RF-LORA Module for the IoT

RF Solutions’s RF-LORA module is a high-performance radio module delivered in a compact 23 mm × 20 mm format. Intended for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, the RF-LORA module delivers Semtech’s LoRa technology for IoT applications.RF-LORA promo image v2 copy

The RF-LORA’s specs and features:

  • Up to 16 km, spread-spectrum communication and high interference immunity within minimum current consumption
  • Semtech SX1272 LoRa chip.
  • Built-in preamble detection
  • Available in SMT and DIL packages

Source: RF Solutions

Narrowband IoT Module Optimized for Secure Applications

u-blox new SARA-N2 Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) module is a cellular radio module compliant to the 3GPP Release 13, Narrowband IoT (LTE Cat. NB1) standard. Intended for a wide variety of IoT applications (e.g., smart buildings and cities, utilities metering, and asset tracking), the compact (16 mm × 26 mm) SARA-N2 module will operate for up to 20 years from a single-cell primary battery. With a 20-dB link budget improvement over GPRS, the module delivers high performance under poor coverage conditions (e.g., underground or inside a building).UB047 u-blox

The SARA-N2 module’s advantages include:

  • Secure, private communications
  • Peak downlink rates of up to 227 kbps and uplink rates of up to 21 kbps
  • Simultaneous support for three RF bands so you can use the same module in most geographic regions.
  • Lower latency than mesh networks due to its point-to-point topology,
  • Ability to run next to existing 2G and LTE networks
  • Allows for robust two-way communication
  • The possibility for global roaming

 

Samples of the SARA-N2 NB-IoT module are scheduled to be available in Q4 2016.

Source: u-blox

Light-Weight Data Encryption for IoT and M2M Applications

LSE Technologies recently announced it is enabling secure end-to-end network data transfers for M2M applications and IoT devices with its Lightweight Stream Encryption Technology (LSET) C source code packages. LSE tech

Three versions of the LSET Professional product line are available for different levels of security and processing resources:

  • LSET Pro is targeted at 8-bit and low-end 16/32-bit microcontrollers and offers basic encryption algorithm for short control/status messages.
  • LSET ProX is targeted at mid-range 16/32-bit microcontrollers with an enhanced encryption/decryption engine and key security features. It is suitable for short control/status messaging as well as video and firmware updates.
  • LSET ProXT is targeted at higher end 32-bit microcontrollers and provides a more advanced encryption/decryption engine and additional key security features. It is suitable for longer messages such as in gateway applications as well as for video and firmware updates.

On a common 32-bit microcontroller, a typical implementation of the LSET ProX package would require about 600 bytes of code space plus 64 bytes of RAM and with a 20-MHz CPU clock encryption/decryption could be performed in about 2.5 µs per byte.

The LSET source code packages were designed to be easily incorporated into existing code bases. In many cases data encryption can be added to a product in just a few hours. The LSET Professional C source code packages start at $500 for the LSET Pro package.

Source: LSE Technologies

Compact COM Express Module with Intel Celeron N3xxx Processors

WIN Enterprises recently launched the compact MB-73450 COM Express module with Type 6 pinouts. The module supports a variety of dual- and quad-core SoC processors, including Intel Celeron and Pentium N3000 product families (4–10 W). In addition the unit supports the cost-efficient Intel Atom quad-core x5-E8000. Turbo-boost frequencies range from 2 up to 2.56 GHz across the various processor options for MB-73450.WinEnt MB-73450

Notable features and characteristics:

  • Supports Intel Celeron N3x processor family
  • Up to 8-GB non-ECC dual-channel DDR3L
  • Two DDI channels, one LVDS, up to three independent displays
  • GbE, 2× SATA 6 Gbps, 4× USB 3.0 and 8× USB 2.0
  • Five PCIe ×1 (Gen2)
  • Supports TPM 1.2/2.0
  • Wide-range voltage input 8.5 to 20 V
  • Wide range operating temperature: –40°C to 85°C (optional)
  • A maximum of up to 8-GB DDR3L memory.

The MB-73450 processor options featured robust turbo burst frequencies for IoT applications where processors must serve functions incremental to their primary application function, such as encryption/deencryption and virus protection. MB-73450 supports Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for more secure communications.

Source: WIN Enterprises

The Future of Sensor Technology for the IoT

Sensors are at the heart of many of the most innovative and game-changing Internet of Things (IoT) applications. We asked five engineers to share their thoughts on the future of sensor technology.


ChrisCantrellCommunication will be the fastest growth area in sensor technology. A good wireless link allows sensors to be placed in remote or dynamic environments where physical cables are impractical. Home Internet of Things (IoT) sensors will continue to leverage home Wi-Fi networks, but outdoor and physically-remote sensors will evolve to use cell networks. Cell networks are not just for voice anymore. Just ask your children. Phones are for texting—not for talking. The new 5G mobile service that rolls out in 2017 is designed with the Internet of Things in mind. Picocells and Microcells will better organize our sensors into manageable domains. What is the best cellular data plan for your refrigerator and toaster? I can’t wait for the TV commercials. — Christopher Cantrell (Software Engineer, CGI Federal)


TylerSensors of the future will conglomerate into microprocessor controlled blocks that are accessed over a network. For instance, weather sensors will display temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed, and direction along with latitude, longitude, altitude, and time thrown in for good measure, and all of this will be available across a single I2C link. Wide area network sensor information will be available across the Internet using encrypted links. Configuration and calibration can be done using webpages and all documentation will be stored online on the sensors themselves. Months’ worth of history will be saved to MicroSD drives or something similar. These are all things that we can dream of and implement today. Tomorrow’s sensors will solve tomorrow’s problems and we can really only make out the barest of glimpses of what tomorrow will hold. It will be entertaining to watch the future unfold and see how much we missed. — David C. Tyler (Retired Computer Scientist)



Quo vadis electronics? During the past few decades, electrical engineering has gone through an unprecedented growth. As a result, we see electronics to control just about everything around us. To be sure, what we call electronics today is in fact a symbiosis of hardware and software. At one time every electrical engineer worth his salt had to be able to solder and to write a program. A competent software engineer today may not understand what makes the hardware tick, just as a hardware engineer may not understand software, because it’s often too much for one person to master. In most situations, however, hardware depends on software and vice versa. While current technology enables us to do things we could not even dream about just a few years ago, when it comes to controlling or monitoring physical quantities, we remain limited by what the data sensors can provide. To mimic human intellect and more, we need sensors to convert reality into electrical signal. For that research scientists in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and so forth work hard to discover novel, advanced sensors. Once a new sensor principle has been found, hardware and software engineers will go to work to exploit its detection capabilities in practical use. In my mind, research into new sensors is presently the most important activity for sustaining progress in the field of electronic control. — George Novacek (Engineer, Columnist, Circuit Cellar)


GustafikIt’s hard to imagine the future of sensors going against the general trend of lower power, greater distribution, smaller physical size, and improvements in all of the relevant parameters. With the proliferation of small connected devices beyond industrial and specialized use into homes and to average users (IoT), great advances and price drops are to be expected. Tech similar to that, once reserved for top-end industrial sensor networks, will be readily available. As electrical engineers, we will just have to adjust as always. After years of trying to avoid the realm of RF magic, I now find myself reading up on the best way to integrate a 2.4-GHz antenna onto my PCB. Fortunately, there is an abundance of tools, application notes, and tutorials from both the manufacturers and the community to help us with this next step. And with the amazing advances in computational power, neural networks, and various other data processing, I am eager to see what kind of additional information and predictions we can squeeze out of all those measurements. All in all, I am looking forward to a better, more connected future. And, as always, it’s a great time to be an electrical engineer. — David Gustafik (Hardware Developer, MicroStep-MIS)


MittalMiniature IoT, sensor, and embedded technologies are the future. Today, IoT technology is a favorite focus among many electronics startups and even big corporations. In my opinion, sensor-based medical applications are going to be very important in our day-to-day lives in the not-so-distant future. BioMEMS sensors integrated on a chip have already made an impact in industry with devices like glucometers and alcohol detectors. These types of BioMEMS sensors, if integrated inside mobile phones for many medical applications, can address many human needs. Another interesting area is wireless charging. Imagine if you could charge all your devices wirelessly as soon as you walk into your home. Wouldn’t that be a great innovation that would make your life easier? So, technology has a very good future provided it can bring out solutions which can really solve human needs. — Nishant Mittal (Master’s Student, IIT Bombay, Mumbai)

New Plug-and-Play FPC Antennas for the 3G, 4G, and LTE Bands

Antenova recently announced three new flexible printed circuit antennas—Mitis (SRFL026), Moseni (SRFL029), and Zhengi (SRFC015)—to cover the 3G, 4G, and LTE bands. The flexible antennas—which belong to Antenova’s flexiiANT range of antennas—offer options for all of the world’s 4G and LTE bands. You also have a choice of antenna shape and size. You can fold the flexible FPC antennas to fit inside small electronic devices. You can position them vertically, horizontally, or co-planar to the PCB. and are ideal for use in applications where there may not be room for an SMD antenna.Antenova Mitis Antenna

The Mitis and Moseni antennas were developed for 4G and LTE applications, including MIMO. The Zhengi covers all of the 3G and 4G LTE bands B7 (2,500–2,690 MHz) and B30, B40 (2,300–2,400 GHz), including LTE Bands B7, B30, B38, B40, and B41.

The antennas come with an IPEX MHF (UFL) cable in a choice of three lengths for easy connection to a wireless module, making them effectively plug-and-play antennas, particularly as they can be integrated without matching. Each one has a peel-back self-adhesive backing that enables you to position it in a variety of  designs.

The Mitis, Moseni and Zhengi antennas are designed for a wide variety of applications, such as smart meters, remote monitoring, M2M, and IoT devices.

Source: Antenova M2M

Arduino Primo Features Nordic Semiconductor SoC

Nordic Semiconductor recently announced that Arduino’s new Arduino Primo features its nRF52832 Bluetooth low energy SoC. The IoT-targeted Arduino Primo PCB features native Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity and includes Near Field Communication (NFC), Wi-Fi, and infrared (IR) technologies. In addition to being able to wirelessly connect to a wide array of Bluetooth low energy sensors, the Arduino Primo uses the nRF52832 SoC’s integrated NFC for secure authentication and Touch-to-Pair (a simple BLE pairing function requiring no user interaction), and has embedded IR for traditional remote control. Nordic_Arduino_Primo_PRINT

The Nordic nRF52832 SoC’s ARM processor has ample computational overhead to manage the Arduino Primo’s on-board accelerometer, temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors. The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832’s features and specs include:

  • 64-MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F processor
  • 2.4-GHz multiprotocol radio that’s fully compatible with the Bluetooth 4.2 specification and features –96-dB RX sensitivity and 5.5-mA peak RX/TX currents
  • 512-KB flash memory and 64-KB RAM, and a fully-automatic power management system to optimize power consumption.

You can program via the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) programming interface. If you want to access the Arduino Prio’s most advanced features and functionality, you can use any Nordic nRF52 Series-compatible Software Development Kit (SDK) or programming tools. For example, the nRF5 SDK for IoT enables you to develop IPv6 over Bluetooth low energy applications on the nRF52832 SoC.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor

Cryptography-Enabled 32-bit Microcontroller for IoT Designs

Microchip Technology’s CEC1302 hardware crypto-enabled 32-bit microcontroller enables you to easily add security to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Enabling pre-boot authentication of system firmware, the microcontroller prevents a variety of security attacks (e.g., man-in-the-middle, denial-of-service, and backdoor). You can also use it to authenticate firmware updates.Microchip CEC1302

The CEC1302’s features, benefits, and specs:

  • Private key and customer programming flexibility
  • Power drain savings and improved execution of application performance
  • 32-bit microcontroller with an ARM Cortex-M4 core
  • The hardware-enabled public key engine of the device is 20 to 50 times faster than firmware-enabled algorithms

In order to quickly develop applications with the CEC1302, use MikroElektronika’s CEC1302 Clicker (MIKROE-1970) and CEC1302 Clicker 2 (MIKROE-1969). You can use the boards with MikroElektronika’s complete development toolchain for Microchip CEC1302 ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs.

The CEC1302 (CEC1302D-SZ-C0) is available today for sampling and volume production in a 144-WFBGA package starting at $1.75 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology

Telit Announces IoT Innovation Conference

Telit announced that it will soon open registration for the 2016 Telit IoT Innovation Conference, which will take place on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The one-day, multi-track conference will feature business use cases and provide you with tools for building your network and enabling connected devices.

As an attendee, you can study real IoT business use cases, network with IoT innovators, discover new technologies for IoT solution deployment, connect with partners, and learn more about Telit products and its IoT ecosystem.

Registration opens soon!

Source: Telit

IAR Systems Supports Wireless Gecko SoCs for IoT connectivity

IAR Systems now supports Silicon Labs Wireless Gecko SoCs, which provide scalable solutions and include Thread and ZigBee stacks for mesh networks, intuitive radio interface software for proprietary protocols, and Bluetooth Low Energy technology for point-to-point connectivity. The IAR Embedded Workbench development provides extensive debugging and profiling possibilities such as complex code and data breakpoints, run-time stack analysis, call stack visualization, code coverage analysis, and integrated monitoring of power consumption. IAR Systems also offers integrated add-on tools for static analysis and run-time analysis.

Support for the Wireless Gecko SoCs is available using IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, from version 7.60. Free trial versions are available.

Source: IAR Systems

The Future of IoT Security

With the onset of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, an enormous number of devices are now accessible via the Internet and are therefore vulnerable to cyberattack. Society is still adjusting to the fact that devices that people used to trust can now betray them in unexpected ways. Your television may expose your conversations, your printer may divulge your documents, and your fitness monitor may reveal your health information. All of these attacks become possible in the presence of IoT devices which are not designed with security in mind. System designers are trained to evaluate system design options in terms of their impact on system characteristics such as power, performance, and time-to-market, but security is a property which is less well understood. Designers of IoT devices need to have the ability to consider, both qualitatively and quantitatively, how design alternatives affect the security of the system. To do that, designers must understand the essential aspects of common cyberattacks.

The nature of cyberattacks is broad and ever-changing as attackers alter their techniques over time. However, there are a number of attack themes which are fundamental to many cyberattacks and change only infrequently. Designers need to understand these important attack themes and how to defend against them. A good example is a vulnerability to a buffer overflow attack which is usually a result of weak coding practices, such as neglecting to verify that the amount of data written into a buffer is not greater than the size of the buffer. Defense against buffer overflow can likely be achieved through static code analysis and proper testing techniques, without the need to include any security components in the IoT device.

Another attack against IoT devices is a battery draining attack which consumes power by exploiting features of the network communication protocol being used by the device. Different protocols, and their interface controllers, have different degrees of vulnerability to such attacks, and the system designer needs to be aware of this when selecting a communication protocol.

This essay appears in Circuit Cellar 309, April 2016. Subscribe to Circuit Cellar to read project articles, essays, interviews, and tutorials every month!

 
Defending against some attacks will require the use of software and hardware components which are dedicated to security-related tasks. Such components incur overheads which must be considered by the designer. A common example is whether or not to use encryption, what type of encryption, and whether that encryption should be implemented in hardware or software. Besides the power and cost trade-offs involved, the designer will need to be able to estimate how well each type of encryption protects the system from, for example, a man-in-the-middle attack which intercepts communications with other devices.

IoT security is clearly an important design property which must be considered by designers who understand the complexities of cybersecurity. A problem for the field of IoT is that there is a shortage of IoT designers who understand cybersecurity. There is a range of possible solutions to address the shortage problem which vary based on who takes responsibility to find a solution. One alternative is education or training to ensure that designers are aware of the complexities of the security problem and can address them during the design process. Individual IoT designers may take responsibility for their own training, which means that the designer will individually seek out learning materials and possibly courses. As a professor I feel that individuals should always take responsibility for their own education, but in practice this is difficult and may not consistently result in the best outcome for all concerned. An individual who is not familiar with security will have a hard time determining what is important to learn and what is not, so they may waste time and money on education with no real value. In my role as Vice Chair of Undergraduate Studies, I am frequently asked about what a student needs to learn to be productive in industry, but if an individual cannot find an appropriate mentor to provide them with some direction, then their attempts at education may not be fruitful.

Another alternative is to place the responsibility for the development of secure IoT devices on the companies which employ the designers and sell the IoT devices. For this to happen, company managers must first accept that security costs money and that security is worth some expenditure. As long as security is seen as an overhead with no direct financial benefit, industry is not be motivated to make the necessary changes to build secure systems. Too often, security is largely ignored until a successful cyberattack against a company is publicized and the company suffers in terms of reputation and possible lawsuits. Industry needs to accept the importance of security upfront to avoid the more significant costs of dealing with successful attacks.

Companies can take several different approaches to ensuring security including guaranteeing that their designers are appropriately knowledgeable about IoT security. A salary premium for security experts could motivate employees to take responsibility for their own security education. In-house corporate training can be provided to employees whose job responsibilities necessitate an understanding of security. Employers can outsource and pay for education at local or online schools. When a project is particularly security-sensitive requiring more expertise than is available internally, a contractor with the appropriate security expertise can be brought in. All of these options incur different costs which would need to be justified by the need for security in the market where the IoT devices will be used.

Eventually, a mixture of these approaches should be employed to achieve the best, and most secure, results. Individual designers need to make every effort to learn about security issues, and employers need to motivate them with appropriate salaries and facilitate their efforts by providing opportunities for education. The lack of security of current IoT devices has been used as an argument against their adoption, but there seems to be no stopping the growing use of the IoT. At the same time, cyberattacks are also growing in number, sophistication, and financial impact. Security needs to be a first-class design consideration for IoT systems, on par with cost, power, and the other constraints that embedded designers have always dealt with.

Associate Professor Ian G. Harris earned a BS in Computer Science at MIT and MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University of California San Diego. He is currently Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education in the Computer Science Department at the University of California Irvine. His research group focuses on the security and verification of Internet of Things systems. He also teaches an IoT specialization entitled “An Introduction to Programming the Internet of Things.”

New Low-Power Embedded Wi-Fi Solutions for the IoT

Microchip Technology recently launched four low-power, highly integrated solutions that enable Wi-Fi and networking capability to be embedded into a wide variety of devices, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications. These four modules provide complete solutions for 802.11b/g/n and are industry-certified in a variety of countries.Microcontroller  MRF24

The new RN1810 and RN1810E are stand-alone, surface-mount WiFly radio modules that include a TCP/IP stack, cryptographic accelerator, power management subsystem, 2.4-GHz 802.11b/g/n-compliant transceivers, and 2.4 RF power amplifier. You can pair them with any microcontroller and configure them using simple ASCII commands. WiFly provides a simple data pipe for sending data over a Wi-Fi network, requiring no prior Wi-Fi experience to get a product connected. Once configured, the device automatically accesses a Wi-Fi network and sends and receives serial data. The RN1810 features an integrated PCB antenna. The RN1810E supports an external antenna.

The new MRF24WN0MA and MRF24WN0MB are Wi-Fi modules that interface with Microchip’s PIC32 microcontrollers and support Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony integrated software framework with a TCP/IP stack that can be downloaded for free at www.microchip.com/harmony. The modules connect to the microcontroller via a four-wire SPI. They area an ideal solution for low-power, low-data-rate Wi-Fi sensor networks, home automation, building automation, and consumer applications. In addition, an MRF24WN0MA has an integrated PCB antenna, while the MRF24WN0MB supports an external antenna.

The RN1810/E and MRF24WN0MA/B are now available and start at $13.05 each in 1,000-unit quantities. Also available is the $34.95 MRF24WN0MA Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board, a demonstration board for evaluating Wi-Fi connectivity using PIC microcontrollers and the MRF24WN0MA module (part # AC164153). In addition, a $49.95 RN1810 Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board is available today with a fully integrated TCP/IP stack and USB interface for easy plug-and-play development with a PC (part # RN-1810-PICTAIL).

Source: Microchip Technology

The Future of Wireless: Imagination Drives Innovation

Wireless system design is one of the hottest fields in electrical engineering. We recently asked 10 engineers to prognosticate on the future of wireless technology. Alexander Popov, a Bulgaria-based engineer, writes:

These days, we are constantly connected to the Internet.5 Popov orange People expect quality service both at home and on the go. Cellular networks are meeting this demand with 4G and upcoming 5G technologies. A single person now uses as much bandwidth as an entire Internet provider 20 years ago. We are immersed in a pool of information, but are no longer its sole producers. The era of Internet of Things is upon us, and soon there will be more IoT devices than there are people. They require quite a different ecosystem than we people use. Тheir pattern of information flow is usually sporadic, with small chunks of data. Connecting to a generic Wi-Fi or cellular network is not efficient. IoT devices utilize well established protocols like Bluetooth LE and ZigBee, but dedicated ones like LPWAN and 6LoWPAN are also being developed and probably more will follow. We will see more sophisticated and intelligent wireless networks, probably sharing resources on different layers to form a larger WAN. An important aspect of IoT devices is their source of power. Energy harvesting and wireless power will evolve to become a standard part of the “smart” ecosystem. Improved technologies in chip manufacturing processes aid hardware not only by lowering power consumption and reducing size, but also with dedicated embedded communication stack and chip coils. The increased amount and different types of information will allow software technologies like cloud computing and big data analysis to thrive. With information so deep in our personal lives, we may see new security standards offering better protection for our privacy. All these new technologies alone will be valuable, but the possibilities they offer combined are only limited by our imaginations. Best be prepared to explore and sketch your ideas now! — Alexander Popov, Bulgaria (Director Product Management, Minerva Networks)

Low-Power 12 DOF Bluetooth Smart Sensor Development Platform

Dialog Semiconductor now offers a small, low-power 12 Degrees-of-Freedom (DOF) wireless smart sensor development kit for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as wearables, virtual reality, 3-D indoor mapping, and navigation. The DA14583 SmartBond Bluetooth Smart SoC is combined with Bosch Sensortec’s gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and environmental sensors. A 16 mm × 15 mm PCB is supplied as a dongle in a plastic housing. Current consumption is only 1.3 mA (typical) when streaming sensor data; it’s less than 110 µA in advertising mode and under 11 µA in power-save mode.Dialog DS025

The complementary software development kit (SDK) includes Dialog’s SmartFusion smart sensor library for data acquisition, auto-calibration, and sensor data fusion. It runs on the DA14583’s embedded Cortex M0 processor. The DA14583 has an ARM Cortex-M0 baseband processor with an integrated ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart radio. The development kit includes the following Bosch sensors: a BMI160 six-axis inertial measurement unit, a BMM150 three-axis geomagnetic field sensor, and a BME280 integrated environmental unit, which measures pressure, temperature, and humidity.

Source: Dialog Semiconductor