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Cellular Routers to be Critical for FirstNet Communications

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First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet, is the nation’s first cellular broadband network dedicated to public safety. It will be providing more reliable communication for first responders by enabling better device interoperability across public transportation agencies throughout the United States. This new technology will allow agencies to utilize purpose-built transit cellular routers as a means to improve communications. Continue reading to see why fail-safe interoperable network is critical.

Public Safety Challenge

The public safety challenge is to protect citizens and critical infrastructure so that incidents can be mitigated faster with a more coordinated response. And the role of public transportation is only increasing as cities grow larger and denser, as an urban incident will require coordinated dispatch, and perhaps even evacuation. Traffic systems will also be a key element to incident resolution in order to expedite the arrival of response teams and direct traffic flow around the incident, which may necessitate remote access to onboard or roadside cameras and message boards.

However, commercial networks can crash when overloaded and legacy mobile radio networks are not always compatible, which is why a fail-safe interoperable network is required for emergency group communication, multi-media transmission of video, images and data; plus, reliable location tracking, economies of scale and the ability to interconnect with legacy systems also come into play.

FirstNet-based Communication Solutions

FirstNet is leveraging both existing LTE and advancing 5G international standards for mission critical services over commercial cellular networks. The services are built on new protocols and mechanisms that guarantee priority and preemption for voice, video and data, and will include push-to-talk, group calls and direct mobile-to-mobile. First responder vehicles, traffic control and transit system will now be able to utilize cellular mobile access routers as network gateways that securely bridge local subnets to agency systems. Agencies will need to know how to evaluate routers for ruggedness and security, along with forward compatibility as new public safety applications emerge.

How to Select a Router for FirstNet Applications

Is your organization ready to take advantage of mission-critical cellular networking capabilities? Join our Director of Government Business Development, Steve Mazur, and Vice President of Application Engineering of Telit to learn what factors to look for in FirstNet-based communication solutions: why speed matters, the role of cellular communications, and how to measure ruggedness and security in cellular devices.

>>See more details and register today.

How to Stay Ahead of the 3G Network Sunset

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Since the first analog systems launched in the 1980s, cellular technology continues to rapidly evolve with another evolutionary step on the horizon as mobile network operators roll out Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks and phase out legacy 2G and 3G networks. With the 2G/3G network sunset underway, it’s incredibly important for companies to consider an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy based on LTE technology or LTE technology with support for 2G/3G fallback. In order to stay ahead of the 3G network sunset, we must first think about how this will affect us to better prepare for the migration.

What is 3G sunseeting?

3G sunsetting means that a mobile network operator (or carriers) shuts of the cellular infrastructure required to operate communication devices based on 3G (UMTS, HSPA, EVDO) technology.

Why do carriers do this?

In many cases, the migration away from 2G/3G is driven by the desire of mobile network operators to repurpose spectrum for faster and more efficient 4G LTE devices. It is also more cost-effective to operate a LTE network than a 2G or 3G network, because more devices can share the available spectrum. Prior to sunsetting a network, mobile network operators may regionally repurpose spectrum or tune their radio access network. In these cases, your device may lose connectivity ahead of the 3G sunset date.

Do all carriers have the same 3G sunset date?

The short answer is: no. However as cellular technology continues evolve and consumers continue to demand faster, more reliable, and cost-effective connectivity, carriers in the cellular space plan to migrate to fourth-generation LTE technology to free up available wireless spectrum.

When will 3G be phased out by my carrier?

The 2G/3G turndown is coming! AT&T has already shut down its 2G network, while Verizon has publicly stated, “No new 3G ‘light ups’ after June 2018” – with a complete 3G shutdown by the end of 2019. Other carriers have not made public announcements yet, but may share information under NDA. Lastly, many carriers are preparing their 5G networks, which will also using the same wireless spectrum.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t get left behind with 2G/3G – shutdowns are imminent
  2. Leverage 4G LTE today – from LTE for IoT to Gigabit LTE
  3. Digi has the right products for your mission-critical applications
  4. Digi is here to help you!

With so many changes happening and so many choices to consider, from 2G to 3G to 4G LTE and everything between, it makes selecting the right technology for your product challenging. Long-term transition plans and migration strategies are vital for network engineers and administrators to capitalize on the advantages of future networks like 4G, 5G, and LTE.

>>Check out the new Any-G to LTE whitepaper in order to better understand these migration challenges and to prepare for a seamless transition.

From Maker to Mainstream – Productizing Innovation

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Product design does not have a formula. There is no one-size-fits-all playbook. But the journey of any innovator is rich with insights. For those who are wondering what it may be like in the trenches, we’ll take a walk through the process one developer team from the maker community followed in taking their innovation through the design and development process.

The goal: Solve a serious problem, and in the process produce an in-demand mainstream product.

Every Two Minutes a Purse Is Stolen

Joan Dao was a college student at the University of Minnesota when the idea came to her that purses should be theft proof.

It wasn’t just an out-of-the-blue idea. Her brain-child was born out of an incident in which her mother’s purse was violently stolen in a parking lot after she was shopping in a store. Joan helped her mother recover after the trauma, but it was a long road. In addition to feelings of loss and vulnerability, she had to freeze financial accounts, replace identification, and had many doctor visits to deal with the physical trauma.

Joan saw the incident partly as a failure of technology. A blind spot in the grocery store where the robbery occurred meant the thieves got away with the act. They ran to an alley where there was no camera with facial recognition. The police took a record of the theft, but without any method of identifying the thieves, there was really nothing they could do. And of course the purse had no tracking mechanism. She was inspired to come up with a game-changing wearable design.

Since the ultimate design included a Digi XBee® module that controlled the necessary communications, we talked with Joan about her development process and how she plans to take her project from ideation to mainstream.


Launching the Initiative

Joan took the opportunity to become involved in a student group at UMN called Tesla Works. Similar to a real angel investment firm, Tesla Works supports worthy student projects. Once she pitched her idea and got the startup funding, she launched R&D.

“I put together a team and we worked on the project for a year, considering many ideas. We thought of built-in pressurized pepper spray. But then you have a bomb, so no-go. We thought about skunk smell, a panic alarm and Taser arcs. I had to channel my anger about what happened to my mother into the project.”

She realized they needed to solidify their planning around clear goals:

  • Nothing about the design could be illegal
  • It had to be TSA friendly
  • The design had to be financially feasible; the team needed to work with technology (such as sensors) they would have access to readily at low cost

See the video of the team discussing the product design process.

As the pieces began to fall into place, Joan incorporated her company as Colette Technologies, LLC. However, the team is now in the process of reincorporating as “Ilesovi Inc.” and will use that name going forward.

Prototyping: Crossing the Hurdles

The challenges of pulling off a major technology innovation are enormous, especially for a group of students who are only able to commit part-time due to their studies. There were many bumps in the road: four electrical engineers quit, design ideas didn’t pan out, and unreliable technology that was easily available for college students failed frequently. Without an unwavering commitment to seeing this project through, it would not have had a chance.Internal purse design

Finding a designer who could produce a prototype proved to be a larger challenge. The team lost their first designer, who left to pursue a PhD at Cornell in Apparel Design, with her previous work in developing space suits for NASA. Having no one who had a high level of sewing skills stalled the team for months. At last, the team found a freshman who had been sewing all her life and was eager to contribute her skills to the project.

The first prototype included these features:

  • Fashionable Slash-proof design
  • Biometric closure that runs on a fingerprint scanner
  • Robust, anti-pry lock
  • GPS track-ability
  • A method to deter the thief

The theft deterrence alone was a major undertaking. The team reviewed many ideas from exploding dye packs to mace. But many of these options would affect the user as well as the thief. They finally settled on a panic alarm that automatically sounds if the purse strap is broken—an “intentional failure” designed to protect the wearer if the purse strap is yanked.

“The alarm sounds at 120 decibels,” Joan said. “It wails. Ninety decibels is a loud rock concert. This is a siren.”

Market FeasibilityAnti-theft purse fashion

Ilesovi had an opportunity to showcase their prototype purse at the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley in December, 2016. The team’s apparel designer created the prototype to demo at the conference over Thanksgiving weekend using a polyurethane fabric and a stainless steel cable for reinforcement in the seams.

Not only did the team receive exposure for their idea, but they were able to get some instant feedback on the market climate for their product. A conference swarming with people right before the holidays was the perfect opportunity. “There were a lot of guys who wanted the purse as a Christmas gift for their significant others. We knew we had a product ripe for commercialization.”

Patenting

From there the team decided it was time to pursue a patent. They worked with a local IP attorney who helped them file the patent paperwork to secure rights to the design and features, and now have a patent pending.

A new challenge presented itself. The team needed to solidify the technology behind the product and determine how to create a product in scale.

This is where Digi International entered the story.

Technology Advancement and Press

The team was struggling to get their electronics to work when they met associates from Digi International; and morale was low. Then several things happened in fairly quick succession:

  • In the fall of 2017, Ilesovi attended an IoT Fuse Hack Day where they were given a Digi XBee module that would reliably support their connectivity needs.
  • At IoT Fuse, they worked on the product’s fingerprint scanner and finally achieved success.
  • They agreed to join Digi at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and put on a demo in Digi’s booth. This led to a lot of press attention, including an article in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Additionally, they had a huge boom in site traffic, with many people asking how they can buy the product.
  • They underwent a major redesign that included switching from a stepper motor to a solenoid.

Beta Product

Today, the team is preparing to launch a beta product that they will use to obtain real world feedback. This process includes evaluating and updating many of the design elements for usability, reliability and appearance, as well as completing required RF testing and simulated theft testing. It also involves developing a small scale line of 60 items.

“The primary goal is to get user feedback. Customers who buy the beta will get to trade it in for a free upgrade just for being a part of the beta,” Joan said.

The Future for Joan Dao and Ilesovi Inc.

The theft-proof purse team has received so much positive feedback that they know they have a marketable product that will enjoy exceptional demand. Every two minutes someone’s wallet or purse is stolen in the U.S., and very few are ever recovered. The product hits a nerve, and Joan has heard so many stories and received so many requests for related products that she knows it’s only a matter of time before she will need to set her sights higher, broaden the product line and meet a greater demand.

With a degree in neuroscience, Joan has an enormous interest in the Medtech space, from her research in deep brain simulation therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients to wearables that monitor various health metrics.

Joan also has a passion for helping women in technology. Ilesovi’s mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and apparel designer are all women, and she often finds herself mentoring young women who are navigating their way in a male-dominated arena.

Why Ilesovi? Ilesovi is a portmanteau of Spanish and Vietnamese. Ileso means “unscathed” or “unharmed” and “vi” is Vietnamese for “purse.”

A Company to Watch

Innovators and engineers join the Maker community for a wide range of reasons. These include a desire to design and build wireless devices and robotics as a hobby to creating products that can be produced on a mass scale for consumers and businesses.

Keep your sights on Ilesovi, as this initiative that started as a student project could very well one day be producing market-driven devices for B2B markets in high tech, government, financial and medical fields.

>>Check out these customer stories for more insight on how customers use Digi technology in their products and solutions.

Verizon 2G and 3G Sunset Starts

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As you may know, Verizon has now shut down new activations for 2G and 3G and non-VoLTE phone devices as of June 30, 2018. This is a preliminary stage in advance of the Verizon 2G and 3G network shutdown on December 31, 2019. From this date forward, 2G and 3G devices will no longer connect to the network and non-VoLTE LTE phones will not be able to make or receive phone calls.

Fortunately, Digi has a solution to these shutdowns with a family of rugged, purpose-built routers for any industrial application or environment. The Digi TransPort series of 4G LTE routers offers a full range of performance options specifically for these network turn-downs so you can be sure of the right router for the right job. Don’t let your industrial IoT devices fall behind during network shutdowns, turn to Digi for the routers and planning services you need to make your migration to LTE a complete success.

>>Read the Any-G to LTE whitepaper for more details on migrating to 4G, 5G, and beyond

Get a Sense of IoT Sensing Technologies

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Sensor engineers and engineering professionals are gathering this week to learn about sensor technologies and find solutions for tomorrow’s toughest monitoring challenges at Sensors Expo 2018. Our Digi team is joining leading experts from the industry to cover the most comprehensive sensor-focused topics and conversations with over 6,400 professionals from more than 40 countries. Our sensor experts will cover the following topics:

How Enterprises Buy IoT

Wednesday, June 27 10:30am – 11:00am

Due to the rapid growth and agility of the IoT (Internet of Things), there are many different factors that impact its value that businesses need to understand for successful product and solution development. VP of Business Development at Digi International, Curt Ahart, will join Robbie Paul, Director of IoT Business Development Digi Key, and moderator Steve Brumer of 151 Advisors, on the IoT Ecosystem Theater stage at Sensors18 to cover the following questions and to discuss how enterprises develop successful wireless sensor solutions.

● What are the most common obstacles facing IoT product development?
● Does engineering expertise directly translate into a successful IoT solution?
● What are some different approaches to ingrate wireless sensor IoT solutions?
● How long does it take to design, develop and implement a sensor IoT solution?
● What contributes to an IoT project’s success or failure?

How IoT is Improving Cold Chain Management

Thursday, June 28 1:30pm – 2:20pm

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the ability to comply with manufacturers and customer requirements and certifications by using automated, cloud-based wireless technology to monitor, regulate and report real-time temperature data that ensures consistency, compliance and quality control throughout cold chain systems. Chief Technology Officer Transportation and Logistics at SmartSense by Digi, Colin Warkentin, will cover past and current challenges that manufacturers are facing, share wireless and IoT technology solutions, and provide real-world examples and applications from industries including pharmaceutical, healthcare and transportation.

>>Check out these customer success stories for more insight on wireless sensor solutions.

NASA Selects Digi XBee for TechEdSat Missions 5, 6, and 7

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After successful launches of TechEdSat 5 (2016) and 6 (2017), in 2018, NASA has again chosen Digi XBee for the TechEdSat 7 launch to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters. The TechEdSat series continues a partnership with San Jose State University, University of Idaho and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.

One of the big benefits of TechEdSat program has been to evaluate and demonstrate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to lower costs and accelerate development. Digi XBee continues to stand out as a great example of proven commercial hardware that can tolerate the harsh temperatures, shock, and vibration of launch, orbit and re-entry. Each TechEdSat mission has used Digi XBee for an Exo-Brake system to precisely rotate the satellite and bring it back to earth.

Typically, the sensor devices are connected with wiring, but the team chose to move away from traditional wiring and experiment with a wireless network because less cabling on the spacecraft, reducing the size, weight and power (SWaP) need to accomplish the mission. Another important benefit is the ability to relay this data back down to the command center for analysis.

This wireless network is part of NASA’s effort to test the performance of wireless networks on a spacecraft and determine if the technology is suitable for other applications. Due to the high cost associated with launching a rocket, the team must be extremely conservative when implementing new technology. Digi is proud to be a part of these successful missions, and we look forward to Digi XBee being incorporated into more NASA missions.

>>Read the full NASA + Digi XBee timeline for the full story.

Digi’s Global IoT Conference – Connecting Smart Community

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As a leader in IoT, Minnesota has been well-known both historically and culturally, for fostering innovation and creativity, its role in pioneering device technology, and its rapidly evolving networked IoT community. This year alone Minnesota IoT community has hosted the largest statewide innovation competition in the country for tech entrepreneurs, the MN Cup, the largest non-profit IoT conference in the Midwest, the IoTFuse Conference and next week the Digi Global IoT Conference. Hundreds of business executives, engineering leaders, IoT practitioners, and solution developers will be in Minnetonka, Minnesota to demonstrate and discuss what the future holds for IoT technology and applications.

IoT Talks

During this single day event, there will be over 20 internet of things focused presentations that focus on different elements within the internet of things space. A few highlights include:

Digi IoT Zone

In addition to smart sessions, there will be numerous live demonstrations that showcase different IoT technology capabilities and applications has across several different industries. Below are a few customers, partners, and Digi demos to look forward to:

>>Read this Digi Global IoT conference article for more details.

How to Ensure a Successful Migration from 2G and 3G to 4G LTE

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As wireless communication networks continue to rapidly evolve and more carriers announce their plans to discontinue legacy networks, it is imperative that corporate network managers, industrial network operators, and device manufacturers understand the challenges of conducting a 3G to 4G LTE migration . In order to better understand these 4G LTE migration challenges and to prepare for a seamless transition from 3G to 4G LTE networks, you should first answers these four questions:

  1. How many 3G devices are currently active on the field?
    This is an important number to identify and know in order to actually answer the following questions.
  2. What is it going to cost to transition these devices to 4G LTE?
    Migration costs to consider include the cost of hardware, cost of truck roll, manpower hours, and updated carrier plans.
  3. How long will a 2G or 3G to 4G migration take?
    Once the number of devices and migration cost have been identified, you can start to successfully map out the transition timeline based on the carrier’s 4G network introduction plan.
  4. What are my application connectivity needs?
    Lastly, understanding specific needs of existing legacy devices and the needs of highly capable devices today, can maximize your investment, lower design costs and increase higher volume deployments.. A few specification options to consider include battery life, power consumption, data usage, bandwidth, mobility, geographic coverage, etc.

In conclusion, the migration away from legacy networks have already started because device manufactures can no longer rely on 2G or 3G for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. With 2G shutdowns already occurring and 3G network shutdowns on the horizon, long-term transition plans and migration strategies are vital for network engineers and administrators to capitalize on the advantages of 4G, 5G, and LTE.

>>Read the Any-G to LTE whitepaper for more details on migrating to 4G, 5G, and beyond

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