Is the Consumer IoT Happening?

A Review of Adoption Rates and Issues

by Bryon Moyer

Go to any of the dozens of conferences dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), and you’re likely to hear it: “The consumer IoT isn’t gaining adoption at the rate initially hoped.”

That matches with my anecdotal experience – at least amongst my non-tech friends, for whom being the first on the block with some new gadget doesn’t constitute a value proposition. One friend was even annoyed that her boyfriend bought her a Nest: “I just want a stupid thermostat!” But, being anecdotal, my experience doesn’t really tell us anything about what’s going on in the wider context. So I set about to see if there was any data to quantify what’s happening with the Consumer IoT (CIoT).


Rock, Paper, Firmware

DJI Software Kills Hardware in the Field

by Kevin Morris

As the Internet of Trouble (IoT) continues to evolve, most of us designing electronic systems are working to make our devices “smart.” By adding a microcontroller and some snazzy firmware, we can create products that take care of themselves - monitoring critical operational parameters and taking proactive steps to keep everything in line. One goal is to reduce the burden of responsibility on the user, which is really a release-note euphemism for “prevent the stupid customer from breaking our well-designed hardware.”

We gain a measure of post-release control as well, as we can release firmware updates that alter the behavior of the product in the field, even after the customer has bought it and placed it in service. And, by taking advantage of agile software development practices, our system can continue to improve and evolve long after the initial sale. In fact, customers have come to expect this sort of behavior from products, eagerly awaiting software and firmware updates that will give their product new capabilities and fix existing annoyances.


The Maytag Effect

When Software is a Service, Who Controls the Product?

by Jim Turley

“Two houses, both alike in dignity…” – “Romeo and Juliet,” prologue

It sucks working on a boring project. Let’s say that you’ve been working on the same product for a few years, but it hasn’t been selling well. Even so, you’re about to start on an update for it, even though that probably won’t sell well, either. You’ve got a boring few years of unremunerated drudgery ahead of you.


How Would You Use 32 Mics?

XMOS Touts Their Microphone Array

by Bryon Moyer

A funny thing happens when things get cheaper. Suddenly they find a bazillion uses that no one ever thought of before.

The typical American trajectory of price reduction means that something rare and valuable will eventually become accessible and common and then, ultimately, will become disposable. Think razors, once the domain of the professional who knew how to wield one without drawing blood. Now? Not only the blade, but the entire unit is available in a disposable version.


The Robots are Coming! The Robots are Coming!

Fish Fry Takes on RoboUniverse 2016

by Amelia Dalton

This week's Fish Fry is dedicated to one of our favorite topics: robotics. Fish Fry field reporter Larra Morris takes us on a special guided tour through all of the rabid robotic rambunctiousness of this year’s RoboUniverse. Larra investigates the what, where, and how of "cobots" with Scott Mabie of Universal Robots. Then Larra chats with Jeff Bernstein (President - Association for Advancing Automation) about trends in automation, where you can get help with your next automation project, and the role of robotics in the global economy. Lastly, Larra checks out the Model A - a brand new personal autonomous device with a little help from Phil Mann from 5D Robotics.


IoT Phone Home?

The Coming Cloud Apocalypse

by Kevin Morris

Can you hear them? They’re out there. Millions of tiny digital voices shouting wistfully into the abyss. They are trying, trying, trying to make contact. Trying to reach Home. Trying to reestablish that crucial intimate connection that they need to survive. Their desperate cries blend into a silent cacophony of lost packets - billions and billions of bits wandering aimlessly through the internet infrastructure, searching for something that will never ever reply.

Home is simply not there anymore.

Most of the IoT relies on a cloud-based computing architecture. The edge nodes do the sensing, the communicating, the actuating - all the interaction with the real world. They also do a small share of the computation and storage. But for the heavy compute, store, and communicate tasks, they hook up with the mother ship in the cloud. Technically, this allows faster, more capable servers to complete parts of the task that the tiny, power- and space-limited edge node cannot.


Subliminal Code

Digimarc and the Case of the Hidden Digital Signal Processing

by Amelia Dalton

“The most profound technologies are the ones that disappear.” - Mark Weiser

If you listen closely you won’t be able to hear it. If you squint your eyes you won’t be able to see it. But it’s there. Most of us have encountered Digimarc’s technology and most likely, we were never the wiser. In this week’s Fish Fry, Tony Rodriguez (CTO - Digimarc) and I discuss the details of Digimarc’s Intuitive Computing Platform: A platform that leverages all of the sensors in your mobile device to tell you more about the world around you. Tony and I also chat about Digimarc’s Discover Mobile Software Development Kit and how the Portland Trail Blazers are utilizing Digimarc’s unique digital signal processing technology.


Embedded World Diary

Tools, IoT, and Safety in Nuremberg

by Dick Selwood

In the subterranean hallways of the main railway station in Nuremberg, every ticket machine is surrounded by people wrestling with the fare structure and the unfamiliar currency. The regular morning commuter traffic works it way through the crowds with a resigned air; the hotel owners post room rates that are twice the normal rack rate; the restaurants offer special menus with special mark ups; and the bars are full of people nervously or enthusiastically pouring back Maßkrugs of beer. It's trade fair time again, and, as it is February, it is embedded world, the enormous event where every company with the pretension of serving the embedded market sets out its wares.


Making Mobile Video Move

Lattice Bolsters USB Type-C Solutions

by Kevin Morris

Over the past few years our mobile devices have gotten smaller, sleeker, and more efficient. From smartphones to laptops to tablets to a plethora of more specialized devices, the form factors have streamlined and the mobility factors have improved dramatically.

Except for the cables.

It’s gotten to the point that the cables, chargers, plugs and adapters we have to carry around to operate our fantastic the-future-is-already-here gear are bigger and clunkier than the devices themselves. Of course, wireless has been rushing in to take up the slack wherever possible, but there are a few things that aren’t being wireless-ized at quite the same pace as the rest of the technology. We are talking here about the terrible trinity: power, USB, and video.


The Greek Philosophy to Programming

Wubby Lets Python Programmers Get Into IoT

by Jim Turley

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” – Archimedes

Life could be worse.

Imagine you’re sitting on the beach on a Greek island, looking across the calm blue waters of the Gulf of Corinth at the Greek mainland, barely a mile away. Olive-studded hills behind you. Dolphin-infested waters ahead. Your cell phone beeps. It’s your boss calling. You’re wanted at a meeting that afternoon, so you’ll have to close up your laptop and head back to the office, which is located a few hundred yards inland on a street named – wait for it – Nirvana.

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