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Feb 13 2018, 5:32 PM
IoT Hero DeviceRadio Levels Playing Field for IoT Innovation
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Feb 13 2018, 5:30 PM
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Feb 13 2018, 3:08 PM
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Android/IOS app source code for Thunder board sense 2
It's in our github account: https://github.com/SiliconLabs/
Feb 08 2018, 5:45 PM
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Feb 08 2018, 4:10 PM
Posted IoT Hero M2COMM Leads the Way in IoT Intelligent Retail and Logistics on Blog
In recent years, the growing wave of Internet of Things (IoT) applications has spread to many highly specialized market segments, including industrial automation, intelligent retail, intelligent logistics, and intelligent transportation, which are all blue ocean markets with high expectations. However, the solutions needed for these various segments have something in common: they all require a very stable and secure network architecture with multiple nodes and low power consumption.
To overcome this complex technical challenge, M2COMM, a leading provider of low power consumption IoT communication technologies, has developed its own proprietary protocol, called Platanus. Boasting a battery life of 5-10 years, Platanus provides a reliable network physical layer solution for intelligent retail and logistics systems by taking advantage of outstanding RF sensitivity and linearity technologies and ultra-low power consumption EZRadio PRO series Sub-GHz RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. This protocol is poised to greatly accelerate the commercialization of IoT technologies.
We were given an opportunity recently to interview Dr. Derrick Wei, CEO of M2COMM. We asked for his observations on specialized IoT applications and overall technological developments to help us see IoT business opportunities from another angle.
Please tell us about your experience and unique perspective regarding the IoT market and product design.
IoT is an application concept involving many fields, with high vertical integration and highly compatible software and hardware. People started discussing IoT as early as 2008, but the IoT market is still in its infancy. Compared to IoT applications in consumer electronics, such as wearable devices and B2C business models, I think it is easy to see the commercial value of specialized IoT market segments, including logistics, retail, industrial and B2B applications, and they are very likely to take off rapidly.
The key problem in IoT applications is the stability and reliability of the network physical layer, which is even more important for system integrators and service vendors in certain market segments. M2COMM, ever since its initial involvement in the IoT market, has targeted the intelligent retail and logistics segments, which have highly anticipated business opportunities. It has specialized in overcoming various network communication protocol challenges, and developed a proprietary protocol which is highly reliable, supports massive numbers of nodes, and features low power consumption.
What sets M2COMM’s company culture apart, what makes its strategies unique in IoT markets?
M2COMM was founded in 2012. We specialize in developing unique, multifunctional WLAN and LPWAN wireless communication protocols with low power consumption. Currently, we have offices in Taiwan and France to provide products and technical support for our customers. Our mission is to use our solid technical foundation to create a highway for IoT applications so as to bring togehter our partners into a brand-new IoT era.
Just as IoT is an application concept with high vertical integration and mutually compatible software and hardware, naturally, team work and close cooperation becomes the company culture of M2COMM. Within the company, software and hardware developers must synchronize their steps, and software and hardware engineers must work closely together. Outside the company, we are eager to vertically cooperate with the value chain, from network communication protocols to wireless communication modules, end-user solutions, and cloud services, to co-build the IoT ecosystem.
M2COMM has already implemented its proprietary hive-type low power consumption communication protocol (Platanus) in the Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) system, and has developed Uplynx, a highly integrated wireless communication SoC for the Sigfox standard, which has greatly shortened the design time for manufacturers and achieved unprecedented success in the specialized intelligent retail market segment.
Tell us about the features and advantages of IoT products marketed by M2COMM and their benefits to IoT applications.
M2COMM has focused on mid-distance IoT (IoT LAN) and low power WAN (LPWAN) wireless communication technologies that both work in Sub-GHz frequency bands with or without authentication, ideal for connecting intelligent devices to the Internet. The LPWAN technology allows communication distances of several meters to 10 km, and offers the stability of a telecom network. The power consumption of IoT LAN is less than one-third that of Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, so you could say they are designed specifically for IoT use cases.
Recently, the Uplynx wireless communication chip M2COMM designed for the Sigfox standard passed Sigfox certification in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Asia, which is not only an important milestone for worldwide application of LPWAN communication chips, but also marks the beginning of the global adoption of a single IoT design.
Uplynx is a highly integrated wireless communication chip that is specifically designed for Sigfox and its ecosystem partners and vendors, fulfilling their requirements of low cost, low power consumption, and small size. Such requirements were consequently reflected in the reference designs for certification, in which Uplynx uses a quartz oscillator instead of TCXO to allow its output power to reach 22 dBM without any extra power amplifiers. What is more, the built-in powerful 32-bit micro-control unit (MCU), 128 KB flash and 24 KB RAM in this chip, with a size of only 7×7 mm, provide ample computation capacity and application flexibility for developers. In addition, system manufacturers can produce products for different regions by designing only one PCB board when using the certified Uplynx chip, which will greatly shorten the design time and reduce problems in product management.
Building on the above efforts and product lines, M2COMM has also developed ELSA, a wireless electronic shelf labeling system with the smallest size and lowest power consumption in the world, utilizing the EZRadio PRO series Sub-GHz RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. Not only can this product provide a battery life of over 50 years, but it also fulfills the requirements of networks with large numbers of nodes. We believe that it will be very popular in the retail and logistics segments for its small size makes it easy to install and maintain.
Using its hive-type communication protocol Platanus, M2COMM built the ELSA wireless electronic labeling system in 2014. It shows excellent performance in data transmission and ultra-low power consumption. The brand-new ELSA also performs better in terms of software and hardware compatibility, system stability, and multi-node management, thereby allowing corner retail shops to enjoy the convenience and efficiency of the Retail 4.0 era.
Among the new ELSA series of products, the ELSA integrated access point (iAP) is the world's smallest electronic labeling AP, with dimensions of 100 x 68 x 25 mm. The combination of a retail store’s intranet and an ELSA router (iRT) is all that is needed to manage all data transmissions effectively within 30,000 square meters, an area equal to six soccer fields, without needing to go through the store’s computer or other servers. The compact iAP provides an SD card slot on the side for backing up of the store's data, and a flexible magnet on the back for fast and easy installation.
Both iAP and iRT can operate in WiFi-only environments, and include backup batteries to maintain stable data transmission during power outages. However, the function of intelligent electronic labeling should not be limited to showing prices on demand or updating labels. ELSA also provides cloud applications to let business owners easily manage and monitor all their installed electronic labels, making retail business operation more immediate and efficient.
What Silicon Labs solutions are you using now? What specific functional advantages have they provided for your products?
We have adopted the EZRadioPRO series Si4460 and Si4464 RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. They operate in Sub-GHz bands of 119–1,050 MHz, performing excellently across many RF performance indicators, such as linearity and sensitivity.
Please share your views on the future of IoT and the future focus of M2COMM
We think the focus of IoT will be on business and industrial applications in the near future, such as intelligent logistics and intelligent retail and industrial automation. More and more B2B business models will surface in the IoT market. Today, the development of logistics in Mainland China is sophisticated. The next stage will be intelligent logistics applications for intelligent management and wireless ESL tracking, which will create another huge wave of business opportunities.
In terms of intelligent retail, ESL will play a key role in the Retail 4.0 revolution. ESL will not only allow store owners to update product prices instantly upon stock quantities and bidding status, but also significantly reduce human errors in updating prices. Store employees, therefore, can serve the customer more attentively to increase customer satisfaction.
For the convenience of more retail store owners, M2COMM’s ESL system can be integrated with all POS systems in the market. In addition, M2COMM's ESL system promises an over 5 years service life with just an ordinary button battery, and is a very sustainable and environment friendly solution. We are dedicated to providing the most excellent IoT solutions to our customers, enabling our clients and consumers to enjoy better retail environments and services.
In the next phase, we plan to expand the application of our proprietary wireless communication protocols, IoT SoC and modules, and wireless Electronic Shelf Label system into the new filed, the factory automation market.
Nov 08 2017, 4:04 PM
Posted Illuminating the Path to Health: IoT Hero Monitors Critical Vitamin D Intake with Style on Blog
We recently spoke with CEO Marina Nikeschina of e-Senses and Pim van der Meer, project lead development at HYB, a fresh team on the IoT scene that just celebrated its first birthday. e-Senses is focused on health and wellness and is determined to help people achieve the vitamin D levels they need in a way that’s never been done before - with a cutting-edge ring.
For folks just now hearing about you, tell us about your business; how did you get started?
Well, our original inspiration was actually due to a friend of the founders who had concerns about elderly patients. Essentially, in his research he realized that light had a profound effect on happiness and quality of life in the individuals he saw. Seniors who get outside are eating better, sleeping better, virtually everything better than people who stay inside. Older patients who are aren’t going outside, they get depressed, they get sick.
So he asked if it was possible to make something that you can put on people to see how much light they receive. Troubleshooting this idea, we realized that the only two parts of our body typically not completely covered in clothes as the seasons come and go are our face and hands. So we decided to make a ring, because a ring is one accessory that’s unisex and just not really intrusive for people to adopt. That’s how our Helios Smart Ring was born, and it’s the first vitamin D tracker in the world.
Starting out, we decided to look at a lot of medical studies about light, vitamin D, and sunlight. And we were surprised to learn about the many advantages you can get for free from the sunlight. So we ultimately decided to make a very serious product, not just a small, simple tool to measure basic light exposure, but a wearable device for everyone.
And we designed a corresponding app that helps breathe life into the data the ring collects; it has three modes or “coaches.” Mode one is a “Vitamin D Coach” that shows how much vitamin D you are absorbing every day from the sun by the minute. Mode two is the “Sunlight Coach” that helps measure the strength of the sun and tells you how long you can stay outside without any danger. Then we have a “Daylight Coach” mode that calculates the minimum amount of light that you need every day and displays in percentages how far along you are for your daily goal.
Tell us about some of the challenges you faced in developing such a small device. I know you had to hit some hurdles getting this much functionality out of such a small, unobtrusive object.
I would say we faced two main challenges in development. The first challenge was how to charge the device. The first prototypes used contact points for charging, but the low pressure on the charging pins that the limited weight of the ring gives will result in bad contact due to corrosion of the contact points. So we retooled the ring to have its own charging coil inside and make the charging process exclusively wireless, eliminating that issue entirely.
Secondly, achieving a long battery life was challenging. Our initial goal was to have at least a 24-hour battery life, but our initial prototypes were only holding a four- to six-hour charge. That obviously wasn’t acceptable to us. After what could only be described as a bout of sheer obsession to solve this problem, a very talented engineer got the battery life up to two to three days of wear, which we’re really pleased with because of the ease of use that grants our users.
Well, we think this is a really amazing health application. Can you also tell us what Silicon Labs products are you using in the Helios and why?
In your view, what does the future of IoT look like in the next 5–8 years given your experience?
It’s obviously been amazing to witness how widespread the IoT has become now that network and power solutions have evolved to allow so many product designs actually come to life. That said, what we most hope to see is that we don’t overly automate the human experience itself. Such as with the Smart Home concept, it’s great that you can open and close a window and control a thermostat remotely—those are things that can save energy costs and add a level of convenience that is enriching for an end-user. But there is no reason to automate someone’s blankets being rolled off of them in the morning or every other small detail of every daily routine in life. We hope that the IoT’s biggest gains will be rooted in truly enriching people’s lives and health in ways that can matter the most.
Nov 08 2017, 4:04 PM
Posted IoT Hero Nanoleaf Breaks Down Barriers Between Doing Good, Looking Good, and Feeling Good on Blog
Tell us a little about Nanoleaf; how do you describe your work to people?
Your award-winning design work certainly speaks for itself. How did you even begin to approach smart lighting in the way that you do? You’re very unique.
Despite the distance, we kept in touch. And more important, we kept trying to brainstorm ways we could work together again, what we could try and make together that was completely different. Because that’s another one of our drivers: we want to make things that just don’t exist in the market. After many late-night Skype sessions, we landed on lighting as a great way to contribute to sustainability.
Our first product we made together was actually a standard light bulb, but it was actually the most energy-efficient light bulb in the world; and we actually still offer a Classic Series of light bulb technology. But then the market demands of the IoT called us, and the necessity to play in a system where people could control their light bulbs, and where the light bulbs could talk to other devices as needed—that’s what we dove into.
Our forays into the IoT spaces included the Smarter Kit we crowd-funded on Indiegogo—an Apple HomeKit-compatible offering. It was outfitted with a Nanoleaf Hub that allowed integration with Apple and a Nanoleaf Smart Ivy bulb. The Smart Ivy bulb still has more power than any other smart bulb on the market today. It’s a 60W equivalent bulb that uses only 7.5W of energy to produce 800 Lumens, and we managed to give it an Art Deco design no one had ever seen before in a light bulb.
And our newest product offering is the Nanoleaf Aurora. It’s a set of modular LED panels that truly lets people customize and illuminate their space in ways that simply weren't possible before. You can control it and customize it completely to your taste and space—even with your voice. The Aurora was largely inspired by the idea of recreating natural light, so that people could experience the same warm soothing qualities indoors as well—especially during winter when there’s less sunlight hours.
And what’s next for Nanoleaf? Where do you see Smart Lighting itself heading?
Can you elaborate on your approximating a candle comment? That’s intriguing.
What Silicon Labs product are you using at Nanoleaf, and why did you go with it?
I will also genuinely say that we’ve truly valued our partnership with Silicon Labs. Our R&D team has spent time with your R&D teams. The environment is collaborative with an openness to help each other and share knowledge. This kind of collaboration has helped us push boundaries and reach our goals. It’s been a trusted, pivotal partnership in my mind.
Where do you see the collective IoT heading in the next 5–8 years in your opinion given your overall exposure to the space?
Nov 08 2017, 4:04 PM
Posted IoT Hero: ASUS Builds Smart Home System Solutions on Blog
We had the valuable opportunity to interview ASUSTeK Computer (ASUS)—an internationally-known technology company. We spoke with Yeh Ching-hsin, a senior manager of Smart Home Marketing at ASUS New Product Planning, to learn how ASUS expanded its business to include Smart Home devices in the IoT market and other new business opportunities through its experience and technology in ODM and brand management. We also discussedSilicon Labs’ reliable ZigBee® wireless protocol software and hardware solutions.
“IoT is rapidly growing, and Smart Home has the most potential,” says Yeh Ching-hsin, a senior manager of Smart Home Marketing at ASUS New Product Planning.
Please tell us about your experience and thoughts in regards to the IoT market and product design.
There are various applications in the IoT market. If we use consumers’ future demands as the main observation indicator, we can see that there is a very large potential demand for family applications. Therefore, when developing its new IoT business, ASUS sets Smart Home applications as its primary goal in order to adapt to the market.
Smart Home product design can be divided into Point Product and Whole Home Solution. The former is single-function products such as IP CAM, and the latter is a complete system. Typically, Point Product focuses on “N+1” function innovation, while Whole Home Solution focuses on the “N2.”
For that reason, ASUS not only brings Point Product innovations, but understands the great value Whole Home Solution can bring to the customers. ASUS has recently launched a set of ASUS Smart Home System solutions based on Smart Gateway, including smart electronic door locks, smart sockets, door and window opening/closing sensors, smart alarms, temperature and humidity detectors, motion sensors, and other devices. All these products support the ZigBee Mesh Network as the main home backbone network, creating a vertical integration system from the cloud to the device.
In addition, the system can work with software, expand to different IoT application markets, and provide comprehensive Smart Home services. Such a complete system solution can be used as the core technology and demonstration solution in the future Smart Home industry.
ASUS Smart Home System Concept Map
Please tell us about the ASUS company culture and its strategies in the IoT market.
The ASUS culture is striving to be “unparalleled” and “the most admired company in the digital age,” as our Chairman Shih often stresses. With such core values, ASUS not only competes in the IoT market with its Smart Home system solutions, but also applies its values in product design and strives to provide highest-quality products and best user experience.
In the current IoT market, many different standards exist and compete against each other, and there is not one mainstream standard yet. In order to meet the current needs of IoT market development in this chaos, ASUS sticks to its main product development strategy, which is “maintaining flexible design architecture and integrating international mainstream technologies.”
In terms of the ASUS Smart Home System, the development strategies not only include individual product innovation, but also vertical integration, horizontal expansion, and providing services. For example, the ASUS Smart Home System is the first complete Smart Home solution to integrate the industry standards of home appliances in Taiwan. This provides an additional option for electricity power distribution during Taiwan's summer peak load period by integrating the Smart Home system with the national electricity energy program.
Derived from Smart Home, this innovative application will have significant impact on the whole IoT industry from inside to outside and from small points to large areas. It not only helps individual families enjoy a smart life, but also provides to the government an additional energy control option other than electrical energy resource development.
Please tell us about the features and benefits of the ASUS Smart Home System.
In the Smart Home IoT applications, the ASUS Smart Home System can provide various smart network application services, including home automation, security, power saving, environmental comfort detection, and video streaming. The overall system solution has the following main features:
The ASUS Smart Home System supports a wide range of applications
What made you choose Silicon Labs as your semiconductor partner?
In ASUS Smart Home System devices, we’ve widely adopted Silicon Labs’ ZigBee solution to achieve a reliable and seamless ZigBee mesh network connection and ensure the best user experience for home network and link stability while connecting a large number of IoT devices.
As mentioned earlier, it’s essential for a Smart Home to provide a stable, reliable network. And Silicon Labs has extensive experience in ZigBee protocol wireless semiconductor solutions and provides high-quality products, as well as complete hardware and software technical support. That’s why ASUS chose Silicon Labs as its partner.
In fact, Silicon Labs is a leading provider of ZigBee and Thread wireless mesh network semiconductor solutions, and it can provide the latest-generation standard ZigBee/Thread wireless system-on-chip (SoC), modules, software development tools, and a full range of IoT reference designs for home automation and intelligent lighting applications.
Silicon Labs’ ZigBee platform is a highly integrated and complete solution with rich features. Silicon Labs has also recently announced the industry-first EFR32TM Wireless Gecko multi-protocol wireless SoC products. Based on a 2.4 GHz transceiver and ARM® Cortex™-M4 microcontrollers, EFR32 Mighty Gecko SoC integrates the most reliable, scalable, and advanced software protocol stacks with best-in-class development tool support. And it can at the same time meet the design requirements of ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Smart, and exclusive protocols.
Introduction to wireless Gecko multi-protocol wireless SoC series products
Importantly, Silicon Labs also provides complete, optimized, easy-to-use ZigBee home automation and lighting application reference designs for Connected Home applications. Based on the ZigBee HA 1.2 profile, it helps simplify the ZigBee wireless mesh network design complexity and minimize power consumption.
Please tell us about your opinion on IoT development and also the future of the IoT market in mainland China and Taiwan.
The IoT market has a very large potential. For IoT, the most important thing is the “standard.” Currently, there are a lot of IoT platform standards available in the market competing for their IoT market share. However, the companies who want to enter the market aren't sure what to choose among such a large number of standards.
This holds back the market development. The IoT challenge does not come mainly from technology, but rather from the communications between cross-industry standards. Therefore, developers hope to have an integrated mainstream standard in different application areas as soon as possible. This will make the entire IoT application market grow rapidly.
As global giants focus on building IoT platforms, Chinese companies also place an emphasis on it. For example, Tencent introduced an open IoT platform, “QQ IoT,” and Alibaba also launched the overall IoT strategy this year in order to build an IoT platform by integrating Ali Cloud, Ali Smart, YunOS, and other business areas. In addition, telecoms carriers are also developing their IoT strategies. The mainland China market is large enough to form a standard for its own platform, which is a development indicator that the industry must pay attention to.
As for Taiwan, due to its strong upstream and downstream electronics industry chain, it will play an important role in the global IoT supply chain. The Taiwan market is not big in itself, but complete integrated solutions can be built for different application areas and then be tested in its market before exporting total solutions to other countries. As a result, Taiwan not only provides the IoT components, but also provides total solutions to enhance its value and competitiveness.
Nov 08 2017, 4:03 PM