Amazon shows how the Internet of Things should be done

Microcontroller and circuit board

One of the announcements that may have been overlooked among the slew of news coming out of Amazon’s AWS re:Invent conference was of Amazon FreeRTOS, an operating system for microcontrollers that is aimed at the Internet of Things (IoT). With this, Amazon is starting to build out an entire ecosystem that covers both devices and cloud-based services to deliver on IoT applications.

FreeRTOS is actually a product that has been around for some years. It is a compact real-time operating system kernel that supports a wide range of microprocessor architectures, from the venerable Intel 8051 to x86, ARM and microcontrollers from the likes of Atmel and NXP.

Last year, the developer of FreeRTOS joined Amazon, and so stewardship of the project has been taken over by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The firm has now created a version of the operating system that adds software libraries enabling devices to connect securely to the cloud, receive software updates over the network, and other functions.

The result is a platform that should make it relatively simple for developers to code typical IoT applications, which will be able to target a number of different silicon platforms, with initial supported listed as Microchip, NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.

As an example, developers can make use of MQTT based messaging to link FreeRTOS devices to the AWS IoT Core service, which serves as a kind of hub to enable secure interaction with cloud applications and other devices.

Naturally, the main purpose of FreeRTOS is to create IoT devices that can connect up to Amazon’s AWS services, aggregating sensor data and uploading it for collating and analysis in the cloud, for example. Amazon’s goal is to get as many people as possible using its cloud services, and FreeRTOS adds the endpoint piece to the puzzle of building a comprehensive ecosystem that should make AWS an attractive destination for those looking to build an IoT project.

Also unveiled at re:Invent were new services coming next year, such as AWS IoT Device Defender, designed to audit endpoint devices to ensure they adhere to best practices, detect abnormal device behaviour, and offer mitigation for security issues, along with an IoT Device Management service and a fully-managed IoT Analytics service to automates all of the steps that required to analyse reams of data from IoT devices.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that AWS and FreeRTOS would be an ideal candidate for every organisation or developer that is putting together an IoT type of application, but the cloud giant has made itself an attractive destination for many projects that may involve simple sensor and data collection processes.