A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
You want to monitor and/or control an electrical device remotely - in your home, in your lab, in your factory or anyplace
You don't want to design hardware or write software
Maybe you want a remote energy meter also
Use IoTa, your remote monitoring solution.
it is a retargetable, real-time, embedded webserver that connects to many types of electrical sensors and to its own energy meter
it is a full webserver with its own IP address
like any website, IoTa is accessible via browser from anywhere in the world
it tracks and presents data in real time
it automatically logs data to a database in the cloud to track historic data
the interface is not an app
the hardware/firmware/software is a completed solution
it is configured using simple point and click configuration to retarget to your device
it allows custom graphics to be downloaded
it allows custom layout, font, etc
mounts to your device and interfaces to sensors
In general, it is possible to select your sensors, mount an IoTa with backplane in your device, connect the sensors, power up IoTa and configure via webpage. You have your real-time webserver! Full instructions and examples are included with IoTa.
IoTa's list of features:
retargetable - the same hardware/firmware/software can attach to any device, machinery, electrical box, etc.
user configurable, virtual instrument interface includes, titles, names, graphics, gauges, state indicators, control buttons
ADC coupled ratiometric sensor inputs
ADC coupled resistive bridge inputs
opto-isolated state inputs
opto-isolated binary outputs
short term internal storage with graphing display
long term, remote, historic database with portal
NTP - sets its own time
MSQL - connects to database
Ethernet connection - Static or DHCP
highly configurable for tic frequency on data read, web page update, database update
SD card storage
serial debug port
remote program update over Ethernet
alarm conditions - email and/or SMS notifications
device security - IoTa runs without an OS, it cannot be hacked in any traditional sense
data security - includes digest login security and AES encryption
IoTa for this Kickstarter campaign offers the following input/outputs:
IoTa generates web pages with your data displayed on a virtual instrument, posted in a simple table or embedded into graphics with an indicator. Here is IoTa's demo web page showing 3 virtual gauges, 5 virtual state indicators and 5 I/O control buttons.
There are video tours of the web pages in the Gallery section. Or you can look at a live IoTa online at the link below.
Meet the Technology:
IoTa is a software and a hardware solution in four parts.
the basic IoTa server
backplane for power and sensor electrical interface
energy meter / power monitor board
remote database server (PC)
The basic server is a processor module that plugs into a backplane circuit board providing power and electrical interface between the module and sensors. A second circuit board is an energy meter that also plugs into the backplane. Finally, a remote PC is configured to act as the IoTadatabase.
The basic IoTa server:
One IoTa webserver is firmware and software running on a Rabbit processor module RCM6750 from Digi International. There is no OS. All web pages are generated dynamically. It cannot be 'hacked' in any traditional sense so device security is very high.
The backplane/physical layer:
The IoTa module plugs into a backplane that provides power, ethernet and may additionally provide a an electrical interface for sensors (called the physical layer).
Here is an IoTa in a Digi backplane, no physical layer:
IoTa can run 'as is' in a Digi backplane. You can even stack your own sensor interface board and use IoTa as your interface. However one reward on this campaign is CrowSoCs own simple backplane and physical layer that provides the sensor interface to you.
IoTa plugs into any backplane made for its interface. The Gallery shows an industrial refrigeration backplane with more than 50 IO points. While the IoTa industrial backplane is not part of this Kickstarter initiative, it shows IoTa's abilities. CrowSoCs believes the first real exposure for IoTa in the marketplace should be a simpler version.
The energy meter / power monitor board:
Not all users will want to monitor power. So IoTa is designed with a separate energy meter that plugs into the physical layer. The power monitor board operates exactly like your home or industrial power meter using the same technology. It can measure amperage, voltage, wattage, power factor, etc., on single or three phase electricity.
The remote database server:
IoTa is a standalone device. For long term historic data archiving, it can connect to a remote MYSQL database to save data.
As part of this campaign, some rewards offer a fully configured Intel NUC computer running Fedora Linux pre-configured to operate as a LAMP database (Linux-Apache-MYSQL-PHP). However IoTa is configurable to operate with any MYSQL database.
The prototype gallery show pictures of IoTa technology and a sensor test rig with thermocouples, pressure sensor and state sensor.
How it works:
In general, at the basic level, all electrically operated sensors output only a voltage or current. The output is transformed into a meaningful quantity, such as temperature or pressure, by first performing an analog-to-digital conversion and multiplying the result by a conversion factor that makes 1VDC = 75psi or whatever quantity is measured.
IoTa is built to interface to sensors, convert the sensor voltage to a digital number and save that raw data number. IoTa reads data at regular intervals defined by a configurable update tic.
IoTa transmits that web page to your browser and your browser renders the HTML code into a user interface with virtual instruments and your data embedded for you to read it in real-time.
Of course IoTa performs many more functions that support a real-time webserver such as timekeeping and timestamping, DHCP, serial communications, connection to MYSQL database, data auto-update, etc.
IoTa is simple to use: plug IoTa into your router, power up, check its IP address, and point your browser to the IP address. Its as simple as that! Plug your sensors in, set its multiplier and label and you have your IoT.
Retargeting is CrowSoCs' term for using IoTa in many different applications without changing source code. The software running on the RCM6750 does not change.
Traditionally an embedded web server is built specifically for a single device with a specific sensor. (CrowSoCs' founder, JD, built so many of these that he started to understand the commonality between all such servers and began to develop IoTa in 2008.)
The basic IoTa is built to interface with a limited, although common, set of sensors. If a generic sensor input can be designed to read the sensor voltage, for any sensor, then a generic HTML virtual gauge can be designed that can represent temperature, pressure, etc. The gauge is retargeted by changing its multiplier, name (label), background image, etc. (Examples of this can be seen in the live demo.)
Also available on the demo page are 5 tabular indicators
The basic version of IoTa for this campaign has a limited sensor input to keep things simple.
Only one simple video demo is included on this campaign website. Instead you can literally look at an IoTa, live online, right now! A development IoTa is online at:
In fact, if you have questions, JD can talk with you directly while you explore the IoTa interface. Simply contact the company at:
Crowsocs offers 6 different reward levels. The simplest rewards are meant to provide an easy technology evaluation without large cost. However the rewards progress to increasing capabilities with the highest reward to be a full embedded server application with supporting interface, power monitoring and the remote database. The Company projects the following breakdown:
The largest expense is cost of parts for this project. CrowSoCs projects approximately 750 units to meet funding goals. Cost breakdown for 750 units is to be:
In this budget it shows:
Labor - reward buildup: USA assembly
Administrative - business and engineering expense
Parts - the actual costs of procuring components
Shipping - estimated shipping
Risk - failed backers, parts wasted, other unknown
Fees - Kickstarter fee
Why 750 units? Administrative costs are fixed. To avoid these costs becoming a disproportionate percentage of the budget, it is better to scale the campaign to a larger amount. If the campaign succeeds, there is great interest in IoTa and fixed costs are spread over a larger volume.
CrowSoCs projects the following timeline for this project:
JD, the founder of CrowSoCs, is passionate about developing IoT technology for the world. He believes there are few, if any, cost effective alternatives for a retargetable embedded webserver. So every person or company who wants IoT technology must design, code and build it themselves. He hopes he has developed easy to use, retargetable IoT technology that anyone or any company can use without needing extensive engineering support.
He has initiated a Kickstarter campaign for several reasons. First, he has self funded the development of IoTa until now and his goal with Kickstarter is to fund the next step of getting the technology 'out there'. Second, in getting the technology 'out there' in use, it will develop a large enough install base to be able to receive meaningful feedback on problems encountered, future project development, desirable features, etc.
A broad range of rewards are available to experiment with IoTa technology. As seen, the simplest is just a single module preloaded with IoTa software. It can be plugged into a Digi board and used today.
Early-Bird rewards let you do just that. WIth Early-Bird you receive one IoTa, with beta firmware, immediately upon close of a successful campaign. You will receive a second IoTa in January with release firmware. The first IoTa is upgradeable to release firmware.
The barebones IoTa ships with full documentation, schematic interface diagrams, example sensor interfaces to build your own.
Meet the CrowSoCs team
Justin 'JD' Downs III, Ph.D - engineering
With more than 20 issued patents in diverse technology, 'JD' is a mechatronics expert. He has been working in IoT technology since 1998, before it was called IoT. He has personally developed the IoTa technology over an 8 year span. He lives in Las Vegas and China.
Wang Shuang - China VP & Logistics
Ms. Wang is a business expert with specialty in English. Her experience includes import/export, management and English translation. She lives in Dalian, China.
Hu YanLi - assembly & shipping
Experience assembling electronics in China make Ms. Hu a strong team member for completing product delivery schedules. She lives in New York and China.
It is deliberate that IoTa is limited for this Kickstarter Campaign. Don't try to do too much. However in reviewing the online demo, you can see many pages that show both the past and the future of IoTa. The initial Kickstarter version is kept simple on purpose. However IoTa has already been developed for larger input/output needs.
Previously IoTa was retargeted by re-arranging code modules, performing a recompile and downloading new software to the module. The online demo shows an example in the graphics page. The next step for IoTa is to make this type of page retargetable also. In this case, 50 or 100 inputs or more can be retargeted from a point and click interface. Multiple pages can be added to the menu. The user can retarget his own application by downloading graphics and arranging sensor indicators, all with an online, point-and-click interface.
alarm conditions with email/SMS messaging
SPI - sensors
I2C - sensors
custom processor module with additional sensor interface
custom backplane with additional sensor interfaces
Mongo NoSQL database
Risks and challenges
We believe there are few software/hardware developmental risks to this project. The server/hardware/software/firmware described here is online and you can look at it working now. The embedded and historic servers can be used today exactly as seen online.
Small software modifications are planned prior to a V1.0 release in January.
There are three developmental challenges remaining:
1. Software features finalized. The online demo shows a working copy of IoTa. Two software objectives remain. First an internal module storage when not using an SD card. Second complete a feature setup page with help from backers during the campaign and release V1 with that setup page.
2. New PC layout for industrial backplane with limited IO and smaller size similar to the Digi backplane. The current industrial backplane is too large and expensive for the simpler objectives of this campaign. A simple 'Kickstarter' backplane will be designed by reducing the industrial backplane technology. The physical layer will work in tandem with the Digi backplane.
3. New PC layout for power monitor board for smaller size and single channel. The current power monitor board has two power channels and is again deemed too large for this simple campaign. It will undergo a new layout for single channel.
The embedded server has been tested extensively both in the lab and onsite for refrigeration monitoring. The software shown has been operating for years in different applications. So no problems expected from the software.
Most risk then is associated with the logistics of delivering final product. CrowsSoCs is a small company, with only 4 'employees', working until now without pay as we try to grow the company. The projected goal is to deliver approximately 750 pieces of product. CrowSoCs believes the current team can meet this design goal.
Should the campaign exceed the 750 placements, CrowSoCs expects the logistics to scale easily. Adding product placements can be accomplished by ordering more circuit boards, parts and PCs. Programming the embedded modules and setting up the historic databases, packaging and shipping is process work for an assembly line. We believe it will scale easily. The company is prepared to hire should demand far exceed the original 750 placements.