Visible Things : Bringing flexibility to the IoT

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Visible Things : Bringing flexibility to the IoT

The Director of Innovation at Avnet Silica discusses some of the challenges and choices in developing systems and IoT applications, and how the Visible Things platform can enable fast and easy development of secure, scalable edge-to-enterprise solutions for a host of industrial applications.

by John Jones

There are many challenges for companies looking to intro duce IoT systems and appli cations. There are also many choices to be made in terms of connectivity. To help companies looking to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the IoT, Avnet Silica has put together all the building blocks necessary to deliver a highly flexible and comprehensive edge-to-enterprise evaluation and development IoT platform. Targeting a wide range of markets, the Visible Things platform is one of the first IoT systems and applications platforms to made available from an electronics component and systems distributor.

All the building blocks for a hi-performance IoT platform in a single out-of-the-box solution

The platform delivers tested, proven, secure and integrated hardware and embedded software to connect smart sensors and embedded devices via gateway solutions or LPWA networking technologies, right through to the cloud and enterprise software applications. It is designed to be a highly flexible offering that provides customers a menu of different options along the path from edge to enterprise. The platform supports short-range connectivity to a gateway, and Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G cellular communications to the cloud and enterprise software applications. It also supports the SIGFOX and LoRaWAN IoT networks, which have been designed to provide secure low-cost narrowband information messaging to meet the requirements of the IoT and smart city, machine-to-machine and industrial applications. A further hardware communications feature of the platform is the introduction of EUICC technology. Based on silicon-on-board technology rather than use of standard SIM cards, the EUICC standard being driven by the GSMA enables the hosting of multiple mobile network provider profiles. Importantly, EUICC technology can be programmed over-the-air (OTA) to enable an application to use a specific profile or change profile at any time without the need for the physical replacement of a SIM. This can bring significant advantages for customers in the automotive or metering businesses, for example: it can enable the changing of mobile network operators easily and wirelessly during the lifecycle of an end node, which could be many years, without the requirement to change any hardware. In terms of security, the platform offers end-to-end edge-to-enterprise or sensor-to-server security. It includes the UbiquiOS secure gateway embedded software, which integrates cryptographic technologies as well as Transport Layer Security v1.2, and server certificate (OCSP) and client certificate authentication. Additionally, the platform builds in silicon based technologies that can integrate a secure element for deployment in smart sensor edge devices. As an example, the platform offers a gateway product that is designed for industrial applications and comes with a unique security architecture. This architecture delivers true enterprise-grade security from the IP network core all the way to smart sensor configurations at the network edge, including low-power non-IP-based sensors, communicating via Bluetooth for example.

Cloud Services

A key element offered by the Visible Things platform is a range of cloud services. At the entry level is Devicepoint, which is a bespoke cloud software evaluation platform underpinned by IBM software components. The service builds upon data from sensors and edge devices with contextual information, plus data from other sources to deliver real-time analysis and long-term business intelligence. The tool can also be customized to enable greater management of sensor data for analytics, reporting and workflow
management. However, beyond this, Visible Things also supports a full open platform based on IBM Bluemix and Microsoft Windows Azure solutions. These platforms can provide industrial customers with pre-approved software evaluation environments to develop more advanced IoT applications with higher levels of flexibility and scalability and, if appropriate, the potential for full-scale application deployment. The Visible Things platform is also supported by a mobile application that runs on iOS and Android devices, and provides users with easy configuration of local hardware as well as supporting connections to cloud services. The application is fully integrated and comes with a quick start guide to make it easy to connect the system from edge to enterprise and provide a rapid proof of concept.

Starter Kits – from Basic to Industrial

Delivering a simple out-of-the-box setup, a wide range of reference design starter kits have been made available to enable developers to get applications up and running quickly, targeting entry-level applications to home automation or even deployment in more advanced industrial environments. Each starter kit includes a board managed by ARM Cortex based microcontrollers. The basic Visible Things starter kit comprises a smart sensor board including Bluetooth Smart connectivity and motion, temperature/humidity and light/proximity sensors, together with a gateway board, which manages connectivity to the cloud service via Wi-Fi. Available as an expansion option, a GSM peripheral module with embedded SIM and SIM-connector options enables cellular connectivity to cloud enterprise software services.

Visible Things offers customers flexibility and scalability

John Jones
Director of Innovation, Avnet Silica

SIGFOX and LoRaWAN based kits include SIGFOX and LoRaWAN module sensors respectively, as well as additional motion and light sensors. A second primary Visible Things kit is a reference-design starter kit that targets a wide range of industrial applications including: remote monitoring, predictive maintenance of motors and drives, room control in homes and buildings, lighting, security and surveillance, home appliances, smart energy metering and healthcare, as well as industrial automation applications such as inspection capabilities, drive monitoring and sensor hubs.

Visible Things: Application for IoT - Avnet Silica

Edge to enterprise: Visible Things is a comprehensive IoT development platform offering tested, and proven components and the latest in communication standards (Click to zoom).

Edge-to-Enterprise

While the challenges and choices are many in developing IoT systems and applications, the opportunities are greater still in being able to deliver better efficiencies and new services to customers. The Visible Things platform is comprehensive and flexible IoT development solution that offers tested, proven and integrated components to enable companies an exceptionally fast edge-to-enterprise IoT deployment. The platform will also be continually augmented in the future with new hardware and software options such as support for NB-IoT communications or more cloud services along with other new features and technologies as they become available.

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