Build your own IoT prototype, cloud included

With the Internet of things, it's best to start by using a developer board for prototypes -- and Photon has the singular advantage of connection to the cloud

An interesting problem faces hardware and software developers building Internet of things products: How do we connect them to the wider Internet?

It’s fine building directly connected Arduinos or using Raspberry Pi’s built-in Ethernet port. But if we’re going to get the most from a world full of sensors and actuators, we’ll need to build on wireless technologies -- the Wi-Fi and cellular networks that we use to connect ourselves and our devices.

Unfortunately, a major problem stands in the way: The wireless world isn’t really designed to handle devices, especially single-purpose units infused with firmware rather than software. Luckily, we have options.

We could build on the machine-to-machine model used by cellular operators, with unique device identifiers (IMEIs and phone numbers) that handle authentication and connection, treating our devices like apps. Alternatively, for such hardware as the Arduino Yùn, we could use a hybrid of firmware and software, with a wireless application processor sharing memory with a microcontroller’s firmware.

Photon's cloud connection

Particle’s $19 Photon board presents another option. I picked up a dev kit at the Maker Faire back in May, and I've been playing with it since then. Like many developer boards, it uses the ARM Cortex M3 processor and features plenty of I/O ports. 

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