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IoT Solutions for Transportation

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Among industry sectors that are rapidly adopting IoT technology, public transportation is one that can benefit the most from gains in operational efficiencies, cost savings, safety and security. The automotive industry also has unique needs, and some excellent innovations are emerging to support that market as well.

In this post we will look at some specific IoT solution examples for transportation from the Digi collection of customer success stories, such as Positive Train Control (PTC), vehicle analytics, ticketing systems, transit system security and high-speed passenger Wi-Fi.

IoT-Enabled Solutions for Transportation

Smart city IoT transportation iconsTechnology advances are supporting the development and deployment of IoT solutions across the transit sector. For example, the networks themselves have advanced with the rapid growth of 4G networks and the advent of 5G.

Meanwhile, 2G and 3G networks are shutting down, contributing to the growth of new and enhanced products and systems optimized for more advanced networks. In metropolitan areas today, the reliability of cellular networks now rivals, and even exceeds, traditional wired networks.

Moreover, new mobile access router technology provides the critical connectivity to support these applications. For example, Digi transportation routers provide secure cellular connectivity and multi-purpose data routing for demanding
transit and industrial environments affected by factors such as
temperature fluctuations, moisture, movement and vibration.

Transit sector solutions must meet a range of objectives, depending on the use case:

  • Public transit systems: Improve on-board rider experiences, including safety, with high-speed Internet connectivity
  • Railways: Improve train safety and responsiveness to emergency situations, while meeting PTC regulatory requirements
  • Trucking/supply chain: Track vehicle analytics, reduce the need for truck rolls, and expand automated processes to save operational costs

Case Study Examples: IoT Solutions for Transit and Automotive

Digi customers develop a wide range of IoT applications and solutions using Digi products. Here are a few examples of solutions that serve the transportation sector today.

SEPTA: Positive Train Control (PTC)

SEPTA

The Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) provides light rail, subway and bus service to more than one million riders daily in and around Philadelphia. SEPTA was one of the early transit systems to mobilize their Positive Train Control (PTC) installation, a sophisticated train-signaling system designed to prevent crashes, derailments and track worker injuries resulting from speed and signal violations.

SEPTA worked with Digi to deploy the right connectivity solution for PTC:

  • • The Digi® WR44-RR mobile access router.
  • • PTC message routing and wireless communications via a Mobile Communications Package (MCP)
  • • An integrated, drop-in MCP assembly that houses Digi WR44 RR, a 220 MHz TDMA radio, power supply and RF filters

TransPort WR44 RR Train configuration

Results

The Digi WR44 RR is the integral communications hub in all locomotives and vehicles, relaying PTC data messages to and from waysides via 220 MHz radio and enabling remote system maintenance, configuration and network management over a cellular link.  Increased network reliability and rail system visibility extends performance beyond PTC toward Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), resulting in more efficient scheduling, greater capacity and increased fuel savings.


Read our white paper on rail-certified cellular communications: The Fast Track to Positive Train Control Compliance.


TransData: Passenger Ticketing and Information System

Train passengerSystems integrators in the IoT space have enormous opportunity today to support the needs of organizations across the transport sector, from city bus and light rail agencies to trucking companies in the supply chain, and long distance passenger trains. The needs are growing as these agencies work to meet compliance requirements and compete in their marketplaces by providing enhanced services and improved security.

TransData is an IoT systems integrator that develops applications for public transit, such as payment and identifications systems, for the Slovak market. TransData’s flagship product is a multi-faceted solution that supports a broad range of public transport capabilities:

  • • Secure fare transactions
  • • Easy-to-use electronic card system simplifies passenger experiences
  • • GPS-tracked route guidance minimizes delays
  • • Display local shops, restaurants and points of interest
  • • More reliable Internet access and high-speed passenger Wi-Fi
  • • Monitor traffic activity with on-vehicle security cameras
  • • Route communications through a central depot or dispatch

Results

The applications above are enabled by Digi ConnectCore® 6 ultra-compact system-on-module (SOM), which supports TransData connectivity requirements at an affordable price point. TransData ticketing and information systems require superior video performance, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and connectivity to the vehicle data system and cellular modem. The applications also require a stable package and small form factor that can withstand rugged conditions such as extreme heat, humidity and vibration while maintaining network connectivity to perform these complex tasks.

SMART: Public Transit System Computer-Aided Dispatch

SMART city transit

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Rapid Transit (SMART) metro bus fleet of 330 biodiesel and hybrid-electric buses covers more than 1,100 miles and supports 32,000 riders daily. With this extensive fleet, it is critical to monitor the vehicles in order to ensure the highest levels of passenger safety and on-time performance.

The business problem to solve involved the upgrade of an aging CAD/AVL (Computer-Aided Dispatch / Automatic Vehicle Location) system built on a legacy analog radio network connected via three leased towers. SMART first evaluated migrating from analog to digital signals and increasing the number of towers, but that was cost-prohibitive. Ultimately SMART switched to VOIP on cellular for CAD, taking advantage of the packet priority services built into the Digi WR44 R mobile cellular router.

Results

With its switch to a cellular-based AVL, SMART can collect and analyze a much wider range of data and metrics — including vehicle location and speed — in real-time. Maintenance data is also captured to help prevent breakdowns and accelerate repair cycles, in order to minimize vehicle downtime. Data is transmitted to the operations center through a highly secure VPN tunnel, while operators can communicate with Central Dispatch using VoIP handsets.

Due to these upgrades and enhancements, the SMART leadership estimates they are saving over $70,000 each year.

Macchina: Auto Control Center

Macchina and Digi devicesMacchina worked with Digi to develop an affordable 4G LTE solution with a small footprint. The team chose the Digi XBee® Cellular embedded modem based on its design – an open source interface for car hobbyists and professionals to program a device or service into the automotive aftermarket.

“Our vision is to offer a ‘one-to-many’ interface,” explained Josh Sharpe, Macchina chief technical officer. “In the database world, you might call this middleware. The device maker will be able to create one device with one interface to our board – and we handle integration to hundreds of vehicles.”

The product therefore enables developers to “Another way to think of Macchina is that it’s like a key to unlock the control center of the car. Once you are in, you can use Macchina to make changes and tweaks to the car. You can do anything from simple projects, like stopping that annoying ding, to more complex upgrades such as unlocking more horsepower or improving fuel economy.”

Results

Macchina essentially provides a project template that enables development and encourages innovation. Developers appreciate the open source platform to write code, as well as a community of car hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals to consult with as they explore various approaches to their own product development.

Summary

The transportation sector is seeing a substantial adoption of IoT solutions to improve safety, public transit monitoring and routing and ridership experiences. A complete set of Digi solutions satisfy a range of transport needs, from Positive Train Control, high-speed Wi-Fi and surveillance cameras, to secure IDs, easy-to-use ticketing systems and more efficient route management.

Additionally, the Digi professional services teams can provide guidance at any point, from wireless design services to proof of concept, PCB layout and certification assistance.

>> For more information about Digi’s IoT solutions for transportation, contact us today, or download our white paper, Making the Connection in Transportation.

 

Mission Critical Communications for Transportation

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City residents expect their transit systems to run on schedule. To make that happen, regional transportation officials need to be able to dynamically redirect capacity where needed during rush hour, special events and unforeseen incidents. Transit agencies are also expected to immediately activate emergency response procedures following a disaster. All this requires a communication network that is fail-safe, interoperable and highly secure. Most would agree that today’s networks are not completely adequate, and that further improvement is required to achieve more effective communications.

In this post, we will cover IoT solutions available for the broad-spectrum needs of the transit sector, including railroad companies, city transit systems and emergency responders. We will review specific connectivity solutions that support the requirements of these organizations, from secure IoT devices to cloud-based management platforms and professional services to help guide IoT implementations.

PTC Automatically Controls Trains to Prevent Collisions, Derailments or Switching Errors

Some, but not all, railroads have met the Positive Train Control (PTC) deployment deadlines, which continue to be extended. The challenges most often cited include system complexity, capital investment and spectrum allocation. The communications network adds to the complexity, due to the need to integrate a fiber backbone with cellular and 220 MHz, and to deal with 220 MHz interoperability issues. The communications network is considered a safety-critical PTC system component, so if it is in a failed state the train can proceed at reduced speed only if other signaling systems are operating.

To help expedite PTC compliance, Digi offers a complete communications connectivity solution that includes the Digi WR44 RR router, purpose-built for the rail industry and designed to be mounted on board locomotives and rail cars. It meets all rail-certification requirements for AREMA C and H, EN50155 and AAR S-5702. Communications interfaces include hardened connectors, specifically M12 for Ethernet and serial, as well as TNC connectors for antennas. Digi routers offer drop-in deployment with simple, secure remote control.

PTC message routing and wireless communications use a Mobile Communications Package (MCP) featuring an integrated assembly that houses the Digi WR44 RR, 220 MHz TDMA radio, power supply and RF filters. Functioning as the integral communications hub in locomotives and rail cars, Digi WR44 RR relays data messages to and from waysides via 220 MHz radio, and enables system maintenance, configuration and network management over a cellular link.

Another key component to help maintain both device and network health is supplied by Digi Remote Manager®. It gives you a single, secure platform to access data and manage IoT devices from anywhere. Digi Remote Manager also enables effective and efficient control to keep PTC deployments on track – edit configurations, update firmware, and monitor, schedule and automate tasks – all from a central location.

Today, transit agencies can leverage both existing LTE, LTE-Advanced and evolving 5G international standards for mission critical applications and services over commercial cellular networks. The services can be built on protocols and mechanisms that guarantee priority and preemption for voice, video and data, to meet the needs of the new First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and enable better device interoperability across different agencies.

Protecting Citizens and Critical Infrastructure

With this new and evolving technology, first responder vehicles, traffic and transit systems will be able to utilize specialized on-board cellular mobile access routers as network gateways that securely bridge local subnets to agency systems. Agencies seeking to deploy these routers will need to understand how to evaluate them for reliability, ruggedness and security along with ensuring forward compatibility as new public safety applications emerge. Note that Digi Professional Services can provide assistance with implementation, installation and other needs.

Mission critical services are being deployed in stages. Fortunately, the structural network technology used for priority voice, video and data is currently in place. Bandwidth on shared or reserved spectrum can be allocated for priority access using dedicated bearers with associated quality-of-service levels. Transit agencies that deploy equipment compatible with these structural capabilities can take advantage of the priority data services available today, and then efficiently layer future services such as group video calls with simple firmware upgrades.

Due to advances in network equipment and services, most buses have an on-board cellular router that functions as a communications gateway for the various systems. A bus has become a mobile data center of sorts. Central dispatchers can coordinate the bus fleet through transmission of location and voice communications. Voice communications are increasingly implemented using IP technologies, Voice over IP (VoIP) or Voice over LTE (VoLTE). As a result, these systems are mission critical and need to run over a fail-safe communications network. In this recent whitepaper, Making the Connection in Transportationread how transit operators can consolidate cellular connectivity for smart, safe, and more efficient operations.

As always, passenger safety and security are the chief concerns of all transit agencies. There are few on-board systems more important in this area than the mobile access router – the method of communication that links the entire chain of command. The recent standards developments are just now enabling deployment of mobile access routers having forward compatibility with the many new services envisioned for mission critical applications. Reliable communications for all on-board systems ensures a safe environment is maintained and that authorities are promptly notified of any incidents.

The new Digi WR64 transit router is designed for mission critical communications, with support for priority, pre-emption and failover to backup networks. This is critical for coordinated dispatch and reliable location tracking following an incident when cellular networks may be overloaded, in order to expedite the arrival of emergency response teams. Additionally, multiple transit applications can be combined on a single communication platform. GPS, vehicle tracking, on-board payment systems, ticket kiosks and more can be managed with one router. By consolidating vehicle connectivity, agencies can improve operational efficiency and effectiveness while helping extend the life of transit assets.

Related white paper: Making the Connection in Transportation: How Transit Operators Can Consolidate Cellular Connectivity for Smarter, Safer, and More Efficient Operations.

 

The New Standard for Dual Redundant Communications

Digi WR64 Cellular Router

Passengers today demand a faultless on-board Internet experience. And with so many transportation options available, transit organizations must provide seamless Wi-Fi to retain and grow their ridership. Meanwhile, agencies must also be able to integrate vehicle data from engines, logistics programs, fare collection, security cameras, even digital signage – all while maintaining the highest level of security and reliability with a suite of cybersecurity features: Digi TrustFence®, a data privacy and device security framework, IPsec VPNs and dual concurrent cellular links.

Digi WR64 meets these complex simultaneous needs with dual CAT 11 cellular modules and dual high-speed Wi-Fi radios so that transit agencies can securely segment private data from public data, and deliver an Internet experience that keeps riders coming back. Internet access for riders is managed separately without impacting on-board communications systems.



The Future of Transit Connectivity


Digi designs and manufactures industrial-grade communications equipment used in transportation and transit systems around the world. The newest member of the family is Digi WR64, a mobile access router with the latest cellular, WLAN and GPS technology. This high-performance router is designed to meet the complex requirements of the transit industry and other demanding applications that must meet strict operating standards, without disruption. While the new Digi WR54 is a compact general purpose router for transportation and public safety applications.

Digi cellular routers, servers, adapters and gateways support critical and emerging needs in rail, bus, traffic, emergency response, energy and smart cities. They enable connectivity to standards-based and proprietary equipment, assets, IoT devises and sensors – to ensure reliable communications over virtually every form of wireless or wired system. An integrated remote management platform helps speed deployments using highly efficient network operation for mission critical functions such as mass configuration and firmware updates, including system-wide monitoring with dashboards, alarms and performance metrics.

The future of transit belongs to agencies, operators and authorities that can leverage smart, secure and cost-efficient connectivity to improve the rider experience, lower costs and improve safety and performance. With cellular routers like Digi WR64 and Digi WR54, organizations can consolidate remote connectivity and simplify their infrastructures.

Steve Mazur, Digi Business Development Director, will be hosting a round table at Smart Transit in Philadelphia, October 23-25. Visit our Events page for more information.

Introducing Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE‑M/NB‑IoT

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Last week, we released Digi XBee3™ Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT, a single SKU that provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with a simple way to integrate low-power narrow-band cellular connectivity into their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This latest addition to the Digi XBee3 lineup combines global connectivity, built-in security, and design flexibility for IoT applications.

Digi XBee3 Cellular smart modems accelerate time to market for product designers, OEMs, and solution providers by quickly enabling wireless connectivity and easy-to-add functionality. Building on industry-leading technology, pre-certified Digi XBee3 modules offer the flexibility to switch between multiple frequencies and wireless protocols, as needed.

Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT expands the Digi XBee Ecosystem of wireless modules, gateways, software and development tools — all engineered to accelerate development and deployment to market. Ideal for low-data (typically <5 MB per month and where latency is not critical), low-power, low-cost applications, Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT modules feature a power saving mode that extends sleep time and battery life.

With Digi Remote Manager®, Digi XBee3 Cellular can be easily configured and controlled from a simple, central platform with over-the-air (OTA) updates. Built-in Digi TrustFence® security, identity and data privacy features use more than 175 controls to protect against new and evolving cyber threats. Standard Digi XBee API frames and AT commands, MicroPython and XCTU software tools simplify tasks such as set-up, configuration, adding functionality and testing.

>> Find more information and get started with the award-winning Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT.

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/NB-IoT 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/NB-IoT, Digi has simplified the task of integrating the latest LTE and low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology into IoT devices. What makes LTE-M/NB-IoT 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/NB-IoT 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 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.”

Patenting

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

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