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Agile and Hardware Development – a Successful Partnership

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Moving away from a “waterfall” development process to a process that incorporates Agile methods, at least to some extent, can noticeably improve the quality and reduce schedules for the engineering of both hardware and software products. However, in the case of a hardware-engineering task such as the physical design and layout of a complex printed circuit board or an ASIC we can’t simply release a half-complete iteration at any time and expect to get anything which is remotely functional or useful. Although there are some important differences between hardware and software to consider when applying Agile methods, Agile is still valuable in the hardware domain. When it comes to the layout of a printed circuit board, or the layout of an ASIC, this physical design iteration may take several weeks or even months to perform, to get from the netlist to working hardware. To get it right, several iterations may … Continue reading

Introducing the Industrial Internet Consortium  

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The Industrial Internet Consortium, or IIC, is a global not-for-profit partnership of industry, government and academia which was founded early in 2014 to bring together many different organisations and technologies which are well placed to accelerate the growth of the “Industrial Internet” by identifying, assembling and promoting best practices in the development of industrial Internet, machine-to-machine and “Internet-of-Things” technologies.  The diverse membership base of the IIC includes large and small technology innovators, vertical market leaders, researchers, universities and government organisations.  The goals of the IIC are to drive innovation through the creation of new industry-oriented use-cases and test beds for real-world industrial Internet applications, to define and develop the reference architectures and frameworks necessary for interoperability in Industrial Internet applications, to influence the global standards-development processes for Internet and industrial systems, to facilitate open forums to share and exchange real-world ideas, practices, lessons and insights, and to build confidence around … Continue reading

Realising IoT devices with the new PSoC-4 BLE from Cypress

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The new PSoC-4 BLE series of programmable system-on-chip devices from Cypress enables system designers to create low-power, sensor-based wirelessly-connected systems using integrated programmable analogue front ends, programmable digital peripherals – industry-leading CapSense touch sensor capability for user interfaces all integrated together with a Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) radio and an ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller in a compact and cost-effective single-chip solution. This highly-integrated one-chip Bluetooth Low Energy platform enables you to easily design low-power, wirelessly-connected solutions that are particularly well suited to real-time, low-power Internet-of-Things applications. Bluetooth Low Energy has several potential benefits over Wi-Fi in some wireless connectivity applications, including minimal connection latency and very good energy efficiency, allowing for “always-on” smart, connected devices that run off small batteries for many months or even more than a year while seamlessly being embedded into everyday physical objects and the environment around us. This makes the platform ideal for IoT end-node … Continue reading

The importance of staying Agile when using Agile

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When an organisation or team decides to adopt Agile methodology for their projects, not “staying agile” can potentially lead to problems. Although Agile itself is very broadly defined in the general principles of the Agile Manifesto, and there are many different ways to implement these principles, “staying agile when using agile” is important and straying too far from the underlying principles can potentially lead to pitfalls. So, how can we keep Agile development agile and avoid common pitfalls when adopting Agile project management techniques? One of the important things to know about Agile methods is that if they are limited to one development team churning out code, the outcome won’t be truly Agile. It takes a whole organisation to truly be agile, with agile methods supported by management and other staff within your organisation – not just one team without any support for agile in the organisation. There are several other … Continue reading

IBM’s Bluemix – an open cloud platform for the IoT

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As an interesting example of larger, more established companies taking longer to bring a new product or service to market – IBM is now in the open-source cloud development platform arena with their new Bluemix service. This is a new next-generation cloud development platform based on IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture and the open-source Cloud Foundry project. Bluemix is a Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS) offering that promises to deliver enterprise-level features and services that are easy to integrate into cloud applications. As an open-standards-based cloud platform for building, managing, and running apps of all types, Bluemix offers the opportunity to work with the web, mobile, big data, Internet-of-Things applications and smart devices. Bluemix capabilities include support for Java, mobile back-end development and application monitoring, as well as features from ecosystem partners, all in a cloud-based platform. This enables organisations and developers to easily create, deploy and manage applications in the cloud, delivering enterprise-level … Continue reading

LX Group ranked 78 in the BRW Fast 100 List for 2014

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 1 of 1 Once again the LX Group has been awarded top honours as one of Australia’s fastest growing businesses in the 2014 BRW Fast 100 list. LX is positioned at number 78 in this year’s esteemed awards thanks to their continuous efforts and success over the last 12 months. LX Group is a multi-award-winning Australian electronics design house traditionally specialising in wireless and low-power electronics designs. LX Group is at the forefront of IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (Machine to Machine) technology – the convergence of hardware devices, the cloud and apps.     LX’s motto, “we take your concept and make it a reality”, reflects their passion for innovative electronic product development. Examples of this include their recent work with Project Caramello – which includes the award-winning Koala tracking system, the development of which resulted in winning a Sydney Engineering Excellence Award this … Continue reading

ARM’s new mbed-based IoT Device Platform

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The ARM group has recently announced the new ARM mbed IoT Device Platform and an accompanying free operating system, aiming to build on top of the existing mbed embedded development ecosystem to simplify and accelerate the development and deployment of your new Internet-of-Things connected products. For the uninitiated, mbed is “a platform for developing smart devices that are based on 32-bit ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers. It is designed to provide a highly productive solution for rapid prototyping and product development, with a focus on connected Internet of Things devices. It is a project developed by ARM, its technology partners and a community of core developers, and it is used by tens of thousands of professional developers to create intelligent products that take advantage of the power of modern microcontrollers and connectivity” (from Wikipedia). The new mbed platform has been built around open standards and aims to bring Internet protocols, security, standards-based … Continue reading

Swarm – simple IoT for new or existing products

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Bug Labs’ cloud-based Swarm platform is an Internet-of-Things development platform that lets you easily add new Internet-connected services to your existing design or product. Whether it’s a simple sensor device or a complex industrial system, Swarm provides everything you need to get your product up and running quickly with the new value that Internet-of-Things services can add, helping you to innovate in the rapidly growing IoT market. Swarm abstracts the raw functionalities, such as sensors, actuators or transceivers, that any hardware device is equipped with and exposes these hardware functions as web services, allowing simple drag-and-drop creation of applications that interact with a diverse range of hardware capabilities. The system is based around “resources”, which are applications or devices that are configured to produce or consume data over Swarm. A resource may be a physical device such as a smartphone, tablet, an embedded hardware platform or a microcontroller equipped with … Continue reading

IPSO – the Internet Protocol for Smart Objects Alliance

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The Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance is an organisation, which has served as a resource centre and industry leader since 2008 – whose goal is to seek the establishment of Internet Protocol as the dominant, open standard adopted by industry as the basis for the connectivity of “smart objects”, machine-to-machine and Internet-of-Things networks and applications. The IPSO Alliance provides a foundation for industry growth by fostering awareness, providing education, generating research, promoting the industry, and creating a better understanding of IP and other open protocols and standards and the role they can play in the Internet of Things. Through the work of the IPSO Alliance, many industries have come to realise the benefits associated with using the Internet Protocol within their Internet-of-Things and M2M products and applications. The Alliance is moving forward from explaining “Why use IP in IoT devices” to “How to use IP” down to the … Continue reading

Using Scrum methodology for Hardware Development

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Although the Scrum agile methodology was originally formalised for software development projects, as with other agile frameworks it can be applied well to any complex, innovative project that a team works on. Scrum is a way for teams to work together to develop a product where product development occurs in small pieces, with each piece building upon previously created pieces. Building products one small piece at a time encourages creativity and enables teams to respond to feedback and change, to build exactly what is needed using a most efficient manner. Furthermore it’s a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects that provide a small set of rules that create just enough structure for teams to be able to focus their innovation on solving what might otherwise be an insurmountable challenge. So let’s have a look at how scrum methodology can be applied, and its potential benefits and challenges, … Continue reading

SmartConnect – the new low-power IoT Chipset Solution from Atmel

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Atmel has recently expanded its SmartConnect wireless connectivity portfolio with the announcement of a series of new, turnkey 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi system-on-chips and modules which are aimed at enabling expanded possibilities in Internet-of-Things, home or building automation and smart energy management as well as smart, connected consumer electronics applications. The Atmel SmartConnect Wi-Fi family is a range of self-contained, low-power and pre-certified system-on-chips and modules which bring 802.11 wireless LAN connectivity – and access to the Internet – to any embedded system. These integrated modules offer a great solution for designers seeking to integrate Wi-Fi connectivity without any existing engineering experience with 802.11, real-time operating systems, IP stack concepts nor RF electronics. Aimed at opening the emerging “Internet of Things”, Atmel’s SmartConnect Wi-Fi portfolio is ready to be integrated in a vast array of battery-powered devices and applications requiring the integration of WLAN connectivity without compromising on cost and power consumption. … Continue reading

LX Design House Wins The SEEA 2014 Software and Embedded Systems Excellence Award

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The very best of engineering from LX Design House helps save our national icon. LX Design House wins the Software and Embedded Systems Excellence Award as part of the 2014 Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards for their work in the Project Caramello Koala. Project Caramello Koala is a response to the increasing risk facing an iconic native animal. Koalas have recently been listed as a vulnerable species, and monitoring programs are an essential part of the effort to protect them. The main goal of Project Caramello Koala has been to develop a tracking device specific to the needs of koalas.  Although animal telemetry is not new, none of the currently available animal tracking solutions quite fit the bill for kolas. For example, koalas tuck their chins into their chest to rest, making it unfeasible to have bulky electronics under their chin. The product of Project Caramello Koala, the K-Tracker, is a … Continue reading

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