For those who want to create an IoT product prototype using commonly available hardware without having to learn about device specifics or even learning to code, then the Digi-Key IoT Studio is perfect! But what, exactly, is Digi-Key’s IoT Studio, and why should you consider using it?
Since computers have been around, those who want to create computer programs need to know a computing language that computers can understand. Common examples of computer languages include C, C++, Java, and Python. While computer languages provide a designer with incredible power, they can also potentially create barriers, preventing those without years of experience from being able to produce their projects.
In recent years, some developers have been developing solutions to try and enable the design of products and prototypes without the designer needing to know much (if at all) about coding. One example of this is MakeCode, which utilizes jigsaw-like pieces to make coding more understandable and quicker to create. These jigsaw pieces are color-coded and only fit together if those actions can be connected to each other (which is useful in preventing incorrectly arranged code).
Example of MakeCode reducing code complexity
However, while coding itself can be difficult (i.e., learning about machine specifics and how to interface with hardware), the rise of internet-enabled devices now puts pressure on designers to incorporate internet connectivity into their products. One issue with this is that internet protocols are often difficult to write, as they often require security certificates, key exchanges, complex database accessing protocols, and many other interface transactions (e.g., HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc.). To combat the complexities of internet communication and coding, Digi-Key has released its latest online tool, Digi-Key IoT Studio!
Digi-Key IoT Studio is an IoT development studio that allows designers to create prototypes and products - all in their browsers - without needing any external programmers, IDEs, or even coding knowledge. Based on Atmosphere, the IoT studio removes the need to write any lines of code and provides a GUI interface of blocks that can be connected together via arrows with actions defined by the arrows and blocks. The image below shows a simple example of a program in progress that required no coding and is easily downloaded to an Adafruit Huzzah32.
The IoT Studio also offers cloud storage, which can be used by IoT devices to store sensory data and offers a dashboard area for streamed data to be viewed (with elements including meters, charts, graphs, tables, and maps). Unlike other IoT services, which require designers to code their devices with API keys, security measures, and other complex interface protocols, the IoT Studio handles all of this automatically and is easier to program than an Arduino or Raspberry Pi.
One of the biggest advantages of the IoT studio is the rapid speed at which products can be prototyped with modern hardware including SensorTile, ESP32, and the Arduino Mega. Normally a designer must sit down and learn about device specifics (such as registers, configuration settings, and I/O), but thanks to the IoT Studio, this is suddenly made redundant. Designers can focus on how their prototype will function, as opposed to the time-consuming details that are often irrelevant to the function of the prototype.
Not only is product creation trivialized, the IoT studio enables a broader range of skilled designers to create the software side of the product, which can help with engineering teams who may have better things to do. The fact that the system is all in-browser (except for a local client service that bridges the browser app to the device over a USB connection) allows for cross-platform operations that run on Windows, Linux, and Mac systems.
Overall, the IoT Studio provides a quick prototyping platform for IoT products in the works, and it is great for those who want to focus on the product rather than the code!