Freescale Semiconductor has teamed up with Oracle to advance the market for Internet of Things (IoT) with a gateway platform that they say will address the security and standards issues hindering mass deployment, particularly in home automation, industrial and manufacturing automation applications.
Freescale and Oracle are referring to the solution as a "one-box" platform that combines Oracle's Java SE Embedded implementation and Freescale's embedded chips, including its Kinetis microcontrollers, i.MX applications processors and QorIQ communications processors. This converged gateway design aims to establish a common, open framework for secured IoT service delivery and management.
"It's a secure service delivery infrastructure," said Kaivan Karimi, executive director of global strategy and business development for Freescale's microcontroller products. "It's an enterprise-grad Java that we will be using and that's the securest thing that I know of adopted by the U.S. government as its secure framework for their IT."
The Internet of Things is expected to drive massive changes across many industries and drive dramatically increased consumption of semiconductors, particularly microcontrollers. But defining and implementing security standards is considered essential to rollout of IoT.
From a hardware perspective, the one-box platform communicates with all kinds of edge-node sensors from meters and appliances to biometric sensors for telehealth. And on the cloud side—where all of the software and everything else needed to provision the software resides—big data analytics functionality is included to provide feedback into the whole system. Initially, the gateway box will support home automation and smart energy applications. In one month, it will add telehealth, wearables and smart city via vehicle charging and interactions with the grid, Karimi added.
"When you start to connect appliances, and street lights, traffic control systems and cars simply beyond the radio, then it starts to get interesting. That starts to create a backdrop for IoT," said Bill Morelli, associate director at IHS. "The next piece of this is being able to collect data and analyze that data, and some of that is coming into play with the advances in big data analytics in cloud storage and being able to mine this data."
This year, the installed base of connected devices is expected reach 12.1 billion, dominated by mobile communications, according to IHS. By 2025, the industrial sector will exceed consumer, reaching 17.4 billion vs. 13.8 billion, according to Morelli's estimates.
With the aim of optimizing the communications, processing and storage requirements of all stakeholders, including the telco providers, security, utility, energy, automation, control and other future service providers, the Freescale/Oracle advanced gateway open platform supports a "superset" of standards both on the short-range device access link and cloud access link.
Communications over the BAN/PAN/LAN/HAN is supported by Bluetooth; ZigBee, 802.15.4; Wi-Fi, DASH7, ISA100; Wireless HART, EnOcean; Wireless MBus; Ethernet, EtherCAT, Profinet, Modbus; and HPGP. And on the NAN/WAN side or the cloud, Ethernet/Fiber, Weightless, 802.11ah, Cellular, Sub-gig, Satellite, PLM/PLC (G3, Prime, etc.) standards are supported.
Several telco providers are rolling out their own basic home automation and security solution using a box. But the difference is the telco box is WiFi and cellular and very limited in scope, Karimi said. "It's a closed system—the telco is the only service provider," Karimi said. "If you get stuck with one service provider, IoT is doomed to fail."
As part of its collaboration with Oracle, Freescale will join the Java Community Process (JCP) and work with Oracle and other member companies to drive standard technical specifications for the Java platform. Freescale said its initial focus on the JCP will be on Java for resource-constrained processing platforms, such as microcontrollers that provide the embedded intelligence for IoT-enabled products.
Freescale said it also joined the OpenJDK community to work with Oracle to enhance Java for Freescale i.MX application processors, as well as contribute to open implementations of Java APIs for the IoT.
Freescale said it would also collaborate with Oracle on technology initiatives designed to speed and simplify the development of next-generation IoT products. The companies plan to establish abstraction layer technology allowing Oracle Java ME Embedded to run seamlessly on Freescale's MQX embedded operating system and Freescale microcontrollers.