MediaTek is the latest component maker that is looking to offer its technology to help developers of any skill level create hardware and software for wearable devices and the Internet of things.
MediaTek on Sept. 22 introduced MediaTek Labs and LinkIt Development Platform aimed at the do-it-yourself (DIY)—or maker—space, a growing space of developers interested in building prototypes aimed at what promises to be two of the faster-growing markets going forward.
It follows other tech vendors that have created development platforms for wearables and the Internet of things (IoT). For example, Intel last year launched the Galileo development board based on its new Quark family of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) that were introduced during the Intel Developer Forum in 2013. At IDF this year, Intel executives unveiled Edison, another development platform for smart devices that includes both Atom and Quark silicon.
Qualcomm in September launched a development kit that includes networking chips from its Atheros subsidiary and support for the AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn open-source code used to create greater connectivity among connected devices. It also supports 2lementry's ThingFabric IoT platform.
Broadcom in August unveiled its WICED (Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices) Sense development kit, which includes the component maker's newest Bluetooth Smart chip and WICED Smart software stack. LittleBits in July announced cloudBit, a module that enables users to turn any object—such as a doorbell or thermostat—into an IoT connected device.
MediaTek officials said the company wants to enable anyone to create prototypes by providing them with software and hardware development kits, technical documentation, and support for both their technical and business efforts.
"With the launch of MediaTek Labs, we're opening up a new world of possibilities for everyone—from hobbyists and students through to professional developers and designers—to unleash their creativity and innovation," Marc Naddell, vice president of MediaTek Labs, said in a statement. "We believe that the innovation enabled by MediaTek Labs will drive the next wave of consumer gadgets and apps that will connect billions of things and people around the world."
The LinkIt Development Platform is based on MediaTek's Aster (MT2502) chipset and leverages the vendor's reference design development model. The SoC includes the Aster—a small SoC for wearables—and accompanying MT5931 WiFi and MT3332 GPS chipsets, and LinkIt operating system. There also is a hardware development kit that is designed to make it easier for developers to add sensors, peripherals and Arduino Shields for full-featured prototypes, and a software development kit, which features APIs for migrating existing Arduino code and leveraging communication features like Bluetooth and WiFi.
The MediaTek Labs Website includes such services as business and technology overviews, a Solutions Catalog where developers can offer details on their devices, applications and services and possibly connect with MediaTek partners and customers, and support services, such as FAQ, discussion forums monitored by MediaTek technical experts, and free technical support for developers with prototypes under development.
Both the wearable and IoT markets are expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. IDC analysts are predicting that more than 111.9 million wearable devices could ship in 2018—up from 19 million this year—and that revenue in the IoT market could reach $7.1 trillion by 2020.