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The IoT chip technology constitutes hardware such as processors, sensors, connectivity ICs, memory devices and logic devices which are used in IoT-enabled devices. The exact growth of this technology in market are the increasing demand for application-specific MCUs and flexible SoC-type designs and increasing investments by major giants of this industry in the IoT market.

Accroding to the research news, The IoT chip market is expected to reach USD 14.81 Billion by 2022 from USD 5.75 Billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 13.2%. The growth of the automotive and transportation application was primarily driven by the development of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and high potential for the growth of connected cars.

The IoT chip market for the retail end-use application is expected to grow at the highest CAGR from 2016 to 2022, followed by wearable devices. The rising demand from customers for easier and better shopping experience would drive the use of IoT in the retail application as it would help customers to reduce checkout times, facilitate easier payment procedures, and enable a comparative cost analysis.

Research said, North America held the largest market share of the global IoT chip market in 2015, where as APAC is expected to grow at the highest CAGR from 2016 to 2022 owing to the huge investments by the companies for the development of IoT.

For more details you may refer: http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/iot-chip-market-236473142.html

IoT Chip Market Scope:

By Hardware: Processors, Sensors, Connectivity IC's, Memory Device, Logic Device.

By End-Use Application: Wearable Devices, Healthcare Sector, Consumer Electronics, Building Automation, Industrial, Automotive & Transportation, Agriculture, BFSI, Retail, Oil & Gas.

By Geography: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Rest of the World (RoW).

Popular industries involved in IoT (technology) market:

The companies that are profiled in the IoT Chip report are Intel Corporation (U.S.), Qualcomm Incorporated (U.S.), Texas Instruments Incorporated (U.S.), NXP Semiconductors N.V. (Netherlands), Microchip Technology Inc. (U.S.), MediaTek Inc. (Taiwan), STMicroelectronics N.V. (Switzerland), Renesas Electronics Corporation (Japan), Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (China), NVIDIA Corporation (U.S.), Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (U.S.), Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (U.S.) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (South Korea).

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A few weeks ago, when I returned from the MWC and I wrote about “The wandering souls Network”, I wondered if it would not have been better for my career if I had specialized in a very specific area instead of being a generalist. I think there are decisions in our life that in spite every of us can analyse many times, the final decision will be always the same, because each person is the way he is.

“I define myself today as “A Generalist specialized in Internet of Things (IoT)”

Although the rest of this article can possibly be applied to all White Collar professionals, I'm going to focus on how will affect your decision of being an IoT specialist or an IoT generalist in a futuristic world dominate maybe by Robots.

Defining IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist

Before start examining the pros and cons of becoming an IoT generalist or a IoT specialist in this competitive and unfair world, it’s important to understand the distinction of these two approaches and how they relate to our future career path.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s simple definition of a generalist states a generalist is “a person who knows something about a lot of subjects”. A specialist is defined as “a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study”.

An IoT Generalist is a professional that understand a bit of everything. The IoT Generalist can speak about new business models enabled by IoT, the value of ecosystems, all kind of networks connectivity, protocols, sensors, devices, Gateways, Architecture, Cloud Platforms, Edge Analytics or Predictive Maintenance. And of course, he must be up to date of standards and security. Such a professional should be able to present to C-Level but also to maintain an intelligent conversation with different technical people. A value added of an IoT Generalist is his/her social network reputation, industry expertise recognition and strategic relationship with IoT/IIOT vendors, Telcos, Analyst, System Integrators. 

Being an IoT generalist also require a skill-set of project management, effective communication and good people skills.

Do you have anyone in mind?

An IoT Specialist is a professional that is a subject matter expert in at least one of the core IoT tracks. Since the IoT is very complex even though we try to simplify it with concepts such as  IoT in a Box, an IoT Specialist should offer at least expertise in one of the following 6 distinct tracks:

  • IoT Devices (IoT Hardware Engineer or IoT SW Embedded Engineer)
  • IoT Connectivity (5G, LTE, NB-IOT, 3GLoRA, SigFox, WiFI, Bluetooth) (IoT Telco Engineer)
  • IoT Platforms (IoT Architects)
  • IoT Edge/Cloud Analytics (IoT Data Scientists)
  • IoT Enterprise Integration (IoT Business Process)
  • IoT Development and DevOps. Take a look “IoT Skills For Developers”

Do you have anyone in mind?

But possibly to survive the future era of robots, it may matter little to be an IoT Generalist or Specialist and you will need a mix of a (someone who starts out as a generalist, but also has in-depth knowledge over a particular area) or specializing-generalist (someone who is specialized in a particular field, but also has a broader understanding of other aspects of the business) as Lev Kaye, the founder and CEO of CredSpark, wrote.

Remember that moving between both extremes can be extremely difficult once a career path has been embarked upon, so the mix is always good to have. There is, of course, opportunity to move between general and special IoT roles. But the more experience a professional gain in one area or the other, the more difficult it becomes to make a transition, at least without suffering from a dramatic salary loss.

Advantages and Disadvantages of being an IoT Generalists vs an IoT Specialist

There are benefits and downsides to both career routes. In the following table I have included some upsides and downsides of becoming an IoT generalist versus becoming an IoT specialist.

 

IoT Generalist

IoT Specialist

Advantages

  • Having a good understanding of a wider selection of IoT topics can help make better decisions and find solutions that a specialist might not be able to see.
  • In a fast-changing workplace, IoT generalist transferable skills will become increasingly important and will be less restricted with their career opportunities.
  • The salaries tend to be higher, even at the starting point and can also provide more internal power.
  • You can become a widely recognized leader in your field.

 

Disadvantages

  • By simply knowing the surface you can easily be replaced by another generalist.
  • Become a widely recognized leader will require specialization.
  • The narrowed focus and expert skills in an area mean IoT Specialist can only find work in this narrow field.
  • ·   The opinion on other issues might not be as valid if the topic at hand not involve your area of expertise directly.

 

“The good news is that IoT job market is likely going to require both”

Age does matter - Which path is right for you?

If you are at the start of your career, you are probably pondering which route you should take: IoT Generalist or IoT Specialist

When you start, selling yourself as an IoT generalist could be complicate to justify in a job interview, so will be better become a subject matter expert and then progressively move into a specializing-generalist

My Opinion: If you are under 30 you need to stay on top of your areas of IoT expertise and be willing to move when your expertise becomes a commodity or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in IoT technologies. Take into account that in the future, the IoT Specialists will be also under threat from software and robots. 

But if you have already passed the barrier of 45 years and suddenly you want to use your background and experience to sell yourself as an IoT Generalist, remember that you have 6 months to demonstrate your added value (most of the time you will be required for selling) or you will be fired without any leniency.

My Opinion: As an IoT Generalist over 45 you will find harder and harder to get hired. You need to be creative and become at least in spirit an entrepreneur. You must continue creating your own brand and reputation and extending your network with key people in the industry. Opportunities for IoT Generalist will not be forever but they must fight project by project. It would not hurt to start specializing in any of the IoT tracks.

And Enterprise size matters too. What are you looking for?

IoT Startups

Governments insist to sell us the importance of entrepreneurs for the well-being and sustainable development of countries and encourage us to create startups. Of course, there is no work for life except for Government employees. And it is known that the big multinationals are rewarded in stock market by the number of employees that are fired out each quarter.

Even so, startups are possibly the only way out for IoT Specialist under 25 or IoT Generalist over 45.

My Opinion

  • ·         If you are an IoT Generalist over 45, find a job in IoT startups will be a chimera, except as Sales roles. Launching your own startup with other partners can be a better option.
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 you can try to convince other colleagues to create a Startup and enter in the dynamic of find investors, win awards and pray for a stroke of luck. If you decide to work in an existing startup to get experience and you are not a Founder or Co-Founder, you must be prepared to be exploited, and then move to a Big company.

SMB (Small and Medium Enterprises)

IoT Generalists add value specially to medium to big international companies. Knowing the details about the complex ecosystem and can handle a vast array of technical concerns is becoming critical for SMBs. There is little need for IoT specialist as there are not enough technical needs in any one specific area to warrant a full-time staff member dedicating themselves to them.

This does not mean that if you are an IoT Specialist you should not try to work for a SMB. Other consideration like industry knowledge, proximity or quality of life will compensate the promises of more money and relevance in Big International companies.

My Opinion:

  • ·         IoT Generalist over 45 are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of IoT specialists. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats. In a SMB the transition to a generalizing-specialist will be natural-
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 and you do not pursue the fame of being a number in a Big international company, you can enjoy more in a SMB because you will have more probability to become more quickly a specializing-generalist.

Big International companies / Top IoT companies

Here we must separate into two types of companies: Top IoT companies including Big IT and OT vendors and End Customers.

There are many lists of Top IoT companies. Almost always these lists include the habitual suspects, and as usual they have notable absences and without forget that the ranks leave much to be desired. But at least such type of list provide the names of companies that either IoT Specialists of IoT Generalists should be searching for a job.

End Customer will need help from both IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist, the question is when and who are them?

My Opinion:

  • ·         The desire of an IoT Generalist over 45, that used to work on Big Companies, is return to a Top IoT Company or Big Enterprise. Although it would seem easy, it is by no means a road of roses. You must create your own strong personal brand and be a well-known and influencer of the industry.
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 with experience in startups you will be hunted soon for one of IoT Top vendor.  Do not let yourself be blinded by the name of the company, but the project and the future importance of IoT within it.

Looking beyond 2025, the begin of the era of robots

Not because I attend the MWC that specifically caused me to think back on the changes that will occur in the IoT job landscape, it was this conference in addition to the many other IoT events that I attended over the past years that make me think how IoT professionals will be living the strong gravitational rift as we approach to 2025 and beyond.

Unemployment is one of the main problems in today consumer owned society. The unemployment is especially cruel to young people in search of their first job. But also for those who have passed the barrier of 45 (IF $your age is >45 THEN "sorry you are overqualified”).

When I wrote “Your job will be in our special metal hands” I imagined a near future in which companies will use Recruitment Robots to search, identify, select and manage candidates and employees more efficiently. Although it is crucial you follow your heart and your passion when making the decision you should consider the requirements of future employers will be robots.

If today, what matters is knowing a little of everything in the Internet of Things, an IoT Generalist, cross-trained and energetic. Fast forward a few years, and the IoT profession will took a different turn. IoT Specialists must emerge, particularly in larger organizations.  IoT Specialist should also be aware of the way IoT jobs will change. Several traditional IoT specialist jobs today will be facing the threat of automatization and will not have an easy time beyond 2025.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When deciding between IoT generalist and IoT specialist career paths, you need to carefully consider the type of person you are. Ultimately, the advantages and disadvantages of either path depend on your personality and drive. If you work hard towards achieving your career goals, you can do so as an IoT specialist and as an IoT generalist and remember you need to be passionate and your attitude will matter today and beyond 2025.

IoT Specialist or IoT Generalist? Choose your own destiny.

Thanks for your Comments and Likes

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MWC- The Great Illusionists Show

First of all, I will explain the reason for the post title. For those who have not seen the films, I summarize: "A group of four illusionists win year after year to the public with their incredible magic shows and even mocking the FBI.

GSMA is a great illusionist and MWC is their principal magic show. We are invited year after year to visit an event with unique keynote speakers, an enormous list of exhibitors, amazing performances and a great LinkedInplace where we can meet in person some of our social media contacts. What else can we ask for?

I know that it is very ruthless to compare the GSMA with illusionists and the MWC as their greatest magic show, but at least I see quite a few reasonable resemblances, you don´t.

 My fears and my wishes for MWC17

If in 2015 I wrote " MWC 2015: Everything Connected, Tapas and Jamon", and I argued as one the reasons to attend MWC was the fact it was celebrated in Barcelona. In 2016, in my post “GSMA need to think how to reinvent MWC” I justify the reasons why the MWC needed to reinvent itself.

One thing has become clear to me after many years attending MWCs, this is the world's biggest phone and mobile networks show, with manufacturers set to unveil a raft of new phone handsets and new technology. However, the GSMA had insisted on introducing more and more distractions like Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Living, Connected Car, AR/ VR, Robots. Maybe the reason is because Telecom operators do not have the DNA to change. Still, many telecom operators take a dim view of some of the aggressive moves being made by these peers, especially when it comes to business models based on commercializing customer data.

“I expected to see less hype and a dose of common sense”

 Starting by the announcement of Spain’s Telefonica to introduce a broad plan “4th Platform” to help both consumer and business customers keep greater control over their data rather than giving it away to web giants Google, Facebook and Amazon.

 “I expected to see more applications where IoT will become a lot less exciting, but more useful and profitable. The real world.” 

But I also feel like Scott Bicheno that  “Mobile World Congress is disconnected from reality”.

 

The Top 5 tricks of illusionism this year

5G, Network Slicing and their associated Business Models

5G will undoubtedly be the next big thing in mobile wireless networks. For Niall Norton: fact, fiction, MWC – and strangers dancing in the dark, the most over-hyped technology or trend this year will be 5G in spite he thinks 5G is still miles away and therefore we have to wait for augmented reality, virtual reality, driverless cars and the like. It is a big ask for investors to keep piling money in.

For Phil Laidler, Network slicing is essentially an extension of policy control, virtualisation, NFV and SDN, and their orchestration; the move towards software-centric, flexible end-to-end networks. At MWC this year he is looking forward to seeing more "proof of concepts" for network-slicing and the associated business models, in addition to any insights into how slicing will work in practice.

Nokia’s big 5G announcement on ‘day 0’ of the event was overshadowed by a large consortium of operators and vendors calling for just the ‘new radio’ part of the 5G standard to be accelerated, despite the fact that it will lack the backhaul, cloud infrastructure, software platforms, etc needed to make the 5G dream viable. If anything highlights the wishful-thinking folly of much of the talk at this year’s show it’s that.

IoT

IoT has been a hot topic at MWC for the last few years, but, operators do not succeed with new business models beyond managed connectivity. Strategic alliances with IoT vendors has shown no results yet.

The battle between connectivity technologies remains fierce, cellular IoT Chip Battle Escalates at MWC ARM, Sequans and Altair to compete on NB-IoT solutions, but vendors and operators are now looking for more innovative ways to overcome the problem. This might just be the year of Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN).  Although LoRa and Sigfox are currently dominant in the LPWA market, cellular IoT proponents had steal the show.

For example, Telefonica - who is working on NB-IoT with Huawei - recently announced a global partnership with Sigfox. In addition, Nokia launched its worldwide IoT network grid ('WING') a few weeks ago, which it describes as "a 'one-stop-shop', full service model offering seamless IoT connectivity across technologies and geographical borders."

For Operators, the real value from IoT will be created when they can start combining data sets from different areas and different connectivity technologies. For example, smart cities, healthcare or Food & Beverage, retail, transportation and logistics to improve the cold chain supply management processes.

I hope that at MWC18 we will be looking out for examples of operators and vendors developing IoT use-cases that do just that.

“The Internet of Things is in MWC to stay for a few more years, but If your focus is Internet of Things (IoT) then your money probably will have more ROI in other IoT events”

Blockchain

Blockchain has become one of the latest buzz words in telecoms, IT and IoT , thanks to a rapid increase in start-ups using it for new use-cases beyond its original application in financial services. Despite the excitement around blockchain the technology is still poorly understood by many, so operators need to explore the practical applications of blockchain and investigate whether developing these capabilities would be beneficial and understand what will be their role telcos in this field. 

Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots

Not many people in the Operators and in general in the Telco sector can explain what will be the practical potential of AI and machine learning in this sector. Other industry sectors are starting to apply machine learning models to their business. And as the technology and algorithms become more refined, early adopters expect to see huge cost savings. But at what cost? 

I expect to see real use cases for AI, machine learning and Robots to make the eternal promise of Customer Experience happen.

Will Telcos someday use machine learning and AI to learn about customer’s habits so that their services and product features can emulate a human behaviour more accurately?. This is a huge opportunity for both vendors and operators.

The wandering souls network

The first time I visited MWC as CEO of OIES, that is to say, as an independent consultant, I feel like a walking dead. Without a clear agenda, without scheduled meetings. I walk through hundreds of exhibitor booths looking for friend’s faces that can spend a couple of minutes to tell them my history.

The Telco sector (Operators, Large Vendors) and the IT sector is being very cruel with employees over 45 years old. This year I have had the opportunity to spend some time with some of ex-colleagues, friends and also LinkedIn contacts that wanted to tell me their history and asked me for advice about the new “El Dorado world of IoT”. 

There is a lot of talent out there. Do not exclude this extraordinary wandering network because you believe they are overqualified and you can not manage them.

See you next year at MWC18

I've been saying the same thing for years when I come exhausted from MWC  “No more tricks, no more illusions, this has been my last year". But will be this time the real one. Do I need a sabbatical MWC?.

“Whether you passed 1 day, 3 days or a whole week of your life in the MWC17 illusionism, ask yourself: Was it worth it? “

Now you see me or not @MWC18.

 Thanks for your Comments and Likes

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It was a matter of time to end up writing an article to talk about the connection between Internet of Things (IoT) and the technology (arguably still in the infancy of its development) that may have the greatest power to transform our world, Blockchain.

In a future planet interconnected not just by devices, but by the events taking place across it, with billions of devices talking to one another in real time, the Internet of Things will require a secure and efficient way to track all interactions, transactions, and activities of every “thing” in the network.

Blockchain’s role could be a coordination layer across devices and the enabler of the IoT to securely facilitate interactions and transactions between devices, and may also support certain processes related to architecture scalability, data sharing, and advancements in encryption and private key technology, enhanced security, and potentially even privacy.

With blockchain, the Achilles’ heel of the IoT of heterogeneous OEM devices world now becomes viable. I wonder however, if is feasible that this decentralized IoT network may co-exist IoT sub-networks or centralized cloud based IoT models.

But let's face it, blockchain is still a nascent and controversial technology (experts estimate that it might take 5 -10 years for the mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies). Therefore, we must consider that blockchain’s applications within the Internet of Things is still a matter of conjecture and trial, and that it will take more time to determine whether and how blockchain might be implemented to secure IoT ecosystems.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain, the technology that constitutes the backbone of the famous bitcoin, is a database that maintains a continuously growing set of data records. It is distributed in nature, meaning that there is no master computer holding the entire chain. Rather, the participating nodes have a copy of the chain. It’s also ever-growing — data records are only added to the chain.

A blockchain consists of two types of elements:

  • Transactions are the actions created by the participants in the system.
  • Blocks record these transactions and make sure they are in the correct sequence and have not been tampered with. Blocks also record a time stamp when the transactions were added.

If you want to know more about blockchain you can read:

Fascinating opportunities ahead with IoT and Blockchain

The possibilities of IoT are virtually countless, especially when the power of IoT is combined with that of other technologies, such as machine learning. But some major hurdles will surface as billions of smart devices will want to interact among themselves and with their owners.

While these challenges cannot be met with the current models that are supporting IoT communications, tech firms and researchers are hoping to deal with them through blockchain.

Applying the blockchain concept to the world of IoT offers fascinating possibilities. Is yet to be seen if blockchain is bound to expedite the revolution, simply by being the backbone for most of the future IoT systems.

An example -  Right from the time a product completes final assembly, it can be registered by the manufacturer into a universal blockchain representing its beginning of life. Once sold, a dealer or end customer can register it to a regional blockchain (a community, city or state).  But, this is only the beginning for the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). A washing machine could become a semi-autonomous device capable of managing its own consumables supply. It can perform self-service and maintenance, and even negotiating with other peer devices.

Challenges of Blockchain and IoT ecosystems

The chaotic growth of IoT will introduce several challenges, including identifying, connecting, securing, and managing so many devices. It will be very challenging for the current infrastructure and architecture underlying the Internet and online services to support huge IoT ecosystems of the future.

Forrester analyst Martha Bennett in the report “Disentangle Hype From Reality: Blockchain’s Potential For IoT Solutions defines three categories of challenges that Internet of Things and blockchain ecosystems participants must address: Technology, Operational challenges and Legal and compliance issues.

According with the report, the result of multiple surveys indicates that what the IoT requires more than any technological or architectural advancement is trust: trust between stakeholders and the devices interacting with them, their customers, or on their behalf.

 “As technology and commercial firms look for ways to deploy and secure Internet of Things technologies at scale, blockchain has emerged as a clear favorite for managing issues like identity and transaction security”

Blockchain, a strategic ally to Democratize the IoT

The big advantage of blockchain is that it’s public, so there is no single authority that can approve the transactions or set specific rules to have transactions accepted. Thus, the primary utility the blockchain is a censorship resistant way to exchange value without intermediaries.

Will blockchain disrupt the disrupters?.  In my post “Is it possible to democratize the Internet of Things? How to avoid that a handful of companies can dominate the IoT” I already suggested the use of blockchain to avoid that data-hungry businesses and governments collect data on the behaviour of people and the performance of objects. Blockchain could avoid that Multinational and governments deepening tracking and control of citizen behaviour and attitudes. 

Are IoT Business Models at risks with Blockchain?

IoT Service Providers hope not. There is a risk that the combo of blockchain and the sharing economy trashes some new IoT business models.  Same way that, successful or not as successful platform, companies like Uber and Airbnb, are worried today.

Just think, the success of these and some other platform companies is largely due to people trading assets they own and are paid for, but from which new value could be derived, And they release this value by using platforms to match up sellers of the extra capacity – whatever it may be – with buyers. Further, they collect data about transactions “for further commercial gain”.

Indeed, arguably many of new IoT companies’ main line of business will be data, but, what if blockchain enabled buyers and sellers to work peer-to-peer and cut out the middleman/data aggregator and seller? In that case the secure connectivity could be king not the data.

A question for IoT Platform vendors, if we have a secure, foolproof decentralized system, why do I need your IoT Platform if I and all the communities I belong to can do it for ourselves, without anybody collecting, analyzing and selling data about me?

The convergence of Blockchain and the Internet of Things closer

In my post “Will we be able to build the Internet of Things?” I warned about the Babel tower of Alliance & Consortiums in the Internet of Things.

A blockchain technology industry consortium is emerging from the meeting, New Horizons: Blockchain x IoT Summit,  with the objective of defining the scope and implementation of a smart contracts protocol layer across several major blockchain systems.

In December 2016, representatives from a group of industry-leading startups and innovative Fortune 500 companies met in Berkeley, CA to discuss the challenges facing blockchain and IoT innovation and the potential for a collective effort to address them.  The meeting was the first step towards a collaborative effort to explore and build a shared blockchain-based Internet of Things protocol. Participants in the discussions included blockchain companies Ambisafe, BitSE, Chronicled, ConsenSys, Distributed, Filament, Hashed Health, Ledger, Skuchain, and Slock.it, along with Fortune 500 corporations BNY Mellon, Bosch, Cisco, Gemalto, and Foxconn.

Who is using Blockchain in IoT

The IoT and blockchain combination is already gaining momentum, and is being endorsed by both startups and tech giants. Several companies are already putting blockchain to use to power IoT networks.

Filament, a startup that provides IoT hardware and software for industrial applications such as agriculture, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries. Filament’s wireless sensors, called Taps, create low-power autonomous mesh networks that enable enterprise companies to manage physical mining operations or water flows over agricultural fields without relying on centralized cloud alternatives. Device identification and intercommunication is secured by a bitcoin blockchain that holds the unique identity of each participating node in the network.

Telstra, Australian telecommunication giant Telstra is another company leveraging blockchain technology to secure smart home IoT ecosystems. Cryptographic hashes of device firmware are stored on a private blockchain to minimize verification time and obtain real-time tamper resistance and tamper detection. Since most smart home devices are controlled through mobile apps, Telstra further expands the model and adds user biometric information to the blockchain hashes in order to tie in user identity and prevent compromised mobile devices from taking over the network. This way, the blockchain will be able to verify both the identity of IoT devices and the identity of the people interacting with those devices.

IBM, allows to extend (private) blockchain into cognitive Internet of Things. To illustrate the benefits of blockchain and Internet of Things convergence, IBM gives the example of complex trade lanes and logistics whereby smart contracts can follow (and via blockchain technology register), everything that has happened to individual items and packages. The benefits: audit trails, accountability, new forms of contracts and speed, to name a few.

IBM and Samsung introduced their proof-of-concept system, ADEPT, which uses blockchain to support next-generation IoT ecosystems that will generate hundreds of billions of transactions per day.

Onename are creating the infrastructure for blockchain based identities that can be used for humans and machines. This means the blockchain can act like a phone book that lets machines find each other.

Tierion is being used to collect data from industrial medical devices to build a verifiable record of their usage and maintenance history. Tierion is thrilled to be the first partner to join Philips' Blockchain Lab. Together they are exploring how blockchain technology can be used in healthcare.

ConsenSys working with Innogy (a subsidiary of German utility RWE) are exploring how to enable an energy marketplace fed by distributed solar and other electricity-generating devices, which are run using a decentralized power grid.

21.co, Microsoft, Slock.it, and others are working directly with adopters in manufacturing, supply chain management, energy and utilities, agriculture, and construction; distributed ledgers may further automate, secure, and drive new services for these industries.

Blockchain is not the unique silver bullet for IoT security

Given the importance that Security has to fulfil the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT), I wrote Do not stop asking for security in IoT although I did not talk about how blockchain can help secure the Internet of Things. Now with this post, I hope I have corrected that gap.

The existing security technologies will play a role in mitigating IoT risks but they are not enough. Cryptographic algorithms used by blockchain technologies could perhaps be a silver bullet needed by the IoT industry to create a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on and to make consumer data more private. But blockchain should not be viewed as the unique silver bullet to all IoT security issues considering that today’s blockchain space is even more nascent than the IoT.

Manufacturers, legislators, IoT hardware and software vendors, IoT Service Providers, System Integrators, analyst, and end users, must be aware of the IoT security challenges and focus on increase security efforts to reduce the risk inherent to the fragmented Internet of Things so among all we can accelerate adoption.

In the long term, we should keep dreaming in a fully decentralized and secure IoT using a standardized secure communication model. We must trust this dream will be possible, if worldwide, engineering talent, startups, large companies, and governments increase the investment in time, energy, and money to innovate in solutions that address the IoT’s and blockchain’s shared problems.

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8 Maps of the Internet of Things

Here are seven IoT maps that we have written about on Iot Central. 

Interactive Map of IoT Organizations

IoT and IIOT Cybersecurity Market Map

The Industrial IoT Market Map (IIoT)

Mapping the Internet of Things (Four maps in this one post, plus a bonus in the comments).

Let us know of the maps and resources you use in the comments below. 

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We are living in a century where technology dominates lifestyle;Digital Transformation with Big Data, IoT, Artificial Intelligence(AI) are such examples.
Over the past six months, Chatbots have dominated much of the tech conversation, the next big gold rush in the field of online marketing.
Chatbots are built to mimic human interaction, making them seem like an actual individual existing digitally. It could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.), powered by basic rules engine or NLP and AI.
Chatbots have helped in conversation commerce in real time such as booking a cab or ordering a bouquet of flowers or pizza. Consumers will benefit from chatbots through personalization, and this is where social media plays a big part.

Here are a couple of other examples:
·       Weather bot: Get the weather whenever you ask like Poncho
·       Grocery bot:  Help me pick out and order groceries for the week like Yana, MagicX
·       News bot:  Ask it to tell you whenever something interesting happens like TechCrunch, CNN
·       Personal finance bot: It helps me manage my money better like Abe
A chatbot for an airline will function fundamentally differently from a banking bot.
People are now spending more time in messaging apps than in  social media and that is a huge turning point. Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots as over 90% of our time on mobile is spent on messaging platforms like Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Wechat, Viber etc.
Typically business need to answer following questions to create a bot:
·       Do you need a constant communication back and forth with the consumer?
·       What are customers’ expectations for the interaction?
·       How will the bot act?
·       What happens when the bot fails?
Chat bots have to be great at answering questions, this is usually how they are challenged, and IBM’s Watson is probably the best question and answer system.
There are several advantage of Chatbots:
·       24×7 availability – A bot exists digitally unlike a human being, and can thus be pressed into service continuously without any interference
·       Faster response time than humans, coupled with an AI, chatbot’s machine learning and multi-tasking abilities make it a highly efficient virtual assistant
·       Bots allow for a two-way, personalized interaction between the consumer and a brand
·       Saves Resources – Employing a chatbot to handle basic customer interactions can free up valuable human resources without a decline in productivity
Tacobot Allows to order Taco Bell even more quickly.

KLM has a customer service bot that's able to check your flight status and let you know if it's been delayed.

Interacting with software at a human level is becoming more mainstream from digital assistants  like Google Home, Google Now, Apple Siri. 

Going forward people will not be able to tell the difference between human and machine.
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Here's a quick list of the 6 Best Online Resources for Embedded Firmware. Enjoy!

  1. Reverse Engineering Stack Exchange: "Reverse Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for researchers and developers who explore the principles of a system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation."
  2. The Ganssle Group: We love Jack Ganssle! He writes, "I'm on a mission to help embedded developers produce better products faster. My newsletter, seminars and the 1200+ articles on this site all give better ways to build embedded products, while maximizing the fun of engineering hardware and firmware."
  3. The Embedded Systems Conference: "Experience the industry's largest, most comprehensive technical conference for embedded systems professionals. Connect with top-level engineers, developers, and decision makers at the forefront of driving embedded systems design. Showcase your latest software design innovation, hardware breakthroughs, hottest IoT solutions, and demo your services in-person to hundreds of attendees with active projects."
  4. Embedded Computing Design: "For the past 30+ years OpenSystems Media (formerly OpenSystems Publishing) has focused solely on the embedded computing market. OpenSystems Media offers balance: taking not only a broad, encompassing look at trends and technologies, but also focusing on certain solutions in-depth."
  5. Embedded.fm Podcast: "Embedded.fm is a site dedicated to the many aspects of engineering. We talk about the how, why, and what of engineering, usually devices. The site includes a weekly audio show created and hosted by Elecia White and Christopher White. Our guests include makers, entrepreneurs, educators, and normal, traditional engineers. The site also includes a blog written by Elecia White, Christopher White, Andrei Chichak, and Chris Svec."
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A few years ago, the idea of a “Telco in a Box” was very usual among the Telecommunication industry. Basically, it was a pre-integrated, turnkey real-time billing and customer care solution that enabled communications service providers (CSPs) to accelerate their growth strategies and increase profitability.

Companies like Accenture, Oracle, Redknee or Tech Mahindra used this concept addressed to Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs, Tier 3 Operators and Tier 1 sub brands. The benefits of this solution were clear:

  • A low-risk, quick to launch turnkey solution
  • Go to market faster than competitors

It was a matter of time that this marketing slogan reached the Internet of Things (IoT). And so it has been, at the moment with little noise, but it is certain that we will see much more "IoT in a Box" in the next months.

What is IoT in a Box and What's in the box

Today we could say that IoT in a Box is:

  • A pre-configured, fully integrated, enterprise-enabled IoT bundle optimized for IoT processing (Telco view)
  • All the required building blocks to develop a wireless IoT system (IoT Vendor view)

In the first case, the IoT in a Box must include some of the following components depending of the application:

  • ·         Hardware / Hardware as a Service
    • ·         1 o more battery powered modules with sensors for monitoring for instance temperature, humidity, geo-location, movement, vibration, battery level or signal strength
    • ·         1 or more Relay switch or actuators
    • ·         1 GSM chip (SIM) per module with a data plan
    • ·         IoT gateway
  • ·         Software / Software as a Service
    • ·         Device management
    • ·         Enterprise database with storage plan
    • ·         Security Connectivity
    • ·         Pre-configured dashboards
    • ·         Pre-configured thresholds and alerts
    • ·         Mobile app
  • ·         Services / Services as a Service
    • ·         Professional Services (optional)
    • ·         Support (basic included, premium optional)

When you receive your IoT in a Box.  All you must do is:

  1. charge your modules
  2. place them on (or in) things,
  3. login to your own org to name your modules, and then
  4. turn on your modules. As soon as you activate a module, it starts to send sensor data, and you can start monitoring your things in near-time - online or using the mobile app.

“The concept behind a basic “IoT in a box” is that It takes you less than 1 hour to set up your own IoT system.”

In the second case, the IoT in a Box must include a Development Kit and all required building blocks to develop a wireless IoT system. We will see some examples later.

What if I want to expand the capabilities of my IoT application?

Although IoT in a Box is aimed at solving a simple business need, in certain scenarios or industries it may be necessary to extend the capabilities included in the Box. In this regard, vendors must provide accessories, expansion modules, I/Os and peripherals, Multi-standard connectivity options  and additional Pre-configured dashboards and alerts depending of the industry and application.

Selling IoT in a Box

When I wrote Welcome to the first “Selling IoT” Master Class!, I did not emphasize in selling IoT to Small and Medium Business (SMB) and Consumer market.  Precisely, the main objective that vendors pursue with the “IoT in a box” is increase sales in SMB market. This is a huge market and vendors need a way to escalate by channel partners, but as I do not consider myself an expert selling to SMB, so I look forward for your advices.

Is IoT in a Box already in the market?

Due to confidentiality agreements, I cannot include info from different vendors that will be selling IoT in a Box very soon.  But we can find already some examples of IoT in a Box in the market. See below some of them based on public information.

T- Mobile IoT in a Box - With the T-Mobile IoT Box, you can realize your individual M2M application without great effort. Connect your devices and sensors and transfer the obtained data to a cloud system via mobile radio. A data interface provides processing and integration information to other systems, websites, or apps. The T-Mobile IoT Box consists of a developer board with an integrated M2M SIM card, several inputs / outputs and Bluetooth smart interface, an online portal and a RESTful API.

T-Mobile US – IoT promotion for device makers - Building on its movement into the internet of things (IoT) market, T-Mobile US announced a new IoT-specific pricing model as part of a promotion that includes a free Cat1 LTE module along with data services.

T-Mobile US, SVP Doug Chartier said: “The wireless industry needs simpler options for IoT to take off, and that’s exactly what we’re delivering.”

Telia M2M in a Box - M2M technology easy and affordable for any business. Telia M2M in a Box gives you a set of hardware with sensors providing you with real time information about position, movement and climate, which you can monitor directly in the web portal. A versatile and user-friendly measurement tool to observe, monitor and protect your business remotely.

Capgemini IoT-in-a-Box is a rapid, low-cost, low-risk, method to pilot IoT strategy to test and define business cases and provides a pre-configured, enterprise-ready IoT system for monitoring up to 25 devices. It simplifies the task of aligning integrating and configuring all IoT components to provide rapid time to value.

IBM - The Intelligent Building – IoT Starter Kit (Enterprise Edition) is an out–of-the-box IoT solution for Intelligent Buildings. The kit provides seamless integration of the EnOcean Smart Gateway with the Watson IoT Platform.

Relayr- Relayr -Industrial Grade Starter Kit for IoT Acceleration powered by relayr, Intel, Dell and Bosch.

Microsoft – Solair IoT in a Box was an IoT plug&play kit to connect things, sensors, machines to a gateway and then, in a few clicks, instantly visualize data on the Solair application. After acquisition of Solair probably Microsoft had discontinued this offer.

Bosch - Bosch IoT Starter kits that come with pre-configured XDK devices + cloud connectivity. It is as out of the box as it could be!

HPE - HPE Uncorks IoT In A Box - Called (at least by Hewlett Packard Enterprise) the ‘industry’s first converged systems for the IoT’, the Edgeline EL1000 and Edgeline EL4000 systems ‘integrate data capture, control, compute and storage to deliver heavy-duty analytics and insights at the edge to enable real-time decision making.’

Electric Imp - IoT QuickStart by Electric Imp - Electric Imp’s IoT QuickStart Family is designed to help you cut the time to build, test and prototype complex IoT solutions all while maintaining industrial-strength security, scalability and control. Based on reference designs that Electric Imp experts have developed over the past five years, the IoT QuickStart Family appliances represent the most frequently requested secure connectivity and device prototype solutions, each delivered in a fraction of the time and cost required by custom-built solutions.

Creator Ci40 IoT Developer Kit - The Creator Ci40 board is a high-performance, low-power microcomputer that packs a cXT200 chip based on a subsystem optimized by us specifically for IoT applications. The cXT200 SoC includes a dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS CPU clocked at 550 MHz and an Ensigma connectivity engine that covers super-fast 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi and low-power Bluetooth/Bluetooth low energy (Classic and Smart). See also: Imagination Launches ‘IoT In A Box’ Kickstarter - and Build a home IoT irrigation system with 'IoT-in-a-box' kit .

Nextcloud Box – a private cloud and IoT solution for home users – from Nextcloud, Canonical and WDLabs. Nextcloud Box makes hosting a personal cloud simple and cost effective whilst maintaining a secure private environment that can be expanded with additional features via apps. The Nextcloud Box consists of a hard drive and a case, complemented by a Raspberry Pi 2 or a similar credit-card sized computer. The pre-configured, easy-to-use platform handles file storage and syncing, communication and more, requires no maintenance and enables users to install more functionality through apps like Spreed, OpenHab and Collabora Online. The box offers 1TB of storage at the price point of Eur 70. For information on where to buy please visit nextcloud.com/box.

WIKON – My M2M BOX – Our special expertise lies in the compliance with industrial standards for our product developments and the development of powerful embedded hardware and software. Special developments for explosion zones, adverse environmental conditions, IP-68 standards and extended temperature ranges are frequently in demand.

Mobica collaborates with Advantech to develop a complete IoT Solution - Mobica, a Silver member of Oracle Partner Network (OPN) and global provider of a leading-edge software engineering, testing and consultancy services, developed a solution which aggregates data from a variety of sensors and sends it to the Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Service for analysis and integration. Mobica used an Advantech UTX-3115 IoT gateway and a M2.COM based WISE-1520 Low-Power Wi-Fi IoT node for sensor input.

The ThingBox Project - Use Internet of Things technologies without any technical knowledge and for free.

Eight best IoT starter kits: The best internet of things developer kits –

Imagination Meluncurkan kit IoT –“IoT http://misteriotcom/2015/11/24/imagination-meluncurkan-kit-iot-iot-in-a-box/

There are many IoT Vendors who offer Devices, IoT platform, Apps and Services bundled with the same purpose of IoT in a Box, democratize the IoT.

IoT in a Box and IoT Marketplaces

As we know “IoT is not only about connecting things, neither controlling things”, it is about the Things become more intelligent and therefore companies could offer new services under new business models. I believe that IoT marketplaces will play a key role in the evolution of IoT in a box. We have already some examples:

Libelium, the IoT Marketplace is a one stop click-and-buy online store. The company is helping frustrated companies with pre-integrated solutions from choosing the right hardware, cloud components to application.

Telus IoT Marketplace – Connect the things that matter to your business by leveraging connected devices provided by their partner network.

ThingWorks Marketplace – gives easy access to everything you need to build and run your ThingWorx based IoT application. All components listed on the ThingWorx Marketplace are customized, tested and guaranteed to work with the ThingWorx platform.

Intel IoT marketplace – Coming soon.

“IoT in a Box solutions that encompass infrastructure, networking, analytics, service enablement and monetization to connect devices, expose data, services and processes to applications, consumers and machines will be the foundation for IoT marketplaces”.

IoT Service in a Box, the logical evolution of IoT in a Box 

I believe that the logical evolution of IoT in a Box will be IoT Service in a Box sold through IoT marketplaces. It is a matter of time that we will see:

  • ·         Predictive Maintenance in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Loss Prevention in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Asset Location in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Predictive Intrusion in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Vending Machine Product Recommendation in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Real time micro-Inventory in a Box as a Service
  • ·         Customer Emotion in a Box as a Service
  • ·         ……  Your imagination is the limit

 

 

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As more and more companies are drawn into the IOT bandwagon for the lure of the future business potential, the value realization from the IOT technologies continues to be more elusive than ever. If one were to take into account the enormous spends by the enterprises till date on the IOT products and solutions, and compare this with the new business opportunity generated by IOT till date, we can sum this investment with the tagline – “Chasing Million with Billions”.

While this is mostly true for most emerging technologies and usually dominating a technology market more often than not, becomes a battle of investments, as companies outbid each other for the acquisitions and market share, IOT leadership would be far more challenging than anything else seen before.

So what is the curious case about IOT? Well for starters winning the IOT leadership would determine the future existence of many companies. We would witness the demise of many companies and the rise of new giants by the time dust settles for the IOT leadership. More than 2 years have elapsed since IOT became part of every boardroom discussion and now the battle of IOT has moved on from the strategy to execution. 

With the appeal so universal which originates by adding the adjectives, “smart”, “connected” and “digital” to all the products and services we are using or would use in future, the IOT technology space has slowly morphed itself into the “battle of the platform”. So consortium of companies are aligning with each other and are positioning their bets on platform leadership.

So what is the problem with this shift? The very nature of the platform development encompassing the needs of applications hosted for smart homes, smart cities, connected vehicles and products spanning the domains across healthcare, retail, manufacturing to name a few means an enormous list of “backlog” for development of the “new” platform. So IOT platform development is hit by the bane of the trinity – development of full scope, in budget and on time for scalable market adoption. Estimates for building such a multi-purpose all-encompassing platform with full feature set would set aside any product development organization by a few billion dollars.    

Additional complexity to the platform development is the timeline for the market availability of such feature complete platform, especially considering that data ingestion from thousands of disparate devices across multiple network protocols in streaming format real-time. Above and beyond this, the cost to secure all end points and prevent the devices from the potential hacking would surely add several million dollars to the cost.

So what is challenge with the platform development?  The problem is the very nature of the IOT market – the universal appeal and low price points. Most markets which have such a universal appeal often can accommodate 2-3 players at maximum, so all the competing platforms in development now and spending big dollars can face a high potential of failure. As more announcements are made and more investments pours in, the bloodier the war for IOT supremacy would become. The very nature of the digital market which ensures “winner take all market” is both the lure and the source of agony.

What does chasing Million with Billions imply?  As the transaction volumes increases, the transaction value dramatically decrease and with smaller per capita spending by the end user, the ROI calculations moves the break-even date far out into the future. Net Present Value for the future cash flow projections with the diminished order sizes for the next few years at best could accrue in Millions, but the upfront investment required to win the IOT leadership would require investment in the order of Billion. A more detailed analysis of the IOT Economic Perspective is presented in this previous series. (http://bit.ly/2a2sfcq). Generally bigger the stakes at the end, the fierce the competition becomes and IOT would witness one of the longest standing investment war for supremacy. While the winner would definitely be taking all, the pain for the competition would be intense. While many would drop out of the race in the short term due to the lack of funding or cash crunch, a few giants with deep pockets would continue to wrestle on. 

So would your strategy be the best? Would you leapfrog the paradox of earning million with billion and come out as the eventual winner? And which side of the competition would you stand when this IOT leadership war is over?

In the next series I would be providing more recommendation to solve the curious case of IOT platform leadership. Please drop in your comments.

Note: This article is independent view and presents the IOT story from a vendor neutral perspective.

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If IoT is the Meteor, is OT the Dinosaur?

Today’s digital transformation of business and government will have the same effect. It will make short work of any organization that does not evolve rapidly. CEOs must quickly define where their organizations can compete for success, and lead them on that journey. If they can’t—or won’t—change, they risk fading away like the dinosaurs.
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In this article, I’ll keep introducing AggreGate IoT Platform-based products. In 2010, two years after AggreGate Network Manager release, we started AggreGate SCADA/HMI project ‒ fourth-generation SCADA system.

So what is fourth-generation SCADA? 

Wikipedia suggests the following definitions:

  1. First-generation SCADA are monolithic systems that had been developed before the Internet expansion became widespread. Such systems do not operate anymore.
  2. Second-generation SCADA solutions are operating in enterprise local systems. They are supposed to employ IP network for connection between controllers, data collection servers, controlling servers, and APM operators.
  3. Third-generation SCADA architecture enables coordination of geographically-distributed automatic process control systems. These systems include multiple manufacturing sites and remote monitoring objects. Until recently, third-generation SCADA was a cutting-edge SCADA product with the possibility of HMI launch in mobile device browsers, remote project editing right on the production server, and testing without server shutdown and project file copying.
  4. Finally, fourth-generation SCADA should fit the Internet of Things. It implies decentralization and unification at a greater extent, i.e. possibility of algorithm execution point shift between SCADA servers and controllers. Another indispensable feature is operation via cellular and satellite network avoiding VPN (controllers with no static IP address can connect to SCADA servers operating in a cloud).

Naturally, every SCADA vendor develops their products evolving from generation to generation, while the previous versions become stagnant for not being compatible with the latest trends.

IoT Platform-based AggreGate SCADA/HMI (http://aggregate.tibbo.com/solutions/scada-hmi.html) has inherited all functions of fourth-generation SCADA:

  • Built on Java platform, the system operates on Linux perfectly, which allows SCADA core running on embedded systems. Our OEM partners supply systems built on Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black and similar low-priced microcomputers. In addition, there is an option for SCADA core to access IP communications, serial ports, as well as discrete and analog inputs, etc.
  • The same solution operating on regular servers provides centralized data collection and HMI handling. Servers based on unified architecture establish peering relations for data interchange with PLCs.
  • The system is fully compatible with all Tibbo programmable controllers and modules.
  • HMIs can be launched on Linux or Windows PCs, touch boards, or opened in web-browsers.
  • There are no such concepts as “development environment” or “runtime environment” in our solution. Development is implemented via remote connection right on a production server considering role-based permissions. In addition, there are a lot of ways of cloning the whole project or its parts. Platform capabilities for designing reference projects and derived products will be described in a separate article.
  • AggreGate Platform is tailored to work with M2M devices. The server with controllers connecting to it by themselves operates perfectly. In our terminology, such controllers connecting to the server themselves are called agents.

 

There is still a question left: why have we developed another SCADA? The international market is saturated with such solutions.

The point is that AggreGate SCADA/HMI as an AggreGate Platform add-on is technically a set of drivers for data collection and typical HMI vector images. All features necessary for SCADA are AggreGate Platform components: GUI (widget) builder, report editor, alert and event control tools, tag modeling system, failover clustering technology, SDK with DDK, etc.

Our investment to SCADA system development was not so great comparing to the development of such a system from scratch. To implement industrial and building automation projects, we developed the drivers for standard process control protocols (Modbus, OPC, OPC UA, BACnet, DNP3, etc.) and designed several thousands of vector images.

Along with standard SCADA system functions, AggreGate Platform fills it with exceptional features, for instance: 

  • Statistics storage in Round-Robin Database (RRD) and NoSQL database (BigData)
  • Unlimited horizontal and vertical system scaling based on AggreGate distributed architecture
  • Data collection and control via both IT monitoring protocols (SNMP, FTP, JMX, SSH, WMI) and generic ones (SQL, SOAP, CORBA, LDAP…).

These features allow you to apply the system in multiple projects, not typical for SCADA solutions. AggreGate SCADA/HMI, in particular, is used for manufacturer fleet telemetry, MES replacement, cell tower and data center engineering infrastructure monitoring (included into AggreGate Data Center Supervisor solution). 

In terms of AggreGate architecture and project building concept, AggreGate SCADA/HMI resembles most of other products. A typical project development cycle includes:

  • Deploying a server or several servers in a failover configuration
  • Connecting to a storage that can be either a standard relational DBMS or integrated Apache Cassandra DMBS saving dozens of thousands tags per second
  • Connecting controllers and other data sources (e.g. external databases), configuring tag polling period
  • Configuring automated tag processing algorithms on a server side. These can be models determining additional calculated tags, alerts delivering e-mail and SMS notifications, schedules for performing certain jobs, etc.
  • Developing HMIs, dashboards, and navigation between them
  • Setting user roles, access, and external authentication via LDAP/AD configuration.

 Running on Linux, AggreGate server collects data from OPC servers running on Windows. This procedure is implemented via IP network and DCOM protocol. As a result, there is no need for installing SCADA server and OPC server on a single computer anymore.

There are no such notions as “project”, “development environment”, and “runtime environment” in AggreGate SCADA/HMI. According to its concept, a single primary server is installed on a worksite. During the initial deployment phase, system engineers can connect to the server locally or remotely for developing HMIs, create PLC user accounts, set up data storage, and so on. After this phase, the same server will be utilized during commissioning and further on a regular basis, although the system migration to another server is possible and simple.

Unified environment enables to introduce modifications into the production server without any interruptions. In this case one should: 

  • Make temporary copies of one or two system components (for example, HMIs or alerts)
  • Introduce changes in the copy and test them
  • Replace the original component with the successfully modified copy.

One of the vital SCADA system parts is GUI Builder. Inherited from AggreGate Platform, GUI Builder assists in drawing and animating any HMIs containing both simple components (buttons, captions, text fields, lists, etc.) and complex ones (tables, multi-layer panes, tabbed panes, charts, geographical maps, dynamic SVG images, video windows, etc.).


Even though AggreGate GUI Builder is similar to other system editors of this kind, it has an outstanding feature. Alongside with standard visual component absolute layout, any pane can utilize a grid layout similar to an HTML table. Plus, in case of a complex form with multiple tabbed panes (simple, multi-layer, tabbed, split panes), every pane can employ both absolute and grid layouts. 

Grid layout allows designing HMIs, data input forms, and dashboards that seamlessly adjust to any screen resolution. In case of absolute layout, component proportional scaling is used. In this case, component height also increases, which leads to unacceptable results for almost all forms and dialogs.

HMIs are animated through bindings that allow data copying between server object properties and visual component properties in response to server and HMI events. AggreGate expression language brings aid in applying any operations to replicated data on the fly (processing numbers, strings, dates and time, tables, etc.).

Any data processed by AggreGate can be utilized for reporting. Expression builder and integrated SQL-like query language help retrieve necessary indicators, and the system creates the optimal template for their visual representation. After this, you can customize the template using the report builder.

As for the KPIs, you can configure alerts raised in response to critical object state events or event chain retrieving. The system sends alert notifications in almost any way (popup windows, sound notifications, E-mail messages, SMS). Automatically launched corrective actions can run both autonomously and under operator control. The alert module supports other typical industrial control features: flapping detection, hysteresis, prioritization, acknowledgement, escalation, etc.

AggreGate SCADA/HMI automates industrial processes, displays all necessary data in the operator center, provides visualization, saves information into a database, and creates reports ‒ in fact, everything that is expected from SCADA. The system promptly analyzes technological process efficiency and takes important decisions on its optimization, i.e. it partially performs MES software functions.

Usually, there are several SCADA installations operating simultaneously at large enterprises. Every installation has its own function in a certain workshop. The systems are logically bound by the production chain. Thus, their integration and automated KPIs transmission to MES/ERP levels are required. In AggreGate ecosystem, this is carried out by exchanging unified data model parts between servers with the help of distributed architecture (http://aggregate.tibbo.com/technology/architecture/distributed-architecture.html). 

It often happens that on a single object/within a single project, it’s necessary to implement not only SCADA, but also IT infrastructure management system, building automation, access control and physical access control, automatic system for commercial accounting of power consumption, and other solutions in various combinations. AggreGate has all these features implemented within one installation and possibility of binding modules on a single server. Where can you run across it? For example, in data centers where active networking equipment, climate sensors, UPS, DGU, conditioners, water-cooling system, personnel access, time and attendance should be monitored. Some more examples: cell towers, where radio-relay equipment of transport network, sector antenna parameters, intrusion detection sensors, and other systems must be controlled. In large warehouses, it is vital to monitor personnel access, loader behavior, ventilation and lighting systems. Almost all large-scale objects can gain an advantage from merging various monitoring and management systems.

In our upcoming articles, we will describe distinguishing features of our SCADA solution, various industrial automation problems and their described solutions, as well as newsworthy projects we’ve taken part in.

Victor Polyakov, Managing Director, Tibbo Systems

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Guest blog post by Sandeep Raut



Digital Transformation is helping all the corners of life and healthcare is no exception.
Patients when discharged from the hospital are given verbal and written instructions regarding their post-discharge care but many of them get readmitted in 30 days due to various reasons. 
Over last 5 years this 30 days readmission rate is almost 19% with over 25 billions of dollars spent per year.

In October 2012 the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) began penalizing hospitals with the highest readmission rates for health conditions like acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), pneumonia (PN), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and total hip arthroplasty/total knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA).


Various steps to reduce the readmission:

  • Send the patient home with 30-day medication supply, wrapped in packaging that clearly explains timing, dosage, frequency, etc
  • Have hospital staff make follow-up appointments with patient's physician and don't discharge patient until this schedule is set up
  • Use Digital technologies like Big Data & IoT to collect vitals and keep up visual as well as verbal communication with patients, especially those that are high risk for readmission. 
  • Kaiser Permanente & Novartis are using Telemedicine technologies like video cameras for remote monitoring to determine what's happening to the patient after discharge
  • Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta provides home care on wheels like case management, housekeeping services, transportation to the pharmacy and physician's office          
  • Use of Data Science algorithms to predict patients with high risk of readmission
  • Walgreens launched WellTransitions program where patients receive a medication review upon admission and discharge from hospital, bedside medication delivery, medication education and counseling, and regularly scheduled follow-up support by phone and online.
  • HealthLoop is a cloud based platform that automates follow-up care keeping doctors, patients and care-givers connected between visits with clinical information that is insightful, actionable, and engaging.
  • Propeller Health, a startup company in Madison has developed an app and sensors track medication usage and then send time and location data to a smartphone
  • Mango Health for iPhone and wearables like Apple Watch makes managing your medications fun, easy, and rewarding. App feature include: dose reminders, drug interaction info, a health history, and best of all - points and rewards, just for taking your medicines.
These emerging digital tools enable health care organizations to assess and better manage who is at risk for readmission and determine the optimal course of action for the patients.

Such tools also enable patients to live at home, in greater comfort and at lower cost, lifting the burden on themselves and their families.
Digital is helping mankind in all ways !!
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Interactive Map of IoT Organizations -- TAKE 2

I am excited to launch the 2nd version of my Interactive Map of IoT Organizations  Thanks for all the support and encouragement from David Oro!

https://www.diku.ca/blog/2016/12/04/interactive-map-of-iot-organizations-take-2/

Here are the material changes from the first version:

  1. Each organization now has their specific address instead of being city-based
  2. Now includes the Founder(s) of the organization and a link to more information about them. This is in addition to the “Founded” year which was in the first version
  3. Cleanup of categories. Folks are still trying to determine what it means to be an IoT Platform. For me, it’s most important to focus on standards and integration of systems as there will be organizations that specialize in one aspect of an IoT platform whether it’s the analytics, rules engine, device management, workflow, or visualization functions.
  4. The initial launch of the map had 246 organizations, this new map has 759 organizations. Thanks to many people on LinkedIn and through blog comments for suggesting their companies which accounted for 180 additional organizations. The other 330+ organizations I have been finding on my own by trolling news, Twitter, IoT conference Web sites, “Partners” sections of each organization.

I set up a Twitter account @EyeOhTee and although I still need to tweet more, you may see some interesting news on there and feel free to tweet out this post, plug plug!

Besides the basic data shown on the map, I also track many more attributes of each product. I will publish additional findings and analysis on this blog and here on IoT Central.

I hope you find the map useful and I would love to hear if, and how, it has helped you. Whether you located a company in your area to collaborate or a supplier for a problem you are trying to solve or just learning like me it will have made it worth the time I spend on this.

BGJ

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MQTT Library Demo

About The Application

To illustrate the use of the MQTT library, we have created two simple Tibbo BASIC applications called "mqtt_publisher" and "mqtt_subscriber".

In our MQTT demo, the publisher device is monitoring three buttons (Tibbits #38). This is done through the keypad (kp.) object.

The three buttons on the publisher device correspond to the red, yellow, and green LEDs (Tibbits #39) on the subscriber device.

As buttons are pushed and released, the publisher device calls mqtt_publish() with topics "LED/Red", "LED/Green", and "LED/Red". Each topic's data is either 0 for "button released" or 1 for "button pressed". The related code is in the on_kp() event handler.

The subscriber device subscribes to all three topics with a single call to mqtt_sub() and the line "LED/#". This is done once, inside callback_mqtt_connect_ok().

With every notification message received from the server, the subscriber device gets callback_mqtt_notif() invoked. The LEDs are turned on and off inside this functions's body.

Testing the MQTT demo

The demo was designed to run on our TPS3 boards, but you can easily modify it for other devices.

The easiest way to get the test hardware is to order "MQTTPublisher" and "MQTTSubscriber" TPS configurations.

You can also order all the parts separately:

  • On the publisher side:
    • TPP3 board in the TPB3 enclosure.
    • Your will need Tibbits #00-3 in sockets S1, S3, S5; and
    • Tibbits #38 in sockets S2, S4, S6;
    • You will also need some form of power, i.e. Tibbit #10 and #18, plus a suitable 12V power adaptor.
  • On the subscriber side:
    • TPP3 board in the TPB3 enclosure.
    • Your will need Tibbits #00-3 in sockets S1, S3, S5;
    • Tibbit #39-2 (red) in S2;
    • Tibbit #39-3 (yellow) in S4;
    • Tibbit #39-1 (green) in S6;
    • You will also need some form of power, i.e. Tibbit #10 and #18, plus a suitable 12V power adaptor.

Test steps

  • Install a suitable MQTT server. We suggest HiveMQ (www.hivemq.com):
    • Download the software here: www.hivemq.com/downloads/ (you will be asked to register).
    • Unzip the downloaded file.
    • Go to the "windows-service" folder and execute "installService.bat".
    • Go to the "bin" folder and launch "run.bat".
    • You do not need to configure any user names or passwords.
  • Open mqtt_publisher and mqtt_subscriber projects in two separate instances of TIDE, then correct the following in the projects' global.tbh files:
    • OWN_IP - assign a suitable unoccupied IP to the publisher and to the subscriber (you know that they will use two different IPs, right?);
    • MQTT_SERVER_HOST - set this to the address of the PC on which your run HiveMQ.
  • Select your subscriber and publisher devices as debug targets, and run corresponding demo apps on them.
  • Press buttons on the publisher to see the LEDs light up on the subscriber.
  • If you are running in debug mode you will see a lot of useful debug info printed in the output panes of both TIDE instances.
  • You can switch into the release mode to see how fast this works without the debug printing.
Read more…

Open Source for IoT Software Stacks

Guest post by Ian Skerrett, Eclipse Foundation

In the previous article, Three Software Stacks Required to Implement IoT , we introduce the 3 software stacks that are required for any IoT solution: 1) Constrained Devices, 2) IoT Gateways and Smart Devices, and 3) IoT Cloud Platforms. In part 2 of this series, we discuss how open source software communities and in particular the Eclipse IoT open source community is becoming a key provider of the building blocks required to implement each of the three software stacks. Similar to how the LAMP (Linux/Apache HTTP Server/MySQL/PHP) stack has dominated the web infrastructures, it is believed a similar open source stack will dominate IoT deployments.

The Importance of open stacks for IoT

The separation of concerns brought by separating any IoT architecture into three stacks is a great step forward for building scalable and maintainable solutions. What’s more, building a software stack on top of open technologies helps achieve the following:

  1. Open standards ensure interoperability – The use of proprietary communication protocols create silos of IoT networks which cannot easily exchange information. Building IoT stacks on top of open standards (radio protocols, messaging protocols, etc.) helps with the overall interoperability in IoT.
  2. Software reuse reduces TCO – The total cost of ownership is an important consideration for any IoT solution provider. Open source technology is often being made available as building blocks that one can re-use across several solutions. An IoT solution based on open source software may for example leverage the same protocol implementations in the devices and in the gateways.
  3. No vendor lock-in – Building a solution on top of proprietary technologies and software exposes to the risk of having a third-party vendor change its roadmap, or stopping the support of its solution. An IoT stack based on open source technology enables solution providers to adapt the software to their needs if a feature is missing, without having to ask or wait for the feature to be implemented by a given vendor.
  4. Open stacks attract developers – Open source communities are vibrant ecosystems of companies and individuals who innovate and collaborate. A company using open source software will typically find it easier to attract or find developers who have the required skills to work with the stack.
  5. Reduce risk and time to market - Users of open source technology benefit from reusing technology that has been used and test by others, which reduce the overall development time and ensure a smoother transition from prototype to pilot to production.

Open Source Technology for IoT

The open source community has become an active producer of technology for IoT solutions. Like the LAMP stack for websites, there are a set of open source projects that can be used as the building blocks for an IoT solution architecture.

The Eclipse IoT community is very active in providing the technology that can be used in each stack of an IoT solution. Eclipse IoT has 26 different open source projects that address different features of the IoT stacks. In addition to the Eclipse IoT projects, there are other open source projects that are also relevant to an IoT stack. The next few pages provide a brief summary of how Eclipse IoT as well as other open source projects can be used to implement IoT stacks.

Open Source Stack for Constrained Devices

Eclipse IoT provides a set of libraries that can be deployed on a constrained embedded device to provide a complete IoT development stack.

  • IoT Operating Systems – RIOT, FreeRTOS, Zephyr, Apache Mynewt.
  • Hardware Abstraction – Eclipse Edjeprovides an high-level Java API for accessing hardware features provided by microcontrollers (e.g GPIO, ADC, MEMS, etc.). It can directly connect to native libraries, drivers and board support packages provided by silicon vendors.
  • Device Management – Eclipse Wakaama provides a C implementation of the OMA LWM2M standard.
  • Communication – Open source projects like Eclipse Paho or Eclipse Wakaamaprovide implementation of IoT communication protocols such as, respectively, MQTT or LWM2M. Eclipse Paho has a C implementation of MQTT that is less than 2,000 LOC.

Open Source Stack for Gateways: Connected and Smart Things

Within the Eclipse IoT community there are a variety of projects that work to provide the capabilities that an IoT gateway requires.

Eclipse Kura provides a general purpose middleware and application container for IoT gateway services. An IoT gateway stack based on Eclipse Kura would include the following:

  • Operating system – Linux (Ubuntu/Ubuntu Core, Yocto-based linux distribution), Windows.
  • Application container or runtime environment – Eclipse Equinox or Eclipse Concierge (OSGi Runtime).
  • Connectivity support for devices – Eclipse Kura  includes APIs to interface with the gateway I/Os (e.g. Serial, RS-485, BLE, GPIO, etc.) and support for many field protocols that can be used to connect to devices, e.g MODBUS, CAN bus, etc.
  • Networking support – Eclipse Kura provides advanced networking and routing capabilities over a wide-range of interfaces (cellular, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, etc.).
  • Data management & Messaging – Eclipse Kura implements a native MQTT-based messaging solution, that allows application running on the gateway to transparently communicate with a Cloud Platform, without having to deal with the availability of the network interfaces, or how to represent IoT data. Support for additional messaging protocols is available through the built-in Apache Camel message routing engine.
  • Remote management – Eclipse Kura provides a remote management solution based on the MQTT protocol, that allows to monitor the overall health of an IoT Gateway, in addition to control (install, update, modify settings) the software it’s running.

Eclipse SmartHome provides an IoT gateway platform that is specifically focused on the home automation domain. An Eclipse SmartHome stack would including the following:

  • Operating system – Linux (Ubuntu/Ubuntu Core, Yocto-based linux distribution), Windows or macOS.
  • Application container or runtime environment – Eclipse Equinox or Eclipse Concierge (OSGi Runtimes).
  • Communication and Connectivity – Eclipse SmartHome brings support for many off-the-shelf home automation devices such as Belkin WeMo, LIFX, Philips Hue, Sonos, etc. Eclipse SmartHome focuses on enabling home automation solutions to communicate within an “Intranet of Things”; therefore offline capabilities are a paramount design goal.
  • Data management & Messaging – Eclipse SmartHome has an internal event bus, which can be exposed to external systems through e.g. SSE or MQTT. It furthermore provides mechanisms for persisting values in databases and for running local business logic through a rule engine.
  • Remote management – Eclipse SmartHome supports device onboarding and configuration through its APIs. It furthermore provides an infrastructure to perform firmware update of connected devices.

Eclipse 4DIACprovides an industrial-grade open source infrastructure for distributed industrial process measurement and control systems based on the IEC 61499 standard. 4DIAC is ideally suited for Industrie 4.0 and Industrial IoT applications in a manufacturing setting. The IEC 61499 standard defines a domain specific modeling language for developing distributed industrial control solutions by providing a vendor independent format and for simplifying support for controller to controller communication.

Open Source Stack for IoT Cloud Platforms

The Eclipse IoT Community has a number of projects that are focused on providing the functionality required for IoT cloud platforms.

Eclipse Kapua is a modular platform providing the services required to manage IoT gateways and smart edge devices. Kapua provides a core integration framework and an initial set of core IoT services including a device registry, device management services, messaging services, data management, and application enablement.

The goal of Eclipse Kapua is to create a growing ecosystem of micro services through the extensions provided by other Eclipse IoT projects and organizations.

Eclipse OM2M is an IoT Platform specific for the telecommunication industry, based on the oneM2M specification. It provides a horizontal Common Service Entity (CSE) that can be deployed in an M2M server, a gateway, or a device. Each CSE provides Application Enablement, Security, Triggering, Notification, Persistency, Device Interworking, Device Management.

The Eclipse IoT community also has a number of standalone projects that provide functionality to address key features required for an IoT cloud platform. These projects can be used independently of Eclipse Kapua and over time some may be integrated into Kapua.

Connectivity and Protocol Support

  • Eclipse Hono provides a uniform API for interacting with devices using arbitrary protocols, as well as an extensible framework to add other protocols.
  • Eclipse Mosquitto provides an implementation of an MQTT broker.

Device Management and Device Registry

  • Eclipse Leshan provides an implementation of the OMA LWM2M device management protocol.  
  • Eclipse hawkBitprovides the management tools to roll out software updates to devices and gateways.

Event management and application enablement

  • Eclipse Hono helps to expose consistent APIs for consuming telemetry data or sending commands to devices, so as to rationalize IoT application development.

Analytics and Visualization – Outside of the Eclipse IoT community there are many open source options for data analytics and visualization, including Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and Apache Storm. Within the Eclipse community, Eclipse BIRT provides support for dashboards and reporting of data stored in a variety of data repositories.

Open Source for Cross-Stack Functionality

Security

  • Eclipse tinydtls provides an implementation of the DTLS security protocol providing transport layer security between the device and server.
  • Eclipse ACS provides an access control service that allows each stack in an IoT solution to protect their resources using a RESTful interface.

Ontologies

  • Eclipse Unide is a protocol for Production Performance Management (PPM) in the manufacturing industry. It establishes an ontology for sharing machine performance information.
  • Eclipse Whiskers implements the OGC SensorThings API that provides a standard way to share location based information for devices.

Development Tools and SDKs

  • Eclipse Vorto provides a set of tools and repository for creating device information models.
  • Eclipse JDT and CDT allow for integrated development of IoT solutions. For example, Eclipse Kura applications can be tested and debugged from within the Eclipse Java IDE (JDT).
  • Eclipse Che provides a browser-based IDE that can be used for building IoT solutions.

Conclusion

An IoT Solution requires substantial amount of technology in the form of software, hardware, and networking. In this series of articles we have defined the software requirements across three different stacks and the open source software that can be used to build the stacks

The last twenty years have proven that open source software and open source communities are key providers of technology for the software industry. The Internet of Things is following a similar trend, and it is expected that more and more IoT solutions will be built on open source software.

For the past five years, the Eclipse IoT community has been very active in building a portfolio of open source projects that companies and individuals use today to build their IoT solutions. If you are interested in participating, please join us and visit https://iot.eclipse.org.

Read more…

Tibbo Project System (TPS) is a highly configurable, affordable, and innovative automation platform. It is ideal for home, building, warehouse, and production floor automation projects, as well as data collection, distributed control, industrial computing, and device connectivity applications.

Suppliers of traditional “control boxes” (embedded computers, PLCs, remote automation and I/O products, etc.) typically offer a wide variety of models differing in their I/O capabilities. Four serial ports and six relays. Two serial ports and eight relays. One serial port, four relays, and two sensor inputs. These lists go on and on, yet never seem to contain just the right mix of I/O functions you are looking for.

Rather than offering a large number of models, Tibbo Technology takes a different approach: Our Tibbo Project System (TPS) utilizes Tibbits® – miniature electronic blocks that implement specific I/O functions. Need three RS232 ports? Plug in exactly three RS232 Tibbits! Need two relays? Use a relay Tibbit. This module-based approach saves you money by allowing you to precisely define the features you want in your automation controller.

Here is a closer look at the process of building a custom Tibbo Project System.

Start with a Tibbo Project PCB (TPP)

 

 

A Tibbo Project PCB is the foundation of TPS devices.

Available in two sizes – medium and large – each board carries a CPU, memory, an Ethernet port, power input for +5V regulated power, and a number of sockets for Tibbit Modules and Connectors.

Add Tibbit® Blocks

Tibbits (as in “Tibbo Bits”) are blocks of prepackaged I/O functionality housed in brightly colored rectangular shells. Tibbits are subdivided into Modules and Connectors.

Want an ADC? There is a Tibbit Module for this. 24V power supply? Got that! RS232/422/485 port? We have this, and many other Modules, too.

Same goes for Tibbit Connectors. DB9 Tibbit? Check. Terminal block? Check. Infrared receiver/transmitter? Got it. Temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors? On the list of available Tibbits, too.

Assemble into a Tibbo Project Box (TPB)

Most projects require an enclosure. Designing one is a tough job. Making it beautiful is even tougher, and may also be prohibitively expensive. Finding or making the right housing is a perennial obstacle to completing low-volume and hobbyist projects.

Strangely, suppliers of popular platforms such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone do not bother with providing any enclosures, and available third-party offerings are primitive and flimsy.

Tibbo understands enclosure struggles and here is our solution: Your Tibbo Project System can optionally be ordered with a Tibbo Project Box (TPB) kit.

The ingenious feature of the TPB is that its top and bottom walls are formed by Tibbit Connectors. This eliminates a huge problem of any low-volume production operation – the necessity to drill holes and openings in an off-the-shelf enclosure.

The result is a neat, professionally looking housing every time, even for projects with the production quantity of one.

Like boards, our enclosures are available in two sizes – medium and large. Medium-size project boxes can be ordered in the LCD/keypad version, thus allowing you to design solutions incorporating a user interface.

 

Unique Online Configurator

To simplify the process of planning your TPS we have created an Online Configurator.

Configurator allows you to select the Tibbo Project Board (TPP), “insert” Tibbit Modules and Connectors into the board’s sockets, and specify additional options. These include choosing whether or not you wish to add a Tibbo Project Box (TPB) enclosure, LCD and keypad, DIN rail mounting kit, and so on. You can choose to have your system shipped fully assembled or as a parts kit.

Configurator makes sure you specify a valid system by watching out for errors. For example, it verifies that the total power consumption of your future TPS device does not exceed available power budget. Configurator also checks the placement of Tibbits, ensuring that there are no mistakes in their arrangement.

Completed configurations can be immediately ordered from our online store. You can opt to keep each configuration private, share it with other registered users, or make it public for everyone to see.

Develop your application


Like all programmable Tibbo hardware, Tibbo Project System devices are powered by Tibbo OS (TiOS).

Use our free Tibbo IDE (TIDE) software to create and debug sophisticated automation applications in Tibbo BASIC, Tibbo C, or a combination of the two languages.

To learn more about the Tibbo Project System click here

Read more…

OPC Server from Tibbo Technology

OPC – «Open Platform Communications» – is a set of standards and specifications for manufacturing telecommunication. OPC specifies the transfer of real-time plant data between control devices from various producers. OPC was designed to process control hardware and support a common bridge for Windows-based software applications. OPC was aimed to reduce the number of duplicated effort performed by hardware manufacturers and their software partners.

 

The most typical OPC specification, OPC Data Access (OPC DA), is supported by Tibbo OPC Server. Any device compatible with the Tibbo AggreGate protocol can be a data source. AggreGate is a white-label IoT integration platform using up-to-date network technologies to control, configure, monitor and support electronic devices, along with distributed networks of such electronic devices. It also helps you collect device data in the cloud, where you can slice and dice it in alignment with your needs. In addition, the platform lets other enterprise applications transparently access this data via the AggreGate server.

Tibbo OPC server has embedded AggreGate network protocol. It can both interact with any Tibbo devices via AggreGate agent protocol and connect to AggreGate server. The AggreGate agent protocol open-source solution is published for Java, C#, and C++ programming languages, so your connection scheme is not restricted to AggreGate server  or Tibbo devices only.

 

Examples

A simple example: TPS reads Tibbit #29 (Ambient temperature meter) and forwards data to OPC server via AggreGate agent protocol.

A more complex example: we have a Windows-based PC controlling a wood processing machine by means of AggreGate server through the Modbus protocol. If Tibbo OPC server is linked with AggreGate server, the data from the machine is sent to Tibbo OPC server, and therefore, we can operate and monitor the machine via any OPC client.

Technical Specification

  • Compatibility with Windows XP/2003 or later (Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 redistributable is required - installed automatically)

  • Support of DA Asynchronous I/O 2.0 and Synchronous I/O with COM/DCOM technology

Tibbo OPC Server transmits the information on the Value, Quality and Timestamp of an item (tag) to the OPC Client applications. These fields are read from the AggreGate variables.

 

The process values are set to Bad [Configuration Error] quality if OPC Server loses communication with its data source (AggreGate Agent or AggreGate Server). The quality is set to Uncertain [Non-Specific] if the AggreGate variable value is empty.

In the following chart below you can see a concordance table of the AggreGate variables and the OPC data types:

AggreGate Data Type OPC Data Type
INTEGER VT_I4
STRING VT_BSTR
BOOLEAN VT_BOOL
LONG VT_I8
FLOAT VT_R4
DOUBLE VT_R8
DATE VT_DATE
DATATABLE OPC VT_BSTR (by default)
COLOR VT_I4
DATA VT_BSTR

To learn more about Tibbo OPC server, click here

Read more…

The IoT Communication Protocols

Guest post by James Stansberry

Messaging protocols for “lightweight” IoT nodes

A fascinating article from Philip N. Howard at George Washington University asserts that based on multiple sources, the number of connected devices surpassed the number of people on the planet in 2014. Further, it estimates that by 2020 we will be approaching 50 billion devices on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Philip N. Howard’s Study of Connected Devices

In other words, while humans will continue to connect their devices to the web in greater numbers, a bigger explosion will come from “things” connecting to the web that weren’t before, or which didn’t exist, or which now use their connection as more of a core feature.

The question is, how will these billions of things communicate between the end node, the cloud, and the service provider?

This article dives into that subject as it relates to a particular class of devices that are very low cost, battery-powered, and which must operate at least seven years without any manual intervention.

In particular, it looks at two emerging messaging protocols to address the needs of these “lightweight” IoT nodes. The first, MQTT, is very old by today’s standards from way back in 1999. And the second, CoAP, is relatively new but gaining traction.

IoT Communication Protocol Requirements

One definition of IoT is connecting devices to the internet that were not previously connected. A factory owner may connect high-powered lights. A triathlete may connect a battery-powered heart-rate monitor. A home or building automation provider may connect a wireless sensor with no line power source.

But the important thing here is that in all the above cases the “Thing” must communicate through the Internet to be considered an “IoT” node.

Since it must use the Internet, it must also adhere to the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF) Internet Protocol Suite. However, the Internet has historically connected resource-rich devices with lots of power, memory and connection options. As such, its protocols have been considered too heavy to apply wholesale for applications in the emerging IoT.

Internet Protocol Suite Overview

There are other aspects of the IoT which also drive modifications to IETF’s work. In particular, networks of IoT end nodes will be lossy, and the devices attached to them will be very low power, saddled with constrained resources, and expected to live for years.

The requirements for both the network and its end devices might look like the table below. This new model needs new, lighter weight protocols that don’t require the large amount of resources.

MQTT and CoAP address these needs through small message sizes, message management, and lightweight message overhead. We look at each below.

Requirements for low-cost, power-constrained devices and associated networks

MQTT and CoAP: Lightweight IoT Communications Protocols

MQTT and CoAP allow for communication from Internet-based resource-rich devices to IoT-based resource-constrained devices. Both CoAP and MQTT implement a lightweight application layer, leaving much of the error correction to message retries, simple reliability strategies, or reliance on more resource rich devices for post-processing of raw end-node data.

Conceptual Diagram of MQTT and CoAP Communication to Cloud / Phone

MQTT Overview

IBM invented Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) for satellite communications with oil field equipment. It had reliability and low power at its core and so made good sense to be applied to IoT networks.

The MQTT standard has since been adopted by the OASIS open standards society and released as version 3.1.1. It is also supported within the Eclipse community, as well as by many commercial companies who offer open source stacks and consulting.

MQTT uses a “publish/subscribe” model, and requires a central MQTT broker to manage and route messages among an MQTT network’s nodes. Eclipse describes MQTT as “a many-to-many communication protocol for passing messages between multiple clients through a central broker.”

MQTT uses TCP for its transport layer, which is characterized as “reliable, ordered and error-checked.”

MQTT Strengths

Publish / Subscribe Model

MQTT’s “pub/sub” model scales well and can be power efficient. Brokers and nodes publish information and others subscribe according to the message content, type, or subject. (These are MQTT standard terms.) Generally the broker subscribes to all messages and then manages information flow to its nodes.

There are several specific benefits to the Pub/Sub model.

Space decoupling

While the node and the broker need to have each other’s IP address, nodes can publish information and subscribe to other nodes’ published information without any knowledge of each other since everything goes through the central broker. This reduces overhead that can accompany TCP sessions and ports, and allows the end nodes to operate independently of one another.

Time decoupling

A node can publish its information regardless of other nodes’ states. Other nodes can then receive the published information from the broker when they are active. This allows nodes to remain in sleepy states even when other nodes are publishing messages directly relevant to them.

Synchronization decoupling

A node that in the midst of one operation is not interrupted to receive a published message to which it is subscribed. The message is queued by the broker until the receiving node is finished with its existing operation. This saves operating current and reduces repeated operations by avoiding interruptions of on-going operations or sleepy states.

Security

MQTT uses unencrypted TCP and is not “out-of-the-box” secure. But because it uses TCP it can – and should – use TLS/SSL internet security. TLS is a very secure method for encrypting traffic but is also resource intensive for lightweight clients due to its required handshake and increased packet overhead. For networks where energy is a very high priority and security much less so, encrypting just the packet payload may suffice.

MQTT Quality of Service (QoS) levels

The term “QoS” means other things outside of MQTT. In MQTT, “QoS” levels 0, 1 and 2 describe increasing levels of guaranteed message delivery.

MQTT QoS Level 0 (At most once)

This is commonly known as “Fire and forget” and is a single transmit burst with no guarantee of message arrival. This might be used for highly repetitive message types or non-mission critical messages.

MQTT QoS Level 1 (At least once)

This attempts to guarantee a message is received at least once by the intended recipient. Once a published messaged is received and understood by the intended recipient, it acknowledges the message with an acknowledgement message (PUBACK) addressed to the publishing node. Until the PUBACK is received by the publisher, it stores the message and retransmits it periodically. This type of message may be useful for a non-critical node shutdown.

MQTT QoS Level 2 (Exactly once)

This level attempts to guarantee the message is received and decoded by the intended recipient. This is the most secure and reliable MQTT level of QoS.  The publisher sends a message announcing it has a QoS level 2 message. Its intended recipient gathers the announcement, decodes it and indicates that it is ready to receive the message. The publisher relays its message. Once the recipient understands the message, it completes the transaction with an acknowledgement. This type of message may be useful for turning on or off lights or alarms in a home.

Last Will and Testament

MQTT provides a “last will and testament (LWT)” message that can be stored in the MQTT broker in case a node is unexpectedly disconnected from the network. This LWT retains the node’s state and purpose, including the types of commands it published and its subscriptions. If the node disappears, the broker notifies all subscribers of the node’s LWT. And if the node returns, the broker notifies it of its prior state. This feature accommodates lossy networks and scalability nicely.

Flexible topic subscriptions

An MQTT node may subscribe to all messages within a given functionality. For example a kitchen “oven node” may subscribe to all messages for “kitchen/oven/+”, with the “+” as a wildcard. This allows for a minimal amount of code (i.e., memory and cost). Another example is if a node in the kitchen is interested in all temperature information regardless of the end node’s functionality. In this case, “kitchen/+/temp” will collect any message in the kitchen from any node reporting “temp”. There are other equally useful MQTT wildcards for reducing code footprint and therefore memory size and cost.

Issues with MQTT

Central Broker

The use of a central broker can be a drawback for distributed IoT systems. For example, a system may start small with a remote control and window shade, thus requiring no central broker. Then as the system grows, for example adding security sensors, light bulbs, or other window shades, the network naturally grows and expands and may have need of a central broker. However, none of the individual nodes wants to take on the cost and responsibility as it requires resources, software and complexity not core to the end-node function.

In systems that already have a central broker, it can become a single point of failure for the complete network. For example, if the broker is a powered node without a battery back-up, then battery-powered nodes may continue operating during an electrical outage while the broker is off-line, thus rendering the network inoperable.

TCP

TCP was originally designed for devices with more memory and processing resources than may be available in a lightweight IoT-style network. For example, the TCP protocol requires that connections be established in a multi-step handshake process before any messages are exchanged. This drives up wake-up and communication times, and reduces battery life over the long run.

Also in TCP it is ideal for two communicating nodes to hold their TCP sockets open for each other continuously with a persistent session, which again may be difficult with energy- and resource-constrained devices.

Wake-up time

Again, using TCP without session persistence can require incremental transmit time for connection establishment. For nodes with periodic, repetitive traffic, this can lead to lower operating life.

CoAP Overview

With the growing importance of the IoT, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)took on lightweight messaging and defined the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP). As defined by the IETF, CoAP is for “use with constrained nodes and constrained (e.g., low-power, lossy) networks.” The Eclipse community also supports CoAP as an open standard, and like MQTT, CoAP is commercially supported and growing rapidly with IoT providers.

CoAP is a client/server protocol and provides a one-to-one “request/report” interaction model with accommodations for multi-cast, although multi-cast is still in early stages of IETF standardization. Unlike MQTT, which has been adapted to IoT needs from a decades-old protocol, the IETF specified CoAP from the outset to support IoT with lightweight messaging for constrained devices operating in a constrained environment. CoAP is designed to interoperate with HTTP and the RESTful web through simple proxies, making it natively compatible to the Internet.

Strengths of CoAP

Native UDP

CoAP runs over UDP which is inherently and intentionally less reliable than TCP, depending on repetitive messaging for reliability instead of consistent connections. For example, a temperature sensor may send an update every few seconds even though nothing has changed from one transmission to the next. If a receiving node misses one update, the next will arrive in a few seconds and is likely not much different than the first.

UDP’s connectionless datagrams also allow for faster wake-up and transmit cycles as well as smaller packets with less overhead. This allows devices to remain in a sleepy state for longer periods of time conserving battery power.

Multi-cast Support

A CoAP network is inherently one-to-one; however it allows for one-to-many or many-to-many multi-cast requirements. This is inherent in CoAP because it is built on top of IPv6 which allows for multicast addressing for devices in addition to their normal IPv6 addresses. Note that multicast message delivery to sleeping devices is unreliable or can impact the battery life of the device if it must wake regularly to receive these messages.

Security

CoAP uses DTLS on top of its UDP transport protocol. Like TCP, UDP is unencrypted but can be – and should be – augmented with DTLS.

Resource / Service Discovery

CoAP uses URI to provide a standard presentation and interaction expectations for network nodes. This allows a degree of autonomy in the message packets since the target node’s capabilities are partly understood by its URI details. In other words, a battery-powered sensor node may have one type of URI while a line-powered flow control actuator may have another. Nodes communicating to the battery-powered sensor node might be programmed to expect longer response times, more repetitive information, and limited message types. Nodes communicating to the line-powered flow control actuator might be programmed to expect rich, detailed messages, very rapidly.

Asynchronous Communication

Within the CoAP protocol, most messages are sent and received using the request/report model; however, there are other modes of operation that allow nodes to be somewhat decoupled. For example, CoAP has a simplified “observe” mechanism similar to MQTT’s pub/sub that allows nodes to observe others without actively engaging them.

As an example of the “observe” mode, node 1 can observe node 2 for specific transmission types, then any time node 2 publishes a relevant message, node 1 receives it when it awakens and queries another node. It’s important to note that one of the network nodes must hold messages for observers. This is similar to MQTT’s broker model except that there is no broker requirement in CoAP, and therefore no expectation of being able to hold or queue messages for observers.

There are currently draft additions to the standard which may provide a similar CoAP function to MQTT’s pub/sub model over the short-to-medium term. The leading candidate today is a draft proposal from Michael Koster, allowing CoAP networks to implement a pub/sub model like MQTT’s mentioned above.  

Issues with CoAP

Standard Maturity

MQTT is currently a more mature and stable standard than CoAP. It’s been Silicon Labs’ experience that it is easier to get an MQTT network up and running very quickly than a similar one using CoAP. That said, CoAP has tremendous market momentum and is rapidly evolving to provide a standardized foundation with important add-ons in the ratification pipeline now.

It is likely that CoAP will reach a similar level of stability and maturity as MQTT in the very near term. But the standard is evolving for now, which may present some troubles with interoperability.

Message Reliability (QoS level)

CoAP’s “reliability” is MQTT’s QoS and provides a very simple method of providing a “confirmable” message and a “non-confirmable” message. The confirmable message is acknowledged with an acknowledgement message (ACK) from the intended recipient. This confirms the message is received but stops short of confirming that its contents were decoded correctly or at all. A non-confirmable message is “fire and forget.”

Summary

The two messaging protocols MQTT and CoAP are emerging as leading lightweight messaging protocols for the booming IoT market. Each has benefits and each has issues. As leaders in mesh networking where lightweight nodes are a necessary aspect of almost every network, Silicon Labs has implemented both protocols, including gateway bridging logic to allow for inter-standard communication.

Further Reading

MQTT

Specification - http://docs.oasis-open.org/mqtt/mqtt/v3.1.1/os/mqtt-v3.1.1-os.html

Excellent source for MQTT information – http://www.hivemq.com/mqtt-essentials-wrap-up/

CoAP

Specification - https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7252

Excellent source for CoAP information - http://coap.technology/

MQTT-SN –

Specification – http://mqtt.org/2013/12/mqtt-for-sensor-networks-mqtt-sn

General coverage of IoT messaging protocols

Excellent white paper on using MQTT, CoAP, and other messaging protocols –  http://www.prismtech.com/sites/default/files/documents/MessagingComparsionNov2013USROW_vfinal.pdf

This article originally appeared here.

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