Hackathons Giving Birth to Innovative IoT Solutions

One of the fastest growing spaces in tech is the world of connected devices — often called the Internet of Things. In the embedded engineering and software development worlds, this technological shift is so pervasive some have taken to called it “The Internet of Everything.” While organizations and enterprises are increasingly putting the IoT at the root of many of their forward-thinking business strategies, one of the strongest engines of innovation stems from hackathons. Hackathons are essentially software or hardware challenges, where teams of developers or engineers are giving a task (i.e. build a smart city solution), with specified hardware or software (maybe a certain development board or programming environment), in a specific time period (anywhere from a few hours to a few days). In today’s top IoT news, we’ll take a look at a few stories in the industry about hackathons and how they are helping shape the IoT. Functional Fabric Hackathon Leads to eTextiles Innovation One of the fastest growing areas of the IoT revolves around smart clothing — sometimes called eTextiles. Smart clothing can range from simple solutions like integrating sewable LEDs into clothing to craft safer bicycling attire, to embedded sensors that are used to monitor environmental conditions for oil and gas workers. Recently, as noted in this article from “The University Network,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts a hackathon focusing on “Functional Fabric.” MIT has long been a hub for IoT innovation and is one of the epicenters of eTextiles. In the Functional Fabric Hackathon, teams of students faced the challenge of design clothing solutions that would aid soldiers, first responders and victims of disasters. The teams had three days to come up with their solutions and were competing for two grand prizes of up to $15,000. 22 teams competed and the winning solution came from an MIT student group called “Remote Triage.” Their solution was a sensor system that could be embedded in a soldier’s uniform, that would monitor not only vital signs, but could then report any injuries to field medics, provide location of the injured soldier, and even triage the severity of the injury with a color coding system. Hackathon Challenges Young Women to Build Smart City Solutions “She Builds Tech — Smart City Hackathon” recently challenged young women in India to build the smart city solutions of the future. As noted in this article from The Hindu, there were ultimately five winners — a solar energy harnessing paint, a water grid solution system, geo-fencing, a smart ambulance service, and a routing and scheduling system for tourists. The event lasted for two days and attracted over 300 girls from various engineering colleges. TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Coming in Mid-September TechCrunch Disrupt, the event that has becoming one of the world’s biggest stages for innovative new technologies, is rapidly approaching, with the San Francisco version of the event scheduled to kick off on September 12th. The hackathon will pit teams against each other in a two-day sprint to design the most impressive tech. At the end of the hackathon, teams will have just 60 seconds to impress judges for their shot at a $5000 grand prize, a slew of gifts and gadgets provided by sponsors, and all the glamour that goes along with winning one of the countries most elite hackathon competitions. To learn more about the hackathon, or to grab tickets to watch the action, check out this article from TechCrunch. — Hackathons continue to prove that innovations in the worlds of IoT, embedded engineering, and software solutions do not have to come just from the prototyping labs of Fortune 500 companies, but can emerge from groups of students and tech enthusiasts faced with big challenges and short timeframes.

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 RTInsights.com, 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: https://www.freewave.com/zumlink-ipr-pilot-program/. 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

ZumLink Firmware Update

FreeWave announces the release of firmware version for all ZumLink Enclosed Ethernet Radios (Z9-PE and Z9-PE-DEVKIT). This new firmware version includes improvements which are not backwards compatible in frequency hopping mode with the original firmware release ( so it is required that all radios be upgraded to the same firmware version. FreeWave recommends that your radios get upgraded with the new firmware version to take advantage of improvements and additional features, including: IP Filtering – Prevents IP addresses not within the IP subnet from being transmitted. Repeater – Allows a single radio to repeat (store and forward) traffic from one radio to another. Terminal Server Activity Timeout – Provides a settable time that closes the port when no data is received through the socket connection for longer than the timeout period. Diagnostic Support Bundle – Generates a zip file containing all the configuration and diagnostics information when IP address followed by /support is typed in a web browser. You can download the new firmware version from the Support Section of the FreeWave website.  Note that you must be logged into the Support Knowledge Base to access and download. A complete list of changes and improvements will be included in the updated Release Notes and User Manual which will also be found on the Support website. Please contact FreeWave Tech Support for more information or assistance.

Guest Post: IHS Predicts IIoT Cybersecurity Will Increasingly Be Implemented in Hardware

By Sam Lucero, Sr. Principal Analyst, M2M & IoT at IHS Technology IIoT & Cybersecurity As IIoT systems create ever more critical dependencies in plant, energy infrastructure, and transportation environments, developers and deploying organizations will turn to hardware-enabled cybersecurity to stave off proliferating cyberattacks. Although the use of secure processors in smartcard applications, such as bank cards, mobile phone SIM cards, and digital ID documents is common, IIoT developers have barely begun to adopt a hardware-enabled approach. Instead, “root of trust” technologies, such as secure key storage, cryptography, and secure boot, are handled in software on the main application processor of the device. IHS estimates that in 2015 only 9.8% of all secure processors shipped were intended for IoT applications (that is, all of IoT, not just IIoT). The challenge with this software-based approach is that security functions on the application processor share common memory resources with other functions and are therefore exposed and vulnerable to malicious attack. Hardware isolation reduces (but cannot completely eliminate) this exposure and therefore dramatically increases the security of the device. This increased security is fundamentally why bankcards, mobile phones, and now ePassports, have shifted to the use of hardware-based security. Looking Ahead A lingering question regarding the use of secure processors in IIoT applications is whether implementation will be in the form of a second coprocessor chip placed alongside the host application processor, or whether cybersecurity hardware intellectual property will be integrated directly into an application processor. (Integration of cybersecurity circuitry still achieves hardware isolation in contrast to software, although some physical security measures may become impractical.) Chip companies such as Atmel, NXP, and Renesas Electronics have adopted this integrated approach for at least some of their respective portfolios targeting the IoT. It remains to be see whether an integrated approach will be successful. While integration helps to reduce overall device bill-of-materials, it can increase cost and complexity for cybersecurity certification, relative to a “two-chip” solution. About Sam Lucero Sam Lucero is a seasoned industry analyst with over 14 years of experience analyzing telecommunications and networking technology markets. He has spent the last ten years assessing the markets for machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Sam has established leading M2M market research programs and managed international teams of industry analysts. He has authored numerous reports, forecast databases, and topical articles covering various aspects of the M2M/IoT market opportunity and has been widely quoted in news and trade journals, from the New York Times and the Economist to CNET and Wireless Week. Furthermore, Sam has moderated, presented, and judged at a number of industry events, including CTIA and Connected World. In 2014 Sam was named one of six “Augural Analysts” for M2M by Connected World Magazine.

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