Broadcom wants to make it easier for developers to use the vendor's WICED technology to create devices for the burgeoning Internet of things.
The company in December 2013 unveiled its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) family of technologies aimed at the Internet of things (IoT) with the introduction of a smart chip for such use cases as wearable devices, and has since been building out the platform.
Now Broadcom officials are rolling out the WICED (pronounced "wicked") Sense development kit, a collection of technologies that include the company’s newest Bluetooth Smart chip and that is designed to give device and software makers the tools they need to quickly create prototypes and concepts for systems and applications for the IoT. Also included in WICED Sense are the BCM20737S Bluetooth system-in-package module, five micro electro-mechanical systems and the WICED Smart software stack that is compatible with Bluetooth 4.1.
The development kit also offers a gyroscope for motion control, gaming and GPS, an accelerometer for impact recognition and vibration monitoring, an e-compass for map rotation, detecting positions and applications that are motion-activated, a barometer for weather station equipment and smart watches, and humidity and temperature capabilities for such systems as air conditioning, heating and ventilation.
The WICED Sense, which fits easily in the hand, supports devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems, as well as iBeacon technology. It can connect directly to a Near Field Communications (NFC) tag, offers security features like encryption, decryption, certificate signing and verification, and enables firmware updates from such devices as PCs, tablets and smartphones.
The development kit sells for $19.99, and can be set up by installing a coin-cell battery and downloading the WICED Sense app—which is available now in the Apple App Store, and will be available in Google Play in October—to a mobile device. The device can then be paired with the sensor tag via the Bluetooth Low Energy connection. The tag, which comes with a MicroUSB port, can collect such data as temperature, humidity, direction, speed and atmospheric pressure.
According to Sarah Murry, a Web editor at Broadcom, it takes fewer than five minutes to get the WICED Sense kit set up.
The idea of the Internet of things—where tens of billions of devices and systems, from notebooks and tablets to cars, appliances, industrial systems, baby clothes, toys, lights bulbs and surveillance cameras, among many other things are connected to the Internet and each other, swapping huge amounts of data—is generating a lot of interest and ideas from device and software makers, according to Murry.
"That means there are hundreds of thousands of inspired ideas out there for bringing Internet connectivity to everyday items—and plenty of oddball ones (smart yoga mats, anyone?)," Murry wrote in an Aug. 27 post on the company blog. "Yet for every new idea sparked in this fast-growing ecosystem, there’s the potential for something groundbreaking to emerge. That’s where Broadcom comes in. [The new development kit is] aimed at giving IoT-minded technologists a leg up in this exciting market, where everything from door locks to tea kettles will get connected to the cloud."
Broadcom is targeting a wide range of users, from engineers to do-it-yourselfers, she said, citing some examples of what the kit can do, such as "monitor the temperature changes in a baby’s nursery, track location of a pet, or become the next 'it' fitness monitoring wearable."
Other component makers also are pushing products aimed at helping developers and others make their way into the Internet of things ecosystem. Intel in October 2013 introduced the Galileo development board, based on the company's Quark family of small, low-power chips aimed at the IoT and wearable devices. In July, a company called littleBits Electronics, which aims to make it possible for anyone to build electronic devices, launched cloudBit, a module that enables people to turn any object—from a doorbell to a fish feeder to a camera—into a connected device.
The IoT—which Gartner analysts said earlier this month is the most hyped technology so far this year—is expected to grow rapidly through the end of the decade. Cisco Systems officials expect there to be as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and IDC analysts are forecasting that revenues in the IoT market will hit $7.1 trillion by that time.