Big Ideas, Big Money, and the “Your IoT" Design Competition
You’ve had IoT design swirling around in your head for years. It’s your carpool companion on the way to work, it's your daydream during the day, and it's the buzz that keeps you awake at night. Well folks, it's time to get that IoT dream of yours off the cocktail napkin and into the real world! My guest this week is Kamran Shah (Silicon Labs) and he’s here to introduce us to the “Your IoT" design competition. Kamran breaks down the who, what, when, and where of this new design contest and delivers the goods on how you can enter this competition. Also this week, we look at a groundbreaking new technology called Wi-Fo coming out of Oregon State University that hopes to boost our Wi-Fi signals by 10X!
Unexpected Technology on the Farm
This is a story about some of the finickiest customers you can imagine. It’s also a story of great patience.
Let’s start with bees. Bees make three things: wax, honey, and eggs. OK, only the queen makes the eggs, but she still qualifies as a bee. In modern commercial beekeeping, a hive consists of a stack of boxes. Each box has several “frames” inside. Each frame holds the familiar wax honeycombs built by the bees. Each new frame has a starting pattern that guides the bees as they create the honeycomb.
By hive design, the bottom box houses the queen and all of the brood (eggs and developing young). A barrier prevents the queen from moving to upper boxes and laying eggs throughout the hive (although workers can get through). So the upper boxes are only for honey. Within the brood box, the size of the starting frame pattern determines the size of the comb build-out. Larger cells house drone eggs; smaller cells house worker eggs.
Athena Makes Its Crypto Blocks Harder to Hack
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra
There’s theory, and then there’s practice.
In theory, nearly anyone should be able to throw a baseball at 90 MPH. In practice, very few can actually do it. In theory, Windows 3.1 was an intuitive, easy-to-use operating system GUI. In practice, people screwed up their PCs with alarming regularity. In theory, cryptography is an intensive subgenre of mathematics. In practice, it’s mostly about the sloppy analog nature of submicron electronic circuits.
Moore’s Law Turns Fifty
It’s been a half-century since Gordon Moore published “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits” in the April 19, 1965 edition of Electronics Magazine. It was another five years before Carver Mead dubbed Moore’s prediction in that article - about progress in integrated circuit density - “Moore’s Law,” and another five years after that before Moore revised his original “doubling every year” prediction to “doubling every two years.” At its simplest level, then, Moore’s Law predicts that the number of transistors that can be fabricated on a single chip will double every two years.
The fifty years that have followed that prophetic piece have seen nothing short of the most amazing advances in human history. Moore originally predicted that the trend would continue for “at least ten years,” but the exponential he foresaw has held almost miraculously steady for five times that long. Some would say that Moore brought incredible insight with his prediction. Others would say he was lucky. Still others would claim that this is an example of self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever the case, the profound impact of that one metric - “number of transistors on a single chip” - on just about every aspect of our global society is almost unfathomable.
What Are the Differences?
It started with a review a few weeks back of a few stray new (to me) protocols that I was seeing. I did a cursory review of each one and called it good.
It sparked a long discussion on LinkedIn about various protocol capabilities. That discussion suggested to me that another layer of detail was warranted. At that time, I didn’t know what I was in for, or else I might have found something far more tractable to take on, like, oh, squaring a circle or proving Riemann’s Hypothesis.
But no, I blissfully entered the void. You might expect a void to be empty, but this void is overfull; it’s just devoid of structure and clarity. While it’s often said that the Internet of Things (IoT) is in need of standards, the area we’re visiting suffers from too many standards. Each one solves a slightly different problem, so maybe we do need them all, but man… it can be overwhelming to wade through. That’s frankly the intent of this article: to provide some clarity on the different protocols.
Element14 Raises the Robot Bar
You scream, I scream, we all scream for…ROBOTS! In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a closer look at the GertBOT, a new robotics add-on board for Raspberry Pi recently released by Element 14. I’ve got Sagar Jethani with me to tell you about the powerful capabilities of this new expansion board. Sagar and I also explore the correlation between guitar playing and engineering, and why Eddie Van Halen is called "the Edison of guitar players.” Then, in keeping with our spirit of innovation and musical invention, I explore a new Etsy product that hopes to usher in a new generation of mixtapes.