(CNS News) — In his latest report on federal government waste, a project he completes every year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) highlights $54.7 billion in government spending that he deems wasteful. Among the items noted this year is the creation of a $6.9 million “smart toilet,” which operates with three cameras, one of which can identify a user’s “analprint.”
As explained in The Festivus Report 2020, researchers at Stanford University used $6,973,057 in funds granted through the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create a so-called “smart toilet.”
The purpose of the toilet is to develop “easily deployable hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user’s excreta through data collection and models of human health,” state the researchers in an abstract.
“Each user of the toilet is identified through their fingerprint and the distinctive features of their anoderm [anus], and the data are securely stored and analysed in an encrypted cloud server,” state the researchers.
“The toilet operates with artificial intelligence, includes three cameras (including one video camera), and features a urinalysis strip,” according to the Festivus Report. “The toilet’s AI collects the health data and then stores it in a digital cloud system.”
For it to work, the “user would sit on the toilet, and the hardware’s three cameras would use ‘biometric identifiers to securely associate the collected data with the user’s identity,’ such as ‘fingerprinting and a distinctive method of using anal creases … referred to here as analprint,” states the report.
“That’s right!” it reads. “The toilet would use fingerprint technology and a photo of the user’s nether regions to identify the user, and the toilet’s in-bowl video camera would track various metrics, including the time between sitting and first bowel movement, and other metrics relevant to bowel health.”
Although this technology apparently is designed to help monitor a person’s health, Sen. Paul’s report notes that “no matter how good the technology is at achieving its goal, nobody is going to use a toilet that has three cameras and takes a video of the user’s ‘analprint’ to identify the user, never mind one that stores that data in a digital cloud that hackers could access.”
“Because that’s exactly what you want, right? A photo of you like that floating around in the cloud.”
The researchers are forgetting that “there’s a huge difference between video-chatting with your doctor so he or she can examine your tonsils and uploading your excrement into the cloud,” reads the report.
In a concluding comment on this $6,973,057 item, Sen. Paul says, “I’ll leave it to the researchers to explain to those afflicted with these illnesses and their loved ones why they used NCI money intended to develop non-invasive early cancer screening processes to design a toilet that nobody will use anyway.”
Building Solar Energy Monitoring Systems Using IoT – floLIVE
The global Energy market is going through substantial change, with renewable energy at an all-time high, and growing fast. While Asia-Pacific continues to dominate, interest in solar energy is growing all over the world.
According to Mordor Research, “the renewable energy installed capacity reached 2713.60 GW in 2019, and it is anticipated to reach approximately 4391.18 GW by 2026, at a CAGR of 7.13% during 2021-2026.” Below you can see how renewable energy is being adopted globally, proving that worldwide, solar power and sustainable energy solutions are a seriously hot topic. (No pun intended.) To understand more about how IoT is facilitating this growth, keep reading!
Solar Energy IoT and Smart Home Monitoring Systems
Integrating solar energy into smart homes is becoming more popular as solar panels continue to reduce in cost, but this can only happen if there are solar energy monitoring systems in place – and that’s where IoT comes in.
IoT can allow consumers and businesses to monitor the use of solar energy on a much more granular level, giving a better understanding over which appliances and services are the most energy efficient, how much power is being used, as well as insight into when and how.
For enterprises looking to facilitate and maintain solar panels and renewable energy, IoT can allow for remote maintenance, and even predictive analysis that drives down costs even further. Deep visibility can allow companies to decrease the stress on their equipment, better balancing energy loads, and alerting ahead of time to issues such as overheating.
Large-scale Solar Operations Need Remote Monitoring to Suit
While residential application is a large part of the drive to renewable energy, many energy companies are looking into increasing their solar farms, and managing power consumption and renewable energy on a much larger scale. Solar power production for energy companies can be improved exponentially with the help of IoT monitoring. As sensors become more affordable, and connectivity solutions evolve, enterprises could see huge benefits from IoT, without much risk to speak of. Here are four examples:
Maintenance: Traditionally, workers on a solar farm would need to locate and check every panel regularly to ensure that they are working as expected. These inspections can become a thing of the past when all your solar panels are connected to a centralized data source. In fact, when there’s a problem, your asset management system can let you know with a simple alert, freeing up your staff for higher value tasks. With predictive intelligence, you’re less likely to suffer as a result of outages or power issues.
Performance: By amalgamating the data that comes from your panels, grid managers will be able to spot anomalies such as solar panels or units that are under-performing, and even the reasons why, such as temperature, dust, or extreme weather conditions. Managers can then make smart changes, such as moving units, increasing the volume of cleaning, or making changes in insulation or alignment.
Security: Especially when solar panels and solar farms are in rural areas (often the case when it comes to renewable energy sources), it’s essential to have a monitoring system to keep them secure from physical theft, or even vandalism. With IoT sensors, you can establish rules for theft-related alerts, such as movement around the panels, or if a panel has been removed from the outer structure of the grid.
Forecasting: With business intelligence tools integrated into your IoT monitoring system, analytics can help you see true business growth at a much faster rate. For example, anticipate how much energy will be needed on a specific day, streamlining how much energy you use and conserve, respectively. This can improve the balance of supply and demand in the smart grid itself, saving serious zeroes off your bottom line.
When it Comes to Solar Energy… Not all IoT Technologies Are Created Equal
IoT monitoring systems have a few key needs, but top of the list is connectivity. However, this is not just any connectivity. As solar panels are often in rural areas, and sensors can often be manufactured in one location and sent to another where the energy grid is based, availability is a key issue to address first and foremost. There could be many thousands of panels or units on a large-scale solar farm, so price is also an important point to consider. One of the main contributors to cost is battery life, as the battery is often more expensive to replace than it would be to deploy new devices and sensors altogether.
LPWAN solutions and cellular IoT connectivity are a great fit for IoT monitoring in the Energy sector, with the packet size and data rates to meet these unique needs. floLIVE offers a one-of-a-kind solution in the form of software-defined connectivity, providing global connectivity through globally distributed core networks deployed in different regions. Each of these hosts a local IMSI, and they are centrally managed over the cloud. This unique approach has formed the world’s largest IMSI Library. In practice, this means that sensors can be manufactured anywhere, and IoT devices simply connect locally when they are turned on. This not only eliminates data privacy and security issues, but it also reduces the amount of time the IoT device has to be awake each time it transmits information, extending the lifespan of its battery overall.
Solar Power is the Future – and IoT Technology is Making That Happen
“The IEA expects solar energy to play the biggest role in jumpstarting fresh growth in global renewable energy because falling costs are already below retail electricity prices in most countries. The cost of solar power is expected to decline by a further 15% to 35% by 2024, spurring further growth over the second half of the decade.”
The world is ready for solar energy, but without an IoT solution in place for remote monitoring, the benefits are going to be limited for today’s enterprises.
Ready to discuss your roadmap for sustainable energy augmented by IoT technology? Let’s talk.
VW explains how the ID.4 electric SUV gets smart about coasting
Unlike most other electric cars, the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 doesn’t feature anything close to one-pedal driving, the aggressive use of regenerative braking that many electric-car fans are fond of.
And it’s for good reason, VW argues.
What happens when the driver of an electric car takes their foot off the accelerator pedal is a “difficult, philosophical question,” the automaker said in a press release Wednesday. VW believes the answer to that question is coasting.
In its default driving mode (which automatically activates on startup), the ID.4 coasts “in the majority of cases” when the driver lifts off the accelerator, VW said. That’s different from most electric cars, where lifting off the right pedal immediately triggers regenerative braking, recovering electricity and providing substantial deceleration.
The coasting function was designed to make driving more “predictable,” VW said. It may be a good strategy, as the ID.4 is being aimed at mass-market gasoline SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Less-aggressive regeneration (or recuperation, as VW likes to call it) could provide drivers switching from those vehicles with a more familiar experience.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 energy recuperation
The ID.4 does still use regenerative braking, but it activates when the driver steps on the brake pedal. The electric motor provides all braking up to about 0.25g of deceleration, according to VW, at which point the friction brakes activate. The braking control system was programmed to seamlessly blend regenerative and friction braking for consistent pedal feel, VW said.
The ID.4 also gets an Eco Assistance feature that pulls data from the navigation system and onboard sensors to improve efficiency. In certain low-speed situations, it will actually tell the driver to take their foot off the accelerator pedal, and use coasting and regenerative braking as needed, according to VW.
In addition, when drivers move the shifter from the default “D” to “B,” regenerative braking will activate as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator, VW said. However, deceleration is limited to 0.13g so that it “won’t confuse drivers of conventional internal-combustion engine vehicles,” the automaker noted.
VW’s cousin Porsche has opted for a similar approach in the Taycan. The automaker said last year that the Taycan doesn’t have one-pedal driving because it’s easier for drivers to control braking with just the pedal. Regenerative braking can also get in the way of quick lap times—an important consideration for the performance-oriented Porsche EV.
Where the Taycan is a high-end luxury car, the ID.4 is aimed at a more mainstream audience. Pricing for the initial rear-wheel drive, 250-mile, ID.4 Pro version starts at $41,190, while an upcoming all-wheel drive model will start at $44,890. Meanwhile VW also just announced that it has expanded availability of a special 1st Edition model. VW also plans to launch a $36,000 base model once local production starts in Chattanooga, Tennessee, next year.
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