World Customs Organisation Technology and Innovation Forum 2015

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Our pet shipping container

Itude Mobile exhibited and presented at the World Customs Organisation Technology and Innovation Forum 2015. In this bi-yearly conference for border forces and customs organisations new technology trends are addressed that promise to make the world a safer place. Our smart seal product Babbler attracted a lot of attention. We look forward to involving customs organisations from around the world.

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The slides we presented to customs organisations from around the worlds are on slideshare:

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Geslaagde IoT LoRa radio test met KPN en Itude Mobile

IMG_4502Met dank aan Unit45.com en Van Doorn Containers, voor het ter beschikkingstellen van de testlocatie, konden we samen met KPN een ‘field test’ doen van het nieuwe radio netwerk voor Internet of Things (IoT), gericht op connectiviteit op lange afstand.  Dit nieuwe netwerk, LoRa genoemd, is in Frankrijk al beschikbaar en wordt dit jaar door KPN uitgerold in Nederland. Andere landen zullen naar verwachting spoedig volgen.

De hamvraag was of het nieuwe netwerk in de logistieke praktijk door stalen containers dringt. Om dit te testen zochten we een uitdagende radio omgeving. Unit45, fabrikant van containers en Van Doorn Containerdepot op de tweede Maasvlakte, waren  bereid aan de test mee te werken en ons los te laten op hun containers en het terrein. Bij Van Doorn Containerdepot staan gemiddeld 30.000 – 50.000 lege containers zeven hoog gestapeld te wachten tot ze nodig zijn.

Vandaag bleek het LoRa netwerk vanuit de binnenkant van gesloten IMG_4494containers te gebruiken, zelfs door meerdere stapels containers heen. De marges die het netwerk met de eerste generatie LoRa apparatuur over had waren boven verwachting in deze moeilijke omgeving. Zelfs op plekken waar je geen ontvangst op je GSM hebt blijkt LoRa nog te functioneren, kortom: test geslaagd!

Dat biedt perspectief op interessante toepassingen voor supply chain optimalisatie en inzicht in de keten, waar binnen Itude Mobile volop aan wordt gewerkt.

Op de foto’s zijn een test-mast van KPN te zien, test apparatuur in de container. Collega Ernst Prins voor een Reefer container, Dustin Snijders en Tim van Dam van KPN met een developer gateway en gestapelde containers zoals ze op het depot verspreid zijn.

— Itude Mobile werkt aan innovatieve smartphone, tablet en IoT oplossingen in de supply chain —

Verder lezen:

Lora Gateway IMG_4488 IMG_4486 IMG_4500

Internet of moving things

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Update 24 april 2015

Op 23 april 2015 spraken Stephan Okhuijsen en Robin Puthli over de ‘Internet of moving things’ tijdens de IoT dag van het apprilfestival.

Samenvatting

Het zorgvuldig delen van gegevens is essentieel om efficiënt goederen te vervoeren, maar ook om de kwaliteit ervan te bewaken. Tegelijkertijd wil iedereen dat die gegevens goed beveiligd zijn.  

Gelukkig zijn er steeds meer open standaarden en open source software oplossingen waar bedrijven gebruik van kunnen maken om deze complexe problematiek aan te pakken. Tijdens deze presentatie zal Stephan Okhuijsen ingaan op de bestaande en opkomende open standaarden die als olie tussen de Internet of Things en cloud systemen werkt. Vervolgens zal Robin Puthli aan de hand van een logistieke casus aangeven hoe die standaarden gebruikt kunnen worden en welke open source producten daarbij helpen. Ook delen we praktijkervaring met de open source software die de Europese Unie als onderdeel van het ‘Future Internet’ programma voor MKB bedrijven ter beschikking stelt.

Casus

De casus die we behandelen betreft een mobiel weerstation: Bij de productie, vervoer en opslag van agrarische goederen is de temperatuur essentieel. Verkeerde temperatuur is de belangrijkste oorzaak dat versproducten verspild worden.  We laten zien hoe je mobiel weerstation kunt maken en die gegevens zorgvuldig en veilig kunt delen middels open source software.

Sprekers

Over Itude Mobile

Itude Mobile maakt maatwerk software voor sensoren, smartphones en de cloud en koppelt dat allemaal aan elkaar. Dat doen we vooral in de logistiek, waar alles in beweging is en (mobiele) netwerkverbindingen onbetrouwbaar zijn.

Links:

The Internet of Things will be much, much bigger than mobile

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At the Mobile World Congress 2015 we attended the 4YFN innovation sessions, many of which addressed the expected Internet of Things revolution.

The following is a summary of a presentation by Alexander Izomisov of Ericsson on the Internet of Things and why it will have more impact than most people expect. Ericsson supplies telecommunications hardware for many of the worlds network operators.

What is the Internet of Things?

The internet of things (IoT for short) is a buzzword in the high-tech and startup landscape. IoT encompases all the devices we are starting to use that access or put data on the internet. Cars, heart-rate monitors, vending machines, weather stations, thermostats and many more devices have suddenly become ‘smart’ by being connected to the internet.

50 billion internet devices in 2020

From a telecom perspective this changes the world fundamentally. Between 2010 and 2015 the voice connections handled by mobile networks doubled as more consumers adopted mobile phones. That number is expected to grow to 9,5 Billion users in 2020, after which everyone will have a phone and the volume of voice calls will probably flatten out (you can only speak to so many people on the phone or watch so many youtube video’s on your smartphone – even if you are a teenager 😉 ).
Data however is a completely different story. There is no real limit to the number of connected devices you can own. I have a connected thermostat, connected TV and connected solar panel in my home, my car connects to the internet, i can buy internet connected lamp bulbs and so on. And that is just the devices that i make decisions about. Manufacturers are increasingly adding IoT tech to everything from coffee vending machines to greenhouse equipment. Between 2010 and 2015 the volume of data that mobile networks handled grew 14 fold and is growing exponentially. Whatever the number of IoT connected devices in 2020 (50 Billion according to some) it is clear we have a completely different order of magnitude growth than we saw with voice connections.

The networked society

Numbers aside, the internet of things will have a profound impact on our lives. Commonplace objects in our homes, workplaces and public spaces will be connected. We are entering what some call the ‘Networked society’ in which the concepts of network and connected devices will be redefined. And it will happen in the next 5-10 years.

Enter 5G

Mobile 3G and 4G networks using IPv4 simply cannot cope with the exponential growth of mobile data. 5G is the telecom technology that promises to keep the networks ticking over in the next 5 years. 5G promises much lower power consumption for connected, low power devices coupled with much higher bandwidth. It promises 100-1000x the bandwidth of current networks with much lower latency and the ability to cope with 100x as many devices. IPv6 will allow the 50 Billion devices to have their own address on the network.

IoT standards for your connected coffee

Freshly brewed from the Mobile World Congress 2015…

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The internet of things(IoT for short) encompasses many devices made by many different vendors. Internet standards such as REST, HTTP and IPv4 are not suitable for many of these devices. So vendors are creating their own protocols for communication and management of sensors and devices. That means two vendor’ ’smart’ devices with the same function will not work together. So if you buy a thermometer for inside your house and a thermometer from another vendor for in your garden you will likely need a different app to access each. This is annoying for consumers, adds hurdles for vendors and is generally silly. By analogy, imagine if electricity sockets were not standardized in a country. You would need US power sockets and Euro D power sockets in the same room.
So it would be great if a bunch of thermometer vendors agreed to use the same protocols. The good news is that standards are emerging fast:

  • Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) is a document transfer protocol for constrained devices. In CoAP every byte counts. It sits on the lightweight UDP transport protocol and adds reliability and meaningful semantics for data exchange between devices and servers on the internet.
  • MQTT is a publish/subscribe messaging protocol designed for lightweight M2M communications. It was originally developed by IBM and is now an open standard. A drawback is that it requires TCP, which is a greater burden on connected devices. Keep in mind these are tiny devices with not much memory, often running on a battery.
  • Lightweight Machine to Machine (LWM2M) adds specifications for remote device management on top of CoAP. Basically it provides standards for reading and writing values or triggering commands on remote IoT devices. LWM2M is provided by the Open Mobile Alliance, a non-profit organisation which provides standards for the telecoms industry. The Open Mobile Alliance also provides a central registry with generic descriptions of many device types. Vendors can register their specific devices in th registry.

ARM endorses CoAP, LWM2M and MQTT

These standards are starting to get serious traction. For example ARM, the company that makes and ships tens of bilions of central processing chip for just about anything that moves (smartphones, tablets, sensors, beacons etc), is including native CoAP, MQTT and LWM2M support in their free mbed operating system which will be available at the end of 2015.

Connected coffee

The following shows a demonstration setup by Nordic semiconductors, which produces ARM based chips and components for IoT devices. The cup has a bluetooth low energy beacon which is detected by a bluetooth low energy sensor on the coffee machine. The coffee machine communicates over the internet using a bluetooth gateway on a Raspberry Pi.

Simply place the cup and the machine looks up your coffee preferences and makes coffee!

Connected coffee

Links

IoT based on Bluetooth LE has rapid growth

At Droidcon UK 2014, Martin Woolley of the Bluetooth Special Interest group discussed Android 5 improvements for Bluetooth Low Energy and how to use Bluetooth Smart based Internet of Things (IoT) devices from Android smartphones. Below are some key takeaways of Martins session.

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Regular Bluetooth has been around for over a decade and was intended for streaming audio. Bluetooth headphones and carkits use regular Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone. Because of the large amount of data involved in streaming audio, Bluetooth connections use quite a lot of power which is a problem on battery powered devices. 

However there is a whole range of devices that only require a small amount of data to be transmitted. Heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, smart light bulbs and temperature sensors are but a few of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are proliferating at the moment. This is where Bluetooth Low Energy.comes in. Bluetooth Low Energy (also called Bluetooth Smart) has a much lower transmission frequency which vastly improves the power consumption involved. A regular Bluetooth connection will deplete a smartphone battery in a few hours, but on a Bluetooth Low Energy a smartphone battery will last for months or years. And the same applies to the devices your smartphone connects to. This is why Bluetooth Low Energy is seen as a key enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT). Apple uses a subset of Bluetooth Low Energy to implement its iBeacon protocol. 

Bluetooth communication consists broadly of five steps:

  1. Discover a device. A client (your smartphone) looks for devices that are broadcasting their existence. The broadcasting devices are said to be in “discoverable mode”.
  2. Connect
  3. Explore what you can do with the device. This is called service discovery. The Bluetooth has a protocol for finding out which commands you can send to a device and which data you can retrieve from it.
  4. Interact with a device. This is two-directional. The device can be queried (i.e. tell me what the temperature is) or the device can notify you – heart rate and gps sensors do the latter.
  5. Disconnect

The good

Bluetooth LE works on many devices that are available right now for consumers. You can build products and applications that consumers can buy and use.

The bad

Manufacturers of Bluetooth devices are free to decide what names and values they use for attributes and services. Two different heart rate monitors may have different service and attribute names for the same things. There is no central place to find device characteristics so you have to code this for each and every device type you want to use. (edit: since this article bluetooth.org has introduced a registry of services and attributes. It will be interesting to see if this registry gains support from device vendors).

The Ugly

Implementations of the Bluetooth stack on smartphones do not get the care they deserve by smartphone manufacturers. Some API’s are buggy and will drop connections, mishandle errors and require restarting the phone to re-enable Bluetooth operations.

Bluetooth Low energy facts

  • Bluetooth LE works well in radio saturated environments because it can hop to different frequencies up to 1600 times a second
  • Native smartphone support on 96% of current smartphones
  • Developer friendly: API available on most smartphone platforms
  • Growing rapidly. 1 Billion devices shipped in 2012, 2,5 Billion in 2013, 30 Billion sales expected in 2030

* Note: Apple, iBeacon and Bluetooth are registered trademarks.