Virtual Cables for IoT Devices

10. January, 2017

IoT devices are a security nightmare: They should be easy to use / set up but hard to hack.

With classic devices, the solution is “cable”. If there is no cable between two devices, they can’t talk to each other. If you follow the cable, you can see who talks to whom.

Translating this solution for the wireless devices is “virtual cables”. Each device needs a wireless (NFC) connection area where the user can press a “virtual cable drum” (VCD). The device then passes a token to the VCD. Next, the user presses the VCD to the other device.

That creates a virtual wire between the two devices. The VCD is just a small NFC knob which can keep an encrypted token for a couple of minutes. Not having batteries and permanent storage will be a plus: No one can steal the tokens after the connections have been made.

In a similar fashion, the VCD could be used to install security updates: Put the token for the update or the whole patch on the VCD, press the VCD against the device to update to trigger the update.

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Human Impact on Earth

10. May, 2013

Most of us know that human life has an enormous impact on Earth (and especially on the conditions that allow human life on this precious world) but it’s one thing to “know” and another to “see”.

Google has released a new service for the Earth Engine which offers a time-lapse of an area of Earth’s surface over the last 28 years, for example coal mining in Wyoming (those structures you see are about 10 km across).

Or Amazon Deforestation, Brazil. The image spans about 500 km.

Next time someone comes up “there is no scientific … global warming …”, you have something to show them.

And there is no scientist who doubts climate change. The only questions left are how much it will change, how much of that change is because of human greed and what the exact consequences will be.


Growing Furniture

9. May, 2013

When Peter F. Hamilton wrote about the Edenists growing space stations out of asteroids by planting an artificial, genetic-engineered egg on it, it was science fiction.

Carl de Smet found a way to make foam form into a chair when heated in an oven. The next step in the design is to make the surface of the chair re-mold itself at body temperature – the chair will deform to adjust to the shape of the person sitting on it.