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Digi’s Global IoT Conference – Connecting Smart Community

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

Understanding the ZigBee 3.0 Protocol

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ZigBee is a wireless technology developed as an open global standard to address the unique needs of low-cost, low-power wireless IoT networks. The ZigBee standard operates on the IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio specification and operates in unlicensed bands including 2.4 GHz, 900 MHz and 868 MHz.

The 802.15.4 specification upon which the ZigBee stack operates gained ratification by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2003. The specification is a packet-based radio protocol intended for low-cost, battery-operated devices. The protocol allows devices to communicate in a variety of network topologies and can have battery life lasting several years.


The ZigBee 3.0 protocol has been created and ratified by member companies of the ZigBee Alliance. Over 300 leading semiconductor manufacturers, technology firms, OEMs and service companies comprise the ZigBee Alliance membership. The ZigBee protocol was designed to provide an easy-to-use wireless data solution characterized by secure, reliable wireless network architectures.


The ZigBee 3.0 protocol is designed to communicate data through noisy RF environments that are common in commercial and industrial applications. Version 3.0 builds on the existing ZigBee standard but unifies the market-specific application profiles to allow all devices to be wirelessly connected in the same network, irrespective of their market designation and function. Furthermore, a ZigBee 3.0 certification scheme ensures the interoperability of products from different manufacturers. Connecting ZigBee 3.0 networks to the IP domain opens up monitoring and control from devices such as smartphones and tablets on a LAN or WAN, including the Internet, and brings the true Internet of Things to fruition.

ZigBee protocol features include:

  • Support for multiple network topologies such as point-to-point,
    point-to-multipoint and mesh networks
  • Low duty cycle – provides long battery life
  • Low latency
  • Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS)Up to 65,000 nodes per network
  • 128-bit AES encryption for secure data connections
  • Collision avoidance, retries and acknowledgements

>>Check out the newest Digi XBee3 ZigBee video to learn more.

Intelligent Edge Connectivity Highlights at Embedded World 2018

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Last week at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany we teamed up with Silicon Labs to showcase smart edge Internet of Things (IoT) technology with simplified integration of cellular IoT connectivity and dramatically reduced development challenges. Built as a heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) reference application, we demonstrated a complete connected system with a local liquid crystal display (LCD) based graphical user interface, temperature sensors, fan, and cloud connectivity for remote monitoring and control.

The Digi XBee3 cellular and Silicon Labs demo in the Digi Booth Hall 3 Booth #518 at Embedded World 2018.

At the heart of the demo is Silicon Labs’ new Giant Gecko Series 1 microcontroller (MCU) driving the local LCD and user buttons for temperature set point control, temperature sensing, and fan control. The system also demonstrates the innovative local distribution of edge intelligence by taking advantage of Micro Python based data transformation capabilities and smart Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) connectivity on the Digi XBee3 Cellular in combination with the Micrium embedded application running on the Silicon Labs MCU. Integrated AWS IoT cloud connectivity allows for remote access and control of the simulated HVAC system by offering mobile set point control and status monitoring.

HVAC systems are a critical component as part of new building automation concepts in smart city applications, residential structures, and industrial buildings, providing intelligent energy management and improved air quality. A connected HVAC system delivers a host of benefits for the end-customer as well as device manufacturers and service organizations:

The Silicon Labs demo in Hall 4A, Booth 128 at Embedded World 2018.Easy Remote Access and Control

Easy Remote Access and Control 

  • Easy and always available management by end-customers
  • Remote troubleshooting for service organizations

Enhanced user experience

  • Self-learning, intelligent comfort settings based on behavior patterns
  • Potential for future cloud services based integration such as conversational user interfaces

Improved operational management and cost

  • Remote firmware upgrade for security updates and new features
  • Centralized data analytics of operational history to optimize equipment performance and provide detailed usage insight
  • Intelligent optimization of cellular connectivity cost through Digi XBee3 smart modem integration

New Service Concepts

  • Improved reliability through preventive maintenance such as early failure detection of a fan or burner
  • Optimized replacement of consumables such as filters

The system is more than just a connected HVAC demo. It also shows how IoT concepts can deliver immediate value and benefit, while providing a platform with built-in potential for new features and capabilities in the future. It also demonstrates the opportunities that are opening up when edge intelligence and cloud intelligence come together and combine the traditional “big data” concept provided by the cloud with “intelligent data” from the edge. Ultimately, this will reduce the amount and improving the quality of “big data” generated by IoT edge devices while also optimizing the scale of local network traffic required to exchange data between the edge and the cloud, including optimizing the cost of the underlying cloud services. All of those are concepts are required to drive scalability and efficiency of virtually every IoT application combined with the massive scale of connected devices we are going to see.

>>Watch the new Digi XBee3 Cellular introduction video to learn more smart-sized cellular IoT connectivity.

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Sum of Smarts: Security, Reliability, Certifications & ROI

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Digi XBee3’s smart security, reliability and certifications all add up to the very smartest return on your investment. While you’re speeding your product to market with your mind at ease, you’re also delivering more funds to the bottom line. Products built with Digi XBee3 can be released sooner and will run more smoothly, creating revenue earlier while greatly reducing costs over the long-term. Here’s how it all adds up in your favor:

Smart Security

Digi XBee3 offers comprehensive security with flexible options to match your application’s needs. Digi TrustFence™ is a suite of security features that provides system protection, authentication and data privacy inside every Digi XBee3.

  • Secure Boot ensures that only properly signed and authorized firmware will run on your modules. Any attempt to load non-approved firmware will fail immediately since firmware is checked both during initial installation and at every runtime.
  • Authentication services are available for both data and device identity to ensure that only your actual devices can send their real data into your system, with rouge devices or modified data locked out by default. Secure Connections encrypt your data in transit and ensure data integrity over the air.
  • Electronic security must always be combined with physical security so that physical access to a single device can’t supply access to your entire network. Digi XBee3’s Protected Ports harden and control access to I/O ports preventing local intrusion and keeping your security keys and private information locked down even when your device can’t be.
  • That physical protection doesn’t stop on the outside. By implementing Secured Storage, Digi XBee3 performs file system level encryption so that sensitive information stays private no matter what. The security landscape is constantly changing, so Digi’s security team constantly evaluates new risks and can quickly supply authorized firmware updates to address any emerging concerns. Digi XBee3’s built-in smart security speeds development, protects deployments and ensures your organization can stay focused on what it does best.

Smart Reliability

Great IoT solutions are always available, always up-to-date and always accurate. Digi XBee3 delivers the whole package, with predictable high-quality manufacturing you can depend on, and long product lifecycles all from a stable partner. Smart Reliability is designed into Digi XBee3 on many levels. Modules communicate reliably right out of the box to help speed the evaluation process as well as providing a known reliable state to fall back on throughout development.

  • Standards-Based – Standard physical and electrical pinouts and a common command set mean that your code and designs work reliably even when supporting multiple protocols. It also means that Digi XBee3 will operate reliably on a variety of development boards available from third-party vendors in addition to the standard reference models provided by Digi International.
  • Mesh Networking – Connection reliability features are provided for all Digi XBee3 variants. Mesh protocols such as DigiMesh and ZigBee offer reliable ad-hoc network creation in a self-healing mesh, so that no unit ever becomes a single point of failure.
  • Digi SureLink™ – Cellular connections stay dependable with automatic retries, connection monitoring and cloud-level alerts so your staff is informed of any outages in the network before your customers are even aware. All Digi XBee3 modules come with a full one-year warranty from a company that’s provided reliable, award-winning communications equipment for over 30 years.

Smart Certifications

Digi XBee3 modules carry international end-device certifications to permit implementation around the globe, often without any further efforts. This can save months of time, tens of thousands in expenditures and help lock down delivery dates. In many cases, Digi XBee3 can be properly included in a product simply by following labeling guidelines, with no additional testing or confirmation required. This will have a direct impact on the bottom line and help maintain focus on building great product rather than struggling to satisfy regulators.

Smart ROI

Let’s do the math. Smart Security + Smart Reliability + Smart Certifications equals the Smartest ROI. Having each of these features built in to Digi XBee3 lowers your non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs while speeding time to market. Faster to market means faster to revenue. You’ll be spending less to get to market sooner. Smart Reliability protects your investment in the field, improving service while reducing or eliminating maintenance expenses. Smart Security deploys quickly and prevents unwanted disruptions, keeping customers happy and revenue flowing unimpeded. Smart Programmability can eliminate unneeded external components and dramatically reduce data costs. Smart Power management allows smaller and less costly batteries to do the work of larger more expensive ones. It also extends battery replacement cycles, lowering ongoing maintenance expenses. You can see why we call Digi XBee3 smart!

Use Case

Here’s an example showing how all of this comes together:

Modern vehicles use electronic networks to communicate between components inside your car. For example, a speed sensor near the transmission sends digitized data over the car’s onboard network to an electronic speedometer display—mechanical connections are a thing of the past. Nearly everything in the car communicates with data, from the gas pedal to the windows. All this data is available through standardized ports, though the format and features vary by manufacturer and model.

A technology startup wants to connect car owners with all the electronic data being generated by their vehicle. They specify a cellular-connected product that sends data from the vehicle’s standard OBD-II port to the cloud. The data must be kept secure in transit, with cloud server access keys stored on the device. Their investors need to see revenue as quickly as possible, therefore development must be fast, and certification delays should be eliminated to meet the schedule and budget. The device should be unobtrusive so components need to be small. Depending upon region and carrier, different cellular modules will be required, so common physical and electronic footprints are mandatory. The automotive environment is challenging; therefore high reliability is essential to product success. Watch this video for more Digi XBee3 Cellular use cases explained:

Digi XBee3 Cellular is the perfect fit. It is already end-device certified so governmental and carrier approval is in place, saving perhaps 3 months on the development schedule. The Digi XBee3 standard command set and API frames, along with its supporting libraries speed up the code-writing and debugging process tremendously. Digi TrustFence security is built right in, including both the SSL/TLS encryption and the secure storage required for protecting cloud authentication keys on the device itself. The common device footprint makes swapping protocols a breeze. Changing an LTE Cat 1 solution to 3G or NB-IoT is as simple as plugging in a new module. The Smart Size and flexible antenna options all help keep the device itself unobtrusive, a plus for customer satisfaction. The whole solution is backed up by Digi’s ongoing reliability and security monitoring efforts, as well as the company’s long product life cycles that protect against component obsolescence. Now drivers can read vehicle diagnostics and also gain access to customizing button-press audio feedback, improving engine tuning or even creating their own remote ignition system. This startup is on its way to getting the best return on their innovation investment–because Digi XBee3 summed up to being the Smartest solution.

>>Check out this latest whitepaper for more advantages of Digi XBee3 Cellular.

FEFEL Develops Smart Foodservice Solution

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An innovative Swiss company, FELFEL, has changed the way their employees eat at work with access to high-quality food on-demand. FELFEL developed a complete, innovative solution that enables employees to choose from fresh and affordable meal options such as “Pollo alla Siciliana” or “Satay Chicken Noodles” instead of boring or non-nutritious meals. Employees can access these meals by simply scanning their badge to unlock the wooden cased refrigerator, selecting their item to scan, and can their manage account details through a web application.

To design its food service solution, they chose the Digi ConnectCore 6 single-board computer to speed time to market by eliminating the traditional risk, effort and complexity of custom board designs without sacrificing flexibility or capabilities. “Many companies in Switzerland are in isolated office parks or remote areas, and the options are limited to vending machines,” said Fah Yik Yong, tech developer at FELFEL. “It all starts with great food choices, of course. But we also wanted to create a custom solution that delivers fresh food with a unique user experience.”

Using 4G LTE technology, FELFEL can pre-plan inventory using real time data that is sent to a central location at its headquarters. This innovative food service solution has already been installed in over 80 locations across Switzerland and Liechtenstein with plans to continue to expand.

>>Read the full customer success story here.

Seven Segment Display with Digi XBee

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Assemble the Parts
  3. Configure the Radio
  4. Wire up the Circuit
  5. Use it!

1) Introduction

Number communicate clearly. With a simple 7-segment numeric display you can show how many, how much, which one or when with precision. It’s a snap to display numbers wirelessly with an Digi XBee radio.

The Digi XBee directly drives a simple numeric display, and that’s often all a project needs. For example, here’s some characters you can show in seven segments, (click the image to see even more possibilities):

The numbers can be small or huge. For applications that require extensive text, check out our LCD text display example for rich communications. Otherwise when simple numbers and letters fit the bill, here’s how to get ’em….

Digi XBee3: Go Smaller, Run Longer

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The new Digi XBee3 smart modules offer reduced size and weight with increased battery life in plenty of options, all from a reliable partner you can trust. These let Digi XBee3 go smaller, run longer and work smarter while retaining rock-solid stability. It’s perfect for IoT devices that need to be compact, mobile and ultra-efficient.

Digi XBee3 can fit almost anywhere. With a new Micro SMT footprint of just 13mm x 19mm it occupies less than a third of the original XBee form factor. To maintain full compatibility, it is also available in the original Digi XBee through-hole and surface-mount packages, so that even customers who integrated Digi XBee when it first came out can continue to source components that fit their original PCBs. Choose between three standard form factors:

  • Through-hole for maximum flexibility & third-party socket compatibility
  • SMT standard-size for lower cost, greater I/O and backwards-compatible footprint
  • Micro for lowest size, weight and cost to support mobility and maximize ROI

Size, Weight, & Power

Digi XBee3 supports three different antenna types so that you can choose the right solution for your project. Need maximum simplicity? Choose an onboard chip antenna that requires no additional components and works great from inside a non-metallic enclosure. Should you need greater flexibility in positioning your antenna, choose a standard U.FL connector that supports a slew of external and specialty antennas, especially useful if your device lives in a metal box. Finally, if you are creating a PCB trace antenna or simply want an antenna connector someplace else, there’s the RF pad option that enables routing antenna signal to anywhere on your circuit board. Digi XBee3 offers a wide range of alternatives in a tiny package.

Going small means going mobile, and going mobile usually means taking power with you in the form of a battery. You’ll want this battery to be pretty tiny too, and that creates a challenge. Smaller batteries have less capacity, and therefore require more frequent recharging or replacement unless power is properly controlled. Digi helps you meet this challenge with lots of options for managing power to ensure that even small batteries can have long lives. In simple solutions where power is not constrained your Digi XBee3 can remain active all the time. However, when running with a limited power budget it’s most effective to put the device to “sleep” so that it can minimize power use during the downtime. Digi XBee3 supports an external sleep control so that a host device can put the Digi XBee3 to sleep when it’s not needed and wake it when it is. An internal cyclic sleep timer is also available when there’s no host device, like for simple sensor applications that wake every few minutes to transmit a new reading then going back to sleep. Finally, the business rules engine in MicroPython can create programmatic power control for extra, application-specific savings. Most protocols offered on Digi XBee3 also support different levels of sleep, from a deep sleep that uses almost no energy to lighter sleep modes when faster wake times are required. Digi XBee3 knows that getting good sleep is a key to staying smart.

Digi XBee3 Use Case

18.8 million people live with diabetes and many want their doctor to effectively monitor their blood glucose levels without losing any of their independence. They need a blood glucose monitor that is remotely accessible anytime, anywhere. Naturally they’d like it to be lightweight and portable with terrific battery life.

Digi XBee3 has everything required. The module’s smart size and feather weight helps match the glucose monitor to active lifestyles. Power management from the XBee3 ensures it only uses what’s absolutely necessary—extending the period between recharges without degrading the user’s experience. Digi XBee3 enhanced portable and wearable medical devices have the power to send automated updates, notifications and alerts to medical professionals or patients’ loved ones as their health status changes. These solutions empower patients to preventatively monitor their health and improve their overall quality of life while providing peace of mind for their loved ones. Doctors also benefit by making better decisions when patient data is easily and securely accessible in real-time. By fitting in a pocket and needing only infrequent charging, the Digi XBee3-enabled glucose monitor pleases patients and improves their outcomes while reducing overall costs.

This is just one of many ways that Digi XBee3’s small size, power savings and implementation flexibility helps create solutions that are reliable, cost-effective and smart.

>>Want to try these smarts on for size? Here is a ZigBee Mesh Kit to get you started.


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