Gearing up for the IoT Playground at EclipseCon Europe By Fred Sandsmark

Mon, 2014-10-20 16:05

Fred Sandsmark, Actuate writes about Kristopher Clark's proof-of-concept demo - onboard data from Kris' Toyota Prius on his tablet and watch. Experience it at the IoT Playground.

Can your car talk to your watch? For the last few months, Actuate’s Kristopher Clark has driven his grey, Toyota Prius around his Overland Park, Kansas, USA hometown with a $70 USD Bluetooth-enabled data recorder plugged into the on-board diagnostics (OBD II) port under the dash.

Clark, a BIRT Evangelist at Actuate, used the device to collect mountains of data about all aspects of his car’s operations – things like fuel economy and average speed, along with more esoteric data like GPS heading, elevation, and car angle. Clark will show his project at the IoT Playground (during opening hours starting 12:00 Oct. 28th - 12:00 Oct. 30th) – basically, how he made his car part of the Internet of Things (IoT) – at EclipseCon Europe in Germany. “A car is actually an IoT device, if you’re able to retrieve data from it,” Clark says.

His project works like this: OBD II data is sent by Bluetooth to an Android device running an application called Torque. (Data collection could also have done with a Raspberry Pi and Python libraries, Clark notes.) Using the MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport) protocol and the HiveMQ Broker, the data is then distributed in two ways: First, sent live, using a Paho JavaScript library into BIRT iHub F-Type™ (Actuate’s freemium BIRT server); and also sent to a MySQL database for later display and analysis.

Clark used BIRT iHub F-Type™ to create an HTML-based report that mimics his Prius dashboard, showing speed, RPMs, and other data. There’s also a “View More Stats” button that exposes four charts – gas mileage analysis, emissions, engine speed vs. resources needed, and various other elements of the hybrid system. (These stats and charts are entirely configurable within BIRT.)

In addition to this dashboard, BIRT iHub F-Type also sends data back to HiveMQ for distribution in the form of alerts, e.g. to a smartwatch which could alert you when your car is traveling faster than a predetermined speed – even if you are not the driver.

Using BIRT adds an interesting wrinkle to Clark’s project: It enables blending of car data with third-party sources. (Ingesting, manipulating, and visualizing disparate data is a strength of BIRT.) For example, government weather data could be correlated with car data to study the effect of atmospheric conditions on auto performance and fuel economy.

Kris ClarkClark’s demonstration is just a proof of concept – not a commercial product – but it’s easy to imagine the real-world implications. “Think about somebody who operates a fleet of trucks,” he says. “You could use this to understand how weather affects vehicle maintenance. Or you could bring in map and traffic data to decide if one route is more efficient than another, in both time and fuel. I could go on and on with the possibilities.”

See the possibilities for yourself at Clark’s IoT Playground session.  And preview his EclipseCon demo by replaying a recent Eclipse VirtualIoT hangout.




Fred Sandsmark is a content writer at Actuate, the company behind the BIRT Eclipse Project. Before joining Actuate, he wrote success stories and marketing materials for Oracle, Symantec, NetApp, Microsoft, and others as a freelancer. Read more at and follow him on Twitter at @FredSandsmark.