Both Amazon and Apple are developing technology that helps you know the location of anything

Although their technology has enormous potential for application, both Amazon and Apple are tight-lipped about their ability to remotely locate objects.

The highlight on the stage of Amazon’s Alexa and Echo events is not the new generation smart speakers or Alexa virtual assistant currently present in nearly every product that users wear on their daily. The really important product at this event of Amazon is the company’s new wireless connection protocol, Sidewalk.

Normally for wireless control of smart devices, users have two main options, Bluetooth and Wifi. But with the limited distance these connections have, users will need to get close to those devices to start ordering them. If you choose data connections such as 4G or 5G, the connection protocols are quite complex and energy consuming.

Amazon Sidewalk, meanwhile, uses the 900MHz band to connect – similar to amateur radio stations – so the device control distance can be extended to 500m or even kilometers, but it costs less power due to lower frequency usage. Moreover, with mesh networking, Amazon Sidewalk can even expand the reach of a city.

The extended range of connectivity offers unprecedented benefits. An example would be the company’s launch next year: the Ring Fetch dog collar, which can issue a warning when your pet runs outside the garden around the house. If the Amazon Sidewalk protocol becomes popular on a large scale, you can also determine if your dog with a Fetch collar is in a neighbor’s house or play area nearby.

The similarities between ambition of Apple and Amazon
Coincidentally with Amazon when Apple also has the same ambition of the ability to locate objects from that distance. That ambition, hidden in the U1 chip, only appears briefly on the stage of the last iPhone event, and it is not even mentioned by the company.

While Amazon uses the 900MHz band to connect to remote devices, Apple’s U1 chip uses the ability to navigate via ultra-short-range broadband to be able to accurately locate objects in a room. Combining the strengths of both companies’ hardware, they can easily pinpoint the exact location of almost everything.

To demonstrate the connectivity and coverage of Amazon Sidewalk, the company distributed to its 700 employees who live in the Los Angeles basin of broadcasting devices using Amazon’s Sidewalk protocol. Because the devices are within 500m to a mile of each other, Amazon basically “can cover where people live in Los Angeles.”

This not only helps you wirelessly connect your device to an unbelievable distance, but can also locate any device in the city.

Meanwhile, Apple, with its habit of tightly controlling its software and services on the iPhone, is still unable to provide compatibility between its devices and rival devices in the smart home ecosystem.

Even so, Apple’s hardware popularity is sufficient to build a network of access points needed when integrating a critical U1 chip. The large scale of these access points will be useful for retrieving lost objects, even if it is in a hidden corner of the room.

There is enormous potential in the future, but now is not the time
While both tech giants can easily deploy their own technology solutions, why are they so silent about them? While the Sidewalk protocol was only introduced by Amazon during the event, Apple also said that the U1 chip will make it easier to send files through AirDrop – not much added benefit for making a chip. like U1.

It is likely because of the controversy regarding technology privacy rights in recent years, making both companies cautious about this issue. Remote location via wireless connections is the most tightly controlled ever in iOS 13 and Android 10 updates.

Or maybe it’s because its performance is not good enough, and there are not many applications for it. Perhaps brands will only begin to promote it stronger when the products you have and the applications on it can exploit the full power of these technologies.

Even so, these technologies are still extremely important to the ambitions of both Amazon and Apple in the near future. Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality glasses and future iPhones may contain U1 chips to create augmented reality surfaces that precisely place objects on the actual object as you point the glass. his intelligence on them.

For Amazon, vice president of equipment and services, Dave Limp, when introducing Sidewalk, mentioned water sensors for planting trees, mailbox sensors, as well as the potential for using weather sensors. Even bigger are child-tracking devices, the elderly and even Scout delivery cars, which are also in Sidewalk’s future. With a low-power connection protocol and wide coverage like Sidewalk, Amazon is opening up a huge new potential for its smart devices.

Sure, there will be a couple of failures in the implementation of the project, but in the long-term future, Apple’s near-range connectivity, and Amazon’s long-range intermediate connectivity are likely to define the Hardware and service efforts of each company over the next decade.

Why don’t we make all the wires underground?

Moving electrical wires underground can help avoid hazards during a storm. However, the ducted underground network also has its own problems.

The first message transmitted on Samuel Morse’s telegraph line was the question: “What hath God wrought?”, Sent from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland via a suspension line above houses and wooden poles. The suspended telegraph wire was soon replaced by the telephone line of Alexander Graham Bell and the ever-expanding electrical network that connects the community. However they are not a popular option. At first, people complained about telephone poles, because they said it was ugly and unreasonable. Today, people say they carry a lot of risks.

Every year, storms, blizzards and a host of other weather events destroy utility works on the ground. Heavy snow and ice can break the cord. More commonly, intense winds overturn poles, or uproot nearby trees, pulling strings.

The cost of the blackout is huge. Many analyzes show that even an hour’s blackout can cost commercial and industrial facilities tens of thousands of dollars, and blackouts often last more than a day. In specific industries such as museums, power outages can also affect the environment for preserving valuable antiques. And as we have seen after the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, damaged grid lines can take human lives.

That is why many people argue about “underground”, the process of moving from a high position to a tunnel protected underground. Proponents argue that doing so will help ensure grid safety even in stormy places like southern Florida. But Ted Kury, director of energy research at the University of Florida’s Center for Public Research, says it doesn’t need to be rushed. Ducting can reduce storm-related power outages in some places. But these tunnels carry their own problems and cost issues.

An expensive process is not guaranteed
There are two methods used to remove power poles and bring them underground. The cheapest method is called open digging, which is how companies dig deep into the ground, put wires in and then fill trenches afterwards. In this way, people ‘s traffic and transportation will be affected (even temporarily).

Many cities choose this method instead of directional drilling. Similar to an old oil drilling technique, directional drilling is a less invasive but more expensive option. From a fixed point, a pipeline is put underground for miles without affecting street activities.

For both of these, there must still be certain changes to the front line that takes them underground, most importantly the heat dissipation problem. In essence, electrical wires are very hot because they are the means of electric transport. Outdoors, this heat can dissipate, but when deep in the ground it is impossible. That’s why underground wires are covered with plastic and surrounded with a layer of oil to keep things from overheating.

That sounds simple, anyone with an excavator can do it! Depending on the density of the local population and the topography, ducting can cost billions of dollars. According to Kury, many localities have outlined the costs for undergrounding and come to the conclusion that it is not “worth the money”. For example, in North Carolina, the process of undergroundization lasted about 25 years and led to a 125% increase in electricity prices. Most lines are still in suspension form. Even Washington, D.C. with the decision to partially underground the wire, it is expected to cost 1 billion dollars.

That is not the only cost. Repairing underground systems is often more expensive than repairing overhead systems. “When there was a power outage, there were two obstacles to fixing the line,” Kury said. “One, identify the error, and then the repair line”. While smart grid technology makes it easier to identify faults and accurately indicate where a system is interrupted, underground system repairs often require digging, which is more difficult. if the land freezes in blizzard.

Finally, no system can be protected in every situation. During Hurricane Sandy, which struck the northeast of the United States in 2012, underground electrical equipment flooded and electrical poles on the ground collapsed. “It is almost impossible to protect the grid from damage,” Kury said.

Other advances in grid protection
Locations that do not want to invest in large underground projects may have other options. In recent years, many cities have replaced old wooden columns with durable metal frames. The ligaments can help anchor the columns to the ground. At the same time, Kury said that the management of vegetation is very important. Pruning, watering and helping plants fight pests can keep them healthier and more resistant to storms. At the same time, quickly remove weak trees to avoid the risk of them being able to destroy nearby power lines when high winds.

Many companies have also resorted to using drones. Commercial drones can help reduce the response time for customer calls. In some places, data from drones is used to share the latest information with technicians and customers about everything, from the height of the lines to the function of the internal sewer. Town. And in a difficult situation, unmanned aircraft can support aerial reconnaissance in stormy locations that are inaccessible.

The smart grid has also helped overcome the problems that arise. In recent storms, Kury said, Florida’s electricity suppliers have chosen to close substations at risk of flooding and reroute energy. It is hoped that such proactive decisions will allow the grid to be restored more quickly and reduce the likelihood of causing danger across the system.

In summary “There is no solution suitable for all places”. Each city must make decisions that are right for its residents, and accept the fact that no system can work perfectly when dealing with natural phenomena.

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