Upgrade Zigbee-based hardware with the new Freescale Kinetis KW2x Family

August 2, 2015

The exponential increase of chipsets aimed at the Internet-of-Things market has offers a huge variety of new IP-based products to choose from, which may cause the appearance that older standards such as ZigBee are waning in popularity. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and one example is the new Kinetis KW2x microcontroller family from Freescale Semiconductor.

The Kinetis KW2x is a series of wireless system-on-chip devices aimed at meeting the increased processing and memory requirements associated with applications that use advanced 802.15.4/ZigBee stacks and communications standards in modern Internet-of-Things applications, such as ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 and the ZigBee Internet Protocol specification, today and into the future.

These devices integrate a 50 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor with an 802.15.4-compliant 2.4 GHz RF transceiver on a single chip, providing a low-power, compact, single-chip integrated solution for 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless mesh network applications in home automation, healthcare, smart energy and consumer electronics.

The KW2x family expands on the successful Kinetis microcontroller portfolio based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core, with the software protocol stacks, development tools and IDE all compatible with the existing family of Kinetis MCUs and the ZigBee protocol seamlessly integrated into Kinetis software development tools – allowing you to rapidly get started programming and creating wireless mesh networks for your embedded and IoT applications.

Specifications are rich, as the Kinetis KW2x family integrates a class-leading 2.4 GHz RF transceiver, a Cortex-M4 core and a robust feature set for a powerful, secure and low-power IEEE 802.15.4 wireless solution all integrated on a single die.

These wireless MCUs offer up to 512 KB of flash, 64 KB of RAM and up to 64 KB of FlexMemory. Dual PAN support allows this platform to simultaneously participate in two ZigBee networks, making it useful in complex ZigBee installations or in router or gateway applications.

The KW2x family supports the ZigBee IP network stack, the RF4CE standard, and the ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Smart Energy 1.x and ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 ZigBee application profiles, enabling a broad range of applications.

Along with reducing product size and reducing bill-of-materials cost with a highly integrated solution – the KW2x product line offers strong power efficiency and long battery life in portable, battery-powered Internet of Things applications.

 The radio subsystem supports the 2.4 GHz ISM band as well as the 2.36-2.4 GHz MBAN (medical body-area network) band, and offers high power efficiency for its transmit power, along with fast antenna diversity, transmit power up to +8 dBm and a receiver sensitivity of -102 dBm, offering very long communication range.

The microcontroller provides enough memory to run complicated protocol stacks on a single IC while also providing plenty of space for user application code.

According to Freescale, this family of devices provides greater processing performance and larger flash and RAM options compared to other similar devices on the market, helping smart IoT appliances and consumer automation products avoid obsolescence as 802.15.4/ZigBee specifications evolve, with the ability to meet future standards and new ZigBee application profiles via firmware updates on the same hardware.

The Kinetis KW2x wireless MCU family provides plenty of Flash and RAM, allowing engineers to quickly upgrade products with new features, including over-the-air remote firmware updates, without the need for costly and relatively difficult replacements of the hardware in users’ homes and other installations.

For applications that require more flexibility, the KW2x platform optionally provides 64 kB of “FlexMemory”, that allows users to configure part of the on-chip flash memory as additional flash memory or enhanced EEPROM. This means users can choose how that memory is allocated between program and data storage, for example if extra EEPROM space is desired for storing configuration data.

The KW2x family offers reduced power consumption and an increased RF link budget, along with antenna diversity which improves reliability of the radio link, particularly in environments where multipath interference is a problem.

The IEEE 802.15.4 2.4GHz transceiver is designed to reduce transmission power where appropriate, and run in a low-power mode when commanded, helping to achieve strong power efficiency. These devices include hardware assisted dual personal area network support, which means that a single device can communicate wirelessly on two different ZigBee networks, simultaneously using two different PAN IDs.

This makes these chipsets attractive for gateway or router applications in home or building automation networks, connecting together different smart energy or home automation networks without the need for multiple radios.

Security has not been forgotten – as Freescale have integrated advanced security features usually found in higher-end processors, providing security and cryptographic functions including key generation, secure memory and tamper detect functionality.

Secure Flash protects the code and data from unauthorised access or modification, while tamper detection can identify events and asynchronously erase secure RAM, generating an interrupt so the application firmware can take additional actions, including a system reset.

A dedicated cryptographic acceleration unit supports a set of specialised operations to improve the throughput of encryption and decryption operations as well as message digest functions. These features address the growing attention and the need for strong security in embedded SCADA and automation systems as well as connected Internet-of-Things consumer products in the home.

As leaders in Zigbee-based product development, we’re ready to work together with you to develop new product designs, or reviewing and upgrade any existing versions with you for your success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Researching the future of the Internet of Things with ELLIOT

July 20, 2015

The Experiential Living Lab for the Internet of Things (ELLIOT) project is a European research project that aims to develop an experiential platform for Internet of Things research, where users and the public are directly involved in co-creating, exploring and experimenting with new ideas, technologies, potential market opportunities and concepts related to IoT applications and services – particularly where UX and user interaction design is concerned.

The ELLIOT program is designed to support research into the potential impact of the IoT and other emerging information technologies in the context of what the ELLIOT consortium calls the “Open User Centred Innovation” paradigm and the “Living Lab” approach.

Established by a consortium of European universities, institutions and private industries – ELLIOT is a three-year research program built around four main aims – firstly, to study and develop a set of “KSB” (Knowledge, Social and Business) Experience Models integrating social, technical, economic, legal and ethical dimensions related to the use of emerging IoT technologies and services into a single, holistic meta model.

Secondly, the project aims to design and develop an “Experiential Platform” where these KSB Experience Models will be implemented to allow people to explore and experience socially-enabled IoT technology and other information technology including the validation of this technology and evaluation of its impact. This experiential platform will operate as a knowledge and experience-gathering testbed environment in the context of the IoT.

Thirdly, the project aims to explore the potential of collaborative UI design techniques and tools such as serious gaming, participative requirements engineering and requirements validation in the context of the IoT.

Finally, one of the core objectives of the ELLIOT research program is to experiment within a series of “Living Labs”, each composed of a physical space, a information space architecture and a social community of users of that space. The project is expected to facilitate increased adoption of IoT technologies in Europe and to enhance the potential of collaborative industry, academic and public-sector innovation for the discovery of novel IoT applications, services and business opportunities which bridge the gap between these emerging technologies, industry stakeholders and the public.

The ELLIOT project’s “experiential” approach has been explored and its technology platform experimented with in different use-cases belonging to six different sectors, namely Wellbeing, Logistics, Environment, Retail, Remote Medical Assistance, and Energy-Efficient Offices, in order to validate the capacity for users and the public to co-create innovative and useful IoT-based services in these domains.

Starting from these use-cases, it is expected that the ELLIOT project will contribute to a new, user-centric approach to novel product and service development with IoT technologies, while also being applicable to IT products and services more generally, through the use of this “Experiential Platform” and the progressive extension of the use of this platform into other use-cases and industrial sectors.

The engagement of users in the research and innovation process behind new products and services is attracting more attention in technology design today, across many industrial sectors. This is especially true in business domains where users and citizens have a crucial role in the adoption of new services that they collaboratively create on top of new information and communication technologies.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to the Internet of Things, finding use-cases for IoT technologies, along with researching the markets for new IoT products and services. Examples of business domains that ELLIOT has identified as important, where the project aims to contribute valuable research, include “eHealth”, “eInclusion”, “eManufacturing”, “eParticipation” and ICT for Environment as well as ICT for Energy.

To explore, to experiment with, and validate the experiential research and innovation approach that ELLIOT applies, several scenarios have been conducted in different “Living Labs”, each implementing different kinds of IoT experiences. These Living Labs are composed of a physical space such as a building, a civil architecture, a laboratory, an urban or rural zone, equipped with advanced ICT infrastructure for communication and collaboration such as wired networks, wireless terrestrial networks or wireless satellite networks.

The need for this user-participative approach is increasingly being recognised, and the “Living Lab” model is becoming more popular. A “Living Lab” is an open innovation environment in a real-life setting in which experiential research and innovation is supported by the availability of a technology platform for designing innovative applications and services.

The European Network of Living Labs comprises 274 diverse and mature “Living Labs” covering a wide range of application domains. Most of them are already operational in different domains spanning from eHealth to Energy Optimisation and Efficiency, from Intelligent Mobility to Inclusion of the elderly and disadvantaged people and Rural Development.

The project also aims to identify, experiment with and explore IoT-oriented user co-creation tools and techniques. Co-creation, as it’s defined by ELLIOT, in an IoT-oriented environment is akin to the co-creation processes of software development which is very common, for example, in the open-source software development community.

Transferring the experience of the open-source software movement into an IoT-oriented “user co-creation” process through practices such as gamification and “serious gaming” is another approach that ELLIOT is investigating with the potential to enhance IoT-relevant collaborative development capabilities and to accelerate take-up and adoption of these practices.

We look forward to the results and news from the ELLIOT program, however here at the LX Group we’re always working on current and new IoT-based products for a wide range of clients.

If your organisation is considering new product design, or reviewing an existing version – your next step is to contact the team at the LX Group where we not only share your passion for embedded hardware and the Internet-of-Things – our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Zetta – an API-first Internet-of-Things platform

July 13, 2015

Here at the LX Group we’re always interested in new Internet-of-Things platforms, and the latest discovery by our team is a new entrant called Zetta. This is a new open-source Internet-of-Things platform that is built on Node.js, and designed for creating IoT servers and networked applications that run across multiple distributed devices, computers and the cloud.

Zetta aims to create an “API-First” Internet-of-Things platform – where any connected physical device and every Internet-connected “Thing” is exposed as an API, with REST APIs, WebSockets and reactive programming combined into a platform that is well suited for assembling many devices into data-intensive, real-time sensor networks or other Web-connected IoT applications.

Unlike other IoT platforms, Zetta servers can run in the cloud, on PCs, or on many different types of embedded hardware platforms and single-board computers such as a BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi.

With Zetta you can link these devices together, with each other and with cloud platforms such as Heroku, to create geo-distributed networks with an architecture that is optimised for data-intensive, real-time Big Data and streaming applications.

Furthermore, Zetta allows you to observe and react to device behaviour using code and using visualisation tools so that you gain actionable insights and take insightful actions based on physical data from IoT devices. You can also stream data into machine analytics platforms like Splunk.

And although you can run Zetta on lightweight hardware off the cloud, the platform allows you to assemble smartphone apps, device apps and cloud apps together into large, complex and adaptive “systems of systems” that operate at scale in the physical world of home automation, smart transportation, wearable computing and more.

Zetta also supports lightweight embedded microcontroller hardware such as the Arduino and Particle Core. Zetta communicates with these types of devices and exposes every device in the network, including these small devices, through a REST API both locally and in the cloud.

In a typical Zetta deployment a Zetta server will run on a hardware hub such as a BeagleBone Black, Intel Edison, or Raspberry Pi. This hardware hub device connects to other devices, and hosts the Zetta server itself which coordinates interactions with devices and generates HTTP APIs that an API consumer can interact with.

A typical Zetta deployment is built around a hub-and-spoke model, where the spokes are constrained devices and the hub devices have more computing power. For example, Zetta will run on a device such as a Raspberry Pi which is the hub, and this hub may be connected to “spoke” devices such as an Arduino.

End-node devices can be connected using Zetta even when these devices are low-cost, power efficient microcontrollers that don’t have the processing or memory capacity to run Zetta directly. As Zetta is built in pure JavaScript on node.js, and while the hub device needs to support node.js – the endpoint hardware devices do not.

Zetta software servers have the capability to run on the end-node hardware device if this device has the capacity, on a nearby hub device such as a BeagleBone or Intel Edison, or in the cloud – and these Zetta servers are the same wherever they run.

As well as the Zetta server running on the hub hardware, another Zetta server lives in the cloud, using the exact same node package as the hub server – and the Zetta server on the hardware hub will connect to the server in the cloud. Zetta will then expose an API to any consumers at the cloud endpoint.

When the “spoke” device communicates with the hub, there are Zetta drivers that mediate between different protocols. For example, a Zetta driver could talk serial between the hub and the spoke device, and mediate that serial protocol into a Web API.

These drivers are responsible for interacting with the device on the physical level, providing device models that are then taken and used to generate HTTP and Javascript APIs for use in Zetta, and Zetta will mediate from HTTP to the particular protocols used for hardware devices.

There are existing drivers published for a wealth of different hardware and interoperability applications, such as serial device connectivity for any platform, connectivity with consumer devices such as the Phillips Hue and the Belkin Wemo, serial SMS text message connectivity using inexpensive SIMCOM SIM800 GPRS modules, connectivity with the Google Glass and the Pinoccio mesh network platform – to name but a few.

Along with device drivers, Zetta “Scouts” are another key component of the Zetta server, and these serve as a discovery mechanism for determining what devices are on the network and whether any devices require system resources to speak a specific protocol.

Scouts will search for devices using a particular protocol, and report this information back to Zetta. Scouts can also use information such as a MAC address to fingerprint devices, identifying whether or not Zetta has interacted with the device before, and ensuring any relevant data such as security credentials are seamlessly provided by the server when interacting with that device again.

If the Zetta hub device has connectivity directly to the Internet (with its own external IP address) then Zetta will communicate directly with cloud services such as Heroku via simple HTTP APIs and WebSockets. If the hub is behind a router, then the z2z protocol is used.

Zetta servers allow for establishing a secure tunnelled link between two servers, which helps take care of network configurations and mechanisms such as firewalls that can traditionally make setup and provisioning difficult for Internet-connected IoT cloud services.

As Zetta can run on a wide range of inexpensive hardware, it can certainly be considered as as low-cost entrant to the Internet-of-Things platform market.

If this is of interest to you, your next step is to contact the team at the LX Group where we not only share your passion for embedded hardware and the Internet-of-Things – our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Simplify Internet-of-Things hardware requirements with Texas Instruments’ CC3200

July 6, 2015

The CC3200 WiFi system-on-chip from Texas Instruments – a new entrant into the Texas instruments SimpleLink wireless connectivity family, aims to provide an easy to use, power-efficient “Internet on a Chip” platform that is specifically aimed at Internet-of-Things applications.

As a single-chip solution, the CC3200 offers a programmable microcontroller, memory and peripherals such as ADC and DAC all built-in alongside the Wi-Fi radio – giving you an easy, compact and cost-effective platform with which to design applications that include Wi-Fi connectivity in a wide range of industrial, consumer and home electronics applications.

The CC3200 is a complete platform for wireless IoT connectivity – including supporting software, sample applications, tools, user and programming guides and reference designs. By offering a very low power consumption, the CC3200 is well suited to battery-operated devices, with a power-efficient radio subsystem and advanced low power microcontroller sleep modes. An example of this is the hibernate with RTC mode that requires less than 4 micro amps of current.

Based around a powerful and industry-standard 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller core running at 80 MHz, together with an on-board Wi-Fi radio, the CC3200 can replace a microcontroller and a separate communications chipset in many embedded or Internet-of-Things applications.

Furthermore the CC3200 offers easy development of wireless products, with fast Wi-Fi connection, a full on-chip network stack, cloud support and robust security protocols on board. The device includes a wide variety of peripherals in the applications MCU, including a fast parallel camera interface, I2S, SD/MMC, UART, SPI, I2C, and four-channel ADC.

The Wi-Fi network processor contains an additional dedicated ARM MCU that completely offloads the applications MCU, and a 802.11 b/g/n radio, baseband, and MAC with a powerful crypto engine for fast, secure Internet connections with 256-bit encryption – along with support for Station, Access Point, and Wi-Fi Direct modes.

Security is covered as the CC3200 provides the ability to securely and easily connect embedded devices to secure Wi-Fi networks using a Web browser, phone or tablet app, with multiple options for easy provisioning including TI’s SmartConfig technology, WPS or AP mode.

This means that the SSID and password for your wireless LAN does not need to be hard-coded into firmware, and provisioning your device to connect to a different network in the field can easily be accomplished without a firmware change. The CC3200 makes it easy to build embedded wirelessly networked and Internet-connected applications, requiring no prior Wi-Fi experience to get your product connected.

Learning more about the CC3200 is easy thanks to the extensive documentation and development tools provided by Texas Instruments. Rapid prototyping is possible thanks to compatibility with the simple “Energia” development environment, and compatibility with TI’s extensive LaunchPad and BoosterPack ecosystem of development boards and hardware evaluation peripherals.

The ARM Cortex-M4 provides the CC3200 with a core microcontroller that is popular and well supported in the embedded development community, and silicon is available in small volumes, making it accessible for prototype purposes and for small-scale developers.

Similarly, all relevant datasheets and documentation for the CC3200 are publicly available from the Texas Instruments website without approval or NDA. The CC3200 comes in a compact QFN package with fully integrated RF front-end and analogue subsystems, allowing developers to put the device directly onto a PCB with minimal RF engineering expertise and minimal board real estate.

To make it easy to get started, TI also provides various kits and software tools, a FCC-certified LaunchPad development module, reference designs, development documentation and sample applications, alongside community support through their “Engineer 2 Engineer” forum.

The CC3200 LaunchPad is an evaluation and development platform for the CC3200 wireless connectivity SoC, which features on-board JTAG emulation and includes sensors for a full out-of-the-box experience. This board can be directly connected to a PC for use with development tools such as TI’s Code Composer Studio and IAR Embedded Workbench.

The SDK for the CC3200 SimpleLink Wi-Fi platform contains drivers for the CC3200 system-on-chip microcontroller, documentation to get you started, and code for more than 40 sample applications. It also contains the tools you need in one place, to flash firmware to the device, configure software parameters and provision wireless network parameters such as SSID and authentication.

Furthermore the Internet and cloud-side possibilities are enhanced thanks to Texas Instruments’ and their partner companies – who have established a cloud ecosystem for Internet-of-Things applications, which helps designers and manufacturers using TI connectivity solutions to easily and rapidly connect their IoT designs to cloud-computing Internet services.

The TI IoT cloud ecosystem is made up of a number of IoT cloud service providers that provide a range of different value-adding services on top of TI’s IoT hardware solutions, providing options to meet the Internet-of-Things needs of IoT product designers and manufacturers with known compatibility and interoperability across the IoT stack from the silicon to the Web services level.

 Partners include 2lemetry, Arrayent, ExoSite, Xively and IBM – and these companies have teamed up with TI to provide a range of cloud-connected demo applications, documentation and resources specifically aimed at the SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3200 LaunchPad and other compatible IoT hardware products.

At this point we hope you realise that the CC3200 offers an compact, secure and power-saving option for your current or future Internet-of-Things device. The next step is to contact the team at the LX Group where we not only share your passion for embedded hardware and the Internet-of-Things – our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Miniaturise your Internet of Things product with Redpine Signals’ M2MCombo SoC

June 27, 2015

Reducing the power and physical size of chipsets required for new and existing Internet-of-Things devices is a common goal shared by our customers and engineers – and a new SoC from Redpine Signals fits the bill.

Their RS9113 “M2MCombo” chipset is a system-on-chip which offers the convergence of low-power dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi networking together with dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee connectivity all in a single chip – offering a powerful and nearly universal wireless communications platform for IoT and machine-to-machine applications.

This is particularly valuable for M2M and Internet-of-Things applications where a compact and cost-effective solution with minimum bill-of-materials cost is desired while also implementing a combination of Bluetooth, ZigBee and Wi-Fi communications – for example in network gateways in home automation or smart energy applications that are aggregating data from a number of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee devices around the home.

The Redpine “M2MCombo” platform leverages and improves upon the proven low-power innovations in Redpine’s Lite-Fi products, providing a powerful three-in-one Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee convergence solution for integration into mobile and wireless devices.

With the rapid proliferation of different networking protocols in the fast-growing Internet-of-Things and M2M industry, manufacturers of wireless devices need cost-effective wireless connectivity solutions to remain competitive in the market, and bringing together several different wireless communication protocols in a single-chip solution helps to make that possible.

Furthermore the M2MCombo solution from Redpine not only provides a compact and cost-effective solution where these multiple communications protocols are required, but also speeds up the product development lifecycle by taking care of the engineering challenges around the coexistence of multiple different RF platforms in the same 2.4 GHz band.

The difficulty of making three separate radios play nicely close to each other is removed, while reducing size, power consumption and cost at the same time, enabling you to get on with product development without much specialist RF engineering.

The RS9113 M2MCombo chipset integrates a four-threaded processor along with RAM and ROM in a fully self-contained solution, with the capacity to run its TCP/IP stack and the Wi-Fi security supplicant locally on the radio chipset.

This means that the host microcontroller and its resources are not carrying the load of hosting the network stack or any other components, allowing a cheaper and lower-power host microcontroller to be chosen in power-sensitive and cost-sensitive IoT applications.

As a convergence device, the RS9113 supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 Enhanced Data Rate, Bluetooth 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee, and maintains wireless connections on some or all of these interfaces simultaneously – making it ideal for multiple-protocol gateway or network bridge applications.

The SoC provides virtually simultaneous multiple-protocol connectivity across these different radios; a valuable feature for a broadly compatible IoT networking platform, which can be deployed quickly in legacy network environments as well as new network environments.

For example – a network gateway appliance implemented with the RS9113 could communicate with a fitness or medical sensor device that uses single-mode Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a smartphone with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and a home automation device with ZigBee connectivity – all at the same time, and without the need for multiple different radio modules from different vendors in the gateway unit, all trying to coexist on the same RF spectrum, adding cost, adding size, power consumption and RF coexistence challenges.

And with its highly efficient Power Management Unit, integrated analogue peripherals and support for a variety of digital peripherals – the RS9113 enables very cost-effective solutions for embedded wireless, M2M and Internet-of-Things applications using a combination of Wi-Fi, ZigBee or Bluetooth.

An IoT-enabled product can be designed around the chipset, with relatively few external components needed – generally few or no analog peripherals, power management peripherals, or other RF and wireless connectivity chipsets or modules are required, depending on your exact application.

Development of RS9113 based IoT solutions is made easier by the accompanying OneBox embedded software framework from Redpine. OneBox supports WiFi station or AP, Wi-Fi Direct, ZigBee and dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 communications – all based around a common API, on a range of host platforms and different embedded operating system options.

The software package includes complete reference firmware builds, reference drivers, application profiles and a configuration GUI that can be used on Linux, Windows or Android operating systems.

Working with external devices to the RS9113 chipset is easy thanks to support for a number of different hardware host interfaces – including USB 2.0, SDIO, SPI and UART. This offers a great deal of flexibility and compatibility to designers and system integrators.

Redpine offers SDIO, SPI, UART, and USB2.0 reference designs along with software for factory-level testing and diagnostics for your product. Along with a development environment and a complete reference framework for creating connected applications using the RS9113, Redpine also offers an easy-to-use USB-interfaced hardware development kit for the chipset.

Here at the LX Group we’re really excited about the possibilities of working with Redpine’s RS9113 “M2MCombo” chipset and the resulting products that are possible. Not only do we share your passion for embedded hardware and the Internet-of-Things, our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Improving food supply chains with the Internet of Things

June 22, 2015

The potential for the Internet of Things to improve our daily lives is almost infinite, and the technology can be applied in areas that you may have never even considered.

Let’s consider the role that Internet-of-Things technologies can play in the food industry, increasing the safety of food for consumers as well as improving efficiency and reducing overheads in the industry.

Furthermore, with the potential to address food safety challenges across the whole supply chain – wireless sensor networks, cloud computing and other IoT technologies offer potential benefits in operational efficiency and logistics across the entire food industry.

From the primary producer’s field (where environmental parameters such as soil temperature may be monitored and data interpreted over time at a central server, for example, with this data being used to improve crop yield) to stock location, tracking and monitoring of the temperatures and the age of stock right through the transport and warehousing chain – the Internet of Things can be harnessed all the way from the farm to the dinner plate.

One of the most important factors ensuring food safety is adequate refrigeration and temperature control during the transport and storage of perishable food. If temperatures aren’t controlled at an optimal level, this greatly increases the chances of bacterial growth, which can be dangerous for consumers as well as contributing to spoilage and waste of stock.

Taking advantage of wireless sensors and Internet-of-Things technologies, food and transport companies can now place networks of data logging devices in warehouses and refrigerated trucks across the supply chain, allowing environmental properties such as humidity and temperature to be continuously monitored and logged.

This data logging can provide awareness immediately if there are any abnormalities such as refrigeration failures along the way which may compromise the quality or safety of the stock. If such a fault is detected action can immediately be taken to correct it, identifying the specific location where repair work is needed in the field or identifying the stock that is affected, allowing stock to be moved to an appropriate environment.

The Internet of Things also offers an unprecedented level of collaboration between multiple different companies and business units in the food industry, handling food from the farm, through processing, manufacturing and transport, until it reaches the consumer.

Networks of connected sensors can be deployed in food factories, confirming that the product has been manufactured and stored under safe environmental conditions right up to the point where it is ready to be transported.

Transport contractors can then ensure that the right temperature and environment is maintained for the food during transit, and retailers or restaurants can use sensor network intelligence to identify and track stock that is on its way – accurately predicting when it is going to arrive at its destination.

This ensures more timely deliveries and allows deliveries to be scheduled at the most efficient times when they’re needed. Once the stock has arrived at its destination, supermarkets, warehouses or restaurants can use the data from these sensors to track the stock they have in storage, the age of the food in stock and the stock level, and environmental properties such as storage temperature.

These different data sources working together all the way through the supply chain help to get the food delivered in a way that is fast and efficient whilst also helping to maintain the highest standards of product quality and food safety.

Improving product quality in the food industry with the Internet of Things goes beyond preventing bacterial growth in improperly stored food, since optimising the storage environment can greatly improve the quality and shelf life of food.

For example, blackberries can lose a full day of their shelf life for every hour they are exposed to room temperature conditions without refrigerated storage – and every day of shelf life lost corresponds to a reduction in the amount of that stock that can be sold without wastage.

Through the use of Internet-of-Things sensors, food distributors and vendors can not only improve the quality and safety of the product, they can reduce the amount of food wastage and increase profits by making sure that food stays viable on the shelves for as long as possible.

At this point the use of the Internet-of-Things with the food industry is a welcome and useful function and adds efficiency, safety and helps increase sales throughout the supply chain. And if you’re interested in applying this to your own interests – the team at LX is ready when you are.

Our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Project Brillo – Google’s development platform for the Internet of Things

June 9, 2015

During this year’s recent I/O conference, Google announced Brillo, their new operating system targeted at Internet-of-Things applications.

The Brillo OS is a derivative of Android, and be described as a streamlined and cut-down version of Android – targeted towards IoT and smart-home applications on low-power embedded devices with constrained memory and other resources.

According to Google, Brillo is an operating system for the Internet of Things that will connect devices through a communication layer called Weave, which “provides seamless and secure communication between devices, both locally and through the cloud”.

As Brillo is based on the lower levels of Android, you’re likely to be able to choose from a wide variety of hardware platforms and silicon vendors that will be compatible with the Brillo OS. With this all-in-one operating system, you can focus on building your hardware and applications – everything else you need for an end-to-end IoT solution is already built in. Furthermore, Brillo provides a Web-based console for device administration – providing update services, crash reporting and metrics for your devices and making system management inexpensive and accessible.

Brillo provides a kernel, hardware abstraction, connectivity, and security infrastructure within a limited memory footprint, which is ideal for inexpensive and smaller devices. At the time of writing the specific range of supported chipsets and hardware requirements for Brillo are currently unknown, however it has been estimated that it will run on devices with as little as 32 to 64 Mb of RAM – making it a lot more lightweight than regular Android builds.

Furthermore Brillo support is being integrated into the Google mobile platform and Google Play, so support for connectivity to Brillo-equipped devices is built-in to devices (such as smartphones) that run Android, and is easily available for iOS. Android devices will auto-detect Brillo and Weave devices.

It appears likely that Brillo will support wireless communications standards specifically relevant to the IoT market, such as Thread, on supported hardware, along with common Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications.

For device OEMs, using Brillo means you can build new devices and products quickly and securely, without having to worry about software updates. For other operating systems, you can just add a compatibility library to connect with Brillo devices over Weave.

For app developers, interoperability with Brillo and Weave can extend the reach of your apps to the physical world. You can build one app to control multiple devices in the home and work environments, leveraging Google services such as voice-control actions.

With Brillo, Google is aiming to build an operating system that device manufacturers can put on their devices to ease the process of getting a device online, manage the connectivity and many of the lower-level hardware functions that device manufacturers probably don’t want to deal with.

For end users, Brillo-based and Weave-based IoT applications give users confidence that their connected devices will work with each other, and work with different smartphones and devices. Brillo and Weave promise to make the IoT easy-to-use for end users, since automatic setup, provisioning and easy-to-use sharing is built in.

The second part of Google’s recent announcement concerns Weave – a communications framework for IoT devices that allows different devices to talk to each other. It’s a cross-platform, common language that will let Brillo devices, smartphones and Internet services all talk to each other, addressing the challenge of IoT interoperability. Weave is cross-platform, and it exposes APIs for developers, making it valuable for OEMs and app developers trying to link their cloud-based services to devices communicating with Weave.

Weave is not a separate protocol, but rather lightweight schema developers can use for standardised and interoperable communications. It provides a common language and vocabulary so that IoT devices can advertise their capabilities to other devices on the network and expose the different functions that they offer, defining certain devices and what they can do.

According to Google, “Weave promises to be “the IoT protocol for everything – from phone to device to cloud”. The idea is to create a standard way for each device in the home or building to explain to the other devices what it’s capable of and what it’s doing right now, so they can all work together as a team.

This functionality that Weave offers appears to be broadly comparable to Apple’s HomeKit system in terms of device discovery, configuration and communication – it’s basically the glue that connects together a bunch of disparate networked devices from different vendors, turning them into a rich system for automation and interoperability.

Furthermore, Google’s Weave program aims to standardise quality and interoperability across different manufacturers through a certification program that device makers must adhere to for their devices to be “Weave Compatible”.

As part of this program, Weave provides a core set of schemas that will enable apps and devices to seamlessly interact with each other. “We want to connect devices in a seamless and intuitive way, and make them work better for users”, according to Sundar Pichai’s announcement at Google I/O.

Brillo and Weave represent a key public development in Google’s offerings in the IoT and home automation market, which has been fairly quiet following last year’s acquisition of Nest Labs. The Nest thermostat and future devices in the Nest ecosystem will also use Weave, so devices from other manufacturers can easily and securely interoperate with these Nest products.

This new development from Google is highy-anticipated by all of us in the Internet-of-Things development community, and the team at LX is ready when you are. Our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


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