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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Arduino adds cloud connection for professional IoT boost

By Nick Flaherty

Open source specialist Arduino has launched an IoT Cloud as part of its professional IoT strategy. 
The cloud capability is aimed at embedded developers and system integrators as well as Arduio's more traditional maker hobbyists as an easy-to-use Internet of Things application platform.

"With the launch of the Arduino IoT Cloud, Arduino now provides its millions of users with a complete end-to-end approach to IoT that includes hardware, firmware, cloud services, and knowledge. This public beta release of the Arduino IoT Cloud, with automatic dashboard generation, webhooks support, and full TLS secure transport, will be an invaluable asset to users,” said Luca Cipriani, Arduino CIO

The Arduino IoT Cloud now allows users to program Arduino boards which prevously had to be done using the Sketch language. Arduino IoT Cloud will quickly and automatically generate a sketch when setting up a new thing, enabling a developer to achieve a working device within five minutes of unboxing a board. The Arduino IoT Cloud also allows other methods of interaction, including HTTP REST API, MQTT, command-line tools, JavaScript, and WebSockets.

Massimo Banzi, CTO and Co-founder of Arduino, commented: “Arduino now offers a complete platform with the MKR family, providing a streamlined way to create local IoT nodes and edge devices. These use a range of connectivity options and compatibility with third-party hardware, gateway, and cloud systems. The Arduino IoT Cloud allows users to manage, configure and connect not only Arduino hardware but also the vast majority of Linux-based devices – truly democratizing IoT development.”

Designed for seamless IoT development the MKR form factor delivers embedded connectivity and very low power consumption in a compact size. These features make the boards the most suitable solution for emerging battery-powered IoT edge applications, such as environmental monitoring, tracking, agriculture, energy monitoring, and industrial automation. To highlight how the Arduino IoT Cloud would work in tandem with the MKR family in a real-world solution, Banzi cites an agricultural example, where low power and alternative connectivity options are essential: “Suppose we want to build an IoT greenhouse, the goal is to control this greenhouse remotely, i.e. to be able to turn on and off the lights, start the irrigation system, and read and adjust the temperature inside the greenhouse, all without the need for human intervention. The complete system can be automated and controlled using an Arduino MKR WIFI 1010 board along with the Arduino IoT Cloud.

“Simply attach the relevant sensors (e.g. temperature, light, and humidity sensors), actuators (e.g. irrigation pump), and switches (lights and fan) to the board. Upload the software (Arduino Sketch) and it will be ready in minutes to automatically control the properties of the actuators (e.g. activate the ventilation fans when there is too much humidity in the greenhouse) via a simple web interface.

“The properties are stored in the Arduino IoT Cloud and can be remotely changed from there without the need to visit the greenhouse. Once this is all in place, the system will wait for events and react to them as necessary – perfectly controlling the environment within the greenhouse. It’s even possible to take this automation one step further, as we’ve seen a solution developed based on Arduino to establish and indicate when the fruit is perfectly ripe for harvest on a commercial farm.”

The IoT Cloud includes secure provision, connection and authentication of devices in the field and ensures all data transmitted between the device and Arduino’s cloud is confidential and tamper-proof. Client authentication (X.509 certificates) is adopted for asymmetric-key based authentication, while Transport Layer Security (TLS) is used for securing all traffic to and from IoT Cloud.

There is also a way to use webhooks to let the Arduino Things interact with other services like IFTT, Google Spreadsheet, and Zapier. or to download.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

5GHz point-to-point link targets IoT and 5G

By Nick Flaherty

Broadband wireless equipment maker InfiNet Wireless is launching a software defined radio system with what it claims is record-breaking spectral efficiency.

Quanta 5 is designed primarily for the small home and office market and small service providers to offer backhaul for Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE base stations as well as CCTV and video-surveillance infrastructures. It can also provide Internet access to remote locations.

A key element is mitigation of interference in noisy radio environments, using 14 modulation-coding schemes to dynamically select the most suitable Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS) to ensure delivery of all packets transmitted, even in high-interference environments. This provides 450Mbit/s in a 40MHz channel via 800,000 packets per second. The latency is a maximum of 3ms.

“Our Quanta 5 solution is designed to address challenges such as limited spectrum availability, growing interference challenges and demands for yet more capacity as we see unprecedented growth in IoT applications and connected devices,” said Kamal Mokrani, Vice President at InfiNet. “This, combined with the move towards 5G, brings new challenges to the broadband infrastructure – and it is vital that service providers have the tools to keep pace with these technology innovations and deliver the fast and reliable connectivity required. Quanta 5 helps service providers do just that, providing a high-performance, cost-effective, easy-to-install and future-proof solution.”

A new design also allows additional features to be implemented remotely via a firmware upgrade, even for units already deployed in the field.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Power news this week ... growing thermoelectric sheets ... opening up VW's e-car platform

By Nick Flaherty


. Volkswagen opens up e-car tech to competitors

. Laird Thermal promotes engineer to top post

. Oracle aims at solar energy

. Siemens opens automated marine battery module factory in Norway

. Swedish startup sees deal for solar powered window

. Material boost for sodium-ion batteries

. Flexible thermoelectric sheets grown by bacteria

. Step-down converters target IoT devices

. Low profile 150W AC-DC supply for medical and industrial designs

. Common mode chokes for 4 line applications mount on PCB

. Establishing a root of trust to secure the IoT

. Wi-Fi HaLow power consumption

. MEMS Oscillators: Enabling Smaller, Lower Power IoT & Wearables

Online tool to choose between FPGA and ASIC embedded designs

By Nick Flaherty

HardwareBee has launched a free calculator to find out whether an FPGA or ASIC will be more cost effective in a design, highlighting all the design considerations.

It asks engineers to fill in the ASIC costs:
  • Development NRE – cost of the ASIC development efforts (engineers and EDA tools)
  • Maskset NRE – cost of maskset and MPW required for wafer production
  • IP NRE – total cost of all IPs needed for the ASIC (for example: PLL, A/D, SERDES, etc)
  • Package NRE – cost of package design and tooling
  • Test NRE – the cost of the test solution (wafer sort, final test).
  • Unit Cost – cost of the ASIC unit in production
  • Lifetime Volume – the number of ASICs you plan to produce over the entire project lifetime
And the FPGA costs:
  • Development NRE – cost of the FPGA development efforts (engineers)
  • IP NRE – total cost of all IPs needed for the FPGA (for example: HDLC, Video Compression etc)
  • Unit Cost – cost of the FPGA unit in production
  • Lifetime Volume – the number of FPGAs you plan to produce over the entire project lifetime

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Microcontroller boost for high-temperature motor controls in the Internet of Things

By Nick Flaherty

Renesas Electronics has expanded its RX24T and RX24U families of 32bit microcontrollers with high-temperature-tolerant models for motor-control applications that require an expanded operating temperature range. 

As device form factors shrink, the heat challenge is growing for motor-control applications. In industrial machinery and office equipment, as well as home appliances that handle hot air and heated water, circuit boards are increasingly being mounted in high-temperature locations. 

For home appliances such as dishwashers or induction hotplates in particular, demand for designs with larger interior capacity or heating areas is increasing, which restricts the space available for circuit boards. The resulting shift toward circuit board design with a smaller surface area addresses the space constraints but also reduces the board’s capacity to disperse heat, causing the circuit board itself to become quite hot. To address these application needs, the high-temperature-tolerant controllers can operate in high-temperature spaces and on hot circuit boards. The new devices will provide greater flexibility for designers of products that operate in high-temperature environments, enabling the trend toward more compact devices to advance.

The RX24T G Version and RX24U G Version support operating temperatures ranging from −40°C to +105°C.

“Through the IoT, home appliances and industrial machinery are attaining greater functionality based on network connectivity and user interface enhancements and effective use of the limited interior space as well as the higher temperature environments are becoming major issues,” said Akira Denda, Vice President of Renesas’ Industrial Automation Business Division, Industrial Solution Business Unit. “The newest members of the RX24T and RX24U Groups provide the excellent function and performance that RX users have come to expect from their MCUs while addressing the heat tolerance requirements to support safe and flexible equipment design.”

Software can be developed using the RX24T and RX24U CPU cards combined with the 24 V Motor Control Evaluation Kit which enables developers to create motor control applications in less time.

The RX24T and RX24U features a maximum operating frequency of 80 MHz with peripheral functions for motor control such as timers, A/D converter, and analogue circuits that enable efficient control of two brushless DC motors by a single chip.

The RX24T G Version and RX24U G Version are available now in mass production. The RX24T covers 11 models with pin counts ranging from 64 to 100 pins and memory sizes from 128 KB to 512 KB. The RX24U covers six models with pin counts ranging from 100 to 144 pins and memory sizes from 256 KB to 512 KB. (Availability is subject to change without notice.)

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Friday, February 01, 2019

Ultrathin bio-inspired camera mimics wasp eye

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Korea have developed an ultrathin digital camera that emulates the unique eyes of a wasp.

The digital camera developed by the tram at KAIST offers a wide field of view and high resolution in a slimmer body compared to existing imaging systems. It is expected to support various applications, such as monitoring equipment, medical imaging devices, and mobile imaging systems. 

The camera is less than 2mm in thickness, emulates the eyes of the Xenos peckii by using dozens of microprism arrays and microlens arrays. A microprism and microlens pair form a channel and the light-absorbing medium between the channels reduces optical crosstalk. Each channel captures the partial image at slightly different orientation, and the retrieved partial images are combined into a single image, thereby ensuring a wide field of view and high resolution.

“We have proposed a novel method of fabricating an ultrathin camera. As the first insect-inspired, ultrathin camera that integrates a microcamera on a conventional CMOS image sensor array, our study will have a significant impact in optics and related fields,” said research lead Professor Ki-Hun Jeong.

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IAR tools selected for designing with custom AI IoT chips

By Nick Flaherty

Eta Compute has chosen IAR Systems in Sweden to provide the embedded toolchain for a new generation of customised neural networking chips aimed at the Internet of Things (IoT) 

Using IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm with Eta Compute SoCs, developers will be able to fully use the power-efficient features of the Cortex-M3 core in the SoC, boosting development of AI-based IoT applications.

Eta Compute is part of the Arm DesignStart program, which enables the creation of custom SoCs with low cost and fast access, and provides a verified subsystem for a wide range of applications, including IoT, gateways, sensor, control and mixed signal SoCs, as well as design services and support. 

"IAR Systems' tools have a demonstrated capability of generating the smallest, most efficient code, while maintaining application integrity," said Paul Washkewicz, Vice President and co-founder of Eta Compute. "IAR Embedded Workbench is fast and lightweight, resulting in an IDE that aids in development. Additionally, their quick, knowledgeable, and professional support teams help accelerate the time it takes to move from prototype to production."

"Eta Compute is an exciting startup that has accomplished game changing technology in the three years since its start," says Robert DeOliveira, Director Strategic Sales, IAR Systems. "They are actively exploring new application areas for their technology. Their decision to standardize development on IAR Embedded Workbench underscores the importance of having sophisticated, smart tools to overcome challenges and complexities in next-generation embedded applications."

Top stories in January on the Embedded blog

By Nick Flaherty

Wearables and RF took centre stage in January, but an interesting virtual display technology was also a popular story.

One of our more unusual stories was the agent technology used in a simulation of crowds moving through an airport. The technology can be applied across many different areas, but it addresses some of the challenges of managing large groups of people.

ARM's move up the software stack is also a key story for the Internet of Things (IoT). The vast majority of portable retail systems will use chips based on the ARM architecture but most of the infrastructure is Intel-based. By integrating more of the stack, this gives ARM-based semiconductor suppliers a possible route into more design slots. It also links into ARM's Pelaton IoT platform that will be an increasing important element in embedded designs.