Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bye-Bye Batteries: Radio Waves as a Low-Power Source / Inside Apple's once-secret wireless lab / Two new rulings / An underground threat

W.E.E.P. News

Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News

19 July 2010

Bye-Bye Batteries: Radio Waves as a Low-Power Source

Published: July 16, 2010

MATT REYNOLDS, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Duke University, wears other hats, too — including that of co-founder of two companies. These days, his interest is in a real hat now in prototype: a hard hat with a tiny microprocessor and beeper that sound a warning when dangerous equipment is nearby on a construction site.

Jochen Teizer

Using only radio waves for its electrical power, the SmartHat has a beeper that alerts the wearer to dangerous construction equipment nearby.

What's unusual, however, is that the hat's beeper and microprocessor work without batteries. They use so little power that they can harvest all they need from radio waves in the air.

The waves come from wireless network transmitters on backhoes and bulldozers, installed to keep track of their locations. The microprocessor monitors the strength and direction of the radio signal from the construction equipment to determine if the hat's wearer is too close.

Dr. Reynolds designed this low-power hat, called the SmartHat, with Jochen Teizer, an assistant professor in the school of civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech. They are among several people devising devices and systems that consume so little power that it can be drawn from ambient radio waves, reducing or even eliminating the need for batteries. Their work has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Powercast, based in Pittsburgh, sells radio wave transmitters and receivers that use those waves to power wireless sensors and other devices. The sensors, for example, monitor room temperature in automatic systems that control heating and air-conditioning in office buildings, said Harry Ostaffe, director of marketing and business development.

The company recently introduced a receiver for charging battery-free wireless sensors, the P2110 Powerharvester Receiver, and demonstrated it in modules that sense temperature, light level and humidity data, he said. The modules include microcontrollers from Microchip Technology, in Chandler, Ariz.

Until recently, the use of radio waves to power wireless electronic devices was largely untapped because the waves dilute quickly as they spread, said Joshua R. Smith, a principal engineer at Intel's research center in Seattle and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington.

"That's changing," said Dr. Smith, who explores the use of electromagnetic radiation. "Silicon technology has advanced to the point where even tiny amounts of energy can do useful work."

Two types of research groups are extending the boundaries of low-power wireless devices, said Brian Otis, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington. Some researchers are working to reduce the power required by the devices; others are learning how to harvest power from the environment. "One day," Professor Otis said, "those two camps will meet, and then we will have devices that can run indefinitely."

Professor Otis, who designs and deploys integrated circuits for wireless sensing, is in the first group. Dr. Smith of Intel is one of the harvesters, gathering radio power that is now going to waste. And there are plenty of radio waves in the air to provide fodder for him as they spread from Wi-Fi transmitters, cellphone antennas, TV towers and radio stations.

Some of the waves travel to living-room televisions, for example. But others, which would otherwise be wasted as they rise through the atmosphere into space or are absorbed in the ground, can be exploited, he said. "Ambient radio waves," he said, "can already provide enough energy to substitute for AAA batteries in some calculators, temperature and humidity sensors, and clocks."

At Intel, Dr. Smith, working with the researcher Alanson Sample of the University of Washington, created an electronic "harvester" of ambient radio waves. It collects enough energy from a TV station broadcasting about 2.5 miles from the lab to run a temperature and humidity sensor.

The device collects enough power to produce about 50 microwatts of DC power, Dr. Smith said. That is enough for many sensing and computing jobs, said Professor Otis. The power consumption of a typical solar-powered calculator, for example, is only about 5 microwatts, he said, and that of a typical digital thermometer with a liquid crystal display is one microwatt.

DR. SMITH and his colleagues have built a second device, powered by radio waves, that collects signals from an outdoor weather station and transmits them to an indoor display. The unit can accumulate enough energy to send an updated temperature every five seconds.

Dr. Reynolds of Duke has long been interested in electronics and wireless equipment. One company he helped found, Zensi, developed a system to sense the amount of electricity used by home appliances; Zensi was bought by Belkin, an electronics concern.

Many electronic devices are limited by batteries that fade away or can't survive temperature extremes, he said. But, he added, "we are on the cusp of an explosion in small wireless devices" than can run on alternatives to battery power. "Devices like this can live on and on," he said.



Inside Apple's once-secret wireless lab

By Jason Snell, Macworld
July 16, 2010 09:21 PM ET

After Friday morning's Apple press conference about the iPhone 4 and its antenna issues, Apple executives took a small group of journalists (11 all told, including myself) on a tour of the company's wireless-testing facilities. We were, the executives said, the first outsiders allowed into the area, a spot off-limits to most Apple employees. Even our escorts from Apple's PR department said they hadn't been in there before.

On a sunny and hot day in Silicon Valley, we were led through the center of Apple's campus and then across the street to the building housing the testing area. Behind a series of heavy security doors, we met Ruben Caballero, a senior Apple engineer and wireless expert. (Caballero, you might remember, was the subject of a Bloomberg report on Thursday suggesting that he had warned Steve Jobs about antenna problems in advance of the iPhone 4's release -- a report referred to by Steve Jobs on Friday as "total bullshit.") The point of the tour was clear: to show that Apple takes the testing of wireless issues very seriously, and that suggestions that the company was simply sleeping on the job when it came time to test the iPhone 4 are misguided.

Despite being a guy who obviously spends most of his time behind closed doors working on fiendishly complex radio engineering problems, Caballero proved to be an excellent tour guide, answering reporters' questions with enthusiasm. As he welcomed us into his lair, Caballero pointed out that many of the workbenches around us were draped with black fabric. "This is what we call a black lab," he said, meaning that they're testing secret stuff. "We have to cover all the benches when anyone comes in, even people from within Apple."

"The existence of this lab used to be secret," an Apple PR representative pointed out. "Now it's not." Not since Steve Jobs showed detailed pictures of it to members of the press a few hours earlier, anyway. Apple has since also posted a page about its test methods, including a video overview.

Apple's wireless lab has 16 different anechoic chambers--think of them as bank vaults, padded with foam shaped into pointy cones to stop all reflections, designed to create completely radio-neutral environments--at a cost Caballero estimated at $1.2 million per chamber.

"It was very simple in the old days," Caballero said, "when you had one antenna and one frequency." He pointed out that his first radio project involved a bunch of antennae on a football field. But these days, he pointed out, phones have in-built antennae, four GSM frequency bands, four UMTS frequency bands, they're sending and receiving massive amounts of data, there's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and GPS as well--it's complicated.

We toured several different chambers, and they're pretty eerie places. Caballero would occasionally step into a chamber, leading in a few reporters (they're generally far too small to fit more than a handful of people inside), and the moment he entered the chamber his voice became nearly inaudible, due to most of his sound being absorbed by the foam on the chamber's walls. Even the handles of the heavy doors are made of Fiberglas, and the doors are lined with copper to ensure the entire room is a Faraday cage.

The point of the chambers is to map the electromagnetic characteristics of a device by eliminating all other electromagnetic signals. The device to be tested gets placed in a chamber, and when the door's closed it's cut off from the rest of the world. (There are antennae and sensors in the chamber, but they're all routed back outside the chamber to monitoring equipment on the outside.) Devices can be tested all by themselves, with just their radios turned on, and it can take as much as 25 hours to test a product through all frequencies. In a later stage, a device might be tested with more equipment active--monitors, other radios, and the like--in order to measure how those items affect the electromagnetic characteristics of the device.

Devices aren't just tested while seated on a rotating block of dielectrically neutral styrofoam. In addition, the labs run tests on hardware while it's being held by actual people. We're all mostly made of water, and that means we tend to absorb a lot of electromagnetic waves--in other words, we make a better door than a window. In one test chamber, an Apple employee sat on a rotating blue chair while holding an iPhone and resting his arms on a block of styrofoam. Surrounding him was a huge arcing instrument made by Satimo but affectionally called "the Stargate" by Apple engineers. This set-up allows Apple to measure the effects of a human body interacting with radio transmission and reception.

Then there are the "phantom heads" -- and hands, and feet. These are proxies for human beings, used when living humans aren't necessary or early on in development when it's probably wiser not to expose humans to experimental radio radiation. A phantom head -- the one we met was called "Sam" -- is a mannequin-like head full of fluid, designed to match the dielectric characteristics of a human head, gray matter and fluid and all. Apple engineers can tape an iPhone to the side of a phantom head and then, inside an anechoic chamber, see what the results are.

Likewise, a phantom hand can be used to test what happens when a hand is holding a phone -- we made a few jokes about if the phantom hand's fingers touched the wrong spot on the iPhone 4, but didn't really get any laughter from the Apple execs in attendance. And there's even a phantom foot, custom ordered by Apple so that the company could run radio tests on the Nike+ transceiver that goes in the bottom of a running shoe.

Caballero pointed out that testing products in the wireless labs at Apple isn't a linear process, from baseline tests to tests with phantom heads to test with real people. Instead, the testing ping-pongs back and forth, and can happen in parallel. Every time some component changes during the development of a product, they'll re-test the product to see what those changes have done to its electromagnetic characteristics. The labs also will sometimes test products that have been returned by users as defective, in order to discover if there might be a production problem or other unanticipated error that is causing a defect.

Our last two stops on our tour were a CT scanner, purchased by Apple so that products can be scanned to search for defects, since actually opening up a product could change its electromagnetic characteristics and therefore make it impossible to get good test data. And a field-validation van, which can drive around and test radio reception in the real-world, equipped either with real humans or (to the terror of drivers who might spy one through a darkened window) phantom heads.

As we were escorted out of the building, Apple Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield summed up why Apple had gone to the trouble to take us into their labs. "This should give you an idea of the time, energy, and resources we put into design," he said. "There's no other way we could figure out how to make great products. There's real engineering going on here. If product design was simple, we wouldn't need" 16 anechoic chambers and a CT scanner.


Two new rulings by the Spanish Supreme Court support the local position on cell towers


Municipalities can take action to protect health as limiting transmission power of devices

17/07/1910 - 23:32 -

The Federation of Neighborhood Associations and Solidarity has a new argument for defending its position on the placement of more phone masts in the city. Two recent judgments of the Supreme Court legitimize municipalities to impose more restrictions and conditions on the placement of these electromagnetic devices, eg, regulation of power issue or location away from particularly sensitive areas such as child care centers or health.

The two judgments refer to the towns of Sant Lluís, Balearic Islands, and Alcoy in Valencia. The Voice of the Environment of the neighborhood association Jerez see in them an example for the Consistory Jerez: "We want the City Council do the same, to ensure coverage of the phones but always looking for the health of citizens" Francisco Gil said.

In the case of the Supreme Alcoy said the municipal authority could put distance and density limits emissions to the operators to place antennas near sensitive areas while in the case of the Balearic local judges go one step further by stating that the municipal councils are responsible for establishing additional protections to those established by state law. Sant Lluis has adopted an ordinance setting "an emission limit not exceeding 0.001 W / m 2 in any area where people could stay usually" or "hold a space of 200 meters around the areas of concentration and constant flow of sensitive populations such as kindergartens, infant schools 'or' condition the granting of planning permission in certain areas saturated. " Gil insisted that "what we ask for is protection from the City Council until there is reliable information to ensure that these antennas do not cause health damage."

Other examples

Besides the example of Sant Lluis and Alcoy, from Solidarity citing other cities that have opposed mass placement of antennas and for years maintained a moratorium on mobile devices and wi-fi as the neighborhood group has requested Jerez Consistory. It is the municipality of Basauri in the Basque Country, where in 2002 approved a moratorium that prevented "a precaution" to put new antennas, which earned him the local municipality facing two lawsuits to telecommunications companies. And recently the municipal corporation gave its approval block to lower intensity of mobile phone masts.

The main concern of neighborhood groups Jerez is "see what decision taken by politicians in the city: in defense of the health of Jerez or in defense of the interests of big phone companies." According to Francisco Gil recalled the Interphone report claims that "40% of the population may suffer from glioma due to exposure to electromagnetic waves."

Intentions in Jerez

Since the federation Solidarity Jerez argue that there are about 300 antennas (in a single mast can be several), many of them perceived by citizens and others less so. The growth in recent years has been exponential since in 2005 only had a stroke 95 and other 65 more were approved.

Wall Street, avenues Saharawi Republic, Fernando Portillo y León de Carranza, the building 74 or Jerez City Transport are some of the sites of future antennas, if the City Council is finally proceed with the proposal made last April.


An underground threat

18 juil. 2010
Kathryn Borg
The Malta Times

Scientists have begun to link underground water sources to a high incidence of various illnesses ranging from cot death to cancer.

The potential dangers of living above underground water first emerged in the 1920s, when a Belgian scientist, George Lakhovsky, proposed that living cells emit electromagnetic (EM) frequencies, and that external EM interference could disturb the equilibrium of living things, thereby affecting health.

He initially suspected the nature of the soil predisposed inhabitants to cancer. However, while studying cancer incidence in Paris, he found that it was lowest in places such as Port Dauphine, which rested on sandy limestone, and highest is places such as Grenelle, which rested on clay.

Lakhovsky's realised certain soils absorbed the sun's cosmic rays, while others reflected them upwards and into the living things above them.

The most dangerous situation appeared to be living above underground running water. Water is a powerful conductor of electricity.

When hit by cosmic rays or those emitted from fault lines, running water naturally bends or distorts the rays and send jolts of unnatural EM radiation to inhabitants living above.

In 1929, in Vilsburg, Germany, Baron Gustav von Phol demonstrated, by dowsing, that all 54 cancer victims in this little town slept at sites receiving high levels of cosmic radiation from underground streams.

The most dangerous 'cancer houses' were those right above the place where two streams crossed, especially those lying at different levels.

More recently, Von Phol's work was confirmed in a study by the Scientific Association of Medical Doctors who, with the aid of a dowser, studied the houses of more than 5,000 people, in the German town of Stettin, who had died of cancer. In all instances, their homes were located in a spot of intense EM radiation emitted from the earth. Subsequently, the early work of these pioneers has been confirmed by researchers using more sophisticated equipment such as geomagnetometers.

Russian geologist Eugen Melnikov, who conducted studies in St Petersburg between 1989 and 1992, found that the incidence of cancer was nearly three times higher in areas of geopathic stress.

Cambridge biologist Roger Coghill has studied the effect of EMradiation for decades, and discovered a strong link between sudden infant death syndrome and strong EM radiation, including underground water sources.

The closer the infant was to the site of underground radiation, the earlier it died. When Coghill measured the EM radiation in the cot of one infant who had died, he was amazed to discover the spot where she had been placed measured 70 volts per metre, whereas the radiation fell to 10 volts per metre at the other end of the bed.

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