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Posts Tagged ‘sensor’

8Power Vibration Energy Harvesting Technology Powers Batteryless LPWAN GPS Trackers, MEMS Sensors

May 23rd, 2017 No comments

While IoT products usually promises one to 10 years battery life, they will be several billions of them, and ARM’s CEO even forecast one trillion IoT devices in the next 20 years. Recharging batteries at home may be fine, but imagine having to recharge or replace batteries on top of electric poles, inside walls, in remote locations, and other hard to reach places, considerable resources would have to be deployed just to replace or recharge battery every year or whenever the battery is close to being depleted.  That’s why work on energy harvesting technology for batteryless devices may be so important, and 8Power is one of the companies working in the field through their vibration energy harvesting technology that is said to harvest up to 10x the power of competing devices under comparable condition thanks to the use of parametric resonance phenomenon.

8Power LTE NB-IoT GPS Tracker (Left) and MEMS Sensor (Right)

The company has recently announced their Track 100 family of LPWAN GPS tracker, such as Track 100XL relying on LTE NB-IoT, but they also have models supporting LTE Cat M1 and LoRaWAN. The IP67 devices include vibration energy harvesting technology, as well as optionally a solar panel. The company also provides a “secure cloud hosted data platform to provide dashboards, analytics, device management, security and application API access to manage fleets of devices”. There’s no battery, and no need for (battery related) maintenance. Track 100 trackers are powered through the vibration generated by trucks, trains, or other vehicles.

The company is also working on integrating the technology into MEMS sensors that consume very little power (10 mW) in continuous operations. Beside leveraging vibrations from the transportation industry, and 8Power technology can also generate power from vibrations from  infrastructure (bridges, embankments, transmission lines) or machinery (high-power motors and rotating equipment), and the technology has already been validated through a experiment to monitor the structure of an older bridge in Scotland.

The company showcased their technology and latest products at IDTechEx 2017.

Via ARMDevices.net

$399 Intel Euclid Robotics Devkit Runs Ubuntu & ROS on Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Processor

May 22nd, 2017 No comments

We’ve seen many mini PC based on Intel Atom x5/x7 “Cherry Trail” processor in the last year, but Intel has also integrated their low power processor into hardware aimed at robotics, such as Intel RealSense development kit based on Atom x5 UP Board and RealSense R200 depth camera. The company has now launched its one-in-all Intel Euclid development kit combining Atom X7-Z8700 processor with a RealSense camera in a single enclosure.

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Intel Euclid specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Cherry Trail quad core processor @ up to 2.4GHz with Intel HD Graphics Gen 8
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3-1600
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash, Micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – micro HDMI port up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 2x I2S interfaces, 1W mono speaker, 3x DMIC with noise cancellation
  • Camera – Intel RealSense ZR300 camera
    • RGB camera – 2MP up to [email protected], 16:9 aspect ratio, rolling shutter, fixed focus, 75° x 41.5° x 68° FOV
    • Stereo imagers – 2x [email protected], global shutter, fixed focus, 70° x 46° x 59° FOV
    • Depth output – up to 628 × 468 @ 60fps, 16-bit format; Minimal depth distance: 0.6 M (628 x 468) or 0.5 M (480 x 360); active IR stereo technology
    • Tracking module
      • Fisheye camera resolution: VGA @ 60fps,  FOV: 166° × 100° × 133° FOV,
      • IMU: 3-axis accelerometer & 3-axis gryroscope with 50 μsec time stamp accuracy
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n 1×1 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS (GNS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, WAAS, EGNOS)
  • Sensors – Integrated Sensor Hub (ISH), accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, thermal, environmental (barometer, altimeter, humidity, temperature)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x micro USB OTG port with power, 1x micro USB 2.0 port for UART / serial console
  • Misc – ¼” standard tripod mounting hole; power and charging LEDs;
  • Battery – 2000 mAh @ 3.8V
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via battery terminals
  • Temperature Range — up to 35°C (still air)

The kit runs Ubuntu 16.04 with Robotic Operating System (ROS) Kinetic Kame, and custom software layer to allow developers to control the device using a web interface. It also supports remote desktop application, and includes evaluation versions of Intel SLAM and Person Tracking Middleware.

Euclid Camera Output: Color Stream, Depth Stream, and Fisheye Stream – Click to Enlarge

Intel RealSense SLAM Library middleware enables applications in robots and drones to understand their location and surroundings more accurately than GPS allows in GPS denied environments and inside yet unmapped spaces. You’ll find documentation about SLAM, person tracking middleware, the camera API,  RealSense SDK framework, Euclid user guide and more in Intel Euclid product page. You’ll be able to get support in RealSense forums and Euclid developer kit community, where you’ll find tutorials and example projects.

Intel Euclid Development Kit can be pre-order for $399.00 on the product page with shipping starting on May 31, 2017.

Via LinuxGizmos

PragmatIC Manufactures Ultra Thin and Flexible Plastic Electronics Circuit, Plastic ARM Cortex M0 MCU Coming Soon

May 22nd, 2017 4 comments

Electronics manufacturing now relies on silicon wafers, and it works great for many applications. However, some other applications require or benefit from a cheaper price, thinner circuits, and flexibility, and PragmatIC addresses all those three issues with technology to print electronics circuits on plastic sheets.

Plastic Cortex M0 MCUs with Memory

The technology is said to costs less than 1/10th cost of silicon, with the circuit printed on 10 μm thick flexible plastic “wagers” with support for 10 layers. Circuit starts from basic gates up to ARM Cortex M0/M0+ chip as shown above. Simpler circuits are currently sold for as low as $0.01, but the area for Cortex M0 MCU is 1cm2, and a bit too big for commercial applications, so they plan on shrinking the process to make it commercial viable. ARM is an investor in the company, and PragmatIC is ramping production capacity with the ability to manufacture on billion plastic chips/circuits in 2018.

They have 6 types of products/solutions:

  • PragmatIC Compute – Digital logic in silicon, such as the well-known 7400 series, timers, counters. Fully programmable processor cores are still in development… watch this space!
  • PragmatIC Design – Supports third-party design for custom flexICs
  • PragmatIC Power – Variety of wireless energy harvesting approaches with products providing rectification at low frequency (LF, e.g. 125kHz) and high frequency (HF, e.g. 13.56MHz), as well as PragmatIC’s patent-pending Proximity Field Communication (PFC)
  • PragmatIC Talk – Proprietary capacitive identification and LF/HF radio frequency identification (RFID) protocols. Near Field Communications (NFC) solutions are being worked on.
  • PragmatIC Show – Solutions for driving displays or visual indicators, including conventional surface mount LEDs as well as printed display technologies: electrophoretic (EPD, e.g. e-Ink), electrochromic (EC), liquid crystal (LCD) and organic LED (OLED).
  • PragmatIC Sense – Analogue interfaces to sense touch, light, vibration, sound, temperature, etc. Future developments include full analogue-to-digital conversion (ADC) allowing precise measurement of environmental factors.

The price point, flexibility and thinness of the solution makes it suitable for various applications such as RFID or sensors directly on “smart packaging”, security for smartcard and bank notes, toys and games with curved displays, and once plastic MCU are small and cost effective enough their could be used in wearables, for example in smartwatch to offer thinner devices, or larger batteries, or integrated directly into clothes. I also imagine that eventually combining RFID or GPS with energy harvesting technology, it might be possible to have tracking enabled for all kind of goods or documents, even the cheapest ones.

Charbax interviewed the company at IDTechEx discussing the work with ARM, the technology, and various applications.

Top Programming Languages & Operating Systems for the Internet of Things

May 19th, 2017 3 comments

The Eclipse foundation has recently done its IoT Developer Survey answered by 713 developers, where they asked  IoT programming languages, cloud platforms, IoT operating systems, messaging protocols (MQTT, HTTP), IoT hardware architectures and more.  The results have now been published. So let’s have a look at some of the slides, especially with regards to programming languages and operating systems bearing in mind that IoT is a general terms that may apply to sensors, gateways and the cloud, so the survey correctly separated languages for different segments of the IoT ecosystem.

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C and C++ are still the preferred languages for constrained devices, and developers are normally using more than one language as the total is well over 100%.

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IoT gateways are more powerful and resourceful (memory/storage) hardware, so it’s no surprise higher level languages like Java and Python join C and C++, with Java being the most used language with 40.8% of respondents.

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When it comes to the cloud with virtually unlimited resources, and no need to interface with hardware in most cases, higher level languages like Java, JavaScript, Node.js, and Python take the lead.

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When it comes to operating systems in constrained IoT devices, Linux takes the lead with 44.1%, in front of bare metal (27.6%) and FreeRTOS (15.0 %). Windows is also there in fourth place probably with a mix of Windows IoT core, Windows Embedded, and WinCE.

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Linux is the king of IoT gateways with 66.9% of respondent using it far ahead of Windows in second place with 20.5%. They have no chart for the cloud, probably because users just don’t run their own Cloud servers, but relies on providers. They did ask specifically about the Linux distributions used for IoT projects, and the results are a bit surprising with Raspbian taking the lead with 45.5%, with Ubuntu Core following closely at 44.4%.

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Maybe Raspbian has been used during the prototyping phase or for evaluation, as most developers (84%) have been using cheap development boards like Arduino, BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi. 20% also claim to have deployed such boards in IoT solutions.

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That’s only a few slides of the survey results, and you’ll find more details about Intel/ARM hardware share, messaging & industrial protocols, cloud solutions, wireless connectivity, and more in the slides below.

Via Ubuntu Insights

The Future of Cellular IoT Explained – LTE M1, LTE NB-IoT, eSIM, and Battery Life Hype

May 17th, 2017 4 comments

Telecom companies also want their share of the IoT business, but with 2G to 4G cellular technology often being too power hungry and/or expensive for this market, 2G on-going – or upcoming – sunset depending on your location, LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1 (aka NB-IoT) standards have been developed, and used in products like Pycom FiPy board, and SARA-R4 and SARA-M2 modules. If you want to have an overview learn about the new LTE IoT standards and the future of cellular IoT, Particle has published a useful presentation – embedded below – dealing with both, as well as eSIM (Embedded SIM), 2G sunset, and battery life expectations.

The main takeaways from my reading of the presentation:

  • LTE NB1 is better suited for low power stationary sensors transmitting a small amount of data a few times a day. Requires new hardware and software
  • LTE M1 can be used for actuators and sensors that needs frequent updates. Requires software update to existing base stations.
  • eSIM are becoming more and more common, and a “blank eSIM” can be activated anywhere in the world by a local mobile network operator. The many LTE bands across operators and countries however complicates things.
  • Consider LTE modules with 3G fallback in markets where LTE is just starting
  • The proclaimed 10 to 15 year battery life is mostly hype with a very large battery and one daily update, with real use cases likely to last 12 to 18 months on a battery charge.

If you are interested in the subject, you may want to read through Particle’s 39-page presentation.

Categories: Hardware Tags: cellular, IoT, lpwan, lte, particle, sensor

EduExo DIY Robotic Exoskeleton Kit is Arduino Powered, 3D Printable, Designed for STEM Education (Crowdfunding)

May 12th, 2017 1 comment

Robotic exoskeletons are used for medical purposes such as helping with the rehabilitation of stroke patients, or enable paraplegics to walk again, as well as in the work place to assist people lifting heavy objects. While it’s possible to learn about the theory about exoskeleton technology, practical experience may help grasping all concepts better. However, there are not many courses available, and exoskeletons are usually expensive, so Volker Bartenbach, PhD at ETH in Zürich, has decided to created EduExo robotic exoskeleton kit for education purpose.

The EduExo hardware is based on off-the-shelf components like an Arduino UNO board, a motor, and a force sensor, as well as a rigid exoskeleton structure and cuff interfaces. The latter is optional as you can get the kit without it, and will instead receive the STL files to 3D print the parts yourself.

There’s also a handbook to help you get started in several steps:

  1. Exoskeleton Introduction
  2. Mechanics and Anatomy – Theory + instructions to assemble the kit
  3. Electronics and Software –  Theory + instructions to connect electronic components and write basic software with the Arduino IDE
  4. Control Systems  – Theory explaining the behavior of the exoskeleton, and step by step instructions to implement and test the control systems with the kit.
  5. Virtual Reality and Video Games – Learn how to create a computer game, connect the exoskeleton to your computer (Windows PC) and use it as a game controller. The demo relies on Unity 3D engine
  6. The Muscle Control Extension – You can reproduce your arm movements with the kit using an electromyography-EMG sensor (sold separately)

One you’ve gone through the handbook, you should understand the basics of exoskeletons, and maybe try develop your own algorithm or programs. Note that’s it’s just an educational device, it’s not powerful enough to provide any kind of support.

EduExo has been launched on Kickstarter with a 8,000 CHF ($7,939 US) funding goal. A 15 CHF pledge will get you the e-handbook only. If you have a 3D printer and most of the components, 30 CHF should get you the handbook, 3D STL files, and the components list. A full kit with all parts and a printed handbook requires a 165 CHF pledge (early bird). If you want to play with the Muscle Control Extension part, you’d need to spend $250 for the full kit plus the EMG sensor. You may also learn more about the educational kit and exoskeletons in general on EduExo website.

Via Arduino blog

Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE Selects Two Winners for Commercial Medical Tricorders

April 18th, 2017 No comments

Healthcare takes around 10% of worldwide GDP, and while in some cases an increase in the healthcare to GDP ratio means better care for people, in other cases it may  lead to a decrease in the population’s living standards. There are political, business, and legal issues involved in the costs, but overtime I’m confident that technology can both improve care and lower the costs, in some instances dramatically, especially if open source designs become more common, and there’s some work in that respect with open source projects for prosthetics, opthalmoscope, and even surgical robots. Some commercial projects also aim(ed) to lower the costs of diagnosis tools such as Sia Lab’s medical lab dongle or Scanadu medical tricorder. The latter project sadly did not manage to pass FDA approval, and the company will stop supporting it on May 15, 2017, but that does not mean others have given up on developing a Star Trek like tricorder project, and Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE – which aims at diagnosing 13 disease states – selected two winners for the competition: Final Frontier Medical Devices and Dynamical Biomarkers Group.

Final Frontier Medical Devices DxtER Tricorder

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Final Frontier Medical Devices is a US based team of engineers and medical professionals that realized 90% of patients going to emergency services just wanted a diagnostics for their problem, and decided to work on a DxtER tricorder, which “includes a group of non-invasive sensors that are designed to collect data about vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. This information is then synthesized in the device’s diagnostic engine to make a quick and accurate assessment”.

Final Frontier Mediacal Devices got $2.5 million for their achievements, not bad considering they worked part-time on the project. The video below explains a little more about the team, their work, and the problem they try to solve, but does not give much details about the actual product and different sensors used.

DxtER cannot identify all 13 conditions from the XPRIZE challenge, but their algorithms are said to be able to diagnose 34 health conditions including diabetes, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, urinary tract infection, sleep apnea, leukocytosis, pertussis, stroke, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

That aren’t much more details in DxtER’s product page for now.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group Tricorder

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Dynamical Biomarkers Group is a 39 persons team based in Taiwan, supported by HTC Research, and  led by Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Chung-Kang Peng. The team got the second prize, still a cool $1 million, for their tricorder prototype comprised of three modules:

  • Smart Vital-Sense Monitor – Temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and oxygen saturation.
  • Smart Blood-Urine-Breath Test Kit – Analyze fluids or breath dynamics to diagnose conditions such as urinary tract infection, diabetes, and COPD
  • Smart Scope Module – Bluetooth enabled magnifying camera to obtain high-resolution images of the skin and tympanic (ear) membrane. Used for diseases such as melanoma or otitis media.

These modules allow “physiologic signal analysis, image processing, biomarker detection”, and have been designed to be easy to use through a smartphone with an app that guide the patient through specific tests to generate a diagnosis.

The video below, again does not give much details about the product itself, but present the team, and explain the motivations such as controlling the cost of medical resources in Taiwan, and especially providing quality healthcare in rural areas of Greater China.

From the video, they seem to have greater resources for development than the US based team. Some more details about the tricoder can be found in the Center for Dynamical Biomarkers’ (DBIOM) XPRIZE page.

Via Liliputing

MatchX LoRaWAN Solution Supports up to 65,535 Sensor Nodes per Gateway

April 14th, 2017 4 comments

MatchX is a startup with offices in Chicago, Shenzhen, and Berlin, that provides a complete LoRaWAN solution with their MatchBox gateway based on SX1301 concentrator and Mediatek MT7628N processor, as well as MatchStick, MatchModule, and MatchCore sensors with up to 65,535 of those connecting to a single  gateway.

MatchBox LoRaWAN/WiFi/GPRS/GPS Gateway

Outdoor and Indoor Enclosures for MatchBox – Click to Enlarge

MatchBox specifications:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT7628AN MIPS WiSoC @ up to 580 MHz
  • System Memory – 128MB DDR2 RAM
  • Storage – 16MB FLASH
  • Connectivity
    • LoRa – Semtech SX1301 + 2x SX1257@+27dbm  Output Power; 470/868/915Mhz frequency range, -146dBm sensitivity
    • 10/100M Ethernet
    • 802.11n 2×2 WiFi @ 300 MHz
    • Optional GPRS via SIM800H, 85.6 kbps (downlink/uplink) + micro SIM card slot
    • GPS via UBlox Max 7C
    • Antennas – 2x u.FL antennas for WiFi, u.FL or chip antenna for LoRa, GPS and GPRS modules
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB type C exposing 4 or 6 GPIOs and UART
  • Misc – RGB LED, 8x GPIO, on/off switch, reset button
  • Power Supply – Passive 24V POE, or  5V/2A via USB-C port
  • Power Consumption – 5W on average, 10W max.
  • Dimensions – 140 x 78 x 30mm
  • Temperature Range – -20°C to 85°C
  • Certification: CE, FCC, LoraWAN

The gateway runs OpenWrt or LEDE operating system. The company can receive packets from nodes up to 20km away in ideal conditions (line of sight, good weather…), and the company claims 4 gateways can cover Berlin’s RingBahn, and 17 gateways cover Silicon Valley Area, of course provided there’s not a very large number of nodes, exceeding the capacity of the gateways.

MatchStick & MatchCore LoRa Sensor Nodes

MatchStick

The company has two main products to connect sensors to the gateway with MatchStick and MatchCore sharing most of the same specifications, except the MatchStick is larger, supports many more sensors, and offers longer battery life:

  • MCU – Dialog SmartBond DA14680 ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller with 18 Mbit flash, 64 kB OTP memory, 128 kB Data SRAM, 128 kB ROM, and BLE 4.2 support
  • Connectivity
    • LoRa – Semtech SX1276 @+20dbm output power; 470/868/915Mhz; -146dBm Sensitivity; LoraWAN V1.0.2, Class A/B/C; on-board antenna
    • Bluetooth 4.2 LE @ +3dBm with on-board antenna
    • SIMCOM SM28L GPS module (MatchStick only)
  • Sensors
    • Inertial Sensor – Accelerometer, Magnetometer and Gyroscope
    • MatchStick only, selection of:
      • Air Sensor – CO, CO2, Methane
      • Fire Sensor – Smoke, and IR fire detection
      • Flood Sensor – Water leak detection
      • Movement Sensor – Human movement detection
      • Light Sensor – Gesture, color and ambient light detection
      • Agricultural Sensor – Soil moisture detection
      • Electricity Sensor – Relay control or power consumption
  • USB – 1x USB interface with 6 flexible GPIOs, SWD, Reset and power
  • Misc – RGB LED, reset & user buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V/1A via USB-C connector for charging the battery
  • Battery
    • MatchStick – Panasonic 18650 @ 3000mAh good for up to 10 years on a charge
    • MatchBox – CR2032 battery (300 mAh) good for up to 3 years on a charge
  • Power Consumption
    • Sleep Power – 30-50 uA
    • BLE Power – TX: 3.4 mA, RX: 3.7mA
    • LoRa Power – TX: 120mA @ 20dBm, RX: 9.9mA
  • Dimensions
    • MatchStick – 147 x 32 x 32 mm
    • MatchCore – 52 x 34 x 18 mm
  • Temperature Range – -20°C to 85°C
  • Certification: CE, FCC, LoraWAN

MatchCore

Both models can be programmed using Dialog DA1468X SDK, a community has been setup, as well as a developer’s blog, but so far I’ve been pretty quite, as the company works on completing development. There’s very little info about MatchModule , which will be a 25x25mm LoRa module that can be integrated into your own project. The only info I’ve got about is in the table below.

The MatchBox gateway should sell for around $299, while MatchStick and MatchCore should go for $28 and $16 respectively, I assume in their minimal configuration, as final price will depend on the choice of sensors.

You may be able to find some more details on Matchx.io website.