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SUBJECT Wi-Fi Orb Sees All (posted on Digikey)
NAME WIZnet DATE 2013-01-23 HIT 7808

This article is posted on the website of Digikey, the #1 ranked electronic component distributor in North America. Digikey also acts as an WIZnet's distributor.

Wi-Fi Orb Sees All

 

By Tom Cantrell, Convergence Promotions LLC

Wi-Fi has played a critical role in the growth of PC networking by enhancing mobility and extending reach in those places (many businesses and most homes) that are not outfitted with wall-to-wall CAT-10 cable.

In recent years, Wi-Fi has experienced explosive growth in new applications such as telephony (smartphones) and audio/video distribution (Internet-connected DVRs). As the number of ‘hotspots’ and the coverage area grows, Wi-Fi is taking on aspects of a ‘utility’ that goes well beyond its humble cable replacement roots. It’s not hard to imagine that soon practically every phone and TV will have Wi-Fi built in as a standard feature.

Do your own thing

So what does Wi-Fi do for an encore? Well, how about an ‘Internet of Things’ (aka ‘IoT’) that connects virtually every gadget with an electron moving to the Internet? As shown in Figure 1, first generation ‘IoT’ devices are already hitting the market, and that is just the start. It is impossible to imagine all the applications that will evolve once everything is connected to the ‘cloud,’ but no doubt some of them will be killer indeed.

Seeing the future

I was over at a friend’s office and noticed he had a spherical lamp, kind of like a crystal ball, emitting a soft red glow on his desk. He said it was a stock market ‘Orb,’ and sure enough as our meeting progressed, the lamp cycled to green as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) turned positive.

His ‘Orb’ was from a company called Ambient Devices. Their Ambient Stock Orb (see Figure 2) relies on a proprietary data-casting service over a cellphone network. While some data is free (e.g., the DJIA), other data monitoring options require a paid subscription.

 

Let’s build our own ‘Wi-Fi Orb’, one that lets you monitor anything you can find on the web, free of charge. Thanks to the march of silicon, all it takes is an MCU, Wi-Fi interface and a bit of software. Figure 3 shows Parallax, Inc.’s Propeller™ Board of Education® (BoE) on the left and the WIZnet WizFi210 EVB on the right. The large boards make prototyping easy but overstate the silicon and real estate required. A real ‘Wi-Fi Orb’ would need only the Propeller brain (MCU, serial EEPROM and crystal near just below the red LED) and the postage stamp-size WizFi210.

 

>> For more, please download the full contents, WiFi_orb(0).pdf

>> You can also view Here

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