The Internet of Things and Bluetooth

[fa icon='calendar'] Oct 3, 2016 2:03:15 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in BLE, Bluetooth, communication, General, internet, Internet of Things, IoT, mesh network, readwrite, Smart Devices, smart home, tech, Wi-Fi

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By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

Despite its name, the Internet of Things (IoT) is not constricted to purely internet-based connectivity. In fact, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions are increasing the functionality of IoT devices more successfully than via the internet, creating a more reliable framework for further connectivity. BLE technology will enhance and optimize the overarching operability of smart home devices by creating faster communication speeds and extending signal range.

Even though using the internet to connect devices works very well, it can have inconsistencies in its connection and shorten the battery life of various devices. These issues can be resolved through the use of BLE technology. Using BLE in IoT technology will allow devices to operate for extended periods of time on small power sources. In a readwrite article, it was stated that the new updates to Bluetooth technology made it possible for a coin-cell battery to last for several months, or even several years. Implementing Bluetooth technology within different IoT devices will help make managing a smart home a very energy efficient process.

The improved functionality of the IoT with the use of BLE goes far beyond simply saving power. BLE has the ability to extend the range of connection between devices by nearly four times that of a Wi-Fi network. This makes it a more reliable method for connecting numerous smart devices throughout a home environment. Not only is there a further range, but the communication speeds are revamped and much more capable to fulfill the demands of the always on and always communicating IoT devices.

Smart devices will be able to take full advantage of increased communication speeds and range due to the fact that BLE utilizes mesh networking. This is a network topology that allows for each device to be fully connected to each other within a network, allowing each node to assist in data distribution. The consumer benefit of mesh networking is explained by NXP; “Applications for Bluetooth mesh networks include those found in most every consumer’s home: door locks, lights, HVAC systems, and white goods (washers, dryers, refrigerators, and so on).” A mesh network is reliable for maintaining a smart home environment because individual devices can still communicate if one device runs out of power or is disconnected.

An increasing amount of manufacturers are beginning to integrate Bluetooth technology within their IoT technology. BLE will improve the overall functionality of the IoT and aid in establishing much more sturdy networks that will sustain the operation of numerous devices. This will help consumers create more efficient and powerful smart home environments.

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Wireless Connectivity: 900MHz, Wi-Fi, and BLE

[fa icon='calendar'] Aug 1, 2016 11:34:37 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900MHz, BLE, Bluetooth Low Energy, General, networking, Wi-Fi, White Papers, wifi, Wireless

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Deciding which type of wireless connection to implement in a device can be a cumbersome task. Each solutions allows for communication without sorting through an abundance of wires. The 900MHz, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless communication tools can be used to resolve limitations in budget as well as situations where wire placement is troublesome. None of these connections are necessarily any worse than the other, but some connections are better suited for certain environments and uses. The specifications and practical applications for each wireless connection are as followed:

900MHz: 900MHz is part of the UHF radio spectrum and allows for communication in a very local setting. This issue with radio waves is that they can be subject to some interference, so it may be beneficial to check for similar and existing frequencies in potential environments, but a majority of the time it won’t be an issue. The radio-enabled wireless connection can have more range than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and has the ability to travel through walls and objects with much more success due to its low frequency. This wireless option is the most applicable if efficient and quick communication is needed. 900MHz can typically communicate with desired devices in under ten seconds.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a very practical solution if instantaneous communication is not a concern. Most devices that operate with Wi-Fi are able to operate while offline and can be updated periodically via the internet. Wi-Fi typically has a greater range than BLE, but consumes a good amount of power while operating. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection is also more tedious than it may be with BLE or 900MHz. If security is a concern, Wi-Fi has a more complex encryption than the other options. Wi-Fi removes the locational restraints and allows for greater command over a network of interconnected devices.

BLE: BLE connection is very useful when communication is occurring between multiple devices that are near each other. The speed and data transfer rates of BLE are not great, making it best suited for low-bandwidth use. BLE devices consume low amounts of energy; this can be beneficial for long-term use as operational costs will be very low. This connection assimilates very well with consumer applications of the Internet of Things.

Before any wireless connection is used in a device, there are several factors that need to be reviewed in order to maximize functionality. Manufacturers need to consider the context in which the wireless communication will be occurring. For instance, elements such as speed, signal range, reliability and accessibility, power consumption, security, and user-friendliness are some of the critical things to consider when analyzing applicability of a wireless connection.

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Bluetooth FAQ: Bluetooth Product Comparison

[fa icon='calendar'] Dec 7, 2015 7:41:33 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in BLE, BluePlug, Blueport XP, Bluetooth, FireFly, Fireplug, General, Technical Support

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Firefly
The Firefly is a Bluetooth class 1 Serial device with a db9 connector. It has 4 switches on the outside and 10 jumper pins on the inside for configuration. It can be connected to most serial devices and supports RX, TX, RTS, CTS, and GND. Power can come from the serial port, a standard wall adapter, or a usb port. It is available with a male or female DB9 connector.
BluePort XP
The BluePort XP is very much like the Firefly but it has a rechargeable battery. You can get 24 to 30 hours of continuous connection and transfer of data on a single charge. It supports the same serial signals and is configured mostly the same way as the Firefly. Power can come from the internal battery, a wall supply, or a usb port. It is available with a male DB9 connector.
BluePlug
The BluePlug is also a class 1 bluetooth device which attaches to a host computers' USB port. It installs as a bluetooth device and usually installs automatically with Windows. There are drivers on the included CD that will install it as well. Since it needs drivers to run, it cannot be installed on devices that aren't computers or that don't have some means of installing software.
FirePlug
The FirePlug is like the BluePlug, however it installs as a serial port instead of a bluetooth device. It can also be set to pair with another bluetooth device, such as a Firefly or BluePort XP upon power up automatically. There are more features on the FirePlug product page.
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Employee Spotlight: Jonathan Witthoeft, Software Engineer

[fa icon='calendar'] Nov 20, 2015 7:42:03 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in bags, BLE, Bluetooth, electrical engineering, Employee Spotlight, General, Grid Connect, Jon, Jonathan, marriage, ping pong, software engineering, Tech Support, ZigBee

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Grid Connect-5509

Jonathan Witthoeft has been working with the Grid Connect team for the past five years. After hearing about Grid Connect from a friend, he applied for a technical support position while finishing up his degree in electrical engineering. After spending three years leading tech support at Grid Connect, Jon has fully transitioned to a software engineering position where he spends much of his time working on various ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) projects.

Beyond spending his time working with ZigBee and BLE and taking the occasional tech support call, you can find Jon playing ping-pong with the Grid Connect "A" League or playing (and usually winning at) a game of Bags. Jon says that his favorite part of working for Grid Connect is the people. "Everyone in the Grid Connect family is friendly and easy to work with. It makes a great atmosphere to get work done and keeps us all happy and productive."

Jon was married less than a month ago to his beautiful wife. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Game of Thrones with his wife and their fur babies as well as attending movies and sporting events, and spending time with friends.

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Grid Connect is a World Class Manufacturer

[fa icon='calendar'] Aug 17, 2015 8:59:54 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900MHz, BLE, Bluetooth, CANbus, chips, connection, Custom, development, DeviceNet, Ethernet, firmware, General, Grid Connect, hardware, I2C, Illinois, manufacturer, manufacturing, modbus, modbus tcp, modules, Naperville, network, NRE, packaging, private-labeled, PROFIBUS, PROFINET, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, software, SPI, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi

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WeAre_Banner_Manufacturer_2

Grid Connect Inc. is an ISO 9001-certified, world-class quality manufacturer. Our chips, modules and products are used by thousands of companies around the world to provide a network connection to their devices. All of our products are designed, assembled, programmed and tested in Illinois, USA. All final tests, firmware loading and packaging is done at Grid Connect in Naperville, Illinois.

All Grid Connect products can be customized and private-labeled to a specific customer’s requirements. It can be as simple as a software change to increase buffer sizes or as complex as a new hardware and software design. In all cases, Grid Connect will provide your company with a fixed price quotation for the NRE/development work and the production cost for the final product. We are happy to private label your product and ship it to you with the correct labeling and documentation.

Some networking and protocol technologies that Grid Connect specializes in, include:

  • Ethernet
  • Ethernet/IP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • ZigBee
  • 900MHz
  • PROFIBUS
  • PROFINET
  • CANbus
  • DeviceNet
  • Modbus
  • Modbus TCP

Grid Connect also specialized in all serial standards, including:

  • RS-232
  • RS-485
  • RS-422
  • SPI
  • I2C


For more specific detailing of the various hardware and software options we provide, call the Grid Connect office at +1 (800) 975-GRID or fill out the form here.

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Grid Connect is an All-Inclusive Development Partner

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 20, 2015 8:52:42 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900 MHz, Android, app, applications, apps, BLE, Bluetooth, build, CE, certifications, Cloud, connectsense, design, embedded, encryption, engineer, engineering, Ethernet, FCC, General, Grid Connect, hardware, iOS, layout, networking, OS, prototype, RoHS, security, Serial, smart phone, software, SSL, UL, web page, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi, Wireless

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WeAre_Banner_DevelopmentPartner_2

A Complete Development Partner for Hardware, Software, Apps and Cloud Services

Grid Connect Inc. has one of the best engineering teams in the world. Our strong development team can quickly and effectively implement your partial or complete networking/cloud-based or embedded product. For more than 20 years we have been helping customers put networking technology into their products. In the past the focus has been Ethernet, serial and propriety networks. Now days, the focus is on wireless networks like Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth/BLE and 900 MHz.

A few of Grid Connect’s many development capabilities include:

  • Designing, layout and quick turn prototype hardware
  • Designing, programming and debugging embedded software
  • Designing and building iOS and Android smart phone and tablet applications
  • Designing, building and rolling out complete cloud/web applications
  • Embedded Linux or Real-time OS driver development
  • SSL security and hardware and software encryption option
  • Production of custom hardware
  • Embedded Web page development
  • Pre-loading of custom/customer firmware on to standard modules
  • Complete diagnostic testing of hardware and software prior to shipment
  • Work with test labs to complete FCC, CE, UL, and RoHS certifications
  • Custom labeling

 

The ConnectSense Case Study

With the ConnectSense brand of products, we took Grid Connect’s embedded networking expertise and put it to use in the consumer home automation/Internet of Things marketplace. In creating ConnectSense, we built a full end-to-end solution, which incorporated custom hardware, embedded Linux development, a custom cloud solution, and custom enclosures and sensors.

Since releasing ConnectSense to the market in 2013, we have continued to move our technology forward. With the ConnectSense Smart Outlet we have made great strides in easy setup and provisioning of devices, smaller and more affordable designs and development of apps for iOS. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet also represents the first generation of devices that are Apple HomeKit-enabled allowing for great features such as Siri voice control, end-to-end encryption and ease of use.

The ConnectSense product line allows Grid Connect to prove out its technology at scale and improve it over time. This allows us to then take that same great technology and help customers implement IoT solutions in their own products. Rather than starting from scratch, our customers benefit from our wealth of knowledge developing IoT products. This allows for quick time to market, lower cost implementations and less custom work required on projects.


To discuss development partner solutions for your company, please call the Grid Connect office at +1 (800) 975-GRID or fill out the form here.

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Sensors Expo 2015: Grid Connect contemplates the wireless factory

[fa icon='calendar'] Jun 18, 2015 9:56:33 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Adam Justice, BLE, Bluetooth, Featured In, General, industrial networking, internet, Internet of Things, Mike Justice, Sensors Expo, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi

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Grid Connect recently moved into what could be considered the ‘consumer’ space through its ConnectSense subsidiary, which provides plug n’ play sensor solutions for a variety of applications through devices such as their recently released Smart Outlet. The parent company still focuses on more traditional embedded connectivity, but according to Mike Justice the industrial networking landscape has started to shift as factory operators become increasingly interested in wireless communications.

Justice admits that Wi-Fi is still a no-no in most plant settings because of the unknowns it introduces, but says that Bluetooth and ZigBee are making considerable strides as they provide no direct connection to the Internet and subsequent security issues.

Read more at Embedded Computing Design or download the PDF now.

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Where is the standard for the IoT standards?

[fa icon='calendar'] Jun 8, 2015 10:45:57 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in API, Apple, BLE, Bluetooth, Cisco, General, Google, HomeKit, Intel, Internet of Things, interoperability, IoT, Nest, Network Standards, OIC, Open Interconnect Consortium, RFID, Rival Protocols, Samsung, security, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi, Works with Nest

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The rapid progression of device communication has resulted in a formidable roadblock to the Internet of Things (IoT). Too many rival standards have emerged from big company alliances and individual expansions. While companies like Samsung, Intel, and Cisco have united around the Open Interconnect Consortium, individual corporations like Apple and Google are beginning to make headway on their own API projects.

In order for the IoT to work, every device pair must have identical network standards. Without matching protocols, individual objects won’t be able to communicate. For example, in order to play music from a smartphone through a Bluetooth speaker, the phone must connect to the device over Bluetooth, and not through Wi-Fi. This can get far more complicated than just the internet connection. In addition to network standards like Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Wi-Fi, there are also application and security standards that must also be identical. Two devices that run on Wi-Fi still can’t work together if one runs on the Apple HomeKit protocol and the other is designed for Works with Nest.

Inevitably, the jumble of standards has drawn all sorts of lines in the sand as far as companies developing for the IoT are concerned. This process has begun to follow a similar mess that occurred with the development of radio-frequency identification (RFID). It took 15 years to develop a common protocol for the RFID market, because of competing corporate interests.

Without standards, there is no possibility for interoperability, but it is important that companies work together to come up with fewer, more universal standards. Reducing the amount of these protocols opens up more avenues for product developers, and allows the consumer more product choice, rather than having to be selective based on the protocols they are already using in their home.

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10 Internet of Things (IoT) Design Considerations: Cost and Network

[fa icon='calendar'] Jan 5, 2015 7:22:39 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in BLE, Bluetooth, Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Alliance, cellular, cellular service provider network, Cloud, connectded devices, cost, Ethernet, gateway, General, hardwares, internet, Internet of Things, internet protocol suite, IoT, IoT capabilities, IoT-enabled, manufacturers, manufacturing costs, mesh network, modules, network, oftware, TCP/IP, technology, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Alliance, Z-Wave, ZigBee, ZigBee Coordinator, White Papers, Wireless, Z-Wave Alliance, ZigBee Alliance

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1. Cost

Connecting products to the Internet of Things (IoT) is essential to manufacturers looking to stay competitive within their industry. Adding IoT capabilities gives consumers more features. It also allows the manufacturer to stay connected with their customer while discovering new product use cases and applications that open them up to new revenue streams. These added benefits for both parties come with a cost though. Connected devices come with higher manufacturing costs but can also be sold with a higher price tag as well.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections can be added to products for less than $10 in bill of materials costs. Other technologies, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth, can be added for a lower price but may require a separate bridge device to get that device on the Internet to access Cloud services.

2. Network

Manufacturers have many hardware and software options when it comes to network technology for their IoT-enabled products. Some devices can be directly connected to the Internet using networking such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi, which are based on the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). Other products may use wireless technologies; some of which include TCP/IP, but in the end will require a “gateway” to convert the chosen network to either Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Some of the many technologies available include:

10 IoT Design Considerations - Network Technology

10IOTDESIGNCONSIDERATIONS_BANNER

>  For more information, please call Grid Connect Inc. at +1 (630) 245-1445, or email us at iot@gridconnect.com.

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