Digi International (NASDAQ:DGII) introduced the ConnectPort X product family, a line of IP gateways that provide seamless connectivity of ZigBee, Wi-Fi, cellular and Ethernet traffic to centralized applications and databases. The ConnectPort X family is augmented by new families of XBee(TM) adapters and wall routers that provide end-device connectivity and network extension. These new products signify the introduction of a broader category of Drop-in Networking solutions requested by Digi customers. Drop-in Networking solutions provide end-to-end wireless connectivity to commercial grade electronic devices in locations where wired infrastructure doesn’t exist or satisfy customer needs. According to Glen Allmendinger, president, Harbor Research: “These Drop-in Networking solutions prove that Digi’s innovation and leadership are un-matched.”
Drop-in Networking promises to revolutionize the way that companies apply technology to improve asset utilization, provide better customer service and find alternate sources of revenue. For applications in energy management, building control, manufacturing, supply chain management and a host of others, Drop-in Networks provide an easy, economical and non-intrusive way to connect devices anywhere they reside.
“The next wave of Internet growth is clearly focused on device centric connectivity,” said Joseph Dunsmore, CEO, Digi International. “Our new product announcements and Drop-in Networking initiative clearly position Digi as the technology leader in this long-term growth opportunity.”
Drop-in Networks leverage Digi’s expertise across a broad range of wireless technologies including ZigBee, Wi-Fi, cellular, and 900MHz RF. Drop-in Networking solutions include ConnectPort X ZigBee-to-IP gateways, XBee device adapters, XBee wall routers and bridges, XBee embedded modules, Digi Connect(R) WAN and ConnectPort(TM) WAN cellular routers, Digi Connectware(R) Manager network management platform and core modules from Rabbit Semiconductor(R). Details of each follow:
ConnectPort X Gateways:
- Collect and transport local ZigBee traffic to centralized applications and databases on an IP network
- Support ZigBee, Wi-Fi, cellular and Ethernet as well as GPS and 1 GB of local storage
- Support Python, a free, open-source programming language with an extensive library that can be used to customize and/or automate tasks handled by the gateway
- ConnectPort X8 available now; additional models planned for release include ConnectPort X4 in August (lower-cost, multi-function gateway with ZigBee, Wi-Fi and cellular capability) and ConnectPort X2 in September (single-function gateway for ZigBee-to-Ethernet or ZigBee-to-Wi-Fi applications)
- Small stand-alone boxes built on the MaxStream(R) XBee module for ZigBee device connectivity
- Provide off-the-shelf mesh connectivity to existing devices
- Available in multiple data interface types and powering options
- RS-232, RS-485, 1-Wire and USB models will be available in July; Digital and Analog I/O models, a RabbitNet model as well as a serial port powered RS-232 version will be available by the end of September
XBee Bridges and Routers:
- For use in deployments that include remote ZigBee network clusters residing beyond the signal range of an adjacent ZigBee network
- XBee XTender can bridge between the remote cluster and a gateway on the neighboring ZigBee network using 900 MHz RF (rather than installing another ConnectPort X gateway at that remote cluster)
- XBee wall router (repeater) is a simple plug-in router that utilizes a standard wall socket for power (adapters are available for international markets); it will “patch” areas within a ZigBee network where signal erosion or loss occurs due to distance limitations or air interference
- XBee XTender is available now; XBee wall router will be available August 2007
XBee Embedded Modules:
- MaxStream branded ZigBee compliant solutions that manufacturers can embed within their devices to provide native ZigBee connectivity
- Hundreds of thousands of these postage-stamp sized modules have been deployed
Digi Connect WAN and ConnectPort WAN Cellular Routers:
- Provide Ethernet-to-cellular connectivity for simple Drop-in Networking applications where isolated individual devices require connectivity
Digi Connectware Manager:
- Enterprise class software platform that can manage Drop-in Network hardware, including devices on a ZigBee network
- Provides a one-to-many interface from which to provision and configure hardware, track device performance, remotely set filters and alarms, monitor connections, reboot devices and reset defaults, and remotely upgrade device firmware
- Essential software tool for large-scale device deployments
Rabbit Semiconductor Branded Products:
- ZigBee-based RCM4510W and ZigBee-based RCM4400W RabbitCore(TM) modules, plus planned single board computer products based on them
- Fulfill need for applications requiring ZigBee devices with programmability and configurable data filtering/control at the end device
- Use Dynamic C to deliver that functionality in an easy-to-use environment
Subsequent announcements will be made this summer as new Drop-in Networking products are launched and available to customers. In July, starter kits combining a ConnectPort X8 gateway with XBee adapters and modules, a sensor device, and an easy-to-use manual featuring sample applications will be available for sale at less than $1000.
Customers Deploy Drop-in Networks to Make Remote Device Management Easy
“Drop-in Networking addresses the two acute requirements in this market: the need for a complete offering to cover the diverse requirements and most importantly, the need to provide users, device manufacturers, integrators and application developers a simple, easy-to-apply family of networking solutions,” said Allmendinger of Harbor Research. “Making it simple to network products and utilize the wealth of information they contain will revolutionize all businesses and their relationships with customers.”
Crown Castle International, a leading independent owner and operator of shared wireless communications and broadcast infrastructure, uses Digi Connect WAN routers to provide wireless wide area networking connectivity to monitor aviation safety lights installed at approximately 4,500 cellular tower sites. These towers sit in remote locations where no wired broadband connections are available.
“Using Digi’s commercial grade wireless products and Digi Connectware Manager software platform in combination with cellular data networks, we were able to build Drop-in Networks to monitor approximately 4,500 remote sites,” stated Chris Tretter, Crown Castle’s Vice President of Operations.
Light Corporation, a developer of lighting systems, uses Drop-in Networking technology as the connectivity solution for its new Intu! 360º workspace control system. The company ZigBee-enabled a line of industrial lighting fixtures so they can be monitored and controlled remotely using a ConnectPort X ZigBee-to-cellular gateway.
“This wireless Drop-in Network allows us to easily install an Intu! control system into an existing infrastructure in a non-intrusive way,” said Lawrence Leete, Director of Sales & Marketing, In-Industry Markets, Light Corporation. “Because the network is wireless, it also significantly reduces the cost and time associated with expanding or re-configuring the lighting system – anywhere from 40 to 80 percent over traditional wired systems. Our wireless platform, built on a Drop-in Network from Digi, provides us with a significant advantage over our competitors in the commercial and industrial lighting and controls space. We’re taking something ordinary and mundane – as lighting is viewed by most people – and with Digi’s help, turning that commodity into an exciting technology infrastructure that has limitless possibilities outside of the lighting-only realm.”
Customers also use Drop-in Networks where wired connections might be available, but are not accessible due to the “red tape” laid down by a third party organization’s corporate IT department. For example, Control Products, Inc., an electronics manufacturer that designs and manufactures electronic controls for the foodservice equipment industry, uses Drop-in Networking technology to monitor equipment performance during field trials at customer sites.
“Foodservice operators are reluctant to open their corporate data network to outside parties,” said Bob Bruce, CTO, Control Products. “Using Digi’s Drop-in Networks, our customers can bypass the network of the foodservice operators, but still monitor the onsite kitchen equipment using a reliable cellular link back to their own data network. There’s no additional wiring and no dependence on the operator’s IT infrastructure. These Drop-in Networks have added tremendous value to our overall product offering.”
AirAdvice, Inc. offers a turnkey building performance assessment system that identifies opportunities to improve comfort and reduce energy use in commercial buildings. Building on its successful HVAC-IAQ(TM) program which focuses on solutions for indoor air quality issues in homes, in 2006 the company launched its Commercial Elite(TM) program. This program offers a simple assessment that identifies changes in commercial buildings that can qualify for utility program energy rebates, support LEED(TM) program or green building efforts, or simply provide improved occupant satisfaction and reduced operating expenses.
“In researching ways to enhance future product offerings, wireless communications was high on our customers’ lists,” said Tim Kensok, Director of Business Development at AirAdvice. “As we integrate Digi’s Drop-in Networking products into our platform, we will be able to offer our customers a complete wireless solution from a sensor in a building to web access on our server. Because our customers move our system from building to building, the ability to drop in sensors and access data without having to run cables or rely on the existing wired infrastructure is very attractive.”
Wireless Carriers Embrace the Power of Drop-in Networking
Network carrier support for existing Drop-in Networking products is strong and reflects a growing interest in commercial grade device connectivity. For instance the ConnectPort WAN product family, an integral part of the Drop-in Networking product line, is now certified by 18 of the world’s largest carriers.
The ConnectPort X8 has already passed PTCRB certification for operability on GSM networks and is expected to be certified by the largest wireless carriers, including AT&T/Cingular, Sprint and Verizon, in the third calendar quarter of 2007.
“AT&T is pleased to be a key network provider to make Drop-in Networking a reality,” said Hamish Caldwell, executive director of core offers for AT&T’s wireless unit. “This solution is a wonderful complement to WWAN capabilities through the nation’s largest high-speed wireless network delivered by AT&T. AT&T customers are now able to expand their wireless reach in industrial environments with fewer resources than ever before.”
Technology Developers and Service Providers Embrace Drop-In Networking
Many technology developers and application service providers (ASPs) have embraced Drop-in Networking as a revolutionary way to connect to and communicate with remote devices. Developers such as Twisthink, Global Tier and SSI, and ASPs like nPhase and SensorLogic are using Drop-in Network technology to help their customers more efficiently manage their remote assets.
“Drop-in Networks bring a new level of simplicity to the provisioning of Smart Services,” said Steve Pazol, VP and GM of nPhase, a Qualcomm business. “These wireless end-to-end networks reduce the barriers to installing device connectivity and more easily enable Smart Services solutions for mainstream markets. By combining Digi’s Drop-in Networking products with our offerings, nPhase is able to deliver Smart Service solutions that are tailored to meet the unique needs of each OEM client.”
“Drop-in Networks enable the kind of product and business innovation that we strive to deliver for our diverse customer base,” added Bob Niemiec of Twisthink LLC. “In partnership with Digi and nPhase, we have designed a wireless workspace command and control system that allows Light Corporation to commercialize a highly differentiated lighting system that uniquely delivers significant usability and cost savings to its customers. The science of Design and the art of Technology have been effectively leveraged to position Light as an industry leader with this new system.”
“Wireless control of remote devices creates opportunities for companies to deliver innovative service value and establish new revenue streams,” said Dale Booth, Chairman and CEO of SensorLogic, Inc. “We see tremendous value in combining Digi’s Drop-in Networking products with our on-demand software platform to enable just these sorts of breakthrough opportunities for our customers.”
Drop-in Networking provides Global Tier, a Division of Restaurant Technologies, with a non-intrusive way to network devices and sensors within restaurants and convenience stores. “Our customers would like us to monitor assets like freezers, fryers, coffee equipment, building control systems, and heating bins to enhance visibility and measurement of store performance,” said Dave Barczak, General Manager of Global Tier. “Because Digi’s solution is wireless, it was easy for Global Tier to deploy monitoring and data collection networks into existing sites without running cables and wires and without disturbing the existing data network.”
SSI has successfully integrated Digi’s embedded ZigBee technology with sensor technologies to provide complete wireless solutions for its OEM customers. “SSI is excited to be a charter member of Digi’s Drop-in Networks partner program,” said Michele Mordacq, President of SSI. “Our customers are looking for non-intrusive ways to install networked sensors into their customers’ sites. Drop-in Networks allow our customers to easily deploy wireless sensor networks for remote site and equipment monitoring.”
Conference Call Details
Digi invites all those interested in hearing management’s discussion of its Drop-in Networking Solutions to join the call on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. CT), by dialing (800) 741-3792. International participants may access the call by dialing (212) 231-6047. A replay will be available two hours after the completion of the call for one week following the call by dialing (800) 633-8284 for domestic participants or (402) 977-9140 for international participants and entering access code 21341655 when prompted. Participants may also access a live webcast of the conference call through the investor relations section of Digi’s website.
About Digi International
Digi International, the leader in device networking for business, develops reliable products and technologies to connect and securely manage local or remote electronic devices over the network or via the web. Digi offers the highest levels of performance, flexibility and quality, and markets its products through a global network of distributors and resellers, systems integrators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).