Bristol researchers help build 5G wireless network

June 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol researchers are at the heart of a £6m project developing the next generation of optical networks to support 5G wireless technology.

The three-year METRO-HAUL project includes software defined networking (SDN) startup Zeetta Networks and the University of Bristol’s High Performance Networking group in the Department of Engineering alongside 19 other organisations around Europe. These include operators BT, Telecom Italia, and 02’s Spanish owner Telefonica, equipment makers Ericsson and Nokia, and German research group Fraunhofer Institute.

The next generation 5G technology is currently being developed to provide up to 1Gbit/s of download speed, but that will need to be supported by higher performance optical networks. The aim of the project is to design and build smart, cost-effective, optical systems for urban areas that can support increased traffic coming from all kinds of 5G links, whether these are base stations, small cells or connections from the Internet of Things (IoT).

By 2019 the project will build a 5G network with a range of services in a test-bed, and the software developed will be released as a public repository while the project will actively participate in the standardisation of 5G, promoting the tested solutions to the wider industry.

“We are very proud to have played a key role in this successful EU funding bid and to be collaborating with such a group of leading researchers, telecoms operators, innovative SMEs, and influencers in 5G,” says Vassilis Seferidis, CEO of Zeetta Networks. “This project scored very highly with the judging panel recognising its importance and the huge implications it brings to the telecoms industry and the verticals they support. It is another validation of Zeetta’s growing global profile and positions our software-designed networking technology as a highly innovative solution enabling programmability in both current and future networks.”

This is just one of several 5G projects that include technology companies from the region. For example, Blu Wireless Technology is part of the XHaul project that is looking at other ways to provide the links that will be needed and recently hosted all the researchers involved to collaborate in Bristol.

 

UltraSoC raises £5m for embedded analytics and looks to Bristol

May 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Cambridge startup Ultrasoc has raised £5m from new and existing investors to further develop its embedded IP that helps system-on-chip designers analyse what is happening in complex chips with billions of transistors.

The money will be used for R&D and to boost the commercial team, increasing the staff from 20 to perhaps 30 says Rupert Baines, UltraSoC CEO, and looking at opening an office in Bristol.

The need for safety, security and performance-tuning is increasingly important and the embedded analytics allows the chip to monitor and optimise its own behaviour at a hardware level, as well as provide insights that enable engineers to make improvements and fix problems. The same technology can detect evolving real-world threats and problems – for instance those caused by malicious attacks. These features benefit any electronic system, but are particularly attractive in the automotive and high-performance computing (HPC) sectors.
“Hard tech is back in favour with the UK and global investment community, with recent funding for Ultrahaptics, Graphcore and SiFive (a fellow RISC-V proponent), plus successful exits at Movidius and Mobileye,” said Baines, UltraSoC CEO. “Our investors are excited by the potential of UltraSoC’s technology and are committed to supporting our aim of putting intelligent analytics into every chip.”

UltraSoC’s semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) enables designers to easily and cost-effectively create complex SoCs (systems on chip) with built-in intelligence that continuously monitors and responds to real-world behaviour. This allows SoCs to optimise power consumption and performance and deal with security threats or safety breaches.
Atlante Tech leads a strong line up of new investors including Enso VenturesOxford Capital, and successful CEO and serial entrepreneur Guillaume d’Eyssautier (former CEO of picoCHip and ganeral manager of Cadence Design Systems), who join existing investors Octopus Ventures and South East Seed Fund (FSE Group).
Successful development of the company’s debug tools and increased awareness of the technology’s potential benefits has meant a series of significant commercial engagements, with more in the pipeline. Amongst others, HiSilicon (Huawei), Imagination Technologies, Movidius (now Intel), and Microsemi all use UltraSoC technology in their designs, delivering proven hardware-embedded benefits to their customers. To ensure these benefits are accessible to customers in all sectors across the globe, UltraSoC partners with leading names in the semiconductor industry including ARM, Baysand, Cadence/Tensilica, CEVA, Codasip, Lauterbach, MIPS and Teledyne LeCroy.UltraSoC’s flagship product line is a suite of semiconductor IP that allows chip designers to integrate an intelligent analytics infrastructure into the core hardware of their devices. By monitoring and analysing the real-world behaviour of entire systems via UltraSoC’s intelligent analytics embedded in the silicon, engineers can take action to reduce system power consumption, increase performance, protect against malicious intrusions, and ensure product safety.

These capabilities address applications in a broad range of market sectors, from automotive and IoT products, to at-scale computing and communications infrastructure.

Source: The Embedded Blog: UltraSoC raises £5m for embedded analytics

First group of Bristol quantum entrepreneurs set out

May 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Quantum technology developed in Bristol is being used in medical screening, drone-based gas-leak detection and cryptography.

Three of the entrepreneurs on this year’s programme at the Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre (QTEC), the first, have been showing their plans. The course at the University of Bristol combines business training with technology development and is looking to recruit 11 more entrepreneurs for next year’s programme.

Neciah Dorh of FluoretiQ is developing a handheld fluorescent sensor that is 100 times more sensitive than today’s systems. The first product is for testing water quality by detecting bacteria at a level of parts per trillion.

Dorh is also looking at using the sensor to detect the bacteria that cause sepsis in hospital. This currently takes from 10 to 24 hours, so he is working with the department of medicine in an InnovateUK project to develop a chemical tag for the bacteria so that a handheld sensor that can provide a result instantly.

Meanwhile Xiao Ai has been working on ways to use single photon measurement technology to detect gas leaks from pipelines. Quantum Light Metrology is using quantum sensor technology licensed by the University of Bristol to Swiss company IDQ to build a lightweight sensor that can be installed on a drone.

The software allows the sensor to detect the gas leaks from a distance of 50m from a drone moving at 30mph, and QLM is working with drone operator Sky-Futures to monitor pipelines and gas installations around the world.

The most advanced technology in the programme is aiming to provide quantum cryptography for communications systems. KETS Quantum Security has developed a commercial chip that can make unbreakable cryptography systems that are ten times smaller, faster and cheaper than today’s systems, says Philip Sibson, chief technology officer. The technology has been demonstrated in the lab and the company, now with five people, is working with a European defence company on using the system on a drone.

You can apply for QTEC’s next programme here. See the story on the High Tech channel at TechSpark

Bristol IoT innovator merges with its equipment supplier

April 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol-based IoT equipment developer Telemisis has merged with its manufacturing supplier, Tioga in Derby.

The new Tioga Group employs over 150 people across the UK and includes Telemisis, Tioga, Internet-of-Things startup Sixis, surveillance equipment developer Audiotel International and a minority interest in SurePulse Medical, a joint venture with the University of Nottingham.

All the companies in the new group will continue to trade under their own names. Telemisis  is one of the UK’s leading providers of advanced remote monitoring, control and Internet of Things systems and has recently spun out Sixis.

“As an established exporter, we know that Brexit will create new and exciting opportunities for international trade. At Tioga Group we are investing now in expanding our world-class manufacturing and product capabilities, to fully exploit these opportunities,” said Professor Warwick Adams, group managing director.

As part of the merger, the co-founders of Telemisis, Tony Richardson and Chris Begent (above) will join the board of the new group.

“Bringing together the respective strengths of Tioga, Telemisis and Audiotel will allow us to drive our growth, both at home and internationally,” said Richardson, “By leveraging our combined expertise in development, manufacturing, sales and marketing, we will accelerate the introduction of innovative new products, demanded by our customers.”

Tioga was founded in 1996 and is one of the UK’s leading privately owned Contract Electronic Manufacturers (CEM), providing electronic assembly and complete product manufacturing.

You can find more details on Telemisis here

World’s largest ARM-based supercomputer to be built in Bristol

April 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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The University of Bristol is leading a £3m project to build the world’s largest ARM-based supercomputer. Isambard is being developed by researchers at Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter along with the Met Office and super computer maker Cray, which has its European headquarters and research centre in Bristol.
This will be one of the world’s first systems to be based on the Vulcan server-class chip being developed by Broadcom, which also has a software development centre in Bristol. Details of this device are still under wraps, but it promises much more memory bandwidth rather than higher peak performance, making it very attractive for researchers around the country tackling big problems.

“Isambard is an exciting experiment,” said project leader Simon McIntosh-Smith, Professor of High Performance Computing at the University of Bristol. “If we discover that ARM processors are competitive in HPC, then Isambard could be the first of a new generation of ARM-based supercomputers, ushering in an era of wider architectural choice, with greater opportunities for differentiation between supercomputer vendors. These outcomes should mean that scientists can choose systems more highly optimised to solve their problem, delivering even more exciting scientific breakthroughs at greater cost effectiveness than ever before.”

Read more at Bristol and Bath build world’s largest ARM-based supercomputer on the TechSpark High Tech channel

Bath researcher uses chaos theory for smart pacemaker

March 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Chaos theory improves heart disease treatment in smart pacemaker

Sensor fusion and nonlinear systems at heart of £4m European project led by University of Bath
Read more on the TechSpark High Tech channel …

Autonomous drones tested out in Bristol

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Great piece on the autonomous drone racing at UWE from the Bristol Post

Source: World’s best drone pilots head to Bristol for ‘Scalextric’-style race | Bristol Post

Battery uses nuclear waste for long term power -TechSPARK

December 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a way to use nuclear waste to generate electricity in a battery. The team, led by Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University’s Interface Analysis Centre and a member of the Cabot Institute, have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate electricty for low power applications […]

Source: Battery uses nuclear waste for long term power -TechSPARK

Bristol welcomes its first science incubator: Unit DX -TechSPARK

November 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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The foundations for Unit DX, Bristol’s first science incubator, have been firmly laid and construction has begun. The scientific entrepreneurs of the city are welcoming the incubator with open arms as the build will provide much-needed support for science-based startups, as well as create a new dynamic to Bristol’s ever growing tech scene. “We decided to […]

Source: Bristol welcomes its first science incubator: Unit DX -TechSPARK

Where did the Bristol and Bath tech cluster come from? -TechSPARK

November 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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The success of the globally significant tech cluster goes back many years

Source: Where did the Bristol and Bath tech cluster come from? -TechSPARK

Exeter’s new version of graphene boosts flexible displays

June 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers from the University of Exeter have pioneered an innovative new way to use graphene to make flexible screens more effective and efficient.

By using GraphExeter – a material adapted from graphene to be more transparent, lightweight and flexible for conducting electricity through an extra layer of ferric chloride – the team have increased the brightness of flexible lights by up to almost 50 per cent.

The research has also shown that using GraphExeter makes the lights 30 per cent more efficient than existing examples of flexible lighting, which are based on state-of-the-art commercial polymers.

The research team believe the technology could help significantly improve the viability of the next generation of flexible screens for smartphones or wearable electronic devices such as clothing containing computers or MP3 players.

“This exciting development shows there is a bright future for the use of GraphExeter in transforming flexible lighting on a mass scale, and could help revolutionise the electronics industry,” said one of the lead researchers, University of Exeter physicist Dr Saverio Russo.

“Not only are lights that use GraphExeter much brighter, they are also far more resilient to repeated flexing, which makes ‘bendy’ screens much more feasible for day to day goods such as mobile phones.”

Currently, flexible screens are still in their infancy and although they are useable, the size of the screens are limited by the materials used for mass production, which can cause a visible gradient of brightness as the size of screen increases.

By substituting graphene for GraphExeter, the team of researchers were able to create a lit screen that showed a far greater and consistent light than has previously been possible. Furthermore, the screens were more resilient to continued flexing, meaning that they have a longer shelf-life before needing to be replaced.

Dr Monica Craciun, also from the University of Exeter added: “The next step will be to embed these ultra-flexible GraphExeter lights on textile fibres and pioneer ground-breaking applications in health care light therapy.”

At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity. It is very flexible and is one of the strongest known materials. The race has been on for scientists and engineers to adapt graphene for flexible electronics. This has been a challenge because of its sheet resistance, graphene dissipates large amounts of energy.

In 2012 the teams of Dr Craciun and Profesor Russo, from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Graphene Science, discovered that sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two graphene layers make a whole new system that is more than a thousand times a better conductor of electricity than graphene and by far the best known transparent material able to conduct electricity. The same team have now discovered that GraphExeter is also more stable than many transparent conductors commonly used by, for example, the display industry.

GraphExeter LED video

Bristol researchers set new world record in 5G wireless spectrum efficiency

May 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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A team of 5G engineers from the Universities of Bristol and Lund has once again set a new world record for wireless spectrum efficiency, less than two months after setting the first one.

In an experiment using 128 base station antennas, the research group managed to serve 22 users, each modulated with 256-QAM, on the same time-frequency resource.  With an identical frame structure they used in theprevious experiment, this would equate to a rate of 145.6 bits/s/Hz on a single 20 MHz radio channel.

The team beat its earlier record of 79.4 (bits/s)/Hz for 12 users set in March, and the rate of 71 (bits/s)/Hz that Facebook achieved for 24 users last month with its 96-antenna ARIES array.

The group’s latest achievement with massive multiple antenna MIMO arrays, which are cellular base stations with dozens of antennas deployed at the base station, shows that this technology could deliver ultra-fast data speeds to more smartphones and tablets than ever before.

Industry has said it will require a 1,000-fold increase in capacity in order for 5G to function as anticipated.  Massive MIMO technology is important if increased capacity is to be reached but it is thought that much of the 5G capacity can and will come in the longer term from using 5G technologies such as millimetre-wave (mmWave) and beamforming.

“Unlike at mmWave frequencies, below 6GHz, very little new spectrum is anticipated for 5G services,” said Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering and Head of the CSN Group. “To meet capacity demands in the microwave bands the only solution is to deploy technologies offering radically enhanced spectral efficiency; hence the global importance of massive MIMO and the significance of smashing through the 100 bits/sec/Hz barrier.”

In its demonstration conducted in the atrium of Bristol’s Merchant Venturers Building, the team used flexible prototyping platform from National Instruments (NI) based on LabVIEW system design software and PXI hardware.

The hardware behind this demonstration was provided to Bristol University as part of Bristol Is Open, a joint venture with Bristol City Council that aims to become the world’s first Open Programmable City

Spectrum and power efficient wireless communications are core to Bristol University’sCommunication Systems and Networks (CSN) Group and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT in Communications as well as to the Department of Electrical and Information Technology at Lund University.

Liang Liu, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University, said: “In addition to investigating spectrum efficiency gains, an initial power control algorithm was tested, users were placed in different locations and use of the equipment over night to obtain calibration data for comparison purposes with the Lund set-up”

Fredrik Tufvesson, Professor of Radio Systems at Lund University, added: “Field trials in different deployment scenarios is needed to validate the concept of massive MIMO and we are looking forward to the future mobility test at both universities”

Ove Edfors, Professor of Radio Systems at Lund University, commented: “A true team work that with great results. Our postgraduate students Joao Vieira and Steffen Malkowsky did a great job together with the Bristol team, Paul Harris, Benny Chitambira Wael Boukley Hasan, Henry Brice, Siming Zhang and our host Mark Beach.”

Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Manager of the EPSRC CDT in Communications, explained: “Rapid deployment and experimentation of this scale and complexity was made possible through collaborative efforts of post graduate students and academic staff at both Universities. The results are a true testament of our efforts and a noteworthy contribution towards the evolution of 5G.”

Bristol named as UK’s leading smart city outside London

May 17, 2016 by · 1 Comment
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Bristol is one of only two cities in the UK to be named as smart city ‘Leaders’, scoring 80.2 in the Smart Cities Index just behind London at 80.5

The UK’s first Smart Cities Index has named Bristol as the country’s leading smart city outside London and leader of the pack for digital innovation. The city is the highest performer in four out of 10 evaluation criteria: digital innovation, stakeholder engagement, projects implementation and delivery of digital strategy

The report by Chinese tech company Huawei compares and evaluates the 10 leading smart cities in the UK with the aim of celebrating best practice and identifying challenges which need to be overcome for cities to become smarter.

Bristol and London have set themselves apart from the others through their clarity, breadth and inclusiveness of their smart city visions and planning, and are leading the way in implementing significant projects at both the pilot and full-scale levels. The other eight cities have been identified as Contenders, Challengers and Followers.

Bristol is particularly strong in the digital innovation category, which evaluates the city’s strategy to develop and exploit digital technologies and services, scoring the top mark of 92 out of a possible 100 points. It also comes out top for stakeholder engagement, implementation of projects and delivery of the city’s digital strategy. Bristol’s overall score in the Smart Cities Index is 80.2, just behind London which scored 80.5.

Smart Cities is a term which is used to describe a city which uses technological innovation to deliver services in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way. Smart cities are being built on an intelligent urban infrastructure of connected devices.

“To be named as the top city for digital innovation and one of only two smart city leaders in the UK is fantastic news for Bristol,” said Rick Chapman, high tech sector specialist at Invest Bristol and Bath – the inward investment agency for the region. “This is testament to the city’s extensive smart city strategy and ambitious goals but also to its commitment to delivering on projects and working well with communities and stakeholders to make them happen. Bristol is fast becoming known as a national and international digital hub and this report cements our position as leading the UK in this sector.”

Huawei has 15 offices across the UK and in 2014 chose Bristol to be its home for a new research & development centre because of its talent pool and position as a hub for cutting-edge innovation.

“Bristol is a city that is driving the UK’s digital agenda, highlighted by its pioneering smart cities innovations,” said Gordon Luo, CEO, Huawei UK. “We opened our Bristol R&D centre in 2014 as part of Huawei’s UK Innovation Programme, precisely because we were attracted by the highly-skilled technology professionals in the area and the city’s open mindset towards innovation. Our work researching ICT chips, software, and analogue chip technology in Bristol is genuinely world-class and is part of that city-wide drive towards a smarter, tech-driven future.”

Earlier this year, Bristol was identified as the most productive digital tech cluster in the UK according to the Tech Nation report. It was also named the only fast-growing and globally-significant high tech cluster in the UK by McKinsey & Co/Centre for Cities in 2014.

Huawei’s report also takes particular note of Bristol’s strengths in open data access, energy innovation and community engagement. For example, its Playable City initiative has brought together artists and designers from the UK and beyond to experiment and prototype playful interventions that use creative technologies to rethink public space (see case study below).

Clare Reddington, creative director at Watershed – Bristol’s cultural and digital creativity centre, says: “All over the world governments and technology companies are investing in smart systems for cities, using networks and sensors to join up services and collect data, as a drive for efficiency. Playable City is born out of Bristol’s unique take on people-centred technology solutions and the belief that our future cities need to be democratic, surprising and inclusive to remain relevant and engaging. We are delighted we have been able to take this uniquely Bristolian way of thinking and share it with the world.”

Download Huawei’s report HERE

The other cities identified in the report are Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Peterborough, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Creating a transport app for Bristol

May 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol City Council is inviting developers, app builders and others interested in improving  the city to sign up for a workshop of digital exploration and innovation.

Participants will be able to make use of The Bristol API (application programming interface) developed by UrbanThings, an online platform which provides a huge amount of data such as live bus and train times, stop locations and route maps.

The event at the Watershed on Saturday 21 May is themed around a Cleaner, Leaner Bristol and seeks answers to the question: “How can we use data to help create a city that has better air quality, and has fewer single-occupancy vehicles guzzling gas and contributing to congestion?”

The organisers are encouraging participants to focus on the following areas:

  • Making it easier to use electric vehicles by finding nearby free charging points
  • Maximising the capacity of existing vehicles on the roads, whether this be buses, cars, or other vehicles
  • Promoting the use of other sustainable forms of transport

The workshop is the second in a series of Challenge Events taking place throughout the year aimed at working with Bristol’s tech community to explore how data can be used in tackling various challenges around the city.

Stephen Hilton, Director of Bristol City Council’s Bristol Futures team, said: “Hosting a second Challenge Event shows there is a real appetite in Bristol’s tech community for using open data to create solutions to our urban issues. The first event was a huge success with the winners currently developing their app and we hope to see many more great ideas come out of the second event. Having UrbanThings on-board is a fantastic asset for us and they will be able to provide help and tips for anyone new attending on the day.”

UrbanThings will be present at the event together with other council representatives and there will be a cash prize again for the winners. The day is also a chance for participants to meet like-minded people and learn from others.

Carl Partridge, Director of UrbanThings, said: “We were really impressed with the high level of pitches at the first Challenge Event and by broadening the scope of this event we’re hoping to see some interesting responses to how we can make a Cleaner Leaner Bristol. Using The Bristol API in this way shows how vital having access to open data can be.”

Place are limited and you can register here

Southampton researchers aim for programmable optical chips

April 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers from the University of Southampton and the Institut d’Optique in Bordeaux, France have devised a new approach for controlling light in a silicon chip that could make them programmable.

Silicon photonics are forming the backbone of next-generation on-chip technologies and optical telecommunication, which are aimed at a wide range of emerging applications including optical interconnects, microwave photonic circuits, and integrated optical sensors.

The function of a photonic chip is usually hard-wired, but having reconfigurable optical elements would allow light to be routed flexibly, opening up new applications in programmable photonic circuits.

Traditional spatial light modulators use liquid crystals or micromirrors to provide many independently controllable pixels, and this has revolutionised optics in recent years, with many applications in imaging and holography and adaptive optics.

In their new work, presented in the April issue of the journal Optica, the team makes use of multimode interference (MMI) devices which are usually fixed. However, the team shows that different modes travelling through the MMI can be dynamically controlled using a femtosecond laser. This acts to effectively shape the transmitted light, allowing some modes through and restricting others.

Integrated optical circuitsUsing a silicon-on-insulator 1 x 2 multimode interference splitter with a projected pattern of perturbations induced by the femtosecond laser, the perturbation pattern achieves routing of light to a single output port with 97 per cent efficiency, essentially making the device programmable.

“We have demonstrated a very general approach to beam shaping on a chip that provides a wide range of useful functionalities to integrated circuits. The integrated spatial light modulator turns conventional silicon photonics components into versatile reconfigurable element,” said lead author Roman Bruck, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton.

Practical applications of this technology will include all-optical reconfigurable routers, ultrafast optical modulators and switches for optical networks and microwave photonic circuits as well as wafer-scale optical testing of photonic chips. More work is needed to develop these ideas into practical applications.

Principal investigator Professor Otto Muskens, from Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton, said: “There are many new directions to explore, from gaining a deeper understanding to application of the new concepts into real-world devices. This is a potentially disruptive new approach toward field-programmable chips which can enhance and complement existing strategies, or even partially replace current technology.”

 

The study ‘All-optical spatial light modulator for reconfigurable silicon photonic circuits’ R. Bruck, K. Vynck, P. Lalanne, B. Mills, D. J. Thomson, G. Z. Mashanovich, G. T. Reed, and O. L. Muskens, Optica 3(4), 396-402 (2016) can be viewed at https://www.osapublishing.org/optica/abstract.cfm?uri=optica-3-4-396

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/weareconnected

Bath startup launches IoT system for commercial buildings

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Bath-based ContinuumBridge has launched an intelligent, connected IoT device called Spur.

This is aimed at service providers in the facilities management, retail, leisure and hospitality industries to provide an intelligent, easy-to-use means for service users to initiate a request or report an issue and provides the user with an immediate acknowledgement.

CB001_Spur_in_Coffee_shopThe physical part of Spur is a call button that integrates a display whose message indicates to the user what they are able to request/report and then provides instant visual feedback confirming the outcome. For example, if installed by a coffee machine the display could say, “Push here if this machine requires more coffee” and then after pressing the button the display could change to say, “More coffee for this machine has been requested”. Similar scenarios can be applied in other situations, such as reporting that a printer or photocopier is out of toner, or that a toilet needs cleaning. Multiple call options are possible by cycling the e-ink display, for example, requesting waiter service or asking for the bill in a restaurant, and perhaps subsequently rating the customer experience.

CB001_Spur-How_was_our_service_today_and_childs_hand(notext)

“During Spur’s development we worked closely with our customers and are confident that it meets genuine needs. The capability that lies behind the button provides numerous benefits for both the service provider and end‑user or customer,” said Peter Claydon, CEO of ContinuumBridge. “

The technology uses 868MHz wireless for low power connections, allowing a battery life of up to 5 years. A gateway bridge, which only requires a power outlet, provides connectivity between the wireless buttons and a server using a cellular modem so there is no need for network connection. Service providers access the server through a fully programmable but easy to use web portal using the Wisp technology developed by ContinuumBridge. This provides comprehensive reporting that is available through the web site or via email, SMS or data-sharing with a third party database. The whole Spur solution is safe-guarded with state-of-the-art, end-to-end security.

“We were trying various wireless technologies such as Z wave, Zigbee and WiFi for the battery life and the range of the radio,” said Claydon. “A mesh is OK if you have lots of them but try telling an installer that. So we worked backwards from those requirements. The e-ink display is great for low power, so we’ve uses a standard 868MHz radio with our own lightweight protocol so that you only turn the radio on when someone presses the button and once an hour to check for updates. At 10 pushes a day that gives us a 5 year battery life and 300m line of sight connection or three floors of an office building from the 868MHz radio,” he said.

“The gateway is the same bridge that we have already developed which is a Raspberry Pi at heart with the 868MHz radio and a 3G cellular modem so you don’t have to get into someone’s IT infrastructure and the bandwidth required is so low,” he added.

Spur is undergoing trials now in the UK and volume production will commence in mid-2016. ContinuumBridge is looking for distribution partners throughout Europe with North American and other geographies anticipated in the future.

www.spur.site

www.wisp.site

www.continuumbridge.com

Cloud developers converge on Bristol

February 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Leading cloud computing technology developers are coming to Bristol this week for the UK’s first Voxxed Day conference.

The conference cover the latest trends and technologies in cloud computing and development, from Infrastructure and Platforms (e.g. IaaS & PaaS) , Big Data and Analytics, Java and JVM languages, Continuous Delivery and Deployment, Microservices and Containers, Functional Programming,  Internet of Things, DevOps, Performance & Optimisation, Architecture & Security and Development Methodologies.

The region has a well established base of companies making world-class cloud technology with a global reach – including industry leaders like Oracle, HP, IBM, Cray and Amazon as well as fast growing startups such as ClusterHQ, JustOneDB and ForgeRock. Many of these companies have started to work together as part of the HBB Cloud Special Interest Group (SIG) to help develop the region as a globally established centre of excellence for cloud computing.

The conference programme is here

You can sign up here for the conference on the 25th Feb at the Watershed 

Phil Bates was a key influencer in bringing Voxxed Days to Bristol. As the leader for Oracle’s cloud development centre in Bristol, and one of the champions for the cloud technologies cluster around Bristol and Bath, he said;

“A Voxxed Days event at the Watershed is great news and a recognition of the strength of the software development community in the area, particularly with respect to cloud computing and big data / analytics. Oracle has significant and expanding cloud and business intelligence/analytics product development teams in Bristol. The south-west is a great place to develop technology and conferences like Voxxed Days provide a great opportunity for developers to share expertise, learn from each other’s experience and get a handle on what’s next in Java, Cloud and Big Data/Analytics.”

Each Voxxed Days is spearheaded by local communities so each event retains a unique regional flavour, whilst being part of the overall Voxxed movement. “I’m delighted we can add Bristol to the list of cities hosting Voxxed Days events in 2016,” said Mark Hazell, Director of VOXXED, the equivalent in Europe of the Java One conference in the US. “Voxxed Days is all about sharing expert software development experience directly with developers on the ground. Attending the event will equip developers from the area with the kind of knowledge that will improve their day-to-day efforts The Bristol area already stands out as a great location to be a developer, with it’s vibrant communities and willingness to share, and we’re please that Voxxed Days will help grow that effort.”

“High Tech Bristol & Bath CIC was set up to support the cluster around the city regions and high profile events like this are excellent vehicles for doing that. They afford fantastic opportunities for knowledge sharing and developer engagement, together with providing a real boost to our international profile as a great place to be an engineer in the high tech industries,” said Dr John Bradford, High Tech Bristol & Bath.

Zeeta Networks raises £1.25m to commercialise its IoT operating system

February 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol startup Zeetta Networks has raised £1.25m to commercialise its software-defined networking technology to smart enterprises and Internet of Things (IoT).

The company, a spin-out from the University of Bristol’s High Performance Networks group, is an internationally renowned team for their expertise in software-defined networking and network virtualization, focusing on the design, development and marketing of open networking solutions.

Zeetta has developed a unique open networking platform called netOS based on industry-standard hardware and powerful orchestration software which manages, automates and monitors the whole network while significantly reduces its costs. This offers a “USB-like”, plug-n-play management of different types of connected network devices and enables the construction of virtual “network slices”, for example separate logically-isolated sub-networks for the deployment of business-to-business or business-to-consumer services, such as Ultra HD wireless video distribution, city-wide Wi-Fi, IoT and other applications. This is being used for the Bristol is Open network across  the city.

The funding, which is being provided by existing investor IP Group and new investor, Breed Reply, means that Zeetta can significantly accelerate its growth plans. This will enable the company to expand its commercial and technical teams and target new markets.

Zeetta Networks has been a virtual member of the Bristol SETsquared Centre since September 2015 and they will be looking to take up residence in the Bristol SETsquared Centre, housed in the iconic Engine Shed, as soon as possible.

“Since the formation of our company last May  we have achieved many impressive milestones including considerable revenues from our first customers and grant funding from the European Commission through our participation in the REPLICATE lighthouse project. The investment from IP Group and Breed Reply cements the confidence of the market in our technology and our team,” said Vassilis Seferidis, CEO of Zeetta Networks.

Breed Reply, Reply’s advanced incubator, funds and supports the development of start-ups on the Internet of Things (IoT) in Europe and the USA. Based in London, with operational offices in Italy and Germany, Breed Reply supports entrepreneurs and young talent by quickly bringing new ideas to the market. This is done via funding at seed and early stage level; considerable support with significant know how transfer of business, managerial and technological expertise; and medium-term involvement to establish start-ups in their market. In the IoT sector, the main areas Breed Reply focuses on are fitness and wellness, healthcare, smart home, manufacturing, transportation and energy.

Bristol wins second major driverless car programme

February 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Collaboration, News 

Bristol is building on its strength in driverless car technology, hosting a £5.5m project to test out communications systems for driverless cars, while Bristol companies are involved in projects around the country.

The three year FLOURISH project links several members of the current VENTURER driverless car project with Airbus, Age UK and artificial intelligence experts React AI to develop innovative new tools to improve the understanding of user needs and expectations of connected and autonomous vehicles. It will be based in the Bristol City Region and will test capabilities in both urban and suburban networked environments.

The UK is rapidly becoming one of the best places in the world for companies to develop their Intelligent Mobility business,” said Roland Meister, Head of Transport at Innovate UK. “Driven by our work with the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles this competition has connected together the UK’s fantastic automotive industry, the research base, the insurance sector, public authorities with high growth businesses working in human behavioural science, telematics, information technology, communications, simulation, advanced sensor systems and machine learning.”

Importantly, FLOURISH will address vulnerabilities in the technology operating connected vehicles, with a focus on the critical areas of cyber security and wireless communications. The consortium will seek to develop tools that enable vehicle manufacturers and transport authorities to provide a safe and secure ‘V2X’ communications network that combine vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technologies.

“FLOURISH is an exciting addition to our portfolio of research in the field of connectivity for autonomous vehicles,” said Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering at the University of Bristol. “I particularly welcome the opportunity to work closely with Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council on the real-world testing of autonomous vehicles. This will leverage existing investment in the Bristol city region to expand our validation and test capabilities in both urban and inter-urban networked environments.”

Dr Robert Piechocki, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Communication Systems and Networks research group and the University’s project lead, added: “Autonomous cars will rely on secure and dependable wireless connectivity to enable advanced automotive safety features. The FLOURISH project is a unique opportunity to showcase our research that will underpin mobility services of the future.”

Dr Theo Tryfonas, Senior Lecturer in Systems Engineering and a member of the project team, commented: “The security and trustworthiness of wireless connectivity, as well as the privacy of the relevant data in terms of location, personally identifiable attributes of users etc. will be a factor of paramount importance for their successful operation and integration with society.”

The project will bring together industry and academic experts in the fields of wireless connectivity, cyber security, data innovation, human factors and social research.

Fusion Processing, based at the EngineShed in Bristol, is part of the £2.2m Insight project to develop driverless shuttles with advanced sensors and control systems and trial them in city pedestrian areas, with a particular focus on improving urban accessibility for disabled and visually-impaired people.

 

Researchers open up 80THz of bandwidth for data centres

February 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Collaboration, News 

Researchers from the universities of Bristol and Keio with industrial partners have unlocked 80 THz of fibre-optic bandwidth that will enable future exascale data centres and transform 5G networks.

The collaboration between the University of Bristol’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Keio University and numerous Japanese industrial partners, have designed, developed and prototyped a pioneering all-optical router that can unlock 80 THz of bandwidth across a newly defined frequency band named T-Band (thousand band) and O-Band (original band). The adjacent bands span from 1.0 μm (300 THz) to 1.36 μm (220 THz) and are able to support 1600 channels at 50 GHz spacing.
t-band-article

Dr Georgios Zervas, Senior Lecturer in Optical and High Performance Networks in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “The technology and system proposed and prototyped will unlock the new frequency band and networks to support future exascale data centres, ‘zero-latency’ tactile optical internet, internet of everything, smart cities, fog computing and big data infrastructure among others. This is the outcome of a recent collaboration between Bristol, Keio and other Japanese institutions that brings together people with complementary yet common vision and pioneering concepts.”

The technology fabricated and tested is based on cascaded arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs) and is designed to potentially construct a 1600 x 1600 wavelength router that can guide data at the speed of light. Specially designed quantum dot chips are used for light sources which were originally developed by NICT in Japan.

This single passive optical system can interconnect over one million end points such as, broadband home users, IoT devices, data centre servers, while offering at least ten Gb/s per end point. Critically it is also future proof since it’s transparent to any communication signal and it can also potentially consume zero power due to its passive nature.

Hiroyuki Tsuda, Professor of Faculty of Science and Technology at Keio University, added: “The enabling technologies for the new frequency band are the quantum dot based optical devices and the silica planar lightwave circuits designed for the new band.

“The collaboration between the University of Bristol who has extensive knowledge of the network architecture, and our Japanese research group with device technologies will create an ultra-high capacity, power-saving optical network system, in particular, for data centres.”

Paper

Full-mesh T- and O-band wavelength router based on arrayed waveguide gratings‘ by Nazirul A. Idris, Ryogo Kubo, Georgios Zervas, Hiroyuki Tsuda et al is published in Optics Express [open access]

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