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13-year-old XBee Project Innovator Teaches Tech to MIT graduates

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Our friend Quin is always up to big things. Most recently, the 13-year-old innovator has decided to kick off his career in education early by hosting technology classes at MIT. We were lucky enough to meet Quin back when he used XBee modules in the infamous “gas cap.” Since then, we’re constantly chatting with Quin about his projects over social media, hanging out and talking shop at Maker Faire events around the country, and now, watching him tell his story on BBC. Go Quin!

XBee Crew & Quin at World Maker Faire

“In less than three years, 13-year-old Quin Etnyre learned to program electronics, created his own company, and began teaching MIT graduates in his spare time,” the BBC article, which accompanies the video below, reads.

Students Innovate with Digi: DALE, A Net Zero Smart Home

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

DALE (Dynamic Augmented Living Environment) is a net zero, rail-mounted, and dynamic dwelling, designed and built by a student led team from CalTech. DALE brings those living in the dwelling to the outside by opening itself and closing to harness the beautiful weather and reduce energy consumption.

The dwelling is designed to reduce energy consumption through the use of solar power, energy monitoring,  and the ability to reacts to its environment by opening and closing. DALE will be on display while competing in the 2013 Solar Decathalon.

Within the home a wireless network has been established. This is where Digi comes in. Throughout the home there are sensors installed that monitor temperature, humidity, and light. These sensors relay the data collected through a ConnectPort Gateway for cloud storage.

A smart meter is also used to monitor energy consumption of the dwelling. The team chose Device Cloud to collect and store data from the sensors and smart meter, which can be used for further analysis. This data is then used by a custom web application developed by the team.

The application enables control of DALE, so that it can open, close, and make suggestions to its residents on how they can save energy. For instance, if the temperature sensors are reading a hot temperature, DALE can suggest to open the windows or even use the rail system to open up the entire dwelling and let fresh air in.

Similar solutions are becoming more common-place in the industrial setting as well. Companies are using creative solutions to cut back on energy use and to drive other efficiencies. Just one example, OEM Technology Solutions creates products that share data with train operators. With the data, the operator can monitor and control temperature in a train to improve the comfort level of passengers. An application can alert the conductor of optimal times to turn air on and off. The train then uses outside air to cool down rather than an energy demanding air conditioning system. Efficiencies of just 1% can result in billions of dollars saved.

For more information on DALE check out the video below and visit their website at meetdale.com.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Create Your Own Outcome: Easton LaChappelle Reinvents the Conventional Prosthesis

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Colorado 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle is on a mission to change the world with his XBee enabled prosthesis.

“I’m from a small town. This year’s graduating class had 23 people. The nearest Radio Shack is an hour away. I had to find my own thing to do—which was good. I just wanted to make something useful.” Easton said in a casual and confident voice. “Last week I spoke to 2,000 people at TEDx, this is what I’m meant to do.”

TEDx is just one of the endeavors Easton has taken on, his Kickstarter campaign raised over $18,000 in 30 days, he’s been to the White House, shaken hands with the President of the United States and landed work with NASA.

What started out as a simple glove with flex sensors is now on it’s way to becoming one of the world’s most advanced prosthesis with a waiting list of 300 amputees.

Easton and one version of the robotic arm

Here’s how Easton, at 17 years old, is making his mark on the world.

At 14, Easton tapped into his desire to take things apart and put them back together in a new way. With an Arduino and direction from online communities like Instructables, SparkFun and Hack a day, Easton has self-taught himself how to build with electronics and how to program the electronics.

He came up with the idea to create a wireless hand that’s controlled by a glove. “I found flex sensors and sewed them onto a glove. I made my own custom PCB boards, a custom servo shield. Then, I added XBee modules. The wireless transceivers makes the project much better.”

While Easton’s drive paired with his cool and collected personality make the road to his accomplishments look easy, he admits that he had to learn a lot—from configuring XBees to programming the system.

While Easton has had a lot to learn, he has a distinct goal in mind. In his own words, he’s “reinventing the conventional prosthesis.”

“I wanted to make an arm that was lighter than a humans, but had the same strength– all the way up to the shoulder. I’ve achieved all of that for a low price,” Easton explained. “The other half is the control system. It uses a wireless brain EEG headset that picks up 10 different channels of your brain.”

The next generation of the hand can sustain 50 pounds of weight on an individual finger. Accessibility is key, so Easton has worked to get the price down to about $400 by using 3-D printers to bring his designs to life.

Easton’s work with robotics doesn’t stop at reinventing conventional prosthetics, he’s also interning with NASA. At NASA, he’s working on mechanical design and a tele-robotic arm. The project he’s working on, the Robonaut, which also uses Digi products, mocks human movements to perform maintenance tasks or duties that are dangerous for astronauts.

So what’s next for Easton? He’s sticking to his goal of helping people with prostheses. In the next two weeks, the first arm will officially be used as a working prosthesis. Easton plans on continuing to do public talks and share his work with the world. “Inspiring younger people is my way of giving back,” he says.

While many 17 years olds are focused on college, Easton has seen school as a hurdle. While he has a number of full ride offers, he doesn’t know if he’ll be attending college immediately.

Easton explains that he’ll be “getting his senior year out of the way” and continuing to work on prosthetics. “Kickstarter proved that there is a market, so now I’m going to work to fill that need. Education systems have boundaries, and you don’t always have to work within the boundaries of systems. You can do things to achieve your own outcomes, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

How To Start A Hackerspace by Eric Michaud on Adafruit

The Internet of Things: Coming to a Classroom Near You by David LaMartina on EdCetera
Pairs well with: 5 Ways to Learn Even if You’re Not Headed B2S4 Resources for Learning Electronics

Digi Launches XBee-PRO 900HP RF Module With a Range of Up to 45 Km on CNXSoftware

Toyota Tests Cars That Communicate With Each Other by Yuri Kageyama on Wireless Week

Smart thermostats are taking over Las Vegas by Katie Fehrenbacher on Gigaom
featuring EcoFactor

Arduino Wireless Connectivity with XBee by Roy Wood on Wired

Do you have a link to share? Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @XBeeWireless — we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

6 Ways to Learn Even If You’re Not (technically) Headed B2S

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One of the best things about technology is that there’s always more to learn. There’s an endless amount of projects and possibilities. Here are just 6 ways you can school yourself into making something cool (and learn a lot along the way). These are great resources for those looking to learn more and for those looking to empower others through knowledge. For instance, next time you want to empower your employees, suggest that they take time to develop a skill they feel passionate about. Life-longer learner or leader, a fact that you’ll appreciate: the classes and resources listed below are all under $100 or free (yes, free). Enjoy!


Machine Learning 
Learn about the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.


Web Intelligence and Big Data
This course is about building `web-intelligence’ applications exploiting big data sources arising social media, mobile devices and sensors, using new big-data platforms based on the ‘map-reduce’ parallel programming paradigm.


Arduino Basics: Electronics for Artists and Hobbyists
This is a physical class in Brooklyn, NY. Skillshare offers local class all around the United States.

This course is designed for beginners who know little, if anything, about programming or electrical engineering. The class will be broken into three parts: key electronics concepts, understanding and programming Arduinos, and getting our hands dirty with sample projects.


Computer Architecture
In this course, you will learn to design the computer architecture of complex modern microprocessors.


Digi’s Examples and Guides Site
This site shows you how to wirelessly connect sensors, outputs, motors, lights and the Internet to XBee radios and other products. Just getting started? There’s a getting started page that covers the basics too.


From Tesla to the Transisor: An Intro to Electronic Circuits
This is a physical class in Brooklyn, NY. Skillshare offers local class all around the United States.

What is electricity? This course will aim to shed light on the elusive, invisible force that has become an integral part of our lives. Through hands-on experimentation in a small classroom environment, participants will learn to detect, quantify, and manipulate electricity in the tradition of the great pioneers of this science such as Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla.

BeeSim Game

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BeeSim Game

By Prof. Kylie Peppler, Prof. Joshua Danish, Benjamin Zaitlen, Alexander Jacobs and Diane Glosson of Indiana University

BeeSim Game on MAKE

BeeSim Game on Instructables

“To teach children about complexity theory, a group from Indiana University created an electronic game called BeeSim using LilyPad Arduinos and XBee radios. During the game children wear a Bee puppet wrist band with embedded electronics to allow for game play. The children have a finite amount of time (45 seconds) to collect and deposit nectar and a finite storage capacity of nectar (3 units). During the allotted time, a child runs from flower to flower and tries to collect nectar. A child can collect one unit of nectar from any given flower (if the flower is not empty) and will also be informed as to how much nectar remains inside the flower (via LED Array 1). A child may collect nectar from the same flower more than once. Once the child’s nectar stomach (represented via a LED array 2) has been filled, he or she returns to the hive and deposits the stored nectar. If time runs out prior to depositing nectar, the nectar is lost and is not counted. When a child’s turn is over, marked either by running out of time or by making a successful deposit, the bee puppet is passed to a teammate.”

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