Paving the way to the Internet of Things
Combining the ARM computing engine with location-awareness and wireless connectivity
It’s set to be the Perfect Storm: The rapid growth of high-speed cellular networks and the introduction of IP version 6 which has enough IP addresses for every grain of sand on Earth. Add to this mix the proliferation of the ARM embedded computing architecture, now the de facto global standard for low-power, high performance computing thanks to its successful integration into virtually all mobile phones on the market, including the iPhone.
The result is a perfect ecosystem for the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), a world where every car, phone, sensor, meter, machine, sales terminal, sign, toy, camera, and healthcare device is wirelessly connected to the internet via high-speed connection. Add a GPS/GNSS positioning receiver, and you have a compact, always-connected, location-aware internet ‘Thing’ that possesses the computing power of an ARM processor with complete freedom of mobility.
The potential for new attractive applications is vast. Here are just four examples:
Remote metering and security
The Internet of Things will enable cost-effective and covert installation of web-connected devices that will wirelessly transmit utilities’ usage data, report the location of pets and people, and provide 24/7 monitoring of vehicles, storage facilities, shops, and public facilities.
Surveillance of schools, airports, shopping malls, office buildings and healthcare facilities will become ubiquitous. Monitoring services can even be outsourced to security or healthcare firms located thousands of kilometres away, similar to the way lowcost telephony enabled the outsourcing of call centres.
Vending machines are a big business that will generate over US$190 billion in revenue by 2015, according to industry analysts. Already connected via wireless networks to report tampering or when a refill is necessary, or simply to report where the machine is located (a vending machines location is often forgotten!), cellular connectivity will bring multimedia advertisement and social media possibilities to vending machine displays.
Coca-Cola experimented with this concept in 2011 by installing networked vending machines around the world, allowing customers in different countries to interact with each other, and even “buy a coke” for a new friend thousands of miles away.
As healthcare costs soar and the patient-to-doctor ratio increases, wireless networks will lower healthcare costs by enabling remote care via a high-quality video link. Instead of sick, elderly or far-away patients having to travel to the doctor’s office, a mobile, location-aware telehealth terminal at home will provide instant access to a healthcare professional. This will give people greater freedom of movement and choice of where and how to live, significantly improving quality of life.
Car infotainment systems
Vehicle-mounted LTE routers will enable high-speed downlink of up to 100 Mbit/s (LTE category 3) to the car. This is enough to support five parallel high-definition TV channels, and more than enough to support the more typical mix of video, voice, internet access and social media applications used by passengers. Location-awareness facilitates delivery of positionrelevant information such as multimedia enhanced navigation, or video-rich electronic ‘tour-guide’ services.
To help engineers jumpstart their design of IoT applications, u-blox and ARM have developed the C027 ARM mbed-enabled Internet of Things starter kit, providing out-of-the-box wireless internet connectivity based on a compact u-blox 2G, 3G or CDMA cellular modem (LTE coming soon) plus global positioning module.
The kit is powered by an ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit processor with cost-free access to the resources of the ARM mbed development platform. This includes a vast ‘cookbook’ of tested application performance indicators (APIs) for web, wireless, audio, sensor and peripheral interfacing.
Visit www.mbed.org for details. For information about the C027 Internet of Things starter kit, visit:
The author is Carl Fenger of u-blox