Collaborative Strategy at Digi International

I just started a terrific new job! In July, Digi International invited me to join their R&D team as Collaborative Strategy Leader. My mandate is to forge stronger connections with the maker community, discover outstanding new work, help Digi contribute to those projects and support innovation in general.

Some of my cool new role will include:

  • building a thriving developer community
  • locating interesting new projects that can benefit from Digi’s support
  • helping makers get their devices connected to the cloud
  • driving the creation of new examples and kits
  • helping developers publish, present, workshop and teach
  • speaking at summits, panel discussions or other gatherings
  • …and pushing the boundaries with some innovative work of my own

By creating this position Digi hopes to uncover new markets and design new products that engage inventors. We’ll be looking to shine a light on your extraordinary new creative projects. There’s incredible work coming out of design labs, hacker spaces, basements and garages these days. If you’re doing something excellent with XBee radios, or connected devices of any make (we’re brand agnostic), let us know what you’re doing and how we can help you!

9 Comments on “Collaborative Strategy at Digi International

  1. How fantastic, Rob. I think they’ve chosen the perfect person.

    If there’s one overriding theme I could wish for it would be to lower the cost of entry into the WSN world. Digi products are still too expensive for mass adoption of sensors in residential settings (my focus). For example, putting plug load devices on all appliances is unrealistic based on current costs. If we’re trying to reduce energy consumption by tracking usage, it doesn’t add up for a consumer to pay $80 for each appliance; would take a while for it to be worth it.

    Anyway, good luck in your new position. I look forward to your efforts.


    • Thanks Chris. I think lowering cost is important, and the key to that is increasing value. Because costs decline with scale, the trick is in ensuring that substantial real-world value is being created with each new device. So in the case of residential that means making things consumers really need, and also making sure that value is obvious to them. This is starting to happen but those of us who create devices need to ensure that our focus stays on making the most valuable things, to grow the market. This is what will bring economies of scale for all manufacturers.

      Looks like you’re doing some really interesting work. Keep us posted and watch here for information about more ways that Digi can get involved in helping you.

  2. One more item to add to the list: * Fix branding confusion around Xbee Series X, Pro, etc.

    Congratulations on the new gig! Will you be leaving NYC?


    • There’s a set of long stories being all the tricky naming. A lot of it has to do with certification rules for using trademarked terms like ZigBee in a product (modules can’t be certified until they’re in a finished product, hence the ZB and ZNet monikers for OEM modules). Still, it’s something I think we could do better and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

      I’ll be staying in NYC. I live here, I teach here and it’s helpful for me to be around the community of people breaking new ground. Plus the food? Not bad.

  3. rob, congrats on the new gig – they’re extremely lucky to have you. +1 on what will said, the series naming could be improved to help makers.

    • Thanks! The series naming could be improved to help everyone though this chart is a helpful start. Maybe each combination could get a maker celebrity name, like sandwiches in a deli? Which power/series/antenna combo should be the Phil Torrone? Maybe Series2/Pro/ZB firmware and a whip antenna? Or do we name a mobile gateway after you?

  4. @faludi – i’d like to see them called:

    Xbee point to point
    Xbee mesh


    whatever the big feature difference is, but not “1” or “2” like it is now.

  5. I imagine there are quite a few makers out there who are using linux or mac osx computers and the current Xbee toolset (that I know of at least, see links below), I’m thinking about the X-CTU tool here, is windows-only. I’ve seen a couple of third-party tools which were half-way there, but nothing as complete as X-CTU.

    I’d welcome more open and platform independent tools – that’d suit the community better I think.


    • I agree. For basic configuration the CoolTerm serial terminal is terrific. But for local firmware loads, only X-CTU will work. We’ve started talking about how we can go about supporting a cross-platform tool, so this is definitely on our radar.

      Your other choice would be using the firmware update facilities that are baked into the Digi ConnectPort line of gateways for over-the-air upgrades. This is Series 2 only and one of the highlights of working with that line, by the way. Nothing more amazing than being thousands of miles away from some battery-powered device and remotely effecting an upgrade to the latest firmware. Pretty sure there’s magic involved….