ARM, IBM partner to help IoT startups

ARM and IBM have jointly announced an Internet of Things starter kit that will enable developers to rapidly prototype mbed-based IoT applications using IBM’s platform-as-a-service offering Bluemix and a development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, reports Business Cloud News. The companies are aiming the kit at startups, which hasn’t traditionally been IBM’s nor ARM’s target demographic.

The IoT Starter Kit ‘Ethernet Edition’ consists of the ARM mbed-enabled development board (ARM Cortex-M4 120MHz, 256KB RAM, 1MB FLASH) together with a sensor IO application shield, and could theoretically be linked up to (at the moment) over forty different physical shield boards provided by ARM’s partners. Future versions of the kit will run the new ARM mbed OS and use ARM’s mbed server side enablement software.

The starter kit is being pitched at developers with no specific experience in embedded or web development; still, spokespeople said even inexperienced developers should be able to code up a small IoT app in around 10 to 15 minutes.

The companies were vague on pricing and specific launch times, but senior spokespeople from ARM and IBM intimated that it would launch sometime later this year at around the “sub-$200” range.

“The Internet of Things is about bringing the physical and digital worlds closer together, to allow businesses to better understand and interact with what is happening around them,” said Meg Divitto, vice president for IoT, IBM. “In order to make this work for businesses, it needs to be simple to connect physical devices into the cloud, and to build applications and insights around them. IBM Bluemix and the new ARM mbed starter kit are designed to substantially enhance that effort.”

The partnership with IBM will enable developers to use Bluemix to develop and rapidly prototype mbed-based applications and stich them together with a wide range of different mobile and cloud services.

IBM has long been pushing forward with its Smarter Planet portfolio, which is essentially Internet of Things before calling it so became en vogue, but it seems neither ARM nor IBM are aiming the starter kit at large metropolitan cities or manufacturing incumbents – the usual IoT suspects.

Zach Shelby, vice president of marketing at ARM said that’s because the market is shifting. He said by 2018 over 50 per cent of Internet of things applications will come from startups that have yet to exist or are only being founded now.

He told BCN the partnership with IBM is about fostering (and to some extent owning) a robust IoT ecosystem – which hasn’t always been easy given obvious barriers to entry and device / middleware heterogeneity.

In essence, it’s about ARM moving up the stack while the market moves beyond the hype stage.

“The reason why IoT is different now is because it’s actually becoming an innovation platform. If you remember the web days in the 90s, it sucked – it was very content poor. But as we reached a point where the web became a platform for technology innovation – where you could create applications and link them up in compelling ways, that’s where things get interesting,” he said. “In IoT we’re seeing the exact same trend – we’re seeing the connection of devices, real physical devices, into web services that people can make and that can solve problems.”

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