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New IoT sensor platform M2.COM specs revealed

Posted: 28 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? internet of things? sensors? sensor platform? data gathering devices?

M2.COM, a new Internet of Things (IoT) sensor platform, is the combined effort of ARM, Advantech, Bosch Sensortec, Sensirion and Texas Instruments after last month's Embedded World event in Germany. The group have, just now delivered the specifications.

The genesis of M2.COM is the burning need to standardise, in some way, how data-gathering devices are architected. This will save developers from constantly having to reinvent the wheel given that the true value of IoT is not so much in the hardware, but in the data that the hardware gathers. The easier it is to deploy the data gatherers, the sooner the IoT will achieve its potential, or so the thinking goes.

To that end, the six companies kicked off the M2.COM launch in February with its new platform that adopts the popular M.2 form factor. The module combines general wireless connectivity with an MCU, specifically, TI's SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3200 wireless MCU. Around that, ARM ads its mbed OS support, Bosch adds its MEMS and sensor technologies, Sensirion brings its own wide range of sensors to the party, while Advantech adds its embedded systems design expertise.

The group is open to new members, of course, and it's an ecosystem play that is designed to enable as many applications as possible with the minimum development time. A smart planet requires a lot of smart devices, from smart cities to smart agriculture, and factories to wearable health monitors, and M2.COM is architected to be flexible enough to accommodate them all.

While SimpleLink is Wi-Fi based, the module is intended to support the other wireless standards, including ZigBee and Bluetooth for short range, as well as LTE and sub-1GHz standards for longer range.

ARM Cortex M-class core

Figure 1: The driving force behind M2.COM is the need to get IoT data-gathering devices deployed as quickly, securely, and as cost-effectively as possible, while remaining flexible with respect to connectivity and sensor options.

At the heart of the platform is an ARM Cortex M-class core, on top of which is the mbed OS. Between mbed and the IoT Agent are the sensor communication and security protocols (MQTT, CoAP, TLS/DTLS) and the sensor hub software. On the hardware interface side are an SPI and I2C port, as well as a UART (Figure 2).

low-power processing core

Figure 2: At the heart of M2.COM is the ARM Cortex M low-power processing core, around which are the IoT sensor hardware- and software-layer interfaces. Sensor and wireless interface flexibility is critical for simplified system integration.

The type 2230 M.2 form factor upon which the module is based measures only 3022mm and has a 75-position host interface connector, sufficient to support all the I/O features inside the M2.COM multi-function module. Along with the I/O described at the module's initial launch, the newly released spec also shows it to have an I2S port, GPIO, USB, and an analogue-to-digital converter to convert the incoming sensor signal.

The board measures 0.8 mm thick and runs off a 3.3-V dc supply with a wide operating temperature range of -45 to +85C. If you're curious, the connector mating force is 30N (max). The full spec and pin out description is available from the organisation's site.

-Patrick Mannion

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