Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New type of 3D printer builds circuit boards with ultrasonic array

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

A team of researchers in Lithuania have build a 3D printer that uses an ultrasonic array to build simple circuit boards. This is similar to the approach used by Ultrahaptics in Bristol for 3D touch sensing.

The printer developed by the Ultrasound Research Group at Neurotechnology in Vilnius uses an array of ultrasonic pulses with feedback from a high resolution camera to move small objects around. This is particularly suitable for tiny components such as chip resistors or balls of solder. By increasing the frequency of the pulses, the placement resolution can be reduced to a few microns, says Dr Osvaldas Putkis, research engineer and project lead. The solder balls can be moved around by the array to the pads, and components are soldered to the board with a laser for a completely non-contact process.

Neurotechnology develops algorithms for biometric security and artificial intelligence systems and has patented the technology. It is now looking at partners to develop the technology commercially.

More details are at: Ultrasonic 3D printer builds circuit boards on EEnews Europe


ZTE subsidiary Sanechips uses CEVA core for low power cellular chip

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

A new name is about to hit the embedded market from China.

Sanechips Technology is the renamed ZTE Microelectronics Technology, the chip arm of the telecoms giant ZTE. The company has launched a narrowband IoT chip called RoseFinch7100 for long-life, low-cost cellular connectivity.
RoseFinch uses the CEVA-X1 IoT Processor and an early version of the chip was used in the first large scale field test of NB-IoT organised by China Mobile. This tested the network of the entire mobile chain including core network, terminals and apps.

"NB-IoT is set to dominate long range IoT connectivity on a global scale, and Sanechips is proud to be at the forefront of this revolution," said Zhou Jin, Marketing director of Sanechips. The company has 3000 patents and more than 2000 employees located at 9 R&D centres globally in China, Canada & the US with a full roadmap of cloud and device designs.

"Closely collaborating with CEVA ensures we develop best-in-class products like the RoseFinch7100 that will enable mass market adoption of this technology. The CEVA-X1 IoT processor delivers exceptional performance within the stringent power and cost constraints of NB-IoT devices."

"We are delighted to announce our collaboration with Sanechips for their NB-IoT chipset designs," said Michael Boukaya, Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Business Unit at CEVA. "As the only end-to-end DSP provider for cellular, we ensure our CEVA-X1 processor meets and exceeds the performance requirements of NB-IoT. This license deal with Sanechips represents a strong endorsement of our IoT processor for this new and exciting market."

The RoseFinch7100 will be released in September 2017 with lower sleep current of 2uA and a voltage of 2V for longer battery life, supporting up to 30 GPIOs and all R14 Frequency Bands with no need for an external microcontroller as the CEVA-X1 hybrid DSP and microcontroller handles both the control and wireless functions.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

. New scheme tackles obsolescence management across Europe

. EV power electronics market to hit $300bn by 2027
. Industry mergers are driving semiconductor obsolescence

. Power trends: TDK's Advanced Technology Centre

. Solid state battery market set to boom


. Collaboration drive new concepts for potassium-ion batteries

. Microbial Fuel Cells clean up at music festival

. Hybrid aircraft battery system enters development


. Driver chips support higher speed fan motors

. High-voltage contactors with 200 A continuous current target e-mobility and photovoltaics

. Shelf and power management upgrade for AdvancedTCA enclosures


. Spin Transfer: Advanced MRAM Technology

. Synopsys: Saving Power in a UFS Implementation Leveraging MIPI M-PHY and UniPro

SenRa and Senet team for Indian LPWAN IoT roll out

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

US low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) provider is working with SenRa Tech to roll out Internet of Things (IoT) capability across the as-yet untapped India.

SenRa is using Senet’s cloud-based Managed Network Services for IoT (MNSI) to deploy LoRaWAN LPWAN services on its local wireless nodes, supervise the network infrastructure, manage connectivity and control roles and access rights. This is allowing SenRa to accelerate the rollout of its IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) network services for customers providing solutions in industries such as water metering and management, agriculture, building infrastructure and smart cities.

Analysts project the IoT market in India to grow at almost 30 percent per year and reach $15bn by 2020.

“Senet’s experience in scaling and managing LPWANs made selecting their Managed Network Services an easy choice,” said Ali Hosseini, Chief Executive Officer of SenRa, which also works with Belgian wireless node provider Smartends. “India aims to capture a 20 percent share of a global 300 billion dollar IoT market opportunity in another five years. The best way for us to support this growth is by partnering with market leaders and technology innovators like Senet who are proven capable of meeting the diverse challenges emerging in the M2M and IoT space.”

Senet announced its Managed Network Services for IoT last week as part of its strategy to use its experience of running the largest LoRa IoT network in North America with its billing software to take advantage of IoT opportunities.

Senet’s MNSI solution also can be used to partner with application providers who have built public or private LoRa-based networks, who would rather focus on their core application business instead of managing a network. This allows communication firms and application providers anywhere in the world to easily and completely deploy LoRaWAN IoT services on their existing infrastructure or Senet’s public network.

“Senet is excited to be working with SenRa to meet the exploding demand for IoT solutions in India,” said Bruce Chatterley, CEO & President at Senet. “Senet’s Managed Network Services for IoT enables forward thinking companies like SenRa to deploy highly-secure and scalable LoRaWANs under their own brand with minimum time-to-market and the lowest possible capital expenditure and cost of ownership structure.”

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Raspberry Pi add-on supports IoT device development with voice recognition

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Distributor Premier Farnell has signed an exclusive partnership with MATRIX Labs for its Raspberry Pi add-on that provides multiple functionality and enables faster and more cost-effective development of IoT devices.

MATRIX Creator aimed at the development of applications in automation control systems, particularly for home automation systems involving optical and sound elements as well as robotics, enterprise logistics, voice assistants and beamforming/DoA algorithms. 

The development board, designed for Raspberry Pi, incorporates a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA, an ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller, a range of sensors for motion, temperature, humidity, light, ultraviolet and infrared, an 8-microphone array and a 35-LED array.

The microphone array, for example, allows a user to develop their own "do it yourself" Amazon Echo and Alexa based projects as well as voice recognition systems, with the eight microphones allowing devices to be activated from anywhere in a room. Similarly, the optical and physical sensors enable the development of facial recognition and motion detection devices for security applications.

"MATRIX Creator is a hugely exciting product, doing for the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, what smartphones did for the mobile revolution," said Rodolfo Saccoman, CEO and Co-Founder of MATRIX Labs. "It has deep product functionality and we expect broad appeal - it's the perfect combination of an easy-to-use yet also sophisticated dev board, which appeals to the maker, the expert developer, and everyone in between. MATRIX Creator allows developers of virtually any skill-level to create whatever exists in their mind's eye, shifting the product development paradigm from one that relies on a 3rd party to create for you, to one where you can create the custom app that meet your exact needs. It's putting power into the hands of the people and democratizing IoT app development."
MATRIX Creator pioneers the use of machine intelligence as a building block for hardware. The $99 sensor-packed development board and platform allow developers to build IoT apps quickly and inexpensively for drones, robots, smart homes, security, gaming, retail, and whatever idea they imagine. 

The system can also be for hardware development and provides expert users with an extremely versatile piece of hardware to add to their suite of development tools. It accelerates and reduces the overall cost of the prototyping process for new products and devices, doing the up-front heavy lifting so developers don't have to.

The board, which can be programmed in 40 different languages, also incorporates integrated Z-Wave and Zigbee communications plus connectivity via a wide range of analogue and digital input/output interfaces. It can also be used in stand-alone mode using its onboard processing capability. 

"As the Development Distributor we work to source the latest innovative technology to help create opportunities for our existing and future builders, developers, makers and engineers," said Ralf Buehler, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Farnell. "Products like MATRIX Creator provide huge flexibility to users - unlike existing add-ons which only provide individual elements of functionality, MATRIX Creator is a complete development eco-system that allows users to access a range of functionality to enhance any Raspberry Pi based project, speeding up the design process and helping to overcome the hurdles involved in the creation of innovative hardware projects."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Researchers develop a lens-less ultra-thin camera

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Researchers at Caltech have developed an ultrathin camera sensor that doesn't need a lens to provide focus, opening up the possibility of dramatically thinner embedded designs.

The key to the sensor is an optical phased array (OPA) that computationally does what lenses do using shaped pieces of glass or plastic.

The OPA has an 8x8 array of light receivers, each of which can individually add a tightly controlled time delay (or phase shift) to the light it receives, enabling the camera to selectively look in different directions and focus on different things with large amounts of digital signal processing (DSP).

"Here, like most other things in life, timing is everything," said Ali Hajimiri, Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, and the principal investigator. "With our new system, you can selectively look in a desired direction and at a very small part of the picture in front of you at any given time, by controlling the timing with femto-second--quadrillionth of a second--precision,"  

"We've created a single thin layer of integrated silicon photonics that emulates the lens and sensor of a digital camera, reducing the thickness and cost of digital cameras. It can mimic a regular lens, but can switch from a fish-eye to a telephoto lens instantaneously -- with just a simple adjustment in the way the array receives light," he said.

A similar principle to a phased array antenna is used in reverse in an optical phased array receiver. Light waves that are received by each element across the array cancel each other from all directions, except for one. In that direction, the waves amplify each other to create a focused image.

"What the camera does is similar to looking through a thin straw and scanning it across the field of view. We can form an image at an incredibly fast speed by manipulating the light instead of moving a mechanical object," says graduate student Reza Fatemi.

Last year, Hajimiri's team developed a one-dimensional version of the camera that was capable of detecting images in a line, such that it acted like a lensless barcode reader but with no mechanically moving parts. This first 2D lensless camera has an array composed of just 64 light receivers, limiting the resolution, but represents a proof of concept for a fundamental rethinking of camera technology says Hajimiri.

"The applications are endless," says graduate student Behrooz Abiri. "Even in today's smartphones, the camera is the component that limits how thin your phone can get. Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete. It may even have implications for astronomy by enabling ultra-light, ultra-thin enormous flat telescopes on the ground or in space."

"The ability to control all the optical properties of a camera electronically using a paper-thin layer of low-cost silicon photonics without any mechanical movement, lenses, or mirrors, opens a new world of imagers that could look like wallpaper, blinds, or even wearable fabric," said Hajimiri. 

Naturally the team is now working on scaling up the camera by designing chips that enable much larger receivers with higher resolution and sensitivity.

Related stories:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Samsung starts volume shipments of its R4-based WiFi IoT chip

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Samsung has started mass production of its first Exynos-branded chip for the Internet of Things (IoT), the Exynos i T200.

The part is different from mainstream IoT devices as it uses the ARM Cortex R4 real time processing core as well as an M0+ core as found in low end microcontrollers along with 1.4Mbytes of internal SRAM.

It is built on a low-power 28nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process and featuring high processing capabilities along with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n single-band (2.4GHz) connectivity, and has received the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, and Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT. It also natively supports IoTivity, an IoT protocol standard from the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) for interoperability between IoT devices.The chip also integrates power amplifier, low-noise amplifier and T/R switches to reduce the system’s bill-of-material.

For security the processor has a separate and designated security management hardware block called the Security Sub-System (SSS). In addition, the Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) IP provides secure data storage and device authentication management without the need to fuse a key onto silicon, and rely on a discrete security IC for key storage. This security measure provides a much higher level of security compared to the conventional one-time programmable (OTP) based solutions.

“The Exynos i T200 is an IoT solution optimised to deliver both the performance and security demanded in the IoT market,” said Ben K. Hur, Vice President of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. “With various Exynos solution offerings, Samsung will deliver further differentiated value to not only mobile devices, but also non-mobile spaces, including automotive and IoT.”

The spec of the T200 maps with the Artik 053 WiFi IoT module developed by Samsung. This is based around an R4 core at 320MHz with a built-in security module that keeps its factory-installed certificates and keys safe. It runs Samsung's Tizen RT real time operating system that includes a compact RTOS with built-in TCP/IP stack and support for Lightweight Machine-to-machine (LWM2M) protocol. This also allows developers to use free tools such as ARTIK IDE, GCC C/C++ compilers, and OpenOCD, which would be expected with the T200.

The higher end 50 and 70 Artik modules use ARM Cortex A7 and A8 processors with graphics engines, while the lower end 020 and 030 module use M4-based Gecko controllers from Silicon Labs.


Related stories:

NXP pushes down power on microcontrollers

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

NXP has launched a family of microcontrollers which the company says provides up to 10 times the performance and a third of the power of its previous entry level LPC devices.

The LPC84x family is the latest addition to its rapidly expanding LPC800 series of 30MHz Cortex-M0+ based microcontrollers. The controller has a current consumption of 90 µA/MHz in its low-current mode using the Free Running Oscillator (FRO) on the chip up to 30MHz.

“We’re extremely excited to be ramping the LPC84x family into production together with our broad base of customers,” said Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager of the microcontroller business at NXP. “This new family further extends LPC800’s unique innovative features over aging, proprietary 8-bit MCUs.”

As ever it is peripherals that are the key element in the choice of device, and the LPC84x family builds on its innovation with provides a unique way to configure the device without CPU intervention. Upon power-up, its fast access initialization memory (FAIM) allows the clocks of the LPC84x microcontroller to be started in a low frequency (1.5MHz) mode, keeping startup current consumption to a minimum. The IO ports can come up immediately and in the desired configuration, eliminating any potential termination issues with attached devices such as MOSFETs.

Within the family, the LPC845 offers an additional flexible capacitive touch-sensing, which can operate in sleep and deep sleep modes, allowing for very low power performance. The LPC845 solution has been designed to handle up to nine capacitive buttons in different sensor configurations — such as a slider, rotary or a button matrix — along with supporting software libraries and tools to support additional features, including auto-calibration for best performance in noisy or wet environments, reducing false triggering. Evaluation kits and software packages available starting in Q3 2017.

Like the other LPC800 families, the 84x includes the 32bit State-Configurable Timer with PWM, advanced DMA, autonomous serial interfaces and patented IO switch matrix, where any peripheral function can be assigned to any of the 56 GPIO, enabling low-cost PCBs.

It provides developers a path to 64 KB of integrated flash memory and 16 KB SRAM, with a 12-bit ADC, dual 10-bit DAC, and a selectable output free-running oscillator (FRO). 

Available in a scalable family of packages, including LQFP64, LQFP48, HVQFN48 and HVQFN33, the LPC84x MCU family of devices, along with supporting peripheral drivers, example software and tools, including the LPCXpresso845-MAX development board (OM13097), are available now.


Intel pulls Quark from the IoT

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Intel is discontinuing its IoT boards based around the Quark processor. The Pentium II architecture processor was launched in 2013 as a competitor to ARM-based devices, and despite small form factor development boards such as the Joule, and giving away thousands of the Arduino-compatible Galileo, it failed to make headway in IoT designs.

The Joule and Galileo boards, as well as the Atom-based Edison 'PC-on-an-SD-card' are shown as discontinued in Intel's database, with final shipments in December. For customers such as Kontron who designed Quark into an IoT gateway this may be a problem, and long term supply for IoT was one of the issues raised back at the launch.

The Quark continues to be used in the Curie module for wearable applications.

Intel continues to target IoT designs with the Atom, which has a later x86 microarchitecture than Quark. The MinnowBoard 3 is planned for launch in the Autumn and uses the Atom E3900 processor that is taking the lead for IoT designs.

The MinnowBoard project supports Open Source Hardware by making designs publicly available for the community. The open source UEFI firmware, based on EDK II, is being made available in advance of the hardware release. Developers can download pre-built UEFI firmware images, utilities, binary object modules, and project release notes from the TianoCore GitHub: https://github.com/tianocore/edk2-platforms/tree/devel-MinnowBoard3. There is a range of dual and quad core Minnow boards (Minnow Turbot, Minnow Max) developed by Minnowboard.org.

Related stories:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NXP targets touch interfaces for IoT designs

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

NXP is combining specialized touch software with its Touch Sense Interface (TSI) module to simplify touch interface designs in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The module uses the Kinetis KE15Z MCU along with a complete set of tools enabling designers to easily add touch to user interface designs for home appliances, smart buildings, machines for industrial control and more. This is a 72MHz Cortex-M0+ 5V MCU with 256KB Flash+32KB FlexMemory and 32KB RAM.

Adding touch to a user interface can be a challenging task as there are many factors involved to ensure a successful user experience. NXP Touch includes self-cap and mutual cap operating modes with pre-certified and tested hardware, including IEC61000-4-6 certification for 3V and 10V and optimised software, including NXP Touch Library and SDK touch APIs support

“The new Touch solution reaffirms our commitment to helping the developer community quickly and easily innovate new mass market and IoT applications,” said Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager of the microcontroller business. “NXP Touch now integrates high-level APIs and offers GUI tools to support the development demands of our customers.”

The benefits of Kinetis KE15Z MCUs’ easy-to-integrate hardware includes pre-certification for (EMC, liquid toleration and noise immunity to prevent long design cycle times. The robust Kinetis KE15Z MCU is compliant with IEC61000-4-2, -4-4, 4-6 and IEC60730 class B standards to protect product and consumers in end designs by ensuring the voltage and temperature of the device remains within safe parameters. Additionally, the NXP Touch solution enables developers to create code easily with the integration of auto tuning and parameter configurations that include touch sensitivity, touch response time and power consumption, for example.

The software is integrated into the MCUXpresso development environment for ease of development. The solution is also supported by the FRDM-KE15Z hardware development platform.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Microchip reduces power on PIC32 controllers

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk
Microchip has developed a new family of eXtreme Low Power (XLP) technology for its MIPS-based 32-bit microcontrollers.
The PIC32MX1/2 XLP family offers current PIC32MX customers an easy migration path to achieve higher performance at much lower power, enabling both increased functions and longer battery life in portable applications. A key advantage is the reduced power with little code rework for existing customers.
The XLP technology is designed for wireless sensor networks and other smart connected devices and offers low current operating modes for Run and Sleep, where extreme low-power applications spend 90 to 99 percent of their time. XLP enables Deep Sleep currents down to 673 nA, with 40 percent higher performance than the existing PCI32MX1/2 portfolio while reducing average run currents half.
The PIC32MX1/2 XLP family offers a range of memory configurations with 128/256 KB Flash and 32/64 KB of RAM in packages ranging from 28 to 44 pins. They also include a diverse set of peripherals at a low cost including I2S for digital audio, 116 DMIPS performance for executing audio and advanced control applications, a 10-bit, 1 Msps 13-channel ADC and serial communications peripherals. The PIC32MX2 series also supports USB Device, Host and OTG functionality.
As usual, the controllers are supported by Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony Software Development Framework, which simplifies development cycles by integrating the licence, resale and support of Microchip and third-party middleware, drivers, libraries and RTOSs. Specifically, Microchip’s readily available software packages such as Bluetooth audio development suites, audio equalizer filter libraries, decoders (including AAC, MP3, SBC), sample rate conversion libraries and USB stacks will rapidly reduce the development time of digital audio, consumer, industrial and general-purpose embedded control applications.
Development tool support for the PIC32MX1/2 XLP family includes the PIC32MX XLP Starter Kit (DM320105) for $100, the PIC32MX254F256 PIM for Explorer 16 (MA320021) for $25 and a PIC32MX274F256 PIM for Bluetooth Audio Development Kit (MA320022) for $45. All development tools are available today.

Related stories:

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk at EENews Power Management

. Rechargeable aluminium-air coin cell developer looks for collaborators

. First practical solid electrolyte for safer lithium batteries


. V2G algorithm connects electric car batteries to the grid

. Wireless charging taps quantum mechanics for moving objects

. Low temperature battery technology boosts electric car safety


. Triple-output supplies can simulate power problems

. Compact AC-DC supplies supply up to 20W


. Optimized Switch Solutions for Smart Metering Applications

. New Nordic Engineering: Battery powered wireless sensor networks

Monday, June 19, 2017

IoT chip sale forecast softens

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

IC Insights has scaled back its forecast of chip sales for the Internet of Things (ioT) in 2020 by about $920 million, mostly because of lower revenue projections for connected cities applications such as smart electric meters and government spending on infrastructure. 

That's not to say there's slump. The updated forecast still shows total 2017 sales of IoT semiconductors rising about 16.2% to $21.3 billion (with final revenues in 2016 being slightly lowered to $18.3 billion from the previous estimate of $18.4 billion), but the overall growth is 1% a year slower. 

Total semiconductor sales for IoT system functions are now expected to reach $31.1 billion in 2020 (Figure 1) versus the previous projection of $32.0 billion in the final year of the forecast.

The forecast shows growth of around 9% for connected cities until 2020, compared to the IoT semiconductor market for wearable systems which is expected to show a CAGR of 17.1% (versus 18.8% in the previous projection). 

The lower growth projection in chip sales for connected cities systems is a result of anticipated belt tightening in government spending around the world and the slowing of smart meter installations now that the initial wave of deployments has ended in many countries. Slower growth in semiconductor sales for wearable systems is primarily related to smartwatch shipments through 2020.

Report Details are here: IC Market Drivers 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Industroyer malware aims at industrial networks

European malware researchers have identified new malicious software that is directly targeting industrial networks and electricity grids.

The Industroyer worm is aimed at taking control of electricity substation switches and circuit breakers directly using standard industrial communication protocols say researchers at ESET.

The modular software is based around is a backdoor that is used by attackers to manage the attack and then installs and controls the other components, connecting to a remote server to receive commands and to report to the attackers.

Industroyer uses four payload components to gain direct control of switches and circuit breakers at an electricity distribution substation, says Anton Cherepanov, senior malware researcher at ESET.

Generally, the payloads work in stages whose goals are mapping the network, and then figuring out and issuing commands that will work with the specific industrial control devices.

The payloads use the communication protocols from IEC 60870-5-101, IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61850, and OLE for Process Control Data Access (OPC DA).

The researchers dismantled the code and found features designed to enable it to remain under the radar and wipe all traces of itself after it has done its job.

The wiper module is designed to erase system-crucial Registry keys and overwrite files to make the system unbootable and the recovery harder. Of interest is the port scanner that maps the network, trying to find relevant computers: the attackers made their own custom tool instead of using existing software.

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

See more about the ABB and Siemens systems that have been targetted at Malware targets electricity grids | EETE Power Management

Related stories:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rechargeable aluminium-air coin cell could boost embedded designs

A researcher at Fuji Pigment in Japan has developed a rechargeable coin cell battery using aluminium and air rather than materials such as lithium and is looking to commercialise the technology.

The key here is that aluminium–air batteries have a theoretical capacity of 8100 Wh/Kg, 40 times greater than lithium-ion at 160–200 Wh/Kg.

However, the batteries generate nasty residual chemicals that need to be disposed of. So Dr Ryohei Mori at Fuji Pigment developed a rechargeable aluminium–air battery using ionic-liquid-based electrolytes and non-oxide ceramic materials such as titanium carbide or titanium nitride for the air cathode. This has reduced the generation of by-products at the anode and at the air cathode so much that the technology can be used as a rechargeable cell.

Mori has built a standard CR2032-sized aluminium–air battery using these materials that gives a capacity of least 1200 mAh/g, and this is expected to considerably increase with further optimisation. This would allow systems to run significantly longer as current CR2032 3V lithium rechargeable cells have a capacity of around 65 mAh.

The company, which develops materials rather than products, is now looking for companies, research institutes, and universities to work on the aluminium–air batteries for commercialisation.

Contact details are at Rechargeable alumium-air coin cell battery developer looks for collaborators | EETE Power Management

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Multicast remote device management service for IoT endpoints

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

French IoT specialist Kerlink is demonstrating a new device-management service for simultaneously configuring and updating devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) via low power wide area networks (LPWAN). This is the final step to making it a significant IoT provider.
Device management (DM) of IoT-connected endpoints is a real challenge and vital for companies that increasingly depend on the IoT. With billions of sensors, accelerometers, actuators and other devices expected to be connected to the IoT in the future, remotely updating software and firmware securely, adding new functionality, installing applications, and configuring, monitoring or provisioning devices is key to maintaining the network performance.

Although Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks offer lower data rates than traditional cellular technologies, or have to follow specific duty-cycle limitations inherent in the unlicensed spectrum (ISM band), device management is a vital part of the services that will shortly be proposed for public or private operators to update their fleets of IoT devices that are connected to those networks.

“Secure, simultaneous, remote device management is a crucial function for our customers who want to continuously optimize, monetize and secure their connected devices,” said Yannick Delibie, Kerlink co-founder, CTIO, and CEO of its US subsidiary, Kerlink Inc. “This capability is the final major step in Kerlink’s complete network solution, which means our customers can count on us to take them from the drawing board to quickly monitoring, managing and scaling their connected devices, and permanently keep them operating at optimal performance from a central management interface.”

Kerlink plans to use IoTerop’s Lightweight M2M stack, known as IOWA, for customers’ actual device updates. This is a protocol developed by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) for device-and-service management, and is specifically designed for embedded resource constrained devices managed over a wide number of transport technologies.

The device-update service relies on the LoRaWAN specified multi-cast capability, which makes it possible to send large payloads to multiple devices in a LoRaWAN-connected node at the same time, and allows the devices to receive this update simultaneously and reliably, with no network congestion.

The system is being demonstrated with Kerlink’s standalone Wanesy Small Private Network (SPN) server installed in the company’s latest-generation Wirnet iFemtoCell 915 MHz indoor base station, and connected Wirgrid Reference Designs for energy meters, reading the device’s existing configuration and checking its current firmware version and scheduling the firmware download to ensure that the endpoint will temporary be in a listening and data-reception mode (class C - downlink) on a specific shared schedule (RX Windows).

Kerlink is a founding member of the LoRa Alliance and over the last 10 years has rolled out 70,000 installations with 260 clients. 

Related stories:

Bluetooth 5 chip adds mesh, Thread and Zigbee support

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

We've followed the Gecko low power controllers from the very start with Energy Micro, and now Silicon Labs has added new multiband Wireless Gecko devices with full Bluetooth 5 connectivity and more memory options. 

The EFR32xG13 SoCs offer developers greater flexibility and more capabilities for applications using a single wireless protocol or requiring more memory for multiprotocol solutions, larger customer applications or for storage of over-the-air (OTA) images. This is driving the takeup of tri-mode designs.
From an embedded perspective, the design includes an on-chip oscillator to reduce bill of materials (BOM) cost, security acceleration, capacitive sensing, low-power sensing and enhanced RF performance.

The new EFR32xG13 family supports all Bluetooth 5 features and capabilities, enabling four times the range, twice the speed and eight times greater broadcasting capacity than Bluetooth 4, as well as improved co-existence with other wireless protocols. The EFR32xG13 SoCs feature a 2 Mbps PHY that supports faster throughput or reduced power consumption due to lower transmit (TX) and receive (RX) times. The SoCs also integrate a new 125 kbps and 500 kbps coded PHY that enables much longer communications, quadrupling the range of Bluetooth connections compared to existing devices running Bluetooth 4.

The EFR32xG13 SoCs provide sufficient flash memory (512 kB) and RAM (64 kB) to run applications using zigbee, Thread and Bluetooth 5 in single-protocol mode and to support multiprotocol combinations of Bluetooth with zigbee, Thread or proprietary stacks (running on sub-GHz or 2.4 GHz networks). 

This means the family can be used for Bluetooth mesh applications as the SoCs are designed to run both Bluetooth mesh and Bluetooth 5 stacks and to support both smartphone and Bluetooth mesh connectivity.

The new SoCs include an on-chip oscillator that eliminates the need for an external 32 KHz crystal typically required for Bluetooth low energy devices. This integrated precision low-frequency resistor-capacitor (RC) oscillator (PLFRCO) enables developers to save approximately $0.15 in BOM cost when used in high-volume designs requiring a 32 KHz crystal to meet Bluetooth low energy sleep clock accuracy specifications. The PLFRCO is differentiated from similar integrated oscillators offered by other Bluetooth devices as it guarantees robust, reliable Bluetooth low energy connections across the devices’ entire operating temperature range.

The low energy of the Gecko designs means sleep current is now six percent lower than EFR32xG12 SoCs and 44 percent lower than first-generation Wireless Gecko devices.

The EFR32xG13 family is pin-compatible with all Wireless Gecko SoCs in QFN48 packages, further extending flexible memory, peripheral and feature options for existing customers. The Wireless Gecko portfolio is supported by Silicon Labs’ free Simplicity Studio development tools.

Samples and production quantities are available now in 7 mm x 7 mm QFN48 packages. Pricing for EFR32xG13 SoCs in volume quantities begins below $2.00 USD. 

An updated SLWSTK6020B Blue Gecko development kit, now supporting Bluetooth 5, is priced at $149. Additional radio boards for Mighty Gecko, Blue Gecko and Flex Gecko are available for $49 each. To order EFR32xG13 samples and development kits, visit www.silabs.com/wirelessgecko.

Related stories:

Top 11 security technologies in 2017

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Security is a key challenge for embedded designers, and analysts at Gartner have come up with a list of their top technologies for security this year.

While much of this focuses on the enterprise, these technologies will have to be integrated into the Internet of Things over time in a more efficient, cost effective way. One area that is already looking at IoT applications is at #8, with  Endpoint detection and response (EDR). 

While Gartner sees EDR as complementing antivirus software, the real value is in monitoring endpoints such as wireless sensor nodes and actuators for indications of unusual behaviour and signs of malicious intent. This detection requirement will also drive more pattern recognition and machine learning (ie AI systems) at the edge of the network.

"In 2017, the threat level to enterprise IT continues to be at very high levels, with daily accounts in the media of large breaches and attacks. As attackers improve their capabilities, organisations must also improve their ability to protect access and protect from attacks," said Neil MacDonald, vice president, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow Emeritus. "Security and risk leaders must evaluate and engage with the latest technologies to protect against advanced attacks, better enable digital business transformation and embrace new computing styles such as cloud, mobile and DevOps."

1. Cloud Workload Protection Platforms

Modern data centres support workloads that run in physical machines, virtual machines, containers, private cloud infrastructure and almost always include some workloads running in one or more public cloud infrastructure as a service providers. Hybrid cloud workload protection platforms provide information security leaders with an integrated way to protect these workloads using a single management console and a single way to express security policy, regardless of where the workload runs.

2. Remote Browsers

Almost all successful attacks originate from the public internet, and browser-based attacks are the leading source of attacks on users. Information security architects can't stop attacks, but can contain damage by isolating end-user internet browsing sessions from their organisation’s endpoints and networks. By isolating the browsing function, malware is kept off of the end-user's system and the organisation has significantly reduced the surface area for attack by shifting the risk of attack to the server sessions, which can be reset to a known good state on every new browsing session, tab opened or URL accessed.

3. Deception

Deception technologies are defined by the use of deceits, decoys and/or tricks designed to thwart, or throw off, an attacker's cognitive processes, disrupt an attacker's automation tools, delay an attacker's activities or detect an attack. By using deception technology behind the firewall, organisations can better detect attackers that have penetrated their defences with a high level of confidence in the events detected. Deception technology implementations now span multiple layers within the stack, including endpoint, network, application and data.

4. Endpoint Detection and Response

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions augment traditional endpoint preventative controls such as an antivirus by monitoring endpoints for indications of unusual behaviour and activities indicative of malicious intent. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 80 per cent of large enterprises, 25 per cent of midsize organisations and 10 per cent of small organisations will have invested in EDR capabilities.

5. Network Traffic Analysis

Network traffic analysis (NTA) solutions monitor network traffic, flows, connections and objects for behaviours indicative of malicious intent. Organisations looking for a network-based approach to identify advanced attacks that have bypassed perimeter security should consider NTA as a way to help identify, manage and triage these events.

6. Managed Detection and Response

Managed detection and response (MDR) providers deliver services for buyers looking to improve their threat detection, incident response and continuous-monitoring capabilities, but don't have the expertise or resources to do it on their own. Demand from the small or midsize business (SMB) and small-enterprise space has been particularly strong, as MDR services hit a "sweet spot" with these organisations, due to their lack of investment in threat detection capabilities.

7. Microsegmentation

Once attackers have gained a foothold in an organisation’s systems, they typically can move easily to other systems. Microsegmentation is the process of implementing isolation and segmentation for security purposes within the virtual data centre. Like bulkheads in a submarine, microsegmentation helps to limit the damage from a breach when it occurs. Microsegmentation has been used to describe mostly the east-west or lateral communication between servers in the same tier or zone, but it has evolved to be used now for most of communication in virtual data centres.

8. Software-Defined Perimeters

A software-defined perimeter (SDP) defines a logical set of disparate, network-connected participants within a secure computing enclave. The resources are typically hidden from public discovery, and access is restricted via a trust broker to the specified participants of the enclave, removing the assets from public visibility and reducing the surface area for attack. Gartner predicts that through the end of 2017, at least 10 per cent of large organisations will leverage software-defined perimeter (SDP) technology to isolate sensitive environments.

9. Cloud Access Security Brokers

Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) address gaps in security resulting from the significant increase in cloud service and mobile usage. CASBs provide information security professionals with a single point of control over multiple cloud service concurrently, for any user or device. The growing significance of SaaS, combined with persistent concerns about security, privacy and compliance, continues to increase the urgency for control and visibility of cloud services.

10. OSS Security Scanning and Software Composition Analysis for DevSecOps

Information security architects must be able to automatically incorporate security controls without manual configuration throughout a DevSecOps cycle in a way that is as transparent as possible to DevOps teams and doesn't impede DevOps agility, but fulfils legal and regulatory compliance requirements as well as manages risk. Security controls must be capable of automation within DevOps toolchains in order to enable this objective. Software composition analysis tools specifically analyse the source code, modules, frameworks and libraries that a developer is using to identify and inventory OSS components and to identify any known security vulnerabilities or licensing issues before the application is released into production.

11. Container Security

Containers use a shared operating system (OS) model. An attack on a vulnerability in the host OS could lead to a compromise of all containers. Containers are not inherently unsecure, but they are being deployed in an unsecure manner by developers, with little or no involvement from security teams and little guidance from security architects. Traditional network and host-based security solutions are blind to containers. Container security solutions protect the entire life cycle of containers from creation into production and most of the container security solutions provide preproduction scanning combined with runtime monitoring and protection.

There is a Gartner Trend Insight Report on "Digital Trust — Redefining Trust for the Digital Era."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk


. Power trends: Big plans for ultracapacitors

. Mystery surrounds power outage at British Airways - updated

. 5nm nanosheet transistors cut power by 75%


. Wireless power for heart pacemaker

. Membrane-free liquid metal battery aims at the renewable grid

. Perovskite solar cell stable for over a year


FPGA enables energy-efficient embedded vision processing at the edge

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

An FPGA from Lattice Semiconductor is being used for high performance image recognition systems at the edge of the Internet of Things (IoT), highlighting the importance of edge processing to reduce power consumption. 

The ECP5 FPGA is being used for CPU acceleration for license plate detection and image enhancement in intelligent traffic cameras, as well as image stitching and 3D merging for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) 360 surround view systems.

Intelligent traffic systems (ITS), including traffic flow monitoring, traffic violations identification, smart parking, and toll collection are a key part of the vision of tomorrow’s Smart Cities. Such systems typically require intelligent traffic cameras that can accurately detect many aspects of a vehicle, such as license plates, even in harsh environments, to perform video analytics at the Edge, rather than sending raw video streams back to the Cloud. Shanghai Microsharp Intelligent Technology (Microsharp) is using the ECP5 for intelligent traffic cameras with up to 95 percent license plate recognition rate.

“When seeking a partner to collaborate on our intelligent traffic camera, we were looking for a scalable, low power solution to ensure flawless real-time license plate image capture,” said Ting Zhou, CEO of Microsharp. “Lattice’s ECP5 FPGA was a natural fit, allowing us to take advantage of the product’s energy efficient image enhancement and processing capabilities to accelerate the development of our intelligent camera.”

360 degree surround view system is a popular automotive ADAS technology for parking assistance. These systems typically capture their surroundings using at least four cameras facing different directions around the car to generate a composite view for the driver to assist with parking and low-speed maneuvering. The NEX-ADAS 360º 3-D Surround View Monitoring Technology from Shenzhen Moorechip Technologies (Moorechip) synthesizes images from four cameras to create a 3D view of a vehicle's surroundings.

“Lattice’s ECP5 FPGA family offers the low power, small form factor and flexible connectivity requirements needed to support our ADAS 360 surround view system, providing advanced, high-quality image-stitching technologies to further differentiate our product from others on the market,” said Andrew Liu, General Manager at Moorechip. 

The demonstrations come after Lattice was bought by the Canyon Bridge fund with backing from a Chinese state fund.

Related stories:

Jerusalem reboots its IoT and AI technology incubator

There has been an interesting move in the highly innovative ecosystem for embedded system in Israel from eeNews Europe.

Motorola Solutions has teamed up with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an equity crowdfunding platform to re-launch a technology incubator for startups in Jerusalem.

The incubator will focus on emerging startups in storage, the internet of things (IoT), computer vision and AI and replaces a previous incubator led by Jerusalem Venture Partners.

That this is a significant reboot is highlighted by the new hosting at the Jerusalem headquarters of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform on the JVP Media Quarter campus. The new incubator will begin operations and accept applications in the second half of 2017.

OurCrowd has invested over $440M into 120 companies and eight funds, vetted over 6,000 companies and seen 13 exits. “This represents a unique team with a global reach, incredible scale, and with deep technological, commercial and academic roots and we expect to invest in close to 50 companies over the next 10 years and further grow the formidable cadre of Jerusalem startups,” said Jon Medved, OurCrowd’s CEO.

It is working with Motorola Solutions, Indian tech firm Reliance Industries and Yissum Research Development, the technology transfer wing of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Yissum has registered over 9,325 patents covering 2,600 inventions, licensed out 880 technologies and spun out 110 companies including Mobileye, BriefCam, CollPlant and Qlight Nanotech.

"The Jerusalem incubator is one element of our Israel innovation hub, which is focused on developing advanced solutions in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other fields,” said Eduardo Conrado, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Innovation Office, for Motorola Solutions.

Jerusalem reboots its technology incubator | EETE Power Management - By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk


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