Embedded Solutions and Edge-Computing Demos, Talks by IoT Experts at #ele18
The Digi team was in Munich, Germany for the Electronica tradeshow, November 13-16, 2018. We had a great time talking with our booth visitors about emerging technologies, the functionality and use cases of our IoT solutions, and what’s coming. We also enjoyed sharing our demos with the many people who stopped by the Digi booth. Meanwhile, our featured speakers shared insights at three well-attended presentations.
In case you missed it, here is a review from the show floor, including the demos we presented and an overview of the talks by Digi’s featured presenters.
Digi XBee3 Demo with Bluetooth Low Energy
Digi released the Digi XBee3® module at the beginning of 2018, and we continue to add functionality. All of the XBee3 modules we have released were Bluetooth-enabled.
At the Electronica trade show, we released the new Bluetooth functionality, including Bluetooth firmware support and a tool for mobile devices that enables you to configure and manage your XBee devices when in range. If you are familiar with XCTU, you will be familiar with the XBee Mobile App — a mobile version of XCTU that provides all the same functionality for device configuration and firmware management.
The demo consists of a Zigbee network with three XBee3 modules running MicroPython code that drives LEDs connected to the devices. These light up when the devices connect to the network. A Digi XBee Industrial Gateway manages the traffic on the network.
From an iPad running the XBee mobile app, we discover the three devices and open them in the app. Each node on the network is identified by its MAC ID.
Because Bluetooth is not inherently a secure communication protocol, we have followed our Digi TrustFence® security framework and implemented the Secure Remote Password protocol developed at Stanford University. With this security process in place, the application encrypts the password and then writes it to the module. In the event of a security breach, a hacker cannot access the device password.
To demonstrate the Bluetooth connectivity, we log into the device from the mobile app, go to the Networking menu, and change the device PAN ID. This takes the device off the network and the LED for that device turns off. To add it back to the network, we simply change the PAN ID back to its former setting.
Additionally, we can perform a range of configuration tasks, just as we would using Digi’s XCTU software on a computer. However, with Bluetooth, we can perform these steps without connecting to the XBee network.
We also show our Network Assistant tool with this demo, which is a productivity tool for updating devices on the network and handling certain network tasks.
To use Network Assistant, you download the software, then plug an XBee device into your computer. When the XBee device is connected to the network, you can review all of the devices on that network, and do some troubleshooting.
For example, you can check the quality of the connection, evaluate link budgets, map out the network of XBees, and do firmware updates across the whole network.
If you are familiar with XCTU, you will be familiar with the XBee Mobile App — a mobile version of XCTU that provides all the same functionality for device configuration and firmware management. Get it in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Digi XBee3 Cellular Smart Modem Demo
The newest member of the Digi XBee family is the Digi XBee LTE-M/NB-IoT module, offering one multi-band product that supports your LTE-M and NB-IoT infrastructure. This global module allows you to take advantage of low-cost, low-power applications for LTE-M and NB-IoT.
The demo includes a four-panel display.
- • The top-left panel shows a map that illustrates the location of our two modules: one in the U.S. and one in Logrono, Spain.
- • The top-right panel shows a temperature and humidity sensor connected to a development board at the Digi office in Logrono. Our team in Logrono also connected a small display to the board, and positioned a camera in order to show the setup on our monitor in Munich.
- • The bottom-left pane shows a data chart that tracks the change in values of temperature and humidity. The data gathered from the sensor is fed through cloud-based Digi Remote Manager and displayed in this chart.
- • The bottom-right panel shows the options for changing the remote display via SMS message. The short list of options in the lower right panel were prepared for this demo.
To demonstrate the functionality, we enter a value into a text message on a cell phone. For example, we enter a number from 1 to 5 to show a message, a “T” to show temperature, and an “H” to show humidity. This generates an SMS message, which is sent to the remote device via a small MicroPython program. We see that the readout on the visual display changes when we send the message.
Additionally, we receive a read-out on the cell phone that shows the new value appearing on the display.
In this case, we sent a “1” via SMS message, which is programmed in the MicroPython code to change the display readout to “Digi Connects!” The program also sends this same message back to the mobile phone.
SteadyServ Beer Manager Inventory Tool Demo
While our device demos were an enormous hit with embedded device lovers and developers, our SteadyServ beer demo launched conversations around the novelty of IoT solutions for the service industry. And it involved serving beer. You can read about the SteadyServ enterprise and our demo in a blog post about the demo we posted prior to the show.
For this demo, we display SteadyServ’s custom “iKeg” application on a monitor over a serving area, which displays the beer type, keg volume, and usage over time.
The physical setup includes a keg, visible in the image on the right, and a “kegerator” hidden in the cabinet on the left. The keg sits on a weight sensor connected to a Digi XBee Industrial Gateway.
The weight sensor provides the keg volume by weight, and delivers the usage data to the iKeg application, which under normal usage would be viewable on a mobile device.
By serving beer to our booth visitors, we are able to demonstrate the drop in keg level over time.
If you have an application in mind, but need design advice, help with board layout, or certification assistance, Digi’s Wireless Design Services can help take your concept from ideation to market-readiness. Contact WDS.
Digi’s IoT Expert Presentations at Electronica
Our team delivered three presentations. Here’s a brief overview of each of these talks. Contact Digi if you would like more information on the topics covered.
Yocto Project Linux as a Platform for Embedded Systems Design
Alex Gonzalez, Digi International Supervisor of Software Engineering delivered a talk about open source operating systems in embedded design. As part of the software track, this session covered a wide-range of issues when selecting an operating system for an embedded project, including acquisition cost, source code availability, and its broad architecture support. Making the right choices regarding these factors can lead to a significantly improved time-to-market and a reduction in platform design risk and effort.
What is Edge Compute?
Andreas Burghart, Digi International Solution Sales Engineer, presented a talk on edge computing to make the most of your extended network’s capabilities. As part of the Machine Learning Track, this session covered how bringing intelligence to the edge demands a different way of thinking about existing IT infrastructures. Touchstones in the talk included extending compute capabilities intelligently, opening up new opportunities and revenue streams with more compute power, and improving time to market.
Selecting Cellular LPWAN Technology for the IoT
Mark Tekippe, Digi International Director of Product Management, Embedded and RF, presented a talk on Cellular LPWAN technology, including features of and use cases for the different network technologies available today. As part of the IoT Track, this session addressed considerations for selecting the best connectivity technology for low-power, low-bandwidth requirements in the IoT, touching on LTE Cat 1, LTE-M, NB-IoT and more.