Intelligent Data Sharing for the Industrial Internet of Things with PrismTech Vortex

July 22, 2016

The “Industrial Internet-of-Things”, or IIoT, is a subset of Internet-of-Things technologies that connect industrial machines, sensors and actuators to local data processing and to the Internet – as well as connecting their data and analytics to other industrial networks that can generate further value and business intelligence from that data.

These systems are often large-scale networks, with real-time operating systems, and business-critical reliability needs.

The IIoT represents a convergence between machines, embedded sensing technologies, advanced analytics and Internet connectivity. These technologies are enabling business to harness the ever-increasing amount of device-generated data, process that data in real-time and act on events as quickly as they occur to drive smarter decisions, enable new services, create new revenue streams and reduce costs.

Industrial IoT technologies can provide increases in efficiency for industrial plant equipment, more efficient long-term maintenance and management of equipment, for example.

There is also value generation in the data that is made available to adjoining IIoT networks, for example using that plant data to best balance short-term positive cash flow against additional maintenance or equipment costs in the longer term.

These kinds of IIoT use-cases provide predictable gains in business value, but the further value that could potentially be generated by disruptive new business models enabled by the IIoT is a wildcard – it could be limited in some cases, or it could be enormous.

PrismTech’s Vortex Intelligent Data Sharing Platform is a middleware platform specifically aimed at Industrial IoT applications. Vortex aims to provide an ideal connectivity solution for the IIoT, delivering the data to the right place at the right time – all the time, and to simplify real-time information integration in industrial IoT control systems.

At the heart of the Vortex platform is OpenSplice – which enables data to be shared and integrated across a wide variety of different operating systems and platforms. OpenSplice is one of the most advanced, complete and popular implementations of the Object Management Group’s Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard, and provides a full implementation of both the latest OMG DDS 1.4 standard and the OMG-DDSI / RTPS v2.1 interoperable wire-protocol standards.

DDS was originally developed for aerospace and defence applications, and has been used successfully for many years in large-scale, real-time distributed systems. In recent years it has been used in other commercial application domains such as energy grid management, industrial automation, transport, healthcare and “smart city” networks, and continues to gain popularity as a powerful standard for real-time machine-to-machine data sharing and integration in complex IIoT systems.

As DDS is based on a data-centric publish-and-subscribe model, it enables large numbers of distributed applications to share information with each other asynchronously and in real time.

DDS also offers certain advantages over other common transport protocols, such as MQTT or CoAP, encountered in Internet-of-Things applications. It is easy to provision, highly scalable, very low latency and more compatible with the heavy, real-time message throughput found in modern industrial IoT systems.

Furthermore, DDS supports automatic discovery and brokerless operation, allowing DDS nodes to declare the information that they can provide or receive. DDS will automatically connect appropriate publishers to subscribers in a direct way, without a broker required in the middle.

This enables plug-and-play support for devices added to the network in the future, makes it possible for IIoT systems to expand and evolve more easily, and simplifies system configuration.

OpenSplice is aimed at use with server and desktop platforms as well as more specialised real-time operating systems and embedded environments, such as the VxWorks RTOS running on an industrial single-board computer. OpenSplice is available on most enterprise operating systems, including Linux, Windows, AIX and Solaris as well as the VxWorks, RTLinux, Integrity, PikeOS and ElinOS real-time operating systems.

It is good to note that OpenSplice aims to be highly dependable, ensuring availability, high reliability, safety and integrity that is robust against potential hardware or software failures – with a powerful suite of quality-of-service functions to ensure data integrity.

With this in mind, OpenSplice aims to deliver high performance and scalability, with very large volumes of data delivered with very low latency, from simple systems using a small number of sensors all the way up to an ultra-large-scale interconnected network of devices and servers – and also provides strong security for industrial data, maintaining the integrity and authenticity of data exchanged throughout the network.

The Vortex platform consists of three other product suites as well as OpenSplice – Vortex Device, which enables applications to securely share real-time data using a variety of platforms and network technologies; Vortex Cloud, which provides cloud computing and support for data sharing over a WAN, support for public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructures, and the ability to seamlessly share data over the Internet between applications running on different, isolated LANs; and Vortex Gateway.

Vortex Gateway is a high performance, extensible and configurable protocol gateway that bridges between communication protocols while adapting their format, content and quality-of-service requirements. This makes it possible to integrate legacy systems using different protocols into a DDS-based system such as OpenSplice – as well as using alternative transport-layer protocols in cases where they may make sense. It supports efficient bridging between DDS systems and over 100 different communication protocols, including device protocols such as MQTT and enterprise messaging protocols such as JMS and AMQP.

You can see that the Industrial Internet of Things hold promise for a wide spectrum of ideas – and if this is of interest – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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.


Bluetooth Version 5 – for the Internet of Things

July 12, 2016

The newest upcoming iteration of the Bluetooth specification – Bluetooth 5 – has recently been announced by the Bluetooth Special Industry Group – the industry consortium responsible for developing, standardising and promoting Bluetooth wireless technology.

Bluetooth 5 is expected to be released around the end of this year or the beginning of 2017 – and will offer significant increases in performance with up to four times the range, double the data rate and an eight-fold increase in broadcast messaging capacity.

This new evolution of the Bluetooth standard is all about doing more with less, offering rich new experiences which are compatible with customer expectations in today’s Internet-of-Things market – including greater bandwidth, a longer range while also retaining the very low power consumption of Bluetooth 4.0.

The Bluetooth standard has not had a major version bump since the release of Bluetooth 4.0 in 2009, and the Internet-of-Things market has clearly come a long way in the last seven years. One of the main goals of Bluetooth 5 is to remain at the forefront of the fast-moving Internet-of-Things space, both in terms of interoperability and back-end RF network technology as well as the front-end use cases and experiences that consumers expect from modern IoT products and technologies.

The “Bluetooth 4.0” version nomenclature has also been dropped, with a focus on a more streamlined version branding that is easier for the average customer to understand as a major technology revision when they’re shopping for new phones or devices.

While the exact range may vary depending on the hardware design and the power budget that is available, it may be possible to expect a range of up to 400 meters from a Bluetooth 5 connection.

Bluetooth 5 is designed with Internet-of-Things applications in mind, and the extended range that it offers will enable ubiquitous, reliable IoT connections across full-home and building and outside-the-building use cases where older Bluetooth devices are not practical, greatly opening up the potential applications for Bluetooth connectivity.

According to the executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed, supporting faster data transfers and software updates for devices”, and “Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them.”

With these technical improvements, the Bluetooth SIG aims to make Bluetooth-based IoT experiences seamless and ubiquitous, without users needing to think about range or device pairing.

As well as making the pairing process much easier for Bluetooth devices such as wireless speakers or keyboards, the significantly increased broadcast capacity in Bluetooth 5 is aimed at making beacons, location markers and other connectionless” Bluetooth services much more powerful and valuable, with the ability to transmit more, richer information as part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, this will “redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information”, moving away from the app-paired-to-device model to a seamless and more IoT-compatible connectionless model where there is less need to download an app, pair devices together and connect the app to a device.

The increased bandwidth that Bluetooth 5 provides means that devices can be more responsive and can transfer their data faster, and increased broadcast capacity makes “connectionless” Bluetooth services like beacons, location-aware information and targeted advertising much more capable and powerful.

These improvements allow Bluetooth 5 to open up more potential Bluetooth applications and help Bluetooth to be an integral part of an accessible, interoperable IoT ecosystem.

Connectionless Bluetooth beacon technology has value in applications such as museums, galleries and other cultural and tourism institutions, providing location-aware information for navigation, allowing people to find local businesses or services near them – or for location-aware marketing or promotions.

However, excessive use of Bluetooth notifications for advertising, without requiring authentication or device pairing, may raise challenges in terms of customer acceptance and ethics and potentially creates a whole new avenue for ubiquitous spam.

Other applications such as industrial logistics and tracking inventory in warehouses are potentially valuable too – there is enormous scope for creative new applications of Bluetooth with these new capabilities.

Furthermore, these significant range and performance benefits are achieved without any significant increase in power consumption compared to existing iterations of the Bluetooth Low Energy standard with its already industry-leading power efficiency.

This means that Bluetooth 5 remains attractive, as with present Bluetooth implementations, in applications where power efficiency and long battery life is important, and the powerful new capabilities of Bluetooth 5 remain compatible with tiny, battery-operated beacons that are practical to deploy for a long time without maintenance or replacement.

By now you must realise that Bluetooth is still relevant and a feature that may be of benefit to your existing or new products. If this is of interest – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

`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 IoT 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.


MediaTek renews their range in the Internet of Things Chipset Market

July 5, 2016

Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek has recently announced several new chipsets that deliver powerful capabilities for innovative Internet-of-Things, multimedia and wearable computing hardware products of all kinds. The first of these new products is the MT2523 chip, aimed specifically at the needs of today’s wearable computing applications.

This compact, low-power system-on-chip combines an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller core, a Bluetooth Low Energy radio for wireless networking with other devices, and a GPS receiver – a powerful combination of energy-efficient 32-bit microcontroller, GPS and wireless connectivity that is ideal for wearable computing and data logging applications such as personal fitness trackers.

The MT2523 offers efficient power consumption, delivering week-long battery life in a typical wearable consumer design, as well as a 41 percent reduction in chip size, which makes this chip attractive for wearable and portable devices where space is at a premium.

Another interesting new chipset from MediaTek which is aimed at the Internet-of-Things market is the MT7697 IoT Bridge. As the name suggests, this chipset is designed to help bring together the plethora of different network technologies and protocols used by the growing number of IoT and home automation products in the market.

The MT7697 chipset supports the latest Bluetooth Low Energy standards as well as dual-band Wi-Fi, enabling this device to act as a central gateway that can converge data from different kinds of connected devices. This is essential as consumer uptake of Internet-of-Things and home automation products with different connectivity technologies increases, making it a very attractive part of a “future-proof” home IoT network.

MediaTek have also recently announced their new M8581 chipset for optical media players, with one device able to decode all the familiar optical formats from CD to DVD to Blu-Ray, enabling high-definition viewing experiences at up to 4K ultra-high-definition with support for High Dynamic Range. It includes support for many of the latest audio and video codecs, including H.264 video and Dolby Digital Plus audio.

This ability to support many different media formats and codecs, including the most modern formats as well as legacy ones, consolidates the bill of materials in media appliances and keeps the cost of hardware low while offering consumers strong product capabilities and user experiences.

The MT2502 Aster system-on-chip is claimed to be the world’s smallest system-on-chip commercially available, and along with MediaTek’s own Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE and GPS silicon products, it’s ideally suited for wearable computing, Internet-of-Things and mobile applications where space is at a premium.

The Aster SoC was launched last year, and made its debut as the core of the Omate X smartwatch. This smartwatch is expected to last up to a week on a single battery charge, showcasing the strong energy efficiency of this platform.

MediaTek has also recently launched its MediaTek Labs initiative, where the company that has been best known for its smartphone and tablet processors aims to diversify its research and development for the next generation of mobile gadgets, staying at the forefront of the latest trends in Internet-of-Things and wearable computing.

Their goal is to provide developers and engineers with tools such as MediaTek development kits to help build new devices and write new software, and to make these tools and resources as accessible as possible.

An interesting feature is that MediaTek Labs won’t be a private club only for major industry players – it’s designed to be used and enjoyed by both professionals and amateurs, everyone from students to CEOs.

According to the vice president of MediaTek Labs, MediaTek has big plans for the Lab, and they hope that the projects and technologies explored in it will “drive the next wave of consumer gadgets” and “apps that will connect billions”. MediaTek Labs is particularly interested in the growing market for wearable computing devices – everything from basic health and fitness trackers to more powerful mobile devices such as smartwatches.

As you’d expect, MediaTek is promoting its own development tools and silicon products, such as Aster, LinkIt, the MT2523 and M7697 as the first choice used for the development of projects and technologies at MediaTek Labs.

The Omate X smartwatch, or the Aster chip itself, can run MediaTek’s LinkIt operating system, which makes the configuration and development of embedded software faster and easier, enabling engineers to bring their ideas and creations to fruition faster.

All these applications and more, including home automation or other Internet-of-Things applications that aren’t necessarily wearables, seem well suited one or more of these products – the Aster system-on-chip, other MediaTek chipsets providing connectivity features such as GPS and Bluetooth Low Energy, and the LinkIt operating system.

If any of these products or ideas are of interest, and you’re looking to introduce your own Internet-of-Things device – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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.


Arduino Create Platform – increasing access to the Internet of Things

June 10, 2016

The new Arduino Create platform aims to make embedded computing and Internet-of-Things development even easier, and an effort to make the popular Arduino development environment more relevant and up-to-date for today’s networked, connected Internet-of-Things applications – and to be easier to use for collaborative development and sharing of projects and open-source resources.

This new platform is intended to replace the widely used and proven Arduino IDE that many people will be familiar with. This system has been around for a decade, with minor revisions along the way – however is basically the same original system, derived from the Wiring platform.

Over time the Arduino IDE has inherited many things, some good and some bad, from this underlying legacy of the Wiring platform – and the Arduino Create platform aims to replace this with a modern, flexible toolchain. One of the most significant changes is that this new development environment will be a Web-based platform, with all the advantages as well as challenges that go along with that.

More than 10 years ago, the Arduino project set out to develop easy-to-use tools to make physical computing accessible and simple, with a focus on open-source software and hardware. Today, the Arduino Create platform aims to continue to remain true to these values in order to bring the same outcomes to the world of Internet-of-Things development, bringing this technology into the hands of teachers, students and creative artists, making the technology accessible for everybody, and serving as “one stop shop for Makers”.

But this new browser-based internet-connected platform is not just a new development environment. It enables everybody, including students, hobbyists, makers and other non-expert users to not just write code easily but also to share their work.

Users can easily configure their hardware, install updates and patches that are easily managed in the cloud, such as support for different board hardware types, and extra software libraries, and connect their networked devices to the cloud, using Web-accessible dashboards and other Internet-based features.

This cloud-based approach includes some clever features, such as the ability to easily “hide” sensitive private API keys and passwords within your code when you share it, and automatically insert this kind of secure information into your code at the preprocessor stage, before the code is uploaded to your board.

Alongside these new development capabilities, the new platform’s focus on community, culture leadership and education around the emerging Internet-of-Things domain is clear. The Arduino “IoT Manifesto” sets out not only how Arduino will approach the Internet of Things, but also how they intend to develop tools for it as well as how they think other parties should approach the way they’re developing their own tools and services for the IoT.

Arduino Create makes it very easy to get started, featuring guided workflows to help easily configure Internet services and to help users through the process of installing the cross-browser plugin. Once the plugin is installed, you can get started writing code and uploading sketches to an Arduino board connected to your computer directly from your web browser, in a way that will be largely familiar on the surface to everybody who has ever used an Arduino.

On the surface the Arduino Web Editor looks a lot like the familiar IDE, only browser-based. All the standard libraries included with Arduino IDE installations are immediately available, along with support for all the standard Arduino hardware targets.

This makes usability easy for new users, with minimal transition required for users who are already familiar with the Arduino IDE. All the significant back-end changes are hidden underneath, with a largely familiar user experience.

The Create platform also includes the Arduino Cloud infrastructure, which allows you to connect your Arduino boards directly to the Internet with ease, using transport protocols such as MQTT to communicate from Arduino devices to Web services and to other devices.

The Arduino Cloud infrastructure as well as the Arduino Web Editor are powered by Amazon Web Services behind the scenes, with AWS IoT and AWS Lambda providing the Arduino Create platform with secure, reliable and highly scalable infrastructure, enabling the platform that enables makers to easily connect and manage their Arduino projects through the internet and the cloud.

Eventually the Arduino Cloud infrastructure will provide Arduino users with a one-stop-shop for Arduino-connected Web services, including real-time data display dashboards, streaming of data and database storage.

The community surrounding the Arduino platform is one of its defining characteristics, and the Arduino Project Hub integrated into the Arduino Create system aims to continue this community-oriented tradition. The huge amount of open-source code, examples and community support available around the Arduino platform mean that if you have a problem you can probably find somebody else that has had the same problem earlier that can easily help you solve it.

This ecosystem of community support is a key part of the Arduino success story – this has helped make Arduino the default platform for beginners and hobbyists looking to get started with microcontrollers and embedded computing. The Arduino Create ecosystem builds upon this tradition with the integration of the Arduino Project Hub. The Arduino Project Hub is intended to be the new focus for the extensive community of Arduino users to share their projects, ideas and examples.

Although this may be an exciting development for the hobbyist community, it is not an ideal situation for those looking to design, build and manage their own commercial Internet-of-Things products. This is quite apparent with first use, thanks to the ominous “You may lose your data” warning.

Furthermore, there are many options on the hardware, software and platform fronts that require serious consideration – with security being paramount. Thus you need to discuss your IoT project with professionals from the LX Group.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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.


Home automation with Apple HomeKit and Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform

May 20, 2016

Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform is a highly cost-effective, flexible and easy-to-use hardware and software platform built around a combination of Marvell’s high-performance 88MC200 ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller and Marvell’s Avastar series of low-power 802.11n Wi-Fi system-on-chip radio devices.

With these new Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform products, Marvell aims to make it easy for Internet-of-Things developers and product designers to build a new generation of connected devices that can interact seamlessly with mobile clients and cloud applications, delivering a broad range of IoT experiences and services to consumers in areas such as smart energy management, home automation and consumer electronics.

On the software side, this platform is powered by Marvell’s proven, field-tested EZ-Connect Software Development Kit, which simplifies software development and enables OEMs to focus on delivering IoT applications and services to their customers in a way that focuses on their own application-specific added value, without devoting lots of time and money to the low-level Wi-Fi software and firmware development.

Marvell has recently announced that they are the industry’s first silicon vendor to develop a fully supported SDK for Apple’s HomeKit framework – a framework in Apple iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling networked home automation devices and IoT appliances in the home.

This SDK, which is based around Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform, the 88MC200 microcontroller, the 88W8801 Wi-Fi system-on-chip, and the EZ-Connect software platform, has received Apple’s stamp of approval as a HomeKit SDK and this is the first combined chipset and SDK platform on the market to offer full HomeKit support to hardware and device manufacturers looking to integrate their products into the HomeKit ecosystem.

Marvell’s HomeKit-ready silicon platform and SDK are already being used by several device manufacturers, paving the way for the first third-party HomeKit appliances to be bought to market.

This SDK is built on top of Marvell’s EZ-Connect SDK, simplifying the development of HomeKit-compatible products. Appliance manufacturers using Marvell’s SDK for HomeKit benefit from the complete, supported reference implementation of the HomeKit framework that this SDK provides, and they’re able to save months of development effort – instead focusing their efforts on innovative product features and great user-facing experiences.

Marvell’s Wi-Fi platform already powers many consumer IoT products on the market, and has been adopted by many industry leaders developing IoT products in sectors such as home appliances, lighting, home automation, toys, wearable computing and more. Mattel’s interactive Internet-connected Hello Barbie doll is one such example of an innovative IoT product already on the market which is powered by Marvell’s Wi-Fi platform and EZ-Connect technology.

The system is powered by Marvell’s 88MC200 microcontroller – the host microcontroller component of the Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform. This is based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 core, with a CPU clock up to 200 MHz, 512 kB of SRAM memory, 8 MB of on-chip serial flash memory, and a rich set of I/O interfaces that offer high performance, low power consumption, and flexible connectivity to a range of peripheral devices.

All of Marvell’s 802.11n Wi-Fi radio system-on-chip devices are based around an additional, separate power-efficient ARM core, and the firmware in this chip takes care of most of the handling of the Wi-Fi protocol, relieving the 88MC200 host microcontroller’s resources so that this processor can be used for application software and higher-layer networking.

This family of Avastar Wi-Fi radio chipsets have a market-leading architecture and RF performance, delivering reliable Wi-Fi network connectivity with low power consumption.

Four different wireless system-on-chip devices in this family are supported by the Marvell Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform, including the 88W8801 single-band 2.4GHz device, the 88W8782 device which supports dual-band Wi-Fi networking, the 88W8787 which supports Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity as well as dual-band Wi-Fi, and the 88W8777 device which combines both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity into a single chip.

The Avastar 88W8777 system-on-chip is a particularly powerful and useful device well suited to IoT applications such as gateway devices, with support for both Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity in a single device.

As well as 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, this chipset incorporates the Bluetooth 4.0 standard and provides Bluetooth Smart-ready operation for classic Bluetooth devices and profiles as well as Bluetooth Low Energy devices. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios can share a single antenna for the lowest cost implementation, or the two radios can operate on separate antennas for maximum performance and throughput.

This new system from Marvell offers a pathway into the Apple HomeKit environment, along with a base for Internet of Things product applications. However there are many options – and choosing the right plaform from a myriad of options can be a challenge. Instead, turn to the LX Group to solve your problems.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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.


Narrowband IoT – enabling M2M connectivity with existing LTE networks

May 7, 2016

The emerging Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) standard is a wireless technology designed especially for enabling cellular connectivity to Internet-of-Things devices, and is designed to combine long-range mobile connectivity with compatibility with existing LTE mobile network infrastructure and low power consumption for sensors or other long-lived devices.

As the NB-IoT standard is specifically aimed at enabling cellular low-power, wide-area (LPWA) wireless networks, targeted at machine-to-machine and IoT applications such as environmental and agricultural monitoring and the metering and automated reading of utilities such as water and power meters.

Furthermore, NB-IoT aims to provide reliable, wide-area network coverage, low power consumption, and strong scalability with support for very large numbers of devices on the network. This interesting new standard has been under active development during the last two years by several major players in the telecoms and networks industry – including Qualcomm, Huawei and Vodafone.

Vodafone believes the emerging NB-IoT standard will be the “killer” technology in the LPWA wireless IoT race, beating alternative technologies such as SigFox and LoRa. Vodafone is one of the key players in the NB-IoT forum, an industry association established last year to advance the development of narrowband IoT technology.

NB-IoT is one of several wireless technologies that aim to overcome the power and therefore transmission range limitations of alternative wireless networking technologies for LPWA Internet-of-Things applications. NB-IoT is a licensed-spectrum technology, unlike alternatives such as SigFox and LoRa which rely on unlicensed, or class-licensed, RF spectrum.

Although the use of unlicensed spectrum means that other LPWA technologies do not require a specific spectrum allocation and therefore are cheaper and easier for service providers to deploy, the limited bandwidth, relatively high congestion and limited transmission power in these radio bands limits the range and performance of the network.

With more and more wireless electronic devices in use everywhere, congestion in the unlicensed ISM radio bands is only going to get even worse in the future, NB-IoT hopes to overcome these limitations, in part by using licensed spectrum allocations like the rest of the mobile network.

The next generation of wide-area wireless IoT is a competitive field, with LoRa representing a more “open” system using unlicensed (but relatively congested) radio spectrum, and so far this has attracted support from many telecommunications service providers and operators including French operators Orange and Bouygues Telecom.

SigFox is also continually growing, with claims that they are presently deploying or operating networks in 17 countries. NB-IoT is still lagging slightly behind in this regard, with no widespread commercial deployment yet.

Vodafone has chosen to throw its weight behind NB-IoT instead of the competing technologies, however. Vodafone, in partnership with Chinese equipment supplier Huawei Technologies, which is another major NB-IoT backer, has recently opened a dedicated lab for NB-IoT development at its Newbury, UK headquarters.

NB-IoT Forum members, and other developers and organisations looking to use the NB-IoT standard to support commercial services, will now be able to test their applications at Vodafone’s new facility.

And with the backing of Vodafone, Huawei and other major industry players – NB-IoT is now in the process of being adopted as an official standard within the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP), with the expectation that it will be finalised and included in LTE release 13 later this year.

There have been some delays in this process, however, and there have been suggestions that NB-IoT will not be finalised in time for Release 13, instead slipping to Release 14 at some point in the future.

This has the potential to be a significant setback for the nascent technology, slowing down its widespread acceptance industry-wide, as well as allowing extra time for competing LPWA technologies such as LoRa and SigFox to continue to grow, with more deployments, bigger networks, and greater provider and end-user familiarity with these technologies.

One of the factors behind Vodafone’s support for NB-IoT is its strong cost-effectiveness for providers who have already built and operated modern mobile networks. Vodafone claims that 80 to 90 percent of their currently deployed base stations use Huawei’s SingleRAN technology for their Radio Access Network (RAN).

SingleRAN technology uses software-defined radio to allow a single network to support multiple different mobile telecommunications standards without hardware replacements, making it cheaper and easier to keep up with new developments in mobile communications standards.

The easy integration of NB-IoT into the existing LTE mobile ecosystem, and its compatibility with LTE network infrastructure without new hardware deployments, are features that make it particularly attractive to established providers in the mobile communications sector.

For mobile network operators that maintain older base stations that have not yet been upgraded to LTE, however, moving to networks that can support NB-IoT may be a more expensive and slow process.

Nevertheless, NB-IoT is coming and this is where the LX Group us ready to work with you. We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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.


New Intelligent Gateway Internet of Things Solutions from Intel

April 26, 2016

Intel’s Internet-of-Things gateway solutions and gateway development kits offer business IoT users a valuable solution for enabling IoT connectivity with existing industrial equipment or other legacy systems.

These gateway solutions are the result of a collaboration between Intel, McAfee and Wind River, aiming to provide IoT developers with pre-integrated and pre-validated hardware and software building blocks for gateways in IoT networks.

Intel’s gateway ecosystem provides hardware and software components that enable security, manageability and connectivity in your IoT deployment – along with ease-of-use. The technology supports a wide range of operating systems and hardware options to provide developers with choice and flexibility, making it easier for businesses to integrate with new or existing sensors, cloud partners and management solutions.

The incorporation of McAfee Embedded Control security technologies into Intel’s platform integrates the hardware-based security of Intel processors with operating system and application software security, keeping your data secure from the network edge to the cloud.

These gateways can connect legacy systems with the network, enabling seamless and secure data flow between edge devices and cloud computing or other Internet-based IoT services. Employing gateways to connect legacy hardware (without native Internet connectivity) to IoT networks enables businesses to unlock the value of big data and analytics from IoT-connected industrial machines and equipment without having to invest in replacing or upgrading this plant.

Intel’s IoT Platform, including gateways, makes it easier to manage your end-to-end IoT solution, and to enable analytics and secure performance to turn data at the network edge into action and business intelligence, delivering real commercial value.

Enterprise IoT solutions based on Intel’s powerful IoT Gateway Technology provide leading performance and security, enabling near-real-time analysis and tighter, more efficient process controls.

Furthermore, Intel’s hardware partners manufacture many different gateways compatible with the Intel IoT platform – with these designs covering a range of different industry verticals for industrial IoT users.

For example, if you’re working on an automotive application, you may look at one of several choices from Intel’s partners that specialise in IoT gateway hardware for transportation or automotive use.

Intel gateways are available with a range of processors, from single-core up to quad-core options. Generally the more powerful multi-core platforms feature increased RAM and flash storage capacity. The operating system and software ecosystem is also important to consider, since capitalising on the multicore processor requires appropriate programming to deliver the best performance.

The purpose of a gateway is to connect many sensors and devices together with different interfaces and aggregate their data and communications to the IoT network at a single point. This means that the I/O hardware available on the gateway is another important factor when choosing the right gateway for your application, to ensure you can connect with your sensors and devices.

Intel IoT Gateway Technology can efficiently aggregate and filter data at the network edge, allowing businesses to analyse and act upon information closer to its source, and in near real time. To deliver the most transformative business value, gateways need to be intelligent and have sufficient processing power to enable filtering, aggregation and end-to-end analytics on large volumes of data.

Processing and filtering data and performing some analytics on the gateway processor, close to the network edge, also reduces the amount of data that needs to be transmitted, reducing bandwidth costs. All these features help enable business users to realise the greatest possible value from the IoT.

Intel IoT gateways support a range of different interfaces, including Bluetooth, 802.15.4/ZigBee or 6LoWPAN, CAN bus, ModBus and many more. The choice of hardware I/O interfaces is particularly important where the goal is to interface legacy equipment – which may interface over RS-485, ModBus, CAN, industrial Ethernet, ZigBee or other protocols – to the IoT network.

The flexibility of an IoT gateway is particularly valuable in this kind of application, allowing existing machinery and legacy systems to be connected to IoT analytics and cloud computing at a relatively low cost.

Intel’s IoT Gateway Platform supports a range of different operating systems, including Windows 10 IoT and Snappy Ubuntu Core, so users who prefer either Windows or open-source Linux ecosystems are accommodated.

Wind River Linux 7 is also supported, including integration with Wind River’s other IoT tools and development tools such as Wind River Workbench, Helix Device Cloud and Helix App Cloud. It’s available preconfigured with Wind River Helix Device Cloud agent, providing cloud connectivity to facilitate device configuration, file transfers, data capture, and a rules engine for analytics.

To support this hardware and software ecosystem for the IoT in an easy-to-use and accessible way, Intel provides in-depth documentation, tools and resources. With built-in tutorials in the Wind River Intelligent Device Platform, you can quickly begin working with tools like Wind River’s Helix App Cloud.

To help with ease of administration and device management, Intel provides MeshCentral, a free and open-source solution for managing all types of devices across a wide variety of operating systems and processor types.

This solution is secure, customisable and easy to install, and it allows users to maintain ownership and control of all their own data. The MeshCentral device management system makes it easier to get legacy devices connected to the cloud, and it is fully interoperable with Intel’s gateway technology and the rest of their IoT ecosystem, making it easy to manage your Intel IoT gateways and other devices.

As an example of Intel’s IoT Gateway Technology at work in a real-world IoT deployment, Intel is working with Cleantech San Diego and other organisations to demonstrate how solutions using Intel’s technology can help optimise water and energy usage in commercial buildings.

At the Port of San Diego, the Intel IoT Gateway-based solution monitors HVAC power, lighting and energy use, resulting in cost savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

As you can imagine, there are many options to consider in the hardware, software and implementation areas of your next Internet of Things project.

And this is where the LX Group us ready to work with you. We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

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 IoT 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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