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Archive for September, 2013

DASH7 Alliance Announces M2M Standard

4891764374_a0ec368a43The DASH7 Alliance, a non-profit industry consortium that promotes wireless sensor networking standards, today announced the public release of the DASH7 Alliance Protocol.

DASH7, an open source wireless sensor networking standard, competes with Zigbee(900MHz/2.4GHz), Z-Wave (900 MHz), Bluetooth (2.4GHz), WiFi (2.4/5 GHz), and Low Power UWB for machine to machine communications, but features multi-kilometer range, excellent penetration of walls, floors, and water, operates on extremely low power and features multi-year battery life with a maximum bitrate of 200kbps.

Operating in the license-free 433.92 MHz spectrum, DASH7 offers multi-kilometer range, multi-year battery life, sensor and security support, as well as tag-to-tag communications, achieved through ad hoc-synchronized communications. The new protocol is built on the IEC 18000-7 standard and provides seamless interoperability.

“A distinct capability of the protocol provides for both infrastructure to endpoints (RFID tags) and endpoint-to-endpoint communications, while operating from a battery and maintaining low power operation”, said Michael Andre, chairman of the Dash7 Alliance.

Read more here.

Cisco to Unveil Networking for Internet of Things Sept. 24

Cisco Systems executives on Sept. 24 will unveil a networking system they say will underpin the infrastructure for the upcoming wave of the Internet of Everything.

For the longest time, networking was about speed and cost—increasing how quickly data could move around and between data centers, and doing so while continuously reducing costs. However, that’s changing, according to Cisco officials. While speed and cost are still important factors in networking, the real challenge will be the rapid increase in Internet traffic that will happen in the coming years, driven by such trends as cloud computing, mobility, video and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, according to Pankaj Patel, executive vice president and chief development officer at Cisco.

“In my 20 years in networking, I have seen various market transitions in the networking industry and many of those were led with innovation on how to tackle the immense growth in bandwidth,” Patel wrote in a post on the Cisco blog. “And today we are at the crossroads of another such transition—and this time it is not just about solving the bandwidth challenge—as it is not just about growth in video, cloud, and mobility but also people connecting with various data , processes and things.”

By 2017, there will be more than 12 billion smart devices—from phones and televisions to tablets and smartphones—and more than 8.2 billion M2M nodes, as compared with 2.6 billion in 2012, he wrote. Each node and smart device will have its own profile in networking, compute and control environments.

“This is the emerging Internet of Everything phenomenon, where trillions of connected ‘events’ will be generated,” Patel wrote.

What Cisco will announce Sept. 24 will address the changing data center demands into the next decade, he said, and will include the company’s nPower X1 integrated network processor, which officials introduced Sept. 12. It’s a processor that has more than 4 billion transistors, can offer multi-terabit levels of performance and can handle trillions of transactions. It’s aimed specifically at the Internet of Everything, Cisco’s term for the Internet of Things.

More info here.

New Ultra Low-power Internet of Things Kit for Smart Cities, Appliances

Internet of Things startup Thingsquare today announced the availability of the Thingsquare Internet of Things evaluation kit.  Unlike many Internet of Things solutions, the Thingsquare system does not depend on a gateway. Instead, all devices are connected directly to the Internet, using a wireless radio with much lower power consumption than WiFi. Using self-forming and self-healing mesh networking, the range of a Thingsquare system can be very large – a single network can cover an entire city.

Building on the success of existing Thingsquare-based systems, the new Thingsquare kit opens up a new range of applications, including street lighting, smart appliances, meter reading, and wireless sensing. The kit is built on the Texas Instruments (TI) low-power CC2538 2.4 GHz System-on-a-Chip (SoC), an IoT-ready integrated radio transceiver and ARM® Cortex™-M3 microcontroller.

“We are excited to see ready-made evaluation kits for the emerging IoT market,” said Oyvind Birkenes, general manager, Wireless Connectivity Solutions, TI. “The Thingsquare software with TI’s CC2538 SoC opens new application opportunities to further grow the Internet of Things.”

“With direct Internet-connectivity for the radio chips, the Thingsquare evaluation kit makes prototyping and building IoT applications faster than ever before,” said Thingsquare CEO Adam Dunkels. “The TI CC2538 SoC is a powerful platform that can be taken directly to production.”

The Thingsquare evaluation kit is available for immediate purchase for 795 EUR from the Thingsquare website.

Freescale launches gateway platform for the ‘Internet of things’

freescale-treeChip maker Freescale and Oracle are announcing an initiative to create standards for gateways that can deal with a flood of data from devices associated with the “Internet of things.”

The Internet of things refers to the vision of instrumenting everyday devices with sensors and connectivity so that they can send data over the Internet that can be crunched in excruciating detail to gain information about our homes, businesses, or environment. Many chip makers are preparing for the big semiconductor market that will materialize as companies deploy their networks for the Internet of things. Rivals such as Intel, Qualcomm, ARM, and Imagination Technologies are among the companies competing to make chips for the internet of things.

Freescale foresees a flood of data coming from household devices as they collect data and pass it on. Freescale plans to make chips for home gateways that capture that data and pass it on so that it can be used to deliver internet of things services.

The first step is to create a service platform that standardizes the delivery and management of Internet of things services for home automation, industrial measurement, and manufacturing. Oracle and Freescale will collaborate closely to make it happen and will provide more details this week at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.


Intel announces new Quark SoC for the internet of things

At the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich showed off a new system on a chip that’s designed for the internet of things. The Quark family of chips is one-fifth the size of the 22-nanometer Atom chips designed for smartphones, and operates at a tenth of the power. Intel says it has an “open architecture,” which boils down to Intel offering hooks in the silicon to add others’ IP blocks.

Intel does not plan to license the core itself, something analysts hoped it meant when it said it allow others to integrate their own IP with the core. As for the core Intel’s spokeswoman Caludia Mangano said that the first product in the Quark family is a synthesizable Pentium ISA compatible CPU core. It also includes a software stack that includes security, manageability and connectivity features well suited for IoT. No word on what standards might be supported in that software stack.

The key word for most analysts in that statement is synthesizable, which means that customers can add their own IP around the core. ARM for example let’s companies license its CPU core and then add their own co-processors, or other components to create chips optimized for a wide variety of projects and industries. How they would do this in practice is unclear as Mangano says that Intel plans to keep the manufacturing of the Quark SoCs in-house at Intel’s manufacturing facilities.

More info here.

Solar Cells Applied Directly to Silicon Chip Can Power Wireless Sensors

fraunhofer-solar-cell-chip-1100x500Small solar cells attached directly to a silicon chip can potentially serve as an efficient and reliable power source for wireless sensor networks (WSN). This new technology developed by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems would greatly simplify large-scale WSN applications, for instance in agriculture.

Almost wherever you go, a team player is more in demand than a lone wolf—after all, those who pull together get the better results. This isn’t just true for people though: sensors, too, are more powerful when part of a team. Sensor networks made up of individual sensor modules that communicate wirelessly with one another have the capacity to measure local parameters over large areas, and then to pass these data on among sensor modules to a central station. This makes sensor networks suitable for a wide range of applications, whether for fire prevention or monitoring large areas of farmland. The issue of how to power the individual sensor modules remains a sticking point in these sorts of applications.

Wiring the sensors together is hardly a viable option nowadays due to the cumbersome and costly installation. What’s more, many applications require the sensor network to blend unobtrusively into the surroundings and not to have an impact on the aesthetics. An example of this would be the systems used for adjusting window positions as part of smart building management programs. Using batteries to power the sensor network does eliminate the need for inconvenient cables, but the amount of maintenance involved in replacing the batteries regularly as required should not be underestimated, particularly in large networks.

Now, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS have developed an ingenious alternative based on SOLCHIP Ltd IP. The resource they have harnessed to provide power is one that is freely available in almost any location: sunlight. “We use special process steps to place a mini solar cell straight on sensor modules’ silicon chips,” explains Dr. Andreas Goehlich, who heads up the project for Fraunhofer IMS.

This might sound easy at first, but it actually isn’t. For one thing, the Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) on the silicon chip cannot be disturbed in any way by later steps in the process. ASICs could be termed the brain of the sensor module, facilitating its specific functions. They are manufactured on a piece of silicon in the course of several processing steps, including ion implantation, oxidization or metal deposition. “The structures of ASICs are extremely sensitive, which makes subsequent processing extremely tricky,” explains Goehlich. “That’s why we use a specially developed ‘soft’ processing technology that has already proved itself on a variety of different ASICs.”

More info here.

Libelium Sensors Launch into Space in the First Open Source Satellite

With the successful space launch of ArduSat aboard a H-IIB rocket, the first open satellite platform that allows private citizens to design and run their own applications in space is now on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Included in the standard payload of the two 10cm x 10cm orbiters launched this week are Radiation Sensor Boards designed by Libelium that will monitor radiation levels generated by space phenomena such as sun storms and background activity.


Read more here.

The TI Sensor Kit and the Internet of Things

The fast-growing “Internet of Things” has pulled mobile operating systems like Android into everything from thermostats to light fixtures. Because the OS is open-source and freely available, you don’t need to ask any big firm’s permission to use it. And thanks to a sensor kit from Texas Instruments, developers can now experiment with an endless range of products. Not surprisingly, sensors are offering mobile development shops new worlds to conquer. The only hitch might be that most developers aren’t sensor and telemetry specialists. But thanks to the TI CC2541 SensorTag Development Kit from Texas Instruments, they don’t have to be.

The sensor kit supports six common types of sensors: an IR temperature sensor, humidity sensor, pressure sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. The first three sensors measure environmental conditions important to practically all devices located in the field. The IR temperature sensor, for example, warns if a device’s motor is overheating. A humidity sensor can detect if moisture is penetrating a waterproof casing. And a pressure sensor can report on either excessive or substandard pressure. Taken together, these sensors can form powerful tools like a remote weather station. The accelerometer and gyroscope are especially important to mobile instruments, as they allow a device’s motion to be tracked independently of GPS or other external location measurements. Most smartphones already have these features, but the sensor kit handles a wider range of conditions than most smartphone components. Finally, the magnetometer measures magnetic fields and electric currents, providing a safe means of remotely monitoring electric grids and power generators. From launches to punches Despite the diverse functions of the TI sensor kit, most developers won’t use all six sensors for a single project.

More info here.

Flutter: A $20 wireless Arduino with a long reach

flutterwirelessarduinojtFrom Postscapes:

Flutter is a new long range development platform based on Arduino that is looking to provide Makers with an inexpensive and reliable wireless technology to get their projects going just a little bit further than they have been with typical Bluetooth, Zigbee and WiFi solutions.

Developers Taylor Alexander and Katelynn Cusanelli created Flutter to be used without a router and achieve a range of up to 1000 meters (transmitted in the 915 Mhz range) for use in projects as diverse as monitoring remote temperature sensors, to controlling quadcopters and RC cars.

Do you need to receive data from even longer distances? Using mesh networking the platform can be scaled to use thousands of Flutter devices to extend the operating range and open up new types of project options. Getting connected to each board is as simple as configuring the device using a USB from your computer or by using the projects add-on shields (Wifi & Ethernet or Bluetooth) and a mobile app for authentication using your phone.

Security is also a focal point for Flutter’s creators. Every Flutter device will have a unique 72-bit serial number and has Atmel’s ATSHA204 cryptographic chip on-board to hold up to sixteen 256-bit encryption keys while adding an additional layer of data and device protection.

More info here.


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