If Day 1 wasn't overwhelming enough (see the Embedded World 2017 Day 1 and the Day 1 continued blog posts), Day 2 ensured that : ) There is so much to see that I didn't have time for lunch. A coffee and cake was about all that was possible when some energy was needed mid-afternoon.
Wago had an extensive range of connectors on display.
What I didn’t know was that they also had a PLC system, called PFC 200. A brief presentation of it is in the video below.
LoRa, and LoRaWAN was everywhere at Embedded World. Many manufacturers had integrated LoRa technology into their boards. The Farnell exhibition had it as part of a demo, using a .
Where there is radio communication, antennas are needed so I checked out some of the Taoglas options. They had a small part of their extensive range on display.
The MikroE ‘click’ boards offer a convenient way to prototype up a solution. I noticed that some u-blox mobile (cellular) modules are available in the click format.
There was also an Arduino and mbed compatible board featuring the u-blox ODIN-W2 series module which features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart and allows for downloading applications into the module’s internal ARM Cortex-M4F microcontroller. The applications can be built using the mbed system.
The NINA-B1 is a tiny module with Bluetooth Smart and ARM Cortex-M4 processor. User apps can be run on this.
For mobile network connectivity there was an mbed-enabled board containing a new SARA-N210 module which enables a low bitrate connection from a network provider. This is based on narrowband-IoT (NB-IOT) being enabled in the mobile network (in the UK Vodafone will roll it out this year).
It was great to see standard cases that were designed to house typical sized LCD TFT displays.
The enclosures can be wall mounted.
There were also options for embedding the display into the wall:
For programming and debug of microcontrollers it is often desirable to have a temporary connection method that is low cost and doesn’t take up much room on the PCB. There is a that can make a connection to pads on a PCB within about the space that the pad area for an 0805-size component would occupy.
It was interesting to see that someone had made a business out of offering modules that communicate via a proprietary mesh network. Basically each of the modules (nodes) can be programmed with a unique identifier with up to 65k of the nodes being able to assemble themselves into a network automatically. Data packets will get forwarded from one node to another much like an IP network. The software within each node automatically syncs to sleep and wake up periodically (e.g. every second) to listen if there are any data packets to receive and forward.
The modules are extremely likely based on a TI ‘chipcon’ product. Data packets can be up to 19 bytes in size.
The Analog Devices exhibition had a massive Lego city to help in demonstrating use-cases.
One interesting demo concerns their new ADIS17001 ‘video analytics’ camera. The camera is located in the white block shown at the top-centre of the photo below. In the demo it was being used to monitor lego cars and parking locations (this could be used to enable smart parking services).
The camera has a low resolution (QVGA) but an extremely massive dynamic range (130dB) which allows it to see objects that could ordinarily be hidden in areas that are too dark or too light for a normal video camera.
In the demo, when a Lego car was picked up and moved to a different location the camera and microcontroller detected this and updated the remote display to show in red or green which parking spaces were occupied or unoccupied.
AD’s Lego city also had a nice sensor demo for their new ADXL354 3-axis accelerometer IC. This chip is intended for detecting structure defects and has very high sensitivity and low noise. To put it into perspective, from a datasheet comparison (I’ve not tried it) it looks about a thousand times more sensitive than the accelerometer in the (old but popular) MPU-9150 (which to be fair is for very different use-cases).
The demo had it monitoring a Lego train track.
Any vibrations on the railway line were picked up and displayed on a graph.
Another AD demo platform had a IC, and it has surprisingly low power consumption during receive. It is also quite fast out of some of the standby states into transmit or receive mode. The chip has built-in packet handling capabilities so the user does not need to write code to do this.
Here is a recording about a brief discussion about a wearable sensor product that is available soon for developers and AD microcontrollers
Micro Drone 3.0
As a fun thing, one UK company was demonstrating their toy drone. About palm sized, it runs for about six minutes with removable battery packs. I liked that the Micro Drone 3.0 looked quite ‘hackable’ because it appeared to use standard (perhaps JST, I didn’t examine in detail) connectors on the PCB and the battery appears to use standard 2.54mm header pins, and also various spare parts are available to keep it all maintained.
It looks well built with steel hollow square-section shafts and slightly flexible propellers. The black props and white LEDs indicate the forward-facing orientation. Personally I think the rear-facing LEDs should be red, not blue, so that may be a first hack : )
A very small camera module clips magnetically onto the underside and allows for video and control via a mobile app although a traditional handheld remote control is also supplied.
Scott Stevenson (senior pilot and responsible for hardware development) did such a great demonstration that I had to purchase one later on in the day. I have flown it a few times (for very brief periods, I’m still a beginner), and I have bumped it but it has survived with no damage so far but I've attached the supplied beginner's protective bumpers on it (which incidentally appear very hard to fit until I realized that most of the video demos don't show how to do it correctly; I'll take a photo or video if anyone else has trouble with this (let me know in the comments section).
There was a very interesting solderless connector technology from Phoenix Contact called SKEDD technology. Here it is demonstrated; the connectors in the demo are the SDC and SDDC series (for example here is a connector).
Panasonic Grid-EYE Generation 2
The Grid-EYE thermal imaging array was being demonstrated all over the place at Embedded World 2017. This was not a surprise because it has diverse applications and is low cost for what it does.
Chetan from Panasonic was showing a nice demo where the Grid-EYE was positioned directly above show attendees, facing down. The red blobs at the lower-right of the screen show an interpreted indication of how many people are visible and how close they are standing to each other.
I’d not heard of EM Microelectronic before but they are part of the Swatch group. They had an interesting RFID chip EM4325, which has a built-in temperature sensor. This means that when the tag is read, the temperature can be read too. Also the tag can be passive or battery powered (longer range with battery power). I’d love to try this device out sometime and it is available in a convenient TSSOP sized package for prototyping.
A ready-made Bluetooth LE beacon, part code EBMC01 was also on display. It is waterproof and was slightly smaller than the typical beacons one sees. In a practical scenario (1 second beacon interval) the battery life is expected to be just over a year. For pop-up events (e.g. a festival) the interval can be reduced but for a shorter life of course.
Bicker Uninterruptible Power Supply
It was interesting to see a range of fairly compact (smaller than a typical paperback book) UPS boards which relied on on-board supercapacitors. There was a demo which showed uninterrupted operation of a computer when the main power source was disconnected.
Video processing was big at Embedded World. All sorts of options existed including FPGA based, applications processor based (ARM and x86) and even microcontroller based. I liked this demo which showed how a Cortex-M processor could perform real-time edge detection. The LCD screen at the bottom of the photo here showed the processed result from the camera shown at the top of the photo.
Display offerings formed a very large part of Embedded World and there were many manufacturers represented, however I’m often disappointed at the image quality from some low-cost displays but there were higher-end options available from some manufacturers too.
A very attractive range of display and human machine interface (HMI) options were presented at the 4D Systems area. They were all very slim and looked great. I liked this wall-mountable option.
There was an awesome collection of capacitive displays of various sizes. Also the image quality looked far better on these than the older resistive touch based models. These are all intelligent displays that can interwork with microcontrollers using an application programming interface (API); no need for the user to implement a frame-buffer.
The CEO Atilla Aknar gave a presentation of the products.
Some of the newer models (known as the generation 4 IoD or Internet of Displays range) have a built-in processor for user code too and Wi-Fi connectivity. In one example, a display mirrored the activity at another location. The Internet of Displays range in theory does not need any additional hardware to connect to devices since it has the built-in processor, but if desired additional boards can be plugged onto it. Like the rest of the range, the IoD products are extremely slim. The generation 4 range is typically around 6-7mm thick and images are bright with good contrast.
I had a great time exploring these displays, and I am keen to try one out at some stage along with the development environment.
Wandering around Embedded World I also captured a few videos of things that might be of interest to some.
Action Point had a demo of their local computing and cloud platform for offerings like smart manufacturing and healthcare. The local compute was based on a Dell Edge Gateway and the demo was built with Fischertechnik.
ADATA had found some fun ways to showcase their memory and storage products
I didn’t get a chance to examine in detail but there was a graphics processor demonstration using an FPGA
There were (unsurprisingly) hot dogs too