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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.

Digi Employee Hackathon: One Hack to Rule Them All

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The hackathon tradition lives on at Digi and this competition may have been the best one yet– we say that every time, don’t we? Anyways, at this most recent hackathon, we had projects that included hardware modifications, data analytics, software design, and UI enhancements.

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The challenge to our competing teams was to prototype a useful improvement to a Digi product such as–

  • Changing a hardware design to improve user experience.
  • Designing a software change to Device Cloud or The Social Machine.
  • Improving the design of a configuration tool like XCTU or create a new one.
  • Making a prototype for a brand new hardware, software or service product.
  • Creating some other useful improvement of their choosing.

Hackathons give employees an outlet to work on a project or idea they’ve been kicking around for a while, but haven’t had the time to see through. It’s also a chance for participants to work with others outside of their everyday team. And, we had some nice cash and non-cash prizes. Nacho flavored lip balm may or may not have been included among our ‘nice’ prizes.

Here’s a quick look at what each team built.xbee_gateway_v2 (1)

Pimp My Web UI 
Team Members: Mike Wadsten, Travis Lubbers, and Russel Shurts.

No, Xzibit, did not make an appearance at our hackathon to create a redesigned and responsive web UI for the XBee Gateway. But Mike, Travis, and Russell were all up to the challenge. They took our existing web UI for the XBee Gateway and gave it a bit of a refresh. Mike had done some work a few months ago on an updated design and the team used this as a starting point for their project.

With the team’s UI refresh, users are more easily able to modify the configuration of their XBee Gateway from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone! The new dashboard is pictured to the right.

Team Device Cloud Analytics
Team Members: Chris Popp and Greg Bestland

The goal of this hack is to enhance Device Cloud with the ability for customers (and administrators) to run custom queries over their data right in the Cloud.

In the prototype, a user is able to have some of their data saved in a way that allows queries against their data set as a whole rather than having to retrieve all the raw data or only rollups of a single stream.  By looking at their entire data set, the user can start to answer more complex questions without having to pull all of the data into their own systems. Spark-logo-192x100px

In order to make these advanced queries possible, the team used the Apache Spark engine. Now, they are able to answer questions like “What is the average temperature in Group ‘X’?” or “How often is my tank level below my set threshold?” This opens up a whole window of possibilities for Device Cloud as an analytics engine. These features will be considered for inclusion in a future DeviceCloud release.

Code Name Marco Polo
Team Members: Ryan Bezdicek and Sandy Haapala

Marco Polo is the code name for a replacement to Device Cloud’s current API Explorer. What is the API Explorer? It’s a terrific feature within Device Cloud that gives users the ability to run any web service request. This enhancement code named, Marco Polo, has a number of improvements and new features that make it easier to work with and a collaborative experience between Device Cloud users.
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One enhancement is a way for users to save their most frequent calls. This eliminates the need to remember complex command sets and adds quick access to their most frequently used web service calls. Admins also have the ability to add, edit, and remove examples on the fly.  Future enhancements will include being able to share saved examples with other users on the cloud platform, authentication improvements and setup of local of the API Explorer for offline use. The team is looking into incorporating this for a future Device Cloud version.

C’Mon Move it
Team Members: Zach Schneider and Dan Harrison

Team ‘C’Mon Move it!’ had the brilliant idea of improving XBee‘s PWM capabilities by extending them; initially with a serial hack and later within the XBee firmware. Currently the pulse width modulation (analog) output on an XBee is fixed at 15.6 KHz with a 50% duty cycle. For many motors in SCADA applications, this will not do. They typically require more robust PWM capabilities, such as 200-3000 Hz with 20-80% duty cycle.

So Dan and Zach forged on and created a new PWM library for XBee. The library is written in Python and runs on an XBee gateway making clever use of the UART serial output to directly drive motors. The PWM now reaches speeds between 600 Hz and 4 KHz at any duty cycle between 10%-90% in increments of 10%.

To demo this new PWM library they built a linear actuator to control the height of a shelf. Using an H-bridge driver board, they are able to adjust the height of the shelf wirelessly. If direct control of motors interests you, be sure to comment or drop us a line.

Wrap Up
After the teams presented and demoed their projects the judges congregated for what was a difficult decision. It was very tough to pick a winner, any one of the projects would have made a fine champion. After a number of recounts and tiebreakers the judges made their final decision. Team DC Analytics won first place with Pimp My Web UI in an extremely close second!

If any of these hacks are something you would like us to include in future software or firmware releases, let us know in the comments section below!

 

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.

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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.

An Idea Worth Spreading: Internet of Things TED Talks

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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.

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.