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How We Built a 4G LTE Connected Digital Signage Solution

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We’re getting settled back in after an eventful few days at Digital Signage Expo. It was our first time at the event and we had a blast! Here at Digi, we mainly focus on the connectivity side of things whether it’s RF modules or a cellular router– that’s our expertise. But, in a digital signage solution, there are so many elements that come into play.

For this special event, we wanted to make sure we had a digital signage demo ready to go and we didn’t have much time to put it together. With some extremely helpful advice and easy-to-use tools we were able to get it up and running in less than a week (thanks to Amazon Prime overnight shipping).

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How We Did It
Here are the basic elements of the demo. First we needed an enclosure– something that we could mount a big ol’ monitor to. Our friends at Peerless-AV hooked us up. Their kiosk gave us an enclosure for not only the screen, but also the mini PC, TransPort cellular router, and other accessories like antennas and power supplies.

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So now that we had all the gear hooked up and ready to go, we needed to figure out what we wanted to display on the screen. Screenfeed paid us a visit and set us up with some live RSS feeds.

These feeds allow us to send out fresh, new content to the display. Specifically, we had live financial data, major headlines of the day, and most importantly…weather updates. Another crucial aspect of serving up content to our display was the software to manage the images and RSS feeds.

Using our Wondersign free trial we plugged in our RSS feeds and .jpgs and had our screen displaying content in under an hour. Here’s a quick video that walks you through the display live on the DSE show floor!


There are many distinct advantages of delivering content via 4G LTE. For one, you get a high bandwidth connection that doesn’t need existing infrastructure like Ethernet or Wi-Fi, which offers the flexibility to deploy signage anywhere with network coverage. 4G LTE also provides a secure connection and the ability to easily manage a large deployment of devices via the cloud. This is just a demo, but many of Digi’s customers have realized the value of cellular connected signage. Learn how Monster Media is using cellular technology out in the field.

Bar Graphs, Security Systems, and GPS… All with XBee!

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Here are a few more wireless projects you can build with some sensors, Arduino and XBee. Below are project descriptions and links to instructions that will walk you through each step, including example code. Feel free to get creative and put your own spin on these projects!

Wireless Bar Graph Display
Want to monitor the level of light in a room and reflect that data with a shiny LED bar graph? Then check out  this project, which uses an MBed microcontroller, light sensor, LED bar graph, and a pair of XBee radios to get you going on monitoring brightness without even being there. Complete instructions here.

Security Monitor
Let’s build a comprehensive security system! The motion sensor detects when a person passes by and alerts you by displaying a warning on an LCD screen and you can even be alerted with an audio message. For this project, you’ll need an Arduino and XBee radio. After all, Arduino and XBee are best friends in the electrical engineering world! Why else would an XBee shield exist? Complete instructions here.

Device Cloud GPS
Want to track the GPS coordinates of the RC vehicle you’re working on? Well, it’s simple with an XBee gateway, Arduino and Device Cloud. Complete instructions here.

Check out examples.digi.com for more projects. There, you can browse tutorials for beginner, intermediate, and even experienced XBee developers. Once you’re done building, feel free to share them with us on TwitterFacebook, or Google+ using the #XBee hashtag. Happy building!

Connecting Wearables to Device Cloud with the Human API

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Last week, we held an internal employee Hackathon which included teams from our offices in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. The goal of the Hackathon was to build a synchronization engine that connects wearable fitness devices like Fitbit and Jawbone to Device Cloud using the Human API.

What is the Human API?
The Human API provides access to fitness devices and apps from a variety of vendors through a single API. So, rather than having to use one API to get data from each of your wearable devices, you can just use the Human API to get data from all of your connected devices-simplifying and accelerating the development process. Then, the data can be passed through Device Cloud and displayed in interesting ways.

These were the criteria each team needed to meet with their project:

  1. Hosted as a web app.
  2. Integration between a wearable device and the Digi Device Cloud.
  3. All data streams captured by a device will populate in Device Cloud. Data streams available: steps, distance, calories, sleep, etc.
  4. Prove data is being read from Device Cloud (i.e. print to the console or charted).
  5. Integration capable of supporting multiple devices and associated data streams, into a single Device Cloud account.
  6. Device integration with Device Cloud shall have the ability to be “turned off”.

The teams had 24 hours to construct their projects. No work prior to the Hackathon was permitted, in order to ensure each team started on equal footing with the exception that anyone could use assets open to the public such as open source libraries or public domain images.

The Winning Project
The winning project was from a team of Wireless Design Services engineers in Minneapolis, and brought data from the Human API into Device Cloud so that it can applied in meaningful ways. The team developed a Heroku hosted web application with a user-friendly interface to configure Device Cloud and Human API accounts. The application is used to map a Human API app to a Device Cloud account, and configuration automatically creates a new device record on Device Cloud for each device registered in the Human API.Fitbit-Force

After configuration is complete, the application allows a user to set a sync frequency. The sync frequency determines how often Device Cloud polls the Human API for new data on a device. This data includes steps, calories, heart rate, and several others depending on the device. After polling for new data, the application formats the data into a structure that is friendly for Data Streams on Device Cloud. The high-level architecture of the solution is shown above.

Future plans for the project include adding additional user and data management to the web interface, so a user could decide not to push certain activities to Device Cloud. The project’s code is up on GitHub here and the running application is on Heroku if you’d like to check out what the team built.

UPDATE: The Germinator is Alive!

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A couple weeks ago, we shared the projects our team in Logroño built for the Digi Employee Hackathon. Here is quick  update on ‘The Germinator Plus’ project. These pictures were taken two weeks after planting and as you can see, the project is in full force!

The Germinator Plus makes it easy to adjust the environment for different species of plants by using Device Cloud, XBee, a microcontroller, and sensors. The sensors monitor heat, light, and water levels and the system maintains the conditions needed for that species of plant. Read more about the project in the full Digi Employee Hackathon post.

Radiator Labs Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Bring Comfort and Control to Steam Heat Users

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Millions of people rely on steam heat. If you’re one of them, you know that your place usually has one of two climates — tropical or Arctic. Admit it, you’ve opened the window in the winter to try to find a balance — we all have. But one company, Radiator Labs, is working to fix this problem forever. Not just for your own home, but large buildings too. How? They’re using a combination of Internet of Things technology and thermodynamics to enable full control.


The team recently launched a Kickstarter to bring this much needed face-lift to steam heat. The solution consists of The Cozy, which is an intelligent cover that is placed over your radiator, and a setup that allows you to set a room temperature via your smartphone. The enclosure collects the heat generated from the radiator and only releases heat as needed. This not only ensures a comfortable temperature in the room, but also uses energy in a more efficient manner.

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The project began about two years ago and was off to a quick start as the project won the MIT Clean Energy Prize in 2012. “This changed everything for Radiator Labs. We were able to access more buildings to test and develop the next generation of the Cozy.” says Founder and Creator, Marshall Cox.

Since then, the team has spent time designing the Cozy. Radiator Labs used XBee modules to build large-scale ZigBee Mesh networks and ConnectPort X2e gateways to connect each sensor network to the Internet. Data is gathered and stored in Device Cloud. It’s then sent to an application to set a desired temperature. Data can also be analyzed to monitor each sensor and identify poorly functioning radiators. The team is in the process of deploying a large rollout of the solution in residence halls at NYU and Columbia University.

The Kickstarter campaign will help Radiator Labs bring a WiFi-enabled design to market that will fit nearly any radiator. Funds will also go towards the development of an iOS and Android application that will allow users to control temperatures from their smartphone. So if you like comfortable temperatures and saving energy, support Radiator Labs on Kickstarter.

Getting Started with XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit

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The new XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit is the fastest way to get your things connected to the internet (#IoTASAP). Even if you have no experience building your own circuits or writing code, you’re now capable of connecting a device and building online dashboards with the XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit. And, to make getting started even easier, Rob Faludi, Digi’s chief innovation officer and author of Building Wireless Sensor Networks, has put together examples that walk you through each step of connecting various devices.

The advantages of adding a cloud connection to your projects are endless. You can monitor the performance and troubleshoot problems and create environmental responses that bring a heightened level of interaction to users.

A Few Ideas to Get Started 

Temperature Monitoring 
Temperature monitoring is a great starting point to get familiar with analog sensing. This example uses the TMP36 low-voltage linear sensor that is included in the XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit. Once you’ve completed this example, your TMP36 will be generating data points that are viewable in your web browser.

Control an LED
Making an LED illuminate is one of the first things many people do when they start learning electronics. Hence, it can be one of the most satisfying. We’re putting a wireless spin on that achievement by hooking up an LED to an XBee’s output, then controlling it from the web.

Push Button
A button or “momentary switch” is perfect for projects that require user input, or any place you need to detect a change in device state. This example uses a simple tactile switch, however the very same circuit can be used with a pressure mat to detect someone walking into a room, or with a microswitch to monitor when a door opens or with a passive infrared sensor to respond to motion. In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through wiring up a simple button to your XBee Wi-Fi so that its current state can be seen in a online application from anywhere in the world.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what is possible with the new kit. You can find all of these examples and more here, and you can always find more XBee projects in the XBee Gallery.

Interested in getting an XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit? Head over here.

Students Innovate with Digi: DALE, A Net Zero Smart Home

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

DALE (Dynamic Augmented Living Environment) is a net zero, rail-mounted, and dynamic dwelling, designed and built by a student led team from CalTech. DALE brings those living in the dwelling to the outside by opening itself and closing to harness the beautiful weather and reduce energy consumption.

The dwelling is designed to reduce energy consumption through the use of solar power, energy monitoring,  and the ability to reacts to its environment by opening and closing. DALE will be on display while competing in the 2013 Solar Decathalon.

Within the home a wireless network has been established. This is where Digi comes in. Throughout the home there are sensors installed that monitor temperature, humidity, and light. These sensors relay the data collected through a ConnectPort Gateway for cloud storage.

A smart meter is also used to monitor energy consumption of the dwelling. The team chose Device Cloud to collect and store data from the sensors and smart meter, which can be used for further analysis. This data is then used by a custom web application developed by the team.

The application enables control of DALE, so that it can open, close, and make suggestions to its residents on how they can save energy. For instance, if the temperature sensors are reading a hot temperature, DALE can suggest to open the windows or even use the rail system to open up the entire dwelling and let fresh air in.

Similar solutions are becoming more common-place in the industrial setting as well. Companies are using creative solutions to cut back on energy use and to drive other efficiencies. Just one example, OEM Technology Solutions creates products that share data with train operators. With the data, the operator can monitor and control temperature in a train to improve the comfort level of passengers. An application can alert the conductor of optimal times to turn air on and off. The train then uses outside air to cool down rather than an energy demanding air conditioning system. Efficiencies of just 1% can result in billions of dollars saved.

For more information on DALE check out the video below and visit their website at meetdale.com.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Sensors and Cloud Connection Enable Self-Sustaining Garden

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You may have heard of the Digi Garden over the last few years as it is always a fun project to share.

Using some sensors, a couple XBees, and a ConnectPort Gateway the garden is self-sustaining. The laborious task of watering is completely eliminated.  The drip watering system is triggered once the soil moisture hits a certain threshold. A garden that is able to monitors itself requires less time to maintain and saves water in the process.

Here is a list of the hardware involved:

  • 3 Decagon Radio Towers containing XBees
  • Water Potential, Soil Moisture, Ambient Light/Temperature/Humidity Sensors
  • Water Pump
  • Drip Watering System
  • ConnectPort Gateway
  • Solar Panel and Battery

Using Device Cloud, data gathered by each of the sensors can be stored and processed. The data can then be transformed into visualizations and used in applications. We also have alarms set within Device Cloud, which allow us to solve issues that arise before any serious harm is done to the garden.

Since its inception, the Digi Garden is something we have looked forward to every summer. We get TONS of vegetables and every year we try to make technological improvements that enhance the garden in some way. Now if only we had a weed-pulling robot!

Below, Andrew will walk you through the garden and show you how it all works.