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IoT Development with Wireless Communications: Getting Started

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Embarking on an IoT development project presents many questions that need to be answered — whether you have extensive experience in machine-to-machine communications or you are just starting out. This enormously fast growing field offers a growing selection of supporting components and connectivity methods, and for developers it can feel like the landscape changes daily. In this post we’ll lay some groundwork to help make sense of it all, and talk about the key things to consider as you are preparing to launch an IoT development project.

While we may not be able to completely mitigate the overwhelm factor, we can certainly help to highlight the important considerations that drive decision making and provide resources for getting answers.

Wireless Technology in IoT Product Design

At the heart of the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is wireless technology, made possible via RF or radio frequency. This technology enables devices to communicate with another without being physically connected. With its roots in the early 20th century, RF technology is not new. But it has grown to include cellular devices and other advances, keeping in stride with an enormous demand for new consumer and industrial applications.

Technological enhancements that support this incredible growth include the speed and bandwidth of the underlying networks, extended battery life of IoT devices, broader capabilities of wireless communication protocols, and more secure management of devices and networks. These advancements have allowed a significant number of industries to replace expensive, and often unreliable, wired communication with wireless communication.

Wireless communication in smart city applicationsMillions of miniature wireless devices — sensors and radio modules — now gather and send data in a vast array of environments from smart cities to manufacturing facilities and other industrial settings, and deliver that data faster than you can blink.

To manage it all, cloud applications such as Digi Remote Manager® allow network administrators to monitor the health and security of their devices from a central console, update the firmware of many devices with one command, automate security monitoring, and get notified quickly in the event of a problem anywhere those devices are deployed, worldwide.

That said, how do you get started designing and developing a successful IoT or IIoT product? While there’s far too much to cover in a single blog post, we can talk about some of the key things you will need to know if you are going to develop a product incorporating wireless technology.

Oh, and we have exciting news: Digi has an upcoming guide to all the concepts and important considerations in wireless communications for IoT product design. Sign up now to get notified of its release.

Key Considerations for Wireless Design in IoT

Launching a wireless design project can be daunting. You need on-staff expertise, supporting professional services, or both, to define your requirements, design and develop your IoT product, and ensure that it will pass testing and certification to meet your time-to-market promise. You will need to carefully assess the costs involved in building your product against your go-to-market pricing and ROI goals. And you will need to ensure that you have a strategy for secure device operation.

The considerations vary by the type of application, and there is no one-size-fits-all process. For example, an industrial tank sensor and a wearable device that reports heart metrics are both IoT applications, but with very different requirements. However, in most cases, the key considerations can be summarized as follows, regardless of the product parameters and its intended use.

Product Requirements

Be sure to take time to assess all of your product requirements. It is far too common for teams to launch the design process without taking the critical first step of accurately identifying the market needs, which can be a costly mistake. Some of the considerations in this phase include:

  1. Market and use case: What is the intended use for the finished product? How much data does it need to process, and how fast? Are you solving a real business problem with the product? Time to market is also a key consideration, as market opportunities can be short lived before other competitors fill the space.
  2. Target price: How will you price your product against any competing products? You want to ensure that you can build sell your product within that market’s price expectations.
  3. Physical placement: How and where will the product be used? For example, will your IoT product be placed in a stable location, such as a medical facility, warehouse or industrial tank? Or will it be on a moving vehicle such as a bus, or perhaps worn by a cyclist or runner?
  4. Geographic location: Where in the world do you want to sell the product? This will affect several design decisions, your entire go-to-market strategy, and the types of certifications required.

Wireless Connectivity and Range

There are several questions to answer in the process of determining your IoT product connectivity requirements:

  1. How will the product connect and transmit data? Will the product have access to a reliable wireless connection, and will it need to communicate over Wi-Fi or cellular for best performance? This decision has several ramifications. For example, a Wi-Fi network will need a gateway for data routing, and local technical support personnel, while a cellular network is maintained by the carrier and requires less maintenance, but it will require a data plan. Note that you can also enable both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.
  2. Will the deployment location have structures or objects that can obstruct the signal, or will it be deployed in a remote area?  For example, are you developing an industrial IoT product to be deployed deep in a mine or on a remote oil derrick? If so, you will need a strategy for managing connectivity issues.
  3. What type of antenna will you need to support your connectivity requirements? Antenna requirements are based on several factors including the wireless range needed, size of the device, its location and placement, the radio hardware and wireless communication protocol, and whether the device is indoors or outdoors.

Battery Life

Determining whether your IoT product will be wireline powered or battery powered is a significant decision and involves several considerations. The type and location of the device will help to determine whether it should be rechargeable, or whether it is more important to design for proactive battery management to support long battery life. For example, you would expect to regularly recharge most cellular devices, such as wearables, but a device that monitors a remote industrial tank would require a battery that needs to be changed out infrequently. Another key consideration in IoT development is that some wireless protocols are better suited to battery-powered devices than others.

Certifications and Time-to-market

Wireless products have certification requirements based on the region(s) in the world in which they are deployed. For example, in the U.S., wireless products must pass FCC and cellular certifications. Other regions have different requirements, and you will need to meet them all if you want to market your product worldwide, or in multiple regions. This process can be arduous if you have not planned and designed your product with knowledge of the various certification requirements in mind. On the other hand, planning for certification, and even starting with pre-certified communication modules, can dramatically reduce the time, cost and pain involved in moving through the certification process.

Building your product using a pre-certified module and designing your product for rapid certification can also help speed your time-to-market. IoT product developers often struggle with the question of whether to build their product from the ground up or start with pre-built components. If you have plenty of time and your application’s end-user cost is more important than time-to-market, you may want to build. If you need to get to market quickly to release a competitive or in-demand product, building your IoT application based on pre-certified modules will likely give you more advantage.

Launching Your Product Design

Once you have determined your IoT product requirements in detail, and ensured that you have a feasible product that meets a market requirement, you are finally ready to embark upon your product design. The electrical design of a wireless product includes the layout of your PCB, considerations around isolation of your RF signal, impedance matching, types and locations of ports and connectors, and power supply. To make these determinations, you will need to have an experienced RF engineer and mechanical engineer on staff, or have the ability to consult with a professional RF design services team to create the board layout and ensure component decisions match the product requirements.

As a best practice, consider performing a feasibility study to ensure your design plan is going to work, and start by prototyping the product to learn about any obstacles you may encounter in your final design. Resolving these issues in the prototyping phase of your project can save an enormous amount of time and cost, and ensure that you get to market on schedule.

Design and Build Resources

Digi offers a wide range of solutions for every aspect of your wireless product design process, from a complete suite of product components, to professional design services that can support your design, feasibility, certification, testing, security and deployment requirements, to documentation and Knowledge Base articles. To learn more about Digi’s end-to-end solutions for IoT development, contact Digi today.

>>Be sure to sign up to get notified of the release of our upcoming guide, Wireless Communication Basics: A conceptual guide to RF technology for IoT.

Cellular Simplified: Introducing the Digi XBee3 LTE-M Smart Modem

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With over 10 million modules deployed, Digi XBee® is the world’s #1 choice for embedded wireless connectivity. With the introduction of Digi XBee3™ Cellular LTE-M, Digi has simplified the task of integrating the latest LTE and low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology into IoT devices. What makes LTE-M such a great fit for wirelessly connecting a wide range of applications? Here are six good reasons:

  • Low Power Consumption – Most devices can last years with Power Savings Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX).
  • Greater Coverage – Cellular networks are nearing almost complete coverage and are suitable for indoor and outdoor deployments.
  • Enhanced Security – Digi TrustFence® provides a tested and fully integrated security framework designed for the industrial IoT. The built-in security of Digi TrustFence gives you secure connections, authenticated boot, encrypted data storage, secure JTAG, secure software updates, and TLS v1.2 for secure over-the-air data transmissions.
  • Efficient Data Transfer – Enabled by small, intermittent blocks of data
  • Network Availability – As carriers continue to build out their networks to the furthest and remotest areas, there are fewer limits to where you can deploy.
  • Decreasing Costs – Many carriers are rolling out data plans expressly targeting the unique nature of IoT devices, making cellular connectivity a far more affordable option.

Another good reason is how easy it is to integrate with AWS IoT Core. Digi international is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner, and the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M is a smart cellular modem that is AWS verified to work with AWS IoT. With built-in Digi TrustFence® security, MicroPython programmability, MQTT connectivity, and TLS 1.2 encryption and bi-directional authentication – make it easy to connect to AWS IoT Core. Watch the video below to see everything included in the kit and for a step-by-step tutorial on connecting Digi XBee3 Cellular directly to AWS IoT Core.

Digi XBee3 offers the largest selection of global protocols and frequencies, with one-socket-simplicity, to connect IoT networks around the world. Simple software tools enable the convenience to connect to locally or remotely configured devices. The Digi XBee3 form factor can future-proof designs with ongoing connectivity to new technologies as they emerge, giving product designers flexibility to swap out radios for different regions of the globe. Digi XBee3 allows customers to accelerate time to market and minimize costs with the right combination of easy-to-use hardware, software, and a library of helpful resources. Digi XBee3 modules also share a common API and AT command set allowing customers to substitute one module for another, or event switch protocols with minimal development time and risk. And if that isn’t enough, you can embed your own custom logic using the popular MicroPython environment.

Digi Remote Manager®

Sidestep the frustrations, roadblocks, and pitfalls of RF projects thanks to Digi Remote Manager, multiplatform, intuitive application that lets you easily set up, configure, test, and deploy Digi XBee3 modules. Digi Remote Manager along with XCTU includes all of the software tools you need to get up and running with Digi XBee3—fast.

Digi XBee® Ecosystem™

Furthermore, the Digi XBee® Ecosystem™ offers a full range of hardware, software, and resources to quickly bring connectivity to devices. From a full library of technical documentation and articles to the largest collection of Digi XBee projects on the Web, you can draw inspiration from a broad range of useful examples, guides, videos, and tutorials for your next idea. Whether you’re just learning about wireless communication and Digi XBee3 or you’re an experienced developer, you can consult the Digi Knowledge Base for IoT information and tips—and the Digi Forum where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members in the community. From prototyping to end-to-end connectivity solutions, count on Digi XBee Ecosystem examples, guides, tips, libraries, and software tools for guidance.

>>Download the new whitepaper Advantages of Digi XBee3 Cellular for more information on the key advantages of this cellular solution.

How to Pick the Right 4G LTE Technology for Your Business Needs and Applications

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With the shutdown of 2G and 3G networks looming on the horizon, many organizations are faced with the difficult question of “So, what’s next?” The key question to really ask is, “Well, what is the application?” Meaning, what is the current or projected use case and how will it be impacted by the new LTE technology. In addition, ask yourself where are you today and where do you want to be in five years; and most importantly, what business problems are you trying to solve with the new network capabilities?

You’ll soon find there are many items associated with those key business and technology questions that need to be further analyzed:

  • Bandwidth: determine whether you need data transferred in bursts or as a steady feed over time; and decide if you need to transfer only a few bytes or several GB each day.
  • Data Plan: evaluate if data will be needed in real time, or if a several second, minute or hour delay is tolerable, and choose the most economical plan.
  • Connectivity: decide if your organization’s communication requirement is to be localized across a building, plant, or a city – or even across a country or worldwide. Consider whether you must always remain online, and if downtime could put you at the risk of lost revenue, regulatory penalties or safety violations.
  • Environmental: assess whether your equipment will be in a climate-controlled environment or outdoors in harsh, even hazardous settings. Determine if AC power will be available, or if battery or solar power is the only option.
  • What about 5G? Finally, weigh the pros and cons of waiting for 5G. Do you want to take on a bleeding-edge technology in its initial stages, or would you rather rely on a proven leading-edge technology like 4G? Will a bleeding edge technology make your application or its output better? Keep in mind that 4G is also evolving into 5G over time.

Today, we are at a fork in the road. One path can leverage Gigabit LTE for high-speed applications in retail, enterprise or transportation industries that need to connect sites or people with mains-powered, high bandwidth – and higher cost – solutions. The other path can leverage 4G LTE optimized for IoT applications in industrial locations to connect machines and other critical assets that require low bandwidth, low cost, and low- or battery-power as indicated by the chart below.

4G LTE Evolution for IoT

Each 4G LTE technology has its pros and cons, while carriers considering a roll out of LTE-M or NB-IoT as a secondary network only adding to the complexity. Here’s a deeper dive into the technology options for IoT devices:

  • CAT 1: represents a good fit for many single-device IoT applications with mains-power, such as digital signage and kiosks, industrial controllers and security cameras. It is globally available where LTE is accessible.
  • CAT 3/4: with the potential of speeds up to 100-150 Mbps, this technology is designed for IoT routers connecting multiple devices. However, it may be excessive for most single-device IoT applications.
  • CAT-M/LTE-M: fits traditional 2G-type applications, devices that require mobility, such as asset trackers, as well as battery-powered IoT sensors. Defined in 2016, it is not yet fully globally available, but is predominant in North and Latin American and Asian markets with early LTE adoption.
  • NB-IoT: best fit for battery-powered devices that do not require mobility, such as fixed-asset sensors. Also defined in 2016, it is not globally available as this time, but suits markets with late LTE adoption, like Europe.

4G LTE Evolution for Gigabit LTE

Now let’s go down the other path with a look at Gigabit LTE and the 4G evolution to 5G.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaborative group of telecommunications associations that defines the standards to build the foundation of cellular networks, such as LTE.

Since its initial release in 2008, LTE (Long Term Evolution) has evolved, and continues to evolve towards 5G over time. Typically, 3GPP releases a major update of the standard every three years, followed by a minor release. To differentiate between major LTE releases, 3GPP introduced marketing names such as LTE-Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro. Release 13/14 were a key milestone for Gigabit LTE because the speed doubled to 1.2Gbps. Release 15, to be released later in 2018, will be the first standard defining 5G.

Source: Telit


Four Requirements to Achieve Gigabit LTE Speeds

1. More RF channels and carrier aggregation: think multiple highways to transport more vehicles. Gives you better us of the available spectrum, as many carriers don’t have 20 MHz of licensed spectrum per band available.

  • Higher peak data rates
  • More capacity for bursts of usage
Source: Qualcomm

2. Higher-order modulation (HOM) (see Figure #2): think of a bus versus a car to transport more people (i.e., data) per vehicle, where the cellular network and device are constantly adjusting the modulation based on signal conditions. The downside of HOM is that a noisy or weak signal is harder to demodulate, which can result in retransmissions and lower speeds.

  • 16-QAM: 4 bits/symbol
  • 64-QAM: 6 bits/symbol, 25% improvement over QAM-16
  • 256-QAM: 8 bits/symbol, 33% improvement over QAM-64
  • 1024-QAM: 10 bits/symbol, 25% improvement over QAM-256.

3. More MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antennas: think multi-lane highway with traffic moving on two directions (using multiple antennas to both transmit and receive data in parallel). Most devices today have two antennas per cellular modem, while Gigabit LTE devices will require four antennas to achieve higher speeds. For many devices, this means moving from direct-attach to cabled antennas.

4. More spectrum: the use of licensed, shared or unlicensed spectrum (3.5GHz/5GHz) for additional bandwidth now includes License Assisted Access (LAA) and Citizens Broadband Radio system (CBRS).

  • Citizens Broadband Radio System (CBRS)
    1. As of April 2015, the FCC authorized shared commercial access of the 3.5GHz band with incumbent military radars and fixed satellite stations
    2. The CBRS spectrum is assigned individually by Spectrum Allocation Server (SAS), 3 priority access levels
  • MulteFire
    1. MulteFire Alliance is a new industry alliance promoting private networks based on LTE technology
    2. MulteFire scales from LTE for IoT to Gigabit LTE
    3. It is not part of any 3GPP standard yet, but is considered for Rel. 16
    4. MulteFire could someday replace Wi-Fi networks

Private LTE networks provide new opportunities for either enterprises to deploy secure communication for increased flexibility and added security, or for the Industrial IoT (IIoT) to build a private network, for example in remote farming or mining sites to run industrial IoT devices and applications.

4G LTE Advanced Pro is here today and paving the way to 5G as outlined above. Though, you will not see Gigabit LTE speeds right away. You can expect speeds above 100 Mbps under good conditions on licensed LTE networks. Even higher speeds will become possible where unlicensed spectrum and infrastructure become available.

Cellular Routers to be Critical for Public Safety Communications

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The National Public Safety Broadband Network is the nation’s first cellular broadband network dedicated to public safety. It will be providing more reliable communication for first responders by enabling better device interoperability across public transportation agencies throughout the United States. This new technology will allow agencies to utilize purpose-built transit cellular routers as a means to improve communications. Continue reading to see why fail-safe interoperable network is critical.

Public Safety Challenge

The public safety challenge is to protect citizens and critical infrastructure so that incidents can be mitigated faster with a more coordinated response. And the role of public transportation is only increasing as cities grow larger and denser, as an urban incident will require coordinated dispatch, and perhaps even evacuation. Traffic systems will also be a key element to incident resolution in order to expedite the arrival of response teams and direct traffic flow around the incident, which may necessitate remote access to onboard or roadside cameras and message boards.

However, commercial networks can crash when overloaded and legacy mobile radio networks are not always compatible, which is why a fail-safe interoperable network is required for emergency group communication, multi-media transmission of video, images and data; plus, reliable location tracking, economies of scale and the ability to interconnect with legacy systems also come into play.

Cellular-based Communication Solutions

The Public Safety Broadband Network is leveraging both existing LTE and advancing 5G international standards for mission critical services over commercial cellular networks. The services are built on new protocols and mechanisms that guarantee priority and preemption for voice, video and data, and will include push-to-talk, group calls and direct mobile-to-mobile. First responder vehicles, traffic control and transit system will now be able to utilize cellular mobile access routers as network gateways that securely bridge local subnets to agency systems. Agencies will need to know how to evaluate routers for ruggedness and security, along with forward compatibility as new public safety applications emerge.

How to Select a Router for First Responder Applications

Is your organization ready to take advantage of mission-critical cellular networking capabilities? Join our Director of Government Business Development, Steve Mazur, and Vice President of Application Engineering of Telit to learn what factors to look for in first responder cellular communication solutions: why speed matters, the role of cellular communications, and how to measure ruggedness and security in cellular devices.

>>See more details and register today.

How to Stay Ahead of the 3G Network Sunset

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Since the first analog systems launched in the 1980s, cellular technology continues to rapidly evolve with another evolutionary step on the horizon as mobile network operators roll out Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks and phase out legacy 2G and 3G networks. With the 2G/3G network sunset underway, it’s incredibly important for companies to consider an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy based on LTE technology or LTE technology with support for 2G/3G fallback. In order to stay ahead of the 3G network sunset, we must first think about how this will affect us to better prepare for the migration.

What is 3G sunsetting?

3G sunsetting means that a mobile network operator (or carriers) shuts of the cellular infrastructure required to operate communication devices based on 3G (UMTS, HSPA, EVDO) technology.

Why do carriers do this?

In many cases, the migration away from 2G/3G is driven by the desire of mobile network operators to repurpose spectrum for faster and more efficient 4G LTE devices. It is also more cost-effective to operate a LTE network than a 2G or 3G network, because more devices can share the available spectrum. Prior to sunsetting a network, mobile network operators may regionally repurpose spectrum or tune their radio access network. In these cases, your device may lose connectivity ahead of the 3G sunset date.

Do all carriers have the same 3G sunset date?

The short answer is: no. However as cellular technology continues to evolve and consumers continue to demand faster, more reliable, and cost-effective connectivity, carriers in the cellular space plan to migrate to fourth-generation LTE technology to free up available wireless spectrum.

When will 3G be phased out by my carrier?

The 2G/3G turndown is coming! AT&T has already shut down its 2G network, while Verizon has publicly stated, “No new 3G ‘light ups’ after June 2018” – with a complete 3G shutdown by the end of 2019. Other carriers have not made public announcements yet, but may share information under NDA. Lastly, many carriers are preparing their 5G networks, which will also use the same wireless spectrum.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t get left behind with 2G/3G – shutdowns are imminent.
  2. Leverage 4G LTE today – from LTE for IoT to Gigabit LTE.
  3. Digi has the right products for your mission-critical applications.
  4. Digi is here to help you!

With so many changes happening and so many choices to consider, from 2G to 3G to 4G LTE and everything between, it makes selecting the right technology for your product challenging. Long-term transition plans and migration strategies are vital for network engineers and administrators to capitalize on the advantages of future networks like 4G, 5G, and LTE.

>>Check out the new Any-G to LTE whitepaper in order to better understand these migration challenges and to prepare for a seamless transition.

From Maker to Mainstream – Productizing Innovation

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Product design does not have a formula. There is no one-size-fits-all playbook. But the journey of any innovator is rich with insights. For those who are wondering what it may be like in the trenches, we’ll take a walk through the process one developer team from the maker community followed in taking their innovation through the design and development process.

The goal: Solve a serious problem, and in the process produce an in-demand mainstream product.

Every Two Minutes a Purse Is Stolen

Joan Dao was a college student at the University of Minnesota when the idea came to her that purses should be theft proof.

It wasn’t just an out-of-the-blue idea. Her brain-child was born out of an incident in which her mother’s purse was violently stolen in a parking lot after she was shopping in a store. Joan helped her mother recover after the trauma, but it was a long road. In addition to feelings of loss and vulnerability, she had to freeze financial accounts, replace identification, and had many doctor visits to deal with the physical trauma.

Joan saw the incident partly as a failure of technology. A blind spot in the grocery store where the robbery occurred meant the thieves got away with the act. They ran to an alley where there was no camera with facial recognition. The police took a record of the theft, but without any method of identifying the thieves, there was really nothing they could do. And of course the purse had no tracking mechanism. She was inspired to come up with a game-changing wearable design.

Since the ultimate design included a Digi XBee® module that controlled the necessary communications, we talked with Joan about her development process and how she plans to take her project from ideation to mainstream.

Launching the Initiative

Joan took the opportunity to become involved in a student group at UMN called Tesla Works. Similar to a real angel investment firm, Tesla Works supports worthy student projects. Once she pitched her idea and got the startup funding, she launched R&D.

“I put together a team and we worked on the project for a year, considering many ideas. We thought of built-in pressurized pepper spray. But then you have a bomb, so no-go. We thought about skunk smell, a panic alarm and Taser arcs. I had to channel my anger about what happened to my mother into the project.”

She realized they needed to solidify their planning around clear goals:

  • Nothing about the design could be illegal
  • It had to be TSA friendly
  • The design had to be financially feasible; the team needed to work with technology (such as sensors) they would have access to readily at low cost

See the video of the team discussing the product design process.

As the pieces began to fall into place, Joan incorporated her company as Colette Technologies, LLC. However, the team is now in the process of reincorporating as “Ilesovi Inc.” and will use that name going forward.

Prototyping: Crossing the Hurdles

The challenges of pulling off a major technology innovation are enormous, especially for a group of students who are only able to commit part-time due to their studies. There were many bumps in the road: four electrical engineers quit, design ideas didn’t pan out, and unreliable technology that was easily available for college students failed frequently. Without an unwavering commitment to seeing this project through, it would not have had a chance.Internal purse design

Finding a designer who could produce a prototype proved to be a larger challenge. The team lost their first designer, who left to pursue a PhD at Cornell in Apparel Design, with her previous work in developing space suits for NASA. Having no one who had a high level of sewing skills stalled the team for months. At last, the team found a freshman who had been sewing all her life and was eager to contribute her skills to the project.

The first prototype included these features:

  • Fashionable Slash-proof design
  • Biometric closure that runs on a fingerprint scanner
  • Robust, anti-pry lock
  • GPS track-ability
  • A method to deter the thief

The theft deterrence alone was a major undertaking. The team reviewed many ideas from exploding dye packs to mace. But many of these options would affect the user as well as the thief. They finally settled on a panic alarm that automatically sounds if the purse strap is broken—an “intentional failure” designed to protect the wearer if the purse strap is yanked.

“The alarm sounds at 120 decibels,” Joan said. “It wails. Ninety decibels is a loud rock concert. This is a siren.”

Market FeasibilityAnti-theft purse fashion

Ilesovi had an opportunity to showcase their prototype purse at the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley in December, 2016. The team’s apparel designer created the prototype to demo at the conference over Thanksgiving weekend using a polyurethane fabric and a stainless steel cable for reinforcement in the seams.

Not only did the team receive exposure for their idea, but they were able to get some instant feedback on the market climate for their product. A conference swarming with people right before the holidays was the perfect opportunity. “There were a lot of guys who wanted the purse as a Christmas gift for their significant others. We knew we had a product ripe for commercialization.”


From there the team decided it was time to pursue a patent. They worked with a local IP attorney who helped them file the patent paperwork to secure rights to the design and features, and now have a patent pending.

A new challenge presented itself. The team needed to solidify the technology behind the product and determine how to create a product in scale.

This is where Digi International entered the story.

Technology Advancement and Press

The team was struggling to get their electronics to work when they met associates from Digi International; and morale was low. Then several things happened in fairly quick succession:

  • In the fall of 2017, Ilesovi attended an IoT Fuse Hack Day where they were given a Digi XBee module that would reliably support their connectivity needs.
  • At IoT Fuse, they worked on the product’s fingerprint scanner and finally achieved success.
  • They agreed to join Digi at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and put on a demo in Digi’s booth. This led to a lot of press attention, including an article in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Additionally, they had a huge boom in site traffic, with many people asking how they can buy the product.
  • They underwent a major redesign that included switching from a stepper motor to a solenoid.

Beta Product

Today, the team is preparing to launch a beta product that they will use to obtain real world feedback. This process includes evaluating and updating many of the design elements for usability, reliability and appearance, as well as completing required RF testing and simulated theft testing. It also involves developing a small scale line of 60 items.

“The primary goal is to get user feedback. Customers who buy the beta will get to trade it in for a free upgrade just for being a part of the beta,” Joan said.

The Future for Joan Dao and Ilesovi Inc.

The theft-proof purse team has received so much positive feedback that they know they have a marketable product that will enjoy exceptional demand. Every two minutes someone’s wallet or purse is stolen in the U.S., and very few are ever recovered. The product hits a nerve, and Joan has heard so many stories and received so many requests for related products that she knows it’s only a matter of time before she will need to set her sights higher, broaden the product line and meet a greater demand.

With a degree in neuroscience, Joan has an enormous interest in the Medtech space, from her research in deep brain simulation therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients to wearables that monitor various health metrics.

Joan also has a passion for helping women in technology. Ilesovi’s mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and apparel designer are all women, and she often finds herself mentoring young women who are navigating their way in a male-dominated arena.

Why Ilesovi? Ilesovi is a portmanteau of Spanish and Vietnamese. Ileso means “unscathed” or “unharmed” and “vi” is Vietnamese for “purse.”

A Company to Watch

Innovators and engineers join the Maker community for a wide range of reasons. These include a desire to design and build wireless devices and robotics as a hobby to creating products that can be produced on a mass scale for consumers and businesses.

Keep your sights on Ilesovi, as this initiative that started as a student project could very well one day be producing market-driven devices for B2B markets in high tech, government, financial and medical fields.

>>Check out these customer stories for more insight on how customers use Digi technology in their products and solutions.

Verizon 2G and 3G Sunset Starts

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As you may know, Verizon has now shut down new activations for 2G and 3G and non-VoLTE phone devices as of June 30, 2018. This is a preliminary stage in advance of the Verizon 2G and 3G network shutdown on December 31, 2019. From this date forward, 2G and 3G devices will no longer connect to the network and non-VoLTE LTE phones will not be able to make or receive phone calls.

Fortunately, Digi has a solution to these shutdowns with a family of rugged, purpose-built routers for any industrial application or environment. The Digi TransPort series of 4G LTE routers offers a full range of performance options specifically for these network turn-downs so you can be sure of the right router for the right job. Don’t let your industrial IoT devices fall behind during network shutdowns, turn to Digi for the routers and planning services you need to make your migration to LTE a complete success.

>>Read the Any-G to LTE whitepaper for more details on migrating to 4G, 5G, and beyond

Get a Sense of IoT Sensing Technologies

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Sensor engineers and engineering professionals are gathering this week to learn about sensor technologies and find solutions for tomorrow’s toughest monitoring challenges at Sensors Expo 2018. Our Digi team is joining leading experts from the industry to cover the most comprehensive sensor-focused topics and conversations with over 6,400 professionals from more than 40 countries. Our sensor experts will cover the following topics:

How Enterprises Buy IoT

Wednesday, June 27 10:30am – 11:00am

Due to the rapid growth and agility of the IoT (Internet of Things), there are many different factors that impact its value that businesses need to understand for successful product and solution development. VP of Business Development at Digi International, Curt Ahart, will join Robbie Paul, Director of IoT Business Development Digi Key, and moderator Steve Brumer of 151 Advisors, on the IoT Ecosystem Theater stage at Sensors18 to cover the following questions and to discuss how enterprises develop successful wireless sensor solutions.

● What are the most common obstacles facing IoT product development?
● Does engineering expertise directly translate into a successful IoT solution?
● What are some different approaches to ingrate wireless sensor IoT solutions?
● How long does it take to design, develop and implement a sensor IoT solution?
● What contributes to an IoT project’s success or failure?

How IoT is Improving Cold Chain Management

Thursday, June 28 1:30pm – 2:20pm

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the ability to comply with manufacturers and customer requirements and certifications by using automated, cloud-based wireless technology to monitor, regulate and report real-time temperature data that ensures consistency, compliance and quality control throughout cold chain systems. Chief Technology Officer Transportation and Logistics at SmartSense by Digi, Colin Warkentin, will cover past and current challenges that manufacturers are facing, share wireless and IoT technology solutions, and provide real-world examples and applications from industries including pharmaceutical, healthcare and transportation.

>>Check out these customer success stories for more insight on wireless sensor solutions.

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