Embedded software developers have a lot on their plate. A developer has to be an expert in hardware, sensors, communication protocols, low level drivers, HAL’s API’s, object oriented design and a master of programming languages. Unfortunately embedded engineers must also now know internet protocols, web design, tcp/ip stacks, encryption and security. The list is quickly becoming long and well past manageable. It may be time for embedded software engineers to offload the Internet in the Internet of Things.
Using a Wi-Fi module has always been a great way to decrease complexity of embedded software. Unfortunately many modules just move the complexity from one place, the microcontroller, to another, the module. A developer still needs to be an expert in setting up a fairly complicated Wi-Fi module and keeping communication between the microcontroller and the module running.
There are a number of new modules hitting the market that take the complexity of the internet, security and managing the connection and truly put it into a black box. One of my favorite examples is the Electric Imp platforms Imp module. The Imp module can be put onto a WI-Fi network using a mobile device app. Once connected, communication with the cloud is seamless.
The behavior of the device and web application is then simply programmed using the Squirrel programming language from a cloud console. Data can be easily transferred from the embedded system to the internet using very basic embedded software techniques. There is no need to become an expert in internet protocols. Security and the internet is instead handled by the Electric Imp platform.
Platforms such as this will make building embedded systems for the IoT easier, faster and more secure.