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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.

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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 Internet of Things Conversation at Mobile World Congress 2014

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Mobile World Congress was filled with exciting announcements on new trends and products in mobile. We are seeing Internet of Things and Mobile technology work together to create innovation in nearly every industry. There was a lot of buzz around the conference this year, so to help catch you up, we have put together some highlights. Here are a few articles on the IoT conversation at Mobile World Congress:

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M2M at MWC: 23 Ways the IoT is Dominating Barcelona | M2M Evolution
The growth in mobile innovation goes hand in hand with the Internet of Things (IoT). While the GSMA oversees mobile phone standards, it now expects major growth in machine to machine (M2M) technology, powering connected cars, homes, cities and more. It predicts growth from 195 million M2M connections in 2013 to 250 million this year, so it’s no surprise the topic is heating up this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Key Mobile Trends Shaping the Conversation at Mobile World Congress | Wired
How will new technologies pave the road to increased adoption and user convenience? Will these changes force carriers, handset manufacturers and software developers to re-think their strategies? A common thread in these conversations will be the need to reach a truly mass market worldwide across all income levels.

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MWC: Internet Of Things, Wearables and 5G Top for Mentions | The Drum
Almost half a million (477,268) tweets have been sent mentioning the event (“MWC” “MWC14″ or “Mobile World Congress”) according to research conducted by Hotwire/33 Digital. Learn more about MWC’s twitter trends around MWC.

Remote Monitoring Device for Diabetics | BBC
In this video, BBC Technology Correspondent Mark Gregory is shown a new device by tech company GSMA which monitors the heart rate and blood sugar levels of diabetics at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

7 Head-Turning Wearables We Saw This Week | Mashable
Though this year’s CES was all about wearable tech, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was focused a little more on business than funky gadgetry.

Let us know what you enjoyed most at the conference in the comments below or on Twitter at @digidotcom with the hashtag #MWC14.

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/

Enhancing Vehicle Telematics with Mobile Devices

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A common application of Internet of Things technology is vehicle telematics. Knowing how your fleet is functioning, where they are located, as well as drivers’ time spent on the road is all crucial for managing a successful fleet.

Quite often, the solutions necessary to monitor these data can be cumbersome, expensive, and take time to be implemented. And what if regulatory standards change?

To solve the problem of lengthy and costly implementations, Digi developed the Wireless Vehicle Bus Adapter, or WVA. It is simply plugged into the vehicles diagnostic port and reads out the data you need via a web services API. Simple solutions that tap into existing infrastructure like these have the ability to quickly turn data points into tangible value for businesses.

The ubiquity of high performance mobile devices is eliminating many of the barriers that can make the implementation of a sensor network difficult. The advancement of smart phones and tablets have simplified establishing these networks through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. This eliminates the need to install cables and develop expensive and proprietary technology. Additionally, well designed user interfaces on mobile devices can create improved functionality and usability.

Learn more about the WVA here.

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

PiksiPic

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.

Piksi The RTK GPS Receiver on Kickstarter

Insight into the Internet of Thing for You and Your Business via Business 2 Community

After Mobile – The Smarter City from Forbes

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.

Bike Sharing & M2M: Digi Provides Wireless Network Solution for Tel Aviv Bike Rental, Tel-O-Fun

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Tel-O-Fun

Digi Enables Fast Communication Between All Bike Rental Terminals in Tel Aviv, Tel-O-Fun

Following the success of public bike rental systems implemented in many European cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and London, the city of Tel Aviv in Israel wanted to provide a similar rental scheme for its residents and visitors. The system, Tel-O-Fun, is initiated by FSM Ground Services Management and provides over 1,700 bikes spread over 170 docking stations in and around the city of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

Every day, close to ten thousand journeys are made using the bike-sharing system in Tel Aviv. There is a terminal at each docking station, where users are able to purchase subscriptions, rent and return bikes. The bike can be released at, and returned to any station, at any time, all year around.

In order to identify a customer and release a bike for its use, every terminal needs to be connected to the main control center. “Every action enacted at the different terminals in the street needs approval of the main system,” explains Ofer Sela, CIO and CTO at FSM. “Communication needs to be reliable and fast in order to give the right service to the city and the scheme’s customers.”

Connecting Large Numbers of Devices with a Fast Communication Link

FSM wanted a wireless networking solution to provide the communication network for the terminals. It meant a faster solution deployment than a wired connection, and one that would not require costly roadwork involving council permits and road disruption.

The temperature in Tel Aviv goes up to 104°F in summer, with high levels of humidity from the sea. Since it could reach possible temperatures of 122°F within the terminals, Tel-O-Fun was looking for a rugged technology solution, able to withstand the humidity and high temperatures of the working environment.

While looking for companies to enable its solution, FSM contacted Orange as a network partner. As a result of the telecom company’s strong relationship with Digi as its established technology vendor, FSM decided to evaluate the Digi product range for a suitable solution.

A 3G Connection with Digi’s ConnectPort

After testing different connectivity solutions, FSM chose Digi’s ConnectPort for its solution, as the range has multiple Ethernet ports to support terminal functionality. The routers are also fully PCI-DSS Compliant – crucial as the terminals process payments from the bike users.

The ruggedness of the Digi router was another crucial factor in the decision– FSM needed a durable solution for the field.

“Tel Aviv is by the sea and even the harsh conditions of the city, such as the heat, rust and humidity, are not a problem for Digi’s routers,” said Ofer Sela.

 A Solution with Possibilities for the Future

“I have been very positive about the results Digi delivers,” said Ofer Sela. “We are also confident that the hardware will support future potential features of the bike rental system. For example, we hope to add Voice Over IP customer support to the terminals so customers can interact directly via voice and video to customer support staff.”

After the solution’s great success in Tel Aviv, FSM is planning to expand Tel-O-Fun to other cities in Israel, and even to other countries. “We will definitely use Digi’s equipment again since there have been no issues with connectivity, nor the Digi equipment in the field. The solution is always working, and working well,” concluded Ofer Sela.

Digi Enables almerys’ Critical Cardiology Telehealth Application in France (M2M Now Magazine Case Study)

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“We wanted to be up and running quickly and Digi provided us with the rapid development environment we needed. Its solutions were easily integrated into our IT platform. The solution was ready in less than two months, and enabled us to get to the market quickly.” – Robert Boualit, health services director at almerys

Heart failure is the leading cause of emergency hospitalization in patients over 60 years old. For those suffering from heart disease, changes in body weight are a crucial indicator of their health and response to treatment. Remote monitoring for patient weight “warning signs” can avert emergency hospitalization, improves the health of patients and has massive cost-saving implications for health care systems worldwide.

Digi and almerys, a subsidiary of Orange Business Services, have helped develop and implement a cardiology telehealth pilot project in the Auvergne region of France. The Cardiauvergne project, which utilizes Digi’s ConnectPort® X3, Digi TransPort® 41 and Device Cloud by Etherios™, performs in-home monitoring to collect a patient’s weight data daily, and transfers it quickly and securely to a medical co-ordination unit where medical decisions are made.

Since the Cardiauvergne project began in September 2011, 315 patients have been monitored and 600 health crises have been averted. This is just one example of how Digi is improving patient care by connecting critical devices – see our Medical Brochure to learn more about how Digi and Etherios are expanding the mobility and frequency of patient health care.

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

EEjournal IoT

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.Do you have a link to share?
McKinsey: The $33 Trillion Technology Payoff on the New York Times

The Internet of Things: A Competitive Advantage in Customer Service from Business 2 Community

Every Application Under the Sun Ripe for Cloud on Forbes

Spime Watch: M2M Networks in Wired

The Internet of Things: Mote Learning from The Economist

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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