Imagination launched a Kickstarter campaign for what it's calling its "ultimate IoT-in-a-box development kit," which includes the new Creator Ci40 developer board, two Clicker expansion boards, three Click sensor boards, support for three open source operating systems, and free access to its FlowCloud service.
Imagination is far from a brand new startup that needs its own Kickstarter campaign, but we've seen other large companies before, such as Sony or Canonical, try to launch their own crowdfunding campaigns as a way to safely prototype certain products (and simultaneously gauge interest in the product.) They can also use the campaigns as a marketing tool.
The Creator Ci40 board, which acts as the "hub" that connects other pieces from the IoT package, has a dual-core and dual-threaded 550 MHz MIPS InterAptiv CPU and an Ensigma connectivity engine that supports 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 (Smart and Classic).
The developer board also comes with 256 MB of DDR3 RAM, 512 MB of NAND flash, one microSD card, and a dedicated TPM chip for storing encryption keys securely. The Creator Ci40, as well as the Clicker expansion boards, also support 6LoWPAN low-power wireless communication, which they use to communicate with each other through standards such as Thread.
The IoT-in-a-box package can include two MikroElektronika Clicker expansion boards as well, which come with a 32-bit Microchip microcontroller, a USB connector, two LEDs and push buttons, a reset button, a mikroProg connector, and the headers for interfacing with external electronics. The expansion boards are AAA battery-powered so they can function as standalone devices, too.
Imagination also offers three types of MikroElektronika Click sensor boards in its complete IoT kit: one board for measuring temperature, one for detecting motion, and another for controlling a relay.
Open Source Software Support
The new Creator Ci40 supports not one or two, but three different operating systems, all open source: the OpenWrt router OS, Google's IoT-focused Brillo, and the Debian Linux distro. It also supports Buildroot, a tool for compiling embedded Linux systems. The Clicker expansion boards also come with the open source Contiki real-time operating system.
Thanks to Imagination's built-in support for open source operating systems, we may see many of the MIPS-powered IoT devices run open source software in the future. This could shift the focus from proprietary firmware in devices that are already predicted to have many secure flaws if their vendors don't keep them updated. If they use open source software, at least the security research community can find the flaws and put pressure on the vendors to fix them.
All of Imagination's IoT software can communicate with the company's FlowCloud service. It can enable device vendors to manage their IoT devices, or the buyers of the devices, to interact with them through the Web or mobile apps. Imagination gives free access to those who buy the IoT kit for up to five connected devices.
Those who want to support/purchase the Creator Ci40 alone can do so for £35 (+£5 shipping), while the whole IoT kit (dev board + expansion boards + companion boards) can be had for £70 (only the first 200 buyers) or £80 (+£12 worldwide shipping). The IoT packages are expected to start shipping in April 2016.
Lucian Armasu joined Tom’s Hardware in early 2014. He writes news stories on mobile, chipsets, security, privacy, and anything else that might be of interest to him from the technology world. Outside of Tom’s Hardware, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.