XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit Winning Awards

xbgw stock dashThe XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit that our team developed last year recently took home several nice industry
awards. We had set out to create a kit simple enough to help non-engineers quickly connect their creations to the cloud yet flexible enough for professionals to build rapid prototypes using advanced programming and cloud-based data sets. The kit is built around Digi’s XBee ZigBee Gateway. It includes code examples and powerful tools for making Internet-connected projects. It also enables remote control of devices and data through a highly customizable open-source dashboard application, pictured here.

IoTInnovations_logo_2015-small-300x164Our XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit won the IoT Innovations 2015 award from ConnectedWorld magazine. ConnectedWorld’s Peggy Smedley notes, ”Building wireless and cloud-connected solutions are made easier for developers as a result of the Digi XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and XBee Gateway.” We are told that winning products were seen as the most creative and technologically advanced products, services, and platforms currently available for the Internet of Things. That’s pretty great.
M2M_ExcellenceThe kit was also honored with the 2014 M2M Evolution IoT Excellence Award, given by TMC & Crossfire Media. This award “honors innovative products that support the availability of information being deduced, inferred and directly gathered from sensors, systems and anything else that is supporting better business and personal decisions.” We’re certainly happy to be a part of making good decisions!

The XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit includes:

  • xbeezigbeecloudkitOne XBee Gateway – ZigBee to Ethernet/Wi-Fi
  • One XBee-PRO ZigBee 2.4GHz module
  • One development board w/breadboard
  • Cables and power supplies
  • Basic prototyping components: LED gauges, jumper wires, resistors, vibration motor, temperature sensor, audio buzzer and a potentiometer
  • Sample Web application on Heroku
    • Completely open source for easy customization
    • Configurable widgets
    • Integrated with the Device Cloud

You can learn more here about the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit. Ready to try one out? They’re available from Digi-Key ElectronicsMouser Electronics or Digi’s online store.

United States Patent 9,026,261

GroundedPower PatentThe wheels of government do not turn quickly, but they do turn. Six years after our initial inventions, five years after our company’s acquisition, and about four years after we each moved on to new lines of work, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office just awarded #9,026,261 for “Methods and systems for managing energy usage in buildings” to the GroundedPower team of Mike Bukhin, Paul Cole, Demetrie Tyler and myself.

The vast majority of what I’ve done is open-source and will continue to be so. I’m largely convinced that shared innovation tends to be the most valuable to society. Still, it’s neat to have an official U.S. government document accredit me as an inventor and a childhood goal pretty much accomplished. Now all I need is my astronaut’s license.

Constructing an IoT Strategy – ForenSecure 2015

Last week I presented “Constructing an Internet of Things Strategy” at Forensecure’15 near Chicago, Illinois. This talk is about how any business can develop and adopt IoT methods to remain competitive in a connected world. The conference is sponsored by  IIT’s Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education, who were kind enough to invite me to speak. I also joined a panel discussion on “The Internet of Things” with Mel Gehrs, Silver Spring Network’s Distribution Automation expert, and Tonnetta OubariVerizon’s Manager of IoT for Smart Cities & New Business Innovation. The panel talked about security, new protocols, building automation and the bright future of the IoT.
Here’s the abstract for my talk:
Planning for the Internet of Things has become a competitive necessity. Pundits have endlessly heralded the arrival of an IoT mega-trend. Yet creation of a workable organizational strategy around connected devices has not received nearly as much attention. Many important questions remain. Does the Internet of Things really offer business benefits? Are there any realistic plans that can be implemented today? What does an IoT strategy even look like?

In this presentation, we’ll share the key factors that IoT-ready organizations should consider, the essential people and roles to get involved, and the tremendous real-world advantages that a successful strategy can offer. We will begin by reviewing how IoT methods can address previously intractable problems and the pathways to inventive solutions.


At the podium for “Constructing an IoT Strategy”

Attendees will learn the key elements of an IoT strategy, how each can be put into action, and how to create IoT business cases with valuable outcomes. Hard benefits, soft benefits, customer advantages, social rewards, priorities, and timing considerations will all be covered. Need to author a documented IoT strategy that provides immediate benefits for your organization? Here’s how to get started!

SXSW Panel Talk: Making to Manufacturing

I was honored to share the stage at SXSW with Sparkfun CEO Nathan SeidleSilicon Labs’ Peter Vancorenland, Chaotic Moon’s Marc Boudria, and Atlas Wearables’ Peter Li in a panel discussion called ”Making to Manufacturing“ at SX Create. This panel brought together technology veterans to share our triumphs, failures and offer words of wisdom to fellow makers. We focused on the common hurdles entrepreneurs must overcome while taking their hardware creation to full-scale production. The conversation revolved around the best ways to prototype, what tools to use, creative funding sources, selecting partners and the best ways to manufacture hardware.  Quality control, proper pricing and the importance of developing a great sales team was stressed.


With over 145 attendees, it was standing room only, and the best attended event at SX Create! Special thanks to Silicon Labs for hosting the panel and gathering a great cast of speakers. Check out their blog post to see more photos and tweets as well as all the Q&A from the session!

Faludi Speaks on Embedded.fm

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:


XBees in Space

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 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.


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 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:

Toward a Theory of Clothing

journal.pone.0102772.g001There are a multitude of unsolved mysteries left for science to tackle. We don’t know where life came from or whether it exists elsewhere in the universe. We’re not even sure what most of the universe is made of. But all the more amazing to me are how many everyday phenomenon are not fully understood. We don’t know why we sleep. We don’t entirely know what moves the continents. We don’t even understand our own clothing. It’s true. What you’re wearing right now, we don’t know why you chose it, cannot predict what you will wear tomorrow, or even explain exactly what you are accomplishing by wearing it. Science lacks any ”Theory of Clothing.”

That doesnt mean we’re totally in the dark. We know that we use clothing to regulate body temperature. It seems obvious that it’s involved in social signaling, otherwise we’d fully relinquish our duds in warm weather. But good luck finding a textbook that explains how that social signaling works, why we often dress at odds with temperature regulation or the empirically derived purpose of neckties. An astronomer can easily tell you what phase the moon will be in on July 24th, 2097, but nobody can accurately predict what your sister will wear tomorrow. That’s kind of fantastic.

And it’s not like a theory of clothing is esoteric. The world apparel market is worth some $1.7 trillion yearly and about 75 million people are involved in making those clothes(ref). Shouldn’t we know why they do that? And wouldn’t it be handy for a trillion dollar industry to have some method for forecasting demand? Because right now it’s partially done by designers looking at rocks in their pockets. We can do better.

Here’s an article that takes an opening stab at the problem. Kurt Gray, Peter Schmitt, Nina Strohminger and Karim S. Kassam’s recently published “The Science of Style: In Fashion, Colors Should Match Only Moderately.” If you don’t like reading scientific articles, it’s pretty well digested on Slate.

The article’s findings—that clothing should match, but not too much—include equations and a graph. This is fantastic not because graphs and equations are themselves fantastic (though they are), but because someone is finally asking structured questions about what all this fabric is doing around our bodies. And asking in a way that tries to make predictions. Because these styles must mean something, and something pretty important considering we’re spending 1.7 trillion dollars to drape them around us. “Wearables” are all the rage with tech writers and venture capitalists, but how can we make great wearables until we know what and why we wear things in the first place? A theory of clothing could do that.

Is anyone else in science studying clothes? I’d love to hear about it.

New LilyPad XBee

LilyPad XBee radioThe LilyPad XBee sew-in wearable radio created by myself and Kate Hartman just got an update to add a reset button and improve its manufacturability. This board can be paired with LilyPad wearable sensors, custom built sensors and a variety of output devices to create a complete wireless wearable system. Available from Sparkfun for just $14.95 with discounts available for larger quantities. Get yours today!


LilyPad XBee frontLilyPad XBee sideLilyPad XBee back



Botanicalls on Smithsonian Channel’s Amazing Plants

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 Visits Logroño

logrono-lie-detect-robFor the latest Digi Hackathon, I headed overseas to hold our first ever creative construction event at Digi’s office in Logroño, Spain. Using XBee WiFi Cloud Kits, the four teams hacked away for what was the most competitive session yet. In a matter of hours, each team had to quickly brainstorm, build, and present their cloud-connected projects. Their results were terrific.

Projects included:

  • The Garbage M.A.N.: Smart garbage containers monitoring for smart cities
  • Germinator Plus: An automated system for remote greenhouse seed germination monitoring.
  • Lie-Detect-o-Meter: A mobile battery-operated wristband lie detector for public questioning.
  • The Smart Plug-Y-Play: A power consumption monitor and remote control for computers and other electrical appliances.

Read more and see pictures on the Digi blog.