The Intelligent Edge: Bringing Transparency to the Factory with Lee Jaderborg (Part 2)

We’re back with our sixth installment of The Intelligent Edge, continuing our conversation with manufacturing engineering manager and quality manager, Lee Jaderborg. Didn’t get a chance to read Part 1? Catch up here! In our previous post, we connected with Lee to discuss his work on the ZumIQ application environment and the purpose of intelligent monitoring. In Part 2, he continues the ZumIQ conversation on its applications, and noting what’s next for FreeWave and the IIoT industry. FreeWave: You previously told us about how ZumIQ can help capture data and translate it visually. Why is this important? Lee Jaderborg: This gives a view of the manufacturing floor you can’t get by looking down the production line. It determines the collective state and efficiency of each part in the system. We’ve been trying this out on a few of our SMT, or pick-and-place, machines. We looked at the historical data on the machines’ part usage to see what parts and reels could be adjusted or replaced for increased efficiency and production capacity. We had perceptions, but didn’t have any data points for how much change this would result in. And it’s difficult to act on a perception because you don’t know how accurate you are. We realized by taking an in-depth look at the data output throughout the day, the machines weren’t running to their full potential. By changing the way SMTs operated, we saw a 10% increase in initial capacity, but without the data we wouldn’t have reached the benefits. FreeWave: What’s the “perfect storm” situation in which ZumIQ’s capabilities could be utilized fully? Lee: It could apply to any place where things go wrong and have a severe impact on people. Nuclear power plants, wastewater treatment plants and the water supply coming out of that, oil and gas refineries. Especially for oil and gas, you need sensors to detect leaks. You see disasters caused by natural gas and find out there was no sensor to detect a methane leak. Companies need to introduce networks of sensors that can relay data to an app environment like ZumIQ to monitor and track things like leak pressures, so in case something goes wrong, it can send out alerts and auto shutdown systems before anything bad happens. FreeWave: What excites you about the future of FreeWave Lee: There’s a lot of opportunity and paths we can take with our new products we’re developing. We have a lot of work ahead of us, especially as we look to upgrade our networks and existing technology to adapt to the future of IIoT. It’s exciting because we’ll be working on our newest innovations alongside our legacy products and seeing where gaps may exist. That’s the biggest puzzle to solve – we’re dealing with technology with new capabilities and parts, like radio-frequency identification on chips, compared to older technology which in some instances required tuning to get the correct signal. FreeWave: What about the Industrial Internet of Things as a whole? Lee: I think the promise of sensors and the data they transmit is exciting. If you think about it, there’s a piece of equipment in every place in the world – highways, oil and gas, utilities, etc. – that’s measuring something. A lot of major companies are starting to head in the direction of wanting to get data sooner than later to be analyzed and acted upon. Increasingly bringing intelligence to the edge of the network lets you decide and modify in real time; it lets you make important decisions. FreeWave: Any final words of wisdom? Lee: Our operations director likes to say, “Just because something’s the way it is doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be”.  I think that can be highly applied not only in business and technology, but also in one’s personal life. You have to continue learning and innovating or else you’ll fall behind. ______ Interested in what our other experts have to say? Read the first, second, third and fourth installments of The Intelligent Edge. We’ll be back later this month with more insights and interviews with our team!

The Intelligent Edge: Bringing Transparency to the Factory with Lee Jaderborg (Part 1)

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort” – John Ruskin. This rings true in the world of IIoT. For Lee Jaderborg, who wears several hats at FreeWave, from engineering, to quality management and process development, the concept of intelligence-driven quality is what inspired him to learn everything he’s accomplished in his 40-year career, as well as what he’s brought to the future of the factory floor. In our fifth installment of “The Intelligent Edge,” we connected with Lee to discuss his work on the ZumIQ application environment and the purpose of intelligent monitoring. FreeWave: Lee, tell us about your role at FreeWave. Lee Jaderborg: Sure! I don’t have one specific job; I wear five hats. Coming up on my fourth year at FreeWave this April, I’m the manufacturing engineering manager, quality manager, sustaining mechanical support, and I oversee process development and design for new products. I also write SQL for our databases. I manage the procedures for a Printed Circuit Board assembly and Surface Mount Technology (SMT) manufacturing line, ensuring the entire process flows through production to the backdoor to ship. I also handle statistical process control and root cause analysis throughout the manufacturing process, all while monitoring for major operational KPIs. FreeWave: Was IIoT operations always your focus? Lee: No, I began college at age 17 as a drama major. Everything I’ve learned about engineering and management since then has been self-taught. During and after college, I worked in various engineering-type jobs, like designing tools to fabricate jet engine exhausts and helping build Colorado’s Eisenhower Tunnel. Along the way, I became exposed to SQL and got a master’s certificate in 6Sigma for project management. Continuous learning has helped advance me to where I am now. FreeWave: What are you currently working on? Lee: Optimizing FreeWave’s ZumIQ for better data visualizations on the manufacturing floor – a major focus at last year’s annual IMPACT Manufacturing Summit. A panel, which included the director of manufacturing for Rolls Royce, discussed transitioning their workforce to better accommodate millennials, who learn better with visual feedback. So, they put an IO on a light stack – like a stoplight that tells you whether a machine is ready – to give a real-time view of various data points. FreeWave: How exactly would they capture that data? Lee: This is where something like ZumIQ comes in – you need to tie into analog signals to continuously record this data. You do this by having the light stack’s sensor communicate its status to an app programmable device, whose data is then collected by the ZumIQ app environment. ZumIQ gathers and tracks data over time to determine both real-time status and historical trends. This gives a view of the manufacturing floor you can’t get by physically looking down the production line. It determines the collective state and efficiency of each part in the system. Interested in more insights by Lee? We’re continuing the conversation for the next Intelligent Edge blog.

FreeWave Blog Series: The Intelligent Edge (Part 2)

Part 2: Novice App Dev – A Q&A with Greg Corey from FreeWave The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the consumer world in ways no one ever imagined.  By placing intelligence in the IoT network, the “Thing” can do whatever we want it to do.  Now Industrial companies are seeking to take advantage of this edge-deployed intelligence in order to maximize profits, improve safety and streamline operations. In addition to the challenges IoT technology had to overcome – such as cybersecurity, scalability and interoperability – Industrial IoT (IIoT) must also focus on reliability, ruggedness and more. FreeWave is uniquely positioned to understand and address all of these challenges. We have delivered world class IIoT platforms for almost 25 years to thousands of industrial and unmanned systems customers. With that experience, we’re now leading the charge to deploy intelligent applications at the edge of industrial networks and unmanned systems. In the third installment – and second half of an interview we ran last week (read part one of the interview here) –  of “The Intelligent Edge,” we sat down with Greg Corey, FreeWave systems engineer, to talk about his new app – ZumDash – and the future of app development of the Internet of Things. FreeWave: Over the course of developing ZumDash, are there any lessons or things that you took away from it that if you could go back and do it again, you would change, or moving forward you kind of see as something that you will incorporate into future projects? Greg: Yes, definitely. I’ve only been using this a couple months, and I’ve learned a lot about it. I think what’s really important about Node-RED is that it empowers non-software developers to solve problems using software, and it’s taught me a lot about the types of problems that you’ll run into when doing software development. There are some challenges I’ve had to overcome in that. But, every release that I make of this app it gets better and it becomes more usable. FreeWave: When you say more usable, what are some of the things that you’ve of tweaked to make that happen? Greg: So, instead of having to change a setting in five different places, you change it in one and then you can store that setting and pull it from there. Bringing stuff to the forefront where a user can modify it instead of having to modify the code underneath. Basically, giving users more control over how the application runs and making it simpler after setup are two of the things I’ve tried to flip this on. Incorporating some UX/UI elements. FreeWave: Are there any high-level industry points that you think are important to consider as well? Greg: One thing is that FreeWave radios have always been just a radio product, and that goes for any radio manufacturer: you put data in and then it comes out the other side. And our radios have been put on sites to do just simply that task. If you look at the consumer space, 10 years ago, and you think of all the devices that we had in our lives, like a GPS navigation device, and then maybe an iPod, and a tablet, and then maybe a voice recorder or something like that. Those are like four or five different pieces of hardware that only did specific tasks. Now, in 2017, everybody has a smartphone, nobody has an iPod anymore, nobody has a GPS navigation device anymore because they’ve all leveraged software on hardware on smartphones. Eventually, radio platforms are going to go the same way. In the industrial setting, people are going to buy a radio and put it out there, then they have all these other specific hardware devices to do these things. What if the radio could be that smartphone where you just leverage some software and were able to cannibalize all these other hardware-specific devices by using software just like the smartphone revolution. FreeWave: So, ‘things’ are becoming not just smarter but they’re having a greater possibility to put interactive software applications onto devices that didn’t really used to have that capability? Greg: Hardware has gotten really cheap and it’s gotten really commodified, so any manufacturer can put together a little hardware solution in a very small form factor. The advantage anymore is not hardware anymore, it’s software because a lot of these hardware manufacturers are using the same chipsets from the same vendors. And, really, the playing platform is equal if you’re making just hardware, but the real secret sauce and the advantage comes in leveraging software on devices. FreeWave: What about the Fog Computing aspect of this that seems to be a growing piece of the puzzle? Greg: Fog Computing – that’s the paradigm where you can have these intelligent Edge devices that are making decisions instead of having everything centrally located. It’s like mainframes back in the day, everything was centralized, and then we got decentralized, right? And then everybody got a laptop. And then going to the Internet of Things, and the IIoT, it’s like we went back to something that was centralized, and now we’re going back to the decentralized aspect, where we’re thinking, “Maybe devices need to be independent and intelligent out on the Edge.” It’s a really broad category. It just depends on what you’re looking to do in a network. FreeWave: Are there any projects or anything that you’re working on that you wanted to share? Greg: I’m constantly improving the usability of the ZumDash right now. And then, I don’t want to say too much, but we’re working on a couple of projects where customers want to implement this type of technology, but we’re not really ready to release names or corporate specifics about these projects. FreeWave: Do you see any other interesting trends or challenges facing the Industrial IoT app development space? Greg: There’s this paradigm that in the future everybody will be a software developer. And the reason that everybody isn’t a software developer today is

IIoT Edge Applications: Small SCADA

In a small SCADA environment, remote monitoring and automation are important tools for creating operational efficiency and ensuring cost-effective solution deployment. Real-time data in small SCADA environments enable programmable radios to act upon data at physical locations of the sensor or device. As such, processes can be remotely monitored and controlled without the Cloud. You still can send data to the Cloud, but only the data you need, when you need it. This frees up network bandwidth and minimizes latency significantly. In industries where even milliseconds count, this kind of Edge intelligence can mean the difference between ops in the red or ops in the black. We recently announced the release of our ZumDash application, which is hosted on our ZumIQ App Server, and can function agnostically across different I/O systems and networks. In a small SCADA environment, the ZumDash is ideal for real-time data aggregation and transmission. It is capable of running both at the Edge on hardware, as well as the Cloud, ensuring uninterrupted functionality. In an oil and gas setting, ZumDash can empower field operations managers via the intuitive dashboard display that can be customized to fit individual needs. Additionally, the app itself is powered by Node-RED programming, making it easy to configure on the fly, along with the ability receive real-time alerts for any operational needs like inspection, parts replacement, or troubleshooting. Essentially, having a remote monitoring and automation system powered by programmable Edge radios that can host proprietary third-party apps like ZumDash enable companies to more effectively deploy resources, saving time and money across the board. For any companies in the Industrial IoT space – or companies that rely on dispersed assets and asset management – intelligence at the Edge can be the true difference maker for your organization. For more information about the ZumDash Small SCADA application, please visit: To learn more about the full ZumIQ solution, read case studies or download solutions briefs, please visit:

Programming for Cloud-to-Device Communications in Industrial IoT

Should you leave processing in the cloud or on the edge? Both. Particularly in IIoT, developers need to start thinking about both tracks. There is a power struggle going on in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Many think cloud applications are the future of real-time data processing in IIoT settings; others believe data should be processed and decisions executed at the edge of the network. In truth, the answer lies somewhere in the middle: Data needs to be processed both via the cloud and at the edge, which presents an interesting opportunity for software developers in the IIoT space. Clearly, being able to operate industrially hardened smart devices remotely – and in many cases automatically – from the cloud presents many benefits. But the challenge lies in potential connectivity issues when developing applications. Developers must think along a dual track, which means that they must think about how an app developed for the cloud can be mirrored to run on the edge device itself. Several factors converge here to create a unique atmosphere for developers: connectivity, security, and today, the programmability of edge devices. Traditionally, the devices themselves simply acted as conduits for data collection and transport, but today, hardware manufacturers are creating devices that can host third-party applications. A point worth noting is the advent of Node-RED, which can streamline some of the programmability challenges. So, understanding the need for mirrored applications, let’s look at a few use-cases that highlight exactly why this redundancy is necessary. Cloud-to-Device in the Oilfield In the case of oil fields, when the edge app sees an oil pump showing a temperature reading above a predetermined safety level, the applications on the device can decide to shut the pump down, or the cloud application can send a command to do so. In cases where there are emergencies, different sites might have a different set of actions that need to be initiated. In fact, most sites have thermal sensors on the oil pads. If the oil pads exceed a certain threshold, then these cloud programs know there is an explosion and a fire happening onsite. To prevent a chain reaction, the cloud will send a command to shut down all the pumps and all the valves in that area so they don’t create a chain reaction and keep spreading. Extending the oil site example, if there is an intentional attack on the site, the first thing you do is disconnect the communication lines back to the cloud to protect the network. In that scenario, having the same application running on the cloud and the edge devices still allows the same decision to be made in the local network by the device itself. If the device cannot ‘see’ the cloud, it can still respond and execute tasks. If the cloud program is not responding, and the device notices the pad temperature goes beyond the threshold, it can initiate a local shutdown protocol. Once the network is back online, the device can send this information back to the cloud which can, in turn, be given to site operators remotely. Because of these necessary duplications, programming for these settings can be difficult. For example, in Oracle applications, in SCADA networks, all of the applications run on Java. Oracle pages run on Java. Therefore, most programmable industrial devices must demonstrate that they can run the same Java application locally. Many IIoT platform providers have now expanded the scope of the programming. They’ve built devices that can actually drag and drop the same Java code from the cloud into individual edge units, to run that device. Of course, it has to be developed for a device and for the cloud, so it requires some extra attention, mainly because on the device, the decision-making is slightly different. It does not execute the application unless it cannot speak to the cloud. When it cannot speak to the cloud, then it executes the command just the way the cloud would. Redundancy Applications in UAS In other industrial settings – unmanned systems, for instance – the protocols are different. If a drone can’t communicate with the operator, it could have a simple command that says, “Trace back all your GPS location and fly them in a reverse mode and go back to where you came from, until you can establish communication and get new commands.” So, it’s the same concept. Programmable IIoT platforms are now being set up and designed so that they can run applications in multiple different languages. If the application is written in C, Java, Python – basically, anything that can be read on the cloud – it can be dragged and dropped into those edge units, and it could execute the same protocols directly on the edge device. This simple concept is transforming the way the IIoT thinks about data transport and real-time decision-making. If you write your code once you can drop it in both places, and if the device loses communication, it knows what to do. Of course, there are many other considerations when thinking about programming applications for the edge and the Industrial IoT. Security remains paramount, and we see examples every day pointing to a potential meltdown if security isn’t addressed properly. Still, the potential for the cloud-to-device communication and application execution remains great. For developers, being able to think across platforms, languages and program functions are three key points to consider when creating applications for the Industrial IoT. This article originally appeared on

The Next Generation of IIoT: Micro & Macro Connectivity

From a consumer standpoint, the impact of IoT connectivity is clear. People can purchase smart home systems and automobiles with increasingly autonomous features. Looking at the potential changes to our daily lives in the coming years, all things point to connectivity. We are eyeing a future where we can monitor and control our homes, vehicles and business around the clock. The news stories are exciting and tangible because new products are frequently unveiled and we see them being used in our everyday lives. This impact has spread beyond the scope of the consumer market, which ultimately led to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Traditional businesses, like those in utilities, oil/gas and agriculture, face a future that has the potential to transform entire industries due to the power of digital disruption. Despite the growing pains and challenges of “going digital,” industrial businesses face almost limitless potential to streamline operations and control large distributed networks with a level of precision that was previously impossible. As these industries pick up on the value of data and connectivity, next generation applications have emerged that will drive competition and increase productivity. Data and analytics will be available via the cloud and accessible from any device. And even better, the quality of data will be controlled through automation and the incorporation of third party applications. What this means for businesses is they will be able to monitor their networks on a micro level. This allows problems to be stopped in their tracks and for precise process adjustments that streamline operations. With third party applications, there is not only substantial business opportunity for developers, but there are endless possibilities for process control, security and operational apps that will drive down costs and support increased production. Most business decision makers are aware that there is no stopping digital transformation because research shows that it’s already happening. Many businesses are in the process of digital transformation and have already thought about these next generation systems and the research proves this: 75 percent of IoT providers say that big data and analytics are among the top skills they look for when adding talent to their teams. 50 percent of companies look to hire specialists in mobile development. A recent TechBullion article states: “they already have noticed the close relationship of mobile and IoT and plan to launch IoT projects for their businesses within the nearest 5 years.” Gartner says that by the end of 2017 demand mobile application development will grow five times faster than the number of IT companies able to meet this demand. A new report from Frost & Sullivan anticipates a trend in the transition from connected devices to the use of cognitive or predictive computing and sentient tools in the next 12-18 months. So what does this mean for industrial business? It means they need to invest now in the communication technologies that will deliver the data that is absolutely critical for future networking needs. It means they need to think about how they can enable programmability at all network endpoints – even at the edge. And lastly, it means they need to start working through the challenges of a digital shift now so they are prepared for an automated, connected future.

5 Reasons Why Your IIoT Network Needs Wireless Programmability

If your company is grappling with the shift towards wireless connectivity and automation, you’re certainly not alone. As more processes are automated, especially within industrial markets like oil and gas or utilities, data has become a valuable asset that provides critical information for operations and performance. Up and coming industry leaders are pushing for modern Industrial IoT (IIoT) networks, as the older, more traditional workforce heads towards retirement. As a result, the processes of yesterday are being phased out – especially when it comes to choosing between hardwire and wireless for remote deployments. For many, wireless solutions have been accepted for some time as the primary means in which data is collected, transported and analyzed. Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS)-based technology in particular is proven to be a reliable and maintainable wireless option. Now, however, we are facing an entirely new realm of opportunity with FHSS-based programmable wireless technology that is molding the future of data collection. Here are five reasons why you need to consider programmable wireless technology for your IIoT network: Bring it all to the Cloud – Programmable wireless solutions are equipped with the ability to incorporate custom, third party applications at the Edge. When we talk about the Edge, we essentially mean the outermost layer of the network. For industrial networks, the Edge is often a remote area where mission critical operations occur. In order for the business to capture a holistic view of their entire network, many have added sensors and other data-capturing devices at the Edge. By adding third party applications with new programmable wireless technology, businesses are able to expand automation capabilities, reduces costs, simplify operations and enable data transmission directly to a private or public cloud. Smart Data Over Big Data – The goal of achieving ‘Big Data’ is common practice in most modern IoT and IIoT networks. Decision makers recognize the power of data and know they need to receive it from every network end-point. We’ve seen this to be true purely in the proliferation of sensors and IoT devices deployed across the U.S. that continues to grow. Having programmability at the edge of the network offers a big advantage, because you have the ability to control of the quality of the data. Even better than Big Data is access to the specific, timely data that is most pertinent to your business operations. Robust and Reliable Technology: Programmable wireless solutions are equipped to embrace the future of data collection. The beautiful thing about these solutions is that the backbone of the technology is FHSS. This particular Radio Frequency (RF) technology has been proven in some of the most adverse conditions imaginable. These technologies are trusted by the government to maintain their links and have proven to operate in some of the most dreadful and intense environments in the world . Where performance is critical – these solutions have proven to work for decades and now programmable options can reliably bring this data directly to the cloud. Flexible and customizable– We are all privy to the fact that no two networks are the same. With programmable options, radio functionality is customizable to the specific needs of the network. Despite the variances, remote networks likely have one thing in common – data needs to be transported across significant distances. Programmable wireless technology is built to be deployed at nearly any point in the network where sensors are collecting data. This is an area in which traditional hardwire solutions almost always fall short, as most businesses cannot afford the cost of running hardwire to these remotes sites. Besides, there are wireless options that are built for easy installation and long-range communications that simply make the most sense for remote deployments.  Meeting Modern Demands– Today, IT and OT departments are one in the same. These modern networks eliminate barriers which is conceptually great for operations. However, like any major disruption, convergence has created a number of challenges from visibility, to cultural difference, to security. To ease some of these tensions, modern wireless solutions are designed to drive connectivity for the entire network, and are even able to tie in legacy systems from the field. Many FHSS-based technologies offer secure-data transmission, and by leveraging the programmable wireless technology, and you can bring data to the cloud. Wireless technology is recognized as a necessary solution for remote operations. As IIoT networks mature, there are stark advantages in leveraging programmable solutions. Not only do they rack up cost savings and streamline operations, but they are deployed at the edge of the network with minimal hassle and are built to deliver in any environment.

Do You Speak the Languages of Industrial IoT?

There is an ongoing transition from a world where having an internet connection was sufficient, to a world where ubiquitous connectivity is quickly becoming the norm. The ability to gather and transport data at high speeds from anywhere is leading to increased automation, smart-everything (vehicles, homes, appliances – you name it), and a standardization of languages and protocols that make the possibilities nearly endless. Recently, IEEE and Eclipse Foundation completed surveys that provided a snapshot on tools, platforms and solutions being used by engineers and programmers alike to build the Internet of Things. According to Joe McKendrick for, there were several notable conclusions to be drawn from the results, including the revelation that, of the 713 tech professionals surveyed, nearly 42 percent said their companies currently deploy an IoT solution, and 32 percent said they will be deploying/working with an IoT solution over the next 18 months. Additionally, RT Insights writes: “In terms of areas of concentration, 42% report they are working with IoT-ready middleware, while 41% are concentrating on home automation solutions. Another 36% are working with industrial automation as part of their IoT efforts. One-third are working on IoT for smart cities, and the same number are building smart energy solutions.” An interesting note from those conclusions is that 36 percent are working with industrial automation as part of their IoT efforts. Earlier this year, we predicted that Industrial IoT (IIoT) app development would outpace consumer IoT apps, and although this sample size is somewhat limited, it still bodes well for the development of the IIoT sector that is just starting to come into its own. Among IoT developers, there has been a bit of debate over the programming languages that best suit IoT apps. There are situationally appropriate uses for the main languages, but currently, the majority of developers prefer Java and the C language. For developers, being able to build out IoT apps that can work across platforms is a giant step toward standardization. Specifically, in the Industrial IoT, being able to build apps that can function at the Edge to enable smart data collection is a becoming an unofficial mandate for any companies hoping to transition legacy OT operations into the IT/OT convergence movement taking place across critical industries. Of course, building apps is a meaningless task if the hardware being deployed can’t host those apps, a finding that was demonstrated by the survey: Hardware associated with IoT implementations include sensors, used at 87% of sites, along with actuators (51%), gateways and hub devices (50%), and edge node devices (36%). This Edge functionality and sensor deployment are two pieces that are driving the adaption of IoT technology across industries that have traditionally relied on data as the main tool for decision making. However, with smarter hardware, these industries now have the opportunity to improve the efficiency of that decision making – a transformative capability in the industrial realm. Join FreeWave’s ZumLink IPR Pilot Program! What if you could….. Collect, analyze and react to data in real-time at the sensor edge? Reduce BIG DATA that clogs data pipelines? Minimize the cost of expensive PLCs? Control your sensor at the closest touchpoint? The ZumLink IPR App Server Radio combines 900 MHz wireless telemetry with the ability to program and host 3rd party Apps for intelligent control and automation of remote sensors and devices. To participate in the pilot program, visit: Pilot Program participants: Receive a complimentary hardware/software Dev Kit Get support from FreeWave software engineers Should have App developer’s skills Let’s discuss: Use cases that would help you or your organization solve a problem Problems you would like to solve Developers that could build this App

Precision Agriculture Benefits from Rise of Next-Gen OEM Technology

Precision agriculture has long been one of the leading industries for deploying cutting-edge OEM technology. Autonomous vehicles, sensor systems and data-driven analytics are all examples of technology that the precision ag industry embraced well ahead of widespread adoption. Today, precision agriculture is responsible for a sizable portion of our national economy, and the accompanying technology appears poised to push management practices even further into the realm of the Industrial IoT. This week, we’re highlighting two tech trends driven by the growth of next-gen OEM technology and looking at the effect those technologies are having on the industry as a whole. Agriculture Drones Perhaps one of the most immediately obvious areas of development is the commercial drone industry – specifically, as it applies to its application in precision agriculture. Research and Markets announced last week that it expects the agriculture drone market to reach $3.7 billion by 2024 – a scant seven years down the road. The report cites innovations in GPS mapping, OEM systems that incorporate advanced analytics, and an increase in the automation of the agriculture process as driving factors in the expected market boom. On a Commercial Drones FM podcast, Thomas Haun, VP of strategy and globalization for PrecisionHawk, discussed the accelerated convergence of commercial drone hardware and software. He looks at drones as having the unprecedented ability to redefine and change the foundational verticals due to the innovative applications that are being enabled by advanced hardware and software. Even though precision agriculture has never been shy about leading-edge technology, drones may just upend the industry even more than most analyst originally predicted. OEM and IoT via Satellite Northern Sky Research recently looked at how OEM is intersecting with IoT powered by GPS and satellite technology. The report notes that most new installs of M2M and IoT technologies will be powered by precision GPS: This is a more data-intensive type of data gathering for Agriculture applications, where data points such as machine performance, moisture levels, pesticide levels and other characteristics are all harvested and optimized on a higher resolution coordinate system in the field, essentially, a real ‘smart farm.’ The deployment of precision GPS technology is a notable departure from the traditional meter-reading applications that have driven agriculture technology in the past. These new ‘real smart farms’ will have the ability to collect that data run real-time decision making powered by data analytics. The report also highlights the expected boom in partnerships with agricultural equipment manufacturers, driven mostly by the growth in the “number of OEM installs in farming equipment such as forklifts, tractors and dozers …” The result looks something like a smart network with proprietary third-party applications responsible for delivering automated, data-informed decision making in real time. Intelligence at the Farm’s Edge If the two trends mentioned above come to fruition, the precision agriculture industry will see a successful transition from ‘big’ data to ‘smart’ data. If programmable OEM technology can be integrated into new and existing farm systems, the industry will see intelligence and analytics being deployed closer to the edge – the point of data collection – than ever before. Drones are becoming critical tools of for data collection and asset monitoring, and as GPS precision continues the improve, the farming industry is poised to reap the benefits of increased data-driven intelligence.

IIoT Apps are Brewing

General Electric recently published a piece with three important reasons software developers should focus on the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It cited the fact that IIoT apps can solve real-life problems in our cities, provide the opportunity for more than 18.5 million developers to advance digital infrastructure, and justify the big investments in IoT. FreeWave on App Development In our 2017 prediction series, we also highlighted the emerging opportunity for IIoT app development.  We believe that IIoT app development will start to outpace consumer app development in 2017. IoT app development can play a significant role in driving Smart Data over Big Data for mission critical use cases. Organizations need to get the data they need when they need it, and new applications at the Edge can help send the right data to the right people. We also see a huge business opportunity for developers: the opportunity to leverage cybersecurity applications and the need for business apps that will coincide with IIoT apps to meet standards and interoperability challenges. Although it is early in the year, we’ve already begun to align with our prediction through our R&D efforts here at FreeWave. Recently we partnered with an app development company to offer something new to our customers. New Apps at the Edge FreeWave’s new partnership with Systech offers an industrial Tank Level Control application that resides on and executes from FreeWave’s ZumLink Industrial IoT (IIoT) Programmable Radio for edge networks. The new application was developed by Systech for FreeWave and features an easy-to-use “ITTT (If This Then That)” process control programming interface that will control analog, digital and RS485 sensors linked to the ZumLink programmable radio.  The FreeWave ITTT App is designed for a user-friendly experience and requires no previous programming knowledge or practice. It is ideal for M2M and IIoT use cases at the access layer and will perform automated Sensor-2-Server (S2S) functions to streamline operations. We are watching IIoT app development closely and will certainly have more advancements and announcements in relation to our own journey with bringing apps to the ZumLink IIoT Programmable Radio. What kinds of IIoT apps would you like to see?

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