Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SDK links to sensors to cloud alongside PLCs

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

The linking of embedded systems directly to cloud services is continuing as Comtrol launches a cloud software development kit (SDK) for its IO-Link master family of programmable logic controllers (PLCs). 

Comtrol’s MultiLink technology allows IO-Link sensor data (status, events, and process data) to integrate directly with Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub while simultaneously communicating with the sensor data to the PLC controller. Thi sis a key integration to provide a way forward for traditional industrial automation systems. 

The IO-Link Masters - with IoT Gateway functionality - communicate with sensors and send information to the Azure IoT Hub, which in turn can make it available to Azure Stream Analytics and other cloud-based applications.

“We are excited to support customers’ need to share IO-Link sensor information with enterprise cloud systems. Comtrol created a direct link between Comtrol’s IO-Link Master and Microsoft Azure. This will support popular SCADA systems, such as Wonderware, G.E. Predix and others running on the Azure cloud platform. IO-Link and Azure complete the goals of Industry 4.0 and IIoT.” Bradford Beale, President of US-based Comtrol.

Comtrol has been making networking and industrial data communication systems for the last 35 years, specialising in industrial Ethernet and device connectivity. It sells RocketLinx industrial grade Ethernet and Power over Ethernet switches, IO-Link Master industrial gateways, DeviceMaster Ethernet device servers and gateways and RocketPort multiport serial cards. 


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Broadcom looks to mesh WiFi supplier AirTies

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Broadcom has teamed up with software provider AirTies to develop mesh technology for WiFi that could help extend networks throughout the smart home.

One of the major problems with the roll out of the smart home and Internet of Things is the limited, and variable, connectivity in-home. AirTies already supplies companies such as Vodafone and Sky with technology that connects up devices seamlessly.

The two companies are collaborating on managed Wi-Fi Mesh systems designed to satisfy the performance, coverage, management and mass deployment requirements of today's forward-looking operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Unlike traditional Wi-Fi, which relies on a single Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) embedded in a home gateway/router, managed Wi-Fi Mesh networks use the gateway/router and multiple APs to deliver improved whole-home Internet coverage and provide advanced performance monitoring capabilities.

"Operators around the world are rethinking their approach to in-home Wi-Fi, and many are looking to Mesh networking as their future," said Gregory Fischer, senior vice president and general manager for Broadband Carrier Access at Broadcom. "As a pioneer of advanced Wi-Fi solutions to leading broadband operators around the globe, we're proud to work with AirTies on a collaborative roadmap that brings our joint abilities to this growing market. Broadcom is committed to helping service providers deliver the best in-home Wi-Fi experiences possible."

"It's clear to AirTies and Broadcom that consumers have rising expectations for fast and consistent Internet performance throughout every corner of their homes, on all of their devices – and they expect their service providers to deliver," said Philippe Alcaras, CEO of AirTies. "Broadcom is a recognized world-leader in Wi-Fi chipsets and technology, and by teaming up for the long run, we can help operators seize new opportunities to improve customer satisfaction, drive incremental revenue, and differentiate with new classes of premium Wi-Fi services, with the guarantee of integrating all critical innovation in the future."

The key point is that AirTies' Wi-Fi Mesh compatibility will be a default feature in all of Broadcom's wireless platforms like router, DSL, GPON, DOCSIS and Video Decoding CPE platforms such as residential gateways or set-top boxes as part of the new Wi-Fi driver software available this month (May 2017). This turns the gateways and wireless set-top boxes into an additional Mesh Wi-Fi access point, reducing the costs needed for additional APs in the home.

This will allow smart devices to connect via WiFi more reliably throughout the home (using devices such as the low power Microchip WiFi Homekit).   

For homes requiring additional APs, AirTies supplies dual band concurrent APs built on various Broadcom chipsets/CPUs such as the BCM4366E, BCM4360, BCM43217, and BCM47081. These compact APs include Client and Band Steering technology to ensure devices always connect to the best available AP and frequency band, whether 2.4GHz or 5GHz based on real-time network usage. The APs also provide Channel Management, which improves performance in high interference Wi-Fi environments. To provide a fully managed experience, operators can also use AirTies' Remote View software, a cloud-based performance monitoring platform used by field support and network engineering teams to optimise in-home Wi-Fi and gain valuable real-time insights.

www.AirTies.com

Microchip launches WiFi development tool for Apple HomeKit with hardware encryption

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Microchip has launched a fully-certified secure Wi-Fi Software Development Kit (SDK) for Apple's HomeKit support. 
The SDK enables MFi licensees to create fast, low-power designs on the industry’s first hardware cryptography-enabled Wi-Fi-based development kit for HomeKit.
The SDK combines hardware cryptography suites within the CEC1702, a full-featured ARM Cortex-M4-based microcontroller (MCU), with the WINC1510 low-power 802.11 b/g/n certified Wi-Fi module. 
The hardware-based security engines within the Wi-Fi HomeKit solution greatly reduce system calculation times. The reduction in execution time for HomeKit commands such as pairing – with pair setup in 0.95 seconds and pair verify in less than one tenth of a second – means the reaction time of the system is increased for applications such as instantly unlocking a front door. 
This reduced time of system activity enabled by the Wi-Fi SDK results in lower system power consumption that are comparable to Bluetooth, says Microchip. 
The Wi-Fi SDK also provides hardware security features due to its cryptography-enabled microcontroller. The CEC1702, a low-power but powerful, programmable 32-bit MCU offers security measures such as secure boot which allows equipment manufacturers to establish a hardware-based root of trust to protect against a security breach. 
Developers can also use integrated security features such as easy-to-use encryption, authentication, private and public key capabilities and customer programming flexibility to minimise application risk. The CEC1702 includes 480 KB SRAM code plus data, which gives developers ample code space for the HomeKit protocol as well as their application-specific code.
A new $99 SecureIoT1702 development board includes the CEC1702 MCU, a compact, high-contrast, serial graphic LCD display module, push buttons and two expansion headers compatible with the MikroElektronika mikroBUS Expansion interface. When paired with a WINC1510 Wi-Fi click board and a separately available MFi chip, the SecureIoT1702 board and Wi-Fi SDK provide MFi licensees the basic building blocks to create HomeKit applications.
The CEC1702Q-B1-SX MCU and ATWINC1510 Wi-Fi module are available now for production volume
The Wi-Fi SDK is available to MFI licensees only via applesupport@microchip.com for verification of the MFI license.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

DECT eyes up opportunities in IoT

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Developers of DECT 2.4GHz wireless chips and systems have long looked for opportunities outside of its digital cordless phone niche, and are eyeing up the Internet of Things (IoT).

The DECT Forum and the ULE Alliance are organising their first DECT ULE Technology Summit which will include a Smart Home Hackathon.

From 2016 to 2022 the global connected home market segment is expected to grow 14% a year driven by security, lighting and climate control applications where IP-based Bluetooth and Zigbee dominate.

Relative high cost, technology fragmentation, privacy and security concerns are hampering even stronger growth says the Forum, and to accelerate mass market adoption, the DECT Forum and the ULE Alliance developed ULE technology as an extension of DECT for residential and business Voice and Data communications. However the integration with IP networks remains a challenge.

The conference will address recent developments in connected home and enterprise applications and provides a technology outlook on ULE, a low-power wireless technology that enables cost-effective connected home and business platforms. This addresses Ultra-Low Energy application requirements by introducing optimised communication methods. Identified with low power consumption, low latency, long range, moderate data rate and additional voice services.

Speakers from Park Associates, Panasonic, Philips Lighting, Futuresource Consulting, Intel, Robert Bosch, Dialog Semiconductor, Deutsche Telekom and other companies and organisations will talk about the latest developments and updates in DECT ULE technology.

The aim of the Smart Home Hackathon is to explore new ways for seamless smart home solutions. Leading technology companies including DSP Group, Dialog Semiconductor and carriers like Deutsche Telekom will make their latest DECT ULE development platforms, tools, boards and sensors available to the participants to hack into.

www.dect-ule-technologysummit.com
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Poland rolls out a national LPWAN network for IoT

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Polish Internet of Things (IoT) provider Netemera has teamed up with network provider Kerlink to roll out a nationwide low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) network for its 'Network for Machines'.

The network, based on the LoRaWAN technology of the worldwide LoRa Alliance, enables the cost-savings and energy-efficiency features required for rapid implementation of the IoT. Netemera will own and operate the network, allowing Polish companies to design and deploy connected devices for smart applications like water-and-electricity metering, air-quality monitoring, fleet management, parking, lighting and asset tracking.

Kerlink is supplying LoRa-capable gateways that are already deployed throughout the Polish capital, Warsaw, and its suburbs. 

In addition to developing network and application servers, Netemera develops dedicated IoT hardware and software and integrates third-party IoT devices and end-to-end solutions to give customers as much flexibility as possible when they implement the IoT. The company also will provide SMEs and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to quickly become productive and innovative using the wide range of solutions available in the LoRa Alliance.

“Netemera’s Network for Machines already supports several proofs of concept in the field of smart cities, metering and tracking solutions, and offers opportunities for IoT vendors and application developers to test new products and apps,” said Laurent Thiriaux, CEO of Netemera. “Kerlink’s reliable, high-performance solutions and LoRaWAN will allow our customers to quickly and simply use the IoT for multiple applications.”

Netemera’s Network for Machines relies on Kerlink’s Wirnet iBTS gateways. “Installed with Netemera’s commitment to quickly deploy a nationwide IoT network in Poland, Kerlink’s solutions provide low-power, long-distance connectivity that Netemera’s customers and partners require,” said AurĂ©lien Seugnet, Kerlink Sales Representative Network Operators. “The reliability and top performance of the Wirnet iBTS and Wirnet iBTS Compact LoRaWAN gateways have been demonstrated by Kerlink partners in many countries, and are helping drive the company’s international expansion.”

The LoRa Alliance has nearly 500 members collaborating to drive successful adoption of the LoRaWAN protocol, simplifies deployment for virtually any network operator.

Netemera is looking for manufacturers, R&D institutions, solution providers and start-ups to create a strong ecosystem and to jointly accelerate development of innovative IoT solutions. It also expects to work with cities to become pioneering smart cities. Netemera’s Network for Machines is currently being deployed in the Poland’s 15 largest cities.

www.netemera.com

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk


. X-Fab, Exagan make GaN-on-Si on 200mm wafers
. Overhead power supply for trucks could be viable, study says
. IoT power calculator gives battery life predictions

TECHNOLOGIES TO WATCH
. Optimising molecules for thermoelectric power generation

. Large area solar panels see 24% record efficiency

NEW POWER PRODUCTS
. PIC core gives 42V digitally controlled analogue buck converter more flexibility

. Isolated 40A eighth-brick DC-DC converters deliver 95% efficiency

. 1200V silicon carbide diodes with lowest forward voltage

TECHNICAL PAPERS

. Intersil: Battery management system tutorial


. Coilcraft: Choosing Inductors for Energy Efficient Power Applications






Embedded virtualisation for robotics combines control and IoT on multicore boards

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Board maker congatec has demonstrated hypervisor technology from German real-time virtualization partner Real-Time Systems that consolidating the congatec robotics computing offering in a single, application ready, 4-in-1 hardware platform for PLC, HMI, IoT and Industry 4.0 systems.

In a demo system congatec has shown the world's first virtualized robotics server platform built on the COM Express Type 7 server-on-module standard recently launched by the PICMG. This brand new next generation server platform enables application specific designs of industrial edge and fog severs technologies at lowest customization cost. 

The hardware virtualized server hosts the PLC control for the robot, the HMI for the operator, the IoT gateway for remote/mobile monitoring and maintenance as well as the powerful 10 GbE Industry 4.0 gateway for real-time collaboration of machinery in cyber-physical smart factories. Big Data storage is hosted on PCIe connected SSDs in highly efficient and secure RAID-5 configuration. Predictive maintenance analytics of system fans and SSDs are executed by the rule engine of congatec's new cloud API for IoT gateways. The system's cloud is virtualized on the IoT gateway partition as well. It can also be automatically mirrored to central clouds.

congatec's hardware virtualized platforms improve the integration of previously stand-alone robotics systems and build the next generation of smart, cyber-physical controlled systems and deep learning robots. They also increase the utilisation of costly hardware while reducing investments as well as operational costs through lower energy consumption.

"Japanese robotics and automation vendors and German embedded real-time computer vendors are predestined to form an outstanding cooperation to generate most innovative high quality robotics and real-time control systems. This spirit of collaboration will accelerate our support for Japanese robotics and automation vendors, enabling them to stay on top of both the global humanoid and industrial robotics market as well as connected industrial and medical systems," said Jason Carlson, CEO of congatec.

The application ready combination of embedded boards and computer-on-modules from congatec with real-time hypervisor technology from Real-Time Systems is perfectly suited for connected robotics, industrial machine controls and medical systems. Engineers benefit from application ready and functionally validated real-time platforms that significantly reduce their verification and validation efforts; a comprehensive documentation package that is ready for own certifications; and personal integration support that does not stop at driver or library settings but delivers the entire real-time capable, virtualization ready platform. 

This allows engineers to use multi-core embedded board and computer-on-module range, from Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium processors (codename Apollo Lake) up to Intel Core and Xeon D processors (Codename Kaby Lake) and AMD G-Series and R-Series, for their various applications.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Embedded blog hits 1000 posts

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

The Embedded blog is over ten years old now and has hit the venerable highlight of 1000 posts (according to Google analytics, although it seems to be closer to 1400 posts having gone back to the start - there's the problem with automation right there). The embedded design market has come on tremendously in that time, with the Internet of Things, and more recently IoT security gaining a significant amount of interest.

Even back in 2010 we were looking at the IoT: Internet of Things Takes a Step Forward,
Electric Cloud tackles variants of embedded software

And at cars being hacked: Researchers hack cars

As well as the tiny controllers for Silicon Dust that was bought by Linear Technology and are now part of Analog Devices: World's Smallest Flash Microcontroller Package for Silicon Dust

But we started with The end of plasma and 70in LCD displays back in August 2006. Worth a look!


Here are the top stories from the last ten years and those 1000 (1400) posts:

Posts

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