IoT Impact 2018

IoT Impact

IoT Impact is the primary IoT (Internet of Things) event for 2018. It is supported by IoTAA (IoT Alliance Australia) and is being held in Sydney at UTS from 10 – 11 September. We will be exhibiting.

 

You can register with our discount code to get a discount on the conference part of the show. The exhibition is free but you need to register. You can register at IoT registration and use discount code IOTsuccessful-C1.

 

IoT Impact Awards

And some extra news, we are also finalists for the IoT Impact Awards in 2 categories: Enablement in IoT and Innovation in IoT.

 

IoT Impact Award Finalists

IoT Impact Award Finalists

The winners are announced at the IoT Impact cocktail reception which is held at the UTS Tech Lab which will also coincide with the opening.

 

For the exhibition we will be showing 2 custom IoT devices. The first is the arcHUB Smart Cities Sensor device and the second is a 15 year battery life NB-IoT water meter.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Artificial Intelligence Usage Now

Artificial Intelligence

There has been hype about Artificial Intelligence, or AI, ever since we starting thinking about creating it. Moves to create truly independently thinking systems are still struggling but expert and self-learning systems have made a lot of progress.

 

So I was interested to get an email from Karthik Reddy of 16best.net  with a new blog post from them about how brands are using AI to enhance their marketing.

 

Here is a snippet. Click on it for a more readable version.

 

Artificial Intelligence Use Now

Artificial Intelligence Use Now

The projection that really interested me is “100% of IoT initiatives will be supported by AI by 2019″. That is a pretty substantial claim. And of course not all the support will be in field as the processing power to make a difference is usually in the back end systems. Given we do a lot of projects for devices that fit the Internet of Things category I’m fairly confident that this is likely to be true. I’m not convinced it will be 100% but it will be high. And this is because once you have devices in the field gathering data, you start making connections between the data and outcomes, and then it becomes valuable.

 

A good example of this is the arcHUB Smart Cities Sensor devices. Once you have the data, you can learn a lot from it. And then you can start making better decisions. And then you can actually measure the improvements.

 

You can see all the details in How Brands Use AI including detailed statistics from many well known companies on how they are using AI.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

The Internet of Insecure Things

Insecurity in Cyberspace

This is not one of those topics that makes you feel better initially. In IoT Security we looked at how the emerging IoT world needed to protect itself against attacks. This is a different problem to pure Software Security which has its own challenges.

 

It was with recent interest that I received a copy of the Barr Group 2018 Embedded Systems Safety & Security Survey . We contribute and so get access to a free copy. I recommend you do the same if this is an area of interest.

 

They have also put together an infographic that speaks to the The Internet of Insecure Things and I am reproducing a low resolution version here with their permission. You can get a full resolution version by registering at the Barr Group website.

 

The Internet Of Insecure Things

The Internet Of Insecure Things

It speaks to where the insecure aspects come from. As usual, better Embedded Software Development practice leads to better and more secure products.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

IoT Drives Change

IoT Change Catalyst

The Internet of Things, or IoT, continues to break new ground. Although there are still many things to be worked out, there is no doubt it will create new opportunities and enable value propositions previously unimaginable.

 

So I was please when Garrick Stanford from RS Components sent me an infographic looking at the way the Internet of Things will drive change. Here is his introduction.

 

‘Sometime ago we discussed exactly what the internet of things is. Well here we’re going to take a closer look at how it is going to change your life – and how that has started already. More and more technology and everyday devices and tools are now connected to the internet – think about your phone and TV, for instance. But here we’ll examine how the amount of connected devices that we use is going to hugely increase and how that will affect our lives.’
IoT Infographic on Change

IoT Infographic on Change

The one things we can be sure of is that this is but the start.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Solar Charging Improvements

Powering Telemetry

A big issue in the world of the Internet of Things, or IoT as it is abbreviated, is how to get power to remote devices. And this splits up into 2 separate but definitely related problems:

 

  • the power source
  • the power consumption

Obviously, if the power consumption is high, the power source has to be capable of providing a lot more power. We looked at this in our IoT – Remote Telemetry Case Study. So let’s tackle that one first.

 

And the focus for this article is remote devices using Solar Charging. Before we look at that specifically, let’s understand the problem.

 

Power Consumption

There are multiple ways to reduce power consumption. These were covered already in Reducing Power Consumption and Reduce Power While Awake with examples given in Sleep Saves Energy.

 

Low Power Sleep Mode

Low Power Sleep Mode

The short version of this is that you have to do 2 things at the same time:

 

  • reduce the average power that is consumed all the time
  • reduce the energy required to process an event

The first of these is also known as Quiescent Power Consumption. This is the power consumed just running the system when it is doing nothing, or close to it. At a minimum, the Power Supply has to deliver this amount of power just to make sure that we could react to an event, should it occur. And I can hear you thinking that it is hard to get this low enough and still have a responsive system.

 

Correct! But you have to have at least this amount of power or Game Over!

 

Which is where the second part comes in. You also need some power to respond to events. These can be something you need to log, or reports you need to post. If you are uploading to a web service using cellular communications, the peak power consumption can be very high. So you have to minimise this time.

 

We would normally model both of these and work out a power budget based on the worst case scenario model. Excel is a suitable tool for doing simple modelling of this as well as scenario modelling.

 

But I can hear you thinking “why worst case“? Answer: “Because you want it to always work, not just work on average“!

 

Telemetry

Telemetry means measurement at a distance or remote measurement. So you are measuring something at location A, and want to know the value of the measurement at location B. This implies the 2 locations are not close enough together that this is a trivial problem to solve.

 

In our world, Telemetry can mean anywhere on earth, though our customers are usually in Australia. In NASA’s world, (maybe world is the wrong term for them) it can be anywhere in the solar system. Voyager 1 is currently more than 18 billion Kilometres away and has been active for 40 years.

 

Artist's concept of Voyager in flight

Artist’s concept of Voyager in flight

 

The challenge for low power consumption, is how to get the measurement from location A back to location B?

 

Solar Charging

The NASA solution is simple. Near sun facilities are Solar Powered, and the rest use some form of nuclear power. Since no-one will ever let us nuclear power any Telemetry device, and I’m Okay with that, and we are near enough to see some sun, we will follow that option instead. And besides which, we can do it in our office and not a heavily shielded facility.

 

So lets recap on what we know about solar charging:

 

  • ignoring the energy cost of making a solar panel, the energy cost is free after that
  • there is a maintenance cost which includes cleaning panels
  • provided the construction is robust, they are a long life product
  • you have to do Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) to harvest the most energy or minimise the panel size

And to get more power from a solar panel, you have to:

 

  • have more sun
  • have a better angle to the sun (cosine reduction)
  • have a better MPPT
  • handle lower voltages
  • use the right silicon

 

Not all Solar Panels are equal. If you want you panel to work in a mostly shady place then you might also want to use mono-crystalline Silicon solar cells because they are efficient and can continue to convert even low levels of light. In recent developments the efficiency of conversion had passed 25% as reported in Efficiency of Silicon Solar Cells Climbs and some of the stacked cell technologies are past 40% efficiency.

 

compact solar cell

compact solar cell

 

And then you have to harvest that energy. Which is where new devices like the SPV1050 come in. Experiments in our office showed that we can charge a Lithium Polymer battery from the internal lighting. And it is a buck boost converter meaning that it can charge the battery in full sunlight (reducing voltage) and also moonlight (increasing voltage) and the device costs less that $2 in 1K pieces.

 

I only have on criticism. The super low quiescent current LDOs would have been more useful if they were fully independent because this would have taken another item off the Bill of Materials.

 

Primary Cells

The other option for Telemetry is using Primary Cells. These are not rechargeable and so must last the life of the product. We currently deploy Cellular based Telemetry modules that can run for up to 10 years from a Lithium Primary Cell or 5 years from Alkaline Primary Cells. This is ideal for Smart City style projects where the devices might be moved as they fulfil their current purpose. A good example of this is people metering or pedestrian counting where a council may want to know how much use an area is getting. Once that is understood, the Telemetry module can be redeployed and since it isn’t connected to mains power you don’t need an electrician to do that. Or they could be used to understand the level of demand of public transport services in real time so you can adjust capacity on the fly.

 

So there are options and as technologies like NB-IoT and CAT-M1 come online the power budget for cellular communications continues to fall. We covered this in Cellular IoT Communications. And as of last month, Telstra turned on CAT-M1 across the 4GX network.

 

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.