RF module supports IoT innovation at the network edge

31st January 2018
Alice Matthews

Global provider of IoT connectivity products and services, Digi International, has announced the availability of the Digi XBee3 series of next-gen RF modules and cellular modems. Introducing a new micro form factor option capable of supporting greater IoT innovation at the network edge, Digi XBee3 series extends its modular approach to IoT connectivity, enabling the integration of new functions as needs arise and regional requirements change.

Included in its micro size, Digi XBee3 also offers MicroPython programmability and dual-mode radios that provide wireless design flexibility and enable easily added functionality for innovative IoT solutions that can be more quickly developed, prototyped and mass-produced.

Micro, SMT and through-hole form factors
At one-third the size of the original Digi XBee RF module, Digi claims that its Digi XBee3 micro form factor (13x19mm) is one of the industry’s smallest MicroPython-programmable modules capable of providing RF connectivity for short range and Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) applications.

Also available in the existing Digi XBee SMT and through-hole form factors, the Digi XBee3 micro, when installed on interposer boards, automatically provides all the benefits inherent in the industry’s smallest RF module capable of supporting the development of truly innovative, smart IoT solutions. Additionally, the through-hole form factor is suitable as a validation and migration platform for those requiring the advanced capabilities and features necessary to speed development, prototyping, or early-production phase. Digi XBee3 Cellular is available in its original, classic through-hole form factor.

Micro module with big features
With its reduced size, weight and power consumption, Digi XBee3 series is suitable for compact and battery-powered applications. Digi XBee3 delivers multiple levels of programmability including dual-mode radios, MicroPython for both business rule and application logic, and the tools to manage it all. In addition to edge programmability, it offers a low-power microcontroller capable of delivering intelligence at the network edge, and the ability to switch between a variety of protocols without changing the device.

Featuring the built-in Digi TrustFence security framework, all Digi XBee3 products offer U.FL, Pad, or Chip antenna options.

Design flexibility
Digi XBee3 series will be initially available in both RF (ZigBee 3.0, IEEE 802.15.4) and cellular options (Cellular Cat-1). Over the next several months, Digi XBee3 will be software-upgradeable to Bluetooth LE and will also be available in additional RF protocols (DigiMesh and WiFi) and two cellular modems (Cellular LTE-M and Cellular NB-IoT.)

Key features:

  • Easy over-the-air (OTA) changes to devices in the field for bug fixes and new features 
  • Dynamically reconfigurable, based upon situation
  • Easily establish business rules to aggregate, store, transform and filter data via MicroPython programming capability
  • Create alerts and alarms for priority data and device health 
  • Built-in support for advanced I/O including I2C, SPI, to drive modern sensors and actuators
  • Provide control logic for devices that require a microcontroller, without electronics redesign
  • With Digi Remote Manager, enables better bandwidth management via prioritisation/ transmission of actionable information
  • Dynamic changes to behaviour as requested from cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure (e.g., enabling real time decisions based on local conditions) 
  • Continue to operate during communications outages by dynamically executed logic that is not cloud-dependent

Development kit availability
The Digi XBee3 ZigBee Mesh Kit is available for evaluation and testing. The kit includes three Digi XBee3 modules along with three Digi Bee Grove Development Boards allowing customers to build a ZigBee mesh network right out of the box.

“With the development of the Digi XBee3, we’ve combined advanced features and flexibility in a micro form factor to offer the very first ‘Smart Edge’ IoT module,” said Scott Nelson, Vice President of product for Digi. “With intelligence moving to the edge of IoT networks, the market needs hardware that is very capable, very adaptable, secure and extendable. What we’ve provided in Digi XBee3 is a module that can deliver solutions capable of aggregating and analysing data where it is captured on a distributed network and apply specific business rules and application logic – essentially the next-gen of IoT applications.”

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