Archive for the 'Networking' Category

Faludi Speaks on Embedded.fm

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Elicia White

I spent a fun hour the other day talking with Elicia White on her podcast, Embedded.fm: The Show for People Who Love Gadgets. We chatted about XBees, ZigBee, my book, sensors, data science and more. I had just come from visiting NASA, so I even got to explain a bit about how they are putting XBees in Space.

Elicia is an embedded systems consultant at Logical Elegance. She wrote the book Making Embedded Systems for O’Reilly, works at PARC and interviews like a pro. The episode is called: “Make us All Into Sherlock Holmes.”

Have a listen:

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XBees in Space

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xbee-in-spaceNASA’s Ames Research Center is putting the first ZigBee radio network into space! XBee radios will form a prototype telemetry system on a NASA Soarex sounding rocket launching this coming January, 2015.

The NASA sounding rocket will journey into space around 200 miles above the earth, run experiments and then return ballistically into the Atlantic Ocean. The on-spacecraft ZigBee network will be used to monitor a new parachute-like exo-brake that will be deployed for testing hypersonic braking in the thin upper-atmosphere. Exo-brakes are being tested for returning samples from Earth orbit, and for slowing landers on other planets like Mars where the atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s.

soarex-7_launch

Soarex launch

A three-node XBee ZigBee network will be used to monitor the exo-brake performance so that no wires need to be added to the device. The nodes will monitor six different acceleration parameters as well as overall temperature and air pressure. Future wireless networks may be used to monitoring the spacecraft structure itself. This network can also be made available to other experiments on the same flight to route their telemetry to an Iridium radio that transmits all the data via satellite back to Earth. This last link is essential because the sounding rocket will not be recovered intact. Like Laika the Soviet Space Dog, NASA’s XBees are taking a one way trip for the benefit of science.

Wireless networks on spacecraft are a new idea. Traditionally all onboard connections use physical cabling. This adds weight, complexity and the need for extra fuel. Because aerospace is a necessarily conservative endeavor, new technologies are typically introduced slowly. Therefore rather than just taking everything wireless all at once, ZigBee is being tested first on missions where the higher risk of new tech is acceptable. After successful trials the systems should be proven enough to go into a hardening process before being incorporated into more critical projects where risks must be kept to a minimum.

Arduino-XBee-NASA

XBee Arduino prototypesc

Modern NASA programs are mandated to avoid the expense of creating custom hardware when viable alternatives are available commercially. Experimental systems like wireless networks for spacecraft are also started on shoestring budgets, often assisted by student engineers. Therefore everything on this ZigBee project is being prototyped using off-the-shelf maker components such as Arduino boards, adapter shields from SparkFun Electronics and XBee ZB radio modules from Digi International. XBee was selected because it is easy to incorporate with Arduino, well-documented and readily commercially available.

Soarex-Payload-Area

Soarex payload bays

The system is being designed with a little help from my Building Wireless Sensor Networks book, and a lot of expertise from the NASA team. If this first test goes well, the next version will be more customized and could include the Programmable XBee or even the XBee Plus Arduino board that I’ve been prototyping over the last few months.

The project team at NASA includes Richard Alena and Thom Stone, who have written papers including ”Fault tolerance in ZigBee networks” and “ZigBee – A Smart, Viable, Wireless Architecture for Spacecraft Avionics.”

 

Here’s video from a prior launch of the Soarex rocket that will carry XBee radios where no XBee has gone before:

Botanicalls on Smithsonian Channel’s Amazing Plants

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Botanicalls was recently featured in the Smithsonian Channel’s “Amazing Plants” documentary. There’s even beauty shots of the Arduino and XBee radio components!

Also here’s the segment, filmed all the way back in 2007:

Botanicalls Smithsonian Channel Amazing Plants

Digi Employee Hackathon: XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit

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Hack10

Last week, we held a Digi Employee Hackathon to put the new XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit to the test. This is one of several ways we are working on designing outstanding user experiences for new Digi products. With the kits, the teams were able to build projects that connected with the cloud right away. One team member reported, “I got from the box to the cloud in under 20 minutes.” Using the kit’s dashboard, new widgets were  developed to whimsically represent data being collected by Device Cloud. Rain, food safety and even child development were addressed by our project teams.

I’m looking forward to doing more of these internal hackathons in the coming year. They’re fun!

Read more about this hackathon on the Digi Blog.

Digi Tracks Shuttles for 100,000 at Dreamforce

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ConnectedShuttles

 

We just connected 100,000 Dreamforce conference attendees with 60 shuttle busses, tracking them over hundreds of miles of San Francisco area routes. And it worked perfectly! Digi’s Etherios division teamed up with the Dreamforce folks to provide attendees with real-time information on the status and location of the shuttle buses they use to get around to different event locations and to Bay Area hotels. It’s a great example of the Internet of Things coming to life and creating real-world value for a business and its customers.
Attendees used the Dreamforce Mobile Application to quickly map where their next bus was along with arrival and departure timesThe Etherios Cloud Connector running on an Android platform acquired GPS location data from each shuttle. Next, Verizon Wireless sponsored mobile connectivity to Device Cloud, which then used the Social Machine from the Salesforce App Exchange to gateway the Connected Shuttles, their data, reporting, alarms, processes and resolutions into Salesforce. Mapbox provided all the wonderful maps.
100,000 attendees tracked the 60 coaches, displayed their routes, stops, movement, arrivals and departures over the course of the entire event. In addition we streamed all the data to the Dreamforce Transportation Command Center for dispatch and assignment, along with proactive monitoring of the system’s battery levels, charge states, whether any shuttle was off-route, the spacing between them and so forth.

Etherios and the Connected Shuttles were promoted in the Dreamforce Live recorded series:

Some results…
  • Every attendee knew where every shuttle was, all the time
  • Informed attendees were happier customers, helping Salesforce demonstrate their commitment to being a customer company
  • Any issues with the transportation system could be addressed prior to customer impact
  • The event managers and transportation providers could keep an eye on quality of services and performance
  • Dreamforce and Salesforce maintained situational awareness over the entire system
  • And 100,000 people got where they wanted to go!

Here’s screenshots of the application and some photos from the event:

Faludi on NOVA Next “To Automate Everything”

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NOVA-next-logoI’m quoted this week on the NOVA web site in a well-done NOVA-next summary piece by Alison Bruzek’s about the Internet of Things. It’s called “To Automate Everything, Solve These Three Challenges“:

…Connected devices are just beginning to slip into homes, from smart thermostats to apps that unlock your door without a key…as the internet of things is poised to remake our homes and offices, it’s facing perhaps its most critical test: adoption by the average consumer. The intelligent future promised by entrepreneurs won’t catch on if those devices can’t connect to each other automatically, lack intuitive programmability, or aren’t appealing designed. If they fail at any one of these, automating our homes may be more trouble than its worth.

nova-next-lamps-image

I argue that this intelligent future won’t arrive as some brave new world of scary robots, descending on us en masse. And you certainly won’t bring it all home in one bag.

The best, easiest-to-use smart objects will likely look no different than devices we use today, Faludi points out. “A big chunk of this will just be baked into things that we buy,” he says. “You won’t buy an ‘internet of things.’

Read more of the article online on the NOVA web site .

Maker Faire: XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit Wins Editor’s Choice

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IMG_4249

The new XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit won an Editor’s Choice award at Maker Faire NYC! My team at Digi International has been hard at work all summer bringing together this modular kit to help users  create XBee Wi-Fi connected devices for the Internet of Things. There’s a development board with all kinds of input and output components plus modular widgets to make building online web interfaces for seeing data and controlling devices a snap. The kit gets online right out of the box, and contains additional loose components to help you create your own circuits and wire them to the web. Look for an XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit release in November.

We also showed off the beta of Digi’s XCTU configuration tool and presented “Make it Awesome: How to Internet-Enable Your Project.” Here’s some more photos from our fabulous weekend at Maker Faire NYC:

IMG_4218 IMG_4221 IMG_4229

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2013-09-22 12.01.04 2013-09-21-11.10.05 IMG_4249

 

New XCTU for Mac & Windows

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XCTUng

Get a sneak peek of the brand new version of Digi’s XCTU for Mac & Windows! It’s the official tool to configure and test XBee radios, as well as other Digi devices. Get the New XCTU beta version below, completely redesigned from the ground up with:

  • a fresh new user interface
  • expanded discovery options
  • automatic device recovery feature
  • local and remote radio management
  • API frame generator and interpreter
  • automatic updates with more features on the way!

Check out these screen shots for a sneak peek. Then download the new XCTU 6.0.0.9 beta:

xctu_1 xctu_2 xctu_3xctu_4

 

World Maker Faire NY 2013: Make Your Project Awesome

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World Maker Faire NY is less than a week away! We’ll have project demos for you to check out, a new development kit, and we’ll be giving a talk on connecting your projects to the Internet. It’s going to be an extremely fun weekend. If you’re going to Maker Faire, be sure to stop by the Digi booth where we will be debuting our XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit. The Kit makes Internet-enabling your project easy. Maker Faire attendees also have a chance to sign up for the beta version of Digi’s new XCTU software.

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Digi’s Liz Presson  and I will be presenting September 22, 2013 at 12:00p.m. EST on the Electronics Stage. We’ll show you how an Internet connection can improve your project and turn it into something amazing. This will be a great first step to getting your projects online. Everything from how to get started, what technologies to use and examples of great internet enabled projects will be covered.

Learn more about the talk here!

Digi Deploys 500-Node Internet of Things Network for Data Sensing Lab at Google I/O

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Michael-Explaining-the-Data

This week we are taking part in deploying over 500 sensor motes at Google’s developer conference, Google I/O, May 15-17. The network will make up the Data Sensing Lab, a project that utilizes Digi’s XBee ZigBee modules and ConnectPort wireless gateways. The sensor data will be collected and managed by Device Cloud. The project demonstrates how real-time machine-to-machine data can provide insight into customer behaviors and preferences.

The senor network will provide more than 4,000 data streams running over Device Cloud with continuous updates on temperature, pressure, light, air quality, motion and noise levels in San Francisco’s Moscone Center during the conference. The Google Cloud Platform team will gather, transform, and analyze the information, then share heat maps and other data visualizations in collaboration with the Google Maps team.

data-sensing-lab-sensor-diagram

Google is getting a global view of their entire multi-million dollar event, as it plays out in real time. They’re learning where people are going and when, how loud the applause is for each presentation, where it’s figuratively hot and where it’s literally cool. But they’re also learning how easy it is to integrate Device Cloud’s APIs with their own cloud-based business systems. Google and Digi collaborated to create a complete end-to-end solution in just a few weeks, one that’s ready to hand us 40 million fascinating data points.”

The Data Sensing Lab crew, Alasdair Allan of Babilim Light Industries, Kipp Bradford of Kippworks, Rob Faludi of Digi International, Michael Manoochehri, Amy Unruh and Kim Cameron of Google and Julie Steele of O’Reilly Media, created the project to collect data to answer questions about the physical world in a fun and awe-inspiring way. For more information about the software involved in this project, attend the “Behind the Data Sensing Lab” session on May 16, 5:20 – 6 p.m. PDT.

Here’s a bit of the press we’ve gotten so far about the project: