Open source development tools and boards that democratizing the IoT design

Open source development boards and communities democratize the IoT design. The IoT or the Internet of Things is at the core of what the World Economic Forum identified as the 4th Industrial Revolution. It’s a technical, economic and cultural transformation, which combines the digital, physical and biological worlds. IoT is driven by technologies such as big data, ubiquitous connectivity, analytics and the cloud.

Open source development tools


Democratization of computing may sound a nerdy rallying cry. However, it is a revolution that has been brewing for quite some time. Through breaching the walls that traditionally have divided software and hardware disciplines, the democratization movement recently has picked up speed with the advent of new technologies and open source software design tools and forging fresh communities around one of the most talked about technical trends recently, which is the IoT. The Internet of Things is poi8sed to bring bigger opportunity to tech audiences and its workflows would have to be streamlined and make better use of modularized components for addressing truly real technical challenges that the Internet of Things design entails, from designing software, sensor networking to on-boarding cloud.

In the not-so-far future, the IoT’s network of smart devices and sensors would connect virtually each and every aspect of the environment in homes, industrial workflows, physical objects, communication systems, transportation, clothing and the human body, allowing them to exchange and connect data. Furthermore, IoT also has the potential to democratize software and hardware engineering with open source development software, bringing a new generation of innovators and developers in the technology industry. It is predicted that towards the end of this year, fifty percent of IoT solutions would come from startups that are no more than three years old. Nonetheless, if the IoT will propel democratization of engineering, it has to be much simpler to design since IoT solutions are notoriously challenging and complex to crate because building a complete end-to-end IoT platform requires multiple technical domains knowledge, which include skills for managing and integrating sensors, processors, power management, security, embedded software, data analytics and cloud platforms among others. Thus, creating IoT platforms from scratch typically is not the best approach for most innovators and developers. This is where open source development boards could help.

Entrepreneurs, startups and makers could leverage open-source, low-cost electronics platforms and SBCs from suppliers like the Newark element 14 for powerful design tools to more designers faster, which make IoT technologies more accessible and available to all types of innovators. Also, the development platforms help bridge the technical gap between coders and engineers. Supplier networks provide a community for technology support and advice. There are specialized IoT development kits that provide the software, hardware, firmware and integration tools to hasten the design time. Most importantly, the IoT kits usually include cloud access solutions and sensor deployment components to ease the burden of integrating the technologies to functional designs. Development kits are rapidly becoming the equal of reference designs for the Internet of Things infrastructure as suppliers start evolving the out-of-the-box experience to include not only the base platform but the necessary cloud access and sensor too.

The IoT development democratization is becoming a reality quickly. Open source development kits as well as other prototyping platforms offer the basic in leveling the supply chain of the Internet of Things, innovation accelerating and empowering anyone who has ambition and great ideas in terms of designing and creating successful solutions. The growth of shared open source expertise, development kits, small batch manufacturing and the Internet of Things go hand in hand, facilitating fast development and prototyping for a dynamic, huge and fast-growing market. These days, companies in the IoT environment, such as Google, Samsung, ARM and Huawei embrace the open source model via exposing their projects to the developer community and inviting them to contribute in creating a world that’s technologically robust and reliable.

Some of the open source systems that are democratizing IoT include Brilo and Contiki and Riot to name a few. Brilo is from Google, and Android-based operating system intended for embedded devices. It could run on low-end/constrained devices with at least 128MB of ROM as well as 32MB of RAM. It supports intercommunication technologies like Wi-Fi, Thread and Bluetooth. Contiki is created in 2002 by Adam Dunkels and at present has developers all throughout the world. The open source software is released under a BSD license. It has a built-in Internet Protocol suite, provides multitasking and could comfortably work on constrained devices with 30KB of ROM and 30KB of RAM. RIOT is an IoT operating system that has real-time capabilities. It was developed first by a consortium of universities in France and Germany that include the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, the Free University of Berlin and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. It’s released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. It could run on constrained devices with a minimum of 1.5KB of RAM and 5KB of ROM.

Open source is not only a business model or a software development model, but is also a huge opportunity for professional coders and hobby programmers alike to touch billions of lives and change lives forever.


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