Samsung's Artik boards will be the guts for drones, robots and an army of IoT devices

Samsung is releasing a trio of hardware development boards that will make it easier for startups and tech enthusiasts to build robots, drones, wearables and all manner of other connected gadgets.

The Artik family includes three development boards with varying levels of performance to let developers build smart devices for use at work and at home. The boards are much like the Raspberry Pi 2 but with wireless connectivity that allows them to broadcast and receive information.

Samsung is also providing software tools, security features and cloud services, meaning a developer could potentially use the Artik kits to build an entire home automation system.

The Artik boards are part of an effort by Samsung to sell more components and services for the fast-growing Internet of Things, which has come to mean virtually any connected device that’s not a PC, smartphone or tablet. Estimate have pegged the number of IoT devices to reach 30 billion to 50 billion by 2020, and Samsung wants to secure itself a piece of that pie.

It’s not alone. The maker community is already getting a lot of love from companies like IBM, ARM, Qualcomm and Microsoft, the last of which hopes to build an IoT future around its Azure cloud service. Microsoft has also made Windows 10 compatible with the Raspberry Pi 2 and MinnowMax boards, hoping developers will build Windows-compatible connected devices.

The Samsung boards include the Artik 1, the smallest module at 12 by 12 millimeters. It has Bluetooth connectivity, a dual-core processor with a clock-speed of 250MHz to 850Mhz, and basic sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.

The higher performance Artik 5, at 29 by 25 millimeters, is for building drones and wearables. It has a dual-core 1GHz chip, ARM Mali graphics, 4GB of storage and 512MB of DDR3 memory.

The fastest and biggest board is the Artik 10, which has similar components to those in a high end smartphone. They include an eight-core ARM chip that can process 1080p video, 2GB of DRAM and 16GB of storage. It has a full complement of wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. The Artik 10 could form the basis for a home media server or powerful industrial IOT devices.

Samsung didn’t immediately give prices for the boards or say when they’ll be widely available. It will provide them to a limited number of developers who sign up for an alpha program through the Artik website.

Samsung is working with the team behind Arduino to get the Artik kit certified to work with the popular Arduino IDE (integrated developer environment). “You won’t have to be a professional developer to build with Artik; all you need is an idea,” Samsung says.

Developers will be able to connect the boards to cloud services to help them build applications. A service might collect data from a smart meter, for instance, and use it to decide when to turn a connected air conditioner on and off. Samsung’s SAMI cloud platform allows for sensor information to be pushed into the cloud for analysis.

Earlier this year Samsung said all the TVs it sells will be “IoT devices” by 2017, meaning they’ll be smart and connected, and it pledged that all the hardware products it sells will be IoT-ready by 2020. It has also pledged to invest $100 million to build an IoT developer community.

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