IoT News Roundup

By Rich Handley

ZigBee Alliance creates universal language for Internet of Things; Gobot releases new version of its open-source robotics and IoT framework; Canon intros stepper for Internet of Things and artificial intelligence manufacturing markets; Fibocom unveils thin IoT module with global 3G/2G fallback; Semtech LoRa technology enables nationwide LPWAN in Canada; Everest Group study gives HCL high marks for IoT services.

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ZigBee Alliance Creates Universal Language for Internet of Things

The ZigBee Alliance will discuss the path to a unified Internet of Things at this week’s CES 2017 conference, being held in Las Vegas, Nev. Highlights will focus on the growing momentum behind ZigBee (3.0) products and development solutions, the organization reports, and on the Alliance’s newly announced dotdot—a universal language for the Internet of Things that makes it possible for smart objects to work together on any network. Members of the ZigBee Alliance and Thread Group will showcase the first demonstrations of dotdot devices running on Thread’s IP-based networks.

“Dotdot represents the next chapter in the ZigBee Alliance’s continued commitment to create and evolve open standards for the smart networks in our homes, businesses and neighborhoods,” said Tobin Richardson, the ZigBee Alliance’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “The application layer that is the core language of ZigBee devices has driven significant growth in the IoT. Recognizing the opportunity to multiply that growth for members and the industry, market leaders within the alliance have come together to transform it into a universal language for the IoT, making it available to everyone, everywhere, across their network of choice.”

Most IoT devices do not speak the same language, according to the ZigBee Alliance, even if they use the same wireless technology. The result is an Internet of Things that is often a patchwork of translations, adding complexity for developers and limiting users to single-vendor systems. The solution, according to the organization, lies in a common language between all IoT devices on any network, giving developers a common platform on which to innovate.

With dotdot, that language—the application layer at the heart of ZigBee technology—can be applied across other IoT networks. While other organizations are addressing this challenge with new protocols still being drafted, or with single-vendor solutions, dotdot is an open, mature technology supported by the ZigBee Alliance’s global membership and a diverse supply chain, offering developers flexibility and speed in building their products and business.

“Silicon Labs and our customers have succeeded in the IoT because of the scalability of ZigBee’s interoperability technology,” said Skip Ashton, the VP of software at Silicon Labs, a provider of silicon, software and system solutions for the IoT, in the prepared statement. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the adoption of ZigBee as developers recognize their investment in the established ZigBee market today will enable them to expand into new markets via dotdot.”

The ZigBee Alliance intends to announce further details about dotdot, including specifications, certification and logo program, later this year.

Gobot Releases New Version of Its Open-Source Robotics and IoT Framework

Gobot has announced the release of version 1.0 of its open-source robotics and Internet of Things framework. Now supporting more than 24 hardware and software platforms, the framework can connect using machine-to-machine (M2M) communication standards, such as MQTT.

“We created Gobot to make IoT development easy, and at the same time provide industrial strength tools,” said Ron Evans, Gobot’s creator—and the “ringleader” of The Hybrid Group, the software consultancy that has sponsored the open-source project—in a prepared statement. “By using the Go programming language, we get powerful performance and portability that is unmatched.”

“Modern development tools like Gobot can unlock the power in next-generation devices, and can help developers take advantage of new opportunities being opened in IoT, robotics and drones,” said Rex St. John, the ecosystem manager of Intel‘s New Technology Group, in the prepared statement. “Gobot can use all of the cores on these new multi-core devices right out of the box.”

“As real-world robotics and IoT solutions begin to take off, developers need powerful yet simple tools like Gobot,” said Brian Flannery, the ecosystem manager at Apcera, which created the open-source messaging software NATS. “We’ve seen how quickly and easily developers can use Gobot to get their hardware connected to a simple and secure messaging system like NATS.”

Written in the Go programming language, created by Google, Gobot provides an easy way to program drones, robots and connected devices. Gobot is in the 99th percentile of the most popular Golang projects on Github, an open-source coding website. The 1.0 release of Gobot, the company reports, creates an industrial-strength technology for professional IoT application development.

Canon Intros Stepper for Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Markets

Canon U.SA., a provider of digital imaging solutions, has announced that its parent company, Canon, has commenced sales of the FPA 5550iZ2, a successor to its FPA 5550iZ i line semiconductor lithography system (or “stepper”). The FPA 5550iZ2 is suitable for manufacturing logic, memory and CMOS image sensor devices, the company reports, and is designed to provide increased productivity and overlay accuracy when compared to its predecessor.

Two paths to continued growth in the semiconductor industry have been circuit scaling or miniaturization and increasing wafer diameters to realize reduced chip-production costs and improved device performance, Canon U.S.A. explains. However, as the rate of scaling slows, the firm adds, demand has increased for semiconductor lithography systems that realize greater productivity than those currently available. Scaling challenges have also driven pursuit of high levels of systems integration and the development of devices that employ alternative structures, such as 3D NAND flash memory, that demand semiconductor lithography systems supporting a variety of processes. The FPA 5550iZ2 allows for continuous upgrades to its enhanced platform that support the development of a variety of solutions to meet diverse user needs.

The FPA 5550iZ2 offers a high level of productivity (wafer-processing ability), according to the company, by reducing wafer-processing time through sequence optimization, as well as decreasing wafer lot overhead time. Equipped with Canon’s proprietary Shot Shape Compensator (SSC) projection optical system, the FPA 5550iZ2 can correct for intrafield XY magnification differences and skew. The enhanced intrafield correction capability of the FPA 5550iZ2 provides a high level of overlay accuracy when matching to existing fields on wafer, Canon notes.

With the advent of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data, there is an increasing demand for large-capacity storage devices, Canon reports. Additionally, the development of technologies such as driverless cars and driver-assistance systems has resulted in an increase in demand for high-sensitivity image and position sensors. Depending on the process required, the company adds, the FPA 5550iZ2 can be equipped with optional solutions that meet a variety of process needs. In addition to realizing high-productivity and overlay accuracy necessary to manufacture next-generation devices, the FPA 5550iZ2 includes solutions for color-filter processes that were previously developed for the firm’s FPA 5510iZ and FPA 5510iZs steppers.

Fibocom Unveils Thin IoT Module With Global 3G/2G Fallback

Fibocom Wireless, a global provider of wireless modules for the Internet of Things, has announced the L816-AM, a thin LTE Cat 1 module for the North American market with global 3G/2G fallback.

The device is a multi-mode LTE CAT1 module supporting LTE bands 2, 4 and 12, the company reports, as well as penta band WCDMA and quad band GSM, and is powered by Intel‘s XMM 7120M LTE modem. The L816-AM includes eight industrial and four carrier certifications worldwide, the firm reports, allowing deployment in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and South America, including Brazil.

“With only 1.55mm thickness, L816-AM is the perfect candidate for providing cellular connections on lower bandwidth global consumer products or hand-held devices, where slimness matters,” said Amy DeBuysere, Fibocom Wireless’s VP of business development, in a prepared statement. Samples of the L816-AM are currently available for testing and integration. Global carrier certifications were completed last year, with commercial availability is expected by early 2017.

Semtech LoRa Technology Enables Nationwide LPWAN in Canada

Semtech, a supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, has announced that its LoRa devices and wireless RF technology are being used by eleven-x, a software developer for wireless telecommunications, for the first carrier-grade IoT network rollout throughout Canada.

The eleven-x LPWAN uses Semtech’s LoRa technology to offer a long-range wireless network at a lower cost, the company reports, and is based on the LoRaWAN protocol standardized by the LoRa Alliance, a group of more than 400 companies committed to driving and enhancing the LoRaWAN specification to ensure interoperability with a large ecosystem of IoT applications. According to the company, the technology will enable manufacturers and municipalities to implement IoT systems that provide asset tracking, environmental monitoring, health monitoring, lighting control and water metering for improved efficiency, quality control, crisis diversion and decision making.

Semtech and eleven-x are both members of the LoRa Alliance. “We aim to accelerate the implementation of IoT applications by businesses and municipalities in Canada,” said Ryan Hickey, eleven-x’s CEO and co-founder, in a prepared statement. “By following the LoRaWAN protocol and joining the LoRa Alliance, we are ensuring end-user sensors and applications are compatible with our IoT network.”

The eleven-x network is currently deployed in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, Canada, the company reports, and will soon be deployed to all major cities throughout the country. “LoRa Technology provides the eleven-x network a strong feature set that, coupled with the robust ecosystem of LoRa Alliance partners, will help scale IoT adoption throughout Canada,” said Mike Wong, the VP of marketing for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group, in the prepared statement. “This network rollout is another significant step toward global IoT availability.”

Everest Group Study Gives HCL High Marks for IoT Services

HCL Technologies, a global IT services provider, has been recognized by Everest Group for its IoT WoRKS Internet of Things business unit, in Everest’s recent report, titled “Internet of Things Services – PEAK Matrix Assessment and Market Trends.”

Sixteen IoT service providers were analyzed for this study, and the assessment was based on Everest Group’s annual RFI process for the calendar year 2016, as well as interaction with IoT service providers, client reference checks and assessment of the IoT services market. According to the report, HCL Technologies offers end-to-end IoT services and is positioned as a strong partner for key IoT investment initiatives.

“As enterprises increasingly adopt IoT to achieve operational and growth objectives, they need a transformation partner with strong domain understanding to help them derive benefits from their investments,” said Chirajeet Sengupta, Everest Group’s VP, in a prepared statement. “HCL Technologies capitalizes on its engineering heritage to offer a credible solutions portfolio and a strong partnership ecosystem. Its flexibility on engagement models and investments in talent and innovation improve client confidence and align well with clients’ expectations.”

“IoT WoRKS is proud to be positioned among leaders by Everest Group, the leading independent consulting and research firm,” said Sukamal Banerjee, HCL Technologies’ corporate VP for hi-tech and communications, in the prepared statement.