August 23, 2011

Recently an interesting article indicated that a low cost Android from Huawei is already used by 350 000 kenyans.

“It seems like just yesterday when only the slickest kid on the block had a smartphone, but now,this revolutionary gadget is selling like hotcakes in the developing world. Earlier this year, the
Chinese firm Huawei unveiled IDEOS through Kenya’s telecom titan, Safaricom. So far, this $80 smartphone has found its way into the hands of 350,000+ Kenyans, an impressive sales number
in a country where 40% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. The IDEOS’s success in this market firmly establishes the open source Android as the smartphone of the
people and demonstrates how unrelenting upswings in price-performance can jumpstart the spread of liberating technologies. Thanks to low-cost Androids, the geographically-untethered
smartphone is here to stay, and it simply cannot be stopped.”

In June 2011, Huawei and Safari Telecom signed a memorandum of understanding for technology transfer with 3 kenyan universities. Dr Bitange Ndemo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications indicated that he sees 90% of phones being smartphones in the next 2 years.

That same month, , Safaricom and Telkom Kenya announced they were embedding health services into their product offerings. It is not an altruistic endeavour however, as both companies hope the move will see their profit margins increase, after prices wars have devastated the countries telecom sector in recent months.
Much of the focus will initially be on rural areas in the country through the virtual clinics, which the telecom companies said would bring in “modest” consultation fees. The mobile operators claim users will make huge savings on money spent on travel and logistics associated with hospital visits.

Safaricom’s Health Presence will be equipped with facilities to read a patient’s vital signs – including temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. On the other end, the doctor on call will be able to read the vitals on a computer and together with the patient’s narrative, is able to give a diagnosis and prescription or refer the patient to a health clinic.
The e-health centres will be housed in digital villages set up by Safaricom. It has put up 800 digital villages and plans to put an additional 5,000 by end of this year.
Sylvia Mulinge, the general manager of Enterprise Business Unit at Safaricom, said
“In the first year, we will have 30 per cent of the digital villages equipped with the health presence facility,The project is meant to take affordable and quality health care to the common person. One should be able to consult a professional medical practitioner at under $2 (Sh168). This would in ordinary circumstances cost one in excess of Sh2, 000, when one factors in travel costs and other logistics.”

Adapting our products and services to meet new challenges.

Emerging countries are quickly embracing mhealth technologies and it is not a coincidence if the GSMA first mobile health Summit took place in South Africa in June.
Shipments of budget Android phones priced at around the US$150 mark numbered just 2.5-3 million units in 2010, the vast majority of which were split between ZTE (ZTE Racer model, review and specs here) and Huawei (IDEOS, review here) .
Sales of such phones are expected to grow to more than 20 million units in 2011. Huawei plans to ship between 12 and 15 million Android powered devices this year,At a time when healthcare budgets are being re-examined, it is clear to us that mHealth can contribute to improving quality care without requiring substantial investments. To encourage this move, we have ported all our mobile health applications to this IDEOS phone: software packages for our biomedical devices in the Senspacks (thermometer, glucometer, blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter) are all available now for such entry level smartphone. Granted the low resolution takes some getting used too after using higher end smartphones,the screen keyboard is tiny and it can be annoying to type SMS messages, and more annoyingly the battery life is awful BUT does it really matter when it sells for $ 80 in Kenya and for 8300 rupees in India ?
To us, not really because we believe that these are small issues compared to improving the lives of thousands of people and enabling a faster diffusion of mobile health to save lives.
Sensaris will release new mobile health solutions for diabetes management and for maternal, newborn child health in the near future with a particular focus on these new platforms for emerging countries.

August 10, 2011

Innovative uses of sensors can reduce city deficits. At a time when governments at all levels are looking for ways to reduce expenses, smart cities can lead the way: this week we will just start with two concrete examples:

Smart lighting:

The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution.

Delft Management of Technology alumnus Chintan Shah designed the system, which can be added to any dimmable streetlight. The illumination comes from LED bulbs, which are triggered by motion sensors. As a person or car approaches, their movement is detected by the closest streetlight, and its output goes up to 100 percent. Because the lights are all wirelessly linked to one another, the surrounding lights also come on, and only go back down to 20 percent once the commuter has passed through. This essentially creates a “pool of light” that precedes and follows people wherever they go, so any thugs lurking in the area should be clearly visible well in advance.

The lights’ wireless communications system also allows them to automatically notify a central control room when failures (such as burnt-out bulbs) occur. This should make maintenance much simpler, as crews will know exactly where to go, and when.

Some fine-tuning is still ongoing, in order to keep the lights from being activated by things like swaying branches or wandering cats. In the meantime, Shah has formed a spin-off company named Tvilight to market the technology. He claims that municipalities utilizing the system should see it paying for itself within 3 to 4 years of use.



Smart lighting

Delft University technology pitch


Smart watering


At the Barcelona Digital Global congress in early June,, the City of Sant Cugat reported 20 % water savings using their new system and the next target is to reach 40 % savings !


It seems that sensor networks make more and more sense !! (To be continued……………)


August 4, 2011


The urban bicycle boom in Europe seems to be a steady trend, and there seems to be more benefits than just fitness and global warming. In Toulouse, France, Oramip ( in charge of measuring air quality in the Midi-Pyrennees region,  conducted in 2008 and 2009 a very interesting study comparing the exposure to NOx, CO and fine particles for different modes of transportation.

Personal exposure for various transportation modes.

The main results are reproduced below:

  • NO2:nitrogen dioxide

Car:83 ppb (156 µg/m3)

Bicycle:12 ppb (22 µg/m3)

Pedestrian: 20 ppb (22 µg/m3)

Metro: 13 ppb (22 µg/m3)

Bus: 33 ppb (22 µg/m3)


  • CO: carbon monoxide

Car:1.05 ppm (1.2 mg/m3)

Bicycle:0.08 ppm (0.09 mg/m3)

Pedestrian: 0.120 ppm (0.14 mg/m3)

Metro: Too low to measure (0 mg/m3)

Bus: 0.03 ppm (0.03 mg/m3)


  • PM 10: fine particles

Car: 60 µg/m3

Bicycle:38 µg/m3

Pedestrian: 43 µg/m3

Metro: 292 µg/m3

Bus: 75 µg/m3


This is quite interesting as it shows that bicycling not only helps you stay stay fit, but also it is better for your lungs !

The results are consistent with work done in 2009 by Woodrow Pattinson at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand Cyclist exposure to traffic pollution: microscale variance, the impact of route choice and comparisons to other modal choices in two New Zealand cities which concludes:


“Final comparative exposure results largely agreed with those of international studies. The cyclist (on-road) fared relatively well against other modes. Carbon monoxide exposure for the car was around 2.6 and 2.3 times higher than both the cyclist and bus, in Christchurch and Auckland, respectively. Train exposure was lower still - by a factor of 4.3, compared to car. The cyclist was also the least exposed for ultrafine particles – by a factor of 1.6, compared to car and bus concentrations which were roughly the same.

There was not a lot of variation between modes for mean PM1.0-10 exposure. PM10 was highest for the cyclist in Auckland, but only 4% greater than bus, whereas this difference was 23% in Christchurch, in favour of the cyclist. The bus mode also had the highest mean exposure for PM2.5 and PM1.0 in Auckland, while the cyclist was slightly lower than car. The bus was also highest in Christchurch, followed by the cyclist and then the car. The higher levels in the bus are likely due to diesel self-pollution and intake of outside air through open windows and the continual opening of doors.»
The level of PM10 found for Auckand (See below)  is pretty close to that measured in Toulouse:

From these studies in two different hemispheres, one can clearly state that from every point of view, mayors of smart cities are right to encourage bicycling for their citizens…..To be continued.

Documents of interest:

Urban bicycle boom in Europe

Personal exposure to air pollution for various modes of transportation in Toulouse

August 2, 2011

In Vilnius they really take illegal parking seriously:

Watch video

After this, one can imagine that Streetline might provide a free sensor to the mayor for Christmas or better yet a position on its strategic board.

After being named IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year Streetline’s CEO Zia Yusuf announced:

“With our smart sensors, we can dramatically reduce the amount of drivers’ time looking for parking, and improve the efficiency of a city’s traffic and parking network. Smarter Cities will change how people work and live. Parking sensors are only the first step, and we look forward to working with IBM to help make cities ‘smarter’.”

This video opens up a whole range of new services !!

What is the return on investment for cities implementing parking sensor networks ?…..Since there are an increasing number of cities implementing such schemes, like Santander or Sant Cugat we will soon find out…….but it will be hard to match Lithuania’s capital.