We all have devices other than phones and computers which are connected to the Internet at home or anywhere. This is because of IoT (Internet of Things) is here and it's only the beginning.As Jeremy M.
Williams of Vyudu Inc. believes that "The physical world and the digital world are merging together as one every day; and the more our physical products sense and react to our needs, the more alive they become."(Issac T.
) Based on this idea a company called Inventrom Pvt. Ltd based in Bangalore, India design a product called Bolt IoT Platform.The Bolt team claims that "Bolt IoT Platform is a complete solution for IoT projects" and that Bolt is a combination of "hardware-cloud" service where the users can control their devices by collecting data in a secure way.
The platform consisting three main components: hardware module, cloud, and analytics.A description of the design and an analysis of functional performance for each product are followed by a comparison of the two designs. Finally, the most efficient design is recommended.Low-cost but any good?Between the two campaigns, the company used the same low-cost Wi-Fi chip, the ESP8266.However, while its cheap and amazingly capable, the ESP8266 might not be the excellent choice and you soon will find out.
I am saying that because while the ESP8266 module is capable of joining WPA2 networks and able to have HTTPS connection as a client - even here have been some problems - when running a secure web server. (Anteph.)Some other security capabilities of the chip also lacks such as secure boot and flash encryption.Not everything is new and shiny.Looking back at 2013 a company called Spark IO has launched the "Spark Core: Wi-Fi for Everything".
(Spark IO.) They have used the SimpleLink CC3000 Wi-Fi Chip and later changed to Broadcom BCM43362 (the one that can be found in Nest Protect and Amazon Dash) alongside a STM32 ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller. (Dfrobot.) And now it can be found under the new name "Particle Photon" after it was renamed from Spark Core.
To make an easier comparison I have made a table where I pointed the features and the prices of both products.FeaturesBolt IoT PlatformSpark Core (Particle Photon)Wi-Fi Chip ESP8266 based SimpleLink CC3000 (later changed to Cypress BCM3362)Microprocessor80 MHz Tensilica Xtensa LX106 (Harvard architecture)72 MHz ARM Cortex M3 (later changed to 120 MHz ARM Cortex M3)Cloud Connection Bolt CloudSpark CloudOTA Updates YesYesSmartphone AppBolt App Spark AppAPIsPrivate APIRest APIRemote ConfigurationYesYesML AlgorithmsYesNoWork with Amazon Echo YesYesCompatible with ArduinoYesYesSSL encryptionNo128-bitPrice$17$19As we can see that Spark Core (now called Particle Photon) despite of being 3 years older than Bolt, it had very similar specification. And this makes us wonder what is new?The main strength is the Cloud, but is that enough? Starting with what the founder and CEO of Bolt IoT is claiming "…the main strength of Bolt comes from the Cloud. The Bolt Cloud lets you remotely configure and initialise the pins on your Bolt WiFi module, write code and update the firmware of all your device codes over the air. Bolt cloud brings scalability to your IoT projects as it lets you configure and code thousands of devices simultaneously within a few seconds.
"(Pranav P. V.) A worrying aspect would be that the Bolt Cloud can update the firmware via over-the-air (OTA). As I said before the Wi-Fi chip that was used is lacking things like secure boot and flash encryption, meaning that the chip can be updated over-the-air (OTA) without any security checks.Bolt Cloud vs Spark Cloud (renamed to Particle Cloud)With a heavy reliance on the cloud, this being the most intriguing feature and the most worrying aspect.
Bolt is gambling that the maintenance costs will for the cloud will be low and the cost will be covered by the number of customers that will buy their product. And looking at Particle Cloud we see that some costs will be covered by the apps that the developers will create and by selling those apps they could cover some costs of the cloud. Unfortunately, that assumption has proved overly optimistic for several other companies before them. But looking at the first crowdfunding goal where they have pledged 3 times more than the second goal, this low crowdfunding goal, makes me wonder if there is enough money to run and maintain the Bolt Cloud.
ConclusionIt might seem I am picking on Bolt IoT Platform, and to be honest I am. Looking back at their first campaign where they have used the low-cost ESP8266 based module and the cost would have been $9, in the end selling the product with $17 makes me A fact that makes me think, is that the initial price was $9 then $12 and the final price is $17. A smart option for the second release of Bolt would have been the EPS-32 Wi-Fi microcontroller, a younger version that supports secure boot and flash encryption, but also 1024-bit One-Time Passwords (OTP) and Over-The-Air (OTA).
Perhaps the Bolt team was clearly targeting small businesses and did not go for ESP32 instead of ESP8266. (Alasdair A.)BibliographyIssac T. (2017).
Rise OF IoT - Internet of things. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.
com/entry/rise-of-iot-internet-of-things_us_59b373dee4b0bef3378ce052Bolt IoT. (2017). Fully integrated IoT platform, made for Machine Learning.
Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/boltiot/boltSpark IO. (2013).
Spark Core: Wi-Fi for Everything (Arduino Compatible). Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sparkdevices/spark-core-wi-fi-for-everything-arduino-compatibleAlasdair A.
(2017). First Thoughts on ESP8266-Based Bolt, a $9 IoT Platform. Retrieved from https://blog.hackster.io/first-thoughts-on-esp8266-based-bolt-a-9-iot-platform-52a26e11401eAnteph. (2015, Apr 3). SSL support Retrieved from https://github.com/esp8266/Arduino/issues/43Alasdair A.
(2017). Revisiting the Bolt, an ESP8266-Based IoT Platform. Retrieved from https://blog.
hackster.io/revisiting-the-bolt-an-esp8266-based-iot-platform-c00e21ea91dbPranav P. V. (2017, Aug 18). Thank you Alasdair ... Web log message.
Retrieved fromhttps://medium.com/@ppv999/thank-you-alasdair-for-the-blog-post-1b4ab6c31492Dfrobot. (n.d.). Particle Photon.
Retrieved from https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1324.html