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Edoardo Barbieri
on 9 May 2022

Welcome back to the monthly State of IoT. In case you missed it, here is a roundup from last March’s news.

Vehicle connectivity, smart homes, new SoCs and a real-time Ubuntu kernel captured the headlines this April. Let’s jump straight into it!

Real-time Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Beta 

Among the most noteworthy news in the IoT landscape is the real-time kernel release in the latest Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

The real-time Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Beta kernel is designed to meet telco network transformation needs for 5G and serves latency-sensitive use cases in industrial automation and robotics. With the PREEMPT_RT patchset integrated for x86 and Arm64 architectures, the real-time beta kernel will provide a deterministic response time to extreme low-latency requirements.

The kernel is currently available in beta and comes with no engineering support. Extensive testing and prompt user feedback will shorten the path to a production-grade version of the real-time kernel. Developers are encouraged to enable the beta kernel as per the instructions in the announcement and file bugs via the Bug Tracker.

Arm Total Solutions for IoT 

Announced in October 2021, Arm Total Solutions for IoT brings together hardware and software into a simple package to offer use-case specific IoT solutions ready to build on. Part of that cohesive package is Arm Virtual Hardware, which delivers accurate models of Arm-based SoCs, removing the need to develop on physical silicon.

As an evolution of Arm modelling technology, Arm Virtual Hardware simulates memory and peripherals, supplying virtual replicas of the underlying integrated and verified Arm Corstone subsystem. This month, Arm announced the addition of new virtual devices.

Arm Virtual Hardware is now available for a few Corstone platforms and Cortex-M processors and as a private beta for Raspberry Pi Model 4, NXP i.MX 8M Arm Cortex Complex and the STMicroelectronics Arm Model for the STM32U5 Discovery board. 

Streamlining embedded development by removing the bottleneck of silicon availability, Arm Virtual Hardware aims to address the need of faster time-to-market by enabling software-hardware co-design.

Vodafone unveils vehicle-to-everything platform  

Vodafone is targeting road safety as its next major challenge. 

The Safer Transport for Europe Platform (STEP), launching in European markets “later this year”, aims for faster safety information sharing among road users. STEP will provide connected drivers with free, digital access to real-time information on road closures, accidents and speed restrictions. 

Furthermore, the cloud-based, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) platform uses Vodafone Automotive apps and integrates with all in-vehicle navigation systems and third-party map apps.

It is exciting to assist in the growth in momentum in automotive and the increasingly important role played by Vodafone. The STEP announcement comes only a few weeks after Vodafone rolled out its Digital Asset Broker (DAB) platform. Targeting a safe exchange of information between devices and cars, DAB aims to remove the toil from targeting electric, connected cars.

Smart-home Insteon out of business 

The smart home industry keeps growing year after year, with new devices and appliances becoming ubiquitous in our everyday lives. 

However, a few headlines recently challenged such a rosy picture. This April, Insteon’s smart home hubs went down with no prior notice or warning. The IoT company was founded in 2005 to serve the smart home market by providing electrical, lighting, and sensor communication and control solutions via its patented dual-mesh technology. Insteon promised to more easily network devices using either the radio or powerline, with signals potentially sent much further than with other technologies.

After the sudden shutdown, the company confirmed it went out of business via an announcement on its website. Mentioning the unforeseen disruption brought about by the pandemic, Insteon was assigned to a financial services firm in March to “optimize the assets of the company”.

Further to leaving its customers stranded, Insteon’s bankruptcy represents a significant hit in the smart home landscape. Unfortunately, it is not the only one. Just last March, The Connectivity Standards Alliance announced a delay in the release of the specification of Matter, the royalty-free connectivity standard suited for smart home devices. Citing additional tests, Matter’s SDK will be feature complete this spring, with Version 0.9 of the specification available to all Alliance members towards mid-year. 

ESP32-C2 supports the Matter WiFi Standard

The Shanghai-headquartered Espressif recently announced the new ESP32-C2 chip, targeting high volume, low data rate IoT applications.

The reduced memory footprint of 272 kB makes it a good fit for simple appliances like smart plugs and light bulbs. The WiFi 4 and Bluetooth LE 5.0 chip supports ESP-IDF, the open-source development framework for Espressif SoCs.

The ESP32-C2 release is particularly noteworthy as it supports the Matter standard. Despite the delayed release of the first specification, increasing chip support is encouraging as it will drive the early adoption of the new protocol.

Cisco and Verizon explore edge computing over 4G-LTE 

This April, Cisco and Verizon confirmed their ongoing efforts to shape the future of connected vehicles. Cisco provides edge computing on industrial networking equipment, and Verizon delivers LTE networks. The two enterprises partnered to showcase edge compute capabilities for connected vehicle interfaces and applications. The target applications were roadway cabinets and the service provider network.

Current connected vehicles leverage the LTE-V2X standard, operating in the 5.895-5.925 GHz portion of the 5.9 GHz band or 30 MHz, whereas the FCC originally granted the ITS of 75 MHz.

Interference concerns further reduced the ITS band to 20 MHz. Given the inability of the 20 MHz to deliver the next-gen safety application, Cisco and Verizon partnered to study the feasibility of moving these applications to the 4G-LTE cellular network.

In the demo, Verizon and Cisco’ LTE connectivity and industrial networking technology, respectively, proved capable of supporting the low latency requirements necessary for autonomous applications when virtualizing costly roadside infrastructure.

Stay tuned for more IoT news

Thanks for reading! We will soon be back with next month’s summary of IoT news. 

In case you missed it, here is a recap of IoT news from last year. Make sure to check it out!

Further reading

Want to go back to the basics? Find out what is embedded Linux.

Why is Linux the OS of choice for embedded systems? Check out the official guide to Linux for embedded applications in whitepaper or webinar form.

Interested in a detailed comparison of Yocto and Ubuntu Core? Watch the Yocto vs Ubuntu Core webinar.

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