Lighting the path to production for connected buildings with mbed OS 5.4

March 13, 2017

One in five companies has begun rolling out Internet of Things (IoT) services and products, and half of those surveyed say IoT will be an important part of their business strategy. That’s according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit IoT Business Index, published in February this year. These are significant percentages, and they signal that IoT is starting to emerge from the boardroom and now being integrated into businesses and industries. This is evident in the ARM mbed ecosystem, with several commercial shipping products already based on mbed OS 5, and more in engineering sample and volume testing phases of their design and certification. The latest release of this OS, mbed OS 5.4, delivers new features to enable developers to tackle some of the key challenges they’re facing in applications such as connected buildings.


Further, the report highlights that transformation is in motion in IoT in 2017: New networks and connectivity coming to wide-scale deployments are a major visible signature of this change. Several analysts, including ABI Research, have examined the range of protocols within IoT and their observations resonate with the above: “Moving forward, it might not be a case of either Bluetooth or ZigBee or Thread, but rather utilizing a combination of these technologies in a single device.” These in turn place strong requirements on the part of the device product development.

Through mbed OS 5.4, developers now have the choice, from cellular, Wi-Fi, 802.15.4, BLE, Thread or sub-GHz 6LoWPAN. The mbed OS team also recently demonstrated early features of NB-IoT connectivity at Mobile World Congress in February 2017. As multiple protocol connectivity also impacts storage requirements, mbed OS 5.4 adds flexible filesystem support to address the needs of IoT applications requiring storage within the end node.

Smart buildings, smarter inhabitants

study by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and United Technologies found that cognitive functions improved with better indoor environmental quality and ventilation. These included a 50 percent increase in focus, doubling in crisis response, and a tripling in information usage and strategic thinking scores. Hence, it may not be surprising that addressing the needs of buildings’ occupants is the highest priority for smart building technologies.

Connectivity enhances a building’s responsiveness to internal changes as well as resilience against external challenges. Today, high performing buildings are expected to respond to a myriad of stimuli from the internal environment (changes in lighting, temperature, humidity, CO2, ventilation and occupancy levels), requirements of information technology (structured and unstructured data from the cloud and on premise computers) and demands from operational technology (signals from elevators, security apparatus and heating and cooling systems).

The Thread Group has recently opened testing and product certification for devices taking advantage of Thread connectivity. It results from the first set of software stacks also completing interoperability testing. This enables developers to start creating applications aimed at residential buildings. ARM mbed OS 5.4 makes the recently certified mbed Thread 1.1 stack freely available to developers, and includes solutions for building both end nodes and border routers based on Thread. A Linux-based Access Point to connect Thread networks to the cloud that utilizes the Thread border router is also available. Developers interested in learning about building smart connected lighting can find out more here.

Bringing smart lighting in to the spotlight

OpenAIS, a consortium of Europe’s largest lighting manufacturers, recognizes the vast opportunity for developers to drive differentiation and innovative user experiences in commercial building lighting products and services. OpenAIS is creating a standard for Internet-connected lighting with a defined system architecture and open interfaces. Funded by the European Union, this initiative will deploy mbed OS in its demonstration system showcasing both Ethernet and Thread connectivity for smart lighting with leading lighting systems and controller manufacturers, opening a vast volume of devices for developers to build IoT applications.

The advantages of mbed OS 5.4 apply to more than just smart lighting. A connectivity demonstration using the LoRa stack that has been integrated into mbed OS 5 will be displayed, alongside with demonstrations for a number of different connectivity protocols, at the ARM booth (Hall 3, booth 342) at Embedded World in Nuremburg (March 14 to 16), illustrating the flexibility of our solution. Make sure you drop by!

Bee Hayes-Thakore is Director of Marketing programs for IoT at ARM.

Bee Hayes-Thakore

Director Marketing Programs, Internet of Things, Arm

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