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The Beer Industry Gets Crafty with the Internet of Things

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SteadyServe 1

What do the Internet of Things (IoT) and beer have in common? Well, there was the Budweiser Red Light, an automatic hockey light that’s programmed to go off when your favorite team scores a goal. Then, there was Heineken Ignite, an interactive beer bottle that pulsates to the beat of the DJ’s music. But, the startup SteadyServ has created a beer related IoT app that’s more than just a novelty. SteadyServ’s app, iKeg, saves bars time and money and helps distributors keep tabs on kegs and consumption levels. It even helps brewers know where and when their promotional dollars are turning into pints poured. Better yet, it ensures your favorite brew is always on tap and where to find it.

When Rob Tercek, a former creative director at MTV, was traveling with a layover in Indianapolis, he decided to grab a beer with longtime friend and local craft brewery co-owner Steve Hershberger. On a mission to serve his friend one of his own beers, it took Steve several bars to find one that had his beer on tap – bars that were supposed to have his inventory. “I’m disappointed, Steve. This is a problem, why haven’t you solved it yet?”

SteadyServe 4With the rise in popularity of craft beer, three new brewers come on line each week and there are over 3,000 beer distributors in the U.S. alone. Even with its rapid growth, the beer industry is one of the only “just in time” industries left. Knowing there is a huge market and an apparent problem that needed to be solved, Steve took on the challenge. SteadyServ was born.

A year later, the company has more than 4 patents pending, over $7.5 million in funding to date, and engineering teams working on hardware   and software globally. The team has evolved through four prototypes to have a commercially ready, “Apple-simple” system that allows bar managers and beer sales reps to manage all of their keg orders on a smart phone.

At the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) in October, the incoming Chairman of the NBWA addressed the audience of over 5,000 attendees with a bold statement: “This isn’t your grandfather’s industry.  It isn’t your father’s industry. Change is upon us. Change is certain.”

An Evolving Industry

Even bar and restaurant owners have noticed that the beer industry has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology. “We’re an industry that has been terribly resistant to change for probably 100 years. But we’re now ready and open for significant change,” said Carl Bruggemeier, Vice Chairman of SteadyServ and CEO of The CZH Hospitality Group. “Our inventory management systems are very lacking. In many instances, we don’t know what we have, we don’t know how much we sell, and we don’t know when we sell it. We lose sales because our customers want what we don’t have.”iKeg RFID

Currently, the bar manager heads to the refrigerator to count kegs to see how many are left. He or she lifts each keg to see how full it is—essentially making the ordering process a guessing game. Ryan Kellerman, Director of Beverage and Hospitality for Scotty’s Brewhouse, says he spends a minimum of two and a half to two hours a week, per location, taking inventory in order to place their orders. Many managers are still using a pen and paper to collect information that impacts the business’ supply. If the beer rep doesn’t get their order in time, the rep will place it for them-by guessing.

“Imagine if HP guessed at what Best Buy needed to fill its shelves on any given month without talking to the company or looking at any hard data,” said Steve Hershberger, Chairman & CEO of SteadyServ Technologies.

“On average, according to many in the industry, approximately 20% of every beer order placed is wrong. How would you feel if every Amazon order you received was wrong?”

How it Works

SteadyServ’s iKeg app completely changes how the industry does supply chain and inventory management; which benefits the bars themselves, distributors, brewers and, most importantly, us patrons.

Each keg is equipped with an RFID tag, which is attached to the keg just like a luggage tag. The tag information contains information like born on date, brewery name and delivery location. The keg also sits on top of a sensor. The sensor measures weight of the keg and how fast the weight is changing, which is a direct correlation to how much beer people are drinking. Keg information is paired with sales data, so the iKeg app knows exactly how much beer is poured and sold.

SteadyServe 2
The keg data is collected from each keg’s sensor and is aggregated by a ConnectPort Gateway. The gateway analyzes the data locally, then uses a Zigbee connection to get that data into the cloud. The iKeg application gathers information from the cloud and offers an interface that displays analytics for bar managers, distributors and eventually, patrons.

“Our whole business is built around solving problems with data,” said Joel Young, CTO of Digi International, a company that’s leading the way in Internet of Things solutions for businesses. “Who doesn’t love that this solution can optimize operational efficiencies and help people get more of their favorite beer?”

Your Favorite Tap at Your Fingertips

Not only do bars save time, money and pain in counting and lifting kegs, they’re not losing money to unhappy customers who expect their favorite drafts to be in stock. A version of the app will also become available to the public, so we can see all of the places nearby that offer our favorite brews. Maybe a Foursquare integration is in the future?

Currently, the system is in beta in the Midwest and will soon be expanding into other distributor franchises in the Midwest, South East and Western U.S. With another series of funding on the horizon, we should see the iKeg systems throughout North America within the next year.

Here’s to the Internet of Things, or the Internet of Thirst, for helping us never miss our favorite pint.

Retail Innovation Soars with Secure and Reliable Cellular Connections

The web has raised consumers’ expectations of retail stores and transformed the purchasing process. Brick and mortar shops need to find ways to compete with the convenience offered by online shopping. Retailers are using wireless connected devices and new technology to create an interactive experience for their customers. In this video, learn how store owners are using cellular connections to make retail systems secure, reliable, and innovative.

 

Click here to learn more about Digi’s new cellular router, the WR11.

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.

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.

Radiator Labs-XBee

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.

Where Will You Use Your XBee?

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Around the world, XBee RF wireless modules are extending the reach of wireless technology. They can be found anywhere — streetlights, homes, power plants, forests — the possibilities are endless. Check out some of the real-world applications in the video below.


Stay up-to-date with XBee by subscribing to the XBee Broadcast. The newsletter features XBee news, tips for developing and even the chance to win XBee hardware. You can subscribe here.

 

Here are just a few other interesting XBee projects

Garage Siren in Mongolia

Battushig Myanganbayar is a brilliant 16 year old from Mongolia with a talent for building electronics with a purpose. His work with XBees has even been featured in the New York Times. His goal was to keep the younger children in the neighborhood safe. To do this, he has developed a wireless alarm system. Children often play along the street where cars frequently pass by while leaving or entering the garage. Whenever a car is going to or from the apartment’s garage and a child is in harm’s way, Battushig’s alarm will emit a high frequency sound and flash a bright red light. This ensures that children are still able to continue playing outside all while being safe.

Detecting Forest Fires in Spain

XBees are also used in the well-known Waspmote by Libelium. They needed both long range connections and the ability to connect wireless networks of varying frequencies. The exceptional range of XBee made it ideal for the large deployments needed to monitor forest fires, agriculture, and floods. The Waspmote can use infrared and ultraviolet sensors to detect flames as well as the release of compounds CO and CO2 that are abundant during combustion. Libelium is also able to adjust the networking protocol, so whether they need to use 802.15.4 or ZigBee, they can adjust accordingly with XBee.

Monitoring Road Conditions in Norway

A Sweden based company, Mowic, has developed a wireless network to monitor road conditions and improve driver safety. The network, called TrackIce, uses a DigiMesh network to establish long range and low powered communication between sensors. The same network will be adapted to monitor airports, ski resorts, and hydro-electric power plants. Read more about the TrackIce network here.

 

A Week at CES 2014

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An exciting week at CES has come to a close. If you weren’t able to attend, no need to worry, we have your back. Especially since there were more connected products at CES this year than ever before.  Consumers are learning to expect that their devices be smart, interface with multiple devices, and use data to create an outstanding user experience. Digi and Etherios even came home with a Compass Intelligence Award for enabling technology.

Here are a few articles that recap the week at CES 2014. 

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Wearable Technology at CES 2014
We saw more examples of wearable tech than just smarts watches a fitness bands. Exciting new products like a set of HD camera goggles, a connected golf glove, and even a pet activity monitor stood out from the rest of the wearable tech pack. See a full list of exciting wearable products from CES here.

 

LA Times CES 2014: Internet of Things
CES witnessed numerous creative applications of the Internet of Things. The technology necessary to make the IoT an everyday reality is becoming more affordable and finding its way into consumer electronics. Learn more about the impact connected devices are having on consumer products from the LA Times.

 

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Engadget Best of CES
Curious what technology will bubble up in 2014? Engadget’s Best of CES is a great place to start. Check out one of our favorites, the Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’, which is a huge leap in virtual reality technology. Read the full recap on Engadget.

 

Weird Gadgets You Missed at CES 
CES is always overflowing with innovative new tech and this year was no different. Popular new products included 4K cameras and TVs, wearables, and curved displays. But the conference was also filled with many fun and unusual products that you may have missed. Find out what quirky products flew under radar on Mashable.

 

Smart Devices Mashed Up with Home Appliances
The Internet of Things is quickly making it’s way into consumer markets and making everyday devices smarter and more useful. Although still in the early stages of development, Whirlpool’s interactive cooktop is transforming your stove into a countertop touch screen. Read more about how appliances are becoming smarter.

 

With so many new products, gadgets, and toys unveiled it can be tough to keep up with it all. These are just a few stories that stood out to us. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @digidotcom what your favorites are.

A Year in the Internet of Things: 2013 Wrap-Up

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It’s been a busy year for the Internet of Things. Everyday we see more people covering how the IoT is changing our lives and our businesses. As we look back on what has been an exciting year, here are some of our most read posts from the Digi Blog and a few other articles we think are highlights.

Sensors and Cloud Connection Enable Self-Sustaining Garden
This summer, we created a video that takes you on a tour through the Digi garden. Learn a bit about what technologies we have implemented and what vegetables we have growing during the summer months. Read more…

Digi Deploys 500-Node Internet of Things Network for the Data Sensing Lab at Google I/O
In collaboration with the Data Sensing Lab team, Digi helped deploy the massive sensing network at Google I/O. Throughout the conference over 500 sensors were continuously gathering data and being collected by Device Cloud. A number of parameters were montiored such as foot traffic, noise level, and air quality to name a few. Read more…

Mote in the Wild
An Idea Worth Spreading: Internet of Things TED Talks
We’ve compiled all of the IoT-related TED Talks in this blog post. Hear from a number of thought leaders in the industry and learn where they see the IoT in the future. Speakers include Arduino creator, Massimo Banzi, and other leading engineers in the field. Read more…

TED Talks Photo 
Makezine’s Urban Sensor Hack
Makezine put together a seven part series based on hacking sensors and creating your own IoT implementations at home. Each installment of the educational series focused on a different aspect of hacking IoT hardware. The series culminated in a sharing of projects from participating teams over Google Hangouts. These videos are a great resource for both new and experienced developers. Read more…

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The Economist’s Comprehensive Internet of Things Study
The Internet of Things business index: A quiet revolution gathers pace is an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by ARM. It is intended to gauge the current and future use of the Internet of Things by the global business community. Read more…

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The Wireless Connections that may Transform our Lives
The number of internet-enabled devices is accelerating with the ubiquity of mobile phones and ease of connecting devices. This BBC article looks at how wireless connections are being used to improve every aspect of our lives. Read more…

These are just a few highlights from what has been busy 2013 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. Here’s to an exciting 2014!

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.

Oso Tech. Kickstarter

A Guide to the Internet of Things from Intel

A Surgeon’s Review of Google Glass in the Operating Room on Fast Company

Internet of Things: A Quiet Revolution Gather Pace via IT ProPortal

Urban Agriculture Meet the Internet of Things from Silicon Angle

Sensors and Sensibility from GE’s Industrial Internet 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.

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