Open Connectivity Foundation – spearheading standards for the Internet of Things

August 15, 2016

Billions of connected devices in the growing Internet-of-Things market, such as embedded devices and sensors, computers and mobile devices should be able to communicate with each other and interoperate via open standards – regardless of their manufacturer, operating system, chipset or networking protocols.

The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) is an industry collaboration which aims to spearhead an IoT open standards effort to work towards these goals – creating standards and open-source tools to help an interoperable Internet-of-Things realise its full potential.

Founding members including Microsoft, Cisco, Electrolux, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, General Electric and others – who have come together to create the OCF, the world’s largest IoT open-standards organisation, which is committed to furthering industry standards for the Internet of Things.

The OCF aims to unlock vast new opportunities from interoperability in the IoT market, to accelerate innovation and to help companies and developers create IoT products and solutions that can interconnect via interoperable and open specifications, which benefits IoT consumers, commercial users and industry.

This foundation builds upon the former Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), bringing together industry representatives from all parts of the IoT and consumer electronics industry – silicon, wireless platforms, software and consumer products – who are all dedicated to solving this key problem of interoperable standards for the IoT.

Furthermore, the OCF is defining the specifications, certification processes and branding that they will use to deliver reliable, well-documented interoperability for IoT connectivity, which is easy for product engineers as well as public consumers to understand.

These companies that have led the formation of the foundation believe in the potential that open standards can deliver for a more interoperable IoT ecosystem, as opposed to closed silos of products from individual vendors, each using their own closed standards.

The OCF will create a set of open specifications and protocols to enable devices from a variety of manufacturers to securely and seamlessly interact with one another. Regardless of the manufacturer, operating system, chipset or network – devices that adhere to the OCF specifications will simply work together.

As the open specifications defined by the foundation are designed to be easy to understand, standard logos and branding will be used in order to help consumers choose interoperable products, as well as focusing on careful standards development, documentation and open-source reference implementations that allow developers to easily implement OCF-compliant solutions.

Enterprise and industrial users, as well as consumers, stand to benefit from the open standards created by the OCF – essentially any IoT users who want their smart devices to easily interconnect and communicate.

Developers of IoT platforms, operating systems and applications stand to benefit – anyone who wants their IoT solutions to interoperate seamlessly across many brands and ecosystems, creating synergies across the IoT market and increasing the value and capability of their products.

End-users of IoT solutions also stand to benefit from interoperability, consistent security and consistent user experiences across different software, IoT appliances and other consumer-facing products.

The OCF wants to connect the next 25 billion Internet-of-Things devices with open standards, and to provide secure and reliable device discovery and connectivity across multiple OSs and platforms. Furthermore, their aims to achieve industry consolidation around a common, interoperable approach, and to build a large, experienced industry consortium of companies will hopefully create momentum for their standards-building across all kinds of IoT products and markets.

These working groups include the core technology working group, which works on the core technology issues and specifications with input from all member companies – as well as the certification working group which specifies and maintains the policies, tools and infrastructure for OCF validation and certification.

The security working group defines appropriate security frameworks for each technology and solution that the OCF specifies, and aims to provide the other working groups with guidance on the security implications of the technology choices and specifications that they’re developing. Other working groups address branding and documentation, open-source and more.

Interestingly, the OCF incorporates all the industry collaborators and activities that were formally sponsored by the Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP) Forum, and it sponsors the IoTivity project – which provides a working, open-source reference implementation of the Open Connectivity Foundation standards and specifications, under the Apache 2.0 open source license.

The IoTivity project is an open-source software framework that aims to enable interoperable connectivity for emerging Internet-of-Things needs, to show working, open-source examples and to release open-source reference implementations of the specifications developed by the Open Connectivity Foundation.

It is hoped that the open-source implementations that comes out of IoTivity will be designed to enable application developers and device manufacturers to deliver interoperable products across a range of common operating systems such as Windows, mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, and embedded and IoT-relevant operating systems such as Linux and Tizen.

However, with all these industry players and possible standards, the choice of hardware and software for your next Internet of Things product could quite easily be bogged down by the paradox of choice. Instead of letting your ideas fail due to analysis paralysis – we can take your idea from thoughts to a final product.

Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success. We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Decrease your Internet of Things product footprints with the Texas Instruments CC2650

August 3, 2016

As the requirement for smaller hardware along with greater connectivity options in Internet-of-Things products grows, the necessity for a chipset that can handle not only main operations but also wireless communications increases. One of the market-leaders in this field – Texas Instruments – has met this challenge with their new CC2650 series of System-on-Chip wireless connectivity solutions.

The CC2650 from Texas Instruments is one of the newest additions to TI’s SimpleLink family of wireless connectivity solutions – an ultra-low-power ARM Cortex microcontroller core combined with a strong suite of GPIOs and peripherals, together with multi-standard 2.4GHz wireless connectivity that supports several different radio protocols in a single device – Bluetooth Low Energy as well as 802.15.4/6LoWPAN and ZigBee RF4CE standards.

This combination of a powerful microcontroller system-on-chip combined with multiple different radio communication protocols makes the CC2650 perfectly suited to home and building automation, device gateways, smart appliances and other consumer electronics, smart energy management – and of course, other Internet-of-Things applications.

Therefore, the CC2650 makes it possible for the same hardware design to be taken to market and deployed in cases where either 802.15.4/6LoWPAN mesh networking or Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity is desired, with only a firmware change required.

The CC2650 is based around a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor running at 48 MHz as the main processor, combined with a separate, ultra-low-power sensor controller and a rich set of other peripherals and features.

And with a dedicated sensor controller core, the CC2650 is ideal for interfacing to external sensors and autonomously collecting analogue and digital sensor data while the main microcontroller core, the radio and the rest of the system is in sleep mode – helping to provide extremely low power consumption combined with powerful functionality.

Leveraging this multi-standard wireless networking support, customers can future-proof their designs and configure their chosen radio technology for each deployment by simply changing the software stack, at the time of installation in the field.

The on-board 2.4 GHz RF transceiver in the CC2560 is compatible with the Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 specification, as well as implementing the PHY and MAC layers of the IEEE 802.15.4 specification for applications such as ZigBee or 6LoWPAN mesh networks.

Very low current consumption in both the RF and the microcontroller systems make the CC2650 an extremely energy efficient device for its capability, with excellent battery lifetime possible in small, portable applications. The CC2650 is also well suited to energy-harvesting power sources or operation from small coin-cell batteries.

The Bluetooth Low Energy controller and the 802.15.4/6LoWPAN MAC layer are embedded into ROM and are partly running on a separate ARM Cortex-M0 processor – an architecture that frees up flash memory for the application, not the radio stacks, as well as improving overall system performance and reducing power consumption.

The software stacks for wireless networking are available free of charge from TI, for either Bluetooth Low Energy or ZigBee/802.15.4 networking.

Furthermore, as well as ZigBee/6LoWPAN support – the Bluetooth radio stack is iBeacon-capable, allowing the CC2560 to function as an iBeacon device, connecting to a user’s phone, launching mobile applications and customising the delivery of content such as location-aware tourism information, promotions or advertising based on sensor data and the physical location of the iBeacon device.

Along with this powerful and flexible wireless networking capability, the CC2650 incorporates 128KB of in-system programmable flash, support for JTAG debuggers, over-the-air wireless firmware updates, eight 16-bit timers, an eight-channel 12-bit ADC peripheral, built-in capacitive touch sensing, and all the familiar analogue and digital peripherals you’d expect from a modern 32-bit microcontroller system-on-chip.

TI provides a range of design kits and evaluation modules for the CC2650, and utilities such as the Code Composer Studio Cloud IDE and TI’s Internet-of-Things cloud ecosystem, all of which make it easy for developers to get started with the CC2650, to build and evaluate their ideas, get started with their projects and to connect to the cloud.

The CC2650 SimpleLink SensorTag product from TI is a powerful platform to assist developers to evaluate and prototype their IoT sensor designs around the CC2650, combining this wireless, connected SoC with 10 different sensors in a compact but powerful wireless sensor package.

This SensorTag incorporates an infrared temperature sensor, 9-axis inertial measurement unit, microphone, ambient light sensor, humidity sensor, ambient temperature sensor, a pressure sensor and more – as well as the choice of Bluetooth Low Energy and ZigBee/6LoWPAN wireless connectivity, depending on which network stack is used.

Using the CC2650 SensorTag reference platform, along with the reference iOS or Android apps provided by TI for CC2650 Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect to the cloud with Bluetooth Low Energy and get your sensor data online in just a few minutes. Using TI’s reference designs for hardware development makes hardware layout simpler, and makes it possible to get a working hardware design with minimal RF expertise.

As you can now understand, the CC2650 offers a compact, low-power and compatible solution to being the centre of your next Internet of Things device. However, choosing a chipset is only one step in the myriad of design decisions in the product development journey – and success is predicated on having the right partner.

Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Intelligent Data Sharing for the Industrial Internet of Things with PrismTech Vortex

July 22, 2016

The “Industrial Internet-of-Things”, or IIoT, is a subset of Internet-of-Things technologies that connect industrial machines, sensors and actuators to local data processing and to the Internet – as well as connecting their data and analytics to other industrial networks that can generate further value and business intelligence from that data.

These systems are often large-scale networks, with real-time operating systems, and business-critical reliability needs.

The IIoT represents a convergence between machines, embedded sensing technologies, advanced analytics and Internet connectivity. These technologies are enabling business to harness the ever-increasing amount of device-generated data, process that data in real-time and act on events as quickly as they occur to drive smarter decisions, enable new services, create new revenue streams and reduce costs.

Industrial IoT technologies can provide increases in efficiency for industrial plant equipment, more efficient long-term maintenance and management of equipment, for example.

There is also value generation in the data that is made available to adjoining IIoT networks, for example using that plant data to best balance short-term positive cash flow against additional maintenance or equipment costs in the longer term.

These kinds of IIoT use-cases provide predictable gains in business value, but the further value that could potentially be generated by disruptive new business models enabled by the IIoT is a wildcard – it could be limited in some cases, or it could be enormous.

PrismTech’s Vortex Intelligent Data Sharing Platform is a middleware platform specifically aimed at Industrial IoT applications. Vortex aims to provide an ideal connectivity solution for the IIoT, delivering the data to the right place at the right time – all the time, and to simplify real-time information integration in industrial IoT control systems.

At the heart of the Vortex platform is OpenSplice – which enables data to be shared and integrated across a wide variety of different operating systems and platforms. OpenSplice is one of the most advanced, complete and popular implementations of the Object Management Group’s Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard, and provides a full implementation of both the latest OMG DDS 1.4 standard and the OMG-DDSI / RTPS v2.1 interoperable wire-protocol standards.

DDS was originally developed for aerospace and defence applications, and has been used successfully for many years in large-scale, real-time distributed systems. In recent years it has been used in other commercial application domains such as energy grid management, industrial automation, transport, healthcare and “smart city” networks, and continues to gain popularity as a powerful standard for real-time machine-to-machine data sharing and integration in complex IIoT systems.

As DDS is based on a data-centric publish-and-subscribe model, it enables large numbers of distributed applications to share information with each other asynchronously and in real time.

DDS also offers certain advantages over other common transport protocols, such as MQTT or CoAP, encountered in Internet-of-Things applications. It is easy to provision, highly scalable, very low latency and more compatible with the heavy, real-time message throughput found in modern industrial IoT systems.

Furthermore, DDS supports automatic discovery and brokerless operation, allowing DDS nodes to declare the information that they can provide or receive. DDS will automatically connect appropriate publishers to subscribers in a direct way, without a broker required in the middle.

This enables plug-and-play support for devices added to the network in the future, makes it possible for IIoT systems to expand and evolve more easily, and simplifies system configuration.

OpenSplice is aimed at use with server and desktop platforms as well as more specialised real-time operating systems and embedded environments, such as the VxWorks RTOS running on an industrial single-board computer. OpenSplice is available on most enterprise operating systems, including Linux, Windows, AIX and Solaris as well as the VxWorks, RTLinux, Integrity, PikeOS and ElinOS real-time operating systems.

It is good to note that OpenSplice aims to be highly dependable, ensuring availability, high reliability, safety and integrity that is robust against potential hardware or software failures – with a powerful suite of quality-of-service functions to ensure data integrity.

With this in mind, OpenSplice aims to deliver high performance and scalability, with very large volumes of data delivered with very low latency, from simple systems using a small number of sensors all the way up to an ultra-large-scale interconnected network of devices and servers – and also provides strong security for industrial data, maintaining the integrity and authenticity of data exchanged throughout the network.

The Vortex platform consists of three other product suites as well as OpenSplice – Vortex Device, which enables applications to securely share real-time data using a variety of platforms and network technologies; Vortex Cloud, which provides cloud computing and support for data sharing over a WAN, support for public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructures, and the ability to seamlessly share data over the Internet between applications running on different, isolated LANs; and Vortex Gateway.

Vortex Gateway is a high performance, extensible and configurable protocol gateway that bridges between communication protocols while adapting their format, content and quality-of-service requirements. This makes it possible to integrate legacy systems using different protocols into a DDS-based system such as OpenSplice – as well as using alternative transport-layer protocols in cases where they may make sense. It supports efficient bridging between DDS systems and over 100 different communication protocols, including device protocols such as MQTT and enterprise messaging protocols such as JMS and AMQP.

You can see that the Industrial Internet of Things hold promise for a wide spectrum of ideas – and if this is of interest – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Bluetooth Version 5 – for the Internet of Things

July 12, 2016

The newest upcoming iteration of the Bluetooth specification – Bluetooth 5 – has recently been announced by the Bluetooth Special Industry Group – the industry consortium responsible for developing, standardising and promoting Bluetooth wireless technology.

Bluetooth 5 is expected to be released around the end of this year or the beginning of 2017 – and will offer significant increases in performance with up to four times the range, double the data rate and an eight-fold increase in broadcast messaging capacity.

This new evolution of the Bluetooth standard is all about doing more with less, offering rich new experiences which are compatible with customer expectations in today’s Internet-of-Things market – including greater bandwidth, a longer range while also retaining the very low power consumption of Bluetooth 4.0.

The Bluetooth standard has not had a major version bump since the release of Bluetooth 4.0 in 2009, and the Internet-of-Things market has clearly come a long way in the last seven years. One of the main goals of Bluetooth 5 is to remain at the forefront of the fast-moving Internet-of-Things space, both in terms of interoperability and back-end RF network technology as well as the front-end use cases and experiences that consumers expect from modern IoT products and technologies.

The “Bluetooth 4.0” version nomenclature has also been dropped, with a focus on a more streamlined version branding that is easier for the average customer to understand as a major technology revision when they’re shopping for new phones or devices.

While the exact range may vary depending on the hardware design and the power budget that is available, it may be possible to expect a range of up to 400 meters from a Bluetooth 5 connection.

Bluetooth 5 is designed with Internet-of-Things applications in mind, and the extended range that it offers will enable ubiquitous, reliable IoT connections across full-home and building and outside-the-building use cases where older Bluetooth devices are not practical, greatly opening up the potential applications for Bluetooth connectivity.

According to the executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed, supporting faster data transfers and software updates for devices”, and “Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them.”

With these technical improvements, the Bluetooth SIG aims to make Bluetooth-based IoT experiences seamless and ubiquitous, without users needing to think about range or device pairing.

As well as making the pairing process much easier for Bluetooth devices such as wireless speakers or keyboards, the significantly increased broadcast capacity in Bluetooth 5 is aimed at making beacons, location markers and other connectionless” Bluetooth services much more powerful and valuable, with the ability to transmit more, richer information as part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, this will “redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information”, moving away from the app-paired-to-device model to a seamless and more IoT-compatible connectionless model where there is less need to download an app, pair devices together and connect the app to a device.

The increased bandwidth that Bluetooth 5 provides means that devices can be more responsive and can transfer their data faster, and increased broadcast capacity makes “connectionless” Bluetooth services like beacons, location-aware information and targeted advertising much more capable and powerful.

These improvements allow Bluetooth 5 to open up more potential Bluetooth applications and help Bluetooth to be an integral part of an accessible, interoperable IoT ecosystem.

Connectionless Bluetooth beacon technology has value in applications such as museums, galleries and other cultural and tourism institutions, providing location-aware information for navigation, allowing people to find local businesses or services near them – or for location-aware marketing or promotions.

However, excessive use of Bluetooth notifications for advertising, without requiring authentication or device pairing, may raise challenges in terms of customer acceptance and ethics and potentially creates a whole new avenue for ubiquitous spam.

Other applications such as industrial logistics and tracking inventory in warehouses are potentially valuable too – there is enormous scope for creative new applications of Bluetooth with these new capabilities.

Furthermore, these significant range and performance benefits are achieved without any significant increase in power consumption compared to existing iterations of the Bluetooth Low Energy standard with its already industry-leading power efficiency.

This means that Bluetooth 5 remains attractive, as with present Bluetooth implementations, in applications where power efficiency and long battery life is important, and the powerful new capabilities of Bluetooth 5 remain compatible with tiny, battery-operated beacons that are practical to deploy for a long time without maintenance or replacement.

By now you must realise that Bluetooth is still relevant and a feature that may be of benefit to your existing or new products. If this is of interest – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

`LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


MediaTek renews their range in the Internet of Things Chipset Market

July 5, 2016

Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek has recently announced several new chipsets that deliver powerful capabilities for innovative Internet-of-Things, multimedia and wearable computing hardware products of all kinds. The first of these new products is the MT2523 chip, aimed specifically at the needs of today’s wearable computing applications.

This compact, low-power system-on-chip combines an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller core, a Bluetooth Low Energy radio for wireless networking with other devices, and a GPS receiver – a powerful combination of energy-efficient 32-bit microcontroller, GPS and wireless connectivity that is ideal for wearable computing and data logging applications such as personal fitness trackers.

The MT2523 offers efficient power consumption, delivering week-long battery life in a typical wearable consumer design, as well as a 41 percent reduction in chip size, which makes this chip attractive for wearable and portable devices where space is at a premium.

Another interesting new chipset from MediaTek which is aimed at the Internet-of-Things market is the MT7697 IoT Bridge. As the name suggests, this chipset is designed to help bring together the plethora of different network technologies and protocols used by the growing number of IoT and home automation products in the market.

The MT7697 chipset supports the latest Bluetooth Low Energy standards as well as dual-band Wi-Fi, enabling this device to act as a central gateway that can converge data from different kinds of connected devices. This is essential as consumer uptake of Internet-of-Things and home automation products with different connectivity technologies increases, making it a very attractive part of a “future-proof” home IoT network.

MediaTek have also recently announced their new M8581 chipset for optical media players, with one device able to decode all the familiar optical formats from CD to DVD to Blu-Ray, enabling high-definition viewing experiences at up to 4K ultra-high-definition with support for High Dynamic Range. It includes support for many of the latest audio and video codecs, including H.264 video and Dolby Digital Plus audio.

This ability to support many different media formats and codecs, including the most modern formats as well as legacy ones, consolidates the bill of materials in media appliances and keeps the cost of hardware low while offering consumers strong product capabilities and user experiences.

The MT2502 Aster system-on-chip is claimed to be the world’s smallest system-on-chip commercially available, and along with MediaTek’s own Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE and GPS silicon products, it’s ideally suited for wearable computing, Internet-of-Things and mobile applications where space is at a premium.

The Aster SoC was launched last year, and made its debut as the core of the Omate X smartwatch. This smartwatch is expected to last up to a week on a single battery charge, showcasing the strong energy efficiency of this platform.

MediaTek has also recently launched its MediaTek Labs initiative, where the company that has been best known for its smartphone and tablet processors aims to diversify its research and development for the next generation of mobile gadgets, staying at the forefront of the latest trends in Internet-of-Things and wearable computing.

Their goal is to provide developers and engineers with tools such as MediaTek development kits to help build new devices and write new software, and to make these tools and resources as accessible as possible.

An interesting feature is that MediaTek Labs won’t be a private club only for major industry players – it’s designed to be used and enjoyed by both professionals and amateurs, everyone from students to CEOs.

According to the vice president of MediaTek Labs, MediaTek has big plans for the Lab, and they hope that the projects and technologies explored in it will “drive the next wave of consumer gadgets” and “apps that will connect billions”. MediaTek Labs is particularly interested in the growing market for wearable computing devices – everything from basic health and fitness trackers to more powerful mobile devices such as smartwatches.

As you’d expect, MediaTek is promoting its own development tools and silicon products, such as Aster, LinkIt, the MT2523 and M7697 as the first choice used for the development of projects and technologies at MediaTek Labs.

The Omate X smartwatch, or the Aster chip itself, can run MediaTek’s LinkIt operating system, which makes the configuration and development of embedded software faster and easier, enabling engineers to bring their ideas and creations to fruition faster.

All these applications and more, including home automation or other Internet-of-Things applications that aren’t necessarily wearables, seem well suited one or more of these products – the Aster system-on-chip, other MediaTek chipsets providing connectivity features such as GPS and Bluetooth Low Energy, and the LinkIt operating system.

If any of these products or ideas are of interest, and you’re looking to introduce your own Internet-of-Things device – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Arduino Create Platform – increasing access to the Internet of Things

June 10, 2016

The new Arduino Create platform aims to make embedded computing and Internet-of-Things development even easier, and an effort to make the popular Arduino development environment more relevant and up-to-date for today’s networked, connected Internet-of-Things applications – and to be easier to use for collaborative development and sharing of projects and open-source resources.

This new platform is intended to replace the widely used and proven Arduino IDE that many people will be familiar with. This system has been around for a decade, with minor revisions along the way – however is basically the same original system, derived from the Wiring platform.

Over time the Arduino IDE has inherited many things, some good and some bad, from this underlying legacy of the Wiring platform – and the Arduino Create platform aims to replace this with a modern, flexible toolchain. One of the most significant changes is that this new development environment will be a Web-based platform, with all the advantages as well as challenges that go along with that.

More than 10 years ago, the Arduino project set out to develop easy-to-use tools to make physical computing accessible and simple, with a focus on open-source software and hardware. Today, the Arduino Create platform aims to continue to remain true to these values in order to bring the same outcomes to the world of Internet-of-Things development, bringing this technology into the hands of teachers, students and creative artists, making the technology accessible for everybody, and serving as “one stop shop for Makers”.

But this new browser-based internet-connected platform is not just a new development environment. It enables everybody, including students, hobbyists, makers and other non-expert users to not just write code easily but also to share their work.

Users can easily configure their hardware, install updates and patches that are easily managed in the cloud, such as support for different board hardware types, and extra software libraries, and connect their networked devices to the cloud, using Web-accessible dashboards and other Internet-based features.

This cloud-based approach includes some clever features, such as the ability to easily “hide” sensitive private API keys and passwords within your code when you share it, and automatically insert this kind of secure information into your code at the preprocessor stage, before the code is uploaded to your board.

Alongside these new development capabilities, the new platform’s focus on community, culture leadership and education around the emerging Internet-of-Things domain is clear. The Arduino “IoT Manifesto” sets out not only how Arduino will approach the Internet of Things, but also how they intend to develop tools for it as well as how they think other parties should approach the way they’re developing their own tools and services for the IoT.

Arduino Create makes it very easy to get started, featuring guided workflows to help easily configure Internet services and to help users through the process of installing the cross-browser plugin. Once the plugin is installed, you can get started writing code and uploading sketches to an Arduino board connected to your computer directly from your web browser, in a way that will be largely familiar on the surface to everybody who has ever used an Arduino.

On the surface the Arduino Web Editor looks a lot like the familiar IDE, only browser-based. All the standard libraries included with Arduino IDE installations are immediately available, along with support for all the standard Arduino hardware targets.

This makes usability easy for new users, with minimal transition required for users who are already familiar with the Arduino IDE. All the significant back-end changes are hidden underneath, with a largely familiar user experience.

The Create platform also includes the Arduino Cloud infrastructure, which allows you to connect your Arduino boards directly to the Internet with ease, using transport protocols such as MQTT to communicate from Arduino devices to Web services and to other devices.

The Arduino Cloud infrastructure as well as the Arduino Web Editor are powered by Amazon Web Services behind the scenes, with AWS IoT and AWS Lambda providing the Arduino Create platform with secure, reliable and highly scalable infrastructure, enabling the platform that enables makers to easily connect and manage their Arduino projects through the internet and the cloud.

Eventually the Arduino Cloud infrastructure will provide Arduino users with a one-stop-shop for Arduino-connected Web services, including real-time data display dashboards, streaming of data and database storage.

The community surrounding the Arduino platform is one of its defining characteristics, and the Arduino Project Hub integrated into the Arduino Create system aims to continue this community-oriented tradition. The huge amount of open-source code, examples and community support available around the Arduino platform mean that if you have a problem you can probably find somebody else that has had the same problem earlier that can easily help you solve it.

This ecosystem of community support is a key part of the Arduino success story – this has helped make Arduino the default platform for beginners and hobbyists looking to get started with microcontrollers and embedded computing. The Arduino Create ecosystem builds upon this tradition with the integration of the Arduino Project Hub. The Arduino Project Hub is intended to be the new focus for the extensive community of Arduino users to share their projects, ideas and examples.

Although this may be an exciting development for the hobbyist community, it is not an ideal situation for those looking to design, build and manage their own commercial Internet-of-Things products. This is quite apparent with first use, thanks to the ominous “You may lose your data” warning.

Furthermore, there are many options on the hardware, software and platform fronts that require serious consideration – with security being paramount. Thus you need to discuss your IoT project with professionals from the LX Group.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Home automation with Apple HomeKit and Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform

May 20, 2016

Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform is a highly cost-effective, flexible and easy-to-use hardware and software platform built around a combination of Marvell’s high-performance 88MC200 ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller and Marvell’s Avastar series of low-power 802.11n Wi-Fi system-on-chip radio devices.

With these new Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform products, Marvell aims to make it easy for Internet-of-Things developers and product designers to build a new generation of connected devices that can interact seamlessly with mobile clients and cloud applications, delivering a broad range of IoT experiences and services to consumers in areas such as smart energy management, home automation and consumer electronics.

On the software side, this platform is powered by Marvell’s proven, field-tested EZ-Connect Software Development Kit, which simplifies software development and enables OEMs to focus on delivering IoT applications and services to their customers in a way that focuses on their own application-specific added value, without devoting lots of time and money to the low-level Wi-Fi software and firmware development.

Marvell has recently announced that they are the industry’s first silicon vendor to develop a fully supported SDK for Apple’s HomeKit framework – a framework in Apple iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling networked home automation devices and IoT appliances in the home.

This SDK, which is based around Marvell’s Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform, the 88MC200 microcontroller, the 88W8801 Wi-Fi system-on-chip, and the EZ-Connect software platform, has received Apple’s stamp of approval as a HomeKit SDK and this is the first combined chipset and SDK platform on the market to offer full HomeKit support to hardware and device manufacturers looking to integrate their products into the HomeKit ecosystem.

Marvell’s HomeKit-ready silicon platform and SDK are already being used by several device manufacturers, paving the way for the first third-party HomeKit appliances to be bought to market.

This SDK is built on top of Marvell’s EZ-Connect SDK, simplifying the development of HomeKit-compatible products. Appliance manufacturers using Marvell’s SDK for HomeKit benefit from the complete, supported reference implementation of the HomeKit framework that this SDK provides, and they’re able to save months of development effort – instead focusing their efforts on innovative product features and great user-facing experiences.

Marvell’s Wi-Fi platform already powers many consumer IoT products on the market, and has been adopted by many industry leaders developing IoT products in sectors such as home appliances, lighting, home automation, toys, wearable computing and more. Mattel’s interactive Internet-connected Hello Barbie doll is one such example of an innovative IoT product already on the market which is powered by Marvell’s Wi-Fi platform and EZ-Connect technology.

The system is powered by Marvell’s 88MC200 microcontroller – the host microcontroller component of the Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform. This is based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 core, with a CPU clock up to 200 MHz, 512 kB of SRAM memory, 8 MB of on-chip serial flash memory, and a rich set of I/O interfaces that offer high performance, low power consumption, and flexible connectivity to a range of peripheral devices.

All of Marvell’s 802.11n Wi-Fi radio system-on-chip devices are based around an additional, separate power-efficient ARM core, and the firmware in this chip takes care of most of the handling of the Wi-Fi protocol, relieving the 88MC200 host microcontroller’s resources so that this processor can be used for application software and higher-layer networking.

This family of Avastar Wi-Fi radio chipsets have a market-leading architecture and RF performance, delivering reliable Wi-Fi network connectivity with low power consumption.

Four different wireless system-on-chip devices in this family are supported by the Marvell Wi-Fi Microcontroller Platform, including the 88W8801 single-band 2.4GHz device, the 88W8782 device which supports dual-band Wi-Fi networking, the 88W8787 which supports Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity as well as dual-band Wi-Fi, and the 88W8777 device which combines both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity into a single chip.

The Avastar 88W8777 system-on-chip is a particularly powerful and useful device well suited to IoT applications such as gateway devices, with support for both Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity in a single device.

As well as 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, this chipset incorporates the Bluetooth 4.0 standard and provides Bluetooth Smart-ready operation for classic Bluetooth devices and profiles as well as Bluetooth Low Energy devices. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios can share a single antenna for the lowest cost implementation, or the two radios can operate on separate antennas for maximum performance and throughput.

This new system from Marvell offers a pathway into the Apple HomeKit environment, along with a base for Internet of Things product applications. However there are many options – and choosing the right plaform from a myriad of options can be a challenge. Instead, turn to the LX Group to solve your problems.

We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


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