Carmesh presents at SmartDevCon2

In September, Carmesh had the opportunity to present at the SmartDevCon2 conference. This is a developer focused conference which is looking to a future comprised of very many smart devices: the conference focuses on innovative tools and technologies appropriate for this new context. With Carmesh focused on the Connected Car – which will clearly have more intelligence – this conference is very much relevant to the project.

The conference itself was a modest international conference – some of the speakers had travelled quite a distance to get there – with about 100 attendees. Most of the attendees came from the mobile development arena and had varying levels of experience.

We presented our view of the evolution of the Connected Car. In essence, we see a HTML5 based OBU talking to a phone where most of the intelligence lies and this connects to a cloud backend (more on our vision here). We also talked about some particular technologies we think are exciting and hold particular promise in this area.

As the audience was mostly comprised of mobile developers, the auto space was something which was new to them; while there was some interest in our talk, I think it’s fair to say that novel mobile platforms were in more demand. It did, however, give us a good platform to get out in front of developers to promote the Carmesh vision.

Carmesh at the Automotive Linux Summit – Day 1

We had the opportunity to attend the Automotive Linux Summit in Edinburgh in October 2013. It’s an industry focused event which is tied in to Linuxcon Europe.

The event had about 100 attendees, from a mix of component suppliers, OEMs, Tier 1s and smaller guys working on some specific automotive software aspects.

It was our first time attending this conference, so we had no idea what to expect. Generally, we got the impression that the sector is in the midst of quite a big transition, moving from very bespoke, specialized software and hardware solutions to a much more standardized approach based on Open Source and open standards. While this in itself is very significant, it’s the greater implications of this – an increased rate of innovation – which is both the threat and opportunity that is simultaneously causing discomfort and excitement right now.

The range of topics covered at the Summit is impressive – ranging from software licensing in Open Source to mapping to mobile integration to new virtualization platforms. Any one of these alone could have its own dedicated event.

The highlight of the event yesterday was definitely the very engaging Matt Jones from Jaguar-Land Rover who argued cogently that the sector has the opportunity to greatly increase its rate of innovation. Noting that timelines for introduction of software into cars can be about 39 months and small companies can bring production software out in 18 months or less, highlights the challenges for small companies with new ideas to engage in the automotive space. Also the idea of having rapid software update and distribution cycles should increase innovation and offer a much better experience to the car user overall.

We learnt lots from day 1 and met loads of very interesting people. Let’s hope day 2 will be equally as interesting…

Deployment of Wireless Mesh Networks

In a previous blog post describing the basic components of a WMN, we highlight  that the  network performance depends mainly on the design issue. In what follows we will detail how to deal with the deployment of WMN in general and specially in the case of the Carmesh project. This latter problem  consists mainly of treating the two following problems:

  • Where the mesh routers have to be placed?
  • How to connect the mesh routers among them to form a balanced backbone topology?

First, the mesh nodes placement problem is related to the access tier design issue, which aims at achieving the following objectives:

  1. Minimizing the installation cost: This objective can be achieved by reducing the number of mesh routers necessary to provide the target wireless coverage.
  2. Coverage optimization: The mesh router positions are determined based on available maps or drawings and according to the required quality of service expressed in terms of Signal to Interference Noise Ratio (SINR).
  3. Minimize the interference effect: To fulfil this objective, we have to ensure that the frequency channels assigned to the access radio interfaces are orthogonal (or sufficiently non-intereferring) to ultimately increase the nominal data rate for each user.

Second, the mesh nodes logical connections strategy deals with forming the backhaul network and its objectives can be summarized as follows:

  1. Backhaul network connectivity: Selecting the links connecting mesh routers among them.
  2. Maximizing the backhaul network capacity: Exploiting the overall backhaul network capacity.

The access network design problem can be solved first using the set covering problem to determine the minimum number of mesh routers required to cover all users. The coverage criterion is expressed as the signal strength assessed by each user to be higher than a certain predefined value, which offers a minimal nominal throughput. Once the positioning problem is solved, it is then necessary to assign a frequency channel to each mesh router (i.e. access radio interface) in order to communicate with its associated users. In IEEE 802.11-based WLAN, the channel assignment problem consists of assigning radio channels to mesh radio interfaces in such a way that the inter-channel spacing between close mesh routers is maximized. This minimizes  interferences and thus increase the wireless mesh overall network capacity.

However, the problem of backhaul network design can be solved by interconnecting the set of positioned mesh routers among them. The objective here is to select a set of links among all potential links, that allow to connect each mesh router to the gateway. The choice of links to keep has to be done with respect of certain constraints such as the limited number of radio interface, the ripple effect and channel dependency.

The deployment of WMN network is a hard problem and its complexity can not be managed easily even when we tackle with an orderly number of steps. This complexity has lead researchers to propose heuristics in order to deal with the complexity of the  aforementioned multiobjective problems. The optimal deployment of WMN allows to improve the network performance, it is a necessary phase in the design of WMN but not sufficient due to the shared nature of the wireless medium. Thus, the network dimensioning and capacity assignment are other important issues to deal with when designing and deploying wireless mesh networks.

Connected Car Rentals – how the Connected Car will change the Car Rental sector

In a previous post, we described how we see the used car market changing as the Connected Car evolves. Here, we focus on the Car Rental sector with particular emphasis on how data collection can impact the sector. (Note that while we focus on the power of the data here, we do view the Connected Car as offering more – see our vision post for details).

The car rental sector is very interesting from a Connected Car point of view from two particular perspectives. Firstly, the Connected Car sector is comprised of quite a few big organizations who can roll out Connected Car technology across their entire fleet quite easily. Secondly, the car rental sector is seeing some disruption with peer-to-peer solutions offering lower cost services – the Connected Car fits neatly into this paradigm shift. Both of these perspectives are examined a little further below.

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Unexplained packet losses in NS-3: Where is my packet?

The NS-3 simulator tries to mimic as close as possible the journey of a packet through the IP-stack’s layers. Passing the packet from one layer to the next one is done through Callbacks or functions which access the packet. In this way, NS-3’s callbacks are taking successively control over the packet, which remains static.

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How the Connected Car will change the Used Car Market

One of the things that the emerging world of big data will make possible is to know detailed history on everything. This will have profound impacts on selling ‘pre-loved’ items in general and used cars in particular. With the US used car market valued at around $400bn annually, this is worth noting.

Today, the used car market is – naturally – keen to know the history of the car. However, the way in which this is communicated is still quite limited: in some places a log book containing service history is the norm, other more sophisticated variants include carfax, which tracks odometer readings and reported crashes or, for example, the national database in Sweden which makes information on a car’s annual inspection available. While these do capture some key points in the story of the car, obviously having the full story rather than a set of snapshots can give a more comprehensive view.

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Control of the In Car experience using SmartDeviceLink

SmartDeviceLink (SDL) is mobile-auto interaction technology which was originally devised by Ford (as an evolution of Applink) but is currently being developed under the auspices of the GENIVI alliance. This is a very interesting technology in the mobile-auto interaction space and we decided to check it out in Carmesh.

While details relating to the technology itself are somewhat in flux and the subject of the discussions within the GENIVI alliance, the basic ideas are reasonably clear. Essentially, SDL comprises of a set of standardized messages which can enable the car and the mobile to exchange state and control information. For example, it’s possible for the mobile to display specific text or images on the car dashboard, control audio playout on the car’s sound system and receive notifications when buttons on the steering wheel are pressed; in future, it should be possible to send specific Points Of Interest from the phone to the car’s navigation system amongst other things.

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SDN’s many promises to network routing and the raise of OpenFlow

Despite the fact that the Software-Defined Networking (SDN) concept has been around for quite a while now–developed by Stanford around 2005–the hype is just growing. We strongly felt this when we attended the–HPSR2013 conference–where many research papers and  2 out of 3 tutorials discussed about SDN. Other highlights of the conference are presented in another post.

We would not say that SDN is the new ATM, which some might say was too over engineered to just work in practice. However, as with any new technology searching for its final course there were many promises which have to prove their usefulness and practicality. Here our takeaways for SDN:

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Tizen IVI – a breakthrough in on-board units?

Last year, after some years of development, Intel and Samsung announced Tizen OS – an open platform designed to work with a broad spectrum of devices ranging from smartphones to PCs to tablets to in-car systems and TVs. Here, we focus on Tizen IVI, (for In-vehicle infotainment) as it relates to the development work in carmesh.

The Tizen IVI architecture design is driven by requirements coming from automotive industry and via the GENIVI Alliance. Some of the biggest auto makers including BMW, GM, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault, SAIC Motor have already expressed interest in the platform as open solutions offer much potential in the automotive space.

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