Form Follows Phone

The mobile phone can be characterised as the product that has eaten everything. When the phone eats things the things do not die they just change shape. They become phone shaped.
My photo album, TV, email client, compass, map holder, calendar, address book, web browser and alarm clock are now all phone shaped portrait orientated rectangles.

My record collection has become a list on Spotify. I now share playlists! My diary with its flip over paper pages is now a scrolling list whose days appear as I swipe.

Will phone shapes continue to dominate?

There is an interesting trend where phone functions are distributed to a smart watch. This promotes a pause to think of a world that is post phone shaped – a wearable world.
There is also the rise of SIRI and OK Google to consider. Maybe the phone shape will not be so important if we talk to our computers or more fancifully if our phones guess our needs and talk to us. These ideas are for the future, yes, perhaps the near future but for now it is hard to see beyond a dominant phone shape – everywhere.

It is certain that much of the physical environment will morph into a mobile phone app. Early candidates for becoming phone shaped are home heating systems, access control, personal fitness and wellness. A clear trajectory is in place where the phone consumes many of our well know physical objects and activities. In this there is a sense of loss that so many things and activities of days past are now phone shaped apps. Time, perhaps for a short lament and then we need to face the challenge.
If things become phone shaped then they should do so wholeheartedly – without pretending to be something else or harking back. Of course we should recognize the limitations of phone shapes and also recognize the opportunities for wonderful new assisted social activities.

There will be a period of growing up in this augmented environment we now share with personal machines. In the early days (we are in that period) there will some poorly judged interactions. For example, just because you can share your toothbrush status does not mean that it is a good idea.

5 types of things?

Steve Sufaro of Axis Commnications proposed a three step test to define an IoT device. It is this:

  1. Is the device capable of being remotely detected; is there the ability to know what IoT devices and components are connected to a given network or system?
  2. Can the device become trusted and authenticated on a network?
  3. Is the device able to be updated and upgraded to enhance features, deliver data and improve device security?

Assuming that the test is good and that a particular device passes on all counts what further definition could be given to IoT devices? How should we think about things? What kind of language should we use?
It is clear that all IoT devices are communicating entities however not all IoT devices are equal. Different communication regimes pertain to different devices. Stratifying IoT devices by the sort of communication regime they operate in could help us think about things and the relationship we have with them. Here is our concept:

A plain old thing – fails all thee of Sufaro’s tests and is not considered to be part of the IoT. A roll of sellotape or a pot for example.

A local thing – the communications with this thing occurs locally – only. The device exists behind a LAN or some other sort of network (Bluetooth or a zigbee mesh for example). Detection and Authentication is completed within the local network. Updating can be achieved by using a proxy device such as a mobile app, which in turn connects to the device and updates it.
An example of a local thing is a Bluetooth controlled heater working in connection with a mobile app.

A wide thing – communicates with someone or something on the internet. The architecture for such a device often includes: the device itself and peripheral sensors, a cloud service including data sources, a user control and monitoring panel, often in the form of a mobile app. Home automation control hubs and cloud based security camera systems are wide things.
A simple example of a wide thing is a lamp that changes colour when a favourite football team scores a goal.

A swarm thing – communicates with other things in the network. A swarm thing acts like a single entity although it is comprised of many constituent entities. Some access control systems are swarm things. A city traffic light system acting in unison could be a swarm thing. A change in the state of one thing affects the state of other things in the network. A key feature of a swarm thing is that it enables the addition of a connection to another thing thereby increasing its functionality.

An autonomous thing – acts in a wide environment responding to cases it detects to achieve a set goal. The control panel for an autonomous thing allows the user to change parameters of the goal. The communication with an autonomous thing is primarily at the start of its life when it is set its task. Devices for seeking an equilibrium state in an environment could be autonomous things.

The divisions between the strata are not fixed or ranked. It is possible to envisage and autonomous local thing for example. The level of remote control, programmatic agency or artificial intelligence in the thing is not the critical stratification (things will certainly get smarter) it is instead the communications regime that any individual thing operates within that is the identifier.

 

 

EyeSpyFX introduce a new library for reading H264 Video.

For Network Camera and VMS Manufacturers who need to build a Mobile Solution SFX100 is a library of code that enables iOS and Android apps to be built that decode and display MJPEG, H264 video using RTSP over TCP, RTSP over HTTP and RTSP over HTTPS.

Unlike bulky Open Source projects such as ffMPEG, Live555 and VLC, published under GPL or LGPL, SFX100 is a proprietary library available under licence that is ready for immediate and efficient deployment in commercial mobile projects.

SFX100 is optimised for Security Camera Video applications uniquely offering a secure layer for streaming RTSP tunneled over HTTPS.

SFX100 is exemplified in EyeSpyFX premier iOS mobile app “Doorcam”. (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/doorcam/id1060661561?mt=8)

Key features include:

  • Secure layer for streaming RTSP tunneled over HTTPS.
  • Per project commercial licence
  • Optimised code for security camera video types
  • iOS and Android libraries available
  • Reads RTSP streams and provides mechanism to pass to phone based native decoders
  • Compatible with IPv6

Contact us on info@eyespyfx.com for further information about how SFX100 can be deployed in mobile apps.

App Prototyping Tools

In EyeSpyFX we develop apps for complex security cam and access control systems for international clients. We have often been asked what App Prototyping Tools we use.

Well – the truth is we don’t use any specialized “app prototype tools”. That doesn’t mean that we don’t iterate and prototype – we certainly do, it just means we don’t use those app prototype tools. Nor does it mean that we are against the use of App Prototype Tools – we are keeping an open mind, but our current process does not involve those sort of tools.

We start out with a briefing document and then we draw stuff out – by hand (no prototype tools). The drawings are loose and very often we do a lot of them – often 100 to 200 sketches.

System Diagram

Hand Drawn (low fidelity) System Diagram

At some point we scan the drawings and start to create higher fidelity images, often systems diagrams and then screen shots. The system diagrams are agreed with clients and based on these diagrams we build the technical backbone for the project.

The screen shots become storyboards and interaction walk-throughs for different personas who will use the app. These walk-throughs are checked against the system diagrams and gradually the screenshots mature and become graphic assets for the app development project. To do all this we use, Illustrator, In Design, Powerpoint, Photoshop, etc. Each of these are powerful software packages but general in nature and not specific App Prototype Tools.

We feel that this fluid process might become a bit constrained and over formalized if we used an App Prototype Tool – so we don’t and so far so good.

Access All: Door controller App for AXIS A1001

We are proud to launch Access All app for IOS. Access All allows you to remotely open doors using the A1001 Door Controller Unit from AXIS. You can also use the app to view access reports.

As an introductory offer Access All is free to download and use.

Access All door controller app for AXIS A1001

Access All door controller app for AXIS A1001

App features:
> The Door List
– View all your doors and their current status all on one list.
– Individual colour coded status for Locked, Unlocked, Access and Alarms.
– Includes an Instant Access button to unlock the door for a number of seconds, granting people entry.

> Door View
– Lock, Unlock and Access the door.
– See the current status of that door.
– View the door’s Event and Alarm logs.

> Event Log
View the Event Log for each door.
See the events from the door organised by date and filtered for your convenience.

> Alarm Log
View the Alarm Log for each door.
See only the Alarm stats that you pre-set up alerts for.

>Adding your A1001 to the App
The App works with any A1001 device, whether it’s in Standalone Mode or part of a System.
Either auto-detect the A1001 devices on your network or manually enter their location.
Then enter your your username and password to allow the App access the A1001 unit.

IoT: Three types of Things

Could IoT things be classified according to their instruction source rather than their function?

Local Thing – instructions derived on board
Global Thing – instruction derived from a global source
Swarm Thing – instructions gained from other things in the swarm

Things can be combinations of the above and/or switch according to context.

Viewer for AXIS Camera Companion – Grid View and Guard Tour feature

In the lead iOS app “Viewer for AXIS Camera Companion” one of the lesser known but very useful features is Guard Tour.

Guard Tour displays each camera in the “site” for a five seconds then flicks on to the next camera.
When using Guard Tour we recommend that you leave your iPad on never sleep (auto lock) mode.
(Settings/Auto-Lock/Never)

Once in never sleep mode then place the app into Guard Tour you can use the iPad as a simple display for shop monitoring. (Note: When the iPad is in never sleep mode it uses a lot of batteries so its best if you leave it plugged into a mains supply)

Should you want to project to a big screen then Apple TV is a great way of doing that. (We wrote about how to set up an EyeSpyFX app to work with Apple TV projection here)

To get to the Guard Tour feature first go to Grid View then hit the Guard Tour button.

Guard Tour displays each camera in the "SITE" for 5 seconds

Guard Tour displays each camera in the “SITE” for 5 seconds

The Guard Tour option in “Viewer for AXIS Camera Companion” is a basic Guard Tour feature. It is not adjustable, it is fixed to display cameras at 5 second intervals. If you require more advanced Guard Tour options for setting up a Public View Monitor then the app “PVM for AXIS” is a great choice.

Horizontal Timelines versus Vertical Timelines

In most Security Cam applications the timeline feature is horizontal with older events to the left and more recent to the right. This suits PC based applications.

a horizontal timeline

a horizontal timeline

In the mobile world timelines are vertical, think of Facebook and Twitter. New events are at the top older events are toward the bottom.
As the demand for mobile access to security cam systems increases we predict that the orientation of timelines will do a 90 degree flip and go vertical.
In our latest app “Timeline” we feature a vertical timeline. Timeline is the world’s first mobileVMS. No server or PC is required; everything runs on the mobile. Because there is no server or PC there was never any reason to build a traditional horizontal timeline, so we went vertical. Come and see this innovative app at IFSEC stand B110. We have a live demo running throughout the show.

timeline screenshot

timeline screenshot