Here at the LX Group we investigate many Internet of Things platforms for research and fit-for-purpose testing, and one of these is the new hardware and software ecosystem has been announced by the Arduino team in Italy.
They have recently released and announced a number of new products and services specifically aimed at enabling cloud-connected wireless solutions and other Internet-of-Things applications, including the MKR1000 develpoment board, their IoT Development Environment, and a companion Community Project Platform.
Their new MKR1000 is a tiny, feature-packed board based on Atmel’s ATSAMW25 module, which incorporates a IEEE 802.11 radio certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance along with a low-power ARM Cortex-M0+ 32-bit microcontroller.
With a much smaller form-factor than traditional Arduino boards, along with 32-bit ARM performance and built-in wireless networking, the MKR1000 offers a LiPo battery charging circuit and on-board cryptographic support, making it an Internet-connected platform that is compact, powerful, secure and battery-ready – ideally suited for the burgeoning Internet-of-Things market.
To promote the new board, Arduino will team up with Microsoft to give away 1000 units to makers who submit project ideas based on the platform. The new board “offers the ideal solution for Makers seeking to add Wi-Fi connectivity with minimal previous experience in networking”, according to the team.
Arduino has also recently announced their new project and tutorial platform, the Arduino Project Hub, as the place to go for Arduino users to host and share their projects and experiences.
As with the the recent “World’s Largest Arduino Maker Challenge” competition alongside Microsoft, the Arduino Project Hub has been developed by Arduino in partnership with hackster.io, and this official partnership between Arduino and another commercial entity – telling the community that this is “the place” where your Arduino projects are supposed to be hosted and shown off – is an interesting move for the Arduino company and the Arduino community.
It is not just the new networking-oriented Arduino MKR1000 hardware platform that has made Arduino’s push towards the Internet of Things obvious in their recent announcements. Among the new Web properties that Arduino has announced is Arduino IoT, hosting a collection of Arduino-oriented tutorials and guidance for people who want to get started with Internet-of-Things development.
With this, Arduino aims to create a new platform to “make building IoT devices as easy as blinking a LED”, providing a range of inspirational examples and tutorials based on the Arduino and Genuino MKR1000 platform, ranging from a simple Telegram Bot to a more complex smart thermostat.
Another key part of Arduino’s push towards IoT and connected applications is the new Arduino Cloud environment. Arduino Cloud is designed around the new MKR1000 board, although it also supports the more modern of the official Arduino Wi-Fi Shields (which like the MKR1000 has on-board cryptographic support).
Arduino Cloud allows you to connect your Arduino directly to Web services and other Internet- or cloud-based applications using MQTT as the messaging protocol. It can also connect messages across the Internet from one Arduino device to another.
At the moment the Arduino Cloud environment is in an early alpha release, and it is claimed to currently have “one percent of the features” that will be implemented in the final product. Although it is still in development today, it will be interesting to see how having cloud capabilities natively included in the official Arduino ecosystem will potentially affect similar, competing environments such as Particle Cloud.
We’re already seeing a consolidation of board support around the Arduino development environment, with many different kinds of hardware platforms from different manufacturers all being unified by common compatibility with the Arduino IDE, especially with the more advanced Board Manager functionality that is included in the current revision of the Arduino IDE.
Now the Arduino Cloud platform could potentially bring this same unification to the cloud and Internet applications side of the IoT, with a common cloud platform that is compatible with all those different hardware products.
The Arduino Create platform is another exciting new addition to the Arduino ecosystem that has recently been announced – a Web-based development environment for Arduino projects. This new environment is still in private beta, with the development team refining the Web-based code editor based on feedback from the beta cohort, but we’re told that it is almost ready.
This platform promises to replace the familiar Arduino IDE – which inherits many legacy elements, both good and bad, from Wiring on which is is based – with a modern, flexible, Web-based toolchain. Using a browser plugin, the new environment will allow you to write code and upload sketches to any Arduino device connected to your computer, directly from the Web browser.
It will also store your sketches and allow you to connect to services in the cloud. Other attempts at cloud-based development environments have been unpopular in some cases, since users are sceptical of having their files and work potentially disappear with a defunct company or become suddenly locked up behind a paid subscription model in the future, without users having local possession of their own files.
However, given Arduino’s long-standing commitment to open-source free software for their development tools, these factors are unlikely to be a concern. Nevertheless, this is not a total recommendation – as each client has different needs that may require open or closed hardware and software solutions.
And this is where the LX Group us ready to work with you. We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.
LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.
Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.