Echelon Corp. announced an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) framework for peer-to-peer networking of embedded controllers. The IzoT multi-protocol stack is now available in an ARM-ready beta version and reference implementation optimized for the Linux-based Raspberry Pi SBC, and will soon be included in Marvell’s Easy Connect SDK for Marvell’s 88MC200 WiFi SoC.
In recent months, IoT (Internet of Things) hype has been popping up everywhere, and at first glance, Echelon’s “IzoT” would appear to be another ambitious, yet vague IoT “solution” that could easily fade away into the ether. Yet, digging deeper, one can see there’s already a very detailed, and fairly open platform in place, as well as a roadmap for devices, starting with an ARM Linux reference release ready to roll in beta form on the Raspberry Pi SBC.
Echelon’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) concept
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It should also be noted that Echelon is a major player in control-oriented networking devices, including smart grid and industrial automation applications, and claims to have more than 100 million Echelon-powered devices installed worldwide. It recently introduced a Linux-based DCN 3000 distributed control node for smart grids.
IzoT is intended to let simple embedded devices communicate over a network automatically — and in many cases autonomously — to share information or take action. The cross-platform framework enables both existing and new device categories, including small, low-powered sensors and actuators, to “take action among themselves in a peer-to-peer fashion, with or without interaction with the centralized client/server ‘Internet’ portion of the IIoT,” says Echelon. The goal is said to be a platform that lets businesses build large-scale heterogeneous networks of industrial-grade devices that can self-install and interoperate.
This “open, multi-protocol, multi-application platform” will support both wired and wireless connections, “freeing developers from worrying about compatibility, protocol or connectivity issues,” says the company. The platform is also said to be tailored for the “harsh physical conditions and mission-critical processes” of the industrial world,” and helps enable industrial-strength reliability, hardened security, and backward compatibility with legacy devices.
IzoT includes both a device stack and a server stack, and is built with a combination of datapoints (sharable data values defined by direction, type, and length properties) and blocks (network visible components that encapsulate the data points). Different data types define the structure, encoding, scaling, and units for a datapoint or property, while profiles define the type of block. Finally, an Interoperable Self Installation (ISI) program enables IzoT devices to form a network without a network tool.
The device stack, initially available for the Raspberry Pi (pictured at the right), can run on any 32-bit processor, including the non-Linux Cortex-M3 microcontrollers that will drive IzoT’s next reference platform: Marvell’s 88MC200 WiFi SoC. Designed primarily for delivering sensor data, the stack lets devices exchange data with each other using a publish-subscribe data model over IP. IzoT devices can also control physical actuators such as LED dimmers, motor controllers, damper controllers, and solenoids. In the company’s detailed, online manual, Echelon shows how to create an IzoT device stack application written in Python.
The IzoT server stack, meanwhile, enables developers to build a web application server for IzoT networks. The server stack connects IzoT devices to web clients, enabling local web access to monitor and control the devices. The stack is based on the RESTful API, offering “a low-overhead but powerful interface for discovering devices, monitoring their data, and controlling them via network inputs,” says Echelon.
The freely downloadable Raspberry Pi beta reference implementation includes both a device stack and a server stack, and includes full source code. This will be followed by production 1.0 software in Q1 2014, in both free (without support) and premium (with support and expanded rights) versions.
The Raspberry Pi software will be followed soon by pledged support from Marvell, which will add the IzoT platform to its Easy Connect Software SDK for Marvell’s 88MC200 Wi-Fi Microcontroller platform [PDF]. Echelon will also add a range of Marvell-based WiFi control modules to its IzoT catalog of industrial-grade wireless devices.
In January 2014, Echelon plans to release IzoT Cloud software based on the server stack, enabling remote access, monitoring, and control of IzoT-enabled communities of devices. This REST-ready cloud software will also provide data archival services for storing key data from IzoT-enabled communities for trending and analytics. Later in 2014, Echelon plans to announce a number IzoT-enabled chips, modules, routers, and software, in many cases adding “short-range wireless capabilities to its existing best-of-breed wired offerings,” says the company.
In the Vimeo-hosted video below, Rich Blomseth, product management director at Echelon, explains and demonstrates Echelon’s IzoT technology with the aid of a Raspberry Pi SBC.
Echelon IzoT demo using a Raspberry Pi SBC
The Raspberry Pi reference implementation for IzoT is available now in beta form for free download here. More information on IzoT may be found at Echelon’s IzoT website. This includes access to a full, online IzoT Manual.