ARM, Freescale and IBM offer a platform for industrial IoT

ARM is trying to make its mbed OS, its fairly new operating system for the internet of things, a little more business-friendly by debuting a ready-made platform consisting of a development board, the software and the cloud back-end services at the Embedded World show in Germany on Monday.

The IoT starter kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale running an ARM Cortex M4 based processor. The actual mbed OS won’t be out in public beta until October, so until then the board is mbed-enabled running the underlying mbed systems level software. The board connects directly to IBM’s BlueMix cloud service, and you can then port data from the board to the IBM IoT Foundation service, which acts as a kind of home for IoT data in IBM’s cloud.

In a chat with Freescale’s Director of Marketing John Dixon, he called it, “an Arduino for the industrial internet,” which is a nice way of thinking about the product or the range of mbed OS-enabed products that could arise out of similar partnerships. Much like how Arduino-boards let anyone build hardware and learn to muck about with physical devices, these platforms are designed to let people do the same — only the type of partners, robust data back ends and security mean you could use the same platform to build 10 or 10,000,000 of the devices.

The deal with IBM isn’t exclusive, according to ARM’s Zach Shelby, VP of marketing. He said the company will likely design deals with other cloud providers and build an ecosystem of companies as it attempts to strengthen the mbed OS ecosystem. So far, he said there are 100,000 developers using mbed and more than 45 development boards, and he said he believes most of those are professionals as opposed to hobbyists.

Most of the applications that are being built with ARM’s mbed development kits so far are smart city related followed by Bluetooth beacon products, Shelby said. Even without the formal mbed OS, ARM is putting together the right elements with a development board, consistent software and the cloud back end. Canonical is racing to do something similar as are others, so we’ll see how all of this plays out.