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Yocto Project for Embedded Systems Design

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Choosing an operating system (OS) for an embedded system is one of the most complex and critical tasks. It has significant long-term ramifications that affect both development and the market success of a product. There are several factors that make choosing a Linux-based OS a smart choice such as:

  • acquisition cost
  • source code availability
  • broad architecture support

These factors lead to a significantly improved time-to-market and a reduction in platform design risk and effort. However, choosing a specific Linux-based OS can be confusing.

Many ask: “With so many Linux-based platforms available in the market, why use the Yocto Project instead of a standard non-embedded binary distribution such as Debian or Ubuntu?”

Alex González, Digi software engineering supervisor, is a leading authority on Embedded Linux platforms and the author of Embedded Linux Projects Using Yocto Project Linux. In Digi’s latest technical brief, Yocto Project: The Right Choice for Embedded Systems Design, Alex provides an overview and answer to that fundamental question.

The Yocto Project is often described as an umbrella project, that is, a group of different open source projects hosted by the Linux Foundation that come together to collaborate on tools, best practices and software to help create custom Linux-based embedded operating system platforms.

Download the full technical brief here >>

Internet of Things in Review at IoTFuse: Conference 2017

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IoTFuse put on a great event about a week ago at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Digi team members were pleased to be a part of it. The single biggest challenge was choosing which session to attend – there were 48 presentations for all 1,100 registrants to choose from. Here’s a recap of a few of our favorites:

Rainforest Connection
The day kicked off with a presentation from Topher White with Rainforest Connection in which he described recycling old smart phones and turning them into solar-powered listening devices to detect illegal logging. A truly inspiring use of wireless technology to help save our rainforests and reduce CO2 emissions.

IoT Motivators to Keep Your Shirt
Joel Young, Digi CTO, spoke on “Winning the IoT Future, Without Losing Your Shirt.” He explained, surprisingly, that there is an IoT identity crisis because IoT is not a marketplace that can be conquered with an IoT strategy. Instead, IoT is a market enabler, based on key motivators used to accomplish a higher objective. He used several consumer examples (Egg Minder, Netflix Socks, Smart Sneakers) and commercial examples (Big Belly Solar and Heavy Equipment) to discuss the “IoT Motivators” and if they were successful or not. It was an interesting perspective on how the goal should not be to create an IoT device for the sake of an IoT device, but to create an IoT device because it solves a specific customer problem.

Macchina
Macchina presented their device that enables car owners and fleet managers to monitor telematics through the OBDII port. What’s better, is Macchina uses a Digi XBee socket, so you can plug in Digi XBee Cellular to remotely monitor your vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.

Sloth
Another favorite session was given by an IoTFuse HackDay winner, Pejman Ghorbanzade, titled “Sloth: An Energy Efficient Real-Time Activity Recognition System.” In one day Pejman was able to assemble wearable sensors (connected by Digi XBee) that can be used to detect activities of daily living, which can be helpful in nursing homes and other settings. What was most interesting was Pejman’s algorithm for predicting certain activities like cooking, walking, eating, etc. By predicting the activity, Pejman’s devices don’t have to send all of the sensor data to be processed – it can just summarize by saying “grandma is cooking.”

 

Smart Cities
Massoud Amin, Director of the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) at the University of Minnesota, hosted a panel session on Smart Cities with the CIOs of the City of Minneapolis, Otto Doll, and Hennepin County, Jerry Driessen. Professor Amin is also Chairman of the IEEE Smart Grid, a global initiative to bring together organizations involved in the modernization and optimization of the power grid.

According to the UN State of World Cities report, the number of urban residents is growing at 60 million every year. In addition, more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2020. The analyst firm of Frost & Sullivan estimates that cities will spend $1.5 trillion by 2020, an annual growth rate of 22.5%. Whatever numbers you use, smarter cities of all sizes are capitalizing on new technologies and the diminishing cost of IT infrastructure to create a ubiquitous network of connected devices, smart sensors, and big data analytics to transform their systems, operations and service delivery.

Competition among cities to engage and attract new residents, businesses and visitors means constant attention to providing a high quality of life and vibrant economic climate. Forward-thinking leaders recognize that although tight budgets, scarce resources and legacy systems frequently challenge their goals, new and innovative technologies can help turn challenges into opportunities.

Digi helps make your city smart by adding connectivity and intelligence to critical government systems. Get the real-time information and remote management you need for transit, traffic control, intelligent street lighting, waste and recycling, all while keeping budgets under control. Being smarter can change the way our cities work and help deliver on their potential as never before.

 

Read more about IoTFuse and join the largest IoT community in Minnesota>>

Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 Development Kit Unboxing

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Integrating cellular technology is easier than ever with Digi XBee Cellular. Digi Chief Innovation Officer, Rob Faludi, gives a preview of what’s included in the Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 Development Kit and how to get started with the small, cost-effective, and fully-certified embedded modem.

Watch the video to learn more and get started with cellular connectivity today with the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit.

Do you have a topic you’d like to see an Internet of Things expert cover? Let us know in the comments below.

What are the Differences Between LTE-M and NB-IoT Cellular Protocols?

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New cellular protocols are set to roll out in 2017 to provide low power and low cost cellular connectivity for industrial Internet of Things applications. Digi Chief Innovator, Rob Faludi, explains both LTE-M and NB-IoT low bandwidth protocols by breaking down the differences between the two and sharing some examples of their use in industrial applications.

Watch the video to learn more and get started with cellular connectivity today with the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit.

Do you have a topic you’d like to see an Internet of Things expert cover? Let us know in the comments below.

Make the Most of Your Automobile with Macchina M2 and Cellular Connectivity

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Regardless of our age, we can all attest to the advancements the automobile industry has made throughout its history, but the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated this change even more with smart cars, hybrid and fully electric cars, and strides being made towards to self-driving cars. It is truly fascinating and our imaginations are sparked with automotive innovation on all scales from green transportation to open-source development platforms, like M2 by Machinna.

Macchina M2 is an open source automotive interface that allows car hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals the creative ability to program a device and service into the automotive aftermarket. This ‘one-to-many’ interface allows engineers to design a single device that will sync with different firmware and software architecture. The device includes an Arduino board, equipped with a USB port, LEDs, SD card slot, built in EEPROM, and is compatible with Digi XBee. This socket compatibility combined with the Digi XBee family footprint, users can embed cellular connectivity with Digi XBee cellular. This means makers can bypass complicated end-device certifications and provides end-users the option to upload and download live data. Check out the First Look: Macchina M2 article on Hackaday for more software and hardware design details.

We are excited to partner with this project  and our community to bring embedded cellular IoT innovation to the automotive industry. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to connect Macchina to Digi XBee Cellular, and let us know what you think!

4 Top Questions About the Future of Cellular Networks in IoT

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Recently, Digi Product Marketing Manager, Andrew Lund and Senior Product Manager, Brent Nelson sat down with M2M Zone for an in-depth discussion about connectivity types in the IoT space, next-generation cellular networks, and what it all means for your IoT/M2M applications.

There were so many great questions from attendees that we wanted to share our top 4 questions with Andrew and Brent’s responses. Additionally, you can watch the webinar in full by clicking the video at the end of this post. 

1. How does LTE-Cat 1 compare with LTE-M and NB-IoT?
Brent: So LTE-Cat 1 is available now. LTE-Cat 1 is essentially 3G type of speed, it’s a scale down from typical LTE. It does not have the power saving modes that you will get in the two narrow band standards that I mentioned, but it does bring down the cost of the module significantly. So I view LTE 1, which again is available now, as kind of the first time you could put LTE in a machine-to-machine product and not price yourself out of the market because you really didn’t need LTE.

LTE-Cat M then drops down to 2G speeds, and that’s where you start seeing the power saving modes. And narrow band IoT is sub-2G speeds, it’s sub-100 kilobytes per second and an increased battery life. So that’s kind of the progression of the different networks.

2. So where will the IoT application typically reside in the LPWAN market? Will it be inside or outside the narrow band centered device, or both?
Brent: So in general, it’s always going to depend on the use case, as you get lower and lower power, you’ve got lower and lower processing. So you’ve got typically less intelligence on the edge and more intelligence in the cloud. It’s all about getting the data up to the cloud as inexpensively as possible.

Andrew: I was going to say the same thing. I think the other notion would be to take a security angle on it. Given that there may be limited power, limited processing, and limited memory on the edge, I think there’s also the notion that there’s limited ability to defend against security threats, potentially. And so, like you said, getting the data to the cloud in a safe and reliable way is the most important thing.

3. Will the new Cat M and NB-IoT use regular SIM cards?
Brent: Yes, although I think you’ll see much more of a move to the embedded SIMs as we go forward. I guess I’m not 100% positive of how the technology will support that, but I know generally in the market you’ll see more and more moves to embedded SIMs versus the standard kind of SIM that shows up in a credit card format.

4. Do the current M2M management platforms need to be upgraded to work with these new technologies?
Andrew: So, “upgraded” can mean a lot of different things. But it seems to me that to the extent that a new LPWAN technology provides insight into what’s going on at the network level, at the physical level in terms of RF quality, packet loss latency, and so forth. If there’s something interesting that LPWAN technology can tell a management platform about what’s going on in the field, then that management platform would need to be upgraded to take full advantage of that. That’s how I would approach that.

Brent: The management platforms understand that these devices are not always reachable. And things like timeouts where I didn’t get a response versus in this amount of time, when you get to those lower power, higher latency devices that might break your system. And we see that as we look at our router products which are connected all the time versus our battery-powered IoT products which connect very rarely.

The management platforms can handle it, but sometimes the mentality of the user can’t because they expect things to be connected all the time, and that’s just not going to be the case with the battery IoT products.

And that might be the case with certain, even like SCADA systems that expect the device to be connected all the time. And if it’s not, they error out. So I can see some updates required in those type of systems.

Watch the full webinar below:

5 Lessons Learned from the Mirai DDoS Attack

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Security is always top of mind when it comes to IoT devices and applications. The recent Mirai DDoS attack in October 2016 is an important reminder that IoT device manufacturers—and consumers—need to be vigilant with security, both out of the box and at home.

Recently, Andrew Lund, Digi’s Product Marketing Manager for Wireless M2M and IoT, shared his thoughts with IoT Evolution on the Mirai attack and what lessons could be learned to help improve security for IoT devices and applications. Below is an excerpt of five of Andrew’s best practices from IoT Evolution’s piece, which you can read in full here.

  1. Change default passwords:
    Given the attack vector that Mirai used, it’s clear that one area Device OEMs can make design decisions to increase security is with respect to passwords. The days of leaving the default password unchanged are over, so manufacturers must either force users to change passwords or create a “default” passwords that are unique to each individual IoT device.
  2. Don’t allow insecure ingress protocols:
    Mirai malware contains “killer” scripts that remove other worms and Trojans, allowing Mirai to maximize its use of the infected host device. But Mirai also goes one step further and closes processes that are used for remote ingress attempts, like Telnet, SSH, and HTTP.
  3. Secure remote management tools:
    Efficient, cost-effective method of remotely monitoring, updating and managing connected devices. Users can set performance parameters for healthy devices and create reports and alarms for suspicious activity. Using a remote manager that incorporates PCI-DSS and other relevant security certifications in the cloud such as HIPAA and NIST allow users to define a device profile, assign the profile to all devices in a group, and monitor and auto-remediate any variances. The best remote management tools can also restrict incoming traffic to only allow SSL connections, eliminating unencrypted TCP connections.
  4. Firmware updates:
    Firmware updates must be completed securely (authentication) and automatically, or at a minimum, users must be notified/prompted when a new firmware update is available.
  5. Packet encryption:
    This consists of basic encryption, such as FIPS-197/AES, to protect messages from unauthorized viewing or malicious changes. This method is easy to implement and use, especially in conjunction with private keys.

TO LEARN MORE, READ THE FULL POST HERE >>

Big Data and IoT Team Up for the Gaming and Lottery Industries

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Online gaming and virtual gambling have risen significantly due to increased mobile accessibility, social media, technology advancements and expanded internet connectivity. Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are proving to be even more of a game changer for these industries by collecting large amounts of data, from a variety of gameplay data sources, while rapidly connecting and communicating to thousands of sites.

You may experience this IoT evolution when you are playing Words With Friends® on your smartphone with college classmates across the country, or when you play poker on your computer with complete strangers across the globe. Regardless of your gaming or gambling experience, we all know how critical real-time connection is when we are trying to win. Now translate those wins into $6 billion of revenue, and the stakes of rapid connectivity are significantly heightened like for the world’s largest slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) . With more than 400,000 point-of-sale devices in 100 countries, watch the video below to learn why IGT turned to Digi TransPort® LTE wireless routers to keep those bets and wagers flowing:

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