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Illinois Institute of Technology Students Bring Connected Solutions to Life with XBee

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Urban gardens that send text alerts when vegetables are ready, autonomous drones, solar powered mesh networks—these innovations aren’t just ideas, they’re real projects that students at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) created in less than eight weeks.

The Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO) at IIT gives students the opportunity to work with teams across multiple disciplines to bring ideas to life.

“The IPRO program prepares students for the practical challenges they will face in a changing workplace—emulating a cross-functional team.” The program aims to give students hands on experience and create real solutions for the complex issues. 

Students from IIT’s programs including engineering, science, business, law, psychology, design and architecture complete nearly 90 projects via IPRO every year.

Jeremy Hajek, a professor at IIT has students learn about and work with XBee. First his class reads Building Wireless Sensor Networks by Digi’s Chief Innovation Officer, Rob Faludi. Then, they bring their own connected ideas to life.

One group used Digi’s XBee and Arduino to power a solar power mesh network.

“XBees are radio modules that communicate to each other, being able to be set up any topology including point-to-point, star and mesh, and can go much further than Bluetooth. The router and endpoint collect data and send it to the coordinator, which is in charge of all of the data that passes in its network. XBees are useful to a bunch of purposes, we used them not only for monitoring temperature data and displaying it on the monitor, but also uploading this new data on a web server.”

Just like we hear XBee customers say so often, the students mentioned that they selected the XBee because it’s cost effective and easy to use. “It just does exactly what we need it to do,” one of the students said.

To take the project a step further, another group created an Android and Google Glass app to display the data collected by the network. The team pointed out how this could be used by maintenance professionals, landlords and building operators to truly keep their finger on the pulse of facilities.

Digi customers are in fact using XBees to collect and access data to better businesses today.

Similar to some of the solutions that students put together for urban agriculture, DigiBale created a foundational communications system in the form of a “Farm Automation Starter Kit” that can be used to collect data for agriculture processes.

The kit includes ConnectPort X2 Gateway, three Digi XBee-PRO 900HP modules, a subscription to Device Cloud and a smartphone application. Its an ideal setup for creating a mid-sized mesh network that provides accurate soil moisture measurements and converts two electrical devices into automated and remotely managed devices. It enables farmers and growers to setup a system with simple scheduling and activation configuration to devices and access to statistics and activity history of all sensors and devices.

RMONI too, selected XBee due to its ease of use. “We’re not RF experts. We don’t want to worry about the RF design, so it was very convenient to source XBee and get the support of Digi’s partners and resellers to get to market quickly,” said Bart Meekers, CEO, RMONI.

RMONI uses the XBee to track the environment around food and medication while it’s in transit and on store shelves. This helps to ensure safety and quality. Even the slightest increase in temperature while handling the products can lead to deterioration, invalid results and considerable loss in revenue, so this is a vital application.

Schréder created Owlet, a solution that uses mesh networking for intelligent street lights. Each light is equipped with a high performance LED array and a XBee ZigBee module. The XBee modules enable groups of lights to form a ZigBee mesh network, which connects to a cellular WAN—a Digi ConnectPort X4 cellular gateway.

Innovators, whether they’re some of Digi’s bigger XBee customers or students, agree that XBee is the most easy and to-the-point way to add wireless communication to a solution.

Recap: Internet of Things North America April 2015

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What happens when a couple hundred technologists, visionaries and business leaders get together in one place? Amazing conversation, new ways of utilizing big data actioned and experiences are shared. We saw it happen this week at Internet of Things North America, a new event that covers advanced connectivity and cloud based monitoring and control of devices, facilities, automobiles and enterprise operations.

An incredible roster of speakers covered IoT topics including:

  • iotnaDan Shey, Practice Director, ABI Research on The Industrial Internet in 2020 and Beyond
  • Maha Muzumdar, VP, Supply Chain, Oracle on IoT and Value Chain of Things
  • Matt Meshulam, TempoIQ  on How Will Your IoT Application Outlive the Hype?
  • Eric Uner, CTO, Redwall Technologies provided an IoT Security Primer
  • Matthew Mikell, Big Data Manager, IBM on a Model for Data Equity
  • Beverly Macy, Instructor, UCLA Anderson School of Management on Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud
  • Thomas Burns, Director for IOT Analytics Software, Intel on The Internet of Things and Manufacturing 

A Few Top Takeaways–

Organizational alignment is a key driver of Internet of Things solutions.
“One of the biggest challenges for organizations today? Alignment goals, measures, performance across functional groups.” - Maha Muzumdar, Oracle

Successful IoT strategies and systems consider the end result first.
“People aren’t buying the tools, they’re buying the end results. Like the saying, ‘we don’t want the hammer and nails we want the picture on the wall.'” - Matt Meshulam, TempoIQ

It’s time for new systems in the enterprise, not just for operational efficiencies, but for the productivity of employees.
“Legacy Tools are failing us…” - Beverly Macy, UCLA

We took the stage and shared how the systems that our customers like Clean Hands Safe Hands, ATEK and Heat Seek have implemented can not only revolutionize customer service, but put data in the hands of employees to set them up for success like never before. As technologists and business leaders, it’s our responsibility to utilize technology to equip great people to do their jobs even better. You can learn about more living Internet of Things solutions here.

Keep an eye out for a recap of our session, we’ll post it here soon.

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.

Arduino TRE

A video overview of the XBee product line from Parallax

The Urban Sensor Hack Series by Makezine

How We’ll 3D Print the Internet of Things on Readwrite

Optimize Field Operations with Remote Monitoring from Field Technologies Online

Arduino Announces Two New Linux Boards on Makezine

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.

Digi Helps Wildlife Research Institute Study Bear Hibernation with Remote Monitoring Solution

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The business of connecting machines may seem as far from nature as you can get. But, this remote monitoring system is a great reminder that machines are incredible tools we can use to learn more about the things we care about– in this case, bears.

Digi developed a remote monitoring solution for the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) that allows the Institute to monitor bears in their dens during hibernation. One particular bear, Lily, has hibernated deep in the Minnesota woods where there is no access to landline Internet service. To establish a camera uplink to Lily’s remote den, WRI is using the Digi TransPort WR21 wireless router which provides a high-speed Internet connection over Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network.

“We are allowing the Wildlife Research Institute to gain valuable insights into the activity of bears during hibernation by establishing a 4G connection in the wilderness,” said Joel Young, senior vice president of research and development and CTO of Digi International. “We have connected hundreds of thousands of remote devices throughout the world, and this application is a great example of how technology can be used to take control of widely-deployed assets.”

Using the video uplink, researchers could see how Lily prepared for birth during hibernation and how she reacted to the cubs just after birth. A second camera was also installed outside of Lily’s den that records activity near the den during warmer months.

Digi also helped the WRI connect scales that detect when a bear is present in the den. When the bear steps on the scale, weight is recorded and the sensors trigger the camera to begin recording. 

“It’s incredible that with a small amount of money and effort, these low-tech devices have been made smart just by adding connectivity,” said Jim Stroner, a research program volunteer and special products development manager with Digi International. “This application is a great example of how connected devices can impact society, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting and valuable research.”

Jim’s photo of Lily even won the 2013 Winter Nature Photo Contest and was featured on Science Friday. You can see all of Jim’s photos on his website, StronerWildlife.com.

You can also read Verizon’s post on the system here.

Now, we ask you– if you could remotely monitor anything what would it be?

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