Platforms (228)

 

max0492-01-arduino-breakout-board-1024x885.jpg

When I work on a development project, I’ve become a big fan of using development boards that have the Arduino headers on them. The vast number of shields that easily connect to these headers is phenomenal. The one problem that I’ve always had though was that there is always a need to use a breadboard to test a circuit or integrate a sensor that just isn’t in an Arduino header format. The result is a wiring mess that can result in loose or missing connections.

I was recently talking with Max Maxfield and he pointed me to a really cool adapter board designed to remove these wiring jumpers to a breadboard. Max wrote about this board here but I’m so excited about this that I thought I’d add my two cents as well.

The BreadShield, which can be purchased at https://www.crowdsupply.com/loser/breadshield, adapts the Arduino headers to a linear set of header pins designed to be plugged into a breadboard. You can see in the image below that this completely removes all the extra jumpers that one would normally require which has the potential to remove quite a few jumper wires.

max0492-03-arduino-breakout-board-1024x675.jpg

When I heard about these, I purchased three assembled units for about $28 which saves me the time from having to assemble the adapter myself. DIY assembly runs for about $15 for a set of three boards. Either way, a great price to remove a bunch of wires from the workbench.

Now I’m still waiting for mine to arrive, but from the image, you can see that the one challenge to using these adapters might be adapting the height of your breadboard to your hardware stack. While this could be an issue, I keep various length spacers around the office so that I can adapt board heights and undoubtedly there will be a length that will ensure these line up properly.

You can view the original post here

Read more…

In-Circuit Emulators

Does anyone remember in-circuit emulators (ICEs)?

Around 1975 Intel came out with the 8080 microprocessor. This was a big step up from the 8008, for the 8080 had a 64k address space, a reasonable ISA, and an honest stack pointer (the 8008 had a hardware stack a mere 7 levels deep). They soon released the MDS 800, a complete computer based on the 8080, with twin 8" floppy drives. An optional ICE was available; this was, as I recall, a two-board set that was inserted in the MDS. A ribbon cable from those boards went to a small pod that could be plugged into the 8080 CPU socket of a system an engineer was developing.

The idea was that the MDS could act as the device's under test (DUT) CPU. It was rather like today's JTAG debuggers in that one could run code on the DUT, set breakpoints, collect trace data, and generally debug the hardware and software. For there was no JTAG then.

We had been developing microprocessor-based products using the 8008, but quickly transitioned to the 8080 for the increased computational power and address space. I begged my boss for the money for an MDS, which was $20k (about $100k in today's dollars), and to my surprise he let us order one. Despite slow floppies that stored only 80 KB each this tool greatly accelerated our work.

Before long ICEs were the standard platform for embedded work. Remember: this was before PCs so there were no standard desktop computers. The ICE was the computer, the IDE (such as it was) and the debugger.

In the mid-80s I was consulting and designed a, uh, "data gathering" system for our friends in Langley, VA, using multiple NSC-800 CPUs. There were few tools available for this part so I created a custom ICE that let me debug the code. Then a light bulb went on: why not sell the thing? There was practically no market for NSC-800 tools so I came up with versions for the Z80 and 8085 and slapped a $695 label on it. Most ICEs at the time cost many thousands so sales spiked.

Back then we still drew schematics on large D-size (17" x 22") vellum with a pencil. I laid out the PCBs on mylar with black tape for the tracks, as was the norm at the time.

This ICE is perhaps the design I'm most proud of in my career. It was only 17 ICs but was the epitome of an embedded system. Software replaced the usual gobs of hardware. On a breakpoint, for instance, the hardware switched from using the DUT stack to a stack on the emulator, but since the user's stack pointer could point anywhere, and the RAM in the ICE was only a few KB, the hardware masked off the upper address bits and lots of convoluted code reconstructed the user environment.

At the time ICEs advertised their breakpoints; most supported no more than a few as comparators watched the address bus for the breakpoint. My ICE used a 64k by one bit memory that mirrored the user bus. Need a breakpoint at, say, address 0x1234? The emulator set that bit in the memory true. Thus, the thing had 65K breakpoints. One of my dumbest mistakes was to not patent that, as all ICE vendors eventually copied the approach.

The trouble with tools is support. An ICE replaces the DUT CPU, and interfaces with all sorts of unknown target hardware. Though the low clock rates of the Z80 meant we initially had few problems, as we expanded the product line support consumed more and more time. Eventually I learned it was equally easy to sell a six-thousand-dollar product as a six-hundred-dollar version, so those simple first emulators were replaced by much more complex many-hundred chip versions with vast numbers of features.

But the market was changing. By the mid-90s SMT CPUs were common. These were challenging to connect to. Clock rate soared making every connection a Maxwell Law nightmare. I sold the business in 1997 and went on to other endeavors. Eventually the ICE market disappeared.

One regret from all those years is that I didn't save any of the emulator's firmware or schematics. In this business everything is ephemeral. We should make an effort to preserve some of that history.

You can view the original post on TEM here

Read more…

Industrial Prototyping for IoT

I-Pi SMARC.jpg

ADLINK is a global leader in edge computing driving data-to-decision applications across industries. The company recently introduced I-Pi SMARC for Industrial IoT prototyping.

-       AdLInk I-Pi SMARC consists of a simple carrier paired with a SMARC Computer on Module

-       SMARC Modules are available from entry level PX30 Rockchip to top of the line Intel Apollo Lake.

-       SMARC modules are specifically designed for typical industrial embedded applications that require long life, high MTBF and strict revision control.

-       Use popular off the shelve sensors and create prototypes or proof of concepts on short notice.

Additional information can be found here

 

Read more…

By: Kelly McNelis

We have faced unprecedented disruption from the many challenges of COVID-19, and PTC’s LiveWorx was no exception. The definitive digital transformation event went virtual this year, and despite the transition from physical to digital, LiveWorx delivered.

Of the many insightful virtual keynotes, one that caught everyone’s attention was ‘Digital Transformation: The Technology & Support You Need to Succeed,’ presented by PTC’s Executive Vice President (EVP) of Products, Kevin Wrenn, and PTC’s EVP and Chief Customer Officer, Eduarda Camacho.

Their keynote focused on how companies should be prioritizing the use of best-in-class technology that will meet their changing needs during times of disruption and accelerated digital transformation. Wrenn and Camacho highlighted five of our customers through interactive case studies on how they are using PTC technology to capitalize on digital transformation to thrive in an era of disruption.

6907721673?profile=RESIZE_400x

Below is a summary of the five customers and their stories that were highlighted during the keynote.

1. Royal Enfield (Mass Customization)

Royal Enfield is an Indian motorcycle company that has been manufacturing motor bikes since 1901. They have British roots, and their main customer base is located in India and Europe. Riders of Royal Enfield wants their bikes to be particular to their brand, so they worked to better manage the complexities of mass customization and respond to market demands.

Royal Enfield is a long time PTC customer, but they were on old versions of PTC technology. They first upgraded Creo and Windchill to the latest releases so they could leverage the new capabilities. They then moved on to transform their processes for platform and variant designs, introduced simulation much earlier by using Creo Simulation Live, and leveraged generative design by bringing AI into engineering and applying it to engine and chassis complex custom forged components. Finally, they retrained and retooled their engineering staff to fully leverage the power of new processes and technologies.

The entire Royal Enfield team now has digital capabilities that accelerate new product designs, variants, and accessories for personalization; as a result, they are able to deliver a much-shortened design cycle. Royal Enfield is continuing their digital transformation trend, and will invest in new ways to create value while leveraging augmented reality with PTC's Vuforia suite.

2. VCST (Manufacturing Efficiency, Quality, and Innovation)

VCST is part of the BMT Group and are a world-class automotive supplier of precision-machined power train and brake components. Their problem was that they had high costs for their production facility in Belgium. They either needed to improve their cost efficiency in their plant or face the potential of needing to shut down the facility and relocate it to another region. VCST decided to implement ThingWorx so that anyone can have instant visibility to asset status and performance. VCST is also creating the ability to digitize maintenance requests and the ability to acquire about spare parts to improve the overall efficiency in support of their costs reduction goals.

Additionally, VCST has a goal to reach zero complaints for their customers and, if any quality problems appear to their customers, they can be required to do a 100% inspection until the problem is solved. Moreover, as cars have gotten quieter with electrification, the noise from the gears has become an issue, and puts pressure on VCST to innovate and reduce gear noise.

VCST has again relied on ThingWorx and Windchill to collect and share data for joint collaborative analysis to innovate and reduce gear noise. VCST also plans to use Vuforia Expert Capture and Vuforia Chalk to train maintenance workers to further improve their efficiency and cost effectiveness. The company is not done with their digital transformation, and they have plans to implement Creo and Windchill to enable end-to-end digital thread connectivity to the factory.

3. BID Group Holdings (Connected Product)

BID Group Holdings operates in the wood processing industry. It is one of the largest integrated suppliers and North American leader in the field. The purpose of BID Group is to deliver a complete range of innovative equipment, digital technologies, turnkey installations, and aftermarket services to their customers. BID Group decided to focus on their areas of expertise, an rely on PTC, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation’s combined capabilities and scale to deliver SaaS type solutions to their own industry.

Leveraging this combined power, the BID Group developed a digital strategy for service to improve mill efficiency and profitability. The solution is named OPER8 and was built on the ThingWorx platform. This allowed BID Group to provide their customers an out of the box solution with efficient time-to-value and low costs of ownership. BID Group is continuing to work with PTC and Rockwell Automation, to develop additional solutions that will reduce downtime of OPER8 with a predictive analytics module by using ThingWorx Analytics and LogixAI.

4. Hitachi (Service Optimization)

Hitachi operates an extensive service decision that ensures its customers’ data systems remain up and running. Their challenge was not to only meet their customers uptime Service Level Agreements, but to do it without killing their cost structure. Hitachi decided to implement PTC’s Servigistics Service Parts Management software to ensure the right parts are available when and where they are needed for service. With Servigistics, Hitachi was able to accomplish their needs while staying cost effective and delighting their customers.

Hitachi runs on the cloud, which allows them to upgrade to current releases more often, take advantage of new functionality, and avoid unexpected costs.

PTC has driven engagement and support for Hitachi through the PTC Community, and encourages all customers to utilize this platform. The network of collaborative spaces in a gathering place for PTC customers and partners to showcase their work, inspire each other, and share ideas or best practices in order to expand the value of their PTC solutions and services.

5. COVID-19 Response 

COVID-19 has put significant strain on the world’s hospitals and healthcare infrastructure, and hospitalization rates for COVID brought into question the capacity of being able to handle cases. Many countries began thinking of the value field hospitals could bring to safely care for patients and ease the admissions numbers of ‘regular’ hospitals. However, the complication is that field hospitals have essentially no isolation or air filtration capability that is required for treating COVID patients or healthcare workers.

As a result, the US Army Corp of Engineers has put out specifications to create self-contained isolation units, which are fully functioning hospital rooms that can be transported or built onsite. But, the assembly needed to happen fast, and a group of companies (including PTC) led by The Innovation Machine rallied to help design and define the SCIU’s.

With buy-in from numerous companies, a common platform was needed for companies to collaborate. PTC felt compelled to react, and many PTC customers and partners joined in to help create a collaboration platform, with cloud-based Windchill as the foundation. But, PTC didn’t just provide software to this collaboration; PTC also contributed with digital thread and design advice to help the group solve some of the major challenges. This design is a result of the many companies coming together to create deployments across various US state governments, agencies, and FEMA.

Final Thoughts

All of the above customers approached digital transformation as a business imperative. They all had sizeable challenges that needed to be solved and took leadership positions to implement plans that leveraged digital transformation technologies combined with new processes.

PTC will continue to innovate across the digital transformation portfolio and is committed to ensuring that customer success offerings capture value faster and provide the best outcomes.

Original Post Link: https://www.ptc.com/en/product-lifecycle-report/liveworx-digital-transformation–technology-and-support-you-need-to-succeed

Author Bio: Kelly is a corporate communications specialist at PTC. Her responsibilities include drafting and approving content for PTC’s external and social media presence and supporting communications for the Chief Strategy Officer. Kelly has previous experience as a communications specialist working to create and implement materials for the Executive Vice President of the Products Organization and senior management team members.

 

Read more…

Helium Expands to Europe

Helium, the company behind one of the world’s first peer-to-peer wireless networks, is announcing the introduction of Helium Tabs, its first branded IoT tracking device that runs on The People’s Network. In addition, after launching its network in 1,000 cities in North America within one year, the company is expanding to Europe to address growing market demand with Helium Hotspots shipping to the region starting July 2020. 

Since its launch in June 2019, Helium quickly grew its footprint with Hotspots covering more than 700,000 square miles across North America. Helium is now expanding to Europe to allow for seamless use of connected devices across borders. Powered by entrepreneurs looking to own a piece of the people-powered network, Helium’s open-source blockchain technology incentivizes individuals to deploy Hotspots and earn Helium (HNT), a new cryptocurrency, for simultaneously building the network and enabling IoT devices to send data to the Internet. When connected with other nearby Hotspots, this acts as the backbone of the network. 

“We’re excited to launch Helium Tabs at a time where we’ve seen incredible growth of The People’s Network across North America,” said Amir Haleem, Helium’s CEO and co-founder. “We could not have accomplished what we have done, in such a short amount of time, without the support of our partners and our incredible community. We look forward to launching The People’s Network in Europe and eventually bringing Helium Tabs and other third-party IoT devices to consumers there.”  

Introducing Helium Tabs that Run on The People’s Network
Unlike other tracking devices,Tabs uses LongFi technology, which combines the LoRaWAN wireless protocol with the Helium blockchain, and provides network coverage up to 10 miles away from a single Hotspot. This is a game-changer compared to WiFi and Bluetooth enabled tracking devices which only work up to 100 feet from a network source. What’s more, due to Helium’s unique blockchain-based rewards system, Hotspot owners will be rewarded with Helium (HNT) each time a Tab connects to its network. 

In addition to its increased growth with partners and customers, Helium has also seen accelerated expansion of its Helium Patrons program, which was introduced in late 2019. All three combined have helped to strengthen its network. 

Patrons are entrepreneurial customers who purchase 15 or more Hotspots to help blanket their cities with coverage and enable customers, who use the network. In return, they receive discounts, priority shipping, network tools, and Helium support. Currently, the program has more than 70 Patrons throughout North America and is expanding to Europe. 

Key brands that use the Helium Network include: 

  • Nestle, ReadyRefresh, a beverage delivery service company
  • Agulus, an agricultural tech company
  • Conserv, a collections-focused environmental monitoring platform

Helium Tabs will initially be available to existing Hotspot owners for $49. The Helium Hotspot is now available for purchase online in Europe for €450.

Read more…

This blog is the second part of a series covering the insights I uncovered at the 2020 Embedded Online Conference. 

Last week, I wrote about the fascinating intersection of the embedded and IoT world with data science and machine learning, and the deeper co-operation I am experiencing between software and hardware developers. This intersection is driving a new wave of intelligence on small and cost-sensitive devices.

Today, I’d like to share with you my excitement around how far we have come in the FPGA world, what used to be something only a few individuals in the world used to be able to do, is at the verge of becoming more accessible.

I’m a hardware guy and I started my career writing in VHDL at university. I then started working on designing digital circuits with Verilog and C and used Python only as a way of automating some of the most tedious daily tasks. More recently, I have started to appreciate the power of abstraction and simplicity that is achievable through the use of higher-level languages, such as Python, Go, and Java. And I dream of a reality in which I’m able to use these languages to program even the most constrained embedded platforms.

At the Embedded Online Conference, Clive Maxfield talked about FPGAs, he mentions “in a world of 22 million software developers, there are only around a million core embedded programmers and even fewer FPGA engineers.” But, things are changing. As an industry, we are moving towards a world in which taking advantage of the capabilities of a reconfigurable hardware device, such as an FPGA, is becoming easier.

  • What the FAQ is an FPGA, by Max the Magnificent, starts with what an FPGA is and the beauties of parallelism in hardware – something that took me quite some time to grasp when I first started writing in HDL (hardware description languages). This is not only the case for an FPGA, but it also holds true in any digital circuit. The cool thing about an FPGA is the fact that at any point you can just reprogram the whole board to operate in a different hardware configuration, allowing you to accelerate a completely new set of software functions. What I find extremely interesting is the new tendency to abstract away even further, by creating HLS (high-level synthesis) representations that allow a wider set of software developers to start experimenting with programmable logic.
  • The concept of extending the way FPGAs can be programmed to an even wider audience is taken to the next level by Adam Taylor. He talks about PYNQ, an open-source project that allows you to program Xilinx boards in Python. This is extremely interesting as it opens up the world of FPGAs to even more software engineers. Adam demonstrates how you can program an FPGA to accelerate machine learning operations using the PYNQ framework, from creating and training a neural network model to running it on Arm-based Xilinx FPGA with custom hardware accelerator blocks in the FPGA fabric.

FPGAs always had the stigma of being hard and difficult to work on. The idea of programming an FPGA in Python, was something that no one had even imagined a few years ago. But, today, thanks to the many efforts all around our industry, embedded technologies, including FPGAs, are being made more accessible, allowing more developers to participate, experiment, and drive innovation.

I’m excited that more computing technologies are being put in the hands of more developers, improving development standards, driving innovation, and transforming our industry for the better.

If you missed the conference and would like to catch the talks mentioned above*, visit www.embeddedonlineconference.com

Part 3 of my review can be viewed by clicking here

In case you missed the previous post in this blog series, here it is:

*This blog only features a small collection of all the amazing speakers and talks delivered at the Conference! 

Read more…

5 Tips for Designing a Smart Watchdog

Recovering from a system failure or a software glitch can be no easy task.  The longer the fault occurs the harder it can be to identify and recover.  The use of an external watchdog is an important and critical tool in the embedded systems engineer toolbox.  There are five tips that should be taken into account when designing a watchdog system.

Tip #1 – Monitor a heartbeat

The simplest function that an external watchdog can have is to monitor a heartbeat that is produced by the primary application processor.  Monitoring of the heartbeat should serve two distinct purposes.  First, the microcontroller should only generate the heartbeat after functional checks have been performed on the software to ensure that it is functioning.  Second, the heartbeat should be able to reveal if the real-time response of the system has been jeopardized.

Monitoring the heartbeat for software functionality and real-time response can be done using a simple, “dumb” external watchdog.  The external watchdog should have the capability to assign a heartbeat period along with a window that the heartbeat must appear within.  The purpose of the heartbeat window is to allow the watchdog to detect that the real-time response of the system is compromised.  In the event that either functional or real-time checks fail the watchdog then attempts to recover the system through a reset of the application processor.

Tip #2 – Use a low capability MCU

External watchdogs that can be to monitor a heartbeat are relatively low cost but can severely limit the capabilities and recovery possibilities of the watchdog system.  A low capability microcontroller can cost nearly the same amount as an external watchdog timer so why not add some intelligence to the watchdog and use a microcontroller.  The microcontroller firmware can be developed to fulfill the windowed heartbeat monitoring with the addition of so much more.  A “smart” watchdog like this is sometimes referred to as a supervisor or safety watchdog and has actually been used for many years in different industries such as automotive.  Generally a microcontroller watchdog has been reserved for safety critical applications but given the development tools and the cost of hardware it can be cost effective in other applications as well.

Tip #3 – Supervise critical system functions

The decision to use a small microcontroller as a watchdog opens nearly endless possibilities of how the watchdog can be used.  One of the first roles of a smart watchdog is usually to supervise critical system functions such as a system current or sensor state.  One example of how a watchdog could supervise a current would be to take an independent measurement and then provide that value to the application processor.  The application processor could then compare its own reading to that of the watchdog.  If there were disagreement between the two then the system would execute a fault tree that was deemed to be appropriate for the application.

Tip #4 – Observe a communication channel

Sometimes an embedded system can appear to be operating as expected to the watchdog and the application processor but from an external observer be in a non-responsive state.  In such cases it can be useful to tie the smart watchdog to a communication channel such as a UART.  When the watchdog is connected to a communication channel it not only monitor channel traffic but even commands that are specific to the watchdog.  A great example of this is a watchdog designed for a small satellite that monitors radio communications between the flight computer and ground station.  If the flight computer becomes non-responsive to the radio, a command could be sent to the watchdog that is then executed and used to reset the flight computer.

Tip #5 – Consider an externally timed reset function

The question of who is watching the watchdog is undoubtedly on the minds of many engineers when using a microcontroller for a watchdog.  Using a microcontroller to implement extra features adds some complexity and a new software element to the system.  In the event that the watchdog goes off into the weeds how is the watchdog going to recover? One option would be to use an external watchdog timer that was discussed earlier.  The smart watchdog would generate a heartbeat to keep itself from being reset by the watchdog timer.  Another option would be to have the application processor act as the watchdog for the watchdog.  Careful thought needs to be given to the best way to ensure both processors remain functioning as intended.

Conclusion

The purpose of the smart watchdog is to monitor the system and the primary microcontroller to ensure that they operate as expected.  During the design of a system watchdog it can be very tempting to allow the number of features supported to creep.  Developers need to keep in mind that as the complexity of the smart watchdog increases so does the probability that the watchdog itself will contain potential failure modes and bugs.  Keeping the watchdog simple and to the minimum necessary feature set will ensure that it can be exhaustively tested and proven to work.

Originally Posted here

 

Read more…

5 Tips for Expanding your Embedded Skills

As embedded systems engineers, we work in a field that is constantly changing. Not only does change come quickly, the amount of work and the skills we need in order to successfully do our jobs is constantly expanding. A firmware engineer used to need to know the microcontroller hardware and assembly language. Today, they need to know the hardware, several languages, machine learning, security, and dozen other topics. In today’s post, we are going to look at five ways to expand your skillset and stay ahead of the game.

Tip #1 – Take an online course

Taking an online course is a great way to enhance and add to your skillset. If anyone tries to tell you that you don’t need additional coursework don’t let them fool. I’ve often been called an expert in embedded systems, but just like everyone else, I need to take courses to learn and maintain my skillset. In fact, just this week I took a course on Test Driven Development taught by James Grenning, the expert in TDD. I’ve been playing with TDD on and off for several years but despite that familiarity, working with an expert in a subject matter will dramatically improve your skills. I was able to pick James’ brain on TDD, enhance my skills and walked away with several action items to work on over the next several months.

Start by identifying an area of your own skillset that is deficient, rusty or even an area that you want to just move to the next level in. Then find the expert on that topic and take an online, interactive or self-paced course with them. (I won’t mention my own courses that you can find here … ooopps!  )

Tip #2 – Read a book

Books can be a great way to enhance your skills. There are dozens of books on embedded system design that can easily be found at any bookstore or online. Some books are better than others. I’ve started to write-up reviews on the books that I’ve read in order to provide you with recommendations on books. This is just in its infancy and can be found at: https://www.beningo.com/?s=book (I’ll be adding a category in the near future to the blog).

You might also want to check out Jack Ganssles book reviews as well which you can find at: http://www.ganssle.com/bkreviews.htm

Books that I am currently working through myself that I’ve been finding to be fantastic so far include:

  • TinyML
  • Clean Code
  • The object-oriented thought process

Tip #3 – Watch a webinar

Webinars are a great way to get a high-level understanding of a new skill or topic. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t get an advertisement for a webinar in my inbox. Unfortunately, all webinars are not created equal. I’ve come across many webinars that sound fantastic, only to later discover that they are totally marketing focused with little real technical information. I produced anywhere from 8 – 12 webinars per year and always try to include high-level theory, some low-level details and then a practical example through a demonstration. It doesn’t always work out that way and every now and then they undoubtedly flirt with being marketing versus technical, but I always try to make sure that developers get what they need and know where they need to go to dive deeper.

Over the coming months keep a close eye on webinars as a potential source to enhance your skills. I know that I’ll be attending several on Bluetooth Mesh networking (hoping they aren’t pure marketing pitches), and I will also be pulling together several of my own.

Tip #4 – Build something for fun

There is no better way to learn a new skill than to do something! I’ve always found that people who attend my webinars, courses, etc learn more if there are demonstrations and hands-on materials. It’s great to read about machine learning of continuous integration servers but unless you set one up, it’s just theory. We all know that the devil is in the details and applying the skill is what sharpens it.

I highly recommend that developers build something for fun. More than a decade ago when I wanted to learn how to design and layout PCB’s and work with USB firmware, I decided that I was going to develop a USB controlled light bar. I went through an accelerated development schedule and designed schematics and a PCB, had it fabricated and then hand soldered the parts. I wrote all the firmware and eventually had a working device. I learned so much building that simple light bar and even used it for as an example during interviews when I was looking for a new job (this was before I started my business).

Even today, I will still pick a project when I want to learn something. When I was evaluating MicroPython I built an internet connected weather station. It forced me to exercise many details and forced me to solve problems that I otherwise might not have considered if I hadn’t dived into the deep end.

Tip #5 – Find a mentor

The times that I’ve accelerated my understanding of something the most has usually been under the guidance of a mentor or coach. Someone who has mastered the skill you are trying to work with, has made every mistake and can share their wisdom. It’s certainly possible to learn and advance without a mentor but having feedback and the ability to answer a question and then get an educated response can dramatically accelerate the time involved. That’s one of the reasons why I often host interactive webinars and even have a coaching and trusted advisor offering for my clients. It’s just extremely helpful!

Conclusions

No matter how good you are at developing embedded software, hardware and systems, if you don’t take the time to update your skills then within just a few years you’ll find that everyone else is passing you by. You’ll be less efficient and find that you are struggling. Continuing education is critical to engineers to ensure that they are up to date on the latest and greatest practices and contribute their products success.

Originally posted here

Read more…
I have spent many years working with IoT projects. Most of them were typical, there was nothing unusual behind them and they were trying to copy the success of their competitors, however, the deeper I was diving into IoT startups environment more and more I was facing with innovators in this niche who have found how to adapt IoT technologies for their enterprises' specification. In this article, I will not mention my partners' names because of the reasons, however, I will try to push you to the idea of how to implement IoT to your company.
Read more…

The Anti-Quality Movement

by Jack Ganssle

[email protected]

Recently our electric toothbrush started acting oddly – differently from before. I complained to Marybeth who said, “I think it’s in the wrong mode.”

Really? A toothbrush has modes?

We in the embedded industry have created a world that was unimaginable prior to the invention of the microprocessor. Firmware today controls practically everything, from avionics to medical equipment to cars to, well everything.

And toothbrushes.

But we’re working too hard at it. Too many of us use archaic development strategies that aren’t efficient. Too many of us ship code with too many errors. That's something that can, and must, change.

Long ago the teachings of Deming and Juran revolutionized manufacturing. One of Deming's essential insights was that fixing defects will never lead to quality. Quality comes from correct design rather than patches applied on the production line. And focusing on quality lowers costs.

The software industry never got that memo.

The average embedded software project devotes 50% of the schedule to debugging and testing the code. It's stunning that half of the team’s time is spent finding and fixing mistakes.

Test is hugely important. But, as Dijkstra observed, testing can only prove the presence of errors, not the absence of bugs.

Unsurprisingly, and mirroring Deming's tenets, it has repeatedly been shown that a focus on fixing bugs will never lead to a quality product - all that will do is extend the schedule and insure defective code goes out the door.

Focusing on quality has another benefit: the project gets done faster. Why? That 50% of the schedule used to deal with bugs gets dramatically shortened. We shorten the schedule by not putting the bugs in in the first place.

High quality code requires a disciplined approach to software engineering - the methodical use of techniques and approaches long known to work. These include inspection of work products, using standardized ways to create the software, seeding code with constructs that automatically catch errors, and using various tools that scan the code for defects. Nothing that is novel or unexpected, nothing that a little Googling won't reveal. All have a long pedigree of studies proving their efficacy.

Yet only one team out of 50 makes disciplined use of these techniques.

What about metrics? Walk a production line and you'll see the walls covered with charts showing efficiency, defect rates, inventory levels and more. Though a creative discipline like engineering can't be made as routine as manufacturing, there are a lot of measurements that can and must be used to understand the team's progress and the product's quality, and to drive the continuous improvement we need.

Errors are inevitable. We will ship bugs. But we need a laser-like focus on getting the code right. How right? We have metrics; we know how many bugs the best and mediocre teams ship. Defect Removal Efficiency is a well-known metric used to evaluate quality of shipped code; it's the percentage of the entire universe of bugs found in a product that were removed prior to shipping (it's measured until 90 days after release). The very best teams, representing just 0.4% of the industry, eliminates over 99% of bugs pre-shipment. Most embedded groups only removed 95%.

Where does your team stand on this scale? Can one control quality if it isn’t measured?

We have metrics about defect injection rates, about where in the lifecycle they are removed, about productivity vs. any number of parameters and much more. Yet few teams collect any numbers.

Engineering without numbers isn’t engineering. It’s art.

Want to know more about metrics and quality in software engineering? Read any of Capers Jones’ books. They are dense, packed with tables of numbers, and sometimes difficult as the narrative is not engaging, but they paint a picture of what we can measure and how differing development activities effect errors and productivity.

Want to understand where the sometimes-overhyped agile methods make sense? Read Agile! by Bertrand Meyer and Balancing Agility and Discipline by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner.

Want to learn better ways to schedule a project and manage requirements? Read any of Karl Wiegers’ books and articles.

The truth is that we know of better ways to get great software done more efficiently and with drastically reduced bug rates.

When will we start?

Jack Ganssle has written over 1000 articles and six books about embedded systems, as well as one about his sailing fiascos. He has started and sold three electronics companies. He welcomes dialog at [email protected] or at www.ganssle.com.

 

Read more…

Internet of Things is the perfect example of something being so simple and elegant yet being an astounding and breakthrough innovation in the modern era of disruptive technologies. This technology has already projected its influence over typical machine-based industries like oil & gas, automotive, manufacturing, utilities, etc.

However, IoT is not only beneficial for production-based companies but can also be used for practical applications in B2C businesses like tourism and hospitality.

Internet of Things in the hospitality business not only helps hotels and restaurants to improve their services but also empower their guests to enjoy exceptional hands-on experiences. It creates a network of connected devices that offer smart and autonomous experiences to the visitors.

Internet of Things offers a ton of possibilities to a hospitality business. Big hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton have already implemented this disruptive technology to enhance their generous services and provide their guests with out of the box experiences.

Below are some applications of IoT that a hotel or any hospitality business can use:

 1.Guestroom Automation to Elate Customers:

After a long journey, guests expect a pleasant and warm stay from their temporary accommodation. They prefer a completely customized service as per their expectations and likings. Smart IoT solutions now empower hotels and guesthouses to provide their visitors exactly what they desire.

IoT allows the development of a centralized and connected network between different automated systems and appliances. For example, based on their desire and liking your guests can alter the luminosity and intensity of the lights from IoT based smart lighting solutions. Moreover, appliances can also conduct operations autonomously. For example, proximity sensors embedded in the room can detect the movement of the guest and turn on the coffee machine to brew the beverage.

You can also use this connected network to identify the preferences of your customers and use this information to surprise your customers with customized and personalized services the next time they visit.

Furthermore, hospitality businesses having their hotels in different locations can also share data about their customers in a common CRM to make sure that the guests come across the same experience in every branch of the hotel chain.

This cross-property integration allows hotels to keep their customers’ profiles in a centralized system that can be accessed distantly. IoT plays a crucial role in this as it enables a hotel to collect guest’s data and share it with its patrons via the common info management software.

 2. Predictive Maintenance of Room Appliance:

The biggest disappointment for a guest is when they enter their previously booked room and find a leaky pipe or damaged air conditioner. These instances not only affects the immediate experience of the visitor but also the overall reputation of your hotel.

In order to prevent these situations, you can use the predictive analytics capabilities of the IoT solutions. Smart sensors and meters can be installed in appliances and pipeline networks to identify the possibility of unexpected breakdowns and malfunctions before your guest encounters them. These sensors will notify the room service staff about bottlenecks and enable them to fix the issue before it actually occurs.

This predictive analytics system can hence be used by hotels to improve maintenance systems and prevent sudden failure of any appliance in any of the rooms. This not only will help you to boost your customer service but also protect your hotel chain’s reputation from getting spoiled. Additionally, you will also save a lot of money that is generally spent to repair the broken equipment at a moment’s notice.

 3. Guestroom Transforming Features:

The appeal of any hotel lies in its rooms. Primarily, it is the main aspect of a hospitality business that visitors’ book. Even if you give your users with relaxing spa vouchers or free-swimming pool amenities, they are more likely to be disappointed if you don’t provide them with best in class staying experience.

It is hence of utmost importance for any hotel to keep its rooms abreast with amazing features. One way to do so is by using devices powered with quintessential technologies that are capable of presenting an amazing experience to the guests.

Some of these devices include smart switches, electronic key cards, and voice assistants. Voice assistants Amazon Alexa can be programmed to specifically cater to the demands of the customer staying in the room. This IoT and AI-powered device will enable hotel staff to monitor the preferences and likings of the guests and provide personalized services the next time they visit.

4. Smart Solutions for Hotel management:

IoT not only empowers hospitality businesses to provide outstanding services to its guests but also manage other tasks related to its conventional operations. By using facility management services of IoT, a hotel can manage the consumption of its utilities and reduce the cost associated with its usage.

Furthermore, these solutions can also be used by hotels to manage inventory and optimize resource utilization. Hence, hotels can reduce their manpower and cut costs. Moreover, these services will also aid the business to increase its guest satisfaction through its unique staying experiences.

CONCLUSION:

The success of any hospitality business depends on the satisfaction it can provide to its guests. By using the technology of IoT and its features, a hotel can enhance its services and capture the heart of its guests.

IoT helps the hospitality business to enhance its services related to housekeeping and accommodation that in turn boosts the satisfaction of the customers. This also increases the reputation of the hotel chain which results in better business opportunities.

Read more…

Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer a buzzword but it is a reality. IoT has become an integral part of most industries, and IoT platforms providers are playing a vital role in the seamless deployment of IoT devices. IoT platforms provide great value to your business, allowing you to build, deploy, and scale products and reduce development cost by streamlining the process. However, many stakeholders are still confused about what IoT platform they should go with.

 
Read more…

How Does IoT Affect Geolocation?

Location tracking, or simply geolocation, constitutes an integral part of human existence today. For individuals, it enables things like navigation, vehicle connectivity services, and more. Whereas for companies, geolocation plays far too many crucial roles, than it would be possible to list here. But as is the case with any technology, we have found a way to improve geolocation as well. Internet of Things is yet another formidable technology that has fundamentally transformed lives all over the world. But before we can explore what these two offer together, let’s understand what these two areas individual technologies.

4121658536?profile=RESIZE_710x

Geolocation is what facilitates the ability to determine the location of people, objects, and more. IoT, on the other hand, is a network of connected devices. Those are the simplest, most basic definitions of the two stars of this article. These two find common ground in the endeavor to enhance processes, efficiency, and more across businesses, governments, and individual lives. But the world is in the early stages of leveraging this potent combination of geolocation and IoT. And given the advantages one stands to gain from this union, experts are convinced geolocation will, sooner than later, become an essential facet of IoT.
Let us walk you through some of the possible benefits and advantages that explain why and how that will come to be.

  1. Bringing IoT together with geolocation will do away with the need to individually implement geolocation functionalities and services for every possible implementation. How? It is quite simple, really; combining them will help cut down the costs associated with development as well as substantially improve the potential of economies of scale.
  2. Given just how robust each of the two aforementioned technologies are, together, they will be able to iron out any issues and challenges. It is associated with not only integration but also the interoperability of location sensors and other geolocation tools with various aspects of IoT platforms. Here’s an example to help you understand better: Integrating a position sensor and maintenance sensor with logic tailored to the company’s workflow. A health care company can easily tend to maintenance jobs of various machines even if its campus and facilities are spread acres and acres of land.

As time and technology progress, we went from simple location tracking services and location-aware devices to integrated location-based services. It makes use of data and analytics enhance and better use the concept of location awareness to drive better processes across businesses. And as more and more companies not only embrace IoT but become heavily reliant on it, it won’t be too long before the two would become critical to ensuring each others’ efficiency.

But before you set out to implement this powerful combination for your location-based mobile apps, it is imperative to find the tools that not solely work well with each other but also drive better results. This seamless interoperability is essential to ensure they can be leveraged with equal ease across a diversity of use cases, old or new.

Read more…

IoT in Healthcare is believed to achieve that envisioned ‘Smart Healthcare’ as it led to establishing a digitized healthcare system. What could we expect from Smart Healthcare with IoT? Connected medical resources and healthcare services as experts in the industry believe.

However, is it feasible? Alternatively, are we still talking about an imaginary world of healthcare services and solutions?

Although we know the healthcare industry suffers from many healthcare inefficiencies, IoT is considered as a game-changer for the domain. Convenience, efficiency, and automation are all IoT stands for.

Did you know that Healthcare in America is grossly inefficient? Due to this, the cost of healthcare services is high. 

However, technology got the back of Healthcare and continually pushing up the sector to deliver better services with higher efficiencies.

Recently, the healthcare industry has gone through a significant transformation with the impact of IoT. According to Accenture, the forecasted value of the internet of healthcare things is expected to be $163 billion by the end of 2020. 

IoT in Healthcare has shown to add value to critical healthcare operations. It is also believed to offer greater efficiency and accuracy in the operations of healthcare providers. 

Let’s look at significant areas of healthcare services where upgrading systems and processes with IoT could bring significance is delivering value.

 

  1. Remote Health Monitoring

According to a stat, remotely monitored patients be 36 million by 2020, up from 4.9 million from the year 2015. World’s population has already become dense, and in that healthcare costs continue to increase. Individuals, as well as organizations, are seeking new ways to reduce costs and improve patient care. 

In a scenario like this, IoT emerged as an excellent tech help for the industry. Using IoT, the healthcare industry is becoming capable of providing new services and solutions through remote health condition monitoring. Devices are in-built with sensors and actuators and are capable of collecting and sharing digital data to other remote locations using the capability of cloud. It is helping the industry enhance the patient experience as well as the efficiency of health professionals. 

 

  1. Emergency Notification Systems

Innovation in IoT increases the number of connected devices, and emergency notification systems are one of its results. Due to connected devices and convenience of data sharing in real-time all due to IoT, today’s emergency notification system helps Healthcare overcome the two most essential in-efficiencies: speed and reach. 

Reach is essential in medical assistance. IoT not only helps healthcare institutions and professionals to act proactively but also enable them to speed up the assistance processes.   

 

  1. m-Health

Smartphones, along with innovative apps, are the most convenient way to collect health data and provide care. Besides smartphones, medical devices connected using a wireless networks also considered a vital health tool. However, one can look up to data and control and give command using the applications provided in mobile devices. 

With the help of it, the patient can be monitored at home.  IoT in Healthcare allows medical practitioners; on the other hand, the ability to set a patient-specific monitoring threshold as well as machine response parameters. It helps the practitioner look up to his patient not just from a remote location but also take action as per the change in the patient’s health. 

There are several advantages of mHealth, such as remote patient monitoring at home, out-patient tracking, home nurse scheduling, remote diagnostics, and lots more.  

 

  1. Wearable Heart Monitors

Heart rate is essential about your overall health. Heart monitoring is one of the easiest ways to gauge how well your body is working. 

However, people usually avoid giving notice of irregular heartbeats or pain in the heart as they have to visit the doctor. However, today, smartwatches and fitness trackers are built with technologies like heart rate sensors. It has made it easy to keep tabs on your ticker without seeing your doctor. However, they’re starting to do a lot more than track your data.  

 

  1. Point-Of-Care Medical Diagnostics

Point-of-care diagnostics though offered portability but lacked in delivering personalized and quick care — however, Point-of-care medical diagnostics with IoT. 

Lead the industry towards smart and connected point-of-care that ensures personalized care and complete security at a global scale. It represents an excellent opportunity to provide sensitive, rapid, low-cost connected diagnostics through point-of-care medical diagnostics.

IoT not only helps patients and medical practitioners but also affects health insurance processes for better. 

Connected devices have disrupted healthcare insurance completely. IoT based monitoring systems let the experts determine the trend in Healthcare. It enables them to come up with new strategies, i.e., replacing long-term health plans with short-term solutions explicitly designed as per individual needs. However, it needed precise data sets, and here, IoT in healthcare devices helps them collect. Having precise data, health insurance companies fine-tune their policies, and it also minimizes risks of losing funds due to unforeseen scenarios. 

 

How IoT Exactly Helps? 

Insurance firms are using monitoring sensor-based solutions which are today upgraded to perform IoT functions. These devices or solutions are biosensors, connected health devices, your Fitbit or other wearables along with mobile apps as a product in their insurance policies for monitoring and tracking your health factors, including customer behavior, identify kind of care needs to be served to a particular patient/customer.  

This also helps policymakers design the bill accordingly and help them meet their target customers as well as their needs. 

Having intensive and accurate data-set collected from IoT-powered health devices, health insurance companies are comprehensively stressing on the following processes for being predictable and forwarding with their policies and solutions foster customers spent more and more due to personalization.  

Monitoring – Companies leverage IoT solutions and track patient behavior closely, such as their minute’s activity, and habits of day to day life. Smartphones, wearables, and other connected devices help companies significantly to collect data. They later consequently analyze the data to come up with predictive decision making. 

Care optimization – Insurance companies also work closely with healthcare givers. You only get money once insurance claims are approved by the medical institutions.

IoT in Healthcare enables insurers to optimize your complete care. It helps customers avail exciting discounts on insurance premiums. Companies look up to IoT data along with analytical tools, and AI applied tools to have aggregated data. 

With the help of analytics, insurers can quickly tracks which clinical processes would have a better impact on the patient’s wellness. 

Payment – Payment systems are highly complex and often consist of multiple payers, insurance firms, government, and patients. In such scenarios, the industrial IoT system that provides real-time data as well as accessibility to enable care providers to get compensation for their services on time. 

Having IoT in Healthcare, the industry can answer and overcome from in-efficiencies, such as:

 

  1. Waiting Time

IoT in Healthcare could significantly help reduce waiting time to get care. Availability of IoT powered devices lets the patient stay at home during the entire process. Even they don’t have to pay for an in-person visit to the doctor. 

With IoT, a patient no longer needs direct medical attention; thus save himself from the stress of transportation, waiting times, and unnecessary additional tests. Therefore, no waiting time for healthcare assistance.

  1. Lost Time Accounts

A medical practitioner can’t recommend or suggest any healthcare support or service without looking into medical reports. Medical reports are essential, but it is challenging to keep them save and carry all the time. IoT that let the medical devices get access to data in real-time allows medical professionals to look up to patient’s information and reports. 

It eliminates Lost Time Accounts from the process, thus fosters faster health support. 

 

Wrapping Up

The future of Healthcare undoubtedly include IoT. Also, it is inevitable that IoT revolutionize the healthcare industry in several unexpected ways.

Read more…

Studies believe that in 2020, the number of IoT devices will cross the 50 billion mark. If the general notion of technology’s continued evolution wasn’t enough to demonstrate just how advanced human existence has become, that figure is sufficient to convince most people. And the fact that companies across the globe have become heavily dependent on such technology further serves to demonstrate that technology continues to play a vital role in shaping various aspects of the business world. This notion extends to the concept of web development as well, where a plethora of novel technologies, especially IoT, are being used to offer increasingly exquisite experiences. But even as IoT is helping companies take their web development projects to the next level, there’s another resource that offers scope to take things up a notch or two: PHP. Why PHP? Well, because it is among the most preferred tools in the world to assist in web development endeavors. Put 2 and 2 together, and what you get is a whole new world of previously unexplored opportunities.

4093398589?profile=RESIZE_710x

Let’s take a look at how that can be achieved.

  1. PHP: A server-side scripting language, PHP has long facilitated the development of various web-based offerings, including websites, apps, and more. It is always in sync with the latest developments in the world of technology makes it a highly resourceful tool for ensuring that web apps and websites can keep up with the times. Yet another reason that makes it such a crowd favorite is that it can be used with a variety of modern database management systems, such as MySQL, Oracle, and Postgres, among others.
  2. IoT: Internet of Things is much more than just wearable devices like smartwatches. It encompasses a wide variety of products and devices, including cars, smartphones, laptops, and, now, even household appliances. All these devices are connected to the internet and transfer data, which is then analyzed to serve distinctive purposes. Say, it can be used to identify patterns, derive insights, and more.
  3. PHP + IoT: As it is clear to see, individually, both PHP and IoT have a lot to offer. But one can’t merely integrate them. There is a method — one that needs both specific hardware as well as software. Here are some recommendations for what you will need.
    • Hardware: The market has plenty of options to offer in this regard. But let’s focus on the most critical bit, i.e., the hardware platforms. The basics include sensors, appropriate electronic parts, Arduino, Onion IoT, and more.
    • Software: To take care of the programming part of your endeavor, some of the essential recommendations include Firmata. It is a reliable tool to help you with the project with Arduino.

Despite the value IoT offers and its projected growth trajectory, folks around the world are still finding their way around it. And if you find yourself needing such assistance too, the best thing we can recommend is getting in touch with a trusted PHP software development company that can give you the necessary guidance.

Read more…
RSS
Email me when there are new items in this category –

Upcoming IoT Events

More IoT News

Arcadia makes supporting clean energy easier

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to power your home with clean energy, and yet, many Americans don’t know how to make the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to install expensive solar panels or switch utility companies…

Continue

Answering your Huawei ban questions

A lot has happened since we uploaded our most recent video about the Huawei ban last month. Another reprieve has been issued, licenses have been granted and the FCC has officially barred Huawei equipment from U.S. networks. Our viewers had some… Continue

IoT Career Opportunities