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Particle CEO Zach Supalla Talks the Reality of IoT

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The Internet of Things is slowly working its way into our lives, to the point where we’ll just call them Things. With so many software projects, open source tools, and hardware devices out there, it can be tough to even make the distinction between a modern sprinkler system and one that is internet-enabled: non-internet-enabled devices are becoming increasingly less common from hardware vendors across many verticals, from farming to utilities, to transport.

Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle, has built a company around redefining what it means to be an Internet of Things (IoT) platform. While many companies offer a software management layer, or a set of hardware platforms upon which to build, Particle offers the entire retinue of needed assets, from microcontrollers with wireless chipsets, to a device operating system, to a cloud service provider, to development tools.

Supalla agreed that the IoT market is in something of a trough of disillusionment, to use the Gartner term, but he added that this is also a time of great change and innovation in the space. While developers may have been told they could do just about anything with IoT three years ago, today, they really can, thanks to better development tools and systems for managing at-scale deployments of Things.

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“What is the perfect solution in our eyes, for how IoT development works? There is always this physical component. Let’s say you make an air conditioner, and you say I want to make my air conditioner be internet connected. Well, we have to include some kind of compute, some kind of microcontroller, and we have to include a radio. So we say, here is a cloud-connected microcontroller, like our Electron cellular-connected micro-controller, put this in your product and that part is taken care of,” said Supalla.

“Now, from the hardware systems embedded-engineer perspective, integration is complete. On the other side, you’ve got someone responsible for building mobile and web applications to talk to these things. If we’re talking about an air conditioner, that might mean someone is building a mobile app that you can use to control your air conditioner remotely. Somebody else is building a set of web applications that do service and maintenance, so they look at that information and stream that into some kind of ticketing solution to say if it’s misbehaving somebody will come out and fix the thing. There’s a couple different pieces of web and mobile logic that make this thing work. What that person wants is an API,” said Supalla.

Find out more about the current state of IoT in the rest of this podcast.

In this Edition:

0:40: What does Particle do?
2:06: How does the Particle way of doing things compare to how we think of building modern software?
4:30: How does one develop with all these moving pieces and platforms?
7:36: How does everything talk to each other?
10:05: At what point does it become more sensible to install Linux on a Raspberry Pi?
15:38: What do you think of LoRa?

Feature image via Pixabay.


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