Tag Archives: wireless

SmartEverything is like the Swiss Army knife of IoT boards

The SmartEverything dev board is an Arduino form-factor prototyping platform that combines SIGFOX, BLE, NFC, GPS and a suite of sensors.

Announced earlier this year, SmartEverything is an IoT development platform from Arrow Electronics. Living up to its name, the latest iteration of the SoC, dubbed the SmartEverything Foxboasts a familiar Arduino form-factor with an array of factory-bundled I/O ports, sensors and wireless connectivity.


Impressively, the kit combines SIGFOX, Bluetooth and NFC technologies with GPS and a suite of embedded sensors. An Atmel | SMART D21 at its heart is used to integrate the featured devices, while a SIGFOX module provides IoT enablement.

The SIGFOX standard is energy efficient and wide-transmission-range technology that employs UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio and offers low data-transfer speeds of 10 to 1000 bits per second. However, it is highly energy-efficient and typically consumes only 50μW compared to 5000μW for cellular communication, meaning significantly enhanced battery life for mobile or portable smart devices.


A Telit LE51-868 S wireless module gives design engineers access to the rapidly expanding SIGFOX cellular wireless network and covers the 863-870MHz unlicensed ISM band. It is preloaded with the SIGFOX network stack and the Telit proprietary Star Network protocol. What’s more, the Telit cloud management software provides easy connection up to the cloud.

Truly like the Swiss Army knife of the IoT, the SmartEverything board is equipped with: an Atmel Crypto Authentication chipset; an 868MHz antenna; a GPS module with embedded antenna for localizations applications, which supports the GPS, QZSS and GLONASS standards, and is Galileo ready; a proximity and ambient light sensor; a capacitive digital sensor for humidity and temperature measurement; a nine-axis 3D accelerometer, a 3D gyroscope and 3D magnetometer combination sensor; a MEMS-based pressure sensor; an NTAG I2C NFC module; and a Bluetooth Low Energy transceiver.


The SmartEverything measures only 68.8mm x 53.3mm in size, and includes USB connectors, a power jack and an antenna extending that extend the board. The unit can be powered in one of three ways, either through two AA 1.5V batteries (1.4V to 3.2V), a 5 to 45V external supply or a 5V mini-USB connector.

For quick and easy software development, the SmartEverything Fox board is fully supported by the Arduino IDE and Atmel Studio. Can it get any better than that? If you’re looking for an IoT board that does just about everything, you may want to check this SoC out.

Build your own Arduino-compatible, remote-controlled lights

Maker hacks his own Arduino-compatible, Philips Hue-like bulbs with LYT and Souliss.

Looking to control the multi-colored lights in your home? Sure, you could always go out and buy your own set of Philips Hue bulbs. Or, you can do what a Dario Di Maio has done and build your own that plugs into a standard light socket. As the Maker points out, while smart LEDs have become quite common today, none have been Arduino-compatible.


For this project, the Maker used the Authometion LYT — an ATmega88PA powered RGBW LED bulb with an Arduino shield as a gateway, which enabled him to freely create his own custom behaviors and code. Both the Arduino and shield run the Souliss framework, while the lights are controlled through the Souliss App.

The shield is equipped with two radio modules, an ESP8266 Wi-Fi SoC that connects the Arduino with the home router and a PL1167 2.4 GHz transceiver wired to the Atmel MCU to control the bulbs. (Di Maio recommends either the Uno and Leonardo.)

Meanwhile, the ESP8266 and the Arduino are linked via USART. According to Di Maio, you can download the necessary libraries and examples from the Authometion store. These allow you to bridge command over Wi-Fi to the USART and then to the PL1167.


“We will run two instances of Souliss, one on the ESP8266 and the other on the Arduino board, this because Souliss embedded the communication between different nodes and this let us skip the writing of a custom code to link these two devices,” Di Maio writes.

The bulb itself is a 9W RGBW LED, which generally should fit in most lamps with an E27 plug. The Maker provides an elaborate breakdown of his project along with the necessary code on his page here.

Atmel implements Intel EPID technology on all SmartConnect wireless solutions

Atmel is collaborating with Intel on EPID technology to enable more secure IoT applications.

Atmel is working with Intel to bring more secure Internet of Things applications to market. In this collaboration, Atmel will support Intel Enhanced Privacy ID (Intel EPID) technology on all Atmel SmartConnect wireless solutions to improve secure cloud provisioning — the mutual authentication of the IoT node with the cloud — in the rapidly growing IoT market where devices are becoming increasingly more connected.


With tens of billions of devices anticipated by 2020, security is surely one of the most critical components to enabling a seamless connection between the edge node and the cloud. To accomplish this, Atmel offers a complete portfolio of IoT solutions that combine both Atmel | SMART MCUs along with SmartConnect wireless technologies ranging from Wi-Fi, 802.15.4 and Bluetooth, and other secure products. This newly-announced effort will give developers implementing these wireless solutions the option to use the trusted Intel EPID identification standard in their next gizmo or gadget.

“Implementing Intel EPID offers IoT designers a truly seamless edge-to-cloud Internet of Things platform with proven security options available with our broad Internet of Things portfolio,” said Kaivan Karimi, Atmel’s Vice President and General Manager of Wireless Solutions. “With this new technology, Atmel’s SmartConnect wireless and IoT solutions now support Intel EPID, a security technology that has been proven over the last 5 years.”


For those who may not know, Intel EPID is an ISO standard for identity and privacy that has been shipping in Intel platforms since 2011. The technology delivers a hardware root of trust and is PKI compatible. With Intel EPID, devices can be identified and a secure communication can be linked between these devices. Additionally, the group membership can be determined without revealing the identity of the specific platform allowing for another level of security. Intel EPID can dynamically assign and revoke group memberships by individuals. Even more, this technology meets the latest protected key delivery requirements for content and data protection protocols.

“With the rapidly growing IoT ecosystem, security is key, and Intel EPID is a proven secure technology that can provide the billions of devices in this new market with a common security foundation. By implementing Intel EPID technology, Atmel is enabling a more secure, seamless IoT platform,” explained Lori Wigle, Intel’s General Manager of IoT Security.

NASA uses Arduino and XBee to test de-orbitting technology

“That’s one small step for XBee, one giant leap for wireless.”

As you may know, NASA successfully launched the Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket carrying two space technology demonstration projects back on July 7th. The spacecraft conveyed the Radial Core Heat Spreader from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, along with the SOAREX-8 Exo-Brake Flight Test from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.


What you may not know is that, aboard the rocket, was an Arduino and a few XBees. Researchers had been exploring the use of Exo-Brake technology, an exo-atmospheric passive braking device that could eventually enable small samples to be returned fairly rapidly from an orbital platform, like the International Space Station. Accomplishing this requires exploiting the exosphere by deploying a drogue parachute with an area of about 10-square-feet per 2.2-pounds of satellite.

“We were able to send commands and receive data to and from the satellite via the onboard modem using only a laptop and email account. This capability may greatly benefit the entire nanosatellite community.” Marcus Murbach of NASA’s Ames Research Center recently explained.


As part of the program to determine potential applications of wireless technologies in space, NASA selected the combination of XBee ZigBee modules, an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and an Iridium module to create a network to reliably gather critical data. The XBee was employed to collect the sensor data including temperature, air pressure and three-axis acceleration parameters, while the Arduino was tasked with managing communications between the local XBee wireless network and the long-range Iridium satellite uplink.


“Wireless sensor technology allows measuring important parameters such as aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the apex of the Exo-Brake during re-entry. It is very difficult to instrument a deployable parachute like the Exo-Brake, and wireless sensor modules provide the means for this type of measurement where it is difficult to run wires,” added NASA computer engineer Rick Alena.

Seeing as this was the XBee network’s first trip to space, its team had to capture the moment on video. The folks at Digi have been kind enough to share it, so you can watch it below! Those wishing to learn more about the Exo-Brake can do so here.

Brinco is a personal early-warning system for earthquakes and tsunamis

Brinco will alert you if an earthquake or tsunami is headed your way, giving your family time to get to safety.

In an earthquake or tsunami, 30 seconds extra notice can be the difference between life or death. Take for instance, the 7.8-magnitude disaster that struck Nepal back in April, where none of the country’s residents had advanced warning. Had an early detection system been in place, many lives could have been saved. And with scientists predicting the “Big One” to hit the west coast any day now, we could all stand to benefit from having a networked seismic gadget in our homes.


The brainchild of Branden Christensen and Angel Rodriguez, Brinco —  which is Spanish for “jump” — is a smart device that will send personalized warnings through an accompanying app up to 30 seconds before an event occurs. While that may not seem like enough time, it can be plenty when it comes to advising you and your loved ones to take cover.

“The Internet is faster than the seismic waves of an earthquake, and much faster than a tsunami, so you can have an alert before the seismic waves reach your location,” its creators explain.

The gadget connects to the international seismograph network and is able to provide users with voice, flashing light and alarm notifications when an earthquake or tsunami is detected in their general vicinity. When the network senses an initial seismic wave, the information is relayed to the Brinco and an alert is delivered. These audio warnings will then provide further guidance, such as “destructive shaking is expected in 45 seconds that will last one minute” or “mild earthquake expected in 22 seconds.” Each Brinco will receive its own tailored, location-specific warning from Brinco’s Data Center.


In the event of a tsunami, the device will issue status reports each time the NOAA Tsunami Center distributes updates. For example, Tsunami of two meters expected in five hours” or “strong shaking expected in 60 seconds, there is no danger of a tsunami.” These will continue until eventually the Brinco sends a cancellation message.

Like other seimographs, Brinco also measures each tremble of the ground and sends that data over Wi-Fi to national and regional seismic networks, where it can be analyzed along with streams of other data. The more that are deployed, the more accurate and powerful its network will become.

As for its appearance, Brinco boasts a puck-like shape that measures approximately five inches in diameter and one-and-a-quarter inches tall. A Wi-Fi module, an audio amplifier, an audio board, an accelerometer and a real-time signal processing unit are all housed inside its metallic shell.


While both Christensen and Rodriguez have been making seismographs for years with their parent company OSOP, they wanted to make a personal warning system that could ultimately save lives. Do you live in a earthquake-prone area? Then you may want to check out Brinco’s Indiegoogo campaign here. Delivery is expected to begin in July 2016.

These Arduino-powered shoulder pads make Wi-Fi visible

Hertzian Armor is a piece of shoulder armor that visually illustrates the ubiquity of Wi-Fi networks. 

In today’s constantly connected world, there are an infinite number of wireless signals being sent to and from the gizmos and gadgets around us. However, they cannot be seen. As a way to better oberseve these invisible interactions, UC Berkeley design students Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby have created what they call Hertzian Armor — a wearable device that visualizes the ubiquity of Wi-Fi.


The duo first coined the term “Hertzian space,” as a way to best describe the interfacing between electromagnetic waves and human experiences, which served as the basis for the project.

“Our initial approach to this assignment was to create an object that allows us to see the unseen. In this way we could begin to explore how we interact with the invisible world around us, and start a conversation about something we may come in contact with everyday, but not fully understand,” the Makers write. “We initially started looking at alcohol sensors and pollution sensors, two things we are affected by but never see. While brainstorming how to implement this technology in the wearable, we stumbled on a larger goal, how can we make Wi-Fi visible?”

The wearable itself is comprised of cyberpunkish shoulder pads that are embedded with an Adafruit Wi-Fi breakout module with an on-board antenna attached to a LilyPad Arduino (ATmega328P) tasked with scanning for nearby networks. Aside from that, the piece of armor is powered by a 2000mAh polymer lithium-ion battery, while a LilyPad LiPower supply converts the 3.7V from the battery to the necessary 5V to juice up the entire unit.


Meanwhile, a few overlapping pieces of neoprene are equipped with NeoPixel strips underneath each flap that are used to signify the strength of the received wireless signals. The color-changing RGB LED output represents the security or openness of each particular network: red for highly-secure, restricted networks (WPA2), green for less sure, open networks (WPA, WEP), and blue for open hotspots.

“We decided on creating shoulder armor because we wanted a wearable that would be bold enough to display at Burning Man or an event like Silicon Valley Fashion Week, but also simple enough to be worn around Berkeley,” Dunne and Raby explain.

Well, mission accomplished! Intrigued by this wearable project? Head over to its official page on Hackster.io to learn more, and be sure to watch it in action as their prototype illumines in red, green and blue as its wearer wanders through the campus turning heads along the way.

Why the IoT needs multi-layer security

When it comes to the Internet of Things, you’re only as a strong as your weakest link. 

The notion of security being only as strong as its weakest link is especially true for the Internet of Things. When it comes to connected devices, security must be strong at all layers, closing any possible open doors and windows that an attacker can crawl through. Otherwise, if they can’t get in on ther first floor, they will try another.


Internet security has been built mainly upon Transport Layer Security, or TLS. TLS provides confidentiality, data integrity and authentication of the communication channel between an Internet user and a secure website. Once a secure communications channel is set up using a TLS method, for example, the other half of the true security equation is needed, namely applications layer security.

To understand this notion, think of logging into your bank account on the web. First, you go to the bank’s website, which will set up a secure channel using TLS. You know TLS is successful when you see the lock symbol and https (“S” for secure) in the browser. Then, you will be brought to a log-in page and prompted to enter your credentials, which is how the bank authenticates your identity, ensuring that you’re not some hacker trying to gain access into an unauthorized account. In this scenario, your password is literally a secret key and the bank has a stored copy of the password which it compares to what you entered. (You may recognize that this is literally symmetric authentication with a secret key, though the key length is very small.) Upon logging in, you are, in fact, operating at the application. This application, of course, being electronic banking.

So, as autonomous IoT nodes spread around the world like smart dust, how do those nodes ensure security? This can essentially be achieved using the same two steps:

  • Set up Transport Layer Security to secure the communications channel using TLS or another methodology to get confidentiality, data integrity and confidentiality in the channel. This channel can be either wired or wireless.
  • Set up Applications Layer Security to safeguard the information that will be sent through the communications channel by using cryptographic procedures. Among proven cryptographic procedures to do so are ECDSA for authentication, ECDH key agreement to create session keys, and encryption/decryption engines (such as AES that use the session keys) for encrypting and decrypting messages. These methods make sure that the data source in the node (e.g. a sensor) is authentic, the data is confidential and has not been tampered with in any degree (integrity).


The reason that multi-layer security, particularly application layer security, is required is that attackers can get into systems at the edge nodes despite a secure channel. Long story short, TLS is not enough.

IoT nodes collect data, typically through some kind of sensor or acting on data via an actuator. A microcontroller controls the operation of the node and a chosen technology like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee provides the communications channel. The reason that application layer security needs to be added to the TLS is that, if an attacker can hack into the communications channel via any range of attacks (Heartbleed, BEAST, CRIME, TIME, BREACH, Lucky 13, RC4 biases, etc.), they can then intercept, read, replace and/or corrupt the sensor/actuator or other node information.


Unfortunately in the real world, TLS gets breached, making it not sufficient. As a result, true security requires both Transport Layer and Applications Layer Security. Think of it as a secure pipeline with secure data flowing inside. The crypto element — which are an excellent way to establish the Applications Layer Security for the IoT — gets in between the sensor and the MCU to ensure that the data from the sensor has all three pillars of security applied to it: confidentiality, integrity, and authentication (also referred to as “CIA”). CIA at both the transport and application layers is what will make an IoT node entirely secure.

Fortunately, Atmel has an industry-leading portfolio of crypto, connectivity and controller devices that are architected to easily come together to form the foundation of a secure Internet of Things. The company’s wireless devices support a wide spectrum of standards including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy and Personal Area Networks (802.15.4), not to mention feature hardware accelerated Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the strongest link security software available (WPA2 Enterprise).


Crypto elements, including CryptoAuthentication and Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) with protected hardware-based key storage, make it easy to provide extremely robust security for IoT edge nodes, hubs, and other “things” without having to be a crypto expert. Built-in crypto engines perform ECDSA for asymmetric authentication and ECDH key agreement to provide session keys to MCUs, including ARM and AVR products that run encryption algorithms.