ARM and IBM have teamed up to boost development behind the Internet of Things (IoT) with a combination of starter kits provided by ARM and cloud-based services from IBM to deliver control and analytics as well as developer tools.
The move will see ARM deliver mbed IoT Starter Kits based on its Cortex-M series of processors, while IBM is backing these with cloud support through the IBM IoT Foundation service launched last year.
Launched to coincide with the opening of Embedded World in Nuremberg, the first such product is the ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit - Ethernet Edition, which comprises a development board manufactured by Freescale and powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 processor with a plug-in sensor 'shield' I/O board that mounts on the top.
The jointly developed Starter Kit is designed to let customers quickly and easily connect their development board with the IBM IoT Foundation service and start experimenting with sensor data streamed from the device.
Dave Locke, IBM's senior inventor and product manager for IoT and mobile-to-mobile, showed in a demonstration to the press how the mbed IoT Starter Kit can be connected to IBM's cloud service within minutes.
He then put together a sample application using IBM's Bluemix developer tools to graphically represent real-time readings from the buttons and sensors on the board.
This example made use of IBM's Node-RED, a browser-based tool that lets developers build working applications by linking events and processes visually like a flow diagram.
However, Rob Lamb, IBM's vice president for European manufacturing and development at the firm's Hursley laboratory, said that this tool is just one of a broader set of IBM tools and services to support IoT development.
"We're working with a lot of white goods providers to enable scenarios like collecting telemetry from a washing machine, for example, to see if the pump is developing a problem and arrange for an engineer to call and service it. Quite frankly, the use cases are bounded only by human imagination," he explained.
Zach Shelby, vice president of IoT marketing at ARM, said that the Starter Kits were designed to enable a wider audience to start experimenting with devices and the IoT.
It should spur the development of new applications and services that nobody has foreseen, in the same way that the World Wide Web did.
"When [the web] reached a critical point, people started to create products and services that you couldn't have predicted before," he said.
"No-one had a clue that something like Facebook would emerge, for example. Our job is to create a platform to enable a similar thing to happen for the IoT."
Future versions of the kits are expected to come with ARM's mbed OS, which was announced last year but is not due to be available until later this year.
This will enable the kits to hook up to the ARM mbed Device Server software to access a wider range of security, communication and device management features, ARM said.
The price of the kit has yet to be announced, but ARM expects them to cost "less than $200" (£130), and that other kits are likely to cost much less than this first release. The kits will be available from distributors listed on the ARM mbed site.
IBM's IoT Foundation is a paid-for service based on the number of devices connected, the volume of data they exchange with the system, and the volume of data stored online. A free plan is available for development purposes.
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