Looking for an Internet of Things (IoT) project to play around with? Chicago-originating Konekt's Dash is a mobile network development kit for building IoT devices for cellular networks, rather than what is says is restrictive Wi-Fi.
The company is looking for funding right now at Kickstarter.
A global SIM card with a data plan plus a hardware kit is included in the package. The PCB-mounted hardware consists of a micro-controller, cellular modem, and battery management tools. It functions somewhat like an Arduino.
Arduino is a PCB-mounted do-it-yourself electronics platform for receiving sensor inputs that can be used to perform functions like controlling lights and actuators. Arduino, like Konekt, is controlled through a development environment where the user writes and inputs code.
Once you've written the code, all you need to do is add the sensors.
Mobile network IoT
Why IoT over cellular? The developer says that its product will work everywhere that there's a mobile network connection, similarly to how M2M usually functions.
Using mobile data networks means that the IoT device isn't restricted to the confines of the home, as it would be with other technologies, like Wi-Fi.
Plus, mobile has a longer range than Bluetooth.
Konekt's two 54x20mm and 80x30mm boards are called Dash and Dash Pro. The Pro version includes SSL, encryption and automatic, encrypted over-the-air key exchange.
The killer feature is that, in addition to the hardware, you get a global SIM card that's geared towards the micro-downloads seen with IoT.
Konekt will give you 1 MB per month free for six months if you pledge, but you can buy more data if you need it.
Compatible with third parties
Kits are also available with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or Beaglebone hardware, too. The Pi and Beaglebone packages ship with a Huawei E303 USB Modem.
Various other options will also be available down the road, such as a solar kit ranging from $189 to $199, asset tracking for $115 to $125, and sensors at $135 to $145. The prices depend on the Dash model.
Connected dog collar
Connected products that you can build include sensors, tracking devices, alarm systems, connected cars, and vending machines. The Kickstart page uses the example of a connected dog collar for tracking missing pets.
The campaign will end in May, although it has already reached it's funding goal. The Kickstart campaign has already earned more than $28,000 against a $10,000 goal (at the time this was published).
Stripped-down smartphone alternative
I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on one of these, should it get released—there's always a chance that that won't happen with a crowdfunded project.
The platform clearly has legs in the maker and hobbyist markets. It should be better than using discarded smartphones as IoT interfaces. This is a lighter, and more elegant solution.
I'd recommend checking this out if you're thinking of commercial IoT development too. At the very least, the Konekt Dash products are designed to be breadboard-compatible, so they would be good for experiments.
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