In an strive to connect the world to Azure, Microsoft announced at its Build developer conference that it’s now selling five new Azure IoT Starter Kits based on a range of different chipsets and operating systems, which are available for as little as $50 each.
Open the box of one of the starter kits and you’ll find a maker board, a selection of sensors and LEDs, as well as jumper wires and connectors. The Edison board comes with a Grove shield and a selection of sensors that plug straight into the shield’s connectors — as well as an LCD display and a set of solenoids.
An ongoing stride
Microsoft’s announcement doesn’t come as a surprise as it has already partnered with well-known maker companies to launch its first certified devices. They include Seeed, Adafruit, and Sparkfun, with devices based on a range of different chipsets including the popular ESP8266 and Intel’s Edison. The kits come with a collection of sensors, as well as online tutorials with sample code hosted on GitHub.
BMW used Azure services to build its Open Mobility Cloud, with its vice president of digital products, Thom Brenner, saying at Build 2016 this week: “Azure IoT provides us with a very open, flexible IoT platform.”
“These kits allow anyone with Windows or Linux experience to quickly build IoT prototypes that leverage all Azure’s IoT offerings,” Microsoft said in a statement. Each kit comes with a development board that’s compliant with the Azure Certified for IoT program, along with sensors, actuators, and tutorials.
Simplify your connections with Azure IoT
Inorder to simplify the process of connecting your devices and sensors to be managed in the cloud, a preview of the new Azure IoT Gateway SDK along with device management features is available inside the Azure IoT Hub.
The Azure IoT Suite was first announced about a year ago, and last month the Azure IoT Hub, a key part of the portfolio, came out of public preview.
If you want to build your own connected devices, Microsoft is making it easier to create prototypes by working with Adafruit, Seeed and SparkFun to create starter kits of boards, actuators and sensors that are certified for Azure. The Seeed kit is based on Intel Edison, and Adafruit’s Raspberry Pi kit runs Windows 10 IoT Core, but there are Arduino and ThingDev systems on the list too, giving you a range of platforms to build an IoT device that is ready to work with Azure IoT.
“We’ve already got a comprehensive set of services in Azure,” said Azure director of program management Corey Sanders. “The beautiful part of Azure Functions is that it’s like the fairy dust on top of all those services, it suddenly makes deployments and apps across those services that much easier to deploy and cheaper to develop.”
Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT aims to enable businesses to reach customers where they are, working with an ecosystem of devices and platforms, facilitating faster production. Accepting that IoT is no longer purely the domain of hobbyist makers, Microsoft’s attempt to bypass the value of their experience by delivering a set of maker-friendly starter kits is setting it apart. It’s a bet that could well pay off for everyone involved.
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