Good things come in threes with Watson IoT and Avnet

By | 9 minute read | October 10, 2016

Avnet starter kits

The connection of the physical and digital worlds makes it easier to innovate around new products, services and processes, as well as keep up with competitors. Inexpensive sensors, ease of connectivity, and ubiquitous storage and processing power are fueling a connected world. But to take advantage, organizations must quickly and continuously refine their business models, product offerings and customer engagements to differentiate themselves.

While connected machines are providing an abundance of rich data, many organizations are missing the opportunity to harvest the data for insights. Despite the widespread proliferation of sensors, the majority of IoT data collected is never used. Many existing platform solutions are prohibitively slow, expensive and inefficient—making analyzing and acting on the data extremely difficult. To fully extract the value of the data around us, organizations are turning to nontraditional analytics approaches – like cognitive and edge computing.

The advent of the Internet of Things is blowing open the doors to technical innovation with unlimited access to data and new approaches to development. And, to help simplify the development cycle at every stage, Avnet, Inc., a leading global technology distributor, is teaming up with IBM to offer an array of resources central to designing and managing IoT solutions based on IBM Watson IoT Platform, IBM Watson and IBM Cloud.

“Working together, Avnet and IBM can help clients further embrace the full promise of IoT using innovative technologies to uncover hidden patterns in data and act on them, to transform business and society alike.” Harriet Green, GM, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce and Education

IoT solution development can be complex, requiring deep technical knowledge from the semiconductor level to advanced data analytics. To keep IoT projects on track, Avnet can offer proof-of-concept solutions based on the experiences gained from enabling more than 100,000 customers that have already deployed connected devices. Avnet offers data center and cloud solutions based on IBM Watson IoT Platform that provide analytics engines, asset management, data management tools, IoT Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities and security. Additionally, customers can access the Avnet Cloud Marketplace, which features IBM Cloud infrastructure; IBM Software-as-a Service (SaaS) solutions related to cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security applications; the ability to create branded storefronts; in addition to solutions design, integration and assembly support services at its solutions centers in the Americas and EMEA.

Start with the basics: a choice of THREE different IoT Starter Kits

To suit the needs of different development teams, Avnet has released a selection of IoT development kits to accelerate the ability to prototype IBM Bluemix-enabled IoT solutions. Currently, there are THREE Watson IoT enabled kits available, so depending on the level of expertise and requirements, a developer, engineer or designer can choose the kit best suited to their needs.

Figure 1: Three IoT Starter Kits available now

Figure 1: Three IoT Starter Kits available now

For developers new to IoT, there is an entry-level kit, the Avnet BCM4343W IoT Starter Kit, which is a Wi-Fi BLE based kit perfect for anything that needs connectivity through Wi-Fi to the internet, or, something that may need BLE connection to sensors, possibly even a cell phone for configuration. The starter kit has a very low cost, uses low power, and is ideal for small low cost types of devices that need connectivity and connection for sensor collection.

There are many different entry-level IoT projects well suited for the BCM4343W Kit. For example, creating a home-based weather station that connects in through a Wi-Fi network at home to provide all the weather data via a dashboard. Developers can then aggregate their data with different people who also have weather stations around the company or around the world to create a map that shows all the different types of weather events taking place in real-time.

The Avnet BCM4343W IoT Starter Kit is Watson IoT enabled, and there are many examples of how to use it with Node-RED available.  Here are three recipes that can be used to connect Watson IoT Platform to AVNET starter kits and devices. The kit retails for approximately $50 USD, however, attendees of the Avnet IoT Product Development Workshops being held in North Reading (Boston), Austin, and San Jose in October and November 2016 will receive a complimentary kit as part of their event package.

A second kit, intended for use by the industrial IoT developer, is the MicroZed Industrial IoT Kit. The industrial kit is a production ready model based on the Xilinx Zynq®-7000 All Programmable
SoC. The MicroZed Industrial kit has a very high-end, high performance processing system, well-suited to factory automation, building automation, predictive maintenance, and embedded vision types of applications. The Avnet MicroZed Industrial IoT Starter Kit simplifies IoT device-to-cloud integration.

The Industrial IoT Starter Kit supports designers’ edge-to-cloud development of Internet-connected solutions and includes all the necessary building blocks for developing a production-ready, IoT-enabled, industrial processing system. If a development team wants a really smart-edge type of device that can do some analytics and pre-processing of the data before it sends it up to the Cloud, the MicroZed IoT Kit is the right kit. The Avnet MicroZed Industrial IoT Starter Kit is available from the MicroZed website.

The third and newest addition to the IoT kit line up, introduced in July 2016 in concert with AT&T, is the LTE Cellular IoT Starter Kit. The kit, based on a low-cost LTE modem solution and designed for remote and secure access the cellular connectivity aspect, is intended to serve as a plug-and-play model to provide all the components to build an IoT project from scratch without sourcing from multiple vendors. Priced at $99 USD, the LTE Cellular IoT kit includes an LTE modem, an international SIM card, a development board, a microcontroller carrier board with Arduino–compatible expansion slot, and all the necessary APIs.

Developers using the kit have access to the AT&T Control Center—an IoT connectivity management platform. The cellular kit offers access to whatever an organization is trying to connect and control remotely. For example, one company using the new Cellular Kit makes gate locks for recreational and industrial parks. The organization is using the kit to explore how to connect their gates through a cellular link with remote control access through the Cloud using a platform such as Watson IoT.  In the past, locked gate systems never had anything with IoT, but now with the use of technologies like Watson IoT, access to the cloud, it’s possible to evolve established business models by expanding existing services and solution portfolios with IoT.

Gain IoT knowledge and skills: the availability of TWO on-demand webinars

To keep skills sharp and up to date, in-depth technical education and training is available through the Avnet Academy on IBM Bluemix and IBM Watson IoT Platform, in addition to a selection of on-demand webcast events which highlight the different ways to apply the Watson IoT Platform capabilities in IoT projects. There are TWO complimentary on-demand webinars available now.

On-demand webinar: How to Develop IoT Solutions Using WiFi, BLE and the IBM Watson IoT Platform

Avnet’s production-ready WiFi & BLE SoC module is a game-changer for developers of IoT products. This webinar delivers insights into the development of embedded IoT applications that benefit from BLE low-power wireless connectivity to Sensors, Smartphone Apps and other BLE-connected hardware; WiFi based MQTT connectivity to the IBM Watson IoT cloud platform; BCM4343W IoT Starter Kit reference designs (based on Avnet BCM4343W SoC combo module; System-level prototyping using the kit’s Arduino™ and Pmod™ compatible expansion connectors.

In this 1 hour webinar, Avnet, IBM, and Zentri IoT specialists join forces to share expert knowledge on how to rapidly develop IoT solutions.   Developers will learn how to develop wireless connected products in weeks instead of years, with Avnet’s certified combo Wi-Fi and BLE module, Zentri development tools and embedded OS; effectively secure the connected product while managing the status, version, location, and more; analyze connected device data and make more informed business decisions with IBM Watson IoT and IBM Bluemix. Register to attend the on-demand webinar.

On-demand webinar: IoT Made Simple with Watson IoT Platform

Attend this webinar to learn about how IBM Watson IoT Platform. Avnet and IBM joined together to simplify the development cycle at every stage and give our customers the power to unlock the potential of IoT.   The two companies will provide customers with a wide range of resources from the edge to the enterprise to develop IoT solutions that effectively gather information, connect to the Internet, and securely manage and analyze data.  Register for the on-demand webinar.

Get hands on experience: Attend a ONE day crash course with Watson IoT

And, last but not least, to help get innovative IoT ideas turned into products or solutions, Avnet is hosting a ONE-day crash course entitled, the IoT Product Development Workshop. The training workshop is designed to address the challenges in developing IoT products. The full day session will equip engineers with key technical skills to develop cloud-connected products, using IBM Bluemix and Watson IoT Platform. The workshop will cover common design-oriented topics such as:

  • Connectivity challenges (wireless protocols & standards)
  • Security & privacy (authentication & encryption)
  • Cloud storage, analysis, computing/actions
  • Device management, field updates, system scalability
  • Mobile platform integration (smartphones & tablets)

Attendees of the workshop will be using the Avnet BCM4343W SoC wireless combo module with ZentriOS SDK, Watson IoT Platform and Node-RED to build a sample Cloud application, learn how to dashboard data, and control devices remotely.

The IoT Product Development Workshop, held in October and November in multiple locations, will have a limited number of places to ensure each participant gets the most from the session tutors.  Learn more about the IoT Product Development Workshops here.

The art of possibility: Take advantage of all the resources Avnet can offer

Avnet and IBM provide customers with a wide range of resources from the edge to the enterprise to develop IoT solutions that effectively gather information, connect to the Internet, and securely manage and analyze data. These include:

  • Availability of IBM applications critical to designing and managing IoT solutions, including IBM Watson IoT Platform, IBM Watson and IBM Cloud;
  • IoT development platforms and kits that accelerate the ability to prototype IBM Bluemix-enabled IoT solutions;
  • Create proof-of-concept solutions with Avnet’s highly experienced team, enabling Avnet’s 100,000 customers to deploy connected devices;
  • Avnet data center and cloud solutions based on IBM Watson IoT Platform that provide analytics engines, asset management, data management tools, IoT Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities and security;
  • Access to the Avnet Cloud Marketplace, which features IBM Cloud infrastructure; IBM Software-as-a Service (SaaS) solutions related to cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security applications; and the ability to create branded storefronts.

To learn more about the extent of Avnet’s Watson IoT capabilities, download the IDC White Paper entitled, The Edge to Enterprise — Avnet and IBM Partner to Deliver a Compelling Connected and Cognitive IoT Offering.

The white paper examines the Internet of Things market with a lens on the complexity of the vendor ecosystem and how partnerships are enabling holistic solutions to come to market. It discusses the overall market opportunity that IoT is creating, especially in the industrial sector. The paper also discusses the key benefits of a successful partnering strategy when evaluating IoT solutions. An overview of Avnet’s edge-to-enterprise IoT offering — in partnership with IBM and using its Watson IoT portfolio — is also provided.

Get more information about Watson IoT Platform, IoT kits and services available from Avnet. Or learn more about the IoT Product Development Workshops.