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This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

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5 Ways Product Design Needs to Evolve for the Internet of Things | Harvard Business Review

Elements of Connected Products by Jordan Husney | Slideshare

How Formula One Teams are Using Big Data to Gain an Edge | Forbes

Internet of Things as Art: How Sensor can Transform Public Spaces | Biz Journal

10 Enterprise IoT Deployments with Actual Results | Network World

Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom- we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

Future of Healthcare: Life Science Intersecting with the Exponential Increase in Computing Power

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Life science is intersecting with the exponential increase in computing power, and as President and Managing Partner of Google Ventures (GV), Bill Maris sees great opportunities for new technology in the field. Today, Maris addressed a crowd of entrepreneurs and change makers at one of Chicago’s greatest startup and technology hubs, 1871.

Bill MarisAs we see with our customers’ Internet of Things deployments, every sector, from life sciences to retail and transportation, exponential increases in computing capacity open doors for advances that few see coming.

Maris summed up how technology has grown over the last 20 years: “What is 320,000 times better than it was before? Tech.”

As Maris pointed out, today we all have a device in our hands that connects us to the sum of human knowledge. And, the capacity of computer technology is on an exponential curve. In a world where you’re on an exponential curve, everything changes very quickly.

Pulling a page from Slack Founder Stewart Butterfield, Maris shared two photos to make his point. First, he showed a photo of the crowd at the 2008 presidential inauguration. How were people documenting the experience? With cameras— cameras with film. Fast forward to 2012, and how did people document that event? Digitally, with their phones. Each photo shows thousands of people with cameras and phones respectively. The pictures, side-by-side, paint the radical change that happened in less than four short years.

What does this have to do with technological advances in life sciences?

Everything, because the field of life sciences is currently experiencing this exponential curve, as it somewhat has in the past.

In the 1800s, Bloodletting basins were used to collect blood that was taken from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. When the basin was full, the patient was thought to be treated. In the 1950s medical professionals used the “iron lung,” a negative pressure ventilator. Today, the negative form of pressure ventilation has been entirely replaced by positive pressure ventilation or biphasic cuirass ventilation.Then, in 1957, the first chemical synthesis of penicillin was completed.

Today, exponential curves are steeper than ever. The Human Genome Project is a great example. In 2002, people thought it was impossible to sequence the genome to 100%. Here’s how the evolution looked: 1990: 0%; 2002: 1%; 2003: 100%.

So, what does the world look like in 2034? “Think about those exponential curves, and apply that math. This could mean diagnoses before you know you’re sick. You don’t change the oil in the car only when the car breaks down,” Maris said.

A major theme of Maris’ talk about the future warned that we should also look to make sure that technology is distributed and that its creators and adopters consider access. In our work, we’ve seen companies use technology as a means of creating access— a project by Orange Business Services and Almerys, Cardiauvergne, being a great example.   

In today’s world of exponential curves, what’s your business doing to ensure your evolution? How are you using computing power to impact patient and customer outcomes and revenue? We saw Maris’ talk as an invitation to beg the question. We’d love to hear about your innovations in the comments section below.

More on the innovations of Digi customers around the globe.

Bill Maris founded Google Ventures in 2009 and oversees all of the fund’s global activities. GV is one of the most active investors in the world, with approximately $1.6 billion under management, more than 250 portfolio companies and offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and London. The fund’s early track record includes investments in pioneers like Uber, Nest, DocuSign, and Cloudera; IPOs like Foundation Medicine and RetailMeNot; and exits to industry leaders like Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo.

Photo credit: Hyde Park Angels

Let Your Imagination Run Wireless with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit: Your Idea Deserves a Prototype

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Automated homes, drones, interactive art installations– XBee can be found nearly anywhere. And, more and more devices are using XBee to connect to the cloud. Connecting a device to the Internet should be simple, that’s why we built the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit. XBee_Dev_Board_w_XBeeWith an XBee ZB module and an XBee Gateway, it’s easy to connect your robot, vehicle, sensors, or anything else to the Internet.

Maybe you want to build a mesh network to monitor the health of your garden or perhaps, you have a top secret idea for your business, but you’re unsure where to start. Here are a few examples to help familiarize yourself with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and go from idea to prototype and transform your imagination into reality:

3 Simple XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit Examples

Potentiometer
Potentiometer’s are ubiquitous when it comes to building with electronics and they make great starting point when familiarizing yourself with new technology. Here, we’ll connect this analog input to the cloud, so you can view the values on your Heroku-hosted dashboard. Potentiometers can be used for setting a level, determining an angle or just as a simple user interface adjustment. Nicknamed “pots,” these components are variable resistors. With a simple twist you can alter the amount of voltage that flows out through their center pin.

Push Button
Want to control the light in your room from where you’re sitting? If you answered yes, this example is a great place to start with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit. Remote control of a button is perfect for projects that require user input, or anyplace you need to detect a change in device state. One you’ve built your circuit, you’ll be able to view the status of the button and control it from your web interface.photo (17)

Temperature 
Temperature monitoring is another great starting point with analog sensing. In this example we use everyone’s favorite temperature sensor, the TMP36 low-voltage linear sensor, which is included with your kit. After you’ve built this simple circuit, you can view the temperature on the dashboard.

Let’s Get Started
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what is possible with this new XBee kit. You can find all of these examples and more here, and check out the XBee Gallery to find what others have built with XBee.

Interested in getting an XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit? Head over here.

XBee Tech Tip: Connecting to the IoT with XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit

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This Tech Tip is brought to you by Digi Applications Engineer Mark Grierson, who will take you through the steps to connect an XBee Smart Plug to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and manage it from the XBeegateway.herokuapp.com web application.

The XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit is the easiest way to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). It features a sample web application that lets users remotely activate various outputs on the development board including LEDs, a vibration motor, a bar graph gauge and an audio buzzer.

In addition, users can build their own circuits on the development board to sense temperature or light, switch on and off other devices via a relay, turn on and off additional LEDs and more. The web application code is open-source, available for anyone to download and use as a learning tool.

The purpose of this article is not to teach you how to set up and use the kit. There is an excellent online user’s guide that will step you through that process found here. http://ftp1.digi.com/support/documentation/html/90001399/90001399_A/Files/kit-getting-started.html

This article assumes that you have set up the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and have followed the instructions in the getting started guide.

Using the XBee Smart Plug with the New XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit

Now that you have seen how easy it is to web enable just about any device, you may be wondering about Digi’s boxed ZigBee devices such as the XBee Smart Plug, XBee Sensors, AIO and DIO adapters, etc. Can you use these devices with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit? Absolutely!

1)     Introduction

Using the XBee Smart Plug is an easy way to intelligently monitor and control connected electrical devices. This example uses the XBee Smart Plug and allows you to control the AC relay as well as read and monitor the AC current sensor, the Temperature Sensor and the Light Sensor.

The three sensors generate voltage outputs that are passed to the XBee’s analog-to-digital converter (ADC). These readings are then sent via Device Cloud to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit’s online dashboard application where you can control and monitor the XBee Smart Plug right in your web browser.xbeegateway1-259x300

2)     Assemble the Parts

To complete this exercise you’ll need:

1 – XBee Gateway

1 – XBee Smart Plug

1 – Device Cloud Accountxbeegateway2-300x300

 

3)     Connect the XBee Smart Plug to the Gateway and Configure

You’ll need to ensure the XBee Smart Plug is connected to your XBee Gateway. If your XBee Smart Plug is new and has not connected to a ZigBee network, this should be as simple as plugging it in while the XBee Gateway is powered up.xbeegate3-201x300

The Green Association (ASSC) light will flash once the XBee Smart Plug has joined a network.

You can then go to the XBee Network tab in the configuration section of the Gateway’s web UI to ensure the smart plug has joined.

deviceconfic1

If the XBee Smart Plug does not show up, click on the “Discover XBee Devices” button to have the XBee Gateway perform a network discovery. If the XBee Smart Plug still does not show up and the ASSC light is flashing on the XBee Smart Plug, this means that the XBee Smart Plug has joined another ZigBee network and must be reset using a 4-button press of the Reset button. Consecutive button presses must occur within 800 milliseconds of each other for the reset to occur.

xbeegateway4

When the reset is successful, the ASSC light will go steady as the XBee Smart Plug looks for a new network to join and will flash again once it joins. Return to the Gateway web UI and click discover to see the XBee Smart Plug is now joined to the XBee Gateway.

Once the XBee Smart Plug has joined the XBee Gateway, configure it by clicking on the extended address of the Smart plug.

deviceconfig2

After a few seconds, the settings of the XBee Smart Plug will be displayed. Click on the Input/Output settings tab and:

  1. Check the Detect box for D4 (D4 is used to toggle the AC outlet)
  2. Ensure that the IR parameter is set to 5000ms
  3. Click the Apply button to save changes 

deviceconfig3

4) View It!

You will use the XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit’s web application to configure three widgets for viewing the temperature current and light readings from your sensor. You will also configure a widget to control the AC relay.

Log in to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit web application: https://xbeegateway.herokuapp.com/#/login

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The Outlet Widget

First we will create the outlet control widget.

Use the Add Widget button to create a new display widget.

dcwidget

Choose On/Off Switch Widget for the widget type.

Add a label such as “XBee Smart Plug Outlet.”

Choose your XBee Gateway and module by selecting their ID.

Select DIO4 as the output stream and check the device configuration to make sure it is configured properly. Your screen should look like the following.

createnewwidget

Save the changes to see your new Widget on the home screen.

You should now be able to turn the XBee Smart Plug AC outlet on and off using the widget.

The Current Draw Meter Widget

Next we will createa widget to measure the current draw on the XBee Smart Plug. The concepts used to build this widget are the same for the light meter and temp sensor built into the XBee Smart Plug. Only the Input stream and transform will be different.

Use the Add Widget button to create a new display widget.

dcwidget

Choose Gauge Widget for the widget type.

Add a label such as “Current Draw.”

Choose your XBee Gateway and module by selecting their ID.

Select AD3 as the Input Stream and check the device configuration to make sure it is configured properly.

Enter the following formula into the Input Transform:

Enter “((((value/1024)*1200)*(156/47)-520)/180*0.7071)*1000″ into the Input Transform to transform the input from millivolts to milliamps. The formula in brackets converts the millivolt reading into AMPS. The herokuapp application is constrained to whole numbers and will convert a decimal result to the nearest whole number. To make this data more meaningful, we then multiply this value by 1000 to convert to milliamps. The following knowledgebase article is the source for this info: http://www.digi.com/support/kbase/kbaseresultdetl?id=3522#Adapters

Enter mA into the Units field.

Enter 0 for the Low value and 8000 into the High value (the XBee Smart Plug is only rated for loads up to 8 amps).

You screen should look like the following:

widgetsettings

Save the changes to see your new Widget on the home screen.

The Temperature and Light widgets are made using the same procedure as the Current widget with a few small changes.

For the Light Widget use the following:

Label=Light Meter

Input Stream=AD1

Input Transform=(value/1024) * 1200

Units=Lux

Low Value=0

High Value=1000

lightmeter

For the Temperature Widget use the following:

Label=Temperature

Input Stream=AD2

Input Transform= (((((value/1024)*1200)-500)/10)*1.8)+32 for Fahrenheit

= (((value/1024)*1200)-500)/10 for Celcius

Units=Fahrenheit or Celcius

Low Value=0

High Value=150

5) Use It!

Now you can use the XBee Smart Plug to control any AC appliance up to 8 Amps! Additionally, you can monitor the amperage being used along with the Ambient light and temperature around the XBee Smart Plug.

In my screenshot below, I have a 60 watt lamp connected to the XBee Smart Plug.

widget dashboard

Using a variation of Ohms law “P=VxI” we can see that this 60 watt bulb should draw about 500 milliamps at 120 volts. 60W/120V=.5Amps or 500 mA. My meter is showing 494 mA, which is just about right on! Feel free to try other widget types. Use a Bar Graph or Line Graph instead of a Gauge widget.

Now that you have completed this exercise, use what you have learned to add the XBee LTH Sensor, Wall Router or Analog Adapter.The formulas you will need for the transform can be found in this article: http://www.digi.com/support/kbase/kbaseresultdetl?id=3522#Adapters

This Week in the Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.USWATERAUTO

Water Plants Embrace the Cloud | Automation World

Heat Seek NYC App Gives Brooklyn Tenants Ammo vs. Icy Apartments | NY Daily News

The Future of Cities: The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live | ForeignAffairs.com

A Guide for the Evaluation and Selection of Single Board Computers | All-Electronics

Forrester’s Top Emerging Technologies to Watch, Now Through 2020 | Forrester Blog

Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom- we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We are always finding amazing XBee projects. From robots, to rockets, to gardens–the creativity of XBee makers is endless. We have some new additions to the XBee Project Gallery and wanted to share them with you.  Let us know your favorite!

XBeeGallery

Wireless Firework Control System
It’s safe to say this is the most explosive project in the gallery. This wireless system allows you to control the launching of fireworks from a control unit that has 200 channels.

CanSat Solar Powered Data Collection
A team of student engineers from Guatemala needed a way to send data between a flying a rocket and a base station located on the ground. The rocket contained a payload, which collects sensor data as it falls back to the ground. What makes this project truly amazing is the fact that the whole system is solar powered!

Animatronic Ironman Suit
Yes, someone has made a full-scale replica of Ironman. No, it does not fly. You can find XBee inside the suit’s helmet. Wiring was used throughout the replica, but the designer ran into a problem when he needed to create a wireless helmet, so it would be easy to take on and off. There’s even a video of the suit in action.

Wireless Controlled Hand
Gabry built this for his final high school project. It consists of XBee and an Arduino Lilypad. The user puts on a glove and as they move their hand another robotic hand mimics the motion of the user.

Do you have an XBee project you would like featured in the XBee Project Gallery? You can submit your own or someone else’s project here.

One Small Step for XBee, One Giant Leap for Wireless

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This winter, Soarex, a NASA sounding rocket, will be launched into space with XBee on-board.  The three-node network is the first XBee ZigBee network to go to space. The rocket will fly roughly 200 miles above earth to test a new parachute-like technology called an exo-brake. Exo-brakes are used to safely return samples from the Earth’s orbit as well as land spacecrafts on other planets that with much thinner atmospheres than Earth.

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Typically the devices that collect samples are connected with wiring. The team chose to move away from traditional wiring and experiment with a wireless network for a number of reasons. For one, less cabling on the spacecraft means less weight, which reduces the amount of fuel needed. Another important feature is the ability to relay this data back down to earth via an Iridium satellite. The Soarex will monitor six different acceleration parameters as well as temperature and air pressure.

This wireless network is part of an effort by NASA to test the performance of wireless on a spacecraft and determine if it will be suitable for other applications. Due to the high cost associated with launching a rocket, the team must be extremely conservative when implementing new technology. Once the network performs multiple successful trials, the team will incorporate XBee into more and more vital missions.

When NASA chooses to experiment with new technology, the initial budget is relatively small, so the engineers went with off-the-shelf components to build out the network. The team is working with Digi’s XBee ZB modules, Arduino microcontrollers, and Sparkfun’s XBee adapter shields.  If the trial run is a hit, they’ll work to build a more customized solution– one that might even feature the XBee Plus!

Soarex will launch with XBee in January 2015. We’ll share some more information and let you know how it goes, so check back in! Until then, check out this video to get an idea of the wild ride XBee will be taking.

XBee Visits World Maker Faire New York 2014

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Maker Faire is one of our favorite events of the year. We get to meet everyone that’s making with XBee, introduce others that may not be familiar, and see amazing projects like giant robotic giraffes and connected motorcycles. We’ve got tons of pictures to share with you from what was a great event.

XBee Projects

And if you stopped by our booth and looking to build any of the demos we had on display, visit examples.digi.com for instructions. Or if you’ve built a project with XBee, be sure to submit it to the XBee Gallery.

Thanks again to everyone that stopped by to hangout with us. Have photos or videos from Maker Faire that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter!