IBM and chip-maker ARM have come together to launch a new Internet of Things (IoT) starter kit that they claim could help power innovation in the nascent sector.
The kit, named ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit, comes with a single-board computer, not unlike Raspberry Pi, which is powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, and a plug-in sensor "shield" I/O board, which plugs in on top.
In terms of software, it's designed to run on ARM's mbed OS, which in turn is designed to run on M4 chips.
What makes this an IoT kit, however, is its integration with IBM's cloud platform. The device can be programmed from within the company's IoT platform using a number of common programming languages, such as Java, Python and Ruby/Ruby on Rails. However, if you're not a programmer, you can use also use IBM's browser-based Node-RED service, which is a simple, visual, browser-based platform that lets you "wire together" rules to control your IoT device's behaviour.
This means all processes are run within the IBM cloud platform, which is based on the company's BlueMix Platform-as-a-Service product and uses Watson machine intelligence to help analyse and process inputs and outputs. Users can then remotely visualise the data produced by the device, both in real time and historical information.
According to Zach Shelby, ARM's VP of Marketing for Internet of Things, the company has been in talks with a number of white goods manufacturers to see how this can be incorporated into their devices. However, he also said it was suitable for "hobbyists and garage entrepreneurs" as well.
"By 2018, over 50% of all IoT applications will be from start-ups that are only being founded now, or don't even exist yet," calimed Shelby, quoting an unnamed analyst.
"That means cool new companies based in London and Cambridge and all around the UK are going to be inventing the cool new solutions that will be out there ... [and] our job is to create the platform for these people to go out and create the new devices and new services," he added.
Of course, ARM and IBM see their Starter Kit as the answer.
If on reading all this you are raring get going on building your own device there is one little hiccup - it's not available yet, and there's no firm launch date. Yeah, we know.
Also, while there's no firm pricing yet, Shelby admitted it's not exactly going to be a cheap piece of kit, costing significantly more than the Raspberry Pi, although it should come in under $200.
There is some good news, though. If you happen to already have a Pi, or feel happier with it's far cheaper price, you can still get access to and use all IBM's IoT tools by following this link.