IoT News Roundup

ABB selling a Fitbit for motors; mBeaconCard adds smarts to ID badges; new IoT Skunkworks project at Teradata; Dell launches partner program to grow IoT business.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 22, 2016

ABB Selling "Wearables" for Machines
ABB, a provider of automation products for companies in the industrial, utility and transportation sectors, has announced a new sensor that it describes as a wearable for low-voltage induction motors, such as three-phase squirrel cage induction motors, which are used widely in industrial settings. While some low-voltage induction motors perform critical functions and are, therefore, maintained regularly (or might be included in a condition-monitoring system that uses sensors to alert maintenance teams when a motor is likely to have a performance problem), many low-voltage motors perform non-critical functions and are thus not closely monitored. Still, a failure in one of these motors can lead to downtime or a reduction in output.

The ABB sensor is mounted to a motor and collects data related to its temperature and vibration. Based on this, its microcontroller can ascertain the health of the motor's rotor, bearings, cooling functions and energy efficiency. The sensor is battery-powered (ABB is exploring the possibilty of replacing the battery, in the future, with an energy-harvesting module). It encrypts the data it collects and, via a Bluetooth connection, forwards it to either a gateway device or to plant workers' smartphones running an ABB app, to ABB's cloud-based servers. From there, the sensor data is sent to ABB's condition-monitoring system, which decrypts and analyzes it.

ABB has completed testing of the new sensor and will begin taking orders at the Hannover Messe trade show, taking place in Germany on Apr. 25-29, 2016. Pricing has not yet been released.

Netclearance Announces All-in-One Employee Badge
Netclearance, a maker of multi-sensor beacons and software designed for a range of business applications, such as optimizing workflows and tracking assets, has introduced a new product called the mBeaconCard. Approximately the size of a credit card, the mBeaconCard contains a Near Field Communication (NFC) module, as well as a Bluetooth radio. It can be used not just as an identity card or badge, but also to enable workers to make purchases using its NFC module, as well as to track the locations of employees on job premises, by utilizing the card's Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio. Alternatively, the card could also be mounted to high-value mobile assets and be used to track their indoor locations.

The basic mBeaconCard configuration contains a microprocessor, a BLE radio and an NFC module. But customers can also order a version that comes with an embedded accelerometer, a vibration sensor and a magnetic sensor—either a compass or a reed switch—in order to support a wider range of applications, such as those requiring movement to trigger tracking.

The BLE radio is used to transmit sensor data or information written to the mBeaconCard's 2 kilobytes of memory, explains David Fernandez, Netclearance's founder and CEO. It transmits data packets to mBeaconGW, Netclearance's beacon gateway appliance, or to nearby smartphones running the Netclearance mobile application.

Netclearance's mCloud Content Management System software is used to collect and manage the data transmitted by the badge, and from there it can be sent to Netclearance's business application or analytics software. Conversely, the data can be forwarded to third-party applications or analytics platforms via an application programming interface. Using the mBeaconGW gateway and an external NFC reader, employers can set up an access-control system. If the badge is being used for room-level tracking, Fernandez says, location can be determined to within a few meters.

Pricing information has not yet been released, but Netclearance will demonstrate the mBeaconCard and its full product portfolio at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2016 conference and exhibition, taking place on May 3-5, in Orlando, Fla., in the Internet of Things Pavilion (booth #728B).

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