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Sunday, 22 June 2008 17:48

Canada gets solar powered, Internet connected, RFID equipped bicycles

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The rising cost of oil the world over is driving huge numbers of people to look for alternatives to, well, driving. Montreal has one of the most technologically advanced public transport concepts: hi-tech bikes for commuters to share.

In what has to be one of the most innovative uses of technology within the realm of alternative transport for many years, Montreal has announced the availability of the Public Bike System.

Until now, the most technologically advanced thing you would find on a bicycle would probably be the mobile phone in the pocket of the cyclist. Some dedicated road warriors might have invested in a GPS satnav, but that is about it.

The Montreal project has managed to re-write the rule book as far as the techno-bike is concerned. Starting with the physical look of the cycle, industrial designer Michel Dallaire has given them a futuristic makeover. Dallaire designed the 1976 Olympic torch, and more recently was tasked with creating new garbage bins for the Montreal streets.

While the modern look will no doubt grab the attention of the passing public, anyone with an interest in IT will surely appreciate the technology that is driving the entire PBS rental concept.

You could simply say that the 2400 bikes will be distributed across 300 modular base units at various locations in the city. Commuters use a smart card loaded with credits, or their credit card, to release a bicycle from the base station and are charged for their time when they dock it at the destination station.

But that would be missing the point, by a country mile.

For a start there is the small fact that these base stations have done away with the need for an external power source. They are solar powered and totally self-contained, meaning the impact upon the urban environment is about as eco-friendly as you can get. No digging up of the street involved, and when the units get moved no trace that they had ever been there.

When docked, the base station recharges the bicycle lights front and back. These are always on when riding, for added safety. A cutting edge, wireless RFID connection ensures that the base station always knows how many bikes are available at any given time.


Of course, just turning up and finding that your local station has no bikes could prove problematical in terms of getting to work on time. Which is why PBS bikes are Internet friendly. Using wireless communication the base stations know how many bikes are connected and reports this back to a central management system.

Commuters can connect to the PBS locator site using their smart phone and see exactly what bikes are available where, right now. For the managers of PBS the technology is so advanced that it means they can even see the functional state of repair of each bike, how the solar panels are doing and so on.

Commuters are able to report, from the docking unit, if a bike gets damaged so the system is always updated in real time. The management software itself will even monitor traffic patterns to enable PBS to relocate units to different areas of town on demand.

A similar system has been a great success in Paris, and if the Montreal one goes as well this could be just the start of a solar powered, web located, RFID driven bicycle revolution.

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Now’s the Time for 400G Migration

The optical fibre community is anxiously awaiting the benefits that 400G capacity per wavelength will bring to existing and future fibre optic networks.

Nearly every business wants to leverage the latest in digital offerings to remain competitive in their respective markets and to provide support for fast and ever-increasing demands for data capacity. 400G is the answer.

Initial challenges are associated with supporting such project and upgrades to fulfil the promise of higher-capacity transport.

The foundation of optical networking infrastructure includes coherent optical transceivers and digital signal processing (DSP), mux/demux, ROADM, and optical amplifiers, all of which must be able to support 400G capacity.

With today’s proprietary power-hungry and high cost transceivers and DSP, how is migration to 400G networks going to be a viable option?

PacketLight's next-generation standardised solutions may be the answer. Click below to read the full article.

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