Mobile IoT Development Made Easy

CES highlights new tools to streamline the creation of secure cellular IoT solutions

It is getting easier and quicker to create secure Internet of Things solutions thanks to a growing choice of dedicated hardware and software tools. That was one of the key takeaways from the GSMA’s developer workshops during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January.

The developer workshops, delivered by Arm & Arduino, Sprint & Packet, and Telit, in conjunction with the GSMA focused on the development of secure, low cost, low power solutions using cellular IoT connectivity. Shane Rooney, Executive Director of IoT Networks at the GSMA, outlined the exponential growth in demand for connectivity and detailed real-world data in industry, across cities, in vehicles, in consumer electronics and in people’s homes.

GSMA Intelligence forecasts the number of cellular IoT connections will climb from 760 million at the end of 2018 to 3.5 billion in 2025, with more than half of these running on low power wide area networks operating in licensed spectrum. These Mobile IoT networks, which are part of operators’ broader 5G proposition, are now live in most of the world’s major markets. Using either LTE-M or NB-IoT technology, they provide secure connectivity via mobile operators’ existing infrastructure.

The emergence of an immediate economy

Many mobile operators are also providing developers and enterprises with an array of dedicated IoT infrastructure and tools. During the workshop at CES, Ricky Singh, Director of IoT Products & Solutions at Sprint, who was a technology sponsor of the workshop, outlined the operator’s Curiosity™ IoT proposition, which is designed to enable all kinds of devices to continually collect data about the real world, building an “Immediate Economy” in which operations and processes can be optimised in real-time.

“Sprint’s IoT proposition combines the dedicated Curiosity™ Core Network, which is intended to be both agile and scalable, with the Curiosity™ OS (Operating System) and the Curiosity™ Software Bus for straightforward integration with services from Sprint and third parties. To help IoT developers move quickly, the Curiosity™ OS enables zero-touch onboarding and intuitive management of devices, including connectivity,” Ricky Singh explained.

Customers looking to address specific challenges can buy ready-made IoT solutions from Sprint’s digital store, IoT Factory, or they can use its developer workbench to develop and prototype their own solutions. “The Sprint IoT Factory provides components that make building custom solutions very simple,” Ricky Singh told the workshop. “A developer can make a prototype without any coding experience in less than three hours, can receive their prototype in less than a week, and can activate/test it in less than three minutes. They then also have the ability to then sell their solution back in the marketplace to the buyers.”

The Curiosity™ Core Network utilises virtualisation to bring network elements closer to customer data centres, utilising bare metal infrastructure (computer servers that are dedicated to a specific customer). Working with Packet, recently acquired by Equinix, Curiosity IoT is working to change the paradigm by bringing the network to the developer instead of having the developer go to the network. At the GSMA workshop, Cody Hill, Field CTO at Packet, explained how to deploy physical servers to the edge of the Curiosity™ IoT network and how various open source IoT software tools, such as Kubernetes, OpenFaaS and Grafana, can be used to turn these edge servers into IoT data warehouse and analytics tools. This allows developers of IoT solutions to develop applications that perform better over cellular networks.

Bringing devices online quickly and cost-effectively

Another key component of an effective IoT ecosystem is the ability to tailor connectivity to the end device and the use cases it is designed to support. In Las Vegas, Ken Bednasz, Vice President of Application Engineering at Telit, talked developers through the company’s growing range of IoT modules, connectivity solutions and platforms. “You can use our modules, connectivity and platforms separately or bundled together as an integrated end-to-end solution, thereby reducing complexity, risk, time-to-market and cost versus trying to engineer your own home-grown projects,” he explained.

The Telit team at CES demonstrated modules that can support both LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity. One of these, the Telit ME910C1, has been specifically designed for low power, low cost applications that require devices to have a long battery life and deep indoor coverage, such as smart metering, security and surveillance solutions, health monitoring, fleet management and asset tracking. At the workshop, developers were able to test drive the ME910C1, which has been widely-certified by mobile operators, and experiment with OneEdge, Telit’s software suite to support secure and scalable Mobile IoT deployments.

At CES, Telit also profiled its new ME310G1 module, which is compatible with Release 14 of the 3GPP standards and supports higher throughput than the ME910C1. Its small form factor (less than 190mm2) is designed to be ideal for “small ID products” including consumer and pet trackers and wearable devices, such as fitness bands.

Developers at the third workshop, with technology partner sponsor Arm and Arduino, were able to get hands-on with Mobile IoT development boards created by Arduino, which serves a global community of 30 million users. In a presentation on “low-code cellular IoT”, Massimo Banzi, a co-founder of Arduino, and his colleagues explained how to use the Arduino MKR NB 1500 development board, which supports both LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity. The presentation also outlined how the Arduino SIM, underpinned by Arm’s global Pelion Connectivity platform, can enable developers to create solutions that can be sold around the world. The Arduino team talked the workshop participants through how to setup the MKR NB 1500 board, its components and how to build connected devices with it.

Building in security by design

Along with simplicity, security was a major theme of the workshop: the GSMA’s Ian Smith outlined how the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines can help developers meet the demand from both regulators and customers for robust solutions that can protect data and fend off hackers’ attacks. Arduino is also encouraging developers to pursue security by design. Massimo Banzi and his colleagues outlined how to use the Arduino IoT Cloud, which employs certificate-based authentication, to connect business logic with IoT sensor data securely and quickly. As well as, supporting secure connections using a secure sockets layer (SSL) and transport layer security (TLS) and crypto chips, the Arduino IoT Cloud can automatically generate code and can be accessed through an open API.

For Arduino and the other workshop participants, the goal is to create tools that make very sophisticated technology both simple and secure for developers and end-users alike. The tools that were displayed at CES should help developers expand the IoT quickly enough to meet the burgeoning demand for real-world data, analytics, machine learning and ultimately artificial intelligence.

Mobile IoT at MWC Barcelona 2020

If you’re looking to enter the IoT market or improve your current IoT solution with cellular connectivity, join us in Barcelona on Tuesday, 25 February 2020 between 10:00 – 12:00 for our seminar: Make, Break and Innovate with Mobile IoT.

During this session, you will learn more about Mobile IoT and how to navigate the IoT ecosystem. In particular, the seminar will cover:

  • A start-up success story
  • Real life use cases showing scale and innovation
  • Technical and commercial opportunities
  • The IoT value chain
  • How to work with MNOs and accelerators