News and Press Items 2012 – 2013

October 1, 2012 — The OrthopterNets program was discussed in this German Financial Times article.

The article is in German, but here is an automated Google translate of it:
Insects as relief workers: Your friend, the cockroach
by Luke Schürmann Gütersloh

Hardly a creature is as robust as the cockroach, they even survived nuclear war. A U.S. engineer wants the insect now clamped as relief workers. It was the song of the cicadas that brought Ben Epstein on his idea. It was summer, the bioengineer visited Shanghai in the family and his Chinese wife was fascinated by the noisy insects. “Whole shoals cicadas sang there together, the sound of tree planted himself continued to tree,” said the amateur musician. “I was wondering what the cicadas communicate there, and how we the people can use.
Opcoast Chairman Ben Epstein upgraded roaches with sensors to use them as a scout in disaster areas

Today we can still sing Epstein no insects, in a roundabout way he has it but still managed to harness it for the people: He equips cockroaches with electronic backpacks in order to make emergency workers. Together with researchers from Purdue and Texas A&M Universities developed his company Opcoast tiny sensors packages that allow the insects find survivors and can detect radiation or chemical leaks. A major supporter Opcoast has won: the U.S. Army Research Office is supporting the project with $850,000.

Each cockroach carries about two grams of technology around with them: a chip, a transmitter and a battery, to microphones or sensors, the locations, for example, people under rubble of houses and connect with the operations center should. A swarm of cockroaches tech is then released to the disaster area, on the way each of the robust insects continuously transmits data environment.

Because the insects are not looking for people targeted or radiation sources, have as many cockroaches are exposed to increase the hit probability. What Epstein presents technical challenges: The circuits must be for mass production as cheaply as possible, especially since many cockroaches at the end of the mission cannot be collected again. Only $1 per insect should be the cost of materials.

“The battery is the most difficult part of the project,” says the engineer. You must be as light as possible, while strong enough to operate sensors and transmitters over a longer period. Currently could his cockroaches crawling around a good 30 minutes and send, with new circuits and batteries were up to five hours in there. Epstein wants to make his insect backpacks also easier to put them on even smaller insects.

If successful, should Opcoast’s cockroaches have in their first two years of daily use. Field tests have already shown that many stations do not interfere with each other. Even the luggage does not seem to burden the cockroaches: “These animals can carry much weight anyway amazing.”

As a customer has Opcoast especially its donors in mind: The military promotes his work already, says Epstein, as it lies close to that at some point even the cockroaches einsetze. The army is also interested in Epstein’s vision to make singing insects to information carriers: “The idea has the potential to become an additional, low-cost communication system,” said Dwight Woolard from Army Research Office of the magazine “Business Week”.

And it will be a long, transferred to cricket and grasshopper confidential information. Although Epstein works with singing insects. His experiments with Chinese grasshoppers but had been shown one thing: “The scraping method is much easier.”

July 24, 2012 — OpCoast offices relocate to a new address
990 Cedarbridge Ave
Ste B7-110
Brick, NJ 08723

June 28, 2012 — OrthopterNets article in Bloomberg Businessweek

Dr. Epstein’s contributions to the OrthopterNet progam are highlighted in this Businessweek article. The Bloomberg’s Businessweek article includes comments from Dr. Epstein, Hong Liang of Texas A&M University, and the program sponsor, Dwight Woolard. Contributions from Purdue University, the other progam participant, are not mentioned but they are developing the radio electronics within the program.

March 2012 — OpCoast presents at the 2012 GOMACTech Conference

A poster related to the Phase II of the OrthopterNets program was presented by OpCoast authors at the 2012 GOMACTech conference held in Las Vegas, NV USA. Advances in the use of insects as communication and sensor nodes was presented.

June 2013 — OrthopterNet work highlighted in IEEE Spectrum article

A June 14, 2013 article entitled Roach-Net Radio concerning OpCoast’s OrthopterNets work was published in IEEE Spectrum. The article highlights contributions to the RF transciever from Purdue, a team member in the program. Discussion concerning system level aspects, such as roach behavior, is also a highlight of the article.

March 2014 — Label Propagation Demo Site Launched

A new section of the website was created, the Demo Section. It currently has an online demonstration of some label propagation algorithms and can be easily used by anyone that wants to see these algorithms in action.

August 2014 — Cellular system simulation software completed

OpCoast completes a cellular system for a customer with many advanced features:

Analysis of propagation, datarates, interference and other parameters, while taking into account the type of wireless technology to be modeled. These choices now include GSM, GPRS, UMTS 3G, CDMA, LTE, and iBurst.
Analysis modes for a single point, path or grid.
Portability across Linux and Windows
Use of companion application to create scenes composed of irregular terrain, clutter, buildings and user population density areas.
Ability to read and write scenarios.
GUI based interaction throughout.
2D DTED (Digital Terrain Elevation Data) display with interactive area selection and decimation control for analysis.
Online elevation data from Google Elevation API
2D & 3D terrain and propagation result view, flythrough via mouse & keyboard control.
Frequency-dependent directional antennas of arbitrary 2D and 3D patterns.
Multiple towers with sectorized antennas. Dominant graphs per tower or sector
Data and graphic file saves.
Tower-to-tower interference modeling.
Side-by-side data comparison
Mode-based propagation adjustment for improved accuracy
Advanced, technology dependent interference models.
Advanced options for propagation computation, including:
Custom-developed propagation model improvements based on test data
Control of ITM parameters (applied to over 1 km ranges)
Rooftop diffraction models
Two-ray bounce models for flat terrain and hill model for irregular terrain within 1 km range
Fresnel zone blockage models
Combined propagation coverage for multiple Tx points.