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AWS Gives IoT a Boost With New OS, Services

By David Jones
Dec 2, 2017 11:00 AM PT
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Amazon Web Services shone a spotlight on Internet of Things and machine learning technologies earlier this week, with the announcement of a new operating system and several new services designed to encourage radical expansion of their deployment and use across multiple industries.

The new OS, Amazon FreeRTOS, simplifies development, deployment, security and maintenance of microcontroller-based edge devices, according to Tara Walker, technical evangelist for AWS.

FreeRTOS will help extend IoT technology to low-power devices such as smoke detectors, light bulbs and conveyor belts. Devices such as these are not large enough to have their own CPU.

Developers will be able to use FreeRTOS to build into devices networking, over-the-air software updates, encryption and certificate handling, according to AWS.

1-Click for All

The new services -- including AWS IoT 1-click, AWS IoT Device Management, AWS IoT Device Defender, AWS IoT Analytics, and AWS Greengrass ML Inference -- are designed to help companies quickly deploy IoT devices in a secure environment and be able to analyze data on a large scale.

"These new AWS IoT Services will allow customers to simply and quickly operationalize, secure and scale entire fleets of devices, and then act on the large volumes of data they generate with new analytics capabilities specifically designed for IoT," said Dirk Didascalou, vice president for IoT at AWS.

AWS IoT 1-Click, currently available in preview, lets customers enable devices to perform simple tasks such as reordering goods, calling technical support or tracking asset locations. Customers can enable a device with the AWS Lambda function by downloading a mobile app, registering and selecting an AWS IoT 1-Click enabled device, and associating it with an AWS Lambda function -- for example, sending SMS or email messages.

iRemedy, an e-commerce firm that specializes in medical supplies, this summer announced that it would deploy 500 IoT buttons, which are like the Amazon Dash buttons on the consumer platform, to help customers automate the process of allowing medical offices to reorder consumable goods, like latex gloves, automatically.

"These doctors are pretty high-volume users of supplies but don't have any kind of sophisticated procurement systems," noted Tony Paquin, CEO of iRemedy.

Automating the process through the IoT platform allows his firm to operate almost like a just-in-time supply operation, he told the E-Commerce Times. Doctors aren't required to buy huge volumes of medical supplies, and iRemedy can fulfill reorders rapidly with a very fast, automated mechanism that is based on Magenta.

Manage and Defend

AWS IoT Device Management, which is currently available, helps companies onboard, remotely manage, organize and monitor devices, update software and perform other tasks, including troubleshooting and patching defective systems.

AWS IoT Device Defender, scheduled for early 2018 release, provides continuous audits of security policies and monitors for any potential security problems, like traffic going to an unknown IP address, according to the company.

AWS IoT Analytics, available in preview, helps clean, process, store and analyze data at scale.

AWS Greengrass ML Inference is a new feature of AWS Greengrass. It allows companies to deploy machine learning models on AWS Greengrass devices, enabling them to make quick decisions, even when devices are not directly connected to the cloud.

Simpified Process

"This is a very big deal," said John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research Group.

"There is going to be a huge wave of IoT activity over the next few years, but it needs to be enabled by simple and easy-to-use IoT platforms," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Amazon customers automatically get Echo-type support, and this new technology will help create a baseline of standards for people to build around, suggested Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"So this makes IoT easier, it makes it simpler -- and because Amazon is doing it better, ensures real progress toward a truly viable final solution," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Amazon FreeRTOS will make it easier for manufacturers to build in cloud support, noted Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Because it is open sourced, it is already used in many low-cost consumer devices, he told the E-Commerce Times.

In contrast, Google has been promising Android Things as an operating system for microcontrollers, Krewell said, but that has been slow to take off.


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.


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