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Digi Delivers Live View of Pittsburgh’s Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles have returned to Pittsburgh after a long absence. Their return has received a large amount of attention as this is seen as a sign of the improved environment in the Pittsburgh area. The nest of the once endangered raptors sits on a steep bluff above the Monongahela River in Hays near Pittsburgh’s Southside.  PixController and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are streaming live video, so you can watch the eaglets grow up every day and at any hour. They even received a feature on NBC Nightly News, which you can watch below.

 
Digi teamed up with PixController to create a wireless solution that provides a 24-hour feed of the Hays Eagles. A Digi TransPort WR21 connected to Verizon’s 4G LTE network streams live audio and video to the organizations website, so thousands can check in and see what the eaglets are up to at anytime. The stream has already accumulated over one million views!

The Eagles hatched in early April and they’re growing quickly, so make sure you check out the live stream before they fly away. Click here to watch the live feed.

Digi helped build a similar solution for the Wildlife Research Institute to aid their study of bear hibernation. Read more about that project here.

The Beer Industry Gets Crafty with the Internet of Things

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SteadyServe 1

What do the Internet of Things (IoT) and beer have in common? Well, there was the Budweiser Red Light, an automatic hockey light that’s programmed to go off when your favorite team scores a goal. Then, there was Heineken Ignite, an interactive beer bottle that pulsates to the beat of the DJ’s music. But, the startup SteadyServ has created a beer related IoT app that’s more than just a novelty. SteadyServ’s app, iKeg, saves bars time and money and helps distributors keep tabs on kegs and consumption levels. It even helps brewers know where and when their promotional dollars are turning into pints poured. Better yet, it ensures your favorite brew is always on tap and where to find it.

When Rob Tercek, a former creative director at MTV, was traveling with a layover in Indianapolis, he decided to grab a beer with longtime friend and local craft brewery co-owner Steve Hershberger. On a mission to serve his friend one of his own beers, it took Steve several bars to find one that had his beer on tap – bars that were supposed to have his inventory. “I’m disappointed, Steve. This is a problem, why haven’t you solved it yet?”

SteadyServe 4With the rise in popularity of craft beer, three new brewers come on line each week and there are over 3,000 beer distributors in the U.S. alone. Even with its rapid growth, the beer industry is one of the only “just in time” industries left. Knowing there is a huge market and an apparent problem that needed to be solved, Steve took on the challenge. SteadyServ was born.

A year later, the company has more than 4 patents pending, over $7.5 million in funding to date, and engineering teams working on hardware   and software globally. The team has evolved through four prototypes to have a commercially ready, “Apple-simple” system that allows bar managers and beer sales reps to manage all of their keg orders on a smart phone.

At the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) in October, the incoming Chairman of the NBWA addressed the audience of over 5,000 attendees with a bold statement: “This isn’t your grandfather’s industry.  It isn’t your father’s industry. Change is upon us. Change is certain.”

An Evolving Industry

Even bar and restaurant owners have noticed that the beer industry has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology. “We’re an industry that has been terribly resistant to change for probably 100 years. But we’re now ready and open for significant change,” said Carl Bruggemeier, Vice Chairman of SteadyServ and CEO of The CZH Hospitality Group. “Our inventory management systems are very lacking. In many instances, we don’t know what we have, we don’t know how much we sell, and we don’t know when we sell it. We lose sales because our customers want what we don’t have.”iKeg RFID

Currently, the bar manager heads to the refrigerator to count kegs to see how many are left. He or she lifts each keg to see how full it is—essentially making the ordering process a guessing game. Ryan Kellerman, Director of Beverage and Hospitality for Scotty’s Brewhouse, says he spends a minimum of two and a half to two hours a week, per location, taking inventory in order to place their orders. Many managers are still using a pen and paper to collect information that impacts the business’ supply. If the beer rep doesn’t get their order in time, the rep will place it for them-by guessing.

“Imagine if HP guessed at what Best Buy needed to fill its shelves on any given month without talking to the company or looking at any hard data,” said Steve Hershberger, Chairman & CEO of SteadyServ Technologies.

“On average, according to many in the industry, approximately 20% of every beer order placed is wrong. How would you feel if every Amazon order you received was wrong?”

How it Works

SteadyServ’s iKeg app completely changes how the industry does supply chain and inventory management; which benefits the bars themselves, distributors, brewers and, most importantly, us patrons.

Each keg is equipped with an RFID tag, which is attached to the keg just like a luggage tag. The tag information contains information like born on date, brewery name and delivery location. The keg also sits on top of a sensor. The sensor measures weight of the keg and how fast the weight is changing, which is a direct correlation to how much beer people are drinking. Keg information is paired with sales data, so the iKeg app knows exactly how much beer is poured and sold.

SteadyServe 2
The keg data is collected from each keg’s sensor and is aggregated by a ConnectPort Gateway. The gateway analyzes the data locally, then uses a Zigbee connection to get that data into the cloud. The iKeg application gathers information from the cloud and offers an interface that displays analytics for bar managers, distributors and eventually, patrons.

“Our whole business is built around solving problems with data,” said Joel Young, CTO of Digi International, a company that’s leading the way in Internet of Things solutions for businesses. “Who doesn’t love that this solution can optimize operational efficiencies and help people get more of their favorite beer?”

Your Favorite Tap at Your Fingertips

Not only do bars save time, money and pain in counting and lifting kegs, they’re not losing money to unhappy customers who expect their favorite drafts to be in stock. A version of the app will also become available to the public, so we can see all of the places nearby that offer our favorite brews. Maybe a Foursquare integration is in the future?

Currently, the system is in beta in the Midwest and will soon be expanding into other distributor franchises in the Midwest, South East and Western U.S. With another series of funding on the horizon, we should see the iKeg systems throughout North America within the next year.

Here’s to the Internet of Things, or the Internet of Thirst, for helping us never miss our favorite pint.

Retail Innovation Soars with Secure and Reliable Cellular Connections

The web has raised consumers’ expectations of retail stores and transformed the purchasing process. Brick and mortar shops need to find ways to compete with the convenience offered by online shopping. Retailers are using wireless connected devices and new technology to create an interactive experience for their customers. In this video, learn how store owners are using cellular connections to make retail systems secure, reliable, and innovative.

 

Click here to learn more about Digi’s new cellular router, the WR11.

The New Patient Experience: Internet Connectivity Creating Healthcare Anywhere

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Last week, healthcare and technology innovators from around the United States came together to experience the future of healthcare at the Mill City Innovation & Collaboration Center (ICC), a new space created to showcase technologies, evaluate usability in simulated environments  and conduct community and practice-based research. The “Healthcare Anywhere” event focused on how healthcare providers can use information technologies, mobile applications and the Internet of Things to generate patient data for real-time monitoring creating a completely new patient experience and transforming the way patients and their healthcare providers interact. Real world, commercial-ready applications included a wearable, Internet of Things demonstration by AFrame Digital and Digi International.

AFrame and Digi came together to demo of AFrame’s MobileCare™ Monitor system, a wrist watch-like device that wirelessly communicates a user’s motion and location data to a cloud-based monitoring and alert system. The system’s capabilities include emergency call, impact detection, location tracking, along with activity and vitals tracking and trending. The solution uses ZigBee wireless technology, provided by Digi International, to connect to the network, and Device Cloud by Etherios to give providers an easy to use management portal.Health Monitoring on Tablet

The demonstration was installed in a simulated home environment to show attendees that data collection is a non-intrusive process.  AFrame Digital and Digi also demonstrated a patient app, intelligent mobile alerts and cloud-based care management tools that help seniors and patients stay safe at home, provide real-time feedback about a person’s health or well-being or give early warning when a person’s health begins to deteriorate.

“The Internet of Things paradigm is really about personalizing experiences,” said AFrame Digital’s Jill Thorpe, vice president for strategic initiatives. “Patient-generated data will influence healthcare the same way web navigation patterns and search criteria personalize consumer experiences on websites. We help healthcare providers leverage patient-generated data to personalize patient-directed content and enhance patient communication with their health care providers. Over time, combining sensor devices and patient-generated with powerful analytics and machine learning will help care providers get ahead of health problems before they become acute, enable more scalable care delivery models, and ultimately lead to better care and outcomes.”

“We believe that technology will reduce unnecessary face-to-face clinic visits, allowing physicians to see more patients and engage with their patients in new ways,” said Richard Tanler, Director of Mill City ICC. “Solutions offered by AFrame and Digi International are part of our hyper-connected world, that now includes apps for  managing our health and the health of loved ones.”

Panel Discussion

“Digi International’s products and services are used by our healthcare customers and OEMs to connect millions of devices in thousands of hospitals. The products and cloud services are being used to bridge the critical gap between healthcare information systems and a broad range of devices,” said Steve Popovich, vice president of global accounts, healthcare at Digi International. “We see new opportunities as healthcare devices become more mobile within traditional patient care facilities, for long term chronic illness monitoring and aging in place applications.”

In addition to live demos, the ICC hosted a roundtable dedicated to the topic. Panelists included representatives from Intel, Oracle, The Boston Consulting Group, and UnitedHealth Group and leaders from all local health systems represented in the audience.

The discussion included statements such as: 

“Right now, you’re collecting a lot of data and over the next few years, you’ll continue to share your behavioral footprint,” Deneen Vojta, UnitedHealth Group.

“Open data to entrepreneurs so they can create new ideas on new treatment models that will significantly open up new innovation,” Reid Oakes, Oracle.

“Reducing face to face visits by 40%. Reducing unnecessary face to face time to reduce scarcity,” Anurag Gupta, Boston Consulting Group.

“A visit starts in a different way today and in the future it could be done in a virtual space anytime anywhere at anytime,” Mark Blatt, Intel.

This event is the first of many expected at the ICC, and you can learn more about the center and upcoming events at: MillCityICC.org. The panel discussion will also be available. Stay tuned– we’ll be sharing it in the next two weeks.

Enhancing Vehicle Telematics with Mobile Devices

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A common application of Internet of Things technology is vehicle telematics. Knowing how your fleet is functioning, where they are located, as well as drivers’ time spent on the road is all crucial for managing a successful fleet.

Quite often, the solutions necessary to monitor these data can be cumbersome, expensive, and take time to be implemented. And what if regulatory standards change?

To solve the problem of lengthy and costly implementations, Digi developed the Wireless Vehicle Bus Adapter, or WVA. It is simply plugged into the vehicles diagnostic port and reads out the data you need via a web services API. Simple solutions that tap into existing infrastructure like these have the ability to quickly turn data points into tangible value for businesses.

The ubiquity of high performance mobile devices is eliminating many of the barriers that can make the implementation of a sensor network difficult. The advancement of smart phones and tablets have simplified establishing these networks through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. This eliminates the need to install cables and develop expensive and proprietary technology. Additionally, well designed user interfaces on mobile devices can create improved functionality and usability.

Learn more about the WVA here.

TrackIce: Improving Driver Safety with DigiMesh Networks

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Cold winter temperatures and precipitation pose a serious threat to our safety while driving.  Aside from a quick glance at the day’s forecast, there is little we can do to predict the severity of dangerous road conditions. A Sweden based company, Mowic, is addressing this problem by installing wireless road sensing networks. The network, called TrackIce, is able to sense dangerous road conditions and send out an alert to drivers before they find themselves in harm’s way.

The system’s sensors are part of a large ZigBee Mesh network that allows for long range and low powered communications. Each sensor is installed by drilling a hole, 140mm deep and 90mm in diameter, into the road. Most of these systems contain roughly five sensors, with larger deployments requiring more. The sensors are used to measure the road’s surface temperature and whether the surface is wet or dry.

Track Ice

Each sensor is sending its information to one central wireless device. This central device collects data from all of the sensors within the network as well as general meteorological measurements such as humidity and air temperature. Using a GPRS connection from an embedded modem, the information is sent to the internet for storage and analysis. With the data being sent from all of these sensors, a web application is used to monitor road conditions remotely. MeteoGroup uses the information as part of its RoadCast for predicting road conditions and NowCast, which is used to monitor weather conditions in real time

Because this system is using a ZigBee Mesh network for communications, the power required is minimal. This makes it extremely flexible in where it can be installed because it is fully operational with only batteries and requires no corded power supply.

So far the TrackIce system has been used primarily in road and rail monitoring applications. Field testing for the system began in Fall of 2012 and there are currently 10 of these systems being used throughout the UK, Sweden, and Norway.

TrackIce has a wide range of uses and will be applied to more industries than road and rail monitoring going forward. For instance, in the energy sector it will be used to measure water heights and other factors to predict floods and optimize hydro-electric power plants. Soon it will be installed at an airport to measure landing strip surface conditions, to ensure the safety of travelers. And even ski resorts will use it to provide weather forecasts and snow depth reports for visitors.

This piece of technology, which began as a way to improve road safety, is quickly being adopted for new uses. Creative applications of wireless networks have the potential to change industries making our world smarter and safer.

Digi Goes to Space

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NASA’s Robonaut is quickly becoming a valuable addition to the International Space Station(ISS) . The robot is able to perform routine maintenance tasks and dangerous operations, freeing astronauts to focus on research and make the most of their limited time.  The second-generation Robonaut(R2), is currently deployed on the ISS.   RobonautWeight

One problem still persisted with the Robonaut- wires were required for power and control. NASA reached out to Digi to help alleviate this constraint.  Using a Digi ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 and a battery stored in its backpack, the Robonaut is now controlled over a Wi-Fi connection and all wires have been eliminated. This allows the Robonaut to be controlled by ISS crew members as well as from NASA Mission Control Center on Earth.

The ConnectCore module is already qualified for extreme industrial environments, but additional testing was needed to simulate the conditions of space. Independent testing for temperature, vibration, and shock were all performed to ensure the module could survive the trip to outer space.

The Wi-Fi connectivity brings about a number of benefits in addition to wireless control. Video can now be transmitted from the four cameras mounted on the Robonaut- two on the torso and two on the legs. Additionally, a number of  data points are logged and stored on an SD card, which can be viewed by the ISS crew and ground personnel to monitor the robot’s performance.

Going forward, NASA hopes to make more upgrades to the Robonaut that allow it to assist crew members on space walks! And take a look at the video posted below, which is a nice overview of the Robonaut project.

Bike Sharing & M2M: Digi Provides Wireless Network Solution for Tel Aviv Bike Rental, Tel-O-Fun

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Tel-O-Fun

Digi Enables Fast Communication Between All Bike Rental Terminals in Tel Aviv, Tel-O-Fun

Following the success of public bike rental systems implemented in many European cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and London, the city of Tel Aviv in Israel wanted to provide a similar rental scheme for its residents and visitors. The system, Tel-O-Fun, is initiated by FSM Ground Services Management and provides over 1,700 bikes spread over 170 docking stations in and around the city of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

Every day, close to ten thousand journeys are made using the bike-sharing system in Tel Aviv. There is a terminal at each docking station, where users are able to purchase subscriptions, rent and return bikes. The bike can be released at, and returned to any station, at any time, all year around.

In order to identify a customer and release a bike for its use, every terminal needs to be connected to the main control center. “Every action enacted at the different terminals in the street needs approval of the main system,” explains Ofer Sela, CIO and CTO at FSM. “Communication needs to be reliable and fast in order to give the right service to the city and the scheme’s customers.”

Connecting Large Numbers of Devices with a Fast Communication Link

FSM wanted a wireless networking solution to provide the communication network for the terminals. It meant a faster solution deployment than a wired connection, and one that would not require costly roadwork involving council permits and road disruption.

The temperature in Tel Aviv goes up to 104°F in summer, with high levels of humidity from the sea. Since it could reach possible temperatures of 122°F within the terminals, Tel-O-Fun was looking for a rugged technology solution, able to withstand the humidity and high temperatures of the working environment.

While looking for companies to enable its solution, FSM contacted Orange as a network partner. As a result of the telecom company’s strong relationship with Digi as its established technology vendor, FSM decided to evaluate the Digi product range for a suitable solution.

A 3G Connection with Digi’s ConnectPort

After testing different connectivity solutions, FSM chose Digi’s ConnectPort for its solution, as the range has multiple Ethernet ports to support terminal functionality. The routers are also fully PCI-DSS Compliant – crucial as the terminals process payments from the bike users.

The ruggedness of the Digi router was another crucial factor in the decision– FSM needed a durable solution for the field.

“Tel Aviv is by the sea and even the harsh conditions of the city, such as the heat, rust and humidity, are not a problem for Digi’s routers,” said Ofer Sela.

 A Solution with Possibilities for the Future

“I have been very positive about the results Digi delivers,” said Ofer Sela. “We are also confident that the hardware will support future potential features of the bike rental system. For example, we hope to add Voice Over IP customer support to the terminals so customers can interact directly via voice and video to customer support staff.”

After the solution’s great success in Tel Aviv, FSM is planning to expand Tel-O-Fun to other cities in Israel, and even to other countries. “We will definitely use Digi’s equipment again since there have been no issues with connectivity, nor the Digi equipment in the field. The solution is always working, and working well,” concluded Ofer Sela.

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