Bob's Adventures in Wireless and Video Headline Animator

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Intelligent Wireless Routing


in·tel·li·gence

noun
1. capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
2. manifestation of a high mental capacity: He writes with intelligence and wit.
3. the faculty of understanding.
4. knowledge of an event, circumstance, etc., received or imparted; news; information.
5. the gathering or distribution of information, especially secret information. 
"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this.
I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly,
take a stress pill, and think things over." - HAL 9000
Most wireless routers are not intelligent. Most make no effort to draw correlations between data drawn from their environment such as noise floor, signal strength, geographic location, nearby other wireless devices, interference, channel congestion and other like variables.
In the world of wireless networking there are lots and lots of variables. But most routers are pretty static. You, the user, scan the area during installation time, make a note of what the conditions are at that moment and set your routers' configuration variables to best perform at that point in time.  If something changes, then you make changes in the configuration to adapt to the new environment. It is not a question of if there will be changes, it is a question of when they will occur and if they will disrupt your network.

Security networks need to be always on. They need to be high availability, otherwise what good are they? If your security network easily goes down due to interference, congestion, or other changes in the environment, then your video and access control cannot go through. 

An intelligent router can make your life a lot easier. It takes more work up front to configure it, but if done correctly, you may never need to service that router again.

A Practical Definition

HauteWRAP
Wireless Intelligent Router
Intelligence for a router means being able to gather data and react to that data in a dynamic way. The main goal is to keep your network functioning at optimal performance.
The first thing you need is sensors or sampling data from your radio interfaces, GPS location, voltage levels, current levels, number of connected clients or peers, CPU utilization, memory utilization and much more. The availability of data is the first step towards intelligence.

Data that you need to be able to read and analyze may include:

  • Noise - you need to be able to determine if the channel has some type of interference. Did a toaster oven turn on? Did a far away access point some into range? Did a ship just arrive with radar? Did someone take a cordless phone call? Did the welder just come to work to start his shift? If your router can sample the noise floor regularly,
  • Location - With GPS you can tell where you are and share a common clock time with all of your peers. This is particularly important with mobile routers. With GPS you can tell if you are at your office, at the police station, near a Starbucks or the library, or out in the boondocks. If you know your location, you can change your configuration. At the police station you are in client mode so you can download data to the station network. When you pull away, maybe you go into AP mode and enable your cellular data modem so that you can use your router as a "MiFi" type of device. Then when you get near a Starbucks you go back to client mode so you can use their WiFi in order to reduce data charges. With common time you can cross reference logs, triangulate events, and diagnose problems much better. 
  • Peers - If your router is gathering information on what other devices are in the area, like mesh nodes, APs, or clients you can change the function of your router. If your router sees the SSID for "PoliceStation" then it may go into client mode. If it sees "car2930" then it can go into mesh mode, and if it sees a client named "pda123" or the mac address of some other known client device it could go into AP mode. You can also use device detection for intrusion alarming. If you see a device that you don't expect you can shut it off and report it.
  • Loading - By tracking CPU load, memory, associated clients, packet traffic, bit errors and other like data you can move traffic off your router before it crashes. You can start forcing disconnections of clients so that they have to reconnect to a different unit, you can apply bandwidth limits, you can deny different types of traffic (video, P2P and more).

These are just a few examples of the type of data you can monitor and actions you might want to take.

Response

Scheduled Script
In order to react to data, you need a programmable mechanism. In our routers we use scripts and schedulers. A script can easily be written by non-programmer types of people. It is a simple Boolean system of checks "if this, then do that". A script can look at any source of data and then react if the data is out of range. A scheduler runs the script at a specified time. You can also have scripts running in the background that look for specific events. 
For instance if I have a system that is set for 5GHz (802.11a band) and my script runs from the scheduler every 10 minutes to check the bit errors, noise floor and signal levels. I set a threshold that says "if the signal to noise ratio falls below 20dB, then I want to change to a different channel." And the script moves me within the 5GHz band. Then I find that all channels in 5GHz are poor, I can tell the script to move me to 2.4GHz or 4.9GHz, or 900MHz or some other licensed band that I am allowed to use.
You can go even further and send messages between your routers based on events, sharing data for load balancing, performance, maintenance and more. Combining scripting with email, SMS, HTTP or TCP messaging can be a very powerful combination. You can make your network fully self configuring and self healing, based on the variables you want. Not what the router manufacturer has pre-programmed for you.

Scripting and scheduling are very powerful tools that move your router from being a simple dumb device which you have to visit in order to change and maintain it's configuration, into it being a self-configuring, self-managing system which reacts intelligently to external stimulation and changes to the environment.

HauteSpot provides pre-written sample scripts for a variety of tasks. We can also help you develop custom scripts on a paid consulting basis. Just email support@hautespot.net for more information.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Situ Spectrum Analysis

Tomorrow Mike, our pre-sales design engineer is heading up to San Francisco to help one of our customers with a site survey. This comes after, on an industry discussion board, a user asked about which wireless spectrum analyzer was best: Wi-Spy, Air Magnet, AirView or others. This raised a number of issues that I thought were worth discussing. But first...

What is a spectrum analyzer?

 A RF spectrum analyzer is a device which measures the amount of energy that exists in a range of frequencies. Basically it "listens" to a preset range of frequencies, samples very quickly over time, and draws a graph showing what it "hears". The chart on the left is an example of what a spectrum analyzer outputs.

The graph on the right shows what a typical OFDM carrier looks like. It has a sharp rise, a flat plateau, and a sharp drop. The space between the rise and drop is called the occupied spectrum. The height of the graph is the amount of energy for the carrier. The lines on the left and right of the occupied spectrum reflect the ambient noise on the channel. The different between the peak of the carrier and the noise floor is the signal to noise ratio. The greater the ratio the stronger your perceived signal is.

The width of the plateau is the channel width. Typically this is going to be 5, 10, 20 or 40 Mhz. So knowing what a normal carrier should look like we can make some basic diagnostics about both the performance of your radio and the environment in which it operates.

If the difference between the peak of your carrier and the noise floor is too small, your preceived signal strength will be poor and you may not get good performance. If you see that your carrier is sloped not so steeply or that there are rises above and below the main carrier, your radio may not be tuned properly. We call these side lobes and if they are too large or the signal bleeds outside what you would otherwise expect, your receiver may drop some of the data that fell into that area. We call this clipping.

If you see measurements of energy that are outside of your carrier or overlapping your carrier, then you may suffer from interference. Devices like arc welders, electric motors, radar, microwave ovens, cordless phones, hair dryers, electric heaters, and even television sets can create interference for wireless devices. Finding these types of problems is what you use a spectrum analyzer for.

What is a Wireless Packet Analyzer?

A wireless packet analyzer receives data from a wireless network. It looks for data that is in a very specific format, for instance 802.11 WiFi frames.  A packet analyzer will receive all of the packets that it recognizes. But if it does not recognize the data, it will categorize the energy only as noise, nothing more. It does not measure the amount of energy, the pattern of the energy, or tell you where the energy is coming from.

A packet analyzer is a powerful tool for picking the right channel, assessing it's capacity, and sorting through issues like packet delay, bit errors, packet storms, intrusion detection, and the like. But it is only good when the problems you face are network related and not RF related.

Common Problem

With wireless, unlike fiber and copper networks, once you have installed your network you cannot rely on it functioning properly the next day. Wireless exists in an open environment where things can change from day to day. Unlicensed wireless is even more problematic. Wireless network devices can pop up anywhere within your coverage area, and you can't do anything about it, other than to move out of the way.

It is exactly for this reason that, while a site survey before installation is always a good idea, it is more important that your wireless equipment allow you to diagnose and correct BOTH spectrum issues and network congestion/packet issues at any time after installation.

Solution

Every HauteSpot router includes the capabilities for full packet capture and analysis AND full spectrum analysis. These are very powerful capabilities, particularly when combined with our scripting and SNMP alarm facilities.

For instance, we ship sample scripts with every router that allow you to monitor congestion, noise floor, and even run a spectral scan and then take immediate pro-active action to move to a channel with lower congestion, find a channel with less noise, adjust the channel size to avoid interference. As a client node you can script your router to look for alternate master routers to connect to.

Other scripts allow you to send emails, SMS, SNMP alarm or TCP message over the network to network administrators for action. The possibilities for making your network truly self healing and self configuring are game changing.

The other real value to having integrated spectrum and packet analysis integrated into your installed equipment is that you can do your site survey with the actual equipment you will use, assuring that there is no variation between your measurements and your performance since you are testing with the same gear you install.

Why test with a third party product which may not have the same characteristics, sensitivity, or discretion as the equipment you will use, when you can test with the equipment you will actually use?

A good spectrum analyzer like those from Aniritsu or Agilent can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If your business is commissioning devices for cellular carriers or the like, then this may be a great investment. But if you are a security installer, you can't afford this luxury. If you need to prove regulatory compliance, then a calibrated (annually) spectrum analyzer is required. A uncalibrated system like what is built into our routers is good for operational use, but is not appropriate for compliance testing.

If you buy routers that have good, meaningful spectral analysis capabilities, and the intelligence (through scripting) to act on the reports from your analysis the you will have the infrastructure you need to react quickly, and cost effectively, to changes in your wireless environment as they occur. Often without even having to go on site.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Dad Walter Henry Ehlers

1944 Ensign Ehlers receives his commission
I said goodbye to my dad yesterday afternoon. Having spent a couple of days with him and my step mom, Joan. He was asleep the whole time I was there, but I knew he could hear us talking to him, reading the sports section of the paper, and sharing with him some of our daily lives.

Yesterday the Giants were playing against the Cardinals for the National League championship. Dad was a life long baseball fan and, like my grandfather, had a pretty much encyclopedic knowledge of the stats for just about any player and team. As I was driving home I called Joan and asked her to turn the radio on for my dad so he could listen to the game. The Giants won in a complete shut out and are now going to the World Series. I hope my dad had this in his dreams as he slept.

Some time in the middle of the night he passed away. He was 88 and had a long a productive life.

Dad and his dog Micky, whom he always
said was the smartest dog in the world
He lived his entire life in San Francisco, Marin and Petaluma. He grew up in San Francisco in the Sutro Heights area right next to the forest. He went to public schools and graduated from Polytechnic High School, near the old Kezar Stadium when he was only 16. He used to point it out to me when we would go see the 49ers play, before they moved to Candlestick. It was at Poly that he met Albert Fouchy who was instrumental in introducing him to my mom, Aileen.

World War II saw my dad entering the Navy and he went to midshipman's school as UC Berkeley. He received his commission at the age of 20 as an Ensign. He served on LST (landing ship tank) 857 and was in charge of the Quartermasters, meaning that he was responsible for navigation. He used to tell me stories about being in storms in the Pacific and having to plot courses that he was not exactly confident of, yet they would arrive at their destination exactly as planned. He said he was always surprised that they made it anywhere thanks to his poor navigation skills. I think he was just being modest. He was a math wiz.

LST-857
After the War, he came home and on the GI Bill went to San Jose State where he studied accounting. My dad always had a really strong appreciation for my grandfather who had been an accountant, so I think this is what led him to down this path. He graduated and went to work for the accounting firm of LH Penney. He passed his CPA exam and became a specialist in automobile dealer auditing. LH Penney was also where he made his best friends, Lamont "Mac" MacDonald, Bud Sprague, and Bill Thomas. This gang of four went on vacations together, built homes, families and businesses together and were fast friends for their entire lives. I used to call them all "uncle" and remember many adventures shared with them and their families.

While working at LH Penney, Albert Fouchy introduced my dad to my mom, Aileen Ruane. They were married, built their first house, and started to build a life together. Dad changed jobs and went to work for American Trust Bank which was later merged with Wells Fargo. Dad was a loan officer in charge  flooring, or lending money to car dealers so they could buy inventory. At that time most car dealerships were family run enterprises and my dad helped a lot of these dealers get started and grow. I can't tell you how many people used to tell me "Walt helped me get started in the industry", or "Walt kept my business going."  I think I never really understood how my dad helped so many people. He wasn't a banker, he was an adviser and a trusted friend. This is a theme that he kept throughout his life.


Later on I would hear other stories from people about my dad helping them with tax and estate planning, planning for the care of family members with learning disabilities, helping family members with financials problems of all sorts. He was not really very good with tools, not very good with cooking, cleaning, or other things, but he was great with financial analysis and planning. He never used this skill to make himself rich, although he was comfortable. He used it to help other people. He later even volunteered to do taxes for older folks. It was his way of taking care of others.

The first house my parents built was in Corte Madera. I think they said that the house cost them $16,000 at the time. It was about one block from my aunt Ann and uncle Al Lubamersky's house. Ann was my mom's sister. They helped each other landscape their yards and get their homes set up. Our families would remain close throughout our lives.

My parents moved to their second house in Greenbrae and made the decision to start their family. They could not have children themselves, so they adopted me and later my sister Peggy. The house became too small when they decided to adopt their third child, my sister Chris. So they moved one more time to their home in Larkspur. It was here that the family stayed for the next 20 years. My sisters and I went to grammar school and high school in Larkspur, and eventually went off to college.

Some of Walts Kids and Grandkids
There are just too many stories about growing up in Larkspur, that I cannot even begin to cover them. My dad did his best to help us grow and mature. He tried going on camping trips with me and the Boy Scouts, but he was not much of an outdoors man and hurt his back hiking. He would try to help me practice baseball, but neither of us had very good throwing arms. He was not much good at helping us with homework. But he did succeed in giving both me and my sisters good golf swings, something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. In the process he managed to break every window in the back of the house by hitting plastic golf balls against it. ("OVER!!!")

In 1984 my mom contracted lung cancer and passed away. My dad was devastated. He really had never had to take care of himself. My sister Chris did her best to help him maintain the house and his life, as Peggy and I were away at school, but he needed a new partner.

Dad and Joan on their bulletin board
Joan and my mom were best friends. Her two kids, Heidi and Amy went to school with us. Joan and mom worked in the PTA together and we had several family activities together. Joan had divorced a few years earlier. She also was there to help my mom during her illness.

My dad and Joan started dating, and before long, they were married. I can only say that it was a relief to us all to have Dad in the hands of someone who loved him and could care for him so well, right up to the end. They were very well matched and, despite some occasional bickering, they were steadfast friends and life partners.

For 27 years they lived and loved together. They first bought a house in Mill Valley, then moved to "I" street in Petaluma, and finally to "the farm" on McSween Road.

Our extended family grew through marriages, the addition of grand children, step grand children and numerous dogs, cats and other animals. I feel particularly lucky to have had the love of two wonderful mothers and four wonderful sisters. I will add photos and names later.

Last month Dad had his 88th birthday and we all got together in Petaluma to wish him well. I am glad we had this last celebration of his life. Also, the Giants winning the National League Pennant was a good parting event for Dad. He was a good man, a good husband, a good parent and a good friend.

Shooky, Shooky 



  



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse

Get Moving you Zombies
Now this is creepy and fun at the same time. Our partner, Strategic Operations, is working with Halo Corporation to stage a training event in San Diego during the last week of October for the military. The event is called The Anti Terrorism Summit and promises to be extraordinarily entertaining.

Strategic Operations is an off shoot of a Hollywood production company who specializes in "hyper realistic" training. They use actors, pyrotechnics, realistic looking buildings, and a range of cinematic techniques to create real sounding, real feeling, and real smelling (yes that too) training. They can simulate almost any situation that you can imagine.

For the last week of October a few thousand people will descend on Paradise Island in the middle of San Diego's Mission Bay. On the island, Halo, with the help of Strategic Operations will be creating a number of different exercises, including hostage rescues, fire fights and Zombie Apocalypse.

See a video about Strategic Operations
Part of the training is full assessment, critique and feedback to the participants on how they perform. This particular exercise will go a little further by providing live streaming feeds from cameras around and on exercise participants. The video streams will be displayed on large screen monitors for a crowd of observers in the grand stands.

HauteSpot Networks is providing to Strategic Operations our microNVRs, together with battery packs, HD Cameras, and a wireless base station. A few lucky participants will get to wear the microNVR in a web belt ammo pack. A small camera will be mounted on their helmet with a band strap, and a thin cord will run from the camera down to the microNVR. HauteSpot's MVE software will store the video on the microNVR at full frame rate and full resolution (1080p@25fps). It will then transmit the video using the microNVR's integrated OFDM radio to a HauteWRAPSX+ MIMO base station "receiver".

This use of the microNVR will allow for live viewing of the action from a first person Point of View (POV) while simultaneously recording everything on the internal SSD drive. Since the microNVR is only 8 watts and runs on 12VDC, we can easily power it from a small battery system for over 8 hours. Light weight, shock and vibration resistant, small, and yet able to store 120GB of video on the SSD and and additional 32GB on the MiniSD card.

HauteSpot powered GER eWRAP
at Baltimore Grand Prix 2012
In these kinds of exercises, as we have learned from our participation in such events as the FEMA National Level Exercise, Operation Capital Shield, and the Baltimore Grand Prix, there is a lot of RF noise and you can't always count on the wireless connections being 100%. With the microNVR, while we are striving to have always connected wireless, if it does go out for a second or two, the integrated storage will keep a record of everything that happens. All this at a fraction of the cost of traditional COFDM based wireless systems.

We think that applications that are similar to The Anti Terrorism Summit include other training events, television production, community policing, guard services, and much more. One idea would be to take this a step further and tunnel the connection over VPN so that the wireless connection could roam between WiFi access points and to and from 3G or 4G cellular. Then the wearer could go almost anywhere, use lower cost, higher bandwidth WiFi when available, and cellular where not.

Anyway, I think we are ready for the Zombies. This Halloween promises to be very interesting. If you are in San Diego on October 31, check out the Ghouls.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Training at APCO

Lending some insight to an APCO member
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the APCO 2012 event in Minneapolis. APCO is the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials. Basically the group combines 3 different disciplines: Dispatch/E911 operators, Land Mobile Radio (LMR) radio engineers, and IT managers from police and fire departments. So the audience for training at APCO can range from less technical to very technical. Generating a presentation of interest to all is difficult.

The concept that I tried to convey was fairly simple to say, but difficult to describe: use abstractions to create interoperable networks that are carrier and technology independent.

The Importance of VPNs

Most of the audience was aware that VPN (Virtual Private Networks) are useful to link buildings and offices over public networks. Some even had used VPNs to remotely access their office networks. But few realize the value that a VPN presents for interoperability. Public safety operates in a world of many communication technologies. They have:
  • Land Mobile Radio - Analog radios for voice communication. This is the walkie talkie or the in car radio that the police use.
  • P25 Radio - This is the digital replacement for LMR.
  • PSTN - The public telephone network, generally meaning wired
  • Cellular - All the flavors of cellular from AMPS to GSM to LTE and WiMAX
  • Private Networks - These are wired networks around a city. Could be fiber, copper or microwave
  • Public Safety Broadband - This is the 4.9GHz spectrum that was designed to link point to point facilities for redundancy.
  • 765Mhz "D Block" - This is the spectrum that is being planned for the National Public Safety Broadband Network using LTE technology.
Aside from LMR analog, all of the technologies have the ability to route IP packetized data, but they may all be taking different, difficult to manage paths.

My premise was that if you had devices that supported one or more (or maybe even all) of these communication technologies with a VPN client that would create a persistent tunnel (encrypted)  these links that fails over between all of the available links, you can create a truly reliable, highly interoperable communication network.

The example I gave was this: say you have a smart phone that supports WiFi, Cellular, and P25 technologies. All of the technologies can be connected at the same time to their respective networks. At the back end you have a dispatcher at a PSAP (Public Safety Access Point or E991 call center) with a connection to the internet. On the cell phone you have a VPN client that connects over IP to the PSAP. Sometimes the connection goes over WiFi, sometimes over Cellular and sometimes over P25. As far as the network is concerned the smartphone and the PSAP are on the same "local area network".

On top of this the cell phone runs a VoIP (Voice Over IP) client application. This application acts just like a multi-line phone attached to a PBX. So the user at the remote end can talk to the dispatcher as easily as they use their wired phone. But now the VoIP phone runs over the VPN and can be routed over WiFi, Cellular, or P25 whichever is available. So if the Cellular network fails, the call can stay connected over P25. You might have a brief (1 or 2 second) drop when the fail over occurs, but you will stay connected.

This same VPN technology can be used for data, voice and even video. The VPN doesn't care about the lower technology, as long as IP can be sent.

National Public Safety Broadband Network

eWRAP multi technology
communication platform
w/VPN
Later in the conference I had an opportunity to attend a talk by Chuck Shaughnessy of Harris who was discussing the plans for a fully integrated nationwide broadband network for public safety. This is just getting started, and his belief was that it would be 20 years before this is rolled out. So in the mean time it became really clear that public safety agencies need an interim plan to move from todays world of non-interoperable networks to the new network. A VPN strategy makes all the sense in the world for this.

Regardless of how a national network rolls out, it is certain that it will support IP and it may still need to be supplemented with other technologies, some including public networks. Using a VPN gives you the ability implement today and then replace the underlying technologies with new technology without having to replace all of your end nodes.

Of course I showed the eWRAP and the microNVR running MVE video as examples of devices that today support multiple communication technologies and VPN.

The next big show is ASIS in Philadelphia. We will have a booth there and can discuss all of this if you stop by.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

4G/3G Roaming Support for Public Safety

It has been a while since my last blog post. Too long. This is due to HauteSpot Networks flurry of development. We have been working on solving the tough problems of delivering always connected wireless broadband communications for IP video. This effort is finally starting to bear fruit.


4G/3G Roaming

http://www.qualcomm.com/solutions/m2mOne of the biggest issues that we have been working on is to build support on our WRAP and the eWRAP routers for seamless roaming between 4G LTE networks (like Verizon) and 3G CDMA/UMTS/HSPA+ networks. 
In the current state of broadband routers most have to either lock the modem into either 3G or 4G operation and then manually unlock and switch when roaming from a fixed location to another fixed location, or they undertake some rather dangerous software acrobatics to change the mode of the modem (aircard) by reflashing the EEPROM from a user space application (basically reprogram the modem/aircard function by rewriting its firmware).








Our goal was to integrate into our wireless routers a new driver that takes advantage of the power of the new 4G chipsets, in particular the Qualcomm GOBI 3000/4000 which supports in one package LTE and virtually all of the 3G technologies currently available on the market. The driver needed to seamlessly roam between networks and re-establish connections without any drops and it needed to not make any risky changes to the firmware of the modem on the fly.

The work was much more complex than we could have ever imagined, but we are almost complete. Not only did this require development of the driver, but it also required a complete rewrite of our operating system. This was good as it allowed us to move to a packaged distribution system that supports flexible featuring of our routers that goes way beyond just the 4G support.

In basic terms we now have a completely new platform based on our same reliable hardware that supports high performance mesh, 802.11a/b/g/n AP functions, frequency agility, video encoding and transmission, and even VoIP. All in a low power, embedded, highly secure, highly reliable platform. Our routers will be able to accept a variety of modems from a variety of manufacturers, seamlessly roam between 3G and 4G, and in the future, if the carriers allow, inter-carrier roaming.

We also added support for multiWAN interface aggregation. This allows us to load balance between multiple 3G/4G modems in order to aggregate bandwidth and improve reliability.

The same OS and drivers will be ported to support not only our WRAP and eWRAP products, but also our microNVR and upcoming intelligent cameras.

MVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc0KcSkZWF0
One of the key requirements of public safety and commercial security is bandwidth conservation. While 4G is great, it is not, and probably won't be available for a long time, in all areas. Once you leave the metropolitan coverage area you are back to 3G. In international applications this is even more true. So being able to send video over "narrow pipes" such as 3G connections which may only support 100kbps up is critical.

Over the last year we have been working with SentinelAVE on enhancements to the MVE product to improve it's reliability and functionality over narrow pipes. The result is nothing short of incredible. We are now streaming high quality VGA resolution video at 6 to 8fps over 120kbps links. When bandwidth allows we dynamically ramp up to full resolution and full frame rate. At the same time we are recording a full resolution and frame rate for evidence and post event review.

Even if you are on LTE using the MVE is a great choice since carriers are setting transfer limits and charging a lot of money once you go past these limits. By using low bandwidth monitoring until an event occurs, you can significantly reduce your recurring expenses.


The other main development enhancements for MVE are the ability to rebroadcast from a receiving station into either HTTP as MJPEG push or pull, or as RTSP. This allows remote viewing from a single mobile camera by hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous users.

VPN

The last key element of our mobile wireless video strategy is virtual private networking. This technology, which exists in all HauteSpot routers solves a number of issues. The first is that on cellular networks inbound route-able IPv4 addresses are going away. Future wireless networks are built using IPv6 with NAT routing at Internet peering points. This means that you can't get static IP addresses unless you are a law enforcement agency. Even then, the roam-ability of that address remain problematic across many carrier networks.

You need static addressing in order to accomplish remote management. VPN connectivity solves this problem. All you need to do is enable VPN client functions on your HauteSpot WRAP unit, have it connect with a HauteSpot HauteLINK gateway device, and you now have a connection that is persistent. Even if the IP address changes of your remote device, even if you roam from 4G to 3G, even if you plug into a LAN connection, the VPN connection stays on with a static, route-able connection.

The VPN also encrypts your connection, making it nearly impossible for anyone to tamper with your data streams or video.

Tie it all Together

The real value comes when we combine the new WRAP operating system and 4G/3G drivers with Mobile Video Edge and the HauteLINK VPN solution set. This combination allows you to literally put any video device anywhere. As long as there is a cellular carrier or private broadband connection in the area, you can securely move high resolution, high frame rate video and data from your remote site to a central monitoring point and then distribute it back out in real time.
http://s3.goeshow.com/apco/annual/2012/conference_program.cfm

Not just talk, but reality. Check it out. I will be presenting this at the upcoming APCO International Conference in Minneapolis next month. Live demo and all.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Surreal World of Military Trade Shows

Over the last 4 days I was an exhibitor at the Defense Services Asia show in Kuala Lumpur. The show was a great success for us and our local partner XV Asia Technology  with lots of interest from real customers with real money to spend on all of our products.

Met a friend, Mr. C4i. He packed every
electronic gizmo you could imagine into his
stylish uniform.

But I have to admit that the show itself was somewhat surreal. It was like a department store of weapons, armor, vehicles, and all manner of other stuff that goes boom.

I met generals, admirals, deputy ministers, police chiefs and all manner of other senior military officials. After a while it became almost mundane to see a flag officer walk by with an entourage of aides and assistants.

Rather than drone on (yes, there were lots of UAVs there too) about the show, I thought it might be more interesting to see some of the items that were being sold.

I left out some of the less impressive things like trucks, bridges, tires, barbed wire and uniforms. There were plenty of all of these items. And of course there were the major corporations selling jets, satellites, helicopters etc.

The really fun stuff was in the Malaysian exhibit area where you could buy mortars, rocket propelled grenades, tanks, missiles, and any other weapon you could imagine. Take a look.

M4 Assault rifles from Walther.
Blue light special at the end
of the show. Buy two,
get a flash suppressor for free!

Of course there were this years
colorful Howitzer rounds. Light Blue
is perfect for any occasion
Defending the free world from itself is a tough job, but with tools like these, it is just a little easier.

Thank goodness there are not terrorist states attending this show. Oh wait, we did have several people from Iran and Syria stop by the booth to ask about our products. We politely said that unlike some of our competitors, we as an American company honor the embargo against your countries. Sorry. We hope the missile and arms dealers at the show did the same.

The show wrapped up today which ended up being our best day. We gave demonstrations to several high ranking officials who were very impressed and wanted to see more.

I am as exhausted as I was when I arrived. Only a couple of more days of training, sales calls and strategy meetings and I am on my way home.


There were night vision googles
that could accessorize any outfit
My personal favorite was the .40 cal Walther
with a matching silencer. Why wake the kids
when taking out your enemies.
There was a lovely assortment
of air to air missiles.













Be the envy of the neighborhood
with your own tank parked in the
driveway.
If an air to air missile is too small,
why not try a surface to air instead.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Could I get any more tired?

So, after a 26 hour transit from San Luis Obispo to Kuala Lumpur, then setting up all day on Sunday, I finally got to sleep after being awake for 44 hours straight. That is a record for me. I only slept for 6 hours and then we started the trade show.

The XV Asia Technology booth was packed to the gills with products, people and collateral. As a late arrival to the show, XV Asia did not get the best location, but this did not seem to matter. We had a good, steady flow of people who were all interested in virtually all of the products.

Murad and Helena schmoozing with
Rear Admiral Dato Nasuruddin Bon Othman
The Immersive Video Dodeka 2360 camera was a great draw and people were very interested in the fully spherical view that the system captured. It brought a lot of people to the booth. Once at our door, they almost all asked about the Global Emergency Resources eWRAP, which inevitably led to a discussion of wireless, then the challenges of moving video, which led to the MVE product based on Sentinel AVE technology and the microNVR.

As this is a military show, there were lots of weird products that I will try to capture over the next two days.

Anyway, time for dinner, then bed. Hopefully I will sleep through the night. Tomorrow we have delegations from Russia, Thailand and the Philippines coming to visit us.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Traveling to DSA Asia

XV Asia TechnologyI am sitting at the Narita airport connection terminal waiting for my connection to Kuala Lumpur. What am I doing here?

Two weeks ago we were at ISC West. What a great show for us. Anyway, one of our new partners, XV Asia Technology flew all the way out from Malaysia to see us. They are an exciting company who is aggressively pursuing new video technologies for both entertainment and surveillance. A look at their web site will give you an idea of what they are doing. They are very innovative in their cross-application of technology between various vertical markets.

Anyway, as a result of the visit at ISC West, XV Asia asked us to work with them on pulling together a trade show presence for the Defense Services Asia exhibition which runs April 16-19th in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Always up for a challenge we started to organize a booth for displaying the MVE™ and Mobile Video Vault™ solutions.
 
Immersive Video
Hipervision Camera


Along with this, we will also be showing a live streaming video backhaul system for use with the Immersive Video 360 degree camera. XV Asia has already tested this system and are pleased with the results. They have worked hard to make this system a reality. Basically now we can stream using a HauteSpot WRAP router system from the Hipervision camera to a remote viewing station from almost anywhere. Allow live events to add a cool new video element to their web presence.

If you are in KL for the show come by and see us!

More soon....plane is boarding

Friday, March 30, 2012

Real American Hero

Now I can say I personally know a real American hero.

Paul is interviewed by CBS News
This week is the ISC West 2012 show in Las Vegas. As most of you know, HauteSpot is exhibiting. One of our good customers is Paul Babakitis of PGB Executive Investigations from New York. Just last week I spoke to Paul and he said that he was going to be coming out to Vegas for the show and that he would definitely stop by.

What happened next was all over the news. Paul was on a JetBlue plane from New York to Las Vegas. During the flight the pilot flipped out and wanted to crash the plane. Paul, as a retired NYPD Sergeant leaped into action and helped subdue and restrain the pilot until the flight could safely land.

Paul and Charlotte share a smile
Paul helped save the lives of all of the passengers on the plane. So today, when Paul actually arrived at our booth at Las Vegas, we all cheered for him and were glad to have our friend, business associate and hero safely arrive at the show. Personally I don't know if I would be getting back on a plane right after an event like this happened.

Paul, everyone at HauteSpot salutes you and your bravery. Now we all know a real hero.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Awesome Day at ISC West


I am completely exhausted. Today was one of the busiest first days of any trade show we have been to. In our booth we had hundreds of visitors checking out Mobile Video Vault, MVE and HD Witness.

Getting set up before the show
The demonstration network that we set up with a wireless 5GHz link to the Network Optix booth and a wireless 3.65GHz link to the Veracity booth both were up and working flawlessly throughout the entire show. As some of you may know, getting any wireless to work on a trade show floor at all is a challenge. We were achieving full data rates and throughput. This was achieved by running our TDMA like protocol and our frequency flexibility.

Kelvin Chung from SentinelAVE did a great job of configuring the microNVRs and Mobile Video Edge application to use Clear WiMAX to keep a rock solid wireless connection to Los Angeles. Throughout the entire day we ran live demos from our video server in Los Angeles over 4G without any hiccups. Customers were able to view live and recorded video from Los Angeles at high resolution and high frame rate.

Bob doing some last minute futzing
After almost being knocked out by a monitor that fell off it's mount, Mark Armstrong of SoleraTec set up Mobile Video Vault microNVR running in our booth and sending archive video every 5 minutes to the Veracity Coldstore server in the Veracity booth over wireless. This too ran well throughout the entire day.

We had no time to go look around the show floor, but judging from the comments from the crowd, we had the coolest new product offerings at the show.

The final show booth result
Also, Mike, Max and Aaron did an outstanding job of manning the booth and engaging with customers. They were able to answer most of the questions customers raised, and let myself and Wes handle the more complex questions. The level of professionalism of our staff is something I am very proud of and I know our customers appreciate.

Two more days to go. If you are in Vegas, come by and see us. Booth 9139, way in the back...near the food concession.


Monday, March 26, 2012

ISC West 2012 HauteSpot is GO!

ISC West Preview After a week of futzing with demo set ups, cranking out new marketing material, setting up meetings, and all the rest, we are ready to GO!

I wanted to share with you just a few of the really cool things that we at HauteSpot will be bringing with us to ISC West this year in the hopes that you might find them
interesting enough to stop bye and check out. We are in booth 9139 (way in the back...). This year we have made some amazing technological strides, together with our partners in innovation.

ISC WestOne of the first things I hope you will notice is that we have changed our focus from being a "Wireless" solution company to being a "Connectivity" solutions company. We like to think of ourselves as the connective tissue or nervous system linking your extremities (cameras, remote devices, sensors and the like) with your core organs (VMS, Information Management Systems). We have become more technology agnostic, embracing things as LTE, WiMAX, VSAT, White Space and Virtual Private Networks, in addition to our existing 802.11, TDMA and video processing products. Our demonstrations at ISC West reflect these changes. Basically we want to partner with you to take the network beyond the boundaries and limitations that you face today.

Mobile Video VaultMOBILE VIDEO VAULT - Working with our partner SoleraTec, we have built the BLACK BOX of the transportation and public safety industries. The Mobile Video Vault runs on our compact microNVR (you know, the 4"x4"x1", 8 watt, 12 volt, 500 Gigabyte, Dual Core 2 Gigahertz micro computer router), we add the SoleraTec Phoenix RSM software which gathers data from GPS, vehicle diagnostics, audio, lightbars, sirens, etc, along with high definition video, then it watermarks it, locks it up tight for evidence and stores it. When the vehicle gets to a transfer point, HauteSpot high speed wireless transfers it for archiving. All of the data is searchable and cross referenced. Want to know what it looks like to drive a school bus 40 miles an hour over railroad crossings? We can show you? Want to see how hard the brakes were applied and the GPS deceleration record just before that accident, with video, we have that. High definition, small size, low power, all IP.

We will be capturing video in our booth, storing in on the microNVR and transferring over a wireless link across the show floor to the Veracity booth for storage on their ColdStore network storage array.

Mobile Video EdgeMVE - Sometimes you need to see what is happening in high quality, fast frame rate, in real time, and you need to do it over the public cellular network, satellite, or other low quality network. Working with our partner SentinelAVE we have built the MVE. Again, using the microNVR platform we built a compact mobile platform that can stream live, rate adaptive, high quality video over the narrowest network pipe. Sentinel's software goes beyond just compression, it is connection aware and creates and keeps persistent links going over 3G, 4G, Satellite or even dial up. In as little at 100kpbs good quality situational awareness video can be used to monitor remote locations.  MVE also monitors location data and stores video for later retrieval.

Watch us link to video coming in from Los Angeles, a Las Vegas parking lot, San Luis Obispo, and from around the ISC West show floor all over 3G and 4G


HD WITNESS - For the most amazing High Definition video surveillance experience, our friends at Network Optix have ported their HD Witness VMS system onto the microNVR as well. This video processing software defines a new standard in the industry for display, transport and ease of use. It is truly stunning how simple it is to use, how quickly it sets up, and how responsive it is on hardware as small as the microNVR. Come by and see us run the HD Witness on a microNVR over wireless links to the Network Optix booth.

Of course we will also be showing our new HauteLINK Virtual Private Network gateway and remote router, our WRAPxXG Gigabit wireless routers, and much more. Our whole HauteSpot pre-sales design team will be on hand to answer any questions you have. So please come by with your design questions. We will be happy to answer them.
This year is shaping up to be a great one and between you, our awesome customers, and our excellent partners we think we have a winning team.
Thank you and I hope to see you soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Walgreen Distribution Center Deploys HauteSpot Video Solution for Monitoring Robots

HauteSpot Networks Corporation, recently announced the national deployment of HauteSpot wireless in Walgreens distribution centers. The video system provides Walgreens’ warehouse personnel with a new level of security and efficiency.

San Luis Obispo, CA., March 16, 2012 – HauteSpot Networks Corporation, an international provider of wireless video surveillance and security solutions, recently announced the national deployment of HauteSpot wireless in Walgreens distribution centers.  HauteSpot Networks also announced Firetrol Protection Systems, as its newest system integrator.  The Dallas based integrator joined with HauteSpot Networks to design and promote HauteSpot’s security and industrial automation technology.

The innovative video system was installed in the Dallas, TX distribution center.  The solution used the HauteWRAP™, a high-performance wireless router, and the HauteSHOT™ microNVR, a compact network video recorder.  The HauteSHOT™
microNVR is among the smallest IP recording devices on the market.  It measures 4x4x1 inches, solely consumes 8 watts, and operates on 12VDC.  

“HauteSpot was able to design and provide a world class wireless megapixel video solution,” said Ron Walthall of Firetrol Protection Systems.  “The wireless video signal was transmitted over a completely different frequency so it did not interfere with the customer’s existing WiFi, this made the IT managers happy.”

The video system provides Walgreens’ warehouse personnel with a new level of security and efficiency. The HauteSHOT microNVR allows warehouse employees to safely and remotely monitor the movement of robotic pallet machines within the distribution center using high-definition and real time video streaming.   The operators can determine if malfunctions with the robotic machines warrant manual assistance or can be remotely overridden.  Thus, reducing the number of repair personnel on the warehouse floor and minimizing the liability with machinery.

“The customer has been so impressed with the system, they have asked us to install identical systems at other facilities around the country,” said Walthall.  “I know HauteSpot stands behind their products and have the technical expertise to handle any size wireless video recording situation.” 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Second Elephant Seal Cam Goes On Line

Ano Nuevo
About 5 years ago we helped the California State Park at Ano Nuevo install a live 2 mega pixel wireless web camera on the elephant seal rookery island about 1/2 mile off the coast. The camera is a PTZ and was linked to the visitors center using a 5GHz link. At the visitor center, rangers could steer the camera and display the images of bulls fighting, cows giving birth, and pups playing on the beach all in HD to the visitors.

The visitors center was linked to the outside world over a fairly unreliable T-1 (that is 1.544Mbps) and the camera used MJPEG, so the bandwidth was just not sufficient for good web browsing. The techs with the Parks were able to transcode the video down to QCIF and slow frame rate and get it on their web page here http://parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25732 .

Everything was good until about 4 months ago when a pelican built its nest on top of our parabolic antenna. The nest pushed the antenna out of alignment and now the video is only available when the tide is in the perfect level where the signal reflects off the water at just the right angle.

At some point the biologists will allow the techs to fix the antenna, once the pelican chicks are hatched.

Piedras Blancas
So about 9 months ago I was up at Piedras Blancas, just north of San Simeon, watching the elephant seals there, which I think put on a much more interesting show. You can get much closer to the animals and there seem to be many more of them.

While I was there I had a conversation with one of the docents about installing a solar powered camera along the beach. After going back and fourth over design for several months and working through budgeting, the State was able to pull together a project to install the system. Last week that project was commissioned.

The link runs from the beach about 1.5 miles up to the old lighthouse where there is a T-1. The system uses a pair of HauteSpot WRAPSTATION LX units and is completely solar powered.

It is pretty remote, and the link is pretty slow, not because of the wireless, but because of the wire going up to the lighthouse. We thought about shooting a wireless link back from the lighthouse to Hearst Castle, but the broadband speed was not any better there than at the lighthouse.

Check it out... http://www.slostateparks.com/eseal.htm

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Appropriate Use Of Solar

We are getting asked more frequently to size and quote solar powered surveillance systems. I thought it might be a good time to talk about this topic and correct some common misconceptions people have about solar power.

First, solar, like wireless, should be still viewed as a technology of last resort in most cases. It raises costs, causes aesthetic concerns, creates installation issues, and increases complexity. If you can wire, you should wire. That said, if you have to install a camera in a location where there is no infratructure (power or communications) then wireless and solar may be your best options.

Second, you must look at power conservation as much as power generation. The difference between 10 watts and 40 watts is the difference between a small, attractive and cost effective system and a large, ugly, expensive system. Be prepared to make compromises in order to move to a solar powered system.

Before I go into the specifics of sizing and configuring a solar powered surveillance system, I wanted to share with you a related story that illustrates my points on a larger scale.

Solving the Wrong Problems
Our local school district just undertook what seemed on the face of it to be a great project to install solar at the high school and various elementary schools around town. The project is known as a PPA or Power Purchase Agreement. This is where an installer provides all of the installation of equipment for "free" in exchange for a purchase agreement where the school promises to purchase the power from the panels installed for the next 30 years at a fixed rate. The installer generates power for the school on site and sells it to the school. Surplus power is sold on behalf of the school to the local power utility in order to off set the cost of the solar panels.

Massive Solar "Carports" being built for "free"
Remember that the school already had grid power and infrastructure. It had built it's consumption based on grid supply. The lights, the computers, the communications systems, etc were all installed without any thought to the limits of being run from solar. So you are now retrofitting a system that was never designed for solar to run from panels. It is a backward way of looking at the problem.

My political commentary: The school district didn't have to seek any approvals for the project, since they were not undertaking a capital project, but rather just committing to buy power from a "utility" and all of the equipment was "free". Of course "free" means that it is paid for by tax incentives, credits, and other direct government subsidies that come from agencies hidden from public scrutiny. The cost of the project to the school district is $14 million over the life of the contract which is reflected as electricity costs. But as an operating expense, it did not require any review.

The entire viability of the project is dependent on reverse metering sales of electricity back to the local power utility at rates assumed to be much higher than today.  If the market stays flat or competition from other schools doing the same thing heats up, then they could lose millions, or have to take draconian measures to conserve energy in order to make ends meet. This also does not figure in the increased consumption that more computers in the classroom would required or depletion in solar cell efficiencies over time (in other words in the outer years, when you expect to have the most net benefit, the solar panels are their least efficient).

And of course the actual cost to the tax payer of the project is much higher than "free". The subsidies incurred for the project can run as much as 70% of the capital equipment costs. But since the subsidies are paid out of different government budgets than the schools it is impossible to hold anyone accountable to pull the spider web in. So we as tax payers are really overpaying for power by about  $9.8 million and taking a large risk that the school will run out of capacity in later years.

Solar makes sense if you design for solar from the start, avoid inversion (converting from DC to AC), use power efficient equipment, and plan for capacity growth in the future.

Building the Right Solution
My main point from the story above is: when undertaking a solar project, plan for solar. Pick your cameras with power consumption in mind, pick your wireless routers with power consumption in mind, pick your storage solution with power consumption in mind, then size your solar system to fit the need.

Lets start with a simple perimeter parking lot camera. This camera is remote from any power or communication and needs to use long distance (2km) wireless and solar. There is a requirement for good facial detail, for criminal prosecution, and we need always on situational awareness.

Solar Insolation Map Shows Peak Solar Hours per Day
Normally, a security installer might pick a PTZ camera in an outdoor speed dome with a heater blower and a wireless router for an application like this. But that configuration might be 40 to 50 watts per hour. You have to run your system 24 hours a day, so that means that you need to make 960 watts per day. In most parts of the lower 48 states you have about 4 hours that you can charge, so you need to make about 240 watts per hour, just to run your equipment. But then you also have to allow for batteries to run when the sun doesn't shine. Let's allow for 3 dark days, which is generally accepted industry standard, so you need to make 3x240 watts per hour or 720 watts per hour. That is a lot of power and a lot of panels. If you used 135 watt panels that are 2 feet x 4 feet you need 6 panels. Then we also need a battery, battery box and charge controller.

A conventional surveillance
system requires a big solar system
One of the most overlooked elements of solar installations is the mounting of the panels. If you use a light pole you need to make sure that the pole can handle the wind loading of the panels and carry the weight of the battery box. You may need to reinforce the foundation of the pole by pouring a concrete pad. This all adds up to additional expense.

A small scale solar power solution
runs a system that is well designed
Now, if we design for solar, we can use a 3 megapixel camera with electronic PTZ and no heater/blower. The total power for such as system with a HauteSpot WRAP wireless router is less than 10 watts. That means we only need 2 panels for the same application. If we can make do with only two dark days, then we are down to one panel.

If you design the system for low power consumption, then you can size the power generation for small scale too.

What about Cellular?
Now, say you have to go way off the beaten path. You want to put your camera where you only have 3G cellular, but you need live real time streaming, you want high definition so you can see who is causing trouble.

Using conventional thinking you might use a PIR motion detector to trigger the camera to come on for a short time, transmit its video and then turn off again. The problem is that you only get low resolution and you only get it for a short time. Try now running a microNVR with the same low power camera and a 3G modem. Again, at less than 12 watts total, you could run this solution all day on two panels. The microNVR can record at high resolution 24x7 and using transcoding software we can send high quality, high frame rate video for situational awareness over 3G.

Again, design the system correctly and the power requirements can be small, the solar panels can be small,