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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!

Cellular Connections You Never Knew Existed

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You drive into a gas station and notice the LED sign that reads how high the Powerball® is this week. You pull up to the pump and make a mental note to buy a ticket. As you wait for your tank to fill, the screen on top of the pump shares today’s weather and a few specials you can find inside. Then, you walk into the gas station to buy that lottery ticket. The lottery register greets your purchase, and you’re ready to move on with your day—hopefully with the winning ticket in your pocket.

During your time at the gas station did you ever consider how many wireless connections were at work? Probably not.

When you do think of wireless connections, it’s likely Wi-Fi hotspots or smartphone payment tools like Square that come to mind. However, there are many little-known and less visible ways that retailers and service providers use 4G LTE connections to make operations work. From digital signs to lottery terminals, wireless connections help make our world go around in ways you may have never imagined. They’re all working to create an experience for you as a customer and a return for merchants and manufacturers. Let’s dive deeper into a few applications where invisible wireless “workers” are impacting your retail environment.

Lottery TerminalsScreen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.20.07 AM

Tucked behind the counter at your local convenience store, you’ll find that signature register or lottery terminal. You might just think of this as the machine that prints your easy-pick, but if the terminal gets disconnected the vendor is on the hook for much more than your ticket alone. It’s up to the store to ensure the machine is up and running at all times, so no revenue is lost. In fact, the damage can add up to more than all of the numbers on your ticket combined. For that reason, many of these terminals are connected to a datacenter with both a satellite and a 3G or 4G LTE connection.

Although the vast majority of lottery revenue is returned to players in prize money, the remainder pays for the operation of the lottery—including paying the retailer for hosting the lottery terminal. More importantly, the lottery also contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to state budgets. In 2012 in the state of Minnesota alone, $124M was contributed to funds such as environment and natural resources, game and fish, metropolitan parks and trails, zoos and infrastructure. The State Gaming Commission authorizes one vendor to operate their entire statewide lottery. In exchange for that level of access, the commission holds the gaming contractor accountable to maintain a high service level. If terminals aren’t able to communicate, the gaming contractor can be held accountable for damages of $20 per minute or more—per terminal.

Tire Air Vendingairtire

Hopefully, it’s your lucky day and you have a winning ticket in your pocket, but in the case that your day started out rough and your dealing with a flat tire, you can pull up next to an air-pump kiosk. Don’t have change? No problem. Swipe your credit card and the transaction is sent over a cellular connection.

While the connection makes payment collection more convenient for you, there’s a lot more at stake than meets the eye. In the past, technicians had to phisically visit every single machine to empty the coin bin– whether it was full or not. Not, a cellular connection enables the machine to report back how full the coin bin is, along with the health of the machine. This saves the manufacturer millions of dollars in employee and transportation costs, and it ensures all machines are up and running properly creating even more revenue– not to mention better customer service for the retail operations that host these machines.

In many cases, manufacturers experience a loss between money collection and revenue that makes it back to the business. In one example, receipt reconciliation loss was $11M per year. In the first year, a connection improved that loss by 80%, providing a bottom line impact of $8.8M. Lack of pick-up optimization (sending someone to collect the money after the machine is already too full to accept more coins) created an annual loss of $5.5M; that was improved by 50% and impacted the bottom line by almost $3M. Downtime, which caused the most significant loss at $12M per year, was improved by 30%. With numbers like these, an air vendor could easily double the value of the system in one year alone.

Charging Stations & Digital Signs

Have you ever charged your mobile phone while enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks? If you have, you know that finding a free plug in a packed coffee house can be hard. These charging stations can be even more valuable at the airport —we’ve all fought for that prime spot in the flight gate waiting area. Now, Monster Media has created a digital experience to accompany the convenience. You’ll see a digital ad while your phone or laptop is being charged. That content is delivered by a 4G LTE connection—the same type of connection that can also deliver information to the display screen on a gas pump.

Wireless charging stations are a huge value-add to customers, and in Starbucks’ case they encourage people to stick around longer—which leads to more coffee sold. For advertisers, this value can be paired with their message—a message that might even be specific to your currently location. Similarly, at the gas pump, customers have the convenience of catching the news or relevant information while pumping gas, and gas stations are able to advertise deals to lure customers into the store to make purchases.

Bottle Recycling Machine

For some of us, returning bottles is a well-known past-time. But for many states, reverse vending machines are becoming common-place. In either case, the system enables consumers to recycle, make money and keep neighborhoods clean. Recycling is so popular today that machines can fill up fast, which causes downtime. How does the vendor know when the machine is full? A cellular connection to HQ. recycling-logo

rePLANET added a cloud connection to their recycling center solution. Without a wireless connection to the machine, a technician would have to drive hours, costing the company hundreds of dollars. Now, with a wireless VPN connection, the machine reports its capacity remotely. The technician’s PC can be remotely controlled with the cellular connection to get updates and new configurations. The new method costs less than 20% of the cost of drive time and shipping and takes about 10% of the total time previously required to correct problems.

So, the next time you pull up to a gas station or visit a store, take a closer look at the digital sign, lottery terminal, air pumps and bottle recycling machines—you won’t be able to see the wireless connection, but you can be sure that it’s working for you and for the stakeholders who put it there. Those wireless connections are making your life easier and more interactive, and driving revenue and extreme savings for organizations all around the world.

Want to learn more about how businesses are using cellular technology? Check out this story to see how Tel-O-Fun is using cellular connections to handle bike rental payments in Tel Aviv.

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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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Complexity Will Drive Demand for Managed Service Providers | Forbes

Forget ‘Things’ — It’s the Internet of Business Models | Information Week

Why the Internet of Things Narrative Needs to Change | The Next Web

How the Maker Movement is Moving into Classrooms | Edutopia

Solar Power Trash Compactor in Philadelphia | CNN

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.

Events Forecast: IoT Events for 2014

We’re past the half way point of 2014, but there’s still lots happening this year including many events that we’re looking forward to this fall. Here are a few that we can’t wait to get to.

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M2M Evolution Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada
August 11-14

The event will kick off with the Battle of the Platforms, which will give a glimpse into the variety of platforms within the M2M industry. A number of industry experts will be giving talks on how M2M technology is changing businesses today. Topics include: Customer service, marketing, industry trends, healthcare, and supply chain management.

Super Mobility Week 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
September 9-11

North America’s largest forum for mobile innovation and the most influential mobile marketplace that brings together the leading authorities on the connected life all under one roof at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Mobility supercharges everything.

World Maker Faire New YorkMakerfaire2014
New York, New York
September 20-21

The greatest show and tell on Earth. Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.

Dreamforce 2014
San Francisco, California
October 13-16

Want to know where the industry is headed? Come to Dreamforce. Hosted by salesforce.com, named the world’s most innovative company by Forbes three years in a row, Dreamforce is four high-energy days of innovation, fun, and giving back. It’s your chance to learn from industry visionaries, product experts, and world leaders who can help you transform your business and your life.DF14

Internet of Things World Forum London 2014 
London, England
Nov. 25-26

One of the world’s largest IoT events. The Internet of Things World Forum brings together experts and thought leaders to share industry insights and trends. Speakers from Deutsche Telekom, Jasper, ARM, and many other key players in the industry will all present, making this a must attend conference for those looking to learn more about connected devices, cloud computing, and other emerging technologies.

There are tons of IoT, Big Data, Cloud, Connected Product…the list goes…events out there. Which ones are you attending? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll update this post. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for real-time updates from each event.

 

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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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[Infographic]What is the Internet of Things | Visual Capitalist

M2M Adoption Barometer | Vodafone M2M

Jibo: The Worlds First Family Robot | Mashable

Internet of Things: 8 Pioneering Ideas | InformationWeek

From the Racetrack to Cardiac Surgery: How McLaren is Bringing the Internet of Things Up to Speed | TechRadar

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.

The International M2M Council Shapes the Future of M2M/IoT

international-m2m-councilThe International M2M Council (IMC) brings together M2M solutions providers with adopters of M2M technology to share the business impact of connected solutions. Digi’s CMO, Jeff Liebl, serves on the council’s board of governors alongside numerous industry experts. With over 1,000 Adopter Members, including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Oracle and Iridium. IMC is the largest trade association dedicated to the IoT/M2M sector.

The group serves as a resource by providing case studies that demonstrate the value of M2M applications in verticals such as healthcare, retail, transportation and more. Members of the IMC also conduct research on the industry to develop industry best practices and determine metrics for measuring M2M success.

In addition to providing educational resources, the IMC focuses on assisting government and regulatory bodies in developing policy related to M2M. The council has established a working relationship with the Federal Trade Commission and is assisting in privacy and security projects. Future goals for the IMC are aimed at developing more relationships with regulatory groups across the globe.

Today, the IMC is working on a number of initiatives to spread awareness of M2M technology. A number of newsletters focused on verticals are helping improve awareness across industries where M2M can have the greatest impact. The IMC is currently in the process of collaborating with developers to create a professional education programs for M2M adopters, which will be introduced later this year.

To learn more about how M2M is solving business problems check out the International M2M Council’s website here.

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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.

Makerland Tutorials
 

Makerland Tutorials: Your First Step with the Internet of Things | EBook (Free Download)

Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center | Gartner

The ABCs of the Internet of Things | Computerworld

Makerspace on Wheels: Building the Hackmobile | MAKE

5 Technologies Driving the Internet of Things | Business 2 Community

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.

Meet the Kit that Connects You to the Internet of Things ASAP

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In this video, Digi’s Chief Innovator, Rob Faludi, shows you how easy it is to build a Wi-Fi enabled hardware prototype and develop an application for the Internet of Things with the XBee WiFi Cloud Kit. The kit wirelessly connects with Device Cloud by Etherios out of the box, so you can build custom widgets that interact with your cloud-connected hardware.

Interested in seeing more ideas of what is possible with the XBee WiFi Cloud kit? Check out the projects that came out of our employee Hackathon in Logroño.