During the kick-off for the Intel Developer Forum 2014 in San Francisco on Tuesday, company executives lifted the wraps off a number of hardware and software tools designed to enable the "Internet of Things" (IoT). Among those now hitting the market are Intel's Edison, a processor with built-in wireless capabilities that is about the size of a postage stamp.
Announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Edison is "designed to enable rapid innovation and product development from inventors, entrepreneurs and consumer product designers," according to Intel.
Intel distributed the $50 Edison module to IDF attendees to encourage developers and "makers" to create small or wearable devices for the commercial market. Among some of the early projects that have been built with the tiny processor are a Brailler printer/embosser designed by a 12-year-old and an LED-lit dress that changes colors based on the wearer's electrical currents.
Device and Cloud Connectivity
Edison's small size, relatively low cost and wireless computing capabilities make it a useful building block for a range of uses, according to Intel.
Built with a 22-nanometer Intel Atom SoC, the Edison module features a dual-core, dual-threaded 500 MHz CPU and a 32-bit, 100-MHz Intel Quark processor MCU. It includes dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy for both device-to-device and device-to-cloud connectivity.
Edison currently supports development with Arduino and C/C++. Support for Node.JS, Python, RTOS and Visual Programming are expected to be added "in the near future."
A $19 Trillion Market
Intel is featuring an "Ultimate Maker Space" for developers throughout the IDF event. The Maker area is offering prizes to attendees who can come up with the most promising ideas for space travel apps, health sensors, alien life detectors and other cutting-edge devices.
According to Intel, the Edison chip will help simplify the design of many new devices connected to the IoT. With some 85 percent of today's devices with embedded computing not currently connected to the Internet, the IoT is a large -- as much as $19 trillion -- opportunity, Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet of Things group, told IDF attendees Tuesday. By 2020, Davis said, analysts are predicting that 50 billion devices will be connected to the IoT and generating 35 zetabytes' worth of data.
"The real promise of the Internet of Things is the ability to extract information out of all that data and to transform the way that we work, the way that we live, the types of products and services that are available," Davis said.
Running through Thursday, the IDF has also been the launching pad for a number of other new offerings from Intel, including the Intel Reference Design for Android program, a new Analytics for Wearables developer program and the Intel® XMM 7260 modem, which is shipping in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone in Europe and other markets. It also unveiled a Connected Wheelchair Project, which was announced in connection with a video-link appearance by physicist Stephen Hawking.