*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.

*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).

*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).


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).

*FIWARE Context Broker becomes a Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Block

The FIWARE Context Broker, a reusable context-handling component, has been adopted by CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) as a so-called building block: https://www.fiware.org/2018/08/08/fiware-context-broker-launches-as-a-cef-building-block/.

The Context Broker makes it possible to store and access context-information using simple context models. It offers a RESTful API and supports subscriptions and notifications.  Learn more here.

Notably, we offer a FIWARE Context Broker-based lab exercise in our course AKIR (Context-Aware IoT Applications).  The objective is to teach students about FIWARE context modeling and introduce them to Orion Context Broker. The exercise was developed at ZSUT by Szymon Caban, as his BS thesis.