‘The Internet of Things’ phenomenon is continuing to grow at enormous speed and shows no sign of slowing down. Something which two leading tech firms are taking full advantage of.
ARM, a chip designer firm responsible for much of the technology that lies behind many of the most advanced digital products, and globally renowned computer and cloud services firm IBM have recently announced their collaboration on an internet of things “starter kit”.
When asked about the starter kit, ARM’s Vice President of Marketing, Zach Shelby, stated: “[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.”
The partnership between ARM and IBM makes a lot of sense since they both bring something valuable to the table and as Ruari McCallion, a writer for trade magazine The Manufacturer, points out it means that “they can offer a complete start-up kit”, which is a definite advantage over their competitors.
The starter kit has been designed to encourage individuals and businesses, especially start-ups, to invent internet-connected gadgets. The kit will be manufactured by Freescale, and the tech giants claim that the kit will be incredibly simple to use, taking less than five minutes to unbox and get started.
The price has not yet been confirmed, however, ARM has given an indication that the price will lie between £30 and £140.
The boxed equipment includes a:
- Microcontroller development board – This is pre-configured and features a Cortex-M4 processor (from ARM). It also has some built-in memory, which although relatively small, is more than suitable as it is designed for only a single task at a time.
- Sensor expansion board – This board measures temperature through an inbuilt thermometer and motion through an accelerometer. It also has two potentiometers (which are rotating dimmer knobs), a buzzer, a small joystick, a three-colour LED light and a black and white LCD display.
Although neither of the two components above are new to market in their singular form, ARM and IBM, by combining their efforts and innovative thinking, have connected the two together and established something new, something that is very different from their competitors.
Once the two components above are fixed together, they can be connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable, alternatively they can also be connected to additional tech equipment via USB. The kit is then ready to take and send its kit readings, such as that relating to the surrounding environment or the status of the objects it is connected to, back to online apps.
The starter kit aims to make it a lot more straightforward to test, and therefore speed up the improvement process of any IoT prototypes.
The instructions in the starter kit’s box steer users to the IBM website, where they can input theirs and their device’s credentials, upon which they will be able to see real-time recorded data. IBM encourages users to access the wide range of additional tools available, which can help users analyse data, as well as channel their data via other programs in control of further internet-connected equipment.
When asked how the kit might be used in everyday life, ARM and IBM gave the example of using it as a way to transfer data, regarding local environments, back to information centres. A pest control company for instance might use such technology in order to keep an eye on the number of traps which have been sprung, in order to avoid sending out staff to reset/ check the traps manually.
The number of internet-enabled products on the market currently stands at approximately five billion but, according to tech consultancy Gartner, this figure is set to increase by four times that amount by the year 2020.
So, with an ever increasing number of consumers more and more tempted by these internet-enabled objects such as fridges, cars, microwaves and even garden irrigation systems, it is no wonder that IBM and ARM have focused on this starter kit, and in doing so created a way to help save users a lot of time and money.