Blog

3D printing facilities now available to ZSUT students and researchers

3D printing facilities are now available to ZSUT students and researchers. Our design and production workshop is equipped with a workstation running sophisticated 3D modelling software (also accessible from multiple remote terminals) and a 3D printer. The printer’s easily replaceable base plates allow for a “production run” of multiple objects to be efficiently organized. The 140x140x135 mm “build volume” is sufficient for our needs, but much larger shapes can be assembled from the printed parts, should such need arise. The facilities can be used for fast prototyping, giving a finishing touch to students’ diploma projects, and venturing into the realm of cyber-physical systems.

Some preliminary news from Mobile World Congress (MWC’19)

Between 25th and 28th of February, Mobile World Congress 2019, the biggest congress on telecommunications in the world, is being held in Barcelona. Almost all technological advancements, which are being deployed or will be deployed in the coming years, are presented by outstanding companies from all around the world.

The congress is strongly focused on the new 5G network and how the network should be deployed, so that it is not disruptive to current LTE/3G/WiFi networks. In fact, there is a strong push on networking self-management and integration of all wireless accesses to one managed access, so the future business will be on one access and several services, all of them softwarized at different levels.

Even if 5G itself is at the core of the congress, there are many companies showing applications to be deployed over the 5G network, with Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality and autonomic vehicles being the most impressive ones. Automatic robotics is being widely deployed with communication in the 5GHz and 5G mmWave bandwidth space. Aerial, maritime, and terrestrial autonomic vehicles have been deployed using the vehicle-to-infrastructure (also called vehicle-to-everything) v2x standard, which is in charge of controlling vehicles securely. This is in line with the vision of the physical world being beyond the control of a single vehicle.

There are many companies deploying advanced interfaces that ease human interaction with the digital world (say, with robots), with data (information everywhere), and even with the physical world, like interfaces for communicating with animals, integration of robotics in the human body, etc.

Another major area of interest is cybersecurity. This includes not only security issues of networking hardware, a topic that recently became relevant all over the world, but also integration of cybersecurity in small components and software, with related ethical dilemmas (e.g., how the human being should ultimately control the robots).

In conclusion, 5G, AI, interface-to-all, and security are the key topics at the most important commercial congress on telecommunications.

Exploring your family’s history can help you design better routing algorithms

Family ties in multi-generational families give rise to complex kinship graphs. These are stored and explored using dedicated techniques developed in the field of information technology (see, for example, the US patent https://patents.google.com/patent/US10025877B2).

But just as a family can be viewed as a graph, so (obviously) can a computer network. And finding the closest kinship connection between two persons looks similar to finding the best multi-hop path between two hosts on the same network. Thus it appeared to us that the IT techniques originating in genealogy can inform the design of routing algorithms. After all, a change of perspective is a great way to get new insight.

This line of thought has produced the topics for several diploma theses defended at our Division. Routing algorithms and protocols themselves are covered by our courses TINE, SIP, and TSST (among others).

Football and AI go hand in hand here!

Matchday 7 of UEFA Champions League Fantasy Football (https://gaming.uefa.com/en/uclfantasy) starts in a couple of hours.

Our AI predicts the list of five best scoring players:

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, 4.36
Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 4.29
Sadio Mane, Liverpool, 4.12
Heung-Min Son, Tottenham, 4.04
Luis Suarez, Barcelona, 3.90

We are currently #72 in the world ranking. Can you do better?

*The SenML specification becomes a standards track RFC

A new standards track RFC (RFC 8428) was published in August 2018. The RFC, which specifies Sensor Measurement Lists (SenML), is currently a Proposed Standard. Take a look at the document’s history at https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/rfc8428/.

SenML is a notation for sensor measurements (values) and associated metadata. The metadata may include the id of the sensor, a unit, a timestamp, or the sensor’s location. Shortcuts for reporting multiple measurements from a single sensor, or measurements from multiple related sensors are defined. A number of representations for the measurements and metadata are allowed, including familiar JSON and less known CBOR (Concise Binary Object Representation). SenML-formatted data may be transferred with an application-layer protocol like CoAP or HTTP. A paper presented at the IAB-organized IoT Semantic Interoperability Workshop (held in 2016) described SenML as a “simple building block for IoT semantic interoperability.”

You can learn about SenML, if you take our course OBIR.

*Will blockchain revolutionize the tax systems around the world?

As governments and local authorities around the world struggle with budgets imbalance, improvements in tax collection systems become a hot topic. The blockchain technology is recently gaining much interest among tax experts and government officials, as a potential solution to the tax evasion problem.

A PWC report states that the “blockchain technology – a distributed ledger that allows anything of value to be traded securely, transparently and without the risk of tampering – could be just what the world of tax is waiting for. It has the ability to deliver real-time, reliable information to a wide group of people, and create a system where both taxpayers and tax authorities have equal confidence in the veracity of the data collected. It could make it easier for people to pay tax and for governments to narrow the tax gap.” See the report at https://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/futuretax/how-blockchain-technology-could-improve-tax-system.html.

2018 was a breakthrough year for the acceptance of the blockchain technology by tax collection authorities. The Revenue Department of Thailand is testing blockchain to track value-added tax (VAT) payments (https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1586614/blockchain-undergoes-tests-for-tracking-vat-payments). The tax authority in the Chinese city of Shenzhen is using the blockchain technology in fighting tax evasion (https://toshitimes.com/fighting-tax-evasion-with-blockchain-one-chinese-city-leads-the-fight/). Recently Germany announced considering the use of the blockchain technology to combat tax evasion. Poland’s Ministry of Digital Affairs has created a working group of experts to study the application of distributed ledger and the blockchain technology to digitalize government services.

If you are interested in studying the blockchain technology and its applicability to real world problems, consider writing a BSc or MSc thesis at our division. Let’s talk.

Micromole tested in Berlin sewage network

The prototype of the IoT­-based system Micromole (a result of our project microMole, see micromole.eu for more information) for aiding in the identification of strongly toxic waste disposals in the sewage was successfully tested by the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany (Bundeskriminalamt) and the Central Forensic Laboratory of the Police (Centralne Laboratorium Kryminalistyczne Policji) of Poland during the 3rd and the 5th of December 2018.

The system was able to detect and collect waste of 9 controlled waste spills in the sewage network.

*Google is working on Fuchsia

Fuchsia (https://fuchsia.googlesource.com/) is an operating system designed to work on different devices: from mobile phones, to tablets and computers. At Fuchsia’s core, the natural language should provide simplicity and fast programming. Fuchsia is based on (and integrates) Android and Chrome, but instead of the Linux kernel, it uses the advanced micro-kernel Zircon .

Google is seeking integration of different environments, which will make the software developers’ work easier in the future. For this, Fuchsia business adopts open source licensing.

In the future, Fuchsia may be a big competitor to Android, and we will probably see new mobile phones being programmed in Fuchsia instead of Android. Mobile phone programming is covered by our course PUCAM (Cloud Services and Mobile Applications Design).

Our new project: FLEXNET

Celtic-Plus_logo

We started work on a new Celtic-Plus project, called FLEXNET. WUT and two other Polish partners (Orange and Blue Technologies) joined forces with partners from Spain, Turkey, France, Belgium, Canada, and South Korea. The international Consortium aims to develop a “flexible IoT network.” The effort combines the areas of the Internet of Things, software-defined networking, and 5G. Read more here.

*Smartphones are great, but …

You may want to read the paper Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity, by A. F. Ward et al., published in Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (April 2017). DOI: 10.1086/691462.

Based on their experiments, the authors claim that “the mere presence of one’s smartphone may reduce available cognitive capacity and impair cognitive functioning, even when consumers are successful at remaining focused on the task at hand.” The “mere presence” means that users “do not interact with or receive notifications from their phones.”

The authors illustrate their findings with the figure below. It shows that, when it comes to “working memory capacity” and “fluid intelligence,” you are better off if you place your smartphone further away from yourself (a bag is better than a desk, and another room is still better).

mere_presence

If you’d like to learn about so-called ambient displays, which allow you to receive information without smartphones or other screen-based computers, consider taking our course AKIR (in Polish).