UP physics lab innovates use of wireless, mobile apps

Athough this sounds cool, this could be made easier and more flexible using Windows Moblile devices and Microsoft Visual Studio for Robotics with Lego Mindstorm NXT.

UP physics lab innovates use of wireless, mobile apps

By Alexander Villafania
Last updated 05:24pm (Mla time) 03/29/2007

Mobile phones as remote controls? Why not?
A physics laboratory in the University of the Philippines Diliman is developing remote access capabilities for mobile phones. Likewise, the National Institute of Physics (NIP) also created hardware components that can control industrial-type equipment, including hospital equipment.
Presenting their equipment to INQUIRER.NET , UP NIP Associate Professor Carlo Mar Blanca showed four projects that he and his students are working on. Most of the equipment are off-the-shelf parts but the methods of putting these together are unique to the NIP’s development program.
Blanca said their main objective is to create a wireless architecture that will enable distant researchers to remotely monitor, control and acquire data. Blanca calls its central wireless architecture Smart Research Facility (no relation to Smart Communications).
Most importantly, Blanca noted that their projects are not intended for commercial purposes but as proof-of-concept designs that may allow others to develop specialized equipment for remote control and monitoring purposes.
The novel designs of the NIP include thermal monitoring wherein a mobile phone can access the temperature of heat-sensitive industrial laboratory equipment. A cellular phone module transmitter attached to a temperature sensor will send a text message to an administrator warning of temperature or humidity increase or decrease in some equipment.
"This system can have automatic updating or the user can send a text message asking the temperature sensor to give the latest heat reading," Blanca said.
The next project is a camera surveillance system that employs a high-resolution digital camera with infrared sensor that is triggered when it detects movement. It then captures a photo of the intruder then sends the image via multimedia service to an administrator. This system also uses similar cellular transmission equipment from the thermal monitoring system.
Likewise, a third project is a mobile phone based control mechanism for a programmable robot, provided by Lego Mindstorm. These robots move when the user sends commands either via circuit-switch data or the much faster GPRS (general packet radio service).
The mobile software itself uses Java software kits and was done in collaboration with Janne Levula, senior technology expert of Nokia Finland.
A fourth project is a remote access electro-cardiogram monitor wherein the same cellular module is attached to an existing ECG machine, which then sends data to a doctor’s phone via GPRS. But instead of text-based information, the data is re-converted to a graphical display similar to that of an actual ECG machine. It also transmits the patient’s name, age and current pulse rate.
Another novel project is a remote access microscope using video streaming via 3G. Incidentally, NIP used a now-rare Play Microscope, a toy created by Intel. The Play Microscope is attached with a viewing module which is then attached to a cellular transmission module. A doctor or researcher can view slides on the microscopes in real time using a 3G-enabled camera phone.
But the previous projects would be overshadowed by another NIP project; a wireless telemicroscope that can be remotely controlled via GPRS, 3G or even over the Internet and wireless local area network. The lens changing of the high resolution telemicroscope can be controlled in these different ways and data can be taken from pictures of materials underneath the slides.
Blanca said the main purpose of the wireless telemicroscope is to allow researchers from different sites to use it without having to be physically present. This machine would be used as an example of how future doctors and researchers would be able to use limited equipment that are not readily or physically available to them.
"These are all researches and if you notice, we’re not even in software programming, biology or robotics. What we’re doing here at the NIP is to show that there is now the melding together of different scientific disciplines to solve research projects. Even with limited supply of equipment or funds, scientists will be able to have immediate access to equipment through wireless," Blanca said.

Source: UP physics lab innovates use of wireless, mobile apps – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos


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