Social Media and Business
icon4 03 26th, 2013| icon3Comments Off

The start of the year is always busy at Barix, with trade shows and 1001 new ideas to work on! This year we had the added work of rebranding the company – no small task as we have grown in the last years!

Keeping track of industry developments and getting feedback from customers can be difficult in such circumstances, and in the last year we have turned increasingly to social media as a source of information and a place to give and get feedback.

This blog is one example, and for years we’ve offered support to the Barix community through our forums. Just over a year ago we set up the “BarixAG”- youtube channel, which contains a mix of Solutions ideas and practical howtos. Specialist groups on LinkedIn are also a great way to keep abreast of issues, and to give and get advice from other industry professionals. Here are a few that we have found useful:

- Audio over IP for broadcast
- Broadcast Engineering and Technical Professionals
- Broadcast Professionals
- In-Store Music and Messaging Professionals
- On Hold Messaging Association – OHMA

… of course there are MANY more … but be careful! It is easy to let such things steal too much time as well!

Non-profit conservation organization depends on reliable, high-quality audio streams from Barix devices to study humpback whales in their natural setting off the Canadian coast

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, October 23, 2012 — Audio over IP pioneer Barix AG is well-known for supplying one-way and two-way audio solutions for broadcast radio, entertainment, in-store media, security and transportation applications. Scientific audio is a lesser-known application from Barix — but one that non-profit conservation organization Pacific Wild has found clear benefits from using.

Dedicated to protecting Canada’s Pacific coast, Pacific Wild has deployed audio monitoring stations at four points along the British Columbia shoreline to capture live sounds of humpback whales in their natural marine environment. The monitoring stations use rugged “hydrophones” — microphones designed for underwater listening and recording — to capture whale audio and other sounds of the ocean in high quality.

Barix Instreamer IP audio devices encode the captured sounds live and stream the audio 24/7 over the internet to Pacific Wild offices, allowing Pacific Wild employees, scientists and wildlife enthusiasts to study and learn from the behavioral patterns of humpback whales — and how surrounding activity such as shipping activity affects their behavior. The live stream is accessible for the public at http://pacificwild.org/site/great-bear-live/hydrophones/.

According to Rob MacKenzie, a freelance IT engineer working with Pacific Wild, the Barix solution has significantly raised live audio quality from the hydrophones. MacKenzie was brought in to “bring the technological level up a few notches” and improve the end-to-end system. The previous audio system recorded 8-bit audio at 8kHz, which made it challenging to capture clear sound. The Barix solution digitizes the hydrophone-captured audio into 16-bit MP3 for the best signal integrity and compatibility.

“I was tasked with rebuilding the entire system,” said MacKenzie. “I put up a new Linux recording system, added new monitoring systems, improved network availability and rebuilt the power systems for all the enclosures. But the Barix Instreamer has been instrumental to our research. We’re capturing everything from loud identification calls to soft back-and-forth chatter. Just being able to record those very soft sounds proves the bit depth and audio quality we get from Barix.”

MacKenzie noted that while there are a number of research stations for whale behavior in British Columbia, there has been a gap in the central coast area that Pacific Wild is now covering. Pacific Wild expects to expand to 12 sites over the next five years, using Barix to encode and stream all live audio.

“There is a lot of research going on with humpback whales, including male song and how it changes across large geographical areas,” said MacKenzie. “We can monitor how one whale will start singing a slightly different song, and how it is passed along to other whales. We’re also studying how ambient underwater noises and shipping traffic affect their behavior and ability to communicate. The Barix devices, in addition to providing audio, help us perform measurements, create graphs and understand trends related to all these sounds.”

MacKenzie adds that the Barix Instreamer has been extremely reliable, with relatively no setup process beyond assigning each device an IP address. The devices are bolted into protective, solar-powered enclosures installed off the shoreline and out in the wild, built to withstand the icy blasts of wind and year-round moisture associated with the harsh regional climate.

“The Barix encoders spit out data constantly and consistently as long as the radios are up,” he said. The complete, end-to-end network includes 802.11 microwave radios to deliver the live Barix stream from the remote locations to Pacific Wild headquarters.

“Barix devices serve scientific applications worldwide,” said Johannes Rietschel, CEO of Barix AG. “The AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute)’s PALAOA station in Antarctica has been using our devices for many years to monitor underwater nature sounds. With the Pacific Wild project, whales are now monitored both in the northern and southern hemisphere by Barix devices! These are just two examples of Barix devices in action, with thousands of installations worldwide serving their purpose with Swiss precision and bespoke reliability.”

Live program streams to provide music enthusiasts with access to concerts across the globe

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, January 9, 2012 — Audio over IP pioneer Barix AG will bring the 2012 International Piano Festival to a global audience this year through the power of streaming media.

The International Piano Festival is a series of weekly piano concerts taking place from March 3 through April 7, 2012 at the historic 400-seat Teatro Miela in Trieste, Italy. The Association ‘Il Concerto, founded in 2007 to spread knowledge and love for music, hosts the annual event. Featured performers this year include internationally-known musicians Anna Fedorova, Natalia Morozova, Marcos Madrigal, Roberto Prosseda, Trio Maurice and the duo Chiara Soave-Cecilia Baccolo.

Barix will provide a complete Audio over IP solution to support the live audio streams originating from the theater. Listeners can access the streams at home or on the go at http://www.ilconcerto.eu/Il_Concerto/Live.html using desktop computers, smart phones, tablets and other web-accessible devices with audio reception.

The Association ‘Il Concerto cites broadcast-quality sound, flexibility and ease of use as key reasons for choosing Barix.

“Barix makes broadcasting applications dramatically simple,” said Riccardo Radivo, artistic director of the International Piano Festival. “In addition to supporting live streams in the theater, the Barix Audio over IP solution will enable listeners everywhere to hear the concerts on desktop computers, smart phones and other audio devices, expanding the vistas of the Association’s knowledge and love of music.”

The International Piano Festival audio feeds will originate from a front of house mixer in the theater. A Baix Exstreamer 1000 professional Audio over IP device will receive a balanced stereo signal from a mixer output, and encode the audio for distribution over a high-speed broadband connection. (A second stereo output from each mixer will connect to a digital recorder for live recording.)

Barix Instreamer firmware will encode the analog audio signals in the MPEG1 Layer III 48Khz format — the highest bit rate allowed for maximum audio quality. The broadband connection will transport the digital encoded signals to a remote Icecast server, which enables the live stream over fixed and mobile devices.

Have you ever lost food due to a broken fridge or freezer, or did you ever find a door not shut on your kitchen fridge – after one day ?

Worst, of course, if these things happen in a place you do not regulary stay, such as a weekend cottage or vacation home !

I did this even better …. unplugged the freezer because i needed the power outlet to recharge the car battery .. then forgot to plug back in the freezer …. result, after 5 days …. quite a loss of food ! And a mess to clean up …

Barix Barionet devices can come to the rescue here ! If done right, you can monitor the fridge or freezer for both breakdown as well as open doors etc, without doing any modification or adding sensors to the fridge.

Here’s the secret: get a current sensor such as the RIBXKTF from Functional Devices (costs around $15 if you search online). you will need to install it, best in the electrical cabinet, so the source power for the fridge runs through it. The output of this specific type resembles a “contact closure” (it’s probably a transistor), so you can connect, depending on the type of Barionet you use, up to 4 or even up to 8 of these sensors.

The sensor will not detect the usual “standby” current of a fridge (while the compressor not being active), but it will definitely transmit “on” when the compressor runs.

A fridge/freezer should not be active all the time, there should be alternating periods when the compressor is active and inactive.

A typical graph is here:

Freezer Activity example

Freezer Activity Example

By monitoring the sensor for activity, you can now derive quite some information about your fridge !

- constant “off” tells you the fridge is probably plugged out, switched off or fuse blown, compressor dead etc
- constant “on” tells you the fridge is using a lot of energy, probably because the door is not shut correctly or ice buildup

By calculating the duty cycle (percentage of the fridge being on in a certain period) over time, you can even detect growing inefficiency, when a de-icing makes sense etc – of course, the “nominal” values vary by fridge and average load and need to be determined.

Calculation and alarming can be programmed right into the Barionet or done in a higher level home automation system (such as XTension for the mac – i’m using that myself).

One time rotten food/loss of content can easily cost more than the “Barionet freezer monitor”, if you already use Barionets in your house, just add the sensor …. and of course, this functionality can also be applied to heaters, fans, pumps – about anything which is meant to be on “some times” but not always …

If you want a programming example for the Barionet, contact me – happy to provide that to you as source code.

Home automation that makes sense – with the Barionet, the real-world I/O interface from Barix !

All the best,

Johannes

A Barionet is a great product to monitor environmental parameters, power useage, contact closures etc.

If the Barionet detects an alarm condition, it will need to notify you. But how?

Sample code for sending email, operating a SMS modem etc is already available from us.

Here is a very nice method to do this via the popular iPhone by using an application called “prowl”. The Prowl makers operate a public server and manage the delivery to the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch “prowl” app via the standard iOS notification scheme (so, very little consumption of power/bandwith on the iOS device).
You need to purchase the prowl app from the app store ($2.99), register and generate an API key on the prowlapp website, and you are good to go!

On the Barionet, you will need a small application which
- opens a TCP connection to the prowl api server, api.prowlapp.com, port 80 (http)
- sends an “add” command with a meaningful notification message to the server (see example below)
- close the connection.

That’s it!
The alarm message will arrive within very short time at your iPhone, where you can configure quiet times, alarm tones etc.

here is an example for a string you would need to send (replace the xxxxx… with the API code you get from the website):

“GET /publicapi/add?apikey=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx&event=alarm%20temp%3e65F%20too%20high&application=fridge HTTP/1.0″ (plus 2x CR/LF)

Note: you will need to do the URL encoding (%20 for space etc) in your program if your message contains blanks or special characters.

We can provide a sample BCL program on request.

Johannes

P.S: Once you have implemented this, let us know so we can feature your application!