More Hardware Kit Choices for IoT Developers: Raspberry Pi 3’s Windows 10 IoT Core Support and Helium’s Sensor Development Kit

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2Q 2016 | IN-4051

Developers have no shortage of options for their IoT hardware development needs as companies continue to release IoT hardware development kits.

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Raspberry Pi 3: Third Time's the Charm


The Raspberry Pi Foundation already made waves in tech circles at the end of 2015 when it released its Raspberry Pi Zero device for US$5. While the Zero improved on many of the features of the original Raspberry Pi 1, launched in 2012, such as a 40% faster core processor and an 80% reduction in weight, certain features had to be sacrificed and compromised in order for the device to meet its low price point. On February 29, 2016, Raspberry Pi Founder Eben Upton announced the Raspberry Pi 3 for US$35, the same price as the original model. Upton also announced that the company has sold 8 million devices since launching in 2012, proving that there is, and will continue to be, vast market demand in end-user programming development kits.  

Hobbysits and DIYers


Initially aimed at the education market to promote the teaching of computer science, the maker market of hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers jumped at the opportunity to own affordable, open-source computers to program and prototype various products. The Raspberry Pi 3 is aimed at this maker market as well, but with a strong focus on IoT and embedded projects. Most users use Raspberry Pi devices either as a PC replacement or as an embedded computer, and the Raspberry Pi 3 makes it easier for both of these use cases. Wireless LAN and Bluetooth connectivity are built in and included, allowing for out-of-the-box IoT development. Additionally, the board is fully compatible with Windows 10 IoT Core. Single-board computers have led the market into releasing IoT development kits, and the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 will continue to put IoT into the hands of hobbyists and DIY developers.     

The Helium Sensor Development Kit: Not Just Open-Source


Raspberry Pi is not the only company releasing IoT-enablement devices. In January 2016, Helium announced its Helium Sensor Development Kit, which allows IoT developers access to Helium’s platform to create IoT solutions. The kit contains a Helium Smart Sensor with web APIs that give developers the ability to prototype new applications for sensors and other connected devices. The kit allows Helium to target and attract developers to use its IoT platform. Founded in 2013, Helium provides a platform for the Internet of Things and simplifies device connectivity for end-users while also easing development of IoT applications. Helium’s solutions allow users to gain efficiency by reducing downtime, capturing insights from generated data, and improving product or system quality.

Helium’s kit joins a slew of other IoT hardware development kits that have been released over the past few years. These kits serve to accelerate time to market for developers and enterprises alike. These development kits aid developers and engineers at every stage of the hardware development lifecycle, from early design and testing to evaluation and production. These kits are used by hobbyists and corporate developers alike, with the main drivers for use of these kits being IoT inexperience among developers and the relative ease of use of these kits that enable developers of all experience levels to create IoT prototypes and products. IoT solution providers are offering these kits as a way to differentiate and complement their existing offerings and to attract developers to their particular platform or ecosystem. Companies are keen on driving their ecosystem growth through developers using their particular solutions. Helium’s kit will serve in this same vein by allowing developers easy access to a tried and tested platform. The development kit market is fragmented between open-source kits, like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, and kits like Helium’s, with developers congregating largely behind open-source kits due to available developer resources, such as forums, software libraries, and use cases. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon, with non-open source kits being used in addition to open-source solutions, not in place of them.