By Majeed Ahmad, Contributing Writer
A Primer on Design Kits
for IoT Applications
Pick the right evaluation board for your embedded design and here is how you can make a viable decision based on facts.
The Internet of Things (Io T) is transforming rapidly, and one way to keep up with this quickly changing design
landscape is turnkey solutions enabled by Io T development
kits and reference platforms. They significantly lower the
barrier to entry and ease time-to-market pressures.
An endless stream of development kits is now available
for Io T-enabled embedded systems for a wide range of
consumer and industrial applications. These design-to-order hardware and software offerings usually pack a lot
of functionality and features.
Therefore, it is imperative that engineers find out
which Io T evaluation board best meets their design
needs. For that, however, you first need to understand the
fundamentals of Io T design kits.
Figure 1: A view of
a design kit used to
evaluate the energy-harvesting platform
for a wide range of
Io T devices. (Image
What’s new in the embedded board design realm and
how it relates to your Io T project? How can developers
make a viable decision based on design tips and tricks,
and thus effectively match the Io T cost budgets with
performance requirements? This article attempts to answer
these questions while outlining do’s and don’ts for picking
development and prototype boards for Io T designs.
This article will also focus on design ecosystems built
around these boards and how that simplifies complex
design tasks and accelerates the time to market.
However, let us begin with the hardware facet of these
off-the-shelf Io T boards.
Here is a brief preview of how IoT kits and associated
reference designs can dramatically simplify the hardware
implementation challenges that Io T developers face
while keeping up with the latest processors and
Figure 2: The block diagram of the development kit used for the
energy harvesting design for Io T applications. (Image Source:
First and foremost, a development kit should help you
efficiently map out the functionality requirements of your
Io T design. For instance, how much processing speed is
required; how much memory capacity will be sufficient
for storing the embedded code and data; and what’s the
power consumption budget.
A predominant majority of IoT applications
encompasses some kind of wireless connectivity—
WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, etc.—and this is where
a development kit can help engineers manage the
inherently tricky RF and antenna designs. Even if the
RF resources are available in-house, it requires time,
money, and expertise.
An Io T design kit can help developers identify
key components such as antennas, filters, amplifiers,
clocks, and capacitors; it also guides designers on
component placement on the board. At the same time,
development kits help avoid the hassles related to
certifications, compliance, and interoperability of the
components and modules.
The turnkey Io T solutions lower the barrier to entry
for highly integrated designs like wearable devices by
removing the design complexity and substituting for RF
and embedded design expertise. That allows developers
to have the Io T solutions up and running in weeks rather