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Speed up development of IoT applications with SensiBLE ‘PoC Accelerator’

By 2025, an estimated 70 billion connected devices, including smart lighting, learning thermostats and wearables, will be in service. This article explains how SensiBLE, an easy-to-use yet powerful Proof-of-Concept accelerator, can help design engineers with limited or no RF expertise develop commercially successful Internet of Things (IoT) products.

Typical project goals when developing IoT proof-of-concepts include high levels of functionality, robust reliability and ease-of-use. Achieving such ambitions in a timely, cost-effective manner demands that designers seek out solutions that deliver project expediency when developing professional proof-of-concepts.

The latest IoT system-on-module (SoM) can help developers accelerate the design phase of projects – and the SensiBLE board-level IoT sensor node from SensiEDGE is a prime example.

SensiBLE development

The SensiBLE IoT SoM is an industrial-grade customisable solution for design engineers looking to design IoT products without getting involved in either hardware development or production logistics. It allows developers to focus on their own applications, domain expertise and core competencies, rather than the underlying hardware platform or production logistics when creating products for the IoT.

Its hardware-ready configuration features a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis magnetometer, 3-axis gyroscope, and pressure, relative humidity and temperature sensors. Also included are a MEMS microphone and an ambient light sensor, a red-green LED, a buzzer and a user button, along with Bluetooth LE (low energy) 4.1 capabilities, flash memory and an ARM 32-bit Cortex-M4 CPU with FPU (floating-point unit or maths coprocessor) low-power microcontroller. The module also incorporates many serial interface connectors, including SPI, I2C, UART, ADC, SDIO, PWM, CAN, USB and GPIO.

SensiBLE is cyber-protected by hardware link layer AES-128 encryption and decryption. Power can be supplied directly using a standard 3V watch battery, a pair of AAAs or another power source from 2 to 7V. All of this serves to simplify proof-of-concept prototype development for IoT applications that might include voice-to-text, activity recognition, wearable sensors or environmental applications.

SensiBLE enables developers to implement wireless connectivity without previous RF experience or expertise, providing a complete RF platform capable of delivering sensor readings over BLE (Bluetooth LE) to a smartphone app and the cloud. The kit is CE and FCC certified, while the firmware, Bluetooth stack, protocols and profiles are readily embedded, allowing developers to fast-track design ideas into prototypes – and on to market. Despite its high-level functionality, the module comes in one of the world’s smallest form factors, just 20 x 30mm.

The SensiBLE SoM is built using ST Microelectronics sensors and components and offers similar functionality to its STM32 Nucleo Development Boards… but in a much smaller form factor. SensiBLE is also fully compatible with the STM32 Nucleo and X-Nucleo ecosystem, helping engineers reach proof of concept stage – and therefore market – much faster.

Rapid cloud connectivity

SensiBLE can quickly connect to all major cloud systems, including IBM Cloud, AWS (Amazon Web Services) IoT and Microsoft Azure. Choosing which service to use is often influenced by project specifics and developer preference, with each full-featured platform having its own merits.

Those looking to simplify cloud solutions for users may want to take a closer look at Arrow Connect, a go-to resource, a universal middleware layer that allows developers to connect any device over any protocol to any cloud. It seamlessly integrates with Azure, IBM Cloud or AWS, or can work with the developer’s own custom data ingestion and private cloud solution, while the system’s multi-tenant, hierarchical SaaS platform continues to facilitate device provisioning and management. As a result, routing data from the edge to the cloud has never been easier. It offers security, scale, flexibility, open APIs and extensibility, ultimately ensuring products can be brought to market faster.

Working with Arrow Electronics

SensiEDGE is also part of Arrow’s recently introduced SoM programme, designed to help developers rapidly progress their ideas to a production-ready state by providing a selection of building blocks that accelerate development, organised in categories such as community boards, embedded vision and embedded processors. Along with Arrow Connect, the SoM programme is part of a comprehensive IoT offering from Arrow, which aims to go beyond simple component sales and engineering support.

‘Sensor to Sunset’ is Arrow’s comprehensive portfolio of IoT technologies from sensors, wireless connectivity, gateways to cloud platforms, data ingestion, aggregation and visualisation, analytics and security. Service capabilities span ideation, design, integration, manufacturing, logistics, financing, wireless connectivity with billing services, marketing, monitoring and managed services, and sustainable and secure end-of-life cycle disposition. Through this programme, Arrow aims to help developers create, connect, manage and sustain their IoT solutions.

Additional SensiEDGE options

The growing SensiEDGE IoT products portfolio addresses design challenges by providing hardware and firmware products, as well as development services like gateway connectivity, Android/iOS SDK and cloud analytics.

SensiBLE v2.0 adds a 100mA rechargeable battery (chargeable with an external power adaptor via the round power jack), while maintaining the same roster of sensors, computing, connectivity and a tiny form factor at just 17 x 40mm (SensiBLE 2.0 integrates the microcontroller and BLE in a single chip). This combination of functionality makes SensiBLE 2.0 ideal for wearable applications such as activity trackers or environmental monitors.

IoT primed for explosive growth

Creating and deploying connected IoT solutions requires deep expertise across a broad span of technologies including sensors, embedded computing, short and long-range wireless connectivity, gateways, cloud platforms and application development. It also requires expertise in real time service monitoring and management, as well as full life-cycle management. Organisations typically have strengths in some of these areas – for example, either on the device creation side, but not on the applications and operations side, or vice-versa. This gap in bridging the technologies and required capabilities results in organisations taking far longer to bring their solutions to market, resulting in lost revenue and market share, as well as continued inefficiencies in operations.

Although fully customisable, its small form factor, full-featured sensor offering and low cost means many customers are able to use SensiBLE in their device as-supplied. This is very convenient as the market expects to see continued, robust growth for IoT solutions in 2018 and beyond. With modules available off-the-shelf, SensiEDGE is helping developers, makers and start-ups to build proof-of-concepts and launch to the market much faster.

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