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Make the Most of Your Automotive with Macchina M2 and Cellular Connectivity

Regardless of our age, we can all attest to the advancements the automobile industry has made throughout its history, but the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated this change even more with smart cars, hybrid and fully electric cars, and strides being made towards to self-driving cars. It is truly fascinating and our imaginations are sparked with automotive innovation on all scales from green transportation to open-source development platforms, like M2 by Machinna.

Macchina M2 is an open source automotive interface that allows car hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals the creative ability to program a device and service into the automotive aftermarket. This ‘one-to-many’ interface allows engineers to design a single device that will sync with different firmware and software architecture. The device includes an Arduino board, equipped with a USB port, LEDs, SD card slot, built in EEPROM, and is compatible with Digi XBee. This socket compatibility combined with the Digi XBee family footprint, users can embed cellular connectivity with Digi XBee cellular. This means makers can bypass complicated end-device certifications and provides end-users the option to upload and download live data. Check out the First Look: Macchina M2 article on Hackaday for more software and hardware design details.

We are excited to partner with this project  and our community to bring embedded cellular IoT innovation to the automotive industry. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to connect Macchina to Digi XBee Cellular, and let us know what you think!

4 FAQs for Your First Digi XBee® Cellular Development Kit

Digi XBee Cellular is the latest member of the Digi XBee family, a family that includes a wide range of RF protocols and standards designed to meet the needs of users, makers, and Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs). These wireless modules have evolved into generations of series options to choose from depending on the application, firmware configuration, hardware design, and networking protocol.

Supported by the Digi XBee ecosystem, Digi XBee Cellular is not just hardware, but includes software (XCTU for configurations), and libraries of resources, community and support services (WDS for antenna design). But, the primary benefit of Digi XBee Cellular is that it is pre-certified and ready for OEMs to quickly and securely integrate cellular connectivity into their solutions and devices. While still sharing the same Digi XBee footprint and software interface across many wireless technologies, users have the design flexibility to switch between wireless protocols or frequencies as needed.

We know designing devices with cellular connectivity that meets the compliance standards of cellular carriers presents its challenges. This is why we designed the Digi XBee Cellular development kit to make is simple and quick for OEMs, hardware and software engineers, corporate technologist, educators, and students to successfully integrate embedded cellular.

Below are frequently asked questions and answers to get started with your first Digi XBee Cellular dev kit, and did we mention 6 months of free data?

1. What’s in the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit?
• Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 embedded modem
• 1 Digi XBee development board
• 1 LTE Cat 1 SIM for Verizon
• 6 months of free cellular service
• Antennas and power supply

2. If only one antenna is used, will the Digi XBee Cellular Modem still be carrier end-device certified?
Yes. The modem has been certified for both single and dual antenna configurations. More information on antenna specification requirements can be found in the User Guide. And, Digi WDS can help with integrated antenna designs for your enclosure.

3. The development kit includes 6 months of free cellular data service. How much data can I use per month?
6 months of free cellular service will be limited to 5MB/month and recommended to use 100 SMS per month or less. The kit is for testing purposes only, not for production.

4. How much current does Digi XBee Cellular use in Deep Sleep mode?
Digi XBee Cellular only uses 10uA of current in Deep Sleep mode making it ideal for battery and solar powered applications.

3 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Connectivity

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The following is an excerpt from our recent brief, 5 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Technology. If you’ve
ever 
considered embedded cellular technology in the past, this brief will quickly highlight some of the key benefits and how the Digi XBee Cellular family can help reduce the cost and complexity of your embedded cellular technology deployment.

Makers of remotely deployed sensors and devices have settled for the compromises, expense, and provisioning/maintenance complexity of traditional RF connectivity for years. Cellular connectivity addresses many of these drawbacks – but still hasn’t been cost-feasible for smaller deployments of ten or fewer devices. Today, that’s changing—here’s how:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: You may have considered embedded cellular in the past, but rejected it because of high-cost data plans from carriers. Today, however, with the emergence of LTE Cat 1 (and, soon, Cat M1 and NB1), the economics are becoming far more favorable – sometimes in the range of just US$2/month (1 MB data plan). For deployments up to ten per location – such as low-power wide-area (LPWA) applications – it can be cheaper to embed cellular connectivity in each device instead of aggregating through a single gateway.
  2. Greater Coverage: As carriers continue to build out their networks to the furthest and remotest areas, there are fewer dead zones to limit your deployments.
  3. Verizon Pre-Certification Digi XBee Cellular is FCC-certified and Verizon end-device-certified, so your device gets to market faster. Digi eliminates the traditional delays, thousands of dollars in costs, and headaches. Coming soon, Digi XBee units will be pre-provisioned as well for even faster deployment.

Digi XBee Cellular enables OEMs to quickly integrate cutting edge 4G cellular technology into their devices without dealing with the painful, time-consuming, and expensive FCC and carrier end-device certifications.

To Learn More, Read the Full Brief Here >>

The Fastest Path to Embedded Cellular Connectivity is Digi XBee®

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Digi is excited to bring together the power and flexibility of the Digi XBee® ecosystem with Verizon, the world’s largest cellular network. Digi XBee® Cellular makes connecting your product easier by smoothing out the hardware, certifications, and development tools to configure and maintain your connected device.

Additional benefits of this pre-certified end device that is saving OEMs months of time and thousands of dollars:

  • xbee-cellular-200pxThe smallest footprint available (24mm x 33mm.)
  • Based on the 20-pin Digi XBee® footprint we all know and trust.
  • The best development tools to deploy and manage your network (XCTU, API, libraries.)
  • A bundled data plan will be available as an option, with the module “shipping hot,” fully pre-provisioned and ready to communicate over the cellular network right out of the box.

Digi XBee® Cellular will initially be available on the Verizon LTE Cat 1 network, followed by additional carrier support and new lower-power IoT Cellular standards such as LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1. Whatever the protocol, Digi XBee® Cellular will have a pin-compatible module so your design is ready for tomorrow. Samples are available now for development!

Click here for preliminary specs and to sign up for Digi XBee® Cellular updates. Or, give us a call at 877-912-3444 to learn more.

Digi XBees Work to Transform Package Delivery with Connected Lockers

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How many times have you missed an anticipated package delivery only to wait days for that one moment when the stars align and the delivery comes while your home? Or maybe that special moment never comes, and the package you’ve been waiting for is returned to its sender.

SmartBox Co., Ltd. is revolutionizing the distribution industry to solve that problem. The company, founded in 2013 and headquartered in Seoul, Korea, manufactures the “SmartBox,” a high-tech locker that applies IoT technology for unattended parcel delivery. It’s the world’s first Internet of Things-based delivery locker. And unlike traditional kiosk lockers, the SmartBox is more convenient, independent, and economical.

SmartBoxWhen parcel arrives, the delivery-person enters a mobile number and places the package in a secure locker. The recipient gets an SMS message with a password to open the secure locker.

Using Digi XBee® wireless modules and gateways, SmartBox can work with either unmanned delivery destinations or traditional lockers. Each SmartBox locker is equipped with an XBee module that provides connectivity and intelligence to permit/forbid access to lockers based on single-use codes. A single Digi XBee gateway carries backhaul traffic to SmartBox’s operations center where lockers can be monitored and maintained centrally. That gateway also sends SMS notifications to package recipients. More than 3,000 SmartBox lockers have been installed in apartments, college dormitories, public offices, office buildings, and subway stations across South Korea and Japan.

Interested in learning more about SmartBox and how the lockers utilize Digi XBee modules?

Read the full case study here >>

What Makes Thread a Secure Wireless Protocol?

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With XBee Thread soon arriving, we’re fielding a lot of questions regarding the protocol’s touted security benefits. Not only does Thread provide a robust network with no single point of failure, but it also offers businesses and developers extremely secure wireless communication. Let’s look at a couple reasons why.Web

IP-based Security Protocols
Yes, it’s a low-powered network, not unlike ZigBee and other 802.15.4 radios, but it’s also IP-based. This is important because with an IP-based networking protocol, developers can tap into security protocols used when you’re browsing the internet. Some of the common ones are DTLS, TLS and SSL. These IP-based security protocols provide the network with secure end-to-end communication.

Commissioning
Another benefit of the Thread protocol is the commissioning process. Commissioning is the process of joining a new node to the Thread network. Previously, this could lead to network vulnerabilities and be overly complex. But, the creators of Thread have made it a straightforward and user-friendly experience by leveraging mobile technology and passphrases. This ensures no rogue nodes are able to join the network without being overly complex.

There are three ways to add a node to a Thread network, out-of-band commissioning, discovery, and through a commissioning application on a mobile device.

Out-of-band commissioning mode configures a node with the network credentials of the desired network. This makes the node behave like a partition of the network.  When it comes in range of the network, it will be like two partitions joining into a larger network creating a secure handoff.

When commissioning via discovery mode, the node searches for a network with matching credentials. For this, the security is simple, the network must be in range of the the node, the network must allow joining, and the node must be told to expect a node to be joining, identified by its EUI 64, or unique IPv6 MAC address.

Lastly, Thread introduces a third method, and arguably the easiest new way to commission a device, through a commissioning application installed on a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.  Thread describes this process as petitioning and joining.

Petitioning is the process of authenticating and authorizing the commissioning device (like your phone or laptop), which will run the Thread commissioning app. The device can then communicate with the Thread network either locally or via the internet through the network’s Border Router. This forms a secure TLS connection between the network’s Border Router and the user’s commissioning device.

So now that we’ve got our commissioning device authorized, how do we add a new node to the network? It’s pretty easy.

When a node wants to join the network it will send a request to the commissioning device where the user will be prompted to enter a key to authorize the node(s) to join the network. Once the key is entered, there is a secure DTLS handshake between the joining node and the Commissioner. The new node receives the network parameters and is all ready to function with the necessary rights and privileges.

This is just a brief look at why many IoT experts consider Thread a more secure wireless protocol based on its security features and commissioning process. Check out these resources to learn more about the Thread wireless protocol:

And, if you have any Thread-related questions send us a tweet at @digidotcom or @XBeeWireless. You can also visit the official Thread website for more information.

Rube Goldberg Wireless Controller Network

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By Jon Freeman

At face value, the project deals with a Rube Goldberg-style vending machine. In reality, it is designed to provide a wireless controller sandbox that can be used by someone to refine their building, programming and communication skills. The use of wireless makes it relatively easy for anyone to add, extend or replace modules.

Build your own with the project files on Dropbox!

Digi XBee® S2C 802.15.4 – Let Your Imagination Run Wireless!

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Digi XBee® is the world’s #1 RF module because our common footprint is shared across protocols and frequencies. Anything is possible with Digi XBee – from the small science project in the lab to NASA monitoring payloads on a rocket, Digi XBee gives you the tools and flexibility you need to rapidly innovate. The latest example in this broad line of modules is the Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 which is now available with the Silicon Labs Ember® EM35x transceiver.

This latest module is ideal for applications requiring low latency and predictable communication timing. The Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 is also ideal when your application requires robust multipoint wireless connectivity with reduced power consumption, support for the over-the-air firmware updates, and an upgrade path to DigiMesh® or ZigBee® Mesh protocols.

New Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 Offered in Through-Hole & SMT Form Factors

Anyone deploying Digi XBee can swap one Digi XBee for another. You don’t have to design a printed circuit board to take advantage of Silicon Labs’ latest chip – Digi has done it for you on the Digi XBee platform saving you time and giving you the confidence to get connected quickly and easily. Providing quick, robust communication in point-to-point, peer-to-peer, and multipoint/star configurations, Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 products enable robust end-point connectivity with ease. Whether deployed as a pure cable replacement for simple serial communication, or as part of a more complex hub-and-spoke network of sensors, Digi XBee 802.15.4 modules maximize performance and ease of development.

Digi XBee is a special product because of our customers: the innovators, the hackers, the problem-solvers — whatever you call yourself, Digi is dedicated to providing you with everything you need to quickly create wireless connectivity solutions. Let your imagination run wireless!

Click here for a “Digi XBee 802.15.4 Protocol Comparison” Technical Brief>>

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