We speak IoT http://www.wespeakiot.com The Official Lemonbeat Blog Tue, 20 Jun 2017 07:27:42 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Smart technology for old machinery: the challenge of retrofitting a factory http://www.wespeakiot.com/smart-technology-for-old-machinery-the-challenge-of-retrofitting-your-factory/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/smart-technology-for-old-machinery-the-challenge-of-retrofitting-your-factory/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 15:27:35 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=5127 Monitoring machinery in a factory environment with Innogy bit.B. Photo: Dennis Knake/Lemonbeat GmbH

Energy efficiency and optimal production processes are key success factors especially for small and medium-sized companies. However, unlike IT-systems, industrial machines cannot be exchanged every few years to keep up with state of the art production. At many companies, these machines are often decades old. 20 or 30 year equipment is not uncommon. So how can they keep up with today’s need for increased efficiency? What can companies do, to identify and eradicate problems, thus making the output more efficient? “Retrofitting” is the term summing up the answer. Equipping old machines with new sensors. However, that’s easier said than done.

Machines retrofitted with sensors can deliver all kinds of crucial information: Be it the actual power consumption, the speed of the production process like units per hour or values like the actual temperature or moisture of certain areas. They can be used to measure actual filling levels and therefore help optimizing the refill process. They can detect the tiniest vibrations, uncovering early signs of mechanical problems in machine parts and therefore assisting in optimizing the maintenance process.

Machinery in industrial enviroment. Photo: Fotolia, Doin Oakenhelm

Machinery in industrial environment. Attaching new sensors wired or wireless is a tough task. A mix of both could be the perfect solution. Photo: Doin Oakenhelm/Fotolia

After figuring out, what kind of data should be collected and where the different sensors have to be attached to get that data, comes the tricky part: There are quite a number of different sensors on the market. Some of them are wired, some already offer built-in wireless functionality. The problem is: wireless sensors are usually more expensive and the type of wireless technology used can have a huge bearing on how reliable it will work within the surrounding machinery and infrastructure. Take common Wi-Fi technology for example, it offers huge bandwidths, but comes with the cost of a relatively short range. Additionally, if installed in a machinery environment, metal or walls could easily block or reduce the signal. To avoid this, usually a complex installation is needed with additional repeaters, making sure the signal reaches its destination. As more hardware is connected, the installation not only starts to become more complex and costly, it also begins to be more vulnerable for glitches.

When thinking about retrofitting machinery, the question of how the data from each sensor reaches its destination comes second right after how sensors should be attached to deliver reliable data. So, if Wi-Fi sounds too complex, is hard wiring easier? Attaching dozens of sensors all over one or more machines and wiring them all to one central point can be even more difficult and costly. Plus, it’s not always possible to lead wires throughout the whole factory.

Wired or wireless: How about the best of everything?

Bit.B, a recently launched solution from Innogy SE, an energy company based in Essen, Germany, is especially designed for SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) to retrofit their machines at managable costs. First and foremost, bit.B is a platform that offers live monitoring of the actual production process and all connected sensors around it. Energy consumption, production output, the actual state of machines, doors, valves, etc. All this data is collected and displayed in near real time on a web based dashboard, that can be individually configured. If there is an issue, for example a value outside of normal parameters, the system immediately shows this and informs the responsible person via email or SMS so that immediate measures can be taken.

bit.B Node and Gateway

bit.B Node and Gateway: the node collects data from up to six sensors connected by wire and sends the data to a gateway that then forwards it into the bit.B platform online. Rendering: Innogy SE

On the hardware side, bit.B offers so called nodes, that communicate with a gateway. The nodes are little black boxes that offer wired connectivity for up to six customary sensors.  A node will be placed close to the sensors so that long wiring from sensors to the node can be avoided. The node itself collects the data and sends it wireless to a gateway. For the radio technology, bit.B decided to use Lemonbeat Radio, a robust Sub-GHz technology on the 868 MHz Band with long range capabilities and thanks to a patented frequency hopping technology more bandwidth than common 868-Mhz solutions. The gateway is ideally placed on the ceiling of the hall. It collects data from all installed nodes and delivers them via GSM directly to the bit.B platform. When more than six sensors are needed, another node can be put in place close to the next set of sensors. While Lemonbeat Radio might not offer as much bandwidth as classic Wi-Fi, it has proven to be a very robust and reliable technology in a factory environment. Since the sensors usually deliver simple values, range is more important than bandwidth.

Bit.B Dashboard

All measured data can be displayed in an individual fashion in near real time on the web based bit.B dashboard.

Bit.B offers a compromise between wiring the whole setup or the opposite way and going down the WiFi-road. Both methods have their pros and cons. Bit.B with its half wired, half radio-solution minimizes cons like complexity and costs and emphasizes the pros like reliability and easy installation.

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Lemonbeat at Make Munich 2017: Here are the results and winners of our IoT survey http://www.wespeakiot.com/lemonbeat-at-make-munich-2017-here-are-the-results-and-winners-of-our-iot-survey/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/lemonbeat-at-make-munich-2017-here-are-the-results-and-winners-of-our-iot-survey/#comments Tue, 23 May 2017 12:27:17 +0000 http://test.wespeakiot.com/?p=5076 Lemonbeat's Stefan Drees (left) and visitors at Lemonbeat Booth at Make Munich 2017 Photo: Ilja Klemm/Lemonbeat GmbH

As a company we tend to visit business related fairs, so our booth mainly makes stop at events like the Embedded World or the IoT Tech Expo Europe. However, since we were a bit curious to meet the end users of potential products, we chose to attend the Make Munich 2017: one of the largest Maker Fairs in Europe. We were amongst 130 exhibitors from around the world, and mingled with some 8000 visitors. It didn’t really went as expected, but at the end, we received valuable feedback.

My colleague Stefan drove all the way from our Headquarters in Dortmund. Still, right after arrival we immediately started setting up our booth amidst all kinds of other exhibitors. The original plan was to present once more our smart-vending machine demo, which premiered successfully at the Embedded World in Nuremberg in March: A game of interacting dice that communicate directly with a crisp dispenser. In case you got a lucky hand, it hands out a pack of snacks. A playful way to present Lemonbeat’s approach of direct communication of devices with no gateway or cloud needed.

Saturday was promising, with exceptionally sunny weather – but unfortunately, the buzzer, a part of our demo, didn’t survive the trip from Dortmund and rendered our setup useless right after the opening of the fair. Bummer.

Still, this unfortunate setback didn’t deter the visitors from literally flocking to our booth and asking us about Lemonbeat – which is absolutely awesome, as were all visitors during the Make Munich. We were happy and grateful to answer questions such as “What do you actually do?” (We provide a Software Stack for IoT devices), “Where’s the advantage?” (We make it easy to prototype IoT projects, offer services – including interacting state machines – and cut down costs) and “Would it work for my project?” (most likely yes). Sunday was marked by generally poor weather and nearly constant rain. This probably brought even more visitors to the Make Munich. And as before, we enjoyed the engagement with our visitors. We ran out of our swag relatively fast; but were amazed by the feedback we received.

Make Munich 2017 Gallery

Click above to visit our Make Munich picture gallery on flickr. Photos: Ilja Klemm/Lemonbeat GmbH

To find out more about our visitors perception of IoT in general, we ran a little survey. All participiants had the chance to win attractive prices.

Questioned about the biggest concerns for IoT, this is what we got from you (multiple answers were possible):

  • 59% are worried about security. – In the aftermath of “Mirai” and “WannaCry” very understandable.
  • 41% are concerned by the lack of standards. – We believe Standards will evolve for different use cases.
  • 24% think that IoT is too complex. – Agreed.
  • Interestingly, only 12% think that IoT devices are too expensive.

We also asked what the makers (89% of the visitors at our booth were makers) expected from a new community board. Multiple answers were possible here as well:

  • User-Friendliness is the top score with 59%.
  • 41% wish for a lot of connection possibilities, while
  • a fast, capable chip as well as Arduino-compability each reach 21%.

Sure, the survey wasn’t representative, but we were glad to receive some sentiment about IoT directly from the maker scene.

Amongst all participants we drew three lucky winners

  • Xiansu (Echo Dot)
  • Jan Veeh (Raspberry Pi Pack)
  • Dominik (Lemonbeat DDK)

Congratulations! We will be in touch very shortly and have your package delivered. It was a pleasure to be part of the Make Munich, and we hope to see you all soon again.

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Makers & Mittelstand: Germany’s chance to step out of Silicon Valley’s shadow? http://www.wespeakiot.com/makers-mittelstand-germanys-chance-to-step-out-of-silicon-valleys-shadow/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/makers-mittelstand-germanys-chance-to-step-out-of-silicon-valleys-shadow/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 10:11:49 +0000 http://test.wespeakiot.com/?p=5079 Berlin’s annual conference “re:publica” has finally grown out of its infancy. What started as a blogger-event with a high nerd factor has finally become a serious annual gathering of, let’s say, a variegated tech society. Founders, inventors, politicians, activists and journalists met to present, network and discuss. While this year’s motto “Love out Loud” focused on the rise of internet hate speech, the spreading of fake news and how to deal with it, other tracks like “business & work” and the “global innovation gathering” brought together makers, hub managers and entrepreneurs from around the world.

As a re:publica attendee you always face a major problem: A day has just 24 hours. During the three-day event over a thousand of speakers present hundreds of sessions. Logically many of them at the same time. While some are filmed and can later be reviewed online, one still really has to make a good plan for where to attend and what the alternatives could be, if one session doesn’t turn out to be as promising as expected.

With almost 8.000 visitors on just 23.000 square meters it can become quite packed and you’ll find yourself sitting on the floor. Another good reason to dress casual, as is common here.

re:publica 2017 picture gallery

click on picture to view our re:publica 2017 album

But it’s not always the panels with the huge audience that are noteworthy. Within the business & work track of re:publica the panel “Makers & Mittelstand. How can 100 year old companies and the maker movement play together and where do they clash” emphasized on the different cultures between the maker scene  and classic Mittelstand-driven companies and how they could overcome obstacles and find their way to a fruitful cooperation.

German Mittelstand, what’s so special about it? Alongside the big corporations, there is a vast number of small and medium-sized companies in Germany. They provide a large number of jobs and are extremely productive. These companies make up what is known as the “Mittelstand”. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, more than 99 percent of German companies are SMEs. In absolute figures, more than 3.6 million companies, providing more than 60 percent of all jobs in Germany.

In a refreshing gender equal formation – unfortunately not a matter of course in this field – panel host Ange Royall-Kahinn from WATTx, a Berlin-based company builder specializing in identifying promising IoT-inventions, Investor Jan Borgstädt, Managing Partner at JOIN Capital GmbH as well as Teshia Treuhaft, Head of Sales & Partnership at Senic GmbH, maker of the “Nuimo” smart home controller and Daniel Heltzel, Managing Director of the Fab Lab Berlin teamed up to discuss the issue of how to bridge cultures, manage expectations and finally strengthen technical development between the constantly growing maker scene and SMEs in germany and beyond.

Teshia Treuhaft emphasized the big chance Germany has these days with the maker movement. This maker scene is much more developed in germany than for instance in the US where usually the big tech inventions originate from.

Daniel Heltzel defined a maker as someone who bypasses conventional industrial means of production. Someone who has a very pragmatic approach to product development. Heltzel noted that the intention of makers has shifted in the past from those who fiddle with technology for fun to those with a more professional approach. At the Fab Lab Berlin many makers are working on inventions with the aim to bring a product to market, he stated.

The Maker Movement has grown significantly over the past 3 or 4 years. It has also become more international. (Daniel Heltzel, Fab Lab Berlin)

“There is quite a lot of prototyping infrastructure especially in Berlin,” noted Heltzel. However, the large number of hubs are “a little bit inflationary”. Having the aim to bundle resources, too many hubs foil this effort. Also, Heltzel pleaded for a better cooperation between makers and research institutions.

Jan Borgstädt stated to be a big fan of open platforms. In his opinion, they could need better sponsoring. “There are many accelerators that are being started by corporates. But those are usually given a specific theme which is linked to their individual strategies”, he adds. “But that is probably not a space where you would create crossfunctional new ideas”. In his view this apporach kills innovation since access would often just be given “if you already describe a product or a service that actually caters for that sponsor of that space.” Borgstädt remains skeptical of these kind of accelerators, because he suspects that they exist more for PR reasons. His recommendation, especially for the Mittelstand: “think about joining or co-sponsoring an existing space. It would cost less money, would be more innovative and you could test the waters. Send your own people in.”

“Open platforms are usually more innovative than corporate-driven accelerator hubs” (Jan Borgstädt, JOIN Capital)

Teshia Treuhaft gave interesting insights into Senic’s experiences on their journey from a protoype to a product. From their experience it takes about 9 to 12 months from a functioning prototype to a product that can be mass produced. Nevertheless, while working with a Fab Lab and their own studio they came to a point where they really needed expertise from Mittelstand companies. “When you move from something like 3D-printing to injection molding parts of your device, but may have a 2-month time of lag time when you are actually building that kind of mold, you need the insight that those Mittelstand companies already have. They did it hundreds of thousands of times.”

According to Treuhaft, the main challenge is not the prototyping itself, but turning a protoype into an “Amazon salable product”, as she pictorially noted. At Scenic they had to build up their own network of skilled companies by simply asking around. Finding one company that is experienced in printing circuit boards, another one that knows how to produce an equivalent glass for their device. “This is the biggest value from the start-up perspective of the Mittelstand companies,” she noted. “Because they are the ones actually making it.” What’s missing, adds Ange Royall-Kahinn, would be some kind of “centralized database” where makers and start-ups could find Mittelstand companies that match their individual needs.

“If you want support from Mittelstand companies, you need to be specific!” (Teshia Treuhaft, Senic)

Still it can be quite hard to find a Mittelstand company who is willing to invest even time to listen to what the makers have to offer. “You need to be specific, you don’t just go there and ask them things like ‘I need help to build a remote'”, Treuhaft added. She reported about one case, when they were trying to figure out how to have an LED matrix shine through the face of their device and the efforts it took to find the right company, that could solve this problem. “Show the Mittelstand manufacturers that you have an idea and care for your own product”, she added.

Mittelstand companies in germany are usually global companies, leaders in a very specific niche.  But how to reach them as a maker? Jan Borgstädt gives this advice: “You have to do the typical sales approach, call and ask for the decision maker. Usually they are a bit more conservative, but once they trust you, they are very thoughtful and give feedback. Mittelstand companies tend to have a long-term view and want to build long-term relationships.” Contrary to the big corporations who’d rather send you back to the drawing board when your product is not entirely finished. According to Borgstädt, Mittelstand companies are more likely to support you and going the final steps with you.

But there are more obstacles between the different cultures of the maker scene and the Mittelstand to overcome. “The first feedback we usually get from Mittelstand companies is, that they are highly worried about intellectual property”, added Daniel Heltzel. He is talking about the open co-working environment that is typical for maker spaces. Something that might give a Mittelstand company headaches. “We try to explain to them that it is actually a wide spectrum between giving away all your knowledge in an open innovation space and just bringing in selected input and getting selected output.” In his experience, Mittelstand teams often have to learn that they don’t lose a lot and can gain much more.

Patience is needed for a successful cooperation between makers and Mittelstand

When makers and Mittelstand meet, it is important that they both agree on certain expectations. “You should be well aware of the fact, that you might need to have a minimum of a three- to five-year relationship if you want to create interesting results”, Heltzel notes. Companies often tend to interest in having some short-term project-based relationships with a hub for half a year. In Heltzel’s view, this is not very promising: “We usually tell them it is an interesting offer, but we don’t want to create disappointments.”

Also “before talking to a Mittelstand company, you have to have an understanding what processes you need for your problem, and if Germany is really the right place for that”, Teshia Treuhaft states. In her view, when it comes to products that are based on sensors or beacons, Germany is definitely the first choice. “Most of the sensors are produced in Germany”. But there are certain consumer products, like a smartwatch or a smartphone, that “would be better off being made in China”, she adds.

Bearing all these pieces of advice in mind, it seems that the combination of innovative makers that partner up with experienced Mittelstand companies could be the key for Germany to finally step out of Silicon Valley’s shadow. Makers and Mittelstand seem to have completely different cultures. Cultures that might look contradicting on a first glance. But meeting somewhere in the middle, and understanding each others needs and expectations could be the key to a whole wave of new innovative products that not only originate in germany, but also are being produced here.

More panels can be reviewed on the official re:publica channel on youtube.

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DIAL Openlab: Lemonbeat and Phoenix Contact talk about bringing IoT to Building Automation http://www.wespeakiot.com/dial-openlab-lemonbeat-and-phoenix-contact-talk-about-bringing-iot-to-building-automation/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/dial-openlab-lemonbeat-and-phoenix-contact-talk-about-bringing-iot-to-building-automation/#respond Thu, 11 May 2017 14:34:50 +0000 http://test.wespeakiot.com/?p=5057 Kai Christiani, Lemonbeat (r.) and Sebastian Palmer, Phoenix Contact (m.) presenting at DIAL OpenLab. Photo: DIAL GmbH

Following on from E-World, and a great deal of work going on in the background, Phoenix Contact and ourselves were back on the road this week with an appearance at the DIAL Openlab at DIAL’s offices in Lüdenscheid, in the German state of North Rhein-Westphalia. In this article, we answer to the six most asked questions about Building Automation we received that day.

The Openlab is a series of free regular events organized by DIAL covering topics such as lighting, automation, software and architecture, which, it comes as no surprise, are also the key competencies of the organization. The sessions take place directly within the DIAL offices in a purpose-built event room, all of which is a stone’s throw from the incubator where the organization started.

In fact, as I plundered their fridge full of Cola, it was fun to hear about their origins and the challenges they had experienced along the way to becoming the 100+ employee company that they now are. Growing IT infrastructure and tales of the startup project team crammed into small rooms raised a smile when I thought back to the early days of Lemonbeat.

It can be quite intriguing to see the level of interest and type of questions that crop up, particularly when presenting a relatively new topic like IoT within the context of Building Automation.

5pm arrived, and with it the 60 guests making up a full house. Up on the agenda this time was my colleague from our Building Automation team Kai Christiani, and Sebastian Palmer, experienced building automation expert and new recruit at Phoenix Contact. At these work/meetup type of events it can be quite intriguing to see the level of interest and type of questions that crop up, particularly when presenting a relatively new topic like IoT within the context of Building Automation. For those of us who come into daily contact with „smart things“ the introduction of IoT seems like a natural step. To someone who is responsible for the running of a building though, talk of IP addresses or key exchanges for them is, as the Germans say, „Neuland“.

The sections of the presentation “Bringing IoT to Building Automation” probably of most interest were those regarding the devices using Lemonbeat which have been built as proof of concepts and that already work with Phoenix Contact’s Emalytics system. These currently focus solely on room automation, but this is an area which has remained relatively untouched by building automation so far, and other functionality, for example, heating systems that the customer doesn’t want to immediately replace, are covered by the Emalytics system being able to serve many other protocols out there on the market. That the concept though has now very definitely left the slides of Powerpoint though is encouraging.

For similar reasons the feature from Sebastian around Phoenix Contacts own „Building 4“ in Bad Pyrmont was also a highlight. Significant savings, achieving an amortisation in under seven years shows the system works. Having seen the buiding in real life, I know it’s worth visiting to see it work in practice too.

The key though was not what we made of the presentation and concept, but what the other 60 guests thought. Attendees appeared to come from all sorts of different job backgrounds, ranging from product manufacturers, to engineers and constructors, and there were plenty of questions such as:

If intelligence and interaction is at device level rather than in the cloud, can I still pull data for analysis?

Yes, key data can be pulled into a cloud thanks to the Emalytics controller. This could lead to conclusions where values on the device themselves should be adjusted, and Lemonbeat allows this to be done over the air in a battery-efficient (where relevant) manner.

What if I don’t want to use a cloud solution and want to keep everything in house?

Likewise, this is possible. Lemonbeat and Emalytics can keep the whole building automation system running without reliance on the cloud. Analysis of data could take place on a local server if wished.

Is it a closed system?

Definitely not. Emalytics can serve other protocols. Likewise end devices using Lemonbeat can be included into other controllers if the Lemonbeat library has been implemented. Both companies are keen to work with as many partners as possible.

What kind of advantage does the new setup offer?

Flexibility through increased room controls, less wiring due to the wireless communication of Lemonbeat Radio, and the ability to change values/behavior of devices without excessive reprogramming requirements.

Reduced costs, not just through greater energy efficiency achieved through controls but also in the dramatically reduced infrastructure required in comparison to today’s systems. Likewise, the ongoing engineering costs are significantly lower than those of traditional solutions.

Who programs or sets up the system in a building?

Device capabilities including being able to partner with other devices or describe what kind of device they are is programmed through Lemonbeat smart Device Language and this is fed onto the devices at the point of manufacture by the device manufacturer.

Which devices should interact, where they are positioned and which should be included, are all aspects that would be covered by the Professional Planners – a role that Lemonbeat together with Phoenix Contact can also fill. This is based on the requirements of the Building Owner.

Finally, day to day adjustments to the system could then still be carried out by the occupants including via the Emalytics User Interface.

Can I control a primary system with Lemonbeat?

At present, we have been focusing on the room automation controls of our first partners. Longer term though, control of a new build primary system through Lemonbeat is our aim. Then like Phoenix Contact we will be on to tours of a facility rather than presentations!

Further Reading: For German-speakers I encourage you to follow @EnabledFacility on Twitter who is providing all sorts of updates, videos and features on the Bad Pyrmont setup.

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Lemonbeat premiers at Hannover Messe: presenting local power to a global audience http://www.wespeakiot.com/lemonbeat-premiers-at-hannover-messe-presenting-local-power-to-a-global-audience/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/lemonbeat-premiers-at-hannover-messe-presenting-local-power-to-a-global-audience/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 14:16:04 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=5040 Edmund Barrett and Manuel Adler presenting the Lemonbeat Stand in Hall 16/A10 at Hannover Messe. Photo: (c) 2017 Vanessa Leissring

The focus of this year’s Hannover Messe was on Industrial Internet of Things services and products. With over 6,500 exhibitors and more than 225,000 visitors it is the world’s largest industry fair. And with IoT being a main topic, our appearance was obligatory. Lemonbeat’s technology offers a flexible framework to quickly enable the “IoT-zation” of all kind of things: from sensors and actuators to products and machines for consumer and professional needs. Already in use in the field of Smart Home, Smart Building, Smart Energy and Smart Garden systems, Lemonbeat’s range of use is vast.

North Rhine-Westphalia in mid-western germany is one of the strongest industrial regions in Europe. No surprise that it had its special appearance at Hannover Messe 2017.  Once the center of Germany’s heavy industry, the federal state has successfully undergone a structural transformation into an innovative business location: the companies in the region are among the leaders in growth sectors such as logistics, nanotechnology, environmental economics and energy. In partnership with the ministry for economic affairs 34 local companies presented their showcases at the world’s largest industry fair in Hannover in the last week of April. Lemonbeat was one of them.

“Exhibiting for the first time at Hannover Messe, we were glad to see the enormous interest to our product offering”, states Guido Vogel, Lemonbeat’s Head of Sales & Marketing. “Even though automation is very advanced in Industry 4.0, it still requires fresh and modern solutions.”

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to sum up the nature of the Lemonbeat Technology into one or two sentences, but one might break it down into this: Based on established internet standards, Lemonbeat offers an IoT Framework consisting of pre-built embedded software building blocks that can be flexibly combined to create individual functionality for all kinds of intelligent devices. It comes along with ready-to-use connectivity based on Sub-GHz Radio but can also be used with other physical transmissions such as LoRa or even ethernet.

Above it all, we provide LsDL, our Lemonbeat smart Device Language, as an open XML-based language that configures the devices, partners them, lets them interact directly with each other and even enable reconfiguration during runtime.

We define “things” by their building blocks, not by their capabilities. Each single block, a piece of software or a service with individual capabilities needed for intelligent behaviour, can be combined with another block to create a “thing”. May it be a lamp, a water pump or a complete IoT environment for a smart home setup. When buidling a new device, our customers pick the suitable services for their devices. This significantly reduces the development of new products and shortens time-to-market.

Using Lemonbeat in greater IoT enviroments like in the field of Building Automation or Smart Warehouses can also save time and money: The technology itself reduces the hardware requirements. Since the devices interact directly and without a central control unit, the number of gateways, repeaters, etc. can be cut down. Still, data necessary for management or monitoring purposes can be send anytime to an a software on a central server or into the cloud.

“Our edge computing approach received great feedback, and wireless solutions are gaining ground all over,” Guido Vogel sums up our first experiences at this years fair.

The next Hannover Messe will run from 23 to 27 April 2018.

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Let’s talk about the key to IoT security http://www.wespeakiot.com/lets-talk-about-the-key-to-iot-security/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/lets-talk-about-the-key-to-iot-security/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:21:35 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=5024 Secure internet data processing concept. Photo: nmedia, Adobe Fotolia

The Internet of Things might not be spreading as quickly as predicted by some, but in the long run it will change our world significantly. As more IoT devices enter the market, security will become increasingly important.

In his new ebook “Making sense of IoT”, Kevin Ashton who shaped the term ‘Internet of Things’ defines IoT as follows:

The ‘Internet of Things’ means sensors connected to the Internet and behaving in an Internet-like way by making open, ad hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications, so computers can understand the world around them and become humanity’s nervous system.

While free data sharing and smart computers, that understand the world better and enrich and make our lives easier, are certainly desirable things, we all know that the nervous system is also an extremely vulnerable thing. And in the world of bits and bytes, the greatest of its flaws is security. According to the new Aruba study, “The Internet of Things: Today and Tomorrow”, more than 50% of the participants think that external attacks are the biggest problem for IoT. So, it seems that making IoT devices safer, to prevent data theft and manipulation as well as the hijacking of devices into botnets, is a crucial task for all organizations dealing with IoT.

At Lemonbeat GmbH, our focus is on robust radio communication in the sub GHz RF band with devices that are sometimes battery-powered and without hardware crypto support. Nonetheless, these constrained devices are directly accessible via IPv6, so security is an important subject for us too.

So how do we face this challenge?

We deal with the challenge through a combination of two proven encryption systems — on the one hand the asymmetric RSA (named after its inventors Rivest, Shamir and Adlerman) and on the other the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption mechanism, a specification established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2001.

By assessing and then weighing up the risk of vulnerability against the cost of security measures, we try to offer our customers in each case the proper solution, depending on their different demands. Henceforward this can range from deploying a suitable RSA method to the use of asymmetric Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) that requires a far smaller key to provide the same security as RSA and the like. Furthermore, instead of common AES-128 we can use the more secure AES-256 that is even accepted and used by the U.S. government.

And what do we do in detail for security?

All Lemonbeat devices must be included into a Lemonbeat network. This ensures a secure communication with and between the devices as well as a tamper-proof configuration of the devices. Inclusion is done by exchanging keys. To increase the security here, we do not use a common key for all devices, as is often the case, but an individual key pair for each Lemonbeat device. While including a Lemonbeat device, the public RSA key of the device is saved in a backend. The network controller — responsible for managing our 868 MHz network — retrieves it from there. But this is only possible if the controller has already been paired with the backend in a secure manner.

Key Exchange for Lemonbeat Device Inclusion

Key Exchange for Lemonbeat Device Inclusion.

After receiving the public key, the network controller generates a new unique AES key, the so called “controller key” that is used to encrypt the network key. Controller key and encrypted network key are then used to create an inclusion message. In addition, the network controller adds a check sum, generated with the CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) algorithm that will detect any transmission errors caused, for example, by radio interference, channel access collisions or a weak receive signal. The complete inclusion message is then encrypted with the public RSA key of the device. Only the device itself has the related private RSA key and can decrypt the message and therefore receive the decrypted network key. This network key is crucial for the device to device interaction because — due to limited processing power and battery capacity — constrained devices are usually not capable of generating a new key for each connection.

After the inclusion, all data transmitted via radio in the 868 MHz network is encrypted using the AES encryption system in combination with a counter mode like the CCM mode (Counter with CBC-MAC), that offers authentication as well as confidentiality. We use counter modes on different levels to prevent “replay attacks”, also known as “playback attacks”, where transgressors try to bypass protection measures by intercepting and resending valid messages and thus, trying to manipulate alarm or keyless entry system and so on.

Don’t get us wrong, security is an ongoing fight, and methods will continue to become more advanced, but all the combined methods mentioned above do not just sound a bit complicated, they really do ensure considerable security. As you can see, we try to give trespassers a really hard time. And the best bit is: It’s all part of the deal, so our customers don’t have to trouble themselves with creating their own methods to deal with the problem.

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Events I’m looking forward to in 2017 http://www.wespeakiot.com/events-im-looking-forward-to-in-2017/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/events-im-looking-forward-to-in-2017/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:22:00 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=4977 Bits & Pretzels 2016. Photo: Ilja Klemm/Lemonbeat

As Lemonbeat’s evangelist I take pride in networking on a regular basis at various fairs, meetups, congresses and panels to keep in touch with new developments and upcoming challenges. I don’t  just talk about our own solutions but keep an open eye and ear about what is happening around us.

Here is a list of events I’m currently looking forward to attending to in the upcoming months.

6-7 May

Make Munich – Make Munich has become one of the largest Maker Fairs in Europe; the unique blend of family-friendly entertainment, high-tech exhibition, hands-on workshops for everyone interested has proven to be rightfully successful. This year will, for the first time, feature a whole section exclusively for IOT exhibitors, so Lemonbeat will be present on both days! Add a selection of brilliant speakers, yummy catering and an abundance of creativity (not to mention the robots!), and you know why this May weekend is supposed to be memorable one.

1-2 June

IoT Tech Expo Berlin – The IoT Tech Expo is one of the largest conferences for IOT, and as such a must for all companies and persons dealing with IOT to some degree. A perfect opportunity to tune in on the latest technologies and advancements, with dedicated exhibitor and startup spaces. The conferences also offers 6 Tracks, covering most (if not all) segments of IOT, with over 200 Speakers, so every thirst for knowledge should be appropriately quenched.

8 June

RIOT Berlin – RIOT is a one-day conference about IOT, bringing developers, makers, entrepreneurs and Startups, Investors and corporations together. All attendees will be handpicked to ensure a good match amongst guests, so that everyone will have enough to take away. Since this is the first instalment of this conference, surprises are bound to happen and not much is known yet. However, the organizers have been doing the Pirate Summit before, so it’s a relatively safe bet that RIOT will be interesting, to say the least!

24-26 September

Bits & Pretzels Munich  – The Founders Festival takes place during Octoberfest, with two days dedicated to the conference and one day at a tent at the Octoberfest for enhanced networking. While the setup may sound unreal, this is one of the best Startup events one could imagine – 2016 saw 5000 attendees, and with the keynotes delivered by Kevin Spacey and Richard Branson, it’s no wonder that this year’s expectations are quite high! We still have our hopes up that 2017 will feature a larger IOT Track, but in any case, this is one event that will be fun-filled networking and technology exchange, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

6 – 9 November

Web Summit Lisboa – This is the biggest conference on this list. It’s been dubbed “Davos for Geeks” and is definitely the largest tech event of it’s kind in Europe. It’ll cover everything change-driving companies and entrepreneurs are using right now. Organizers are using heavily discounted tickets to encourage women, a hugely underrepresented group in Tech, to attend. Whatever your question may be, chances are that you’ll find an expert to answer your questions here.

4 – 5 December

TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin – Disrupt is coming back to Berlin, and it offers everything it is famous for: The Startup Battlefield, Hackathons, and the newest technology. There will be an abundance of themes to talk about, including how Brexit changes the Ecosystems’ outlook for the future. Add in the hand-picked speakers and Panels, and you know why this is a conference to get excited about!

The list may change though, but if you have chance to come, please do so and let’s have a chat! Please check also our events section at www.lemonbeat.com to see where you will find our team on various other occasions.

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Edge computing will become a “must have” in IoT ecosystems http://www.wespeakiot.com/edge-computing-will-become-a-must-have-in-iot-ecosystems/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/edge-computing-will-become-a-must-have-in-iot-ecosystems/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:11:15 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=4881 "Industry Technology" Foto: © nirutft, Adobe Fotolia

So far, the world of IoT consists of a very heterogeneous landscape. Multiple computing protocols like ZigBee, Z-Wave, Modbus and BACnet have their individual pros and cons and therefore all a right to exist — depending on their individual use case. But in an Internet of Things world, everything and everybody is connected — from consumers in sensor-rich environments to enterprises harnessing new technologies like robotics and machine learning. Since we lack one common language for the IoT there is no way around a solution capable of connecting all these standards. But still, the intelligence will move to the edge of the networks. Devices will interact directly. The cloud remains for analysis.

The central core of any IoT architecture are industrial systems running embedded software. At Accenture Industry X.0, we aim to enable our clients to rapidly create, launch and maintain differentiated connected devices, independently or in support of broader connected IoT solutions. Our service covers the complete software stack of an embedded device including device drivers, kernel services, multimedia, middleware, connectivity and applications. Plus a library of industry- and platform-specific best practices. To complete our offering, the latest addition to our application is the Lemonbeat Technology.

To address the growing demand for digital solutions within the manufacturing industry, Accenture has developed an application connecting all these standards. While the software itself is designed to be platform-independent, a Linux implementation has been already made for the Intel DK300 Gateway. A platform that enables companies to seamlessly interconnect industrial infrastructure devices and secure data flow between devices and the cloud.

Still, more independent device to device interaction, moving intelligence to the “edge” of a network, will become crucial in future installations. Integrating the Lemonbeat Technology into our application was therefore especially interesting. We believe, that in the future, IoT ecosystems will more and more move the intelligence from a centralized cloud server onto the end-user devices themselves. Controlling an IoT installation exclusively via a central unit is always a bottleneck solution. If that central unit fails, the whole system is down. Direct interaction between devices can help making IoT ecosystems more independent, flexible and stable. Lemonbeat enables the direct interaction between devices. Its software stack comes with a whole load of pre-defined services, e.g. interacting state machines, event and calendar functions plus many more features that already enable a broad spectrum of device intelligence to start with.

When the devices finally perform standard tasks themselves, the cloud won’t become obsolete. It will still remain important for the analytics part. Without analytics, the Internet of Things would be like trying to hear a single voice in a crowd of millions. As the pace of edge computing adoption accelerates, it enables deliberate, highly computational dependent business functions to be performed on the device, ultimately leading to more autonomous, responsive behavior. It’s all about enabling machines to play an active part in the world around us.

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Alea iacta est: IoT comes to the crunch http://www.wespeakiot.com/alea-iacta-est-iot-comes-to-the-crunch/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/alea-iacta-est-iot-comes-to-the-crunch/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 15:58:42 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=4666

Let’s face it, explaining the Internet of Things and the advantages of direct interaction between devices can be a dry and theoretical topic. So, we decided to make the whole thing a little crisper and add some gamification to the issue: At a lot of future events, we’re going to demonstrate our technology with a smart game of dice that helps explains what we mean when talking about intelligent devices.

For the game, we use two foam dice, each equipped with a gyroscope that communicates their movements and final positions along an X, Y and Z axis to our vending machine, and also to a computer that displays the dice results on a graphical user interface. Before starting the game, the player can choose which kind of dice game he or she would like to play: “more than 8” or “2 of a kind”. Once the choice is selected in the GUI, the blue starter button is pressed which informs the vending machine that the game is about to start. Now the player can throw the dice.

This is the point where the Lemonbeat technology comes in play: The gyroscopes within the dice wait until no further movement is detected. Then they transmit their final positions via Lemonbeat smart Device Language, an XML-based markup language, and Lemonbeat Radio (868 MHz Radio Frequency) directly to the vending machine and the computer. The computer displays the results on the screen. Meanwhile the vending machine, that is also equipped with Lemonbeat technology, checks the results depending on the rules of the chosen game type (bigger 8 or double) and, in case of a win, hands out a box of Lemonbeat branded potato chips. Always a nice prize on a long trade fair day!

Smart Devices that interact directly with each other: Crisps Demo

Smart Devices that interact directly with each other: Crisps Demo

Direct communication and reconfiguration during runtime

The dice game not only uses the Lemonbeat smart Device Language, it also demonstrates two key features of the Lemonbeat technology: Direct interaction between devices without a central control unit and the ability to change the configuration (i.e., the rules of the game) anytime during runtime. The dice are able to communicate independently with the computer and the vending machine. Even if you turn the computer off, the vending machine will still take the results from the dice and decide, depending on the score, if it should release a box of potato chips or not.

Showcase premiere at the Embedded World Nuremberg 2017

We successfully demonstrated our dice demo with the Lemonbeat technology inside for the first time at the Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg.

Look out for our future events, join us and roll some dice! Nova alea, nova fortuna.

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The IoT still needs a lot of explanation http://www.wespeakiot.com/the-iot-still-needs-a-lot-of-explanation/ http://www.wespeakiot.com/the-iot-still-needs-a-lot-of-explanation/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 13:39:48 +0000 http://www.wespeakiot.com/?p=4921 Archive Photo of Ilja speaking at 48forward conference in November 2016. Photo: (c) 2016 Meltem Salb

I was honored and pleased to be invited as a speaker to 48forward’s first “Masterclass” session in Munich, a new format designed to give answers in an intimate setting, and to create an interactive atmosphere where the audience is actively encouraged to ask questions. 48forward have been organizing events for a variety of themes (marketing, influencers, digital transformation) for a while now; notably the 48forward Conference. They have established themselves as a welcome addition to the Munich ecosystem, where many topics are additionally discussed with a more in-depth view. As such, speaking at the event was definitely on my to-do list.

Since Lemonbeat is a company dedicated to IoT, we were a perfect fit as sponsors and also to shed some light on the topic of IoT in general. The event took place in mid February at the New Design Offices at the Arnulfpark, with the goal of giving an introduction to IoT and to answer many questions most people have, when they start researching IoT.

Clearly, the audience wanted to have some clarity around this jungle of jargon and especially, to see where the promises of IoT have ended up. The number of themes touched by those questions was staggering – from technical implications, over ethical concerns with data management, security of that data, ROI for people investing in IoT, to artificial intelligence and its implications for the future of work – enough material to cover four Masterclasses.

To answer those questions, the event contained presentations ranging from basic introductions to the IoT to the possibilities and risks its offers. A standout example from the selection was the presentation given by Lara Voltmer, Innovation Manager at mantro, and Igor Andreichyn, Technical Architect at their product OilFox. They gave a memorable introduction to the conception and development of their hardware product. Oilfox is a sensor, measuring the level of oil still in a tank, especially in oil heating tanks. Combined with an app, it also predicts and advises on the best time to restock your fuel. Their talk gave a rare insight into the development of hardware designed for IoT – and as anyone working on hardware can tell you, this is a challenging undertaking and usually as customers we’re only confronted with the final product.

The world of IoT is still a complex patchwork of many different systems

From the hardware side to the software side: The world of IoT is vast. Endless ideas are possible with so many solutions for so many cases. But there is not just “one” vendor who covers it all, there is not just one “standard” that brings them all together. Unlike the World Wide Web, where all the different servers with all their information are being accessed with one common piece of software, the web browser, the world of IoT is still a complex patchwork of many different systems.

While the internet has been designed as a decentralized network, that allows communication over many ways, the Internet of Things looks somewhat different at the moment: Device manufacturers actually concentrate more or less on how they can connect their devices with a central unit where all the intelligence takes place. All the decision-making takes place at this one centralized point, may it be a local gateway, the cloud or a server in a remote data center.

The devices themselves just deliver their statuses to this central unit, which then sends the necessary commands back. The problem: If that one central unit fails, your whole setup is doomed. Also: There are hundreds of different standards on the market. Each of them optimized for their own unique use case. Within their own ecosystem, everything might work just fine. But what if you need to connect one world with another? The devices of one manufacturer with the devices of another? If you are lucky, you find a few who agreed to use the same system. If not, it will become quite complex to get those isolated systems talking to each other.

Our focus lies more on bringing intelligence on to the devices, rather than just enabling them to send and receive data.

At Lemonbeat we aim to bring all these worlds together in the least complicated manner possible. Instead of having a central unit doing all the decision-making, we concentrate on device intelligence. For us at Lemonbeat, our focus lies more on bringing intelligence on to the devices, rather than just enabling them to send and receive data. So, wouldn’t it be better if there was a device description that can be easily implemented into any device? A set of building blocks that enables devices – as different as they might be – to understand each other? No matter who produced them, no matter how they communicate, if wether radio-technology or cable-bound?

Since its inception, IoT and the Internet have adapted to very different needs and demands for strikingly different use cases. Which is why we now have a plethora of different standards. When you start researching IoT, you inevitably come across a multitude of abbreviations, standards, protocols, and more. If you’re not an engineer or didn’t have at least some exposure to computer science, it can be mind-bendingly difficult to unwrap that jargon. Whenever someone comes up with a new idea, a new product or a new standard, there is always the question of how future-proof can this technology be.

The IT world is developing rapidly. What is considered high-tech today, can be already outdated tomorrow. That’s why it’s understandable if people remain sceptical whenever someone offers them a complete new solution for all their problems. That’s why we at Lemonbeat decided to develop our solution on well proven technologies. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we developed an IoT framework that uses components which are well known and established. A framework that can be easily adapted to anything new that might come. A framework that enables devices to “learn” functions that might not even be considered yet.

During my speech at the 48forward “Masterclass” session, I decided to take one step backwards and instead of just praising our technology, my goal was to shed some light on the different terms, that are likely to be named when the talk is about the Internet of Things. It seemed useful to untangle the confusing technical multiverse of abbreviations. Whenever we talk about the Internet of Things we are being confronted with terms like “IPv6”, “MQTT”, “CoAP”, “REST” or “Bluetooth”, “Zigbee”,”Z-Wave”. Before total confusion takes control, it might be useful to take a look at all these terms and definitions and sort them into their designated areas. I hope at least that my presentation helped in that respect.

I’d like to thank the organizers of giving me this opportunity to speak at the 48forward Masterclass. Probably not all questions that night could be extensively answered that night. If you’d like to start with an overview of many of the available data protocols, Postscapes has a good site to visit.

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