Microsoft Widens IoT Net in Update

The company's open-source project for linking IoT devices to Azure now offers support for an expanded set of sensor data.

linking IoT to Microsoft Azure

Azure IoT, an evolution of Microsoft's Azure Intelligent Systems Service for organizations looking for a cloud-based foundation for their Internet of things (IoT) projects, is slated for a preview release later this year. Developers, however, can get a head start now with the company's newly updated project. is an "open-source project aimed at helping developers who want to get started experiencing Azure IoT services now to do near real data analytics, apply machine learning experiments and more to data coming from real sensors," Olivier Bloch, a technical evangelist at Microsoft Open Technologies, said in a statement. With, IoT developers can use maker boards, pint-sized computers like Raspberry Pi or Intel Galileo, to create their "first end-to-end IoT solution," he said.

"Data is sent from the sensor boards to Azure Event Hubs using AMQP or HTTP/REST," added Bloch. "Samples then show how to do near-real-time analysis using Azure Stream Analytics and display both real time and alerts data in a website."

Now, after a batch of new updates, is branching out to help developers collect more data from more sources.

First is an expansion of new data types supported by the project. Microsoft proposed "a schema for the data sent by devices encapsulated in a JSON [JavaScript Object Notation] message that allows for users to easily add new types of data to the scenario," revealed Bloch. "The key upgrade here from the previous version is making the JSON string self-describing to the Website."

Bloch also revealed that "lots of new code" has been released for the Raspberry Pi gateway sample based on a C# service running atop Mono, the open-source version of .NET that runs on Linux and other operating systems.

"You can now do hot plug/unplug of any sensor connected via serial port to the Pi gateway, as well as connect sensors over USB or HTTP/REST," explained Bloch. "We also have made the architecture of the gateway more flexible, with a 'connectors' model so that new sensors can be added more easily." Code for Wensn digital sound level meter and other implementations are available at GitHub.

The AzurePrep tool "has been drastically updated" to simplify the process of setting up Azure Event Hubs. Meanwhile, the CreateWebConfig tool has been spun off from AzurePrep. CreateWebConfig allows developers "to create (or recreate) the web.config file that the sample Azure Website uses to access the data sent to your event hub," he stated.

The Website example, which displays sensor-driven, real-time data and alerts, has also been retooled. Upon linking a device with a new data type to Azure, the site now generates a new chart. Performance and stability issues have also been ironed out.

No maker board? No problem. The group published two new Windows Phone apps that can send IoT data to Azure services.

"The first one sends the phone's sensors data (light, acceleration) or simulated data for temperature and humidity that you can tune using a slider on the phone app," said Bloch. The second app enlists Microsoft's health and fitness wearable, the Band, and Windows Phone to send sensor data to Azure.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...