Samsung for more than a year has been building its capabilities around the burgeoning Internet of things, buying IoT startup SmartThings in 2014 and earlier this year promising to invest $100 million in a development program.
Now the company is putting more hardware into the mix. At the IoT World 2015 show in San Francisco May 12, Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics, introduced a family of development boards that the company hopes will be adopted by developers and enthusiasts as they build their connected devices.
The Artik boards come in different sizes and with varying degrees of performance, features and components, giving developers options for hardware to power everything from small wearable devices and residential IoT systems to drones, home appliances and surveillance cameras.
During his address at the IoT event, Sohn stressed the need for the technology to embrace and advance the IoT to help address an array of world problems, from traffic congestion and medical issues to pollution and an aging and growing population. Hardware will be a key part of that push.
"We need to create powerful open platforms that will harness the information generated by IoT to develop new insights and new approaches to meet the challenges we face as a society," he said, according to Samsung.
Samsung certainly isn't alone among chip makers looking to making inroads in the Internet of things, and with good reason. Cisco Systems estimates that by 2020, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices—from cars and home appliances to industrial systems, sensors and smart light bulbs. Samsung and other tech vendors want to get a hold of as much of those as they can.
For example, Intel has developed its family of small Quark processors aimed at the IoT and wearable devices, created its Galileo and Edison development boards, and late last year announced its Intel IoT Platform reference architecture. ARM is rapidly building out its IoT capabilities, including partnering with IBM to create the ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit—which includes a Freescale development board—while Qualcomm last year created a development kit that included, among other features, support for the AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn open-source IoT connectivity code.
Broadcom has created the Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform for IoT and wearable devices.
According to Samsung officials, the Artik platform is an open platform that includes everything from hardware and software to development boards, drivers, tools, security features and connectivity, all of which can be used to create cloud-connected devices for the Internet of things.
The Artik platform comes in three configurations, with the Artik 1 being the smallest, coming in at 12mm-by-12mm. It includes a dual-core processor, connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy, and 1MB of one-chip memory and 4MB of flash. It also includes a 9-axis motion sensor with a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer. It's designed for devices that are power-sensitive—it can provide weeks of use on a single charge—such as wearable devices and end nodes for the Internet of things.
Artik 5 is 29mm-by-25mm, offers a balance between performance and power consumption, and is aimed at such uses as on-board chips for drones. The platform integrates a dual-core ARM-A7 processor with a range of security features and connectivity options, including WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth. It also comes with ARM's Mali graphics technology, 4GB of storage and 512MB of DDR 3 memory. Plus, it supports the ZigBee IoT specification, with support for the Thread Group's Thread protocol.
The Artik 10 comes in at 39mm-by-29mm with an eight-core ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC), 2GB of DRAM and 16GB of storage. It also can process 1080p video; offers wireless connectivity via WiFi 802.11 g/b/n, Bluetooth and ZigBee; and will support Thread in the future. Samsung officials said the Artik 10 could be used for such systems as home servers, personal cloud storage devices and industrial systems.
Samsung has laid out an aggressive roadmap for its own systems. In a speech at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Samsung Electronics President and CEO Boo-Keun Yoon said that in 2014, the company sold more than 665 million IoT-related products—from software apps to devices—and will see that number grow in the next few years. By 2017, all Samsung televisions will be IoT devices, and within five years, all of the company's hardware will be IoT-enabled, he said.