Everything you need to know about IBM’s IoT Starter Kit


by Amy-jo Crowley| 26 February 2014

Four things you need to know about IBM’s do-it-yourself application development kit.

IBM and Libelium, a wireless sensor network specialist, rolled out an Internet of Things (IoT) starter kit that tests and deploys sensor networks in areas such as smart cities, healthcare and retail.

Released in October 2013, the Waspmote Mote Runner board combines Libelium's Waspmote wireless hardware with IBM's own Mote Runner software, which can collect and share data with other devices over the Internet using the IPv6 protocol.

CBR tells you four things you need to know about it

1. The aim

Libelium is looking to attract sensor providers and telecom firms, while IBM is hoping the kit will attract application developers, scientists and other enthusiasts looking to deploy complex mesh network in which sensors exchange data.

For example, meteorologists could collect weather data, while councils could collect data on rubbish levels in bins.

2. The benefits

The do-it-yourself kit is claimed to simplify application development, testing and the scalability of wireless sensor networks, according to IBM, enabling dozens of sensor applications.

In particular, IBM's Mote Runner software tool, which is integrated with Libelium's Waspmote nodes, should help developers build custom applications in programme languages such as Java or C-Sharp.

Libelium's hardware is based on the 6LoWPAN protocol over the IEE 802.15.4 link layer, which claims to work over several radio networks such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee, 802.15.4, Bluetooth, Nearfield Communications (NFC).

The kit also has standard interfaces including Ethernet and serial interfaces, which allows the hardware to be plugged into existing hardware such as solar panels.

The Waspmote nodes supports more than 60 different sensors, including modules for detecting humidity, temperature, radiation, soil moisture, city pollution and the presence of people or vehicles.

The starter kit also includes the source code of the 6LoWPAN libraries, allowing researchers to modify and add their own algorithms and improvements.

3. The business model

The Waspmote Mote Runner Lab kit, which has five end nodes, one gateway, solar panels and other sensors, costs €1,500 ($2,121), while the Lab Kit IoT starter kit is priced at €2,550 ($3,489). Both kits are available worldwide.

4. The competitors

The kit puts both companies in competition with Oracle, which released an updated version of its Java Embedded development kit last September that includes support for the Qualcomm QSC 9270T, and Intel, which released a cheaper starter kit called Galileo with opensource hardware maker Arduino. Digital security specialist Gemalto also launched the Cinterion Concept Board in September 2013.

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