Digi is hard at work developing the next-generation XBee module based on the Silicon Labs EM3587 chip, which will support the new IoT protocol, Thread. Due to Thread’s unique advantages like easy commissioning and robust mesh capabilities, the new module will be a valuable addition to the XBee ecosystem. With that in mind, we thought you might want to get a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing with this new technology.
Our development team out in Lindon, Utah created this informative demonstration showing a network comprised of both Thread and ZigBee devices and how they can all be controlled via a mobile application.
This is just step one in our development process so stay tuned for updates. Check out these resources to learn more about Thread:
A unique feature of the XBee 802.15.4 modules is the ability to perform digital I/O line passing. Essentially, this feature enables the user to toggle the state of any DIO pin on a transmitting radio and have that same pin on one or more receiving radios toggle their state to match the change. This functionality is an easy way to wirelessly control relays or any other switched equipment.
Note: DIO line passing can only be done with XBee 802.15.4 modules.
Components used in this tutorial:
Two XBee 802.15.4 radios
Two XBee Grove Development Boards
Two Micro USB cables
To get started with this example, configure the pin of the XBee where the button is connected as digital input, and configure the pin of the XBee where the LED is connected as digital output. You will also need to configure the first XBee to send a notification to the other XBee when the button changes state.
Let’s get started.
Here are the configuration settings that need to be written to the XBee modules. In this example, XBee A is the transmitting radio and XBee B is the receiving module (click image to enlarge):
More of a visual learner? No worries. Follow along with this video as we write the parameters described above to both of our XBee radios.
Bonus Tip: Boost the reliability of the XBee connection by setting a sample rate on the transmitting XBee (Parameter: IR). If there happens to be interference while the data is being transmitted, it might not be received by XBee B. Setting a sample rate will ensure the change of state is communicated by the following sample rate packets.
Have the radios all set and ready to go? When the button connected to the the transmitting XBee is pressed, the LED of the receiver will light. Cue the drum roll….
If the application requires multiple receiver nodes, the change of state can be sent as a broadcast. To do this, modify the destination low address to “FFFF” on the transmitting radio. Note that this concept of DIO line passing is not specific to only pin 4, it can be applied to any DIO pin on the XBee 802.15.4 module.
Rob Faludi, Digi’s Chief Innovator, was onsite for the launch of the first XBee network into space. The successful test of the wireless sensor network took place at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch is part of NASA’s effort to determine the effectiveness of Exo-Brake technology and introduce wireless technology into their designs. As this was the first XBee network to reach space, we had to capture it on video.
Learn more about the experiment and see photos in these related posts:
One of the most buzzworthy commercials of Super Bowl XLIX was Bud Light’s Real Life Pac-Man spot for the #UpForWhatever campaign. The advertisement features a life-sized Pac-Man game where a seemingly unaware contender, Riley Smith, is challenged to munch pellets while being chased by ghosts Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
Here’s the commercial in case you missed it:
The Twitterverse thought that it was awesome and most people wanted to try the game out for themselves.
“Real life Pac-Man! A million high fives to the first bar to make that a regular thing in their establishment.” –@mattlindner
“Can real life Pac-Man be a thing with permanent game sets around the world?” –@DishNation
So, how real was real life Pac-Man? Is it be a game that you could really try in the future? Bud Light states that Smith’s participation was 100% organic. They say it was a live event, a real person, a real game board, all captured in real time. While we’ll leave Smith’s participation and the authenticity of the event up for debate, we can tell you that the game board itself was absolutely real. Bud Light and partners utilized Internet of Things technology to bridge digital and physical worlds and bring the Pac-Man game we all know and love to life.
Rick Galinson and Legacy Effects of Los Angeles, the same shop that provided Jurassic Park, Iron Man and Terminator effects designed the ghosts for the interactive game board.
Each roller-skating ghost costume is lit with about 4,000 LEDs, animated by a tiny open-source computer, the Parallax Propeller QuickStart Board, that communicates using Digi International’s tiny radio module, an XBee-PRO 802.15.4. The remote operator uses a laptop and another XBee module to send commands for the ghost’s flashing sequences.
“With the pressure of over 100 million viewers and a multi-million dollar campaign resting on these electronics, the Propeller chip from Parallax coupled with an XBEE PRO from Digi was an easy choice,” Galinson, SPFX Designer, said. “They performed flawlessly, are easy to implement and will remain my controller and communication products of choice for years to come.”
The technical details of the project had to be as straightforward as possible given short deadlines. Rob Faludi, Digi International’s Chief Innovator and author of Building Wireless Sensor Networks explains, “XBee radios are popular with artists and industrialists alike. They simplify radio communications between devices and the Internet, so critical projects can meet their deadlines without requiring extensive engineering efforts. There’s certainly no postponing the Super Bowl, so XBees were a great choice to ensure this project came off without a hitch.”
A total of five ghost costumes were produced with one serving as a backup. It took about twelve people to assemble the costumes in time for the commercial. Be sure to get a close look at their eyes, which exhibit the original video game character and move with the roller-skating ghost’s movement. Jon McPhalen’s Spin/ASM WS2812 driver figured prominently as a key source code object for this project.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the game and event coming together:
“It’s now easier than ever with IoT technology to create mesmerizing digital experiences in the physical world. We’re not only seeing this in entertainment with Bud Light’s Pac-Man game, but also commercially with connected solutions for energy systems, transportation monitoring, medical care and even municipal street lighting, Faludi said. “XBees can be a power-up for almost any connected device project.”
So, to answer a question that may be burning in many fan’s minds: yes, it’s totally possible that you too could be running from Blinky the ghost in real life (IRL). Maybe coming to a bar near you? We’re not sure. But one thing we’re positive about is our digital and physical worlds will continue to come together to create these incredible dream-like experiences; both for fun and entertainment and for solving real-world problems.
Have you ever wanted to test the strength of connections in your XBee network? Within the XBee configuration software, XCTU, you can perform a range test. This will tell you the amount of packets received and the RSSI values at the local and remote nodes. This video will take you through the steps necessary to perform a range test.
As wireless networks become more and more ubiquitous, so does the need to deal with noisy RF environments. This problem is especially relevant for businesses that depend on reliable communications for their operations and can’t risk losing critical data.
This is where the Digi XLR PRO comes in. Using patent-pending Punch2 Technology, this 1 watt, 900 MHz radio, punches through noise and achieves exceptional link quality at long distances– even in the most difficult RF conditions. We’ve even tested this radio and established a link at 150 miles, one of the limiting factors being the curvature of the Earth (more about that soon)!
Enough talking, check out the video below to see what the Digi XLR PRO is all about.
We’ve gathered these Internet of Things related TED talks to peak your interest, stir your curiosity and inspire you. We’ll continue to collect riveting talks about or related to the Internet of Things by remarkable people, free to the world thanks to TED.
Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination
Massimo Banzi helped invent the Arduino (along with Tom Igoe and others), a tiny, easy-to-use open-source microcontroller that’s inspired thousands of people around the world to make cool things — from toys to satellite gear. Because, as he says, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to make something great.
Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web
At the 2007 EG conference, Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what’s coming in the next 5,000 days?
Kristina Höök: Living in an Internet of Things World
Kristina Höök is a Professor in Human-Machine Interaction at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences and an employee at SICS, the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. Kristina was a founder of the Mobile Life Centre. Her research focuses on bodily and emotional interaction. She will talk about “The Internet of Things” – uniquely identifiable objects virtually represented in an Internet-like structure. www.tedxkth.com TEDxKTH – ICT as a Game Changer
Vijay Kumar: Robots that fly … and cooperate
In his lab at Penn, Vijay Kumar and his team build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc teams — for construction, surveying disasters and far more.
Tim Berners: Lee on the next Web
20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. For his next project, he’s building a web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together.
Andy Stanford-Clark: Innovation Begins at Home
Dr Andy Stanford-Clark is a Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor at IBM UK. He specializes in technologies which are helping to make the planet smarter, by analysing and reacting to data from remote sensors.
John Barrett: The Internet of Things
Dr. John Barrett is Head of Academic Studies at the Nimbus Centre for Embedded Systems Research at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Group Director of the Centre’s Smart Systems Integration Research Group. His research is focused on packaging, miniaturisation and embedding of smart systems in materials, objects and structures.
Arlen Nipper: The Internet of Things is Just Getting Started
Arlen Nipper has been designing embedded computer hardware and software for 33 years. Across his entire career, Arlen has been passionate about applying embedded computer technology to existing paradigm problems in the industrial controls and automation market sector.
David Cuartielles – Open Source Hardware
David is the creator and co-founder of Arduino, which is an open-source single-board microcontroller, descendant of the open-source Wiring Platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible
Rodolphe el-Khoury: Designing for the Internet of Things
As co-director of RAD Lab, el-Khoury researches architectural applications for information technology aiming for enhanced responsiveness and sustainability in buildings and cities.
Chris Rezendes: Rethink Money and Meaning with the Internet of Things
Chris Rezendes, founder and president of INEX Advisors, talks about the emergence of the Internet of Things. While the focus of the IoT has been on profit, Rezendes argues for a broader perspective. From water wells in Africa to America’s own transportation infrastructure, the Internet of Things can help us put people above machines, faces before screens, and find the path for “AND.”
The is just the beginning of what we hope will be a growing list of TED videos, and meaningful Internet of Things conversations. Let us know if you would like to add a video to this list in the comments section or on Twitter.
The ongoing drought in the western United States underscores the importance of maintaining and conserving a reliable supply of fresh water—whether for drinking, irrigation, fire control or manufacturing, reliable water storage is essential. Of course, half the battle in maintaining a water supply is managing it: once a tank system has been installed and filled, water must be properly distributed when it is needed and retained when it is not. If tanks are remote and many are spread over a wide area, monitoring them can become a costly and time-consuming obligation.
These are the sorts of challenges that Digi and Temboo are overcoming by building a more intelligent Internet of Things. A network of Digi hardware running Temboo Choreos is flexible and smart—devices can be programmed to execute a wide variety of processes, and be reprogrammed without being interrupted. This is a solution that combines ease of automation with the trustworthiness of manual control. To illustrate the solution’s benefits, and demonstrate how the whole system works, we’ve built a model of the water tank problem. This system puts Temboo and Digi to work, keeping water levels right where they ought to be.
Our tank monitoring solution uses an XBee ZigBee radio to wirelessly exchange sensor information and remote control commands using Digi’s new XBee Gateway, a programmable device that joins ZigBee mesh networks to the Internet. A small Temboo client written in Python is installed on the XBee Gateway, allowing it to connect to over one hundred different web services using Temboo Choreos. With Temboo, the memory constraints of the small devices in the network cease to be an obstacle to intelligent behavior, as much of the code required to execute complex processes is offloaded to the cloud.
In our model, a sensor attached to the XBee radio monitors the water level of our tank, and sends those readings to the XBee Gateway. If the tank leaks and the water level falls, a response is triggered on the gateway. First, the gateway uses Temboo’s Yahoo Weather Choreos to check the forecast for rain. Temboo’s Nexmo Choreos are then used to telephone the relevant individual with an automated voice message that gives a real time rain forecast and offers a choice of actions to take by entering a number on the phone’s keypad.
If a storm is on its way, there is an option to ignore the alert. If the leakage does not need to be urgently addressed, there is an option to schedule a maintenance event for the future, which the Temboo program on the gateway handles via a Google Calendar Choreo . If the situation is urgent, however, there is another option to activate a backup pump at a different point in the XBee network and refill the tank. Of course, all of this will only work properly if the sensor and gateway are powered on and functioning, so our system needs to be prepared for any loss of connectivity—if, for any reason, transmission of the level of water in the tank stops, another Temboo Choreo will file a Zendesk ticket to alert support that the system needs attention.
The most exciting thing about this model, however, is that it is only a small example of a massively scalable system. XBee technology can connect hundreds of different devices in a much larger network, and Temboo’s Library contains over two thousand other Choreos that can be used to execute an immense variety of tasks. Modifying the behavior of the Temboo program on the gateway to, for example, switch notification services is just a matter of changing Choreos, a simple task. Digi’s hardware and Temboo’s software are coming together to build a lighter, smarter and much easier to use Internet of Things.