Internet of Things (IoT)

ARM creates sensors, controllers, and other embedded intelligence in devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the collection of smart, sensor-enabled physical objects, and the networks, servers and services that interact with them. It is a trend and not a single sector or market. However, ARM’s technology designs enable the current and future IoT applications and services to become truly ubiquitous and intelligent. It is the embedded microprocessors and wired or wireless networks that enable these objects to sense autonomously their environment, communicate with other objects, and interact with Internet based services and cloud based applications.


IoT capabilities can be added to just about any physical object including clothing, jewelry, thermostats, medical devices, household appliances, home automation, industrial controls, even light bulbs. This trend will need cost effective sensing technology that can last for years not hours. These sensors can gather small amounts of data for long periods. ARM believes big data analysis, used to create intelligence, begins with small data. ARM creates sensors, controllers, and other embedded intelligence in devices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here and in use today. The present model started with specific sensors communicating with a single specific cloud application. The future will see an Internet of Things where billions of devices are connected to each other, all sharing data via the Internet.

The Internet of Things is more complex than the mobile Internet system. If the mobile Internet is 10 billion units, the Internet of Things is 100 billion units. If PCs had two form factors, and mobile computing had tens of form factors, then IoT will have millions of form factors.

This will bring massive choice and diversity – there will not be 100 billion of the same devices. There will be millions of different devices and apps: what you need in a healthcare sensor is different to what you need in air conditioning; a temperature sensor is different to the controller in an electric motor. All of which are different to the controllers used in cars. The future of the Internet of Things is that one size will not fit all, but they will all be based on ARM.

To fulfill the potential of the Internet of Things, diversity will be essential. ARM’s business model is based on licensing the core technology to different partners, allowing them to differentiate and add value. Multiple suppliers for each form factor ensures competition, competition spurs innovation and differentiation, which exemplifies the fact that diversity is what the Internet of Things is all about.

Besides the ability to address different markets, to explore new ones, and the ability to scale from small to large, the ecosystem for the Internet of Things will have to be more diverse than we have for the mobile Internet today. Enabling ecosystems that drive innovation is a critical part of what ARM does with its partnership based business model.

Many of those embedded controllers are in products that in the future will become part of the Internet of Things:

  • The Cortex-M3 has become the defacto standard in the first wave of smartwatches that are entering the market;
  • A number of fitness and wellness bands, like the Fitbit and Fuelcell, are powered by the Cortex-M0 or Cortex-M0+;
  • Across the city of San Francisco, parking spaces “articulate” that they are available and can be reserved via a smartphone.

The increased software demands to achieve that are a natural fit for ARM’s products. All the time new possibilities are being created; take the work by the University of Michigan. Its teams have created a complete system in one mm3, almost too small to see. Built using ARM technology, it comprises a processor, memory, battery and solar cell to scavenge energy all with the ability to do extremely short range communication.

Today’s Internet of Things rely on inexpensive, small sensors. They need to be power efficient, and be able to run on batteries that last for 10 years. They also need to be design efficient for integration into things that cost less than $1 (possibly as little as 50 cents).

IoT - Cortex-M0+ integration


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