6 Internet Of Things Building Blocks - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
IT Leadership
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2/22/2015
12:06 PM

6 Internet Of Things Building Blocks

Need an embedded system to whip up an IoT prototype? These six platforms make it easier than ever to get started with embedded programming.
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Arduino Uno
In many ways, the current generation of 'makers' in the embedded system arena can trace their history back to the Italian educators who came up with the idea for a simple, inexpensive embedded controller. There is now an entire Arduino family, but the Arduino Uno is the foundation for the group. A low-power board in every sense, the Arduino Uno is based on the ATmega328 processor and features 32 KB (that's right, kilobytes) of memory for software. Using it requires tight, efficient code with no unnecessary frills. But if you're looking for a simple controller that can easily fit into an Altoids tin, the Arduino Uno fits the bill. Most developers find, though, that they want to move their project onto a more streamlined system, such as a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), for high-volume production.
More information on Arduino.
(Image: courtesy of Arduino)

In many ways, the current generation of "makers" in the embedded system arena can trace their history back to the Italian educators who came up with the idea for a simple, inexpensive embedded controller. There is now an entire Arduino family, but the Arduino Uno is the foundation for the group. A low-power board in every sense, the Arduino Uno is based on the ATmega328 processor and features 32 KB (that's right, kilobytes) of memory for software. Using it requires tight, efficient code with no unnecessary frills. But if you're looking for a simple controller that can easily fit into an Altoids tin, the Arduino Uno fits the bill. Most developers find, though, that they want to move their project onto a more streamlined system, such as a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), for high-volume production.

More information on Arduino.

(Image: courtesy of Arduino)

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Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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2/22/2015 | 6:57:02 PM
Computers Everywhere
The current state of there being a computer in almost every household has change the economy in many ways. If at least one object in a household had a computer embedded in it then, I feel that the economy will change again.

For developers, it would be hard the pin point the exact application in which the IoT will drive the greatest level of initial demand. However, I feel that embedded systems that aim to optimize energy usage around the home will be an even bigger source of demand, from its current level.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
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2/22/2015 | 11:10:06 PM
IoT based devices
"The "Internet of Things" is, in reality, the rise of embedded systems. Taking a small computer and embedding it in a formerly un-computerized object allows us to control the object, gather data from the object, and ultimately tie the object to other things through a network or the Internet."

Curtis, connectivity is the major part in IoT. So any devices having this connectivity module can come under the preview of IoT.  It can be of network connected or self talking through various sensors.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
2/22/2015 | 11:25:43 PM
Re: Computers Everywhere
@Brian, I think one of the most exciting things about the IoT is that the "killer app" is likely to be something none of us has thought of, yet.

I certainly hope that energy use is the target of a great deal of the activity around IoT. Behind more thorough instrumentation, greater machine intelligence, and battery technology like that now being put forward by Tesla, there's at least the possibility of a real breakthrough in the relatively near future.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
2/23/2015 | 10:38:33 AM
Re: IoT based devices
@Gigi3, you're absolutely right: Connectivity is the defining characteristic of the IoT. One of the advantages that most of these building blocks bring is that they allow designers to add networking using the same protocols and standards that they use in office networking. The downsides to that are that the protocols tend to be "heavy" in comparison to the data being moved, and hackers also understand these protocols very well.

In my mind, the biggest hurdles to IoT acceptance are going to be privacy and security related. If people don't trust that the data moving between sensors and controllers is safe, they're going to be very reluctant to instrument more of their lives.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 10:43:26 AM
IoT and Open-source
Curt, the flourishing of open-source systems has encouraged amateur developers to test their skills. I think IoT will encourage them further to test their practical capabilities in a way that helps consumer and industrial market and in return they can make the name for themselves.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 10:52:20 AM
Re: Computers Everywhere
BrianDean, yes energy applications have the most potential since it is a major cost to many households and if IoT helps in reducing energy costs, consumers will invest heavily in these applications. The impacts on industrial sector can be even bigger.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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2/23/2015 | 3:59:18 PM
Re: Computers Everywhere
I'm betting on convenience as the force that will drive consumer IoT, much more so than energy savings. If energy savings come along for the ride, great, but otherwise most people choose convenience over energy savings every day.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/23/2015 | 4:32:24 PM
Aren't sensors enough?
When I think IoT, I think of Internet- and network-connectable sensors, not tiny computers that give devides onboard computing power. GE's Intelligent Platforms business, for example, makes available mobile- and network-connectable sensors for heat, vibration, RPMs and what not. You need to computer somewhere to consolidate and analyze all those signals, but the remote devices may need only connectivity, not computer power (however tiny). 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
2/23/2015 | 5:47:13 PM
Re: Computers Everywhere
I'd agree with you on that, Chris. Energy savings are great, and no doubt people value that, but ultimately convenience will be the force that encourages consumer adoption of IoT. If it makes something easier, people will want to try it.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 5:47:32 PM
Re: Computers Everywhere
Great point @Curt, the likelihood is very high that the IoT will generate value in a completely unexpected product or service. I feel that high gain value sources might even emerge from procedures and processes. For instance, the IoT might create a situation where collecting census data becomes infeasible.

This makes selecting the right building blocks an important process and developers will have to consider a large number of variables and build expandability into their product/service/procedure.   
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