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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Getting Started With IoT In A Box

June 25th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

With all of the buzz that the Internet of Things (IoT) has generated, a number of our readers have asked if there was anything available for experimenters who may have interest, but not a lot of money to spend on exploring the technology. Until recently, the answer would have been, “No.” However, that all changed this month with the availability of the ARM® mbed™ IoT Starter Kit-Ethernet Edition from ARM Ltd.

In the 1980s British computer manufacturer Acorn Computers first developed the Acorn RISC Machine (ARM) architecture for its personal computers.

A reduced instruction set computing (RISC)-based computer design approach with ARM processors require significantly fewer transistors than typical complex instruction set computing (CISC) x86 processors in most personal computers. This approach reduces costs, heat and power use. Such reductions are desirable traits for light, portable, battery-powered devices and other embedded systems. A simpler design facilitates more efficient multi-core CPUs and higher core counts at lower cost, providing improved energy efficiency for servers.

ARM Holdings develops the instruction set and architecture for ARM-based products, but does not actually manufacture products itself.

ARM core processors are used in a wide range of products including the Microsoft Surface tablet, Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod, ASUS tablets, Canon PowerShot digital cameras, and Nintendo DS handheld game consoles. In a word, ARM cores are everywhere.

ARM Processor – Sowing the Seeds of Success

Globally, ARM is the most widely used instruction set architecture in terms of quantity produced. The low power consumption of ARM processors has made them very popular. As of 2014, over 50 billion ARM processors had been produced, of which 10 billion were produced in 2013. ARM-based chips are found in nearly 60 percent of the world’s mobile devices. The ARM architecture (32-bit) is the most widely used architecture in mobile devices, and the most popular 32-bit one in embedded systems.

The Starter Kit is designed to channel data from Internet-connected devices directly to IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. The kit is comprised of a development board from Freescale Semiconductor, an ARM Cortex-M4-based processor, and a sensor I/O application shield.


ARM’s mbed IOT Starter Kit

The starter kit for IBM IoT Foundation provides a slick experience, getting data from the onboard sensors (temperature sensor, accelerometer, potentiometer, joystick) into the IBM cloud within minutes of opening the box. It is particularly suited for developers with no specific experience in embedded or web development, as it provides a platform for learning new concepts and creating working prototypes.

After the initial out of box experience, the infinite possibilities of cloud applications can be explored through IBM’s production grade BlueMix platform, where deployment and device management is as simple for one device as it is for one million. The starter kit hardware can be modified and extended to explore the device design space, and a finalized design can be taken to production using the mbed SDK and HDK.

According to ARM, future versions will run the new ARM mbed OS and use ARM mbed device server software for providing a wider range of security, communication, and device management features.

ARM and IBM say they will continue to work together on interoperable, open, secure, and scalable connectivity between devices and the cloud.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit-Ethernet Edition is available from several online distributors starting at $119.

So, if you want to get started and dabble in IoT, this starter kit is one of the best ways to do it.

Editor’s Note: In case you missed them, we have recently published some blogs on the subject of IoT, including the following:

PTC ThingWorx Converges On IoT

IoT and PTC’s Brave New World

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