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The Next Generation of M2M Applications

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M2M networking is advancing. Sensors, gateways, batteries, and cellular technologies are all improving, and clouds are widely available. Coupled with refined data storage and analytics, a new generation of M2M applications is boosting enterprises’ productivity and bottom lines.

The Digi white paper, Cutting Through the Noise, presents an overview of the manifold new opportunities for leveraging machine data across the organization.

You’ll learn how M2M communications offer operational visibility into remote equipment and assets, delivering data that previously required on-site observation. You’ll see how to control costs by tracking power consumption at facilities and sites, and better quantify items rolling off the assembly line for optimal scheduling and resource planning.

You’ll also discover the advantages of using M2M networks to directly link demand and supply chains. Vending machines, for instance, can communicate which items are selling and when to restock them. This capability alone provides greater marketing intelligence, higher productivity and efficiencies, as well as more satisfied customers.

Cutting Through the Noise introduces forward-looking organizations to how today’s M2M solutions can create actionable intelligence, unprecedented proficiency, and competitive advantages.

Read the white paper >>

Critical Connection For Humanitarian Efforts with IoT Technology Demonstrated at HumTech 2016

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“Disrupting Humanitarian Response” was the common theme at the HumTech2016 conference in Cambridge, MA this week. The event brings together some of the brightest and most passionate people who focus on “technical ideas that advance global humanitarian action”.

Learned So Far

The purpose of the conference is to discuss, share and promote current research, and recent accomplishments across all aspects of technology, from science to systems that have a global humanitarian impact. Scalpel At The Cross, a Christian medical mission to the Peruvian Amazon, demonstrated the CrossCare project that utilizes Digi technology to bring critical orthopaedic services to the tribal population of Pucallpan Peruvians.

CrossCare is a custom-built application to withstand harsh jungle conditions. A state-of-the-art electronic medical record (EMR) system, CrossCare features an iOS-based application that runs on any Apple device (iPad, iPad mini, iPhone), leverages wireless peer-to-peer networking and Google Cloud data storage to create, manage, share and track patient data and treatment outcomes.

Outfitted with a collection of iPads, doctors and medical staff at the Pucallpa medical campus record important data through the registration, examination, and treatment planning stages. Through peer-to-peer networking over a Digi wireless router, information entered into one iPad is shared in near real-time on all of the staff’s iPads allowing each member of the medical staff to have complete information at their fingertips. Information is consolidated into a medical database and replicated on every tablet without servers or broadband connectivity. For patients requiring surgery, the CrossCare application is used to record surgery documentation, post-operative rounds and follow up exams.

The event’s keynote speaker, Gisli Olafsson with NetHope, said, “True innovation comes when you understand the fundamental problem that the user needs to resolve.” This is the role Digi plays the CrossCare project. Digi’s TransPort router solves the very real problem of collecting patient data during mission clinics, through surgery, and continuing through follow-up appointments.

The 3-day event was well-attended by a group of enthusiasts in the humanitarian space.

Sustainable Business ModelGisli also encouraged all to come up with a more sustainable business models to support work that allows entrepreneurs to create new innovations, and continue to innovate without the administrative overhead of writing grants each year, and generating extensive reports back to the donors.

The industry as a whole seems primed and ready for a shake-up, and is welcoming start-up technology teams that can bring new ideas and new technology to an older, established institution.

The idea that funding of humanitarian efforts will continue to come from governments or funnel through other existing world relief organizations is wavering. This leaves a huge opening for self-funding solutions and innovation projects like CrossCare that Digi has helped to develop. It’s our hope to make CrossCare available to other mission hospitals with the potential of growing it to be not just a Peruvian Amazon project but a global solution.

Greater Detroit Area Transit Agency Turns to Digi to Monitor Bus Fleet

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Suburban Mobility Authority for Rapid Transit Authority (SMART), a transit agency in the Greater Detroit Area, was faced with the realization that their automatic vehicle location (AVL) system was old, slow and inefficient.

SmartSMART operates over 200 buses for over 23 hours every day. Monitoring these vehicles is essential to daily operations. But with 20-year-old infrastructure, the AVL was just not cutting it. SMART wanted more reporting and real-time information that they could share with their riders.

SMART decided to switch to cellular communication with voice over IP (VoIP). To implement this they decided to work with Clever Devices, a leading provider of communications and technology solutions. The centerpiece of Clever Devices’ solution was the Digi TransPort WR44 R cellular router.

The Digi TransPort WR44 R is purpose-made for transit agencies and authorities that need reliable communications for such things as security video, fare collection, dispatch, passenger Wi-Fi, and others.

SMART’s new cellular AVL has had a profound impact. Data and metrics that were never before available are already being used to anticipate vehicle breakdowns, expedite repairs, and minimize downtime. Additionally, Passengers are now able to text a number posted at their bus stop to receive real-time data from SMART about bus ETAs. This service is already receiving more than 10,000 queries per month.

Most importantly, the agency is getting a great ROI. SMART is saving at least $70,000 per year in hard costs with the Digi-based solution. In soft costs it is estimated that SMART may be saving anywhere from an additional $150,000 to $200,000.

Read more about how SMART saves more than $70,000 per year with Internet of Things technology here >>

What Are the Differences Between DigiMesh® and ZigBee® Mesh?

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Mesh networking is a powerful way to route data over an RF network. Range is extended by allowing data to hop node to node and reliability and resiliency is increased by “self-healing,” or the ability to create alternate paths when one node fails or a connection is lost.

One popular mesh networking protocol is ZigBee®, which is specifically designed for low-data rate, low-power applications. Digi offers several products based on the ZigBee protocol. Additionally, Digi has developed a similar mesh protocol named DigiMesh®. Both ZigBee and DigiMesh offer unique advantages important to different applications. The following chart highlights these differences:

ZigBee® Mesh DigiMesh®
Node types and their benefits Multiple: Coordinators, Routers, End Devices. End devices can sometimes be less expensive because of reduced functionality. Single: One homogeneous node type, with more flexibility to expand the network. DigiMesh simplifies network setup and reliability in
environments where routers may come and go due to interference or damage.
Battery Deployed Networks Coordinators and routers must be mains powered All nodes are capable of battery operation and can sleep. No single point of failure associated with relying on a gateway or coordinator to
maintain time synchronization.
Over-the-air firmware updates Yes Yes
Range Most ZigBee devices have range of less than 2 miles (3.2 km) for each hop. Available on XBee SX with range of up to 40+ miles for each hop.
Frame payload and throughput Up to 80 bytes. Up to 256 bytes, depending on product. Improves throughput for applications that send larger blocks of data.
Supported frequencies and RF data rates Predominantly 2.4 GHz (250 kbps) 900 MHz (Up to 250 Kbps), 868MHz, 2.4 GHz (Up to 250 Kbps)
Security 128-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining. Both 128 and 256-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining.
Interoperability Potential for interoperability between vendors. Digi proprietary
Interference tolerance Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS). 900 MHz: Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). 2.4GHz: Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS).
Addressing Two layers. MAC address (64 bit) and Network address (16 bit). MAC address (64 bit) only.
Maintenance More sniffers and diagnostic tools available on market. Simpler addressing can help in diagnosing problems and setting up a network.

For more information on DigiMesh and Digi XBee click here.

Fog Computing in the Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Open Fog Consortium defines Fog Computing this way: “A system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control and networking anywhere along the continuum from Cloud to Things.” In his recent Fog Computing report, Aapo Markkanen at Machina Research puts Digi in this category. He says, “Digi is well placed to a make a play in fog computing, given its strong communications portfolio and additional capabilities [such as] Device Cloud and device management.” We couldn’t agree more!

Intelligence on the edge of the network allows our customers to store, shape and translate machine and sensor data to maximize connections from the device to the cloud. Digi Device Cloud enables our customers to bring enterprise routing features to the edge of their networks enhancing security, storage, and redundancy.

The concept of Fog Computing accurately describes the way our customers are managing mission critical applications across multiple wireless protocols making it easier to configure, deploy and manage devices on the edge of their networks.

Click here to learn more about Digi Device Cloud >>

 

 

A Comparison of LPWAN Technologies

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The rise of connected devices has placed an emphasis on low power wireless communication. Like we outlined in our previous post about LTE categories, the need for connecting simple devices like sensors and actuators is rapidly increasing. You’ll typically hear these types of technologies referred to as Low-Power Wide-Area Networking or LPWAN.sigfox-logo

These technologies are all intended for use to connect low cost, low power, and low bandwidth devices, but there are some subtle differences which we share in this post.

SIGFOX
SIGFOX is suited best for the lowest bandwidth applications with extremely tight energy budgets. What’s unique to SIGFOX is that it is an entirely separate network for IoT devices. Currently the infrastructure is up and running in Western Europe and San Francisco with pilot programs in South America and Asia in progress. It’s an open standard operating over the sub-GHz frequency bands (868 MHz in Europe and 900 MHz in USA) and any radio provider can use it.Logo-LoRa-300x185

LoRa Technology
LoRa is a technology developed by the chip manufacturer, Semtech. It offers fairly decent bandwidth compared to other LPWAN tech. Since it requires the use of Semtech’s chip, it’s not considered an open standard. LoRa has received traction in the European markets and there are a number of deployments today. 

NB IoT
The requirements of NB IoT have just been finalized as of early 2016. This new narrowband radio technology provides an appropriate LTE category for low-bandwidth IoT devices. It leverages the existing infrastructure of LTE and GSM network providers to facilitate low bandwidth communications for IoT devices.logo-Transparent

LTE-M
LTE-M is part of Release 13 of the 3GPP standard, to lower power consumption, reduce device complexity/cost, and provide deeper coverage to reach challenging locations (e.g., deep inside buildings). This standard will improve upon NB IoT in terms of bandwidth. It also boasts the highest security of LPWAN technologies.

Digi CTO Joel Young takes a closer look at how these LPWAN technologies compare:

 

The Evolution of LTE for IoT and M2M Devices

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When you hear LTE you probably start thinking of fast speed, high bandwidth, HD video, your favorite apps…lots of data. But, LTE can also be dialed back to create power-efficient cellular connected devices. This is a useful solution for connecting IoT devices like sensors and actuators to the Internet since they don’t transmit lots of data and operate under strict energy budgets.

Did you know there’s more than one type of LTE?

Within LTE there are multiple categories as defined by the global cellular standards body, 3GPP. Some of the categories are still in the process of being developed but one thing is clear, there will be split in the evolution of LTE. In one direction, LTE will continue to increase speed and bandwidth for smartphones and other data-hungry applications.  In the other direction, we’ll see cellular providers accommodating machine-to-machine communication with LTE designed for low power, low data, and low cost.

In the video below, Digi CTO, Joel Young, provides an in-depth look into how LTE technologies are evolving to accommodate the various needs of cellular connected devices.

We’re still in the early days of LTE for machines, but more advancements in LTE for M2M/IoT are on the horizon. Check out our technical brief “M2M in an LTE World,”  for more details on how these LTE categories differ and what it means for M2M/IoT product designs.

Prototype XBee and Other Wireless Projects with Tinylab

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You might remember our post about the XBee product turned Indiegogo superstar last year–Plexidrone. Well, there’s another XBee related Indiegogo campaign making headlines. Tinylab is a prototyping platform, developed by Bosphorus Mechatronics, simplifying IoT development with an all-in-one Arduino-based solution.

Tinylab reduces the need to stack multiple Arduino shields, pull out the breadboard and jumper wires, or hunt down that spare LTH sensor in your drawer. This flexible and extensive development board supports Arduino and other development environments, hosts 20 Digital I/O, and additional sensors come pre-attached. And, perhaps most exciting, is the support for a number of wireless technologies like XBee, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi with the ESP8266 chip as seen in the graphic below.

 

tinylab-schematic
 

The Indiegogo campaign got off to a great start and Bosphorus Mechatronics quickly exceeded their goal of $25,000. The crew is shipping development kits to their campaign supporters in May and one level of support will even earn contributors a development kit that includes XBee RF modules.

Also, to demonstrate the board’s capabilities, the team at Tinylab created an wireless lighting demo. The video is showing wireless control of a lightbulb with commands sent over XBee. Check out the video below.

If you are interested in learning more about the Tinylab prototyping platform, click here to visit the Indiegogo campaign and support! You can follow their updates on Twitter or visit the Bosphorus Mechatronics website here.

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