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Intelligent Edge Connectivity Highlights at Embedded World 2018

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Last week at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany we teamed up with Silicon Labs to showcase smart edge Internet of Things (IoT) technology with simplified integration of cellular IoT connectivity and dramatically reduced development challenges. Built as a heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) reference application, we demonstrated a complete connected system with a local liquid crystal display (LCD) based graphical user interface, temperature sensors, fan, and cloud connectivity for remote monitoring and control.

The Digi XBee3 cellular and Silicon Labs demo in the Digi Booth Hall 3 Booth #518 at Embedded World 2018.

At the heart of the demo is Silicon Labs’ new Giant Gecko Series 1 microcontroller (MCU) driving the local LCD and user buttons for temperature set point control, temperature sensing, and fan control. The system also demonstrates the innovative local distribution of edge intelligence by taking advantage of Micro Python based data transformation capabilities and smart Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) connectivity on the Digi XBee3 Cellular in combination with the Micrium embedded application running on the Silicon Labs MCU. Integrated AWS IoT cloud connectivity allows for remote access and control of the simulated HVAC system by offering mobile set point control and status monitoring.

HVAC systems are a critical component as part of new building automation concepts in smart city applications, residential structures, and industrial buildings, providing intelligent energy management and improved air quality. A connected HVAC system delivers a host of benefits for the end-customer as well as device manufacturers and service organizations:

The Silicon Labs demo in Hall 4A, Booth 128 at Embedded World 2018.Easy Remote Access and Control

Easy Remote Access and Control 

  • Easy and always available management by end-customers
  • Remote troubleshooting for service organizations

Enhanced user experience

  • Self-learning, intelligent comfort settings based on behavior patterns
  • Potential for future cloud services based integration such as conversational user interfaces

Improved operational management and cost

  • Remote firmware upgrade for security updates and new features
  • Centralized data analytics of operational history to optimize equipment performance and provide detailed usage insight
  • Intelligent optimization of cellular connectivity cost through Digi XBee3 smart modem integration

New Service Concepts

  • Improved reliability through preventive maintenance such as early failure detection of a fan or burner
  • Optimized replacement of consumables such as filters

The system is more than just a connected HVAC demo. It also shows how IoT concepts can deliver immediate value and benefit, while providing a platform with built-in potential for new features and capabilities in the future. It also demonstrates the opportunities that are opening up when edge intelligence and cloud intelligence come together and combine the traditional “big data” concept provided by the cloud with “intelligent data” from the edge. Ultimately, this will reduce the amount and improving the quality of “big data” generated by IoT edge devices while also optimizing the scale of local network traffic required to exchange data between the edge and the cloud, including optimizing the cost of the underlying cloud services. All of those are concepts are required to drive scalability and efficiency of virtually every IoT application combined with the massive scale of connected devices we are going to see.

>>Watch the new Digi XBee3 Cellular introduction video to learn more smart-sized cellular IoT connectivity.

5 Big Blockchain Concepts to Understand for IoT and Security Applications

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Despite the popular belief, blockchain is not the universal remedy for security applications but its future potential to improve IoT security and robustness should not be discredited. During a recent depth Q&A IoT technology expert, Scott Nelson, and a Blockchain security expert, discussed the world of cyber security. Below are five facts to understand about Blockchain security:

  1. Private blockchains are unlikely to offer economic advantage over existing key-based secure databases.
  2. Blockchain works in trustless applications, but with the security comes transparency that can limit utility.
  3. Blockchain works well for data streams that do not change, e.g. time-based temperature and shock experience of a thing, but developers must remember that the robustness of the distributed ledger comes at the expense of flexibility.
  4. Proof-of-stake is more likely to be the right approach to managing a ledger for IoT due to the cost and complexity of proof-of-work used in cryptocurrencies.
  5. Authentication and authorization are not part of blockchain and have to be added and curated to implement a blockchain-based application. The promise of automated transactions from blockchain will only be realized with the addition of authentication and authorization techniques.

These are just 5 key considerations when evaluating Blockchain. Clearly blockchain is not the security panacea that one may perceive from the hype, but it also has some strong attributes that will be valuable to some IoT applications.

>>For a full Q&A on this topic of Blockchain click here.

A Look Into IoT Activities at AWS re:Invent

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AWS IoT Roadmap

Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:invent 2017 is a leading industry event that should not be mistaken for your typical Internet of Things (IoT) event. Last week thousands of attendees came together in Las Vegas, Nevada to listen to a diverse selection of speakers from different IoT spaces across the globe, to attend unique networking opportunities, and to gain new insight into the IoT world. In a recent article, “CEO Andy Jassey reveals AWS’ plans for the IoT” Digi Chief Product Officer and VP of Product, Scott Nelson, explains the array of new services that will be introduced into the AWS ecosystem in the near future.

The keynote session was broken down into segments represented by iconic music artists such as Lauryn Hill, Eric Clapton, and Tom Petty. The AWS IoT strategy includes the following features:

  1. Getting into the game
  2. Device management
  3. Security
  4. Analytics
  5. Smaller devices
  6. Machine Learning

Speaking Session: Leaves to Lawn: AWS Greengrass at the Edge and Beyond

As an advance tier technology partner is the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN) we have recently achieved IoT Competency status and were honored to co-present on the third day re:invent 2017. Watch the full session below:

Digi Software Engineeing Supervisor, Alex Gonzalez Garcia co-presented with AWS Partner Solution Architect, Richard Elberger to discuss how AWS Greengrass fits into Original Equipment Manager (OEM), ODM, and IT service delivery models. They were particularly excited to elaborate on how this status will build upon Greengrass and these new AWS services to help customers build more intelligence at the edge.

Building for What’s Next: AWS re:Invent Andy Jassy Keynote Recap

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It’s Day 3 at AWS re:Invent and this morning’s keynote from AWS CEO Andy Jassy has us fired up! Joining Andy on stage were an impressive array of AWS customers:

Expedia, Goldman Sachs, and the NFL, all of whom made a compelling case for building on AWS. With one example after another, what got us most excited was the number of customers adopting AWS services and accelerating the pace of change. With what seemed like dozens of new AWS services, Andy made a convincing case that the time to start building is now.

Andy revealed an array of new services on AWS covering everything from containers to streaming video.  But the wrap up of his keynote focused on the newest frontier for the AWS cloud – the Internet of Things (IoT).  Andy noted that getting data from the edge to the cloud is still a challenge for most “builders” working in the IoT.  The AWS IoT team has thus focused on making connecting the edge and extending their intelligence to the edge an area of focus.  For example, Andy introduced Amazon SageMaker for machine learning, and three new natural language services called Transcribe, Translate and Comprehend. One of the most interesting to us at Digi is AWS Greengrass ML Inference which is a new service that leverages SageMaker to make predictions at the edge of the network reducing latency. These new technologies will allow Digi to tighten our technology partnership with AWS by embedding additional services into our line of edge devices and thereby enabling customers in any application to capture the value leveraging both the edge and the cloud.

As an AWS IOT Competency partner, Digi is excited to build upon Greengrass and these new AWS services to help our customers build more intelligence at the edge.

>>Click here to learn more about  Digi and AWS.

Digi is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner – IoT Competency

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Digi is proud to be an AWS Advanced Technology Partner with IoT Competency certification. Thanks to the integration of AWS IoT and AWS Greengrass, Digi is making it easier to build, connect, and manage products. Digi and AWS Greengrass combine secure edge intelligence, smart IoT endpoint connectivity, and intelligent cellular networking to provide the following features:

  • Filter and process data locally – this means sending less data to the cloud, and saving more money.
  • Avoid latency by staying local – this will remove the issue of internet accessibility and bandwidth.
  • Improve security and compliance – keep local copies of data or even run entire systems without sending anything to the cloud if desired.

Being an AWS advanced technology partner provides users the ability to accelerate from idea to prototype to deployment using local instructions of AWS lambda, Digi Remote Manager® and Digi TrustFence™ security framework to bring enhanced security and manageability to devices running AWS Greengrass. This powerful combination embodies a series of critical features that enable top-to-bottom security assurance; features like secure connections, authenticated boot, secure physical ports, and more.

In addition to joining the AWS Partner Network, Digi is excited to be a sponsor of AWS re:Invent 2017, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. The Digi team will be at booth 209 in the Quad at the Aria to discuss how we can help you build smart IoT devices using AWS Greengrass and AWS IoT with secure and pre-certified connected system-on-modules, single board computers and wireless modules that enable fast and simple design integration in industrial applications. Stay tuned for event updates, information on how to win a Digi ConnectCore® 6UL Starter Kit, and details about the our joint speaking session with AWS, Leaves to Lawns: AWS Greengrass at the Edge and Beyond, at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the MGM Grand, Level 1, Ballroom 119.

>>Learn more about Digi support for  AWS Greengrass.

 

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.

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