Two leading technology companies have joined forces to concoct a speedier way of building Internet of Things prototype or test devices. Chip designer ARM and IT giant IBM devised a kit for testing out connected gadgets that lets hardware developers get started in just five minutes.
The idea is to speed up the process of building prototypes for connected gadgets. It may also help software development, giving app and feature makers hardware for testing purposes, and offer tinkerers, hackers and makers a way to create their own connected devices.
As Zach Shelby, ARM’s vice president of marketing, told the BBC:
[It’s for] anybody who is into making products, whether they are makers who have a Kickstarter idea … all the way up to the device engineers for the big companies.
Here’s a closer look at the kit.
The Nuts And Bolts
The Internet of Things Mbed Device Platform kit consists of two boards: a microcontroller development board with an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, and a sensor expansion board. Mbed refers to the ARM software that acts as the operating system, which will chiefly rely on open standards. The units connect to IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.
The sensor expansion board is designed to capture readings in any way connected devices might need. It contains a thermometer to measure temperature, an accelerometer for motion, two potentiometers (or rotating dimmer knobs) for light-related gadgets, a buzzer, a small joystick, an LED light that can be adjusted to show up to three different colors, and a rectangular black-and-white LCD display.
The two boards are compatible, and can connect to the Internet via ethernet cable or to other hardware components through USB. While some companies are already actively testing prototypes, others who just hitting the crucial starting point of hardware development could find the kit very useful—and affordable. The price will run between $50 and $200 retail, depending on the options.
Connecting Developers And Tinkerers
While the kit is being marketed primarily to technology companies, everything from the lower price to the advertised five-minute install makes it seem like a great choice for hobbyists.
This kit is just the latest in what looks like a concerted push to help would-be makers create Internet-of-Things technologies. Other companies also offer kits for would-be makers, some of which are even less expensive—Broadcom’s compact little WICED Sense kit costs just $20.
The ARM Mbed bundle is not yet available for sale, but both ARM and IBM said in a statement that they expect the first products developed with it to enter the consumer market this year.
Photo via IBM