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Introducing The Official XBee Java Library

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Creating XBee applications just got way easier. Gone are the days of toiling away for every inch of code. In order to make it as simple as possible for you to write applications that interact with XBee, we have created the XBee Java Library. This library supports ZigBee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh and Point-to-Multipoint XBee devices!

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The project includes Java source code, unit tests for the library, and multiple examples that show how to use the available APIs. The examples are also available in source code format.

Here’s a list of what’s included in the library:

  • Configuration of local and remote XBee devices:
    • Configure common parameters with specific setters and getters.
    • Configure any other parameter with generic methods.
    • Execute AT commands.
    • Apply configuration changes.
    • Write configuration changes.
    • Reset the device.
  • Transmission of data to all the XBee devices on the network or to a specific device.
  • Reception of data from remote XBee devices:
    • Data polling.
    • Data reception callback.
  • Reception of network status changes related to the local XBee device.
  • IO lines management:
    • Configure IO lines.
    • Set IO line value.
    • Read IO line value.
    • Receive IO data samples from any remote XBee device on the network.

So whether you’re designing an intelligent lighting application, completely automating your home, tracking your dog’s activity level, or anything else you can dream up– you no longer have to start from scratch. Visit github.com/digidotcom for access to the library and more information.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Gallery Update

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We are always finding amazing XBee projects. From drones, to artwork, 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!

 

Interactive Prayer Wheel
Yantra is an Art Tech Science Festival held in Nepal. For this special occasion, the organizers wanted to create a piece of art that combined their cultural heritage with technology as way to connect generations. This goal led them to to build a modern-day prayer wheel.

Terra Spider
Created by students at the California College of the Arts, the goal was to build an autonomous robot capable of repairing and maintaining damaged landscapes. This robot, dubbed Terra Spider, can be dropped into hazardous environments to do just that- repair and maintain damaged landscapes.

Rainforest Monitoring with Drones
The goal of Tapirnet is to apply an economic value to the Amazon Rainforest by developing an automated and sustainable system to document wildlife in the Amazon. The location of this project is the “Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana” in Peru.

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.

A Year in the Internet of Things: Top Posts from the Digi Blog

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Another year is in the books and the Internet of Things conversation continues to evolve.  As 2014 comes to a close we took a look back at some of our most read posts of the year. Here’s to an equally awesome 2015!

Happy New Year! (1)

 

A Simpler and More Intelligent Internet of Things with Digi and Temboo
Rob Faludi and Vaughn Shinnal demonstrate how to use XBee Gateway and Temboo Choreos to build an Internet of Things Application. In this example, they showcase a prototype that monitors the liquid level of a tank.

XBee in Space
Pretty soon XBee will be sent into space on NASA’s Soarex rocket! This marks the first ever ZigBee network in space. Take a look at how NASA’s team of engineers built this one-of-kind telemetry system.

Heat Seek NYC Keeping Others Warm
Did you know NYC handles over 200,000 heating complaints every year? In order to provide proof of poor heating, tenants are tasked with manually recording the temperatures of their apartments. A group of New York City residents recognized this as a major public issue and founded Heat Seek NYC to efficiently address this overwhelming number of complaints and ensure no New York City resident has to spend winter in a cold home.

SteadyServe
SteadyServe is bringing the Internet of Things to the beer industry. Wireless monitoring technology makes inventory management for restaurant owners and supply chain manager easy with real-time data.

MBed and Arduino Hackathon
We love giving Digi employees a chance to play around and this hackathon was a hit. Each team had to use an MBed and Arduino microcontroller and connect them with XBee. Check out what they built!

What are your Highlights from 2014?
These are just a few highlights from what has been busy 2014 for us at Digi. Let us know what your favorite stories are from this year in the Internet of Things. You can share with us either in the comments or @digidotcom. Happy New Year!

Creative Inspiration: British Arrows Award Winners 2014

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The Digi marketing and product teams took a field trip to the British Arrow Awards at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis to get our creativity flowing for the new year. We left laughing and inspired, so we thought you might be interested in checking out a few of this year’s winners too.

Unilever Marmite Rescue

Unilever is well aware of the love/hate relationship people have with Marmite, and they’re not afraid to show it in this ad that was named as commercial of the year.

 

Mercedes-Benz Magic Body Control Chicken

Oddly enough, Chicken was great inspiration for our cellular team. The products they work on are all about stability and control.

 

Honda Hands

This may have been the ad that spoke to us the most. After all, we’re all makers here at Digi and every IoT deployment starts with someone who is willing to think curiously.

 

Hutchen 3D Three Mobile Pony

Because… dancing ponies.

It’s the perfect time of year to get out of the office and find inspiration in unexpected places. Where are you finding creative fuel for the new year?

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.

TRE_photoboot-Small
Taking the Internet of Things to the Farm | How We Get to Next

10 Perfect DIY Projects for Makers Who Love Their Pets | Makezine

4 Ways the Internet of Things Brings us Closer to ‘The Jetsons’ | Mashable

Quality Assured with the Internet of Things | M2M Now

Arduino TRE Developer Edition, 2nd Round of Beta Testing | Arduino 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.

Today’s Industrial Internet of Things Solutions Are Built, Not Bought

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-Every industry and solution requires a
 

The article “Don’t hold your breath for the industrial IoT platform” by Cormac Foster caused quite the buzz when it made its debut on Gigaom last month. With rebuttals from industry players like Mike Dolbec, managing director of Venture Capital GE Software, we took notice.

What stood out the most? Despite the tensions expressed in reader comments, we agree with Foster and thought that some of the best points of the piece were overlooked.

What others overlooked is that Foster isn’t downplaying the role of the Industrial Internet of Things. He’s simply pointing to its enormity.

“The industrial IoT will eventually eclipse consumer markets, in terms of both the number of connected devices and the volume and value of connections. But the market’s potential is so large because it’s not just one market.”

We couldn’t agree more. The Industrial IoT is a mega trend, and its economic value add will show that in time. It is not a single market, but rather a market of markets. For example, our business at Digi International spans over half a dozen different vertical industries and even more underlying applications and use cases.

Different solutions may require different hardware approaches, networking technologies, cloud data storage, reporting and security requirements. We’ve had to learn the different languages of proprietary machines–becoming ‘machine linguists’ in the process.

To approach this vast “megatrend” landscape requires a versatile toolkit of wireless and embedded technologies and software and integration services, because each customer use case and scenario has its own optimized solution.

In the industrial world, you build an IoT solution, you don’t buy one. You might be able to go and buy a wearable at Best Buy or Target, but here in the Industrial IoT there’s no one-size fits all standard today. Furthermore, a lot of new entrants in the supplier space offer one point solution or one point product. They have a single hammer, so everyone’s problem is declared a nail. That’s why their ability to deliver value to customers is limited.

Industrial Internet of Things solutions today are about creating a strategic competitive advantage for your business. If it were easy to do–if you could just buy one off the shelf and implement it–would it be a real advantage? For how long? As early adopters of IoT realize the business benefits of lower costs or the ability to deliver superior customer service, laggards will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

As I said before, every industry and solution requires a different combination of technologies and approaches to get the job done. A solution for a city looking to reduce their electricity bill using a smart street lighting system is completely different than a medical device maker who needs to bluetooth-enable products. The same goes for someone deploying precision agriculture equipment, or industrial fuel tanks.

For example, wireless mesh networking technology often powers smart street lighting IoT projects, which can reduce electricity costs that can account for a big chunk of a city’s energy expenses. One of our customers’ systems, which gives city crews a view into every light and its status via a web application, helps cities save up to 85 percent on energy costs. And, with reduced CO2 emissions, it also helps to protect the environment.

The Bottom Line: There’s No Panacea or Single Standard today

Our IoT customer solutions span dozens of industries and hundreds of applications– each with different business goals and technology needs. So, yes, we have to agree with Foster. There’s no one Industrial IoT platform. We wouldn’t hold our breathe either. Internet of Things systems for commercial use are created with industry and application specifications in mind, as they should be. As Foster said, “the market’s potential is so large because it’s not just one market.”

Interested in learning more about today’s Industrial Internet of Things solutions? Here are a number of customers who are experiencing the benefits.

Home is Where the Heat is: Heat Seek is Helping NYC Keep Warm

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heatseekDecember is here, and with it, so are the single-digit temperatures. Many of us know how unbearable the cold can be during the dead of winter. Whether you’re dealing with it on your daily commute, outside taking the dog for a walk, or trying to get some groceries, the cold has a way of making you just want to get back to the warmth and comfort of your home. But, for many, this problem persists even when they’re home. Digi’s customer, Heat Seek NYC, wants to make this a problem of the past.

For those at the mercy of a landlord, resolving heating issues can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. Did you know NYC handles over 200,000 heating complaints every year? In order to provide proof of poor heating, tenants are tasked with manually recording the temperatures of their apartments.

A group of New York City residents recognized this as a major public issue and founded Heat Seek NYC to efficiently address this overwhelming number of complaints and ensure no New York City resident has to spend winter in a cold home.

HeatSeekPartsTheir wireless sensor system automatically records apartment temperatures– streamlining the way NYC handles heating complaints and solves disputes between tenants and landlords.

Let’s take a look and see how Heat Seek built this wireless sensor network.

The sensor network is built entirely with off-the-shelf components. The low-cost temperature sensors connect via XBee using DigiMesh technology to create a reliable network that can easily connect throughout a building. Then, the team turned a Raspberry Pi into a cellular gateway enabling it to transmit temp. data, which is sent to a server to be accessed by residents, advocates, and lawyers. Additionally, Heat Seek is working to give the housing department (HPD) access to data to assist building inspectors. As the team transitions from prototype to a production version of their system they’re evaluating the ConnectPort X4 and Device Cloud for their connectivity and remote management needs.

This public record of heating complaints is used to generate The Cold Map.

BigApps_HeatSeek_blog

After winning the NYC BigApps Challenge and a successfully funded Kickstarter, Heat Seek has had a busy 2014 getting the business off the ground. The goal is to install 1,000 sensors throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx this year!

Not only does Heat Seek provide a system of accountability, but they also enable landlords to heat their buildings more effectively. Want to learn more about Heat Seek? Check out a demo and see how a landlord can use it to reduce heating violations and keep tenants warm.

Yantra 3.0 Connects Technology with Cultural Traditions in Nepal

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This guest blog post has been authored by Sakar Pudasaini, co-founder of Karkhana. Sakar founded Karkhana in 2012 after meeting co-founders Sunoj Shrestha, Pavitra Gautam, and Suresh Ghimire at a Google Developer Group Bar Camp. Since then, the company has been creating innovative ways for students to learn through experimentation, collaboration, and play in the classroom. Visit Karkhana’s website to find out what’s next!

When we decided to turn Yantra from just a robotics competition into an Art|Tech|Science festival we had no idea what such an event would involve. We knew our goal was to create an event that fostered learning by connecting our culture’s values and traditions to new technology and artwork. So with that in mind, we set out to create a festival that featured art that the people of Nepal could relate to, while being fun to interact and play with. And, we are glad it ended up looking pretty cool! You can see for yourself in the video below:

Karkhana‘s teachers, all of whom are tinkerers, had worked on lots of geeky projects but we had no experience creating art. What we needed was to identify the right collaborators. When we were put in touch with Artree Nepal, we found exactly what we were looking for. A team of visual artists – sculptors, painters, printmakers and animators – they were genuinely curious about how they could bring more interactivity into their work.

As the Artree and Karkhana teams began to talk we found a connection around the idea that we could dig into our cultural heritage for inspiration. Could we take an object familiar to millions of Nepalis and reinterpret it someway? Can we help younger people rediscover the brilliance of things they discounted as not-modern by infusing technology? Could we make ‘high tech’ seem less daunting for the older folks by using the familiar? After a bit of conversation we did a little brainstorm and came up with a bunch of ideas.

Several ideas were appealing but none had the simple elegance and strong emotional appeal of the mane (prayer wheel). Not only is the mane a familiar sight in many stupas, monasteries and shrines around the country, it is also fun to play with. Each of us present at the brainstorming session had a fond memory of playing with the giant mane at the Swayambhunath stupa as kids. So we went off to do some field observations…


So now we had the device and the interaction, but we needed the narrative. What story did we want to tell? The story mattered even more because of the nature of the prayer wheel. The traditional mane has a mantra carved into it (and hundreds of mantras inside). It is believed that when the mane completes a revolution the net effect is equal to having said each of those mantras once. We needed to come up with not just a story, but also a mantra, we believed in enough and wanted others ‘say’.

 

It did not take long to realize that all the collaborators believed in learning by playing and exploring. So the mane would tell a story of kids learning while doing fun stuff like running experiments, chasing butterflies, and making things. The video below shows you the end result. The mane is a combination of plastic and copper, of modern materials and older metalwork techniques.


We have also repurposed the mane as a user-interface that controls animation. Each of the copper reliefs has a corresponding animated story that plays when you turn the mane. If you turn it fast, the animation moves fast. When you slow it down, the animation slows. And when you spin the mane backwards, you see the story in reverse.

YANTRA TupperwareOk. Now for the geeky stuff. To make it work we used an accelerometer/gyro sensor, an Arduino, two XBee radios and bit of code in Processing. The whole set up inside the prayer wheel was encapsulated inside a incredibly sophisticated casing i.e. a cheap tupperware box  ;-)

The Artree team drew the characters and the different settings for each story. Mekh Limbu, the lead animator, then took photos of the different settings and moved the characters to perform various actions accordingly. His team then used the different photo frames to make the animation using Adobe Flash. We then extracted the different frames from the animation and placed them into different folders. Then we used Processing to load the image sequences once the XBee (connected to the laptop) received serial data from the XBee transmitter (inside the mane).

You can find all the code at: https://github.com/dipeshwor/yantraMane