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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.

Digi Helps Wildlife Research Institute Study Bear Hibernation with Remote Monitoring Solution

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The business of connecting machines may seem as far from nature as you can get. But, this remote monitoring system is a great reminder that machines are incredible tools we can use to learn more about the things we care about– in this case, bears.

Digi developed a remote monitoring solution for the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) that allows the Institute to monitor bears in their dens during hibernation. One particular bear, Lily, has hibernated deep in the Minnesota woods where there is no access to landline Internet service. To establish a camera uplink to Lily’s remote den, WRI is using the Digi TransPort WR21 wireless router which provides a high-speed Internet connection over Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network.

“We are allowing the Wildlife Research Institute to gain valuable insights into the activity of bears during hibernation by establishing a 4G connection in the wilderness,” said Joel Young, senior vice president of research and development and CTO of Digi International. “We have connected hundreds of thousands of remote devices throughout the world, and this application is a great example of how technology can be used to take control of widely-deployed assets.”

Using the video uplink, researchers could see how Lily prepared for birth during hibernation and how she reacted to the cubs just after birth. A second camera was also installed outside of Lily’s den that records activity near the den during warmer months.

Digi also helped the WRI connect scales that detect when a bear is present in the den. When the bear steps on the scale, weight is recorded and the sensors trigger the camera to begin recording. 

“It’s incredible that with a small amount of money and effort, these low-tech devices have been made smart just by adding connectivity,” said Jim Stroner, a research program volunteer and special products development manager with Digi International. “This application is a great example of how connected devices can impact society, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting and valuable research.”

Jim’s photo of Lily even won the 2013 Winter Nature Photo Contest and was featured on Science Friday. You can see all of Jim’s photos on his website, StronerWildlife.com.

You can also read Verizon’s post on the system here.

Now, we ask you– if you could remotely monitor anything what would it be?

Wireless Sensor Networks For Industrial Automation via SourceTech411

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Wireless Sensor Network (Credit – iShare)

SourceTech411 published a great post on wireless sensor networks for industrial automation. Digi has created many end-to-end solutions for the industries SourceTech mentions below. These solutions have saved time and money by creating operational efficiencies and, in many cases, the solutions create new revenue streams all together. SourceTech’s post is a great overview or introduction to the industrial internet.

 

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) for industrial automation and applications are becoming more prevalent in most industrial industry segments.

Mature industries such as Refineries (Oil and Gas), Water (Waste Treatment and Delivery) and Energy (Electrical Generation, Natural Gas Distribution) have migrated from wired to wireless sensor networks over the past decades to take advantage of the cost benefits and infrastructure advancements. New industries in Healthcare, Hospitals and Green Energy are implementing wireless sensor networks and arrays in novel applications.

Digi International is unique in the list above in that they provide a complete end-to-end solution which includes the nodes, wireless transceivers, routers and gateways, and a cloud service to monitor the wireless sensor network. They can also incorporate sensors and nodes from other vendors to create a completely inter-operable system.

Read the Full Article on SourceTech411

 

Digi and the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework

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Digi International is utilizing the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework to deploy a wider set of solutions with contributions from the Intel ecosystem to help solve business problems and tap into a much larger market. Joel Young, senior vice president of research and development and CTO of Digi, describes why we are supporting the framework and the advantages of developing with common standards for manageability and interoperability.

video via Intel

Big Data Tip: Don’t Save Everything via InformationWeek

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Big data is all about gaining insights from very large and diverse volumes of information. But often organizations make the mistake of trying to collect every bit of data that’s available to them, no matter how inconsequential.

This record-it-all approach is a waste of resources and money. A smarter solution is to decide beforehand what data is essential to your operation, and then take the necessary steps to collect, process, filter, and analyze it, says Joel Young, senior VP of research and development and CTO of Digi International, a machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions provider.

Founded in 1985, Digi International has evolved from a supplier of multi-port serial adapter cards for servers to a cloud platform for connecting devices. The company’s cloud-based iDigi product, for instance, allows organizations to connect and manage device networks.

In a phone interview with InformationWeek, Young said that companies are often overwhelmed by big data, particularly if they lack a clear definition of how they want to use it. Machine-to-machine communications, which may involve hundreds, if not thousands, of devices spread across a wide geographic area, can exacerbate this problem. “When you have a device that’s sending information every second or minute, and you have a hundred thousand of these, you get a lot of data very quickly,” said Young.

Some companies aren’t confused by big data because they have a clear idea of what they want to do, and how they want to do it. “Others are lost,” Young said.

To avoid the problem of having too much data — much of which an organization may never analyze — some big data soul searching is in order. “What problem are you trying to solve? You’ve got all this data, what do you want to do?” asked Young rhetorically. “A lot of times there’s a whole lot of data you may not even need.”

Once a company identifies the business problem it wants to solve, it can decide which data it needs, and establish rules for gathering that information. “One of the biggest problems I’ve found with big data is that people record way, way more than they need to,” said Young.

A vending company that Digi International worked with recently had a big data problem with its old coin-operated vending machines. The firm had two major issues with its vending hardware, which totaled about 50,000 machines, many deployed in remote locations.

Read the full article by Jeff Bertolucci on InformationWeek