ARM, IBM offer starter kit for making IoT devices

Internet of Things devices can be built in a matter of minutes with ARM and IBM's mbed starter kit

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ARM and IBM want hobbyists to make their own connected devices in a matter of minutes with a new development kit announced Monday.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit -- Ethernet Edition will allow users to make cloud-ready Internet of Things products that could receive or transmit data for analysis or alerts. The development kit will come with ARM's mbed OS and connect into IBM's BlueMix cloud, which will help in the development of applications and services.

The kit is for those with little to no experience in embedded or Web development. Prototype designs will guide enthusiasts through the process of making a device and connecting to IBM's BlueMix cloud service.

The starter kit will get data from "the on board sensors into the IBM cloud within minutes of opening the box," said the product page on ARM's website.

ARM and IBM hope to cash in on the mass adoption of IOT, which has led to a mesh of interconnected devices used in smart homes, smart city implementations and enterprises. The devices, which could range from weather sensors to health devices, already number 1.2 billion, and could touch 5.4 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by Verizon.

The IOT market is currently fragmented with a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and communication standards in use. Through the developer kit, ARM and IBM want to bring a level of consistency in hardware and software across IOT devices. Beyond making it easier for devices to talk one another, the developer kit could make it easier to push or pull data out of a larger number of cloud services.

The development kit includes a board with a Freescale K64F Kinetis microcontroller, which has an ARM Cortex-M4 processing core running at 120MHz. An Ethernet connection links the board to IBM's BlueMix cloud service, which then acts as a guide on how to use the board. Other components on the board include a 128 x 32 graphics LCD, 256KB RAM, 1MB of flash storage, a speaker, a five-way joystick, temperature sensor, accelerometer, potentiometers and a PWM (pulse-width modulation) control line to receive digital signals.

The starter kit has Ethernet for connectivity, but there's a possibility it may also include cellular or Wi-Fi in the future, ARM said in a statement.

ARM didn't provide details on the pricing or availability of the starter kit. The first devices resulting from the development kit are expected to be released later this year.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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