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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.

How to Meet Critical Infrastructure Requirements with Cellular Devices

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Critical infrastructure operations—whether it be an electrical substation, wastewater treatment plant, or traffic control center–are relying more and more on networked assets like sensors and control switches. But, the introduction of connected devices also raises security risks. Since these systems control services both businesses and consumers heavily depend upon, regulations are in place to ensure our infrastructure remains in working order and secure from threats.

Much like the laws you abide by while driving such as wearing your seatbelt, staying within the speed limit, etc., utility providers connecting assets with cellular LTE must follow certain standards and protocols to ensure security and reliability. In North America, these rules and standards are referred to as North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection or more conveniently as NERC-CIP. For our friends in Europe, the standard is called “European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection” or EPCIP for short.

What makes a network solution NERC-CIP compliant? In this video, Brad Cole, Device Cloud Product Manager, walks through the steps many of our utility customers take in order to deploy secure and connected critical infrastructure.

In short, critical infrastructure operators must comply with these reliability standards—or face large penalties. The mandatory Reliability Standards include CIP standards 001 through 009 (see below), which address the security of cyber assets essential to the reliable operation of the electric grid.

  • CIP-001: Covers sabotage reporting;
  • CIP-002: Requires the identification and documentation of the Critical Cyber Assets associated with the Critical Assets that support the reliable operation of the Bulk Electric System;
  • CIP-003: Requires that responsible entities have minimum security management controls in place to protect Critical Cyber Assets;
  • CIP-004: Requires that personnel with authorized cyber or unescorted physical access to Critical Cyber Assets, including contractors and service vendors, have an appropriate level of personnel risk assessment, training, and security awareness;
  • CIP-005: Requires the identification and protection of the Electronic Security Perimeters inside which all Critical Cyber Assets reside, as well as all access points on the perimeter;
  • CIP-006: Addresses implementation of a physical security program for the protection of Critical Cyber Assets;
  • CIP-007: Requires responsible entities to define methods, processes, and procedures for securing those systems determined to be Critical Cyber Assets, as well as the other (non-critical) Cyber Assets within the Electronic Security Perimeters;
  • CIP-008: Ensures the identification, classification, response, and reporting of cybersecurity incidents related to Critical Cyber Assets; and
  • CIP-009: Ensures that recovery plans are put in place for Critical Cyber Assets and that these plans follow established business continuity and disaster recovery techniques and practices.

The Digi TransPort WR31 comes with features and configuration options to simplify securing critical infrastructure assets like electric and gas meters or traffic control cameras. The Digital I/O can address physical security concerns and Remote Manager will log user information and even device changes. Click here to learn more about the Digi TransPort WR31 and how utility provides are using it to connect critical infrastructure.

Customer Showcase: Wireless for Today’s Connected City

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Every day Digi works with customers around the world to deploy connected solutions that businesses rely on. From the ability to monitor device health to using data to make more informed decisions-connected devices are modernizing business operations. Here are a few of the many companies we are proud to work with.

EMTEST | Public Transitcss-featured-emtest (1)
As city populations continue to grow and public transportation demand rises, public transit agencies are finding innovative ways to handle the influx of passengers. Implementing wireless technology at ticketing kiosks and on-board displays helps streamline operations while also helping to improve the overall rider experience.

EMTest, a technology solution provider for transportation, uses the ConnectCore® 6 as the engine that powers its Emlines system. The ConnectCore 6, based on Freescale’s i.MX 6 applications processor, is a compact module that provides engineers all of the features necessary to build unique wireless applications.

EMTest gives transit operators the ability to facilitate ticket sales more efficiently, optimize vehicle routes—and it provides passenger Wi-Fi. With the fare collection system tied into the rest of the operations team, riders are provided with information such as next stop, travel times, and transfer information. The data collected is also essential for more efficient fleet management.

Owlet Nightshift by Schreder | Connected LightingRoundabout at twilight
As cities deploy LED street lights to cut energy costs, they’re also turning to wireless technology for data collection and remote monitoring for their street lighting.

Utilizing Digi wireless technology, Schréder developed the Owlet lighting solution, which enables cities to retrofit out-of-date lighting infrastructure with long lasting intelligent technology. Within each light is an LED array along with a Digi XBee ZigBee module. The XBee radios create ZigBee mesh network-connecting all of the city’s street lights wirelessly. Data from each light is then sent to a single point, a cellular XBee Gateway, which then  connects to a cellular network.

The XBee Gateway allows the city to monitor and control lighting with Owlet’s web-based management tools. Also, municipalities don’t have to wait for a citizen to report an outage or check lights via scheduled inspections. The lights themselves can tell the city when they need to be serviced or replaced.

AddÉnergie | Electric Vehicle Chargingcss-inline-addenergie
Electric vehicles are a rapidly growing market, and with it, so has the need for charging. AddEnergie specializes in providing charging station networks for electric vehicles. The company provides the charging infrastructure for both the Electric Circuit and the VERnetwork™, the two largest charging networks in Canada.

AddEnergie uses XBee modules to connect stations throughout entire parking lots and a single gateway is used at each lot to enable cloud connectivity. In addition to relying on Digi wireless technology, AddEnergie uses the ConnectCard i.MX 28 as the brains of their system.

The system includes proprietary software, PowerSharing™ and PowerLimiting™, which interface with Digi products and notify the charging stations when energy should be lowered to help reduce costs.

To learn more about how Digi customers are changing their respective industries, visit our customer story page here.

Introducing the Official XBee Library for mbed

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The mbed platform is a popular tool for engineers developing new Internet of Things devices. It is both a platform and operating system for internet-connected devices based on 32-bit ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers. ARM mbed provides rapid development, ease of use, efficiency, security features, and support for a wide range of add-on components including Digi’s wireless solutions. Our team of XBee experts has created a special library to easily connect mbed projects using XBee radios.mbed_logo

The new library supports XBee 802.15.4 and XBee ZigBee modules so developers are able to create simple point-to-point projects or complex mesh networks for their devices. On the mbed website you can find detailed instructions on how to implement the library into your mbed device.

We have also included ready to use examples so you can get started quickly. Click here to access the mbed XBee library.

monitor_combination

In addition to the mbed library we have two other official software libraries for XBee development:

There are also a slew of third party libraries created by the XBee community:

For for more information on mbed, you can visit their site. Have any questions about the XBee library itself? Just shoot us a message at @XBeeWireless or comment below.

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