IoT News Roundup

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Altierre's new IRIS chip sips energy; Industrial Internet Consortium publishes reference architecture; Wind River announces new app store; survey takes IoT developers' temperature; new hardware reference design from Sierra Wireless.

Altierre Announces New IRIS Chip for Smart Shelves and More

Altierre, a San Jose, Calif. company whose proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless sensors are used for digital on-shelf price tags and product temperature-tracking systems in retail stores, has announced a new product, a wireless system-on-a-chip called IRIS, that its chairman and CEO, Sunit Saxena, believes will thrust Altierre into many new industries because the Altierre network architecture and air-interface protocol allows for a single Altierre access point to collect data from and transmit data to up to one million IRIS-based sensors.

The IRIS chip contains a radio, a digital control block, an analog-to-digital converter, a microcontroller and a variety of interfaces to external sensors and display controllers. It uses the same proprietary 2.4 GHz RF air interface as past Altierre products but consumes far less energy, which means an Altierre sensor built on the IRIS chip can operate for five to 10 years on a coin-cell battery, depending on how often it transmits data and how many sensor components it supports.

One Altierre access point can communicate with Altierre tags (or sensors, if the tag is utilizing integrated sensors, Saxena says, such those for measuring temperature) in an area up to 50,000 square feet. The access points use a power-over-Ethernet connection to communicate with the customer's Web-based application server, he says, which can reside either onsite or in the cloud, and which manages "all the housekeeping" related to the tag commissioning and data collection. The customer can use standard application program interfaces to pull data into other applications, he adds.

The Altierre air interface can accommodate a mesh-networking protocol, which can extend the range between the tags and access points, but Saxena says no customers have deployed Altierre tags as part of a mesh network. He adds that the new IRIS chip can operate as a Bluetooth Low Energy radio, which means companies could use Altierre tags as they would any Bluetooth beacon.

Altierre is not yet releasing pricing information for the IRIS system-on-a-chip, nor any details about a French retailer that is running a pilot project at a store to test it—aside from noting that the retailer has deployed 65,000 Altierre devices made with the new chip, all of which are read by two Altierre access points.

Industrial Internet Consortium Releases Reference Architecture

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has released the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture, a document—available for download from the IIC site—designed to provide a common language describing the elements of Industrial Internet systems and the relationships between those elements. The reference architecture is aimed at helping developers decide which elements they need for their systems, and to more quickly implement industrial IoT applications.

The document describes existing and emerging standards and guides for users to identify system components that need to operate interoperability. It also offers an analysis of issues surrounding security, privacy, interoperability and connectivity in common Industrial Internet applications.

Wind River Introduces VxWorks RTOS App Store

IoT software provider Wind River has introduced an app store for its VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS). Wind River Marketplace is designed to help customers find and evaluate add-on solutions, from within the Wind River partner ecosystem, for their VxWorks deployments. Wind River has tested and validated the products in the app store for interoperability with VxWorks. Products available in the apps store include bundled solutions designed to help end users with specific goals, such as improving security, expanding system connectivity or creating graphics. Customer can test-drive products in the app store through its "try-before-buy" options.

Survey Tracked Developers' Experience and Perceptions Around IoT

Software application development company Progress, along with research and consulting firm Harbor Research, have released the results of a survey they conducted, in which 675 applications developers were surveyed about IoT. Of the respondents, 45 percent have developed or are developing IoT applications. More than half—65 percent—of the deployed commercial IoT applications respondents worked on are generating revenue. By 2018, that is likely to grow to 80 percent, based on responses from the surveyed developer.

The surveyed respondents are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and India. Those based in the United States are developing the highest number of IoT apps (58 percent), followed by the Netherlands (50 percent) and Germany (43 percent).

Smart homes, wearables, automotive and sports and fitness are the top vertical industries for which the polled companies are developing applications. But respondents also noted some workplace needs. Half of the developers expressed that they lack the skills or resources required to deliver on IoT expectations. Forty-five percent said they have inadequate technology tools to gather, analyze and use contextual data from sensors. A third of respondents said they find aspects of their work overwhelming. They also expressed concern about the need for more robust data security and personal privacy protections, which they also called the biggest hurdle to monetizing IoT apps.

The full developer study is available for download here.

Sierra Wireless Releases Open Hardware Reference Design

Sierra Wireless, a provider of embedded wireless devices, gateways, the Legato Linux-based software development platform, and cloud and connectivity services, has announced the beta release of Project mangOH, a wireless open hardware reference design created to help companies rapidly build IoT solutions with the full feature set of the newest Sierra Wireless AirPrime WP Series modules. Sierra Wireless, Freescale, Linear Technology and Texas Instruments have all adopted the IoT connector, the open interface standard on which Project mangOH is based.

AirPrime WP modules are available for 4G, 3G or 2G cellular connectivity. The reference design is an Arduino-compatible platform based on industrial-grade components and a new IoT connector, designed by Sierra Wireless and released as an open interface standard to simplify development, promote interoperability and enable more wireless use-cases for IoT. Sierra Wireless says IoT developers can prototype and test ideas using mangOH in days, instead of months.

The beta release of the schematics, documentation and bill of materials for Project mangOH and the IoT connector are available under an open hardware license. Visit to download links and more information about the open hardware reference design, the IoT connector, and the new Sierra Wireless AirPrime WP Series modules.