Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java, Wireless, Linux, Cloud Expo, SDN Journal

@ThingsExpo: Article

IoT and M2M Cloud Controlled Programmable Hardware

I must admit that I find the whole concept of cloud controlled programmable hardware very exciting

My friend and Cognizant colleague the ever opinionated Peter Rogers shares more of insights into the world of IoT (Internet of Things) geekdom and how it really works under-the-covers.
__________

Facebook invested more cash this week when they acquired one of my favourite Kickstarter projects Oculus VR for a seemingly ridiculous $2b. The VR (virtual reality) headset was the best in class technology (in its price range) and had just added a head-tracking software solution to reduce motion sickness. Of course it wasn't just the VR headset that Facebook acquired, but the CTO of Oculus VR, who is no other than the legendary game creator John Carmack.

There is every indication that Facebook will let Oculus VR do their own thing but I do worry about the lack of support from game developers, so John Carmack needs to rally the forces. We all agree there is money in wearable technologies in 2014, right? I actually classed virtual reality headsets as my favourite form of wearable technology, but I am a gamer at heart and spent a lot of time playing VR games in the local arcades as a teenager/adult. With the problems of motion sickness being alleviated and fast refresh rates then we can all look forward to recreating scenes from Disclosure very soon and it proves this is happening now.

IFTTT
I was recently looking into IFTTT (if this then that) which is a service that lets you create powerful connections of Internet services. Channels are the basic representation of online services (Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, etc.). Triggers are actions that place on a channel, such as "I check in on Foursquare" or "I am tagged in a ridiculous picture of the office party on Facebook". Actions are the tasks to perform such as ‘send me a text message to warm me of photos I am tagged in on Facebook".  Recipes are therefore the final ‘if this than that' statement which combines triggers on channels with actions to perform. You can have personal recipes, one example of such being a text message warning system for photos that you are tagged in on Facebook within days of an office party.

I didn't realise until recently that some of the non-enterprise MBaaS (mobile backend as a service) systems offer a similar IFTTT construct. If we look at Firebase which is probably more of a real-time connectivity platform than a MBaaS, but has come into the spotlight after a strong partnership with Famo.us. Firebase offers hooks to inject conflict resolution logic into the proceedings. Likewise, Telerik  allows you to inject custom JavaScript code to be executed before/after CRUD (create/read/update/delete) operations on data items. This offers a simpler alternative than a Node/GAE service tier and with the merging of API Gateways and Enterprise MBaaS on the horizon (a topic for a later Blog) then I have a strong feeling we will see this level of configuration-programmatic control in the near future, especially in the wearable space.

Tessel
Tessel start with asking a great question, "How do you teach web developers about hardware?" and it is a question I have long been pondering from a resourcing perspective. The answer they give is fantastic, "You don't. You teach hardware about web developers". You use familiar web development language such as JavaScript and Node to make programming hardware a much higher level construct.

Tessel is a micro-controller that runs Embedded JavaScript. The guys at Tessel seem to think that JavaScript is the perfect embedded language and I am inclined to agree. Tessel are targeting the affordable embedded processor range of Cortex-M0 to Cortex-M4 which are the lower end of the performance spectrum but come in at the $4@1k range. The options are to either run a JavaScript VM (which comes in at around 10Mb of memory) or run a Lua VM (which is highly portable and comes in at around 30K). I was curious what Embedded JavaScript actually was and I guess we will see quite a few definitions of cut down versions of the ECMAScript but Tessel have a unique take on all this. Originally on a local computer there would be a JavaScript file and a g-zipped Lua file which was then sent to a Tessel micro-controller which ran a Lua interpreter. To improve performance they have now moved to having a JavaScript file on the local computer and then on the actual Tessel they will compile JavaScript to Lua bytecode and run this through a LuaJIT (just in time compiler) based custom RTOS.

I remember all of the MEAPs (mobile enterprise application platforms) used to support Lua and soon everyone quickly moved away to the more familiar JavaScript language. Corona was the first to see an exodus of game developers due to the closed nature of the solution. Now in the MCAP space everyone is moving away from JavaScript VMs to cross-transpiled / cross-compiled JavaScript solutions (Hyperloop, Cocoon, Intel XDK). This means you get to write in JavaScript but you end up with native code which is a win-win - unless you hate JavaScript. The future is that it will become feasible to embed in every product a micro-controller powerful enough to run a high level language but for now JavaScript (or Embedded JavaScript as it will be called) seems to be the language of choice.

Firmata
I later discovered trailr which allows you to build and deploy Arduino ‘environment-aware' sketches over WebSockets. This basically means that you can effectively reprogram the hardware by sending an environment configuration over the air. This led me onto Firmata, which is a generic protocol for communicating with microcontrollers from software on a host computer. It is intended to work with any host computer software package. Basically, this firmware establishes a protocol for talking to the Arduino from the host software. The aim is to allow people to completely control the Arduino from software on the host computer. Firmata is therefore a simple Arduino sketch that allows you to control all of the pins on the micro-controller dynamically without loading a new program on the board every time you want to do something.

SkyNet and Cloud Programmable Hardware
I have to mention SkyNet once again after they amazed me by lighting up their office with Phillips Hue light bulbs that change colour (red or green) as their stock price fluctuates (using the Yahoo Stock Market API). You can see the video here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNiHQXmawys. SkyNet have firmware that allows an Arduino to automatically connect to SkyNet and await Firmata instructions. SkyNet then becomes the compute cloud for controlling devices and collecting sensor data without CPUs or custom device apps.

As Chris from SkyNet says, "You could literally duct-tape an Arduino, MicroArduino (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microduino/microduino-arduino-in-your-pocket-small-stackable), Spark device (https://www.spark.io/), or RFduino (http://www.rfduino.com/) to a light pole with a small rechargeable battery and solar cell.  It connects to SkyNet allowing you to stream sensor data from connected sensors or you could turn on pins for lights, relays, motors, etc. via SkyNet messages. SkyNet messages could be sent from people all around the world."

I must admit that I find the whole concept of Cloud controlled programmable hardware very exciting.


*************************************************************

Kevin Benedict Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.