Start-up gains key partners to power the Internet of Things

Paul Boughton

A Swedish start-up has developed open source software to control devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) and signed up two key partners.

Both ST Microelectronics and Texas Instruments are supporting the Mist embedded middleware developed by Thingsquare on their microcontrollers.

Mist is scalable, lightweight open source IP/6LoWPAN connectivity software for home automation products, connected lighting systems, and smart city projects

For maximum scalability, manufacturers can select from several TI IP/6LoWPAN solutions including the sub-1 GHz CC1101 or CC1120 radio frequency (RF) transceiver combined with an ultra-low power MSP430 microcontroller (MCU) or the CC2538 system-on-chip (SoC) with integrated ARM Cortex M3, RF transceiver and memory. Building on well-known open source components, Thingsquare Mist is a lightweight and proven software system that brings Internet connectivity to the IoT. [Page Break]

“Supporting open standards, such as IPv6, RPL, and 6LoWPAN, are important for the emerging IoT market to expand and support growing consumer demand,” said Oyvind Birkenes, general manager, Wireless Connectivity Solutions at TI. “Thingsquare Mist gives our customers a robust and open source Internet connectivity solution for their wireless products with the CC2538 and the MSP430 MCU combined with CC1101 and CC1120.”

“We see a strong customer pull for TI’s CC2538 SoC as well as the sub-1 GHz CC1101 and CC1120 solutions combined with the proven MSP430 MCU platform,” said Roger Bergdahl, CEO of Thingsquare. “Working with TI provides manufacturers with a wide range of options for building IoT products based on the Thingsquare Mist open source software system.”[Page Break]

Mist has also been ported to ST’s SPIRIT1 radio transceiver on the STM32L microcontroller platform.

ST’s SPIRIT1 is a very low-power RF transceiver, intended for RF wireless-sensor node applications in the sub-1 GHz band, such as Automatic Meter Infrastructure, alarm and security systems, home and building automation, and industrial monitoring and control. The SPIRIT1 uses a very small number of discrete external components, integrates an embedded ‘listen-before-talk’ (CSMA/CA) engine to keep the power consumption low and an AES 128-bit encryption co-processor for secure data transfer.

The SPIRIT1 transceiver works in tandem with ST’s ARM Cortex-M3-based ultra low power STM32 L1 microcontroller series that includes a wide range of integrated peripherals such as USB, analogue-to-digital converter and LCD controller that make it suitable for industrial, consumer, fitness, and healthcare applications.

“Thingsquare Mist makes it possible for customers to quickly add Internet-connectivity to their products,” said Marcello San Biagio, High End Analogue and RF Business Unit Director at STMicroelectronics. “The Thingsquare Mist ‘sleepy mesh’ technology is extremely efficient and helps increase reliability and range in wireless sensor networks without sacrificing battery life.”

“The SPIRIT1 combines exceptional performance in the sub-GHz band with very low power consumption,” said Fredrik Österlind, Thingsquare’s CTO. “With its range, the SPIRIT1 can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications.”

The company, based in Stockholm, was founded last year and provides the Mist software and Haven, an online connectivity and management system, This simplifies the management of the network using an app to take a photo of the ID code of the Mist-enabled device.  

Thingsquare Mist devices have low-power radios and automatically form an IPv6 mesh network. To increase reliability and range without sacrificing battery life, the Thingsquare Mist sleepy mesh technology allows devices to relay messages from others while sleeping between each message to save battery power.

One of the mesh nodes has an Internet connection, either via Ethernet or WiFi. This node is called the router. The other nodes reach the Internet through the router. The Thingsquare Mist router software is exceptionally lightweight: only 5 kilobytes of ROM and 1 kilobyte of RAM is needed. The router runs on tiny, low-cost microcontrollers and systems-on-a-chip so there is no need for a computer gateway or a bulky Linux board.

When the Thingsquare Mist router connects to the Internet, it automatically obtains its configuration, allowing the Thingsquare Mist devices to reach the Internet. The Thingsquare Mist router contains a firewall with a simple policy: the Thingsquare Mist network can reach the Internet, but the Internet cannot reach the Thingsquare Mist network.

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