MicroEJ® Operating System and Application Store enables large-scale deployment of profitable IoT devices and services

By Vincent Perrier, Chief Product Officer, MicroEJ – vincent.perrier@microej.com

The legacy Internet of PCs has been largely built on two dominant operating systems: Microsoft Windows* and open source Linux*. Those operating systems provide software platforms that offer a standard foundation upon which a full software ecosystem and industry has emerged on the client and server sides.

Similarly, the mobile Internet of tablets and smartphones has also been built upon two dominant software platforms: Apple iOS* and Google Android*. Furthermore, the mobile Internet has set a new standard for usages and business models based on mobile applications and their associated services in the Cloud.

In order to enable smartphone-like app-driven business models and usages for the things that are connecting to the Internet, a specific dominant software platform has to emerge. This new platform has to be deployed on the billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). There are two main reasons for that:

  1. The devices comprising the IoT may or may not have direct interactions with humans, but most will require the capability for on-field download of applications from the Cloud, whether apps come from the OEMs (device manufacturers) or third parties.
  2. The key to large-scale deployment of app-driven usages and business models is the emergence of a strong and large community of application developers. All applications have to target the same platform so that they can be deployed across various devices/things (from the same or different OEMs).

 

services-oriented data-driven microej
One could think that mobile operating systems like Android could power those IoT platforms, but such operating systems do not match the economic – and resulting technical – constraints that drive the IoT space. Just as Windows and Linux PC operating systems could not scale down to the mobile space, iOS and Android mobile operating systems cannot scale down to the IoT space.

Here is why:

Economic equation of the IoT

Estimated Numbers PC Tablets/Smartphones IoT
Number of units Hundred millions Hundred millions Billions
Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) High Medium Low
Operational Expenditure
(OPEX)
High Medium Low
Average Selling Price (ASP) Hundreds of $
$800
Hundreds of $
$200-600
Tens of $
$10-200
Bill Of Materials (BOM) Hundreds of $
> $400
Tens of $
$100-400
$
$10-100

The things in the IoT are expected to be deployed in the range of billions of units, with much lower capital and operational expenditures than PCs and tablets/smartphones.

Today’s costs of hardware and software platforms for PCs and smartphones/tablets do not allow the deployment and exploitation of billions of devices in a profitable way.

Technical equation of the IoT

As a result of the previous economic equation, the following technical equation has to be considered for enabling the IoT:

PC Tablets/Smartphones IoT
Computing capability High Medium Low
Computing engine PC architecture
Intel 64-bit CPU
Multicore
> 1 GHz
Mobile architecture
Intel/ARM 32/64-bit CPU
Dual/quad-core
> 1 GHz
Embedded architecture
Various 32-bit MCU
Single core
< 1 GHz
Connectivity Wired Always-on Wireless Intermittent Wireless
Communications bandwidth High Medium/high Medium/low
Disk/Flash Hundreds of GB Tens of GB KB/MB
Screen Large high-res Medium high-res None/Small low-res
RAM Tens of GB GB KB
Power source Plugged/battery Battery Battery/network
Power consumption High Medium Low

As shown above, in order to match the economic equation of the IoT, devices deployed on the Internet have to run on smaller, slower, cheaper hardware and software platforms. Such platforms are typically powered by microcontrollers (MCUs) that can cost down to $1 per unit (compared to as much as $100 for high-end CPUs).

Gap between the Cloud and embedded worlds

However, in order to enable smartphone-like app-driven usages and business models for the IoT, devices have to connect to and interact with Cloud-based infrastructures and services, and thus support technologies and practices coming from the IT world. That includes business services, protocols, standards, middleware, software programming languages, and development tools. Supporting those technologies and standards is especially important for interoperating with business services in the Cloud. It is also key to building a significant community of application developers, as the large majority of software programmers are in the IT world (approximately 10M developers).

IT WORLD

Unfortunately, there’s a gap between IT-level software technologies and deeply-embedded legacy technologies mastered by a smaller community of experts (approximately 100K developers). These legacy technologies are often specific to each hardware – and associated software – bring-up environments. The IoT promise of billions of devices connected to the Internet implies that mainstream software technologies and practices from the Cloud and mobile Internet be successfully adapted and applied to the deeply-embedded world.

This adaptation requires preserving the power and efficiencies offered by IT-world solutions while adjusting their use and deployment to the cost constraints and resource limitations of the deeply-embedded world.

MicroEJ

Today, only one solution in the world enables large-scale deployment of profitable IoT devices and services by bridging the gap between IT-world techniques/practices and the constraint of the deeply-embedded world: the MicroEJ Operating System and associated MicroEJ Application Store.

MicroEJ is a registered trademark of the IS2T S.A. Corporation in the European Union, USA and other countries.

www.microej.com

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

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