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Agile Computing: Article

Microsoft Encourages Blinking LEDs for Internet of Things

The Intel Galileo Board Comes Front and Center in This New Culture

The earliest challenge to the original homebrew microcomputer geeks was to get little indicator lights to flash. Then, by toggling several switches to turn the lights on and off, the computer would start doing other things, processing instructions within the confines of several hundred or a few thousand bytes of memory.

Fast forward to today, and we're revisiting that age within the IoT, albeit with much more power and sophistication.

I was struck by this thought when reading the line, "We'll help you get your Windows application running on a Galileo-and blinking LEDs in no time."

This clear nod to history is part of Microsoft's Windows Developer Program for IoT. The goal is to get Intel Galileo boards into developers' hands, and get people "to create their own cool device," in Microsoft's words. The effort is part of the emerging Maker's Movement, a sort-of 21st century effort to create a guild culture of practicing craftsmiths, using hardware and software tools rather than gold, silver, tin, or leather.

But it also appears to be more than that. Microsoft, along with every other major technology provider, is committing serious resources to the IoT, and what promises to be a mad battle for market share, if not supremacy, throughout the spectrum of what the IoT will do.

The "blinking LEDs" will be found in the tens of billions of sensors expected to be deployed worldwide within just a few years.

There are significant challenges in security, of course, but many other challenges as well:

  • Getting a a compact OS to function in the micro-micro-environment of sensors

  • Deliver applications and enable real-time communications in what will be hives of IoT data generators

  • Deliver updates and and figure out how to forestall or eliminate device obsolescence

  • Get a handle on all the incoming data-how to process it, analyze it, act upon it, and archive it if necessary.

For Microsoft's part, the company says, "if you're a hardware developer who dabbles in software, you can bring your Arduino sketches and shields directly into your project, while leveraging Windows code for cloud connectivity and other computing-intensive tasks. If you're already a software dev, you can write a regular Windows application that also has easy, direct access to hardware through the Arduino Wiring API set, extending your solution into the physical world."

Perhaps most important, the company also notes that "this first program is just the beginning."

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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