Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Top Five Things Every Device Developer Needs to Know About Security

With the growing interest in machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and connectivity, enterprises today are looking to capitalize on opportunities presented by this trend. At the same time, developers face challenges related to new device development, as many industries require components that ensure that devices are fully protected against external security threats. From preventing data from being manipulated and/or modified, to ensuring no security holes are present, it is critical that new devices provide this added level of security and assurance. This is especially critical for companies in the financial, pharmaceutical and metering industries, where data breaches or modifications can result in costly penalties and fines.

Bug Labs and Pitney Bowes developed BUGsecure to empower enterprises to help eliminate these common security risks and develop new devices they can trust will protect sensitive data. Comprised of the Bug Labs BUGbase 2.0 with an embedded tamper-responding security chip from Pitney Bowes, the functionality enables cryptographic processing, a secure time source, transaction management, remote security lifecycle management, and third party server validation. BUGsecure is compatible with 3G and 4G mobile development platforms, as well as standard Bug System modules. As a result, companies are able to develop new and secure M2M device innovation quickly and affordably.

To help device developers kick-start their innovations with confidence, the following is meant to serve as a guide:

  1. What are the top things that I, as a developer, should be concerned with regarding device security?
    • Malware – Viruses, trojans and other malicious threats are widely-known to infect computer systems. However, with the proliferation of mobile devices, hackers and other criminals have developed new tactics to execute malicious software on mobile devices. Given that many mobile phones function akin to computers, information contained within becomes much more valuable, and criminals are looking for better, and more efficient ways to get your information.
    • Users Tinkering with Applications – On mobile devices in particular, it is easy for users to go in and change or reduce the security settings inherent on the device. This occurs in two ways:
      1. Non-malicious – This occurs when a user either knowingly, or unknowingly, goes into the application setting on their mobile devices and changes something that results in a reduction of security on their system.
      2. Malicious – This often occurs when a user is able to obtain codes that are able to unlock phones, modify software and cause potential damage to the device and the information contained within it.
    • Remote Devices – Remote devices present risks to the enterprise. Not only is it a challenge to manage multiple devices in a fleet, but ensuring the security of these devices is critical. Devices go as far as their users carry them, and in some cases, this means to non-password protected Internet connections, where devices can be vulnerable to attacks.
    • Ability to Modify Application Data – Another major security risk occurs when mobile device application data is modified by the user for malicious purposes. This happens when someone is trying to save money, reduce a charge, or create fraudulent information within an application.
    • Wide-scale Distribution – The “share-ability” enabled by the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse. In the case of mobile security, it is often a curse. With just a few simple keystrokes, a hacker has the ability to mass-distribute code that has been used to “crack” into mobile devices and their operating systems.
  2. Wide-scale distribution of “cracked” codes has always been a reality for companies. How does BUGsecure play into this? How does it make a difference?
    • There are essentially 4 levels (that increase in complexity) at which a mobile device attack can occur:
      1. A hacker is able to manipulate software on the mobile device.
      2. That same code is mass-distributed (via the Internet). More eyes equals more opportunity to do more of the same damage to mobile device software.
      3. A hacker physically manipulates the mobile device to get the information needed (ex. cutting wires). The process is effective, yet slow, as it is a one-at-a-time effort for hackers.
      4. At this level, not only must the hacker need to both manipulate the software AND the hardware, but it must also face encryption and authentication challenges. These elements make it nearly impossible to obtain data and/or manipulate the device further. This is the level where BUGsecure is at.
  3. I’m already taking adequate security precautions. Why should I consider BUGsecure?
    • Managing secure devices is not an easy task. Even the best security mechanisms, such as algorithms and cryptography, can falter if not managed adequately.
    • The key to getting ahead of the curve is having the foresight to develop new wireless devices with security in mind from the start. Too often, security is implemented mid-way through the development process, or is implemented after a product has been developed.
    • With BUGsecure, common mass-distribution-based threats are eliminated. The tamper-responding security chip from Pitney Bowes that is embedded into the BUGbase 2.0, provides cryptographic processing, a secure time source, transaction management, remote security lifecycle management, and third party server validation.
    • When developing new wireless devices, the security features within BUGsecure also allow you to utilize real data in a prototyping situation, enabling you to implement a better security design within the new device as a result.
    • In addition, using BUGsecure in an enterprise environment can help free up time spent on managing security on a day-to-day basis. Instead of purchasing a library and dedicating valuable team resources to implement security features, BUGsecure delivers all the security needed upfront, with no further implementation needed.
  4. Why is BUGsecure new and exciting for the market? What challenges does it address for your target markets?
    • This is the first time that a physically secure, tamper responding hardware security solution has been tightly integrated into a mobile application development platform. The unique combination of security with mobility and a trusted, scalable infrastructure will enable many new accounting, payment, tracking, communications, and authentication solutions.
    • The availability of trusted messaging form a mobile device with a lower barrier to entry than ever before will enable new business models for existing applications.
    • The availability of a proven security solution in a platform that supports rapid prototyping will enable designers to build solutions with security integrated from the very beginning. Instead of adding security capabilities as an afterthought, you will now be able to include scaleable and configurable security from the very beginning of your prototyping process and trial deployment process.
  5. What is the basic functionality of BUGsecure?
    • This is the first time that a physically secure, tamper responding hardware security solution has been tightly integrated into a mobile application development platform. The unique combination of security with mobility and a trusted, scalable infrastructure will enable many new accounting, payment, tracking, communications, and authentication solutions.
    • The new version enables critical security capabilities including secure authentication, secure communication, secure audit trail, and secure accounting. These features are enabled using industry standard encryption and digital signatures built on a robust and scaleable key management and device management infrastructure. This powerful combination of features forms a complete solution for security life-cycle management.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Bug Labs Takes Vegas!

With 2010 coming quickly to a close, that can only mean one thing (and I’m not talking about half-hearted New Years resolutions) – it’s CES season!

Each year, the companies from all over the world gather in the desert to preview some of the most cutting-edge consumer technology innovations. For the past several years, Bug Labs has been lucky enough to participate, and the 2011 event will be no different. This year, we will be showcasing our Bug System at the Verizon Wireless booth (#35216) in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The last half of 2010 was a busy one. In case you missed it, Verizon Wireless announced in September a relationship with Bug that allows product designers and software engineers to build, program and deploy new wireless devices on the Verizon Wireless network using the Bug System, without requiring additional wireless certifications. We have also made similar announcements with AT&T and Sprint in 2010, further helping companies create Internet-connected devices quickly and affordably, or the “Internet of Things.”

To all of our loyal customers, devout Bug Labs fans, and those that simply want to get to know us better, we’d love to meet with you in Las Vegas. Here’s a few ways that you can connect with us:

  • 2011 AT&T Developers Summit – Before the excitement of CES begins, Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs will be presenting in a session titled, “AT&T Developer’s Toy Box.” The session will be held on Wednesday, January 5th from 3:20-4:00pm at the Palms Casino Resort.
  • CES Exhibition Hall – We’d love to have you stop by our pod at the Verizon Wireless booth (#35216). As an added bonus, if you’re new to Bug Labs, we’ll have coupons available for first-time customers. We’ll be busy conducting demos of the Bug System and will be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
  • Call us directly! – Interested in grabbing a coffee or some after-hours cocktails? We’d love to join you! You can reach me and the rest of the Bug team by emailing mike [at] buglabs [dot] net.

I have no doubt that 2011 will be a year filled with much opportunity and promise for companies that are looking to create custom, networked devices. We look forward to going on this ride with you.

See you in January!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

BUGbase WiFi now Shipping to the European Union (get your Le BUG, Der BUG, or El BUG)

BUGbase WiFiJust over two years ago when we first announced BUG, our goal was to shake up the consumer electronics landscape by releasing something new, something groundbreaking, something needed – the first modular, open source device platform.   A few months and sleepless nights later, we began shipping our first units, albeit with some changes to the original plan. We would only ship domestically to the U.S. (due to certification requirements) and without WiFi in the BUGbase (due to open source licensing issues).  Since then we have heard, loud and clear, that we needed to address these shortfalls.  And we’ve worked hard to make it happen.

Today, I am happy to say, we’re announcing the availability of BUGbase WiFi.  In addition to integrated WiFi *and* Bluetooth, BUGbase WiFi is RoHS and CE compliant, allowing us to ship BUG to the 29 countries in the European Union. Other improvements include a friction-fit docking connector and improved power management, along with a few other under-the-hood enhancements. If you currently own a BUGbase, we haven’t forgotten about you – we’ll be releasing a special BUGWiFi module in the coming weeks. As you’d expect from us here at Bug, all of our modules are compatible with either base.

We’re especially thrilled to begin shipping internationally, given the great reception we’ve received from Europe since day one. In traveling to events like FOSDEM and meeting with customers in Italy, France and other EU nations, I’ve noticed the European market has a terrific appreciation for open source approaches and community-driven innovation models.  So it’s safe to say, we expect to see many interesting new BUG-powered applications in the near future.   In addition, our team is working hard getting BUG ready for the 200 or so other countries in the world.

We will have some more exciting product and partnership news to share in the coming weeks so please stay tuned.  In the meantime, go download Dragonfly (our free SDK), play around with the environment and if you like what you see, head on over to our store!

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

BUGbee now available for $79

BUGbee announcement

A couple weeks ago at JavaOne 2009, we announced the upcoming availability of BUGbee, our 802.15.4 low-power radio module. Today, we’re excited to announce that you can now purchase BUGbee from our store for $79 and get it delivered to you by next week.

What can you do with BUGbee, you ask? Well, BUGbee is a low-power, low-bandwidth radio module. It operates using the 802.15.4 protocol, which transmits data in smaller packets than 802.11 devices. BUGbee also offers the same, if not greater, transmission range of wi-fi (theoretically up to 1,200 meters). And since it consumes far less power than wi-fi, it’s perfect for battery-powered sensor applications.

Furthermore, as over 64,000 devices can reside on the same BUGbee grid (unlike 32 with wi-fi), you can build larger-scale intelligent grid networks with BUGbee. This makes it suitable for home automation, energy monitoring, industrial machine-to-machine (M2M), supply-chain logistics and more.

At JavaOne, we demonstrated BUGbeeChat, a peer-to-peer IM client that lets two BUGs chat with each other without a 802.11 wi-fi connection. We also have several applications currently in development by our customers that we look forward to sharing with you soon. For now, hop into the forums or IRC (#buglabs on and let us know what you plan on building with your BUGbee.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

New enterprise apps, modules, international shipping and more


This week, we’re at JavaOne 2009 in San Francisco, showcasing some of our new enterprise solutions. Yesterday, we unveiled some exciting news that we’d like to share with you here.

To date, we’ve seen some great applications built by individual developers, and BUG has proved to be a great platform for building customized devices for personal needs. At JavaOne, we’re showing our more “serious” side, demonstrating several new enterprise-focused applications and modules, some by our partners and customers, including:

  • a mobile services platform for next generation field applications, from fleet management (e.g. vehicle tracking, in-car telemetry) to telemedicine (e.g. remote health monitoring),
  • a messaging and middleware application developed by Antenna Software,
  • a document management and analysis platform developed by startup LivingAnalytics,
  • BUGnose (pictured above next to BUGview), an upcoming olfactory sensor module, and the first 3rd party BUGmodule, developed by JLM Innovation of Germany,
  • BUGbee, our 802.15.4 low-power radio for PANs and sensor networks, will be available in our online store within the next two weeks.

Also, we will be shipping internationally by the end of Q3′09 to select European and Asian countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and more, with a full list to be announced within the next month.

Finally, we’re excited to announce that we’re a partner in Axeda’s Smartlink Platform of wireless devices, as one of the preferred edge devices to power the company’s intelligent asset management solutions. More details of this announcement can be found here.

This is just the first wave of news we have for our enterprise solutions, and we have more planned over the coming weeks. And we’ll also have more details of the above applications posted soon over in BUGcommunity, but for more details of yesterday’s news, check out the release here.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Bug Labs Open House, April 29

BUG Open HouseWe’re swinging the BUG HQ doors wide open once again next Wednesday night! Come by and chat with the team, check out the latest in our Test Kitchen, and enjoy tasty refreshments (read: M&Ms) and delightful drinks (read: beer).

Bug Labs Open House (add to calendar)
Wednesday April 29
6:00pm – 9:00pm

598 Broadway (@ Houston) (map)
4th Floor
New York, NY 10012

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Three Years! – Looking Back…

bug_proto_groupThree years ago we received our first round of funding from Union Square Ventures, and a small group of private investors.  While it was not the “official” start of Bug Labs, it’s as good a date as any other since I don’t really recall anything more official.  So we use the date as our birthday.  Seeing the first investment hit our bank account was a big thrill.  It meant I could now make the move from wooden block model to real, working prototype – hardware + software + web services/API.    The picture here is our first working prototype, which included an ARM9 base + Mobitex wireless modem and three modules – motion, GPS and camera.

The path from wooden blocks to shipping product is a story in itself, and I won’t spend time on it here.   It would make a great series of future posts.  But suffice to say, it was a series of tall challenges, frustrating realizations, hard work and luck (good and bad ;) ).  Having had a twenty year career in software, I was not prepared for electronic component vendors telling me they would NOT sell me the parts I needed.  Nor the contract manufacturers turning me away because what we were doing was too strange.  Needless to say there are big differences between innovating in the world of bits vs atoms.  And, as I look back on the path we took, I see great value in it.  Mainly because we lived/live through a series of processes that are the norm for anyone looking to build an electronic device and bring it to production.  Why is that important?  First, we’ve been there and now “know that of which we speak”.  This “norm” is archaic and unnecessary.  It’s needlessly expensive, arbitrary and risky.  Second, because I started Bug Labs to help others avoid these very issues.

Later this week, I will talk about how we see the future…

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Dr. Dobbs reviews the BUGvonHippel and BUGsound

Dr. Dobbs reviews the BUGLast week, Mike Riley at Dr. Dobb’s posted an update on BUG, in which he reviews BUG 1.4 and the BUGvonHippel and BUGsound modules. Overall, a very good piece offering a thorough and objective look at our latest releases, with a few nice photos to boot! This follows Dr. Dobb’s original review of BUG from last August.

Head on over to Dr. Dobbs and take a look, and check out some of our other press while you’re at it!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

BUGsound available today!

Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of BUGsound, BUGsoundthe first of the five BUGmodules we announced last month at CES. With a speaker, microphone, hardware stereo codecs and four 3.5-mm stereo jacks, you can use BUG to build your own portable music player, speakerphone, audio server and more.

Priced at $99 and shipping now, you can buy BUGsound from our store today. We really look forward to seeing what cool apps the community can make with this latest BUGmodule. BUGcommunity member finsprings used the BUGbase, BUGmotion and BUGsound to create phunky, a pretty nifty accelerometer-based sampling app. Check out the video to see it in action.

More information and some videos can be found on the BUGsound product page, and you can download hardware specs and diagrams from our wiki. And jump into the conversation on our IRC channel (#buglabs) to see what others are making as well.

Friday, January 16th, 2009

BUG+IDEO – Reinventing the BUG UI with your help

Today, we’re excited to announce a new project we’re kicking off with IDEO, a well known international design and innovation firm.  Taking cues from everything we’ve seen in the community, our own experiences with new and emerging interface technologies and your direct input, we hope to gather several new ideas on how we can re-envision user interaction with the BUGbase.  Essentially, we are going to build on the great work done to-date by our original design partner ECCO Design and explore an area of our product that we think has a ton of potential – the BUGbase user interface.

So, we want *your* feedback!  IDEO has agreed to do this project in the open, which is a new approach for them, and we’re hoping it leads to superior results for Bug Labs and the BUGcommunity.  We don’t have a fancy name (yet) for this process, and we’re still working on the specifics for collecting your input.  But since everything we do is based on community participation, we are big fans of the idea, and naturally open to all your suggestions.

Over the next two weeks both companies will be posting their ideas and reporting on progress, via this blog and  At every point in this cycle we would love to get your thoughts on the work-to-date, and at the end we will publish our findings, which again we welcome your thoughts on.

The whole point of this exercise is to continue to push the boundaries of how we innovate, not just on the BUGbase UI, but on all things related to BUG.  We take pride in thinking our designs are good, but we also know they are exponentially better when the community gets involved.

Thanks in advance for your participation in this fun new project, and stay tuned for updates!