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IoT-BLE Device Brings Low-Cost Tool for Experimentation

STMicroelectronics is selling a low-cost plug-and-play Internet of Things device with built-in sensors and an app so that anyone with a smartphone can begin experimenting with IoT solutions in their home, business or place of recreation.
By Claire Swedberg

Data can be collected on an SD card if a user does not want to stream sensor data to the app. In that way, Gallizio says, "People can open the box and slide in an SD card to do data logging, without a BLE link," in remote locations where an Android or iOS device would not be available to capture data in real time.

STMicroelectronics expects the kit to be used by both private individuals and businesses. For instance, Gallizio says, a manufacturer may lack a budget for a large wireless solution, or it might not be ready to commit funds to a system that hasn't been tested, but it may want to capture predictive maintenance data for its equipment.

Edoardo Gallizio
By buying multiple SensorTile.box devices, Gallizio says, a company could capture data across its facility at a relatively low cost. And by testing the solution with the sensors, he explains, "The time to market becomes much faster." He adds, "We've got examples of new customers who are shortening the development phase from several months to weeks. You can significantly shorten the phase from idea to proof-of-concept."

This is not the company's first kit. Several years ago, the firm released previous versions of its SensorTile aimed at developers and experts. It required, for instance, that users solder to the device the sensors they intended to use—something an amateur is not likely to do on his or her own. The newer version includes more sensors than its predecessor. STMicroelectronics' goal is to get IoT technology in the hands of the public so it can begin to build a new, wider customer base. "We want to bring the technology into as many hands as possible," Gallizio states.

The SensorTile.box leverages Microsoft's Azure IoT Central platform to simplify the connection of sensor data to the cloud for analysis. The SensorTile.box measures 57 millimeters by 38 millimeters by 20 millimeters (2.2 inches by 1.5 inches by 0.8 inch) in an IP54 plastic container, and is available at STMicroelectronics' website or through its distributors.

Professional users can develop powerful applications quickly and efficiently within the STM32 Open Development Environment (STM32 ODE), leveraging the company's STM32CubeMX configurator and code generator, as well as its STLink-V3 programmer and debugger. "We think this is one of the biggest announcements in the IoT world right now," Gallizio says. By the end of the year, he notes, STMicroelectronics plans to offer a full software developers kit (SDK) for advanced IoT development.

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