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This Week in IoT: Tales of Terror

The world of IoT is moving fast. Here are five stories from the past week you may have missed.

Experience Is the Best Teacher

Though the season of spookiness is past, the lessons live on. Check out the troubleshooting tales of terror compiled by @ElecctronicDesign. From a misguided missile guidance system to a phantom bug in an emulator tool, engineers share how they worked good magic to fix a problem.

One of my favorites in this collection is the “Spell to Defeat a Power-Sucking, Battery-Killing Firmware Flaw.” Looking at the system’s ZigBee communication log highlighted the problem. It revealed that bad sensors were sending an “I am alive” message every 10 seconds instead of every 5 minutes. Those who remember working on the early Apple networks will remember this old power-sucking and bandwidth-killing gremlin. All 10 tales are worth the read!

Intelligent ATMs: Sci-Fi or Reality?

Would you bank with a robotic ATM that was both sentient and mobile? If you’re a reader of Walter Knight’s sci-fi series on galactic rangers, then you’re familiar with having an intelligent and very human-like ATM on the team.

Such futuristic interplays are a little bit closer to reality with the introduction of robot tellers in a downtown Shanghai bank. Customers at this bank are greeted by “Teller-bots” like Little Dragon equipped with facial and voice recognition technologies.

For now, Little Dragon acts as the bank’s outer guardian, talking with customers, taking bank cards and checking accounts. Once those tasks are completed, the friendly teller-bot allows customers to pass through electronic gates into the bank.

Similar financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK) will soon have new artificial intelligence robots strolling through the foyer of several branches. These are continuing examples of the breadth of the emerging robot workforce – a reality that we human types are regarding with caution and some concern. In fact, the China Economic Life Survey found that nearly 80% of Chinese consumers felt the development of AI would present a serious threat to their privacy. We live in interesting times!

LED “Filaments” Light the IoT

Do you miss the incandescent glow of filament light bulbs but love the efficiency of LEDs? Four students from the University of Edinburgh have formed a startup that provides the best of both worlds.

An @EETimes article reported that these students have devised a way to construct a filament-like bulb using a string of LEDs to provide the look and ambience of the classic incandescent bulb. The 6.4-W globe bulb (110–240 V) has eight columns of sapphire and LEDs that can deliver 650 lumens. A glass bulb enclosure replicates the look of old-fashioned Edison bulbs. The LED driver is hidden in the bulb’s base.

Why bother to make modern LED technology look like yesterday’s incandescent? Many consumers like the hip, retro look. Others are nostalgic for the primitive, fire-like glow of the filament.

But there may be a more contemporary use, namely, as a future source of LiFi technology. LiFi uses visible light to provide super high-speed, wireless Internet connections. With 8 columns of LED “filaments,” such light bulbs might provide especially fast transmission and receptions speeds. This is timely, as the IoT will need all the data connectivity sources it can get to support the much-publicized 50 billion devices by 2020.

Creating a Digital Twin with Pi

Did you know that it’s possible to use an open IoT platform to build a digital twin on a @Raspberry_Pi? To begin with, one must first mesh the physical properties of an object with an information communication framework and data visualization software to create accurate representations of the object and related processes.

@NodeRED is one such platform that provides a visualization-programming tool for developing a variety of IoT networking architectures. NodeRED wires together IoT hardware devices, APIs, and online services. In the end, you should have a digital twin that supports both the design and manufacturing efforts.

Tip of the hat to @ElecctronicDesign for this great insight!

Digital Threads, Twins and the IoT

To maneuver in the evolving world of IoT processes and technologies, it’s useful to understand a few basic terms like digital threads, twins, and continuity.

As @IoTEmbSys explains, digitization is the conversion of the physical world to a digital equivalent. Digitization is needed to turn a physical system into a digital replica or twin. Digital threads help connect the digital twin into a product’s entire lifecycle, encompassing data flows across architectural creating, design, integration, and manufacturing. It’s a vital thread that runs through all the engineering disciplines, domains, and contexts a product or service interacts with. Digital continuity is achieved when a streamlined flow of data, information, and views can be established between the design and the manufacturing environments.

An industrial IoT example is provided using @Mentor_Graphics that focuses on the creation of a general-purpose factory motor. An interesting consequence of all these digital treads, twins, continuity, and associated modeling is that the activity is bringing the “engineering” back into systems engineering. Check out this article to find out how!

About the Author

John covers today’s latest high-tech, science and even science fiction in blogs, magazine articles, books and videos. He is an experienced physicist, engineer, journalist, author and professor who continues to speak at major conferences and before the camera on TV.

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