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Simplify Sensor Connections with Modular IoT Software

One of the big challenges with IoT design is integrating all of the sensors. A typical IoT deployment has multiple sensors—such as temperature, humidity, and motion sensing—as well as multiple communication protocols—including Wi-Fi*, ZigBee*, and Bluetooth* low energy, to name a few. Sorting out all the firmware for the various sensors and networks can be a time-consuming and tedious process.

American Megatrends (AMI) is attacking this problem with tools that abstract the sensor interfaces. By providing a modular, plug-and-play approach, AMI says it can significantly speed up the early stages of the development cycle.

Modular Firmware

The foundation of the approach is the AMI RTOS* and its accompanying integrated development environment (IDE), shown in Figure 1. The IDE centers around schematics that show how sensor interfaces tie to pins of the system’s embedded controller. Developers need only select their preferred RF modules and sensors, and the dev environment will automatically produce customized firmware.

The AMI RTOS* is accompanied by an integrated development environment (IDE).

Figure 1. The AMI RTOS* is accompanied by an integrated development environment (IDE).

Because developers no longer need to learn the details of each interface, development time can be reduced significantly. In addition, this plug-and-play functionality makes it easier to swap components when design requirements change.

Sensor Hubs

The RTOS provides additional functionality needed to construct a sensor hub, such as a web-accessible device management user interface. Indeed, the RTOS is just one element in AMI’s larger offerings for IoT designs. As shown in Figure 2, AMI offers solutions that extend from the sensor hob to the IoT gateway and even into the cloud.

AMI’s scalable IoT solution architecture.

Figure 2. AMI’s scalable IoT solution architecture.

IoT Gateways

Devices running the RTOS can communicate with a gateway that runs AMI LINUX*. The OS is designed to enable efficient administration. For example, to add a new gateway or sensor array to the network, you scan a QR code into an app on a mobile device.

The gateway OS has multiple fail-safe mechanisms. If replacing hardware is necessary, getting operational again is straightforward with restoration of previous configurations, whether through a factory image restore option, image reinstall with a USB key, or directly from the cloud.

Efficient Edge Processing

Although AMI’s solutions can be used with any Intel® processor, the company sees particular advantages to using Intel® Quark processors. These processors have low energy needs as you would expect in embedded and IoT applications, and yet provide more performance per watt than other chips. That translates into important advantages in operations.

If sensor data needs significant filtering, an Intel Quark processor can handle that workload—along with some heuristics—at the sensor hub. Pushing this processing all the way out to the sensor hub frees the gateway up for other tasks. Hub-level filtering also reduces unnecessary data transmission, allowing gateways to communicate with more sensors than would otherwise be possible.

Cloud Connectivity

AMI LINUX provides connectivity to such popular cloud options as Amazon AWS*, Microsoft Azure*, and IBM Bluemix* to complete the data path. Developers can also use AMI CLOUD SERVICES, a private cloud service designed by AMI for IoT management and use.

AMI CLOUD offers significant administrative and operational advantages, like fail-safe backup for all sensor hubs and gateways. AMI CLOUD additionally protects uptime with a many-to-many rule engine that manages sensor rollover in case of a negative event. Robust data analytics close the loop so companies can make use of the collected sensor data and make results available for further data analysis and decision support.

Take the Pain out of IoT

In short, AMI’s software stack takes much of the pain out of IoT sensor integration—and it provides a convenient path to the cloud. To see other firmware and OS solutions from members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance, visit the Solutions Directory.

About the Author

Kenton Williston is an Editorial Consultant to and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication as well as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

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