MediaTek Labs Announces Open-Source IoT Development Platform

MediaTek Labs Announces Open-Source IoT Development Platform

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The idea behind the “Internet of Things” has captivated our imaginations for many years. How cool would it be to control every appliance in your home without laying a single finger on the device?

With the advent of smart home security systems like the Nest Cam, a variety of smart HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) systems, and even smart light fixtures such as the Philips Hue, it seems like we’re already halfway there. But there’s just one major problem with the smart devices currently on the market – they’re all competing, independent systems that don’t really interoperate all that well.

Fortunately, many companies have focused considerable effort on innovating in this market. Qualcomm in particular has recognized the massive market potential on winning the race to build an IoT-ready development platform, offering developers the option to purchase their Snapdragon-based, JavaME development platform. The company has reportedly earned nearly $1 billion in revenue just last year from sales of its chipsets running on a variety of smart appliances. Clearly, the Internet of Things provides quite a lucrative market for chipset manufacturers to conquer.

To that end, today MediaTek Labs unveiled a new development platform called the MediaTek LinkIt Smart 7688. This new platform runs OpenWrt Linux (a distro commonly flashed onto routers to provide a wide range of customization options). MediaTek supporting OpenWrt over Google’s Brillo is a fairly unsurprising choice. We’ve seen Google pushing to get Brillo out of the gate most recently by releasing its source code and providing developers guidance on developing for the new OS, but so far the Google-backed OS is too early along to support for a company like MediaTek looking to compete with Qualcomm.

MediaTek provides two Hardware Development Kit (HDK) versions: the LinkIt Smart 7688 with a MediaTek MT7688AN SoC and the LinkIt Smart 7688 Duo which adds a microcontroller unit and is compatible with the Arduino platform. Compared to the IoT development platform provided by Qualcomm, MediaTek’s platform offers less NAND Flash (128MB on the Qualcomm platform versus 32MB on the LinkIt Smart 7688) but a higher amount of RAM (64MB on the Qualcomm platform versus 128MB on the LinkIt Smart 7688) and comes at a fraction of the price ($499 from Qualcomm versus $12.90/$15.90 for the LinkIt Smart 7688/Duo respectively).

These days the barrier to entry for developing on a platform that supports cloud-access has never been lower, and with MediaTek’s new development platform more and more people will be able to get their hands on one and help build the growing market for the Internet of Things. Still, the road to a truly interconnected home is quite a bit away, but hopefully with the recent push by companies like Qualcomm, Google, and now MediaTek we’ll see some promising innovations for the Internet of Things in the near future.