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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Particle taps u-blox for its first industrial platform for cellular IoT

By Nick Flaherty

US startup Particle has launched an all-in-one cellular IoT hardware platform with out-of-box Cloud connectivity, open source stack and global SIM support based around the u-blox SARA module for deploying cellular-connected IoT solutions at scale.

The E Series modules include all the critical hardware components required to build and deliver an IoT product. However, the first modules connect via 2G and 3G with future LTE M1/NB1 enabled variants available in early 2018.

All the E Series modules come bundled with Particle’s development tools, open-source firmware stack, and Cloud services to decrease the cost and risk of developing IoT solutions. The global connectivity via Particle’s MVNO service is a key advantage, enabling worldwide operation.

“Nearly 80% of new IoT initiatives will never reach market, and the biggest reason is the complexity of integrating low-level embedded electronics with cellular connectivity, a global SIM, IoT messaging platform, and device management solution,” said Will Hart, GM of Developer Tools at Particle. “These are hairy hardware-software integration challenges that every single IoT product creator will run into, but that no one else in the industry has an elegant solution for. Particle’s E Series was designed with these 80% of failed initiatives in mind and represents the fastest, cheapest, and lowest risk path to market for new cellular-connected IoT products.”

The modules use single-sided, surface mountable hardware designs and have FCC, CE, IC, RoHS, GCF, and PTCRB End Product certifications. An embedded SIM card and extended temperature operating range allow deployment in a wide variety of environments, and the hardware and firmware compatible with Particle development tools to simplify design for manufacturing and reduce time to market.

Embedded in Particle’s E Series is the u-blox SARA cellular module. "Particle's E-series greatly helps facilitating a short time to market for industrial customers,” said Suresh Ram, President of u-blox Americas. "Designs can be made and tested with existing 2G and 3G technologies and seamlessly moved to certified Cat M1 technology,” Ram said. u-blox is opening up its microcontrollers to third parties in the latest modules.

During the development process, the modules were released to a variety of customers for early evaluation. “Particle’s E Series is a step forward for Industrial IoT applications. It’s designed with manufacturing and ease-of-integration in mind. This product is superb for producing cellular IoT products at scale,” said Justin Grammens, co-founder of Lab 651, a startup developing connected products and apps in a number of different markets.

Particle says its tools are used by over 125,000 engineers in more than 170 countries, including Fortune 500 companies who are developing and managing fleets of new IoT products. It works with Microsoft Azure and Google for the cloud services.

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