Interviews from the Community: Charalampos Doukas, researcher, writer and FlyPort Geek!

Posted by openPicus | On: Jun 14 2012
Today, we proudly host on our blog, a talk with of of our greatest fans and maker from the community.
Charalampos Doukas is an academic, editor, geek, book writer and more. An amazingly interesting mate that shows once again the treasure we can find in our community.

If you wanna tell your story, please reach out! we are always ready to get in touch!

[openPicus]: First of all we would like to present yourself. We know that you have a research and education background and now you deal also with experimentation, design and even publishing.
Would you tell us a bit about your background and your present endeavours?

[Charalampos Doukas]: I am an information systems engineer with special focus on medical sensors and cloud applications research. My PhD is on data mining and patient context awareness using wearable and mobile sensor systems. The last 5 years I have been using open hardware for building systems that collect biosignals and user information for my research. In parallel I have been building small home automation projects. Combining knowledge of embedded, wireless and Cloud systems, I have been dealing the last few years with the Internet of Things (IoT), building both Cloud-based applications and embedded/mobile systems.

[openPicus]: We now you also published a book that deals with Building IoT applications with Arduino. Now we know you are playing with Flyport and maybe considering to write a book about that :)

[Charalampos Doukas]: Could you please tell us why you switched to Flyport, what are the main differences or advantages that made you switch to it? Is there any limitation or, simply, some different scope of Arduino technology respect to Flyport that made you look into our technology?

I have recently used Flyport for building a remote control project and this has given me the opportunity to evaluate the Flyport platform. I have used a Flyport Ethernet module for the project and recently purchased a WiFi module for experimentation as well. I am really excited with the Flyport platform, it does offer great and competitive features compared to platforms like the Arduino:

  • An integrated customizable, thread-featuring Web Server
  • Important IoT features like Real Time Protocol support
  • Can be re-programmed remotely
  • Features FTP/Email and even SSL support
  • Has a great and easy to use IDE for programming and debugging the Flyport modules.
  • It comes at a very competitive price!

I cannot say yet that I have switched to Flyport, but definitely it has already become one of my favorite platforms and will be part of my future projects.

I do consider writing a book about it, I hope to find the spare time real soon (or some help)! :-)
Flyport is a great technology and can be used by users with various technical and programming background (from complete newbies to embedded experts). I think a book introducing IoT fans to the Flyport describing the communication with the various available IoT platforms would be great.

[openPicus]: What do you think of FlyPort technology overall? Is there any suggestion or comments that you want to share with our community?

[Charalampos Doukas]:  Flyport has great potential. I can see that the team is working hard and providing continuously new features and products to the community.

Some suggestions for improvement could be the following:

  • More support about how to connect Flyport modules to electronic components and build sample circuits (like analog sensor reading, controlling PWM, etc.). Such information might already exist on the site, a better organized, how-to section more visible would be great (ed: we are working on it!).
  • Provide a cross-platform IDE (ed: we are working on it!), I think it is possible to program a PIC on a Mac/Linux.
  • Arduino shields are becoming a standard for hardware vendors that offer modules like GPS, 3G , sensor shields, etc. I think Flyport should switch to Arduino-like pin layout so that users can directly use Flyport with the available extension modules.

[openPicus]: What are you building right now?

[Charalampos Doukas]: I have various projects in mind and some ongoing work, all related to the Internet of Things. Some have to do with home automation and some with the ‘Quantified Self’.  Flyport will be definitely be a part in most of them.

[openPicus]: would you tell us a bit more of your vision about IoT and the “quantified self”, that is hugely interesting!

[Charalampos Doukas]: Well I consider the ‘Quantified Self’ (QS) a product of the convergence of mobile technology and telematics-telehealth systems. I have seen research projects delivering on-body sensors since the early 00’ and earlier, but systems have been very expensive and not very mobile.

Wireless/GSM networks have been in the past expensive, data transmission rates low and information had to reside locally or to be transmitted to a nearby computer affecting thus mobility.

Nowadays, mobile phones can be used to provide information about how active a user can be, how noisy the environment can be, or can be just used as an interface for tracking habits like nutrition, tracking behaviour, quantifying ourselves. At the same time, sensors like heart pulse detectors and accelerometers have become amazingly affordable.

Low power systems and wireless communications like Bluetooth 4 enable such systems to become more pervasive and more ‘permanent’ on user’s bodies, collecting various information about the user health status, activities and context.
We are steadily entering a new era of applications that enable users to monitor automatically and pervasively their daily activities and their environment.

My (short) vision: Sensors will become more ubiquitous, will ‘talk’ either directly to the Internet or though common gateways like a home router, and send data to the Cloud. New applications will enable the fusion of online data about the individual and the environment and will also provide data mining features for automatically detecting anomalies in user behavior and suggest improvements.
There are also great challenges for people involved or willing to involve in the IoT-QS domain:

  • Data security and privacy
  • Interoperability between services, data and vendors
  • Data mining

QS and IoT make both a promising technology field with great potential for users, developers and entrepreneurs.

Thanks again! If you want to follow Charalampos, check out his tweets @buildingIoT
openPicus Team

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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