefits of LED screens

  • LED Screens have been a very portable component which could be plugged onto the laptops or the PC so that your content for the advertisements can be easily managed.
  • LED Screens have been an effective instrument for most of the advertisers as they can project their product info through the LED screens.
  • Since the LED Screens use the diodes, it simply helps in for the energy conservation, which uses less power for more picture output.
  • LED Screens can be plugged onto the laptop as mentioned above and thereby brings about a significant impact on the product video which is streamed.

They have been the benchmarks for certain trade conferences and the exhibitions and they have been constantly enticing the audience towards the product presentations with appropriate description through audio presentation.

Posted in Computers and Technology

Choosing the Ideal Power Bank

There are many names that can be used to refer to a portable battery and they include power backup, pocket power cells, fuel banks, portable chargers, battery packs and so on. Regardless of what you decide to call them, they are still the same thing. The aim is to charge the tablet or phone without necessarily having a power outlet.

They come in all sizes. There are smaller sizes that are ideal for the smartphones and the bigger sizes that can cater multiple charges and are ideal for charging your tablet.

There are some that have cables while yet others include multiple ports to allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time.

For smartphones and tablets

There are many reasons as to why you need a portable battery for your gadgets. The most important one is how life is made easier by using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. When they run out of power, they become useless to us until we power up again.

If you have a one, you will enjoy a lightweight charging option on the go. You only need to have it pre-charged and then you can connect it to the phone when the need arises. After you invest in the best one, then you will not have to worry about dealing with a low battery at all.

Choosing the ideal one

There are some tips that can help you in getting the ideal option for all your needs. There are many things to consider and they include:

  • The size: this is not about how well it fits the pocket. It is about the power that can be carried within. Many of the options available usually has a number at the front that lets you know about mAh. This means milliamp-hour. When the number is higher, it means there is more power stored within and mire recharges doe the smartphone. Bigger mAh is also ideal for the bigger gadgets.
  • Power output: you need to consider how fast you will be able to charge your gadget using the alternative charging. It is important to be able to charge the phone/tablet as fast as possible. Your standard USB port on the component can fit the standard cable. However, it is important to know that the transmission can vary a great deal, depending on what you use.
  • Number of ports: this has to be considered especially if you will need to charge more that one device at a time. When it has a bigger battery, then you will discover that it may have more parts to make it possible to charge more than one phone or multiple gadgets at a time.
  • Cable: Each device has to come with a cable to facilitate charging. This can be a USB standard cable or the micro USB cable. It is important to know that it has to be charged beforehand. Some come with extra cables. This can be an important addition as it can help if you need to charge multiple devices at the same time.
Posted in Computers and Technology

Top Logistics Company – New Technological Advancements

Living in a hyper-connected logistics industry, it is hard to ascertain the types of new technological advancements that will take place to reduce the cost and time of big business houses. In this modern era where every role and functions are transferring from humanoids to robots, a third-party logistics company will have to start working on these aspects to gain the productivity.

With the growth in the logistics landscape, there are few technologies that are likely to impact the industry in some way or another. Take a look at the below-mentioned advancements that are likely to star in near future.

More Use of RFID, AIDC, and Internet of Things

(AIDC) Automatic identification and data capture images, sounds or videos to read the items or objects. With this up gradation, it is easy to know real-time location of consignments, estimated time for the delivery or reasons for delayed shipment.

(RFID) Radio- Frequency Identification uses an electromagnetic field to identify or locate the ships with items. This method can easily fetch information or details about each and every transaction.

Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices that are embedded with sensors which enable easy fetch or exchange of data of devices.

The above advancements will help to reduce the downtime by enhancing the workflow of shipment to meet the customer’s, and provider’s demand.

Acceptance of Bluetooth

With non-data -driven (Without internet packs or data) approach by third-party logistics company it will be easy to identify the real-time information of any transaction or activity taking place.

This technique is not only effective but less laborious as well. It can help to identify the shipments or consignments taking place to meet the requirements of customers duly.

Emergence of the E-Commerce and Omni Channel Solutions

The demand for strong online presence will also grow in this industry. A top logistics company will have to work on more of strategies that can satisfy the consumer online. From Omni- channel the focus will be laid upon the value of product or service not just only on the end products.

Currently, cloud-based platforms are the base for building customer’s interaction with businesses, in future more effective ways will be seen to have a strong connection with the potential users. Thus, businesses are required to focus on their online presence as well to gain the acceptance of the people.

Closing

From RFID enabled technology to growth of Omni channel measures, the improvement and growth will continue to cultivate or change in this industry. A top logistics company will have to focus on these imperative shifts to observe the needs of clients and respond back constructively.

Posted in Computers and Technology

Prediction of BYOD Boom by 2018

According to a report by the research organization Gartner, by 2018 70% of all professionals will be doing their business over personal smart devices. What does this mean to you — that by next year you could be one of the majority of workers working from your own smartphone or tablet. This concept has generally been referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

If this BYOD trend plays out as Gartner has predicted it will, this will mean some major changes in the workplace that could be difficult to implement at first, without causing unnecessary friction.

Whose Device is it Anyway?

It is easy to understand how this can be a welcome and implemented with many different employers — BYOD actually works well with lower infrastructure investments. Using BYOD, organizations can trust and even mandate that all employees take care of their own hardware considerations. If applied alongside UC networks with remote hosting, YOD could mean that many organizations won’t need to buy their own equipment anymore.

By the same measure there is another important point that needs to be considered before continuing with this frame of thought. This is the fact that many different organizations are still providing their employees with tablets and smartphones. This raises the question of whether or not this new workforce will be powered by organization owned equipment or personal devices.

It may be possible that they organizations and companies will be supplying these devices, nevertheless they will still have more control over who is allowed to access these networks. This in itself can help to reduce the frequency and quantity of security breaches.

Security Concerns- Will Organizations Still Invest in Hardware?

Concerning network security if companies do include BYOD practices in their employment techniques they do exercise more control over what is accessing their networks. This brings up another question of whether the employees of a company will want to submit their personal devices to corporate regulations, or if they would even want to use company infrastructure.

But as long as there is a threat of hackers targeting personal devices and company networks this will be a persistent concern and one that will cause organizations and to look for better hardware options, like the BYOD.

What Sort of Work’s Being Done?

The proponents of a massive BYOD push seem to be prevaricating around the question of whether or not employees can ven process all their work over these devices. While these devices have been found capable of handling all sorts of important organizational tasks, they are still sadly lacking in their capacity to address regular business work like data entry and designs. Whether or not YOD will actually be able to take its place in the workplace as predicted by the Gartner Company, will largely depend on how these devices are developed and created in the near future.

If BYOD is ever able to grow to the capacity that Gartner suggested will really depend on the capacity these devices have to grow or the development of peripheral features or the creation of hybrid devices capable of greater workloads.

The great advances made in software technology is really irrelevant if these devices lack the capacity to operate them.

So, in the end it does seem like a BYOD future is on the horizon — nevertheless, the day that these current options will be able to completely replace the various computers and laptops in use today is still a long way off. It is also unrealistic to assume that the day companies will not have to be maintaining the devices on which their business relies is also far off.

The whole playing field and key players will have to be taken in and upgraded before this dream can be made a reality.

Posted in Computers and Technology

How Technology Lies to You Everyday

Ever notice the media via TV, laptop, TABs and other digital gadgets is full of negative content? How is the media feeding this negativity to us and how is it lying on a daily basis? Read on to find out.

Consider the following options and justify:

1) Murder/Crime

Murder, kidnapping and ransoming are bold news in the media which scares the death out of us and make us want to think negative about our environment and the world.

2) Theft/Robbery

Theft – trivial or big – does happen. More of it happens in underdeveloped countries. Robberies are equally rampant and sometimes they are thoroughly planned and executed so that it takes times to find out the suspects and culprits behind the action. These are highlighted in the media, making us feel insecure.

3) Bankruptcies

Once in a while bankruptcies do happen and they become hot news in the media, damaging the image and reputation of the banks.

4) Global warming

Global warming is an issue taken up since the late eighties. Chlorofluorocarbons (or CFC’s) from industrial smoke and exhaust fumes from running vehicles on the streets seems to be the cause of the problem by depleting the ozone layer much higher up in the sky, letting in UV rays of the sun to reach us, which is dangerous for us, by warming up the global temperature so that after a specific time, a situation will arise when we will find it difficult to breathe. This is the scenario given to us since the late eighties and covers a lot on the media.

5) Shortage of natural resources

One day the natural resources on this earth will run out and we will face problems, leading us to a slow death. This is also the scenario the media wants to present to us.

6) War

Bombshells, wounded people and dead bodies in war-going countries are shown on media giving us the impression there isn’t any peace in the world.

7) Rape

Rape will always be an issue where slender and beautiful women are concerned. But the media exaggerates a bit more to make juicy stories.

Summing up, none of the news in the media does us any good other than make us think in negative terms. The media is simply lying to us.

There are cases of crimes, murders, robberies and thefts all around the earth. But there is also good happening in the world. For instance, more and more people are getting interested in self-development, bettering themselves and contributing positively to the world.

Bankruptcies do happen but we do not have to fear every time we invest in banks because the governments and the good people out there are willing to help. In most cases, even if they do happen, we will get back what we deserve.

As I said, global warming is an issue since the late eighties. Why worry about it and not concentrate on positive things around us for instance, a mug of Starbucks coffee, a bouquet of roses from your latest crush or to and fro rides on a swing at the nearest local park?

So someday there will be a shortage of natural resources. That someday hasn’t arrived yet. So why bother? Instead enjoy the mojo of life by sharing jokes and anecdotes with friends and colleagues. Have an abundant mindset and tap into the abundance of vast resources of this life.

There will be unrest and war in the world. So if we have freedom and peace, so why let the news make us feel negative? Why not reach out to the world with your inspiring messages and write self-help books in addition to the books in your niche for the greater good of humanity?

The rape of young and beautiful women will occur in the harshness of this world. But they can escape it by being cautious, candid and playing safe. It is not an issue for us to worry at all. We live in a secure place on this earth. We have homes with security alarms/watchmen. So long we are careful, the thought of rape shouldn’t make us feel insecure. We can drive to places we want and mingle with people we want but we just need to know how to be safe and secure and keep our wits.

So all the negativity in the media via the technology of TV, laptops, iPads, TABs etc. bombarded to us shouldn’t affect us negatively too. At least we shouldn’t allow it. There is much good, hope, magic and happiness out there to make us feel positive and uplifted so that we can work with Technology in empowering ways.

Posted in Computers and Technology

Moving to the Cloud

Moving to the Cloud can mean making huge changes for any business. These changes have been recognized today by many organizations from Tech start-up’s to urban and small town businesses.

In 2016, 77 percent of companies had planned to increase their cloud security expenditures for mobile and cloud-based services. By 2018, at least 30% of service-centric companies will move the majority of their ERP applications to the cloud which makes the current situation a right time to switch to cloud. By 2020, cloud computing will cross the $270 billion mark. “Going on the Cloud” is redefining how many businesses approach their Business. But what about the organizations are still confused whether they should move to the cloud or not. Here are some reasons why everyone should consider mid=gerating to the Cloud:

1. Clouds come at Lower costs

One of the most principal reason to move to the cloud is that is can provide significant savings to the business. As cloud computing utilizes hardware which results in an increase in Virtualization that means that business can divulge in more in less cost. This also results in a decrease in rack space, power usage and IT requirements for these businesses which means that there is low installation costs, maintenance, and support costs. These savings are invaluable for any business whether large or small.

2. Effective collaboration

Cloud makes collaboration a lot easier. The ability to save and access files makes the outcome the work much faster and easier. This leads to great workspace collaboration. Not only this, it has also helped to track and mange a day to day business operation which ultimately leads to higher efficiency.

3. It gives a boost to flexibility

One of the most attracting benefits of going on the cloud is that it helps to access work related files anywhere possible. In today’s Mobile generations it is a huge advantage. Gone are those days when the files were stuck on a single server and could be accessed for workplace only. This has led to a great amount of flexibility to working arrangements and has made it easier for employees to work outside of the office.

Also, an increase in the mobility and flexibility in the cloud can lead to additional cost savings for the organization and employees are more comfortable on working on those devices that they are comfortable with be it a mobile, tablet or a laptop.

4. It results in Greater integration

Deciding to move your business on cloud can result in a creation of multiple opportunities for integration. You have the decision making power to work with multiple cloud based providers. Since this integration means all the departments of your business correlating together and an increase in your business efficiency which therefore results to having more time to focus on critical areas of business.

The big question is how to you manage your entire business structure on the basis of the new systems when you have switched to the cloud and how you can optimize the organization performance to your optimum benefits?”

The solution to this big question is: Managed Cloud Services.

The managed-services market is expected to see a growth of $193 billion by the year 2020. But the big question lies what is it about this particular business model that is so wildly successful? It seems a large percentage of small- and medium-sized businesses are very much in favour of these services, and there are a number of good reasons why?

Why the Demand for Managed Services?

We have already established that business owners are drawn to get managed-services for their business model, but why is it so? What is it that owners are hoping to get such services for their business? Research shows that Business owners are looking for a wide range of benefits when they opt for a managed services model, and what they aim from them is:

· To drastically improve the capability and consistency of their IT operations.

· Enhance their server security and compliance.

· Be Proactive towards their server maintenance.

· Main goal is that is should be Cost effective and a good return on investment.

· Less load on IT staff so that they can focus on other strategic projects.

· Have prompt access to new technologies.

Posted in Computers and Technology

Improvements In Machine Vision Enhance Border Surveillance

Tactical infrastructure such as fencing, roads, and lighting is critical to securing a nation’s border. But it alone is not enough to prevent the unlawful movement of people and contraband into a country.

“Technology is the primary driver of all land, maritime, and air domain awareness – this will become only more apparent as [U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)] faces future threats,” according to testimony from CBP officials at a Senate hearing on homeland security in 2015.

And machine vision’s fingerprints are all over that technology. “The information obtained from fixed and mobile surveillance systems, ground sensors, imaging systems, and other advanced technologies enhances situational awareness and better enables CBP to detect, identify, monitor, and appropriately respond to threats in the nation’s border regions,” the testimony states.

At the U.S.-Mexico border in the state of Arizona, for example, Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems persistently detect and track so-called “items of interest.” Built to withstand its harsh desert surroundings, IFT is equipped with radar, commercial off-the-shelf daylight cameras and thermal imaging sensors, and microwave transmitters that send data to border agents at the Nogales station for analysis and decision-making.

On all three fronts of land, maritime, and aerial surveillance, machine vision companies are providing imaging systems – and, more frequently, analysis of the generated data – that meet government agencies’ objectives of flexibility, cost effectiveness, and easy deployment in border security applications.

Managing Diverse Conditions

The perennial problem with vision systems used in border surveillance applications is managing the diversity of an outdoor environment with its fluctuating lighting and weather conditions, as well as varied terrain. Despite the challenges, “there are places where you can implement controls to improve upon the intelligence of the system,” says Dr. Rex Lee, president and CEO of Pyramid Imaging (Tampa, Florida). He points to customers who monitor trains along the southern border of the U.S. for illegal passengers.

“Those trains have to go under a trellis, which can be equipped with the appropriate sensors and lighting to help inspect the trains,” Dr. Lee says. Government agencies tasked with border security use infrared cameras to detect targets at night and in other low-light conditions, but thermal imaging has its limits, too. “Infrared cameras work really well when you can use them in high-contrast conditions,” Dr. Lee says. “But if you’re trying to pick up a human at 98.6°F on a desert floor that is 100°F, the desert is emitting radiation at nearly the same part of the spectrum. So customers rely on other parts of the spectrum such as shortwave infrared (SWIR) to try to catch the difference.”

Infrared imaging works well in monitoring motorized watercraft since the boat’s engine has a thermal signature. “What’s nice about water is that it’s relatively uniform and it’s easy to ‘wash out’ that background and see anomalies,” Dr. Lee says.

But the problem is that the oceans present a vast amount of area to cover. Says Dr. Lee, “To see all of it is a compromise between having a whole bunch of systems monitoring the water or systems that are high in the sky, in which case you have the problem of seeing something really tiny in a very large overall view.”

CMOS Surpasses CCD

One key change in imaging systems used in border surveillance applications is the shift from CCD to CMOS sensors because the latter is surpassing the quality and performance of the former. To accommodate this change, two years ago Adimec Advanced Image Systems bv (Eindhoven, the Netherlands) integrated the latest generation of CMOS image sensors – which offer significant improvements in image quality and sensitivity – into its TMX series of rugged commercial off-the-shelf cameras for high-end security applications. TMX cameras maintain a maximum frame rate of 60 fps or 30 fps for RGB color images at full HD resolution.

Furthermore, CMOS image sensors are emerging as a replacement for electron-multiplying CCDs (EMCCDs), says Leon van Rooijen, Business Line Director Global Security at Adimec. Thanks to their superior performance over CCDs in low-light conditions, EMCCDs often are deployed in applications like harbor or coastal surveillance.

But EMCCDs have distinct disadvantages. For example, an EMCCD needs to be cooled in order to deliver the best performance. “That is quite some challenge in the sense of integrating power consumption and also the fact that you need to provide high voltage to the sensors,” van Rooijen says. “And if you need to have systems operating for a long duration without maintenance, an EMCCD is not the best solution.”

To solve these challenges, Adimec is working on image processing “to get the most out of the latest generation CMOS to come closer to the performance global security customers are used to with EMCCD without all the downsides of the cost, integration, and reliability,” van Rooijen says.

Adimec also is tackling the challenge of mitigating the turbulence that occurs with border surveillance systems over very long ranges, particularly as systems that were using analog video are now taking steps toward higher resolution imaging to cover the larger areas.

“When imaging at long range, you have atmospheric turbulence by the heat rising from the ground, and on sea level, rising or evaporated water creates problems in terms of the haze,” van Rooijen says. “We will show turbulence mitigation in the low-latency hardware embedded in our platform and will work with system integrators to optimize it for land and sea applications because they have the biggest issues with turbulence.”

More Than Pictures

Like machine vision systems deployed in industrial applications, border security systems generate a lot of data that requires analysis. “The surveillance industry traditionally has been a little slower to incorporate analytics,” says Dr. Lee of Pyramid Imaging. “We see significant opportunity there and have been working with some of our customers so that analytics are more automated in terms of what is being detected and to analyze that intrusion, and then be able to take a proper response.”

Some companies have developed software that identifies anomalies in persistent monitoring. For example, if a passenger at the airport suddenly abandons a suitcase, the software will detect that the object is unattended as everything else around it continues to move.

Even with robust vision-based surveillance capabilities at all points of entry, U.S. border patrol and homeland security have to contend with a much bigger threat. “The United States does a pretty good job checking people coming in, but we do a really poor job knowing if they ever leave,” Dr. Lee says. “We know how to solve that problem using technology, but that creates its own problems.

“The best place to do this is at the x-ray machines in the TSA line, where you can have a mechanism to record everybody,” Dr. Lee continues. “But that is going to be expensive because you have to do this at every airport in the United States. Monitoring and recording slows things down, and TSA is under a lot of pressure to speed things up.” Another surveillance option that government agencies have discussed is taking noncontact fingerprints at TSA every time someone flies. “Much of the American public won’t tolerate that,” Dr. Lee says. “They are going to argue that fingerprinting is too much government oversight, and that will result in a lot of pressure and pushback.”

Still, in polls taken over the past decade, Americans recognize the need to secure ports of entry. Machine vision will continue to provide, and improve upon, that service, thanks to CMOS performance, new techniques to mitigate diverse environmental conditions, and the continued automation of analytics.

Posted in Computers and Technology

3-D Printing Could Make Your Next Home 40% Cheaper

My father’s dream was to build his own house.

However, building a house in India was an incredibly complicated affair.

First, you had to buy a plot of land. Next, you had to get an allocation from the government for all the materials you needed to make a house – cement, steel rebar, piping, you name it.

It was all in short supply because of India’s socialist economy, along with a quota system to dole out the limited quantities then available. And then to get your water, sewage and electricity connected… that was yet another ordeal.

Simply getting all this together was an enormous effort that took years. Of course, there was an easier way…

You hired a “fixer.”

In India, and anywhere else with a dysfunctional bureaucracy, a fixer is someone who knows all the right people. He greases someone’s palm over here and trades a favor with someone else over there to get things done.

With a fixer, what might have taken two or three years instead took just a few months.

Still, with all that, the house my father built took years to finish. However, today, a new technology is emerging that can shrink build times and make constructing a home much cheaper.

The Incredible Costs of Rebuilding

That technology is 3-D printing.

And this technology may suddenly become mainstream because of the incredible damage to housing that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have done in 2017.

Harvey is estimated to have completely destroyed 12,700 homes.

Irma is estimated to have destroyed 25% of all homes in the Florida Keys.

Maria is estimated to have caused damage worth as much as $30 billion across the Caribbean.

Dominica, an island that I’ve been to go hiking and canyoning, experienced a near 100% loss of houses and buildings. It’s unlikely that Dominica can afford to reconstruct itself using the old-fashioned, traditional way of building houses and buildings. It would cost too much money, and it would take too long.

However, Cazza, a 3-D printing company, could have a solution.

Using Cazza’s X1 robot, 3-D printed buildings like houses, villas, shelters, warehouses and commercial buildings can go up in as little as one week.

Cazza believes that using its 3-D printing technology will save as much 40% on the old, traditional ways of building.

That’s a $20,000 savings on a house that costs $50,000 to put up. And remember, the 3-D printed model gets you your house in a week instead of months or years.

The current estimate for the still-incomplete hurricane season is already as much as $340 billion.

If you assume that 30% of this damage is destroyed homes and buildings, implementing 3-D printing technology like the Cazza X1 to rebuild will save as much as $40.8 billion. That’s a big deal.

This is why I’m watching the 3-D printing technology used on homes and buildings carefully. Because, in time, the techniques used to rebuild from disasters are also going to be used to make regular homes less expensive too. And the company that makes the 3-D printing technology is going to have a stock that soars for years.