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Energy Sensors Able to Connect to TCP/IP Networks

EnOcean, which offers a self-powered, energy-harvesting sensor, has announced that the devices are now able to communicate via TCP/IP networks. When installed, a sensor network enables an entire building’s energy use to be monitored and/or controlled via a web-connected device. The sensors, with peel ‘n’ stick switches, cost between US$50 and $100 each and typically only communicate with each other and a special wireless receiver placed in range. The ability to network sensors via IP technology reportedly makes it easier to justify installing such energy management technologies in large buildings and businesses. The company is hoping this will prompt mainstream adoption of the technology for use in locations such as dorms or hospitals.
(Wired)(Energy Harvesting Journal)(enOcean)

Programmer Set to Take Final Endeavour Flight

Greg Chamitoff, a computer programmer who wrote software for NASA's Endeavour spacecraft before becoming an astronaut, will accompany the shuttle as a mission specialist on its final flight. Prior to joining the space agency, he worked as an engineer and software developer for companies including Atari Computer and IBM. He began astronaut training in 1998 while working on software and robotics projects for NASA. Chamitoff previously worked aboard the International Space Station for 183 days in 2008. He will reportedly work on the space station's robot and take part in two spacewalks. Analysts say having Chamitoff on this mission is key to the continued improvement of robotics in space exploration. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(CNN)

TomTom Announces Its GPS Info Helped Create Speed Traps

Portable navigation device maker TomTom announced information gathered from devices using its LIVE services was shared with local police. TomTom's LIVE devices have built-in 3G data cards and are designed to take  users’ location and route information and send the data to a central server, which creates  a congestion map and re-routes users from traffic jams. Harold Goddijn, the company’s chief executive, stated in a blog post that local government and law enforcement agencies used this data plus the users’ vehicle speed  to create speed traps throughout the Netherlands. He reportedly e-mailed apologies to users stating that the information would never be shared with the police again and also released a statement via YouTube. The original intent of sharing the data was to help city planners with new road construction and similar safety-based projects. (SlashDot)(CNET UK)(The Telegraph)(NPR)

Pepsi Intros HighTech Vending with Social Twist

Pepsi introduced a new high-tech vending machine earlier this week that lets users integrate social networking into their purchases. In addition to purchasing a soda with either cash or credit, the new Social Vending System allows consumers to send someone a gift beverage. Consumers can enter the recipient's name, mobile number, and a personalized text message into the vending machine. They even have the option of sending a short video recorded at the machine along with the drink. The recipient gets information on how to get the gift along with information about how to send a “thank you” or else forward the gift to another person. Consumers can also purchase a soda for a complete stranger through the "Random Acts of Refreshment" service, which sends a Pepsi to any other social vending system. The company envisions this could be used to “send a symbol of encouragement to someone in a city that has experienced challenging weather, or a congratulatory beverage to a student at a university that just won a championship.” The system is still being tested. (SlashDot)(International Business Times)(San Francisco Chronicle)(PepsiCo)

Report: FBI Lacks Skills to Thwart Cybercrime

According to a recently released US Department of Justice study,  the US Federal Bureau of Investigation needs various improvements to be fully effective in responding to cybercrimes. The report was based on a general audit conducted by the DOJ inspector general that examined the agency’s ability to address national security cyberthreats. Each of the FBI’s field offices has one or more squads devoted to cybercrime. Ten of the 56 FBI field offices were evaluated and 36 agents were interviewed. The finding specific to the agents found about a third of them “lacked the networking and counterintelligence expertise to investigate national security intrusion cases." Rotating field agents every three years, as is policy, hinders those agents with the training and experience in cybersecurity because they might not be assigned the task upon transfer. (SlashDot)(Network World)(“The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ability to Address the National Security Cyber Intrusion Threat,” US Department of Justice)

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