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Where in the World is the Robonaut Today?

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Last year we shared how Digi helped NASA’s Robonaut go wireless. Since then, NASA’s robot has undergone a series of upgrades. Just last month, SpaceX delivered legs that will be mounted to the Robonaut, so that it can move around the station, making it even more valuable to the ISS crew. There are even new products being spun off from the original design like the Robo-Glove. Here are a few Robonaut-related articles that have been published recently to get you up to speed on the ISS’s newest crew member.

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NASA Upgrades Humanoid Robot in Space | Computer World
“The 300-pound humanoid robot working on the International Space Station is in the midst of getting a series of upgrades, including new processors and software, in preparation of having a pair of legs attached to it.”

NASA’s Robo-Glove Up for License for Iron Man and You | Slash Gear
“The glove is made to amplify the abilities of the wearer, not entirely unlike that of the glove of Iron Man in the Marvel Comics universe. This glove allows its user to blast through tasks that require high hand strength – grasping and repetitive tasks especially.”

Robonaut Upgrades, Spacewalk Preps & Cargo Ops for Station Crew | Product Design and Development
“For the next phase of testing, Robonaut will be outfitted with a pair of climbing legs to enable it to move around the station. These legs, which are equipped with end effectors to allow them to grip handrails and sockets, were delivered to the station during the SpaceX-3 cargo mission in April.”

Google Tech to Bring 3D Mapping Smarts to NASA’s Space Station Robots | Computer World
“Google said Thursday that its Project Tango team is collaborating with scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center to integrate the company’s new 3D technology into a robotic platform that will work inside the space station. The integrated technology has been dubbed SPHERES, which stands for Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites.”

Have you found an interesting article about the Robonaut? Share it with us on Twitter at @digidotcom using the hashtag #Robonaut. You can also learn more about how Digi enabled Wi-Fi communication in our NASA customer story, here.

Three Things You Can Build with XBee This Weekend

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Have a couple spare XBees, microcontrollers, and some free time? Here are a few simple projects that you can build to put those RF modules and other electronic goodies to use. Below, you’ll find project descriptions as well as links to step-by-step instructions.

 

Wireless Text to Speech Device
Want to transform serial data into sound? This project allows you to type into a serial terminal connected to an XBee, and when you press enter, the words are sent to another XBee enabled text-to-speech module that speaks the words out loud on a connected speaker. Click here for instructions.

Wireless Disco Ball Controller
Is it party time? We have the perfect solution! This project uses a set of XBees and an Arduino to control a disco ball’s lighting as well as how fast it revolves. Click here for instructions.

XBee Rock, Paper, Scissors Game
Need a fun way to determine who should do the dishes or take the trash out? How about a wireless and interactive game of Rock, Paper, Scissors? This project uses two Mbed microcontrollers and a couple of Digi XBee radios to enable two people to choose a button representing either Rock, Paper, or Scissors and determines the winner on your own LCD screen. Click here for instructions.

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 Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ using the #XBee hashtag. Happy building!

Digi Employee Hackathon: Developing with Arduino and Mbed Microcontrollers

Last week, Digi engineers convened at our headquarters in Minneapolis for their annual meeting. We also took this time to hold a Hackathon. For this Hackathon, there was a requirement of using both an Arduino and Mbed microcontroller in each team’s design and connect the two microcontrollers via XBee. Here are a few of the projects that were created.

Aquariometer

The goal of the project was to give fish tank owners and pet shop managers a complete solution for monitoring their aquariums. Temperature changes can be detrimental to aquatic life.  Additonally, continuous monitoring of the tank’s temperature can prevent serious damage to a heater if there is an issue. It’s also important to maintain a proper water level. If the levels get too low, it can cause damage to the aquarium’s filtering system.

The project shows the tank level and temperature at a glance with a shiny RGB LED light strip. The height of the lights represents the level in the tank and temperature is reflected by the color of the lights. So, when the temperature is warm, the lights turn red and when the temperature is cool, the light strip turns blue.

The mbed microcontroller was connected to the temperature sensor and the scale, which is used to measure the level of the tank. XBee sent the sensor readings from the tank to an Arduino which processes the sensor readings and controls the LED strip.

Team Members: Don Schleede and Jayna Locke 

Wireless Scoreboard

We’re a competitive bunch. In the heat of competition, you need a way to keep score. That’s why the wireless scoreboard was created.

The design consisted of an Arduino board and mbed board to meet the competition criteria. The mbed was connected to buttons that the user can push to enter a point. There are buttons for the home and away team as well as a reset button to set the score back to zero. The score is displayed on an LCD screen connected to an Arduino. The two microcontrollers communicate via XBee, so you can place the scoreboard and control panel in convenient locations.

Team Members: Jonathan Young

ReMorse

People still use Morse code… right? That’s beside the point. Now, there’s finally a way to send your friends and colleagues Morse code messages.

ReMorse is a high-end, lo-fi, vintage, wireless communication device that makes it easy to send very important, highly secure, messages to those you need to reach. The user simply enters in their message on a laptop, hits send, and the message begins playing from the speaker. The receiver processes the morse code and translates the message.

Team Members: Aaron Kurland, Gene Fodor

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Have you ever left for work in a hurry only to second guess whether or not you closed the garage door? Fear no more. The CarDuino ensures this is a problem of the past.

The team’s prototype consisted of an RC car and miniature garage door, but could easily be expanded to work in the real world. On board the remote control vehicle is an Arduino and XBee. If the door is left open, the driver is notified with a jingle. They can then choose to close the garage door from their car or acknowledge the alarm and turn it off. The range of the device is about one mile out on the road!

 Closing

The goal of the Hackathon was to familiarize everyone with developing on both the Arduino and MBed platforms. We learned a lot and identified strengths and weaknesses in both platforms and we got some amazing projects as a result. Click here to check out past Hackathons we’ve held at Digi. Here’s to more hackathons in the future!

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.

Strategic Partnerships Powering The Internet of Things

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The Digi M2M Conference is only months aways and we’re looking forward to another great conference. For those that are unable to attend, you can get a glimpse of what we’ll be covering in this interview with Freescale’s Stephane Gervais-Ducouret.

What is your role at Freescale?

I am responsible for global marketing as part of the Freescale Connect Partner Team and am dedicated to our Embedded Board Solutions (EBS) proven partners, like Digi. In my role, I largely focus on the market dynamics, needs and demands and how modules and processors compliment these needs with an interest in faster EBS adoption to achieve business growth.

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What consists of the Digi-Freescale partnership? What is the added advantage of such a partnership?

Digi is a key EBS Proven Partner, which is the highest category for EBS partners. Digi is unique in that its offering goes beyond board design and manufacturing to include services that allow M2M applications. This is a good strategic match with Freescale as we increasingly focus on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Moreover, Digi’s ConnectCore® 6 is a promising form factor that we look forward to leveraging in our EBS co-selling program.

You were at the event last year. What did you take out of it?

At last year’s event, Digi’s M2M message was incredibly strong. I think Digi’s vision and various case studies were an eye-opener to what IoT is all about.  For those who attended, it was clear that Digi does more than just connect products wirelessly, they also help connect products into the enterprise, have a cloud offering to help manage data and devices, and provide consulting services. In other words, Digi offers a truly end-to-end M2M solution.

Since last year’s event, Freescale has demonstrated the Digi IoT demo at numerous events helping attendees to better visualize what IoT means concretely and how Digi and Freescale make M2M happen.

Freescale Enabled

You’ve been invited to speak again this year. Can you give us a sneak-peak of the topics/highlights you’ll be covering?

I will present on a few of our embedded board solutions program and provide a sneak peak of what you might be able to expect from our next-generation processors, from the smallest to the most powerful and feature-rich. I will also be sharing Freescale’s vision of IoT and M2M, and discuss the huge opportunities that lie ahead for Freescale and Digi.

I hope to communicate to the attendees our exciting junction and how they can be part of the M2M revolution. Cisco is predicting 50 billion connected devices by 2020 and about 50% will be industrial/automation related, so this is exciting times for the industry. Those who want to surf the next big wave would benefit from attending Digi’s M2M conference.

Any last words?

I enjoyed last year’s event and I’m thrilled to be attending again this year in such great environment with great people.

Click here for more information on the Digi Europe M2M Conference 2014.

For more information on Freescale: www.freescale.com/

Students Innovate with Digi: Formula Buckeyes

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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.

The Formula Buckeye SAE Race Team is made up of students from all disciplines. From mechanical engineers, to business, to art students, it’s truly a team effort. The completely student led team must fund, design, build, and test, a high performance racing vehicle that will compete across the country in races with over 100 schools. The car can accelerate from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds!

This year, the team has decided to implement a telemetry project to monitor engine performance and troubleshoot issues. Data is currently stored locally on the car’s ECU and this telemetry project would allow for remote access to these data points. The Digi product being used is an XTend Serial Module. With this module, they are able to read sensor data at a range of more than 15 miles!

Around 20 different sensors are gathering data on the car. They include:

  • Engine Temperature
  • Incoming Air Temperature
  • Vehicle Speed
  • Traction Control
  • Steering Wheel Position
  • On/Off Switches
  • Manifold Air Pressure
  • And More

They plan to create either a Java or Labview application, which will act as a virtual cockpit for the vehicle. The application will display the read outs of each sensor on a computer monitor. This will enable the team to remotely troubleshoot and diagnose performance issues in the vehicle. Future plans hope to accomplish remote control of the engine.

Preparations for the 2014 racing season are underway! Check out their website and Facebook Page for updates.

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.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We come across amazing XBee projects every day, so we like to remind you that we’re constantly updating the XBee Project Gallery. Here are just a few of the latest additions– from a a Foursquare-enabled gumball machine to a high-altitude balloon that sees all.

Also, check out XBee on Pinterest and our XBee Project Pinboard that includes all of the projects from the XBee Project Gallery.

 

Check ‘N Chew: Foursquare-enabled Gumball Machine by Matt Richardson, Tyler DeAngelo & Ben Light

This basic gumball machine was hacked with a stepper motor, Arduino and an XBee. When someone checks into an authorized location and a gumball is dispensed. The whole process only taking a couple of seconds from Foursquare check-in to gumball dispensing. Yum!

Keep an eye out for our interview with Matt Richardson later this week!

Read on and Watch the Video

AnyWay: Remote Controlled Segway by Dexter Industries

With a few simple additions, Dexter Industries has modified the AnyWay Segway to be remote controlled. The first step was adding a NXTBee onto the Segway to enable radio communication between the device and the computer. The NXTBEee located on the Segway then communicates with the XBee Explorer USB on the computer. Finally, the commands are sent through XCTU, which is a free terminal program provided by Digi.

Read On and Watch the Video

 

High Altitude Balloon Launch by SparkFun Engineer, Aaron
Aaron, an engineer at SparkFun, used electronics to launch a high altitude balloon. He used a foam cooler for the payload box. Inside inside of the box,  Arron included a 1 Watt XBee as the transmitting radio.
Read On

 

Wireless Finger Drum by Sam Thongrong

Sam combined a RevIO and some force sensitive resistors to create a finger drum. In order to make the device wireless, he then attached an XBee radio.  The Xbee allows for signals to be sent from the RevIO to PC speakers that play the sound.
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