This IoT platform enables users to build their connected product in a matter of days.
Thingsquare, an IoT startup who has emerged as one of the pioneers in connected product development, has launched an open prototyping tier enabling engineers, designers and Makers to envision and prototype their smart devices in a matter of minutes.
For those unfamiliar wtih Thingsquare, the all-in-one software platform provides Makers with all of the necessary tools to quickly add Internet connectivity to their product via smartphone. Ultimately, this easy-to-use solution reduces the time typically required to bring an idea to mass market from months to just days.
The platform works by connecting smart devices, such as lights and thermostats, which have a programmable wireless chip running the Thingsquare firmware. The wireless MCU and the firmware securely sync the gadget to the cloud backend server that handles the API for the app. From there, Thingsquare builds a resilient wireless mesh network where one router offers seamless Internet access for all mesh nodes, also allowing users to upgrade their firmware over the air.
“Devices form a wireless mesh network and connect to the Internet. Devices use their Internet connection to authenticate with the Thingsquare cloud and begin announcing their presence. The smartphone app discovers devices and authenticates with the Thingsquare cloud. Users can login and control devices either locally or remotely. The app can notify the user if something important happens,” the team explains.
Thingsquare has even made it possible to try a minimalist version of app without any hardware by providing a built-in virtual hardware mechanism that lets a user run the platform from their phone.
“A virtual device acts as a real wireless hardware device, but runs as software on your smartphone. To the Thingsquare platform, the virtual device looks just like a normal hardware device. Virtual devices send and receive data in the same way as wireless hardware devices do.”
As for the hardware, the solution will support a wide range of SoCs — most notably the Atmel | SMART SAM R21. This calls for at least a pair of SAM R21 Xplained PRO evaluation boards, two microUSB cables (one for each device), an Atmel Ethernet1 Xplained PRO extension board, an Ethernet cable, a Wi-Fi router with an Ethernet port, as well as a PC for uploading the firmware to the chips.
What’s nice is that the Cortex-M0+ processor supports external devices on GPIO pins that can be controlled from the smartphone. The SAM R21 creates a self-healing wireless mesh with one MCU acting as an Ethernet gateway with the Xplained PRO Ethernet extension board. This process, including all of the necessary code, has been made available on Github.
What’s more, the newly-revealed open prototyping tier will help resolve a number of problems often encountered throughout development. This is accomplished by providing wireless connectivity by way of a self-healing and self-forming mesh network, a simple app that users can build themselves, and if necessary, secure remote access.
“The cool thing with connected product is how many different markets it touches. Anything that benefits from being connected is rapidly becoming connected,” the startup adds. “Further, the Thingsquare platform lets you put your next product’s app in the hands of your potential customers right from the start, and provide remote support.”
Evident by the sheer number of malicious hacks in recent months, smart gadgets require protection, something of which the company has embedded into its platform from the start through secure authentication. Beyond that, other features of the app include discovering, interacting, positioning and sensing nearby devices as well as collecting data from the wireless mesh. At the moment, the app runs on iOS (version 8.0) and Android (version 4.3) smartphones.
“Our customers are demanding complete, easy-to-use IoT solutions that can quickly bring a full system to market,” explains Magnus Pedersen, Atmel Product Marketing Director. “Our cooperation with Thingsquare is an example of that, with a web-based toolchain and open source firmware to offer our customers a fully integrated hardware and software solution for various IoT applications.”