Internet of Things search engine lets you plug into the connected city

A location search engine for sensors and other connected devices is enabling users to access data about the world around them.

Dubbed a “search engine for Internet of Things”, map-based Thingful is currently in Beta, and is designed for use by developers, researchers and the data curious.

“I’m trying to achieve a world of connected objects sharing real-time data,” explained Usman Haque, founder and CEO of Thingful, during a talk about the project at the Open Data Institute Summit 2015 held yesterday in London.

A variety of devices, from weather stations to radiation monitors, have been posting data online for some time – in some case years – but finding this information has proved difficult.

“It’s already here, it’s just hard to find,” said Haque. “Google is not set up to index that type of data.”

Thingful aims to tackle that gap. It doesn’t yet have an api, but it does allow developers to find data sources, follow different sensors through a Watchlist and embed interactive maps known as Thingful views. There’s also an option to view selected data about a mapview, known as Thingful Insights.

Environmental and experimental devices are abundant, but there are also traffic monitors, soil readings and home monitoring data, as well as a smattering of health data.

“We index millions of devices from across the world and from across the data section,” he said.

It’s a strong resource for researchers, journalists and educators, to name a few. For Haque, however, it is also a means of democratising our city, by providing people with greater knowledge about the world around them.

“We can use the Internet of Things to make decisions together, to make sense of our homes and cities together,” he said.

“We’re not just building a search engine for the Internet of Things, we’re trying to balance the discoverability and ownership of IoT data.”

Its creators are working on an api for Thingful so that developers will be able to directly feed data into their projects and applications, however they also want to encourage more people to provide data for the Internet of Things.

“Over the next few months our priority is working with data providers,” said Haque.

Thingful is one of many projects by Umbrellium, a company made up of “architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologists” that develops tools designed to encourage citizen engagement in cities.

Other projects include an AR app for visualising environmental data, an operating system for public spaces and an easy to use prototyping platform for wearables.

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Human habitat located on the Moon that will shield us from its extreme elements

Researchers have discovered a potential habitat on the Moon, which may protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface.

No one has ever been on the Moon for longer than three days, largely because space suits alone can’t shield astronauts from its elements: extreme temperature variation, radiation, and meteorite impacts. Unlike Earth, the Moon also has no atmosphere or magnetic field to protects its inhabitants.

However, in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers have claimed that the safest place for astronauts to seek shelter is inside an intact lava tube.

“It’s important to know where and how big lunar lava tubes are if we’re ever going to construct a lunar base,” said Junichi Haruyama, a senior researcher at JAXA, Japan’s space agency.

Image courtesy of Purdue University/David Blair. Featured image courtesy of NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Lava tubes are naturally occurring channels formed when a lava flow develops a hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream. Once the lava stops flowing, the tunnel sometimes drains, forming a hollow void.

The Lava tubes located by Purdue University researchers are said to be spacious enough to house one of the United States’ largest cities, and while their existence – and in particular their entrance near the Marius Hills Skylight – was previously known, their size was previously an unknown quantity.

“They knew about the skylight in the Marius Hills, but they didn’t have any idea how far that underground cavity might have gone,” said Jay Melosh, professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University.

“Our group at Purdue used the gravity data over that area to infer that the opening was part of a larger system. By using this complimentary technique of radar, they were able to figure out how deep and high the cavities are.”

At the first meeting of the US’ reintroduced National Space Council, vice president Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration will redirect America’s focus to travelling back to the Moon.

Pence’s declaration marks a fundamental change for NASA, which abandoned plans to send people to the moon in favour of Mars under President Barack Obama.

“We will return NASA astronauts to the moon – not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said.