Building an IoT development platform

Intel NUC

The fast growing Internet of Things (IoT) market is ripe with opportunities for developers, though several of the solutions are based on ARM’s architecture, like the Raspberry Pi. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but for developers needing more power and not wanting to venture out of their comfort zones, which might lie in x86, there aren’t quite as many solutions.

Canonical and Intel want to change that. They’ve been working together to create a standard platform for developers to test and create x86-based IoT solutions using Ubuntu Core, and now the first Ubuntu Core images for Intel’s NUC DE3815TY are available to download.

“We focused on the Intel NUC for its relatively low cost point for a starter platform (around $150) and broad availability (you can even find them on Amazon!). This affordable device running Ubuntu Core offers a simple developer experience, making embedded development accessible to all with a deployment ready edge computing option for IoT,” Canonical stated in a blog post.

While a NUC is more expensive than a Raspberry Pi, this pairing gives developers a more powerful solution to work with.

“The Intel NUC DE3815TY is an ideal IOT development platform! It’s got enough computing power to prototype for all embedded use cases with an Intel Atom processor. It also offers a lot of IOs and configuration options: USB ports, I2C ports, 4Gb eMMC and the possibility to add a wireless card, up to 8G of RAM and a 2.5 inch HDD or SSD,” Canonical adds.

Canonical lists off several potential applications for a solution like this, including digital displays and retail kiosks. They could be used as Bluetooth beacons, people counting devices, and much more, depending on the apps installed.

Ubuntu Core, also known as Snappy, is a stripped down version of Ubuntu designed to run on autonomous machines, devices, and IoT gadgets in general. One of the major keys to Ubuntu Core is its app architecture, which is part of a larger modular design. Applications that run in Snappy are called Snapps and they run within the context for frameworks—each Snapp is packaged and deployed in an isolated directory on the filesystem.

Canonical just recently published its 15.04 Snappy image and will release a 16.04 LTS version for Intel’s NUC within the next few months.

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