Industrial monitoring and control is a significant application for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), one with a clear potential for a significant return on investment. But retrofitting legacy industrial systems with networked monitoring and control devices can be a significant design challenge for factory owners and OEM providers alike. A new development platform from Maxim Integrated looks like it can provide a lot of help.
Maxim's Pocket IO PLC development platform simplifies and speeds Industrial IoT design by providing a powerful, compact, low-power, networkable monitoring and control unit with which factories can experiment using the IoT and developers can prototype their designs. As a stand-alone product, it offers 30 analog and digital IO ports in various flavors for making measurements, attaching sensors, and driving industrial systems—including motors and other inductive loads—in a daughterboard attached to an Intel Edison processor module. USB and Wi-Fi are both communications options, as are several fieldbus options, providing a range of connectivity options. For power, the Pocket IO can operate from onboard AA batteries or external DC through 42 V. It is also compact, measuring 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.8 in., and environmentally rugged, using parts rated for –40°C to 125°C.
Together, these attributes make it easy for experimenters to connect the device to existing systems to explore the industrial IoT's potential in actual factory conditions. To further simplify such explorations, the device is programmable using Arduino sketches and can be configured and controlled using a smartphone app. The smartphone also serves as a graphical interface to the design. Thus, experimenters can quickly develop and try a variety of configurations to see what will work best for them.
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