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This year the M2M (Machine to Machine) market has exploded with the introduction for various low-power systems, and this includes Taggle Systems’ “Taggle” technology – a low-power, wide-area (LWPA) radio network technology which offers low-cost, power-efficient machine-to-machine communications for embedded systems across a very long range, for many kinds of sensors and applications in different sectors such as utility management and agriculture.

The team behind Taggle identified a gap in the M2M connectivity market which was not being addressed by existing, popular wireless connectivity technologies such as 802.15.4 and WiFi, which is low-power, wide-area networking with small amounts of data, with low bandwidth at a low cost, with minimal deployment of expensive infrastructure.

In many situations it is advantageous to send small amounts of data from field sensors over long distances, and Taggle’s energy-efficient, long-range wireless connectivity operating in the 900 MHz ISM spectrum helps to achieve this.

Today, Taggle is deploying its network of transmitters and receivers all over the country, becoming Australia’s first dedicated M2M network. Using their new technology, Taggle is deploying Australia’s only dedicated machine-to-machine telemetry network, enabling the cost-effective collection of data from thousands of Taggle-enabled devices in networks up to the scale of entire cities.

The Taggle network is made up of both transmitters and base station receivers. Taggle transmitters are commonly integrated into sensor or control devices in the field. For example, Taggle’s Automated Meter Reading (AMR) systems can be retrofitted to common water meters to read water consumption and broadcast the data back at one-hour intervals, for use by the water utility, local government and the individual consumer.

These AMR assemblies for water meters are a typical example of a device built around a Taggle transmitter. The transmitter offers low cost and strong energy efficiency, with the ability to transmit a small data packet once per hour for over ten years without replacement of its internal lithium battery.

Each transmitter module is equipped with four general-purpose I/O ports, making it possible to adapt to different kinds of sensors and applications. These sensor network “tags” are very compact and lightweight, and are able to tolerate the environmental conditions found outdoors in most field installations.

Each base station receiver is able to concurrently process hourly data from thousands of Taggle devices. The high receiver sensitivity of -130dBm means that each base station can receive data from tags up to several kilometres away, depending on local conditions. This strong link budget helps to reduce the number of base stations needed for Taggle connectivity across a wide geographic area, keeping the total system cost to a minimum.

With an initial focus on utility-scale Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) networks for water distribution, Taggle technology is already being used by a number of local councils and water utilities across Australia to gather water use data – which is not only useful for billing but also for leak detection, demand management, network optimisation and planning for future growth. It provides very fine-grained water use data on an hourly basis, as well as removing the need to manually take meter readings.

TaggleLogo2Taggle’s network offers two major areas of use. The first is data acquisition, where small amounts of data can be collected from a very large number of sensors across a wide geographical area. The second valuable use-case is the location of objects within the area covered by the Taggle network.

Data can be collected from all sorts of sensors and devices and transmitted back to the Taggle network. Taggle’s wireless data acquisition hardware can collect data from electricity, gas and flow meters, rain gauges, and a range of other sensors such as pressure monitoring, sewer overflow, temperature, humidity or soil moisture sensors.

Once data has been collected it is processed by Taggle to produce data feeds for end users. These data feeds, which can be formatted to help meet individual users’ requirements, can be sent by email, secure FTP or web services to be integrated with the users’ chosen database or software interface.

Taggle’s radio network is also very cost effective for the sub-metering of utilities in large buildings such as high-rise apartments. Taggle technology allows a water meter, for example, to be installed for each individual user at low cost, allowing for individual billing. With all the data transmitted wirelessly back to the receiver, there is no need for labour-intensive meter reading.

In areas covered by three or more Taggle receivers, the locations of items fitted with Taggle transmitters can also be triangulated to within a few meters. With each Taggle receiver able to handle communications with thousands of tags concurrently, over distances of kilometres – this application of Taggle’s sensor network technology is very attractive in areas such as monitoring the movement of livestock, high-value goods in warehouses and more.

Here at the LX Group we have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisTaggle – Revolutionising low-power M2M devices

The Lightweight Machine-to-Machine Enabler (LWM2M) is a new standard for the management of devices in machine-to-machine and Internet-of-Things applications. LWM2M is particularly aimed at resource-constrained end-node devices in applications such as Wireless Sensor Networks as well as Machine-to-Machine applications where bandwidth is constrained – for example where cellular connectivity is used to network remote devices.

Many devices in the growing industrial and commercial M2M and Internet-of-Things markets require some device management – devices need to be remotely switched on and off, woken up and put to sleep, sent remote requests for sensor data transmission, configured, provisioned, or remotely updated with new firmware.

In short, these devices call for protocols and services to effectively support them with device management, service enablement and application management. The design goal of LWM2M was to create a mechanism that is not only suitable for relatively powerful devices like smartphones or Wi-Fi routers, but also caters to the needs of more constrained devices – end-node IoT devices with low-cost hardware, with very limited memory or CPU capability, or devices that run off batteries with very low power budgets.

LWM2M is being developed by the Open Mobile Alliance – a collaboration of many companies working in the M2M service provider, software, hardware and system vendor space. For example ARM and Sensinode are just a couple of the companies involved in the Alliance.

As LWM2M is built on top of open standards defined by groups such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, it allows for interoperability between different devices and manufacturers, avoiding lock-in to proprietary standards.

For example, the LWM2M protocol stack is built on top of the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), which is an open IETF standard, as the underlying transfer protocol that is carried over UDP or SMS. CoAP is optimised for communications in resource-constrained or bandwidth-constrained network environments, which makes it well suited to Internet-of-Things applications, enabling the use of low-cost microcontrollers in prolific network-connected devices.

The decoupling of machine-to-machine products from their proprietary, vendor-specific management systems through the adoption of open interfaces and open standards can, theoretically at least, also accelerate innovation in the M2M/IoT markets both on the device side and on the server side.

In essence, LWM2M is a communications protocol running between LWM2M software clients running on all sorts of embedded end-node devices and LWM2M servers running on the M2M management platforms for these devices. The LWM2M protocol includes robust security of all communications between the client and the server using Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS), which provides a secure channel between the LWM2M client and the server for all messages interchanged.

The DTLS security modes supported by LWM2M include both pre-shared-key and public-key modes, providing support for robust security across both more capable embedded devices as well as very resource-constrained devices where public-key authentication is not practical.

LWM2M supports UDP binding with both CoAP and SMS, meaning that communication between the LWM2M server and the client can happen over SMS or CoAP, and low-cost basic cellular modems that can communicate over SMS without Internet connectivity can be used to build LWM2M networks.

This also means that LWM2M-equipped networks can be deployed almost anywhere in the field, without the need for modern Internet-capable telco mobile network infrastructure – the network only needs to be able to support SMS messaging.

LWM2M provides an extensible object model that enables application data exchanges in addition to the core device management features such as firmware updates and connectivity monitoring.

A RESTful style of architecture is applied to this, where the items to be managed on a remote device are considered “resources”. Uniform Resource Identifiers, or URIs addresses these resources on the network, which are much like the familiar URLs used on the Web.

Built-in resource discovLwm2m 1ery is supported using the CoRE Link Format standard, making the discovery of new resources on the network relatively easy. Related resources are grouped together into Objects, and this helps to cut down on processing overhead as the M2M client and the server on the platform side have a common understanding of what a certain resource actually is, by understanding the properties of an object that it is a part of – for example the manufacturer’s name, the type of network the device is currently connected to, the signal strengths of the cellular connection it uses, or other relevant properties.

Though the LWM2M specification comes with a set of predefined objects and resources, the set of objects is extensible. This means that other organisations and users can define new objects that are most suitable for their products and services in their particular corners of the M2M market.

The Open Mobile Alliance provides their LWM2M DevKit in the form of an add-on plugin for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, which is an implementation of the Lightweight M2M protocol, which enables you to directly interact with a LWM2M server from the Web browser on your PC.

This allows developers and users to easily get started, to interactively explore and comprehend this new protocol for machine-to-machine communication.

However if you are interested in upgrading existing products or developing new M2M-capable devices that could benefit from this new lightweight M2M initiative, getting started is easy. We invite you to join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisReduce M2M resource requirements with Lightweight M2M

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 to understand the real-world potential impact of security vulnerabilities in these kinds of products.

The products that were studied by the researchers included the MyQ Internet Gateway and the MyQ Garage, which provide Internet-based control of devices such as garage doors, power outlets and lighting, the SmartThings Hub, a central control device for home automation sensors, switches and devices such as door locks, the Wink Hub and Wink Relay networked home automation products, and the Ubi home automation gateway.

These devices are just a representative sample of today’s popular “Internet-of-Things” appliances in the consumer market.

The Veracode researchers didn’t look for vulnerabilities in the firmware of the devices they looked at, but instead analysed the implementation and security of the communication protocols they use.

The researchers looked at the front-end connections, between the users and the cloud services, as well as the back-end connections between the cloud services and the devices themselves. They wanted to know whether these services allowed communication to be protected through strong cryptography, whether encryption was a requirement at all, if strong passwords were enforced and whether server TLS certificates were properly validated.

Researchers found that of the six products examined, only one enforced the strength of user passwords at the front end, and one of the products did not enforce encryption for user connections.

This research also looked at the back-end cloud service connectivity in these products, whether the devices used strong authentication mechanisms to identify themselves to cloud services, whether encryption was employed and whether safeguards were in place to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and if sensitive data was protected – for example by hashing clear text passwords and transmitting only the crucial data needed across the Internet service.

What they found was a general trend towards even weaker security, with two of the products tested not employing encryption for communications between the cloud service and the device.

It was also found that one of the devices did not properly secure sensitive data, and man-in-the-middle attack protection was lacking across all the devices tested, with the exception of the SmartThings Hub, either because TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption was not used at all or because proper certificate validation was not used.

This research suggests that connected products, marketed as appliances for the household consumer, have been designed with the assumption that the local area networks that they’ll be installed on are secure.

However, that seems to be a mistake since we know that if there’s anything worse than the security and user configuration we see with these new connected products, it’s the security of WiFi routers.

Researchers find serious vulnerabilities in consumer routers and their firmware routinely, and many of these have the potential to enable attackers to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on data going out to the Internet or to other devices on the LAN.

A quick search online and you can find default passwords for many IoT devices – often left unchanged or unable to be changed by users – and the security features in place are often very limited. User instruction and education can play a large part in minimising potential problems here – for example, choosing strong passwords, both for the Wi-Fi router as well as for devices connected to it, and regularly checking for and installing firmware or software updates provided by vendors.

This study is a good reminder to users to keep their networks secure by using strong passwords and security settings, across their PCs, phones or other devices, wireless access points and routers, as well as smart IoT devices. Furthermore, the research team also explored device debugging interfaces and services that run on these IoT devices which aren’t intended to be accessed by end users.

The team only investigated interfaces that are accessible over a network, whether over the local area network or through the Web. For example, attacking a device through a hardware interface, plugging a JTAG probe into a smart light bulb, is not considered to be a significant security threat compared to network-connected services. 


This research explored whether access to these hidden services was restricted to users with physical access to the device, if open interfaces are protected against unauthorised access, and whether open interfaces are designed to prevent an attacker who gains access to these interfaces from running arbitrary code on the device.

The Veracode research found that the Wink Hub runs an unauthenticated HTTP service on port 80 that is used to configure the wireless network settings, the Wink Relay runs a network-accessible ADB (Android Debug Bridge) service, the Ubi runs both an ADB service and a VNC remote desktop service with no password, the SmartThings Hub runs a password-protected telnet server and the MyQ Garage runs an HTTPS service that exposes basic connectivity information.

It is simply assumed that all these things are secure because the wireless LAN they’re on is secure, but this is commonly not true and these networks are secured poorly or not at all. For devices with exposed ADB interfaces, this can provide attackers with root access and can allow them to execute arbitrary code on the device.

At this point the casual observer may consider all these new consumer IoT-based devices to be a security risk, however if developed by the right team nothing could be further from the truth. With a great design team and user education security can become a non-issue for the end user.

The easiest part is to find the right designers for your IoT-based product – and here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisSecurity concerns with consumer IoT devices

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 of flash memory and up to 40 kB of SRAM, these chips obviously aren’t intended to compete with high-end mobile processors in terms of performance. However, these small, power-efficient microcontrollers are still powerful enough to support touch interfaces, AES encryption, and wireless communications – for example running both the application and wireless stacks in a typical wireless end-node IoT application.

Also included is up to 8 kB of separate low-power SRAM that is kept powered at everything short of the deepest sleep mode – even off a low-power backup battery when the main battery is exhausted. The Cortex-M0+ is a fairly modest embedded ARM core in terms of its relative performance – it’s an optimised version of the Cortex-M0, with one less pipeline stage to reduce power consumption and with a few features from the more capable Cortex-M3 and M4 families also added.

The SAM L21 is the lowest-power Cortex-M0+ based device family presently on the market, and it expands Atmel’s product offering beyond the SAM D family, aimed at the next generation of ultra-low-power embedded devices.

Among the updated peripherals included on the L21 is a low-power capacitive touch-sensing controller, for touch-sensitive surfaces such as buttons, sliders or wheels. The capacitive touch peripheral can run in all low-power operating modes, and supports waking up the microcontroller from sleep when the sensors are touched.

Architectural innovations in the SAM L21 family enable low-power peripherals such as timers, serial communications and the touch controller to remain powered up and running as needed while the rest of the system is in a reduced-power sleep mode.

Nearly every peripheral system has been optimised for energy efficiency and for the ability to operate in a standalone mode without the entire chip being powered up and active. The energy-efficient L21 design goes much further than simply turning off clock distribution to the various peripheral devices on the chip when they are powered down – it completely shuts down the power to peripherals and segments of the die that are not currently in use.

The SAM L21 supports energy-efficient “sleepwalking”, which allows peripheral devices to request a clock source when they need to wake up from sleep modes and perform tasks – without having to power up the CPU, the Flash and other relatively power-intensive CPU support systems.

As an example of a real-world energy-efficient Internet-of-Things application, suppose the chip’s internal ADC is used to measure temperature in a room. You can put the CPU to sleep and wake up periodically on interrupts from the real-time clock, providing very efficient power consumption. The measured temperature can be checked against a predefined threshold to decide on further action, and if no action is required the CPU can be put back to sleep until the next interrupt is fired from the RTC at the interval desired.

During an analogue sensor read, the ADC clock will only be enabled and running when the ADC conversion is needed. When the ADC receives the trigger event from the real time clock it will request its generic clock from the generic clock controller, and this peripheral clock will stop as soon as the ADC conversion is completed.

The event system is configured to send this event from the real-time clock to the ADC, and the ADC is configured to start a conversion when it receives an event – but this is done without the need to power up the CPU at all, minimising the power budget. However, the ADC can be configured to look at its reading, check if a certain threshold is exceeded, and to generate an interrupt for a different task – waking up the CPU for example, if we decide that data logging, radio transmission or some other CPU action is needed in response to an extreme temperature value.

As with most of Atmel’s microcontroller products, Atmel is offering an Xplained Pro evaluation board for the SAM L21 microcontroller family. This evaluation board features an on-board debugger, standardised extension connectors compatible with the other expansion boards and modules in the Atmel Xplained development board ecosystem, and auto-identification in Atmel Studio.

Atmel 1

Along with the rest of Atmel’s development tools and boards, this evaluation board is powerful and flexible yet easy to use, for both professional and hobbyist-level developers.

Using the SAM L21 Xplained Pro board and Atmel Studio, designers can monitor power consumption in conjunction with the program counter in real time, and if a spike in power consumption appears you can loop back to see what’s causing it in the software and code accordingly.

Thanks to Atmel your new or existing Internet of Things devices can increase their autonomy and allow you to reduce device size and weight thanks to the use of smaller battery capacities – and of course saving you money as well. If this is of interest to you – and why wouldn’t it be – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisReduce IoT power use with Atmel SAM L21

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 asset and operations optimisation by providing a standard way to connect machines, data and people. Predix can be used as a platform to build apps for any industry or sector – by customers, OEMs, or developers, with the goal of efficiency improvement across a range of industries from automotive to building management to agriculture.

Furthermore Predix aims to connect people with intelligent machines and advanced analytics, giving you new levels of actionable insight, helping you optimise system operations and respond to situations as they arise. As part of this goal, the system helps you gain actionable insights from massive volumes of machine data flowing in rapidly, and to manage all assets from individual parts on the factory floor up to entire “smart factories”.

Operators can orchestrate analytics processing in real time across distributed machines and data, and get industrial-grade control and insight with modern consumer-style sleek user experiences across different platforms including mobile devices.

Predix can operate as a cloud-agnostic platform that can run on local servers, in your data centres, or in public clouds – with support for a scalable big-data computing fabric including the Apache Hadoop open-source framework for reliable, scalable, distributed computing, as well as support for historians and graphs.

You can control data across machines, networks and clouds in a resilient and secure way, with high availability for mission-critical applications, and you can control access to assets while enhancing communications between machines, networks and systems.

GE believes that industrial customers want predictability about performance and better asset management, and this is what the Predix platform helps to deliver. Over the coming year, GE aims to include connected sensors and Big Data capabilities in almost all of the company’s new products.

Development is still ongoing, as GE has also announced partnerships with AT&T, Intel and Cisco for the development of the Predix platform. Existing examples of products from GE that incorporate this technology include control of a jet engine aimed at maximising fuel efficiency while monitoring greenhouse gas emissions – which is predicted to save an airline $90 million over five years. A similar product, which optimises the efficiency of a gas turbine for power generation, is expected to save an energy utility $28 million per annum, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Applications can be built for any system or machine – from jet engines to MRI scanners – and be remotely managed while connected to the Internet. So far there are four components to the platform, for the sensors themselves, analytics, management of the connected devices, and a user interaction component called Predix Experience.

In 2016, GE plans to offer a developer program that lets third parties integrate Predix platform technologies into their own services. Under their part in the new Predix partnership, AT&T will develop device and sensor connectivity via cellular, PSTN and Wi-Fi connectivity. GE says its partnership with Intel will embed virtualisation and cloud-based, standardised interfaces within the Predix platform.

The Predix platform aims to eventually bring all of GE’s industrial machines together into one contextually aware, cloud-connected system. By connecting machines to the network and the cloud, Predix aims to enable workers all around the world to track, monitor and help maintain industrial machinery remotely through highly secure machine-to-machine communications.

Bringing together all machines, from wind turbines to medical imagers to jet engines, into a single, unified but contextually aware platform for all their operation and maintenance aims to deliver significant efficiency gains and reductions in downtime for GE and their customers.

The Predix platform is scalable, supporting high-volume analytics, industrial data and operational management, across individual machines and entire networks, on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. The platform is adaptive, allowing applications to be customised and extended across industries and their assets, data sources and devices, both mobile and fixed.

The development environment also enables the creation of new apps that can leverage mobile use requirements in an OS- and hardware-neutral fashion. The promise of Predix goes beyond cohesiveness and convenience. The real vision is to link all these diverse machines to the cloud, quantifying their performance and benchmarking them against each other – all in the name of improving efficiency and reducing unscheduled downtime.

ge predix 2

The idea for the platform goes far beyond giving engineers a touchscreen manual for repairs. It’s really about creating a resource that knows exactly what needs to be done to optimise any machine at any moment, with a contextual understanding of that device.

Eventually, Predix will make sure everything’s on the same page, from the machine in question to the enterprise software in the cloud down to the tablet or other device carried by the maintenance engineer in the field.

And this is the benefit of the Industrial Internet – to give operators knowledge and control over their devices to maximise operational efficiency, minimise downtime and costs – in order to maximise profit. And no matter whether you’re looking to optimise a few local sensors or monitor devices from around the globe – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisPredix – GE’s new Software Platform for the Industrial Internet

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 source license, including the server and client components – Kaa is completely open source and it is free to use in open source or proprietary environments with no royalties or fees.

The source code of the Kaa platform is hosted on GitHub, and you can view it as well as making community contributions. Debian and RPM packages are available, ready for installation of the Kaa server on your target platform – after the installation you can use the Kaa Web UI to obtain the endpoint SDK and get started with Kaa.

The Kaa server is architected to scale linearly with the simple addition of nodes to the cluster, providing the capability for large-scale applications. Kaa features logic for on-the-go load re-balancing, based on real-time service demands, SLAs, node availability, server load and performance, providing efficient utilisation of hardware resources. The Kaa IoT platform is a middleware platform that abstracts the underlying data transport mechanism.

This approach offers application architects the freedom to choose a network stack, or a combination of several stacks for various platform functions, that best suits the requirements of a specific product.

Various different protocols and technologies can be used for the lower levels of the network between the server and endpoints – for example Wi-Fi, Ethernet, ZigBee, MQTT, CoAP, XMPP, TCP, HTTP and more, at the relevant layers of the network stack.

The Kaa platform is comprised of the server component and an endpoint SDK that integrates with client applications. When a Kaa server registers a new endpoint, an associated endpoint profile is created. Kaa’s event system performs discovery of the advertised capabilities of each endpoint device and the delivery of the appropriate event messages across devices.

Kaa stores a profile for each endpoint device, which is a snapshot of any data the specific server application needs to know about the endpoint device. This could include information such as OS version, amount of RAM, device operation mode, battery life or type of network connection, for example.

Endpoint profiles can be used to organise the endpoints into groups, and this can be used to send targeted notifications to certain devices, for example, or adjust software behaviour when talking to certain classes of devices. The specification of the profile structure is configured using Kaa’s profile schema definition.

Based on the defined profile schema, Kaa generates the object model to operate against the client side, and handles data marshalling all the way back to the database. Whenever a client updates its profile information, the endpoint SDK automatically sends these updates to the server as soon as a connection becomes available.

An endpoint can belong to any number of groups, which represent independent management entities in Kaa. Grouping endpoints can, for example, be used to send targeted notifications or adjust software behaviour by applying group-specific configuration overrides. When endpoints register with the Kaa server, they advertise the types of event classes they are capable of originating and receiving.

Kaa features a topic-based notification system that enables the server to deliver messages of an arbitrary structure to subscribed endpoints. Events can even be delivered across applications registered with Kaa – making it possible to quickly integrate and enable interoperability between ranges of different devices.


For example, you could enable a mobile application to control lighting, or use data from a car’s GPS to communicate with a home security system, or integrate audio systems from different vendors to deliver a smooth playback experience as you move from room to room. Kaa events are implemented in a generic, abstract way, using non-proprietary schema definitions that ensure identical message structures.

The schema provides independence from any specific functionality implementation details, and Kaa’s logging subsystem performs the collection and storage of structured data that is received from the endpoints.

Depending on the implementation and configuration of server-side log appenders, the Kaa server is able to store records in a local file system, or a variety of big data platforms such as Hadoop or MongoDB, or submit them directly to a streaming analytics system.

The endpoint SDK implements log-upload triggers that initiate the periodic upload to the server of logged data stored locally on endpoint devices. The structure of the collected data is flexible and defined by the data schema – based on the log data schema defined in the Kaa application, Kaa generates the object model for the records and the corresponding API calls in the client SDK. Kaa’s endpoint SDK deserializes received messages into objects, which are dispatched to subscribed client listeners for processing.

Althuogh the Kaa middleware is open-source, this isn’t a negative – it allows the end-user developer to work with the code to meet their exacting needs or create partnerships with other users for greater interoperability between products. You can learn more about Kaa from their website (

And if you have an idea for a new IoT-enabled product or would like to add connectivity to an existing device – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


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

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 in over 160 countries, and a range of different cellular plans, allowing you to connect hardware to the Web at an efficient price point with a level of functionality that suits the needs of your application with global accessibility from day one.

Konekt’s cloud-based infrastructure for IoT devices allows you to easily create real-time public and private IoT applications using literally any hardware that can be connected to a cellular modem. The Konekt service employs the 2G and 3G bands, supporting HPSA, GPRS and SMS connectivity. As well as injecting data into the cloud service via (appropriately formed and authenticated) SMS, you can also send data back to Konekt’s Internet services via REST HTTP.

Short Messaging Service (SMS) offerings are typically very costly for embedded M2M applications when compared to the equivalent amount of data service that would be needed to send the same data. However, SMS connectivity is often needed for notifications to users and certain system integrations.

To provide more competitive SMS rates for your connected devices, Konekt offers an SMS-over-IP solution that leverages the over-the-air data service (cellular data, which is much less expensive for the same amount of bandwidth) and their Internet SMS gateway partners. This service is available for all Internet-connected devices, whether Konekt’s cellular network is being used or not.

Konekt provides cellular plans, cloud storage, device management and more, integrated into a single platform in one place. You can track orders and deployment right in your dashboard, and even manage your SIM cards and order more right in the app.

The device management resources are built for developers, with a set of unified APIs and tools provided that enable you to manage, provision and troubleshoot your devices in the field. Konekt provides a simple billing structure, with no complex pricing arrangements or hidden fees, and developers can get started creating an account and trying out the Konekt platform for free.

You can utilise Konekt’s subscription engine to white-label the Konekt portal with your brand and seamlessly bill your end users, with pricing and coverage that scales with a pay-as-you-grow model. Whether you’re in beta or preparing for your first huge deployment, Konekt can be scaled to meet your needs, instead of the other way around.

Security with the Konekt platform has been taken seriously, and provides enterprise-grade security with secured inbound connections, key management, encryption, static IPs, Private Access Point Names and configuration updates all at the push of a button. By default, devices are isolated and they cannot see one another via data or SMS connectivity.


Your devices are therefore protected from other compromised devices, eliminating attack vectors, mitigating risk and reducing attack payloads. Devices are secured against unauthenticated incoming connections and SMSs, to protect against off-network threats and potential threats originating from the Internet.

Konekt provides a flexible end-to-end toolkit aimed at every mobile embedded IoT connectivity application, with tools and support for deployments of all sizes, whether you have one device or a million. Konekt provides scalable pricing as well as support options for commercial applications, transparent uptime reporting, strong security features, high data throughput and readiness for the most demanding enterprise-grade applications.

With a public REST API, extensive documentation and API examples, Konekt is built to be developer-friendly, with robust, clean APIs that let you focus on building great products. Konekt provides you with access to both the REST API and a Web-based Device Management Portal, making device management more accessible for non-programmer users.

Konekt’s pricing is based on the amount of data your devices use. Adjust your data usage as you refine your project, utilise Konekt’s cloud services, and choose your support level, with plans that start from just US$1 per month. Data plans are available in over 160 countries so you can connect your product to the Internet just about anywhere, wherever there is cellular coverage.

Data plans are month-to-month and can be changed at any time. Pricing is based on the number of devices deployed, amount of data used per device and the countries you’re operating in, with custom plans available for significant large-scale deployments.

Konekt Cloud is a fully managed, reliable and powerful cloud data broker and database solution. Currently free for all devices (cellular and non-cellular), the Konekt Cloud provides a powerful suite of tools that securely route and store the data your devices generate, allowing you to spend less time building and maintaining complex infrastructure.

The cloud platform enables you to quickly create real-time smart IoT solutions by giving you the components you need such as real-time data access, security, storage, data analytics and machine learning. You can use Konekt’s hosted service or download the service and run it on your own infrastructure.

With a combination of a secure cloud-based IoT service and affordable cellular data, we look forward to the development of the Konekt platform. And if you have an idea for a new IoT-enabled product or would like to add connectivity to an existing device – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisKonekt – a new player in the cellular IoT platform market

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 software, so rather than attempt to transfer Agile practices directly to hardware development, some careful consideration about what the differences are, what is really relevant and what is not most relevant, will allow the most effective adoption of Agile management techniques in the electronic design and embedded systems industry.

 Agile project management methods can be used effectively in a hardware environment, by mechanical or electronic development teams, but some adaptations might be needed on a case-specific basis. However, this is already the best practice recommended in an Agile environment for software development teams.

Many large companies use Agile techniques in their development today, including Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and many others. The WikiSpeed startup employs heavy use of Agile management techniques in their mechanical engineering projects, delivering a novel car built from composite materials that offers extremely high fuel efficiency while also being safe and road-legal – designed and built from scratch in only 3 months using crowd funding, made viable thanks to the cost-effectiveness of their Agile practices.

However, some companies prefer the perceived stability and predictability of a traditional development process. Traditional use of comprehensive documentation and contracts is viewed as protecting them from risk and having one team follow the work of another.

 There are also special hurdles when you’re combining hardware and software in one product, and most Agile experts, even with extensive software project experience, are not yet used to working with these issues. Some common challenges and concerns that are raised against the use of Agile methods are that more revisions and versions mean more data to manage, and that changing procedures and tools means added costs. There is the view that fewer contracts and specifications could mean higher risk, and that effective, useful communication and coordination is more complicated in an Agile environment.

 One of the challenges for combined software and hardware development is that software can normally be developed fairly rapidly, and the development broken down into smaller chunks with more rapid iteration. Hardware, on the other hand, may require many months to show a working component or feature.

 If the software must wait for the hardware to be created for final testing, this can create testing delays. Use of rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing can be valuable here for mechanical and plastics design, as can the use of modular electronic design, with smaller subsystems that can be iterated more rapidly, demonstrated, and tested independently of the whole system.

 Writing user stories that span hardware and software allows for the interdependencies to be understood. There might be some software that the hardware team needs to test their first prototype; the teams can ensure that the required stories are correctly prioritised to support this. Similarly there may be software that is most efficiently developed once hardware is available (perhaps low-level interface drivers); these can be prioritised based on the hardware delivery schedules.

 Because hardware often isn’t available until near the end of a project for actual deployment and testing, virtual versions of the hardware such as mock-ups, simulations and emulations are often an important part of hardware development using Agile techniques.

 Modelling and simulation allow testing and integration to begin as soon as the design work begins, which eliminates the delays that might be experienced if the hardware isn’t yet available. It can save significant investment in unnecessary early prototyping of architectures that aren’t viable.

 One method of dealing with hardware that isn’t ready to test is to decouple software and hardware development, via an abstraction layer, to allow software development to continue more rapidly. The challenge is to find a method that allows the rapid development of software and concurrent development of the hardware in a way that can best meet the requirements of each process.


 Hardware abstraction layers enable concurrent hardware and software engineering by allowing software development and testing to start prior to hardware availability. This valuable practice can also provide input into the hardware requirements and help most efficiently refine the boundary between hardware and software.

 Therein lies the challenge of embedded hardware design using Agile methodologies – software and hardware teams need to be challenged to work together for the desired outcome in the available amount of time. And as a leading developer of embedded hardware, products and services from design through to product manufacturing and support – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

 Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

 LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisAdoption of Agile for Embedded Hardware Design

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 too much retraining or new hires.

Microsoft wants to combine the accessibility of the successful Arduino platform with the strong community support and proven experience base behind Windows and Visual Studio, allowing you to quickly iterate and expand on hardware and software designs using existing shields and sketches, with strong compatibility with the Arduino platform at both the hardware and the software level.

The Windows IoT Developer Program was announced last year, beginning with Windows support for Intel’s Galileo single-board embedded computing platform. The addition of the new Raspberry Pi 2 to the program has just been announced, including support for a new embedded Raspberry Pi 2 version of Windows 10, which will be freely available for embedded developers and makers who are members of the program.

Microsoft is hoping that this program, and support for the Raspberry Pi and Galileo platforms, will introduce the use of embedded Windows and Visual Studio development to independent developers and the hobbyist and maker community.

Microsoft has ported the Arduino and Wiring libraries to their embedded Windows IoT offerings, so you’ll be using Visual C++ to write code against the Arduino API. It looks a lot like Arduino programming, with some minor differences.

Intel sells their Galileo development boards with a lightweight version of Linux through distributors, but the version of the Galileo board with Windows installed is only available when distributed through Microsoft. The preview Windows image running on the Galileo for IoT toolkit is a custom non-commercial version of Windows based on Windows 8. Microsoft will ultimately make the OS available for anyone who buys the Galileo board, though.

Microsoft hasn’t just stripped down Windows and dumped it into an image you can run on a Galileo. They’ve been making improvements in Windows to better support the kind of things embedded developers want to do. For example, Microsoft’s Lightning functionality is a re-architecture of Windows to make GPIO operations much faster.

The folks at Redmond sensibly see IoT devices as being a huge opportunity both in terms of selling the embedded solutions that power those IoT devices and to make sure the devices connect and pass their data back to a Windows Server on the back end – Microsoft is potentially able to pick up some market share in the emerging IoT sector not only in the “Thing” components, but in the “Internet” component as well.

The ultimate goal of such efforts is to take information collected from billions of devices and feed it into cloud services powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform. This is part of Microsoft’s cloud-heavy strategy, with the company previously pushing Windows Embedded as an IoT platform and a gateway to the rest of the company’s information-management fabric, mainly based around their Azure cloud services.

Microsoft has long catered to commercial developers and manufacturers of embedded systems with the Windows Embedded Compact OS, which is used in a range of industrial devices, mobile handsets, health monitors, ATMs and other devices. Microsoft wants to make sure these manufacturers knows its embedded OS can also work for their IoT devices as well.

However Microsoft has stressed that Windows Embedded is not going away and is still an important part of its product range. Windows Embedded Compact is a fully featured OS which supports commercial devices, unlike the new developmental offerings, and it remains Microsoft’s only real-time operating system and is the Windows operating system with the broadest set of ports including ARM and x86 architectures.

In moving to an ARM7 architecture, there’s a wider range of supported operating systems that can run on the Raspberry Pi 2. The processor upgrade means that two new operating systems come into view: Ubuntu Linux and Windows 10. Microsoft has recently announced it will be offering a Windows 10 build for the newest revision of the Raspberry Pi platform later this year, as part of its IoT Developer Program.

Microsoft and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have been collaborating for the last six months on the joint project. With Windows in the mix this potentially opens up the Raspberry Pi to some Windows-centric developers who weren’t previously interested in creating applications for the device, as it would mean learning a new operating system or programming language.

Windows 10

With Windows comes all the development tools such as Visual Studio, libraries and languages such as C# to add to the many tools that can already run on the Raspberry Pi such as Scratch and Python. Microsoft aims to bring their OS, their development tools, services, and ecosystem to the Raspberry Pi community for free, with the intention that you can take Windows 10 applications that you can run on a Surface, a PC or a Windows Mobile phone and now be able to run it on a Raspberry Pi as well.

This offers a wider range of hardware and software development possibilities for any new or existing IoT-enabled product, and here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisMicrosoft 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 use for a long time, consider the point-of-sale EFTPOS terminal in a shop, which communicates with the bank, commonly over the telephone network. This system is networked from point A to point B, with a specific job to do.

When it comes to the maintenance of vending machines or industrial machines, M2M capabilities allow the vendors of machines or assets to reduce service and management costs through remote diagnostics, troubleshooting, updates and similar remote maintenance which optimises the deployment of service personnel in the field, deploying personnel only when they’re needed.

The scope of industrial M2M also includes industrial telemetry and remote surveillance of systems such as SCADA equipment.

M2M can be understood from a more vertical perspective, usually built around proprietary, closed systems, whilst the IoT encompasses a more horizontal and interoperable approach where vertical applications are pulled together in order to provide value for both business and end users.

While M2M solutions offer remote communications with machines, this data is traditionally targeted at specific, closed solutions that perform specific applications. Rarely, if ever, is the data integrated with enterprise applications to help improve overall business performance, and this is where more complicated IoT applications can realise gains both in terms of user and business value.

If you can recognise whether you seek a point solution for simple remote machine access, such as a service-management application, or you seek to drive incremental business benefits across the enterprise through the use of analytics, Big Data and other software-oriented tools for the improvement of business performance, both from the business perspective and customer perspective, then you can recognise whether a machine-to-machine application or an Internet-of-Things application is what you’re looking for to best suit your needs.

The IoT represents things connecting with systems, people and other things, moving beyond connectivity from one machine to another. “Things” in the IoT can include machines, sensors, consumer products, appliances, vehicles and systems that control other physical devices, but they can also include CRM systems and analytics applications, data warehouses or other business intelligence systems.

Internet-of-Things applications and platforms can interconnect data between things, systems and people, connecting things to other things as well as cloud computing infrastructure, people, and business systems.

But there is some overlap between modern IoT systems and M2M systems, since every modern IoT system must have some kind of machine-to-machine communications links somewhere. You might say that today M2M systems are a subset of the Internet of Things, but the IoT has a much broader scope than traditional M2M connectivity.

Things and systems in the Internet of Things are also interconnected into people – consumers and end users as well as business decision makers.

Integration of device and sensor data with big data, analytics and other enterprise applications is a core concept behind the Internet of Things and this integration is key to achieving many potential new IoT benefits throughout industry. IoT devices communicate using open standards, in many cases, and this use of open standards is a key driver behind the success of the Internet of Things, just like the Internet has been built around open standards with great success.

This use of open standards, and room for interoperability, is a key factor that differentiates the IoT from the older domain of industrial M2M telemetry, which is often proprietary and vendor-specific, with the communication from a remote machine being tied back to one fixed place for one fixed application at one specific operator or site.

The data collected by Internet-of-Things services and devices can be incorporated into enterprise applications to enable improved service but also improved business intelligence, operational improvement and indeed the generation of whole new business models.

The ability for applications throughout the enterprise to access device data to enable performance improvements and business innovation clearly distinguishes the potential of IoT technologies from traditional point-to-point M2M communications.

IoT applications typically rely on IP-based networks to interface device data to a cloud or middleware platform accessible from the Internet, enabling access to this data by any enterprise application, anywhere, that is authorised to do so. 

Bug Labs Swarm IoT LX Group

This is in contrast to the direct, point-to-point communication usually associated with M2M applications. Overall, enterprise integration capabilities, scalability, software instead of hardware emphasis, interoperability (without insecurity) and the dominance of standards-based as opposed to proprietary connectivity protocols are key factors that differentiate the Internet of Things from traditional M2M connectivity solutions.

No matter whether you’re looking for M2M or IoT solutions – here at the LX Group we have the team, experience and technology to bring your ideas to life.

Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisDifferences between M2M and the IoT