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Security concerns with consumer IoT devices


With the increasing popularity of Internet-of-Things connected products, security of these devices and their networks is a growing concern. Let’s consider potential security vulnerabilities that can exist in Internet-of-Things appliances, and how these security threats may be mitigated. Security is a particular concern in the context of home automation devices and Internet-of-Things connected appliances in the home because hardware and/or software vulnerabilities in these devices have the potential to affect the security of homes, buildings and people. Security vulnerabilities in these connected devices, such as home automation hubs, could potentially allow attackers to gain control of door locks or other actuators, access video cameras or otherwise compromise physical security. Recent research from security firm Veracode has found that many of today’s popular “smart home” devices have security vulnerabilities, which are open to exploitation. The researchers examined a selection of typical always-on IoT home automation appliances on the market in order … Continue reading

Reduce IoT power use with Atmel SAM L21

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One of the latest and most power-efficient 32-bit microcontroller options on the market today is Atmel’s new SAM L21 MCU family, specifically aimed at power-efficient battery powered devices in wireless sensor networks and the accelerating Internet-of-Things market. The Atmel SMART SAM L21 family, based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ core, boasts ultra-efficient current consumption as low as 35 micro amps per MHz with the chip in active mode and as low as 200 nano amps in the deepest sleep mode. This best-in-class power efficiency is said to have the potential to “extend battery life from years to decades” in power-optimised sensor network and Internet-of-Things applications. These chips draw less than 1 micro amp with full SRAM retention, real-time clock and calendar running, making the SAM L21 family the lowest-power Cortex-M based microcontroller solution on the market. With a 42 MHz Cortex-M0+ core, which is the smallest 32-bit ARM core, 256 kB … Continue reading

Predix – GE’s new Software Platform for the Industrial Internet

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Industrial behemoth General Electric have now entered the Industrial Internet arena with their new “Predix” product – a new software platform and ecosystem aimed at a wide spectrum of machine-to-machine applications and “Industrial Internet” applications. Predix is aimed at making it easy to connect machines to the Industrial Internet, to embed analytics into machines, making them somewhat intelligent and self-aware, and to retrofit and upgrade machine software without mechanical modifications though a platform which essentially provides the equivalent of cloud computing for the Industrial Internet. One of the main goals of Predix is to offer connectivity to industrial assets of any vintage, from any vendor, to the cloud and to each other – meaning that your industrial applications can benefit from the asset performance management and operations optimisation that Predix makes possible, whether or not the other equipment and systems you use are GE products. Predix enables industrial-scale analytics for … Continue reading

Kaa – a new open-source platform for the Internet of Things


Kaa is a highly flexible, open-source middleware platform for building, managing, and integrating connected Internet-of-Things applications. The Kaa IoT platform aims to provide a standardised approach for integration and interoperability across connected products. With a powerful back-end Kaa speeds up IoT product development, allowing product developers to concentrate on maximising their product’s user experience and unique value to the consumer. The Kaa middleware supports multiple client platforms by offering endpoint SDKs for various different platforms and different programming languages, and Kaa’s “data schema” definition language provides a universal level of abstraction to help achieve cross-vendor product interoperability – making it a very agile and flexible platform, with standardised methods for enabling integration and interoperability across connected products. Kaa is designed to be robust, flexible and easy to use, enhancing your IoT products out of the box with a variety of functions. Thanks to being licensed under the business-friendly Apache 2.0 open … Continue reading

Konekt – a new player in the cellular IoT platform market


The spread of new Internet-of-Things platforms over the last few months hasn’t abated – and a new entry is now morphing from an idea to a funded platform – Konekt. Konekt is a full-stack platform providing cellular connectivity for devices in machine-to-machine and Internet-of-Things applications, providing a powerful integrated combination of cellular plans, cloud infrastructure and APIs. Their goal is to simplify the process of making hardware talk, powering the next generation of the Internet; not just in homes with Wi-Fi or whenever you’re in Bluetooth range, but essentially everywhere, any time, through the use of cellular networks. Konekt focuses on building infrastructure for ubiquitous connectivity, and aims to make sure that integrating this type of connectivity is as painless and inexpensive as possible, allowing you to focus on building great systems and products with connectivity on the go, anywhere. The Konekt platform features extensive coverage available via Telco networks … Continue reading

Adoption of Agile for Embedded Hardware Design


Even though the design and development of electronic systems, and firmware in embedded systems, differs from conventional software application development in many ways – there is an increasing awareness in the hardware and embedded engineering fields today about Agile development methods.  The accelerating rate of technological change for electronic products requires rapid market responsiveness to maintain a competitive edge, and this is especially true in today’s world of ubiquitous mobile connected devices and Internet-of-Things technologies.  In one recent survey, 76% of software developers today see electronic hardware as a key element in turning many software ideas into products ready for market. This highlights a need for product innovators – growth of new markets like the Internet of Things demand practical tools to make physical design more efficient without sacrificing product quality, and Agile methods are one of the tools that can potentially play a role here.  Hardware is different from … Continue reading

Ayla Network’s IoT Cloud Platform

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In what would seem to be an already crowded marketplace, Ayla Networks have introduced their new agile, cloud-based Internet-of-Things “application enablement” platform that makes it easy and cost-effective for OEMs to connect any of their products or devices to the Internet. Ayla’s pervasive software creates an adaptive fabric for IoT applications, which aims to accelerate the development and support of smart, interactive product solutions from the device level, to the cloud, to the application level. The Ayla IoT Cloud Fabric combines innovative cloud-based services with powerful software agents integrated into both embedded IoT end-node devices as well as in mobile device applications. By working closely with Broadcom, Ayla can deliver Embedded Agents supporting Broadcom’s WICED embedded Wi-Fi platform, and Ayla has also partnered with USI to deliver production-ready Wi-Fi Modules incorporating the Ayla Embedded Agent, bringing connected modules and services to market that will allow manufacturers to quickly and economically … Continue reading

Microsoft and the IoT

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In an effort to expand their reach into the Internet of Things marketplace, Microsoft has launched their Windows Internet of Things Developer program – the first in a series of programs aimed at promoting and educating developers in the use of Microsoft products and technologies for the creation of connected devices and Internet-of-Things applications. Microsoft’s program is aimed at Windows programmers and embedded systems engineers as well as the hobbyist and “maker” community. Microsoft aims to bring Windows and development tools such as the Visual Studio suite to a new class of connected devices such as the Intel Edison and Raspberry Pi platforms, low-cost platforms that are attractive for both hobbyist and commercial embedded computing applications. This should bring synergy with existing developers and the needs of marketing and new IoT-enabled product development in the same organisation – existing IT resources can be used to help with IoT development without … Continue reading

Differences between M2M and the IoT


The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly taking over from Machine-to-Machine communications (M2M) as the trendy new buzzword. However, these terms are often used interchangeably, and neither of these two popular terms is well defined or standardised, with many organisations and companies operating with their own internal definitions. So, what’s the difference between IoT and M2M? In a basic sense, the definition of Machine-to-Machine communications (M2M) is that it’s communication between one remote machine and another. M2M is basically about communicating with a remote machine in the field in order to manage that machine or collect machine and sensor data. M2M connectivity has been used in industry in one form or another long before the Internet in its modern form has been around, usually through the use of embedded modems and the wired or cellular telephone networks. As an example of a familiar embedded M2M system, which has been in … Continue reading

Reducing the cost of IoT devices with the ESP8266


The ESP8266 Wi-Fi System-on-Chip from Espressif Systems is a highly integrated SoC designed for the needs of modern Wi-Fi-connected embedded systems, appliances, sensors and other cost-sensitive, Wi-Fi-enabled Internet-of-Things applications. This high-performance wireless SoC aims to provide Wi-Fi capabilities in embedded systems with strong functionality at a low cost. It has powerful on-board processing and storage capabilities that allow it to be integrated with sensors or other application-specific peripheral devices via its general-purpose digital I/O ports with minimal development effort and potentially without the need for any separate microcontroller in many typical applications. The ESP8266 provides single-band (2.4 GHz) Wi-Fi connectivity using the 802.11b/g/n standards and supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption. The high degree of on-chip integration minimises the bill of materials in your design, with a low-power Tensilica 80 MHz 32-bit processor core, RAM, ROM and GPIOs, power management module, and all RF front-end components such as the clock generation, … Continue reading

GadgetKeeper – a new IoT platform for common hardware


Every few weeks it seems that a new Internet-of-Things platform appears, and thus we have a new platform to explore – GadgetKeeper. This new product provides a complete development and application platform for the Internet of Things, a full application design, runtime and intelligence environment which allows you to rapidly prototype and rapidly create IoT solutions to connect your sensors, devices and equipment (“Things”) with people and systems. GadgetKeeper provides a simple development environment, robust APIs and worry-free hosting, allowing you to accelerate your application development and take advantage of scalability as your application and your number of devices grows.  You can easily integrate your application with external IT systems through GadgetKeeper’s powerful APIs, web services, and the completely hands-free cloud hosting environment provided by GadgetKeeper that automatically scales to meet any demand, whether you’re serving several devices or several million. The designers of the platform believe that every smart … Continue reading

OpenIoT – Open-source middleware for the Internet of Things


OpenIoT is a generic middleware platform for Internet-of-Things applications, which allows you to link together Internet-connected devices and semantic Web services via a friendly user interface, working either in Cloud Computing environments or with a local server. This platform is available as a Virtual Development Kit, providing a complete cloud solution for the Internet of Things which allows you to easily get up and running getting information from sensor clouds and connecting this information with Web services without worrying about exactly what different sensors are being used. The OpenIoT middleware enables the easy scalability of sensor networks and the addition of new, cost-effective sensors in an intrinsically flexible framework, and aims to provide a complete middleware for Internet-of-Things applications, connected sensors and wireless sensor networks. OpenIoT is building a novel platform for IoT applications, funded by the European Union, which includes powerful capabilities such as the ability to compose (dynamically … Continue reading

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