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Friday, August 30, 2019

Startup aims for AI training at the edge

By Nick Flaherty

Canadian startup Recurrent Dynamics says it has found a way to train artificial intelligence continuously, at the edge, on devices such as cell phones, tablets, self driving cars and any of the worlds 25 billion connected devices.

“Advancement in the capabilities of artificial intelligence is hindered by the current paradigm for training. This involves acquisition of data, and training on centralized cloud infrastructure, typically provided by Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Cloud, or Microsoft Azure," said Max Trokhimtchouk, CEO and founder of Recurrent. "The huge upfront cost and complexity of this paradigm mean that only very well funded companies can advance AI capabilities. We are changing that.”

“Our computational breakthrough enables AI to be trained on small cheap devices such as cell phones and tablets rather than expensive cloud infrastructure. If you can run your AI model on a device, you can now train your model on the device," said Trokhimtchouk.

“There will be a shift of computational workload away from cloud infrastructure using Intel based servers to mobile devices. These devices typically use processors based on ARM architecture and are built by companies such as Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung. This shift will accelerate over time, much the same way as the shift away from mainframes to personal computers.”

The company believes this means AI will become significantly more capable, in less time with dramatically faster prototyping and larger scale training. It will also lead to an explosion in practical applications of AI. This is because the new paradigm of training AI at the edge avoids the huge upfront costs of centralised training in the cloud. Millions more developers can now participate in advancing AI solutions.

Simplified development of cellular IoT prototypes

By Nick Flaherty

Nordic Semiconductor has launched a battery-powered protyping platform for 'out-of-the-box' cellular LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity and roaming.

The Thingy:91 is based on Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT SiP with GPS and comes with a roaming SIM card, 16 sensors, and an asset tracking application for immediate operation. It also features the nRF52840 for a full range of ultra low power short-range wireless technologies such as Bluetooth® 5, Thread, Zigbee, and ANT.

A Nano (4FF) eSIM card from iBasis preloaded with 10MB of data is bundled with the Thingy:91 to enable automatic, instant, out-of-the-box cellular LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity and roaming in a long and growing list of countries with cellular IoT networks.

A prime application for the Thingy:91 is asset tracking, especially as it ships with a full sample asset-tracking application in place. This could take the form of shipping containers where individual items within the container can be tracked via short-range Bluetooth 5 (e.g. location within container and temperature for cold storage goods), with the container itself and any important changes in the status of its contents tracked remotely via long-range cellular wireless technology.

The Thingy:91 is aimed at professional developers, and non-cellular IoT specialists alike. Not only does it allow developers new to the world of cellular IoT to get a PoC up and running very quickly in order to gain necessary project and budget approvals, it also makes turning that PoC into a real product very straightforward, right down to using the same code and development environment

The Nordic Thingy:91 is housed in a 6 x 6-cm plastic and rubber case which includes a USB connector to charge a1440 mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. The Thingy:91’s sensor list includes environmental sensors for measuring temperature, humidity, air quality, and air pressure, plus a colour and light sensor, along with separate low-power and additional high G-force accelerometers.

The nRF9160 is a low power System-in-Package (SiP) integrating a dedicated application processor and a multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem. It is the most compact cellular IoT (cIoT) solution on the market, measuring just 10 x 16 x 1mm. The application processor includes a 64MHz Arm Cortex-M33 CPU with 1MB of flash and 256KB of RAM dedicated for the application. The nRF9160 SiP has ARM TrustZone for trusted execution and ARM CryptoCell for application layer security. It also has a wide range of interfaces to communicate with sensors and actuators.

The nRF9160 SiP is also the only cellular IoT module on the market with integrated GPS support to allow a combination of GPS and cellular data to be used for more accurate positioning than either technology is capable of when used in isolation.

“The Nordic Thingy:91 is aimed at professional developers, and non-cellular IoT specialists alike,” says John Leonard, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Nordic. “Not only does it allow developers new to the world of cellular IoT to get a proof-of-concept [PoC] up and running very quickly in order to gain necessary project and budget approvals, it also makes turning that PoC into a real product very straightforward, right down to using the same code and development environment.”

“The Nordic Thingy:91 houses the industry leading ultra low power accelerometers from Analog Devices Inc. including the low-g ADXL362 for motion sensing and wake-up as well as the high-g ADXL372. Power and battery management is provided by the ADP5360 PMIC,” says Tzeno Galchev, Product Manager, Inertial Sensor Group at Analog Devices.

“The ongoing disruptions to retail through ecommerce are causing shifts in how global companies approach supply chain and asset management," he said. "Fortunately, the Nordic Thingy:91 is a great tool for developing ways to digitize and revolutionize how goods and assets are managed. The Nordic Thingy:91 can be used to better understand the journey of goods from the warehouse to the customer so that fast deliveries can be planned, and the quality of the product can be maintained. If it cannot map the journey, it will determine where responsibility lies in the chain.”

“We are excited to help the IoT ecosystem transitioning to embedded antennas. Developing a full IoT product with an embedded antenna becomes really fast and easy when taking the Nordic Thingy:91 and its TRIO mXTEND chip antenna as a starting point,” said Dr. Carles Puente, VP Innovation at FRACTUS ANTENNAS.

“The Nordic Thingy:91 is an excellent platform to easily deploy Bosch Sensortec’s BME680 gas sensor in the field,” says Dr. Peter Weigand, Vice President of Marketing at Bosch Sensortec. “With air quality monitoring markets expanding rapidly, users are looking for wireless trackers of temperature, pressure, humidity, and volatile organic compounds [VOCs] to assist them in taking action to provide real time asset tracking in the field. We look forward to the great interest and boost of product design innovation that will be triggered by these prototyping boards.”

The Nordic Thingy:91 is available now with a recommended retail price of around $119. It is designed to be programmed using Nordic’s dedicated cellular IoT ‘nRF Connect SDK’ with integrated Zephyr RTOS. Software and hardware design files are available from the Nordic Thingy:91 page.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Skyworks teams with Nordic on BLE and Bluetooth 5

By Nick Flaherty

Nordic Semiconductor is using the family of fully-integrated front-end devices from Skyworks with its multi-protocol system-on-chip (SoC) for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) and emerging Bluetooth 5 applications.

The combined platform is aimed at battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices with a 4x boost in range for connected home and outdoor usage cases.

Bluetooth LE is a critical protocol for IoT, given its upgraded communication capabilities and minimal power consumption requirements. Bluetooth 5 further enhances benefits and supports extra features such as extended ranges, higher data throughputs and improved co-existence, all key elements in an increasingly dense network.

“Our collaboration with Nordic to deploy premium Bluetooth systems for diverse markets represents Skyworks’ commitment to enable the future of connectivity,” said John O’Neill, Skyworks’ vice president of marketing. “The intersection of our solutions is driving wireless adoption and elevating performance to higher levels for revolutionary new applications across home automation, automotive, industrial, medical, wearables, mobile and more.”

According to a recent report from ABI Research, Bluetooth LE devices are forecast to reach over 1.6 billion annual shipments by 2023, representing a 27 percent compound annual growth rate between 2018 and 2023 ─ or tripling in size.

The SKY66112-11 and SKY66403-11 front-end modules that deliver up to 40 percent reduction in current consumption when compared to certain standalone SoCs. In addition, these modules increase sensitivity up to 6 dB, more than doubling the receive range for typical IoT devices.

Dev kit for 802.11ah long range sub-GHz WiFi for IoT

By Nick Flaherty

Adapt has developed a long range Wi-Fi development platform for system integrators and application developers targeting the industrial IoT market. 

The company's HaLow Development Platform supports the IEEE 802.11ah standard, offering a complete hardware and software development environment in a small-form factor for use across multiple industry segments including agriculture, construction, logistics, retail, security, smart home and transportation.

Wi-Fi HaLow operates in the sub-Gigahertz, license-free frequencies of the ISM bands with a longer range of more than 1 km while using less power than existing Wi-Fi technologies. Additional benefits of the 802.11ah standard include better penetration through buildings, support for up to 8191 stations (STA) per Access Point (AP), and support for WPA3 for authentication and encryption.

Development teams can create pilot installations today using an FPGA-based systems, in advance of the company's System-on-Chip (SoC) solution for large-scale, cost-effective deployments, which will be sampling to customers in the first half of 2020.

The HDP-100 is aimed at in-house development teams, and includes FPGA-based systems, software drivers, digital signal processing and radio transceiver for limited range communication, and API to connect to targeted software applications. Entry-level pricing including initial technical support starts at $35,000, available today.

The HDP-200, aimed at initial pilot project deployments, includes all of the HDP-100 functionality, plus an integrated power amplifier which supports the 1km communication range. 

"Wi-Fi HaLow enables an unprecedented solution for the wide-spread deployment of large-scale IoT solutions, as it meets the critical market needs for distance, speed, power and security. Utilizing license-free spectrum and the potential for multi-year battery operation, it will enable a whole new class of applications and business models," said Michael McNamara, CEO and co-founder of Adapt. "As a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance®, we are pleased to offer our HDP systems to the market today and look forward to expanding market adoption with our SoC implementations in 2020."

Package pricing starting at $50,000, with availability in September 2019.

ON teams with Cree on SiC ... Self-powered fabric ... Bosch boost for fuel cells

POWER NEWS this week at eeNews Power by Nick Flaherty

. ON Semi teams with Cree for SiC wafers
. Hyundai cuts out Europe for car with solar roof charging system

. Bosch backs fuel cells as it cuts jobs


. Self-powered fabric generates power for remote controls

. 14 cell battery management chip boosts electric car range

. Prototype lithium sulfur battery aims at electric aircraft


. Dialog Semi moves into automotive power management
. 160W fanless DC-DC converter runs 24/7 in industrial and mobile
. 40W IP22 medical power adaptor targets home healthcare


. An engineer's guide to understanding connectors for use in harsh industrial environments

. Broadband chokes for Bias Tee applications

. Decreasing Time to Design in the Industrial Internet of Things

Friday, August 09, 2019

First Rust port to Nordic chip for secure IoT designs

By Nick Flaherty

Design consultancy 42 Technology in Cambridge has ported the Rust programming language application to a single-chip Internet of Things (IoT) device for the first time.

This software achievement could accelerate the development of more robust and secure low cost, low powered cellular IoT products and systems, and play a critical role in unlocking significant new markets for smart industrial and consumer products. For example in areas such as real-time asset tracking and monitoring, utility metering and smart city technology.

Rust is a very-high-performance alternative to systems programming languages such C and C++, which avoids the memory safety issues that plague those languages, and without the complexity and overhead of Java. It was specifically designed from the outset with a focus on memory-safety in small, low cost hardware. This allows developers to be highly productive without incurring significant run-time overhead, and because of the strict type-checking and borrow-checking, the Rust compiler is able to highlight potential issues early in the development process.

42 Technology’s application demo is based around the recently launched Nordic Semiconductor nRF9160 System in Package (SiP) device, which features a full multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem to connect to the mobile network, assisted GPS and an ARM Cortex-M33 processor. The ARMv8-M architecture’s TrustZone security features are particularly exciting, allowing applications and associated services to operate securely, protected from hacking, misuse and corruption.

In recent field trials, 42 Technology’s Rust application made secure encrypted connections to Amazon cloud services via an early LTE Cat-M network that is being rolled out across the UK by O2, the mobile network operator. The board also supports NB-IoT which is being launched by Vodafone and other operators.

42 Technology has specifically developed its Rust-based application to demonstrate an easier and faster way for companies to develop new products for the cellular IoT revolution but without inadvertently compromising on security. 

"Our aim is to help eliminate the security vulnerabilities that too many people have seen, for example, with low cost home security cameras, smart hubs and with medical equipment such as insulin pumps," said Jonathan Pallant, who led the application development programme at 42 Technology and is also a founding member of the Rust Embedded Working Group.

"Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP offers game-changing energy-efficiency, performance and security. And we are delighted 42 Technology’s Rust-enabled application will help to demonstrate the wide range of genuinely secure IoT applications that our new wireless module can be used for," said John Leonard, senior product marketing manager at Nordic Semiconductor.

42 Technology designs and develops market-winning connected products and systems for its clients that successfully integrate sophisticated sensors, electronics and communications for more intelligent data and information collection. Recent announcements have included: Linde EVOS DCi, an IoT digital valve for industrial gas cylinders and a world first in its market sector; and FuseOhm, a real-time condition monitoring system that could allow electricity suppliers to monitor the performance of every substation within their network routinely for the first time.

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