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Popular online Internet of Things platforms

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article image There are a number of choices when looking for a service to collect data from and interact with the hardware

In this series on Internet-of-Things, LX Group now turns to the software side of the solution. 

Similar to the hardware options, there are a number of choices when looking for a service to collect data from and interact with the hardware. 

LX Group examines three existing and experienced market players in more detail. 

The first is known as ‘cosm’, previously called ‘pachube’. Cosm is flexible in that one can use their own hardware designs or existing hardware from other vendors with no hardware licensing required. One can prototype very easily with cosm using inexpensive development platforms such as NXP’s mbed or even an Arduino-compatible board. Cosm allows the hardware team to get started straightaway. 

However, the cosm service is mainly for capturing and organising ‘feeds’ of data from connected devices, and can be done for zero cost. Current options that allow device management and provisioning are in beta stage. Nevertheless the cosm platform is effective and excellent for capturing data from remote devices for analysis and action; with very low start-up and running costs, it’s great for experimenting or proof-of-concept prototypes.

‘Thingspeak’, the next service option is a fully open-source IoT platform designed for data feeds and interaction with hardware in both directions. One can also import existing data collected before implementation. Although Thingspeak is open-source, it does provide security via API keys and user authentication. Rules can be created that react when data reaches a certain value or parameter, which can trigger hardware or other devices via a connected PC.

All captured data can be exported in .csv file format for ease of local analysis or system transfer. Several tutorials and examples are available for Microsoft .NET, Arduino, python, processing and other environments to help the team get up to speed. Available at no-charge, Thingspeak can provide a simple solution.

‘Nimbits’, the third service provides the usual cloud-based data gathering and analysis, but using Google Apps. Offering an incredibly reliable server, integration with Google Docs and other related software tools, Nimbits is also fully open-source and allows import and export of one’s own data. Nimbits offers integration with social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The service is free for up to 1000 API calls per day, and then charged at one cent per 1000 calls. Getting started is simple, with a range of tutorials on data capture, and interaction or messaging based on circumstances. 

The IoT industry is growing, with more services being introduced and demonstrated. It can be difficult to choose the most appropriate service, so having hardware and plans that can span two or more different services will contribute to the longevity and sustainability of the IoT project.

As a partner, LX group will discuss and understand the client’s requirements and goals, and help them navigate the various hardware and other options available to help solve their problems.

LX Group is an innovative contract electronics design company specialising in the design of embedded systems and wireless technologies.

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