IBM and ARM unveiled a jointly developed Internet of Things (IoT) starter kit that will allow businesses to create prototypes of new smart devices using IBM's cloud-based services and ARM's secure sensor environment.

The two companies believe the first products to come out of its joint effort to enable innovators to develop smart home, smart city, and other IoT devices will become available this year.

The starter kit consists of an mbed-enabled development board from Freescale powered by an ARM Cortex M4-based processor, which connects to IBM's Bluemix cloud platform where data from the devices can be channeled and stored. Later this year, ARM will also make available the public beta of its mbed operating system for IoT devices and its mbed Device Server software to enable more functions and increase security.

Freescale director of marketing John Dixon calls the starter kit "an Arduino for the industrial Internet," in the way that it allows anyone to create new devices backed by a robust data backend that allows businesses to create not just one but tens or tens of thousands of these devices.

Although the starter kit takes only a few minutes to set up out of the box, IBM and ARM envision the starter kit as the platform of choice for professional developers and IoT startups as opposed to DIY hobbyists. The firms believe it could be used to create practical solutions, such as a system that sends data to a Bluemix-based data center, which in turn delivers commands to a set of Internet-connected light bulbs.

"In order to make this work for businesses, it needs to be simple to connect physical devices into the cloud, and to build applications and insights around them," says Meg Divitto, vice president for IoT at IBM. "IBM Bluemix and the new ARM mbed starter kit are designed to substantially enhance that effort."

ARM vice president of marketing Zack Shelby says more than 100,000 developers and businesses are already using mbed and more than 45 development boards. One of these is Cambridge Consultants, a technology consultancy firm that works with startups and leading companies, already uses the starter kit.

"Coupled with the link into IBM's cloud platform we now have a fast route for makers to take any product to market and develop services around it quicker and more cost-effectively than ever before," says Tim Murdoch, director of digital services at Cambridge Consultants.

No word has been made on how much the starter kit will cost, but ARM says it will be around $50 to $200.

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